Thursday, December 18, 2014

Crafty Goodness!

On Tuesday evening I was super-excited to open our mailbox and see a package inside.  Even before seeing the return address I knew what it was!  Our craft exchange!  

Mama et Maman sent the sweetest wooly crafts for us to enjoy.  

The three ornaments are hanging on our tree and the little toy owl, who I've named Eggnog, is being given lots of affection from the two littles.

Thank you Mama et Maman!

Hope everyone else receives their packages soon and shares them on their blogs.  I'll try to do a "round up" post here over the holidays.

Now off to bed!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Slowly But Surely (Project 52 Catch Up)

This'll be an incredibly photo-heavy post.  Not entirely caught up yet, but getting there.  Some of these feel like such a long time ago already.

Week 37

The Bean: In the playground with a stick.  This is serious business.
Sprout: Climbing and posing.

Week 38

The Bean: First shaved ice of the season.
Sprout: In the woods.

Week 39

The Bean: Busy building.
Sprout: Artist at work.

Week 40

The Bean: He wanted a jet pack.
Sprout: Doll baby.

Week 41

The Bean: Hauling water at the Brickworks.
Sprout: Fall hiking.

Week 42

The Bean: Picking the perfect pumpkin.
Sprout: Made it her mission to finish this apple.

Week 43

The Bean: The Bean and Merrylegs meet again.
Sprout: Enjoying her favourite food: hotdogs. 

Week 44 

The Bean: Decorating the pumpkin the day after Halloween.  Because some years are like that.
Sprout: Cutest kitty on the block.

Week 45

The Bean: Leaf pile giggles.
Sprout: Leaf thrower.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Comparing Kids

Sprout is 18 days away from her second birthday.  This is exactly how old The Bean was on the day she was born.  This "milestone" has been on my mind for quite a while now.  What would it be like if we were bring another baby home now?  (For the record: There will be no more babies.) How have the past two years gone by so quickly?  And how is our baby girl possibly the same age as her big brother was when she was born.  She is our baby.  He was so big.

The Bean (with Grandma and Grandpa) meeting Sprout for the first time.
Looking back, he really wasn't so big.  I suppose when comparing him to a newborn he was, but he really was just a little guy still.  Maybe because we have him now to compare her to, but Sprout just seems younger than he was at this same age.  Looking back he was doing a lot of the same things that she does now.  Hitting similar milestones.  It just felt so different.

I'm an identical twin.  I've always been sensitive to sibling comparisons.  Still, I find it nearly impossible not to compare our two.  I mean right from the get go we compared them in terms of their size.  (The Bean's 5lbs 10oz to Sprout's 9lbs.)  We compared their sleep.  We compared their eating patterns.  How do you not?  The Bean is our frame of reference.

That's not to say we compare one as "better" and one as "worse"  (though the Bean was a better sleeper ;) ) but we do compare.

I think that for all their differences we're fortunate that our kids are both loving and kind and affectionate and interactive and smart and active and funny and silly.  Similar, yet both so full of their very own unique personalities.  It is such a privilege to be witness to who they are and how they've grown.

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.  At times she demands it.  Other times she sweetly asks "Nurse please." She sometimes unlatches to say "thank you, Mama" or "milk good" or just "happy" all of which I think are incredibly sweet.  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.  Most colours are "green" though occassionally they are "blue."

If you ask her how old she is going to be she will say "Two!"  But then again, if you ask her anything where she recognizes that there should be a number answer she says two.  (She can count to two and has counted all the way to ten alternating with me i.e. I say one, she says two etc.)

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.