Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Privacy, Please

After lots of thought, we have decided to make the blog a private, password accessible site where only invited guests can visit. We hate to be paranoid but, in the interest of protecting our family and children, we think it is the best solution. Those of you interested in keeping up with us are welcome to join us at the new site. Please send us an email if you would like an invitation and the password. Cheers!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gymnastics Rocks!

Our little lady loves gymnastics! It is so much fun to see her get so excited about it and watch as she prances around the house in her leotard and practices her front rolls and balance beam act. Not sure if she will make it as a gymnast or professional stunt woman but, either way, she's pretty darn cute!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Calm After the Storm

What happens in the wake of a hurricane? There is a certain stillness even though a path of destruction remains.

Somersaults, puzzles, figuring out how to keep her prized possessions away from her brother but also attempting to give him squeezes and kisses every chance she gets, learning to read, singing, jumping rope, chasing cats, drawing and making witty jokes...makes me tired to even think of all she does in a morning!

She can run, she can hide but this time she couldn't escape the nap! This photo says so much. It is our baby girl who is now a preschooler. It is the sassy little girl who tries our nerves but also makes us laugh and brings us endless joy. It shows a sleeping angel who, just a few minutes before was an active, playful ball of energy. It shows a girl in a sweet dress wearing her brother's baseball socks (but that is another story for another post). Like so many moments with young children, these are times, images and memories to treasure.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hey Baby, It's Your Birthday!

It's official- Mr. B is now a toddler! This past year has gone by so quickly and we can hardly believe that our little sweet, happy boy is already one. He has brought so much joy and laughter to our family!

Here are a few photos of the birthday festivities!

We love to put balloons in the kids' rooms on their first birthdays! This little guy is really enamored with balloons and thought it was a fantastic way to start the day.

The cake! All aboard!

Clapping for himself when we sang and clapped for him. What a sport! Love this kid's personality!

After the cake. Classic Mr. B- happy and all smiles.

Happy birthday buddy! We love you SO much!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Many Faces of H

A toddler's mood can change in an instant and, especially when you have a very expressive, dramatic actress-in-the-making living under your roof, you never quite know what you are going to get! Here is a sample of photos, all taken within about 10 minutes of each other, showing the many faces of H.

Smiling and playful (the norm about 95% of the time)





Watch out Hollywood, here she comes!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Timing is Everything

We have had a few big changes around here lately! First, Miss H is totally potty trained. She no longer wears diapers during the day OR at night and hasn't had an accident in weeks! Hooray!

Second, Mr. B is completely weaned. This was 100% baby-led and, though it makes me a bit sad that our nursing days are over, it was a very natural, smooth transition and as easy as I could have ever hoped for.

Mr. B is also taking a few steps on his own and has developed quite the vocab. He says "dad", "hi", a short sentence (but sentence nonetheless) composed of "hi dad", "dadda", "daddy" and other babbling sounds that probably mean dad in Hebrew, Japanese, Dutch and a host of other languages. Really, you'd think dad had the boobs around here...not that I'm bitter or anything.
Oh, he also says "bib", "Jada" (one of our dogs), "that" and then points at something and wants you to tell him what it is, and "cake". "Cake" was an especially funny one because he was crawling around saying "cake, cake, cake" and Miss H was chasing after him saying "I eat cake, Mr. B, not you!"

In regards to the potty training, several of my friends have asked for advice or suggestions. Well, here it is...wait for it...
Nothing! I found that it really all came down to patience and waiting until she decided that she was ready. I tried a dozen different tricks and methods. We tried filling her with drinks and spending all day near the potty. No luck. We tried bribery- "If you potty on the loo, we will get you a (fill in the blank with something we thought she would sell a kidney for)". No luck. We tried peer pressure. "Neve and Isla are big girls and use the potty. Wouldn't it be neat to use the potty like Neve and Isla?" No luck.

Finally, when I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to find someone to custom make size XXL diapers for us (the kids are cloth diapered so, when they hit 35 lb, that is pretty much as big as you can get anywhere world wide) and that I was going to have to stop in to change her over the lunch hour at high school, she magically, miraculously, overnight just somehow decided on her own that it was time. She woke up one morning and said "I want to wear panties. I'm a big girl!" and that was that. No more diapers, no accidents, no bribery. She continued to wear diapers at night for about a week until she decided that she was done with those too. I expected a middle of the night wake up call to change wet sheets but nope, she slept the whole night through and stayed dry!

One reassurance that I can offer to my friends whose toddlers are not potty trained yet that I had heard before and which proved to be true in our case is that sometimes kids who potty train later actually do it more quickly, effortlessly and with fewer accidents than kids who potty train at a younger age. We went from total dependency on diapers to potty trained overnight and I think the added benefit of being a bit older definitely played a role in her readiness.

I think timing was also key in the ease of Brett's weaning. In the veterinary world, there is an old Farmer's Almanac saying that goes something like "If you wean the foal/calf at the correct time, you should be able to lead mom and baby apart with a string." Anyone who has seen livestock weaned knows that often they cry out, call for each other, even break down barriers to try and reach each other again. However,this theory states that, if done at the right, most opportune time, this process should be natural, painless and easy.

For several months now, Mr. B has been nursing less during the day. Often he was too distracted and would only nurse if we were at home, if it was quiet and if he was sleepy (a rare occurrence when you run a not for profit out of your house, work part time, go on lots of outings with friends and have a two year old). Additionally, for the past month he bit me every time I offered to let him nurse. I would unlatch him, say "no no" in a kind but firm voice and he would look at me and laugh. This happened over and over. Finally I realized that maybe he was telling me that it was time to move on and, when I finally offered him a bottle or a cup and straw, he acted like he had done it his whole life. I continued to offer to let him nurse for several weeks until his constant refusal (and his little sharp guillotine-like teeth) reinforced the fact that he was done! You can lead a baby to a boob but you can't make him drink.

So here I sit with a potty trained daughter and an almost walking, talking, weaned son. What I am I to do with all of this spare time and energy now that I am not changing diapers or expending over 500 calories per day lactating? I should probably work on the scrapbooks, go for a run, cook something from scratch or try and reply to at least a few of the emails in my inbox.

Nah, I think I'll just sit here for a minute and reflect. Soon one of these babies will be going off to college and the other will be driving. It goes by so quickly and, yes, timing is everything. As mothers, there are so many times that we wish we could make things happen more quickly. Who hasn't wished that it was bed time, that their child was potty trained, that their baby would sleep through the night? Other times, we wish we could slow time down. I know there will be a day where I will miss changing diapers, miss those 3 am feedings, miss having to lug two babies into stores to run a quick errand. However, we will have new milestones- first days of preschool, first slumber parties and, if they are anything like their mom, first speeding tickets.

Having several young children can be exhausting, trying and overwhelming but I truly believe what so many little old ladies in the grocery store and even a few country ballads have told me- "Some day you're going to miss this."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Heavy on Pictures, Light on Words

There has been so much going on in the past few weeks that I haven't had time for a proper update. Instead of trying to accurately recall several weeks of activities, visits, outings and other shenanigans, instead I'll just share a few of our favorite photos. We're loving summer, loving life and loving each other!

And thanks to my great friend and incredibly talented photographer Christina Robinson (http://www.christinaplusnathan.com/) for taking the following photos:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Little Slice of Heaven

A few weekends ago we went on a getaway. Hubby loves the mountains and I prefer lakes/oceans/any body of water so a lake surrounded by snow-capped, towering mountains was perfect! I have been working a lot, Hubby was by himself in the office with no help for the past month and we have something scheduled or will be out of town every weekend in July, August and September so we figured we would take advantage of an opportunity to relax, rejuvenate and have some fun!

The weekend lived up to all of our expectations and we had a wonderful time! The kids stayed up jabbering, talking and laughing every night and finally fell asleep. One night we heard Miss H saying "Mr. B! Mr. B! Wake up Baby B!" when he had finally fallen asleep. We shouted down from the loft and told her to please stop yelling at him so he could get some rest. They loved their slumber party and we were highly entertained listening to all of their antics.

Highlights of the trip included riding a surrey (or, as I called it, a bicycle built for four), taking a boat ride across the Canada/US border, getting out on the US side and hiking before riding the boat back, driving up to a gorgeous waterfall and seeing three black bears along the way and taking a family hike along the gorgeous, glacier water-filled lake.

It was the perfect weekend getaway and we spent lots of time laughing, playing and relaxing. we had such a great time that we're already planning our next trip! Hooray!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Baby Daddies

Any man can be a father but it takes a special person to be a dad. - Proverb

Happy Father's Day to my amazing hubby and to my own fantastic dad! The kids and I are so lucky to have both of you. You're kind, compassionate, funny, generous, thoughtful, slow to anger and quick to laughter, understanding, loving, devoted and loyal. I couldn't have ever asked for more in dad or husband and, when I look at my relationship with my own dad, it makes my heart happy to know that our kids will likely have the same amazing relationship with their dad throughout their entire lives.

Thank you for all you do and for being so much more than just a father. You are best buddies, playmates and heroes to your children. You have been with us from our very first cry and have been there along the way to dry tears and celebrate achievements. No matter how old we are, we always find comfort in your arms. We love you SO much and words can't fully express how much you mean to us.

Ash, Miss H and Mr. B

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Look Out, Broadway!

Last week we had a day where we stayed in pajamas all day and relaxed at home. Though we had planned to go to our weekly play group, for some unknown reason Miss H vomited all over herself and the cat a few minutes before we were supposed to leave. After bathing Miss H and the cat and changing into pajamas, this is what ensued:

Clearly she wasn't very sick and clearly she enjoys watching herself perform in the reflection in the windows...not that she's vain or anything. I thought that perhaps this was seizure-like activity but, nope, she was just singin' and dancin' (most of what she says isn't even actual words so, if you can't understand, neither can we). What is even more funny is that she turns the page of her book and then starts the performance over again. I've heard of music that makes you want to get up and dance but I guess the same thing can be said about some books.

In case you think she is as cute as we do, here is the encore performance:

This kid always finds a way to make us laugh and she certainly isn't shy. Just give her some pajamas, a few windows or a mirror, a picture book and let the show begin!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lizzie Garton Scanlon

Meet our newest family member! She is about fourteen weeks old, has brown and black stripes, is already potty trained and goes by the name of Lizzie.

For the past few months we had been considering adopting a second cat. Our current cat, Elliott, seemed lonely now that the weather is nicer and the dogs, his buddies, are outside for most of the day. He often yowls like he is in pain and, after an extensive (and expensive) workup to check everything from his thyroid to his liver and kidney function, we determined that he is in perfect health. A colleague of mine recommended either having him evaluated by a pet behaviorist OR getting a second cat. After weighing the pros and cons of both (and the fact that a behavioral consult is very costly and doesn't really give you warm fuzzies whereas kittens are initially very inexpensive to acquire and are much more cuddly), the choice was clear. As luck would have it, this happens to be the time of year when homeless cats and kittens are plentiful and, working in a large hospital, we get litters dropped off almost daily.

When discussing what kind of cat we wanted, we knew that our new feline friend would have to meet several criteria. First, he/she would need to be old enough to eat solid food and not have to be bottle fed. Since I still get up to nurse Mr. B several times most nights, the last thing I wanted was to be nursing a kitten AND an infant all night long. Secondly, we wanted a cat that was "complete", meaning no missing parts or major abnormalities. Since the majority of the rest of our herd have special medical needs, I wanted something that was (hopefully) low maintenance. Since returning to work a few months ago, I really have no interest in treating sick and injured animals at home since that's what I get paid to do at the hospital. I want to come home to happy, healthy, low-maintenance canine and feline friends.

While at work a few weeks ago, a litter of kittens arrived. They were found on a busy road and their mother was nowhere to be found. They were healthy, active and old enough to eat solid food. I called Hubby and he agreed that it would be fine to adopt one. I chose a female kitten that seemed vibrant and playful. When I arrived at home, I had the kitten tucked into my coat so she would stay warm and also so Miss H wouldn't see her right away. I told her that I had something special in my jacket and, when I opened it and the kitten emerged, a huge grin spread across her face and she said "A kitten for H? She's so tiny!" When we asked her what we were going to name her, she said "Catty." We vetoed that one and made other suggestions. Finally, we settled on Lizzie. While it's also the name of one of our favorite babysitters, it seems to fit our kitty quite well (and, when we told the sitter, she thought it was funny and was not offended).

A few days later, we were talking about the kitten and Miss H started calling her "Lizzie Garton Scanlon". One of our favorite books is a beautiful picture book called "All the World" by Liz Garton Scanlon. Well, apparently H thought that the kitten needed a middle and last name so she is now Lizzie Garton Scanlon!

Our new family member has settled in nicely and gets along well with our other cat, Elliott, and with everyone else. She is very patient with the kids and, like Elliott, is somewhat of a glutton for punishment and always goes back for more even when they're being a bit rough. While I didn't actually consider these as criteria when choosing the cat, this feisty female is loud, outgoing and full of spunk so she fits right in with the rest of us.

Welcome to the family, Lizzie Garton Scanlon!

Flower Power Girl

Last weekend Miss H was a flower girl in Hubby's cousin's wedding in Toronto. It was a whirlwind trip since we left Thursday evening and made sure that the dress fit and attended the rehearsal dinner on Friday. On Saturday, we awoke bright and early so Miss H could have her hair styled by a REAL stylist (not by mom) and so she could get dressed for photos with the other members of the wedding party. Considering that our sleeping beauty often isn't awake until after 8 am local time, having to get up at 8 am in a time zone that is two hours ahead of us (so 6 am for those of you who, like me, are not good at calculating time differences) was a challenge. However, she rose to the occasion and was perky and chipper for most of the day. However, by the time the afternoon rolled around and it was time to go to the church for the ceremony, she was fading fast. Her adorable 'do was falling out from riding in her car seat, she kept asking to go to the park and I was just praying she would at least make it down the aisle.

While we were driving to the church, she took her flower girl basket filled with petals and stuck her toy meatball in it. She has a toy meatball (acquired from a McDonald's Happy Meal) that, when you push a button, says "The meatball says no!" or "Try again later," sort of like a magic eight ball. She informed us that she would go down the aisle if she could take her meatball with her. Uh, I don't think so. After a phone conversation with my mom who convinced her that it was probably best if she walked down the aisle without the meatball, we arrived at the church and waited with baited breath to see if she would actually make it down the aisle with an audience of several hundred people looking on.

Well, amazingly she was wasn't phased by the crowd and strutted down the aisle and up onto the area at the front of the church where the service was being performed. The other flower girl opted out of standing up at the front pretty quickly but, never being one to give up without a fight, Miss H stood there with the wedding party for a good part of the ceremony and only when she started to sway from side to side and the bridesmaids worried that she was going to fall asleep on her feet did we take her down and let her sit with us in the pew for the remainder of the service.

The wedding was wonderful and Hubby's cousin was a beautiful bride and she has such a fun, kind spirit. Her new husband is a joy and we're so happy that he's now part of the family!

After the ceremony, we went to a really beautiful park-like setting to take more photos with the wedding party. Well, we mentioned that we were going to a "park" and so Miss H assumed we were going to a real park, one complete with slides and swings. When we arrived and she discovered that this was more of a scenic, sitting park instead of a playground, she was sorely disappointed. However, she did find some stairs and proceeded with her trademark hobby of going up and down the steps, over and over. I did a lot of stair-stepping at the gym when I was pregnant with her and I always wonder if that has anything to do with her wanting to go up and down the stairs all the time.

When photos were finished we headed back to the reception. Well, by this time she was totally and undeniably done being a flower girl. Period. She was begging for a peanut butter sandwich, begging for raisins, begging for pajamas and bed, begging to go home. Since she rarely begs and pleads for anything, not to mention bed, we knew she was exhausted. We went to the reception for a few minutes but she was too tired to even walk in with the wedding party when their names were announced so we left after the first dances. We were disappointed to have to miss most of the reception but we knew we had to put the kids' needs first and, having been such a great sport all day long, we owed it to her to let her go home and rest. Mr. B was also a trooper but, by the time we left he was fading fast and his usually cheerful and happy demeanor was gone.

We went back to the hotel, tucked the kids into bed and enjoyed the view from our 15th floor, downtown Toronto hotel suite (that I happened to get for a phenomenal price). Overall, the day was a big success and Miss H was a fantastic flower girl, cousin Pamela was a lovely bride and the wedding was a lot of fun. Congrats, Pamela and Michael, thanks for letting us be a part of your special day and we wish you a lifetime of happiness (and think you should start working on some little cousins for Miss H and Mr. B)!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Egg Baby and Speed Racer

Today the kids had their spring music "concerts". Towards the end of each semester, the various classes gather to perform a song or routine. It is very laid back and the kids enjoy listening to the music and seeing the other children on stage.

Mr. B's class (0-24 months) performed early in the program. They shook egg rattles and wore egg bibs. He was more interested in putting the egg rattle in his mouth than in making music. He takes after his mom and tries to eat anything that doesn't eat him first!

Miss H's class for toddlers age 24-36 months performed later in the program. Her class wore duck hats and sang a song about ducks where they marched around in a circle, beating on their drums as more and more children joined in. She was the second child in line to get up and march and, when it was her turn, she jumped up and took off like a rocket! The entire audience burst out in laughter. She had actually been trying to get up to start marching as soon as the first child began but I told her that she couldn't get up until it was her turn. As you can see, she was a very quick little duck and lapped several of the other ducklings multiple times. Our little Speed Racer did a great job and enjoys anything that involves walking/running or movement.

We had a great weekend and I'm not sure who enjoyed the concert more- the kids or their proud parents!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Two Peas in Our Pod

Here are a few new photos of our little sweet peas! We love watching them play together and interact. They enjoy each other so much and are great buddies. We really try to foster and promote a healthy, joyful relationship and we hope that they will continue to maintain that relationship their entire lives.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day Update!

Happy May Day!

I can hardly believe that it is already May. I apologize for the lack of updates over the past few weeks. The kids, jobs, friends and other projects have kept us busy (but in a wonderful, very good way)!

Here is a brief rundown of what has transpired in our household:

* Mr. B is crawling everywhere. He also pulls himself up to stand. Oh, did I mention that he tries to walk while holding on to the furniture and that he waves hello? Don't blink or he'll be moving out to go to college!

* Miss H is a squirrel. Yes, a squirrel. She woke up one day and informed me that she was not Miss H anymore but rather a cat. After one day of being a cat, for some unknown reason she decided that being a squirrel was more desirable. When I asked her if she wanted some nuts to eat since she was a squirrel, she replied "No, I eat doughnuts, not nuts." Funny little kid! She has a great sense of humor and is always making us laugh.

* Miss H has an incredible memory and can "read" about ten of her favorite books to us. She remembers what we say when we read each page and she will "read" the book back to us verbatim, cover to cover including the author and illustrator. It is kind of creepy how good her memory actually is. Don't mess with this kid because she won't forget about it any time soon.

* Hubby was invited to play in an All-Star hockey game. Unfortunately the timing didn't work for him to make it to the game but I still think it is neat that he was invited. The guy is a good athlete, handsome, smart and kind- can't get much better than that!

* I am back at work (my real job) part time and am really enjoying it! I have amazing coworkers and it is fun to get to use a different part of my brain and to not talk about strollers, baby classes, teething, diapers or any such thing for a few hours each week. Of course, by the time I get home I'm ready to cuddle the kids and talk about strollers, baby classes, teething, diapers and other topics all over again.

* I am working more than full-time at my unpaid "job"- organizing a not-for-profit volunteer group that a few friends and I started several months ago. Our little endeavor has taken on a life of it's own and we now have over 100 volunteers and provide assistance to around 3-6 local families per week. I love it and feel like I've really found my calling as far as what I am meant to be doing. I get to meet incredible women on a daily basis and, though it has been challenging and time-consuming to get it off the ground, it has been very rewarding to watch the group grow and evolve. Check it out at: www.madebymomma.org

We are looking forward to a very busy and fun spring and summer and have several adventures, trips and events planned. In the meantime, we'll be busy working, crawling, volunteering, laughing and being squirrels. Ciao!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Our Piano Man

Mr. B is seven months old and he is crawling everywhere, he sits on his own and he has even started pulling himself up to kneel or stand.

One of his favorite activities is to crawl over to the toy piano, sit and "play" it. He does this over and over again all day long. He often "sings" while he's playing. Watch out, Billy Joel- there's a new Piano Man in town!

Everything Old is New Again

Here is a photo of Miss H in a very special dress! It was made by Hubby's grandmother (Super Yiayia, as we call her) for my mother in law (Hubby's mother) when she was a little girl! It is true indeed that some of the best gifts are handmade. Thanks so much for the wonderful dress!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Easter in the Desert Southwest

This year we traveled to visit Granny and Papa for Easter. Hubby had a few extra days off so we figured we'd take advantage of the extra time and head south!

We had a great time and here are a few pictures of some of the highlights of our trip.

One of my good friends from high school was in town visiting to help with a 10K run in memory of her father who was killed in a bicycle accident in 2004. The run is held annually and it just so happened that we were there for it this year! She asked if I would like to run with her and I agreed. Only later did I realize that it was a 10K distance, that the first 4.5 miles of the race were uphill and that I would be running at an altitude of almost a mile high. Not having run much more than 5K since before Miss H was born it probably wasn't the smartest idea but, hey, some of the best times are born out of the dumbest ideas :) I can't honestly say I enjoyed the running part but I did enjoy catching up with good friends, the beautiful mountain scenery and the big breakfast burrito that I ate after I was finished.

Our little Snow Bunny loved playing outside, running around the pond and racing Hubby back and forth across Granny and Papa's lawn. She really enjoys green grass and sunny skies so we always spend lots of time outside on our vacations.

Papa hid eggs and Miss H had a wonderful time finding them on Easter morning. Whenever she spotted one she yelled "Oh no! Another one!" and excitedly ran over to get it. We got so tickled watching her run from one egg to another.

Her Easter dress was given to us by Yia Yia (Hubby's mom) and it fit perfectly! Thanks so much Yia Yia!

Mr. B enjoyed his first Easter. We think he makes a pretty cute little bunny too!

Hubby and I were able to go out for dessert and to run errands in the evenings and we left the kids in very capable hands. We wish Granny and Papa lived closer so we could do it more often! What a treat!

One morning we took the kids to the Natural History Museum. I was a little worried that Miss H would be frightened of the large dinosaur skeletons. I thought wrong! She loved them and asked if she could climb on them and slide down them. Lately she has been saying "I'm a wild thing!" since one of her favorite books is "Where the Wild Things Are". She is a wild thing indeed!

We had a great Easter and it was fun to get to see friends and family in the desert southwest. Thanks for a great trip and hope to see everyone again soon!

P.S. We think Granny and Papa should move here to be closer to us. Please?!?