M is Three

My little big girl,

I’m not allowed to call you my baby anymore, according to you. “I’m a BIG GIRL, Mama” is the response, and when I try to explain that you’re still my baby you firmly disagree, aided by the fact that there is an actual baby waiting in my belly. Maybe a month ago you came and laid down beside me after your bath and I marvelled at just how physically big you actually are, all legs stretching out and a body that never stills itself until you are completely locked into sleep. That’s the only time that you still look like my baby, actually, when you are snuggled up, quiet, breathing deeply with your thumb half in your mouth.

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All those glimpses of personality we saw emerging, almost from day one, are real parts of a real person, now. As a tiny baby you were frustrated when you couldn’t move, couldn’t talk, couldn’t get to where you wanted to go and tell us what you wanted to say. Now you are able to express those opinions in great, loud detail, and you make sure we know exactly what you want to do, how you feel, and how much you want to do things by yourself. Every weekday when you come in from school I laugh at how you fling your boots off of your feet, madly kicking at the air until they go flying.

At the same time you love to be a helper. It’s one of your favourite roles to take, at home and at preschool. You help your teachers with the younger kids, you pick up messes, you are utterly enamoured with Kii-go the fish. At home you want to fold laundry, cook dinner, build things and decorate things and get the woodstove going. You’re intensely proud of your accomplishments, and have mastered the art of being proud of yourself. I’m glad you’re proud, because we are, too. And you’ve been telling me that you are going to be the one to change baby brother’s diapers, so…

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On Mondays and Wednesdays I watch you trying to skate. The program doesn’t give the kids any aids to get up on the ice and you’ve been at it for a month, still trying to get your feet under you. You had one terribly frustrated day, but other than that, you’re content to keep trying, and when that doesn’t work, you’re just as content to make snow angels on the ice and try to entice the other kids to join you in your knee-scooting away from the teachers. When you toddle out into the stands you always want to know what sticker you got on your helmet, and to tell us that you “skated really, really hard today!”

At 2, 3, 4 a.m., I often hear your little feet hit the floor, running toward my room. You climb into bed with me and say, “I’m just bisiting you, Mommy.” And then you kick your freezing cold feet into me, snore in my ear, and gradually take over the entire bed until I lift you up and out to your own bedroom again. It drives me nuts but at the same time I love those quiet, dark moments, knowing that when you need comfort and warmth, you are secure in the knowledge of where to find it.

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Three years ago today we were all waking up out of a trying several days, and seeing your face made it all worthwhile. I cried a lot in those early days, not out of sadness, but because I loved you so much that my heart couldn’t bear it. Now we’re getting ready to do it all again with your brother, and I am so grateful to you for making me a mama, for showing me my own bravery, for teaching me the ways of motherhood so that I can do it all over again.

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At age three you love dinosaurs, mothering your stuffies, noodles, raiding the snack drawer I put in the fridge for you, NOT wearing jeans, stickers, a whole range of terrible children’s TV, babies, taking care of the cats, birthdays… and we love you. So much.

Always,

Mama

Twenty-Eight

My twenty-ninth spin around the sun begins today. For someone who pays attention to dates and calendars, it’s quite nice to have a birthday that falls shortly after the New Year. We mark the start of a new year, with all of its promise and potential, and a few weeks later I mark the start of my own new year, twelve months with birthdays as bookends. I have to laugh, looking back at my 27th birthday… it’s a rueful laugh, but a laugh nonetheless. I thought it would be a year of pressing play, and I had it all mapped out in my mind. If I had to compare it to any type of buttons one could push I guess I’d say we hit play, and then rewind, and then play, and then rewind a few more times, and then the tape got all messed up and we couldn’t wind the ribbon back in so we chucked the whole thing out the window (is that a dated reference or what?).

Much like 2015, I see 27 as my Lost Year. As it comes to a close I am very aware of how I am so far off of that imagined trajectory that I’m not even on the same map anymore. But that’s okay. What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

Card

I know 2016 is only a few weeks old, at this point, and I know that I am just freshly 28. But I can tell you that 2016, in its infancy at least, has taken me up a steep, steep path of learning. I am learning to be present, to be mindful, to live in this moment and check in with myself — am I grounded? how can I become more grounded, if I am not? how do I feed my soul, in this very minute?

It’s been interesting. I always thought I was an introvert; I clung to that label like a barnacle on a ship, but upon closer inspection it turns out that a lot of the time, having people around is something that has actually been helping me instead of overwhelming me. Always thought I was a night owl but it turns out that I am a much happier person when I force myself to go to bed at the time my body desires instead of staying up to do more things. I like yoga. Not just out of an obligation to be healthy, or pseudo-healthy at least, but because more and more often I’m finding that full-body electric frequency that makes my entire being feel like it’s smiling, just from moving. I need to do it more often. I’m learning to stifle the voice in my head that says you are not enough.

I know enough now to tell you that I have no clue what 2016, or what 28 will hold for me, but I plan to squeeze as much joy and forgiveness and bliss in there as possible. Wherever I end up by this time next year, I hope I can come back and tell you that getting there was a year well spent. There is no path to happiness — happiness is the path.

Birthday Brunch – Dos and Don’ts

We hosted a little birthday brunch for me on Saturday — 27 isn’t really a big deal but we like excuses to celebrate! I landed on the brunch idea while trying to think of low-key party options. We tend to have evening parties, which used to work well when we didn’t have a toddler with a bedtime and two adults in the house who range between exhausted and mildly exhausted on any given day. A midday party meant less booze, less worry about party time smashing into the bedtime routine, and a way to make an adult party kid friendly.

It turned out really well (at least — I think it did) and I think it’s a great idea for anyone who wants a party but doesn’t want to worry about it all day long. I have a few tips for anyone else considering a birthday brunch!

Get food, but don’t go crazy.

This is probably a good idea for any party, but the ones we usually have are around dinnertime so you need more of a spread. I had too much food at the birthday brunch — six kinds of fruit, homemade granola, yogurt & parfait toppings, donut holes, cinnamon buns, chocolate sauce, and a bowl of chips Matt brought out after the fact. The pastries and fruit were enough and I ended up scooping most of the yogurt bar stuff back into its respective containers post-party (which is fine by me because I love yogurt!). Friends of ours recently did a kid’s birthday brunch and they had eggs in ham muffin cups, smoothies, and pancakes, so you can also go the savoury route!

Make your cake in advance

We failed on this one again. Matt ran out of time and energy so he got to work on the cake Saturday morning and was still at it when people showed up, so he missed part of the party. It was an awesome cake, though!

Mimosa bar — do it.

It’s a grown-up brunch, after all. We had a bottle of cheap champagne, orange punch, peach juice, and pink lemonade along with orange and lime wedges and frozen cranberries and peaches and fresh strawberries and pineapple. All of the fruit doubled as snack food except for the limes and cranberries, and the juice was a booze-free option for the little kids and people who weren’t drinking. I also had part of a bottle of white zinfandel as backup and ended up sending my brother-in-law out for another bottle of champagne — we probably didn’t need it, and 3/4 of it is sitting in my fridge right now, but it was good to have on hand just in case.

Make it a drop-in party

People came and went as they wanted, which was nice — no real formality. We didn’t put an end time on the party and once it had died down a bit it mostly turned into a family hangout.


There are tons of ideas for brunch parties online, especially on Pinterest, and you can go as fancy or simple as you’d like. We focused on food and drinks and didn’t have entertainment otherwise, and it still turned out good for all ages and fun, too. Everyone was out of the house by mid-afternoon and I cleaned up quickly, saving us from that post-party dread that comes when your party ends at midnight and you still have a messy house the next morning. There’s still a burning smell in the kitchen from a cake mishap, but that’s another story… 🙂

The Year of Pressing Play

I’m turning 27 tomorrow. It doesn’t feel like a particularly monumental year — 27 feels like a space saved between 25 and 30. There’s nothing new or novel about 27. No special privileges afforded, no named celebrations — just another spin around the sun. Not that that’s a bad thing!

Twenty-six came in a burst of activity. It was one of our first times having a big group people over to the house, following the birth of M two months prior. We had spent a big chunk of the day at the hospital working with our lactation consultant and came home with no time to spare. Matt toiled in the kitchen for most of the party while I sat on the couch, exhausted, with my hungry baby. Twenty-six was a year of exhaustion in general and to be honest I’ve spent most of the year forgetting how old I am. I keep thinking I’m turning 28.

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Twenty-six was a year of hitting pause. We hit pause on nearly everything, in fact — housework, repairs, hobbies, employment, some levels of self-care — it all took a backseat to survival and change. When the sun came up on January 1 this year I decided it was time to press play again, and so I’ve been taking steps to better myself and cultivate joy in our lives. That isn’t to say that we’re in a constant state of happy jigs, over here, just that I’m trying to move things up a notch beyond survival, into thriving.

So 27 is the year of pressing play. It may not be a breathtaking year to celebrate — I can legally drink everywhere, I’m not afforded any new privileges or responsibilities, my car insurance remains the same — but personally, I’m hoping it’ll be a year of greatness.

M’s First Birthday

Two Saturdays ago we got together with M’s local friends and family and celebrated her first birthday!

I made the cake, Matt did the base icing and I decorated it. I had envisioned something a lot fancier but… we ran out of time — as always! If you are planning a first birthday party I highly recommend finishing the cake the evening before. We were still in the kitchen icing when people started arriving at the door.

Matt handled the smash cake decoration — and the cake didn’t get smashed! M was somewhat concerned about the candles, and once they were blown out she just kind of picked at the sprinkles and ate a handful of them, one at a time. There was no cake eating gusto this time around.

I decorated with prints from her monthly photo series (and I still have to take the last photo, hah). The loot bags were plain white gift bags stuffed with yellow tissue paper, an activity book, bubble wands and play-doh, with the obvious winner being the gold helium balloon attached to each bag. Kids love balloons, apparently.

The colour scheme of the party was all loosely based around this HAPPY banner I picked up from Target in spring. We had teal and pink streamers, pink and green tableware, a bit of gold decor, balloons in teal, purple, yellow, pink, and green, and that was about it. No party games, no activities — the kids ranged from a year old to kindergarten age and it was pretty crowded so I didn’t want to let anyone loose with crayons or anything. Mostly they just played with the zillion toys we have, ate food (chocolate chip cookies, chips, pulled pork sandwiches, punch), and helped M open her gifts.

It was a good day, and part of an exhausting but fun weekend. It was great having so many people around to celebrate our girl!