Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sprout is Twenty-Three Months Old

Today Sprout is twenty-three months old.

This little bug is only a month away from her second birthday!  Only days away from being the same age The Bean was when she was born.  It's unbelievable to me how quickly the time is passing.  One of my students asked how old she was and I said, "She'll be two in December."  My student responded, "So, she's one?"  It took me a beat, but I told her, yes, Sprout is one.  She said, "I thought she was a kid."  I said, "Well, she kind of is a kid." because at almost-two she is certainly not a baby anymore, though she will always be our baby.

So, this kid...

She is a very sweet little one.  She likes to cuddle and be held, but only on her own terms.  She's taken to telling me "Go away, Mama!" when I'm lying beside her at night but usually as soon as move into the chair across the room she runs over to me.  She still loves to nurse.  She is a true co-sleeper and cries when she wakes up and I am not in the bed with her.

Sleep continues to be an issue.  Maybe it's because she nurses.  Maybe it's because we co-sleep most nights.  I don't know.  She takes a long time to settle in the evenings.  She wakes up several times through the night.  I feel like it's gotten better, but it's more likely that we've just be that we've resigned ourselves to the situation.  She usually is down between 8 and 9pm (after a 7:30pm "bedtime") and wakes up between 5:30am (weekends) and 7:00am (weekdays).  Naturally.  Naps are mid-day and seem to last about 1-2 hours.  I'm usually at work.  On the weekends she'll sometimes go longer since I'm around to settle her back down.

Food is about the same as it has been.  She eats a fair balance of things, but not a super-wide variety.  Sometimes she'll surprise us by gobbling up something she's refused before (e.g. broccoli stems) , only to refuse it again the next time we serve it.  She loves hot dogs and sausages.  Usually likes fish.  Won't touch chicken or most other meats unless they're somehow mixed in to other food.  Soft veggies are the way to go with her.  She likes a good variety of fruits, but not usually berries.  She just started eating pears, so we'll see if that lasts.  Vanilla yogurt and she LOVES cheese... but who doesn't?  ;)

Her top left and bottom right canines came through late into her 22nd month or early into her 23rd
the top right and bottom left ones just broke last week.  She seems to be working on molars as she is constantly chomping on her fingers.  I'll be very happy to have a bit of a reprieve from teething once they come in.  I'm sure she will too.

Her hair is getting long.  No plans to cut it anytime soon.

She is mostly in 2T clothing now.  2T pants are still a bit long and need to be cinched at the waist, but they work.  She loves wearing dresses and calls herself "Anna" (from Frozen) when she wears one and will spin around.  Actually, we can convince her to wear many things by telling her they're "Anna" things... Anna socks, Anna shirts, etc.  She is in a size 6 shoe and size 5 diapers.

She loves music.  The Wheels on the Bus is still a favourite and often-requested song.  She also likes all the songs from Frozen.  She likes to dance and will do crazy downward dog-type moves, somersaults, etc.

She enjoys other gross-motor activities.  She's a good climber.  She's also pretty decent kicking a ball.  Swim class is over now, but she did enjoy it as long as her head didn't get wet.

Maybe I'm seeing this through a Mama's eyes, but I think she's got quite amazing fine motor skills.  She loves to draw and paint and will happily do so for extended periods of time.  She blew me away earlier this week by putting glue dots on Xs I'd drawn on a paper for a cutting/pasting activity  I didn't think she'd be able to do it, but she did it really well.

She's starting to say the names of more and more colours.  Actual recognition of colours seems to be getting better, but is still sort of hit or miss.

Word count, in general, is increasing.  Lots of short sentences now.  She regularly tells me "Love nurse" but hasn't yet said an unprompted "Love you."  Sigh.

She still loves being read to and will also look at books independently.  She definitely knows bits and pieces of books we read often and will "read" them to herself.  Just yesterday she read me bits of Farmyard Beat.  It was pretty cute.

We did a bit of a reorganization of our living room and she's started to use the play kitchen and play food a lot more.  She loves putting on the oven mitts and chef's hat and feeding us things.

I love spending time with this girl and seeing her personality continue to develop.  She is such a character.  I look forward to seeing what she's like as a two year old and all the other ages after that.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Holiday Craft Exchange Contact Information

It has been brought to my attention (again) that several people have problems commenting on this blog and using the "Contact Us" form.  I wish I knew how to fix this problem, but unfortunately I'm not that tech savvy.  So, if you're interested in the Holiday Craft Exchange but can't get in touch, please just email me at allison-lee AT rocketmail DOT com.

Holiday Craft Exchange

One of my favourite things in blogland at this time of year is the Holiday Craft Exchage.
I started participating several years ago, when it was hosted by S at An Offering of Love.  Then R at Insert Metaphor took over.  This year I volunteered to do the organizing.  ALL are welcome to join in... old and new, super crafty and not.  Here are the rules:
1. Enter the swap by emailing us through the "Contact Us" link on this page.  You must include:

  • your full mailing address
  • your blog name
  • the names of the people in your family and the ages of the children
  • which winter holidays you celebrate

Please sign up by the evening of Wednesday, November 26th, 2014.
2.  I will do a random drawing to match givers/recipients.  I will email you the name and contact information of your recipient by next weekend.  The exchange of names is secret, so you won’t know who drew your name until you receive a package in the mail.
3.  If you are unfamiliar with the blogger whose name you receive, spend some time on their blog and make a new friend!
4.   Create a homemade holiday craft and mail it to your recipient by Wednesday, December 17th, 2014.  Hopefully a week is enough time for it to arrive in time for Christmas or the last day of Hanukkah or maybe even Winter Soltice as long as Canada Post and USPS are bringing their A game. 
5.  Share a picture on your blog of the craft you received and tell us who made it.
Other info:
* Feel free to create any holiday-ish craft you want.  Aside from postage, there’s no need to spend much, if any, money on this.  I would like to open this up internationally, but if you have issues shipping outside your country or North America, please let me know and I will try to accommodate you.
* To participate, you should have an active blog so that we can all feel comfortable swapping addresses.  The only people who will see your name and address are me and your designated recipient.  I will not reveal your information in any other way.
*Feel free to post a link to this exchange on your blog and encourage folks to sign up.
* Please sign up only if you can follow through.  Speaking from experience, it's quite disappointing to never receive your craft. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Not Enough Hours

Hi All.

Sorry for the absence around here.  I have been writing a lot of half blog posts in my head these days, because there's never really enough time to think them out in full, and there's certainly not enough time to actually sit down and get even half a blog post written out on the screen.

I feel like you guys get that though, right?

School is busy. I am still staying just ahead of the game from planning standpoint, which is so difficult for someone like me who likes to have a clearly articulated plan. A few weeks ago I found out that I had to write report cards 10 days before they were due. Of course, we had a visit to PA scheduled, which I panicked about when I found out about the reports, because a trip to Grandma and Grandpa's is not something that you can cancel (too many upset kids and upset grandparents), but ended up being a blessing in disguise.  Grandma and Grandpa (and Jen) kept the kids busy and happy while I holed up in the basement and wrote 70+ individualized comments over the course of three days.  It was brutal.  They got done though and the principal of the school told me I was a "fantastic writer" which felt good after agonizing over the right adjectives to use.

The kids still aren't sleeping well, but are pretty great otherwise.  They are getting so big so fast.  I was running late today so called home to let my sister know and The Bean answered the phone.  Listening to his little high pitched voice over the telephone, well, I don't even know how to describe it.  It's just remarkable to think this kid, my kid, is able to hold a telephone conversation, even if he has been doing it for nearly a year.  Sprout is becoming quite a little chatterbox too.  She's so funny.  Some of the things she comes out with make me laugh so much.  Of course, nothing comes to mind at this second, but really, she is such a little joker.  And observant.  And opinionated.  We certainly have our hands full with her.  We never really recognized or appreciated how compliant The Bean was/is, but now we have her to compare him we realize how easy we had it with him.  I have a feeling she is really going to give us a run for our money through her toddler years. We love her anyway, of course.  

Jen is amazing and one of those half blog posts I've been thinking about has a lot to do with her/our relationship and how wonderful she is but our relationship really needs to be nurtured more than it has been and how we might figure out how to do that with two kids who don't sleep well (and therefore don't do well with evening babysitters) and no time and just being exhausted, but we'll see if I ever get that far.

This is about all I have in me right now.

That and it's winter here.  The windows have been frosty.  The kids hands are warm.  The wonders of childhood are simple.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sprout is Twenty-Two Months Old!

Today Sprout is (well past) twenty-two months old!

This post is long, long overdue.  Our little bug is actually closer to being 23 months old now than she is to being 22 months old, but time sometimes gets away from very busy parents.  This will likely be a brief update, but needs to get recorded before we forget.  (Or before another month passes by!)

-Though I was concerned about how she would do being away from me, Sprout initially handled my going back to work very well. She definitely wanted a lot of attention in the mornings and evenings, but nothing crazy. She maintained her sweet and silly personality. Ate well. Etc. Etc.

-This girl and her brother are quite the pair.  She ADORES him.  He's pretty smitten with her too.  The two of them play nicely together almost all of the time. She often calls for him when she wakes up in the morning or from her nap.  It's so, so sweet to see and makes my mama heart melt.

-Her language has continued to blossom.  Lots of two-word combinations.  My favourite exclamations from her are her unsolicited comments of "happy."

-Eating and sleeping remained pretty much the same.  Not terrible, but not wonderful.

-She still loves to run and swing and jump and kick balls and just play in general.

-Definitely still loves books.  She's started trying to sneak extras in at nap and bedtime.  Sometimes we give in.  She's smart though and if we let her have an extra will go and grab another three in the hopes that we will read them too.

-She really warmed up to swimming lessons.  She still hates getting her head wet, but did really well kicking her legs and pulling her arms and even blowing some bubbles.  We won't continue through the winter because it's too far and gets too cold and just becomes unenjoyable for me, but I'd consider taking her again in the spring.

It's late and I've had a crazy weekend of marathon report card writing, so I'm going to leave it at that. Sprout's twenty-three month update will be coming soon. :)  This little one.  She's getting big so fast.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bedtime Nightmare

It was five after nine when I left the kids' room tonight.  Their bedtime is seven thirty.  Eight o'clock is more realistic, if we're being honest.  But maybe not that realistic given past several nights.

I don't really know quite what to say.  Bedtime has definitely become my  least favourite time of the day, which is sad, because anymore it's the main time that I have to spend "quality time" with the kids.  Instead of enjoy baths and stories, I spend those many of those moments dreading (I know that's a strong word, but anxiously anticipating doesn't quite cut it) lights out.

Sometime in the past week or two Sprout figured out how to escape her crib.  In a sleep sack.  First we lost the sleep sack, a few days later we lost the side of the crib.  Unlike her brother, who was a dream when it came to bedtime and would lie in his toddler bed and wait to fall asleep and then call out to ask us if we could come get him out when he woke up, Sprout is awful.  She nurses demanding to switch sides ever other minute until I can't bear the thought of any more on and off and tell her no more.  Then she jumps in the bed.  She climbs down and runs over to the door, or the bookshelf, or toys, or her brother.  She  goads him into laughing.  Basically she does everything but lie down in the bed.  The only thing that has worked has been physically holding her in a tight hug while she screams and cries and eventually drops off enough to lie her down.  But I can't leave then.  As soon as I move more than an inch away from her she wakes up and calls out "Mama!"  In fact, her favourite sleeping position once she is in that early stage of slumber is hugging my head.  After an hour or more of trying to get her to this point, you can imagine how carefully I try to escape her headlock.

And of course The Bean has now made it his mission to get her/keep her going.  He has started saying he has to go to the washroom every thirty seconds.  (Sprout freaks out whenever he leaves the room.)  When he is in bed he kicks his legs, throws toys around until we take them away, talks "to himself", etc.  Most nights I threaten him (this week with taking away Trick-or-Treating) until he quiets down.  On good nights, offering a reward for being quiet, like rocking him in the rocking chair after his sister falls asleep, works.  I can't remember the last time he had a good night.

Bedtime has become a complete nightmare.  I wish I could think of another way to do things, but I just can't. Every night I hope it will get better.  Every night it seems to get worse.

Tonight I am listening to Ani DiFranco's new album Allergic to Water.  I am taking time to write a blog post rather than preparing tomorrow's lessons (which I really should be doing).  I need a break.  Anyone want to come over and babysit for an evening?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Month In


Wow.  I am nearly a month into this new gig.  I am still getting my footing, but not as shaky as I was the last time I updated.  Fortunately I no longer feel like accepting the job may have been a huge mistake.  It was, most certainly, a lot to take on.  It's only really been in the past week that I haven't felt like I'm only a period ahead of where I need to be.  I'm starting to be able to look at things a few days out and am hoping that by the end of the week I'll be planning at least a week in advance.  Hopefully I'll be able to start doing some better teaching this way.  A lot of what has been provided is mediocre at best.  I don't like feeling like I'm doing a mediocre job.

The students and I are figuring each other out.  I made a girl in my class cry today.  I felt terribly, but I also feel like it'll probably be a good thing that it happened overall.  I was walking them through a worksheet (mediocre teaching, right there) and she and a few others kept chatting.  After asking them to be more attentive several times, I stopped and said that it appeared they didn't feel that they needed my guidance, and told them to go complete the work on their own.  Not my finest moment, but honestly I had reached my limit.  I'm hoping they remember this tomorrow and when I'm talking that they listen.

The Bean and Sprout have been doing really well with the transition.  The Bean, overall, seems to have taken on a "helper" role when my sister is here watching them.  Not so much doing things for the little ones, but doing things for himself, like putting his dirty plate in the sink without being asked, or tidying up his toys.  He gets a lot of praise for it and seems quite proud of himself.  I am so glad.  Sprout is also doing well.  She doesn't cry when I leave anymore and is going down for naps without nursing first, though she starts demanding "nurse" as soon as I walk through the door most nights.  Sometimes I oblige, other times I try to hold her off so that she'll eat dinner (and so that I can make dinner).  It's hard to know what to do.

I couldn't be doing any of this without Jen.  She has continued riding her bike into work in this freezing October weather so that I can have the car, even though my work is much closer.  She gets the kids fed, and often dressed, and always entertained in the morning while I scramble to get ready for work.  She's changed her hours on Wednesdays so that she can be home with the kids while my sister take her son to his program.  We are both exhausted more than 100% of the time, but she certainly couldn't be doing anything to make things easier on me.  She is so good to me.  I don't know what I would do without her.

Though I would love to write more about the kids, about this change, about a zillion other things (I'm talking about you, Summer Bucket List and Project 52), I really should go to bed now.  It'd be the first night I've gone to bed before midnight in, well, nearly a month.  I don't think I should pass up that opportunity.

Thanks to everyone for your kind words about the new position.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Overdue -The Big News

I tried to write this post last night, but it was nearly midnight and my better judgement won out.  Tonight it's only 11pm, so I'm promising myself that I will keep this quick, but I do feel not only overdue but also obligated (in the best of ways) to make this update.

In my last post I hinted that there was the potential of change on the horizon.  It came.  Much more quickly than expected.  

A few weeks ago a school that I had been substitute teaching at reached out to me about an LTO (long term occasional) maternity leave position teaching Grade One full time mid-November through January and then in the afternoons only from January until June.  I went in for an interview and it felt like it was almost an offer, rather than an interview.  They had me in for an observation and I was waiting to hear whether I would be offered the position or not.  I was caught a bit off guard to get a call from the principal on a Saturday.  He asked me if I could start Monday (September 29th).  I wasn't prepared (at all) but starting six weeks earlier than expected didn't feel like a reason to turn it down.

A few days later I wasn't so sure.  

The kids were really good, but those first few days were hairy.  There was so little prepared, no sense of organization that I could figure out, no prep time to prepare or figure things out  A classful of student to be accountable to, never mind parents or administration.  I felt as if I had made a terrible mistake.  (To say nothing of leaving the kids.)

Now, almost ten days in I am feeling slightly better.  Slightly.  Things are marginally more organized.  I am finding what few resources do exist.  There is still no prep time.  No money.  The parents and administration have been understanding, but I know it won't be too much longer until I'm expected to be caught up and to keep up.  

I am hoping that this was the right move.  It is giving me experience in a grade I haven't taught outside of my practicum experience.  It will close the hole that could have otherwise been quite large on my resume.  I only have seven Grade One students and they seem like Good Kids --kind, pretty keen, quite bright, respectful, etc.  (though I also teach a few SKs for Math and all the Grade Twos for History/Geography and Physical Education).

I am struggling with the "core curriculum" model that this school uses.  It is so vastly different than the IB model and honestly isn't a good fit for me from what I have seen so far.  I'm trying to think of ways that I can bring more of the IB elements in.  Of course, there is no time to think.  (For those to whom this comes across as as gobbledygook: core curriculum is very "facts" based whereas the IB strives to put things into context and look at larger and more open-ended questions.)

So forgive my sudden disappearance.  I am neck-deep in subtraction problems, Canadian Geography, line dancing, and Roald Dahl books.  

The Bean and Sprout are adjusting well.  My sister, aka their favourite aunt, is watching them during the days along with her own little guy.  It has been a huge relief to have her and to know that they are in good hands.  

And because y'all are so patient, here are some cute kid pics from the weekend...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Twenty-One Months Old

Today Sprout is twenty-one months old!

It's hard to believe our little girl is going to be two the next time the seasons change.  I'm am amazed at how quickly she is growing up.

Along with growing up, it feels like her personality is becoming more defined.  Overall she is a funny, joy-filled, and go-with-the-flow little girl.  She has the best smile.  That said, she also definitely knows her own mind and do what she wants to do quite independently.  She will let you know if she's not happy about something.

Her vocabulary continues to explode.  There is no way to list all the words she is saying, but two word phrases are becoming commonplace.  Lots of descriptions -"big dog", "high plane", etc.  She calls her brother by his nickname now and will always ask for him when she wakes up.  She narrates her day "milk" (so that I will nurse her when she wakes up), "down" (off the bed), "knock" (so we will open the door), "brush" (her teeth), etc.

She has (adorably) started singing.  I am so excited for her music classes that start next week, I think she will LOVE them.  Her current favourite songs are The Wheels on the Bus (the babies on the bus go "milk, milk, milk") and Do You Want to Build a Snowman? (she will finish each sentence) and Let It Go ("ice!" "dance!")

Speaking of dancing.  Oh my goodness.  This girl loves to dance.  It is so fun to watch.  She is pretty agile for a toddler.  Don't get me wrong, there is no grace, but her moves definitely have some skill --spinning on one foot, somersaults, etc.  In fact, I'd have to say she is pretty agile overall.  She runs and jumps and climbs and slides and hangs off monkey bars and all sorts of things.  She is, however, the absolutely s l o w e s t stair climber in the universe.  We live in a three-story walk up.  It is painful.  (More often than not I end up carrying her up the stairs because I just can't wait 45+ minutes for her to make her way up on her own.)  And though she is agile, she really does not enjoy play that is too rough (she freaks out when turned upside down, for example) and is quite cautious in her play (going down the slide on her tummy, for example).  This week she starts swimming lessons.  I hope she enjoys them, but anticipate going under the water to be where she protests.

She is a sweet, sweet child.  She loves her babies and stuffed animals.  She also loves cuddles and doting on others.  She'll brush your hair, wash her brother's back in the bathtub, etc.  Her hugs are full -contact and just the best.

I know I've said this before, but given the chance she would listen to you read books all day.  She still loves Each Peach Pear Plum and also has been enjoying Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin (which I think we forgot at Grandma and Grandpa's house --poor Sprout!).

I've been trying to do some art with the kids, and Sprout really seems to be enjoying it.  She covers papers in big crayon circles.  She also likes playdoh and painting.

Food is about the same.  She did eat some strawberries last week, which was a first (she never liked them before) and also has started eating vanilla yogurt.  Not sure why the change, but I'll take it!  She's been pushing her food away and saying "done" before she's really done lately, but I think she's cutting a tooth, so that could explain it.

Sleep is also about the same.  We did have one or two 6am wake-ups this month.  It was heavenly.

She's moving into 24m/2T clothing and size 6 (6!) shoes.  Though I know this is pretty average, she seems big to me, given her brother's stature.

I think that pretty much sums it up for the month.  The next month is going to bring some big changes for our family (more on that to follow) so I hope she is able to maintain her go-with-the-flow happy disposition.  She is such a sweetheart.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

No Answers

Or perhaps I should say no definitive answers.

We had a follow up with The Bean's pediatrician today to go over the results of his (second set of) blood work and ultrasound.

The ultrasound didn't show much.   A small blockage, likely because he had to poop, and some swollen lymph nodes in the lower right quadrant of his intestine.  These could be causing some of the pain he's been experiencing.  Unfortunately my question about how we could treat any potential pain resulting from this was met with a big shrug from the doctor.  Dr. Google tells me that warm compresses may help ease discomfort.  Jen started giving him warm compresses for his tummy a few weeks ago.  Score one for mom-tuition.

The blood work was not entirely conclusive.

I didn't get into the details last time, but one of the results that had shown up was anemia without iron deficiency.  Everything looked normal with his red blood cells this time, so we are taking that off the list of potential concerns.

Next there was some indication of eosinophilic enteritis.  Unfortunately something happened with the blood work (I have no idea what) and they didn't have these results yet.  The pediatrician was supposed to call this afternoon after the results came in, but no call.  Which makes me assume no results yet.  Basically they want to check whether the number of eosinophis is still elevated.

The final note worth point on the last set of blood work had to do The Bean's IgA levels.  The results had shown an IgA deficiency.  (They look for IgA antibodies when testing for crohn's/colitis.)  The second set of blood work showed the same thing: IgA deficiency.  There are a few things to note here:
-We will have to do a scope to see if the issues he's having are from crohn's/colitis.
-The doctors (The Bean's pediatrician and the allergist/immunologist he has on staff) want us to do more blood work to test for other Ig deficiencies.
-IgA deficiency is hereditary.  Jen's dad also has IgA deficiency which they discovered when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer last year.  We don't know if Jen does too, but we may request her levels be tested.

We currently have an appointment with a GI specialist schedule for the end of January, which is a horribly long time.  However, since the results are so bizarre, and our pediatrician has no idea what's going on he is going to push to get this bumped up significantly.  We plan on holding off on any further testing until after we see her so as to minimize blood-draw related trauma to The Bean.  He flipped out last time I took him in and we know she will order more  --better to get it over with all in one go.

So, for now, we wait.  Warm compresses on the tummy.  Immediate antibiotic treatment for any infections he may get between now and then.  Washed blood, should he (god forbid) need a blood transfusion.

Hopefully we get some answers soon.