Friday, December 26, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nipples and other body parts ...

The best part of Christmas holidays is hanging with Amanda and watching TV in front of the fire.

Amanda has been asking some really good questions lately. We're often fielding a barrage of questions. We also want to give her real answers and try not to defer a real answer later when she isn't as interested.

Today's question came when we were watching a commercial for hair removal. She asked why are the ladies legs on TV so skinny? And she hoped that the product was for kids. We had to explain that everyone's body parts are a little different and that everyone's legs are different. We also tried to explain that on TV they sometimes pick people who tend to look the same and that they look different than people in real life.

She thought for a moment and then seemed to absorb what we had told her. A commercial for orange juice came on with an older gentleman spouting the benefits of freshly squeezed orange juice. Amanda asked if he was a real person. I said that I'm pretty sure that he is real because he had his pants pulled up to his nipples. Amanda then asked what are nipples.

We thought that she knew what they were and asked her "What do mommies use nipples for?"

She answered "to breathe!"

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Day 8: Make Hand Wreaths

Day 8: Make Hand Wreaths

(Totally adorable Nativity Set by Little People - we also have the Little Drummer Boy and Little Shepherds sets.)

This is one of favourite crafts, and we've been doing it for the past three years. I'm proud to say I thought this one up on my own! Not that it's terribly original, and I've since seen it elsewhere, but the idea came off the top of my head. I love that this is quick, easy, very inexpensive, and uses supplies that even the craft-challenged such as myself are sure to have on hand. We also store the wreaths in the kids Christmas box* each year, so it's fun to compare how their hands grow from year to year.

All we do is trace hands onto red and green construction paper (this year I used a total of 10 hands for Amanda and 12 for Sam):
Day 8: Tracing Hand

Sam was more interested in crumpling the paper than having his hand traced...I managed to get one tracing then used it as a template for the rest:
Day 8: Playing with Paper

Then lay them out in a circle shape (it's important to do this before you start gluing to get the right shape), add a bit of glue, and - ta-da!
Day 8: The Finished Products!

I also write their name and the year on the wreath with a Sharpie, but hadn't yet done this when the photo was taken. There you have it - lovely wreaths with which to decorate their bedroom doors!

* We have a big Christmas box that we use to store all the kids' Christmas stuff each year - Little People sets, decorations, books, hair elastics, etc. That way all those things seem new again when we pull out the box each year. Is this how other families do this? I've always been curious...

Day 7: Preschool Christmas Party

Day 7: Preschool Christmas Party

Yes, as you can see the plan was also to attend the Rogers Santa Claus Parade downtown. However, the night before, we realized that last year's parade didn't wrap up until almost 4 pm, and we needed to be back in Coquitlam for Amanda's preschool party by 4:30 pm. So reluctantly we decided to skip the parade this year. Hopefully we can make it next year, as we have enjoyed it in the past! It felt weird not to go this year.

Anyway, Sunday afternoon was the Christmas party for Amanda's preschool. In school they have been talking a lot about construction, so the teachers came up with the idea of having them "construct" gingerbread houses as a Christmas project. Although it would have been easy to just provide the kids with templates, each group was given the option to design the type of house they wanted to build, as well as any special design elements. The students visited a local high school and worked with Foods students to roll, cut, and bake the gingerbread pieces. Then at the party, they constructed and built the houses. Finally, on Monday morning they visited a local seniors centre to present the houses and enjoy a carol sing-along. I thought the whole thing was brilliant - the emphasis was not only on building the houses, but building relationships in the community.

Of course, our team of kids decided that an ordinary house was not for them - they wanted a chalet. (In the car on the way home from school the day they planned their houses, Amanda announced they'd decided on an "A-frame house". That kid knows more about houses than I do!). They also specified that it was to have an awning and paving stones. Hmm...OK. So we parents planned accordingly and waited to see what the kids would do with the decorations we provided.

The built house:
Day 7: Chalet House

The crazily-decorated roof:
Day 7: Crazy Roof

The completed house...check out the Pop-Tart and lollipop awning:
Day 7: Working on the Walkway

Sam was not terribly impressed:
Day 7: Sam Unimpressed, As Usual

Amanda posing:
Day 7: Tree Pose

We were totally impressed with the kids' decorating job (OK, the dads were mostly responsible for that awning). But the chalet-style house posed some huge challenges - the roof wasn't well-supported by the house walls, so it was a constant battle between armed-with-icing parents and the determined-to-slide-off roof. We thought we had won the battle, but the house had the last laugh, as it collapsed in the car on the way home. :( The kids were a bit sad, but not much so...after all, the fun was in the planning and building!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Day 6: Buy Our Christmas Tree

Day 6: Buy Christmas Tree

On Saturday we headed out to Art Knapps to pick up a Christmas tree! As I've said before, we are definitely a "real tree" family even though they can be a huge pain in the you-know-what. We used to buy our tree from a grocery store, but the past few years we've been spending a few extra bucks to buy them from Art Knapps and they have been very nice trees.

Checking out the trees:
Day 6: Rows of Trees

Amanda posing with the winner!
Day 6: This Is The One!

Sam looking unimpressed, as always:
Day 6: Still Not Impressed

I have to say that this year's tree may be our best yet! I think it's definitely the fact, there's a branch that touches the ceiling, but it's just a weird bare branch that we need to cut off. (Yesterday Amanda told me that we needed to cut "that freaky branch off the tree" so we could put the angel on). Unfortunately, after 3 days it is still sitting in our living room completely naked. Maybe we will just go for the natural look this year! Kidding...hopefully we can get it decorated in the next couple of days. The biggest stumbling block is the lights, which I need to do but have been completely unmotivated to get started on.

Day 5: Watch a Christmas Movie with Grandma & Grandpa

Day 5: Christmas Movie with Grandma and Grandpa

Jeff had his work Christmas party on Friday evening. Even though we weren't sure how Sam would do if we left him for the whole evening, we figured it was worth a would sure be nice to get out occasionally, just the two of us! So we planned an activity for Amanda that she could do with Grandma & Grandpa when they came to babysit.

When we opened up the envelope in the morning, she chose to watch The Grinch. However, it was reported that they ended up watching a few others as well, including Charlie Brown Christmas. She had a great time watching with her grandparents, and being spoiled by them as well! They brought dinner over for her with all her favourites - mac & cheese, tomatoes, bread, strawberry milk, and ice cream for dessert - and generally treated her like a princess.

As for Sam...well, he took a bit of milk from the bottle with much coaxing. But it wasn't exactly a roaring success; he still spent much of the night crying. I guess we will keep trying...if he doesn't take a bottle eventually, we will probably just try a sippy cup after Christmas. Maybe Santa will bring one for him in his stocking...

Day 4: Shadbolt Centre to See Bobs & Lolo

Day 4: Christmas Event with Bobs & Lolo

Several weeks back, my Mom had told me about a Christmas event at the Shadbolt Centre at Deer Lake Park in Burnaby. I took a note and thought we might try to attend, but then I found out that one of Amanda's very favourite singing groups, Bobs & Lolo, were going to be performing! So of course we had to check it out.

I was quite impressed with the event - there were tons of activities and it seemed very well organized. It was pretty crowded though, and since it was just me and the kids (Jeff had choir practice to attend), it was a bit of a challenge maneuvering the stroller through all the people. It was especially fun once Sam woke up from his nap, took a look around at the totally unfamiliar place, and started screaming. Good times! I was able to take him out of the stroller and carry him on my hip with my carrier, and he was pretty good after that.

There was face painting:
Face Painting...
No offense to anyone, but this was probably the saddest face paint Amanda has ever had. This was supposed to be a princess, in case you can't guess. I suppose that's what she gets for asking for something so complicated!

Amanda with the winter fairy:
Winter Fairy
She's looking just a hair short of terrified in this photo! :)

Bobs & Lolo performing:
Bobs & Lolo!

Amanda wanted to draw a picture at the art station. The easels were set up with pastels, which she's never used before - they are sure messy! Here is the picture she drew of Bobs & Lolo (click through to see the photo on Flickr, with notes describing all the parts of the picture):
Amanda's Bobs & Lolo Picture

Day 3: Eat Breakfast for Dinner

You will have to take my word for this one because I can't figure out what I did with the envelope so there's no picture.

We've been doing breakfast for dinner as one of our activities since Year 1, and it's always a fun break in the middle of the week. Usually we cook waffles at home, but Jeff was in the mood for dinner out so we headed over to IHOP. For those of you who are interested in a run-down of our breakfast/dinner selections (i.e., none of you), here goes: Amanda had a create-a-face pancake, I had a chicken fajita omelette (with pumpkin pancakes on the side...a weird combo, but they're so yummy!), and Jeff had steak and eggs. We were all thoroughly stuffed.

Which again, you'll have to take my word for, because although we took our point-and-shoot camera to the restaurant with us, we realized once we got there that the batteries were dead. Argh!

Day 2: Record Answering Machine Message

Day 2: Record Answering Machine Message

And, here's where I admit...that we still haven't done this. We forgot in our planning that Jeff would be out at a meeting that night, and I really need him to help since he's the tech guy (and we will likely do the recording on his new Mac, which was with him at the time!). We keep meaning to get to it, but it hasn't happened yet.

Last year, Amanda sang Away in a Manger on the machine. It was really long, and a few people seemed annoyed by it, but we also got tons of really great messages about it. In fact, one guy called and left a message saying that he'd called our house by mistake (wrong number), but that he had to redial to listen again because the message was so cute! I managed to find the audio file of last year's message but can't figure out how to post it! Better yet, I will try to post this year's once we finally get it done.

Off to hang my head in shame...

Day 1: Make Paper Snowflakes

Day 1: Make Paper Snowflakes

I wanted to stick with something easy for Day 1, so we made paper snowflakes. This was my first time trying this with Amanda, and it was probably a bit too hard...maybe it would be better in another year or two. I hadn't thought ahead to realize that she wouldn't be able to cut through the folded paper safely, so I ended up doing all the cutting. She drew patterns on each snowflake for me to cut, but she had a bit of trouble keeping them on the fold, so I had to improvise a lot.

A finished snowflake:
Day 1: Ooo, a Snowflake!

(And yes, Jeff was sleeping on the couch behind her. He is sick, so he was allowed.)

The December Crazies

I have been very neglectful of this blog seems that December has gotten away from me somehow! I'm going to try to get some posts up tonight and maybe tomorrow as well with details of our "24 Days of Christmas" activities.

I must admit that somehow I'm not really feeling the Christmas spirit yet, despite being more organized for Christmas than ever before. For the first time ever, I was pretty much done shopping for the kids before the end of November (just a few more small things to pick up). We have really scaled back our gift-giving to others this Christmas since it seems like over the past several years it's gotten more and more crazy each year. Awhile back when I was talking to Amanda about Christmas, she asked right off the bat "I wonder what gifts I'll get this year?", which was a sure sign that it's time to cut back! It doesn't matter how much we talk about how Christmas is really about Jesus' birthday and spending time with our family and friends, unless we put less emphasis on the presents she's never going to get it. Not to mention that it gets more stressful each year coming up with gift ideas, not to mention the money to pay for them! I'm looking forward to having a simpler holiday this year.

All that being said, we are way behind on getting the house ready for Christmas. Despite the fact that the kitchen is in total disarray, the weather has been terrible the last few weekends so we haven't got any outside decorations up. We are slowly getting the inside decorations out, but it's hard to get much done during the day with a baby who doesn't want to be put down! Hopefully by the end of this week we'll be feeling more ready for the holidays to come.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Misc Stuff...

Once again we are doing our "24 days of Christmas" tradition, but I have to get organized and write some blog posts about it (maybe tomorrow??). In the meantime, you can check out what we did two years ago here.

In other news, I've been searching for a way to add a list of my read and currently-being-read books to this blog for awhile. I've been updating my list through Facebook, but decided to switch to GoodReads because it gives me the ability to add a widget to the blog. You can find it on the sidebar at the right, a few items down.

Sam at 4 Months

4 Months

Not the greatest birthday portrait, but seeing as how it was already 2 days late, I didn't want to wait any longer! I didn't weigh Sam for his birthday, but I did it about 10 days before he turned 4 months and he was 13 lbs, 10 oz and 24" long. Much smaller than Amanda at this age (she was 16 lbs, 1 oz and 26" long at 4 months). Not that I'm complaining!

A snapshot of Sam at 4 months:

His pleasantness during the daytime is much improved, but he still has his moments. ~ He has learned to blow bubbles and loves to show off his new skill at every opportunity!
Showing Off Bubble Skillz
Consequently, he is drooling like a madman. I am now having to put bibs on him during the day - I NEVER had to do that for Amanda! ~ The tradeoff for daytime happiness seems to be less nighttime sleep - he is only sleeping a 4-6 hour stretch now, but I'm really hoping it will improve soon to his previous 8-10 hours! ~ It's hard to be sure, but I really think there might be some tooth action happening on his bottom gums. He is very intent on chewing on his fingers constantly.
He is a pretty serious baby and doesn't smile a ton, but when he does smile, they're big and beautiful!
Big Laugh!
He is refusing the bottle, but we are trying valiantly. Tonight I had some limited success with the Adiri Nurser. ~ He absolutely adores his big sister. ~ He resists naps wholeheartedly, but if I catch him at the right time, I can usually convince him to nap now - except they generally only last 20-30 minutes. ~ He is really strong in the neck and shoulders, but hates being put on his tummy. ~ He has a really bad temper! If he is mad about something, he turns purple and shakes with rage. It shouldn't be funny, but it kind of is! ~ He loves his Sophie the Giraffe and Little Green Dude, who travel with him all the time in his car seat. ~ He is getting pretty good at reaching for things with purpose - today he even managed to get his soother back in at one point! ~ He has made our family feel complete, and we are pretty crazy about him!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

So True...


Doodle by Lee. The code for this doodle and other doodles you can use on your blog can be found at Doodles.

(And sadly, we didn't get Sam's 4-month photo today due to scheduling problems - but will be sure to take it tomorrow!)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday Acquisitions

Newly acquired by Jen & Jeff: almost $300 worth of paint and paint accessories. Now we will really need to get moving on painting our kitchen and upstairs! Ack! (I should note that we will get 30% of the paint cost back, since Home Depot had a mail-in rebate...but we probably won't get it for 6 - 8 weeks). I hate buying paint - how does anyone ever know that what they're buying will work?? It gives me serious stress.

Newly acquired by Amanda: a serious case of whininess (is that a word?). She's been really great lately, but I guess we all have our bad days and today was not stellar. However, by evening she was in a great mood and chatting up a storm in the car on our way home from Home Depot.

Newly acquired by Sam: the ability to blow bubbles! Thanks Jeff for teaching him that one. Now his normal drooliness has been amplified by about 10X.

Newly acquired by Jeff: a MacBook, for school (yeah right, just for school). Jeff and Amanda have been having much fun playing with its cool features:

Newly acquired by Jen: sadly, not a new computer. However, I have inherited Jeff's old laptop and will finally have an upstairs computer of my own! Not that I couldn't use the laptops before, but they were never set up for me. Now I can sync my iPod and have all my programs installed upstairs! Whoo hoo! Yes, it's sad what makes me happy...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Crack Me Up

Today when we were leaving Amanda's preschool, she said something funny while we were walking to the car and I told her that she cracks me up.

"Hey," she said, "I have a shirt that says that!". (She had a shirt from Old Navy two Easters ago that was really cute, and that she wore for quite awhile.)

Easter Rebel

She suggested that maybe Sam would be able to wear it when he got bigger. I tried to explain that it's kind of a girly shirt and that he probably wouldn't want to wear it. But she was really upset that it was such a cute shirt, and she really wanted him to be able to wear it.

Finally I told her that it was kind of like the song from one of her favourite albums these days, Snacktime by the Barenaked Ladies. (Aside: if you don't have this album, you must buy it! It's great music for kids and highly listenable by adults too. Definitely a must-have.) The song is called My Big Sister:

I like my big sister.
But I don't want to wear her coat.
It may be black
It may fit perfect
But you and I both know it's a girl's coat

Now I can handle some hand me downs
But shirts and sandals are out of bounds
Balls and games and such I don't mind
But a coat is over the line.

This song is HILARIOUS. So we sang it together, substituting "shirt" for "coat", and by the end we were laughing hysterically together.

I think she got it - she hasn't mentioned it again!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sam Update

I am happy to say that we seem to have turned a corner with Sam! For the past three days he has been much more pleasant and I'm wondering if his grouchiness over the past couple of weeks has been due to the cold he's had. It didn't seem like too bad of a cold until the last bit, when the cough got really bad, but I know I had the same thing and my throat was quite sore. So maybe he just couldn't figure out why he felt so lousy? Regardless, I'm really hoping (knocking on wood here) that we've seem the last of super-grouchy Sam for awhile.

He has even been taking some naps, although they're not as frequent or as long as I think he needs them to be, and nighttime sleep has improved (although we're still not getting the same 8-10 hour stretches...more like 6-7 hours usually). I'll take it! The most important thing is that he's much more happy, smiley, and talkative during the day and there's a lot less screaming!

And in other Sam news...drum roll please...he rolled over today! Twice! I admit he doesn't get nearly the amount of tummy time he's supposed to, partly because I'm just rarely organized enough to fit it in, and partly because he hates it and screams bloody murder after about 5 seconds. But today he did roll over tummy to back twice - both times right after I put him on his tummy. Both times I also put him back on his tummy right away, at which point he got really irate ("really, woman, if I WANTED to be on my tummy I would have stayed there!").

And a dose of Sam cuteness for today...(actually this photo is about 10 days old, but we have been woefully negligent in our picture-taking lately!):

A Walk In The Park

Yesterday we decided to take advantage of what was predicted to be the last reasonably sunny day, at least for the rest of the week, and we headed over to Rocky Point for a walk. Rocky Point is on the Burrard Inlet in Port Moody, which means there is ocean right next to the forest. There is a great splash park and playground there, and a section of the Trans Canada Trail which is great for walking.

We were on a bit of a mission, because we had a few books that needed to be returned to the library. I wasn't sure whether we would be up to walking all the way to the library and back (I think about 6 km total), but somewhat to my surprise, we made it! Amanda was dragging a bit at the end but she was a trooper. Needless to say we all had a good sleep last night!

Here are a few photos from our adventure (or see the entire Flickr set).

Amanda found a clam in the forest - a bit weird, but that's what happens when you have ocean and forest close together!
A Clam!

Amanda imitating the pedestrian sign:
Walk Like an Egyptian...

One sole holdout leaf amidst all the fallen:
Sole Holdout

A peaceful view of the Inlet:
Meandering Stream

Rabid Sam! For some reason he starts to froth at the mouth sometimes...combined with the googly eyes in this shot, he looks like he had an encounter with a bat!
Rabid Sam!

My beautiful girl, looking so grown up!
Beautiful Smile

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

As Promised...

Here is a short video of Amanda reading from her Bob Books. Unfortunately I can't remember how to make the videos last longer than 30 seconds, but you get the idea!

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

We had an interesting night last night. Since Amanda never took the bottle, we were determined that Sam would need to learn so we could get an occasional night out. We tried him with the bottle and expressed milk a couple of months ago and it was a big success - he didn't even bat an eyelash, just drank down the bottle (and a bunch more frozen bags full, too!) without a second thought. "Great," we thought, "this will be easy!". But we haven't kept up with the bottle, mostly because I have found it difficult to keep pumping on a regular basis.

Last night there was a work-related seminar/networking event that I wanted to attend - since it seems likely that I will be job-hunting in a few months, I thought it would be a good idea to keep up my knowledge and see some of my colleagues. Plus, I knew that even though it's work for me to get out for the night, it's important that we get to the point that we can leave the kids once in awhile and get out by ourselves. Since Jeff is also out on Mondays, we arranged for my mom to come look after the kids and I've been diligently pumping to make sure I had enough for the 1 or 2 feeds that would be required. I fed Sam before I left at around 4:30 pm and crossed my fingers!

Well, surprise surprise, he completely refused the bottle. However, my mom said it seemed like he wasn't really that hungry - he was mad when the bottle was in his mouth, but wasn't screaming for food otherwise. She, Sam, and Amanda sat in front of the tv for awhile with Sam in mom's lap and he just drifted off to sleep. When Jeff got home he just picked him up and put him down in his cradle and he went right to sleep. I got home a few minutes later and he was out like a light.

I figured he'd be up shortly looking for food, since he hadn't eaten since 4:30. It was one of those "do I wait up or go to bed" moments, but finally fatigue won out and I headed to bed at around 11 pm. Good thing, because the little monkey slept until after 3 am!! I can't believe he went close to 12 hours without just reinforces for me that when he wakes up after only 3 hours or so at night, he really doesn't need to eat. He went right back to sleep after feeding and didn't get up until 6:45 am, which was great!

And, also surprising, he's been much more pleasant today. I actually managed to get him down for a nap at 9:30 am or so, and just now he has actually gone to sleep in his crib! For the first time! The first nap was only 30 minutes, and I don't hold out much hope that this one will be better, but I'm happy that he has settled in his crib. We need to work on moving him into his crib for nights soon, but I've been reluctant to do it while his sleep has been so messed up.

So now we need to work on getting him to take a bottle again. I've got a bunch of milk stored up, so I guess we need to have Jeff feed him at least every couple of days. Our next challenge will be Jeff's work party, which is next weekend. We've got my parents lined up to babysit again, but it will be a longer evening, so we need to make sure he won't be screaming until we get home!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Grouchy Sam

I feel compelled to write a few words about Sam since he was woefully neglected in those last few posts. Things are going all right with Sam, but it's getting very frustrating as he is so grouchy during the day. He is turning into his sister - flat-out refusing to nap during the day - and as a result, he gets more and more ornery as the day progresses. He also has quite a nasty cold at the moment, which isn't helping matters either. On Friday morning I took him to the doctor to get his cough checked out, as he's been sick for a couple of weeks but over the past several days the cough has gotten much worse instead of better. The doctor didn't seem too concerned about the cough, but mentioned again that Sam has a lot of gas in his belly. I don't know whether it's the gas that's causing him to be so miserable, or what could be causing all that gas, but he's really getting tough to handle during the day.

It's especially frustrating because when he's not miserable, he's really super-cute and a lot of fun. He's very smiley and loves to chatter away with us or Amanda. His sleeping continues to be all over the map - most nights we get around an 8-hour stretch or even longer, but it starts when he goes down at 8 pm so it still means an early-morning wakeup. That would be fine, except that a couple of nights a week (now even more frequently, probably due to the cold), he's up much more often and doesn't want to go back to sleep after eating.

Argh, always keeping us on our toes, this one! Hopefully we can resolve some of these issues soon so we can enjoy our time together more!

And So It Begins!!

Over the past week or two I've visited with several friends who have recently undergone renovations to their houses, and finally I've been inspired to start some of the jobs that so desperately need doing around the house. It seems that since we moved in 5 years ago there's always been a long list of reasons/excuses why nothing gets done: lack of time, lack of money, and difficulty in prioritizing the long list of things that need doing being at the top of the list.

So I'm determined that we're going to get a couple of smallish jobs done before the holidays. I decided that the only way to make sure this happens is to take drastic I started peeling wallpaper off our kitchen wall. :)

Yes, anyone who has been to our house can now rejoice - the ugly ivy wallpaper is gone! (I'm just in the process of taking off the backing paper, but it's going pretty smoothly). Now we just have to choose new paint, prep the walls, and paint, all before the holidays...umm, so now I know why I don't usually jump into these things so aggressively...

Keep yourself tuned in to see whether we can pull it off!!

A little blast from the past here...did we ever mention that we can now post short videos on Flickr?? When they added this feature we went back and added a few old favourites into our photostream. Here is a video of Amanda at about one-and-a-half, with the ivy wallpaper featured prominently:

ETA: I forgot to mention that Amanda was a bit distressed about the removal of the wallpaper. However, we managed to appease her by snipping a piece of it for her to keep in her photo album. It's hard for us to remember that as much as we hate the wallpaper, it's been there since before she was born and it's all she remembers!

Magic Moments

One afternoon this past week was especially awful. Amanda and Sam both fell asleep in the car on the way home from somewhere, and this was a good thing as they both desperately needed naps. We parked in the driveway and all 3 of us napped for a good couple of hours. However, when Amanda woke up she was completely miserable - she always hates napping and figures she's been tricked if she falls asleep (unless she refuses to admit she's been sleeping at all...yes, Amanda, you've really just been "keeping the sun out of your eyes" for the last 2 hours). Cue the screaming and moaning and general misery.

So a few hours later, after putting up with this for the rest of the afternoon and evening, I had finally got both kids to bed. Awhile later I heard Amanda calling for me from her room (she rarely does this anymore...usually once she's in bed we don't hear from her until morning). I went in and all she wanted was a hug. I guess on some level she realized how awful the evening had been and wanted to make sure we were OK before we both went to sleep.

So I leaned in for a hug and she grabbed me tight around the neck and SQUEEZED and I got a little teary-eyed. My grandfather, who died 13 years ago, used to ask for a squeeze when he wanted a really big hug; I have shared this story with Amanda many times. I told her what a great squeeze that was, and she asked me if it reminded me of my grandpa. Then she pulled back and looked at me with such an open look of love on her face that I was taken aback. It's probably the same look she sees a hundred times a day - you know, when you feel so in love with your kid but can't possibly say it all the time or you'd seem like a crazy person? I said "what?" and she said "what?" and we went back and forth for a bit, then she said "I just love you so much, that's all".

Well, what more could a tired mommy ask for? I tell you, sometimes when we need it most God throws us a parenting bone and all is well again with the world.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Need a Weekend to Recover from My Weekend...

It seems that the pre-holiday rush has already begun! This weekend was full with all kinds of activities. Even though it's nice to have lots to do, it never seems like we get a chance to relax!

On Saturday morning, Amanda's favourite musical group, Bobs & Lolo, was appearing at Coquitlam Centre as part of their celebration to welcome Santa to the mall. Yes, Santa actually arrived this seems now that he always arrives the first weekend after Remembrance Day. As far as Amanda is concerned, having both Bobs & Lolo and Santa Claus in one place at one time is pretty much the pinnacle of coolness, so we had to check it out!

We figured the mall didn't realize how popular B&L are, because they had set aside only a small area for the performance and it was packed!!

The Preschool Audience

We were off to a rough start as Amanda insisted on sitting on the 'A' on the big carpet they had laid out, even though it was at the furthest corner from the stage. Once the music started she was torn about whether to stay on the A or move closer and, people were edging her off the A which was causing some distress. She had a few minutes of teariness and we finally had to tell her she had to cheer up or leave! She was starting to depress the other kids! Finally she shook it off and moved up towards the front of the carpet and enjoyed the rest of the show, dancing away. Personally my favourite was when they sang Cindy Seahorse, a slow story song, and Amanda danced her princess dance - complete with twirls and a very serious princess look on her face - throughout.
Serious Princess Pose

After Santa made his appearance and the crowd dispersed, we headed over to the Christmas train they have set up - I think this is the first year they've had this and Amanda really enjoyed it.
Christmas Train

We didn't do our Santa photos yet - somehow it seems way too early. Probably we'll wait until the last minute like usual and end up waiting in line for hours!

Saturday evening Jeff was singing in a concert, but the kids and I headed over to my aunt Allyson's house to celebrate Chris' 19th birthday. It's hard to believe he is 19 already! Amanda had a great time running around Allyson's beautiful house with her cousin Tristan and generally being a monkey. Sam was remarkably well-behaved, and it was nice that I had lots of arms to hold him so I got a bit of a break! Contrary to his normal "needs to be jiggled constantly", he was content to sit in Nana's arms for a good chunk of time.

Time with Gigi

Sunday was our usual busy day - church followed by lunch with Jeff's parents. After a brief rest at home we headed out to a surprise birthday party for a friend of ours. They had just moved into their brand new house on Saturday, so his wife invited a whole bunch of people over for dinner. Seems like a great way to do it - no one is expecting anything to be tidy when you're in the middle of moving! Their new house is beautiful and once again Amanda had fun running around with friends while Sam enjoyed being passed around.

All in all, a fun but exhausting weekend!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Free Stuff!

Don't you love it when you get free stuff in the mail??

A couple of weeks ago I entered a contest on the blog for Urban Baby & Toddler magazine. Last week I found out that I won a pair of See Kai Run shoes (9 to 12 months) for Sam!! These are uber-trendy and retail for around $40 here. So, yay! I was so excited to receive them in the mail today in their cute little package:

I Had a Bad Day

So, good news: for 2 nights of the past 3, Sam has slept for an 8 hour stretch (+/- 30 minutes) at night. Of course, between those 2 nights he had a night where he was up every 1-3 hours, so who knows.

The bad news: he is totally miserable during the day. Not sure what's going on, but ever since he hit his 12 week growth spurt 3 weeks ago, he's been way more fussy and clingy during the day. He pretty much refuses to takes me ages to get him down, and then he is awake again in half an hour. I think it's the lack of napping that's making him miserable, but again, who knows. When he's awake we get brief stretches of pleasantness, during which he is extremely cute and smiley and lovable. The rest of the time he is either (a) eating or (b) screaming. He is only content if I'm holding him, which makes getting anything done (like feeding Amanda) next to impossible. I'm pretty much at the end of my rope so I hope this phase doesn't last too much longer.

Today it was unexpectedly beautiful...a perfect autumn day. I managed to get both kids packed up and out of the house and we went for a walk at Lafarge Lake to enjoy the beautiful fall colours. Amanda was a bit grouchy...she would have preferred to go on a bike ride, but we decided on the lake instead (this required driving, and I couldn't get her bike in the car with us, so it had to be a walk instead). She complained that it would be "boring", but once we got there she was totally excited and seemed to have a great time, running around, splashing on the lake shore, and playing at the park. I was feeling good about myself, figuring that for once I'd managed to be a "good mom" and get the kids out for some fresh air. That good feeling lasted until I was strapping Amanda into the car seat, at which point she announced that she was right, it had been boring. Thank you, Amanda, for giving me a preview of what life will be like when you are 14. So my good mood was pretty much gone, and that was only compounded when we got home and Sam screamed for the rest of the afternoon.

By dinnertime I was desperately trying to get dinner made - I was actually going to make a real dinner and had everything out and ready to go, but couldn't put Sam down for longer than 10 seconds without a major screaming fit. I pretty much dissolved into a puddle and was feeling very sorry for myself, then decided that my only option was to bundle the kids up again and head out to pick up some food so I wouldn't go crazy.

I stopped for a brief minute to check my email before we left and got some terrible news about very good friends of ours, who just found out at 21 weeks that they will have to terminate their pregnancy. All of a sudden, my bad day seemed awfully petty. Sometimes it takes a major kick in the rear end to force us to count our blessings. Needless to say, our thoughts and prayers are with them tonight.

Here are a few photos from our day today - or check out the whole Flickr photoset.

Light on Water


On the Path

Not Amused

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reading Star!!

We've been working with Amanda for quite awhile on reading, but it's never been a huge thing - we wanted her to come to it on her own, rather than forcing it down her throat. She has known her letters and the sounds they make for a long time, and she was starting to read simple things well before her fourth birthday. We also bought some Bob Books, which are great first readers, and would practice with them once in awhile. However, she would get very easily frustrated and we left it for awhile, figuring eventually it would come.

Several months ago, she got very interested in her Word Whammer. Over the past couple of months, we've been asked many times a day "How many letters does XXX have?", since she knows that if it has 3 letters, she can spell it in the Word Whammer. She started with the settings that help you spell the word, but now she does it completely on her own. And if she wants to spell something that doesn't fit in the Word Whammer, sometimes we will play along and sing the song for her..."The word, yellow, is what you see, you made that super-duper excellently!". (Oh yes, we have the whole schtick memorized.)

A few weeks ago, it was like a light bulb went on over her head and all of a sudden she is really reading! We revisited the Bob Books and she can read an entire book completely on her own! She also is reading everything she sets eyes on: road signs, newspaper headlines, ads... The frustrating thing is that we're now starting to realize how crazy the English language is. The poor kid remembers pretty much every rule we throw at her, but then the next word she tries to read will negate that rule. It must be so frustrating for her! But she is just so excited to be reading that it doesn't seem to bother her too much. Of course, once she gets to Kindergarten we'll probably find out we've been teaching it all wrong and she's messed up for life!!

I'm going to try to get a short video of her reading, because I think it would be something cool to have and look back on later...if I can get it filmed I'll post it!

Reading to Dora
Sharing a quiet moment reading with Dora, almost exactly two years ago