Life in April

IMG_8652

Rose was six months at the very end of March and so we have started introducing solid foods. This was her face when she first tasted apple sauce.

(Pearl was thrilled for Rose to start eating real food and really wanted to hold the spoon for her little sister. Later she told me that this now means she’s one of Rose’s parents.)

Rose is very excited to sit up at the table with us and eagerly grabs at any spoon or bowl within reach. Her enthusiasm doesn’t always extend to the food that goes into her mouth but she continues to be happy to try. So far carrots and bananas seem to be the favourites. No teeth yet.

We had a lovely Easter at home, including our annual Easter hunt in our backyard. Pearl remembered this tradition from last year and was very excited. And she didn’t mind finding Rose’s treats for her too.

IMG_8697

We celebrated Rose’s dedication to the Lord at our church. All of her grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles joined us for the occasion which was extra special. As parents, this is an opportunity for Peter and I to publicly state our hope that Rose grows to know Jesus, as well as for our church community to state their support for our family. It was a really lovely service and I even got to share a little about our family’s journey to meeting Rose.

After Rose was born and named, I looked for any Biblical references to roses. While we never sought to name our girls “Bible names” I do like that there are Biblical references to pearls (such as the pearl of great price). There are two references to roses in the Bible, depending on the translation. Here is my favourite, found in the King James Version,

 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

Isaiah 35:1

Both times roses are mentioned, it is as a flower that blooms after a drought. The first bloom springing forth in a desert place. It is the perfect reference for our sweet Rose Constance.

And seriously, Rose is the sweetest, happiest baby. I know ever parent thinks so but I really think you couldn’t get a cuter baby than this:

IMG_8711

She sleeps well, she nurses well, she is full of smiles. She loves to be around people and she loves it when people look at her. She loves singing and bouncing, loves to “stand” and to look at herself in the mirror. She is a proficient roller and can scootch around very inefficiently. She desperately wants to keep up with her big sister but isn’t quite there yet. She is bald and toothless and we love her so much.

I am enjoying their sister relationship so much. It’s not without its difficult moments and I know we’ll face new challenges as they grow but they are already learning to love each other so much.

The last couple of weeks have had some gorgeous weather and the girls and I have taken full advantage of it. Anyone else’s toddler’s behaviour improve drastically when you spend time outside?

You can tell I wasn’t ready for sunshine because I had to cut open last year’s sunscreen in order to slather it on my pale, pale children.

fullsizeoutput_87a

IMG_6978

The vacant lot next to our little neighbourhood “forest” was recently cleared and new houses will soon be built there. I’m sad to see our special spot get a little more exposed but Pearl enjoys watching the diggers work.

IMG_6981

(She rode her bike there. I don’t make her wear a helmet everywhere.)

We spend many hours in our backyard on these sunny days. Pearl rides her bike and plays in the dirt while Rose hangs out on a blanket (or naps inside). We eat lunch, colour, hang laundry, draw with chalk, pick flowers. It’s the best.

IMG_7023

Pearl gets fantastically dirty and takes great joy in “sink baths” to wash her feet before coming inside the house. It makes me happy to see her play so hard.

IMG_6955

Big sisters provide endless entertainment.

April has been a pretty great month.

Advertisements

What March Looked Like

IMG_8611

Does this picture sum up how Pearl feels about her baby sister?

Actually, Pearl is a great big sister and is often (not always) eager to help. She likes to get me diapers and blankets and choose clothes for Rose. She likes to bring Rose toys when Rose fusses and will gleefully tell me when she is being gentle with her little sister. Rose has some of her biggest smiles when she sees her big sister. Other times (sometimes in the same day or hour) are not so sweet and there have been whacks and scratches but I truly love watching these two interact.

IMG_6560

IMG_6593IMG_6615

Lots of outdoor time. Lots of time in the “forest” at the end of our street. Lots of bike riding. The beginning of days on the beach. Exploring, climbing, rain or sun.

IMG_6653

The beginning of days in the backyard. Blanket spread in the grass for Rose (just as I did for Pearl at this age) while Pearl runs around. I bought that plant guide in an effort to answer Pearl’s endless questions about what is that and why is it there as we explore our world together.

IMG_6665

Wild St. Patrick’s Day.

IMG_6619

Painting and crafting and drawing. Always a hit as we wait out these rainy spring days.

IMG_6680

And a trip to Whistler at the beginning of spring break. Just a few days away but it was great to get out of town and have some fun together. We went sledding, had an afternoon at the pool and visited some family.

IMG_8625

Check out my post about our last visit to Whistler in 2016 to see pictures of baby Pearl in front of this same mirror! (We also went in 2013.)

IMG_6680IMG_8641

This is Pearl “reading” to Rose. She can completely recite “Big Dog, Little Dog” now and is pretty proud of herself. Rose is impressed.

Pearl is 3!

IMG_6502

Last weekend we celebrated three years of Pearl. Three years of fun and laughter and tears and growth.

Pearl chose “raccoons” as the theme for her birthday party.

IMG_8557

Those are her raccoon friends, Douglas and Bandit. (And her baby sister.)

We had a nice, simple party with family and friends and cupcakes.

IMG_8550

Pearl is not always the most social kid, preferring small groups and staying at home. But she is beginning to blossom in this area and especially enjoys interacting with “big kids”. A visit for her birthday from her big cousins was a definite highlight for Pearl. We also have some wonderful friends locally who have older kids who are kind and gracious when it comes to playing with Pearl.

IMG_8605

It’s amazing how much Pearl has grown and developed this year. She is a real little person now, speaking in full sentences, learning to describe her feelings and asking questions about the world around her. We are entering into the “why” stage which, while  occasionally frustrating, also offers a wonderful opportunity to teach Pearl about the world and to see how she views things. Pearl loves to be outside, loves to run and climb and ride her balance bike.

Pearl has definite opinions now and no shyness in expressing them. She loves to wear pyjamas all day and would live off cheesy noodles if we let her. She loves to play with her stuffed animal friends, loves Duplo and building blocks and has a great imagination. She is often eager to help and especially loves to bake together. She enjoys books and is starting to enjoy longer stories – chapters from Winnie the Pooh and the Brambly Hedge stories are some favourites right now. It is so amazing to watch her develop and to see her mind form.

My sister-in-law made a scrapbook for Pearl with 20 questions for her to answer each year so I thought I’d share Pearl’s answers, to give a small flavour of our girl. Pearl insisted that I ask her the questions two days in a row so I’ve done a little picking and choosing in order to best represent who she is.

  1. What is your favourite thing to eat for breakfast? “Butter toast when my tummy hurts.”
  2. What is your favourite animal? “Bill. Owls. And Percy and Sarah and them Owl Mother.” (If you’re familiar with the book Owl Babies you might know where she got this answer from.)
  3. What is your favourite toy? “Roly-Poly”
  4. Who is your best friend? “Roly-Poly, Douglas, and Bandit”
  5. What is your favourite holiday? Halloween (first answer), Chinese New Year (second answer)
  6. What is your favourite drink? Chinese New Year drink (AKA chocolate-flavoured Vita Soy)
  7. What is your favourite book? Elephant & Piggie (first answer); Cock-a-Doodle Dudley (second answer)
  8. What is your favourite thing to do outside? Bike
  9. What is your favourite thing to eat for lunch? Cheesy noodles
  10. What do you want to be when you grow up? “I want to be an animal. I want to be a lady pig.”
  11. What is your favourite plant or flower? “My plant’s name purple. And green.”
  12. What do you want to eat for dessert on your birthday? “Sprinkle cake”
  13. What is your favourite colour? Purple
  14. What is your favourite song? “Come on Fountain” (AKA Come Thou Fount)
  15. What clothes do you like to wear? “These clothes”
  16. What is your favourite thing to eat for dinner? Pizza (first answer); cheesy noodles (second answer)
  17. What is your favourite place to visit? Beach
  18. What is your favourite fruit? Apples and oranges
  19. What is your favourite weather? “Hot weather”

Christmas 2017

IMG_6171

Happy New Year!

Back in October, or November, I intended to share a little about how our family is adjusting to life with two little ones. But I never seemed to have the time or energy to sit down and write a post…so that probably tells you what you need to know about life with a two-year-old and a newborn. As we finish out the holiday here, I’m feeling a little more settled into life. Sleep-deprived, yes. Not looking forward to Peter going back to work, yes. But also knowing that the hard days are just days and they end and the good days are so, so good.

Christmas this year was particularly lovely. For the first time, Pearl was really able to look forward to the season and to be excited. We had to hide things and speak in code and wrap gifts after she went to bed and I loved every minute of it. At the beginning of the month I put together a little Advent calendar for her and I and hung it on our picture wall in the dining room, as seen above. Every day there was a little tag to turn over with an activity to do together. Sometimes it was opening a new book, sometimes it was making cookies, sometimes it was sending a Christmas card. It was a fun way to open the season together.

IMG_6209

Pearl loves being in the kitchen with me right now so we did a lot of baking together in December. This is a picture of her helping me roll dough for cinnamon buns.

IMG_6165

We hunted in the woods near our house for pine branches and pine cones to decorate our house.

IMG_8352

Rose showed very little interest in the Christmas preparations but has continued to be a super mellow and happy baby, content to sit in her little chair while Big Sister and I bake, or to nap on the couch while we play on the floor next to her. Rose is smiling and laughing now and I love it so much.

IMG_8355

Their sister relationship is sometimes so lovely I can’t believe it – when Pearl asks to hold Rose or kisses her good night. Most of the time though the best case scenario is that Pearl ignores Rose. We are taking it day by day, working through jealousy and frustration and all the big emotions that come with being not-quite-three-years-old.

We also continued one of my favourite traditions: The Great Christmas Tree Hunt. We drove into the forest nearby and cut down a Christmas tree. Pearl had vague memories of previous trees in our home and was thrilled to decorate again. Our tree had a cluster of lovingly placed ornaments on the lowest branches.

IMG_6282

We were able to keep it simple this year while still seeing both sides of our families. We were very grateful that everybody travelled to us for Christmas. We spent Christmas Day with Peter’s family and mind came up after New Year’s Day. Being able to spend time together without schlepping a newborn into the city was a real gift.

We tried to keep things simple for our girls too. Rose’s interests are few – her stocking was filled with soothers and washcloths. Pearl was very excited about presents but her excitement covers all manner of things so we could have wrapped almost anything and put it under the tree and she would have been happy. One afternoon I took her to the toy store and let her pick out a present for Rose. That turned out to be the noisiest toy in our house now and Rose is more scared of it than anything else but maybe in a couple more months she’ll enjoy those singing frogs. (Rose picked out a present for Pearl too, with my help.)

IMG_8404

This picture kind of sums up their relationship. Matching Christmas dresses on Christmas Eve, just before heading to church. I did not buy them matching dresses. I did buy them matching pyjamas to wear that night, with visions of Christmas morning and showing up at the grandparents in their adorable matching jammies. The girls had other plans; Pearl woke up Christmas morning crying that she didn’t like her pyjamas and wanted to change immediately and Rose had a blow-out before breakfast. So it was not a perfect Christmas but it was pretty darn close.

On Pregnancy

This is me the day I found out I was pregnant with Rose.

I’ve now been pregnant four times. Nothing in my life has been as humbling for me as pregnancy. Nothing has reminded me more of how little I control. So while this fourth pregnancy was relatively “straightforward”, it was a nine month exercise in trust. It taught me bravery in a way I hadn’t known before.

After I miscarried at sixteen weeks in September 2016, we were fortunate to get pregnant again relatively quickly and I learned of this new life growing inside of me on a grey January day. The first person I told (after Peter, of course) was our pastor. While this wasn’t planned – I blurted it out when he asked me how I was doing the following Sunday – it felt fitting. Peter and I made the decision to not officially announce this pregnancy but instead we told several people close to us early on, knowing that they would pray for us and our baby.

February 2017

The flip side of not announcing pregnancy was that starting at around 20 weeks I got a lot of “So…how are you?” with meaningful glances at my belly. With our late-arriving spring weather, I was able to hide my growing bump under jackets and big sweaters. Even into my second trimester I found I was nervous about sharing our news.

Prayer got me through this pregnancy. After miscarrying in the second trimester, there was never a point in this pregnancy where I felt “safe”. In the first trimester, I had bleeding that lasted about three weeks. An ultrasound at 14 weeks revealed the cause and my doctor reassured me that it was quite common and rarely led to miscarriage. Since I was already at a higher risk of miscarrying, this information was only mildly comforting. I thought that I might be able to relax once I’d passed the sixteen week mark but found that wasn’t so. In the end, what helped most was that around eighteen weeks, this little baby started to move and she almost never stopped. She was an incredibly active baby and had very regular periods of time where I felt her move. It was a beautiful reassurance that my baby was there, alive and growing.

May 2017 – about halfway through

Overall though, it was a very normal pregnancy. I had some nausea in the first trimester, similar to what I had with my previous two pregnancies. With Pearl, I felt good for most of the second trimester and had more energy until my back started hurting at around 30 weeks. This time around, I never really got that burst of energy but my back did start to bother me at about the same point and until around 35 weeks. I’m not sure if this was due to simply being a different pregnancy or the fact that I was also running around after a tw0-year-old.

June 2017

One major difference I noticed between Rose’s pregnancy and Pearl’s was that I carried a lot higher this time around. I was able to make a lot of my non-maternity points and shorts work well into my second trimester. I also didn’t have to dress for an office job like I did last time, which probably helped. Strangers who shared their opinions all told me I was having a boy because of the way I carried. I gained around the same amount of weight as I did with Pearl but since I carried differently, my belly ended up looking smaller. Rose was also nearly a pound smaller than Pearl, which probably made a difference too. The one person who consistently insisted that I was having a girl? Pearl. (She also wanted to name the baby “Baby Girl”.)

IMG_5444

July, trying to get Pearl to pose for a photo with me.

I’m not one of those women who loves being pregnant in and of itself. I don’t feel powerful and beautiful. I feel tired and sweaty (especially during our heat wave at the end of August). I try on all of my clothes and then end up wearing the same three things. (Thank goodness for light, loose dresses for summer pregnancies.)

IMG_5507

August 2017

At the same time, I am so, so thankful to be pregnant. I know several women who have struggled to get pregnant and so I don’t take my body’s ability for granted. I am thankful for each little life that God has allowed to grow in me. And while I fervently wish that my body were better at supporting those lives, I know how fortunate I am for the two babies I have. That knowledge was always in my mind, through every day of pregnancy.

IMG_8057

Early September 2017

It’s in my mind now as I try on the clothes that don’t quite fit again yet, and it’s in my mind in the moments when I feel impossibly pulled between the needs of two little people. Two little people that I am so blessed to be given. I look at Pearl and Rose (one month old today!) and I know I wouldn’t change a thing.

IMG_8072

Pearl and Me – August 2017

Rose’s Story

Birth stories are one of those things that most people aren’t interested in until they have their own. At least, that was my experience, so feel entirely free to skip over this if it’s your experience too!

It feels like you could hardly have two more different birthing experiences than Pearl and Rose. I shared Pearl’s story after she was born (part one and part two) but short version: Pearl was a transverse breech that went unnoticed until after my water broke and I had an unplanned caesarean section. She had been diagnosed with heart and kidney issues in utero and so spent the first day of her life in the NICU.

From early on in my pregnancy with Rose the question was “to VBAC or not to VBAC?” (VBAC = vaginal birth after caesarean). I have no regrets about how Pearl’s birth went. It was far from ideal but it was what was needed to deliver her safely. The result was a healthy, thriving baby and that is what matters. So I went into this pregnancy with the attitude that as long as we ended up with another healthy baby, I didn’t really care how it exited my body. Labour and delivery does not a mother make.

That said, when you have a baby, people want to know how long you laboured, how delivery went. New moms swap stories and I always felt like I didn’t have much to contribute. I had never been through labour. As well, recovery from the c-section had been hard and I didn’t relish going through that again, especially now with a two-year-old.

I was a good candidate for a VBAC but ultimately the decision would be left up to the wisdom of our local OBGYN (and the baby’s position, of course). I had my first appointment with him in August where he outlined his reasons for and against VBAC and suggested a date for an elective c-section. I was surprised by how disappointed I felt that he seemed to be leaning towards another c-section but we agreed to wait another month and see where baby was at.

My due date was October 8th but I was sure that baby would arrive earlier than that. I’d been having false labour and irregular contractions for weeks, something I never had with Pearl. Labour Day weekend, while Peter and Pearl camped out in our backyard, I felt the baby make a big movement I hadn’t felt before and the next day Peter commented that I was suddenly carrying lower than I had been. Contractions continued over the next weeks and by the time I saw the OBGYN again he was happy to see how low the baby was. Baby was in a great position for me to deliver and so we agreed to wait and see what happened, with the knowledge that if I hadn’t delivered by my due date they would schedule a c-section.

I felt increasingly ready for baby to arrive and so when my doctor suggested a membrane sweep at my appointment on September 29th I eagerly agreed. I made an appointment for the following week but we both felt confident that we’d be seeing each other again much sooner.

Heading out to the doctor’s office, Friday morning.

Contractions ramped up almost right away. Peter was skeptical but I was increasingly feeling like the baby would join us that weekend. Peter and Pearl and I went on a pre-bedtime walk that night and Peter timed my contractions as we strolled through the neighbourhood. They were coming close together but didn’t feel that intense so we took the long way home. Peter put Pearl to bed while I sat down on the couch and read up on signs of labour and when to head to the hospital. Contractions slowed down significantly and we went to bed.

Friday evening, out for a walk.

I woke again at 1:30 am and now my contractions were strong enough that I couldn’t fall back asleep. Moving to the couch, I timed them from 2 – 3 am and at 3am I woke Peter up. After calling into the hospital we decided it was time to go. Peter’s parents came to stay with Pearl and by 4am I was hooked up to the fetal monitor.

One last photo as a family of three!

I’ll spare you the gory details but will say that giving birth the traditional way is super painful. I know everyone says that but it is a next level pain that nothing prepares you for. While pushing (which lasted about 45 minutes) I couldn’t keep myself from yelling out, just these really deep, primal cries. Peter tells me that I wasn’t actually that loud but it felt like I was screaming my head off. I’d heard about the pain but also about the intense relief you feel when the baby actually arrives and both are true. Rose was born at 2:01pm, so all told I was in labour about twelve hours. It felt like a long time and I recall feeling frustrated at several points because it seemed like things weren’t moving as quickly as I wanted. Over and over though the nurses and doctor told me that things were progressing well and moving along.

Because I was a VBAC patient, I was kept on the fetal monitor for most of my labour, with a few breaks in order to walk up and down the hall. Baby’s heartbeat dropped a few times during contractions early on and then later as well so there were some nervous moments. Position seemed to make a difference so I stayed on my side a lot (which was the position in which I most felt the need to push later on) and the OBGYN hung around the hospital all day, despite not being on duty, just in case he needed to spring into action. My doctor and the nurses who cared for us were so available, helpful, and encouraging and I’m so thankful for the amazing care we received.

I had worried that I wouldn’t know when to push but what everyone says is true – you know. It’s a pretty undeniable urge and when I started to feel it I wasn’t yet fully dilated. Fortunately, my doctor quickly decided I was close enough and let me push. Almost immediately, everything stopped. I didn’t feel the urge anymore and my contractions moved further apart. They hooked me up to the IV and moved positions and things quickly started up again. This was definitely the most painful part but things were happening so fast, contraction following contraction, that I didn’t really have time to think or focus on anything other than pushing and getting the baby out. At one point, someone asked if I wanted to feel the baby’s head and I don’t think I even replied. I remember thinking, “I will when this is done.”

And then, the pain diminishes and you are suddenly holding the world’s newest person. “Let Karissa see,” said one of the nurses as they passed me my baby. I got to hold her right away, skin-to-skin, something that I missed out on with Pearl.

For all its unflattering qualities, I love this picture. Me, completely exhausted and euphoric. Rose, covered in vernix and so brand new.

IMG_8095

While checking her heartbeat, one of the nurses noticed that Rose was working hard to intake air so they took her over to the warming station in the room. She had cried a little upon coming out but her lungs were full of mucus. The doctor spent a few minutes suctioning out her lungs and she was on a respirator for a little while. It felt like longer as I watched but she was soon crying again and back in my arms. She nursed right away (something that took much longer with Pearl, likely because we were apart for most of her first 24 hours) and Peter and I just got to enjoy our new little love.

Peter and Rose

Pearl came to meet her baby sister later that evening – she was more interested in the dinner that had just been brought to me but was excited to introduce Baby Rose to her grandparents. Rose and I stayed the night in the hospital while Peter went home with Pearl and we were discharged Sunday afternoon.

Recovery this time around has been so much easier than after a caesarean. While giving birth is hard on your body no matter what, this time around it feels like my body went through something hard but something that it was made to do. This time around I’m able to go for walks, carry my newborn in a carrier, and get in and out of bed or a chair easily.

I’m thankful for each of my girls and how they entered the world. It’s been an interesting experience, having two such different birth stories and I feel very grateful for living in a place where I have medical care and options available to me and my family.

We are continuing to get used to life with two little ones but it’s been pretty straightforward so far. Peter had a week off work, which was wonderful, and I’m taking the days on my own with the girls easy as I figure out what parenting looks like now. Rose has been a great eater and sleeper and that also makes life much easier. Now I just need to figure out how to shower with both of them around!

Death is Swallowed Up in Victory

Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?

Today is the first day of the autumn season. A year ago, I sat in a hospital, swallowing back tears, repeating to myself the lines from that famous psalm, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” It was the closest I could get to praying in that moment. I couldn’t keep from crying and a kind nurse sat beside me on the edge of the bed. He brought me tissues and a glass of water, told me it was okay to be scared. He told me how beautiful my little girl was, how lucky I was to have her. He told me that he’d never been able to have children but, later in life, he’d married a woman with two sons and become a dad for the first time. I don’t remember his name and I probably wouldn’t recognize him if I saw him again but I’ve never forgotten his kindness.

The next morning, I held my son for the first and last time. Sixteen weeks old and so amazingly perfect.

A year has passed and while the rawness of pain and grief has dulled, I still think about that little baby every day. This past year has been hard and good and heartbreaking and joyous. Peter and I have held tight to one another and I’m so thankful that we have each other to share all of this life. I’m so thankful for our Pearl and all the life and laughter she brings to us. On my darkest days last autumn, I knew I still had to get out of bed, still had to make breakfast because of her, for her and for my husband. That no matter how broken I felt, my life was still needed and valuable.

I struggled to pray in those early months. We sing a song sometimes at church with a chorus that declares, “How I love You, how I love You, You have not forsaken me” and those words seemed to choke me when we sang it in worship last fall. I could not get them out. I felt that God had forsaken me. I felt like God was not who I thought He was. After a life time of Sunday school answers regarding the goodness and love of Christ, I was painfully confronted with the reality of “Where is God in our pain? Does He still love me”

Pearl has a children’s Bible that sums up the arrival of sin in our world as the moment that people began to question, “Does God love me?” Satan planted this doubt in the minds of Adam and Eve and it has dwelt there ever since. Reading to her one night recently, this struck me as the fundamental fear that took hold of my life last autumn. Does God still love me, even when He allowed this horrible thing to happen to us?

There are a lot of answers to these questions and the scope is greater than I can delve into here. For many months I longed for a large and dramatic reply from the Lord. I wanted to hear His voice, feel His hand. I’ve had those moments before; I had a couple of them in the months following my first miscarriage in 2014. But this time that moment never came.

Instead, people showed up. Friends brought soup. They sent texts and Facebook messages. Friends on the other side of the world made time for phone calls and checked in with me. When the days stretched out in emptiness, others made time for me, often people I didn’t know well. A neighbourhood mom I didn’t know well yet hugged me as I cried at the park. Some of these people are Christians, some are not, but in each one the love of Christ was steadily revealed to me.

There was no miraculous moment where things got better. There isn’t with grief. It is a slow and steady climb that I will still be on years from now. I will always wonder about that lost little one. I will always miss and grieve over what could have been. There is so much I don’t understand about how God works and His purposes. Yet I do believe, with all my soul, that He was with us every step. I believe He used the people around me – which included doctors and nurses and a trained psychologist because those are necessary too sometimes – and He walked those dark days with us. I believe God grieved with Peter and I for our son and I believe that we will be reunited one day beyond this world. What that will look like, I have no idea, but I know that death is not the end.

In early January of this year, walking with Pearl on a grey, cloudy day, I felt at peace for the first time in a long time. The sadness didn’t vanish but it was the moment when I knew I would be okay, that life would continue, that joy and celebration were still a part of that. And life does continue. It was not long after that I discovered I was pregnant again.

I won’t lie: getting pregnant again so soon has made this year much easier. It doesn’t extinguish the sadness but it has made the milestones gentler and it has turned 2017 into a year of hope. I hope to share more of what this pregnancy has been like but today I am almost 38 weeks pregnant and filled with joy at the thought of meeting this new person any day now. My due date is Thanksgiving weekend and it feels very fitting.

Today, one year later, I remember and I grieve for what has been lost. I’ll be thinking of that little one as I wait to meet this new little one currently kicking around in my belly. I am learning to praise God in all things and as the season turns once more, I keep working to turn to Him, to trust Him in all matters. Death has no victory here.

The Rest of the Summer (So Far)

Bella and Pearl – summer beach buddies

As August quickly approaches its end, we’ve started to look ahead to the fall in our household. Peter’s work schedule changes to its more regular hours in a couple weeks and so the rhythm of our days will revert back to its more ordinary flow. In the meantime, we are enjoying our last days of summer. It’s been a good one.

Beach Pearl

We’ve spent as much time as we can at the beach, whether it’s the one near our house or slightly further afield. We’re fortunate to live in a land of beaches, though most of them tend to be pretty rocky. This summer we’ve definitely had our favourites and have tried to take advantage of low tides where hidden sand bars are revealed. Pearl is not much for ocean swimming yet (she’ll wade) but she’s enjoyed splashing around, building castles, and searching for crabs.

Some dear friends of ours came to visit and we loved being able to host them. These are friends we’ve had since before Peter and I were married and we’ve watched each other get engaged, celebrated weddings together, and welcomed each others children. Pearl falls right in between their two boys age-wise and in previous visits, the kids haven’t interacted much. This time, they quickly became friends and it was wonderful to watch our friendship continue into the next generation.

Klein Lake

After our friends left, we headed up to Pender Harbour for a short camping stint. One night is a good amount of time for us at this stage of our lives so we opted to try out Klein Lake, a place neither of us had visited before. It was the perfect spot for camping with a two year old – quiet and right by the lake. We brought up our rowboat and Pearl loved “rowing”. If you ask her about camping now she’ll tell you that she slept in a tent, ate noodles, and that mum fell on the dock. All true.

Pearl’s first Pirate Pak

We made a quick trip to Vancouver to visit with family (fun!) and go to Ikea (less fun!). The older Pearl gets the more fun she has with her older cousins. She works hard to keep up with them. She also got to enjoy her first ever Pirate Pak. For those not from BC, this is a childhood classic. Basically, the kids menu at a restaurant chain here comes in these pirate boats and you can only order them until you’re ten. We’ve just begun needing to order Pearl her own meal at restaurants so our days of dining out as a family are limited.

Courtesy of her older cousins, Pearl came home with this balance bike. She loves it and is so good at racing around on it already. I love it because it’s turned out to be a great way to get her to the park and back at a decent pace. (We’ve only had to abandon it halfway in the midst of a temper tantrum once so far!)

Seven years!

Peter and I recently celebrated seven years of marriage and we were able to take a night away, just the two of us. (Thank the Lord for grandparents!) This was actually the first time we’ve both been away together since Pearl was born. We didn’t go far – a night at the Ruby Lake Resort in Pender Harbour – but it was so good to get away, just the two of us. We also had an amazing meal at the Italian restaurant there and spent time the next day swimming and canoeing on the lake. I’m so thankful that after seven years of marriage (and ten years together total) we still really like spending time together.

Canoe on Ruby Lake

Canada Day 2017

This year Canada celebrated 150 years of existing as Canada. We are obviously a young country and we would do well to remember that culture existed and people lived on this land for many, many years before European settlers arrived. In 150 years, we as a nation have made a great many mistakes and we are still working to fix and atone many of them. At the same time, I think we live in a nation worth celebrating. In all the upheaval of our world, there are a lot of things that Canada is doing right and I’m proud to be a Canadian and feel privileged to live in a land like ours.

Canada Day is a big deal in our little town and we love going to the parade each year. (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012) This was Pearl’s third Canada Day experience and her most enjoyable. She was really engaged with what was happening and has been talking about some of the sights she saw ever since.

The parade always starts with kids on bikes that they’ve decorated themselves. I kept telling Peter that next year he’d be there, running alongside Pearl!

Then come the classic cars. We have a lot of retired folk in our community and that seems to translate into a lot of classic cars. As soon as the weather gets good, they all come out for the summer.

Then the veterans, pipers, cadets, and others in uniform. (Mounties too, of course!)

Pearl waved her flags and cried, “Yay Canada!”

This “tiny horse” with a flag on it was a big hit.

As was this bear that wore pants and a hat but no shirt. (Pearl and I recently encountered a bear in our neighbourhood so we’ve had a lot of conversations recently about the two bears that she’s seen.)

Of course there were lumberjacks.

Happy Canada Day! (Or whatever other national holiday you may be celebrating this month!)