Jun 26, 2011

Moving day

July 1st is the universal moving day in Montreal. It's also Canada day, of course, so therefore a public holiday. And exactly a week prior, on June 24th, it's what I call Quebec-day (properly St. Jean Baptiste day or FĂȘte Nationale). So the end of June and the beginning of July are generally infused with a holiday atmosphere. The jazz festival has started, and a few other smaller festivals have already been and gone. Montrealers truly take advantage of the summer.

But why everyone in Montreal has to move on July 1st will always remain a mystery to me. It's an almost 40-year remnant of what was once a legal requirement. Back in the 18th century, the colonial government of New France forbade landlords from evicting their tenant farmers before spring snows had melted. Sure, that made sense in 1750. In 1866, urban leases were required to start on May 1st. In 1973, the Quebec government decided it would make more sense to move this date to July 1st so that students would not be required to move during term time.

However, this law was repealed in 1974. Yet, people persist in moving on July 1st. In fact, in 2009, more than 225,000 households moved on July 1st. Tell me this isn't a headache?

One step outside my building reveals numerous moving trucks, the weeks prior and following July 1st. Where do these trucks go when it's not "moving-day"? Do they just hang out on a parking lot all winter? Surely, the increase in moving volume during this time of year means either a massive shortage of trucks (and accompanying men), or a giant shortage of business in the remainder of the year. Do moving companies make all their money in June and July? Do they just hire a bunch of students to do the work in the summer? Presumably to accommodate the serious shortage of moving trucks, I even saw two guys on bicycles with "heavy-duty trailers", pant their way up the hill on Atwater Avenue.

The entire concepts seems insane, if quaint. You can't drive through narrow Montreal streets without having to swerve around a double-parked truck every other block. Everything, including the kitchen sink is being moved (almost literally - people have to move their fridge and stoves since these are not typically supplied by Montreal landlords). Used furniture can be found everywhere along the streets. If you haven't booked a moving truck at least 6 months in advance, you're out of luck. My facebook page is full of appeals from friends who are asking for moving help. 

Of course, some have suggested that mandating the July 1st rental contracts was a deliberate move on the part of Quebec-separatist politicians: after all, who can truly enjoy the Canadian national holiday if they're having to lug their entire apartment's contents around?

I can't help but wonder how many people break ankles, wrists or even their neck on the narrow, curved Montreal stairways. Come to think of it, perhaps moving in the summer is safer than moving during the winter. But does it all have to be done on July 1st??? True Montreal Madness.

Jun 24, 2011

New routines

Baby-boy and I have been falling into some nice routines. Not really on purpose. I'm a firm believer of "on-demand" babying for little ones, since they can't be spoiled, and us adults have trouble interpreting what it is they want. So, on-demand feeding, sleeping and playing has dictated my life these past four months.

Eventually, a pattern emerged. (Doesn't it always? This is the beauty of statistics. Though I'm proud to report I haven't actually gotten to plotting any of my baby data - I'm resisting that temptation). So the self-emerged routine looks somewhat like this: baby wakes at 6.45am, wants a itty-bit of milk but not that much - mostly, he just smiles, giggles and gurgles. Roughly 2 hours later, he's ready to pass out again. Now he gets demanding and WANTS HIS MILK (dammit). I comply and he fall asleep in the process. A nap ensues. He wakes later in the morning for more giggles and play. Then we follow a roughly feed-every-two-hours routine. Typically, he naps again either around lunch time, or an hour or two after lunch. Most afternoons, he likes to nap at least twice and can wake up *very* groggy, in a fashion that has hubby saying he takes after me when waking up. Often, I'm able to sing or massage him out of his funk. Sometimes, I'm rewarded with squeals of delight and serious laughing fits. The evenings are mixed: often he has a short nap. Usually we try to keep him up till bed-time, so that he has a longer sleep. Bedtime falls around 8.30pm. Some days he has a bath with one of us first, followed by milk and sleep. Other days, he gets story time (a very famous Dutch children's book "Jip en Janneke"), followed by a quiet ten minutes during which his eyes get heavy. The nights. Well, they still vary, but mostly it consists of a very drowsy feed at around 11pm before I go to bed, followed by a long sleep till about 3.30 or 4.00am. After that comes a short sleep till about 6.30 or 6.45, and the routine starts again.

It's a pretty good routine that has been working well for us. But it is also one that gets interrupted -- daytime in particular since we go out and about in the stroller, and sometimes evenings when we go to dinner with friends and/or family. Not surprisingly, baby boy has been totally exhausted the last few days, after a 10 day visit from "oma". He loved all the extra attention and stimulation. But a keen mommy's eye can see that it's taken its toll on the tiny body and brain. 

So, sleep it is. More naps for a few days.

Jun 12, 2011

Night terrors

Baby-boy has been experiencing night terrors. Not often. About once a month or so, since his birth. They occur in the early part of the night. He wakes up screaming - not just any kind of scream, but the type you might hear when someone is being stabbed. That kind of scream. Utterly terrifying. 

When it happens, I get the shock of my life. My adrenaline shoots through the roof. While still half-groggy, I shoot out of my bed to run over to his crib. He's clearly still asleep but all the while screaming his head off. Sometimes his eyes are open. When I pick him up, however, it's clear he's still asleep because his body is entirely floppy. He seems to feel comforted when I pick him up and after half a minute or so, he calms down enough for me to put him back to sleep. It's as if nothing ever happened. For him at least.

Me, I am still trembling at that point. We had one of those terrors last night. And since his lung capacity is now much bigger, the screams are even more jarring. Needless to say, I was very shaken and had difficulty getting back to sleep. I kept checking on him every 10 minutes to see if he was alright. As far as baby-boy was concerned, he went back to his regular sleep schedule, and even had a longer sleeping stretch than usual in the latter half of the night.

So this morning I scoured the internet for information on night terrors in young babies. Experts disagree. Apparently, they used to think babies couldn't dream (idiotic - in fact, babies already experience REM sleep while still in the womb). Some also say that night terrors don't occur until a child is about 2 or 3 years old. Again, this seems wrong. Clearly, my little one isn't experiencing a regular nightmare from which he wakes up and doesn't want to sleep again. This is very different, and very much follows the pattern of a night terror. Other experts and mommy blogs confirm that night terrors are indeed possible in newborns, but only happen to about 5% of babies.

While terrifying, I'm glad to know that these don't seem to be a cause of, or cause, psychological distress. Rather, sleep deprivation appears to be an indicator. I'm inclined to believe the latter is true, since baby-boy didn't have that many naps yesterday. So now, I'm trying to make sure he gets enough naps during the day time!

Jun 10, 2011

Laughing baby-boy

Some evidence of the things that are curious and those that are funny.

Jun 3, 2011

Post from Baby-boy

Some things are curious. A lot of things are funny.

It's curious when mommy disappears behind the shower curtain. Sometimes her head sticks out. 

It's curious when the cat walks by. And when the dog rolls on the floor.

When mommy cuts my nails, I lay very still and ponder.

I like the bouncy chair. I get to bounce and smile. And work things out.

I don't know what mommy does in the kitchen every morning. But it's intriguing.

The lady in the moon captures my attention.

It's funny when I get to bash Poo Bear, Tigger and Eeyore.

I laugh when I see the safari animals.

It's very funny when mommy looks at me.

I always laugh on the changing table. I bang my feet. It makes a loud noise.

Sophie the Giraffe is funny. She squeaks. 

The wind is hilarious. I love it when it strokes my head. I squeeze my eyes shut and then throw them open in delight.

But the funniest of all is when daddy sings me Lady Gaga songs.

And then I get hungry, and want to sleep.