Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sprout is Five!

Today Sprout is five years old!

Five! Can you believe it? Our little bug is getting so big and this has been a big year for her! She's really grown up quite a bit in the past twelve months. Still super cuddly and sweet and with the most innate sense of humour of any kid I've ever known, but ever so much more grown up.

So, this kid. What is there to say about her? She really is a character. She's incredibly thoughtful and quite a chatterbox and I just love listening to her ramble on and catch little glimpses of how her brain works.

As good as we thought it was for her to have her brother in her class last year when she started kindergarten, we think it has been equally as good for her to have her independence this year. She's definitely on the more reserved side --it takes her quite a while to feel comfortable and express herself freely-- but I think she's gotten there. Her teachers use an app to post photos of the students at work and play and the ones they share with her in them seem very much her. Lots of imaginative play. Focused work. Always with the people she cares about most.

She is naturally funny. This past week when we were visiting Jen's folks she was in the living room playing "Princess Family" with Jen's dad (yes, he is a good sport). As he often does, he started roughhousing with her and tickling her belly. She started shrieking "Stop! Stop! You've made me pee my royal pants!" We all busted up laughing. Later in the week she was lying down to sleep, and as became the routine, Jen's mom was lying with them (she's also a good sport). Sprout said, "Grandma, I'm still hungry." To which Grandma replied, "Well, you didn't eat your dinner." Sprout asked her if she could come downstairs and ask us to get her more food and Grandma said yes, she could ask. So she got up, let out a big exhale, and said, "Well, wish me luck!" Just a few examples, and I'm not sure if they'll come across quite as well written out as they did in real life, but take my word, she's a hoot.

On the flip side, she is sensitive and incredibly thoughtful. She has really taken interest in helping me to prepare dinners. I try to find jobs she can manage. Grating cheese, cutting vegetables, things like that. We started giving both kids allowance for "being helpful and cooperative", but she has no interest in receiving money. She just likes to help. Another example: Last year we made care packages that we would give out to homeless people when we were stopped in traffic. This year Jen and I came home from her work party with the "favours", which were some very nice winter hats and mittens from HBC. Sprout saw them and right away suggested that we give them away to the homeless people because, "It's been so cold, and we have enough warm clothes." Sweet, right? She remembers what peoples' favourite colours are and what their interested in, what toys her friends are coveting for their birthdays. She draws pictures for her friends and teachers and has started writing little love notes.
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<3 for="" p="" u="" us.="">Speaking of, she is just beginning to read and write, which is one of my absolute favourite milestones. For a long time she would say, "I can spell the: t-h-e." I'd ask her if she could spell anything else and she would just say no. Then, sometime in the last month I wrote down a few sight words and asked her if she could read them and it was like it just clicked. She didn't get them all, but I taped them up on the wall, and told her the ones that she didn't know. Is, it, in, on, and, the, up, down... stuff like that. Within a week she recognized them all. Then she spontaneously started spelling words. "Mama, did you know, p-o-p spells pop? And d-a-d- spells dad?" and then when I spelled out a few words for her she told me what they were. I was amazed. It seemed to come out of nowhere. I've been sitting down with her here and there and letting her read little books to me. She's so proud of herself. I'm pretty proud of her too.

She still loves being read to, of course. 
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<3 for="" p="" u="" us.="">Aside from that, her favourite pass times are putting on "shows", imaginative play and arts and crafts. She would happily play family all day every day. Recently she's been showing more interest in playing with figurines, which I prefer. She got a few dolls and animals, as well as some Lego Friends sets for her birthday and Christmas, so those have been in high rotation. She loves animals so the Puppy Show Lego set and Puppy Surprise doll (with three pups!) were favourites. Oh, and the Barbie with the pooping dog that my brother gave to her. Naturally.

She continued on with swim and dance classes over the fall and did great in both. We didn't get in to the city swim lessons in the fall, so I registered the kids at a private swim school. It was pricey, but really good. Her class only had one other child in it, and she made a ton of progress. She did really well in dance too. We were hesitant to sign her up because she often sat out at the side before, but I think she finally got comfortable enough with the teachers and the routine that she actually participated this time around. I dropped the ball on getting the kids signed up for winter programs, so unfortunately I think she'll have to take a little hiatus from dance. Hopefully we can get her back into it in the spring. We've also talked about a few other options, but I still have to get all that sorted out.

The fall was a bit rough health wise. Sprout definitely had one bout of stomach illness, and I think also was home with a fever/cold for a few days prior to that. It's all a bit of a blur. She has been complaining a lot about her stomach. I think that she has reflux. I took her to the ped. a while back but he kind of pooh-poohed it. Her well check will be sometime in the next few weeks and I'll have to bring it up again. I don't like over-medicating anyone, much less children, but I think she needs something. Fortunately she continues to have a good appetite and is definitely gaining weight and growing. I'd put her just under 40lbs and tall for her age, whatever that means. She's solidly in size 5 clothing now and has a unique sense of style that involves lots of mismatched patterns and layers. Shoes are size 12. 

She's been sleeping well. She'll chatter away to herself for a bit before falling asleep most nights and goes through until the morning. She's often the last one up. She's still grumbly in the mornings, but also adorable lumbering out of the room with her messy bed head. She often comes over and wants a little snuggle on the couch before starting her day.

Mornings can be tough. She is s-l-o-w about everything and needs lots of reminders to stay on track. It's not my favoruite thing to feel like I'm hounding her just to get her out the door. I always think that maybe we should just get her up earlier, but I have a feeling it wouldn't make a difference and that she'd just be even grumpier getting out of bed. She's usually perked up by the time she arrives at school, eager to see her friends and share bits of news with them and her teachers.

...Speaking of bed, I should be heading off. Keeping up with five year old is exhausting! ;) 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Party Girl

I'm am happy to say that Sprout's 5th birthday party was a success!

With her actual birthday being Christmas Eve and that weekend being crazy for most people, and this coming weekend being Jen's work party, we decided a party a few weeks early was the way to go. We wanted to do something, but also keep things pretty simple. We let her choose a few friends to have over. She had a reasonably small guest list but the party date got closer, she started asking in include more people. The fact that our home can only accommodate so many people made us insist on keeping numbers down. (Sweetly, she did want to include some of The Bean's friends so that he would have "someone to play with", but we vetoed that, thinking that even one or two six year old boys could quickly derail her mermaid birthday party plans.) In the end, there were eight kids, plus our two. It was a perfect number of guests.

Sprout dressed in her mermaid attire. We brought out some blocks and Magantiles so that there was something for the kids to do while we waited for everyone to arrive. When everyone was here the kids went over to the table to paint and decorate their very own little treasure chests. Sprout surprised me by asking for brown paint and keeping her treasure chest very unadorned. I guess she was going for a realistic look. As kids finished up Jen applied mermaid tattoos and they went back to the living room to play a bit. When everyone was done we distributed popcorn in little paper bags and started up the movie. I was worried it might be a bit long, or a bit scary, but everyone did quite well. A few kids meandered over to our dress up clothes towards the end, but they were quiet and didn't disrupt the others. While the movie played I put "loot" into the treasure chests and moved them over by the front door so the kids could take them home afterwards and we set up the table with cupcakes and fruit. I was up until after midnight making these cupcakes. They weren't particularly complicated, I just didn't time things as well as I should have and was already a bit tired and moving more slowly than I expected. Anyway, they turned out cute. Not mermaid cupcakes, per se, but they definitely fit with the theme. Sprout huffed and puffed (and huffed and puffed) and (eventually) blew out all her candles. Who wants to bet she wished for a unicorn? The kids licked all the icing off the top of their cupcakes and since there were a few minutes to spare and she was SO eager, we let Sprout open her gifts with her friends there. She got lots of art-oriented gifts and plenty of fairy/princess/mermaid/unicorn toys which she was thrilled with.

Parents arrived, the kiddos went home, we got things tidied up pretty efficiently. Her best friend stayed for dinner, which really was the icing on the cake as far as Sprout was concerned. (Pun intended.)

Her actual 5th birthday is just ten days away. I'll need to make more cupcakes as per our Christmas Eve dessert tradition. She'll also get to open her gifts from us then.

I cannot believe this child is going to be five years old.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December Days

We haven't yet seen snow, but I know that it won't be too long. The weather reports are saying it'll be here by the end of the week. I'm still not quite sure what happened to summer. Needless to say, winter is sneaking up on me.

I'm about 96% over a pretty bad bout of Bronchitis. (How's that for alliteration?) I always say parents shouldn't be allowed to get sick, but the kids had back to back stomach bugs and I got worn down in the week and a bit it took them to both get better. It started out as a cough, which I chalked up to a combination of tired and weather, but got progressively worse, and then worse still while we were away in PA for Thanksgiving. So Monday morning I was off to the doctor and then filling prescriptions for antibiotics. Thank goodness for modern medicine. 

The good thing about being away while sick is that there were lots of other hands around to help out with the kiddos. I got to sleep in late and nap pretty much everyday, which was ah-mazing and definitely wouldn't have happened at home. Sprout decided that she loves Grandma more than she loves me. The Bean decided he wants to live outside. Really, I can't blame either of them. We're so lucky to have this home-away-from-home. Both kids had to be forced into the car when it was time to go. Thank goodness we'll be back over Christmas. Otherwise might have had to leave them there.

The week before the holiday the kids got their report cards and we had Parent/Teacher interviews. Both kids did really well. I'm always trying to read between the lines when we get their report cards and every "usually" or "with reminders" sends up red flags. I embarrassed Jen by bringing a clipboard with their report cards and my notes of things I wanted to follow up on. Both their teachers were very reassuring. The Bean is excelling. His teacher is encouraging us to find additional ways to challenge him, such as doing the Spelling Bee. She seems to be challenging him to do more than the bare minimum and will send him back to add details in his writing, etc. I think she's a good fit for him. He was also awarded the "Super Ace" character award for Empathy the week after reports were sent home. We were proud of him. It's also reassuring to know that while he can be a bit of a bear at home, he seems to behave well at school. Sprout also had a great report. She is coming out of her shell and stepping into more of a leadership role in the classroom. She's very helpful and, they say, is starting to branch out in her friendships (I still think she mostly cares about her best friend). I noticed that she was becoming more interested in reading and put a bunch of sight words up on the wall. This past week she's gone from recognizing one word ("the") to about twenty! I was shocked and also felt a little badly that I wasn't more on top of where she was and what she needed to progress. I'm trying to carve out a little bit of time after school everyday now to read with her and work on phonics. 

What else is new?

We got family photos taken on the weekend. We got a Groupon for a local studio. They don't do the greatest job, but the price is right and it guarantees that we have at least one photo of all of us each year. (We've been going for four years now, I think.) The Bean was being a bit of a goof and his smile isn't what I was hoping for, but it is what it is. We also got a nice one of just the two kids. The kids also visited Santa at the mall. Sprout modified her request for a unicorn, to a request for a horse and a horn. I had told her unicorns weren't real creatures so even Santa wouldn't be able to bring her one, so she has adopted a DIY attitude and is planning on crafting one herself. Tenacious little girl. The Bean hasn't had any stand out request, but asked Santa for the tools and pieces to build a mobile home. Hopefully neither of them is too disappointed on Christmas morning. 

Sprout's fifth birthday party is this weekend. She's having a few friends over, mostly from school. We're decorating treasure chests, watching The Little Mermaid and eating cupcakes. I tried to keep it pretty simple, but still have it be something she enjoyed. I hope it goes as planned! I don't have too much left to do other than buy balloons and make cupcakes. I cannot believe our baby is going to be five. 

Once her birthday has passed it'll be time to start thinking about The Bean's. What a season! I'll try to update again soon.

Monday, November 13, 2017


Somehow the fall has passed me by. Technically I know that's not true, but there are more leaves on the ground than on the trees and we had our first snowfall last week, so never mind what the calendar says,  it feels like winter has started.

With it came our first illnesses of the season. The Bug vomited in bed a week ago Friday and we've been dealing with all sorts of bodily fluids since then, because of course, just about the time she was starting to feel better the school called to let me know The Bean was feeling sick. I'm completely run down. I've been trying to push through it during the days, but by the evenings even talking is taking the wind out of me and sleep is interrupted by coughing fits throughout the night. I just hope I'm doing better by the time it hits Jen, because despite all the oregano oil she's downing every morning, she's probably next.

I think I owe this blog a summer bucket list update, but summer seems so long ago. I will likely just leave it at that we didn't complete our entire list, but we had a good summer. We were outside a lot. We visited family and friends. We swam and hiked and played and read and chilled and ate about a bazillion popsicles. Just what summers should be.

The kids started back to school without any issues. The Bean was so ready for Grade One. His teacher is a little more no-nonsense than last year's, but that's okay for him. He's been happy to be able to do "Kilometer Club" at recess and participate in some of the activities kindergarteners are excluded from. He's been acing his spelling tests every week. With the exception of a girl in his class who seems to enjoy annoying him, he doesn't have any complaints about school. Buggy is also doing well. She seems more confident than she was last year. I worry a little about her academic skills, but I have been reminding myself that had she been born a week later she'd be a grade below where she is. She's funny and clever and very sweet and has a wickedly good memory, she just doesn't read yet. I'm sure she'll get there. It's hard not to compare. Parent/Teacher interviews are on Thursday night. We'll get the official school updates then.

Speaking of the school, I took on the role of School Council Chair this year. There wasn't anyone who wanted to step forward, so I thought since I'm already there so often and pretty involved already it wouldn't be that big of a deal. Silly me. (Though, to be fair, I was a little mislead by the previous chair, who assured me it was only "an hour or two" of work a week. More like and hour or two a day...) Anyway, all that to say my free time has been a lot less free, keeping up on emails, and insurance documents, and fundraising plans, etc. etc. I keep thinking things will  settle down, but I at this point I'm starting to realize that's probably wishful thinking.

So, anyway, here we are. Well past summer. Winter and all the holiday and birthday craziness just around the corner. I'm working on wish lists and party planning, and thinking about what to pack when we go down for Thanksgiving next week and what we'll wear for our annual family photos. Things don't ever seem to slow down. But, sickness aside, everything is good. We have a week of vacation to look forward to. We have an almost-five-year old who is obsessed with unicorns and mermaids, likes conducting science experiments, and still snuggles me every morning, and an almost-seven-year old who loves tech-y gadgets, soccer and is a voracious reader. My wife wakes up at 5:30am every day so she can do professional reading, bikes to work in the most colourful bike gear in all of uptown, and despite me not taking complements well, is incredibly sweet and doting and helpful. I have amazing friends. I'm enjoying tutoring and working over lunches at the school. I've got a few good books stacked on my night table. Life is pretty good right now. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Coming Out

Last night, when I was vegging out, scrolling through FaceBook I came across a few posts about National Coming Out Day. I'm always conflicted when I see these things. Coming out was a process for me. It was not easy. Short story, which I do believe I've shared here before, is that when my mother suspected that I was in a relationship with a woman I was kicked out of the house. I always feel a need to say, "Protect yourself!" when I see what could be construed as across the board encouragement for people to come out and that things "get better."

After some consideration, I decided to make a post. I tried to be very thoughtful in my wording. To acknowledge the support I have received and for which I am beyond thankful (including my mother's --while there will always be some element of hurt and lost trust, we have come a long way and that isn't something I take for granted), while also acknowledging that coming out can be hard and asking for compassion from those who find themselves being "come out" to.

Here is what I wrote:
Coming out can be a very difficult process for so many of us. Speaking to my own experience, it is terrifying to worry how the people who matter most to you will react. Please be kind. Please try to put your fears and prejudices aside and show love to anyone who trusts you enough to come out to you. It may not be easy for you, but I am almost certain that it is harder for them.
My heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported me since I came out and who supports me now.

I knew if my mom saw my post she might feel defensive. I hoped that she would take it for what it was --a call for empathy. Support for those who need it. Unfortunately she did not. She wrote a response in which she tried to justify her actions. The two of us have had these conversations. As much as I am ever going to, I understand that her fear came from a place of love. I really have tried to move on. It's been 17 years. She does her best to show support now for myself, Jen and the kids. I wasn't trying to rehash anything. Not trying to make anyone feel guilty.

Anyway, the result is that because of her response I felt the need to further defend/explain myself. To seek reassurances and perspective from friends whose opinions I value. In many ways I think the post was successful in opening some interesting topics up for discussion. But still, it's been an emotional day which was very much NOT the intention.

Trying to navigate feelings that will always be hurt while trying to reassuring the person who hurt them in the first place... it's hard.

So that's what's been up here in the past 24 hours. I realize I need to update on the past three months, and I will try to get there. My brain has been pretty full lately.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Bean is Six and Half!

Today The Bean is six and a half... actually, that's not entirely true. It's been a little over a month since he reached that "milestone" age, but summer equals busy and I'm only just now finding the time to sit down and write his update. Don't worry folks, we'll pay for his therapy.

What an interesting age this is. The Bean certainly isn't a "little kid" anymore, but he's not quite a "big kid" either. While he very much wants to be a part of grown up conversations and have all kinds of independence, he still loves to pretend play with his sister, is afraid of being alone, and loves getting snuggles.

This may sound a bit funny, but he seems to be speaking in a more mature way lately. I think a lot has to do with all the reading he does, because he has been trying out new words and phrases fairly regularly. Sometimes he gets them in the right context, other times not so much. It catches me off guard. I guess it's just not something I really expect. It is pretty neat to see him try to figure out. It also surprises me in that I would definitely hesitate to try out a new word with other people, but he is so willing to take the risk. I'm not sure if that's personality, something that has been fostered, or what.

While he can be shy at times, particularly around new people, overall he is outgoing and confident. He's still on the small side, but rarely hesitates to approach older kids and ask them if he can join in. He wears his heart on his sleeve and you can see his shoulders slump when he is rejected. Occasionally he needs reminders of how it makes him feel to be told he's "too small," but overall he does well with younger kids too. He adores babies.

He LOVES be outside. I think he would live outside if we let him. He and I did a "Nature Nuts" program at the Brickworks over the winter. I didn't think it was very well organized, but he loved getting out on adventures. He hikes, runs, bikes, scoots, skateboards, skates, climbs, swims... The summer has been pretty fabulous for all of that. Second to being active, he probably enjoys reading the most. Okay. Not entirely true. iPad or other tablets might rank as #2, or maybe even #1, but they're almost exclusively reserved for short periods over the weekends. He also really likes TV. But again: his access is limited. He's become a lot more interested in playing games. Uno and Old Maid have been in high rotation this summer. He's very competitive.

We have been so busy over the past few months. The end of the school year was a whirlwind with lessons, and playing at the park after school and visiting friends, but the summer has also been busy. We've taken a break from all scheduled programs, but will likely go back to piano, swimming and gymnastics in the fall. The Bean wants to do everything. Jen and I have talked about putting him in dance or acting, because he seems to enjoy both, but he's been talking more about learning to play drums and basketball. I think our neighbours might find a way of getting us evicted if we bought him a drum set, and we'll see what happens with the basketball...

On top of being active, he's also pretty fearless. He has no reservations about climbing to the top of the tallest trees and jumping from their branches back down to the ground. He loves to go fast. He got to ride go carts for the first time this summer and thought they were pretty much the best thing ever along with the roller coasters he was able to ride on at various amusement parks. I can totally see him getting into some sort of extreme sport.

Health wise he's been good. I'm not sure if I ever mentioned what we found out about his belly issues. The gastroenterologist we've been going to hasn't been super helpful. After reading some research, we decided to take him off Restorolax, and if anything I'd say we've seen a positive improvement both with his digestive issues and with his temperament. We tried to have him tested for Celiac, but it turns out he actually lacks the protein that is used to check for it. Then, again after doing some research, I found out that the vast majority of people who lack this protein are allergic to dairy, which we strongly suspect is The Bean's #1 issue. Anyway, we may have him tested for other allergies, but it's not a huge priority right now as things mostly seem to be under control.

His teeth have been an ongoing issue. He lost his first tooth in the spring, which was pretty exciting with the tooth fairy coming to visit and all. His second tooth fell out shortly after. We were happy that they came out as the new ones were already growing in behind the baby teeth. The top two were wobbly for a while and both fell out, again within days of each other, at the end of the school year. Meanwhile his six year molars erupted and when we went for a dentist appointment last month they were already showing signs of decay. The dentist assured us that we're doing a good job looking after his teeth, but that probably because of deficiencies or an illness during their developmen, he has what appears to be very weak enamel and is prone to cavities. Poor kid. He got his eighth filling shortly after that appointment.

He eats well. He seems to like what he likes, and NOT like what he doesn't like. He isn't super into trying new foods, and often will say "Yuck!" before it's even touched his tongue, only to say after another few seconds that actually he does like it. Lately he's been eating a ton which makes me suspect he's about to have another growth spurt. He would be happy to survive on carbs and ketchup.

He's currently about 44/45 inches tall and about 44/45lbs. We just got him new running shoes for school and they are a size 13. They're just a smidge big, but I'm hoping they will last into the new year. In clothing he's anywhere between a 4 and a 6, but leaning towards the larger sizes. Bottoms are generally smaller so they don't fall off his tiny waist. If he had his way he would be either in underwear or pajamas 24/7.

We've been a bit off of our schedule, but generally speaking he goes to bed between 7:30 and 8:30pm and sleeps to about 6:30-7:30am. There were a few days earlier in the summer that he slept until after 9am. It was amazing!

I'm not really looking forward to getting us all back on a schedule for the start of the school year. The Bean is excited that he is going to be in Grade One. I feel like he's ready. Like I've said before, his reading is amazing. His comprehension is just a little behind his reading abilities, but still far beyond what would be expected at his age. His math abilities are average. Science and Social Sciences are probably average too. Gross motor skills are awesome and fine motor are probably right on track. He's able to reflect on his actions and does a pretty decent job with self-regulation, for the most part. I am slightly concerned about how influenced he can be by others, and hope that he'll behave appropriately (meaning with respect for others and with kindness). He's got a strong personality and is very sweet, but he also wants to fit in with the crowd, make people laugh, and get lots of attention.

A story: Back in April he and Sprout had been out drawing on the sidewalk with chalk. He had spent a long time working on the characters from P.J. Masks and Sprout, not really paying attention, drew over some of his work. He was so upset. He grabbed a white chalk and drew a big square around "his" area and went over to Sprout and said, "Sprout, do not draw in my area!" Later on I told him that I was impressed at how he handled the situation, knowing that he had been pretty upset. To which he says to me, "Self-Regulation, Mama." (He's also been known to coach me into taking a breath when I'm losing my temper with them.) Overall I'd say he's a pretty fantastic brother.

And on that note I am going to wrap this very overdue update up. I'm pretty sure this sweet child will be empathetic when he reads these later on and sees how behind I was. He keeps us on our toes and is such a great kid.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Sprout is Four and a Half!

Sprout is four and a half!

Fourth Birthday Celebrations

Closer to four and a half

Our baby... well on her way to being five years old! My goodness. 

What to say about her? For one who has only been alive for four and a half years, she is so very much herself. She is affectionate and loyal and independent and quirky.

Western Pennsylvania Girl

Most days Sprout wakes up grumbly. You dare not speak to her. She will lumber over to wherever I am sitting and climb up into my lap for a snuggle. She likes to turn sideways and curl up into a little ball, tucking her head under my chin. She just barely fits. After a few minutes she will allow someone to ask what she would like to eat and prepare her breakfast. Then she's good.

She has been warming up to Jen more and more. She'll occasionally hold her hand when we're out for a walk, or lean up against her during story time. Jen relishes it. I love seeing her being more affectionate with Jen. We both know she loves Jen, but having Sprout admit to it and show it more openly has been a long time coming.

Her brother is her best friend. They get under each other's skin from time to time, but overall they're so good together. Sprout is fiercely loyal towards him. I have a feeling that she's going to grow up always having a few very close friends, rather than a wide social circle. There are several kids in her class that she likes well enough, but only two or three that she really wants to spend any time with outside of school. We were happy to find out that one of her favourite classmates will be with her again next year, as well as a little neighbour that she really likes. I think it'll be a bit of a transition not having her brother there.

The school year finished out pretty well. Her separation anxiety improved somewhat... or I got better with dealing with it. Her report card was very positive. She was described as very helpful and caring. Proud moms over here.

Making playdough for her class

She still tends to prefer make believe play over anything else. Family, school, and doctor/vet are her most favourite games. She has a fantastic imagination and will get completely immersed in her play, even if no one is playing with her. She does like playing with others, and sometimes I feel badly because I don't exactly jump at the chance of pretending to be her baby and I often try to get her into something else --arts and crafts, cooking, or playing outdoors. She is not easily distracted.


She loves performing too. Nothing particularly rehearsed or choreographed, but she'll set up a stage and grab something to use as a microphone and put on a show. She often makes up her own little songs. I adore it. When she is happy she'll sing to herself.

She continues to be very nurturing. She loves animals. When we're out she will, without fail, stop people and ask to pet their dogs. She approaches them so gently. I swear she connects with them on another level. She also loves babies. Her Christmas wishes (we start planning early over here) are for 200 babies and a real live unicorn.

Her motor skills are coming along. She's definitely much more interested in writing now than ever before. She likes to make notes for her friends, write grocery lists, draw pictures. She knows how to print most of her letters, but will still ask for confirmation. ("How many bumps does a B have, Mama?") She's become much more coordinated in her gross motor skills and more confident too. She runs, skips, gallops and dances... climbs, swings and spins. She seems to enjoy her gymnastics classes and is a little fish in the swimming pool. She made huge progress with skating over the winter as well. Dance class was a bit of a bust, but not because she couldn't do it, she just wasn't into being there and often dug those heels in once it came time to participate.

She can be very stubborn. Another example came to a battle of the wills with her clothing choices. She went through a long phase this winter of not wanting to wear anything that matched. It drove me a bit bonkers. Fortunately she seems to be back on the matching bandwagon now.

She also went through a phase of unique hairdo requests

She is most definitely part squirrel. She hides things all over the place. She loves things that are tiny. She also loves things that are shiny and sparkly. So maybe she is part magpie too? She's definitely way more into princesses than I would have imagined a child of mine would be. But, thinking back, I also loved princesses and sparkly things when I was four.

We've seen a lot of progress with her articulation. There are still sounds that she is working on... "sh" and "r" aren't quite there. I'm still a bit concerned, but it is reassuring to know that her classmates and teachers didn't seem to have difficulty understanding what she was saying. She is pretty chatty and her vocabulary continues to grow. I find it especially cute when she answers questions with words like "actually..." or throws in an "in particular..." She picked up a lot of little phrases from her ECE this year. (Some more appropriate than others... "For the love of God" was among them!)

End of year primary music concert

She's been asking me to teacher her how to read quite often lately. She still loves to look at books, but will go more for books she's been read many times than ones she is less familiar with. If we leave out parts when we are reading to her, she will correct us. I think I'll work with her on it over the summer. I'm pretty sure she'll be able to pick up CVC words and some simple sight words. I really did not push it at all this year, and wouldn't, but she is asking so I will try.

She is a pretty good eater. She will almost always take a lick of something unfamiliar and more often than not will go on to eat it. She is, however, a painfully slow eater. It's not necessarily that she dawdles, she just really, really takes her time.

I almost dare not mention it, but her sleep is finally good. Lights out is between 7:30 and 8:00pm. She sometimes has a hard time settling, but once she is asleep she has pretty much sleeping in her own bed through the entire night. Hurray! If she's tossing and turning she will ask for me to come and cuddle her. Lying quietly with an arm around her usually helps. She rarely wakes in the night, but sometimes her brother wakes her up. She likes to "sleep in" in the morning, and usually is up between 7:00 and 8:00am.

This bug. She's quite a character. As I said, so very much herself and we're getting to see that develop more and more. It's a wonder and a privilege. I just love her.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer Bucket List 2017 Edition

Jen tells me I sounded depressed in my birthday post. I am not. I did have a pretty shit-tastic day yesterday, but I'm good now. 

Now, because yesterday was, literally, the longest day of the year which means it is OFFICIALLY summer, I figured I'd put together my annual summer bucket list. We have very few things scheduled, but I have a feeling we'll all enjoy the flexibility and filling our days with summery activities.

The Two Moms to Be Summer Bucket List for 2017
1. Swim. In pools. In lakes. In rivers. 
2. Spend time outside, preferably near trees. 
3. Visit animals.
4. Take care of our little garden.
5. Go berry picking.
6. Get the kids helping in the kitchen. 
7. Make art.
8. See live music.
9. Meet up with friends.
10. Visit new places.
11. Take waaaaay more photos. 
12. Blog more.

Very general, but I figure I can go into details on all the blog posts I'll be making. Right?

Monday, June 19, 2017


Gosh. Does that sound old? I would think nothing of someone else being 37, or 47 or even 77, but me, 37? It hardly seems possible.

I was looking through a box of old photographs tonight. Ones taken on cameras that used actual film.

I came across some from the days when Jen and I first started dating. I think about how young I was then. Just 20 when we met. I think about how then-me would never have imagined everything that's happened in the past 17 years. What would I tell my 20-year-old self? What would she have to say to me?

There were older photos. A few of me as a baby, a kid, a teenager. I don't have many clear memories of my childhood, but I have strong emotions tied to certain places. I wonder what my kids will remember of their own early years. It's hard to imagine that they won't remember sitting on my lap listening to book after book, or dancing in the living room to the same song played on repeat for over an hour. I hope what they do remember is happy.

The years go by quickly.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Separation Anxiety

So, I wrote about The Bean's issues with perfectionism, now time to talk about Sprout's Separation Anxiety.

Sprout has always been attached to me at the hip. I get it. I've been home with her essentially since birth. I'm her safe place. When she started school back in the fall I was really proud of how well she transitioned. I chalked it up to her being well adjusted and feeling safe and secure. If I'm remembering correctly we had a bit of a set back just before the winter holidays, but whatever happened then, let me tell you, it's nothing compared to what's been going on the past month or so.

I have literally been having to peel her off of me in the mornings. She has been anywhere from slightly teary to nearly hysterical. It's completley frustrating and exhausting. I KNOW that minutes after I leave she calms down. I know that she is well-liked and well taken care of at school. I do not know why this has suddenly started or how to get her past it.

As frustrating as it is for me, I know for her it is real. I know she truly does not want me to leave her in the mornings. I've run the gamut with my reactions, from quickly peeling her off of me and leaving to lingering around until she's settled, reassuring her that I'll be back at the end of the day and can be reached if there are any problems, and then saying low-key goodbye before heading out. I feel better handling things the second way, but I'm also wary of overstepping. The school does not like parents lingering around.

I'm guess just not sure what to do. I know it's a phase. I know either way she will be okay. But I also want her to know that I wouldn't ignore her "needs."

What would you do?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Break

We are nearly mid-way through March Break.

I feel like, for all of us, this is a much-needed time. There has barely been a moment to pause lately.

I over-scheduled the kids this winter, which means we were all over-schedule. Running around to various lessons and activities more days than not. Mostly enjoying things, but still exhausted. Sprout was crying at school drop off nearly every morning saying she wanted to come home with me, or that she wanted me to stay with her. Some days I lingered a while and quietly left after she'd settled in, others I had to peel her off of me, apologizing profusely to the teachers on yard duty and hoping that she'd settle down quickly. (Her teacher, who is so good to me, has texted me reassuringly many a morning.)

This break, while still busy up to this point, has been good. Not having to rush out the door or away from each other. Not having to get to skating, or swimming, or meetings. I wish we had two weeks instead of only one.

My dad is here visiting for the first time in three years. I was looking forward to seeing him, but even more than that, having him spending some quality time with the kids, who barely remember him. Except he was bizarrely non-committal when I tried to make plans before his arrival. And his first day here he told me he wouldn't really be up for many outings because getting around has become quite hard for him, which I can see, but still am disappointed about. And now he is sick and mostly just seems to want to sleep. And in a few days the kids will be back in school and then he'll be returning home and I don't know when we'll see him again. There is more to this --his wife is very sick, I worry about her and what he would do without her, yet it is hard to talk about what his plans for the future are without seeming morbid or like I am overstepping.

And since that sort of came out of nowhere, I'll jump in and briefly address other family conflict. My sister and her husband welcomed their second child last month. With their first I was there. (I believe) supportive during the pregnancy, labour, and months and years after that. I am fairly certain I knew that my sister was pregnant with this child before she had made any announcements, because sometimes one just knows and eventually that knowing is confirmed. I knew it was a girl before she'd said anything about that too. But we haven't talked in nearly a year and a half and while that's been a very, very good thing overall for myself and my family, I still feel disappointment that I haven't been able to be there for this little one. So complicated.

And, back to the theme of being busy, I don't think I've mentioned that I have started working for the kids' school. I'm supervising lunch and recess for an hour and a bit each day. It sounds like nothing, but it actually has changed my days in a noticeable way. That said, it's only been a few weeks and I'm still adjusting my routines. And, I should also note that I am enjoying it. It's not teaching, but I love being with kids and talking to them and I am cautiously hopefully that being a board employee might somehow positively impact my ability to be hired into a teaching position at the board. Probably wishful thinking, but at this point even the tiniest possibility that I may have gained some sort of advantage in getting hired is something to feel celebratory about.

In addition to school pick ups and lunches and drop offs I've been doing a lot of work with the School Council and have been appointed the "point person" for the new playground they're hoping to put in for the kindergarten students. I've been doing lots of research into outdoor classrooms and the benefits nature play (which I love, love, LOVE) and also into grant writing and landscape architecture and all sorts of other related avenues, which is very interesting, but utterly exhausting.

And with those little bits and bobs, I should probably head off to bed. It's become tomorrow and the morning will come too soon.

Monday, February 13, 2017


Many things seem to come easily to The Bean. As great as this seems, we're starting to see the flip side. We've been noticing that he often gets quite frustrated when he isn't able to do things as well as he would like.

We try to be cognizant of praising his efforts rather than his ability. That is, more, "You worked so hard today in swimming class! You figured out how to get your legs straight on your kicks!" Rather than, "You're such an awesome swimmer! You kick your legs so hard!" Yet he still always seems to want to be the fastest/strongest/best. I'm not sure if it's common for this age, if it's his personality, or if there are a whole variety of factors all coming into play. I have to admit though, it's not his best quality.

This drive also does not bring out the best in him. He will stack the deck before playing a game of cards. (Sweetly, but perhaps counter-productive to his end-goal, he will also stack the decks of other players.) He will brag about how he was the fastest in his skating class... even if he wasn't.

He hasn't been as into swimming lately and has saying that he wishes he could go back to his previous level. Last week I watched his class a little more closely than usual to see what was going on that could be making him feel this way. I observed that his swim instructor seems to pit the kids against each other in many of the drills that they do. The mama bear in me wants to call the head instructor and ask if something can be done differently --cooperative games rather than competitive ones --more time in the shallow area of the pool where The Bean feels safe and secure. The rational part of my brain tells me to back off and let me experience what it's like not to be the best.

In many ways I can relate to his frustration. I hate it when I know I've messed something up. I don't like to be second best or to know I could have done better. I can be very hard on myself. I put a lot of stress on myself worrying about things that are often relatively inconsequential.

While I want The Bean to do his best, I don't want him to think he has to be the best.

Has anyone been through this with their kids? Any words of wisdom? How would you deal with a kid who has to be the best.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Over the past few months, and even more so over the past few days, I've been thinking a lot about community and how important it is.

For the first time in years I'm starting to feel sort of more okay with the way things are in my life right now. I still really, really miss teaching and if the right opportunity presented itself I would take it without too much reservation,but there would be some reservation. A big part of my reservation would come from the fact that I would have to take a step back from how involved I've become in our  local community.

I love that I've gotten to know all the administration and staff at the kids' school. I've become close friends with several of the other parents. I feel like I am being useful when I go in to volunteer to prepare snacks or help the grade ones with their reading. I've had parents reach out to me when their in a bind and need someone to pick up their kid from school and watch them for a little while until they're available, I've been able to be a resources to parents who's kids are struggling academically and socially. I also take comfort in knowing that there are people who would happily do their best to help me out if I needed it. People who I can talk to when I'm frustrated, or unsure of what to do, or when my kids are just being so sweet that I want to share it with someone.

Similarly, I'm really thankful for the time I've been able to spend volunteering at the kids' programs at the community environmental centre. Spending time outdoors is hands down one of my favourite things. Getting to nurture the same thing in kids... it's just the best.

There's also this blog community. It's changed over the years as many of us have gotten busier, worried about privacy, moved things on to other social media sites, etc. But still, I've found it so reassuring to be able to catch glimpses into the lives of other families like our own. To know that there are parents out there who have the same concerns and struggle with the same issues. (BTW, I miss all of you who've moved on!) I've made wonderful friends who I would have likely never met otherwise. I never expected to build relationships like the ones I have when I first started out here nearly seven years ago.

And finally, the community I've been thinking about the most these past oh, say, six days, the other feminists who have worked so passionately to gain equal rights for all people. How exhausting it can be, how frustrating, but also how rewarding it is to come together and recognize each other. To see how far things have come and to encourage each other to keep momentum. To say I am disappointed in the current political situation in the United States is an understatement, but seeing these huge groups of people worldwide organize themselves, to stand united and say, "We are not okay with this!" I've found it moving.

Together we are stronger.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Bean is Six Years Old!

The Bean is six years old!

This little guy is growing up. The past week we not only discovered that his six year molars have erupted, but also that his bottom central incisors have started to push their way up behind his just slightly wobbly baby teeth. Though I should have been expecting it, I was still caught by surprise.

Physically he's still small, but he's pushing 40lbs and has definitely stretched out in the past few months (about 3'8" inches at the doctor today). All of a sudden his ankles are sticking out the bottom of his pants and we're having to move him into the next size up in all his clothes (Size 5 pretty much across the board, and size 12 shoes). Even his face is changing. Whatever roundness there was to his nose and cheeks and chin is starting to become more angular. Of course, he still has his big, round, blue eyes.

It should be no wonder that he's growing, given his appetite. A few months ago he was eating two and three servings of breakfast, which has slightly tapered off, but his lunch bag comes home empty and he almost always follows up dinner with a desert and then a plate of (vegan) cheese crackers... and sometimes a piece of fruit after that.

His favourite food is grilled cheese sandwiches. He also likes Campbell's Tomato Soup, french fries, and cashews. He's good about eating fruits and vegetables (which he likes with a generous dash of salt) and meat as long as there's ketchup to dip it in. Mealtime is rarely an issue with him. He mostly drinks water, though if there is juice around he'll want that.

Dairy is still an issue. We haven't really done anything further to figure out what's going on with his digestive problems. Both Jen and I strongly suspect that he has IBS, which is next to impossible to actually diagnose. So, we cut out dairy, maybe one day we'll try eliminating other common triggers or having him go through a full allergy test, but for now this seems like enough.

He remains incredibly active. He's excelling at gymnastics. I can't help but think they'd be recruiting him for the competitive stream if he were a girl. Maybe it's best that it's not an option for him though --while he certainly enjoys himself when he's there, it doesn't seem to be a passion. He moved up a level in swimming, which he's also doing well in, now swimming short distances on his own. On Tuesday he started ice skating, which he was very excited about. He dreams of playing hockey, but Jen and I are unlikely to allow that to happen. Really he's the kind of person who'd be happy to jump into any game or sport. He's already talking about joining the "Kilometer Club" (school track team) next year.

And while he's always been active, his ability to sit still has also increased. He loves, loves, LOVES to read. He can make it through short novels independently. Magic Treehouse has been a long time favourite, but he's also reading some A to Z Mysteries, Nancy Drew and other books from school. I'd guess he's reading at a late grade two level --he rushes so his comprehension isn't always as good as it could be, otherwise he might even be beyond that. It's shocking to see him read words like "throughout" without even the slightest pause. His writing has also really taken off since the last update. He still prefers that many words be dictated to him, but can sound things out on his own and loves writing cards and notes to mail to friends, often accompanied by a cute picture of a stick-figure boy skateboarding or dinosaurs or the like.

He also enjoys playing games. He hates losing, so that's something we're working on, but he'll rarely pass up an invitation to play cards, or Mancala and is even getting into chess thanks to our neighbour who's been learning at school. (I've never been a chess player, but I think I'm going to have to learn.)

He's also really into playing games on the tablet and more recently, the Wii. We try to stick to downloading educational apps, but Epic Skater and Angry Birds have made their way in there. We're strict about guns and haven't allowed him to play Minecraft and other games that are more violent.

He's still very into superheros and StarWars, and has recently added Ninja Turtles and Transformers to the list. I think he's seen one episode of Ninja Turtles and everything else he's only seen in books. Transformers were the one toy he asked for at Christmas, so probably needless to say, he received a few. He will play with the figures as well as toy cars and blocks and other things, but like his sister, he mostly seems to enjoy pretend play.

Fortunately for us all, the two of them get along quite well. They know how to push each other's buttons, but mostly they try to keep each other happy. The Bean has a few "best" friends in his class this year --one SK and one in JK. He still hangs out a good bit with one of his closest friends from last year, as well as friends from outside of school like Teagan and Quinn and his oldest buddy from when we were in birth class.

He seems very happy at school this year. His teachers often comment on what a good role model he is in the classroom and how he's always very eager to help. I think it's been nice for him to be in the same class for two years, I think he really sees himself as leader this year. We were very happily surprised when he was chosen among all the students in the school to receive the "Mindfulness" award. The class has a yoga teacher come weekly and work with them on various strategies --she and the teachers picked The Bean as the student who they felt made the greatest effort to understand and use these strategies to help in difficult situations. Go Bean!  (Funnily, he will often try to "coach" Sprout when she is upset, which usually just ticks her off.)

I guess the last thing to hit on is sleep. Not to jinx things, but we've been doing pretty well lately. The Bean is a lot like Jen in that he NEEDS sleep and doesn't fight it too much. He's become a bit afraid of the dark and being alone in his room, but most nights if we leave the door wide open and the bathroom light on he'll fall asleep pretty quickly. Recently he's been waking up in the night and coming into our room, which results in a bit of musical beds. He's usually up between 6 and 7am, so getting between 10 to 12 hours a night, since he's usually down by 7:30/8:00pm.

We're pretty smitten with the six year old child and looking forward to all that this year holds in store for him.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Sprout is Four Years Old!

I'm a few weeks late on this, but...

Sprout is Four Years Old!

To think, three and three quarters one day and four the next! Overall I think she's pretty pleased with this milestone, though she is adamant that she is four years YOUNG and not very old at all. Literal little girl.

The longer I've been a parent the more I realize that despite all the little changes, that these kids don't really change that much. Sprout at four is the same funny, affectionate, stubborn, sweet kid she's always been.

I think the biggest change has been her growing independence. The transition to school has been a fairly easy one. There were a few days of tears at the beginning, some clinginess here and there, but overall she seems quite happy. Having her big brother there surely helps. All our pick up and drop offs last year, as well as visits to the classroom and tagging along on field trips probably also made a significant difference. She was quick to make a few close friends and seems to be able to follow the routines and rules. She's the youngest in the class, but her teachers have often commented on how mature she is. I don't think she hesitates to participate and though whining or crying at home isn't uncommon, she seems to do a better job of "using her words" to express herself when there's a problem at school. Her academic skills are where I'd expect them to be. She recognizes letter and knows their sounds, but is only just starting to grasp how they come together to form words. She can count quite high with help on transitional numbers, but usually misses out on fourteen. One on one counting is good into the teens. She asks pretty fantastic questions and every once in a while they give insight on how she's trying to piece together things in her mind and build her understanding. I love witnessing that. Her fine motor is weak (she'll often use a palmar grasp if not reminded), but coming along. She still draws people as a head with legs, but has started adding more detail to her artwork and uses lots of colour.

Her gross motor skills are improving. She became quite a little fish while we were at the beach this summer and moved up a level in swimming this fall. Her control on the scooter is good enough that she can ride the six blocks or so to school. She also started riding a bike with training wheels this summer. She took gymnastic through the fall and the changes from this time last year are shocking; Not only is she much more focused, she has much better body awareness and control. It's also evident on the playground where she confidently runs, climbs and jumps and swings.

She wakes up grumpy most mornings and needs a good few minutes to adjust. She often wants a morning snuggle from Mama, but prefers everyone else leave her alone unless they're taking of her pull-up or making her something to eat. Once she's awake she's a little chatterbox with lots of ideas about what she and everyone else should be doing. She mostly dresses herself and has become quite opinionated about what she wears. Though there's no real rhyme or reason to it though layers, purple, sparkles and animals all seem to be popular themes. We call it "Sprout Styles." Her hair is usually half brushed and covering half her face. It's starting to get longer again and is still that same gorgeous auburn colour. She's a bit of a ragamuffin.

She's really stretched out and is mostly in size four clothing now. Shoe size seems to be about an 11. She's still got round rosy cheeks and a little belly.

She is a good (not great) eater. Breakfast is heavy on the carbs. school lunch is usually just a sandwich, fruit and vegetables. I've learned not to over pack snacks for her school lunch because she will eat them first and skip the healthier stuff. Dinner we pretty much insist that the kids eat what we've made. She is a painfully s-l-o-w eater. Even the lunch supervisors at school comment on it, but if given the time she does eat. Her favourite dinner is probably soft-shelled tacos. She's a little cheese monster.

Her speech is getting clearer. I am still going to request a referral to a speech pathologist when we go in for her well-check next week. Her Ls and Rs aren't clear and though most people seem to understand her when they're listening carefully, there's definitely room for improvement. Her vocabulary is excellent and I hesitate to correct the misspoken words (e.g. "I was borned on Christmas Eve") because I know they won't be around too much longer.

Though she doesn't read independently, she is a little bookworm. She loves being read to, though we don't do it nearly as much as I did before she started school. She's really into Dora books and princess stories. It's interesting how much she gravitates towards "girly" things, especially as I don't feel like Jen or I don't really strongly encourage it.

Aside from books, she loves dolls and pretend play in general. She and The Bean still love to play together --orphans, babies, doctor/vet, school, dogs... you name it. Most of their play falls into the make-believe category rather than the playing-with-toys category. Maganatiles being the biggest exception.

She adores animals and Jen and I will call her Snow White because of the way she refers to birds as her friends and insists on making eye contact with dogs and talking to them while she scratches behind their ears.

She stopped nursing mid-August. It was not by her choice, but I was ready for her to be done. She actually did really well initially because we timed it with our trip to the beach and did a lot of talking beforehand about how when we went to the beach there would be no more nursing. We should have thought it out a bit better, because she was pretty sorely disappointed when we got back home and I had to explain that there was no nursing at home anymore either. Still, she adjusted. It seems to be a pretty distant memory now, though if asked she will say that she misses it.

She's still pretty attached to me, but it feels like that's evening out a bit and she's starting to go to Jen for comforting and general interaction more than she has in the past. Grandma and Paul are still her "best friends", though I'd say her true best friends are probably The Bean and my cousin's son who she spent so much time with last year. She has a lot of very sweet friends and her social circle has definitely grown since starting school.

Sleep is maybe, slightly better. She has her ups and downs, I guess. She goes to sleep in the bottom bunk of the kids' bunk beds, but sometimes calls out or comes into our room partway through the night. I find it easier to sleep in her bed than to fit Jen, myself and her into our bed. I'm sure one day I'll miss the night-long cuddles, but right now a night where she stays in her own bed without waking up all the way until the morning (6am) feels like a blessing.

She's a bit of a goofball. She is bossy. She gets shy in new social situations. She's snuggly and can be just as sweet as can be. I love this little four year young creature will all of my heart.