Easter 2017

I’ll admit it, this post is nothing more than cute pictures of my kid. While I’m fully aware no one else but her dad cares quite as much as I do, I also think these pictures of Pearl having her annual Easter Hunt in our backyard are pretty adorable so I’m going to show them to you.

Patiently waiting while Peter hides the goodies.

Last year, Easter was even earlier but we had Pearl outside in a springy dress. This year was boots and rain jacket.

Her hunting skills have really improved though.

This was her favourite find. We had lots of chocolate eggs and bunnies for her but since she doesn’t get much chocolate, she didn’t really know what they were. We filled a couple of these eggs full of goldfish crackers and she knew right away what that was.

She did miss some obvious hiding places.

But she got there eventually.


And then got to enjoy her spoils!

I hope you all had an excellent long weekend!

Pearl is 2!

dsc03176

Last week we celebrated because our girl turned two! We’ve been talking with Pearl for a while about her birthday and that she would be two and she’d figured out the response to, “How old are you?” (“Two!” said with a huge amount of glee.) Though “two” also became the response to any other question involving a number. (How many dogs do you see? How old is Dad?)

Toddlers are great at celebrating their birthdays because their expectations are pretty much nil to begin with. This came in handy when Pearl woke up with a bad cold on her birthday and was running a fever the morning before her party. After warning the other moms, turn out was a little lower than originally planned but Pearl rallied after a nap and, in the end, seemed to enjoy her day.

img_7657

img_7659

Because Pearl is very into tea parties right now and because there’s a song called “Tea for Two”, we decided to have a tea party for our brand new two-year-old. We kept it simple with scone (made by my father-in-law) with jam, fruits and veggies, and cookies in the shapes of woodland creatures. (Pearl “helped” me make them.) And, of course, vanilla cupcakes with pink frosting.

dsc03168

Pearl got thoroughly loved on by friends and family and the afternoon was a lot of fun. She poked at her cupcake and never ate it but had a few cookies and scones to make up for that.

dsc03179

The backpack was her gift from Peter and I and she wore it most of the day.

We feel so thankful for our beautiful, fun, healthy, smart girl and extra thankful that so many people, near and far, love her, celebrate her life, and have joined with Peter and I in praying over her life.

dsc03173

January…

After the three of us recovered from our extended colds, January turned out to be a pretty good month around here.

img_7600

Pearl is now 23 months! Her hair is long enough that it occasionally gets in her eyes, she is currently getting a new tooth, and she is full of energy.

We stayed away from most of our usual toddler groups and drop-ins because we didn’t want to spread our germs around and so we ended up spending a lot of time outdoors, exploring the forest nearby and playing at the local parks.
img_4594

When the new year began, I made a list of a few goals for myself and while I haven’t worked out five times a week (probably not a realistic goal anyway), focusing on a few small changes have made a big difference in my attitude. Lots of outdoor time is key for both Pearl and I and makes our days more interesting.

Another of my goals was to spend less time on-line, especially before bed. I always have a book (or three) on the go so it’s a simple switch to close the computer and read inside. As well, I’ve stayed away from Facebook all month and I feel like that’s made a difference too. My Facebook feed is just too full of pregnancies and babies and while I normally love that I felt that I needed to step away for a while. I’ve been surprised at how good it’s felt for my own well-being.

img_4635

Pearl and I went on a fun adventure, just the two of us. We took a day trip into Vancouver, walking on the ferry and spending the day downtown. It was rainy and busy but we had a blast and I can’t wait to try it again when the weather’s better. We walked around a lot (her mostly in her stroller), Pearl had her first drink at Starbucks (steamed milk), and we rode the SeaBus just for fun (Pearl’s first time).

img_4607

Recently, Pearl had an appointment with the speech therapist. At her 18-month check-up, she wasn’t quite hitting the amount of words they expected her to have at that age (around 20) so we went on a wait list for speech therapy. By the time the therapist contacted me, Pearl had added a lot of words to her vocabulary; Peter and I estimate she has about 50 words now. It didn’t seem like it would do any harm to have her assessed by a professional though and to see if there was anyway we could help her along. I wasn’t sure how it would go since Pearl isn’t always the most outgoing around strangers. The therapist was awesome though, having a tea party with Pearl and bringing out lots of toys to engage her, all while surreptitiously jotting down her observations.

In the end, our suspicions were confirmed – Pearl is totally fine! It’s been apparent that she understands what we’re saying, including multi-step ideas (like, “Go get your boots and put them on”) and she’s adding new words to her speech everyday. She’s simply learning at her own pace and that’s okay! Just this past week or so she’s begun putting two words together to form sentences (“Hi mum!). I’m still glad that I took advantage of the appointment, plus I learned a little more about how to aid her speech development along. I can’t wait to hear what she says next!

I Made This!

img_4308

Don’t get excited – I’m not about to show you anything impressive. I am decidedly un-crafty and not a hands-on kind of person so I’m pleased that I actually made something.

Pictured above is what I started with. Four wooden boxes found for free. When Peter and I spotted them I was sure I could do something with them. At the time, Peter was re-doing our deck and didn’t want to take on anything that involved sanding or painting (fair enough) but I was sure I could figure it out.

img_4319

My first step was to sand the boxes. I used a sander! A power tool!

img_4341

I bought wood glue at the hardware store and glued the boxes together. I used my heaviest books to weigh them down.

img_4392

Then I painted. Above is after one coat of paint. I did two but this was the longest DIY project ever so there was about a month where it sat half-painted in our carport. We had some leftover paint from when we painted our kitchen after we renovated last summer so I just used that. It’s a very, very light green.

img_4649

And the finished project! This corner of our living room (where our Christmas tree was a month ago) is now Pearl’s little play corner. I don’t love having all her toys in our living room but we have a small house and this lets her room be a quiet, sleeping place with just her books and stuffed animals. We have one other basket full of Duplo and a wooden box for her trains. And now I’m wondering if Pearl’s toy stash is excessive…At least this keeps them contained and easy to put away and Pearl seemed happy with the finished product.

If anyone needs any woodworking tips, let me know!

“The Lord was with Joseph”

We’ve lurched our way into 2017 in our household with bad colds for Pearl and I. Peter and I made it to 10:30 on New Year’s Eve and I spent most of January 1st in bed. Pearl picked up the illness from me and has had a rough couple of nights recently. Despite that, I’m hopeful for 2017. I’ve set some goals (I don’t know why that sounds better to me than resolutions but it does) and while the year may not look the way I hoped it would last summer, I am still looking forward to what it does bring.

Our house, morning of Christmas Eve.

Our house, morning of Christmas Eve.

As we enter into a new year, the story of Joseph has been on my mind. I know, not exactly seasonally appropriate but here’s what’s been on my mind.

Growing up, I heard this story a lot. Joseph and his dreams, Joseph and his colourful coat. Joseph and his brothers, more dreams, his success in Egypt. It’s told as a success story. It all worked out because in the end Joseph saves his family from famine. His brothers betray him, sell him into slavery, and lie to their father but it has a happy ending.

That’s not a false telling of the story but what’s struck me recently is that this couldn’t have been God’s ideal plan for Joseph and his family. Joseph is the son of Jacob, the great-grandson of Abraham. For four generations God has been promising to expand this particular family. God has promised that a great king will come from Abraham’s line, that Abraham descendants will be more numerous than the stars in the sky. It was never in God’s plan to let this family die of starvation three generations later. God could have kept them alive and safe in their own land. But He didn’t because Joseph’s brothers sinned hugely. Jealous of their younger brother, they could barely restrain themselves from killing him. Instead, they sold him into slavery in a foreign land where he suffered for years. He served in other men’s households. He was accused of crimes he didn’t commit. He spent years in prison. Genesis tells us that Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh. His entire youth was spent in slavery and imprisonment.

We know less about what Joseph’s brothers were up to in that time but what we do know points to them suffering too. Aside from a devastating famine, we know that Judah at least has turned from his brothers and raised sons who are “wicked in the sight of the Lord” and things degrade (Genesis 38, that’s a whole other story). We know also that the brothers are wracked with guilt for what they did to Joseph. When they stand in Joseph’s presence in Egypt and don’t recognize him, one of their first reactions to Joseph testing their honesty is to recall how Joseph begged for his life and they didn’t listen. No matter how many years have passed, his cries still echo in their ears.

My point is that none of this would have been what God wanted for this chosen family. God uses it, yes; Joseph remains obedient to God and faithful in his worship no matter the circumstances and God raises him up to a position where he’s able to help his family. But I don’t think God’s perfect plan involved those years of suffering for the brothers. It didn’t involve what followed for the Israelites – enslavement, escape, wandering through the desert.

Park time on Christmas Eve.

Park time on Christmas Eve.

I take comfort in this because I don’t think the way 2016 unfolded was God’s perfect plan for my life. We live in a sinful, fallen world, just as Joseph did and that means death and decay and broken hearts. It’s so hard to understand why an all-powerful God doesn’t step in and fix these things but as Christian we also believe that He is doing so. That when He sent His Son to die for us on the cross, that was the beginning of fixing all things. Making all things new. We’re not there yet and so we suffer. We suffer because we know that things are not as they should be. Just as Joseph suffered, knowing that his life should have been different, even as he gained power in Pharaoh’s court.

img_4536

Snowy Christmas Day in Vancouver.

Joseph trusted that God could redeem what had happened to him. That enslavement and betrayal was not the end of the story. We don’t know what Joseph’s relationship was like with his brothers after they were all reunited in Egypt. I can’t imagine that it was ever as good as it could have been. There are wounds that are not healed this side of Heaven. But the healing process can begin on this side. God works in our lives now, despite the sin, despite the roadblocks we try to put in His way. He works now. He is working now.

A ferry ride home.

A ferry ride home.

I am excited to see how God unfolds His plan for our family in 2017.

(The story of Joseph is find in Genesis 37-47.)

Snow Day (and other Christmasy moments)

img_4438

We don’t get a lot of snow in our part of Canada and when we do it tends to melt away pretty quickly. Despite seeing snow in the forecast, it was a lovely surprise to look outside this morning and realize the white stuff really was coming down.

img_4433

Pearl’s seen snow just once before in her twenty-one months of life. Last year on Christmas Eve we drove up to a slightly higher altitude so that she could experience it. This morning, as the flakes were coming down, I bundled her up and we went for a walk right away because I wasn’t sure if it would last all day. (It’s now past noon and it’s stopped snowing though there’s still a little on the ground.)

img_4432

Thank goodness for hand-me-down snowsuits from older cousins!

It’s wet and slushy and it won’t be here long but Pearl had a blast stomping and playing and insisting I make more snowballs. Today nicely corresponds with a professional development day so our local park was full of kids out playing in the snow.

And then we came home and cuddled up with warm milk, banana loaf, and The Littlest Hobo.

img_4439

It’s definitely feeling like Christmas around here. This past weekend we went out on our annual Great Christmas Tree Hunt and we found a good one.

img_7560
img_4418img_4422img_7543img_7552

Pearl’s not that in to looking at the camera these days.

We picked a full-sized tree this year in hopes that Pearl’s old enough to understand that she has to leave it alone. So far, so good. She loves when we turn on the lights and is delighted by all the new little decorations around the house for her to play with.

img_4426img_7567img_7569

Every day Pearl is growing and learning and it feels like every day we have more fun together. I’m so excited to watch her enjoy her second Christmas.

Monday Thoughts

Lots of puddle weather recently.

Lots of puddle weather recently

Grief is a strange, lurking beast. While I’m prepared for it in many ways, it surprises me at so many other moments. Sometimes I can ready myself, steel my thoughts against it. And sometimes it simply appears.

Pearl and I went to get our flu shots today and I’d forgotten one of the questions they always ask:

“Is there any chance that you’re pregnant?”

Sometimes, I’m completely undone by these moments. By a reference to pregnancy loss in a television show or stumbling across a pregnancy announcement on Facebook. And sometimes I can take a deep breath and carry on with my day.

Fortunately, today was a deep breath kind of day. “No. I’m not pregnant,” I told the woman who was just doing her job. Pearl and I got our shots. Pearl was brave and only cried a little and then enjoyed playing with bubbles and fell in love with the stuffed Panda the nurse gave her. Today was a good day.

This is the box her Duplo came in. She loves to sit in it.

This is the box her Duplo came in. She loves to sit in it.

Pearl is 20 months and a bit and is full of personality. Her vocabulary is slowly increasing (this morning she said cheese!) but even without words she knows how to make herself understood. She is full of energy and affection and laughter.

Big Bear going for a ride in Peter's backpack.

Big Bear going for a ride in Peter’s backpack.

She’s in a swim class this fall and loves it and we have lots of fun. Bath times are full of kicking and splashing now too. She meows whenever she sees a picture of a cat and will set up tea parties for her four best stuffed animal friends. She hates getting dressed most mornings and wants to wear her pyjamas all day. She likes to brush her own teeth. She continues to want to live on a diet of carbs and cheese but will eat almost anything in smoothie form.

Pearl’s most consistent words are “dad” and “mum”. It took a while for her to say “mum” and now that she does it makes me so happy.

She loves this guy a lot.

She loves this guy a lot.

I’m reading a lot of the Psalms lately, working my way through slowly, using those beautiful poems as a jumping off place for my own prayers. I find a lot of comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in my sorrows, that God has heard and answered other anguished cries.

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Why are You so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer,
and by night I find no rest.

Yet You are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In You our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and You delivered them.
To You they cried and were rescued;
in You they trusted and were not put to shame.

Psalm 22:1-5

This past weekend, Peter and I got to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of friends. “Only forty-three and a half more years to go!” we told each other. I’m sure you don’t get to 50 years without some ups and downs and some sorrow and lots of laughter. (I can tell you that you don’t get to six years of marriage without those things.) I’m so glad that God brought such a good partner into my life to make this journey.

I just realized that almost all of these photos are Peter and Pearl. That says a lot about what a fantastic dad he is, I think. But just for good measure, here’s one of Pearl and I:

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday!

Halloween 2016

Yesterday evening Pearl went trick-or-treating for the first time ever. She also ate candy for the first time so all in all, it was a very big day.

img_7482

We weren’t sure what we were going to do with Pearl this year. Knowing there will be many years ahead of us where she’s eager to trick-or-treat and dress up, it didn’t seem crucial to push her into this year. Especially when there’s no way she’ll be eating all that candy!

But a hat she already had and a fifty cent costume from the thrift store and we couldn’t resist. So here you have Winnie-the-Pooh!

We went out early, trick-or-treating in our local mall, which was busier than Peter or I had ever seen it before. Pearl didn’t quite understand and at first tried to give her candy back. We didn’t stay long but she seemed to enjoy herself. A quick stop at the grandparents’ and three little candies later and it was home to bed.

Next year will probably be really crazy!

img_7480 img_7477

Autumn Leaves and Gumboots

Please enjoy this picture of my child posing with an apple from which she has taken several tiny bites:

img_7437

Also, she chose to wear that romper over top of the clothes I had dressed her in. I did not expect battles over clothing to begin so early in our mother-daughter relationship.

Every September I feel like the only person on the internet who isn’t super excited about fall. I mean, I like fall but my favourite season is definitely summer. Living on the West Coast means that autumn is not about crisp leaves and bright cold days. It’s about rain and more rain. And I’m a Vancouver girl so I actually like the rain but I also know that I’m going to be seeing a lot of it in the next months.

I also have a really take-it-or-leave-it attitude about pumpkins. Phew. Feels good to confess all that.

Pearl, however, loves the autumn leaves. She likes to collect as many as she can and then scatter them all over the playground.

img_4173

This time last year, I had a baby who had just started crawling so I could get away with spending a lot more time indoors. However, since last spring, Pearl and I have spent time outside almost every single day and I do want to continue that. Gum boots and toddler rain suits are essential wardrobe items here.

It’s recently been extra stormy around here with wind and weather warnings. We’re fortunate in our part of the world to avoid a lot of extreme weather but for once we were being told we should prepare for power outages and stock up on canned food. In the end, it was a lot of rain and some strong winds.

That stormy Friday, Pearl and I did spend most of the day inside. I made cookies and a second pot of coffee and, aside from a quick run to the mailbox, we didn’t set foot outdoors. Fortunately, the mailbox held Pearl’s latest book from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and that kept her pretty entertained for a while. In the afternoon I got a phone call from the hospital to confirm my 20 week ultrasound and had to phone back to inform them that I was no longer pregnant. Pearl only napped for an hour and a half and I was feeling pretty crummy so I did something we rarely do and let Pearl have some screen time.

I found The Littlest Hobo on Youtube, set Pearl and I up with some snacks and we cuddled together while we watched the dog help a man wrongfully accused of murder. Pearl loved it – she helpfully pointed out whenever the dog was onscreen – and I felt a lot better too.

I’m doing lots of reading, lots of coffee drinking, and lots of toddler cuddling.

Summer 2016…and some other news

Now that we’re well on our way into September and heading steadily towards autumn, I think I can just squeak in a bit of a summer re-cap.

IMG_3969

It was a perfectly normal, low-key, Coastal summer for us. The Sunshine Coast is one of the best places on Earth to spend the summer. It’s what we all tell ourselves as we live through the rainy, grey days of fall, winter, and (let’s be honest) most of spring.

Peter and I were both fortunate enough to be able to work part-time for the summer and so we did our best to balance work and family time, trading off to take care of Pearl while spending time all together too.

IMG_3956

There were lots of hikes and lots of beach time. We went camping with Pearl for the first time at the end of June. (You can read about that fun here.)

It went well enough that we tried it again in August, this time with two other families. These friends of ours also have little girls younger than Pearl. The older Pearl gets the more thankful I am to have friends in this stage of life. There have been many shared walks and talks in recent months and we had a blast camping together. (And no judgement about going to bed early!)

IMG_3986

On that camping trip, Pearl got to experience a canoe for the first time. For the first ten minutes she screamed about the unnatural horror of floating on water and then settled down and enjoyed herself. Peter also took her out on a paddle board for the first time.

IMG_3981

I opted for a more solo paddle-boarding experience.

On August 21st, Peter and I celebrated six years of marriage with a ferry ride and a fancy dinner out, just the two of us.

IMG_7375

And we topped our summer off with a visit from family where Pearl got seriously loved on from her big cousins. As she grows, it’s so fun to watch her interactions with these guys.

IMG_4007

Pearl is now 18 months. She has strong opinions and strong affections. She doesn’t say much yet but she can run and climb like nobody’s business. This summer we’ve really seen her imagination develop. She pretends with her stuffed animal friends and often seems to be making up her own little games.

IMG_3904

Like putting Big Bear in her high chair and feeding him crackers. She’s also excellent at sharing imaginary soups and making her stuffed animals give each other bunny kisses. She understands a lot of what we say and even if she doesn’t verbally respond yet, she makes her desires known and is getting pretty good at obeying simple instructions.

IMG_7379

But what’s really kept me busy this summer….

IMG_7383

That little rascal in the bottom left corner…

…and the little one who has made its presence known through fatigue and nausea all summer! (The real world, physical arrival will take place some time around March 10th in the new year and we couldn’t be more excited to see our family grow!)