Friday, December 26, 2014

Making Some Lists and Checking Them Twice

Monday 22 December:  Children's "Holiday" Office Party

  • Bouncy castle
  • Inflatable basketball hoop
  • Cookie decorating
  • Santa + present
  • Pizza lunch
Henry did not require much coercing to get out of the apartment Monday morning in order to go to the Santa Party.  We hopped onto the Queen Street car at Coxwell, and when we stepped off at Yonge Street and looked up, Henry exclaimed, because he obviously doesn't remember being there just a few weeks ago...

Henry:  Wow!  What is this?  looking up at the tall buildings   What!

Elisabeth:  You're downtown!  You're in the city, now lets go find the office tower where mummy works.

Once the salutations were made, we set his animal friends down on my cubical overlooking the construction site, made him a hot chocolate and set about exploring the activities and meeting people.

Slam dunk!

Henry was too shy at first to go into the bouncy castle, but when my friend showed up with her children that Henry has known since birth, he climbed right in and wouldn't stop.  

To the point where, when Santa came in, he didn't want to stop bouncing!  

But once seated on the floor with the other children, he patiently waited for his turn, sat on Santa's lap and happily received a Playmobil race car.

Thanks to the generous folks at work, the parents were given the afternoon off to be with their children, which Henry & I spent basically running errands.  

Tuesday 23 December:  The Last Day to Get Things Done  

  • Grocery shop at No Frills
  • Make gingerbread train
  • Play
  • Lunch
  • Laundromat
  • Make cookies for Santa
  • Movie
  • Dinner
As tedious as this day promised to be, it is actually my most favourite of the week.  Henry is easygoing enough (right now) that our chores were easily turned into fun adventures, usually involving him bringing out his alter ego Spiderman.  

Early morning arts and crafts.
A Christmas card to Luther and Winston.

Much better...
As they say, practice makes perfect.
And it's not perfect.  But it will do...

Meeting shop dog Hazel at coffee shop while the laundry washes.

Heat adds special superhero powers to towels.
Try it.

Henry set-up all his animals to watch a movie and then took this picture.

Making sugar cookies for Santa.  Yum.

By the end of the day, were were all set for Christmas and that of course is a great feeling.

Wednesday 24 December:  Christmas Eve

  • Lazy quiet day
  • Make more cookies
  • Watch movies
  • Go for walk
  • Play
  • Prepare holiday hot pot
  • Open 1 present 
  • Go to children's church service
A relatively peaceful day lounging and getting excited, eating lots of sugar and watching Dora, Diego and Spiderman videos.  I forced a small pause for us to look at the Red Door Shelter website and we made a donation together to help a new immigrant family.  Not exactly captivating fare for a four year old, but it's something to build on at any rate.

Henry had asked for latkes, which made a yummy lunch, served with a bit of salad.
After lunch we went for an enchanted walk around Woodbine Park.  We played chase the bad guy, found talking sticks, a magic coin, ducks and swans, and raced each other through the winding paths.  While I spent a good part of the afternoon cooking, Henry (amazingly) played with his Playmobil toys by himself, displaying quite the budding imagination.  

Park exploration.

Solo play. 

Someone loves Christmas.

Don't use puff pastry on holiday hot pot.
After it baked, it got soggy and sank.

Things got a little hairy after he opened his one present, when he displayed serious displeasure receiving colour-changing markers and not a Lego toy in a big box.  I was perhaps a little too harsh on him, telling him how lucky he was to receive any presents at all as some children don't, and that not all presents would be big and wonderful.  Lets just say he got the message.  And I will have to learn to better control myself in future. 

After church we ate our dinner, watched Mr. Bean's Christmas and went to sleep.  It may never happen again, but he passed out by 8pm on Christmas Eve.  

I was not too far behind.

Thursday 25 December:  Christmas Day

Picture askew, milk drunk, cookies and carrots gnawed on...
Thank you Henry for not waking up earlier than 6:30am.  Of course the first thing he saw was the present that Santa had left by the fireplace.  

Shortly after, he looked out the window and seemed genuinely surprised that it hadn't snowed.  What with all the songs, it is quite the let-down to not have a white Christmas.  I muted my global warming lecture and said that lots of rain did fall last night and that would all have been snow, but it just wasn't cold enough here in the city.

We opened his and Luther's stockings, had breakfast (he's really into steel cut oats with maple syrup) and then started on the tree presents.  

Santa gave him another Playmobil ship, one with red coat soldiers who are chasing after the pirate ship to take back the treasure.  

He also received stickers, markers, notepads, a Spiderman hard pencil case, chocolate, a Dusty word bingo board game, books and a stuffed cat that looks like Luther.  After our Christmas Eve episode, he was quite content with that and would have called it a day.  

Then I told Henry that there was one more present for him in his room, a big present.  

Here's the video.

We went out right away for a ride around Woodbine park, where he wanted to follow the paths we had taken the day before.  It was quite windy, but he pushed through and made it up some inclines and even trusted his breaks to take him slowly down some small hills.  I was so proud of him.  

Oftentimes, Henry walks a fine line between cockiness and timidity.  He's intelligent so he's able to grasp concepts and tasks fairly quickly in most cases, but he's very frustrated by any perceived mistake and will instantly give up and hide.

There were a few moments where he got frustrated with his bike to the point of quitting, but his excitement thankfully overruled the lesser emotions.  

We warmed up back at the apartment, played with his toys, played super hero and bad guy, ate meatballs, mini quiches and watched It's A Wonderful Life, or the first 30 minutes of it at any rate.


It was time to pack up his stuffies, pyjamas, some Christmas cookies and meet his dad out on the street to hand him off for 6 days. 

Determined to make Henry's Christmas bright, I kept a smile on my face in an attempt to extract and utilize every endorphin being released.  I had been reiterating to Henry that he was going to get to spend time with his dad and his grandma and get a second round of presents and treats.  That he was lucky in that regard.  And that how can I paint his bunk bed and prepare surprises for him if he's here?  That I wasn't going anywhere, just getting some work and surprises done while he goes to his dad's to have some fun.

Of course, I can't promise surprises forever.  

But I'm going on mamma's instinct here.  That by perhaps giving in and going a bit over-the-top right now, I'm not winning his affections so much as distracting him from and hopefully mitigating deep feelings of sadness or inadequacy or insecurity.  That is my motive, for better or for worse.

And so as he walked down the street hand in hand with his dad, he turned around and waved goodbye.  My heart melted and I continued to smile through the tears that he was too far away to see.

To have been on a six day Christmas treadmill and to have the Stop button pressed mid-day on the 25th was hard.  But he had so many wonderful experiences and was so content and outgoing, that the sadness was only for me, not for him.  That made it so much easier to manage.  

A run down on the beach, a bath, eggnog and dinner at a friend's was a lovely way to repair the afternoon.

Upon Henry's return on New Year's Day, we will drive down to Buffalo and spend the night with his cousins. 

Until then I must:
  • Rest
  • Relax
  • Enjoy the company of my old friend from C-ville for a few days, who will help with...
  • Paint bunk beds
  • Clear out the rest of the stuff at the old house
  • Redesign the dining room
  • Have Fun

I hope I can check off all of those boxes in a week.


Opening the Dusty bingo game.

He wanted to play it right away, before all presents were opened.

New stuffy - a Luther cat!

Big boy.

Xmas selfie!

The Artful Cat.

Merry Christmas to all and wishing everyone a very Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ideal vs. Reality: Finding the Limit

I feel like a mother again. 

I've now been with Henry for 2.5 days.  

And I've got him for 3.5 more.  

When I picked Henry up from daycare on Friday, I was already heavily laden with bags and then added a few more (his belongings, seasonal art, presents, etc...) it was then quite the circus bustling him into his snowsuit, taking the bus home and getting in the door.  

But I had a few surprises for him, so we focused on that.

The first was the mattress and sheets were now set-up on his bunk bed.   It still needs to be painted, but it is now functional.

The top is his sanctuary.
He says he purposely wanted a Henry-only space.

The next surprise was a Spiderman block print which we'll hang on his wall when his room is ready.  

"So cool."

The third surprise was the Christmas tree was done up with better lights, bobbles and bows, without having disturbed the ornaments we had put on together on Tuesday.

Still need to make a star.
And the fourth surprise was a gingerbread house kit.  That and a new pair of winter boots was all I had to offer Henry to assure him that while we are apart, he is not forgotten and mommy is working hard on his behalf and not out at the bar.  Although, it can be a tempting proposition!

I had been feeling rather exhausted all week, the kind where you can no longer force your brain to think anymore.  So I took a sick day early on, simply not being able to function and feeling a cold coming on.  I can't afford to get sick right now.  Period.  And I probably should have taken more than one day.

As on Friday, by the time Henry was fed and put to bed, I had no choice but to pass-out.  I don't know if it was something that I ate but I woke up near midnight and wretched my guts out.  And that was that.

With a 5am start from Henry Saturday morning, it was not the most productive day, feeling on the verge of flu-like symptoms.  But mostly just tired.

The activities may have been a little more low-key, but mommy didn't want to spend the first full day of the holidays with her son making him watch movies so that she could lie prostrate.   

Oh no.

Henry did some painting, played with his animals and toys, went to the park, made a gingerbread house, and in the afternoon we set off to the Christmas Market in the Distillery.  

Then we watched a few videos upon our return home, and an early bedtime for both of us.

That was all I needed to feel better and function:  a low-key day and a good night's sleep. 

But I've a long way to go to fully wind down after this long transition.  I'm realizing that.

So with being overwhelmed with divorce, moving, establishing new life, smoothing out the bumps for Henry and preparing for Christmas, I only realized at the last minute that I have no choice but to reluctantly take a break from choir -- maybe start back in the new year, we'll see.  And Henry was not forced to be in the Christmas pageant this year, also a last-minute decision.

Oh, and to all my friends and family, especially those with children, I only remembered today that I was supposed to buy presents for them and for you.  Sorry.  I barely got Henry's done in time.  

And with that, here's the rest of the week IN PICTURES:

First time using a slow-cooker.  Easy and delicious.  More to come!

Henry's photo of Luther.

I had my first bath, on a non-Henry night.  Magic.

10:30pm cookies = bad idea.
They are in the compost.

His ability to paint has come a long way.

His colours are distinct for one thing, and pretty much within the lines!

Finding the magic ice crystal.  

I'm embarrassed.
I've bought a 2nd kit to give it another go.

Showing his "friends" the Christmas market rides.

Christmas market ferris wheel.
"Maybe I'll go on it when I'm older and not scared."

Henry chose to try a s'more flavour gourmet donut.
Absolutely incredible.

Luther and friends in the "elevator" that can take them to the moon.

See if you can spot Mr. Pickles.
Henry chose to ride the horse for his haircut in his honour.


Looking so grown-up.

Henry showing Mr. Pickles the subway tunnel.
"We're going downhill, but don't worry, there are no monsters."


Looks can be deceiving.  Henry took one bite and cried.
I taught him how to politely decline a new dish
and then made him a hamburger and mashed potatoes.  

This time next week, Christmas will be a memory and I'll have been on my own for 3.5 days.  

'Tis a strange time.  But it's not all bad.  In fact, it's mostly quite good.

À bientôt.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Little Magic Before the Holidays

I don't know if it's Krazy glue or a blister on my thumb.  My hands hurt and are rough with dirt under the nails.  My whole body is aching, but in a very satisfied way.

Since my last post I have been working very hard setting up my new life in the apartment.  

And after spending an entire weekend alone working on settling in, there's still much to do.  But first things first.

As this transition is sure to be the most difficult on Henry, and it being the Christmas season, I wanted there to be some magic for the boy, to help keep his mind focused on the positive things in his life.

So after the movers dropped off all the boxes and furniture, I set about quickly unpacking and assembling what was needed to make Henry's first night out of the house a fun one.  

So pleased with the child-sized table & stools.  So pleased.

New pirate ship!  Henry was totally into doing the building himself---with help ;)
On the first weekend, when Henry & I weren't unpacking and doing chores, we walked down to the beach & shops, ate out, explored the park behind the apartment, went to church, and so forth. 

One of the first things Henry did was to put his name on the fridge.

There is a streetcar loop just across the street from the window.
Henry can't get enough of watching them  go round the corner. 

A visit to Moo Milk bar, before our Autoshare pickup.

Local bookstore bunny.

Boys and sticks.
Letter to Santa.
I was proud Henry thought to put a "please" in it.

"Dear Santa, I have been a very good boy
I would like big superhero Lego please.
From Henry."

And then, just as we were getting in a groove it was time to drop Henry off at school Monday morning.  I explained to him that his dad would pick him up from school and that he'd spend 2 nights at his dad's apartment.  I would pick him up from school on Wednesday.  

We had a moment of jubilation on the way to school when we posted the letter to Santa.

But Henry was very sad being dropped off that morning.  He was "the saddest ever."  And having to turn around and walk out the door brought me right back to those first ghastly days of dropping infant Henry off to daycare, inuring myself to trusting others to care for him while he cried for me.  

Which is why I must remain positive and try to create a little magic.

As luck would have it, mother nature came through and on Wednesday night we had our first big snowfall. 

Henry very much wanted his stuffed animal friends to share in the excitement, so before breakfast, we lined them up.

Around the corner, Henry asked if he could do a snow angel.
And he did.  So cute.
Then on Friday morning, another drop-off and goodbye until Monday afternoon.  So I promised to Henry that while he was with his dad on the weekend, I was going to work on getting his bunk beds and his room set up.  Of course, little does he know, I also had to get the Christmas tree, all of his Christmas presents, wash the unpacked dishes, clean the oven, clean the fridge, dust and vacuum, do the laundry (a 2 hour and $15 trip to the laundromat), buy groceries and cook, buy him mattresses, move more items over from the house, and so on and so forth.  

Luther is adjusting well - he's got a great view of birds, squirrels and traffic.
He's absolutely terrified by sirens. 
Putting it together, bit by bit.

A nice diversion was seeing my brother play guitar at Massey Hall on Saturday night.  Met up with T & V before and after for good family catch-up and laughs.  

The iphone camera is disappointing.
Going back to real cameras soon.
But you can just make out the cowboy hat...

Enjoying some bevvies.

Yup, we're pretty blond.

And then Sunday back to more chores...

I will perfect the art of laundering.
Off to a good start.

I now have a drill and can use it.

Nothing to it.
Next step is to paint it red, as per Henry's wishes.

It's getting there...

And finally, here is a clip from Henry's first "Winter Concert."  He was so excited for it, he kept trying to be "sick" and saying he didn't want to go.  But once up there, he seemed to really enjoy himself.

So this next week is 2 days on, 2 days off, but then I will have Henry for almost a week straight, up until noon on Christmas Day.

I think most of the heavy lifting is now done.  Time to make cookies, write cards and give presents.

A bientot!