more planes

Gwen fricking loves planes. I mean, I think EVERY toddler loves anything that flies in the sky: planes, helicopters, birds. Gwen is even a fan of flying bugs, ESPECIALLY bees. She points out every flying thing she sees or hears.

Last week I took her and her lil friend down to Jack Poole Plaza at the bottom of Thurlow Street (by the Olympic Cauldron) to watch the seaplanes take off from the Harbour Air terminal. It was pretty cloudy and threatening to rain but we lucked out and got to see a few planes taking off, and Gwen was thrilled. She kept pointing and shrieking “Plane! More plane!!!!” Taylor came and met us after he finished work and she was happy to tell him all about “more plane” as well.

01gwen by the cauldron

02tall towers

03 gwen

04 planes clouds mountain

06 gwen taylor
Plane!

05 more planes
More plane!

07 tanie
what am I doing here? I thought at first I was brushing my hair back but it looks more like I’m about to punch myself in the neck? WHO CAN SAY.

08 planes takeoff

09 tanie gwen

Funny story: when Taylor got to the plaza I said to Gwen “look, it’s your dadda!” and her lil friend turned to me very seriously and was like “No. It’s like a dadda, but it’s Gwennie’s Taylor.” Poor Taylor, destined to never be called dadda again.

let’s talk about: gwen sleeping

sleepythree

It’s been a couple months since Gwen’s sleeping habits went off the rails, and I’m THRILLED to report things are finally almost back to normal, at night at least. We have our routine down and most of the time it’s a success. After dinner she has her bath, then drinks her milk while we watch youtube videos either on the couch or in our bed. Then she gets her nighttime diaper and pajamas on and brushes her teeth. We read one story in her bed and then tuck her in sitting up. She hugs us and hugs the dogs and then we turn on the Sleep Sheep and turn off the light. After we leave the room she lays down and probably 95% of the time goes straight to sleep and stays asleep through the night.

A few notes:

• She has her bedtime milk in a bottle, but with a sippy lid on it. I found that the sippy lid valves tend to collapse on themselves and make it hard to drink so I leave the valves out and keep my fingers crossed that she won’t spill milk all over herself/the couch/my bed (spoiler alert: she usually does).
• Her youtube faves: Yo Gabba Gabba clips, Vet Ranch, Demolition Ranch, and Cats 101.
• Either Taylor or myself or most often both of us have to brush our teeth while she brushes her teeth.
• I bought some little light switch clips to try and stop her from turning on the light on the rare nights she doesn’t stay in her bed, but she figured out how to work them, so we actually have to loosen the bulbs in her room every night.

HOWEVER one thing we don’t have back to normal yet is naps. Gwen still needs a nap, if she doesn’t have one she is ABSOLUTELY DEMENTED by about 5 o’clock. After a few failed naps where she made assorted messes in her room (clothes, books, poop D:) and kept her lil friend awake I stopped trying to get her to sleep in her bed in the afternoons. I found that the only way I could get her to take a nap was if she fell asleep in her stroller. Every day I take her for a walk around my block, and once she’s out I pray I can get her back to the house before some loud noise (sirens, construction, garbage trucks, just loud people or dogs) wakes her. Back at the house I very carefully roll her stroller down the stairs and into the foyer. She’ll sleep in her stroller for an hour or two, then wake up all sweaty and cranky.

sleepyone

Sometimes she’s so grumpy and fussy after her nap I’d have to cuddle her on the couch for hours afterwards. I hate that she’ll only nap in the stroller because I just don’t think it’s that comfortable- she always has her head cranked way over to one side. Last week she started falling back to sleep once I moved her too the couch and napping for longer, and then yesterday she actually fell asleep on the couch before I even took her for a walk. She woke up from that nap without any fussing or crying at all, it was kind of amazing! I mean, it’d be MORE amazing if she would nap in her bed, but I’ll take what I can get.

sleepytwo

let’s talk about gwen talking

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gwentalking2

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A few weeks ago the speech pathologist called to check on Gwen’s progress, and I asked her to go ahead and close the file. Gwen is talking more and more all the time, and I think it’s better to the speech pathology department to spend their time and resources on children with greater issues. Even though the file is closed, we don’t lose our “spot,” and if we have concerns about Gwen’s speech in the future the file can be reopened without us having to be on waiting list again.

Some of her Gwen’s favourite things to say…

Colours. When we read books she’ll point to things on the page and say “pink! blue! green!” She knows what purple is but she can’t quite say it yet so it gets “pink!” as well.

“More!” When she wants to watch another instalment of Demolition Ranch or eat another bowl of yogurt & berries.

“Too!” When she wants to go for a walk too, when she wants me to watch tv with her too, when she wants Taylor to come brush his teeth with her too. Speaking of teeth, when she wants to brush them she says “teeth” and rubs her finger on them like a brush.

“Poo-poo” or “poopy” or “pooooooooooo.” When we take Georgie for a walk and she does her business.

Recently she’s been adding longer words to her repertoire: kitty, pillow, tickle, and my personal fave, Taylor. Yes, she’s stopped calling Taylor “dadda” and started calling him by his first name, and it is HILARIOUS to me. This is obviously a habit she’s picked up from me, although when I’m speaking to her I call him “dadda” or “your dadda” (usually in the context of “let’s go wake up dadda!”) but when I’m talking to him I call him by his name and she copies everything I do.

poolside

02 pool view

01 tanie & gwen

03 taylor & sky

05 taylor & gwen

06 trees & sky

Last Friday Taylor had the day off (he took that day instead of Canada Day, which was mid-week and would have messed up his sleep schedule too much) and I was still on vacation so in the morning we all went to the outdoor pool at Second Beach. Even Sym came*, which is kind of amazing. She’d actually been saying we should go to the pool but then when I told her we were going she was like “I can’t find my goggles I’M NOT GOING.” lol teens. Anyway her dad found her some she could wear and she actually hung out with us an had fun. Amazing.

Every summer I say we should go to the pool and every summer I can’t get my shit together to actually do it, so it was impressive that we made it at all. Although I’d walked by it many times I’d never checked the price and WOW is it ever cheap. The fees on the website are out of date but it’s about $6 for adults, $4.50 for youths, and free for babies & toddlers. There is also a family rate of $3.05 per person so it actually only cost $9.15 for us to get in.

I wanted to get there right when it opened at 10 but I’m super disorganized and didn’t sort anything out the night before. I had to go dig our beach towels out of the storage room and send Taylor to the store for snacks, so we got there at about 10:20. There was a small line at that time but it wasn’t crowded yet. On the weekends it gets SUPER busy though (which is why I wanted to go on Friday).

We stayed at the little kid end of the pool and had a blast, although it was super windy that day so we froze whenever we got out of the water. Gwen spent all her time out of the water curled up in my lap wrapped in multiple towels and my kimono (and she definitely peed on me at least once, dang you swim diapers!). If (when!) we go again I will definitely bring extra towels and really try to get there earlier.

*Sym is in just one of these pictures

happy day

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cd02gwenrobea

cd04gwenrobeb
This is the most on-theme outfit I could get Gwen to wear; I said to Taylor the combination of robe-as-daywear and insane bedhead was giving me Baby Lebowski vibes and he replied that all she needed to complete the look was a virgin White Russian. So like. Milk.

cd03stream

cd05gwenbench

cd06buds

cd07gwenalley

cd08babyapples

Happy Canada Day! I’m off all this week so it kind of doesn’t feel like a holiday for me? Taylor is taking Friday off instead of today (or last night, since his shift starts at midnight) and Sym is spending the day at her dad’s, so it’s just me & the babe this afternoon. We might go to the fireworks tonight, it depends on Gwen since they will be starting well past her bedtime and if she’s grumpy we aren’t going to bother. My only real Canada Day plans are to make a couple different flavoured syrups, having tacos for dinner, and remaking the banner I was working on yesterday that Gwen cut in half at some point before I woke up this morning.

julycalendarsmall
My July calendar page is up now, you can download it here.

summatime

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I know it’s poor form to recycle your instagram pics in your blog posts but this is literally the only picture of Sym that exists, and also it is very cute.

School is over and it’s officially summer for Sym, which means it’s officially exasperation season for me. We already had our first big attitude problem-related blowout and I confiscated all her devices for five days- before she’d even picked up her report card. Teens are hard to parent sometimes! Last summer I came up with a big list of chores and activities with rules about how many she had to complete each day before she was allowed any screen time, which worked well, but this summer I’m more about getting her out of the house to do things where there might be other people.

Options for teen activities when you are as broke as me are pretty limited; most of the programs at the community centers around here are for younger kids (or they are just exercise classes), and most of the art and theater classes I’ve found are too rich for my blood. Through some clever googling though, I found a wealth of teen activities and workshops at the library that are FOR FREE and I am ALL ABOUT THEM.

This week she started a creative writing workshop that is every other Monday afternoon all summer, and I signed her up for a three-day Barbie modding workshop at the end of July. She actually pestered me about the Barbie thing for days until I signed her up, which is amazing for a kid who usually wants nothing more than to lurk in her bedroom watching It’s Grace videos all day. There is also a button-making workshop I’m trying to get her to do but for some reason she says she isn’t into buttons? I was like “YOU CAN PUT THEM ON YOUR JEAN JACKET!!!!” but she wasn’t sold. Honestly sometimes I wonder how we are even related.

waffles & sprained ankles

emergencymacaroni
eating dinner in the pediatric examination room

Last night Taylor and I got to celebrate his special day by taking a fun trip to the emergency room at St. Paul’s Hospital (I keep hearing all this noise about plans to move the hospital out of downtown and I hope that never happens, it is very convenient having the hospital half a block away). Earlier in the day she fell off one of the dining room chairs and as the afternoon progressed she went from walking on the edge of her foot with her toes curled under, to walking on her knees and refusing to even stand up.

The hospital was a super fun adventure as Gwen’s highly developed sense of STRANGER DANGER meant she started screaming and howling BEFORE the doctor examined her leg. It wasn’t really possible to tell what sort of pain she was in so she had to have her leg x-rayed. Of course she didn’t want the x-ray technician (who was SO NICE AND PATIENT) to talk to/look at her either which led to more howling. She wouldn’t lie down or hold still for the x-ray, so in the end both Taylor and myself had to lead-apron up and hold her leg in place while trying to keep our hands out of the shot.

In spite of this they were able to get what the needed and with no apparent fractures or deformities she was diagnosed with a sprained ankle. The doctor told us it should heal quickly and that within 24 to 48 hours she be back to her regular self (although if she’s not we should bring her back in). So far today she seems to be doing really well; she was standing at the door when I got her up this morning and she’s been walking on her feet and even twirling, running, and climbing (including up onto the very same chair she fell off yesterday, why must you do this, baby?).

Even though we were fast tracked at the ER we still got home quite late and so we skipped bath, instead giving her a bottle, brushing our teeth (she likes us to brush while she brushes) and going straight to bed. Gwen’s bedtimes have thankfully become less of a struggle recently. She likes to sit up in bed and have us read her a book or two before we turn off the lights and close the door. She usually cries for a minute or two but then falls asleep without problem. She won’t let us tuck her in and stays sitting up while we leave, but if we check on her in the night she’s always fixed up her bed and tucked herself in. She still sleeps through the night just fine and has even been sleeping in a little in the mornings, waking at 7 or 7:30 instead of 5:30 or 6.

PS Taylor’s Father’s Day wasn’t just about the hospital. In the morning her got presents: Campfire Cologne and Canoeist Beard Oil from the Sanborn Canoe Company, and a new pair of sandals to replace the ones Georgie chewed up. I also made him a special brunch of homemade waffles with fresh blackberries, raspberries (regular & golden), whipped cream and lemon-wild rose syrup, which tragically didn’t thicken enough but was still delicious.

talk | slide

01gwenwalkgate

03silverdollars

04redhollyhock

02gwentablesit

05georgiegarden

06gwenwalklane

07treesskylight

08shadowsongrass

10bigtree

11mapleleaves

09gwenyellowflowers

12stream

I haven’t mentioned Gwen’s delayed speech/her progress recently. She is still on the recall list with the speech pathologists, which means they call us every few months to ask if we want to bring her in. I haven’t taken her in since our initial appointment at the beginning of the year, as her speech and vocabulary have continued to improve. She now says the names of the pets, certain colours and letters, and many more household objects and toys. She says mama and dada all the time, and for some reason she calls Sym “Dee.” My most recent fave was the other day when I was watching the X-Files while I worked on banners and every time someone was abducted by aliens she cry out “oh no, oh nooooooo!” Totally the appropriate response imo.

gwenfuchsias

May long weekend when we were in Kelowna we were supposed to have a barbecue on Sunday night with homemade sliders, but because we left early (due to Gwen’s refusal to sleep) we missed it. This was super disappointing, so my new thing this summer is making sliders on Friday nights. Now, I’ve kind of quit eating meat I have to prepare myself because it grosses me out to the point where I can’t eat it*, so I’ve been making veggie sliders. It’s super easy, I just buy the Yves veggie burgers**, cut each patty into thirds (in wedges, like a pie) and sort of smoosh each wedge back into a round patty shape. You can also use a round cookie or biscuit cutter with a 2.5″ diameter to make circles, but you will only get two and then you’ll have to REALLY squish the scraps together to get the third patty.

sliders1

sliders2

Gwen loves ’em.

The first week I just made simple cheeseburgers with mozzarella, but last week I got more creative and topped the sliders with caramelized onions and smoked gouda. I asked Taylor what he thought I should do this week and he suggested something spicy, but then he was like “get a cheese with jalapeños in it and put chipotle sauce on the pattie sand top them with pickled banana peppers!” and I’m kinda like CALM DOWN GUY, THE KIDS HAVE TO EAT THESE TOO. Sym won’t eat anything spicy and idk how much spicy stuff Gwen should/could be eating, so I think I should just stick to ONE spicy element at a time.

* Except for bacon, cooking bacon doesn’t gross me out… YET
** I didn’t eat these for a couple years bc soy is a goitrogen, ie not rad for your thyroid, but now that my Graves’ is in remission I’m adding it back into my diet. Not kale though. Never kale.

anewshelves

bnewshelves

In other news, last weekend Taylor and I spent a whole day putting up assorted shelves around the house. The shelves that used to hold Gwen’s books until she and her lil friend pulled them right out of the wall like baby hulks are now in my office. I already had three longer shelves on one wall so I put these on the other wall at the same heights so there would be a cohesive look, and with the new space I’ve been having lots of fun rearranging my pictures and putting up new art, including pieces from The Disaster Life, Sara M Lyons and Sebastien Millon. I also hung up this new lil gradient banner I made for myself last week, you can get one for yourself here.

wakeful

01sky

02gwenbeach

03seaweed

05gwenshore

04sandshellssea

06gwenshorehalo

07tanieheron

08taylorgwenlifeguard

Gwen doesn’t take an afternoon nap anymore. When I tell people they always shriek “WHAT??? SHE’S ONLY TWO!!!” but it’s what is happening and we are all powerless to stop it. Last week (on Wednesday and Thursday) I gave it one final attempt and tried to put her down for a nap. She didn’t sleep either day, but she did dismantle her whole room, throw books everywhere, take off a poopy diaper, tap dance in it and then climb all her furniture with poopy feet. So basically… NEVER AGAIN. Instead she falls asleep in her stroller when we are out running errands, or she falls asleep on the couch curled up next to us. The latter is so sweet and takes me back to when she was a tiny baby, I don’t even miss her taking a proper nap (except for when I have a lot of work that needs to get done, then I definitely miss it).

unlikely lullabies

On Monday night Gwen put on a repeat performance of her refusing to sleep act from Saturday. After over an hour and a half of struggling to get her to stay in bed by changing her, redressing her, reading to her and laying down with her I finally tried singing to her. Why did I not try this sooner? It worked like a charm! Fifteen minutes of singing the non-Coca-Cola version of “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” (it’s been stuck in my head since Sunday night) over and over and she fell asleep and didn’t wake up until seven in the morning (a miracle!). While I’ve sung some traditional lullabies to my girls over the years I’ve had the best luck with regular songs, some of which might seem like odd choices. These have all worked for us though:


The New Seekers- I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing
I actually remember this song from when I was a kid, like I don’t think they were still airing the ad on tv at that time but I DEF heard this version. It works great as a lullaby: the sweet lyrics, folky melody and short, repetitive verses are overtired toddler Kryptonite. A song like this you can sing the verses over and over in any order which is perfect for soothing a frantic lil one to sleep.


The Ditty Bops- Because We Do
idk that the lyrics of this song are really lullaby material but other than that it has all the same positives as ILTTTWTS.


Depeche Mode- Enjoy the Silence
This is what I used to sing to Gwen when she was a tiny baby. Go ahead and laugh but “all I ever wanted, all I ever needed, is here in my arms” is just what I was feeling at the time.


Guns n Roses- Sweet Child o’ Mine
… and this is what I would sing to little Symmie. GO AHEAD AND LAUGH HARDER but this song is the best lullaby.