Kenora Day Trip

Every autumn our local electricity providers shut the hydro down for a day in order to do work on the lines. Last year it was mercifully cancelled and the year before that my dad was in town and we did a day trip to Pickle Lake. This year we wanted to do something new so we set out for Kenora on Sunday, right after the house went dark. It’s about three hours away, and we’ve only gone there a few times intentionally (as in, not part of a trip to or from Manitoba).

Unfortunately it started to pour rain about halfway there, so any hopes of hanging out at the beach, going to a park, or just wandering around downtown were dashed. We still tried to make the most of it, but it sort of turned into a long drive with no purpose other than to kill time! First we visited Egli’s Sheep Farm just outside of Dryden, where M pointed at every sheepskin item and said “Kitty!” We bought her a small hunk of sheepskin; one of those magic pet toys that moves if you stroke it. She doesn’t understand how it works but she likes to grab it and yell KITTY so I figure it’s sparing the cats, at least.

In Vermilion Bay we had lunch at Buster’s BBQ, a restaurant we have driven by countless times, always noting we should go inside one day. With nothing better to do and no looming plans, it seemed like a good time to try it, and hilariously we were not the only ones with the same idea because as we were getting ready to leave, Matt’s brother and one of our friends walked in. The food is really tasty, especially the barbecue sauce. They’re award winners, and I can see why.

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In Kenora we ran into major road construction which landed us, conveniently, at the front door of the Lake of the Woods Brewing Company. Matt ran in and bought two growlers while M slept in the car, then we drove around in the rain for awhile, realizing that practically nothing was open.

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Eventually we turned the car around and headed to Dryden, where we had dinner, then back home. It was a good day, albeit a bit gloomy. I wish it hadn’t rained, but I’d rather be on the road in the rain than sitting at home in the dark in the rain!

It’s amazing how having no power makes everything feel boring — we’re so used to having lights and games and internet access at our disposal. I think 80% of the people I know in town left for the day in order to avoid being in the dark. Once we got back Matt built a fire and cracked open one of the bottles of beer, and I was grateful that we were only missing electricity for one day.

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Year Two

I’m not sure how many of you are new parents (or experienced parents — I bow down to you) but if you are, you may nod your head in recognition of this second anniversary scenario:

After an early dinner out at a restaurant, probably our third solo date since having M, and a short visit to a lakeside park to admire the stars, we got back in the car and started in the direction of home. It was just after 8 p.m., I was incapable of stopping myself from yawning over and over, and we were debating whether we should go out for a drink just so we wouldn’t end up at home early enough that my dad would laugh at us.

“Most people aren’t even going OUT until 8 o’clock,” said Matt.

So that’s year two. We did end up going out for that drink but called it a night right after that — the baby actually was more awake than us when we got home.

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Second anniversary car selfie — swanky.

I’m a believer in the idea of seasons of life (because this is how I remind myself that I won’t be exhausted forever) and our current season is one that is not particularly glamorous. That’s not to say that I don’t love it — but our couple time, which is admittedly not very frequent, is more centered around pajamas and Netflix than fancy clothes and cocktails.

So our second anniversary celebration wasn’t glitzy, but it was us. That’s what our whole year was like. Maybe it’s easy to feel like you’re in a fairytale romance when you’re still flying high in the newlywed season, but for us, our marriage and our romance drifts toward the practical side, these days. Love isn’t a bouquet of roses, it’s someone remembering to wash the towels.

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In this case, it was a bouquet of flowers from which Matt instructed the clerk to remove every carnation because he knows his wife hates them.

It’s a bucket of ice cream in the freezer after a rough day. It’s the hilarity that is my husband picking out the baby’s outfits and explaining to me, in great detail and seriousness, why he chose that particular combination.

I’ve learned that whatever brand of romance we have, it won’t nurture itself and it requires some form of effort, even if that effort is as simple as agreeing to stay up a half hour later so we can talk and reconnect. Our second year was all about family — growing, welcoming, learning to adjust to the changes. I’m not sure what our third year will bring, but I’m excited to find out.

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M at 10 Months

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Yesterday, M turned 10 months old. In the last few weeks she seems to have blossomed even more. About once a week I turn to Matt and say, “How is she so grown up?!”

Stats:

Once again I don’t have definitive answers (sorry, M). She is taller than average and I believe she is weighing in somewhere around 21 lbs. No new teeth — as far as I can tell; she won’t let me look in her mouth. Her hair is filling in and growing a lot!

Nicknames:

Sometimes I call her Monkey when I’m grabbing her out of her crib. She’s usually just Baby or her real name, though.

Temperament:

This is the month where she has started throwing actual tantrums. Nothing over the top but she will grump at us if she doesn’t get what she wants, anywhere from a dirty look and a grunt to red faced crying. What she wants is usually something she can’t have — a cookie, a beer, you get the idea — so she is learning about that concept. When she isn’t upset about that, though, she’s cheerful. Most of her stranger danger has gone away and she will warm up to people relatively quickly. She likes to share and is always handing us things (then snatching them back).

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Skills:

Another skills explosion month! She easily stands on her own now, pushing herself up from sitting/squatting without holding onto anything. She will hang onto toys while standing and shake them. She loves to drum her hands on anything that makes noise. She has the hang of her xylophone more, now, and makes music — and she loves to dance! She is deliberately pushing buttons and hitting things on toys to make noises or reactions. She waves if you say bye-bye, says “kitty” and “dada/daddy” and “mama” clearly, and has learned how to sign for “more” although her version of it is just clapping so far. She giggles to herself all day long and seems to understand cause and effect. And, Matt taught her to point!

Sleep:

This week has been a wash, with houseguests in town — any time there’s something happening in the house she is bound and determined to stay awake. But, she has been napping once a day, for an hour to three hours (usually two). I think she needs a second nap because by dinner time she’s upset and sleepy, but she refuses to sleep more than once so we may just be in a transition. Still, it’s kind of nice to finally have her on a somewhat routine naptime schedule, because I know that sometime between 10:30 a.m. to noon-ish, she will be sleeping. Her nighttime sleep is decent, though she has been waking up early and occasionally not wanting to go back to sleep.

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Eating:

Still hasn’t found a food she doesn’t like! She insists on having utensils, now, and can sometimes actually spear something with her fork. I have been letting her have bowls and plates and she’s doing a good job at not throwing them more often than not. This month I discovered she loves scrambled eggs, and so far, we have had no bad allergy experiences for which I am very thankful. She started having straw cups of cows milk a few days after she turned nine months old (the Canadian recommendation is that you can start around then) and she loves it.

We are still breastfeeding five or six times during the day — when she wakes up, before her nap, after her nap, once or twice in the later evening and once before bed. Most of these are short sessions and I am wondering what daycare will do to all of this because I really don’t want to have to pump that much. I’m hoping she will drop some feedings and we can still nurse in the morning and at night.

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Clothing:

Kind of in a no-man’s land, here. She is tall enough that her 12-18 month wardrobe fits in the legs but is a bit baggy in the waist. Some of her 6-9 month stuff still fits, and the 6-12 stuff is good but generally too short in the legs. I ordered her a few 9-12 month items on consignment, but I think she is going to be in 12-18 month stuff that is just a tiny bit too big. One thing I’m looking forward to about her getting older is not having to switch things out every three months!

Loves:

Her cats. Oh how she loves the cats. Her first word in the morning is usually “KITTY!” and she points up at the window where a cat may or may not be. She outright tackles Marbles to pet him (and she has actually learned to swish her hand back and forth to pet). She loves to eat and as soon as I put her in her highchair she starts smacking her lips. She loves to pull hair but we don’t really love that. Bath time is a current favourite, and she loves to read/be read to. She will pick up books and bring them to us, or she’ll flip one open and start babbling to herself.

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Hates:

Getting dressed and getting changed. As soon as she’s on the change table she’s upset.

Mom and Dad:

Enjoying a bit of quality time together while my dad is in town! Actually, both of M’s grandpas babysat her on Saturday night. It was relatively brief but they said she was quite happy and spent most of her time bugging my in-law’s dog who is also visiting. We are still sort of dreading the looming daycare/back to work switch up but I think the anticipation of it and the changes and challenges it will bring will be worse than the actual adjustment.

Things to Remember:

Time spent with family members, her joy at finally getting to have noisemaking toys, the time we swore she was going to walk in the basement (the carpeted floor enabled her to shuffle herself a bit), the reappearance of MAMAMAMA.

Dear M,

A few days ago your daddy and Poppa and Grandpa were out getting us firewood to keep us warm this winter. You and I had been at home all day and part of it did not go smoothly. You woke up from your nap as soon as you went down, because there was more commotion than you are used to. This made you grumpy until you went back to sleep a few hours later. We were both tired and a bit frazzled, but I had to make dinner for everyone. You were in the living room playing, content after getting your nap, but you wanted me to join you. You kept crawling up to the baby gate with different toys in your hand — blocks, Mama? Rattle, mama?

It broke my heart in a small way. Oh, M, I wish I could spend all of my days playing with you. I wish I didn’t have adult responsibilities like dinner and work and grocery shopping and cleaning. I wish I could always be with you. Soon you will learn that, like Dada leaves the house to go to work, so does Mama. I will not be there for you to wave your toys at from the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (or something like that). I will be off doing adult things, and your babyhood will continue on. But you will have friends and providers who can play with you, like I want to, and we will both get what we need to get done, done.

Over the next month I will be doing all I can to put aside my adult needs and soak in this last bit of uninterrupted time with you. You are only this little once, and you keep getting bigger, and I am sad to see the days tick by while being thrilled for you that you are learning and growing and so excited about it and proud of yourself. We will strike a balance between playtime and work time and settle into our new normal, again. Just know that I am never too busy to truly be there for you, and if you need me, you have me.

Love always,

Mama

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Be Grateful

Fall always seems nostalgic and important and melancholy and beautiful to me. Maybe that’s overwrought but it’s true. Especially right now, with M’s birthday in two months, and our anniversary in a few days.

I keep thinking back to this time last year. What we planned for and hoped for and desired and how the year has played out. Some things have been awful and some, wonderful. We’ve still got a roof over our heads and a sense of love and joy.

What will this winter hold? I don’t know. Already we are better prepared than last year and I’m grateful to everyone who has helped make that possible.

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For whatever reason — one I can’t really place — I feel like we are on the cusp of something. I’m not sure what it is. It could just be the changing season. But there is no way to know what life has in store for us, and all I can do is ride out this feeling.

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Second Anniversary Gift Ideas – Under $60

We’re closing in on our second anniversary, and are attempting to stick with traditional gifts again this year. Cotton is really friggin’ hard to gift, you guys. Last year was simple — how can you go wrong with paper? I framed the artwork I bought Matt for our wedding (okay, so that was a stretch, but it’s still paper-y) and he made me homemade artwork, a paper message in a bottle, and a card. Cotton is a tricky bastard.

Why? I guess because you’re either buying something painfully practical — new underwear? — or you’re looking at gift guides that say things like, “Buy a cotton robe and stuff a zillion dollars in the pocket!” I do not have a zillion dollars. I read somewhere that the second anniversary is cotton because it signifies a couple becoming more comfortable with one another. We are comfy and we are also not rolling in cash. But $60, I can swing.

2nd Anniversary Gifts

#1 – [COTTON SCARF] Okay, so this one from Indigo is actually modal but whatever. It has hearts on it, which is good for an anniversary, right? Cotton scarves aren’t hard to find. I wouldn’t buy one for my husband but if your particular spouse is into scarves, have at it.

#2 – [A MUG] Did you know the modern 2nd anniversary gift material is china? Stoneware isn’t china but it’s close enough if you ask me. We play loose with the anniversary rules! Cute mugs are aplenty online, or you can buy a plain one and jazz it up with a Sharpie a la Pinterest. Bonus points if you find a cotton mug warmer to add on to it.

#3 – [HANDKERCHIEF] This one’s for the fellas (or the hankie-toting ladies). I normally try to keep these gift guides Canada-friendly so FYI, if you are Canadian, it’s really not economical to shop at Izola but their stuff is fun to drool over. This hankie says “It’s written in the stars” which is anniversary appropriate. If you’re Canadian I’d check out the Bay or Etsy.

#4 – [HAMMOCK CHAIR] You aren’t gonna find a hand crafted hammock for under $60 but you can probably find a hammock chair! This Costco deal rings in at $59.99 making it the most expensive item on this list. I almost bought it but decided it was impractical given that it’s going to snow any minute now.

$5 – [COTTON PJs & SPECIAL TREATMENT] Okay, go ahead and buy the cotton robe or cotton pajamas (PJs are way cheaper and psst, these Aerie pants come in long lengths OMG) BUT do your spouse a favour and add a bit more onto the gift than just loungewear. Give them a promise of special treatment to go with their pants — I would be thrilled if I got comfy new sweats plus a swanky bath plus a day off of making dinner.

#6 [DIY COTTON ART] I mean, you could buy art, too, but DIYing it is the way to go if you’re looking to save money. I would have done this but have zero time this year. Pinterest is full of neat ideas, and canvas = cotton. You could also buy cotton paper and write a love letter. Aww.

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