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.

Reading with Pearl: Train Edition

Some of Pearl’s favourites.

I’m not sure that Pearl has ever actually seen a train but she sure seems to enjoy stories about them. And there seem to be multiple classic children’s books revolving around trains. Our story selection tends toward mid-20th century and I’m having trouble thinking of more modern train stories. Any suggestions?

Pearl’s favourite of these currently is probably The Little Red Caboose. We found that one at a Goodwill in Portland and Pearl and I curled up in a chair in the furniture section to read it over and over again while Peter looked at clothes. The pictures are pretty outdated (one page definitely borders on the offensive) but the story is sweet and simple and has a nice rhythm to it.

On the other hand, Peter and I don’t love the story of Tootle which seems to preach the message of “stay in your lane and don’t try and be different”. Fortunately, Pearl seems to like it most for the pictures and I can understand that when some of them are of a train wearing a crown of daisies and frolicking in a field.

I’m a big fan of Bill Peet’s work and Pearl has just started to enjoy some of his stories. The Caboose Who Got Loose is a rhyming story with a happy ending and while longer than the others, I enjoy reading it.

Any recommendations for train stories out there? Especially anything from the 21st Century!

Reading with Pearl: Bunny Edition

Some of Pearl’s bunny books

If you ask Pearl currently what she wants to be when she grows up she will gleefully tell you, “A bunny!” This is mostly due to the book on the top left, When Bunny Grows Up. Regardless, bunnies are popular in our household and Pearl’s book collection reflects that. When Bunny Grows Up and Home for a Bunny are two of her very favourite books right now. In fact (mom brag coming), she can tell you page by page what happens in Home for a Bunny. (Spoiler alert: The ending involves two bunnies, which is very exciting for Pearl.) I found both of these Golden books at our local thrift store and was thrilled to find some lesser known works from Margaret Wise Brown, Garth Williams, and the Scarrys.

Nobunny’s Perfect by Anna Dewdney has been a good way to remind Pearl of manners, something we’ve worked on more and more as she gets older. Lately she’s been quite good with her “please” and “thank you” but we’re still learning about being gentle with other people. (Pulling hair and poking faces hurts!) The sweet pictures and the rhyme make it less of a nagging reminder and more of a fun story.

And, of course, Peter Rabbit is always a classic. This isn’t actually Pearl’s favourite Beatrix Potter – that honour goes to Jeremy Fisher – but she does seem to enjoy it and I like having the abridged version when I feel like I just don’t want to read the whole thing over again. And again. (I’ve read all of these books many, many times.)

Any bunny favourites in your households?

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

Life in June

June is coming to a hectic end and we are heading full force into July without a break in sight. But the sun is shining and Peter’s work schedule will (eventually) slow down so June is also getting really good. We spent a good portion of this past weekend at the beach, including a Saturday dinner picnic. Pearl loved playing in the sand and the creek and trying to find tiny crabs. Here are a few pictures from our life lately:

Our hikes (or “forest walks”, as Pearl calls them) often look like this when we have Bella around. Bella runs ahead and off the trail, Pearl runs after her, yelling, “Bewwa! Come!” Bella does not often listen.

The tricycle we found at a thrift store in Washington is a big hit. Pearl is now tall enough so that her feet can reach the pedals. Bike riding is limited to the carport/driveway currently but we have big plans to one day bike to the park.

“Pearl help!” is something I hear a lot. And while it would definitely be faster for me to empty the dishwasher myself (and the cutlery would get into the correct spots), I remind myself that we are (hopefully) instilling good habits. Plus, she’s such a cheerful and eager helper!

We are currently spending a lot of time in our backyard and in this little pool.

No one can say Pearl doesn’t know how to relax.

I decided to let go of keeping the play dough colours separate. It still makes me cringe when she mashes them all into one giant ball, but it also means I can let her play by herself and get something else done and that’s worth it to me in the long run.

We are currently making our lists of goals and dreams and projects for the summer. No big plans but lots of fun and friends and sunshine ahead, I hope.

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.

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!