Thursday, July 21, 2011

Seven Months and other Stuff

Hello! Am I here again already? Wasn't it just last week that I wrote about William at 6 months? We must be having fun 'cause time is sure flying!

I just re-read the 6 month update, and am awed anew at how much further William has progressed since then, a mere few weeks ago. I wrote that he was very nearly crawling and now he is, finally figuring out how to move forward! He isn't too quick yet, thank God. We can still keep up with him....barely. However I suspect he won't be crawling long as he is already pulling himself up and standing unassisted (but attended). His dad walked at 9 months apparently, and William seems bent on following in his footsteps, quite literally! We have had to lower his crib and figured out how to still use our beautiful handmade bumper set which was only a few weeks old (and still necessary for all the crashing and bashing that goes with learning to walk).

As a family we enjoyed a relaxing vacation in Tuscany. We rented a villa in the hills about a half hour from Florence so it was quiet and bucolic. The weather was great, so we introduced William to the swimming pool which he loved. He was a little warier of the ocean....those waves made a big scary noise! But he did dip his toes in: his first ocean swim.

We also enjoyed spending time in Paris with friends big and small. We took a picnic with William's girlfriend Samira and her Mum and Dad and the babies were so cute together. Both are at an age where they are more socially aware, and seemed pleased to see there are other small peoploe in the world! Later, the three of us took a historical walk 'in the footsteps of Hemingway'. Touristy, but cool as we are fans of his work.

We hosted a Bastille Day party on July 14th as we have a wonderful view of the fireworks from out balconey. It went a lot like Canada Day: cook burgers, hang out with friends, watch fireworks....the major difference is we watched fireworks whilst drinking champagne! That is a tradition I think we should import back home!

Greg was particulary happy to attend an international track meet here in Paris. We had booked the tickets when William was about 2 months old and slept nearly anywhere. Silly new parents didn't realize that by 7 months he needs and wants an early bedtime in his bed. However, William managed well taking a dodo in his carrier at the track meet and sleeping very well the next day to make up for it. We did get to watch Ussain Bolt run as well as hosts of other excellent atheletes. It was a real thrill.

Speaking of sleep, the sleep training has paid off and William now goes down at night with hardly a peep. He is still waking at night, but usually only once. This has given Greg and I more time at night, and a less fragmented sleep. Progress indeed!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Six Months Ain't for Sissies Either

Oh boy. Here I am again. About to go on a rant about my wee Willy at 6 months.

Last time I ranted he was 6 weeks, and a whole lot has changed since then. He's way cuter for starters, and more fun. I'm not so wet behind the ears, and know him a whole lot better. And months 3, 4 and 5 were awesome (I have a posting about this too, honest....the rants are just easier to write:)

But oh my God 6 months is a challenge!

Start with the food thing: 6 months is the big debut of solids which is so fun and so messy! I was seduced by the retro make your own baby food thing which I still think is a good idea when he is eating more or less what we eat. But at this try everything 3 times and watch for allergies not to mention likes and dislikes stage, making your own food is a huge pain in the ass. Especially when little plastic bits of the blender break off to blend irrevocably with your freshly steamed veggies...or when you get distracted and burn the peas.....twice.....Also on the solids front I am having to do laundry like crazy, and watch what comes out the back end which is so much more, well, pooeyer than it was before. Oh ya and be sure to increase iron intake and pair it with a Vitamin C food etc. etc...I know more about nutrition now than I ever had to before!

And then, my little champ is so very nearly crawling. Boy does that change your day. No longer can you plunk him on playmat A and expect him to stay there. He's on to place B, C, D and the liquor cabinet before you can burn the peas. Babyproofing is my new interior designed 'look'!!

And the wanting to crawl so bad makes him super frustrated so he is always whining to Mummy. My sweet tempered little boy has become a bit of a grouch! Oh, and he falls over a lot so playtime is much more hands time for housework or emails. So this is why you haven't heard from me.

And then there's the expectations, my own and others. As in really? He's still not sleeping through the night? No! He's a hungry boy! Or just really likes my company! But 6 months of sleep deprivation are starting to take their toll and I actually feel tireder now than I did when he was a newborn. So, we're doing some 'sleep training' (I love that term) which I think actually yeilds less sleep in the short term. I hope we get more in the long term. I'd let you know but I won't have time to email you!

Clearly 6 months is a big transition time, probably for both of us. It feels like William is leaving his tiny babyhood behind. I am so proud to see him growing and developing and having the curiosity and confidence to explore his world, but I know those snuggly, bitsy baby days are gone forever. It's bittersweet. For me, I feel like the miky fog of early motherhood has lifted a bit, and I am ready to rejoin the world. I'm really glad I don't have to go back to work yet, but an outing once a month, maybe even dinner, that would be nice. I've managed to raise William so far without too many issues, and he's a lovely baby. It gives me some confidence that I can continue to do so, and even start to meet a few of my own needs at the same time. We're slowly gettin' our groove back.

So here's the big difference between the 6 weeks and 6 months rant: I know it doesn't last forever. The good bits pass, but so do the not so good. The colic and clusterfeeds are a thing of the past, so too will be the cranky, crawling baby. One day he will sleep through the night. One day he will eat peas without spitting them out. One day he'll want the car so he can go eat peas with someone else. So, this is my time. My boy needs me to hug him when he bonks his head, support him as he tried to stand, feed him his mushed up homemade baby pap and change his smelly diapers. But he won't need me forever. With this in mind I temper my frustrations with affection; I have tolerance, both for my son as he grows and for myself as a Mummy. This too shall pass. This too shall pass.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Time out in Tuscany

We have just returned from what was probably our best vacation. Ever. Now with all the travelling we do that is quite a statement, but I'm sticking by it, and will tell you why.

I've wanted to go to Italy ever since I had a crush on an Italian guy in highschool (nice brown eyes....sigh!). While not the most compelling reason to see a country, I'm glad it got us there. La dolce vita is alive and well, and captivated us!

When travelling is practically our job, sometimes you just need a break. We knew we didn't want to see a city (we live in a city). We had no interest in culture (ditto). We were looking for R and R, downtime, and some country clean air. And luckily we found them all. Sometimes, getting your 'best vacation ever' is just knowing what you want your vacation to be.

Now getting there was not so great. We planned the flight time around William's scedule, hoping he would nurse and nap. And he did. But the plane didn't. Go anywhere that is. We sat on the tarmac for and hour and a half as the Florence airport was closed. Why? "We don't know" was the reply. Was this French or Italian bungling at its best? Probably both and not an auspicious start to the trip. And then when we did finally arrive, we waited in line in the hot hot sun for an HOUR for our rental car. And THEN we missed our rendevous to the villa and waited another hour....William coped really well, but Greg and I were about to lose it.

No matter, we were finally collected and installed in the 'Nonno' room and it was a balm to our travel weary souls. Set in the hills about half hour from Florence the eleven room villa was charm itself: beamed ceilings, copper fixtures, stone walls and everything beautifully maintained. The air was cooler in the hills, and the pool was cool and inviting. The manager had put up a shower curtain for us (who knows why there wasn't one before) and bought a baby bath for William. We had our own kitchen so we had a fun shopping expedition to the local grocery store, and ate nothing but pasta and pizza the entire week (when in Rome!).

Every morning the church bells from a nearby village would toll out; the sun quickly burned off the morning mist so we enjoyed swims before anyone else got to the pool. We watched swallows scoop sips of water from the pool in the mornings, and lightening bugs make love in the evening. We saw stars for the first time in a year. On the twisty mountain roads it is necessary to toot your car horn before turning a corner; the result was a charming cacaphony like so many Canada geese honking in the hills. The weather was mostly beautiful, but on the few rainy days we all curled up in the bed for a nap and listened to the rain on the tin roof. Our neighbors were mostly Germans, who were happy to chat or leave you alone as you pleased (or as their English ran out:)

We did do a few things. We visited the incredibly beautiful fishing village of Manarola, on the Mediterranean. We drove through hills terrraced with vineyards to find this colorful village perched on the cliffs above the sea. Greg and I swam, and Willsy dipped his toes in (he was a little afraid of the waves). It was an amazing day. We also went for lunch in the lovely walled city of Lucca. We enjoyed it very much but my shopping was frustrated by the siesta! Finally, the owners of the villa put on a pizza dinner for us one evening; we watched Mama make the dough and Papa whip the pizzas in and out of the brick oven like hotcakes. With what I imagine is an authentic smokey flavor, they were delicious!

All too soon it was time to go home to Paris....back to the city, to culture, to light pollution....but its not so bad. 'Cause we're planning another vacation!!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Half Birthdays and other Happenings

My big little one is playing at my feet, and I am marvelling at his feats, and just how big he seems now. This reminds me that time is passing, and I haven't gotten this month's post out yet....I guess we've too busy loving life to write it all down. But William's meteoric growth and change reminds me too to take the time to capture the details, for remembering, and treasuring are also important.....look at how fast he has changed already.

So our little man turned 6 months this June. This seems to be a significant date both for him and me. For William I suppose it means he has passed from his tiny babyhood into being a bigger baby; for me, I am no longer the new, freaked out Mommy (Ok I still am sometimes). I've gotten used to, and even relish, my new role as 'Mum'. But the 6 month mark has also been a moment to evaluate how our 'new' family is functioning, and to bring some balance back for the grownups. William is the joy of our lives, but there are other good things about life, that I am ready to have again. Like time for Mommy, and pursuits that have nothing to do with the baby. I'm thinking up ways to get back to routine French lessons, do some regular creative writing, maybe get back to running....I'm not sure how this new routine will look yet, or how it will all work out, but the change is coming.....

Anyways, back to Will: his growth and change has been nothing short of incredible this month! He is very close to crawling, and has done many interesting moves in pursuit of learning this. First came 'super baby' where he would balance on his tummy and 'fly' with his arms and legs; then he figured out how to push his arms up and do a sort of inch worm manouever with his bum.....which got him moving backwards much to his frustration! Next he tried out the plank move from yoga, balancing on his hands and tippy toes with his body elevated in the air; and now he has figured out how to walk his legs forward, ending up in a downward dog position! Of course Downward Dog frequently falls over so William also has some new bruises to show off....he compares war wounds with the other babies at playgroup:)

He is also fascinated with his environment: nothing seems to small for his scrutiny. The cap off his diaper cream, a spoon, shoes and Daddy's hand are all worth a good look and likely a chew (no teeth yet, but he is sure drooly!). He also loves to scratch with his nails to explore the texture of things....which doesn't feel so good on our faces! William's fascination with the little things reminds me now interesting life really is.

The other big news: William started solids! And LOVES it! He leans foreward in anticipation of each bite looking exactly like a hungry baby bird. So far we've tried rice cereal, sweet potatoe, avacadoe and pears, and have had only 1 day where he rejected anything. He is also very interested in watching us eat, and wants to taste everything we have. He's a real Lamarre, loving his chow down!!

We're also working on getting a little more sleep. Now that William has begun solids, he 'should' have enough in his little tummy to get him through the night. But he is also accustomed to Mummy's company at night so has needed some convincing. We are letting him cry it out a bit at bedtime and at night, which I think is harder on Mum than babe. However, we have gotten a night or two where he sleeps most of the night, so progress is being made....

This has been a lot of change for Willsy, and at times he gets pretty frustrated. Normally he is an easy going, sweet tempered baby, but lately he has been a little fussier. Playtime also requires more parental intervention, due to the wobbliness. And so, the routine changes again.....with less time to attend to chores and housework, I have hired some help on a weekly basis. Leah is a friend's daughter, home from University for the summer. She and William have a mutual love affair, and I get a clean house and some time to myself. Its been good.

William also got to meet his Pops and Lola this month when they travelled from Victoria B.C. to meet him. After such a long trip, we were dismayed the William seemed frightened of Pop's moutache, but he quickly got over it. Together we travelled to Normandy to see Juno Beach and Mont St. Michel, and Will travelled with his customary cool. We all enjoyed the beautiful countryside, and got nice weather for walking Juno Beach. However, it was absolutely pouring when we got to Mont St. Michel, but on the upside this meant less crowds. We spent the night there (an intimate and romantic experience) and toured the Abbey before heading home. We also toured around Paris, but I think Pops and Lola were most impressed with the big grocery store!!

And finally William helped Daddy celebrate his first Father's Day with prezzies and pancakes in the mornging, and a wander in the nieghborhood in the afternoon. We stumbled onto our quartier's version of the Great Glebe Garage sale, called 'Vide Grenier' (empty attic). We passed up the baby food steamer for 35 euros (you kidding lady?? Its a garage sale!!) but did buy some cute overalls for Will for 1 euro! Now that's a bargain!