Thursday, July 31, 2014

First Swim


We took a very quick trip up to the Okanagan to see our Curries last weekend and just like Eloise, Spencer had his first 'swim' in their pool. It is more of a photo opportunity than anything else and a cute to see photos from both trips.

The top photo is Eloise on July 9, 2011, she was four months old to the day. This is Spencer on July 26, 2014, he is two and a half months old. Bet you can't spot the size difference :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Supersize Baby


Spencer is a big boy. So big that at just eleven weeks he is well into 3-6 month clothing, busting out of everything far to quickly. I swear by the time a sleeper comes out of the wash and I go to put it on again - a cycle that lasts no more than a few days - it is already too small.

Spencer is roly. He has rolls on his rolls, three chins and dimpled hands. I can't help but feel proud that it's me who has made him this way since he has been 95% breastfed. We did start giving him formula on event days and now he gets a bottle in the middle of the night (that's another blog post...) but I am still impressed that for the most part it's the milk that I produce that has made our little boy so big and healthy. Spencer nurses with gusto and I am confident that this is just a window into how well he is going to eat. There will be no dancing around meal times with my little man.

Last night Spencer slept for nine hours. That's nine hours straight. Eloise was eleven months old by the time she slept that long AND she was eating solids! He woke up content and hungry (obviously) at 6:30am, Chris gave him a bottle so I could sleep longer and when I woke up at 8am he was ready to eat again. His days are an endless cycle of eating, smiling, laughing and sleeping. He is a chill, content baby and my only complaint is that he is getting too big too quickly. I feel blessed to have a good sleeper and eater after our challenges with Eloise but I am not ready for my little (big) baby to grow so fast.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dinner Disaster

Don't call us between 5:30 and 8:30pm, it is a disaster zone around here. 

Depending on Spencer's routine, come five o'clock he has either recently woken up or is waking up at precisely the time I am making dinner. Really, I should be making dinner at 4pm in order to preempt Eloise's hunger-induced meltdowns, but my heavy work schedule these days means I need every minute I can get and the late afternoon is when my Dad often takes to Eloise to the park while Spencer sleeps, meaning a few distraction-free work hours for me. My intention is always to stop what I'm doing to get dinner started after an hour or so of emails but I swear I sit down at 2pm and when I look up again it's five. 

While I try to prepare dinner and manage Spencer - either at my feet in his bouncer or in one arm and over my shoulder - Eloise is watching tv. Spencer always needs to eat shortly after waking from his nap, so whatever I have been cooking needs to be put on pause so I can feed a sometimes frantic baby. It is now past five and Eloise is getting cranky. Once Spencer has eaten it's time to get Eloise fed pronto-tonto. Chris can barely make it in the door from work before I hand him the baby or ask him to deal with Eloise so I can get back to the (joyful?) solitude of preparing our dinner.

Depending on her mood, dinnertime with Eloise is either simple or a ridiculous process of whining and bribery. If I serve chicken we're safe, if I branch out too much we are in trouble and if we don't time it right we're hooped. Baths immediately follow dinner with each of us focusing on one kid. I usually have Spencer who gets bathed in a tub in the kitchen sink. He really likes his bath and this has become one of my favourite part of our days, even if I get peed on. Chris and Eloise have fun too, but he who baths Eloise must also brush her hair. Once Spencer has been diapered and dressed I position myself at the end of Eloise's bed so I can nurse and wait for Eloise to climb in. Chris is responsible for bringing Eloise her milk and after a kiss she says sternly, "Daddy, you can go" (and then she is told sternly that is not a polite way to speak). When Eloise is finally ready she passes me her empty milk, hunkers down into her pillow and I nurse Spencer for as long as possible before he passes out. It's 8pm and both kids are asleep but we still haven't even eaten dinner.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Oh Hay

Blog posts have been rather light lately and you know why? Because I am so freaking busy. I am so busy with these little ones and this wedding season that I actually shouldn't be blogging right now, I should be cutting out escort cards and painting a chalkboard sign now that everyone is asleep. But you know what, I needed a breather tonight. Today felt like I was running and couldn't catch a break. I didn't get out of my pajamas until 2:30pm and the only reason I showered was because I had to go downtown to meet clients. I did manage to get a fair bit done today, without plunking Eloise in front of the tv even (yay me?), but my to-do list is still miles long. Oh, and we're going 'camping' this weekend which I am equal parts looking forward to and feeling guilty about when there is so much prep still required for my next wedding. Also, there is packing and I don't even know what one packs to go camping let alone camping with two young children. Roughing it has never really been my thing.

This summer has flown by and I am still struggling to find a balance between mom time and work time. It all just kinda bleeds into one and I have been up more nights than I care to think of until 2am working just to fit it all in. Thankfully Chris handles Spencer's nighttime feed (like the rockstar Dad that he is) in order to make sure I sleep, but it is still exhausting and I'm not sure if super late nights are even the answer to making it work. But then again, who knows if there is an answer.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I love being a mom to these babies and I really love doing what I do with Smitten, it's just overwhelming to do all the things that I need to and the things that I want to at the same time. It's my busy season so I know that the Fall will be different but it's hard to see the end of the tunnel when our next free weekend is not until October 11th. If I just keep moving forward it will all work out. Right?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Goodbye Gluten

I think I may have overdone it with the gluten when I was pregnant. My zest for all things carby during 39 weeks of pregnancy was insatiable, and easy, wheat based snacks were the only thing I craved (until heartburn set in!). With even less time these days to eat a proper meal in between feeding Spencer and Eloise, trying to stay on top of my busy season and complete all the other items on my to-do list, a piece of toast or granola with yogurt are my go to snacks. Unfortunately I am discovering that wheat and gluten laden items make Spencer instantly cranky and gassy. So does dairy. This could not come at a worse time. 

First of all, I really like wheat and all things carbohydrate. I could never be one of those fully committed gluten-free, carb-free people, even though certain gluten-free prepared food, like Glutino Pretzels, are way better than the real thing. I like a regular bread with butter, pasta and muffins and I really like carby desserts. Overdoing it with wheat and gluten definitely affects me, I have just been ignoring the uncomfortable side effects (ahem, gas & bloating) in favour of convenience for so long that I usually don't notice. Now I am afraid to eat the wrong thing, even a bite, for the effect that it will have on Spencer and consequently, me, as I deal with a cranky baby.

Gwyneth Paltrow's It's All Good arrived in the mail at the perfect time last week (it passed my lifelong cookbook stamp of approval when we made the same two recipes three times during my library loan period) and I have to challenge myself not to turn to it for dinner recipes every night. Not that this is a bad thing, I just don't always have the time to prepare a full on meal and would love the option of popping in a pizza once and a while. We are also going through fruit and veggies at an unreal rate meaning more trips to the grocery store, another thing I don't exactly have extra time for. 

I wasn't prepared to add another thing to my list of 'things to worry about' by avoiding wheat and gluten, but if the trade off is a constantly fussy baby then I supposed I'll be saying goodbye to gluten.  For now.

No Just Gas


Spencer has smiled at me more than once in the past few days so I am convinced a smile no longer means gas. His smiles are all gummy and lopsided, lighting up his whole face and melting my heart.

Since reaching the six-week mark Spencer has been more alert and has come out of the 'newborn fog' that babies start their lives in. He is now looking at us when we speak, can lift his head and hold it up for a few seconds, clasps onto me when I carry him and is over 12 pounds of rolly poly baby goodness. He has a soft tuft of hair at the nape of his neck, cute little eyelashes and has thankfully grown out of newborn acne. His legs still curl up when we cuddle and we still need to support his head, but he is definitely showing signs of being more baby than newborn.

There are exceptions, but Spencer eats well, sleeps well and is generally happy. At just seven weeks I feel like I already know what to expect from him, such a contrast to Eloise who has always differed day to day. As I write this (what do YOU do while breastfeeding at 4:44am?) Eloise is asleep in our bed. You'd think that a fuss-free day with an easy bedtime would lead to her sleeping through the night in her own bed, but I just never know what to expect. Spencer on the other hand just woke up after sleeping six hours and is busy eating again so he can get back to sleep. This is my introduction to the difference between boys and girls. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Two Months


This chunky little squish is already two months old. I can't believe how quickly eight weeks have passed!

At his six week check up Spencer was 11 pounds, 11 ounces, and has gained steadily since. I would be surprised if he hasn't already tipped 13 pounds but I can't confirm for sure... getting both kids out to a mom & baby drop-in to weigh Spencer is not so realistic these days. But since he has already grown out of 0-3 month clothing my 13 pound guesstimate can't be far off.

Just don't grow too fast, buddy, I'm not finished enjoying this stage with you.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Boy Stuff

Being that I am such a girl, it's not a stretch that I understand, and wholly embrace, Eloise's preference for all things girly. I totally get her love of dresses that twirl and tutus that pouf, high heels and accessories, since these are all things that I enjoy as an adult. But dressing a boy, this is uncharted territory. I am not one of those parents who leaves their babies in a sleeper for the first year of their life for a few reasons. First, don't you think it's a little undignified to have to go everywhere in what you sleep in? And second, I always want to know, do parents who dress their kids exclusively in sleepers put them to bed in the same thing they have worn to the park or grocery store or Science World? Outside germs do not belong inside beds.

The biggest difference I'm learning with dressing a boy is that there just aren't the same number of options as there are for girls. And with this new experience of boy dressing I am awfully thankful that my girlfriend Sarah set aside most of the clothing she had for her little guy, Jude, who is a year and a half older than Spencer. Sarah works in fashion and Jude is basically the best dressed baby you have ever seen, so I feel very fortunate to have his hand-me-downs. I always teased Sarah that hers was the only baby who wore denim shirts with printed leggings but now that's us. And I must say, Spencer wears chambray well.

Through Sarah's styling of Jude I've learned that cardigans are essential, tailored sweats look great with a button down, boys need accessories and metallics are a do. Spencer's rapid growth means I'm not going to get by 100% on hand-me-downs, so here are some favourite items we will continue to replace as our Butterball gets bigger.

{baby gap}
{zara}

{baby gap}

{h&m}

{h&m}

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Night Two


She did it again, Eloise slept through the night in her own bed! It was mighty early when she woke up this morning but I can't push my luck too much. 

Spencer also had a successful night, sleeping 8pm - 3:30am, which is amazingly almost eight hours. Now, if I could only figure out how to go to sleep at nine o'clock we'd be golden. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

All Night Long

Last night something miraculous happened that had me singing Lionel Richie's "All Night Long", all morning long: Eloise slept in her own bed, all night long.

Apart from having friends over for dinner last night - which is not totally unusual for us - the circumstances for bedtime were no different. We skipped bath since it was already past eight, Eloise put on jammies and brushed her teeth without argument, had her milk and easily went to sleep. All very normal.

What was not normal was that Eloise was still very asleep in her own bed when I went to get Spencer for his 1am feed, and still asleep when Spencer woke again at five. Chris took the kids this morning and let me sleep in (because he is the best) so Eloise was basically bursting at the seams in excitement to see me when I woke up.

"Mama, mama, I stayed asleep! I stayed in my own bed! And now I get a new Ken with two legs and soft hair*!"

After hugs, gushing about how proud of her I was, a round of high-fives with Chris and more hugs, I went on to explain that it will take a few more nights of sleeping in her own bed before we go Ken-shopping. Still, this is such a huge step for Eloise, you don't even know. Hoping for many more nights of Eloise sleeping in her own bed I will leave you with this...


*Eloise had my Ken doll. He has been an amputee for over 20 years and has hard hair. But he's still a Superstar.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

She's Got Spirit

{lindsay skeans photography}

Eloise is a special child. She is ridiculously adorable and sweet, fun to be around and usually well behaved. She is also what I would call quite spirited. She has lots of energy, is demanding, dramatic (the whining!) and persistent. She doesn't like to sit still, which I can relate to. None of this is necessarily a bad thing, it just leaves Chris and I (oh, and you Mom & Dad) fairly exhausted by the time she is finally in bed at night.

In the past few weeks Eloise has been listening less and whining more. Her lack of listening is not only the cause of frustration at home but potentially dangerous when we are out. Sometimes Eloise's problem with listening comes from being completely entranced in whatever is going on in her head. She goes off into her own world and we can repeatedly talk to her and get no where; whatever is happening in her imagination is far more interesting than our boring questions and instructions. With all of Eloise's whining and lack of listening my new house rules are: Rule #1, no whining, Rule #2, listen.

Dinner and bedtime are when Eloise really turns on the spirit and turns off the listening. Often there is no listening of any sort, the only way we can get her to sit through a meal is by reading. As soon as Eloise is bored with sitting down she is up, running around the kitchen and down the hallway, making us 'snacks' at her play kitchen, cuddling under the table with Granby, insisting to check in on Spencer, basically anything that is not eating dinner. When it's time to get into bed she jumps on her bed as we try to get into pajamas and insists on a new set if, god forbid, we get a drop of water on her pants while brushing teeth. She whines, cries and as soon as we get into bed after a series of stall tactics she falls fast asleep.

When people ask me about Eloise's personality I usually say it's kind of like her hair - bouncy, beautiful, and a little crazy. She has a spirit about her that is uncontainable and this is part of what makes her so special. It makes me a little crazy, but it is definitely special.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

First Year


Eloise's first year of preschool has come to a close and it has been remarkable to see the changes in her. She has grown taller, her hair is longer, she asks more questions, impresses us with her knowledge and has really blossomed. Eloise entered preschool this year as a toddler and has left a little girl.

The highlight of Eloise's first year of preschool is undoubtedly being with her best friend, Ruby. Every day after class I'd ask Eloise what she did and the answer was always the same: "Played with Ruby." I'd ask about what they learned, if they went outside, what songs they sang but Ruby was always the most important part. Going to school to "play babies with Ruby" was the only activity Eloise really told me about, so it's a wonder she did any learning at all.

Whenever I had the opportunity to peek into the classroom after drop off, Eloise and Ruby would be sitting on the carpet with their classmates, hand and hand, giggling. Their teacher Nancy said, on more than one occasion, "We can continue singing when Eloise and Ruby settle down," which should make me want to have a chat with Eloise about the importance of not interrupting, but I can so relate. I always had girlfriends who I was so delighted to see that I couldn't help but talking a little too much and laughing a little too loudly, and I think it is so sweet to see Eloise experiencing the same thing. Besides, she'll need to learn when to talk and when to pay attention to teachers all on her own.

This morning Eloise woke up to say, "Yay! It's a school day!" and it was sad to explain to her that we actually have a break away from school for a few months. She loved every single second of her school year so much that going to school was never a chore. She woke every school day excited to get dressed (and see Ruby) and never experienced even one minute of separation anxiety. Most of the time, Eloise ran into the classroom right past me without so much as a goodbye. She saw Ruby across the room and knew right where she wanted to be.

Eloise Language

"Slimantucka. You know what that means Mama? It means I'm a great climber."

Eloise has been using her own made up words a lot lately. I don't know what inspires her but I am enjoying this introduction into her imagination, even when I have no idea what she is talking about. Eloise has been using her made up language as she plays, an activity that has suddenly become much more independent. She hosts grand conversations between her Playmobil, dolls and Barbies, making up obscure names and interesting words. She's taken to crawling into the space between our tv console and living room chair with her Playmobil animals and a selection of odds and sods, engaging with her toys and playing quietly for an hour. It's all quite fascinating.

Here is a snippet of Eloise's language:

Mantale - "A good cooker"

Escapoling Margrite Dudy - "Legs in the front"

Gido - "A kind of animal the crawls; it goes 'rar' and wears headbands" 

Naninja - "That's a shadow"

Rainp - "A type of fish that peoples take home and put in a fish tank"

Bainy - "A friend"

Eloise doesn't seem to repeat her invented words more than once, but this just means there is something new brewing in her imagination. With a language like these I'd say we're one step away from Elvish.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Easy

As first time parents you read books, lots of books. While you are pregnant you read books on every moment of pregnancy, books on birthing, books on baby care and name books. When the baby arrives you read books on development and breastfeeding and sleep. I still have many of these stacked next to my bed, but this time around they remain unopened.

With my second baby my lack of reading and research comes from already knowing what to expect and just being too tired to read. I'm also not as concerned about the milestones Spencer should be hitting or getting him on a routine at the 'right time'. I don't need a book to teach me how to soothe him or help him sleep, I have tricks learned from Eloise and really, Spencer is proving to be a pretty easy baby.

Our routine right now is totally Spencer-set. Unlike Eloise, Spencer doesn't like to be 'over handled', if he's tired he doesn't want to be cuddled or rocked, he is ready to be in his crib. His routine makes for a more content baby but it has been a process for me to adjust to his cues. When Spencer gets fussy mid-morning I know he is ready for his first nap, when I put him down after lunch I know I can count on him sleeping for three or four hours and by about 7pm he is ready for 'bed'. Spencer will wake up around 11 o'clock for a bottle and is down again for four or five hours. After this he will wake up every few hours, but at least he will easily sleep in his crib between feedings.

I'm still super tired - working late means that my sleep coincides with Spencer's up-every-two-hours pattern - but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I doubt very much I will be waiting until Spencer is 11 months old for a full night's sleep. He's just much more easy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It's All Good

 
I'm of the opinion that cookbooks are something you develop a lifelong relationship with. Food is such a big part of our family life - every occasion deserves a special meal shared together - and we go back to the same recipes again and again when we cook. My Mom's timeworn copies of the Canadian Living Cookbook, Anne Lindsay's Light Kitchen and the Silver Palate Cookbook remind me of the meals of my childhood and Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa series, Fresh by John Bishop and In My Mother's Kitchen by Trish Magwood are the cookbooks Chris and I return to again and again. The more food splatters on the pages, the better.

With summer's arrival, appearances in summer weddings and this baby weight, Chris and I are eager to trim our meals in order to help our waistlines. I have been seeking mealtime inspiration to help make this happen and since a new cookbook would mean committing to something forever, I need to try it before I buy it. Thank goodness for the library.

{indigo}

It's All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen was first on my list. This beautiful cookbook is filled with recipes that are free of wheat, dairy, sugar, processed foods and more, so naturally I thought it would be free of flavour too. Boy was I wrong. So far everything we've made from this cookbook has been delicious, flavourful and easy to prepare. A phenomenal Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Mustard and Parsley was so good we made it twice last week and last night's Mexican Chopped Salad with Mexican Green Goddess dressing was absolutely delicious. Chris and I are addicted to dessert so naturally we went right to the dessert section to see what we could find. The Banana 'Ice Cream' with Sweet & Salty Almonds is made from freezing banana slices then blitzing in the food processor with almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla extract and the result tasted just like banana soft serve. Yum. Yo go Gwynnie.

Although we're not about to cut 100% of the "good stuff" (you know, bread, sugar, alcohol) from our diets I have noticed that too much wheat and dairy don't make me feel super hot and make Spencer super fussy, so this cookbook has come along at the perfect time. And if we happen to slim down a little in the process then it really is all good.

{Disclaimer: I wrote this post while eating a fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie. Definitely not wheat or sugar free, definitely delicious. Sorry Gwyneth.}