Saturday, April 30, 2011

A rainy Saturday

What to do on a rainy Saturday, when Carey is working all day (other than loads and loads of laundry)?  Get creative!  Here's what we were up to today:

I painted a bunch of picture frames for Emmett's room...

... and Annika worked on her own masterpiece (sorry, no picture of the little artist at work - it was one of those times when you're too caught up in the moment to remember to take a picture!).

And I also made a pair of hair clips for Annika.

An adorable little girl who has no time to sit still for pictures these days!

Hope you had a happy rainy Saturday too!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Swim, baby, swim: part II

Thank you so much for all the comments on my previous post about Annika's swimming lessons.  You've given me a lot to think about.  I thought I'd do a follow-up post to respond to some of the questions and comments.

Annika is in a class called "Sea Otter" which is for 3-5 year olds.  It's the class that kids go into after the "Starfish/Duck" class, which is a parent & child class for babies and toddlers (6 months - 3 years) and is more just for fun and early water exposure.  Sea Otter is designed to be a transition class, so parents are allowed in the water, if needed.  Here's the official description:
NEW for January 2011 - This fun class is a transitional level for 3 - 5 year olds who are progressing towards independent participation with the instructor. Parent/caregiver accompanies the child in the water until the instructor indicates otherwise. We will help them jump into shallow water. They will try assisted floats and glides on their front and back. They will learn to open their eyes and blow bubbles underwater.
We missed the first class, so I don't know if there were any parents in the pool during that class.  However, the first class we went to (class #2), none of the parents went in the pool.  I was prepared to go in with Annika at first, but since all the other kids went in by themselves, the teacher recommended letting Annika try going in by herself first.  She did great that first class (didn't even ask me to come in the pool, even though I was wearing my swimsuit) and it looked like she wouldn't need me in the pool.  However, maybe it would be beneficial for her if I went in now.  I'm going to think about that some more before next week.  It feels like a bit of a step backwards, but if it makes her feel more comfortable than it might be worth it. 

I really liked the suggestion of taking her to the same pool during the week, just for fun.  That way she gets more exposure to the water (and the pool setting) in a less-structured and perhaps less-stressful atmosphere.  I'll have to find out when the pool has open swim time.  Anyone want to come swimming with us?

Yesterday Carey and I both asked Annika (at separate times) why she had been upset during swimming.  She gave us both the same answer - she had to go potty.  I'm not quite sure what to make of this.  Yes, she had told me that she had to go pee when she got in the pool, but I had taken her to the bathroom before we left the change room, so she had peed literally one minute prior to that (we were a bit late yesterday, so everyone was getting into the pool already by the time we came out of the change room).  So when she told me that she had to pee, I reminded her that she had just peed, and she didn't need to again.  Is it possible that she really did have to?  I guess it is possible, but I highly doubt it.  Especially since she didn't say anything about needing to pee when she got out of the pool, when she was changing, when we were driving home...  In fact, I don't think she peed again until after lunch (swimming is at 11).  Annika has a bit of a funny bladder, it seems.  When we're at home, she will go hours without going to the bathroom.  In fact, I often just take her to the bathroom, if it's been several hours since her last trip.  She often fights it like crazy, saying she doesn't have to go, even though she obviously does.  When we're out, she has to "go" all the time.  Or so she says.  She'll tell us she has to go, and we'll take her, and then when we're in the bathroom she'll say "no, I don't have to."  This happens all the time.  Like this morning, we were at the mall for an hour, and she told me she had to go about 4 or 5 times (and she had peed before we left home).  I took her to the bathroom once, and then she said she didn't have to go.  The other times I told her she could wait.  I'm not sure why she does this - maybe she's still a little uncertain of her body's signals?  Maybe as a way to get attention??  I don't know.

Anyways, back to swimming.  I think before the next class I'll try talking to her again, to see if there's anything else that was making her upset (like the fact that I went into the other room).  I might also ask her if she would want me in the water or not.

So that's where we're at right now.  I'll let you know how things go next week. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Swim, baby, swim

Today was Annika's 3rd swimming lesson.  Despite having a good start, things have started to go downhill.  Last week she was a bit hesitant, and kept trying to hold onto the side of the pool.  She was okay for most of the lesson, though, until it was time to go down the slide.  She slipped on the ladder getting out and started to cry.  She seemed to recover, but then when she turned and saw me she lost it and started bawling and ran to me (a big no-no at the pool).  She wanted to leave right then (there was about 5 minutes left in the class), but the teacher managed to convince her to come back and she even went down the slide.  After the class was over, though, she started crying again.

I was a little worried this morning about how she would do today.  She seemed fine while we were getting ready, but as soon as she got in the pool, she lost it again.  She was crying and calling for me.  I tried to reassure her from the side of the pool, but it wasn't much help.  I asked the teacher if it would be better for me to watch from the viewing room, rather than being by the side of the pool.  She said it might help, so I told Annika I would be watching her from the window and left her.  And my heart broke a little.

It was really hard being in the viewing room.  Because of where they were in the corner of the pool, I couldn't actually see Annika for most of the lesson.  However, I could still hear her crying every now and then, even in the other room.  My heart broke a little more.  I wondered whether I was doing the right thing - whether it was better for her if she couldn't see me, or if she was now distressed because she thought her mommy deserted her in her time of need.  I wondered whether I should take her out of swimming lessons altogether.  I really want her to learn to swim, but I don't want her to have a bad experience with lessons that could make her fearful of the water.  As a child, I HATED swimming lessons (I had a few bad experiences), and I really wanted this to be something that was fun for her.  I felt sick for most of the lesson.  I was counting down the minutes until I could go get her.

Afterwards we talked a little bit about the fact that she had been crying, but I tried to mostly focus on what had been fun during the lesson (there were at least a few things).  When Annika's upset, I usually try to divert her attention from the negative and focus on the positive aspects, but I'm wondering whether I should talk to her a bit more about why she was so upset.  Maybe it would be helpful for her to acknowledge what was making her upset?  Or maybe not??  I'd appreciate any advice, if anyone has any.

I have a strong inclination to take her out of swimming lessons, but we're going to give it at least one more week (or maybe 2).  Like I said, I really want her to learn to swim, but if now is not the best time, then I'm okay with waiting until fall.  By fall she'll be a bit bigger and perhaps more confident.  She'll also have had the summer to go swimming, and might feel a bit more comfortable in the water by then.  I guess we'll wait and see how the next few weeks go.  Hopefully next week is better, for both of us!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shopping report

I had 2 hours of kid free time this morning to do some shopping and I think I did pretty good!  Didn't get everything I wanted, but at least it's a start.  I got some great deals at Old Navy, as they had all bottoms (pants, skirts, shorts) 40% off today, and I had a coupon for 20% your entire purchase when you spend $75.  So let me brag a little about my deals. :)
Old Navy skinny jeans - $9.36 (regularly $19.50)

I've been hesitant to hop on the "skinny jean" train because I'm not sure it's a great look for me (being pear-shaped).  However, lately I've been thinking that there are a few tops I have that would look better with slimmer pants (as opposed to my usual boot cut style), so I took the plunge today.  I figured for $9 I can't go far wrong!  I'm not totally sure about these jeans though.  I had a hard time deciding between 2 sizes, as they both fit fairly similarly.  With jeans it's hard to know if they'll stretch out a bit, or shrink up when you wash them.  So I haven't cut the tags of these yet, as I may take them back for the other size yet.

Old Navy striped tee - $11.60 (regularly $17.94)

Old Navy boot cut jeans - $14.17 (regularly $44.50 - majorly on sale!)

Ricki's tee - $7.50 (regularly $19.50)

Ricki's had all their clearance stuff on sale for an additional 50% off, but this t-shirt was the only thing that I really liked.  I have a bit of a hard time with some of the styles available today.  Is it just me, or do some of the shirts look like maternity tops?  After wearing maternity clothes for 9 months, that's not really the look I'm after.

Birkenstock sandals - not on sale, and I'm not telling how much I paid for these.

The Birks weren't on sale, but I desperately needed new ones and my mom said that a new pair would be their birthday present to me.  These were actually the most expensive pair there (oops - how does that always happen?).  ;)  However, with my crummy feet, I have learned that it is worth it to invest in good, quality footwear.  And they're pretty cute, for Birks.

I also picked up a few things for Carey and Emmett at Old Navy (unfortunately nothing for Annika on this trip, but she has TONS of clothes already.  Besides, today was supposed to be about ME).  I got a pair of cargos for Carey for only $12!!  And a few pairs of pants and a new shirt for Emmett.  So, it was a pretty successful trip.

Next up, the hunt for a new bra and a new bathing suit.  GROAN....


I read this article the other day, and I feel like it was written just for me.  It's about giving our time to God, specifically as mothers.  It's not necessarily about spending more time with God, but rather acknowledging that God is in control of your time.  For a mother of young children, I think it's essential to admit that you are not in control of your days.  It's like Proverbs 16:9 says:

We can make our plans,
but the Lord determines our steps.

I think if I were to translate this verse just for mothers, it would say something like this:

We can write something on the calendar,
but only the Lord knows if the children will cooperate.

Being a planner and a scheduler myself, this is something that can be very difficult for me at times.  I'm often quite disappointed when things don't work out the way I've planned.  It can also be very difficult for Annika when plans change.  There are times when I actually won't tell her what I have planned until we are on our way there.  I learned this the hard way, after a cancelled play date, and all  I heard for the next few days was "when are we going to the play date" (over and over and over).

I think I'm getting better at it, though.  The other day I had the day pretty much planned out, and then things changed by about 10:00 and nothing went the way I planned.  However, I tried my best to "roll with the punches" and still make the most of the day.  And even though it wasn't what I had planned, it was still a pretty good day.

I wrote out Proverbs 16:9 and put it on my fridge (actually right next to my calendar!), to be a daily reminder to me to hold my plans loosely, and let God be in control.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stuck (and okay with it)

If you're a frequent reader of my blog, you may notice that I removed the "last 10 lbs of baby weight" weight loss ticker from my sidebar.  You may have also noticed that it didn't change much while it was there.  I lost about 2.5 lbs of those last 10 lbs, and the rest seems to be stuck.  Honestly, I'm not making that much of an effort to get rid of it.  You may have also noticed that I haven't posted a Couch-to-5k update for a while.  I actually haven't been on the treadmill for 2 weeks now.  With the busyness of the birthday week, and then Easter, I just haven't made time for it lately.  And I haven't had the energy for it.  I know that's a poor excuse, because I often find that exercising regularly gives me more energy.  Oh well.

I've decided that I'm going to accept the weight that I'm at right now, at least for the time being.  It's not where I was when I got pregnant with Emmett, but it's also not where I was when I got pregnant with Annika, so I'm okay with it.  What led me to this decision is the fact that I really need some new clothes for spring and summer and I don't want to keep putting it off until I lose those last few pounds.  Two summers ago I was losing weight, so I didn't really buy any new clothes then (I could still make do with what I had).  Then I got pregnant in early 2010, and I still wore my larger clothes and then maternity clothes for that summer.  But now I really need something that fits me properly.  I'm hoping to do some shopping tomorrow (without kids!).  It's a bit of a challenge for me, as I'm not a big fan of shopping.  At least not for myself - I love buying stuff for the kids!  I find it exhausting to look at everything, try to find something that I like that also doesn't break the bank, then trying everything on, finding different sizes....  Honestly, I'm not really looking forward to it, but it's necessary.  

Even though I'm not going to be actively trying to lose weight, I do want to get back to exercising regularly (I'm on week 6 of 9 in the Couch-to-5k program and I'd really like to finish it), as well as keep trying to eat healthier.  This is a MEGA challenge for us right now, as we have so much left-over cake, candy and chocolate in the house from birthdays/Easter.  I'm actually thinking of just throwing some of it out (not the good stuff though), just so we're not tempted to eat it all just because it's there.  With the nicer weather coming, I'm hoping that we'll be able to get outside on a regular basis and get more fresh air and exercise too (even if it's just wearing Emmett in the wrap while Annika's playing - half an hour of carrying around a 17 lb baby is a workout, even with the carrier!).  So there may be weight loss to report in the future, or there may not.  And maybe by summer I'll be a little more motivated to crack down and really work at it - we'll see.  But this is where I'm at for now.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Balancing act

I'm no tight-rope walker, but I do perform a balancing act everyday.  It's the challenge of giving each child the attention that they need, without making the other one feel left out.  It's been almost 5 months, and I'm still trying to get the hang of it.  Before I had 2 kids, I had no idea that it would be so hard.  I always wanted to have 2 kids, and I thought "I'll definitely be able to love 2 kids - love isn't limited, it multiplies."  And that's true - love is not limited.  But time is.  There's only so much time in each day, and you can only give so much of it to each child.

I realized last night that lately I have not been giving enough of my undivided attention to Annika.  I realized how often in the last week or so I had been telling her "don't bug Emmett", "listen to me", "do I need to take away a toy?", etc.  She's been acting out a bit, and I think it's because she's trying to get our attention (even negative attention is better than no attention, right?).  We encountered this once before, and when we started giving her more time and (positive) attention, she started acting better. 

It's tough, and it's not something that we do on purpose.  I don't mean to focus more on Emmett, but he is a baby, and he does have a lot of needs still.  Not only that, but he's at a stage where he's discovering new things and changing a lot, which is fun to see and I don't want to miss anything.  I don't want to look back in a few years and feel like I missed out on Emmett's baby stages, because I was too busy with Annika.  However, I need to remember that even though Annika is older and more independent, she still needs her mommy (and daddy).  She still needs to feel special, and to feel loved.  I need to continue working at my balancing act.  I have a feeling that it is something that I will work at for the rest of my life.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Amber teething necklace

A while ago I blogged about the amber teething necklace giveaway from Tiny TreeHugger.  Well, guess what?  I won!  I almost couldn't believe it - I never win anything.  I was quite excited, as I was thinking about getting one of these necklaces for Emmett anyways.  I don't know if I totally believe in all the claims about amber (it's supposed to help ease teething pain and reduce drooling and red cheeks), but I thought it was worth a shot.  Emmett's not really into the teething stage yet, but I can see the early signs of it already (lots of drool, chewing on whatever he can get his hands on - or just his hands!), so we'll give it a try.

The color is a bit off in the pictures of just the necklace -
it's more like the color in the pictures where he's wearing it.
First of all, let me tell you a little about the necklace itself.  It's beautiful.  I almost want to order one for myself in the "mommy" size!  Annika was also quite taken with the necklace, and keeps asking when it's her turn to wear it.  I'm trying to explain to her that it's just for Emmett, but she's such a girly-girl that I don't think she understands why a boy would have a necklace. ;)  I think the thing I love the most about the necklace is the clasp.  It's a screw clasp, but it's covered up with beads, so it blends in with the rest of the necklace.  That means that I can leave the clasp at the front, where it's easiest to get on and off, instead of trying to fiddle around with it behind Emmett's head.  Honestly though, I'm still having a bit of a hard time with the idea of putting a necklace on a baby.  Obviously you don't leave it on for nap times, or any time when the baby is unattended, but still, it seems a bit counter-intuitive to my "mommy instincts."  I think I might just double or triple it up and put it on his ankle or wrist instead.  But he does look so cute wearing it as a necklace.  Carey thought it made him look like a girl, but I think he looks like a little surfer dude. :)

So, we'll give it a try, and I'll let you know (when teething really starts!) whether I think that it's making a difference.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"What are those spots?"

Both our kids have birthmarks.  Actually, the doctor said that "birthmark" isn't quite the right term, because what they have isn't usually there at birth - it shows up a few weeks later.  The technical term for it is "hemangioma."

So what's a hemangioma?  Here's a definition from BabyCenter:
Hemangioma: This term is used to describe a variety of blood-vessel growths. These flat or raised lesions can be large and disfiguring or small and not very noticeable. Hemangiomas affect about 2 to 5 percent of babies and are more common in girls, preemies, and twins. Twenty percent of children who have hemangiomas have more than one. Hemangiomas occur mostly on the head and neck, and, unlike other birthmarks, they can grow rapidly. They usually show up during the first six weeks of life — only 30 percent are visible at birth — and grow for about a year, usually getting no bigger than 2 or 3 inches. Then, without treatment, they usually stop growing and begin to turn white and shrink. This reversal process can take three to ten years. While many hemangiomas leave normal-looking skin in their wake, others can cause permanent skin changes. One type of hemangioma, a superficial hemangioma (formerly called a strawberry hemangioma), appears on about 2 to 5 percent of babies (this is the kind my kids have). This raised pink-red mark tends to grow and then disappear — half are flat by age 5, and nine out of ten are flat by age 9. A deeper hemangioma (formerly called a cavernous hemangioma) appears as a lumpy bluish-red mass. It grows quickly in the first six months and is usually gone by the time a child reaches his teens. Such hemangiomas are bluish in color because the abnormal vessels are deeper than those in the superficial hemangioma.
2 months
Annika's birthmark is on her neck, under her chin.  When I first noticed it (a few weeks after she was born), I thought that I was a terrible mother, and my beautiful, new baby had a rash on her neck because I hadn't been washing her properly (you know how that spit up can get into every little nook and cranny!).  
7 months
I showed it to the doctor at our next visit, and he assured me that I had nothing to do with it.  He said that they usually left these kind of "birthmarks" alone (as long as they didn't interfere with vision, breathing, etc), as they tended to resolve on their own better than with treatment. Since her double chin covered it up most of the time, we hardly ever saw it.  It "grew" until she was about 6 months, and then started to go away.  I don't remember exactly when it started to shrink and it's hard to tell from pictures because it's not visible in most pictures, unless she's looking up at the right angle.  It's still visible now (just a few small dots), but it's in such an inconspicuous spot that it doesn't get much attention.  As you can see in this picture below, it's almost completely gone (and that picture was taken about 6 months ago).

2 1/2 years (being a bit silly!)

        About 7 weeks, barely visible                                     4 1/2 months

Emmett's birthmark is on the bridge of his nose, so it's more prominent than Annika's but smaller in size.  When I saw the first 2 spots show up, a couple weeks after he was born, I knew right away what it was.  Actually for the first few days, I hoped that it was just a scratch and it would go away, but I realized pretty quickly that it would be here for a while.  A few weeks after the first 2 spots appeared (and started to get bigger), a bunch more little dots showed up.  Those haven't increased in size yet, and they just look like a sprinkling of freckles (except they're red). The bigger 2 dots are quite noticeable, and we've had quite a few people ask whether he's scratched himself, or even if he has pimples.  I don't mind these questions.  I really don't notice the spots anymore - they're just a part of Emmett. And I know that they won't be there forever - hopefully they'll be mostly gone by the time he starts school, so it's not something he gets teased about. 

"Can you tell me how to get, how to get to..."

I've been trying to teach Annika her address.  It became obvious to me the other day that we still need to work on it some more.  I asked her what street she lived on and she replied - "Sesame Street." :P

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

He's growing up so fast!

Here's a pic of my little man in one of his first cloth diapers.  He's about a week old, and probably still around 7 lbs (his birth weight).

Look at those little chicken legs. :)

Four months later (and at about 17 lbs)!

He's getting so big!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

A week of celebrating

Well, we have come to the end of our week of birthday celebrations.  It's been a good week, but very busy, and I'll be glad to get back to our regular routine (at least for a few days until Easter!).  So here's what we've been up to...

Wednesday, April 13 - Annika's birthday

We went shopping in the morning, to pick up a few things for Annika's party on the weekend, and an ice cream cake for the evening.  I made Annika a special birthday lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches, pickles and chips (her request).  While we were eating, I asked her if this was a yummy lunch, and she replied "it's a healthy lunch!"  I guess we'll need to have a chat about what the word "healthy" means. :P  When Carey got home we gave Annika her present - a trike.  She was very excited about it.  Then we went to Carey's parents' place for supper to celebrate both Annika's and my birthdays.  Supper was delicious, but right around dessert time Emmett decided to start crying, and didn't stop until we left.  So that was a bit unfortunate, but other than that it was a good time.

Thursday, April 14 - My birthday
Even though this was "my day", it was still mostly about Annika.  I took her to her first swimming lesson in the morning (Emmett stayed with Carey's mom).  We went to Perkin's for lunch with my mom, Carey's mom (and Emmett) and my 2 sisters-in-law.  After a bit of down time in the afternoon (during which I was cleaning up and getting things ready for Annika's party), we had a quick supper and were off to Annika's first ballet class.  Emmett stayed home with my mom, as Carey had worship team practice that evening.  I had considered going out after ballet class (my book club was meeting, and I wanted to go even though I hadn't read the book), but I was so beat that I ended up just vegging out after putting Annika to bed.  Carey came home from practice with 2 surprises for me - some beautiful flowers, and a Blizzard (courtesy of friends of ours).  I had bought my own birthday present earlier (a great deal on eyelash extentions), so I wasn't expecting anything else.  It was a nice end to the day.

Friday, April 15

We decorated Annika's birthday cake in the morning, and spent the rest of the day just getting things ready for her party on Saturday.  I decided that in the future I would try to have her birthday party on or before her birthday (rather than after), so that I could just relax on my birthday (and the days after) and not have to worry about it.  By evening we dropped the kids off at Carey's parents' place and we went out for dinner at Hu's on First, just the 2 of us.  It was a very delicious dinner, but a little spicier than I was expecting (I'm quite a wuss when it comes to spicy food).  We used our WagJag voucher, so it was a good deal. :)

Saturday, April 16 - Annika's birthday party

Annika was up bright and early -- at 6am!!  We sent her back to her room for a while but we were all up by about 7.  Her party didn't start until 11, and I had a long list of things to get ready before then, so it was probably good that we were up early.  We had invited 2 families to come, and unfortunately one of the families couldn't make it due to sick kids.  So it ended up being quite a small party, with only one little friend for Annika.  I don't think she really cared, though, and the girls had a great time playing together.  We just ended up with lots of extra food!  Annika got some lovely homemade gifts, as well as a jewellery-making set that she absolutely loves.  Carey and I gave her Shrek 3 (she loves Shrek - it was the theme of the party), but after watching it with her that afternoon, I don't think we'll watch it too often, at least not right now.  There's a lot more fighting and stuff in it than I remembered.  By evening we went to church for a worship night, but came home fairly early, as we were quite tired.

Sunday, April 17

One last day of celebrating.  We went to my parents' place for a birthday/Easter lunch after church.  We came home for a little quiet time in the afternoon, and then my parents came over to stay with the kids, while Carey and I went out with friends for supper, to celebrate a different friend's birthday.  It was a good time - it had been quite a while since Carey and I had been out with friends (without kids!), so it was good to get out.

So that was our week!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Birthday party

I'm planning on doing a more in-depth post about this past week, and all our birthday celebrations, but I just wanted to share one picture with you now from Annika's birthday party today.  Special thanks to our friend Melissa for taking a few pictures for us during the party.  This one is my fav.

It was a Shrek themed party, in case you couldn't tell from the ears!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Swimming lessons, ballet lessons, life lessons

Yesterday Annika started swimming lessons and ballet lessons.  It wasn't my plan to have her in 2 different things on the same day, but it just sort of worked out that way.  Back in March, when it was time to register for lessons, I had just planned on putting her in swimming lessons.  She had done the "parent & me" swimming lessons twice, and I wanted her to move into the "real" lessons - the ones that you need to be 3 to start.  The classes started a week before her third birthday, but I hoped that they would be willing to make an exception for her.  They wouldn't.  No ifs ands or buts - there was no way I could register her for swimming until she was 3.  Couldn't even get her on the waiting list.  So I signed her up for ballet lessons, so that she would have some activity for the spring.

Fast forward to this week.  On Tuesday, the day before Annika turned 3, I checked the website and found that there was one spot in one class still available at the pool I wanted.  Perfect!  The only problem was that it was on the same day as her ballet class.  Swimming at 11, ballet at 6:45 - was it a recipe for disaster?  I decided to go for it, because I really wanted her in swimming lessons now before summer.  I couldn't take her out of the dance class, because we had already bought the shoes (for $25!) and I couldn't return them (and I didn't want to take the chance that she'd outgrow them if we only did ballet in fall instead). 

So yesterday was her first day for both classes (swimming had actually started the week before, so we missed one class).  I was so incredibly proud of her, in both of her classes.  In swimming, I was prepared to go in the water with her (since this was a transition class, parents were allowed in the pool if needed), however, the teacher recommended that she try it on her own first.  And she did great!  There were a few times when she seemed a bit uncertain, but she didn't cry or ask me to come in the water.  And she listened so well to her teacher.  Annika can be quite shy around new people or in new situations (or sometimes even around familiar people in familiar places), so I was unsure about how she'd react.  But she listened and tried to do everything the teacher asked.  I think it helped a lot that the teacher was a woman, and was very friendly and good with kids.

Then came ballet.  Now, first let me say that if you ever get the chance to watch a bunch of 3 year olds doing "ballet", do it!  It is by far the cutest thing you will ever see.  All the little girls were dressed up in ballet outfits, so I was quite glad that I had found one for Annika.  Again, during the lesson, I was almost bursting with pride at how well she was doing.  Not that she could do the moves perfectly or anything, but that she listened to the teacher and tried her best and interacted with the other girls.  There were a few girls that were quite shy and didn't want to participate, and I was a little worried that Annika would follow their lead, but she didn't.  There was also one time when another girl bumped into her while they were dancing, and knocked her down.  I was sure she was going to start crying and run to me, but she just picked herself up and kept on dancing - no big deal.

It's so awesome to see my little girl growing up and learning new things.  It doesn't matter if she doesn't become a pro swimmer or a prima ballerina - she's learning more than just physical skills in these classes, and that's what really counts.  She's learning social skills.  I guess that's what happens when you're 3. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Happy birthday to me

Today is my birthday.  I'm 29.  Although, really, in my mind I'm still 25.  That's how old I was when Annika was born, and it feels like I haven't really had a birthday since then, so then by that logic, I'm shouldn't getting any older.  Right?

I was 25 when Annika was born, and then turned 26 the next day.  But being in the hospital with a newborn baby is not really much of a celebration (I mean, it is a cause for celebration, but still, you feel like crap), so that birthday didn't count.  The next year, Annika turned 1 and so it was all about her (isn't it always?).  Another birthday that didn't really count (although that was the year of the "bum cake", which was pretty good).  Last year Annika turned 2, and I nearly went crazy planning 2 parties for her (one for friends and one for family), which was especially difficult since I was newly pregnant and not feeling the best.  So really, I haven't had a decent birthday since I turned 25, so I'll just stick with that number. ;)

To be honest, I don't have a problem with turning 29.  I'm quite happy with where I'm at in my life right now.  I have a wonderful husband, who works hard so that I can be home with the kids (where I want to be).  I have 2 beautiful, healthy, happy (most of the time) children.  I have a home that I love, in a neighbourhood that I love.  I have supportive families.  I have great friends, even if I don't get to spend as much time with them as I'd like.  I feel so incredibly blessed.  Today didn't go the way I had hoped it would (I spent most of the day taking Annika to lessons and getting things ready for her party on Saturday), but still I had a really great day.  And tomorrow Carey is taking me out for supper (sans kids) so I will have some time when it is "all about me."  And maybe next year, for the big 3-0, I'll get to have a party too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday Annika!

I almost can't believe that it's been 3 years since my life changed in the most incredible way.  This little girl has challenged me, taught me many, many lessons and brought me so much joy in the past 3 years.  So, in honor of her today, I'd like to share with you a few of my favorite Annika pictures.

April 2008 - Just a few days old

October 2008 - Halloween

February 2009 - Florida trip

October 2009 - Our new house

May 2010 - Flower girl
July 2010 - At the lake
December 2010 - Meeting her little brother for the first time

Happy Birthday Annika!  We love you so much!!

Note: I set this to post automatically at 5:35am, the time that Annika was born.  Hopefully we'll never have to actually be up at her "birth time" on her birthday again!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Birthday week

It's birthday week at our house!  Annika's birthday is on Wednesday, and mine is on Thursday, which translates into a week of celebrations.  And probably all my posts this week will be birthday related.  So to start off the week, I wanted to share with you a picture of a past birthday cake of mine.    

Yup, it's a bum.  The cake is mooning you.  I'm not sure what the thing is to the side though.  Any guesses?  Carey got this for me from Dairy Queen.  He said it was the only left when he went, but I think that even if there were a bunch of other cakes there, he still would've picked this one.  I just wonder what occasion they were thinking of when they did this cake?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sale day

Twice a year, the moms' group that I'm a part of (Y Neighbours) puts on a "kids used toy and clothing" sale as a fundraiser (to pay for the babysitters who watch our kids each week while we have coffee and gab).  When I first joined the group, I thought the sale was a big pain in the a$$.  It seemed to be a lot of work, and it was all we talked about for the first month (or at least that's how it felt!).  However, after my first experience at the sale, I changed my mind.  Yes, it takes a lot of planning, and it's a bit of a long day (starting quite early), but I actually really enjoy the sale.  Maybe it's having a morning "off" from getting kids out of bed and ready for the day.  Maybe it's the thrill of finding some great deals.  However, I think what I enjoy most is spending the morning with the ladies in my group.  They're a diverse group of women, but there's something about working together towards a common goal that is very unifying and rewarding.  I love the women in my group, and I have been so blessed by their support and friendship.  I think every mom needs a moms' group - a place to vent frustrations, ask for advice, share achievements, and just get a little break and some grown-up conversation (and the coffee and goodies we have are just icing on the cake).  It's good for the soul.

Anyway, back to the sale.  Yesterday was the first time that I actually had a table (well, shared a table) and sold some of my own stuff.  I had pretty much saved everything of Annika's since she was born, because I thought I might be able to use some of it again, if we had another girl.  And now, since I don't think Emmett will be wearing pink dresses, I could finally get rid of it!  I did really well at my table - I had brought 7 boxes of clothes and went home with only 2.  I was also able to sell Annika's crib bedding set, which made me happy.  I had one moment of "seller's remorse" though.  While sorting through Annika's clothes, I had picked out a few "favorites" to save - things like the sleeper she wore home from the hospital, her Christmas dresses, etc. 
I figured it would be neat to show her these things when she got older.  However, one item slipped by me, and I didn't realize it until after I had sold it.  It was a simple, white onesie that said "I'm new here."  It was the very first "baby" purchase I made when I was pregnant with Annika.  I was quite superstitious when I was first pregnant, and I didn't buy anything baby-related until I was past the first trimester.  Then when someone bought it yesterday, I thought afterwards, "I should've kept that."  But I guess you can't keep everything.  At least I have a picture of it still.  This is Emmett wearing it - I have a better picture of Annika wearing it, but I don't feel like taking the time to find it right now.  You get the idea.

I limited my own shopping yesterday, because I had recently got a bunch of new-to-us clothing for both the kids, so there wasn't really anything that they "needed."  However, I did pick up a few items (couldn't resist!).  Here are 2 of my scores. 

Brand-new Robeez for Emmett - $10.  The woman said they had never been worn.  I love Robeez shoes, and they're normally about $25 in stores, so this made me quite happy.

A ballet outfit for Annika - $3.  Annika is starting kinder ballet this week.  They don't actually have to have the outfit (just the shoes) because it's a beginner class, but she saw the outfits the other day when we were buying the shoes and fell in love with them.  I wasn't about to pay $30 at the store for a brand-new outfit, so I was quite excited to find this deal.  Check back later this week to see her all dressed up for class. :)

 So, all in all, it was a good day yesterday. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Addicted to deals

Lately, I have a new obsession - "deal" emails.  I think I get about 5 every day - Groupon, WagJag, Dealfind, TeamBuy, Swarm Jam.  I love these.  If you're not familiar with these kind of websites/emails, they offer a great deal on a product or service, usually 50% off or more, as long as enough people "buy in" to the deal.  The deals are only available for a limited time (usually only a day).  You have to pay in advance, and there's usually some "fine print" to go with each one, but I've gotten a few great deals.  Here's a few:
  • $39 for lash extensions and brow shaping (up to $224.97 value) at Lash Love - this is a bit of a splurge purchase.  I think it will be my birthday present or mother's day present.  This is something I'd probably never buy for myself at full price, but it's such a great deal, I figured that I deserved a little pampering. :)
  • $5 for $25 at Hu's Asian Bistro - I bought this deal a while ago and I'm saving it for next week for my birthday dinner with Carey.
  • $15 for $35 at Little Squeaky Feet - this actually was free for me, since I had enough credit in my account to cover it (when you refer friends to these sites, and they make purchases, you get credits towards future purchases!).  I'm very excited to get some of these shoes for Emmett.  We had a pair for Annika, and she loved them.  The best part of these shoes - the "squeakers" are removeable, so you can get rid of them when the squeaking gets old (which is after about 5 minutes).
  • $35 for $115 at Photobook Canada (online photobook site).  A while ago, I made a photobook of pictures of Annika from her first year, and gave one to each set of grandparents (and did one for us).  I'm planning to do the same for Emmett's first year, and I'm saving this deal for that.
Here's the websites for these deals, if you're interested (these are my specific referral links, so that I get credit if someone else makes purchase!). (I don't have a referral link for this one - haven't actually bought anything from Swarm Jam yet).

Just be careful - you may find yourself addicted too!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Couch-to-5k: Week 5

Walked at 3.5mph, ran at 4.5 mph for all 3 days.

Day 1 - April 1, evening 5 minutes warm up, run 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes, run 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes, run 5 minutes, 5 minute cool down
Day 2 - April 5, evening
5 minute warm up, run 8 minutes, walk 5 minutes, run 8 minutes, 5 minute cool down
Day 3 - April 7, evening
5 minute warm up, run 20 minutes, 5 minute cool down

What a tough week!  I didn't think I would be able to do the 20 minute straight of running yet, but I did it!  Pretty proud of myself this evening (and a bit sore). :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring is in the hair - I mean air

Around our place, we watch for a different sign of spring.  Sure, we watch as the snow melts, the tulips poke up through the ground, and the trees start to bud, but there is another sign that signals the season change -- it's the return of mullet man.  "Mullet man", as we have nicknamed him, is a gentleman (probably in his late 30s or early 40s) who lives down our street, and sports the most amazing curly mullet.  I'm assuming it's natural, but I guess it could be a perm (which would make it even more awesome).  I wish I had a picture to share with you.  You'd definitely be in awe of this mullet.  During the warmer months, we often see him walking past our house, I'm assuming to the bus stop at the end of the street.  I'm not sure what he does in winter, but we rarely see him until the weather warms up (or perhaps we just don't notice him because it's dark earlier during winter).  Anyway, I saw him today, which means that spring is definitely on its way!

The story of Annika's birth

Since I posted the story of Emmett's birth a while ago, I thought I'd also share with you the story of Annika's birth.  And since it's her birthday next week, it seemed to be a good time for it!  I actually wrote this shortly after Annika was born.  Reading it now, I'm amazed at the amount of detail I included.  Of course, back then I only had one little baby to look after so I must've had much more time! :)

On Friday, April 11, 2008 I had my weekly appointment with the obstetrician.  Carey took time off work that afternoon to come with me.  My due date was April 16, so I was 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant.  The doctor examined me, and found that the baby was very low, but I was not dilated at all yet.  However, my blood pressure was slightly elevated, which caused him to recommend an induction.  He sent us to the hospital that afternoon for some tests, to see if my blood pressure was affecting any other bodily functions.  The tests all came back normal, so it was not urgent that I be induced.  They sent us home, telling us that they would call in the next 72 hours to tell us when we could come in to be induced.  I wished they would have told us a time right away – I didn’t want to wait for the call all weekend!

Saturday morning, April 12, I was up before Carey because I had been having trouble sleeping past 6 or 7 for the past few weeks already.  Around 8:00am the phone rang, and it was the hospital, asking if I could come in for 10 for the induction.  I said yes (of course) and was thrilled that I wouldn’t have to wait any longer for the call.  The woman from the hospital had misread something on my file, and thought that I was having twins.  I told her that was news to me, and that I was pretty sure there was only one baby in there.  Sure enough, she had misread “term” and thought it said “twins.”  I went to wake up Carey, and asked him if he was ready to be a daddy.  We finished packing up my bags, and went to the hospital for 10:00.

When we got to the hospital, we left the bags in the car, since we figured we would be going back home fairly shortly, and wouldn’t need them yet.  At the hospital, I got a bed in the maternity triage fairly quickly, and then had to wait until almost noon to receive the Prostin gel (which is supposed to start dilating the cervix and begin contractions).  We had to wait for so long because they were busy; however, we were lucky.  We heard of someone else who was told to come in for 10:00am for an induction, and they didn’t even get a bed until almost noon – and we had arrived just moments before them.  After they inserted the gel, they hooked me up to a fetal monitor and said that we would have to stay for an hour for observation (just to make sure that labour didn’t progress too quickly with the gel).  However, we had to stay at the hospital until 3:15pm, because the baby’s heart rate was high (170-180 beats per minute).  Finally we got to go home (we were wishing we had brought in something to do – we were pretty bored!), and told to come back at 6:00pm to be assessed.  Carey took a nap at home, but I was too anxious/excited to sleep (even though I should have).  I was also a bit uncomfortable because I had had IV fluids, and they left the IV in my arm.  Also, I was starting to feel little contractions every now and then (not regularly, though).

By 6:00pm we were back at the hospital, and back in a bed in the maternity triage.  I had to wait until 7:00pm until someone finally came to check me, and my cervix was dilated 1-2 cm and 75% thinned.  The contractions were coming every 2-4 minutes, but were not very painful yet - sometimes I only knew they were happening because I could see it on the fetal monitor.  I was a bit disappointed that I was only 1-2 cm dilated, and thought for sure they would just give me more Prostin and send me home again.  However, the doctor thought I was making good progress, and they sent us to Labour and Delivery (L&D) to start the oxytocin (which really gets the contractions going).  By 7:15 pm we were in the L&D room.  I was a bit disappointed to be in the L&D side, because I was hoping to get one of the “good” rooms in the LDRP (labour, delivery, recovery and post partum) or “low-risk” side.  I was told those rooms were bigger, nicer and you could stay in the same room for the whole time (and no roommate).  However, I guess because of my blood pressure, I was considered “high-risk” or maybe the other side was full – they never said anything to us about it.

The oxytocin drip only got started at 9:20 pm, because everyone was busy with a set of twins that were being  down the hall.  The nurses brought in a TV and VCR and some movies for us to watch.  We watched “Air Force One”, which I had never seen before, and can’t remember now how it ends.  Just after 10:00pm my water broke on its own, which they told us was a good thing.  It meant my body was ready to go into labour, even though I was being induced.  I was quite glad that my water broke in the hospital and not at home or while out, because it was quite a mess.  It was a very strange sensation.  At 11:00pm I was assessed again, and was still only dilated 1-2 cm.  I was quite disappointed at how slow things seemed to be going. 

I was starting to get quite uncomfortable with the contractions, so I asked for an epidural.  I was told that the anaesthetist was busy, as the woman next door was having an emergency c-section, and I wouldn’t be able to have an epidural for another hour.  This was one of my biggest fears going in to labour – not being able to get an epidural.  It happened to a friend of ours, and she had to give birth without any drugs.  They offered me morphine, which I accepted, even though I had heard that it didn’t always work very well.  I got the morphine by IV at 12:25 am, and it made me very sleepy and my head kind of fuzzy, but didn’t help too much with the pain. Around 12:45 am Carey called Stephanie, our doula, to come. Just after 1:00am I was told that the anaesthetist was available, if I still wanted the epidural.  I said yes, and it was set up fairly quickly and easily.  Relief from the pain came fairly quickly, and they showed me the “happy” button to push if I wanted an extra shot, if things started getting painful.  I was still able to get up and go to the bathroom, which Stephanie said was a good thing.

I tried to get some sleep after getting the epidural, but after a little while, I could feel pain again.  I felt it in my back and in my bottom, and it didn’t go away even when I pushed the “happy” button.  Around 3:00am the nurses checked me again, and I was fully dilated, which came as quite a shock to me, since things had been going so slowly so far.  When they told me that it was time to start pushing, I was quite scared, and I couldn’t stop shaking.  All along, I couldn’t believe that it was really happening, and now it seemed so close.  I started pushing at 3:15 am. 

Stephanie and the nurses were very verbally encouraging while I was pushing.  Carey was fairly quiet, but gave me water or Gatorade between contractions.  I had brought along Fruit Punch Gatorade, to help keep my energy up, but I didn’t drink very much of it, since it reminded me of the time I had the stomach flu and threw up the same flavour of Gatorade.  Pushing was extremely exhausting and I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere.  However, if I didn’t push during a contraction, it was way more painful (the epidural wasn't working anymore).  I had prepared a bunch of stuff to focus on during labour (music, pictures, a Bible verse), but I didn’t use any of it.  I remember focusing on the logo on Carey’s shirt.  I also remember looking at my toes a lot – I had gotten a pedicure a few days before, and they were painted red with a daisy on each big toe.  The Bible verse I had memorized to focus on was Philippians 4:13 – “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  However, while I was pushing there was only one thought going through my head – GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT!!!!  Even though I was screaming this in my head, I was very quiet throughout the pushing.  I think I didn’t have any energy left over for screaming or yelling.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, at 5:35am on Sunday, April 13th, Annika Beth was born.  It was the strangest sensation, feeling her come out of me, and I was just so relieved that it was finally over.  After she was born, they took her to be checked over (she had to be checked out by a paediatrician since I had had morphine), and the doctor stitched me up.  She had given me an episiotomy without telling me (which irritated me slightly, even though I didn’t feel a thing – I just would’ve liked to be informed).  It took a few minutes before I got to hold Annika and see her up close.  Everything was a bit of a blur during this time.  I just remember being in awe of this little creature that had lived and grown inside of me and now was a real person.  She weighed 7 lbs and was 19 inches long.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Giveaway at Tiny TreeHugger

My former business, Tiny TreeHugger, is having a giveaway on their blog and I just wanted to share it with you.  They're giving away an amber teething necklace or bracelet.  I have to admit, I've never tried amber before, so I don't know how well it works, but it has me intrigued.  It's not meant to be chewed on by the baby, but rather, while wearing it, the warmth from the skin releases the active ingredient in the amber - succinic acid - and it's absorbed into the body.  This acid is supposed to do all kinds of wonderful things, including relieving pain and reducing drooling and red cheeks.  You can find out more about amber here.  Considering the amount of drool that is already pouring out of Emmett, I'm tempted to get one of these and try it out!

Don't forget to stop by the blog and enter the contest!  It would be a unique baby gift, if you don't have a little one of your own who could use it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

New 'do

Today Annika and I got haircuts.  Annika has had her hair cut before, but usually it's just her bangs and maybe a little off the ends.  Today was her first big cut!



Then it was my turn...

 Don't we look great?