A is One

A year. A year! How has it been a year? This boy who once fit into the crook of my arm, squishy face folded into his soft and warm body, hands clenched tight and eyes shut against the onslaught of the world… he stands, he claps, he smiles and laughs a laugh that is bigger than his body. It breaks my heart and thrills me all at once.

Stats:

The biggest change: we have one new tooth, not a moral (I don’t think) but one of the upper teeth beside it. It took forever to come through and is just starting to look like an actual tooth now.

Nicknames:

M has taken to calling him Mr. Cuckoo Face. She saw a photo of a baby on my phone and inquired, “Is that Cuckoo Face?” so I think it stuck. Her in utero nickname for him was Dump so I guess Cuckoo Face is better.

Temperament:

He is a happy boy, unless he’s tired. When he’s tired, but interested in what’s going on around him (like in the nursery at playgroup) he tries hard to keep engaged and cheerful but the slightest things make him wail. And lately he has been displaying true hangry behaviour — it’s easy to tell when he is hungry, which he must get from his mama. The one other big stressor for him is having something taken away from him or out of his hands, whether it’s something he shouldn’t have or not. He throws himself to the ground and shrieks, which makes me nervous for future tantrums!

Skills:

His skills have exploded in many ways this month! He stands without holding onto things now, but has to be tricked into it a bit — we clap our hands and he claps back. He has started imitating some noises, faces, and movements, and thinks that sticking out his tongue while saying aaaaaaah is hilarious. He took a few shuffling steps without realizing but has yet to really walk. He says yay, Dada, Mama, Poppa, a rudimentary version of M’s name, his own renditions of water and banana, and said ‘kitty’ one time. I’m sure he’s saying other things that we don’t quite understand yet.

Eating:

He still seems to love most foods, though he recently repeatedly spat out pieces of curried chicken pot pie. He particularly loves fruit of all types, dates, and yogurt. In terms of nursing he is still at it fairly frequently, night and day, and shows no signs of disinterest (which will be fine to manage, because I’m staying home still!). He also has a new affinity for water, but he’s not that interested in cow’s milk.

Sleeping:

Getting a tiny, tiny bit better now that that tooth is through. He’s up two to three times at night, and naps are spotty.

Clothing:

Nothing new! He still hates boots and socks. Most of the time he’s just in a diaper until I have to leave the house because he’s so wiggly to get dressed, and he is still a super messy eater.

Loves:

Pushing things around the house, clapping, happening upon a cat at his level, pulling apart paper, laundry, and wipes, music.

Doesn’t Love:

Getting dressed, getting cleaned, anyone other than me arriving in his room when he’s crying at night, having things taken away from him, having to share with M.

Things to Remember:

A fun pre-birthday visit with his Poppa, meeting Santa for the first time (no tears!), the hilarity of him shoving various objects around the house in circles, the morning he woke up cheerful and played in his crib alone until we got him, for the first time ever.

Mom and Dad:

I am officially self-employed which feels like entering into new territory as a parent! I’m nervous but hopeful that it will work out. And I never did find childcare for A, so I don’t know what the heck I would be trying to pull off right now if I had gone back to my old job. We’ve been having fun with A, and M, and that’s what I’m trying to keep in my sights through the holidays.

Looking Forward To:

More Christmas fun! A loves the tree, and pulling on ribbons on gifts. And of course, all of the big changes that will be coming for him now that he’s a year old and out of babyhood proper — walking, talking, and more of that sweet personality developing.


Dear A,

What a year it has been with you. I can hardly remember what it was like before you — it seems so distant and foreign and strange to consider our three-person family. You have fit in so perfectly that it feels like a different lifetime when you weren’t here. I’m glad you came to be with us. 

You love us as much as we love you, as far as I can tell. You delight in spending time with your sister (even when you two struggle with sharing and getting along, thanks to being two stubborn personalities together!). You love when your dad comes home, and most of the time when I open your door to retrieve you after a nap, you’re beaming at me. 

We think you might be a musician when you grow up. You can’t help but dance and wiggle to any melody or beat you hear, and instruments are one of your favourite things. I always find you perched by your dad’s guitar, strumming the strings and looking around to make sure we heard you.

Whatever you are going to be, I know that you are going to be great at it, if you keep true to your sweet, strong, vibrant self. I’m so happy I get to see it unfold.

Happy first birthday, baby.

Love always,

Mama

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M is Four

My wild, wonderful, big-hearted, strong willed girl,

Yesterday you turned four. You looked at your hands with disappointment when you woke up, looked at me, and said, “They’re still little.”

And you are still little, in many ways. You’re bigger than you realize, though. There is no baby left in you anymore, not even when you sleep at night. You had told us all year that you would stop sucking your thumb when you started kindergarten, and you did just that. Now, when I peek in on you, wrapped up in the blankets on your loft bed, your hands stay off to the side and you sleep without that crutch that carried you through babyhood and toddlerhood. Your body is strong and lean and fast and your brain, and your mouth, and your ideas are strong and fast too.

Your personality is also big. It always has been, but in the past year it has exploded off the pages of your book of life, and you are a wonder to behold. When I go out without you and people recognize me as your mom I hear stories about you, all about the stories you tell people, the quotable phrases that sprout from your vivid imagination. “You could make a book from what she says” is something I hear often.

Amidst your vivaciousness there is tenderness. When you aren’t whaling on your brother you’re hugging him and telling him knock knock jokes to make him laugh, because when you laugh, he laughs. Picking you up from school is one of the best parts of both of your days, I think, because you’re reunited and that makes both of you happy.

From a three year old to a four year old you’ve done and said a lot but I think the biggest shift has been to your role as big sister. You love to take care of A and are quite insistent that you can do things for him yourself (you’ve tried to change his diaper on your own!). You two have forged your own friendship, and your own Baby Band, and I hope you always love each other this much, because it’s where you truly shine.

You are a delight. And you are going to harness the world.

Love always,

Mama

A at 11 Months

A turned 11 months old yesterday!

Stats:

As usual, I’m not sure. He weighed in at 10 kg (22 lbs) when I had to take him to emerg for strep and a double ear infection, and that was earlier this month, so he has to be more than that now!

Nicknames:

Abrummy, mostly. Even M has started with that.

Temperament:

We’ve been battling illness for most of the month — the previously mentioned strep and ear infections, and now a brutal cold. So he’s been grumpy. He’s happy when he’s out and about and doing things with people, but when it’s just him and me, he lets his grouchy baby out. He is also seeming frustrated with things; I think he’s just old enough that he knows exactly what he wants but still can’t quite get at it, especially when it’s something someone is eating, or a closed door.

Skills:

He’s still cruising versus standing without support, and I would be surprised if he jumped that far ahead before his first birthday, but who knows! He started clapping this month, and will wave bye-bye (which looks more like slapping me in the chest, but whatever). He yells “ADDA” for Matt every morning, and we discovered at our AirBnB rental last weekend that he can climb stairs.

Eating:

He loves pickles and oranges. He has the hang of straws now, so he’s been drinking water, and particularly enjoyed a Booster Juice smoothie in Winnipeg. We haven’t really committed to giving him cow’s milk yet. He’s still nursing but he can handle much longer periods of time without breastmilk, which is good because he never really took a bottle.

Sleeping:

Nope. And now his daytime sleep has turned sour, too. I am very tired.

Clothing:

The same things he was wearing last month, with the addition of snowsuits now that there’s a foot of snow on the ground! I just ordered him his first winter boots and he’s going to have to get over his hatred of shoes.

Loves:

Shoes. He knocked over the shoe rack in the AirBnB trying to get at them all! He is still very social and loves new people and places. He likes to get into things — his sister’s room, the snack cabinet, underneath tables and behind chairs. He makes music with all of his instruments, loves to dance, loves YouTube videos of OK Go, and has recently taken to smashing M’s toy kitchen pots and pans together to make his own beat.

Doesn’t Love:

Crawling through snow, though he was pretty happy to sit in it! Diaper changes, getting his constantly booger-y face wiped, having to sleep.

Things to Remember:

We had a fun trip to Winnipeg with the four of us, M’s “very best friend” and her mom, and A had a blast just hanging out at the AirBnB with Matt! He did fantastically in the car seat, too, even when we split up for the ride back and he was solo with Matt. We didn’t have to stop to feed him which was a welcome change.

How happy he is when he hears the FaceTime sound on our phones. He knows he’s going to see someone he likes!

Mom and Dad:

I am super sick too, and struggling with being so tired all of the time, but I’m still enjoying my time with him, of course! The days feel like they fly by and I can’t believe he’s almost a year old. Matt is able to take on more of an active role with him, now that he’s not so reliant on breastmilk, and I think that’s been nice for the two of them.

Looking Forward To:

Halloween tonight! He’s going to be a baby unicorn and M is insisting that he will collect candy, too. We’re making birthday preparations, too, and celebrating his (and M’s) a bit early as a joint party. My dad is visiting soon and it will be good to get more family together. And… maybe… sleep? At some point?


Dear A,

I just put you down for a nap and it was a struggle at first — you flipped and flopped in my arms and couldn’t decide what you wanted. I knew you were tired, but unlike your sister before you, I wield no magical nursing powers to force you to sleep. You can resist it, where she couldn’t. I remembered that last night, your dad sang to you after I fed you and you were out within minutes, so I creaked out a few terrible off-key songs with my germ-ravaged, congested voice, and watched as you blinked slower and slower until your lashes touched your cheeks and your mouth fell open.

That’s love, right there — mama’s horrible songs make you feel safe and relaxed enough to sleep. One day you’ll be telling me not to sing in the car, I’m sure, but for now, it’s exactly what you needed. I want to eat up every single one of these moments. I hope we can always lean on one another for what we need, especially for love.

Always,

Mama

Cultivating Gratitude in Kids

Gratitude Activities for Kids

Why Do We Need Gratitude Activities for Kids?

As a child, and even as an adult, I did not and do not want for much. I am lucky to have the means and the support to do, be, and get what I want (for the most part). My daughter is at an age where I am noticing how her childhood is much the same, and how it’s impacting her. While we do try to get her to work for rewards instead of just handing them over, we view a lot of things as no big deal, like grabbing her a new toy every time we do a big household shopping excursion, or stocking the cupboards with her favourite snacks and lunch items.

This past summer my husband and I realized that she was expecting all of these things, instead of understanding what a privilege they are. I’m not convinced we’ve managed to turn it around quite yet, and really, I think we can take responsibility for it, because it’s up to us to juggle entitlement and gratitude and all of those big, world-shaping concepts for our kids.

As Thanksgiving nears, I’ve been thinking about how to introduce gratitude activities for kids. It seems like the perfect starting point, and ideally, we can go from here and continue to cultivate gratitude as a family, more frequently. Grownups can look around and understand what they have versus what others do not, but I think it’s harder for kids, especially to do in an age appropriate way. I would also like to beyond a surface-skimming “Thank you.”

Here are some gratitude activities for kids, and all-around practices, that I’m considering!

Gratitude Activities for Kids

Easy Gratitude Activities for Kids

Learn Gratitude Together

Modelling gratitude is key. How can I expect my child to be grateful, if I am not showing her gratitude, myself? This comes in many forms, of course, but I plan to focus on expressing gratitude for my family and my own privileges, vocally and intentionally. By going deeper than thank you and into I am grateful for you/this/today because… she can see how my own life, and our family lives, are impacted by the world around us.

Make Gratitude an Every Day Occurrence

On a similar note, a lot of families incorporate a gratitude tradition daily, such as asking every family member to say what they are grateful for that day around the dinner table. This is sort of a whole-family version of a gratitude journal. I’m not sure that M is old enough yet — she isn’t keen on answering questions about her day! — but it could be beneficial as a modelling activity.

For kids who are old enough for a gratitude journal, there are some lovely and inspiring prompts available at Bounceback Parenting. In the world of pre-made gratitude journals, publishers are starting to pay attention to kids, too!

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Give Back, Together

This is part of modelling, but also helps kids take ownership of their gratitude and privilege. Whether it’s making a batch of soup every weekend to donate to the soup kitchen (something I may start doing with M), collecting unused household goods or food for those in need, volunteering time, or donating toys and clothes to others, giving back is important. So far M has helped us select food for the food bank, and has donated some of her own toys.

Fun Gratitude Activities

To kick start a focus on gratitude, or to pay the idea special attention, try some fun, more specific gratitude activities for kids! Fireflies and Mudpies has instructions for making and using gratitude stones with children. I’ve admired the rock painting/hiding trend going on around various communities! Teach Kids Art has more information on painting gratefulness rocks. On a similar crafty note, I Heart Naptime has a printable gratitude tree that is especially perfect for Thanksgiving.

Activity - Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

M is particularly into scavenger hunts right now, so the idea of a gratitude scavenger hunt seems like a good way to really introduce the idea in away that might stick! Click to download oyur own PDF copy of the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt.


I’m always happy to be directed to more resources, so if you have any other excellent gratitude activities for kids please share!