Aug
27

17 months

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Mika,

It’s getting a bit ridiculous. Every time I get used to saying how old you are, you go ahead and grow another month. Thankfully as of next month I can just kinda say ’1 and a half’ and keep saying that until you’re nearly 2. What? TWO? Gah.

You get cuter BY THE DAY and it’s awful. How can we handle more than there already is? People in public are stunned by your adorable-ness. They look at me in disbelief and I nod and think how tough it is being the mother to such a painfully cute child.

The breastfeeding has just stopped and you were doing great for a while, but lately you’ve been asking me for the boob. There’s not much I can do about it now though, so I just cry and hand you to your papa and he tries to console you. Eventually you calm down and all is well and you accept my cuddles and a bottle. We’ve actually been doing a LOT more reading lately and I wonder if it’s because you enjoy the closeness. You choose a book and bring it to me and plonk yourself backwards into my lap and you can easily sit through the same story 3 or 4 times.

It’s these moments that I want to secure in my brain. I never want to forget the times you let me read you stories. The times you laughed at my goofy faces and the times you clung to my neck for as long as you could. I’ll probably try to forget the screaming before nap times, but I have a feeling that will stay with me forever too.

You’ve had another haircut. You might balk at the fact that I spent $8 to have your bangs trimmed (I could surely pay that for a pair of scissors and do it myself), but somehow I just can’t bring myself to cut your gorgeous hair myself. Maybe that’s what godmothers or aunties are for.

On the playground you have no fear. You climb and swing and slide and beg us to push you on the swings for longer than I could possibly think would be fun for you. You love to watch other children and the swing must be the perfect place for it.

You don’t really have any new words since last month. You have some new sounds, but no new words. I’d be worried except for the fact that you seem to understand us so perfectly and you know exactly what is going on. I’m including this video below just so we can all remember how cute you are when saying ‘meow’ (and really just in general as a 17 month old):

Well there you have it. We’re still not sure how we ended up with someone as great as you but we’ll take it and we’ll keep doing our best to not screw you up.

All our love xxx

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Aug
24

High fives and sheepish grins

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I’m not much of a snacker. I eat breakfast, I eat lunch, I eat dinner and I eat chocolate. Sometimes I eat brunch and sometimes I eat an after-school snack, but usually I stick to meal times. So why then, do I find Mika with food in her hand at what seems like any given moment?

As with most of my pre-parenthood ideals about parenting, my thoughts on how and what I would feed Mika are quickly being thrown out the window. Many of my ideals were just not practical in reality and I have quickly accepted and formed new ideals of how I parent. But these food ideals are harder to let go of and I need to figure out what’s going on and how I can get back on track.

I’m still not entirely sure how we went from ‘Mika will eat 3 meals a day, with a 4pm snack and definitely no sugar’ to ‘Mika will eat whenever and whatever she pleases’, but it could have something to do with the fact that she has always been ‘on the small side’ so when she started showing a real interest in food we find it impossibly hard to say no. We say to ourselves ‘at least she’s eating something‘ but I’m sure that isn’t a healthy way to think.

Regardless of my ideals, when I see Mika eating, I feel strangely content and relaxed. It’s as though my caveman instincts for eating as much as possible myself, are translated into caveman mother instincts for making sure my child is prepared for a potential famine also. Obviously these instincts are redundant in today’s society and I’m reminded of this as I’m watching her use a yam fry to spoon ketchup into her mouth. I’m pretty sure that extra ketchup won’t save her in a famine.

I’ve also found myself using food as a distraction and a reward. She’s upset about getting into the stroller? Oh, I’ll just give her a cracker to munch on. She just hit her head on something and is screaming her face off? Oh look! Here’s some Trader Joe’s O’s. So while I’m finding a quick fix to some unpleasant behaviour, I’m instilling a lifetime of negative and unhealthy thought processes around food. Not cool Mom, not cool at all.

In Pamela Druckerman’s book Bringing Up Bebe (which I just finished reading and adored), she talks about the difference between French parenting and American parenting. In regards to snacking, she talks about the importance that French parents put on teaching their kids to wait. To wait. It can be so easy to see a child asking for food and want to shove something in their mouths straight away. It stops the whining. But really? I remember telling my mum that I was starving and she would tell me to wait til dinner and so I did and I never died, not once.

I’ve started doing this with Mika. I give her a little non-dairy milk when she wakes up, followed about an hour later by a very hearty breakfast at about 8am. At 12:30pm she has a big lunch before going down for her nap (the full tummy helps her sleep longer) and when she wakes up from her nap she has a little more milk. At 4pm she gets a snack and at 7:30 we have dinner. When we follow this, she eats amazingly and sleeps amazingly. The days where she is handed Os and watermelon and french fries and crackers and grapes are the days that she doesn’t eat her dinner so well. (It’s also much easier to feed her vegetables when she’s been made to wait and it super hungry!)

So it’s a journey and we’re learning and failing constantly. She gobbles down my vegetable soup and Ivan and I high five. She feeds herself spoonfuls of sorbet from our dessert bowls and Ivan and I exchange sheepish grins. As long as the high fives continue to outweigh the sheepish grins I feel like we’re doing OK.

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Aug
23

Inspiring Photographers – Cam Neville

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Meet Cam. A natural light and real life photographer (aren’t those the best kind?), father and husband based in Australia. His passion is evident in each image and after seeing this gorgeous shoot, I’m really wishing he was closer to us so he could capture our life in a day.

I couldn’t possibly choose 5 favourite pictures, so here are some of his picks, followed by his words:

I take photos because… When I pick up a camera I know that something magical is happening or going to happen, I can’t really explain it. There are beautiful things right outside your door, you don’t need to travel to exotic locations to be inspired. I live in the country and I can find an amazing amount of life ten feet from my front door.

A photographer who inspires me is… My good friend Dave Maurice Smith, he’s a canadian documentary photographer living in Sydney and is currently working on some amazing community projects, also legendary english wedding photographer Jeff Ascough his black and white pictures are incredible.

I find inspiration in… My beautiful children and wife.

The best piece of photography related advice i’ve been given so far is… Be yourself and don’t worry what other photographers are doing.

If i wasn’t taking photographs i’d probably be… Hmm that’s a hard one as I love my craft so much but I think I would be working on my farm.

My usual breakfast is… In Winter it’s definately porridge with fresh rhubarb ( & Coffee !! ). In Summer it’s fresh fruit like mango’s, poached eggs from our chickens and a swim.

My favourite camera and lens to shoot with is… I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II and a 24-70mm L Series lens but I am looking at the Canon 35mm L Prime. I also have a collection of Polaroid Land Cameras that I like to use.

Find Cam on Facebook. Check out more inspiring photographers.

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Aug
16

The start of something new

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Wednesday, August 15 2012 was the last day I breastfed Mika.

For the past 16 months I’ve been careful with what I’m eating and drinking. I’ve never been away from her for more than 12 hours. But the last few months she has been having only a morning and an evening feed and the only one she really seemed to enjoy was the evening one. But last night I was out looking at some wedding dresses and the bus didn’t get me home til 9pm and so Ivan called and we talked about how maybe this was the time. He said he would get her ready for bed, give her some warm milk (non-dairy) in a bottle and put her down. It felt like a rather monumental moment to be discussing over the phone, but I said sure, and just like that I would never breastfeed her again.

I cried into my pillow and Ivan spoke true and reassuring words to me about how our baby girl will always be our baby but right now she is growing and getting stronger and more independent and we should be proud of her and happy that she is so healthy and happy.

I cried because I want her to stay my baby forever but I also cried because I feel so free and that makes me happy and sad all at once. I try to remind myself of the nights where she would be stuck on my boob and I would try to pry her off and she would cry and then I would cry because I was so over it. But all I remember is her little hands reaching up for me and the instant calm that would envelop her body as she latched on and nuzzled into me so sweetly.

Whenever I feel sad that something is over, I remind myself that every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end (thanks Semisonic) and it makes me a little sad to remember that life just keeps moving like that, but also a little happy to know that this is the start of something new.

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Aug
15

Lately

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Exploring: This weekend we discovered Carkeek Park in Seattle. Sand, railroads, drift wood, playground, grass, hiking trails, forest and orchard. Only 15 minutes by bus from our house – the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday!

Reading: I’m not sure how I’ve managed to read so many books lately. But I’ve just finished Eat & Run by Scott Jurek and Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman, both I would highly recommend.

Drinking: We’ve somehow been put onto hemp milk and we are addicted. I’m not sure why we hadn’t tried it before – maybe it conjured up images of green liquified marijuana, but I assure you – hemp milk is white and smooth and creamy, probably our favourite thing to pour over granola or oats.

Eating: The best granola I’ve ever made. No added oil, no added sugar, hardly any sweetener and extremely crunchy. I don’t like sweet granolas, but I do like crunchy granola and it’s pretty much impossible to find anything this good in the stores. I add a bit of chopped fruit and some hemp milk and oh man it’s good. Straight from Scott Jurek’s book:

Ingredients:

4 cups oat groats (soaked overnight and drained)
1/4 cup dried coconut flakes
1 apple, peeled and cored and sliced
2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp maple syrup or honey or agave (we used maple syrup)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped raw almonds
1/2 cup chopped raw pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup raisins

Turn oven to 250 F (120 C) and lightly grease 2 baking trays with coconut or olive oil.
In a blender, combine drained oat groats, coconut, cinnamon, apple, sweetener, vanilla and salt. Blend til combined. Transfer to a large bowl and add the almonds, seeds and raisins. Stir.
Spread onto the two baking trays and put in the oven for between 3 and 4 hours. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn! Once done, let cool and store in an airtight container.

Listening to: A million different love songs. Preparing for the wedding and trying to find the perfect mix of ‘us’, ‘romance’ and ‘awesome’.

Loving: FULL NIGHT SLEEPS! I haven’t said anything yet because I didn’t want to jinx it, but we’ve been two weeks now with full night sleeps and I still get a little bit giddy at the fact. It took me a while to settle into it – I was still waking up every 4 hours – but the last few nights I’ve had a solid 7 or 8 hours sleep and I’m praying it’s gonna get rid of these dark circles under my eyes and maybe stop these grey hairs from appearing so damn frequently.

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