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Monday, 26 August 2013 21:30

Audrey at 10 months!

It's hard to believe so much time has gone by, and yet - I remember feeling this way when Clara was about this age - it also feels as though Audrey has always been with us, and it's hard to imagine life before she was here. 

Dear Audrey,

      You still have no teeth, although you've been needing some tylenol to sleep every night and you have been soaking three shirts a day in drool so I'm expecting at least one tooth to come poking through your gums any day now.  

      You are eating more and more - it's no longer cost effective to just feed you store bought baby food anymore - and you're eating a much greater variety of things also. We try to feed you things with spices so that hopefully you'll be used to different flavours from the beginning.  You have been eating a lot of 'Baby Gourmet' brand foods, which include a lot of vegetables in your diet.  You've dealt with a bit of constipation, so we give you a Vegetable Lentil baby food meal every two or three days - hopefully it helps.  You're still breastfed about three times each day - first thing in the morning, at lunch time and right before bed, but even this doesn't always seem to be enough - often you will appear hungry again immediately after you've breastfed so I will also give you some formula or even cow's milk, which I've come to believe is probably fine for most babies to drink. 

Just have to point out those crazy long and curled baby eyelashes! Your Nana just informed me that she doesn't wear mascara because then she gets streaks on her glasses - man, that's gotta suck... :p

      You show a huge amount of emotion every day, and it strikes me particularly when you're experiencing one of your 'highs'. You don't really have 'lows', I guess, although you have learned how to complain when things aren't going quite your way, which usually only happens when we don't feed you fast enough.  Your 'highs' are hysterical, however.  You get so excited, your entire body convulses and you shreek and wiggle, and seem as though you're about to explode pure joy.  You still have this sadistic way of laughing whenever Clara cries, which still has me a bit concerned... 

       You are officially sleeping through the night!!! It's been long enough, I think I can really say that! A few weeks ago, Brian decided to rearrange our bedroom furniture so that the playpen no longer fit.  We went camping for a weekend, and you and Clara shared a room and when we got back, we just decided to have you continue to share a room - whatever happened. It took a few nights, but you seemed to be instantly more comfortable in your crib and right from the beginning you were waking up only two or three times a night (this was good for you!), and soon you were waking up only at about midnight and then again at about 3:30 or 4. After about a week of that, you started waking up only at midnight... and for the past few nights, you have been sleeping from about 8 or 9pm until about 8 or 9am. I could dance, I'm so happy... 

     Your nap pattern is also becoming more consistent. You are usually pretty sleeping first thing in the morning, and I just focus on feeding you as much as possible for breakfast before putting you down for an early morning nap. If I let you, you will sleep for about two hours and wake up again sometime before lunch. I have been trying to match your afternoon nap with Clara's, which doesn't always work and depends a lot on when you woke up from your morning nap and what we have going on that day. I'd love it if you would nap in the stroller, or lying on the floor at church, but you can't seem to sleep if there's anything going on around you. Although somehow you and Clara will sleep through each other's noises at night - if she wakes up screaming, you don't anymore, and if you cry before finally falling asleep, she will fall asleep anyway. 

You're still not crawling, but in the past few days you have started moving yourself forward.  You had been scooting backwards on your belly by pushing your arms out toward you and sliding yourself along the floor, and I've seen you scoot around on your bum, but you finally seem to be figuring out how to crawl.  You also push your bum up into the air with your feet on the floor (not your knees), and you'll hover there for a few seconds, so I think you know that you somehow have to lift your body up in order to move forward more efficiently.  I know I'll regret saying this, but I'm excited for you to actually start moving on your own!

It's possible I'm just driving people crazy with me, but I've had a number of people in the past week admit to seeing curls on the back of your head.  Your Dad had a stripe of curls along the back of his head when he was a baby - blonde hair too - and now he has a head full of thick dark curls. I hope for your sake that your hair isn't quite as thick or curly as his, but I'm excited for curls for you. I always wished my hair had some curl...  

     You have these creepy Monkey arms that always reach about a foot further away from you than I expect them to. The photo above is of you holding the Nikon camera that Brian has on loan from work, and I swear it was sitting on the center of the kitchen table - at least 2 feet away from you. I turned my back for a second, and you've got it on your lap in the high chair. I am unbelievably grateful that it didn't hit the floor between the table and high chair... I'm also really impressed that you were able to lift it - it weighs just about as much as you do...

     As much as I really want to help you avoid an excessive sweet tooth, I can't seem to stop myself sometimes from giving you (and Clara) sweets.  And you are getting things much earlier than she did, because you are old enough now to see what she is eating - and want it as well! 

     Despite having had a 10-month-old before, I can't help but be surprised at the amount of personality I am seeing in you lately. You are easy going and content most of the time, and although you are usually quiet, there are times when you jabber loudly to yourself or to us - too loud for anyone else to have a conversation around you. And your response to a 'Ssshhh!!!'? You just grin and keep on jabbering.  You are playful, and even a little mischevious, I think.  

     You handle being separated from anyone or everyone in your immediate family really well - but at the same time, you behave as though you are still physically a part of me - you butt your head up against me and nuzzle in - and you also act as though you know you belong with your sister. And your Daddy is still your favourite pop star. :)

Published in Blog
Friday, 23 August 2013 08:56

Coming Home

Last weekend, our girls each spent some quality time with family and friends while we spent our evening away.  Clara has demonstrated in the past how she doesn't mind being away from us over night, but I was especially pleased with how Audrey reacted.  She has become increasingly clingy - especially with me - so I wasn't sure how she would handle an entire night away.

She handled it beautifully, and although she seemed a little surprised in the morning when it wasn't me who came to get her from her crib, she didn't act out in any way because of it. 

It has become a bit of a tradition in my family to pick up a small souvenir or treat for your children when you go away for awhile, so we decided not to return to our daughters empty handed.  We walked past a cupcake shop and HAD to pick up a cupcake for each of the girls.

I'm pretty sure this was actually a happy face...

Pretty cupcake... 

I wish I'd taken a picture. We got Clara a regular sized cupcake with strawberry icing, and Audrey a mini cupcake also with strawberry icing.  Brian cut Audrey's cupcake into quarters and gave her one piece at a time, which was good because at least two of the pieces ended up hitting the floor. 

Audrey is old enough now that when Clara is given something, Audrey notices intently, and wants whatever her sister has also. This means Audrey has been introduced to things like ice cream and cupcakes much earlier than her sister was, because we don't have the heart to make her watch while her sister has a treat.  Sometimes this is sad, because whatever Clara is given is not always appropriate for Audrey, so we try to do or give her something to make her feel included.  

I think they were happy to be home. :)

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 07:00

Getting Away

Saturday morning, I woke up to this:

The sun was shining through the window, Brian was still in bed next to me reading a book, and we had nowhere to be until after noon. No little girls were calling to us, we had 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep (which has only happened to me once before in the past 10 months), and we had one of the best views in the city. 

It was Brian's birthday last week, and to surprise him, I decided to splurge a little on a night in a hotel overlooking the river.  My first call was to the Radisson Hotel, which couldn't guarantee me a room with a river view (what's the point in being close to the river if you don't sell your river view rooms???) so I called the Sheraton Hotel instead. They did guarantee a river view room, and their prices were quite reasonable also.  

There is also a well known steak house in the hotel that Brian had been wanting to try, and so this hotel was a great choice for that reason also.

Our awesome Brian's-Birthday-Plan began on Friday morning, when we went out for brunch - just the two of us! We went to a casual place that we go to semi-regularly, and it was fun and relaxing to be able to enjoy each other's company without having two little girls making demands every few moments.  Then, we went golfing, which we hadn't done in about three years! We suck at golfing, but we both really enjoy it.  

To illustrate our horribleness (I'll use my husband's example - because I'm writing this blog, and he's not), by the 9th hole we had lost all of our extra balls and were left with only one each. Brian tee'd off first, and sent his ball flying right into a grove of trees that was so thick there was no possibility of finding it.  Since this was 'his day', I graciously (because I'm that awesome) handed over my ball and said that he could play the last hole and I would just keep him company.

He lost that ball at the tee off also, so neither of us were able to play the last hole. :)

It was seriously hot outside, though, so neither of us really minded having to leave a bit earlier than planned.

Then, because it was a bit too early to check into our hotel just yet, we went to Indigo, got ourselves each an Iced Green Tea Lemonade from Starbucks and wandered around the store - with no kids to keep track of!!!

After Indigo, we headed to the hotel, where we discovered that our room came with all sorts of perks like free underground parking and access to their Club Lounge which offered free evening appetizers and a continental breakfast.  We checked in and admired the view from our 2-room suite:

We felt a little bit like royalty. I felt a lot like I was pretending to be someone else... 

I now have a dream that includes a room like this - all by myself - for a week - and a laptop so that I can write! It's a dream, I know, but maybe someday...

As long as I had enough coffee... 

Anyway, we wandered around the hotel for a bit, then wandered around downtown Saskatoon - because we had nowhere to be until 7:30 that evening - and window shopped, because window shopping is something that just isn't very easy when you have a toddler and a baby in tow. 

Supper was excellent, except that someone who sounded suspiciously like Headmaster Charleston (and who we nicknamed such) was sitting at a table next to us, talking loudly about his theories on time travel, but after he left our dinner was great! 

We took advantage of the hotel swimming pool twice - after supper, and first thing the next morning. 

We had a great little holiday, and it was really nice to get away for a little while. Interestingly, however, when we returned home we didn't find that our trip had given us any extra patience with our girls. Instead of feeling rejuvenated, and happy to return to our somewhat overly demanding daughters, it was actually a little bit difficult.  Of course, we love our girls dearly, and we know that all of the trials and not-getting-to-sleep-ness of having a baby and a toddler will pass all too quickly, but I think our time away was maybe not long enough to really be 'rejuvenating'.  I'd still do it again in a second, but I'd be aware that only one night of 'freedom' would not be enough to make me crave the crazy of home quite yet... 

As a parent, do you find ways to 'get away' for the sake of yourselves or the sake of your relationships? Or even for the sake of your kids? How do you do it, and how long do you stay away? 

Published in Blog
Monday, 19 August 2013 16:31

Keeping Up With Baby Books

This post should actually be called 'Neglecting Baby Books', because that's what I've been doing lately. 

Dear Future Audrey: I'm so, so, SOOO sorry...

I had such good intentions when I purchased Audrey's baby book. I knew that it was possible that I would forget some things, and that I might miss entering bits of information because I might be a little bit more busy, or a little bit distracted, or Audrey might just do things differently making it impossible to keep track of things in exactly the same way that I kept track of all of Clara's milestones. I knew that the information I documented for each of them might end up being different, so I deliberately bought a different baby book when I was pregnant with Audrey, than the one I am using for Clara. 

I was right that it would be different, but I don't think even different baby books can hide the glaring difference in the amount of writing that is in each book. Here are some photos of Clara's:

Clearly each section isn't packed full of writing - I answered each question or prompt, and sometimes there just wasn't more than a sentence or two.  However, if I had some note or thought about something even slightly related to the questions or prompts on one page, I would add notes wherever possible - like, on the picture at left. 

For Clara, we had her weight marked for each month of her life - except 11 months.  This is what Audrey's weight/length page looks like:

And in case that isn't clear... I'll zoom in for you.

Audrey - I'm. So. Sorry.

And, although her 'Baby's Sixth Month' page is actually quite full of information, here is 'Baby's Seventh Month' page... 

I am a terrible mother.

 

That was the Ninth month page, and I should already be working on 'Baby's Tenth Month', but that page is so far blank as well.  Luckily, I've been keeping fairly updated with this blog and have been posting monthly about her growth.  At some point, I intend to sit down and transfer some of the blog information to her baby book - and to go through Clara's baby book for additional ideas (Clara's book has many more specific questions and prompts, which makes it easier to keep track of things, I think) so that I can go back into Audrey's book and fill in some of these blanks. 

These are my intentions, but we all know how good intentions can sometimes go. 

I find it a little bit hilarious that I was so determined to not fall behind on Audrey's baby book just because she was the second child, and to not take any fewer pictures of her - but it happened, despite my best intentions.  Am I alone, or are there other mothers out there who found it more difficult to keep track of information after their first child? Please tell me I'm not the only one... 

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 07:00

Fly Lady House Cleaning Update

Four months ago, I started using the FlyLady website again to help me get my home - and life - organized. After a hot week in July, I was happy to report that despite my lack of energy due to the high temperatures, my house was less of a mess than it might have been - thanks to the FlyLady! 

After four months, my house is certainly not immaculate, and there is still some amount of clutter in each room of my house (except probably the bathroom...), but I have definitely made improvements. 

Let's start with the good, shall we?

  • I am learning that I may actually be capable of following a routine. It's not perfect, and I need a bit of reminding, but I am looking back and realizing that I am now performing some tasks almost automatically - which is a pretty big step for me, you have no idea...
  • My bathroom is nearly immaculate, nearly all of the time. Since we renovated our bathroom in spring, I have been more than a little obsessive about keeping it sparkling. And, after four months (it appears that my FlyLady following coincided with this event), it is still looking great! 
  • My bed is made. Right now - go look. In the past, making the bed was something we only ever did before company came over - not because they would see our room, but because we might need to throw some coats on it, or have a toddler nap on it, and so 'just in case' we might make the bed. Now, it is always made - this has pretty much become a habit for me.
  • About 50% of the time, my kitchen counter is clear before I go to bed each night. Of the remaining 50%, probably about 40% of the time my counter is cleaned at some point during the following day, and only about 10% of the time do dishes sit on our counter top for more than 24 hours. This may seem less than impressive, but then you didn't know our kitchen before. Prior to being back on the 'FlyLady' bandwagon, our kitchen counters were only ever cleaned when we were expecting company - and I mean large numbers of people, not just our parents or a couple of friends over for supper - it would have to be a big-deal party for us to actually clear our kitchen counter.  Looking back, I'm not sure how we lived that way - I think I would have days where I would do dishes for about an hour - get done as much as I could, and continue on the next 'dish day'. That, and we did the dishes when we needed them - right before we were going to use them - so that they would be immediately dirty again, and who wants to do dishes twice in a row? 
  • I'm caught up on laundry - mostly. I still have anywhere from a half a load, to two loads of clean laundry waiting to be put away - mostly the girls' laundry, because the time available to put their clothes away is so minimal - but neither of our dirty laundry baskets have spilled over in weeks. I have been successfully doing an average of one load a day - not counting diaper laundry, and often I miss a day on weekends - and this has done wonders for keeping the laundry task manageable and under control. 
  • I have more 'free' time now. This is somewhat counter-intuitive, and I think that it isn't exactly accurate to say that I have more time now - but because I have a cleaning 'plan', I require less mental energy to keep the house clean, and I don't have any guilt about the house work that I am NOT doing building up in the back of my head, so when I have some free time - it really feels like free time.

Now for the not-so-good - not the 'bad' exactly, but these are some things I have realized about house cleaning - and how house cleaning applies to my life.

  • Cleaning takes time. There's no way around this. There is no secret formula - no finger snapping - no wave of a magic wand - that will make my house instantly clean and maintenance free. I must spend time daily cleaning my house. This has been a big deal for me, because I have so many things I would like to spend my time doing, and in the past I have allowed cleaning to be a part of my schedule only very rarely - and I had to change my attitude about this. Ideally, I would like to spend a good two hours daily on my house - between regular things like dishes and laundry, to deep-cleaning and dusting and organizing. I'm not there yet. 
  • The FlyLady system was not created by a person with babies and toddlers. I could be wrong here, but I am quite certain that the formation of these routines and cleaning schedules did not happen while chasing down toddlers, and responding to the needs of an infant.  That being said, 'FlyLady' is all about taking baby steps - and as long as I don't berate myself for not completing every single task set out for me each day, I can be encouraged that each week my house becomes a bit more company-ready, and each month I am closer to a day when some of these tasks actually become habits.  During a time in my life when my morning list of tasks looks like this:
    • Shower and put on underwear - 13 minutes
    • Open girls' bedroom door and try to calm down screaming toddler so she doesn't wake the baby - 2 minutes
    • Put on shirt and pants, start brushing hair - 1 minute
    • Put toddler in kitchen chair and give her breakfast - 3 minutes
    • Finish brushing hair, wipe down bathroom (FlyLady task) - 2 minutes
    • Get toddler drink of milk - 30 seconds
    • Get baby out of bed, change diaper, get her dressed and put her in high chair - 6 minutes
    • Start making breakfast for baby - 1 minute
    • Refill toddler's cereal bowl - 30 seconds
    • Finish making breakfast for baby, start feeding baby - 3 minutes
    • Grind coffee beans (because I'm desperate at this point) - 1 minute
    • Feed baby a little bit more... - 2 minutes
    • Fill coffee maker with water and put grounds in filter and press 'on' - 1 minute
    • Feed baby some more - 3 minutes
    • Clean up half-eaten bowl of cereal that toddler tossed across the table - 4 minutes
    • Lecture toddler on wasting food - 1 minute
    • Finish feeding the baby...   
  • I'll finish there, because you can see where I'm going with this. Everything is done in 1-3 minute intervals, and no job can be completed before someone is crying or yelling that they have to go pee.  When you have an hour or less to get everyone ready to leave the house, including the arduous task of getting a toddler dressed and getting the diaper bag packed appropriately when you can't actually focus your brain for more than six seconds - even the two minute jobs that the FlyLady hails as being so easy to fit into a schedule can be difficult. But, the way I see it - if I start mastering some of these things while dealing with babies and toddlers, it will be that much easier when the kids are older.
  • When it comes to following the 'FlyLady' system, I have very much taken the 'baby steps' approach. Usually, I'm the kind of person who needs to become an expert immediately - or at least as fast as possible - and in this situation I really can't. I have to allow myself limitations, and allow myself bad days. I forgive myself for a lazy day, and try again the next.  In the process, I have been able to watch my home become gradually more presentable, although I still have a long way to go. 

I have heard rumours of other such cleaning and organizational websites and plans, and my thoughts would be to use what works for you!  I have an aunt who kept her home immaculate through the entirety of the growing up years of her four sons, and now cleans professionally, and while she was showing me how plain old water works just as well on cleaning a mirror as windex does, she encouraged me to 'use what works'. If it helps you keep your house clean - do it!  It's the result that matters anyway, not necessarily how you got there. 

Published in Blog
Monday, 12 August 2013 14:29

32 Months and Counting

I found this list of milestones on Babycenter.ca, and thought it would be interesting to go through the charts from 18 months to 36 months to see what Clara is or is not yet able to do. I've found that sometimes I miss documenting things, because it didn't occur to me that she was doing something at all noteworthy, so lists like this are handy sometimes when writing down what she can do...

At 32 months, Clara can:

  • Use a spoon and fork - she has been eating with utensils since about 18-20 months, and is actually a really neat eater. I didn't realize this until I was babysitting another 18-20 month old girl who got food in her ears, in her hair and all over the kitchen floor.  A friend of mine confirmed that for a toddler - Clara is really good at keeping her face and clothes clean while she eats. Which is good, because I'm afraid of all things sticky...
  • Speak mostly intelligibly, and can carry on long conversations with multiple sentences.
  • Wash and dry her hands by herself, provided she can reach the sink, soap and towel.  I was taught years ago that children shouldn't brush their own teeth until they are quite a bit older than Clara, so we don't let her brush her own teeth, but she can brush and rinse her teeth by herself after we have made sure they have all been scrubbed. 
  • Give us enough notice when she needs to pee that we hardly ever have accidents anymore. About once or twice a week, she has a dollar-sized spot in her panties, but it has been months since she has had any more of an accident than that. 
  • Dress and undress herself - most of the time. Shirts can be tricky, and anything with buttons she can't do up herself - but that's because they're typically on the back. We get things backwards and inside out frequently, but she'll get there.
  • Walk up and down stairs - this one wouldn't be worth noting, except that she was pretty late doing this, so it's still a new skill. She still avoids stairs, or has to hang on to the railing. 
  • Do her Nemo 24-piece jigsaw puzzle

Some of the other things I'll have to test her on over the next few weeks, because I don't know how many blocks she can stack or how many body parts she can name. 

Dearest Clara,

After re-reading last month's letter to you, I'm happy to say that things are going much better for you and I.  We are still struggling with some behavior issues that we're not entirely sure how to handle, but we're impressed with you much more often than we are confused or disappointed.

We went to the lake a couple of weeks ago, and stayed in Grandma's cabin.  Even though your schedule was thrown off, you handled the transition beautifully. You slept wonderfully in the cabin, and although you didn't use the outhouse, you were happy to use your old portable potty.  You were so happy, and had so much fun playing with some of my cousins. 

You have become more affectionate in the last few weeks, and I'm loving that so much. You will come up and hug me, or cuddle on my lap, for no particular reason and although sometimes I have to deter you because I'm dealing with Audrey or cooking supper, I try to take advantage of it as much as I can.  You haven't been a very touchy person for most of your life, so I cherish every voluntary hug from you!

I think you are starting to outgrow your naps, which is hard for me because I love that bit of quiet time in the afternoon. Some days you will sing to yourself in your room and I will eventually decide that naptime can be over. Sometimes that backfires on me, and you're inconsolably difficult by supper time, but most of the time you are ok until just about bedtime. 

Our biggest challenge with you right now is at bedtime. After you have been tucked in and we have closed your bedroom door, you will yell that you need to go potty. Then, when we take you to the potty, you will sit there and chatter to us, completely forgetting about your need to pee. It's extremely irritating, because when we try to take you off the toilet, you cry that you need to pee - but then you never do. We don't want to assume that you're lying the first time you call out from your bedroom (even though I think you usually are), but we don't want to indulge this clever method you have concocted to stay up later at night.  Also, now that Audrey is sleeping in the crib every night, we hate when you yell and keep her up, but we don't really want to go back to having you in separate rooms... 

One day a couple of weeks ago, I made you playdough in 6 different colours. Then, I set aside my OCD and just let you play with it. I wanted to try to stop you from mixing the colours, but I didn't. I was very proud of myself that day...  

I'm still not very good at actively keeping you entertained, but you're getting a lot better at playing with toys by yourself.  You even play 'with' Audrey, by talking to her while you're playing and giving her toys to involve her in your play.  Every so often your toys use Audrey as a trampoline, but for the most part you're really gentle with her. 

You're finally getting old enough to bribe! :)

I mean... if we're going out somewhere - to the mall, or to your Grandparents' houses - it is starting to become effective to tell you that the consequence of bad behavior is to go home. We never make that threat unless we are willing to follow through, but so far we haven't had to. We also don't make that threat if going home might be exactly what you would like to do.  On more than one occasion, we have been happily surprised by how well you behaved during an all-day outing. 

I'll probably say this in anything I ever write to you - but you're growing up so unbelievably fast, I can hardly keep up.  You talk more like a child than like a toddler these days, and you say the most hilarious things.  I grow increasingly fascinated by the little person you are becoming, and I'm excited to get to know you better each day that goes by. 

I love you to bits, my big girl! 

Published in Blog
Friday, 09 August 2013 08:02

You Are Busy Because You Want to Be

I read an article somewhere that talked about 'busy people', and how so many people in our culture will say 'Oh, I'm just so tired!' or 'We're just so busy!' when asked how they have been lately.  The writer of the article was saying that the people who make these statements are almost certainly not the kind of people who need to work 80 hours a week to make ends meet, or who are spending every spare minute next to a sick family member - the people who make these statements are the people who have lessons and social engagements, and feel the need to go shopping a lot.  The people who complain about being busy are the people who are busy BY CHOICE.  They are busy because they want to be busy.

The writer of the article also noted how statements like this make him feel - he said that when someone comments on how busy they are, his first reaction is to say "Well, then I'd better get out of your way because you're clearly too busy to chat with me."

This message hits me in my heart - in the place where I have been hurt and skipped over by people who are 'too busy', but it also hits me in the gut - because I have been guilty of this so often myself. 

A few weeks ago, I made plans with a close friend - honestly wanting to spend some quality time with her - and then in my 'busy-ness', the plan I made with her became shortened and rushed while other plans crowded in around it.  Sure - I have a husband who makes plans also, and two kids who have needs as well, but the truth was that I had absolutely no excuse.  There is no reason I had to accept other engagements after I had made the initial plan with my friend - I accepted because I WANTED to, and because I completely didn't think about how that would make her feel.

Today I had plans with a friend. They were tentative, but she seemed as though she wanted to meet, and so I didn't make other plans and expected to meet with her today.  She's going through a big life situation right now, and she also has a husband and kids who make plans and have needs, but when she cancelled this morning I still couldn't help but feel completely hurt and angry.

So the lesson for me going forward, and the lesson I need to teach my children is to respect other people's schedules as much as your own.  If your life is busy, never assume that anyone else's isn't. If you have to cancel plans or rearrange your schedule for something, expect that other people might be doing this also. If you're truly too busy to make plans with your friends, understand the consequences (eventually your friends will stop calling) and don't make promises you can't keep.   

I am definitely the kind of person who 'likes to be busy' and in the past few weeks, I've looked over my schedule and decided to quit a few things - because being busy is not a badge of honour. It is not something I should be proud of and flaunt as though it somehow makes me a better or more successful person because it actually has the opposite effect - running around in circles makes me a worse mother, and definitely a worse friend.  

I know there are situations where busy-ness is unavoidable, and I know that it will be really hard for me to keep my schedule simple when I have two children who are taking lessons and both wanting to be successful at these, but I want to try. I NEED to try, because I need my friends.

To all of my friends who are reading this - I'm so sorry if and when I have ever made you feel as though your schedule is less important that mine.  I'm sorry for times I have disregarded your time and your needs and selfishly considered only my own.  Please, please, please forgive me.

Published in Blog
Thursday, 08 August 2013 08:00

Sometimes We Eat Boys...

...And other conversations with a toddler.

The other morning, as Clara and I were eating breakfast, we began discussing the kinds of food we eat:

Clara: Animals are yummy!

Me: Yes, some animals are yummy. 

Clara: We eat them.

Me: Yes, some animals we eat - but not all animals. We eat chickens...

Clara: Yep.

Me: And cows... and fish.

Clara: Yummy!

Me: But we DON'T eat cats. Or dogs.

Clara: We eat monkeys!

Me: No, we don't eat monkeys...

Clara (whispering): Sometimes... we eat boys!

I burst out laughing here, and told her that no, we do NOT eat boys or any other people!


One day last week, as we were walking to the store, I was teaching Clara about the dangers of traffic and how to watch out for cars before crossing the street.  As we reached the opposite sidewalk - just before Clara took off walking ahead of me and the stroller - she turned to me in irritation and said "Mom, God's taking care of me." This stopped me in my tracks, and I said "Yes... yes he is..." and as she ran ahead on the sidewalk I heard her yell back "He's right behind me!"


On the drive home from Alberta a couple of weeks ago, Audrey started fussing during the last stretch of the ride. After a few minutes, Clara became annoyed and started yelling "Audrey, stop crying!... Audrey!... Stop crying!"

Then, after a few moments of silence, we hear: "Audrey, I have a message for you.... STOP CRYING!!!"

I have no idea where she gets these things...


A while ago, we overheard Clara singing a song that sounded suspiciously like 'Jesus Loves the Little Children', but we couldn't really understand any words except 'Jesus Loves...'  Since she goes to children's church without us, we knew it was possible that she had learned a song we didn't know, so we asked her about it. 

"Clara, who does Jesus love?"

"Chocolate Cereal!!!"


And, just for fun, here is the conversation she's having - mostly with herself - right now  

Clara: Daddy will come back.

Me: Yes, Daddy will come back after work.

Clara: He will come back with a guy... Probably right.  And he will drive the boat. That's so nice of him... so nice, that's so nice. He has his keys, and he'll lock a door. Probably right, he'll lock a door... that's so nice.

Clara (continuing after a few seconds): And my pee is very cold. Next, Audrey had a poop! She was crying and fussy! 


Random Quotes with no context that I found jotted down around the house:

"It's not eating, it's pickles!"

"Don't worry - I have a pretty bum!"

"Stop! Guys! It's not a big deal!!"

I seriously have no idea where some of this stuff comes from...

 

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 07 August 2013 08:32

Sharing a Room - Take 2

The other night Brian got spontaneously motivated to move the furniture in our room around. Any configuration of furniture other than the way we had our room before leaves no room for Audrey's playpen - it just occurred to me now that this was probably his motivation entirely... 

So, Audrey's playpen can no longer be in our bedroom. 

After a weekend of having the girls sleep in the same room (with us also) at the cabin, we decided to try again to have them sleep in the same room at home. Last night was the second night, and I think - for the most part - this time it might actually 'stick'. 

The first night was shockingly good - Audrey woke up at about midnight to eat, then not again until about 4:30-4:45. Then, after I put her back in bed, she slept until Clara woke up at around 8:30. Yay! She's still certainly not sleeping through the night, but this is a definite improvement over the every-2-hours-I-need-to-wake-up-and-eat thing that she was doing before. 

I have no tricks here - the first night we put both girls down at about the same time and they fell asleep pretty quickly, and last night Audrey had just woken up from her 'extra' nap (she doesn't always nap in the evening), so she went into her crib for night about half hour later than Clara did - and this time it took them about two hours to finally fall asleep. 

If we get desperate for better sleep, we can always set up the playpen in the living room temporarily. At least if the playpen isn't in my room and I have to walk down the hall to get Audrey when she wakes, maybe I'll be less likely to bring her back into bed with us in the night. Hopefully we'll all be getting more sleep soon! 

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 06 August 2013 08:00

I'm Dreaming of a White Kitchen...

This past year we renovated our bathroom, and installed new windows. I have all kinds of before and after pictures of my bathroom, but I completely forgot to take before pictures of our bedroom windows - all I can say is, you should have seen them, they were growing mushrooms! No word of a lie... 

Anyway, we got all of the bedroom windows replaced, leaving only one spot of mold in the house - the kitchen. There is black mold on the kitchen window, as well as under the kitchen sink where there appears to have been a slow leak for years that probably no one noticed or bothered to fix. 'No one' at this point has to include us, because we have been in this house for nearly 4 years - but I know the mold in this particular spot was already here when we moved in, so let's just blame the previous owners, shall we?

Anyway, this is what my kitchen looks like now:

I love our stove - especially since we got this beauty for free (thanks Grandma Lesser!). Our goal here is to do an entire kitchen reno for as little cost as possible (our budget is $10k for the kitchen, window and floor), and since we have perfectly good appliances, we won't be replacing these. 

There are a few things to note here - one is the random space to the left of the stove. What is this? I can't imagine anyone built a kitchen thinking "this is where we leave a space for one of those AWESOME $15 Walmart shelves..." I just don't get it...  

I also don't understand the random shelf above the stove. It's kind of low, and has the black sooty underside to show for it, and is too small for any microwave I've ever seen. We've tried to dress it up with some of our more decorative cooking and coffee accessories, but I can't help but hate it. It has a thick layer of greasy dust all over it from years of steam and cooking splatter and is therefore impossible to clean. Also, note the half-melted fish tank lamp mounted below the shelf... 

The countertop is ceramic tile... which is the stupidest thing I've ever encountered. Not only are there grout lines that catch all crumbs and make it impossible to neatly wipe down the counter, there is a wooden lip around the entire edge of the counter top. This lip gets in the way of brushing crumbs off the counter, as well as knife blades when chopping vegetables. The grout around our sink has also collected a bit of moisture and is almost entirely worn away in some places. I would be complaining about the maintenance involved here if we didn't intend to replace it within a few months...

Moving clockwise around the room...

I kind of skipped over the sink here, but there's not much to see - the window is a bit moldy, but not really newsworthy and I don't want anyone to see under the counter... 

Ok - starting at the top - we put in those white shelves from IKEA, and I've loved them. They add so much to the room, I think, and give us some storage space where there wasn't any before. If you glance down (we don't actually drink that much, we had a family gathering - should have moved those...), at all the clutter just above the countertop, you might notice that there are two plug-ins, about two feet from each other, which is a bit odd. However, if you keep looking down, there is a standard sized dishwasher with a significant spacer to the right of it. This is either bad kitchen planning, or this wasn't the way the kitchen was initially set up. 

I think (as in, I'm 100% certain) that this is where the fridge was when the kitchen was first built. There was no dishwasher, and the countertop was put in across this new space when the fridge was moved. This also explains why there were no upper counters here either. 

Just in case you didn't notice those bottom two drawers - her's a close-up! The panel on the right side of these drawers that used to hold up the right side of each drawer on wooden tracks, has separated from the rest of the cabinet at the bottom. Over the last couple of years, it has gradually inched outward, causing first the bottom drawer to slip from its track, and then the second. Now the bottom drawer is resting directly on whatever is below it, and the drawer above is resting on the bottom drawer. It's kind of a fun game to open either of these... When the drawer above them slips from its track, I think we will have to stop using them until after the reno, but I hope we manage to get the kitchen completed before this happens. 

Don't mind my clutter, or the obviously not cleaned up supper dishes still sitting on the kitchen table... Note the brick wall. I love this brick wall. It's not really brick, but a plaster wall covering of some kind, and if you look at it really closely you can see some of the original red colour leaking through the white paint, so it needs a new paint job badly.

This is where the fridge currently is, and although it's probably not obvious from this picture, the fridge juts out into the room a few inches further than the wall at its side, and it does feel a little bit awkward. We plan to return the fridge to its original position where the dishwasher is now, and to move the dishwasher closer to the s ink and have the two sitting next to each other. I 'Googled' this, and I think that if we put in an insulated spacer between the two appliances, this should work fine. 

We then plan to put a stretch of lower cabinets where the fridge and microwave stand is now, and probably remove only this stretch of the brick wall so we can hang the shelves here. 

My pantry is a bit cluttered, but I'm not too embarrassed by it - it used to be much worse! I'd like to put a pocket door here, instead of this hinged one, and replace all of the shelves - which are all random and different depths - with those white wire pantry shelves that are classic in newer houses. 

Hey, I didn't know we had Kinder Surprises... who put those there??? 

Anyway, so this is the task ahead of us. Part of the work we plan to have contracted, and part of it we plan to do ourselves. We've been browsing the IKEA options, and had decided on an off-white cabinet, but then realized this would probably not work with our white brick wall. IKEA also doesn't seem to have a middle-of-the-road counter top option, so we may have to do that locally. 

I'm excited to have this project done, but daunted by the task. Any tips or thoughts or ideas for me? Has anyone ever ordered a kitchen from IKEA? 

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