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 The pictures are pretty outdated (one page definitely borders on the offensive) but the story is sweet and simple and has a nice rhythm to it.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!

Advertisements

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!

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.)