7 Quick Takes Friday

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Breastfeeding. It’s taken a hit, and I’m sad about it. For a few different reasons (that we can figure, at this point), Felicity isn’t gaining the weight she should be right now. Called either Failure to Thrive or Faltering growth/weight, it means she’s not getting the calories she needs to thrive. But believe you me – it’s not like she’s showing it in her personality at all. And I think that’s a part of the problem – she’s a really happy baby who rarely fusses at all, and she hardly wants seconds much of the time (though I try).

IMG_3381She’s a little unsure about my abilities to take pictures…

So we are now about to try the pumped-milk-in-the-bottle method to help make sure she is drinking the amount she should be (in addition to breastfeeding) and check back with our doctor next week. I am thankful that we are fortunate enough that a ‘failure to thrive’ doesn’t by any means mean a death sentence – we have options to make this better, even if it means needing to use formula eventually (which I hope won’t happen, but I can’t rule out either).

She is a really happy baby, though. A beautiful little girl that we all love tenderly.

2014-07-31 14.47.44So sweet!

2.

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At the Children’s Museum, playing dress-up and construction worker at the same time (she’s multitasking)

Word diarrhea. That’s what Cassia has in addition to a rash (more on that later). We think she is finally hitting the growth spurt that spurs on her vocabulary, cause she’s just coming up to us and using the oddest words. She pointed to a picture of a kid on a ladder, looked up at me and said, “guy? guy?” Yes, darling, that is a guy. “cake? cake? mommymommy! cake?” yes, honey, that is a picture of a cake. It’s like she’s looking for confirmation on whether she’s interpreting her world correctly. It’s pretty cute watching it unfold. She’s definitely repeating much of what we are currently saying (stuff Spencer says too), so we’ll have to be extra careful right now (hopefully).

3.

IMG_3403So spotty 🙁

Rash. I have no idea what Cassia gets these rashes from; I can make neither hide nor hair out of it and they seem to happen relatively often. There does not seem to be any correlation between the rash and anything else that we can come up with. I’m considering that she might need to be allergy tested, cause if it’s something triggering it all the time, then we can work at eliminating it. I just hope it doesn’t turn into something worse. Blargh. I wish it would just permanently go away on its own.

4.

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Gathering. It’s now been almost two weeks since Felicity and I flew to Vancouver for my Grandad’s funeral.

100_1863I’m so thankful that we were able to go, and I’m fortunate that most of my family was able to come and be together. Coincidentally, even with 10 people, a casket is still quite heavy to carry (or maybe my cousins and myself are all wusses…this could be true. Except for the Avilas. Apparently they play sports or something.)

Vacation2010 121Apart from a few liturgical hiccups, it was a good celebration. My aunts and uncles wrote a short ‘Words of Remembrance’ about him that was spoken at the funeral that aptly gave a picture into his adventurous life, including his recurring tragic relationship with rental cars and his love of Hawaiian shirts.

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5.

2014-07-30 21.13.01BNL (Barenaked Ladies). Andy and I went to their concert last Wednesday, and boy, was it darned awesome. They are sooo funny, and really talented (you really are losing out if you don’t check out these video links). There are some people who are of the opinion that they aren’t good without Steven Page, but Andy and I would beg to differ. We had an amazing evening sitting on a hill that was a little too steep (but had a good view) and sang along with the majority for the songs (like everyone else did).

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6.

I have finally started the theory portion of my aromatherapy certification, and I can. not. wait for this part to be finished. While I enjoy reading about the properties, history, uses, and contraindications about essential oils and also Gr. 11 biology all over again (which I’ve mostly forgotten, it would seem), it’s a lot of memorization and apparently I’m a little out of practice in that area. And I have a few other distractions now (*ahem*kids*ahem*). In spite of my distractions, I am hopeful to complete my certification by the end of October, which would be grand in terms of getting things started here and being able to create a proper office for aromatherapy and be able to promote my business. Yay!

7.

I encourage everyone to pray and write to their Members of Parliament over the persecution of Christians in Iraq by ISIS. As quoted by +Louis Raphael Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, President of the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops in Iraq:

“They are facing a human catastrophe and risk a real genocide.”

Read his whole SOS appeal letter here

Please bring this message to the attention of all you can and pray for our beloved brothers and sisters who are fleeing death and persecution as we sit here at our computers. Let us not be idle in our thoughts, actions, and prayers in this!

 

For more Quick Takes, head to Jen’s website: Conversion Diary.

2 Littles, Will Travel

IMG_1684 Whenever I mention that I took my two little kids (7 months & 3 years) on a 3 week driving journey by myself, the most common response I hear is “Wow, you’re so brave!” And while I love to entertain the thought that yes, I am the brave one here, and everyone else fails to compare! … that is certainly not how my perception of what happened looks like. And the long driving part was really the only time I was “alone” with them – once I arrived at my destination I also had my mom around to help.

Was it going to be painful torture driving across 3 provinces? No. No it wasn’t. I did not set myself up to make a prophecy like that come true, starting with my mentality.

So I’ve compiled a list of 8 tips that worked for me for multiple-day travel. If you’re contemplating traveling by yourself with kids, perhaps they’ll work for you.

1.Know Your Kids

Perhaps this seems a little unenlightening, but it’s true. If your kids hate the car, I’m truly no expert in helping you make that better. You know what works and doesn’t work for your kids.

2. Don’t set high expectations

I traveled quite a bit when I was younger, all via driving. I don’t remember when I was, say, younger than 8, but I think the principle is the same: when on long journeys, boredom will ensue. Kids will be kids, and I will still be their mom. We did not sing happy-go-lucky songs the whole way, and yes, there were screaming matches. Several times. In a day. It really wouldn’t be much different than a normal day in those regards.

3. Map, map, map

I had 2-3 plans per day of travel depending on how the kids and I were doing at each particular hour come end of day. While I anticipated making it to certain places, I knew it would also depend on whether there was a ton of screaming and crying in the car (the kids too). It may have cost a bit more (not getting internet rates for hotels), but it was worth it to not be tied to a strict schedule.

IMG_1712(Fraser River, some provincial park)

4. Break it up

If you know someone in a city en route (or close to route), consider making a stopover of a couple nights. We did this on the way back to SK and I would definitely do it again. It meant one less day at our destination, but the kids welcomed the break and the next travel day began like Day 1 rather than Day 2 (of 3).

5. Constructive Distractions

I would say that there is a mentality out there that says something like, ‘kids can’t stay sitting for 5 minutes, let alone 8 hours in a car.’ Reality is this: we train our kids how to travel. If they’ve never done it before, it does not mean that they can’t, but your attitude towards it will shape their anticipation of it. You do need to know your kids and what they respond to. My son loves reading, so I made a book pouch for the back of the seat that he could reach that was filled with books. Along the way, I bought him a new book from the author Richard Scarry (one of his favourites). This helped once he had made serious rounds through all his books. He also loves cars (Hot Wheels style), so we packed about 10-15 of his favourites to play with. Interacting with him wasn’t great (needing to focus on the road and all), but we had silly faces contests through the rear view mirror and occasionally I attempted to tickle him. We also had a portable DVD player. I used this as a last resort, when even staring out of the window in complete boredom had taken its toll. I would recommend that it is worth purchasing one, even if you don’t intend on using it. When you just want to pull out your hair and throw the kids on the side of the road with a “Take me!” sign, this thing might just save you (and possibly your kids from your wrath). While I inherited ours from my grandfather, kijiji and craigslist would be two other places to look for cheap ones.

My daughter was a little harder to please. After our first 7 hours of driving, I detected a rhythm: sleep, happy, unhappy, hungry. This would repeat over and over. Occasionally a poopy diaper would mess up the routine, but this pretty much summed her up. Because she was relatively easy to predict, I just adjusted our driving to reflect that. She was (and is) still breastfeeding, so we would have to stop, I would get her out (Spencer would complain that he couldn’t leave his seat incessantly), feed her, burp her, change her diaper, jump her a couple times, then plop her back in her seat. This worked for her, but every baby is different. A couple things usually stay the same though: they will need to sleep, they will need to eat, and they will need diaper changes.  Account for the feeding and diaper changing time when considering your driving.

6. Meals in the car (make me) go round and round

IMG_2008 We generally made 2 meal stops per day. For the life of me, I could not make it shorter than 1 hour. They usually tied in with Cassia’s feeding and diaper changing too. So after my first day, I sucked up my pride and admitted that I just couldn’t make it shorter and stopped feeling angry about it. It wasn’t worth the stress (truly, there usually is enough).

We went to fast food places (yes, judge me all you want, but I did come back alive. I think the kids are too). While at first I was all “Yeah, we’ll go to ones that have a playground” this turned out to not be smart. If I wanted the stops to be as short as possible, 1 hour did not include playing. My son was extremely unimpressed with me (read: tantrum) that I was not allowing him to play at our first meal on the road. I avoided them like the plague after that.

Perhaps you’re thinking, ‘if you wanted it short, why didn’t you just eat in the car?‘. Great question. It comes back to my second point: don’t set high expectations. Kids will be kids, and the change of scenery kept my kids happy. It gave them a chance to stretch their legs (mine too), I could retrieve thrown items from unfathomable car places, and also not feel like I was completely neglecting my kids. It just worked better for us and where my kids are at.

7. Bring snacks or die

This is literally how it felt in the car. I’ll admit: I used snacks as a distraction for my son to keep him happy longer. Were they uber healthy and good for him? Nope. Too much work (and too perishable, usually). The one time I bought him a little snack pack of things like hummus, veggies, and healthy crackers, he just ate the crackers and tried to throw the rest on the floor. Yup, not impressed, so it didn’t happen again.

8. Exhaustion is expected

IMG_1969 I expected that I would get tired while driving. I don’t drive a terrible amount for long periods. I knew there would come times when I would realise I would be a hazard on the road if I continued without a nap. My advice: suck it up, pull over, and have a nap. Even an interrupted nap should help, and don’t set a time limit on when you think you ‘should be up by’. Your life, your children’s, and other drivers’ are on the line if you drive while sleepy. Not. Worth. It. And if you are truly, truly having a hard time continuing even after your nap, find the nearest town and pull in for the night. Often we take driving for granted when the majority of what we do is city driving and short-distance driving. I find long-distance driving is like a marathon but we have no training or practice for it, so be prepared to take naps when you feel you need it. Better to make it to the end slow and steady than pretend you’re fine and not make it. IMG_1777

(Greater Vancouver Zoo with a new friend [for Spencer] and catching up with an old friend [for me])

I know my experiences will not be for everyone. However, I would encourage you to not be daunted by the idea. I mean, really, if Cassia had it her way she would never put food in her mouth with the purpose of eating it, but I smile at her and encourage her to do so, and even though right now she spits everything out, eventually she’ll learn to enjoy the experience. This is how we learn things. We train our kids how to travel. Arm yourself with knowledge of your kids and you’ll have the best chance of having a great time. We certainly did.

There are also resources for the research-inclined parent:
http://havechildrenwilltravel.com/
http://havebabywilltravel.com/

IMG_1932(Butchart Gardens, Victoria)

Have you traveled with small kids? What things have worked for you?

Offline

It’s not like I’ve been up to date in my blogging lately, but I’ll definitely be offline this week as I head to Ottawa for my conference. Say a prayer that flights go well (albeit early) and that Spencer stays a cutie (it’ll save him from wrath from the daddy being full-time mommy too…)

Project Tuesday – a day late :S

My forgetfulness never fails, yet I remain busy as ever! Our project that we did on Monday was the removal of our Christmas items for another year. Monday was our last day of Christmas, and Spencer had already let us know, quite in advance, that it was time to take down the remains of Christmas (ahem…the picture is prior Andy or I starting on it, and quite without encouragement from either of us).

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Hurrah! Apart from a few stragglers (how did that Christmas ornament find its way under the playmat?), we are Christmas-tidied. And now we’re working on the next phase of our year – planning out Lent, mostly. I do love planning it out. I love especially planning our meals.

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Spencer, ever looking for ways to take advantage of situations.

Our plans for this year include celebrating my first niece/nephew on my side of the family, a Couples’ Retreat at Queen’s House, a conference for me in Ottawa, enjoying the journey with my sister-in-law on Andy’s side to the birth of her first child, a trip to Langley for my uncle’s wedding, hoping for a 2 day bike trip towards the end of the summer, and looking forward to making an attempt to have Christmas in BC at my brother’s. Autumn holds the most mystery for me, but I expect it to be just as good!

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Mimicking. Except once the camera comes out, the mitts are promptly thrown onto the floor.

What plans have you made for this dazzling new year?

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He is loving running around babbling with his fingers in his ears lately.

Montreal

Saturday we took a quick day trip to Montreal. For us, it was very last-minute, having decided just the weekend before. There are always pitfalls when we plan last minute, this trip was no exception, but we did have a wonderful day there. We started out by visiting family in Laval and having lunch, which was really awesome. We hardly get to see them and I’m glad we made sure to visit them first. After receiving expert local directions, we headed out to visit St. Joseph’s Basilica (more well known as St. Joseph’s Oratory), home to Saint Andre of Montreal. We arrived late enough to also attend mass there at 4:30 (though it wasn’t in the basilica, but in the crypt church). The basilica itself is an amazing worship space – firstly, it is magnificently huge; secondly, it is minimally adorned; thirdly, the few pieces of artwork that are present are beautiful and enhanced by the simplicity of the worship space. It really gears our focus towards the altar (which is awesome) where there is a very large cross and Mary and John underneath. It speaks so loudly through its simplicity.

Our evening was not as nice – we meant to go to a restaurant for supper (by this time it was 6:30/7, so it was about Spencer’s bedtime), but we drove around and around and around the downtown area not able to find any restaurants. Finally, we just parked in what we thought would be a promising area and walked around only to find either a) the restaurant was closed (on a Saturday night!) or b) it was reservation only (and what idiot names a reservation-only restaurant ‘Steak and Fries’?!). So, being 8/8:30pm, it was too late for us (and especially Spencer) to find a sit-down restaurant and I was angry because I was getting so hungry and our searching felt fruitless. On our way out of the city we stopped at an A&W. I had onion rings with my burger. That made up for a lot (I like onion rings). So perhaps we’ll be able to venture to Montreal again, but with people who know the city, or perhaps a better plan of attack, and we’ll be (finally) able to enjoy the cuisine of this city. I’m glad the daytime was wonderful, it helped counteract the evening.

Bon journee!

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Looking at the front sanctuary

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A side room that we didn’t have access to, but could view through the wrought iron

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Part of the entrance to the crypt, a hallway of votives entirely devoted to the intercession of St. Joseph.