Sunday, March 30, 2014

13/52

A portrait (or video!) of my girls every week for one year.

video



Saturday, March 29, 2014

When toddlers become the big kids

We've been going to a popular, new indoor playground for several months now. We love it because it is a large, clean space with lots of options for jumping, climbing and sliding.

Lately, I've noticed that my toddlers have suddenly become the big kids in the room. I usually arrive right when it opens (9am), but by 9:30, the place is busy and by 10:00am, the place is packed. It's overrun by little ones in the 1-2 age group.

Your girls really are wild, aren't they? My friend said to me yesterday morning at the indoor playground.  I had said it earlier in the morning, so I didn't take offence to the comment. The girls were running laps around a padded trampoline area. This in itself sounds innocent enough, but when the area is occupied by three 14-month olds, it's a different story.

In the last couple of months, I've felt exhausted when we leave this place. I could never really understand why. I used to love going to places like that because the girls were kept busy, which meant that I got some time-off.

Lately, the girls have gotten so silly and wild when we go there, we have had to cut our play time short.    Yesterday they found some soft balls and proceeded to throw them aimlessly in an area full of little ones. Instantly, moms and nannies started covering the heads of their young toddlers. I quickly stopped the game, but offered a alternative -- throwing balls into the playhouse through the large window. They took my suggestion well, but slipped up once hitting the leg of a 16-month old boy. His mom quickly told me that he's a tough guy and it was no biggie. I appreciated her laid-back reaction. Her son hadn't even noticed that the soft ball had grazed his leg. At the risk of sounding slightly judgemental, most of the moms there aren't like that.

My girls love playing at this indoor playground and I will be the first to admit that they can get a bit nuts. As a result, I monitor their play a little bit more closely than I usually would. I know when to slow them down or make a change to what looks like an innocent game. I'm extremely aware of the brand new toddlers waddling around because just yesterday, I had two of them. I'm finding it difficult to find balance though -- creating a safe place for all toddlers without crushing the free spirits of my own kids.

How do you find that balance with your kids? Is the balance different depending on who you're with?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dentist

Following on the heels of my previous post about the girls' first taste of Smarties, I now write about our first trip to the dentist!

Today's visit was technically Quinn's second trip to a dentist. I took her two weeks ago over fear that she might have damaged her teeth on one of her many tumbles. My dentist took an xray which fortunately showed no damage to her teeth. He recommended that they see a paediatric dentist for the cleanings for the first few years. So off we went to a paediatric dentistry practice recommended by a few friends of mine.

While waiting in the the toy-filled waiting room that is also fully equipped with TVs and a Wii, a little girl who was about 4 came out of her appointment crying her eyes out. Quinn sat on my lap with her eyes glued to the crying girl. The dentist came out and gave her some ice for her mouth, so she had obviously had something more done than a standard cleaning. Quinn continued to watch intently clearly growing worried that the tears were in her future too. Nothing gets by her. She is always thinking. I tried to distract her with toys and random conversation without success. I finally told her that the little girl was having a hard day. We talked about how she too, has hard days. As we talked about it a bit more, she seemed to become less worried.

Eventually, it was our turn. We were introduced to the dental hygienist, who was extremely friendly. She asked who wanted to go first. Given Quinn's nervousness about anything new, I encouraged Teagan to go first. She hopped up on the chair with ease. The hygienist let her pick a pair of sunglasses and as the chair was slowly lowered, Teagan looked up to see this…


They've pulled out all the stops at this dental office!

I was told that at this age, they count teeth, introduce the kids to the dental tools and do a cleaning, if the child lets them. Teagan was a champ. She willingly opened her mouth for the hygienist, who easily counted teeth - she has all but one of her 2-year molars! Fortunately, she had virtually no plaque so the scaling was minimal. She cleaned her teeth and then allowed a happy T to pick out a sticker. 

Teagan gets her teeth cleaned
Just like with the little girl in the waiting room, Quinn watched Teagan intently, knowing that her turn was coming. Luckily, Teagan handled her cleaning with ease. 

I reassured Quinn throughout Teagan's cleaning and showed her all of the cool things in the room. I even allowed her to snap pictures of Teagan on my phone. A budding photographer! 

Quinn reluctantly got into the chair clutching my hand. I sat next to her pointing out the random characters on the ceiling TV and reminding her that she got to pick out a sticker when she finished. She opened her mouth while the hygienist counted her teeth. She too, did extremely well during her cleaning. The hygienist frequently had to stop because Quinn was fascinated by the tools and wanted to inspect them all. 


The hygienist praised them multiple times for being so great. I couldn't have been more proud of my girls for taking their first dental appointment so well!  

12/52: Food Art!

A portrait of my girls every week for one year. 


I made the girls their first batch of Rice Krispy Squares this past weekend. In the spirit of Spring (and Easter in a month), I used cookie cutters to make Easter eggs, bunnies and flowers. The girls then got their first taste of Smarties. Quinn, especially, really enjoyed them. Check out her food art below!



Monday, March 17, 2014

11/52

A portrait of my girls every week for one year. 
Quinn helps her younger friend.
Teagan's love of animals captured!

The never-ending winter and other stuff too

I figured that it was time for a random update. This is when I sort of miss the monthly updates, as tough as they were at times.

We are in what seems like never-ending winter. Did Elsa freeze Toronto too?! (A little 'Frozen' humour…I have two obsessed little girls) Never-ending winter with subzero temperatures like I've never seen have meant that we have spent way more time indoors that ever before. I think that because I'm home with the girls (as opposed to working outside the home), I want to always be out. Toronto is an awesome city for young kids and the time always seems to go much faster when we are out doing something. But, when temperatures reach -30C and young skin can be frostbitten in a matter of 2 minutes, even this restless mommy would prefer to stay in. I've had to challenge myself to keep my two active little monkeys entertained. Arts and crafts projects have been a go-to lately. While I sometimes give them a specific craft project, they are also happy to be given some paper, scissors, glue, markers, scraps of paper and stickers to create their own masterpieces.


A walk in a mid-March snowstorm 
I'm late to the game on this one, but it was my Mom's birthday on March 5th!  My Dad threw my Mom a fantastic dinner party at a Toronto restaurant with a great group of friends and family. A night out sans children is always welcomed for Jenn and me! The girls recorded a 'happy birthday' message for Atty that morning.

video

Things have very much improved on the sleep front. I feel like a new person now that I'm back to getting 8 hours of sleep (at least!) per night. The girls are sleeping about 11.5 hours at night and usually take a 1.5-2 hour nap. They hit 7 stickers on their sleep charts (one sticker for "sleeping all night") which meant that they got their ice cream reward (their choice). Yesterday, we took two happy girls for their 'sleep all night ice cream.' I'm generally not a fan of food rewards, but when it comes to sleep, anything goes. I was exhausted!




Quinn ended up having her first visit to the dentist last week. I had planned on taking them, but not for a few more months. Her gums bled several times and I was nervous that a fairly recent fall on her mouth had injured her teeth. After an x-ray, we found out that all was well and not damage had been done. It turned out that her gums were very inflamed and red though. She had been complaining about her mouth being sore so we hadn't been doing a thorough teeth cleaning. And so starts the vicious cycle  of poor teeth cleaning = sore gums… Q and I picked up some cool new toothbrushes on the way home. As luck would have it, a day later, Teagan's gums started bleeding as well. While I think that 2-year molars are partly to blame, it was also a wake up call that we need to be more strict on the teeth brushing.

Apart from that, we've been looking to the spring and summer, by deciding on activities and camps that the girls are going to do. We decided to rent a cottage for a week this summer with some friends of ours. Going through the process of renting a cottage was a bit surreal and made me really miss our family's cottage that was sold last summer. The girls are also signed up for two weeks of morning-only camps; one will be at their preschool and the other is an animal camp (a birthday present from my parents). Teagan is signed up for a hands-on animal class (kids learn how to handle and care for different types of animals) that starts in a few weeks. I tried to sign Quinn up for something else (like an art class), but wasn't able to find something around the same time. Q likes the animals but isn't as into it as T, so we thought that this would be a good opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with them. We are also going to do a trial (indoor) soccer class this week. If winter ever ends, they'll move outside at some point in late April. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

10/52: Happy Birthday Riley!

A portrait of my girls every week for one year. 

We celebrated Riley's 7th birthday on Saturday with a walk at one of his favourite places. I can't believe that my oldest child is 7! These two little girls are very lucky to have such an amazing big bro :)



Friday, March 7, 2014

The "Sleep All Night" Cupcakes

I was desperate earlier in the week. Desperate for sleep. The girls weren't sleeping well when we returned from Florida two weeks ago. Pretty standard after a return from vacation, I know. Teagan didn't take very long to get back into her routine. Quinn got worse. Much, much worse. I blogged about it earlier this week. Jenn was away on business for a few days as well, so I was doing nights alone.

We weren't really sure what was waking Quinn up, but I tried all of my natural treatments and finally tried Ad.vil. Nothing worked. We assumed that she was likely getting a molar. She would be up every hour, but didn't seem like she was in a lot of pain. She wanted hugs or wanted me to lie with her. I let her sleep with me for two nights, which meant that I really didn't any sleep because of the tossing and kicking.

Without a decent night of sleep in two weeks, I bribed them on Monday night. If they slept through the night, they'd get a special treat on Tuesday at lunchtime. Teagan slept. Quinn had a hellish night for the fifth night in a row, which left me as a zombie on Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday, after lunch, I brought out the "sleep all night" mini cupcakes. It was slightly heartbreaking to watch Q's face, while her sister happily housed her cupcake, but I had to stay true to my word.

I let the "sleep all night" cupcake bribe go all week…

Guess who finally got her "sleep all night" cupcake this morning with her eggs?!?


Monday, March 3, 2014

9/52: Girls will be girls?

A portrait of my girls every week for one year. 

Twirling in their pretty tutus!



Leaping off the couch moments later…in their pretty tutus.




My Job

Your life is rrrrrreally going to change! Like many moms-to-be, this was said to me many times in the months leading up to Teagan and Quinn's arrival. Of course my life was going to change. Could I understand the gravity of it? No. Not a chance. No one can understand how much a newborn (or two+) is going to change your life until it happens.

The newborn stage was tough because I was learning how to be a mother. Learning how to breastfeed. Learning how to burp, change and soothe not one, but two babies. Learning how to live on little sleep. With the basics under my belt, now I'm learning and sometimes struggling with caring for two toddlers. I'm learning how to handle tantrums and fights. I'm learning how to negotiate with irrational toddlers and figure out how to creatively get them to wear clothes and not PJs to school or drink out of the blue cup because the orange one is in the dishwasher. I'm learning how to handle the toughest job that I've ever had. A job that never ends, not for a second. A job that can be so mentally and emotionally exhausting that it can cause me to break down in tears. A job that has also brought me more love, joy and laughs than I ever thought possible. A job that I wouldn't trade for anything, even on the toughest of days.

If you're living the above right now, you've likely seen this blog entry that went viral a few days ago.

Somebody always needs a snack, a band-aid, a different sock, ice cubes in their water, a NEW Paw Patrol, a stream of snot wiped, a hug, a story, a kiss.  Some days never seem to end, and the monotony of being “needed” can really take its toll. 
- your best nest

I read this blogger's post last night and like so many other young moms, I needed it.

In the last four days, I've been needed a lot. I've been needed all day AND all night. The girls haven't slept in four nights. Last night I was needed four times before 1am, ended up with a child in my bed for 6 hours and was needed another two times between 4-5am. I barely slept. I NEED sleep. I'm a diva that way. But not really. My body and brain start shutting down when I get less than 8 hours of sleep.

I started this blog post over an hour ago. After getting two overtired toddlers fed, bathed and into bed, I started cleaning up, only to hear crying coming from upstairs three separate times. I was feeling done. Physically and mentally exhausted. Each time Quinn let out a cry tonight, I went in and firmly said that it was time to sleep, gave her a kiss and quickly rushed out. I reminded them of the "special surprise" that they'll get tomorrow if they sleep through the night. I'm that desperate. By the fourth cry in 20 minutes, I was feeling angry and frustrated. I wanted to clean up and sit down.

The sooner I can accept that being Mommy means that I never go off the clock, the sooner I can find peace in this crazy stage of life. 
- your best nest

Instead of showing Quinn my frustration, I went into their room a fourth time and lay on her bed. I wrapped my arms around her tiny 26-pound body. She reached for my finger and held it tight, just like she used to do as a newborn. She let out a sigh and her body relaxed in my arms. Mommy loves you, I whispered. Her little head nodded. It's ok. You can close your eyes, I told her. Her breathing slowed and deepened. Within minutes, she was fast asleep. That was all she needed. I don't regret it. I'll never regret giving my babies an extra hug or cuddle, especially when they really need it. Little do I know that those are the times when I need it too.

Then, it all started to hit me, they need ME.  Not anybody else.  Not a single other person in the whole world.  They need their Mommy.
- your best nest