Three Months

27 Aug

Dear R3

Today you are three months old.  

This is such a great age because the awake times are starting to become lengthier between sleeps and the day is starting to be broken up into a schedule with three naps: a shorter morning nap, a longer afternoon nap, and another short evening nap.

You go to sleep “for the night” between 8 and 10pm and wake up two or three times at night before waking up “for the day.”  So far the longest stretch of sleep you’ve locked was six hours.  Technically a six hour stretch of sleep could be considered ‘sleeping through the night’ but it took place between 8pm and 2am.  I’m hopeful that this next month will bring longer sleeps during mine and dad’s sleeping hours.

The end of July – the 31st – brought us a little treasure in the form of your first responsive smile.  This was a smile that happened AFTER we interacted with you and it seemed to be directed at us because you held eye-contact.  It’s always exciting to see the first responsive smiles as well as seeing your eyes focus on ours, two things which have been happening with increasing frequency throughout the month that let us know your personality is emerging.

We’ve also being seeing you respond to different noises around you.  For instance. If daddy comes into the room and says something, you turn your head in search of daddy.  You’re getting good at following the movements of people around you; it’s plain to see that you love staring at your brothers as they run around screeching and playing.

Your biggest discovery this month was your tongue.  You move it around, stick it out, and chew on it constantly.  It’s very cute, even though the baby drool has started.  It won’t be long before the front of all your shirts are completely soaked.

Towards the end of the month, you officially doubled your birth weight by reaching 10 pounds.  I’ve already put dozens of outfits into the ‘too small’ pile.

You’re eating 3 to 4 ounces at feeding times now, which are taking place ever 1 to 2 hours, longer at night.  Your neck is getting stronger and you’re able to push yourself up while on your tummy.  It’s so nice to see you turning into a little person, a little bit more every day!  

   
Once again, be sure to check out Marie’s Digital Designs for all your photo-prop needs!  I’m loving these Star Wars themed monthly photo props: they are so much fun!

Also, take a closer look at the cute outfit R3 is wearing:  

 You’ll definitely want to visit Sweet Beginnings to check out all the amazing creations.  Meagan is a kindred-geek-spirit and can often make baby clothes according to your geeky desires.

Until next month!  

 

Imprint

25 Aug

When I was three weeks old, my mom took me to Dryden to meet my grandparents for the first time.  While there, my Gramma made clay hand and foot prints as a keepsake for me.  I have a picture of my mom holding me tightly while my Gramma pushes my hands into a circle of clay.  My little round head, in the picture, is bright red.  I remember asking my mom why my face was so red and she said, “Well, Gramma had to forcefully push your hands into the clay, I think you were crying.” 

When I had my first child, my Gramma made the little clay disks for me and brought them to Thunder Bay but told me I had to make the prints myself because she was too old to make babies cry anymore.  So I pushed my little baby’s feet and hands into the clay and she took it back to Dryden with her and glazed it and fired it in her kiln.

When my second child was born, I asked if she could make the clay disks again.  I think she was surprised that I would want to do the whole process again with my second child, but my Gramma didn’t really understand my obsession with making sure everything was equal between my kids.  So we repeated the printing process, though this time my Gramma didn’t glaze the clay before firing it.

When I learned I was pregnant with my third, one of my first thoughts was, I need clay disks from Gramma.  We did know that my Gramma was slowing down and she didn’t really do pottery anymore.  It was a lot of work getting all the supplies and working the foot-pedaled potter’s wheel and lighting the kiln out in the garage.  I wondered if having her involved in the print making would even be possible.  

On a phone call over the winter, I mentioned that I’d need to do prints of baby’s hands and feet.  She mentioned that she heard even regular playdoh could be used for such things.  I figured she was subtly trying to tell me that she wasn’t up to the task of getting her clay out.  I understood of course, though I can’t deny that I was a bit disappointed.  After being a parent for seven years now, I know now that it’s pretty much impossible for everything between siblings to be 100% equal and fair.  The third child won’t get as much attention as the first child and that’s just life.  Our third child just won’t have great-gramma handprints.

But luckily we are able to take matters into our own hands, so to speak.

Some clay time for this little boy… 

 R2 did his own thing, but R3 made his mark for me… 

   

My prints along with R1 and R2’s prints:  

 Even though I wasn’t able to get genuine Gramma prints for my third little baby, I’m very lucky I get to enjoy her pottery in other forms., as well as her paintings, crocheted blankets, and even her homemade tea towels and dish cloths.  Her memory really lives on in the art she created.  
    
   

Backyard science 

19 Aug

Don’t read this if you don’t want to hear about dying insects.

A few weeks ago I noticed that my decorative birdhouses had become homes to some vicious black and yellow stinging insects.  

I’m not particularly attached to these birdhouses because I did find them on the side of the road, but I was surprised that the birdhouses had been empty for so long and this was the summer that wasps finally decided to take up residence.

I’m not one to casually and caustically murder living creatures, but Inactually do make an exception for wasps and hornets.  I can’t stand them and I definitely don’t want to be sharing my living area with them.  If I had to choose between my children playing in the backyard and scary bugs living unhampered, Im going to have to choose the children!

I hatched a plan that consisting of waiting until dark (when presumably the wasps would be home sleeping), poisonous bug killer, and duct tape.  I waited until all the kids were sleeping, crept out into the dark backyard, sprayed a gallon of raid into the birdhouse entrance. The slapped some duct tape over the hole.  Then Jason arrived home late from work and I told him what I was doing.  Then we started getting dive-bombed by wasps and we ran inside.  So…apparently all the wasps weren’t home yet?  I don’t know, but I abandoned my insecticidal mission, vowing to return the following day.

In the morning, I could see swarms of giant wasps circling the taped up birdhouses.  The kids and I played in the front yard and I decided to give the after dark raid another go that evening.  After the kids were asleep, I once again crept out into the backyard and peeled back the duct tape and let loose with the raid.  

The next morning, the purple birdhouse seemed deserted but the white birdhouse was still being swarmed.  I decided that the raid wasn’t killing them, so much as it was making them angry and turning them into poison-resistant-mutant-super-beasts.  Then we were told we needed a special kind of raid, one designed for wasps and hornets.

Jason came home with the special raid and I went out to investigate the buzzing birdhouse.  I was pretty surprised to see that, instead of wasps, giant fuzzy bumblebees had taken up residence in the poison soaked birdhouse!  They had even peeled back the duct tape.  

I know that we shouldn’t kill our best pollinators, but by this time I was committed, both to killing the bugs and destroying the environment with harmful chemicals.  And I succeeded.  I didn’t even wait until after dark this time.  

The next day all buzzing had ceased.  We waited a week and then it was time for some backyard science!  Everything can be a learning opportunity!

   
  

spelling error, too lazy to change it

   
So after our inspection, it looks like the birdhouse was actually used by birds for awhile.  Maybe last year or the year before?  I had the house up in a tree for two years until it was blown down in a big wind storm.

R2 was pretty fascinated and disgusted by the maggots.  As soon as the grass was disturbed, an aroma of rot permeated the air. Lovely!  I told R2 after the bees died, maggots moved in to eat the bodies.  If left alone, they would grow up to be flies.  Don’t worry, I was wearing rubber gloves.

What a learning experience!  We’ve also recently watched hundreds of flying ants emerge from a nest and saw a few get trapped in a spider web.  We even saw the spider run to a flying ant and start wrapping it up!

What kind of interesting and gross experiments have you done with your children in the name of education?

Farewell to Grandma

17 Aug

It’s been two months since my Gramma died.
On June 11th, my gramma was out in her giant yard planting herbs.
On the morning of the 12th, she was baking cookies. A sharp and unexpected pain made her decide a visit to the hospital was necessary sooner, rather than later. She was scheduled for a surgery consultation (for a summer or fall hip surgery) and figured she better ask my uncle to take her in right away instead of waiting until the appointment.

Upon arrival, the doctors saw severe swelling in her stomach and called for immediate tests.  A large tumour was found in her lower abdomen and they realized that it had very recently perforated her bowels, thereby releasing poison quickly into her abdominal cavity.
At the time, my gramma didn’t realize how serious it was. The doctors told her she could have a risky five-hour surgery to repair the perforation and if it was successful, it would buy her some time.  Another tumor was found on her pancreas and that one was inoperable.  So, being in her right mind, she opted to forgo any life prolonging surgeries and just let nature take it’s course. The doctors gave her 3-5 days.

After three days in the hospital on pain management, she died peacefully in her sleep at 4:30 in the morning on June 14th. She was 92 years old.  
    
 
Late last year, my grandmother’s sister-in-law died. Aside from my grandmother, this lady was the last person left from my grandfather’s original sibling group (siblings and spouses). My mom called my grandmother and congratulated her on being “the last man standing.” Of course my Gramma thought that was funny!

She was the last one standing in that group and many others.  All her original neighbours, from when she purchased her house in 1949, were gone; all her coffee date friends were gone.

Gramma lost her older brother to suicide in 1946. She then became the eldest of five: she had three sisters and one brother.  She was the first one of the six to pass away since that day long ago in the forties.
Bad things:
My Gramma is gone.  

I just had a birthday and for the first time in 32 years, my Gramma didn’t call or send a card. 

 Except for that time when I turned 18 and I was sitting in her living room and she remembered that the Queen Mother was turning 100 but didn’t remember I was turning 18 but it’s ok because I forgave her because she was oooooold. But not as old as the Queen Mother.

At least once a day I think of things that I need to tell her.

And I really wanted her to meet my youngest baby and see that he’s turning into a red head. Just like she was. And her dad. And her brothers. And four of her five kids.

My Gramma’s house is gone (owned by someone else) and my lifetime of memories is floating around with someone else…and someone else’s stuff.  

    
 But there are good things.
She was able to stay in her own home until the very end.

She didn’t linger around for months or years, slowly declining into an unresponsive vegetative state.
She had her wits and was in her right mind until the very end when she went to sleep for the last time, 8am on Saturday the 13th of June.
There was some, albeit not enough, warning so all five of her kids were at her side within 24 hours.
She lived a long life full of love, family, friends, traveling, camping, pottery making, painting, cooking, yard sales, flower arranging, and much more.  She worked very hard, likely from the moment she could walk, until the very end.  She was a wonderful role model and inspiration, embodying strength, refinery and fun.

***

My brother said that he can’t imagine a world without Gramma. 

Well we don’t have to imagine it, but we do have to live in it now. 

And it’s ok.  She was ready.  Her friends were all gone and she was getting tired; she was slowing down.  She spent the winter and spring sorting her house and labelling photographs; she was ready to go. It really was her time.
But I will miss her, I will miss her very much.  

 Gramma Marg, April 1923 – June 2015

Not fair at the fair 

10 Aug

  
Last year we missed out on the CLE, also known as the Canadian Lakehead Exibition.  Or simply put, the fair.  

I don’t like crowds, I don’t like heat, and I definitely don’t like overpriced trinkets and carnival food, but for some reason I still like taking my kids there.  

My mom helped us out with the entrance and ride costs and we recruited my visiting friend Stephanie to come hang out with us for a few hours.    

  I’d say it was a successful afternoon as there were no meltdowns and everybody had fun.  We also got out of there just as the line-ups started getting really long.  The key is to avoid the really busy evening hours.   

    
    
    
   
   
    
 So even though everyone had a great time, there was still a big meltdown when we got home.  RJ discovered that JP won two prizes in the fishing game, he got a mood ring, sunglasses, a sign with his name engraved on it, an air-brush temporary tattoo, and he painted a doorknob holder.  RJ dissolved into tears and begged me to take him shopping.  

It’s hard to say what brought on the epic meltdown because it was after a long and exhausting (albeit fun) day.  RJ does not do well when he is tired (or hungry or thirsty) but he is also hyper-conscious about what other kids are doing around him and whether or not they are breaking the rules.  RJ was exhausted but also acutely aware that he and his brother received different treatment.

I explained to him that it’s impossible for him and his brother to get the exact same things 100% of the time.  Also, we didn’t go anywhere besides the CLE and all the opportunities that JP had were also available to him.  Also, he didn’t want to walk around with us – he wanted to walk around with Jason (and go on a lot more rides) and he was thrilled to meet up with a friend from school.  Plus, he got a few treats too.  I don’t know if any of my logical explanations got through to him as he was still inconsolable afterwards and still begging me to take him shopping.

In the end, we decided that he and I would go on a mommy-son date the next day and we could go shopping, though he was shopping with his own money.  We ended up having a lovely afternoon date, followed by dinner out with Daddy and R3 (JP was spending the afternoon with Gramma).

I think teaching your kids about fairness is really quite difficult.  Just because something is fair doesn’t mean it’s equal or just.  But how do you explain that to an almost seven year old?  I guess it’s just something you have to learn as you get older and see your parents model good and just behaviour.

   
 R3 didn’t care one bit about the fair.  He was happy to go have fun at Gramma’s house:  

 

Water Bottle revisited

2 Aug

Three years ago, I shared how my oldest son was getting made fun of for his choice of water bottle.  He chose a Rapunzel water bottle for school and was mocked by the boys in his class.  He was very sad and asked if he could get a new water bottle.  

RJ was a child equally in love with cars and trucks as he was with dolls and stuffies.  He loved Disney princesses up until a few weeks after he started school.  I’m not saying I wanted my child to love princesses for his entire childhood, but I don’t think it was a coincidence that RJ started to avoid “girly” toys and colours shortly after he was exposed to peer influence at school.

I’m wondering if we are in store for a repeat this year.  This is the lunch kit that JP just chose:  

 And this is his new water bottle:  

 JP loves everything.  Cars, princesses, batman, minions, nail polish, dollies, stuffed animals, lego.  He loves everything and doesn’t see things as boy items or girl items.  
He is an amazing child full of love for pretty much everything and everybody.  

Seriously.  The kid even loves hubcaps.  

How long before the boys in his class make fun of him for his water bottle?  How long before his shining personality gets stomped down just a bit so he isn’t quite the same boy he has been up until now?  Will that even happen?  Will he keeping liking his favourite toys (Polly pocket, baby dolls) and TV shows (Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse, Littlest Pet Shop) at home in secret like his older brother.

I guess we’ll find out soon.  School starts in a month.

Marie is in the Walleye

29 Jul

The Walleye is Thunder Bay’s local arts and culture magazine.  If you pick up this month’s issue, you’ll notice an article about someone very special.    

 Turn to page 30 

  

  

    
I’m always excited to see a friend of mine succeed at something he or she enjoys.  

Marie is not only a personal friend, but is also an Eating Dirt favourite. You’ve seen her here a few times and you’re likely to see a lot more around these parts in the future near and far.  

 
R3 knows he is even cuter next to Marie’s work!

Visit her on Facebook if you’re local for a great customized order.  Visit her on Etsy to order downloadable files from anywhere in the world!

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