A couple of weeks ago, in the midst of an epic tantrum, I picked Pearl up and carried her outside. Sometimes a simple change of scenery can help calm her down and give us a fresh start so I held her, thrashing and screaming, against my body and walked to the end of the driveway. Turns out, a crew of men were arriving to work on our neighbours’ roof and so as Pearl wept and I paced back and forth, speaking to her softly, I had an audience. Most of them were young men who watched me with surprise and a hint of laughter but one fellow, a little older than the others, gave me a knowing nod. I can only assume that at some point, he too has done this walk.

Posing with flowers from our backyard.

Pearl is two. Tantrums are part of our lives right now. She has intense desires and a growing sense of independence. She wants to do so many things by herself and so many of those things are still hard or impossible for her to do. Sometimes she just can’t do them (like reaching the light switch in her room) and sometimes I can’t let her do them (like buckling herself into her car seat). Her vocabulary is constantly expanding but we often run into moments where she has trouble expressing herself or I have trouble understanding her. Sometimes I’m impatient, sometimes she’s tired. We might go days without a tantrum or we might have three in one afternoon.

A rainy day at the park.

More and more these days, when strangers ask how old Pearl is and I tell them, the reply is, “You have your hands full.” Sure, but not really. Pearl is smart and fun and imaginative and delightful. She’s two, she’s not a rabid wolf. She’s learning a lot – about herself and the world – and it’s my job to help her figure it out.

New gear for the summer.

I do believe that some ideas can be become self-perpetuating and so I make a concerted effort to avoid the idea of “the terrible twos”. Why should I approach an entire year of my daughter’s life with the idea that it is or will be terrible? Can I honestly expect that when she turns three, everything will magically be easy? I can miss the docility of a newborn and look forward to the independence and real conversation of a five-year-old and still embrace and enjoy where we are right now.

Stories with Bella.

Two. It’s playing games that she’s made up all by herself. It’s waiting a painfully long time for her to climb into the tub “her own self”. It’s the morning cry of “Hi Mum!”. It’s the sharing of lip gloss, it’s pulling toy cars out of my washing machine because she fills her pockets with them. It’s rushing out of the shower because I can’t hear her anymore, only to find her quietly looking at books in her room. It’s learning who is this little person that I helped bring into the world but is suddenly so much herself.

Observing what Pearl refers to as a “pillar-cat”

The tantrums are hard and frustrating, I won’t gloss over that. The reasons for them vary and are often minor and I regularly find myself wondering if I should have just given in right away but of course I can’t give in now or I’ll teach her that tantrums work. So we walk to the edge of the front yard or we rock together in a chair or we read stories and look at birds and it usually ends with a cuddle. Two also means there is always another chance, always a time for cuddles.

I pray a lot. The last three years of pregnancy and parenting have brought me more joy and sorrow than I ever knew before. They have stripped me of many of my illusions and brought me continually to my knees, praying for the Lord’s guidance. I have a feeling that won’t change any time soon. They have also filled me with a greater and larger and better thankfulness than I have ever before experienced. Two is good. I am thankful for my two year old.

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Reading with Pearl: Puppies Are Special Friends

Last summer, shortly after we bought our house, my parents also moved. Since we were moving into a larger place and they were down-sizing, they brought me a few boxes from my childhood, mostly books. Being in the middle of moving and having a newborn, those boxes went into our crawl space where I mostly forgot about them.

A couple of weeks ago I finally pulled out the boxes and sorted the books. Some that Pearl can enjoy now, some to store away for when she’s older, and some to simply get rid of.

This book initially went into my Give Away pile but Pearl rescued it and fell in love.

Puppies are Special Friends - Joanne Ryder, illustrated by James Spence (A Golden Book, 1988)

Puppies are Special Friends – Joanne Ryder, illustrated by James Spence (A Golden Book, 1988)

She loves dogs. Loves dogs. Real dogs, pictures of dogs, the small wooden toy dog she has that she cuddles right up against her face.

I remember this book from my childhood but I could not tell you where it came from. It actually has my brother’s name written in the front page which makes me think it dates back to the time when he and I were begging our parents to get us a dog. (The very early 1990s.)

The book is mostly facts about puppies. Example: “Puppies change as they grow. When they grow up, they will look more like their parents.” Real mind-blowing facts. There is also some practical advice. “Puppies need fresh food and water to stay healthy.” In case you didn’t know.

Another fun fact: “Puppies and people can learn to be friends.”

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Um, I know that. You told me in the title that puppies are special friends.

There’s certainly nothing wrong or incorrect about any of this it just doesn’t make for a particularly scintillating read. Which makes sense, because Pearl can’t read. She coos with great delight over the pictures.

Like this fantastically 80s-style youngster and his poodle:

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Actually, Pearl may have a thing or two to learn about dogs.

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30 Day Dress Challenge 2016 – Day 12

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I purchased this tunic style dress in the fall from Old Navy* as an easy item to wear around home or to work. I love the pattern and I often get compliments on it. Today I added a belt (thrifted) to wear this outfit to church. My cardigan was bought in Rome.

*(90% of the reason I shop from Old Navy is because they have free shipping and free returns. There aren’t a lot of places in our small town to buy clothes for Pearl so every now and then I trawl through the sale section of a few on-line shops and sometimes find something for myself too.)

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This morning we had our church’s annual outdoor service (well, in an outdoor pavilion in the middle of town). It continue to be grey and chilly so I actually wore this plus a jacket over top plus a scarf.

After church (and Pearl’s nap) we went for a short hike in the trails near our house (Pearl fell in a puddle), followed by a trip to Canadian Tire. We got a bunch of things we needed (and some we didn’t) and generally escaped unscathed. Canadian Tire is such a strange hodgepodge of items and every single one I’ve ever been to seems to be understaffed and have the item I want way up high.

30 Day Dress Challenge 2016 – Day 11

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See it in 2013 here and in 2014 here. (Strangely enough, I also wore it on Day 11 in 2014.)

Okay, so I’m aware that this is a bit of cheating. I would never wear this without leggings so does it actually count as a dress? I’m pushing the definition here because we had yet another day of rain and it’s Saturday. We ran errands in the morning and then Peter had some work to get done so Pearl and I (and Bella) spent the day trying not to be too distracting.

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I tried to take a side shot so you can see how this is longer in the back, which totally qualifies it as a dress. But Bella got curious about what I was doing.

Peter bought me this dress for my birthday a couple of years ago, purchased at a local store, as was my scarf. My sweater was also a gift and also from a (different) local store. My boots are my Aigle gumboots again. I’ve just had them since November but they’ve definitely been worth the price. My purse was bought online from Shop Ruche.

Some good puddle-stomping weather today.

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30 Day Dress Challenge 2016 – Day 8

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(See this dress in 2014 here and in 2013 here.)

After several days of heat and sun the weather has returned to a more familiar rain today, albeit a muggy and confusingly warm rain.

It seemed like a good day for this dress, which is best worn with leggings. Especially when dealing with toddlers and dogs. (I’ve already decided that new leggings are in order for the fall.)

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My rain boots are Aigle. Peter got them for me for my birthday last autumn. Isn’t the colour fantastic? Excellent rain boots are pretty much a must in my world (and my climate).

Pearl also dressed for the climate.

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(Her rainboots have sharks on them and tails on the back.)

This dress also held up well through a brief nap on the couch with Bella the Dog curled up at my feet.

30 Day Dress Challenge 2016 – Day 7

I’m clearly not here to impress anyone with my photography skills but I have to warn you that today is particularly unimpressive.

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Yeah.

At least Pearl’s head is mostly there.

I took pictures (with a timer, obviously) early this morning before my parents came up from the big city to visit for the day. I got them in between breakfast, vacuuming, and getting Pearl and Bella the Dog to the park for an hour to get out some of their combined crazies.

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There’s my head. My blurry, blurry head. And the dog!

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That’s about the best I got. Pearl had a rather clingy day.

This dress is from Joe Fresh, thrifted in Chilliwack, and I wore a tank top from Old Navy over it. (You can see how I wore it on its own in 2014 here, in 2013 with a cardigan here, or with a t-shirt here.)

I neglected to wear shoes but I wore this dress with my Chuck Taylors to the park and with sandals to the beach in the afternoon.

The pockets on this dress are oddly poofy and hit me right at the hips so while it’s very comfortable, it’s not one I wear very much. In fact, I’m realizing at this moment that probably the last time I wore it was during the 30 Day Dress Challenge in 2014. Might be time to let this one go.

30 Day Dress Challenge 2016 – Day 6

IMG_6929(See the dress in 2014 here and here and in 2013 here.)

It is hot around here. Which is highly unusual for us so early in June. Who knows if it will last. Our grass probably won’t.

I’ve had this dress for years now (and pretty much just been wearing it the same way with different shoes) and it’s lasted really well. It’s Joe Fresh and my sandals are the same Steve Madden pair from yesterday. My earrings were a gift.

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Today was a work day for me but I find this dress goes well from casual to a little more fancy.

And a sneak peek behind the scenes today:

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(Pearl’s dress was thrifted.)

Parenting Merit Badges

Since around the time Pearl turned one (i.e. hit the toddler stage), I have been awarding myself mental merit badges. Basically, when I do something as a parent that I feel a sense of accomplishment about, I give myself a merit badge to pin on my imaginary parenting sash. (I was never a Girl Guide so I have no idea how this actually works. Everything here is imaginary.) While this makes absolutely no real difference, it makes me feel good about myself. And isn’t that what parenting is all about? (Haha, no.)

Also, give yourself flowers. You've earned it.

Also, give yourself flowers. You’ve earned it.

Here are the merit badges I’ve earned so far:

  • Getting hard-soled, lace-up shoes on a toddler. (The first time Pearl wore these shoes, she lay on the floor, dragging her legs behind her, as if she’d suddenly lost the ability to walk. Which was hilarious and frustrating because it took me a long time to get those shoes on. For the next few weeks I skillfully shirked responsibility and let Peter put her shoes on but I  have now get the hang of it. Which means she’s almost outgrown these particular shoes.)
  • Putting sunscreen on a toddler. Less painful than shoes but still involves a sort of full-body hold using my legs while I smear sunscreen over any and all exposed skin and generally get it on both of our clothes.
Pearl brings me flowers because I'm such a good mom. (Don't worry, she's wearing sunscreen in this picture.)

Pearl brings me flowers because I’m such a good mom. (Don’t worry, she’s wearing sunscreen in this picture.)

  • Washing AND drying Pearl’s favourite Bear without her noticing.
She loves this bear so much.

She loves this bear so much.

  • Wrangling both a dog and a one-year-old out of the house and to the park. (Not my dog so I don’t have to do this all the time but the timing is always tricky. They both get very excited when they realize what’s about to happen.)
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This is Bella’s guilty face because she knows she’s not supposed to be using the couch pillows as her own personal pillows.

  • Successfully strapping Pearl in to back-carry position in the Ergo all by myself. Bonus points because neither of us cried and I didn’t drop her!
  • Shifting (somewhat) painlessly from two naps a day to one nap a day and stretching that nap out past two hours.

What parenting merit badges have you earned? How do you reward yourself for a parenting job done to a mediocre standard?

Sticks and Stones

I’m about six years late to the party but I’m on Instagram now! You can find me @karissareadsbooks if you’re into that sort of thing.

The weather around here has been so good! (Have I mentioned that? Are you tired of hearing it?) I feel like I take more photos when the weather is good. Probably because I go outside more and see more interesting things than just the inside of my house. Anyway, my point is…here’s a bunch of photos of what we’ve been up to lately.

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Saturday we did a little off-roading and searched out the Phareline, a new trail out near what used to be called Wormy Lake but is now known as John Phare Lake. John Phare was a local tree faller killed while fighting the forest fire here last summer. The lake has been renamed in his honour. (Actually, it turns out re-naming places takes a long time and a lot of red tape so the name won’t be official for another year or so. Instead, members of the community went out and put up signs and the lake is known by its new name locally, which I think is awesome.)

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The trail winds through where the fire hit last year and everywhere there is evidence of its devastation. Yet, amidst the burned out stumps and the vanished undergrowth, there is also evidence of life and new growth. Brilliant green bracken ferns have popped up everywhere and the juxtaposition of their colour against the landscape of the fire was wonderful to see.

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These two girls love the forest:

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(This is the last hundred metres or so. We didn’t make Pearl walk the whole way.)

This picture makes me laugh. I caught the exact moment after Pearl picked up a big stick along the trail and her she is showing me her find. Sticks make her very happy. We think she learned it from Bella.

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Sunday was Mothers’ Day in this part of the world. Pearl brought me flowers.

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She caught me picking flowers from our garden and now loves to pick any blooms and leaves she can get her little hands on. She then eagerly brings them over to Peter and I (whoever’s closest, really) and I love it. Our flowers may not survive it but I’ll take it!

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Fortunately, she can’t reach all the flowers.

Sunday morning I made my second attempt at leaving Pearl in the church nursery. I think she lasted fifteen minutes. (She likes us too much.)

Sunday afternoon we spent in the best possible manner.

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Not pictured: Pearl’s extreme excitement at all the little rocks available for picking up on the beach. Sticks and stones don’t bother this girl. She also loves laying down on her belly and making sand angels.

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More than she loves posing for photos with her mum.

A sweet and simple weekend.

And Monday morning:

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Pearl fell down in the greenery in our backyard while chasing after the dog. Bella came back to investigate. (Don’t worry, I laughed and took a picture after making sure she wasn’t upset.)

Toy-Stealing, Dog-Petting, Beer-Drinking

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Photobombing dog.

Bella the Dog is no longer with us. (By which I mean she went back to her real home. She’s totally still alive.) Our house feels much quieter and afternoon walks are a little less chaotic. Pearl misses her furry friend though.

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Bella seemed to think that I made little beds complete with toys for her.

Life is slipping gently into its new routine. The days are quiet but full and I love each one. Pearl is everywhere and wants to be into all things. She has started trying to climb things which has meant some tumbles. She has yet to learn fear. Or consequences. Or gravity. About a week after she started crawling, she pulled herself up to stand, holding on to the edge of the couch. It’s impressive and terrifying and her new favourite thing. She tries to pull herself up on anything and everything, regardless of its sturdiness. I hover between holding on to her, trying to ensure that she doesn’t ever get hurt, and stepping back just a little to let her try new things. I love watching her learn.

Which is good because I have to watch her all the time. Her favourite things to put in her mouth are things she shouldn’t have in her mouth. And anything leather.

Some photos from life recently:

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My mom bought this for Pearl when she was just a couple of months old and I recently remembered it and pulled it out. A little barn/farmyard with a pig, a chicken, and two cows. (Pearl added the dinosaur and the octopus.) She loves the little chicken, as you can see. The barn folds up and she also loves pushing it around. She loves pushing things around right now.

Speaking of pushing around…

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This is a photo of the first time Pearl took a toy from another child. It’s hard to tell if she’s emotionally attached to her toys or if she just wanted to play with it at that moment and doesn’t understand being nice to others yet.

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I tried that classic parenting trick of letting the kid play in the container cupboard while I made dinner. Pearl was definitely excited but quickly got upset when this lid wouldn’t fit all the way in her mouth.

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I swore I would never be one of those moms who dressed in matching outfits with her daughter (and I won’t be! really!) but how cute are these baby Chucks? I’ve been a Converse fan for years now and someone gave these little pink Converse sneakers to Pearl as a gift.

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This weekend our little town had its second annual Oktoberfest, complete with beer tasting, bratwurst and German techno music. We headed down to taste test from the local breweries represented. Back in November, when we were in Powell River, Peter and I did a tour of the brewery there – Townsite. Since I was pregnant, I didn’t get to taste any of their beers at the time so I was excited to sample what they had. Peter waited with Pearl on the other side of that orange fence – being under 19, she wasn’t allowed in the beer area – and then we switched.

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Then we ate bratwurst and wished we were in Germany again.

And now it’s Monday and it’s sunny and life is good.

Oh, and a glamour shot of Bella:

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