Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Happy First Birthday Dakota

Miss Dakota:

It's been a year... One that feels like five minutes, and twenty years, at the same time. It feels like I gave birth to you yesterday, but that you've been with our family since the dawn of time. You were always meant to be with our family, that is for sure.

Koty, you are so funny. We should have all known your first "sentence" would be: NO BABA. Which is something you say to stop Oliver from bugging you (Baba = brother) and you say it with one hand up in his face. Most often in the bath, and with a smirk. You also play a mean game of Peekaboo, by pulling the bottom of the shower curtain over your face and then magically appearing, and yelling PEEEEEK! I've never seen it happen where the person didn't burst into hysterics. You are a future Saturday Night Live castmate for certain.

Kota, you are forgiving. This must be a quality shared by first sisters of older brothers. So many times I've seen Oliver come barrelling down the hall and absolutely knock you over and you simply get up and keep playing. Sometimes followed by a clap to congratulate yourself. I would feel like a bad mom to list the injuries you've sustained in your 52-week life, but my-my, you are resilient and kind.

Koko, you are beautiful. I know I tell you this ten times a day, minimum and it must be getting old, but has there ever been a baby so beautiful? You happy eyes and your mouth filled with five teeth that seems to have stopped production at five. Your hands always read to clap. And that puffy belly that houses meals in portions that are meant for teenagers. I am totally mesmerized by you!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! For joining our family and making us the fearsome-foursome we've always been destined to be. You are everything I've ever wanted in a daughter and so much more. And I promise I'll never stop asking Daddy "WE HAVE A DAUGHTER? ARE YOU SURE? REALLY? CHECK AGAIN!"

This photo is my desktop background at work so I can stare at you all through the day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Eating, reading, wearing, listening, watching

Eating: Buffalo chicken burger + sweet potato + chopped salad with chipotle dressing + water
Reading: I just finished Lena Dunham's book (Not that kind of girl) and am maybe 50 pages in to Amy Poehler's (Yes please). Next is a Jamie Oliver cookbook and then attempting Ulysses again.
Wearing: a pile of jeans I forgot I owned then realized the reason I put them away is they are much too big when my mom made fun of my saggy butt.
Listening: Night Verses, check them out
Watching: lots of PVRed Kardashians (so embarrassing)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Family kitchen time

This is my favourite time of day. The four of us gather in the kitchen. The sun is setting so we turn on a few floor lamps and maybe the lights on the Christmas tree that we still haven't taken down. The kids are 5pm-calm, which is a world away from 1pm-hyper. We slowly pull ingredients from the fridge one by one. Onions and garlic, of course. A bottle of white wine? Maybe! "Honey, do you have plans for this sausage?" I ask. "Just save a piece or two for something else I have planned." He says. There's usually a pot of boiling water or a toasty skillet. Maybe the oven is preheated to 400 for sweet potato fries, or 185 for keeping falafels warm. Maybe tonight we'll use our flat top racelette or the BBQ for a beer can chicken...

Unless it's "mommy needs some alone time" night, making dinner is a family affair. We don't go by the women-cook-and-men-grill philosophy. We don't even think the kitchen is off limits for kids. Oliver has been chopping veggies for well over a year. He whisks. He flips. He blends smoothies. Dakota mostly eats.

In fact, the majority of photos I have of Dakota are her eating.

 The photos of Oliver "eating" are just him holding food that he's too distracted to eat.

So we chop and whisk and plan and test, as a family, and less than an hour later we have a fantastic dinner for four - plus leftovers for tomorrow's lunch! We want our kids to be comfortable in the kitchen, able to feed themselves and their future loved ones, and balanced in their relationship with food. Oliver will ask "You gunna blanch those Mommy?" in regards to raw vegetables for Dakota. And she... well, she'll sort the spicy buffalo chicken out of her chopped salad and simply devour the cabbage and kale and other greens.

Kitchen time is family time.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Years Refelection 2014/2015

I'm so proud of myself for doing these four years running! 

Here are my former reflections:


What did you create?
  • A Dakota Forrest Harrison
  • I began writing 2 stories: one unnamed one that Calvin made up in a dream, and one called To find an island, which is social media based
  • Feeding the Wolfe: a cookbook for kids, just need the illustrations and I can go to print/ e-book publishing
  • A capsule wardrobe
  • 52 weekly menu plans & grocery lists

What challenges did you face with courage and strength?

  • Pumping breast milk for Dakota, I've never been a pumper: it's hard!
  • Losing Papa Ed
  • Feeding 200 people at our church's summer BBQ (pulled pork tacos), catering the Christmas Eve Service (cookies, snacks & an espresso bar)

What promises did you keep? 
  • Wear a seatbelt, proper carseat usage
  • Show up to work
  • Natural birth
  • The rest I can't say ;)

What brave choices did you make?
  • Returning to work after 10 months of maternity leave
  • I drove all the way to the cottage by myself 
  • A number of encounters with patients at our mental health care building
  • Taking Oliver to emerg because of his face injury
  • Breastfeeding despite the biting that comes along with teething

What are you proud of?
  •  We bought a home, it looks incredible
  • I put up all of the blinds except 1 window
  • I built a bathroom cabinet and a kitchen pantry
  • How wonderful my family is
  • My younger sister getting a great job and her own apartment

What was disappointing?
  • Not being chosen for an internal posting I hoped for
  • Realizing I'm a better mother than I am a wife, must try harder

What was scary?
  • Oliver's last year as a non-school age child
  • Sleeping alone when Calvin was away at the studio
  • Cutting all my hair off, but not that scary

What was hard?
  • Waking up at 5am, eating breakfast at 5:15am, driving at 5:30am
  • Showering, when you have two kids who need attention
  • Sleeping, in general
  • Moving

What can you forgive yourself for?
  • Everything
  • I forgive myself for the amount of chocolate I've eaten
  • I forgive myself for not getting the kids outside to play when it's freezing cold
  • I forgive myself for having terrible fashion sense

The next step is to say out loud, “I declare 2014 complete!”

How do you feel?
I'll be honest, I didn't do it.

The final step is to consider your primary focus for the year to come. What is your primary intention or theme for 2014?

Mine last year was: “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”

My intention this year is to find a routine. That I can see a week and know our rhythm. To reduce the chaos. For my children to feel secure in where they'll be and who will care for them every day of the week. To always pack my lunches, pull out my clothes and have my bags ready for the day ahead. To snuggle my two treasures constantly, and be amazed by them, and listen every time they're talking, and never chose a screen over them. To write them emails to read in the future, and take pictures of everything. To find out who they are, what they need, what drives them and what exhausts them, and how I can make them better, every day. To invest in them and model what a good person is like, so that they can say that I was a positive example in their lives. And to ship them off to bed at a reasonable hour so that I can spend one-on-one time with the only man I need be spending one-on-one time with. To actively do things to make it known that he is special. To never leave him seeking for attention, compliments or approval. To give credit where credit is due, and then even extra where it's not. To give more than I receive. To over-praise and under-complain. To be a treat and a joy to be around, 99% of the time. And to myself: to get enough sleep, enough water, enough activity, enough greens, enough alone time, to be my very best at almost-all times.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Fueling a child's imagination

If I haven't already said it on here 1000 times, Oliver is obsessed with inventing. Everything he sees is a part of his invention; he is constantly scheming how to connect things. The plumbing and duct work in our home: part of his invention. An extension cord in a store we're shopping at: part of his invention. He plugs usb-cords into everything and doesn't even become disappointed when nothing happens. His inventions define him. He spends hours and hours on end working on them.

Calvin has been fueling Oliver's imagination by teaching him to play Little Big Planet 3. The video game (though yes, a form of "screen time") is amazing for encouraging creativity and "sky's the limit" thinking as opposed to the binary "this action is either right or wrong" of so many other games, not to mention the violence. I would rather Oliver play a game where his actions affect the outcome, than just watch a movie where he is a passive audience.

The other thing we've been up to is exploring electricity. My dad bought Oliver an inventor's kit in California when he was teaching a computer course there. It contains a learning book with projects and instructions, as well as a huge pile of pieces that he can use to create the projects or experiment on his own.

So far he has learned that electricity works in a loop. The loop starts at one end of the battery (which is the source of power) and ends at the other side, and they are called positive and negative, or + and -. The battery shouldn't be connected only to itself or it will overheat (short) so we attach it, using alligator clips, to "loads". Right now his loads are a lightbulb on a base, a red LED, a buzzer and a motor which he connects to other things to make them spin. He also learned that many metal things can be conductors and let the electricity through, but other things are insulators and stop the electricity. We spent some time testing things in the house and he thought it was pretty cool that Daddy's glasses are a conductor -- and his breakfast spoon! The most recently project we did was creating an on-off switch using brad clips and a paper clip. Now he can make an electricity loop (in series, not parallel yet) with a light and buzzer, so when the Toronto Maple Leafs score he can complete the loop (close the circuit) and make it sound and light up.

He is absolutely blowing me away at how much he understands and how easily he can apply the information. The kit is designed for elementary school children but Oliver doesn't even start JK until September (yes: I register him in 2 weeks, oh my heavens.)

We are so happy to be providing ways for him to be creative and explore possibilities. And hey, it's fun for us too.

Eating at work

Short of all the gifted chocolate I devour, I find that I eat pretty healthy at work. For me, a never-cafeteria-purchaser, it’s really simple to pack some great food and then stick to what I have. The alternative is being at home, with a kitchen full of food, and that’s when things can really get unhealthy. At least at work I can’t do a donuts-fried-in-butter experiment!
I work 10 – 12 hour shifts, so it’s longer than average, but here is what I ate in one day:
5:45am: Greek yogurt with maple syrup; to give me fuel for the drive to work and the first couple tasks of the day
6:00-7:30am: Black coffee in a double walled mug to keep it hot
8:00am: An entire avocado and 10 cherry tomatoes with salt; I realize how weird this is, thank you very much
9:30am: A fruit and nut tart from a platter for everyone in the department to share
10:00am-1:00pm: Slowly snacking on roasted almonds and mini cheddar crackers, lots of filtered water
1:00pm: A huge bowl of leftover veggie rice with San-J Gluten-Free Orange Stir-fry sauce; I put this on everything from perogies to scrambled eggs
2:30-5:30pm: Finish off a bag of chili-lime seasoned peanuts, more water
6:45pm: Dinner of Chicken Burgers and sweet potato fries
And I honestly rarely snack after eating dinner, so that’s the end of it.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

11 month / 41 month update

I'm starting to get a kick out of calling Oliver a 41 month old boy. Actually it goes well with the fact that yesterday he asked me for na-na milk, ie to nurse. How weird and unexpected. So... Aside from strange requests that I denied, things have been great! I'm actually surprising myself to get this update done since we have been so busy (as has the rest of the world I'm sure). I have been working a lot, like I'm in the midst of a 6/7 day streak and all shifts are about 10-12 hours long. Add in family gatherings and catering/baristaing our church's Christmas Eve service at Fire Rock Golf Club, I need some rest! It doesn't help that Dakota is still teething and still choosing me as her favourite teething toy. We have also had our dear friend Pedro visiting from Brazil. It has been amazing to have him here but if you can believe it: he hasn't seen any snow!

So what's new with the kiddos? Oliver survived the noro-virus. Somehow Dakota escaped getting it, even after visiting her great grandma in a retirement home on outbreak. We decorated our house for the holidays and have spent a lot of time with family. And Cal took the kids shopping a lot!

Oliver loved doing advent every morning. I would read him a story and bible verse and then have chocolate of course. He somewhat understands Santa too. His favourite gift was a trampoline to keep in his room. Santa bought him Legos. He also got a new tablet from my dad to replace the one he accidentally dropped. He also really loved this pretend coffeemaker. And so many other things. Dakota is harder to gauge but the gift she seemed to take the most affinity to was a simple bead and track toy by Melissa and Doug, like you would see in a doctor's office. She also received a new car seat. My mom found a portable booster chair for eating away from home and I am really excited about that.

Here is Dakota on Christmas morning. She was pretty good at opening gifts and being excited about them, considering her age.

Here's Oliver all fancy for a Christmas party, or Christmas photo - I can't remember which!

Here's a new t-shirt our visitor Pedro brought from Brazil.