Monday, 24 October 2011

Portrait of a Preschooler on Her Birthday

A friend of ours with two older girls (and veteran of the under-10 girlie birthday party scene) tactfully suggested a gymnastics party for Liliane this year.  Pfftt, my kid? Run around and bounce off the walls with her friends? What makes you think she would like that instead of, you know, painting or making jewelry?

Oh, right. She's actually MET HER.

Man, they had a good time.

And so did the parents knowing their kids were going to sleep well that night getting lots of healthy exercise!

It was her first birthday party with friends from daycare (and of course her besties Luana and Rosie were there and they fit in brilliantly with everybody). 

At the top of her invite list was pal Amine who has been in the same group at daycare with her for the last two years.

Stéphane is already eyeing him with suspicion.

After the gymnastics part, we gathered in the party room for presents and cake.

I had very specific instructions to please make chocolate cupcakes with pink icing.

I was also permitted to make some white cupcakes for people who don't like chocolate. 

Note for next year: a mob of preschoolers hopped up on icing is a force to be reckoned with when giving out balloons. 

And yes, she slept like a log.

Alice pretty much slept through the whole thing, thanks to my friend Manon. I just handed my snuggly little bundle over and didn't see her for much of the afternoon. 

In case you forgot what she looked like, here are a couple of shots of our hectic and busy life, hangin' on the couch.

Yep, all good.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Happy Birthday Baby

Dear Liliane,

Today you are four. Four years old and already well on your way to big-girl status. 

Your favourite meal is ham, cucumber, red pepper and bread in any form. Also squeezy yogurt and Oreos. 

I am continually amazed by your wicked sense of humour and love of practical jokes, pratfalls and farts. You adore Dora and anything Princess in equal measures.  You are completely bilingual and speak in a completely charming franglais.  You are gentle and patient with your baby sister and can almost always get her to stop crying and give you a huge, gummy grin. She idolizes you already.

You have an opinion about everything and a streak of stubbornness that Grandma and Grandpa keep reminding me will be a GOOD thing.  You now have a pretty good grasp of the concept of "consequences" and we're working (hard, so very hard) on time management.  Particularly in the morning and just before bed. Ooof.  The phrase "strong-willed child" was coined just for you. 

Your wholly independent spirit is matched only by your fierce attachment to me.  Meltdowns are less frequent but HOO BOY, they are epic.  The phrase "no means NO" is a frequent one around here. I find myself hoping desperately that you will stand just as fearlessly in front of your peers in the face of all the temptations of adolescence. But one thing at a time.

When we're snuggling together reading a story or at prayer time before bed or when you leap into my arms at daycare you are just... my baby.  My first-born, the one who changed my entire life and filled my heart with ridiculous amounts of love.

You are proof that children are so much more than the sum of two parents. It's a privilege to watch you grow and I can't wait to see what amazing things you will do with your life.

Love you forever,

Friday, 14 October 2011

Late, but Still Grateful.

You know, maternity leave is not just lying on the couch, occasionally breastfeeding and otherwise eating bon bons. No sir, it's a complicated race against time to get all the things done that you think you SHOULD have time to do while spending quality time with your newborn.

And watching daytime TV.


This is why it has taken me all week to post about our spectacular Thanksgiving weekend. Can I get a holla for the weather in Montréal? 24 degrees and sunny all three days. Makes up for the ridiculous amount of time I had to spend trying to find a half-decent turkey in this town. (Maxi & cie, I will start with you FIRST next year, promise.)

My Dad came in to feast with us and meet his newest granddaughter.  As you can see, Liliane was, you know, kind of excited to see him. Whatever.

 Heck even Alice was excited. I thought her face was going to split in half from all the smiling. Of course I don't have photos of THOSE moments, but this will have to do.

This is what our weekend looked like:

 Oh and Stéphane introduced my Dad to instragram. Nice, right?
Those are the pies he made (my Dad is a brilliant baker of pies, frankly the reason we invited him) - one apple and one pumpkin. We used the apples from our trip to Oka last month and I don't think I can describe the deliciousness of that pie without salivating all over the keyboard.  Ridiculous.

I will note here that my Mom is also a brilliant maker of pies although she is a Tenderflake girl while my Dad is all about the Crisco.  I know, no wonder they aren't married anymore, right?

Not pictured are Pierre and Ariel and Remy who also came for dinner. I would have loved to get a photo of  us all around the table but just as we were sitting down to eat, Alice pronounced that she was thankful by performing an epic diaper blowout, the kind that involves a two-parent cleanup. At the same moment, Pierre and Ariel were trying to get Remy down to sleep in the other room so Dad and Liliane were the only two to actually eat a hot meal. 

When we were all finally back at the table, we each came up with one thing that we were thankful for (a family tradition that I force request our guests to engage in when they come for Thanskgiving), my Dad said he was grateful not to have any children under the age of 2.  The rest of us laughed and then immediately gulped our glasses of rosé. 

The rest of the weekend was spent watching movies and marvelling at Liliane's proficiency at finding clips on Youtube with Grandpa's iphone. Also preventing her from calling Japan.

Speaking of Liliane, it's her 4th birthday on Sunday and I promise I will bring the camera and even take pictures. She and a bunch of her friends are going to have all kinds of gymnastic fun at Club Gymnix, then we'll do cupcakes (chocolate with pink icing as requested) and presents in the birthday party room. The best part is that it's a) not at our house and b) over by 5! 

In baby news, Alice is still sleeping through the night and then some. She has started to swing her legs around so turning over on her own is in her very near future.  She smiles all the time but when she's frustrated, she has very particular, squeaky cry. Breastfeeding is going well although there were some concerns that she's not gaining enough weight due to her long sleeps.  Her pediatrician assures me that it's fine but we're keeping an eye on it. 

Does this look like a kid who is not getting enough to eat? 

Am also thinking about doing NaBloPoMo. My SIL has been doing it for the last couple of years and it's such a treat to have new content every single day! Plus it would be good exercise. For my brain I mean. I'll get back to you on that.

Back next week with a full report on the birthday festivities.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

UR Doin' It Right

My favourite time of day is actually at night. It comes when I am lying in bed and in the soft glow of the nightlight I can see Alice's dark little head in her bed beside me. Stéphane is sleeping and so is Liliane. Is there anything more delicious than sleeping kids?

I cherish that sensation. The feeling of utter satisfaction, of gratitude that we have a cozy home and a healthy family and a full fridge. Despite my issues with hearing the neighbours occasionally stomping around upstairs, it's almost always completely silent by midnight.  Sleep in heavenly peace. And I do.

The first time I felt this way was when Liliane was just around a year old. It had been a warm fall so the heat wasn't on yet. One night Liliane kept waking up. We ruled out all the usual stuff but nothing helped. Finally I realized the poor kid was COLD. The nights were suddenly cooler and her room was chilly. I turned the heat on, but since it would take a while to warm up, we brought her her into our bed.

Now, let me remind you that Liliane slept exclusively in our bed for the first three months of her life because she would not sleep anywhere else. She slept in our bed, stuck to me. Which meant that Stéphane and I went through some pretty major sleep deprivation.

Once we got her out of that habit, we were always wary of bringing her back to our bed, partly because of flashbacks to those first months but also because once she started sleeping in her crib, she was happiest there.

But on this night we tucked her in between us and she immediately went back to sleep. No squirming, no wiggling around, no dread in the pit of my stomach.  I lay there, listening to her breathing and to the clock ticking in the kitchen and I had an epiphany. THIS is what it's like! THIS is what it's like to be perfectly content, knowing that you did something right for your child.  I hadn't felt anything like it in my parenting experience up to that moment and I go back to it often when I need to keep anxiety at bay.

It sounds trivial, but as any new parent will tell you, the question of sleep (how much is the baby getting, how much are we the parents getting, why won't she fall asleep, is she sleeping too much, no sleep because of teething/bad dreams/gas/you name it, oh please for the love of GOD please sleep) becomes all-consuming. And when you throw some post-partum depression into the mix, LOOK OUT!

So that moment has stayed with me these past three years. That overwhelming sense of well-being. Of knowing my baby girl was right beside me, safe and warm. That we figured something out and fixed it. And what a treat to be able to experience it again so soon with sweet Alice.  My yummy babe that nods off after feeding around 11PM and wakes up about 12 hours later.

You know what this means though, right? We got off easy on the sleep so far, teething is going to be a nightmare.

And don't even talk to me about the teenage years.

Monday, 3 October 2011

I Know What You Did Last Summer

Stéphane made this nifty video that pretty much sums up our whole summer.  An estival season greatest hits collection if you will.

The timing is perfect because if you googled "doldrums+definition" today there would be a picture of the view out our front window. It's a nasty, rainy day here so excuse me while I watch it a few more times to ward off the SADs.

Now before you start judging, note that the baby is still sleeping, (I won't say for how MANY hours she consistently sleeps overnight because I might get an envelope of anthrax from a fellow new Mama, but it rhymes with at least SHMINE), and there is a lot less butter involved than my usual "oh-no-summer-is-over-and-its-cold" go-to cure. (Hint: FOOD)

But sunny, cheery video aside, I can't guarantee that I won't bake something sinful today. #cardioclassSOS


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