Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Christmas' Past

Christmas is coming…There I said it! It is really only two months away and now that we have three kids I am starting to wonder if July would be a good time to begin planning for Christmas presents going forward.

Having said that I have been struggling over the last few years to continue the connection that I have always had with the holiday. We didn’t have much as kids, we never went hungry or anything, but at Christmas my parents did everything that they could to give us what we wanted. I honestly don’t think I can remember a year where I was not happy with what I got. I learned to set my expectations appropriately so that what I received was in line with what Santa could bring.

Those days were filled with very specific traditions. We always had a Scotch Pine, which my parents discontinued recently, that my Dad would trim and set up. My Mom, my Sisters and I would decorate it with baubles and things that we had accumulated since I was a kid. In the end our tree was a gaudy assortment of the Christmas detritus of years past. I absolutely loved it. It was a connection to my childhood and the one season that I adored.

Now that I have my own family I find that sometimes I struggle at Christmas. We are still establishing our holiday traditions because of how young our family is. Andrea is allergic to pine so a real tree is out of the question. No matter how much I love the idea of a real tree I hate the idea of my wife being uncomfortable. She offered to just dose herself with Benadril for the holidays once but I couldn’t ask her to do that.

I find the lights on the trees to be kind of annoying now. I used to love the flickering of the coloured lights that we used to have as kids but now we have LEDs that are energy efficient and they don’t feel as warm or inviting to me. I liked watching my Dad go through a string to find the one bulb that was shot and I actually enjoyed doing that myself when I first got my own place.

I struggle to continue traditions from my family such as placing cards on the tree for everyone in the family. This is only due to the fact that Christmas Cards are ridiculously expensive these days. But on Christmas morning we would go downstairs and the tree would be covered in them: From my parents to us kids and vice versa as well as from us kids to each other. It’s unfortunate to think that this isn’t practical, but that money could be spent on presents.

I find I have no connection to any of the television specials that are on now either. I don’t get excited unless The Grinch, Rudolph, Frosty or Mickey’s Christmas Carol are on. The rest of them are just a bit silly. I am also waiting for Charlie Brown’s Christmas to be discontinued due to how religious it is.

I feel like they had Christmas right until about the mid 80’s and then it just fell apart. The magic was lost. I used to get excited about the Sears Christmas Wishbook because it was the best way to tell that Christmas was on the way. Now you can just search the web and find the top presents out there and order them on Amazon. Not that this is a bad thing because I find myself ready to snap whenever I go Christmas shopping.

Part of me wants to try an Olde Fashioned Christmas. Something out of a Dicken’s novel without the dirt of Victorian London around me. I would like to give gifts that mean something, possibly even gifts that are homemade, be it in my home or some other home from someone who has much more skill than I do. I have even been looking at the Lee Valley catalogue because they have some really neat wooden toys that I think would be fun to put together with the boys.

I guess what I am saying is that Christmas isn’t what it used to be. We can’t sing Christmas songs without offending someone, we can’t say Merry Christmas without upsetting people. I feel like we have squeezed all the joy out of the Season. I used to look forward to the Christmas concert that we had at school or when I was in High School we would get together before classes began in the school lobby and sing Christmas Carols. At those sing-a-longs we had Hindus, Jews, Christians, Atheists, a veritable plethora of beliefs. No one was upset because these were the songs of our childhood, our parent’s childhood.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t meant to be a rant about Christmas being ruined by people who are hyper-sensitive (though I think there is something in that); it is me mourning that in the end it will probably never live up to what it was when I was a kid. I think I am just trying to find my own way of getting a bit of that feeling back.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I love my kids

I love my kids. I really do. Andrea and I have found that adding a third to the mix has been both rewarding and challenging to say the least. Two is easy compared to three. I have had a lot of people tell me that once you get past three it becomes easy again if you decide to have more. I think they are full of it.

When I say I love my kids I mean it in the most sincere way. I can tell you right now though that there are days where I don’t like them much. Such as days when none of them listen to a word that either of us say or days when all I hear is the whining and whimpering over the littlest thing. “Daddy, Rhys took my puzzle piece” or “Declan took my truck”. Let’s be honest, there are more trucks and puzzles then I care to think about. Unfortunately there is no reasoning with them when these situations occur.

Yesterday Leighton and I had a bit of a misunderstanding. He didn’t realize that when having his bum changed he shouldn’t pee or poop. I didn’t realize that as a six week old he hasn’t quite grasped this concept. In the span of 5 minutes he almost peed in his own face, almost had and explosive bowel movement all over me and our bed, and then almost peed in his own face again! It definitely was not one my more stellar moments as I said to Andrea, “This going very poorly for me right now!” I seem to recall also saying, “Oh geez, I’m panicking!” Hilarity ensued. Eventually he got cleaned up. No one got hurt in the process so that it is good.

We have found that going out to supper has become fraught with trouble. One doesn’t want to eat anything on the menu or only wants to eat what is on someone else’s plate and the other just wants to go the bathroom 5 times to check it out.

Last night we were asked to go to supper for Andrea’s Father’s birthday. We gladly accepted and hoped that by going with the Grandparents the boys may behave a bit better we would not be in as much trouble as we have been lately. Boy were we wrong.

Dinner was at the Mandarin in Burlington which is a Chinese Buffet for those who don’t know. It is considered one of the best one’s around and is always busy at dinner time. We chose a good time as we were there earlier than most diners so it wasn’t as busy as it would be later. The boys started out alright but it eventually went downhill.

Rhys had a small throw up off garlic bread that set the tone. His diaper then leaked and I had to change it which was a joy. Picture a men’s bathroom with urinals across one wall and then on the opposite wall next to the stalls there is a diaper change table. Picture me in front of that table squatting on the ground to get Rhys’ new pants pulled up and put his shoes back on. Now picture a grown mad coming in and deciding to use the urinal directly behind me even though there were 3 others that were vacant. This man’s derriere was approximately half a foot from the back of my head. Very pleasant. What possesses someone to do that? Really.

Halfway through the meal Declan began looking a little worse for the wear and was starting to choke. It was decided that we would hurriedly pay and get out of there in case he actually threw up. We made a bee-line for the doors but when we got to the lobby it was absolutely packed. Andrea’s Dad must have excused himself 20 times to get people out of the way.

It was no use. We got the big revolving door and Declan threw up right in front of it. Ah buffet vomit, how wonderful.

Andrea’s Dad continued to try and get Declan out through the revolving door and Andrea followed closely behind with Rhys. Unfortunately Rhys got stuck in the door. Half of his body was inside the door and half was out. Poor kid, he looked really distressed and scared. Andrea’s Dad had no idea why the door was jammed so he continued to push which just made it worse unfortunately. Poor Poppa.

Once we got him out we advised the restaurant of the accident and quickly high-tailed it out of there.

When we got back to Andrea’s parents house the boys perked up and everyone was fine. We could laugh about the whole thing but it was really a rough end to a pretty good meal.

A little while later we were in the living room and Rhys was near the rocking chair. I am not certain how but ended up smashing his nose on the arm of the chair and had a quick whine about it. I checked him out immediately and he seemed to be fine so he went on playing and laughing. About a minute we realized that he was actually bleeding from the nose so we frantically tried to stopped the bleeding while keeping him calm. We all know that kids won’t freak out as long as they don’t see the blood or see people panicking. Eventually we got the bleeding to stop and decided that the day was done. We went home and called it a night.

I love my kids, I really do. Yesterday, I didn’t like them much. I am eagerly awaiting my Father of the Year award.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Falling Into Life

What a crazy couple of months we have had!  Andrea, Declan, Rhys and I would like to welcome Leighton Robert Carroll to the world.  He was born August 31st, 2011 which was a week early.  Obviously anxious to enter our lives.  He is a wonderful little boy and we have been incredibly blessed with all three of our boys.

Having said that I can say with the utmost sincerity that sleep is something that I am sure will happen again.  I have tentatively scheduled it for around Summer of 2015.  We are officially outnumbered now!

Declan turned 4 this summer and started school at the beginning of September.  So far he has taken the changes very well.  He enjoys his teacher and seems to be excited every morning when he is told it is a school day.  He only goes two days a week currently and then a third day every 2 weeks.  It is kind of confusing and has created a bit of stress in making sure that everyone is where they need to be on the correct day.

With Rhys still in daycare there is some continuity for Declan as well because he can go into the daycare when Rhys is dropped off.  Speaking of Rhys, he amazes me.  He is so big now and has such a sweet heart.  He truly enjoys snuggling and hugging and has a smile that lights up the room.  He is thriving in Daycare and I am very happy with how he is developing.  We are in the process of trying to potty train which is a bit difficult with all the adjustments that have been made in his life but he is slowly getting it.

I can't believe how big our boys are getting!  They are little men in truth.

I cannot say enough about how much I feel daycare provided Declan with the tools required to transition into JK.  His conversational English is terrific and his ability to adapt to new situations has certainly benefited.  I would strongly encourage anyone who is on the fence about daycare to seriously consider it.

One of the things that I have been able to take advantage of over the last month is the sabbatical that my company offers.  After 5 years of employment we are entitled to a month off fully paid.  It is supposed to used as a enriching opportunity and I have used it as an opportunity to provide as much support as I can to Andrea during the last month.  Between the arrival of Leighton and Declan beginning JK it has been wonderful being at home.  I have been able to see first hand how quickly the day goes by.  I am awake by 5 or 6:00am and the next thing I know it is the afternoon and almost time to pick up the boys.
Going back to work will be hard because it will be another adjustment for everyone.  It look as though will take off next August for Parental Leave as well which should be nice.

I cannot say enough about the strength that I see daily in Andrea.  She has the patience of a rock with all of her boys, myself included, and is doing it all while being so tired that I am unsure how she functions.  The crazy part is she really doesn't think that she is doing anything remarkable!  I am so proud of her.  She is an amazing Mother and wonderful Wife.

All in all things are going very well.