Sunday, November 21, 2010

:: Attached ::

I love being attached. Part of the love is that I know it can't last, just like this, forever. Or even for very long really. While I whine inwardly sometimes that I can't do simple and basic things for myself, like paint my toenails whenever or eat my dinner uninterrupted, mostly I love this attachment.

 :: now that Archer can sit they play next to each other sometimes ::

:: wrapped up in our Beco and Peekaru vest at the Skypark ::

I'm not sure exactly where the term "attachment parenting" originated, but it certainly isn't a new or an original concept. In fact most cultures in the world have attached babies and mamas (or grandmamas, or whatever.) For me it's just a time in my baby's life when I am with him, and in contact with him almost all the time. Right now he's sleeping next to me on the couch, wrapped in a cozy cotton blanket.

In the morning is one of the few times Archer and I are not in close contact, which is fine since he's usually pretty cheerful in the am. He plays in the Circle of Neglect (aka the exersaucer) in the kitchen while I make coffee, cocoa, and breakfast for myself, the Sparrow and Archer B. The rest of the day is spent playing and getting some floor time now that he's a sitter, with lots of time in the carrier. He hangs with Mummy in our Butterfly II and has his first nap of the day in the carrier or on Mummy's lap in one of the chairs at work. When I make dinner at night he often rides on my back or plays with Dadda. Bath times are great now since can sit and he really loves his bath with big brother Sparrow. He practically flies out of my arms into the tub to get in there with the Sparrow and the bubbles!

:: our cozy sanctuary ::

But night time is our special time. Spencer likes sleeping in the guest room on the futon, and this works out fine for all right now. He has to get up really early to go to work (5:30am, ugh) and it's usually at a time when Archer's having an early am nurse. So Archer and I get the queen-size bed all to ourselves and it's awesome. I barely notice when he nurses in the night, and he nurses a few times at least, more towards the morning. We sleep on a Nana-made quilt in case there are spit-ups or diaper issues. We are cozy and snuggled all night. I love cuddling with my littlest boy, and he is a really good sleeper. I am so thankful that Spencer doesn't mind sleeping on his own, and right now it works best for us since Archer's night-eating would keep Spencer up anyway. I never thought I would be one of those married people who sleep in separate rooms, but while Archer is a co-sleeper and a night-nurser it works so well for us. 

 :: Nana came to visit for a week for the Sparrow's birthday ::

 :: first time for the Sparrow in rubber boots! ::

I cherish this time with my youngest, and am often reminded of this time I had with the Sparrow, too. He was a Beco baby and had his naps in it at the store for many months after we first opened. I love to smell the top of a little fuzzy baby head while he is cozy with his mama in dreamland, in the carrier or in bed at night. There is something so sweet and universal about a baby receiving that perfect comfort from mother. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

So many things have changed since little Sparrow became a walker. When I get home from work, I can take him out of the van and he walks to the stairs, crawls up them, and knocks on the door for Dadda to let him in. He does the same thing when we arrive at work, freeing up my arms for Archer and one of our many bags. 

 :: my baby at 7 months with his adorable face and rainbow drool-proof bandana bib. no more wet shirts! ::

We go to the playground now, and he loves watching the other kids and walking around taking it all in. We have this great new playground in town, built by the Rotary. The ground is made from recycled tires so it's slightly bouncy, and it's all abilities accessible. The merry-go-round even has room in the center for a wheelchair, and it's at ground level which is safer and easier for kids to get on and off. Sparrow loves this merry-go-round and would probably stay on it all day if I let him! He holds on tight to the bar and says "Wheeee!" over and over. He is happy to let the other kids push.

:: first time at the playground, and walking to boot! :: 

:: he surprised me and walked right onto this ride when it slowed and stopped ::

 :: first time walking on the beach, in the sand ::

He walked for the first time on the beach the other day, when we all headed out to the airpark walk / new playground / beach. The tide was pretty far out, but he was upset when we turned around without him getting to see the "agua" so Spencer carried him over so he could see. 

 :: the Eagle and the Salmon; my Scorpio and Pisces boys ::
 :: scuttling in the sand with Mama Crab ::

Another cute milestone for the Sparrow came with the introduction of a cute retro Tupperware tea set. I left it at work, hoping that Sparrow and Ronan could play tea time, and to our surprise, they actually did! It's so cute to hear him say, "Tea!" and see him drink his pretend tea and eat his pretend snack. I let him practice at home with a little jug of water and he can pour with success most of the time. Thus far his imagination play has involved mostly vehicles, so this new game is very exciting.

 :: tea! you can see his cute walking shoes, too ::

Bed times have been a lot smoother these days thanks to a much earlier bed time. Sparrow is not a napper any longer, which is fine with me since we're at work anyway during nap time and there are many things to occupy him there. But no nap means he's tuckered by 7:30, whereas he used to go to bed at 9:30pm or later! So he is in the bath right after dinner, and then it's tooth-brush time and bed for the boy. If Archer is not fussing then he gets his story too. He is usually in bed by 8pm lately which gives me ample time to get Archer bathed and in jammies for bed. Sparrow has always liked bed time and when he's really tired or having a bad evening he plaintively asks for "Nie-nie!" I think he likes the new early routine because he isn't so whiny and tantrum-y in the evenings now as there's no wait for bed time after dinner.

Cover of "Super Baby Food"Cover of Super Baby FoodArcher has been eating solids for a month now, and so far has eaten bananas, sweet potatoes, brown rice cereal, Baby Mum-mum crackers, and butternut squash. He didn't really get it at first like Liam did, and it took me awhile to figure out that he didn't know he should open his mouth when the food comes, or that eating food makes your tummy feel good! I think he liked the Mum-mums because they feel good on his poor gums. He has two teeth on the bottom that have mostly cut through the gums. He seems to "get it" now, and with the occasional reminder to open his mouth for the spoon, feeding him is fun. I very highly recommend the book Super Baby Food. It is my handbook for feeding a baby and then toddler. It has absolutely everything one needs to know to make all homemade baby food, including how much and how often, at what age to introduce different foods,with hundreds of recipes and very detailed instructions. The nutritional aspect is very well-researched also. I cannot recommend it enough.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

:: A Sweet Mystery ::

A sweet potato.Image via Wikipedia
Since it's Thanksgiving Weekend here in the Great White North, I feel this post is entirely appropriate!

For over two years I have been plagued by a food mystery. I searched high and low, I asked produce managers and lackeys at the grocery stores, I tried good old Google and internet nutritional havens. I recently got out of hock at the library, and was prepared to check out the information available there (sorry, punny) but my favourite baby food book had the answer I needed! I love a good mystery solved.

My conundrum was: What is a sweet potato and what is a yam? I knew from what I had read that sweet potatoes are nutritional wonders, packed with Vitamin A and all sorts of great things. And I knew that yams have almost no nutritional value.

When you go the grocery store, there are some root vegetables which have a light brown skin and the cooked flesh is a very pale yellow, and the texture is similar to a white potato. Then there is the beautiful orange-fleshed variety with a darker skin, pictured above, with a creamier-textured flesh. I prefer the taste and texture of the orange coloured variety, meself. The problem is, every place seemed to call them yam and sweet potato either interchangeably or opposite from the next place. 

Atlas Café has "yam fries" made from the orange variety. One of the grocery stores in town has a sign which reads: "yams/sweet potatoes". What the eff? On the interwebs I could not find a solid definition of which was which. When Liam was a baby and I was introducing solids, I made the decision that the whiter-coloured variety must be a sweet potato, and so I never fed him the orange-coloured "yams". I didn't want to feed my baby something with no nutritional value!

But the mystery has been solved! In the back of my favourite baby food bible, Super Baby Food, she explains that in North America, there ARE no yams! Yams are a foreign produce item, but we commonly call the different varieties of sweet potatoes here "yams". So the white-fleshed and the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are both nutritionally dense. And might I add, delicious.
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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

:: These Shoes Were Made For Walkin' ::

Skittles.Image via Wikipedia
Well, I may be a blogger slacker these days, but lately I barely have time to read my favourite blogs, let alone write one! Well, enough excuses, I have important things to relay here.

Spencer and I are just over the Moon these days, because our little Sparrow is finally a walker!  On September 4th, (okay, a month ago now, holy cow) we bribed our first born with Skittles, and he walked across the living room to Dadda! Skittles were a totally new treat for him, and Dadda's spontaneous bribe did the trick and motivated him to go for it. He needed to stop thinking about it and try it, and it has been amazing to see him improve since then.

Thirty-four months is a very long time to wait for your child to walk, and at times it seemed he would never be a walker. Don't even get me started on other parents who think they know how it's been for us, and moan over how their little one took a whopping 17 months to walk - it's not the same. Or the people who tell me that now he's walking, my life is going to be so much harder. When your child is about to turn three years old, you are ready for him to go from room to room on his own two feet! We have missed out on so many fun activities over the past two years because there are some things there is no point in participating in if your child is immobile. We might actually go to the pumpkin patch this year! (Ed: we did, today!)

At our last visit with Diane, Liam's physiotherapist, she gave us some more core exercises to build his strength, and she explained that at his age he was over-thinking everything. Whereas a younger toddler will just go for it and start waddling away, Liam knew the consequences and so was very hesitant to try on his own. After a few tries for the Skittles he knew he could do it, and he has progressed in leaps and bounds since then. I am actually shocked it's been exactly a month - time is flying by these days!

:: dirty and sleeping on the kitchen floor. Mum of the Year Award for me! ::

To celebrate his new skill, I knew he needed a new pair of real shoes. His leather Robeez were too tight around his fat little ankles, and they don't work as outside shoes. He was wearing a pair of Holey Soles (knock-off Crocs) but his feet are so thick that he had little circle indents on the tops of his feet whenever I took them off. So I splurged and got him a good quality pair of leather shoes with rubber soles; flexible but firm. They fit his little potato feet perfectly! We have noticed that he walks a lot better when he is wearing them, too. And they will last him a long time since his feet (as well as the rest of him) grow slowly.  Archer may or may not ever wear them, because he grows like a weed.

:: Sparrow's new kicks, called "Ariston"  from See Kai Run ::

I had a day off today, and my boys and I had a great time running around town. We started the day off with chocolate cupcakes (nutless, and with this AMAZING icing that has been removed from Tasty Kitchen. I will type it out later). Then we went to Comox, where we picked up a few grocery items and I bought a new Brita jug. We finally had to retire our old one, which I'd had for over ten years! It was a gift from my Mum when I moved out on my own. It has had a crack in it for awhile, which finally moved far enough South to render the jug leaky and useless. In a nerdy way I'm super-excited to have a new one! Then we at cheese buns and went to Otter's Kitchen Cove where I wanted to inquire about Fiestaware. I really wanted a price list for the different pieces, as I'd like full service for eight one day. I am planning on winning on The Pioneer Woman, but I always try to have a Plan B as well.

We then walked down the street to Planet Kids, where I had won a $10 GC in a fun facebook contest. Sparrow loves it there, and they have so many great toys and learning supplies. He happily played with a "Buh" or a Bus, and I picked out a new (to us) pair of leather slippers for Archer, and a new book for the Sparrow. It is one of my faves: The Paper Bag Princess! Robert Munsch is one of my favourite kids' authors, and I will never forget hearing him read at the Vancouver Children's Festival, and "making it rain".

After the "too-ee dore" as Liam calls the toy store (which he did NOT want to leave) we went to the new all-abilities playground. It was built so that kids with different levels of ability can access all the features. There is room on the kid-powered merry-go-round for a wheelchair, and the whole thing is wheelchair accessible in general. The swing is a giant platform with padded edges which hangs from four cables. Liam loved the squishy ground in between the "wheeees", and while I was nervous that he wouldn't like it or get overwhelmed, he surprised me and absolutely loved it! He wandered around for a bit and watched the other kids, and didn't seem nervous until a little girl ran up to him and screamed in his face. He got over it pretty quickly, and eventually decided he wanted to go on the merry-go-round! The other kids stopped to let him on, and helped him make it over to a pole, and he held on and had fun for over half an hour! Archer slept in the Beco the whole time, and the weather was Liam's favourite - sunny with a cold wind.

Being at the park with all the other kids and parents made me realize that I used to hang out at the park several times a week when we lived in Vancouver, because I almost always had a job as a nanny while we lived there. But since having my own store, and a child who didn't walk until 34 months old, I have been park-less. It was fun being back, and it is definitely different when you go with your own child.

At home later on we had leftover Chicken Tikka Masala with PC Naan Bread, coconut rice with peas, and cilantro, and it was incredible. Boys were in bed early, and I actually blogged! I love October.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

:: Tunnel of Doom ::

Toddlers are some of my favourite people. They are curious, silly, unreasonable, imaginative, just starting out, and most of all: pretty damn funny.

Example: Little A getting upset and yelling at her mummy that her foot is stuck to her leg!

Example: R receiving the explanation that "Spiderman is as big as daddy." from his mummy, in preparation of Spiderman making a guest appearance at his birthday party.

Example: Spencer makes a really realistic choo-choo whistle, using his hands in front of his mouth. (Side note: I taught myself how to do this as a teenager, but have since lost the skill.) He did this for the first time for little Sparrow the other morning, while we were all having a family cuddle in bed. Sparrow was lying on Dadda's tummy, and he freaked out, and started screaming and crying, and clawing at Spencer's mouth. He was trying to get the choo-choo out from the scary Dadda choo-choo tunnel. Apparently daddies eat trains.

:: Archer and a rainbow of diapers - which I will write about soon :: 

:: my funny Sparrow-boy! ::

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

:: Progress ::

I'm so excited to see all the little changes again in Archer, things my mummy brain have forgotten since Liam was really wee. He does everything on a completely different time-line than Liam did, but they're still the same baby milestones. His smiles were reliable now at three months, when he'd been doing it for a month . We have gotten laughs out of him as well, those hesitant and gutturally delicious belly-laughs babies have in the beginning. He definitely has a sense of humour, and loves it when his Tia and I laugh to get him to laugh. I just love that big gummy grin, and his eyes seriously twinkle.

 :: my baby - 4 months old ::

He sleeps with me at night, and when Dada has to work, he sleeps in the guest room., leaving the deliciously comfortable bed for me and Archer. This honestly works best for us right now, as Archer's cues for a night feed disturb Daddy, and Daddy's getting-ready-for-work-routine at 5am disturbs me and Archer. Also, we have a new mattress and I'm happy to hog it all! Archer is more of a bed hog than Liam was so co-sleeping with him requires more room for baby due to his increased mobility. I am pretty spoiled most nights and get a few good solid chunks of sleep, aside from nights like tonight when I stay up late.

He started rolling over at two months old, and for a few weeks he could do it when he was in the right mood - it takes a lot of strength. But now at four months he's an old pro, and rolls onto his tummy like it ain't no thang. He can also roll onto his back again, but he doesn't do this as often. It's so funny for me to see a baby who loves tummy-time, which he usually does for a few good minutes before he decides it's too much work. His back arches and his little toes scrape the blanket and he wings his arms around. He knows that there's something he's supposed to be doing (crawling!) but he doesn't know just what it is yet.

:: he can get around quite well and steer with this walker ::

And while Liam remains challenging, and ornery, and hyper-sensitive to changes and situations where he's not 100% appeased, I still have many lovely moments with him every day. I  have to hold on to these, because thinking about quiet snuggles during story-time at night can get me through a gut-wrenching, screaming tantrum. His ordinary (hah!) two-year old tantrums are exacerbated by a few things: he cannot express himself verbally at the same level of his understanding, and the two are much more disproportionate than for other kids his age, and also he can't remove himself with any ease from situations he doesn't like. He feels trapped when he's on a couch or any bed besides his own. Even though he could physically get down and walk if he tried, he doesn't bother. He has taken steps on his own, but doesn't seem motivated to take any more. And this ends up frustrating him when he gets "stuck" places. But not enough to motivate him to move!

:: getting ready for the walk to work, before it got too hot to walk ::

We practice walking with the Sparrow every day, many times a day. He walks while holding our hands, and he has two different walkers that he occasionally uses. We take a step away from him and try to get him to come towards us, but no dice. He does not seem to want to walk, even though we know he is physically capable. He can walk with his doggy-shaped walker with no problem, and barely even holds onto it! I made an appointment with his PT for next week, since she usually is good for tips and things to motivate him.

So while he is very, very close to being completely mobile, he is still stuck for now. It is funny in a weird way to see how quickly Archer seems to progress in comparison - it took about three sessions in the Jolly Jumper at three months old before he "got" it and really started hopping around. He can roll over and is strong enough to move himself backwards on a flat surface with his feet. It is automatic for him to stand when I hold him under his arms, and I still have to remind Liam!

:: tie-dye boys watching the boob-tube  in the back room at the shop ::

We are still on the waiting list to see a speech therapist for Liam, but I have noticed some progress there lately! Strangely the progress seems to coincide with his new love for Thomas and Friends, or Choo-Choo (Liam says "koo-koo"). I created a youtube playlist with all different Thomas videos - some are narrated by George Carlin or Alec Baldwin (the American versions I guess) and the British ones are narrated by Ringo Starr! I love hearing his Liverpudlian accent. Anyway, the difference in this show compared to other videos he likes to watch is that the episodes are always narrated. And Liam has been mimicking the stories! He started by repeating certain exclamations that the engines say, and now I hear him repeating things all the time. He seems to do this more when I'm "not paying attention" (so he thinks). And I have noticed a jump in his vocabulary since he started mimicking, which I recently learned is a beginner milestone in language development. Some of his new words are really difficult to understand, and we occasionally end up doing a guessing game for me to find out what he's saying. But it is so reassuring to see some progress for him. It really is a downer sometimes to see other kids developing in leaps and bounds around him, so little things like this give me hope.

:: Daddy built Sparrow a sandbox! Daddy is good at making things for free.
Sparrow has a thing with "textures" since he doesn't walk or explore yet,
and the sandbox is helping him get over that (we hope) ::

I love seeing the differences between them, and strangely the similarities are, at this point, not as easy to point out. I think so far they both have a very sweet spirit, and I'm a lucky mum in that I have two self-entertaining boys. Neither one minds being alone for a short time, and Liam likes playing by himself. They both seem to have a goofy sense of humour like their dad and me, and can switch emotions quickly. (Water family: Pisces Daddy, Cancer Mummy, Sparrow Scorpio, Archer Pisces - even the pets are Cancer and Scorpio!) I have two boys!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

:: Brothers ::

I've been surprised by the feeling lately that our family is complete. Despite challenging moments (many, many challenging moments with our Sparrow these days) I find it wonderful to be mama to two boys!

All through my pregnancy with Archer I thought we were having a girl. So did Spencer. It just seemed right to us that our family would be one boy, one girl. After all, both our families had (originally) one of each, and then Spencer gained a step-brother at age four.

People like to guess which gender you're carrying around inside you when they see a blooming belly. Many were surprised when I told them that we didn't know, and we were going to wait for the birth to find out. I wouldn't have minded either way. The practical side of me wanted to know the gender ahead of time, so that I could continue to nest, nest, nest and organize clothes and other baby items. But the romantic part of me told me it would be such a wonderful surprise on baby's birthday. As I was hoping for a VBAC, actually getting to hold my baby and meet it as soon as it came into the world would be the most amazing opportunity to find out the gender for myself.

But we didn't know while I was pregnant, not for sure. Almost everyone guessed that Archer was a girl. Some people very adamantly guaranteed we were having a girl. Thinking back, I'm sure most of the guesses were a reflection of my desires - I wanted a girl. A girl would complete our family. 

I imagined Liam as the big brother to a little sister. I imagined picking out girls' clothes, and making cute dresses and other items that are easy  to sew. Spencer and I just felt like this one was a girl. Since I knew that hunches and feelings aren't always correct, I also spent some time imagining being the mother of two boys. I had a harder time with this.

Knowing that this baby was average-sized, and so would one day be taller than Liam, meant different things if we had a boy baby versus girl the second time around. I couldn't decide which would be harder on Liam growing up, or if it will be hard for him at all to always be the "little" brother. Since Archer seems to be very "above average" in every measurement of size, I don't think he'll be the little brother for long - a matter of months perhaps.

Probably the main reason I wanted baby number two to be a girl is because it made, and still makes, me sad to think of my life as a mother without a daughter. My mum is such an important person in my life, and I owe so much of who I am to her and the things she has taught me consciously and unconsciously. There is a special bond between mother and daughter that I'm not sure is the same with mother and son. It was something I wanted in my life, something which I think is possible less and less every day.

I don't see it happening in my future, because my family feels complete. In the rare moments when I can snuggle both boys, or practice my new trick which is to take them out of the van one in each arm, it feels whole. Like these two little people are my reason for being right now, they are my most important project. And since they're little, my time is spent doing millions of little things, but that's okay. Nothing too big right now because they are young. And even though times are very challenging with a two and a half year old who doesn't walk, and can't talk, and has extreme emotional mood swings, I know that won't last forever and more good times are coming. Both boys are changing and learning new things every day, and getting closer and closer to interacting, which will be a whole new miracle.

:: see? he can stand, he just doesn't want to walk ::