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.}

Monday, June 16, 2014

On Fathers

Yesterday was Father's Day and this post was supposed to go with it. Alas, here I am a day late (typical) but I'd still like to share some big love for the Dads in my life.

First, there is my Dad. He is supportive and generous, goofy and kind, and has always been my number one cheerleader. My Dad is an incredible Papa to Eloise and the first person she asks for when it comes to having tea parties, taking trips to the park or creating masterpieces on the sidewalk with chalk. He often appears at our door to find out if there is anything he can do for me at that perfect moment when Eloise is whining, I'm working on a deadline and Spencer just won't go down, saving me from a full-blown meltdown. Watching my Dad as a grandpa just makes me love him more. 



And then there is Chris. I don't think there are many Moms out there who can say that their husbands wake up an hour early every work day to fold laundry and do the dishes, prepare school snacks and make breakfast. When Eloise wakes in the night Chris often climbs into her single bed and stays there til morning when he wakes up to read books and feed her breakfast so I can get more sleep. As a Father Chris is an equal partner with the ability to do everything I do, even ponytails. Chris makes our lives a happier place and we're lucky to share it with him.



I am so thankful for the Fathers in my life and hope that they know, everyday, what an incredible job they are doing. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Big Fat Boy


Long before Spencer was even a bean in my belly, Chris was certain out next child would be a 'big fat boy'. Since we have always struggled to get Eloise to eat enough and even more, to sleep, Chris decided that our second baby would just do both from birth without question. As it happens, he seems to have predicted correctly. Spencer's appetite is excellent, if not insatiable, and I'm confident this contributes to his ability to sleep. 

For the past few weeks I've been trying to follow Spencer's cues when it comes to developing a routine. I definitely don't have it figured out, but I am starting to see a pattern. I'm still a little lost when it comes to his routine in the mornings but Spencer is easy going enough to sleep in the Bjorn or stroller as we do school drop off or head off on an activity. By lunchtime he is ready for a big feed and goes down for a few solid hours in his crib. He wakes up again, we feed, play a little, do a bath, get him into jammies and he's back in the crib around 5pm. Spencer sleeps right through Eloise's witching hour and the bustle of dinner before waking again around 9pm for a bottle of expressed milk with Chris, then goes down for another five-ish hours. After this stretch of sleep he wakes every two hours or so to nurse but still, not bad for a little dude who is just a month old. 

Besides lots of food, I contribute Spencer's sleeping to his sleep position. I remember a friend with two good sleepers tell me that she put both of her kids to sleep on their tummies. Spencer had been fussing and resisting sleep in his crib for hours one day so I decided to give tummy sleeping a shot. That first time he slept on his tummy was the beginning to longer stretches of sleep for Spencer and more sanity for me. I feel like I'm breaking the rules by doing this but I'm okay with that (I am a rebel after all). I put him into the crib awake on his tummy, he doesn't make a peep and then goes right to sleep. It's a miracle.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

In a Flash

There is something about a new baby that invites strangers to engage in conversation. They want to know how old is the baby? Does he sleep? How old is my little girl? Does she like being a big sister? How are we adjusting? Am I tired? It's all very well intentioned, and then these strangers, inevitably members of this huge club called parenthood, want to tell me how fast time passes. They share stories of when their kids were young and how they are struggling to believe that their son or daughter starts kindergarten in September, will be in high school this year or is off to University. I remember people telling me these stories when Eloise was a tiny baby but I don't remember actually thinking about how right they are. At that time hearing, "enjoy every moment," just seemed redundant, but now, I'm listening.

Having done this before I have something to compare to and time IS going quickly. Too quickly. Eloise changes every day and is such a little person now that Chris and I often stare at each other in disbelief at something she has said or done. She is whip smart with a huge vocabulary, has an incredible memory, and is so confident. I find it hard to even remember back three years to what Eloise was like at Spencer's age now that she seems so grown up.

Spencer is just a month old but already he feels so big. His little tucked up newborn limbs are beginning to stretch out and he is one plump little man, with puffy hands and feet and rolls on his thighs. At this rate I don't think he will be little for much longer and he is already quickly outgrowing much of his 0-3 month clothing. Comparatively I don't think Eloise was Spencer's size until she was around three months old, but I guess this is the difference between a pre-term girl and full-term boy.

I honestly can't believe that our first month as a family of four has come to a close. I am so tired but I am kind of okay with it. Our children are little for such a short period of time and before I know it I will be that Mom in the grocery store admiring a new baby, telling a new Mother about my children, the teenagers. I will one day think back on how desperately we wanted a full night's sleep without little visitors in our bed but then I'll wish I could go back to those days of cuddly babies and sweet, sleepy toddlers. This time will be gone in a flash and I don't want to miss one minute.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Thank You, Chris


On my last day with Molly Chris posted this incredibly thoughtful thank you to me on Facebook. I was - and still am - very touched every time I read this note and now it is my turn to extend my gratitude.

So, Chris, thank you. In the months and weeks leading up to Spencer's arrival you put in endless long days at work to ensure that your time at home with us would be uninterrupted. You never let go of my hand as we experienced the ups and downs of my last weeks of pregnancy and kept me calm during every moment of Spencer's birth. When we came home from the hospital you were my nurse, my chef, my butler and chauffeur, and I cannot thank you enough for giving me time to sleep and recover during your three weeks off with us.

Most of all I want to thank you for working hard so that I get stay home to raise our children. I know it will not always be easy to be a work from home Mom, and there will be days where I would gladly trade positions with you, but I am so thankful to you for giving me the opportunity to be here. Your support of my career means that while I work from home I am also here to take care of the breakfasts and lunches, naptimes, boo boo bandaging, quiet moments, messes, endless laundry, play dates, afternoon activities and all the goodies that come along with caring for young children. You give us as much as you possibly can every day and I am endlessly thankful.

Chris, you are an incredible father, husband and friend, we are all lucky to have you.