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.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Project 52: The Past Month

A portrait of my children, every week for a year.


The Bean: Our budding photographer.
Sprout: Little monkey girl.


The Bean: Loves spinning on the swings.
Sprout: Her thinking face.


The Bean: Was on his best behaviour to earn a ride on the merry-go-round at the zoo.
Sprout:  Not so sure about the merry-go-round at the zoo.


The Bean: The world is his playground.
Sprout: Sick little bug.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Good Things

I feel like I am long overdue on a real update here.  The end of the summer has been a bit crazy.  All the usual summer activity, but also trying to get to the bottom of The Bean's health issues, some welcome but exhausting days of work, etc. etc.  It's a bit hard to even know where to begin.  So, in lieu of a real post, here's a little list of some good things:

1) All The Bean's labs are done!  We should have results early this coming week and hopefully be able to address whatever it is that has been going on.
Not so good: He freaked out when going in for the second set of blood work.  I think he was very worried about the pain.  Fortunately the hospital staff though to distract him with an iPad.  Genius.  He calmed down and they were able to draw the blood without any additional distress.  He was a bit concerned about the ultrasound the following week too, but was fine once it was happening.

2) I got work!  Which means I made some money!  In some ways it was nice to have a "break" from the everyday routine, but the job was exhausting.  (Childcare on a reality television shoot.)  I ended up having to cancel my last day on set because Sprout had a high fever and it wouldn't have been fair to anyone to have someone else watch her.  She basically nursed and whined and slept the whole day.  Poor bug.  She still isn't 100%, though she is getting there.

3) The potential for more work!  One of the schools I subbed at last year has added me to their list again and already booked me for two days later this month.  Another school, the school I interviewed at when I was newly pregnant with Sprout, also is adding me to their sub list.  I am SO happy that I am going to have the opportunity to work there.  It seems like an amazing school.  Not to get ahead of myself, but I there is the smallest sliver of hope that this could some day translate into a full-time position at there, though at this point I'd take a full time position just about anywhere.

4) I have the best wife ever.  She watched the kids solo for two very long days while I worked and then took the day off work to watch them for a third day when our babysitter wasn't available.  It certainly wasn't convenient for her, but she was so understanding about it.  Also, she cooks and cleans and gives really good massages and reads the kids books using funny voices.  

5) It's almost fall.  To quote Lola, who one of The Bean's current favourite storybook characters, fall is "my favourite and my best."  Crisp air.  Colourful leaves.  Mug after mug of warm tea.  Yes: favourite and best.

6)  I've been crocheting a little bit.  and reading a little bit.  I still need to get away from browsing the internet during my downtime.  It's really is such a waste of time.  But yay for crochet and books.

7)  Ani DiFranco has a new album coming out.  'Nuf said.

8) Friends getting married.  Friends having babies.  Friends who are happy and enjoying life.  It makes me happy too.

9) Baking!  Yum.  Found a new recipe, which I seem to enjoy more than anyone else, so likely won't be making it again any time soon.  But also there are some over ripe bananas and a can of pumpkin puree just waiting to be made into breads.

10) A trip out to see family soon.  A friend coming to visit soon.  Looking forward to spending time with people we love who live too far away.

And on that note, I need to go get ready for #8, part 1.  (A night out!  Can you believe it?!)

Friday, August 29, 2014

{this moment} dish washers

A Friday ritual. A single photo  - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sprout is Twenty Months Old!

Today Sprout is twenty months old!

The past few weeks, whenever people have asked me Sprout's age (as parents in parks seem to do) I've had to think for a minute.  I can't quite seem to wrap my head around the fact that she now twenty months old.  Well on her way to two.  While she'll always be our baby, her baby days are coming to an end.  That's a bit hard for this Mama to believe.

Sprout continues to be her sweet, stubborn, silly self.

-Words.  She says many.  As I mentioned before, it's not the easiest to understand all these words, but if you're clued in to the way she says things (without s's for example) you'll pick up on them.  She tends to stick to one word phrases, but is occasionally putting two words together.  The longest string I've heard her say is "each peach pear plum" (or rather "pum" but we know what she means) --the title of a favourite book.

-She LOVES books.  While she has always enjoyed bringing us book after book to read, she hasn't always sat to listen to them in their entirety.  That's changing.  She still won't listen to all The Bean's stories, but an age appropriate board book (or twenty) will hold her attention to the end.  The Zoe books continue to be favourites.  She's also been enjoying the very simple photo/word books where she now points and says what the photos are of.

-Aside from books, her great love is her babies.  Jean Luc, The Bean's baby, in particular.  Fortunately he doesn't seem to have any issues with her adopting him as her own.  She also likes stuffed animals.  The past few days she has taken to nursing almost any baby/animal that she is toting along with her.

-Speaking of nursing, though she has really only been nursing around sleep times for quite some time now, she is asking to nurse A LOT.  Almost always when she's fallen or been bumped.  Often at other times too.  I will concede occasionally, but more usually just tell her, no, milk is for when she is going to sleep and offer her a sippy cup with milk or other distraction instead.  I'm not sure what the story is exactly, if it's an attachment thing, something she's going through developmentally... I just don't know.  She gets lots of cuddles and kisses and reassurances, so hopefully that fulfills whatever she is looking for when she asks to nurse because I cannot handle being 24 hour diner or the on-off-on-off thing.  

-Sleeping in the kids' room is going well.  I nurse her as an end to the bedtime routine and then put her in her crib.  Sometimes she is already asleep, but usually she'll cry or more recently just talk and roll around for a very short time and then go to sleep.  Sometimes she and The Bean talk to each other.  Often he comes out to tattle on her for standing/jumping in her crib, but when we send him back into the bedroom, we can her him egging her on.  This girl and her brother.  They're quite the pair.

-She has really started mimicking behaviours.  Her brother's in particular.  She ought to have a shirt that reads "monkey see, monkey do" because really, whatever it is he is up to, she thinks she should also give it a go.  Most of the time it is quite amusing.

-She loves being outside and has really become quite adept at navigating the playground equipment --climbing ladders and slides, wanting to do monkey bars (with help) and slide down poles (ditto).  She loves being pushed super high in the swings.  Of course, water play is still a big hit and I'm sure we'll try to make it to several more splash pads before they shut them down for the season and we have signed her up for swimming lessons which begin in a few weeks. I imagine we'll spend a lot of time dancing and creating obstacle courses out of our living room furniture this winter.

-She is friendly, but reserved.  When we come out of the bedroom in the morning she gives Jen and The Bean a big "HELLO!"  She's also picked up on The Bean's habit of greeting our neighbours from the as they make their way to the subway in the morning.  She sticks pretty close to me in unfamiliar situations.  Even when she wakes up from a nap she'll often want to snuggle or sometimes will request "back" which means she wants me to wrap her on my back.

-We continue to keep the potty as an option, though she is almost always in diapers.  She does want to sit on it often, but if we let her go diaper-free for any extended period we end up cleaning up puddles while she exclaims "pee!" in surprise.  She has shown more awareness around BMs and will tell us "poo" before she goes.  She has no interest in sitting on the potty to poo.

-Much to my chagrin, she can be quite particular about her wardrobe choices.  Her favourites right now are her (Mickey) "Mouse" shirt, which she insists on wearing with her mouse socks, of course.  And an Elmo shirt of The Bean's which is at least two sizes too big, but she loves.  (Oh, and his Batman pajamas, which I am pretty sure she wears more often than he does.)

-In addition to loving Mickey Mouse (who she has never seen on television) and Elmo (who she has) she also really likes fish, bunnies and horses and will point them out in books, etc.

-No big changes on the food front.  She isn't a particularly adventurous eater, but she eats fairly well.  I'd like it if we could add a few new things to her diet, so we'll keep offering them and see where that takes us.

-The final thing that I can think of to mention is that she has started singing.  The Itsy Bitsy Spider is her "best" song, but there are definitely others that she's trying.  Twinkle Twinkle comes to mind.  The ABCs.  --She also recognizes letters and will go "a a a a... Mama!" almost, but not quite managing to copy The Bean spelling "m a m a... Mama!"

She's a funny one, this Sprout.  She certainly makes us both laugh and shake our heads at some of her antics.  Of course, we wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sick Kid

A few weeks back now The Bean had a terrible stomach virus.  He's never been that sick for that long.  He could barely eat, had zero energy, and was obviously distressed.

After this had been going on for week Jen took The Bean to the urgent care.  Likely a virus, they said, but best to have some labs run anyway.  We also booked an appointment with our pediatrician.  We decided to press (again) to have the ongoing issues his had with his digestive tract looked at more carefully.  

Maybe because of the extreme nature of the virus, or maybe because we've brought it up so many times now, the pediatrician agreed that we should try to get to the bottom of what's been going with the Bean's GI tract.  

We left the office armed with kits to collect stool samples, and requisitions for blood work and ultrasounds.  

It took a few days to get everything done. The Bean was amazing (amazing!) during his blood draw.  Six vials taken by good (but not great) nurses.  Obviously uncomfortable but so, so brave.  He only complained a few times afterwards that it had hurt.  

Yesterday we had the follow up with our pediatrician.  There were some odd and potentially concerning, but not entirely conclusive results.  We are going to repeat the blood work.  Since I accidentally handed in the ultrasound requisition with the last set of blood work, we will take him to SickKids and have everything done there.  

If things come back the same, our pediatrician is going to request our appointment with the GI specialist be bumped up from its current late-January date.  He doesn't have the expertise to know where to go next with this information.  

I am trying to stay away from the computer and search engines that tell me that this could be Bad.  Hopefully we'll have more answers soon.

(In the mean time he is eating and sleeping and running and climbing and singing and chatting chatting chatting and doing all of the usual Bean things.  Surely it can't be that bad, right?)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Our Runaway Rainbow and a Giveaway from Sarah's Silks

Rainbows have a long tradition of being used to symbolize diversity, inclusiveness, and hope.  Though we've never owned a rainbow flag, bumper sticker or other rainbow paraphernalia, when my wife and I went to buy The Bean his first playsilk, it was the rainbow silk we were drawn to.  It seemed fitting for a little boy with two moms; but even without that as a factor, it was too beautiful to pass up.  

It quickly became the go-to for a game of peek-a-boo.  Then it became a ghost costume.  Tied around his shoulders it was a cape.  Around his waist it was a skirt.  On his head it was his princess hair.  The versatility of this "toy" is one of the reasons we wanted it for our son in the first place.  It proved a good choice.  Two years we had added another playsilk to our collection so that The Bean and Sprout could each have one for some creative play.


When we were invited to participate in WorldPride this past June, our host asked us to come decked out in rainbow gear.  I immediately though how perfect it would be to put the playsilk over the canopy of our stroller as we marched down the streets of Toronto.  Unfortunately in the hubbub of getting downtown and in place to march our beautiful playsilk blew away.  By the time we realized it, it was too late.  We tried to backtrack, but it was gone.  We were more than a little bit upset, but tried to get over it quickly as upset is not the mood one wants to be in at a Pride celebration.    

Even without the playsilk decorating our stroller, the parade was amazing.  

Still, we wanted to replace our playsilk.  While browsing, I saw that Sarah was looking for bloggers to review her products.  Hopeful, I reached out to her.  She graciously agreed to send some products to review, and even suggested a giveaway for our readers!  

The Bean was so excited when we received the Sarah's Silks package in the mail.  He eagerly tore into it and wanted to play with the new toys right away.  I draped the silk scape over our dining room table and the kids hung out in their "fort" while I grabbed some sweaters so we could go outside.  

Once outdoors, The Bean and Sprout ran in and out under their new rainbow silk scape, giggling joyfully.  The Bean then donned our starry night playsilk as a cape, while Sprout put on the rainbow cape and grabbed the other wand we had and then took turns turning me and each other into different animals.  After a short time that turned into more running across the lawn, this time with capes and wands trailing behind them.  Since then the playsilks have been used as blankets and babycarriers.  I'm curious to see what they get used as next.  


If you think your little one(s) would enjoy playing with one of the items at, please leave a comment  on this post saying what you think they would like best.  A winner of a $50 gift certificate (courtesy of Sarah), will be randomly selected a week from today.  Good luck!