Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday 2010: Ember's List to Santa

Obviously, Ember can't write to Santa yet, so I am penning her list this year on her behalf, with her best intentions in mind, rest assured. My outlook on toys for Ember: I want her to play with the toy, rather than the toy playing with her.

My friend Kim taught me this; it is her criteria for her girls. Much to her chagrin, it's not a concept I fully appreciated until having Ember. For Kim's daughter A's first birthday, we bought her a Fun Time Tractor. While I believe it to be a fine toy - there are animals, there's a happy little farmer, there's a tractor and wagon - there is one reason I wouldn't buy it for Ember: it takes batteries.

You have to be cautious of toys that require batteries because quite often they are the toys which will do all the work leaving your kids in a vegetative state, but more so - toys that take batteries make noise. I distinctly remember a voice mail Kim left us some months after A had unwrapped that tractor. "You hear this? I have been listening to it for an hour straight this morning. I just thought you should have to listen, too." In the background was a jolly Old MacDonald E-I-E-I-O-ing his little heart out.

Ember has exactly one toy that requires batteries - a little attachment on her Exersaucer - a chicken/weather vane thing. When the weather vane is pushed, one of five instrumental rhymes start playing with a country twang. I remember how proud I was when Ember learned that music came as a result of her pushing that chicken on vane but now I want her to forget! Each time she presses that thing, she looks at me, beaming with pride, starts dancing and looks for me to sing. And I do, each and every time. Why? Because it's not her fault I didn't take those batteries out in advance.

Anyway. All of the items on the list to Santa this year are items that I would happily give my child without regret. I would also give any of them to Kim's girls knowing that I won't come home to voice mail full of disdain.

Plan Toys

I love this company! They are all about promoting a child's development, both physical and intellectual, while being ecologically responsible.
Favourites of mine include: the Cone Sorting, Sorting Bus, and the Dancing Alligator and the Clatter.

The Early Years Farm Friends Bowling Set
We picked this up for Ember while in Vancouver in October. She actually played with it once before it went into hiding. It was a big hit! There are animals, chimes in the pins and ball, numbers and colours and it encourages play. I look forward to rousing game of five pin on the 25th.

To me, the Bilibo is everything a toy should be; it can be anything that your child would like it to be, the only limit is their imagination. Awesome. I love both the Game Box and toddler sized Bilibo. The Game Box has six mini bilibos, coloured chips and more that I think Ember will really benefit from this year. She can learn colours, invent games and whatever else her heart desires. I know that those mini bilibos would pretty quickly transform into little cars that she pushes around the floor. Vroom!


Hand made by Peruvian artisans, Blabla is a line of beautiful creations for little people. I am quite fond of the Classic blablas that are soft dolls that are of many ethnicity and creature. There are monkeys, frogs, mermaids, dolls and more in a wide variety of colour scheme which makes them a great gift for either gender.

Fropper Ride On Trike
Ember already motors on foot and come springtime, I'm sure she would love this boogie around on. Considering her birthday and Christmas are back to back, I believe we need to give her one or two things that she can grow in to in an attempt to pad our pocketbook through the spring and summer months.

Ember won't be scoring every item on this list from us (or Santa) but this is the list I'm working from this Holiday for her. They are things I know she will like and favour for some time, which is imperative for every parent, right?

Tomorrow, I'll be featuring a gift guide of items I love for kids of varying ages and some of my all time favourites that we've been gifted. In fact, all this week I'm focusing on the upcoming holiday. Stay tuned!

--Companies in this post have no idea who I am; I just really like their products. I'm sharing on my own accord. I am not being compensated in any manner.--

Monday, November 29, 2010

Win or Lose, Ember has Rider Pride.

It was Grey Cup weekend; the biggest weekend of the CFL. I personally don't give a hoot about football but my husband's family, specifically my father-in-law, loves football. And his love in the CFL lies in the Saskatchewan Roughriders. And you may know that this past Sunday they had a chance to right a horrible wrong from last year's Grey Cup. Much to Grandpa Ian's chagrin, the Riders did not make it right... not at all.

But I digress.

3 months old.

By proxy, my loyalty lies with the Riders when support is called upon. Ember, well, she will be a Rider fan through osmosis. Since day one, she has been gifted with Rider gear ranging from onesies, sweat suits, slippers and even a cheerleading outfit that should probably fit just in time for Halloween next year.

As we live in the host city of this year's Grey Cup, we had to partake in some of the festivities. Namely the parade on Saturday; Ember's first parade!

Throughout the entire parade, Ember looked like this:

It was this face when watching the parade pass by.

And it was this face when watching pigeons fly from building to building. I think she was more interested in the pigeons actually.

Oh, the Snowbirds did several fly overs. It was tricky to capture them flying over considering we only got glimpses between the buildings, but I think I got a fantastic picture of them:


On game day, we we didn't attend the game but we did don our kelly green and watch the game at home.

The melon was a little too large,

It worked better as a seat.

Ember is waving and saying "Hi!"

Ember cheered hard and clapped for three quarters until it was time for bed. The Riders lost. The Alouettes won for the second consecutive year. For us though, the Grey Cup was just the conduit for a fun filled, family weekend.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a White, and organized!!, Christmas.

Last year, when our little spark went overdue into December, Andrew and I declared that Christmas wouldn't arrive in our house until after our wee one's birthday. So with that, no twinkly light, festive carol, or jolly elf shall grace our home until midnight on December 2nd, when the clocks chime us into the 3rd.

But that doesn't mean I can't shop and plan!

And considering that Christmas started in the stores November 1st, my mind has been whirling about ideas to make this our best holiday yet.

A beautiful Christmas Eve buffet, don't you think?
Frog Prince Paperie

I have always been a bit of a slacker where Christmas organization is concerned. My enthusiasm is always amped for the holiday and I put loads of thought coming up with ideal gifts for all on my list but they don't usually come to fruition until the 20th of December. To be honest, I think Christmas will always be a little rushed for me and I really enjoy the hustle and bustle of the season. Part of the fun of Christmas is feeding off the energy of other hurried shoppers at the mall, don't you agree? Just a little bit?

This year though, I really need to make a concerted effort in getting my ass in gear earlier. Ember's birthday is December 2nd. This means I need to strategize a game plan, purchase gifts for two occasions and ensure that the stockings are hung with care before December 23. (Of course, I may have to wait until Christmas Eve because Ember could yank them down off the mantle.) I realize that Ember is still wee, and this won't be a blip on her radar but for Andrew and I, this is our first real Christmas as a trio.

Last year, Ember was just three weeks old when Santa came to visit. Running out to buy gifts for anyone was tricky. I actually did all of my Christmas shopping December 22nd. Ember was so new that buying presents for her seemed silly and we were content to savour the joys of our new family. I made a full turkey dinner for my family and that was accomplishment enough for me.

Suffice it to say, this Christmas is a big deal for me. I plan on making cookies, carefully choosing gifts, wrapping them all pretty like and starting many traditions as a family.

Are the holidays into full swing in your home already? Are the hiding spots of your house full of special pressies for all on your list? Or, do you thrive on the hustle and bustle of shopping after December 20th? Let me know.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

While You Were Out

Every so often, I email Andrew pictures of what's happening around the house in his absence while he's work. Here are some that Andrew has received in recent months:

While you were out:
Ember discovered toilet paper. I think she likes it.

While you were out:Ember reluctantly had a nap.

While you were out:
Ember learned how to stand up - unassisted!

While you were out:
It happened again.

While you were out:
Winter boots and a onesie? Ember embraced her inner Ukrainian.

Now you're all caught up!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American visitors!
May your day be full of family, friends and too much food. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Fine Place

In response to a recent post about my mummyhood catch phrases, Kristin sent me an email about her everyday mantra, "I'm gonna miss this." Since then, I find it popping into my head pretty darn frequently. I've been feeling verklempt about Ember's upcoming milestone birthday and "I'm gonna miss this" rings through some of our more tender moments lately.

For example, in the wee hours this morning, when she demanded a feed that I thought she'd grown out of, she put her hands on both my cheeks, broke latch, and said, "Gawl-EE!"
Or that no matter how tired, through each and every feeding, she still holds my finger just as she does in the photo below.
Or the way that she "ooohs" and points when discovering something new.

It's not that I think these moments will dissipate once we start counting the days into her second year. And I know that there will be new, wonderful experiences and moments to treasure. Still, I can't help but feel like I'm leaving babyhood behind and fully graduating on to the next phase. By definition, she is becoming a toddler!

How can that be!?

Wasn't it just yesterday that she looked like this? So small and new.

18 hours old.

Wasn't it just last week that she moved like this?

11 weeks old.

I wasn't expecting to be so mushy about this upcoming day but alas, here I am crying as I watch her squirm in that video. I had already forgotten her chirps and squeaks.

Oh the first birthday - what a fine place to reflect upon my best year to date and to look forward, with wonder and excitement, to what's to come. There's so much to celebrate.

Now excuse me while I go get a tissue.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I'm not sure if it's the city I live in but I see an abundance of very young mothers on a daily basis. Mothers passing their babe around like a fashion accessory with very little regard for their well being. Mothers pushing their child in a stroller through harsh winter elements when their child isn't appropriately dressed. Mothers feeding their infant McDonald's french fries. Witnessing such instances makes my heart hurt. So very much. Maybe it's a demographic thing, but "unfit" mothers seem to rampant here.

While at a mall on Saturday afternoon with Andrew and Ember, we came upon a mother (21ish) on a cell phone while her son (probably a year and a half old) cried a pain ridden, tired cry in his stroller. There were two security guards (no older than 21) squatting beside the the little guy telling him to calm down. I slowed our pace to watch the scene and tried to ascertain the problem hoping to offer help. The little boy was beat red and had been clearly crying for some time and looked faint. He was wearing a full snowsuit, mittens and winter boots on. My first thought - he's baking.

It's freezing cold outside, no question, but the mall was warm - heat pumping and throngs of eager holiday shoppers; Andrew, Ember and I were stripped out of our winter duds and walking in long sleeve shirts, still warm.

I couldn't help but approach the mom, boy and security guards: "Can I do anything to help?" The security guards looked up as if I was from outer space and said, "No, the paramedics are on their way." Up close, I was also able to overhear the mom on the phone with presumably, 9-1-1. She seemed wholly confused and was having a tough time understanding which mall exit the ambulance was going to arrive. She didn't look up to recognize my presence. They boy continued to cry and almost appeared semi-conscious. The security guards were prompting him to stay awake. Horribly, I wanted to strip him down - he looked so warm.

The whole scene was painful to watch.

On the verge of tears, I caught up to Andrew and Ember. I couldn't help but scoop Ember up out of the stroller, smooch her on the cheek and tell her 'I love you'. Moments later, the security guards ushered the mother and her son, to the nearest exit to where the ambulance was presumably waiting. Again, I heard, "Just stay awake. Keep your eyes open." The boy was still in the stroller.

I don't have all the details obviously, and I don't know what the circumstances were but I do know that the mother did not touch her son once that I saw. I would have been carrying my child crying to an ambulance. I would be assuring my babe that I loved him and offered him comfort. This mom did nothing of the sort and laughed like she was embarrassed while walking by.

That was nearly 72 hours ago and I still well up with tears thinking about it and worry about that boy, hoping all is well now.

Like I said, I have witnessed many a scene like that in this fair city. I'm not here to condemn young mothers as I know not all are ill equipped and I know older mothers don't have it all figured out either. We are all doing our best and we all have our share of trying moments where we don't have the answers or patience.

Driving home that afternoon, I couldn't help but talk about how disturbed I was and how my heart was breaking for that little boy. Looking back on similar scenes I've witnessed, I can't help but think about how poorly educated and informed the bulk of mothers in those situations appear. They appear to have very limited resources. They are often alone or part of a large social circle trying to live the life they would have before baby.

I think about how we are all allowed to leave the hospital after bringing a life into the world. There we are, battered by delivery, and armed with few brochures of what will happen to ourselves and baby in coming weeks, sent home to care for and raise a human being. Hell, my husband after his appendectomy received more news and direction at discharge than we did coming home with Ember.

My stepmother-in-law, Michelle, is a teaching aid, and often points out how Andrew and I are doing everything right: reading to Ember, encouraging communication and nurturing her. I laugh and say, it's such a no brainer. She sombrely replies, "You'd be surprised how many parents don't do anything like that."

Let me stress that I don't have it all figured out. Not even close. Some days are better than others. Some days I'm grateful for the reset button that is night time. I always take comfort in knowing that my girl is loved and for that she is richer. But for some mothers, who lack information and education, love isn't enough. They are alone in the hardest job on the planet without help or knowing where to turn. I think about that little boy and how hard he was working to communicate and no one was adequately listening or comforting him. I think about that mother and how confused she appeared and almost unmoved by the situation. My heart is heavy and I am haunted by it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Family Snow Day

A few inches of snow have accumulated over the past few days. This, coupled with a balmy -13 degrees (it's dropping to -32 tomorrow) means that we just had to go out sledding.

We held Ember down and wintered her up. It felt like we were re-enacting Thomas' Snowsuit.

The parents prevailed and our little abominable snow princess was ready.

It turns out Ember enjoying the snow the first time wasn't a fluke.

"Are you ready, ladybug?"

Weeee! First time down the hill and smiles all the way.

Getting pulled along by Daddy was something she could get used to.

Because walking in the snow was tricky in her puffy ensemble.

Post face plant.
Thankfully she was too uncertain about what had transpired to cry.

Grandpa couldn't resist getting in on the action, too.

When Ember's cheeks had turned to match her jacket, we knew it was time to head home and sip some cocoa to warm up.

Homeward bound.

*** This should have been posted yesterday. Sorry - technical glitch. ***

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Coco Bonk

Roses are red,
bruises are blue,
Tell me that your child's forehead,
once looked like this, too.

Even though Ember is very good at walking, she sometimes gets sloppy, overly confident and tumbles over. Unfortunately, this is usually within proximity of a coffee table, or some other large, hard piece of furniture. This means that Ember's forehead is often dotted with small bruises.

Post nap, and ready to take on the afternoon.
(ie. make new bruises)

My poor little bug.
Although she doesn't seem worse for wear.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Reduced to a Catch Phrase

Over the past eleven months, I find myself spouting the same things over and over again. They have become my catch phrases. Or maybe, more appropriately, just one line summations of my life.

They are quite versatile. Depending on the context, they serve as warnings, excuses and/or defense mechanisms.

1. It's not permanent.
This is basically my mantra. Whenever we're going through a rough patch of any nature with our sweet girl, you can bet I'm muttering this under my breath while practicing my breathing exercises.
Alternatively, this can be applied in moments that you will want to treasure. During Ember's more snuggly moments, when all I want to do is prep dinner, I remind myself that all too soon she will move out of this stage and that all else can wait while I smother my girl with kisses.

2. I'm a great mum, but a shitty housewife.
On any given day, my condo can look as if a bomb went off, a tornado went through, or we are applying to be Hoarders. We are constantly fighting with some serious storage issues but more than that, I neglect my house work. Rather than folding laundry as it comes out of the dryer or off the drying rack, I transfer it to a hamper and play with Ember. We sing songs, play hand games and read books. We chase one another. We make music out of make shift instruments. Sure, there are weeks where it appears that moss is growing on our furniture, but whatever ... I'm comfortable with my priorities. I seriously shirk my housewife responsibilities to play with Ember because this isn't permanent. See #1.
Oh, I clean up for company. Just don't drop in for a surprise visit, okay? Thanks in advance.

3. I have nothing to prove.
We've been a bit slower than most to move Ember into her own room at nights. This is because I usually crap out, quit fighting her and just return to our bed with babe in tow. Please don't judge me. But you know what? I'm tired and I have nothing to prove. Again, number one applies: I know Andrew and I won't always be kneaded by small elbows and feet. We're doing what works for us.

4. The old grey mare, she ain't what she used to be.
More or less self explanatory and all encompassing. Though I'm happy to report that I can now sneeze and run without issue.

5. Use it or lose it and I'm losing it.
I trip of my words in simple conversation. My penmanship is going down the toilet. I'm a scatterbrain frequently forgetting my train of thought . I spend my days with an 11 month old. I don't use it, and I'm losing it.

6. I'll appreciate this when she's 16.
My daughter is strong willed; she's her very own advocate already at her tender young age. She knows how to work her emotions and play me like a fiddle. She knows what she wants and is admirably persistent and determined. These are traits that can stomp on my last nerve at times. (Oh karma - you got us!)
But no matter how annoyed I get at times, I remind myself that I will grateful for her will and spirit when she's 16; when she's a leader, not a follower and maturing into a strong woman.

You must have your own mummyhood taglines. I would love to hear them! I can always use more in my repertoire.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The First Snow

The mercury plummeted over night. This morning, we awoke to a light dusting of snow.

Typically, this sight makes me want to hibernate. The blowing, blustery snow even more so.

This year is different though. This year, Ember will experience snow - play in it, taste it, toboggan and more. This year, snow will be seen through fresh eyes.

I wanted the fun to start immediately so, we threw on our winter layers and out we went.

She enjoyed this "first" thoroughly.

She just giggled in delight. The temperature didn't phase her. Come to think of it, it didn't me either. Discovery and its joys are infectious, and warming.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Case of the Mondays

Nap time presented challenges today.

Ember was resistant and overly exhausted. I was the latter of the two.

I gave up after shedding a few frustrated tears of my own. To buy myself a few moments to sip a cup of tea and re-group, I plunked Ember in her Exersaucer.

She didn't like this course of action.

But quickly calmed down when she remembered that she could bounce away her frustration.

There was even a glimmer of a smile.
I found comfort in my cup of tea and we were back on course.

Hope you're easing into your week a little easier than we are.
If not, I recommend bouncing or a cup of tea.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

28in28 - Four Months In

I'm a third of my way through my 28th year, so I thought I'd revisit my 'to-do list' for the year. Many are a work in progress but I'm happy report to I have actually completed a few.

8. Make bread (sans machine), pretzels, bagels, croissants, challah bread and crumpets. - 2 of the 6 done!

I've actually made oodles of bread since July. The braided pumpkin bread is what I'm most proud of; I braided bread!

They weren't pretty, but they were tasty.

9. Make pulled pork sandwiches from scratch - done!
Our family enjoyed slow cooker pulled pork a couple of weeks ago atop buttermilk buns and apple slaw and it was so awesome! We used the leftovers to make pulled pork pizza; something that I recommend everyone try at some point in their life. Thank you again Kristin for recipe!

10. Make pasta from scratch - done!
With the exception of shaped pasta (rigatoni, penne etc), I don't buy pasta at all anymore. It's all homemade henceforth. So yummy.

19. Take Ember to the Vancouver Aquarium - done!

I am in the process of learning to sew, perfecting the craft of knitting, accomplishing 1o ran kilometres, swimming 600 metres, staying on top of photo/hard drive organization, completing Ember's baby book and, compiling our family's favourite recipes into a book. Oh and learning the extensive rules of rugby.

I am still in the pursuit of the perfect concealer and marinara sauce.

I have more or less failed #1 - Take a photo a day for 365 days to act as a journal of our family. Bind in book at end of year. ... There's always my 29in29 for that one.