Thursday, December 18, 2014

Snack Milk

Even though my use of "mommys mad face" has improved Eloise's whining slightly, she has her moments. Her whining is the worst when she is hungry, which seems to happen regardless of how organized I am. Seriously, staying ahead of Eloise's 'hang-ger' is a full time job. School days are especially bad and by the time we get home - and even if I feed Eloise snacks in the car - the whining turns into crying, which turns into me getting frustrated, which turns into Eloise and I having to take three deep breaths together.

After we both calm down nothing makes Eloise feel better than a snack milk, which is a small bottle (you read that correctly) of warm milk that she drinks lying on the couch, rubbing her eyebrow against the grain. Five minutes later all is well again, like the snack milk is the reset button. And then we eat lunch.

Santa Baby


I spent four hours at the mall with both kids one day last week so I could tackle some of my Christmas shopping. Four hours at the mall at Christmas time is bad enough, so I'm sure you can imagine how it was with a baby and three year old in a double wide stroller (which I love, for the record).

The stroller baskets were packed to the gills with snacks, toys to keep Spencer occupied, diapers & wipes, changes of clothing and on top of each hood I loaded our coats, shopping bags and an odd assortment of clothing items that Eloise insisted on peeling off. By hour three the kids were slightly cranky but I was so close to done that we had to push on. By hour four I was the cranky one and ready to go. But then Eloise noticed Santa, who we had walked past several times already, and insisted it was time to go see him.

I had planned to take Eloise and Spencer to see Santa, just not this day. I wanted them to be dressed in Christmas outfits, or at least have on clean clothing and clean faces, but opportunity knocked and Eloise decided that the time for Santa was now. I gave both kids a baby wipe wash, smoothed Spencer's hair, fixed Eloise's headband and that was that.

But, you know what, their Santa photo is absolutely perfect. Eloise was so excited to tell Santa her Christmas wish and introduce her little brother, and their faces say it all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Seven Months


Spencer is seven months old and more joyful every day. He loves to eat, puts everything he can into his mouth and adores Eloise. Spencer gives sloppy, open mouthed kisses and giggles loudly when you kiss his nick or tickle his belly. He is pure happiness. 


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Our Advent Calendar


I did it, I showed that white felt who was boss and made a really amazing advent calendar just in time for ... December 3rd! Close enough to the first of the month, right?

The process was more complicated and labour intensive than it needed to be, but once I started I was not going to give up. First, I cut out the pockets and decoratively top stitched them before gluing them to the felt base. I carefully glued every (painstakingly) hand-cut number to the pockets and for a finishing touch added my favourite pom-pom fringe in red. Phew, done! Nope, the glue holding the pockets to the base failed so I had to stitch them on, which took hours. Then the calendar still needed 'something more' so I made a ruffle with a piece of tartan and affixed ribbons to a dowel for hanging. The finished product is just what I had hoped: a lovely keepsake for Eloise and Spencer to enjoy for years.

I didn't get as far as organizing what would use to fill each calendar day but I've been able to get by with found objects. Leftover halloween candy filled days three, four, five, a necklace from a recent wedding event was perfect for day six, I went with a candy cane for day seven, a Kinder Surprise snuck into the cart at the grocery store for day eight and Lindt truffles from my personal stash for day nine, ten and eleven. Except Eloise informed me today she doesn't like Lindt truffles... and would prefer Pez. Not up to her, but I also happen to have a Pez refill kicking around so she just might be onto something. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Size 5

That's not your imagination, his toes reach the bouncer base.

Spencer is wearing a size 5 disposable diaper these days. At the drug store that is as big as our preferred brand comes and at the rate he is growing I'll have to start ordering my diapers online. He has recently outgrown his 6-12 month sleepers and pants and is on his way to filling out all the 12-18 month size clothing I had stashed away. He is such a big baby that sometimes I can't believe he is ours. When Spencer rests his head on my shoulder his legs hang down to the tops of my thighs and he can now push off the ground (gleefully) when he bounces in the Bjorn Babysitter. Spencer has gotten so heavy that my back aches and my arms fall asleep when I cart him around. Chris and I are not very big people and then there is slight little Eloise, so his size is surprising. Spencer will be surpassing her in weight by his first birthday for sure.

I suppose a solution to the diaper thing would be to go to cloth full time, but I just can't make the commitment. I also cannot seem to figure out how to get Spencer's cloth diapers not to leak at night, so there's that. We are currently a little short on cloth diapers too due to a 20-diaper-high pile that require new elastic casing and velcro replacements. I have all the supplies, I just don't have the time (or desire) to tackle this project. Can't I just wave magic wand and have the diapers repair themselves?

Despite his large stature and diaper difficulty, dressing Spencer has been more fun than I anticipated. Although he cannot wear jeans or pants due to super squishy thighs, sweats and leggings are thankfully cool right now. Zara has all sorts of adorable printed leggings for boys (sorry, Chris, I mean 'pants') and there are a ton of indie brands that do slouchy pants and harems. Big bottom babies can rock those! Spency also has the gift of our friend Jude's hand me downs - and he is the best dressed kid I know - so we have no shortage of great tops and sweaters to layer. Add a beanie, a pair of fringed mocs and a denim shirt and Spencer is basically a hipster baby. He just can't do the skinny jeans.




Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Mom Down

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I have had a cold so bad that I haven't been able to smell or taste anything for a full week. When I eat all I can distinguish is if the food is salty, sweet, sour or bitter, but that's it. I haven't been able to enjoy wafts of something yummy cooking on the stove or delicious bites of my favourite foods, it is a really bizarre sensation.

This head cold really knocked the wind out of me which is something that doesn't happen very often. It came crashing in, left me in bed for an entire weekend and housebound for all of last week. I haven't been able to sleep and my sinuses have been so congested that I am starting to wonder if I will ever fully recover.

My mom has had the same cold but somehow, thankfully, no one else has come down with it. My mind immediately goes to that NyQuil commercial where a man is in bed, tissues everywhere and he calls desperately to his wife, "Pam, can you call my mom?" Please, heavens above, do not let Chris or my Dad come down with this

I'm so over being sick, fingers crossed that I will wake up one morning soon and the cold will be gone.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Enough!

By the second to last day of our vacation Eloise had recovered from her cold but had forgotten to turn her whine off. Everything required negotiation and explanation and by dinner time that day I was at my wit's end.

When we got back to our room the whining persisted and then I lost it. I picked Eloise up straight-backed, kicking and screaming, stormed into the bathroom and sat her on the edge of the bathtub. And then I yelled, really, really loudly, "ENOUGH!!" Eloise was so surprised that she stopped crying immediately and looked me in the eye, mouth agape. I explained (while possibly still yelling) why I was so upset: "We have had enough, Eloise, we have heard enough whining and complaining and now it is time to stop this so we can enjoy the rest of our vacation. You can stay in here until you settle down and then you can come apologize."

I stormed out of the bathroom as quickly as I stormed in. There was no further crying and a few minutes later Eloise came out of the bathroom, head hung low, and said, "Sorry, mommy."

Honestly, I think I scared the whining out of her. Of course we have had to deal with whining since then, but when it gets really bad I just look at Eloise with big eyes and a frown and that's usually the end of it. I'm not proud that I yelled, but it sure was damn effective. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Problem with White Felt

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I'm all about making special Christmas memories for Eloise and Spencer and now that November is nearly over, it's time to get this Christmas show on the road.

Chris took Eloise to Walmart on the weekend in search of lights for the cherry tree in the backyard and to wrap around the pillars at our front door. We both really, really hate Walmart for all sorts of reasons and I know it took a lot for Chris to willingly make the trip. The only problem is that the lights he brought home were the LED "cool white", which I despise. I think they look eerie and make everything feel cold and uninviting, good for Halloween, not for Christmas. Chris was understandably unimpressed when I explained that the lights will have to be returned. His look in response told me I will be the one responsible for taking them back.

Lights we'll figure out later, my focus now is on an advent calendar. Last year I bought a bunch of felt to 'whip' up an advent calendar but never got around to it. This year I am determined to create something that will become a family Christmas tradition for years to come. I want to make a special advent calendar that we can use annually and fill with little surprises - a candy cane, a hair bow, a tree ornament - for the kids to open each day instead of purchasing throw-away chocolate calendars year after year. The problem is I don't know where to start. So far I have two metres of white felt and no plan. I just keep starting at it expecting something to come to me, but no luck. There is something considerably uninspiring about white felt and perhaps that was my first mistake.

I have been cruising Pinterest for ideas and there are so many good ones for advent calendars!  Some of the sweetest advent calendars I've come across are as simple as paper packages clipped with numbered clothespins or small craft boxes glued to a board and stamped muslin bags strung on garland. Sadly, none of these involve felt. 

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Vacation that Wasn't


Imagine you're on a tropical beach. The sun is shining and warm, the white sand is the consistency of flour, the palm trees are rustling in the breeze, you've found the perfect lounge chairs under a palapa and unlimited drinks are being served to you as you read. Sounds pretty amazing, right?

Now add to this a three year old with a bad cold - the fever, sneezing, coughing, and vomiting kind - and a teething six month old who screams to nurse every two hours day and night. The three year old refuses to eat anything except for Mexican-brand frosted flakes and whines incessantly. When he is awake the six month old wants to be held and bounced. Now imagine doing this for seven straight days, this was the reality of our vacation.

Last week Chris and I took the kids to Cancun for a week to a beautiful resort on a beautiful beach. We saved up, planned our trip carefully and looked forward to our first holiday as a family of four. Our plan was to spend our days at the beach or poolside, head in around 4pm for the kids' baths and dinner. We'd put them into their jammies and pack them into the (new double) stroller with milk, then walk to one of the six restaurants where Chris and I would enjoy dinner while Eloise and Spencer slept. This plan worked exactly twice. 

For most of the week Eloise wouldn't eat anything - except of course Zucaritas. The options were basically unlimited and at any given time there were easily five meals she would have devoured at home. She would not even eat quesadillas, which I make for lunch at least twice a week, and apart from a few tomatoes she ate precisely no fruits or veggies for an entire week. Everything was "gross". I'm pretty sure she was messing with us on purpose.

Don't let that smile fool you. The Zucaritas were her 'meal' for the day.

I will admit it was bold of me to think that taking two young kids on holiday was going to be easy and even with the challenges of sickness and teething it wasn't all bad. Once Eloise recovered from her cold we were able to send her to the resort's Kids Club, which was a godsend. We dropped her off at 9:30 and checked in on her several times throughout the day, expecting her to be desperate to see us. Not in the slightest. Every time we poked our heads in she firmly said, "Please just go, Kids Club is not over yet". On the two days she was well enough to be at Kids Club (yup, just two) she was there until nearly five o'clock. We even managed to spend an awesome day at the mind blowingly, incredible Fairmont Mayakoba with my friend Robyn who was there on her honeymoon (she wanted us to come!). These were the good days. Spencer took his naps dutifully on lounge chairs in the shade while Chris and I basked in the sun. We both read a book. We got just a little bit of a tan. Chris went sailing. Eloise started eating again and the whining subsided. Everything was looking up, and then it started to rain.

At least the booze was unlimited.















Saturday, November 22, 2014

Maternity Leave

When it comes to having babies we have it pretty good here in BC. We don't have to consider the cost of giving birth, if we need a c-section or additional nights at the hospital thanks to our healthcare system. We can count on quality prenatal care and if you have a midwife (also paid for by healthcare), in home visits and office check ups for six weeks postpartum. Moms can take maternity leave for up to one year, paid at approximately 55% of their weekly earnings through employment insurance.

The reality in the States is significantly different, especially when it comes to maternity leave. A friend of mine from university and his wife welcomed their second baby boy a few weeks ago. Mom and baby are healthy and she is ecstatic to be enjoying time at home with their little boys. She is also counting down the days until she goes back to work, after just 62 days of unpaid maternity leave.

If you have had a baby, think back to how you felt eight weeks postpartum. Regardless of your delivery, chances are you were still recovering in one way or another and I can almost guarantee that you were still up a few times a night with your baby. Now imagine going back to work full time, leaving your newborn with someone else every day. Not only is this heartbreaking, you're exhausted caring for an infant, and possibly other children, but required to have a clear head at work. You cannot nurse your baby all day, retreating to pump instead, or more likely, giving up on breastfeeding altogether. You miss out on bonding and all the little milestones that happen in the first few months of a baby's life.

It's a pretty sad picture and since my friend's wife posted on facebook that she was on 'countdown' for going back to work I can't help but think about her situation constantly. How does she - and all of the other millions of women in the United States - do it? They are much stronger than me.

This article on the Huffington Post made me cry. And that's not an easy thing to do.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Three and a Half


Eloise was three and a half in September, so I suppose we could call this her "three years, eight months and 10 days update," though that doesn't quite have the same ring.

Late or not, I find it truly remarkable each time I do one of these six month posts how much Eloise has changed. Physically she is taller, her hair is longer, even her little hands are bigger and her personality continuously blossoms as she grows smarter, funnier, more lovely (okay, and challenging) with every day that goes by.

Six Months

 

Happy half birthday to our little man! 

Simply put, Spencer is pure delight. He charms the pants off everyone he meets with his smiles, happy coos and sweet personality. He is 22lbs and 71cm of big baby goodness. 

Spencer is cutting two more teeth on the bottom and as a result, puts absolutely everything he can into his mouth. He loves to eat solids and breastfeeds like a champ, but has also given up the bottle temporarily. Spencer is still not much of a roller - he kinda gets stuck on his side - but is working on sitting up. He sleeps 12 hours at night, likes to puts his toes in his mouth and has just discovered a love for soccer balls. 

Spencer, you are a dream. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The F Word and More

The thing about your second baby is that it is so much easier to see all of the things you did the first time around that didn't work. In our case we are still dealing with some of these things (ahem, sleep).

I am so much more confident as a second time mom and this has made Spencer's babyhood easier and go by more quickly. It helps that Spencer is easy to parent, but I attribute just a little of his 'angel baby' status to our relaxed attitude. There are also a few things I have learned to ease up on these past five months which have made all of our lives just a bit easier.

The F Word

F is for formula and I don't know why I insisted this was evil with Eloise. Actually, I do. The word out there is that 'breast is best' and this is basically forced down the throat of every new mom to the point where we are embarrassed to admit we give our babies formula. Or we make excuses as to why we do it. Even though I wholly believe in breastfeeding and plan to nurse Spencer for as long as I can, it is not such a bad thing for moms to give themselves a break. Sometimes you need a little help from your friends, and this friend is formula.

Tummy Time

Spencer has at least 13 hours of tummy time every day. When he was just a few weeks old I decided to see what would happen if I put him down to nap on his tummy and boom - he slept his first ever four hour long stretch! Since then I have put Spencer to bed on his tummy for naps and at night. He is able to move his head and there are no loose blankets or toys in the crib, so I don't worry about him. Spencer sleeps and we all sleep.

Self Soothing

I wish I had listened when people suggested that I let Eloise learn how to self soothe as an infant. What I confused this with was 'Crying it Out', something I am still not totally comfortable with, when really self soothing isn't about letting children cry themselves to sleep or making themselves sick, but allowing them to fuss and get comfortable in their own way. Another trick is that we put Spencer into his crib awake rather than nursed or rocked to sleep, and though he often fusses, whimper-cries a little, and snarffles a bunch, give him a few minutes and he will be sound asleep. This is his way of self soothing and it means that he can wake in the middle of the night and put himself back to sleep the same way, no boob required.

The Dirty D

I'll admit it, I was a hardcore cloth diaperer with Eloise. It was cloth time all the time, even on vacation. I refused to give up and made myself feel hella guilty when we did use disposable diapers. Spencer is a part-time cloth diapered baby, for a number of reasons. The first is that I have learned that boys wet differently than girls and there are only a select number of diapers in our stash that really work at keeping Spencer dry and we've had no success with cloth at night. The second is that I have a towering pile of around 20 cloth diapers that need to have either the elastic casing or velcro closures - or both - replaced and I have neither the time nor energy to take this project on. I even ordered replacement kits from bumGenius to make the process easier but everything is sitting stashed on a shelf. We have had good success with Earth's Best Tender Care Chlorine Free Diapers, which we can buy at the London Drugs down the street, and at least I feel slightly less guilty that we use a better diaper for both baby and the environment.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Five Months

Spencer was five months old three weeks ago, but I am just getting around to posting his monthly update now. To my second born, yet equally as important child, I am sorry, Mama is pretty behind these days. 


I haven't even cracked the cover of Spencer's baby book as I was counting on using my blog to track his development until I could properly document it. But based on my lack of posts it appears this plan is not going very well, so here is the condensed version of Spencer's recent milestones: 
  • Spencer at five months is calm, happy and easygoing. He sleeps 10-12 hours a night and eats well. Always.
  • On October 15th Spencer was 20lbs and 70cm long.
  • Spencer started eating solid food on October 19th. We made him mashed yams and he dove right in, not surprising since he had been following and grabbing at our food for weeks.
  • We took Spencer on his first flight on October 23rd, to Calgary for the weekend. 
  • Our robust little boy finally rolled over on October 31st - in his Mickey Mouse costume! 
  • After months of drooling, Spencer finally cut his first tooth, the bottom left, on October 23rd. His second bottom tooth popped through on November 2nd and this one has made him snotty, cranky and clingy.
 
rolls and rolls and rolls
evaluating the offerings
sitting cozy on a late flight
the moment he rolled over, mouse nose and all


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oh Hey

It's been six weeks since my last post and not for lack of anything but time. I've thought of writing every day since and tried to carve out time to do so, yet here I am. With wedding season slowing down my busyness is supposed to too, but it still hasn't happened (which is actually a good thing since it means business is going well!). Eloise and Spencer both require so much everyday and I am learning that it is quite unsustainable to work and care for young kids simultaneously. I can get in a few minutes of work here and there but it is a wonder if I get through all of my work emails before 10pm. 

As I write this I am sitting at the foot of Eloise's bed, nursing Spencer. She is making a conscious effort to sleep in her bed all night tonight and so far we've been in to soothe her four times. She is trying though and goes right back to bed when we ask, it's just getting her to stay that way. Spencer is teething so he has been up three times since seven o'clock. A dose of Tylenol and some milk and my fingers are crossed that at least now he will sleep til morning. 

The reality is that this is the time I have to blog right now now. In the dark, at 1:30 in the morning, half awake. Oh hey.