Hawaii honeymoon

My Very Own Name book

When Connor was a few months old, I found these personalized storybooks for kids that spell their names. I thought these were so cool and as he has grown older and realized it’s about his name he pretty much thinks it’s the coolest thing ever.

personalized-name-book

In typical second-child fashion, I neglected to do the same for Ethan and finally decided I had better do it so he doesn’t grow up and think he’s not loved and need therapy. He loves it as well. The idea that there’s a book about his very own name pretty much blew his mind.

reading book at bedtime

These books are from I See Me, and they have these and all kinds of other stories. In these, animals help to spell the child’s name.

my-very-own-name-cover

You can choose which names to include (first, middle, last)…

personalized-name-book-first-name

…and it unfolds as a story.

personalized-storybook

You can also choose a personalized inscription for the front of the book.

i-see-me-message-from-giver

Once you get to the end, there’s a list of all the animals and their letters, and you can have a look through the book to find them all. (You can imagine how much time we have spent doing this.)

animal-encyclopedia

I’ve seen other personalized storybooks but I really like these ones. They’re cute and good quality and less cheezy than others I’ve seen. You can also incorporate your child (including his or her picture) into stories about princesses or pirates or being a big brother or sister, among many others. Great for gift ideas too. (And if you want one right now, you can get free shipping to the US or a $7.95 credit on International and Canadian orders. Valid to July 8, 2015.)

Have you got personalized books for your children? What do they think about them?

I See Me gave me the book for Ethan because I asked them to and they’re awesome and wanted to help me share their books with you.

Penmanship

“Look, I did a really good 6.”

“That is a really good six. Good job, buddy.”

He looks over at my side.

“Your numbers are really good too.”

writing-numbers

I’ve been really sick the last three days and have barely ventured out of my bedroom. Yesterday, Connor asked me if I would put him to bed, and, in a moment of maternal optimism, I agreed. And then bedtime came around and it was clear that was not a good idea. When I told him Daddy would have to put him to bed instead, he cried and cried.

Funny how these things—when Mom has been a bit MIA and you’re catching the same bug and will be throwing up by morning—can seem like the end of the world.

It took a while to get him to calm down, but he enthusiastically agreed to my suggestion that we sit together while Daddy put Ethan to bed. He brought his new erasable mat so he could do some writing practice and generously agreed to let me do some of them.

It was nice. Better than bedtime stories, even.

And apparently I’m good at writing inside the lines.

iPPP button

 

Join Greta from Gfunkified and I for #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

A Valentine for Ethan

Dear Ethan,with-mom-4-months

I held you close tonight after feeding you, your head resting on my shoulder as you slept. You snored, as you often do when you settle back into sleep, and it’s in these night moments that I’m aware of how short a time you’ll be this small.

When you wake in the wee hours of the morning, or when day breaks and I peel myself from the bed, I wonder why it is that babies don’t sleep as much as their parents would like. But during that first wake-up, often before I’ve gone to sleep and when it’s quiet and dark and still, I cherish the moments I get to spend with your small, sleepy form.

Warm sometimes and cool others, your cheek is soft against mine as you lean against me while I try to coax a late-night burp. You tuck into me, your head to my neck, and I feel your soft breath. Your head smells like apricot baby oil and I inhale deeply.

I don’t want to put you down, in those moments when you once again feel part of me, but of course I must. You melt onto my shoulder, but only for a time, and then you need to be left to sleep in your bed.

So instead I lie and listen to the sounds of you. The snores and the sighs and the soft breathing.

And I breathe with you, because whether you are physically with me or not you are part of me and always will be.

Sleep, my babe, and I will see you when next you wake.

Love,
Mama

 

***

I was going to repost my valentine to Rich and Connor this year and then I realized that Ethan wasn’t in it. I thought about doing a second volume to incorporate him, but then when I was putting him to bed last night this appeared.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Bartering Sleep


Moms complain about not getting enough sleep. It’s just what we do. I don’t know even one mother who isn’t tired at least some of the time – either tired from months (or years) of sleep deprivation, tired from trying to keep up with her kids and their energy, or just plain tired of not having more than a few minutes to herself here and there.

It’s that last one that fuels the rest of it.

asleep in the car seat

Duh, mom. When you’re tired, sleep.

The someecards collection is full of pithy quips for moms about how solo grocery shopping counts as “me” time and peace and quiet is only found in the bathroom (and often not even then). So we take those moments when we find them, even if we have to lock the door to keep our beloved children out to do it, and continue our pursuit of time to ourselves by sacrificing that most cherished of commodities: sleep.

I know some parents who can function on very little sleep and so can quite handily go to bed late and still be fine when their offspring disturb their slumber. I’m not one of them. I need sleep – the undisturbed, drool-on-the-pillow-and-wake-up-when-I’m-damn-well-ready kind. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that I haven’t had enough of that in the last four-and-a-half years.

Unfortunately, this need for quality sleep is at odds with another one of my primary requirements for sanity, which is to have a decent amount of time to myself. And so, like so many other mothers, I sacrifice one for the other.

sleeping baby with owl hat

Even little night owls need to sleep sometimes.

Even now, with a three-month-old baby I have to get up with at least two or three times a night, I often choose me time after bedtime. Before Ethan was born — before I was pregnant with him, even — I was the type who called it a day somewhere around 10 p.m. My routine usually included a good stretch of time reading in bed but, even so, if I saw the clock click over to 11 it was a rare thing indeed. Now, despite having both a preschooler who gets up early and the aforementioned night-waking infant, I have to force myself to go to bed at 11 or live with the regret in the morning.

And it’s still not enough. It’s not enough sleep and it’s not enough time to do my own thing. But I’m not alone in my pursuit of the elusive balance.

Judging only by the number of pithy, sleep-related jokes I see shared on Facebook I would know I’m not the only mom making the choice to stay up past my bedtime. But I’ve also had this conversation with several friends, all of whom bemoan the fact that they need more sleep than they get while admitting they stay up too late just to have the time to themselves.

Sure, sleep begets sanity, but what good is sanity if you’re not awake to appreciate it?

 

In the Softening Light

We lie in bed, cozy under the covers, as the light outside slowly fades. We read stories, talking about the pictures and why things work the way they do.

landscape-at-dusk

Credit: Roads Less Traveled Photography, Flickr

“How does that move?”

“Where did they get the wheels from?”

“What makes it go?”

After each question, a pause, and an “oh.” He’s listening.

He rubs his eyes, then my wrist. Still his safe spot.

“I want to hug you for finding my lizard,” he says, and he does.

“I love you, mummy.” His voice is soft and small. “You’re the best.”

When the stories are done and the lights are out, he is quiet but my mind is not. I think about what I did today.

Is that one little thing important?

Five years from now, will what I spent my time doing make a difference?

50 years from now, will it even matter that I was there?

These are the things I think about in the softening light.

 

***

My family has been in town and Connor has been sleeping in our bed for the last week. While it’s not something we would choose on a permanent basis (though more often than not someone ends up in his bed with him for at least part of the night) I do enjoy it. I love the little hand that reaches for mine in the night, his gentle heat and that barely-there-but-still-audible breath punctuated by small sighs. 

It makes me think a lot about what’s important.