Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bad Bribery

I know that bribery is not good parenting yet I rely on it heavily these days. When you're parenting a willful preschooler is bribery not the only thing that really works? If there is a better option, someone, please enlighten me.

I find myself bribing Eloise to do the normal things that she used to just do. "If you promise to eat all of your breakfast you can watch tv," or "If you don't whine while we do ___ I'll give you a treat." The problem with bribery maybe isn't the bribing itself but what I use to bribe (ahem food and tv) that makes it bad. I know I shouldn't reward with food but who doesn't love a cookie for a job well done, even if I am rewarding otherwise normal behaviour. Eloise also responds exceptionally well to the dreaded "1-2-3" countdown, which is basically a bribe, and it's been so effective that I can't remember the last time I actually got to three and had to come up with an "or else."

It's not unusual for parents to bribe for everything from good to learned behaviour, like potty training. When Eloise was potty training we used M&Ms as a bribe and it worked like a charm. The next level of bribery will start as soon as the baby arrives in an effort to get Eloise to stay in her own bed. I'm going to try a sticker chart that will earn a reward once complete and currently, Eloise seems to be on board with this. She has even announced that her reward is going to be a Barbie. Kid, if you sleep in your own bed all night for a full week I will even drive you down to Target in Bellingham where they have an entire Barbie department.

Maybe bribery isn't all bad, maybe it's just parenting?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Just The Three of Us

It occurred to me that Easter was our last holiday as just three. The Easter bunny visited on Easter Sunday and Eloise had fun finding treats left in the garden by the sneaky rabbit. A little chick that peeps, a Franklin book and of course, a healthy selection of chocolate, filled her Easter basket and we spent the rest of the afternoon in a choco-coma from the morning's booty. 

As usual, my mom prepared a spectacular family dinner, finished with a layered meringue and lemon cream cake, served frozen, that was honestly one of the best things I have ever eaten. We took the opportunity to don our Sunday best for dinner and snuck out for a family photo, just the three of us (plus Noodle).

I like the devious look on Eloise's face as she prepares to devour yet another chocolate egg and I'm happy to have fit into that very pink dress for the occasion. Pink leopard, totally Easter-chic, right? 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Not Ready Yet

I have officially reached 36 weeks, which is when Eloise was born. I went into labour naturally with Eloise but since I had no idea what labour was supposed to feel like, and wasn't in any pain, I just went to the hospital that night to make sure all was okay. We brought nothing with us since our visit was just a 'precaution', but Eloise arrived that night (well, at 2:27am). Four days later we left with a tiny baby and a long c-section recovery for me, it was such a whirlwind. 

I half expected this pregnancy to end the same and have been anticipating Baby Two's arrival for weeks. I've blogged about how organized and how prepared we are this time, but it seems my preparations may be a little premature. The baby has definitely dropped, I'm way more uncomfortable and able to sleep less, but Baby seems to be staying put. My midwives don't think I will go all the way to 40 weeks as it's not uncommon for the second baby to come according to when their sibling did, so now we wait. 

Every morning Eloise greets me and then my belly with kisses. "Good morning, baby, you're so big in there," she said this morning. 
"Don't you think the baby should come out now?" I asked. 
"No. Not yet. She's not ready." 
"Really? Mommy is very ready though. This baby just keeps getting bigger and bigger." I said. 
"Not yet, it's not spring." Eloise said. 

Technically, it is spring and has been for a month now. But in rainy Vancouver sunny spring days have been few and far between, so I can understand Eloise's confusion. I'm hoping the Easter Bunny brings a baby instead of chocolate this year. 

Good Gruffalo

The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson, with illustrations by Axel Scheffler, is a favourite at our house right now. I remembered reading The Gruffalo over and over to a little boy I looked after ages ago and when we came across the book recently Eloise was equally captivated. Eloise loves the crafty little mouse in the deep dark wood, the vivid descriptions of the scary Gruffalo and as usual, I enjoy the rhyme of the story (I'm just a sucker for cadence).

We borrowed the next Gruffalo book, The Gruffalo's Child, from the library and it has received the same fanfare. This time, the Gruffalo is a Dad and it is his little Gruffalo who has a run in with the crafty mouse in the dark wood. We read the Gruffalo's Child more than a dozen times the first day it came home from the library so, thinking ahead in a super-mom moment, I ordered Eloise her own copy to arrive long before our books were due.

Who knew that a monster who is "just bretend" could be such a hit?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

There is No Maternity Leave

A video put out by American Greetings had Facebook buzzing this week. It starts as a job interview for a Director of Operations requiring approximately 135 hours per week, many of those spent standing and doing hard labour. The role offers no breaks, no vacation and eating is only permitted after Associates finish their meals. The Director of Operations must do their job - sometimes supporting Associates all night long - AND maintain a happy disposition. Any guesses as to the job they're advertising for?

I have to give it to American Greetings, this one got me. It is hard doing what we do as moms. You give yourself over completely to the needs of other people and if you work too, then it's impossible not to feel pulled in all sorts of directions. I do what I do, the way I do, because I love it. But I am also self employed because the flexibility of it offers me to care for my family. I am a mom and a business owner all at once, and even when it's hard I know I am pretty darn lucky.

With Baby Two's imminent arrival I've had lots of questions about my time off and how long I will take maternity leave. Well, there is no maternity leave. I plan to take a few weeks off while Chris is home so we can learn to be a family of four but then it's back to work, albeit at a limited capacity. My official start date back is June 22nd - starting out easy styling a Bridal Shower - but the following weekend I'll hit the ground running with a full, 12-hour wedding day. The other question people have been asking is how I plan to continue working the way I do with two children and I honestly don't know the answer to this. I believe it is going to work out, so it just will. (Right?)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Baby Naming with Eloise

We have narrowed it down to our final five baby names - two girls, two boys and a unisex - but the process hasn't been easy. On Saturday, upon waking from a ridiculously long and indulgent family nap, we decided to go through name options once more, this time with Eloise. Starting with A and working through the alphabet it was funny to hear her opinions.

Aaron? "No."
Angus? "That's an old man."
Audrey? "That's my baby's name."
Beau? "I don't."
Benjamin? "Nah."
Blair? "Hmm"
Briar? (Blank stare)
Charles? "Not Charles, what about Christmas?"
Cole? Chris piped in, "I like Cole!
Edward? "The elephant?"
Frank? "No."
Fredrick? "Haha."
George? "That's a pig!"
Georgia? "I like it."
Harry? "Harry's Bucket Full of Dinosaurs is not right."
Harriet? "Franklin's sister?"
Henry? "Hen-ray!"
Hugh? "Yuppa, that's good."
Imogene? "No."
"I like Jackson, do you, Mama?" (I don't)
Jacob? "No."
Kendall? "Barbie's boyfriend?"
Laurence? "No."
Malcolm? "I like it."
Mallory? "That's my big girl best friend." (I have no idea who she means by this)
Mackenzie? "I don't like Mackenzie."
Nora? "Blah!"
Olivia? "She is an oink pig."
Penelope? "Penelope is on of my Barbies." 
Phillip? "Nuh-uh."
Quinn? "No, do you like Quinn, Daddy?"
Ralph? "He's trouble."
Simon? "No."
Spencer? "Not very good."
Theodore? "Umm hmm!"
Violet? "Blah."
Whitney? "Not very good."
Winnie? "Winnie is my friend."
Xavier? "Too many letters."
Zoe? "Zoe is Peppa's friend."

"No more talking, Mama, can we go play Barbies now?"

Saturday, April 12, 2014

All Baby

At 35 weeks my big belly is all baby. Legs poke out one side and Baby's back sticks out the other, filling up my tummy in a very Franken-baby manner. It's weird to feel the baby move ever so slightly and see somewhat defined body parts against the stretched skin of my belly. Oh hello foot.

I'm exceptionally tired these days and my productivity has screeched to a snail's pace. It's amazing how hard and uncomfortable normal, everyday things have become. Things like walking, getting out of bed, and sitting at the computer are not easy, sometimes they even hurt. My patience has become more limited but I have been taking lots of deep breaths and reminding myself that this is all a bit hard for Eloise too. I look at it from her perspective: she went from having a mom always going somewhere or doing something to one who is spending a considerable amount of time at home, often sitting down. No doubt my girl has reason to be a little confused and a little testy too. 

I've noticed my body changing over the last few days and it was my mom who pointed out that it looks like Baby has dropped a little. Excellent. I am in no way prepared to be pregnant for another four weeks. This discomfort will only get worse and now that I have had my hair done and my hospital bag is ready to go, Baby come on down. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Polka Dotty, Realized

Our room for two is finally finished and it's lovely.

Eloise's room, which she will soon share with her new sibling, has been cleared of clutter, cleaned top to bottom, reorganized and redecorated. With the exception of Eloise's bed everything moved around and we now have the room set so that both kids will have their own 'space' (aka sides).

My original vision was for a gender neutral black, white and pale blue room sprinkled with lots of polka dots and I'm quite pleased with how it all came together. I also decided to add in black and cream toile since, why not, and I used toile fabric to make Eloise a new duvet cover and recover a stool. I made a gallery wall above the Expedit (excuse me, Kallax) which holds books and toys in pretty canvas bins, put up a few polka dot pom-poms and am in love with my "piece de resistance", the polka dot wall. At first I thought the polka dots should all be measured out and perfect but then I just decided to wing it and am happy I did. The installation took me all of 20 minutes and the result is GORG. You have to check out Polka Dot Wall Stickers on Etsy, they were inexpensive and work just beautifully (we also used these decals on lampshades for our Kate Spade inspired installation).

The turquoise IKEA Raskog cart is perfect as a diaper caddy and I can't wait to put my new wipes warmer into service (a wipes warmer is seriously my favourite baby gadget). We've stocked up on the cutest newborn diapers from The Honest Company to get us through the first few weeks of poop explosions and all of our Kissaluvs and Bummis covers are washed and ready for use. New soothers have been sterilized, bottles & pump are prepped and baby clothing is washed. We. Are. Ready.

Girly Stuff

As I was packing away some of the more girly decor from Eloise's room the other day it occurred to me that we may never use these items again. I found myself overwhelmed by the idea of Eloise being my last girl baby so rather than packing her tiny newborn tutu up with the rest of her infant clothing I just stuffed it into the back of the closet and closed the door. What IF this baby is a boy and we don't get to use Eloise's girly little things again? Then what? 

I was not prepared to feel like this. I'm not sure I'm ready to pack up all of our girly baby things and give them away, even if the sheer volume of girl's clothing we have accumulated in three short years is overwhelming. What if I never get to dress another baby into little patent Baby Bloch shoes? Or a tiny leopard coat or pretty eyelet dresses? I know it's just stuff but I am definitely not ready for the reality of this. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I am not very good at sitting still, I like to multitask and have become very accustomed to every day being a full day. I'm actually not sure when or how this became 'my way' but I am now so used to doing everything at once that it's taken a stern talking to by my midwife to help me realize that now is the time to relax. "No more work and no more stress," was her message yesterday and this time I heard it loud and clear. I am to rest at home, call on more help with Eloise, and take naps while Baby Two keeps growing for a few more weeks.

Naturally, I find slowing down is easier said than done. Even as I tried to nap this afternoon I found it hard to turn my brain fully off. As I tossed and turned trying to get comfortable (also not easy) all I could concentrate on was what to do about the double-wide tower of shoe boxes lining our window ledge... I did eventually fall asleep for a good hour but it took a while to get me there. If it wasn't for my parents' continuous assistance with Eloise and persistence when it comes to me taking a nap in the afternoons it wouldn't happen. Perhaps my real problem comes with relinquishing control and asking for help but I am realizing that now is the time to do so. This is the calm before the storm and if I have just a few more weeks left to relax I'd better enjoy it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Shower Power

All it took was a $70 shower head and we're back to a pleasant bath time routine. Chris and I have been meaning to purchase a new shower head for a while now, maybe even since E was a babe, as having the option of a detachable shower head makes bathing little ones so much easier. It also makes cleaning the shower easier and it's no secret that I like my bathrooms sparkly clean. 

The new shower head has a stationary rain head and a detachable wand that fits inside when not in use. It's not a fancy fixture by any means but it works well and Eloise is so excited about being able to control the wand herself that she doesn't seem to notice the drain. Since Chris installed the shower head last week we've gotten bath time - or rather shower time - down to a quick 10-minute process. Clean hair, clean kid and no arguing, who knew it was the power of the shower that would get us here. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Still Relevant


All the tidying and organizing I've been doing has uncovered a few forgotten gems, one of my favourites being an issue of Blueprint Magazine from 2008. Ridiculous that someone who recycles everything would hang onto a six year old, discontinued magazine, but having another read through reminded me why: Blueprint was awesome!

Blueprint was clearly beyond its time - a good explanation for why it only lasted for eight issues - and I find it pretty amazing that the content is still so relevant. Home decor, fashion, DIY, food and beauty, Blueprint was the perfect lifestyle magazine for the modern woman and it's such a shame that it is no longer around. I certainly won't be parting with my copy any time soon.


Photo by Christie Graham Photography

Baby Prep

I'm a big list maker. Spelling everything out on paper helps me to see exactly what needs to be done and I do this pretty much daily in my personal and professional life in order to organize my time. Before Baby Two arrives we have been chipping away at our Baby Prep list. It's a long one, and though there are a number of items listed that seemingly have no relation to baby, I have a sneaking suspicion that if they aren't completed now it's going to be a long time before we get to them again. 

Thankfully more time at home means that we've slowly been checking things off. While my dad and Chris tackled the garage a few weekends ago I finally reorganized Eloise & Baby's closet, moved un-needed furniture out of their bedroom, sorted and organized my crafts and even made some much needed changes to my Monica Closet. I've filled holes in walls, primed and painted, assisted Chris to install a pretty new curtain rod and drapes in our bedroom and am just about to whip up a new bed skirt for us and a duvet cover for Eloise. This coming weekend we'll hopefully finish prepping Eloise's room for Baby by bringing down the crib, de-pinkifying and putting up a gallery wall.

It's all coming together and the best part is, we're only five items away from a fully checked off list. 

It's Spring

Last week's time change has really done a number on us. I find myself losing track of time with these lighter, brighter evenings and all of a sudden it's six o'clock and I haven't started dinner. Eloise's little clock is off too, and she now refuses to eat dinner at the time she usually does because the sun is still in the sky. "Silly, Mama, it's not dinner time yet!" she's been sayin to me. That's okay, we'll just call the barbequed chicken, broccoli and roasted potatoes I've just prepared your 'snack'.

Today was the first day of spring and we took full advantage of a beautiful day. A long walk with a friend and time at the park meant Eloise asked to have a nap and slept for two whole hours, long enough for me to get some work done and get going on a project for an event next week. It was pretty blissful.

Alas, the results of a long nap took much longer to wear off and we finally got into the bath at 8:30pm. Oh well. There's no school tomorrow and she's a happy camper, so I really can't complain. Happy Spring indeed!