Category Archives: photos

Halloween

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Tristan in his dragon, last year.

Last year Halloween was pretty chill. We’d just moved the week before, so we were too busy unpacking to even thick about decorations. My friend Shelley had bought Tristan an awesome dragon “jogging suit”, which he loved, so he wore that. We went to the mall for “trick or treating”, then in the evening Nathan took him just to the immediate neighbours to introduce ourselves. I ate all the candy, and that was that.

P1100222This year was quite different. We’d been talking about Halloween for a while, and he’d done lots of Halloween crafts and activities in preschool. He knew all about candy, pumpkins, and costumes, and was keen to try trick-or-treating. Luckily for me, he insisted on wearing the dragon again.

Loooong line at Galey Farms

Loooong line at Galey Farms

Probably the most exciting thing about Halloween for him was all the train rides. The Saanich Historical Society, the Forestry Museum in Duncan, and Galey Farms all had special Halloween rides – it was a bit of a scheduling challenge to fit them all in. Tristan loved all of them, despite the crowds, long lines, and mayhem. Probably the highlight for him was the one in Saanich, because it had lots of ghosties and three singing pumpkins.

20131020_125005Tristan was also super keen to carve a pumpkin this year. We picked through the very mouldy crop at Galey, and came up with a few that we thought would hold out until Halloween. I didn’t get any pics of our pumpkin, alas, and we smashed it up today, but it was a lovely smiley face that Tristan chose, and he helped scoop out all the guts.

P1100211We invited Aunty Melissa over for trick-or-treating, and it was a good thing we did. Turns out wrangling a costumed kid, a pumpkin treat bag, and a flashlight is a two-woman operation. Nathan stayed home with Cora, our little superbaby.

Tristan was braver for trick-or-treating than I expected. He boldly went up to every house and gave a very firm double-pound on the door. His usually didn’t need to be prompted to say trick or treat, though he did so in a very small voice. He also almost always said thank you, though that usually did need some reminding. He was very keen on any house that had pumpkins or ghosties, and very hesitant about any decoration that looked like it might sing or laugh.

P1100208Alas, no pics or video of trick-or-treating; even with Melissa’s help there weren’t enough hands. But a good time was had by all. He’s been sad to see all the ghosties in the neighbourhood go, but is glad that the next big holiday is Christmas. Because, as he told us the other day, he will be happy at Christmas.

First month of preschool

Well, this was originally going to be the first day of preschool post, but suddenly it’s October. Not sure how that happened …

Several months ago I attended a mothering workshop (more on this in another post) which was really amazing. At one point, I was complaining talking about how much harder it is to meet other moms now that I have Cora. With Tristan, it was easy – we’d go to baby group, baby yoga, whatever. I was meeting moms all over the place. But now that I have a baby and a toddler, it’s not so easy. Most baby groups don’t allow older siblings, or they fall during his meal/nap times.

The host of the workshop (the wonderful, knowledgable, caring and helpful Joss) asked me if I’d considered co-op preschools. I admitted that I’d never heard of them. She explained that they were preschools that were run by the parents, and as such the parents all had a job within the preschool, and took turns doing duty days there. There was still a licensed ECE running the program, but everybody else was a parent. Her little one went to one, and she said it was a great way to network and meet other like-minded parents.

Sounded perfect! So I looked into the Vancouver Island Cooperative Preschool Association (VICPA), and discovered that Strawberry Vale Preschool is not too far from where we live. They had room, it sounded good, and suddenly Tristan was all signed up.

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I don’t know about Tristan, but I LOVE preschool! I got talked into taking the role of secretary on the executive board, and it’s been great. I’m meeting some amazing moms, and I get to be “in the know”, and already after only a month I feel like I’m actually starting to be part of a community here.

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Sorry, I don’t have great pics of preschool because most of the photos have other kids in them, and I don’t want to post them without permission.

Tristan, on the other hand, is having a bit of a rough go of it. He loves the idea of preschool, and he looks forward to going, but once we’re there he has some separation anxiety. Which is to be expected, poor little guy. But it’s already improving, and he knows the names of his friends there, and he likes Teacher Gail a lot. It helps that I have duty days, where I can be in there with him, but I think it’s also a little confusing at first. Sometimes mommy comes in, and sometimes she doesn’t. But I have faith that he’ll get it sorted out in short order.

And coming up this month we have crazy hair day, pyjama day, and a field trip to look forward to. So let’s hear three cheers for preschool!

Goodbye guest room

Long ago, when I used to fantasize about my perfect family, I thought I would be a co-sleeping parent. I longed to snuggle up to that warm, squishy infant and listen to them breathe.

Life, it turns out, had other plans. Tristan and I just didn’t sleep well together, right from day one. Subsequent backup plans failed, one after the other: the cradle (which my parents took apart and lovingly scraped, sanded, stained and reassembled for their first grandchild) only lasted a few weeks before my 11 lb 4 oz newborn outgrew it. Having his crib in our room only worked for a few more months before he became too engrossed in our every move to be able to sleep in the same room as us. Tristan was kicked to his own room at 5 months, and has been sleeping great ever since. 

Four day old Tristan is already busting through the bars.

Four day old Tristan is already busting through the bars.

Fastforward 2 years. Here was my chance to try again. For a glorious week Cora and I slept together. It made nursing easier, and it was so lovely to cuddle. Then, it stopped working. Just like that. Like her brother, she just didn’t want to sleep with me.

On to the cradle. That worked better, as she was a more reasonable size (only 8 lb 15 at birth, a real lightweight). We managed to get two months out of the cradle this time. Then, again, on to the crib in the room.

This worked better, for a while. Until, again, suddenly it didn’t. We went from being able to talk in bed without fear of disturbing her, to suddenly having to undress in the hallway, tiptoe in holding our breaths, and slide into the sheets, praying she wouldn’t wake up.

The last two weeks, as Tristan has been adjusting to life with no soother, I’ve moved into the guest room. When he wakes up screaming, if I have to run past the crib to get to him then I have two screaming kids on my hands (which happens every few nights anyway – our walls and doors are thin and my kids are LOUD). At least sleeping in a different room than Cora gives me a chance that she’ll stay asleep.

Things finally came to a head a few nights ago. The guest room had a guest in it, and I was up and down with both kids at the same time twice in the same night. Turns out it’s just not possible to comfort a toddler who’s having a panic attack while nursing a baby at the same time.

Time to admit that Cora and I just can’t sleep in the same room any more. If somebody is going to be in the guest room, it might as well be her. So I texted mom and dad , begging for help, and being the good sports (read, angels) that they are, they came right over. A little bit of sweat later and some creative maneuvering, and we now have a nursery. I hated giving the guest room up, but sanity trumps hospitality.

Now, I know the question you’re burning to ask is this – has it improved the sleep situation? Too early to say – Cora is still adjusting to the new digs. She naps better, and goes to sleep well, but has been up crying a lot in the night. Which is why I’m finishing a blog post at 2:20am instead of happily sawing logs. If I have to listen to her cry, I might as well do something useful.

So, if you were planning to come for a visit – too bad! Just kidding, we still have 3 couches and two of them are comfy. It just means you’ll be in the living room listening to my kids cry instead of behind a closed door listening to them cry. Appealing, non?

Okay, it’s quiet now. I’m going to bed. Wish me luck!

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If only she looked like that all the time she was in bed!

Friday Fives: How Cora is different from Tristan

  1. She sucks her toes. I was promised that all babies went through a toe sucking stage, but Tristan never did. But Cora does enough cute toe-sucking to make up for his lack. See video evidence here.
  2. She’s less mobile. By this stage Tristan was already crawling (see refresher video evidence here), but Cora isn’t even rolling over yet. But she’s sitting like a pro!
  3. 20130822_075302She’s more smiley. Tristan was, and is, more serious, more of an observer. But Cora will smile at anything and anyone. I constantly get comments when I’m out with her because she’s such a flirt.
  4. She’s a worse sleeper. It seems to me that Tristan was only getting up once a night to feed, and he was napping like a pro by this age. Cora is still up and down with going to sleep. She’s up 1-3 times a night, and often doesn’t nap at all, but will just scream for a half hour until I get her up. But it’s possible that I’m just not remembering…that happens.
  5. She’s more chatty. Cora has lots of consonant sounds – she makes mumumum and bababa type babbling. Tristan didn’t start with most consonant sounds until after he was 1. At this age he was still just cooing and making little bird noises. It will be interesting to see if she talks sooner than he did.

But one thing that’s the same – they’re both the cutest babies in all the land!

Soother Fairy

When you talk about soothers with new moms, the subject can get very heated. Some believe that sucking is the best way to soothe a baby, and therefore a soother is the only thing that makes sense. Others believe it causes all sorts of problems, from dependence, insecurity to things like bad teeth.

IMG_7701When I was pregnant with Tristan, I swore up and down that he’d never have a soother. I wasn’t going to have one of those kids who had a soother in his mouth all the time. Then, just before he was born, my mom bought me a couple, “just in case”. I was actually pretty angry, as I’d made my anti-soother stance clear. However, I put them in a drawer, determined never to use them.

When Tristan was two weeks old, the colic began. My angel was replaced by a non-stop screaming demon. We tried everything to get him to stop crying. I read books, blogs, watched helpful DVDs. All the experts said that sucking helped to soothe babies. And he was too little to suck his thumb.

BEFORE

BEFORE

I think he was about 4 weeks old the first time I put a soother in his mouth, and I actually cried a little. I felt like I had failed him already. But it worked. When he was upset, sleepy, angry, whatever – just pop that baby in his mouth and he’d suck on it happily.

AFTER

AFTER

 

He was just over a year old when we made the soother-only-at-bedtime rule, and that worked pretty well. Occasionally if he was very upset he’d get it during the day, but mostly it stayed in the crib.

The main trouble was that sometimes he’d lose it in the night. We had to put up bumpers in his crib to keep the soother from falling on the floor. Even that wasn’t good enough – invariably it would fall down the edge of the mattress. Soon we had two soothers in the crib, then three. Anything to keep from having to get up in the night and hunt them down.

0R4A3611-001Then came the switch to the big boy bed. That brought a whole new level of  problems, because now the soother could fall down between the headboard and the mattress, and the only way to retrieve it was to move the whole bed. We needed a bevy of emergency backup soothers on the bookshelf, so if he lost one in the night we could grab a spare, pop it in his mouth, and go back to bed.

pod_4That worked okay until the last few months. Tristan has become not so much of a soother-sucker as a soother-chewer. When it’s in his mouth, he’s holding onto it and chewing on the rubber piece. Which turns the sanity-saving pacifier into a sanity-degrading choking hazard. We’ve had to buy 4 new soothers in the last 3 months; he chews holes in them faster than I can keep track of them.

A few days ago I had to throw out two of the remaining three soothers, leaving only one. Which means when he loses it in the night, I have to turn on the light and hunt that sucker down. This on top of getting up 3-4 times a night with a sick Cora. So I decided enough is enough. Enter the soother fairy.

fairyThis magical creature is related to the tooth fairy, but instead of taking teeth she takes soothers. In exchange, she leaves a toy. I got the idea from a friend, and it worked well for her little guy. So Tristan and I have been talking about the soother fairy for a while, and finally he decided he was old enough to leave his soother out for her.

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The note, the soother, and a cookie for the fairy.

After talking about it, telling stories about it, and making a plan, it was decided we’d write her a note today, and ask for a puzzle in exchange. So it should have come as no surprise that today Tristan came down with a head cold. Surely not the best time to attempt soother removal. However, he was keen to get the new puzzle. (“Maybe the yoother fairy will bring a BIG puzzle!”)  We wrote the note, but by the time I put him to bed he was pretty miserable. I lay down with him, but he just tossed and turned and kept bringing his hand to his mouth, as if to tug on the missing soother. After a full hour of this he started to whimper, murmuring that he wasn’t a big boy yet. Finally he broke down and asked for it, and I gave in. I guess we’ll try for the puzzle another day,  when he’s feeling better. In the mean time, I guess I just have to be resigned to a few soother-retrieval trips every night. Sigh…

To be continued, hopefully soon.

The Blog, Mark 2

This poor blog has been cruelly neglected the last year or so. Of course, I have a pretty good excuse – getting pregnant, moving, having a baby. But life seems to be settling down into something approaching a routine, and I find myself keen to give this another go. I started this blog when Tristan was 6 months old, and as Cora is rapidly approaching this landmark age, it seems timely.

So, now T is for Two. Twice the cuteness, twice the fun, twice the lack of sleep. Speaking of sleep, I hear Cora stirring, so I’d best hit publish fast, before this languishes in draft form for another month. More posts to come soon, I hope, in the mean time, here’s Cora.

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Destination Texas – End of Days

Sunrise – by Nathan

We had high hopes for Wednesday – Tristan really likes boats, so we wanted to take a harbour tour in Galveston. We checked the website, phoned the night before and listened to their hours/rates, and everything seemed to be a go. So that morning, Nathan went early to search for his Seaside Sparrows and Boat-tailed Grackle (both of which are supposed to be common), and came back skunked, but with plenty of time to make the boat. We decided at the last minute to phone again, and good thing we did. The boat was reserved for a school group, so no trip that day.

Enjoying the beach by our hotel

Instead we decided to go to the beach, but it turned out to be too cold and windy, and there was no playground, though we’d been told there was one. Finally, in desperation to do something fun with Tristan, we decided to take the ferry off the island to Port Bolivar. After a few wrong turns, we finally found it , and were pleased to discover that it was free!

Looking at dolphins on the ferry to the Bolivar Peninsula

Tristan enjoyed the ride very much, as did Nathan and I, mostly because there were lots of Bottlenose Dolphins galavanting in the bay. I’m not sure if Tristan was actually able see the dolphins, but he seemed to like practicing pointing at things. And he definitely liked getting the sea spray in his face.

Hi! 🙂

On the other side, we went for a short drive, again in search of the elusive sparrows. Nathan had his eyes in his scope the whole time, but Tristan was happy to run around in the sand again. I thought that here he was saying hi, but maybe he was trying to get our attention because he’d seen them.

Ugh – more birding. I’ll just collapse here.

Those gorillas are very interesting, but I’ll hang onto your hand just in case.

After a record 3-hour nap, Tristan got up just in time for dinner. We decided to try out the Rainforest Cafe – a jungle-themed restaurant with animatronic animals. Tristan was absolutely entranced with the moving gorillas and elephants, though he did like to hold hands when the storm came and everybody started making noise.

Jungle Boy

Sunrise – by Angie

Thursday morning, I got up early to enjoy the sunrise on the beach. Nathan then ran out for his final try at his two birds, and managed to bag the sparrow. The grackle, alas, never deigned to show his mighty boat tail.

Seaside Sparrow habitat at Galviston Island State Park

Enjoying a ride on the luggage trolly.

We then bid a mixed farewell to Galveston. It was a lovely town, but a lot of what we wanted to do was closed for the season, or just due to bad luck. We had one more destination left – just north of Houston was a park Nathan wanted to see, in order to see his last few hopeful lifers. We drove the morning and got to our hotel, right near the park, in time for T’s nap. Nathan decided to go scope out the park so that we’d know exactly where to go in the morning. Can you guess what happened? After his bad luck in Galveston, he managed to get all three lifers in the park in about 2 hours, during his “recon” mission. That brought his lifer count up to 12 – which was 3 fewer than he’d hoped for.

Hermann Park

That freed us up on Friday, our last full day, to do something fun with Tristan. We headed back into Houston to Hermann Park, which advertised a big playground, a train, and paddleboats. Tristan was very happy to run around in the park, despite the lack of other children. Seems they were all in school or something.

Fun times on the train in Houston

The train was a big hit, even more so than usual. He cried when we got off, and was only eventually consoled by lunch. We then took a ride on the paddleboat, which he wasn’t too sure about. But we eventually found a fountain to paddle by, and he loved playing “sprinkle face” – which basically entailed moving into the wind spray of the fountain until we all go sprinkled.

Tristan concentrating very hard while watching “Cars” in the car.

After that, it was a long 4 hour drive back to San Antonio, where we would fly out the next morning. Tristan slept through much of it, then we kept him happy by watching some movies. We’d already finished Finding Nemo, we moved on to Cars, which turned out to be not as popular. What can I say, he’s the son of biologists, and so far Finding Nemo and Rio are his favorites.

Saturday was a day of many plane rides. We had a verrrry early morning, then 3 flights. Tristan, as always, was a champ, and managed to keep a smile on his face most of the time, by reminding himself that Gramma would be picking us up in Victoria (Bama Bama Bama!). So, all in all, a great trip, but we’re all glad to be home.

Nathan’s total Texas bird list: 155
Nathan’s lifers: 12
Angie’s lifers: 17