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April 30, 2015

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June 5, 2014

How does our garden grow? Well, when we first moved in to our home 3 years ago, it grew as thick and overgrown as a jungle. We purchased our house in the winter, when the backyard was empty, and moved in at the beginning of spring just as the first few buds started pushing their way out of the earth. By mid-June we were feeling worried, and by mid-summer we knew the backyard was WAY more than we had bargained for. It was over-planted, disorganized, and completely overwhelming. The following summer we made a deal with a local landscaper (who became a close friend in the process) – if she helped us tame the madness, we’d give her the plants! She and Zach worked out there the entire summer (while I cared for newborn Bee) and transformed the mess into some semblance of a usable yard. Since then we’ve continued to make progress with various projects back there, and this is the first summer that we’ve been excited to use it! Bee has been back there every day, playing in her little house, collecting rocks and pine cones for “soup”, chasing bubbles, drawing with chalk, exploring the spaces behind the fir trees… the list goes on – she’s endlessly entertained, and always begging to go outside. She has also been closely involved with the vegetable garden this year and it’s been a great learning opportunity for her – placing seeds in the soil, watching them sprout, prepping garden beds, re-planting the starters outdoors, and continuing with the ongoing care and maintenance of the garden with watering, weeding, pruning, fertilizing, etc. She’s very exciting about it all and proudly shows of “her” plants to everyone that comes to visit. This year we’re growing a TON of various tomato varieties, eggplant, red onion, cucumber, bell pepper, snap peas, kale, a lettuce mix, spinach and strawberries. There’s also our blueberry bushes and apple trees, as well as the herb box Zach just built for me a few weeks ago (it’s so nice to have all my herbs in one place instead of in random planters around the property!). Vegetable gardening is a growing passion of mine and every year we add a little more. It’s so fun and I love feeding our family right our of our yard where we know the food is organic and fresh. Here’s a few pictures of us around the backyard! DSC01337DSC01339 Bee enjoys a popsicle in the sun. DSC01342 DSC01344 Blue, hanging out on a nearby blanket. DSC01347 The vegetable planters. We made self-watering ones ourselves and I’ve been really pleased with the result… not sure I’ll ever go back to planting tomatoes in the ground! DSC01351 Bee shows off the new herb box. DSC01353 DSC01355 DSC01357

On your 2nd birthday…

March 24, 2014

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You’re two! TWO! Your age doubled overnight… and I wasn’t ready. I blinked and my roly poly baby transformed into a child. A spirited and independent little girl with a strength of will that both challenges and delights me. You are so beautiful… and whenever I try to tell people about you, words fall short, as though no strong enough words exist that can describe you.

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This year has been so much fun! You and I are thick as thieves and spend every day together in our own little world that we’ve created. I absolutely adore being your mom and getting to spend so much time with you. It used to be that I decided everything for you – what you ate, wore, did, etc. Now you really hold your own! You want to be given independence and insist on doing many things yourself. We’re working on potty training (which you’re doing great at!), getting dressed, using utensils, and expressing yourself in a sentences, rather than single words. You’re such a happy, easy little lady! We have our fair share of days that are hard or frustrating, sure, but mostly you’re just bright eyed and full of little funny songs to sing, and happy to play by yourself when I’m busy with tasks. We haven’t even had a need to implement any kind of formal discipline with you yet, since you never really disobey me or act up! I’ve set firm boundaries for you, but other than that you’re  really difficult to deal with, and even then it can be explained by outside factors like a overwhelmingly long day or lack of sleep. You don’t like failure, though – I’ve been noticing more and more that you’re easily frustrated when attempting something challenging (eg. using a fork), or when something doesn’t go according to plan (you’re block tower topples before you were finished). I don’t know if that’s a 2 year old thing or an Eliza thing, but I’m working on it with you. At home and with people you know well, you’re full of spunk and goofy energy, marching around telling everyone what to do… and then when we’re in social environments you quiet right down and get quite shy. You’re getting better at coming out of your shell and engaging more with other children (you certainly want to, you’re just not sure how) and I think it will come in time as you get more opportunities to interact with other kids.

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Our daily schedule looks a lot like this:

  • -You wake up at 7:00 am and we eat breakfast together. You usually want eggs (which you crack yourself!), yoghurt, or a bagel with cream cheese.
  • -I get my chores done in the morning while you help or have some time to play by yourself.
  • -Around 9:00 am we head out for a morning activity
  • -Around 12:00 pm we come home for lunch and your nap time.
  • -You take a nap from about 12:30-3:00 pm every day, though you’re staying awake and just playing in your crib more regularly now.
  • -From 3:00 pm until 5:00 pm when Daddy gets home we play outside if the weather even remotely allows it, or do an indoor activity like painting, play dough, puzzles, imagination play, etc. I’ll usually get some dinner prep done.
  • -Dad’s home at 5:00 pm and you’re always excited to see him. Even after a busy, tiring day he’ll immediately take over with you, and the two of you will play together until dinner is ready.
  • -You have free play by yourself after dinner usually, until your bed time at 7:00 pm. It’s special to Dad that this is his alone time with you, and I hear all sorts of giggling and goofiness coming from your bedroom while he gets you ready for bed and reads you endless books, snuggled up in the rocking chair. You insist on being tucked in with not only your favorite Teddy, but 4-6 additional stuffed animals, all with their heads on the pillow with you at the center. It’s rare for you to kick up a fuss about bedtime… you’re usually happy to go into your crib and say goodnight for the evening.

This year you’ve been going to Strong Start, a free preschool program run through the elementary school, once a week. Oma takes you quite often and I take you the rest of the time. It’s a great opportunity for you to meet and play with other kids, and there are so many fun activities to take part in! You’re favorite thing (just like at home) is to head straight to the play kitchen and play house with the baby dolls. There’s arts and crafts, a variety of toys, sensory bins, weekly themes… and the time is broken into free play, story/singing time, and snack. I’m amazed by your ability to memorize the tunes and action for all the songs, and while you’re a little uncertain among the other kids at Strong Start, you belt them out with dramatic actions as soon as we’re alone, haha!

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We also do library story time on Fridays, and you really look forward to going to the library. Again, there’s singing during the story time which is a big hit with you, but you also love helping me pick out your new books for the week, new CDs for the car, and the odd Elmo movie (which you never actually sit through, you just like looking at his picture on the DVD case). You really, really enjoy reading. You’ll be quiet in your room for half and hour or more and when I got looking for you, I’ll find you just reading on the floor, surrounding by dozens of books. You’re also constantly bringing me books to read you, or needing one more (two more! three more! four more!) books before bed. I’m thrilled you seem to enjoy books so much and very much hope it remains a lifelong passion of yours because there are few things that can do as much for you as a love of reading can.

You started swimming lessons this year and took to them like a duck to… well, water. You’re very excited when I tell you it’s swimming day and can’t wait to get in the water. You excelled at your first class and passed with flying colors. It gave me a lot of pride to see you overcome your fears over some of the more challenging tasks (like putting your head underwater or floating on a mat away from me) and master them. I think it’s been good for you to be stretched that way… and be in a class setting where you need to follow their time table and not just get to do your own thing. You couldn’t enter the next level of classes until you were two, so I actually ended up just signing you up for the same class again, for fun!

Man, do you ever have adoring family members, my girl! Aunts, uncles, grandparents, great grandparents/aunts/uncles… all vying for your attention. You love your grandparents and all four of them just can’t get enough of you! They’re always begging to get time with you… if we wanted, Dad and I would barely have to see you! It’s been a real blessing for us that we always have babysitters available when we need them, but more than that, it makes my heart so glad to see you building such loving, close relationships with your grandparents. I just think that has so much value and I’m so glad we live close enough that you have that opportunity.

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Tuesday was your birthday, and Dad took the morning off work so we could spend it all together. We burst into your room in the morning, singing Happy Birthday and you looked so thrilled! We’d been talking about your birthday for weeks and you were excited it was finally here! I’d strung balloons and a birthday banner all down the hall, and you finally got to open your presents – doll accessories, potato heads, and a cookie monster stuffie. I made you a special birthday breakfast, and then we headed for Beacon Hill Park and played on the playground and fed the ducks until the petting zoo opened. You are fascinated with animals and really enjoyed looking at them all. The goats were obviously the best part, and you were fearlessly hugging them, brushing their coats, and running around the goat area, trying to catch the babies. Afterwards, Dad left for work but you and I met Nana and Papa and Qoola for a big cup of frozen yogurt and some presents. You were glowing under all their praise and attention… I thought it was sweet that in addition to their joined gifts, Papa had made a special trip to the Dutch Bakery to get you a box of your very own cookies, which he hand wrapped for you. We went home for your nap after that, and then played outside until Dad and Oma & Ota arrived within minutes of each other. They took us out for dinner at Metchosin Cafe, where you ate whatever you wanted off all our plates like the queen, and were presented the biggest birthday sundae I’ve ever seen (you  actually ate your fill and said, “All done” before it was even half gone!). After dinner we went out back to see the little animal farm they have back there, and then home. And that was it… Dad whisked you off to bed and your first day as a two year old was over!

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On Saturday we had your big birthday party, and I exhausted myself preparing for days beforehand. I went a little overboard on the decorations and food, but I couldn’t help myself because I wanted it to be so special for you. The theme was Tea for Two! and we made all kind of little tea sandwiches, desserts and appetizers, and I decorated the house in shades of pink and white. You refused to wear the original birthday dress I bought for you, so I had to take you out shopping with me, where you continued to reject everything I suggested until, finally, at the last store we went to you found a little white dress you liked all on your own! Great Oma and Great Aunt Astrid had to cancel coming last minute due to health reasons, but everyone else was there – Oma & Ota, Nana & Papa, Auntie V’ron and Uncle Adam, Uncle Mike and his girlfriend Mia, Gantie, and Dad and I. You got lots of fun presents (most notably, a little rocking chair, a play tea set, and a doll stroller) and were thrilled to be the belle of the ball, soaking up the spotlight. I had a special frozen yogurt cake made for you that you loved, and you’d been looking forward to everyone singing you happy birthday for weeks, and looked so happy when it finally happened. It was a really amazing day… for you of course, but for me as well – I am so glad to you are growing up surrounded by that much love.

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And now you’re two, and it’s a whole 2 weeks later, and life is continuing on. I’ve shifted my focus to getting ready for the new baby, due May 4th, and feel unbelievably excited for his or her arrival… The wait is unbearable! I’m looking so, so forward to seeing you as a big sister, I think you’re absolutely going to rock it! You really understand that a baby is in my tummy and that it’s going to be your little brother or sister. We talk about it a lot to help prepare you… Discussing potential names with you and getting your input, the different things a baby can and can’t do, how we’ll take care of him/her, etc. You find babies fascinating and are naturally incredibly nurturing (spend hours a day taking care of your doll), so although I’m expecting some inevitable jealousy and an adjustment period, I really believe you’ll do well with it. You totally enjoy going to midwives appointment with me, and they really involve you, letting you squeeze the blood pressure cuff, push the buttons on the doppler machine, use your own stethoscope, etc. It makes you feel very important, and you’re always proud to tell everyone afterwards about the baby and how you heard the heartbeat and helped the midwives.

Along with the excitement, and the hustle and bustle of preparing in this final month, I’ve been hit with waves of melancholy however. I’m excited for your new sibling to arrive and to begin our lives with that new little person, but I’m terribly sad that our special time of it being just you and me is coming to an end. I have a big lump in my throat just typing that out, honestly. We have such a special bond that I enjoy so much and that is of such deep value to me… I can’t fully express how much I love you and the days we get to share. They’re not full of anything overly remarkable or noteworthy, just simple things that make us happy that run together so we can’t tell the days apart – giggles and snuggles and walks on the beach and sticking our fingers in bread dough and reading books and choosing each other’s clothes and… just being together in our happy, contented, perfect way. It is such a joy to get to raise you, teach you, and watch you flourishing day by day, and while I know that won’t change, the nature of our relationship will in that my attention will be divided, and that makes me inexplicably sad… But, while it’s my pleasure and delight to give you my undivided attention whenever you need it, I know it’s in your best interest for that not to always be so. And I also know the value of having a sibling and the wonderful relationship I hope the two of you can build with one another in time. I just ache to think of the tough transition that is inevitable, and that when you turn to me for that undivided attention that has always been there, I won’t always be able to provide it… I must sound so silly, going on about it like this, but it really means so much to me that you know how fully and deeply you are loved and cherished by me, regardless of the number of siblings you have or how busy I am. I am your mama and no one will ever love you the way that I do… I hope you’ll always come to me when you need help, and always count on me to be your friend and confidant. You are the light of my life, my girl, and it is a privilege to my your mom.

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That’s it for this year, I think, though I could keep going for days. I just want you to know, because you won’t remember it, that your second year was great. That you were surrounded in love, that you were happy, and you brought laughter and delight to everyone who knew you. I want you to know that you were secure and protected, but that you also ran free, and that you were full of wonder and silliness and this amazing, resilient, independent free spirited-ness that I hope you’ll have forever and ever. You loved blueberries, yogurt cups, and cookies.You adored your Teddy like a real, living person. You finally overcame your fear of play dough. You learned to count to 3 and sing the ABCs. You did crazy, hilarious things…and you were just wonderful, irreplaceable, indescribable… you.

 

 

On your 1st birthday…

March 12, 2013

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March 11th, 2013-03-12

To my sweet daughter, on your first birthday,

Oh, Eliza, I am so thankful for you! We had so much fun together today, and I just kept looking at you in disbelief at how completely amazing you are. You are my wild, sweet, goofy, and active girl. I want to start this tradition for you of writing you a letter every year on your birthday. Then someday, when you’re ready, I’ll give them all to you! I want them to be handwritten, but I have a sore wrist right now, and can’t use a pen, haha.

To think that a year ago yesterday, I was in labour with you! And then you were born, this morning, 365 days ago.  Dad and I have such wonderful, wonderful memories of the night/day you were born… We had an awesome support group – my midwife, Jodi, and my doula, Kelly. They both played such intimate roles in your birth. I barely remember any pain at all. I just remember being excited, focused, and anxious to see you! To see you and really examine you… to finally get to meet the little person we’d been wondering about for so long!

I took you to Tumblebums today, the indoor children’s play place. We’d never been before, though I’d heard lots about it. Dad had to work, and then head to AWANA afterwards, so you wouldn’t even see him, and I wanted your big day to be really special. You had the time of your life tumbling through the blocks, trying out the bouncy castle and trampolines, using a slide for the first time… there was so much to do! I think we both had grins permanently plastered on our faces the whole time we were there.  I was so glad you were having a fun day! After 2 hours, I practically had to drag you out.  We went to Tim Hortons for chili for lunch, and I even split a frozen lemonade with you. Then we had to head home for your afternoon nap, already, but I stopped and got you the prettiest pink cupcake for later. After you woke up, back at home, I plunked you right into your high chair and set the cupcake in front of you… you weren’t sure what to do with it at first, but before long you were smashing into it with delight, and I was so pleased. Our phone was ringing off the hook with everyone wishing you a happy, happy first birthday, and in the evening we got to Skype with Nana, Papa, and Uncle Mike, which you really enjoyed. As I sat with you in the rocking chair right before bed, I started crying at what I’d lost – my tiny, sweet baby. It went by too fast, much too fast,  and I wish I could somehow rewind, or at least pause! But time continues to rush past, and you keep growing. And now you’re this wild, silly, clever toddler who constantly makes me laugh and keeps me forever on my toes… and it’s wonderful! And while I miss you as a little newborn, I’m SO proud who you are, and SO excited for what you will become!!

Someone asked me today if this first year has been easier or harder than I imagined. The first thing that I thought of was that it was a lot harder to get you to nap than I expected! Haha. The first 6-ish months was really hard sleep-wise with you. We eventually hit our stride that way, and now you’re a better sleeper than I ever could have imagined, but I vividly remember many moments of despair in the last year when you refused the sleep that you needed. But, all in all, it has been harder than I imagined – all of it has. I could never have grasped, not before I was a mother, the ferocity of the love I would have for you. It’s much more all consuming than one can wrap their mind around before they have a child. I feel the weight of my responsibility towards you as your mother so intensely… but it is both a burden and a gift. Caring for you in all the highs and lows of this year has been the greatest joy of my life, and in that sense, it’s been the easiest thing in the world.

My favourite things about you have varied with your growth. The first thing I appreciated about you was your appetite – you loved eating from the moment you were born, and it amazingly comforting to know your baby is well fed. Your healthy appetite continued as we introduced solids, and now there are few things you refuse. It’s wonderful to see you so healthy and strong! I’ve also loved your special connection with me, and with Daddy. You’ve preferred us over anyone else your whole life, and being needed so completely by my little girl is a feeling I cherish. But, the thing I’ve loved most about you from the day I met you, until this moment right now, is your determined and unbridled spirit. Oh, I just pray they are traits that you will carry with you for your entire life! You’ve never been content to just sit back and let the world pass you by. You have always been a month or two ahead of ALL your milestones. You hated your car seat, you fought sleep, you refused the stroller, you never let me put you down for MONTHS until you could get around by yourself… and then! And then you just never stopped, ever! As soon as you could crawl, you were constantly on a mission. Throwing things in the toilet, chasing the cat, spreading thousands of band-aids all over the bathroom floor, emptying the kitchen cabinets… the list goes on and on. And if something proved difficult, you’d just try harder. It’s been all I can do to keep up with you! It’s exhausting, yes, but I love that you are the way you are. I admire it! Determined. Spirited. Not one to back down. Courageous. Mischievous. Full of life and fun! I’m overcome with pride in you.

My favourite “first” has been walking, for sure. It gives you such obvious satisfaction and pride in yourself, and I love seeing that in your eyes. Even though you could walk around 10 months, you still preferred crawling for a looong time, and have only started taking it seriously in the last few weeks. You’re adorable as you totter around, and if you see me watching you, your whole face lights up with a giant grin – I think your favourite first has been walking too.

It’s been amazing to see your daddy with you too. From the first time he held you, so tenderly, with wonder and fear in his eyes, to yesterday when he, without a thought, wiped your running nose with his sleeve, it’s evident that he’s a wonderful father. He took to it instantly, a natural from the start. And while sometimes only mommy will do, you’re learning more and more how fun and creative your daddy can be, and it’s sweet to watch you two bonding as you read books, or play with teddies, or do any of the numerous fun things he thinks up for the two of you! He was off work until your were nine months old, and he played a huge role in those early months! My favourite memory of the two of you together was when Nana and I went to see Mama Mia in the summer. I was so nervous about leaving you for the whole show, knowing you’d need to nurse and nap during that time. You and Daddy went on a date together, and I remember coming out after the show, so anxious to see you and imagining you both would be upset and unhappy… but instead I found two cheerful, smiling faces! You two had SO much fun together, and I remember how your dad gained so much confidence with you from that experience. He talked about it for weeks afterwards – how fun you had been, how great you both did, how much he wanted to do it again, etc. Seeing your relationship grow fills my heart with joy.

My only regret from this year is that I think I was more uptight than I should have been. You weren’t one of those babies that would just fall asleep anywhere and I often stressed myself out about that… unnecessarily, I think. We ended up sort of stuck in the house because I was afraid to go out, and I often wonder what would have happened if I had just relaxed a little… maybe  you would have too. But, regardless, around 6 months in we started figuring it out, and I was finally able to breathe again. I like to think of myself as a laid-back kind of person, and I didn’t like seeing myself that way.

I don’t regret, however, co-sleeping with you, even though it meant many restless, sleepless nights. I absolutely don’t regret breastfeeding you either, and never refusing you even when I knew you weren’t hungry – Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural, awesome thing that I am extremely proud of! And I truly believe that we wouldn’t have the same amazing, close bond we have today if I hadn’t nursed you. I don’t regret the sacrifices I have made to be a stay-at-home mom with you – I miss working and more adult interaction, but not as much as I’d miss you.

Eliza, you are my greatest achievement, my pride and joy. You are the best thing that has ever happened to your dad and I, and we love you more than anything in the world. To us, you are by far the most precious thing on this earth. You are the one that made us parents! You’ve changed our lives forever! Being a parent is a lot more scary and difficult than I could ever have imagined… and I often feel burdened by all the responsibilities I have towards you. I pray daily for help from the Lord to have the strength, faith, and wisdom necessary to raise you right. My greatest hope for you is that you might come to know the Lord at an early age, that you would live your life in such a way that serves and honours Him, and that you would find satisfaction and joy in that. I hope you lead a fulfilling life. I hope you find a man who will love and cherish you the way you deserve (if that’s what you want).  I hope you can laugh at defeat, and find the silver lining in even the darkest storm. I hope you never settle for the path of least resistance. And most of all, I hope you give me grandkids, hahaha (but seriously).  I dream of so many things for you, but the most important is that we might someday embrace each other in heaven, as we stand before our mighty God and praise Him eternally.

Well, darling daughter, that’s all I’ll say for this year. I don’t want these letters to get so long that they’ll bore you! I could write hundreds of pages about the ways that you impress me, and how great my love for you is, and how being your mother is the best gift I’ve ever received… but I’ll restrain myself. I’ll just leave it by saying, I treasure you, my baby. And I will care for you, fight for you and protect you, love you, and be there for you all the days of my life, until the very second my Heavenly Father calls me home.

With all my love,

Mom

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8 Month Update

November 16, 2012

I’m typing this in the dark of Eliza’s room as she falls asleep. As I sit in the rocking chair across the room from her crib, I see one little hand reach up and grasp the edge, then a second hand, and then a little shadowy face peeps over the top of the crib. Her furrowed brow clears as she sees me sitting right where I was the last time she checked, and she smiles and drops back into bed again. I can hear her shifting around and grunting as she tries to find a comfortable position. Then the little head pops up again. Then back down she goes. Over and over, with the time between each time she checks getting longer and longer until, finally, she falls asleep. I could die from how precious it is.

So, yes, Eliza’s sleeping in her crib! And, on average, she’s only waking up twice a night… usually around 1:30am and 5:00am. It’s a beautiful thing.

And she’s still quite the eater. She mostly eats whatever we are eating at meals, as well as baby cereal for iron and the odd jarred baby food for the nights our dinner isn’t appropriate for her. She is so passionate about eating, it really is a joy to watch her. Her weight gain as slowed though, as she has gotten more active…

Is “more active” an understatement? I can NOT believe this kid! She is always, always, always on the move! She’s all over the place and into everything… and she’s not even walking yet (sigh).

I set her down and off she goes crawling! She usually crawls to the closest place where she can pull herself up to a standing position because she loooves to stand more than anything else. And from wherever she pulls herself up, she’ll work her way around the house holding onto whatever is nearest for support. Not quite walking yet, but so close. Too close……

In the above picture you can see her looking at herself in the mirror. She is a little too interested in her own reflection… she appears to be very vain, that child of mine. We have that old mirror set up in our living room for her, and she stares and stares at herself.

Zach and I bought her a walker this month to help her with her walking. She’s so desperate to get moving, but can’t quite manage it yet. This little walker is so much fun! The front is covered with buttons and lights and makes some really neat music and noises. The back has a handle for her to hold onto as she pushes it around. She is SO proud of herself as she walks with it too, beaming up at us as she gets closer. She can’t steer yet, and sometimes heads in odd directions, but she’s just happy to be moving, regardless of where she is going to.

I think the biggest change in Eliza this month has been seeing her move towards being more independent. Sleeping in her crib is a good example of how she is getting more comfortable being apart from me. But it’s also apparent in her play times around the house – it used to be that if I got up and walked away from her, she’d drop her toy and follow me, crying. Lately, however, she has happily stayed… OR taken the initiative upon herself, and left ME to go off in search of fun. This has led to some funny situations… like finding her up to her elbow in the toilet bowl (EWW!). The other day I left her in our kitchen as I ran to our office for a moment. Soon I heard her crying so I came back to help… what I found is pictured below:

Being the good mother that I am, instead of helping her, I quickly ran for the camera, haha. How she wedged herself in there, I will never know. Silly girl.

This month was Eliza’s first Halloween! Zach and I still aren’t sure of how we will handle Halloweens in the future… or whether we will even acknowledge the holiday or not… but for this year we couldn’t resist getting her a cute costume and going to see our parents to show her off!! Eliza was the cutest little bug you’ve ever seen. I mean it. I also carved her a fun pumpkin, tracing her hands in order to make the eyes. You’ll see it below… I’m pretty proud of how it turned out!

 

Zach and I were excited to win a free photo shoot from Mint and Lime Photography this month, and have an outdoor session booked with them for March, to celebrate Eliza’s first birthday. We also got our portraits done at Sears a couple weeks ago, so you all have VERY cute Christmas cards to look forward to this year 🙂 Inspired, we headed out to our neighborhood park to take some fall shots of Eliza ourselves. Here was the result:

 

 

She is more and more like a little person… does that makes sense? She is bordering on a toddler. A little girl, instead of a little baby. She has personality and spunk and preferences and dislikes. She’s a little person now. It’s lovely. We are having more fun with her than ever before.

We go on a lot of dog walks, bundled up in warmer and warmer clothes as the blustery winter weather moves in. Eliza loves to ride in our baby carrier on my back, and really enjoys watching that goofy dog run amok. Today we fed ducks down at the lagoon and she couldn’t get enough.

The hardest part about this month has been Eliza’s mastery of the pincher grasp. Sigh. Now she finds every single bit of ANYTHING that’s on the floor and can manage to get it into her mouth, and it makes her mother a nervous wreck. Good thing we just got a new vacuum… It’s seeing a lot of use these days. On the other hand, it turns out that a small bowl of frozen peas distracts her for ages while I get things done, so you win some, you lose some, I guess haha.

Eliza bid farewell to her Uncle Mike this month, who was her favourite person there for a while. He’s off to Australia for-who-knows-how-long on walkabout. We talk about him to her, and show her the pictures he sends us. She’s just beginning to understand things like pictures and videos, actually. We use video chat with family a lot, and just recently she is able to recognize and interact with whoever she sees on the screen instead of just staring blankly. She also recognized voices on the phone, if prompted. It’s very cool.

Anyways, if Uncle Mike reads this, Eliza wants a boomerang for Christmas. *cough* *cough*

Or a baby wallaby……….

 

She’s gnawing on an apple slice in that picture right above. Her top gums are white and sore as new teeth push their way through. Cool fruits and veggies from the fridge are a huge help.

Well, in the blink of an eye I have an 8.5 month old, which means her dad’s 8.5 month paternity leave is coming to an end. Zach is back to work on November 26th, a date that is dreaded around here, and which Zach has forbidden us to speak of. It has been….. Well, it’s been….. I can not even describe how wonderful wonderful wonderful it has been to have him home with us for this long. It is like something out of a dream… a fantasy. It has been completely amazing, and we have had such a great time together as a new family, getting to know this little girl who has exploded our lives. Zach is going to SO miss being here with us all day, it will be a hard transition later this month. But we are beyond grateful for what time we did have so carefree, and look forward to the next page of our adventure together!

 

 

 

She Flew Away

October 12, 2012

Something happened this month that hit us all hard. This post is in tribute to my wonderful little grandmother, Mary.

My Omi, my mom’s mom, passed away suddenly on September 24th. She was getting weaker, and we all knew it would happen eventually, but… grandmas seem somehow eternal to their grandchildren. You grow up being told they will die, but you can’t remember a beginning and you can’t imagine an end. They symbolize everything about permanence and stability and safety to us. They anchor us to our heritage, our childhood, our past, and our home. So many of my happiest memories are tied up in my little Omi, and she is such a crucial… I struggle not to say necessary…. part of our family traditions that picturing Christmases, birthdays, and other holidays without her presence creates such an ache in my heart that I fear it will never ease.

I’m so busy running around with Eliza that I haven’t had much time during the day to really process her death fully. In some ways, to be honest, I so appreciate the distraction. It’s strange too, because we lived in different cities, so her passing hasn’t yet directly impacted my life yet. I think I half expect that the next time we go to visit, she’ll still be there… sitting in her big comfy chair… a big, warm smile spreading over her wonderfully familiar face. I haven’t seen her empty house yet. I can keep pretending she isn’t gone.

But at night, in the dark when there’s time to think, I let it all wash over me… all my grief and heartache floods to the surface and I weep into my pillow, skimming through photos of her on my laptop. Oh, to never kiss her warm cheek again… to never again be wrapped in those loving arms.

As I go about my day, I’m over and over again stopped short by a memory that is so utterly vivid I’m able to live in it for a moment or two. It’s so funny the things that we realize we will miss about a person. For instance, I will desperately miss her cards. Yes, greeting cards. Her famous cards arrived in the mail, decorated with stickers appropriate for the season, unfailingly for every occasion. Even Valentines Day – who sends cards on Valentine’s Day any more? She does. She did.

I took this picture of my birthday card from her in 2009. Doesn’t it look like the type of card you can’t wait to open?? Isn’t it the kind of mail you’d just love to find in your mailbox? It has “love, love, love” written all over it.

I’ll so miss those cards, and the “xoxoxo, Omi” signature I’m so used to seeing inside.

As these memories like these have surfaced, I’ve started to write them down. And I wanted to share them here… because I know those of you who knew her would appreciate it, but also because I think it would be good for me to write it all out.

Omi was there from the very beginning of me. She was the type of grandmother that completely fell in love with her grandchildren, and devoted all of herself to them. My mom likes to tell the story of how Omi was there the day she went into labour with me, and how she was sent on a last minute, desperate outing to the store for slippers as they rushed to the hospital. Every major (and most of the minor) events in my life from then on were shared with her. There is not one part of my life that she wasn’t aware of from birth until September 24th, because my mom faithfully reported every minute detail of our lives. She was there for the concerts, the dance performances, the school events, the birthdays, my graduation, our wedding and everything in between. She made an effort to be at everything, big or small, not because she felt obliged to, but because there was no where else in the entire world she’d rather be.

I saw her a lot, but it was just seldom enough that her presence was always a treat. It was always a special gift to have her with us, always exciting for everyone. As soon as she entered our house, she barely had time to catch a breathe before Michael and I were whipping out everything and anything we could think of to show her… we put on quite the performance! Magic shows, singing and dance concerts, skits, playing our various instruments, pulling out school work and art projects, on and on we went. Her approval meant everything to us, and her approval was all we ever got. I can’t remember one even vaguely negative thing she ever said to me. Ever. We could have shown her our toenail clippings and she would have oohed and aahed over them like they were precious gems. When we were with her, we felt just like super stars… she built up our confidence like no one else had the power to do. I’m am so grateful for that influence in my life… someone who utterly and unwaveringly believed in me and adored me. It’s a wonderful feeling to have someone like that in your life. A wonderful, wonderful feeling.
In the last few years Omi had been living in a condo, but before that she lived in the house her kids had grown up in. I remember her old house so fondly, just everything about it. Bowling down the hall. Worry dolls in the spare bedroom. Foam blocks in the bathtub. Jungle animal wallpaper. Crumpets and Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. Watching the movie “Grease” over and over and over again. Teddy bears. Flannel sheets. Feeling happy and safe. It was a family house, a house steeped in wonderful memories from my mom’s past. It was the ultimate place for grand kids to explore – so many fun toys and games, and she always made sure we were comfy and at home. I used to have trouble sleeping the night before going to visit because I was so excited.
But specifically I remember her big comfy chair in the corner, by the window with that marvellous view, and how she would sit in it and watch me with eyes brimming with warmth and pride. I loved crawling up in her lap and snuggling. One day, while we sat in her chair, she made some kind of comment about her white hair, and I didn’t want her to feel bad about how she looked, so I said, “Oh, Omi! I don’t think it’s white! It’s blonde, like mine.” I wanted her to believe it so badly. Over time I realized she was just humouring me by agreeing, and from then on I’d tell her how lovely her blonde hair looked and we’d laugh…. it went on for years. I even said it the last time I saw her.

That chair… and that view overlooking Vancouver. At bed time, teeth brushed and warm in my pajamas, I’d go out to kiss Omi goodnight. She’d hug me tight and kiss me, and we’d look out over the dark city, all those beautiful twinkling lights.

Christmas time and Omi are just completely interwoven in my mind. It’s hard to imagine the holidays without her this year… But in any case, I remember Christmas at her house so clearly. Her tinsel tree in the window. She used to tell the story all the time about how one year I was worried that Santa wouldn’t know where I was, so I went out on the deck and yelled, “SANTA! IT’S BRITTANY! I’M NOT AT HOME, I’M AT OMI’S HOUSE!!!” She’d tell that story laughing, with a big smile on her face. Omi taught me about not forgetting the reindeer, so we’d put out cookies for Santa AND celery for the reindeer. Very important. She had those wonderful stockings for us, the ones with the animals on them. I’ve always loved opening her gifts – she was such a generous, caring lady… her presents were always from the heart and bought with such consideration. I can’t think of one in my entire life that I didn’t adore. I remember Christmas dinner, specifically the beets, which we didn’t get anywhere else. Michael loved them when he was little because he got such a kick out of his pee turning pink. I used to love that Santa and the Easter bunny came twice for us – once at home, once at Omi’s.

Aside from holiday traditions, we had some pretty amazing Omi traditions… When we were kids she treated us to Theatre Under the Stars and Disney on Ice almost yearly. Do you know what either of those are?! For us kids, they are magical… I just can’t explain. Theatre Under the Stars is an outdoor theatre in the park, where we’d haul in our lawn chairs and cuddle up under thick, warm blankets together and watch a musical that would enchant us. I remember they sold these wonderful balloon yo-yos, and how much fun they were. Disney on Ice was a Disney story performed on ice to a sold out stadium. It was like going to a hockey game, only 1000x better. We’d get snow cones in re-usable mugs that were shaped like Disney characters, and settle in to watch the most incredible show… For us as kids, there was nothing better in the world.

I remember that Omi taught me how to make that “cluck,cluck, cluck” noise with my tongue. And I remember how when she would hug me she’d make a sort of low “oooooohhhhhh” noise because she was so happy to have me in her arms. I remember getting to talk to her on the phone, and how she’d already know everything I wanted to tell her because she and Mom talked so often – she really did care about us, there was nothing she found boring, nothing she minded hearing about for the second time. I remember all the books and magazines everywhere – she LOVED to read, didn’t she? She helped to instil that same love of reading in me, and that’s a gift I’ll have my whole life.

I kind of see Omi as the perfect mother and grandmother. Like, she fit into that roll so perfectly and was so content in it. Some people dream of prestige and honour, or travelling the world, or buying fancy things… Omi’s dream was us. She loved her family, and that was her whole life. And that’s a really beautiful thing. It’s an art, one that is being lost in the modern age. I hope I can be as devoted and loving of a mother and grandmother as she was… she set an impossibly high bar.

I keep going back and forth between being so glad that she got to meet Eliza earlier this year, and regret that she didn’t get to see her beautiful great-grand-daughter more. I know that Eliza was constantly on her mind, and instantly loved the moment she was born… I’m going to tell Eliza about her great grandmother every chance that I get. I’m going to tell her about what an amazing woman she was, and how much she loved her.

When I think of Omi, I feel all warm inside. I just think about how much she loved me, and how I never doubted that for an instant. Growing up, sometimes I disliked my parents, sometimes I lost my friends, and sometimes I could not stand my sibling, but I always adored my grandmother. She never made me anything but perfectly happy, with her I always felt perfectly loved, and perfectly secure.

 

I found that quote online, and I think it’s so true, although maybe it’s a bit of a cliche. I will miss my Omi dearly, bitterly, desperately… but I know that the sense of deep loss we feel now is because we loved a great woman. A woman who inspired us, taught us, raised us, and loved us in return. We are the better for having known her, for having had the privilege of being someone that she loved. So many people don’t even get to chance to know their grandmothers, and I, in sharp contrast, have been able to know, adore, and learn from, two astonishingly great ones. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully grasp the full impact that has had on my life… but it has been a good one, a great one. And I am so thankful.

So, rest in sweet peace my little Omi. It must be so good to be free of the weight of this world, and all of it’s troubles. We miss you so terribly much… more than we can possible ever say.

7 Month Update

October 11, 2012

Here we are on the other side… more than half way to one years old!! How in the world did that ever happen? I’m adoring every single minute of it though… Eliza is such a joy. I could just go on and on… and this is my blog… so  I believe I will!

She’s such a little person now… my sleepy, passive baby is so, so gone and she’s been replaced with a clever little girl with a huge personality! You should see her… she’s is a complete goof ball. While her physical development has changed a lot in the last month, I think it is her mental development that is the most remarkable. She’s so “with it”! She pays attention to everything and doesn’t seem to miss a beat. I can’t even sneak a cracker without her noticing from across the room and crawling over to get one for herself.  She used to be oblivious to most of the happenings in our home, but now she always learning, always alert, always interested. When she sees either one of us, her face lights up with a SUCH a smile, and it melts me into a happy little puddle – She’s so irresistibly lovable… her dad and I are so deeply in love.

She has begun to take note of our emotions, and proceed accordingly. If what she does makes us laugh, she grins and does it more. If what she is doing makes us stern or worried, she pauses and her little forehead furrows as she tries to understand. As we introduce a new food, she’ll inspect our faces as she tastes this new strange flavour, making sure that we approve. And when something is frustrating for her, we’ll clap and cheer her on and she’ll try harder to impress us! Lately she is ALL about pulling herself up into a standing position, and I just adore the way she’ll look back at me with her eyes filled with pride, as if to say, “Mom! Look at me! Aren’t I doing great?!”

I’ve discovered my very favourite moment of motherhood… And I wish I could just pause time and savour it forever. It’ll happen right after the situation I described above, where she’s proud of an achievement and looking for approval. Or as I come into her room when she wakes up from a nap. Or when I come towards her and she can tell I want to play. I’ll smile at her and open my eyes wide…. Our eyes meet and Eliza’s mouth opens in a massive grin…. and all of a sudden she’s so overcome by happiness that she can’t contain it, and she lets out this wonderful little squeal and throws herself to the ground. It’s utterly delightful. I love the feeling of her loving me. She’s still so reserved with strangers, but at home with us she’s all smiles and the most wonderful cuddles that could ever be had.

So, yes, she’s now pulling herself up into a stand. And she’ll do it whenever she can for as long as she can. All this standing means an awful lot of falling… which has resulted in quite a few banged heads and tears. I wipe her eyes and tell her that’s what growing up is all about. I say, “Honey, it the getting back up that matters.”

 

She’s still doing that funny crawl that isn’t quite a crawl. She’s been up on all fours and rocking for weeks now, and I thought she’d be crawling for sure by now! But I guess she’s happy enough getting around the way that she does… which is pretty fast, really. In fact, I’m not sure that crawling would be much faster. And it’s darn cute, so why encourage her to change?? She’s mobile enough to be into everything all the time. She finds the most amazing, disgusting things to stick in her mouth… things I didn’t even know existed. We mop our floors much more often now!

We haven’t weighed her in awhile (got to get on that), but she’s hovering somewhere around 21-ish lbs. Her weight gain has definitely slowed, even with all the wonderful new food she’s been trying! She’s wearing 12-month old clothes already, and they’re adorable on her of course 🙂

She nurses about every 3 hours during the day and a couple times at night (or many times a night on a bad day…. *sigh*). She also has 2 meals a day of solid food, plus some fun snacks. We are yet to discover a single thing that this child does not like to eat! She loved it all, grasping at it with her hands, making eager, “Mm! Mm! Mm!” noises. She likes the baby food we give her (always cereal for dinner, vegetable/meat/fruit for lunch) but she loves to try whatever we are eating… I think it’s more flavourful and usually has a nicer texture. Tonight she chowed down with us on Chinese stir fry with noodles, and yesterday she ate all the vegetables off my pizza. It encourages me to cook healthier things because I love to share with her. We had two Thanksgiving dinners last weekend, she really enjoyed turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, yam casserole, peas, and roasted vegetables. She’s an eater, by gosh!

At this point, Eliza takes 3 naps a day… roughly at 9:00, 12:00, and 3:00. They’re almost always for 30 minutes with one that lasts an hour, but they can stretch to as long as 2.5 hours.

 

 

We’ve really been enjoying outings lately. She just really likes being out of the house for any reason at all. Costco is a really fun trip! She likes seeing all the people and giving them stony stares when the poor souls try to make her smile.    All of a sudden she has grown really fond of being carried on my back in our carrier, which is lovely because it’s allowed us to take some great walks together! We love to go to the beach, and watch the dog fetch sticks, and see the big waves, and put our bare feet in the sand. Her eyes are always so wide and full of wonder. I wear her in the carrier all the time now.

We’ve been dealing with a fair amount of separation anxiety lately. She’s always had a touch of it, but it’s worsened in the last month. At times not even her daddy will do – she HAS to be with mommy or scream and cry. At other times she’ll let family she knows hold her as long as she can still see us. And then at other times even perfect strangers and fine, and we can come and go as we like! But mostly she very much prefers to stay with her parents.It would be nice to    leave her in the nursery during church, or get to go out for a date alone, but I’m not the “cry it out” type, and I believe she’ll outgrow her clingy-ness when she’s developmentally ready. We’ll just keep gently trying it with her until she’s more comfortable. I keep telling her that she doesn’t know what she’s missing out on!!  If she’d only give her grandparents more of a chance, oh the snuggles and fun she’d be in for!

 

Today Eliza turned 7 months and we celebrated by going to the pool for the first time! My mom, or as we now call her, Nana, met us there, and away we went! At first Liza wasn’t sure about it all but it wasn’t long before she was splashing and grinning and having the time of her life! I had so much fun with her in the water… she floated on foam mats, played with bobbing balls, sat under streams of water, whacked around pool noodles, and more. She ended up getting so excited that she couldn’t stop moving, and just started wildly kicking her legs and waving her arms, squirming so much that she was hard to hold onto. It was really cute. I can’t wait to go again soon!

So, there you have it. The 7 month update. This is the most amazing adventure… I don’t have words to explain. It is so much better and harder and wonderful than I ever could have imagined. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world other than right here, in a rocking chair, watching my daughter sleep.