Friday, January 31, 2014

{this moment} focus

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.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Love, She Keeps Me Warm

Yesterday Jen and I celebrated our thirteenth anniversary as a couple, and our eighth year of being married.

Jen is the only person I have ever been in love with.  Saying that I cannot imagine my life without her does not come close to describing how much she is a part of who I am.

I was young when we met (so was she).  We have been through a lot together, both lovely and difficult.  We do well together.  We both strive for calm and peace.  Our differences complement each other, rather than cause conflict.  I know that I have her unfailing love and support, and she has mine.

Having children has shifted our relationship.  We don't have as much time for us as a couple as we once did, and I miss that, but I'm also so immensely grateful for the opportunity to parent with her.  She is selfless and loving and patient and generous and silly and thoughtful.  All the qualities that I admire in her are at the forefront when she is with our children.

Last night we went out to celebrate.  A low-key event at a nearby restaurant.  Food and drinks and conversation without interruption.  Not anything terribly novel, but a nice evening nonetheless.  A nice way to acknowledge our thirteen years together and to start into the next one.

Happy anniversary, my love.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014.

The Bean:  Sick.  Sick.  Sick.  (But better now.)
Sprout:  Thinks "chase" is the best game ever.  Especially if it involves the tunnel.

Friday, January 24, 2014

{this moment} power outage

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.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2:1 and Thoughts on Daycare

You'll have to forgive me for all the numbers in the titles of my blog posts lately.  I'm really not much of a numbers girl, despite what it may look like.

I started this during nap time yesterday, which ended promptly once my fingers hit the keys.  I tried working on it again last night, but it got late and my thoughts starting getting too jumbled.  A power outage in our neighbourhood derailed plans to watch Season 1 of Revenge on DVD tonight, so here I am.

Today was the third day where I had both kids on my own for the entire day.  I don't just mean the third day in a row (which is true), I mean the third day ever.  I know that must sound strange to so many of you who daily take care of multiple children, but up until this week The Bean was either in daycare or on the rare occasion where he was home sick, Jen was able to work from home so I wouldn't have to watch both kids on my own all day.

Monday morning he woke up with a fever, but Jen had been away on business last week and needed to go into the office and get back on track.

I'll admit it, I was a bit nervous on Monday.  I felt a lot more confident yesterday.  By today it seemed like no big deal.  The Bean may well be home again tomorrow, and though I'm tired and missing what little "me" time I get during the day, I know we'll be fine.

Spending the day with two children is not the most difficult thing in the world.  Even as a teen-aged babysitter I did it often enough.

The thing that I didn't know how to manage was nap time.  Namely, Sprout's morning nap and what to do with The Bean during the time it would take me to nurse her and rock her to sleep.  Day One The Bean was running a pretty high fever and his energy levels were way down.  I thought about turning on the television for him, but instead asked him to play quietly, promising that I'd be out of the bedroom as soon as his sister was asleep.  I left the door cracked and tried to get Sprout snoozing as quickly as I could.  He interrupted once, needing help to get his pajamas off to use the potty, but other than that did well entertaining himself.  Hopefully getting my undivided attention for the following hour while Sprout slept was enough of a reward.  Tuesday he woke up grumpy and uncooperative, so I resorting to putting a DVD on for him when nap time rolled around, thinking he probably wouldn't be cooperative if asked to play on his own again.  As I left the bedroom the latch on the door clicked shut and I saw him jump awake from where he'd fallen asleep on the couch.  He spent the rest of the hour sprawled out eyes half open watching Little Bear.  Today he asked if he could play on Jen's tablet, so I let him.  Thankfully, I was back out just before the timer blocked him from playing any longer.

I hate to stick him in front of a screen to keep him entertained, but at the same time I've been very thankful that they exist and do keep him entertained.

Afternoons have been easier as I've been able to put him down for a nap and then take Sprout into the other room and put her down.  He didn't fall asleep today, but he knows he has to stay "quietly" in his bed until we tell him nap time is over.  I let him get up after she was settled.  (And after I had had a cup of tea.)  I was pretty beat by 5:00pm when Jen got home, but it wasn't unmanageable.  And Jen let me have a half hour "time out" which was a welcomed break.

Having him home this week has made me think about if he were home all the time.  We discussed our options, but decided pretty quickly to keep him in daycare even after I had lost my job.  It's a big expense on our limited budget, but one we feel is worthwhile.  The fact that I wouldn't have to try to meet the needs of two children all day every day definitely played into that decision.

While I'm sure I could have learned to manage having them both home, I do think a lot of the time it would have felt like just: managing.  I don't know that I would have been able to provide both children with engaging and meaningful activities.  Especially during the worst of my post-postpartum days.  Never mind the state our home would have been in.

Additionally, having him home would have shut down any opportunity I had to work.

Something I haven't updated on is that our daycare provider has agreed to take Sprout on an as-needed basis.  We're the only people she has ever done this for.  Because we have this arrangement, I am able to substitute teach and send Sprout in only on the days that I get called.  Though I'm sure we could have figured something out had our daycare provider not agreed to this, I'm glad we didn't have to.  With me working only part time, we cannot not afford to send Sprout to daycare full time, and as things stand right now, I wouldn't really want to.

Last week was the first week I worked.  I got called in on four days (though I turned down one).  Jen's parents were here, so Sprout stayed with them rather than going to daycare, but the next time I get called she will be joining her brother for the day.  I'm concerned about how she'll do there, but I know that she'll be well cared for and that even if it's difficult, she'll be okay.

Looks like tomorrow will be another at-home day for The Bean, so I should probably get going.  I feel like I've just been rambling on, so I hope this post makes some sense to those reading it.  Though I know we've made decisions we feel are right for our family, sometimes it's hard for me not to second-guess ourselves.  2:1 isn't so bad, as long as I can get my afternoon cup of tea!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014.

The Bean:  Still crashes pretty hard most afternoons.
Sprout:  Loves being read to.  Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb is a favourite.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


 A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014.

The Bean: Has whole conversations on the telephone.  (This was with Grandma.)
Sprout: Insists on feeding herself these days.  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Bean is Three Years Old!

For the past several months I've been thinking about the fact that we were soon going to have a three year old, but even with the reminders, it's a little unbelievable that today we actually have a three year old.

The Bean is an opinionated, energetic, sweet, silly kid.  In many ways he's the same person he's always been, in other ways he has changed so much in the past year.  

-I'm not going to lie:  2.5 to 3 has been difficult.  Meltdowns, temper tantrums, you name it, we've been there.  He's not happy when he doesn't get his way.  At the same time he can be so incredibly thoughtful and loving.  

-We try to talk to him when he's upset and to get him to explain what he perceives the problem to be so that we can try to find a solution.  Sometimes though, when we ask him what's wrong, he just cries, "I don't know!"  

-He is such a good big brother.  I think he's enjoying that Sprout can interact with him more now.  They're favourite thing to do together is chase each other through and around the tunnel.  The Bean loves giving Sprout big hugs and just the other morning asked me where she was when I went in to get him out of bed, telling me, "I want to hug her.  I just love her so much!"  

-Though he doesn't articulate it, we also know he gets pretty jealous of her at times.  One of his alter-egos is "Baby Blah", who, as I'm sure you've already figured out, needs to be treated just like the other baby in the house (carried, spoon fed, cooed at, etc.).   

-Aside from "Baby Blah", there is "Caramel" (who is five), and "Anthony" (who has a scooter).  The Bean also sometimes pretends to be some of the older boys from daycare.  He loves dressing up in costumes (Spiderman, kitty cat, princess, witches' hat) and pretending too.  Most of his costumes are getting a bit small, we're going to have to seek out some bigger ones for him.

-We have a pretty familiar routine, even if The Bean doesn't always want to adhere to it.  He has a little pictograph of his morning routine posted in his bedroom.  These days a lot of disagreements come because he wants to play rather than do the things we need him do.  On weekdays, he has been saying that he wants to stay home a lot too and he's usually quite happy when it's a Saturday or Sunday and he can "stay home and play".  We know he loves his daycare provider, but we think he misses the older kids who are now all in school during the days and only come for an hour or two at the end of the day and on holidays.  (There are two younger girls there with him during the days, but he really did like interacting with the older kids more than he seems to like the little girls.)  
-These days The Bean loves wearing his PJs and sometimes his robe (which he calls his skirt), but usually needs convincing to wear actual clothes.  He's usually in 24m/2T tops.  Pants are tricky 18-24m pants are STILL big in the waist, but he needs 24m/2T for the length.  We cinch the waist on everything.  Shoes are somewhere around size 6.5.  (He also loves being naked.  What kid doesn't?)

-The little dude weighed in at 29lbs and just over 3 feet tall at his doctor's appointment on Thursday.  I was surprised!  

-He has a clean bill of health.  We're still monitoring the pelviectasis, but it's not a concern at all at this point.  We are pretty sure he has a dairy allergy/sensitivity.  We plan on taking him to an allergist soon to double check and also to make sure that that's the only food allergy/sensitivity we're dealing with.  

-He has become quite a picky eater.  He eats bread, crackers, pasta, etc.  Salami, hot dogs and chicken fingers are about the only meats he'll touch, but he loves hummus and until earlier this week also ate eggs, so he gets protein.  As far as fruits go, he'll eat apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, and watermelon.  I can't think of any vegetables he will eat in a non-pureed form.  We still give him "pouches" everyday since it really is one of the few ways we can get veggies into him.  His beverage of choice is (almond) chocolate milk.  He'll sometimes get water or tea, but we rarely have juice around and I think he's only ever tried a few sips of pop (which we also rarely have around).

-He is daytime potty trained, and has been for quite a few months now (since about the end of the summer).  He still wears a diaper at night, but often wakes up dry.  We sometimes put him in a diaper at nap time.  I think he's only wet his bed once when we haven't, but he seems to sleep better with it on.

-He typically wakes up around 7am, naps from about 2:00-4:30pm when we have to wake him up (less at daycare, as per their schedule) or does not nap at all, and goes to bed around 7:30pm.   

-His language skills are pretty amazing.  He picks up new words so quickly and loves playing with new expressions and phrases.  Just the other day he told me something I had done was "magnificent", a word he learned from the book The Paperbag Princess.  He's also able to rephrase things if someone doesn't understand him.  (His daycare provider is from Uruguay, and he says some words with a bit of a Spanish accent, for example "lamb" in "lum".) Often when he's going to bed at night I can hear him chattering away to himself, singing, rehearsing conversations from shows he's watched or his day's interactions, or just making up stories. 

-He still loves books.  We (especially Jen) still read to him often and he will also flip through the pages of books from his bookshelf.  His favourite stories these days are Pinkalicious and Munschworks (a Robert Munsch treasury).

-He knows how to spell his name and Mama.  :)  He recognizes most of the uppercase letters and seems to understand that letters strung together make words.

-He mostly scribbles, but can draw both vertical and horizontal lines as well as circles.  He has difficulty using scissors.  He likes painting, but doesn't seem to like drawing so much.

-He can count to twenty more-or-less accurately, and seems to understand quantities to five.  If you ask him how much of something he wants (grapes, pretzels, etc.) he always says five.  He also always tries to negotiate for "five more minutes" when we're doing something he doesn't want to stop.

-Aside from dress up and pretend play, he likes to play with balls... everything is a sport to this kid.  He also likes to play with his diggers and have them scoop up blocks.  Cars and trucks in general are big, though he likes it when they "talk" and play out little stories.  Instruments are also HUGE.   He likes water play and being outside.  Actually, I think he would live outside if given the choice.  This (freezing cold and icy) winter has been pretty brutal.

-He seems to enjoy going to the Science Centre and to the Zoo, where we have memberships.  We're not currently enrolled in any classes with him (he did a city run gymnastics earlier this year as well as the swimming program he has been in since he was a baby), but may sign him up for a more structured gymnastics program this spring.  

-His friends are his sister, the other children at daycare, Teagan and Quinn from 2moms2dogs2babies, and his buddy from prenatal class.  He also sometimes plays with my sister's son, who is 15 months younger, but that is more parallel play than interactive.

-He loves to talk, sing and joke.  He's very social, especially around people he knows.  He often asks if he can speak on the phone to whoever happens to call us, and if we can Skype Grandma and Grandpa.

We love him with all our hearts and look forward to all the wonderful things the coming year has in store for him.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

{this moment} brotherly love

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.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Childhood Memories

Jen's parents' property backs onto a park.  It's small, but it's scenic and usually very quiet.  One of my favourite things to do while visiting has always been to walk down and make a loop around the pond there.   

Even though I grew up in the city, I've always loved being in nature.  Growing up, we'd go "up north" to cottage country twice a year.  Whether it was our summer or our fall visit, I would always pack a bathing suit so I could swim in the lake.  Aside from being in the water, my favourite thing about being up north would be going on walks through the woods with my dad.  I don't remember what we would talk about, but I remember the trees and the heavy smell of the air.  It was quiet and we were in no hurry to be anywhere.  Our walks are one of my favourite childhood memories.  
As the kids get older I think a lot about what they will remember of their childhoods.  About what I want them to remember.  

This past visit, like most others, I made sure that we went for a little walks out back to the pond.  


I hope that they remember what it's like to be in the quiet with tall trees all around.  

Monday, January 6, 2014


Nearly a week into the new year, I feel like it's time post about the holidays before they are a distant memory...

The whole holiday season seemed to go by super-quickly.  I've heard the same thing echoed by lots of other people.  Even though we aren't in the U.S. I think it had to do with American Thanksgiving falling so late this year.  I'm sure having Sprout's birthday festivities going on earlier in December also made a difference.

Christmas Eve we drove out to my mom's.  She and her boyfriend hosted a very nice turkey dinner followed by gift-opening.  My mom is German and growing up, we always opened all of our gifts on Christmas Eve, so that doesn't feel strange to me.  Just like I imagine celebrating two Christmases won't feel strange to our kids.  The kids were quite spoiled.  The two boys both had a great time playing with (/competing for`) new toys, while my brother supervised (/kept the peace).  We left later than we had intended to and were exhausted by the time we got home, but it was worthwhile.

We had intended to leave early Christmas morning to head to PA, but we all slept in and then took our time getting ready.  The kids opened their stockings and watched videos and Jen and I got the car packed up.  Traffic was a little heavier than it would have been had we left first thing, but it still wasn't bad and I think we felt better having had extra cups of tea and knowing that nothing had been left behind because we were rushing.

Jen's parents were at her aunt's house for dinner so when we got it we just got the kids fed and ready for bed.  After her parents got home we chatted by the fire and opened adult presents, so that Boxing Day morning would be all about the kids --their Christmas morning.

Needless to say they were ridiculously spoiled.  Like last year, The Bean took time to play with each new toy he unwrapped.  He had gotten down to his last few boxes and I asked him if he wanted to open another gift and he said, "Nope.  I'm good."  We're going to have to remember to ask Santa to cut back next year! ;)

A few days later we had a joint birthday party for the kids.  The Bean got the chocolate robot cake he had been asking for and Sprout got my family's traditional hot milk cake.  All the great grandparents came, along with a good smattering of aunts, uncles and some good family friends.  It was a very nice celebration.  I'd like to think The Bean's favourite part was his robot cake; Sprout's was DEFINITELY the balloon Grandma and Grandpa got her.  She didn't let go of it for three days!  (She even held it while nursing one day!)

While all the celebrations were lovely, the thing I enjoyed most about the holidays was spending time as a family.  We kept busy, but we didn't have a hectic schedule that we were working with.  We got to hang out with each other.  Play.  Chat.  Eat.  Relax.  It was really nice.  A good way to end the year.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


I'm not-so-sneakily back posting this because  I hemmed and hawed over whether this was something I thought I could manage to do.

I've considered 365 projects before, but that seems like a bit much.  52 seems more reasonable.  52 of two of the people I love most in the world? ...well, it doesn't hurt to try.

So, starting today ;) I am going to try to post a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014.

The Bean: Playing a "concert."  He writes his own music.
Sprout: Her shaggy mop makes me smile, even when she's being serious.

Friday, January 3, 2014

{this moment} Almost Three

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.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sprout is One Year Old!

Sprout is one year old!

It feels like it's been a month since Christmas Eve, when Sprout officially turned one year old.  The past ten days or so have been filled with celebrations and spending time with family and friends.  A very nice ending to the year.  

Sprout had her Canadian first birthday party earlier this month and we had birthday cake after our Christmas Eve dinner.  A few days later we celebrated at Jen's parents' house with our American family.  Sprout seemed to enjoy all the extra attention, even if she wasn't quite sure what it was all about.

This last month of her first year has brought about some big changes.  

-Sprout seems to be making a big effort towards communicating with us.  She points, waves hello and goodbye, blows kisses, and makes silly faces.  There are a few "words" that she says consistently --Mama, Ma, Hi, Hello.  When we give her a phone she'll say "Hello Aunt Jen" ("Lo Ad Den") which is pretty funny.  (I guess I speak to my sister pretty often!)  She babbles constantly and we feel like she has a ton that she wants to say.  I wouldn't be a bit surprised if there were a big word explosion really soon. 

-We also feel like she is on the cusp on walking.  She pulls up on everything and will free stand quite often, but has yet to take an actual step.  She's very proficient at crusing and pushes a number of objects around --her walker, the bus, but also chairs and larger toys.  She is also starting to climb everything.  I had almost forgotten about all the bumps and bruises this stage brings.

-The bus and her walker are definitely favourite toys.  She also loves balls and the tunnel.  And things like funnels, pots and pans and the salad spinner and the cat.  Naturally.

-She continues to love music class.  It's over now and I missed the sign up for the next session.  We sing a lot at home though.  

-Overall, she eats pretty well now. Her preference is still for meats (chicken and turkey)  blended with vegetables over fruits and she LOVES lentils.  If she has a day where she doesn't eat well, because she will still sometimes refuse solid foods, she almost always throws up in the evening.  Needless to say, we're trying to make sure she eats a little bit even when she's being stubborn about it. 

-Sleep continues to be a work in progress.  I've pretty much given up on trying to get her to do more than a 40 minute nap (twice a day).  I was spending longer getting her down for the second half of her nap than she was actually sleeping.  It just wasn't worth it.  I would like it if we could get her down for bed earlier, I wonder if it'd help her nighttime sleep, but it's really not possible to change our schedule enough to make it happen.  :/

-She cut her top two incisors just after turning 11 months.  We, thankfully, seem to be on a bit of a break from teething.  

-Along with teething she had another nasty cold just after the last update.  It lingered a while, but she seems to be better now.  She definitely gets sick more often than her brother did.  

-Her hair is growing like crazy.  I gave her a little trim across the back to clean it up a bit and saved a lock for her baby book.   Her bangs are really long and we have to clip them back with a barrette or elastic to keep them out of her eyes.  The "waterfall" looks a little funny, but she's cute so she can pull it off. ;)  

-She has the habit of sticking out her tongue when she's concentrating on things.  It's adorable.  

-No big change in her size.  Her one year check up is next week, so I'll update with stats then.  

-She has maintained her sunny disposition.  She's happiest when she's getting a lot of attention (from me, Jen or someone else who she is comfortable with), she plays nicely on her own for increasingly long periods of time.  She lets us know when there's something she wants, and usually settles right down when we provide her with whatever it is.

I love this age and look forward to spending the coming months and years continuing to watch her grow and develop.  She brings us such joy.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

So This is the New Year, and I Don't Feel Any Different

After a long drive yesterday, we spent today getting settled back in at home.  We unpacked and found places to put things away, while playing with both new toys and old.  Jen made soup from the few things we had in the refrigerator and pantry.  Both kids napped in the afternoon.

It was nice way to ease into the new year.

I have no idea what to expect from this year.  2010 was full of anxious anticipation and hope.  2011 was exhausting and amazing as we welcomed The Bean into our family.  2012 was hard, but brought us Sprout, who has filled our hearts beyond belief.  2013 we have grown into our lives as a family of four, with all the growing pains that includes, but also the overwhelming peace and joy of being a family.  Of being complete.

I feel guarded in my hopes for 2014.  I know it will have its ups and downs.  I also know that in another year we will all have grown and learned and changed in ways I may have never anticipated.

I hope for the best and wish all of you the best too.

Happy New Year.