Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Urban vs. Suburban Living

I'm a city girl.  I was born in Toronto and have lived within a 2.5 mile radius my entire life.  As a young child I dreamed about living in the country.  More specifically, I wanted to live on a farm in the country breathing fresh country air and riding my own horse everyday after school.  But by the time I was a teenager I couldn't imagine living outside the city though.  That only amplified when I was in my twenties.  And though I still love all the city has to offer, I can see advantages to suburban living.

So, even though it's nearly 300 miles away, I feel like our kids are fortunate to have a second home in what I joke is the country but Jen adamantly argues is the suburbs.  Jen's parents still live in her childhood home and several times a year we're able to go back there and visit.  Extended visits, like the one we had last week, are particularly nice.

As soon as the kids wake up they're begging to go outside.  We try to distract them indoors until the sun has warmed up the air a little bit and the grass isn't quite so wet with dew.

They're happy to play in the yard, but the country-loving girl in me always tries to encourage them to walk down to the nearby park to visit the pond and "forest."  The promise of being able to feed the geese and ducks the heels of our bread usually gets the sometimes obstinate toddler to comply with my requests.  Once the crusts have all been gobbled up or dissolved into the water we make our way through the woods on the far side of the pond.  The Bean likes picking up pine cones along the way.  Sprout still gets carried most of the time to speed things along but also so that she doesn't trip over roots or get poked by the twigs on low branches.

I sometimes imagine how different their lives would be if they had this open access to the outdoors all the time.  I think they would love it.  But then we drive to WalMart and I see man + woman = marriage bumper stickers and people dressed in head-to-toe camo and I know that someplace like this wouldn't be the best home for us.  We need the acceptance/indifference of other city-dwelling folks.  The balance we have of a home in the city and a home-away-from-home in the country seems to be a pretty good one for our family.

I'm curious to know where other people live and how you decided on settling there.  Feel free to comment, if you're so inclined.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sprout is Sixteen Months Old!

Today Sprout is sixteen months old!

It was actually a few days ago, but we were away and I wasn't really keeping track of the dates, and then I thought we might as well wait until after her fifteen month well-baby check (oops), but Sprout is Sixteen Months and Five Days Old doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

It feels like this little one is growing up much more quickly than her brother did.  She's bridging the gap between baby and toddler, with more of the toddler side being evident everyday.  She wants to talk and move and do so many things herself.  But she also wants to be picked up and nursed and snuggled a good bit too.  I miss many of the "baby" things, but it also so fun to be able to do new things with her.

-She is having a huge language explosion.  I feel like the past few months have been pretty remarkable in this regard, but right now she is repeating tons of words and using about one new word a day.  You have to be around her a lot to notice that's what she's doing, but I still find it pretty amazing.  New this month are some animals noises --like an elephant trumpeting, a horse's neigh and a sheep's baa which sounds like a laugh when she does it.  (I noticed it for the first time when I took her to Riverdale Farm and she was looking at the sheep --too cute!)  The doctor said that she should have at least ten words by now, but my guess is that she's somewhere between 50 and 100.

-And again, her comprehension is great.  Her best listening "trick" is that if I tell her she needs her diaper changed and ask her to come lay down she does!  She doesn't always do it for Jen though.  Another pretty good one is when we say something about going outside and she literally runs over to the closet to get her jacket and shoes.  We actually have to be careful not to say anything before we're ready to leave because she gets upset if we make her wait!  She loves going out and really loves being outside.

-Her walking is still a bit wobbly but improving and her bow-legged stance is getting less bowed.  She tries to run and jump, which is pretty cute.  She loves running/jumping/rolling around on the bed.  She also thought the neighbour's trampoline that we were able to get her out on last week when we were at Grandma and Grandpa's was pretty awesome.  She loves to dance and this moth figured out how to turn on the spot.  She also had lot of opportunities for climbing at Grandma and Grandpa's.  She's fearless around stairs, which is terrifying, but I've been trying to get her to sit and bump down them rather than just taking a huge step into nothingness and tumbling head first to the bottom.  The results have been mixed.  If I should her name I can usually distract her long enough to run over and grab her hand.  Going up isn't really an issue, though I still like to stand behind her and spot.

-She's come a long way with her eating.  At this point I would say she's a pretty good eater.  She nurses in the early hours of the morning, so she doesn't want breakfast right away and our current go-to breakfast for her is an over-easy egg cut up into small pieces that she mostly feeds herself.  She's also pretty happy with cereal.  Lunch and dinner she often has what we're having.  She loves rice, noodles, cheese, soft vegetables, chicken, lentils, hummus, bananas, crackers/cookies (rice rusks or animal crackers).  She seems to prefer savoury foods, and likes a little bit of spice but won't turn down a cookie (fruits and yogurts don't get that same reception though).  She mostly drinks water and loves to drink out of a glass with help.

-Sleep is more or less what it has been.  I chalk up the particularly brutal nights to teething, but she still has never done more than about an eight or nine hour stretch.  Usually she's in our bed from about 4am on, though lately I've been remaining alert enough at that wake up to nurse her and then put her back in the pack'n'play for another hour or so.  I think Jen and I are both ready for her to move into the other room, but we don't want to risk having two children awake at 4am.  I'm hoping by 18 months we're able to make the switch.  We've switched her to one nap a day and she seems to be doing better.  She consistently sleeps from about 12:00pm (when she is EXHAUSTED) to 2:30pm, but wakes up twice during that period and needs to be nursed or rocked briefly before she'll go back down.

-Since I mentioned teething I'll also note that she got her top right molar shortly after the last update, but it is still working it's way down and that she got her bottom left lateral incisor a week or so ago.  It seems like there are many more teeth (molars) on the way.

-No notable size change lately.  She's been in size four diapers forever now and is mostly wearing 12-18m clothes.  She's stretching out a bit, but not gaining much weight these days.  The pediatrician confirmed that she's 23.4lbs and 32.1in.  75th and 90th percentiles respectively, according to his charts.  It's strange to look back on old photos and see how chubby she was.  I had kind of forgotten.  She still has an adorably round belly.  Exact same shape I had as a baby.

-Her toys of choice these days are her "babies."  She loves carrying around dolls and stuffed animals.  Strollers and the shopping cart are also pretty popular.  She also loves dressing up.  Beaded necklaces, hats, shoes, you name it.  She found the Halloween costumes and spent a few days in a horse costume and another few days wearing a kitty hat and crawling around saying meow.  I felt sort of bad putting them back away.  Balls and finicky things like the pop up bugs are still big too.  We've been playing outdoors a good bit and she will try to mimic The Bean and play soccer, hockey, t-ball and golf.

She continues to be the happy, strongly opinionated and strong willed child she has been from the beginning.  It's such a joy being her Mama.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


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

The Bean: Seeming so very grown up at times.
Sprout: Still a bit reserved in new situations.  (But quick to warm up.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


This is a hard post for me to write, for a few reasons:  I really try not to focus on negative things in this space and  I also try not to criticize others.  I'm going to do a bit of both here.  This is a subject I've avoided blogging in the past, but in light of what's happened the over the past few weeks I feel like I need this space to process things a bit.  I may end up taking it down.  I worry about who might stumble across this and what implications that could have, but for now I need to get this out and have it heard.

There are a few issues at play.  I'm going to try not to be too mumbly jumbly in my thoughts, but consider this a fair warning.  


Growing up I was quite close with my mom.  I was surprised and also very sad when she kicked me out of the house.  I consider that incident a turning point in our relationship.  Prior to that I really did believe that she loved us (her kids) unconditionally, as she had always told us she did.  Afterwards I questioned it.  There have been incidences since then that have made me question some of the other things I always believed were innate to her character.  This goes beyond a child not recognizing their parent as a "whole" person.  Sometimes I honestly wonder if she was ever the person she said/I thought she was.

Always, but more notably since the kids have been born, she has made a point of saying how family is her number one priority.  To be fair, she has visited more often and also helped out a little with cleaning and the like from time to time since the little ones were born.  Last week, when I hurt my eye I honestly didn't know how I would make it through the day without help.  Jen stayed home Monday, but I still wanted someone around on Tuesday.  I called my mom.  She explained that she had a big meeting for the volunteer committee she chairs on Wednesday and that she had to prep for it, and so she wouldn't be able to come.  She also explained that leaving her dog would be hard.  I offered to pay to board the dog for the day, but she still said she couldn't do it.  I understand that her committee is important to her, but it still hurt to hear that she wouldn't come help when I really needed it.  I'm usually quite happy to have her come when she offers, but I rarely ask.

Still feeling like I needed someone, I called Jen's mom.  Without a second of hesitation she said she would be there.  I got my aunt to come help with the kids in the morning.  And my mother-in-law arrived just after the kids got up from their naps in the afternoon.  She stayed until Saturday, so that I could have a full week with help --being able to rest when I needed it.  Having someone available to drive since I wasn't cleared to.  Playing with the kids.  Cleaning up.  Preparing meals.  Everything.  And not one word about any plans she had to cancel or complaints about sleeping on our couch or the cost of gas or having to drive all that way.  Not one.  In fact, she seemed excited to be there.  Happy that I would ask her for help.  The thing is, with her I am not one bit surprised.  She has proven time and time again that she would bend over backwards to do what she can to help us and the kids.

And even though I am not surprised and I am exceedingly grateful, I also feel sad about it.  I want to have the mother who will do this for me.  For my family.  Even though I both love and like my MIL to a degree that most people find perplexing, it's hard to know that my mom isn't willing to do the same.

Right now I would do anything that I thought our kids needed me to do.  I hope that this doesn't change as they grow up.  I want them to know that they can count on my for both love and support.  I know what it feels like to not be able to do that, and it's not a good feeling.

*Jen pointed out that I didn't explain that my mom lives just over an hour away while her parents are nearly six hours away.  So the fact that my mom wouldn't come and her mom would is that much more notable.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014.
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The Bean: Move over Spiderman? He's been pretty into "Captain and America" these days.
Sprout: Finally enjoying some spring weather. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Quick Update

Wow.  What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been.

Shortly after my last real update, I came down with a wicked migraine (I think?  I'm not prone to them, but it was definitely more than a headache) followed up by a stomach bug that combined left me pretty much incapacitated for a good four days.

Just a few days after I recovered my best friend came to visit.  Oh, I love her so.  An auntie who indulges them in book-after-book is certainly well-loved by the little ones too.  Her visit was not nearly long enough.

The evening she left Sprout was fussing as I was putting her to bed, flailed and scratched my eye with her tiny razor fingernails.  Aside from labour, the pain was the worst I've ever experienced.  I decided a trip to the ER was necessary and after several hours was sent home with an eye patch and instructions to rest in a dark room for two days.  Jen took the day off on Monday and on Tuesday my cousin and aunt helped out in the morning and Jen's mom came in the afternoon.  From Pittsburgh.  (There's a whole other blog post there, but it will have to wait.)  She returned home this morning and we're more-or-less back to normal.  My vision is still a little blurry, but (thank the gods) the pain is gone.

We welcomed a new baby (my brother's daughter) into the world on Tuesday.  The Bean and I took a short visit to the hospital to say hello.  I look forward to more baby snuggles soon.  (The Bean was quite smitten with her and ever-so-sweetly demanded that he should be the one holding her, so I didn't get nearly as much baby time as I would have liked.  When told her name and nickname and asked what he would call her, he responded, "I am going to call her 'honey.'"  Yeah.  I think he's smitten.)

Oh, and on top of all that excitement, The Bean is now home with us for at least four weeks while his daycare provider undergoes radiation for her thyroid cancer.

Given the way things have been lately, I have a feeling the month is going to go fast.  

Book Review: Books for Spring

According to the calendar it's already been spring for a few weeks here, but the weather says otherwise.  It's really just this week that the grass is starting to show and look not-quite-so-brown and that we've been able to go out without layers upon layers of clothing.  It's nice.  And so are new books.  Here are a few new (or resurfacing) ones that we've got out on our shelves these days...

The Icky Bug Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta
I used to have this book in my classroom and thought it was really good --an alphabet book that tells about different "bugs" for each letter.  The drawings are attractive and it has just the right amount of information on each critter.  Ages 4-6.  

I am a Bunny by Ole Risom
A classic!  This book goes through the year describing Nicholas Bunny's activities during each season.  The drawings are cute, but still have some interesting details.  We've decided to give this one to the little cousins for Easter this year.  Ages 2-4.

Ladybug Girl by David Soman
I am in love with this book.  Which is good, because both The Bean and Sprout have wanted us to read it to them multiple times a day for the past week, which is how long we've had it.  It was a lucky find at the Book Bank.  The story is about a young girl, who dressed up like a ladybug, has to entertain herself for an entire morning.  She heads outdoors where she finds lots to do, proving to herself that she is not too little as her older brother criticizes.  The illustrations are anime-like and the artists do a great job of showing expression on the main character's face.  Ages 3-6.  

Hatch by Katie Cox
A board book with little rhymes giving hints to each animal hiding behind an egg, which the child can "crack" open to reveal.  A nice introduction to which animals come from eggs vs. which are born live.  Ages 1-3.

Worms Wiggle, Bugs Jiggle A Reader's Digest Book
Another Book Bank find, this little book is full of rhymes about nature.  It was just too sweet not to include in this list.  Here's one of the rhymes:  
Only My Opinion
Is a caterpillar ticklish?
Well it's always my belief
That he giggles, as he wiggles
Across a  hairy leaf.
Ages 3-8.

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
Another classic.  A simple story with simple (almost monochromatic) drawings about a little boy who continues to care for the carrot seed he has planted despite his family telling him that "it won't come up."  His perseverance pays off when his carrot comes up!  Perhaps especially nice for impatient gardeners. :)  Ages 1-3.  

I have no idea where this book came from, but all it is is very simple illustrations of flowers with their names.  Nice for introducing new flowers to little ones.  I believe Lois Ehlert's Planting a Rainbow is somewhat similar, but we don't own that one.  Ages 1-3.

Friday, April 11, 2014

{this moment} new papa

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. 

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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.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


The Bean: Captain and America (complete with rainbow cape) doing some water colour paiting.
Sprout: At the farm.  She liked "baaing" at the sheep.