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  • Surviving Nadia’s Birthday Week

    2014 - 01.20

    Nadia is now one year old, which feels like quite the accomplishment as a parent.  There must have only been about an infinite number of opportunities for her to die in her first year, but she didn’t even come remotely close.  Bully for us.

    We didn’t put undue pressure on ourselves with her birthday, not trying to accomplish “the perfect” birthday and I think that worked really well for us.  We did a small family party on her actual birthday and then a larger everyone welcome party on the weekend.  Both events went smoothly and Nadia really seemed to enjoy herself.

    Month 11 Letter (Nov 15-Dec 15)

    2014 - 01.16

    Dear Nadia,

    This month you became quite the techno-kid. You’ve learned that the home button on iPhones and iPads usually do something interesting, so you like pushing it and seeing what happens. You also learned how to swipe open my iPhone, and before I set it to need a password immediately after locking, you managed to open up Groupon and you almost bought a scenic bus tour to Whistler. I knew you liked it up there, but I didn’t think that you wanted to go up there by yourself! After I set it so that it would immediately need a password, I thought I’d be safe. Nope. You managed to call Grandad using the voice recognition system. Apparently “gah dah!” is close enough to “call dad” to trick Siri.

    Your first four molars came in between November 29-December 8. You were pretty miserable…which for you meant that you only giggled and smiled every hour instead of every five minutes. You were a real trouper, and we were all VERY relieved when all those teeth finally made it in. Your timing was pretty great too, because I went back to work a few weeks early, and your last molar came in on the morning before I went back to work, so you weren’t up most of the night.

    So, yep. I went back to work. I’m in a really fun kindergarten class. It blows my mind that in four years you will be in kindergarten! AHHHH! I can’t think of that right now. I’m still getting over the fact that I’m writing your 11 month letter. Our schedule is pretty much like this: Dad brings you in to me when you wake up and we cuddle and nurse, then I get ready, give you a kiss goodbye and sneak out while you’re asleep. (the second day, you really wanted me to stay and got upset, then I got upset, then Dad drove us both to work so I could have a bit of extra snuggle time with you.) I go to school while Dad stays home and has Nadia-duty. He sends me lots of pictures through the day so I can follow your adventures while I’m not there. When I get home, you immediately crawl and climb so that you can see me coming up the stairs and start laughing and clapping. I love how excited you are to see me.

    On the night before you were born, it started snowing, and there was a little bit of snow on the ground when we left the hospital, but I think that was the last snowfall until this season. The day that I went back to work, it snowed, so Dad and I took you out in the front yard in your new snowsuit that Dad bought for you. You weren’t too impressed with it, especially since the snowsuit made things so slippery that you couldn’t really crawl. You fell forward into the snow and were very unhappy with this cold stuff on your face. I picked you up and let you taste some snow, but you didn’t like that either. Maybe you just aren’t old enough to like it yet. ;)

    We finished your swimming lessons and you can join a new level the next time we sign you up. You got pretty cold in that pool, so I think we’re going to try and find one that’s a bit warmer, at least until you are able to move around a bit more on your own.

    Dad and I took you to Gardenworks to pick out a Christmas tree, but you fell asleep in the car, so we just scouted it out and went back a week later with Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Jen. You also went Christmas shopping with Oma and me one night.

    Overall, you had a really fun month and you’ve been a champion with all the changes that have been happening lately.


    Month 10 Letter (Oct 15-Nov 15)

    2013 - 12.16

    Dear Nadia,

    It’s been a busy month for you! You went to Edmonton again to visit with your Urli and cousins, and had your first night away from me when I went to a writing conference. I wasn’t very far away (about fifteen minutes) and Dad brought you to me for both nights to visit, but one of those nights you went home with him so I could have a good sleep.

    You had your first Arroroot cookie, which is pretty standard for babies, but you also had some of the peach/mango salsa I made this summer. You thought it was pretty awesome.

    You’re starting to only stick unfamiliar things in your mouth, and for just a moment, which is a big change from chewing on everything, although every so often you’ll still have a big chewing session.

    You had your first Halloween! That’s one of my favourite holidays, so I was really excited to share that with you. Your Dad and I took you on a trip to the pumpkin patch where we picked out a huge pumpkin and took pictures of you sitting and standing inside the pumpkin. A lot of babies don’t like that particular photo shoot, but you liked it, because you got to eat your prop! If you look closely at some of the later photos in that session, you can actually see the tooth marks where you were scraping away the pumpkin and eating it. You and I dressed up and went to visit my kindergarten class. You were an adorable green and blue dragon (in a costume that your Oma and I made!) and I was the paperbag princess from the book by Robert Munsch. You continue your literary geek indoctrination at a rapid clip. ;)

    When you’re  in the living room, you love playing on the BOSU (a funny half ball thing with a platform on the other side), with a cool  piano and stuffed dragon your Oma got you. The first time you were playing with them both, you dragged the dragon over and set it up beside the piano while you played. It was like Snoopy and Schroeder from Peanuts. :) You also love playing on a  musical instrument set at Grandma and Grandpa’s. It used to be your aunt’s and dad’s.

    While you were visiting the Surrey International Writers Conference, I’m pretty sure you said “book”, which was really cool considering what conference we were at. You’re showing a huge interest in books now that Dad and I are reading again…we slowed down a lot but now we have more time because you’re very good at entertaining yourself.

    Your sleep habits are still pretty erratic. You’re excellent at napping, but you like to nap all through the night, instead of having a long sleep. We’re trying our best though!

    You like helping me write! When I’m typing on the laptop, you will almost immediately stop what you’re doing, crawl over and start banging on the number pad. :) You may not know exactly what a computer is or what it does, but you sure know what you’re supposed to do with it.

    You have a bunch of awesome hats and hair bands, and you don’t like wearing any of them. I think the record of having one on was about five minutes, and that was because you were asleep for part of that time. You do, however, tolerate hoods, which is good because the weather is cooling off. You have a super cute Canada hoody that is very similar to one that I like wearing. I like it when we both wear them and are twins. :)

    You’ve started holding something while crawling (a smarties box) and can move really quickly. We have to be really careful now to make sure you don’t take a tumble down the stairs. You’ve also started letting go of things while standing and clapping…it won’t be long now until you’re walking!

    You have been responding to your name for a while now, but now you will clap when we ask you to without us clapping first. You will also applaud when people on TV do, even if you just hear it and don’t see it. You’re also signing “dog” without other signs or a dog present, just when we say the word.

    I knit you a pumpkin toque that you will wear for seconds at a time. I’ve also started knitting you a sweater that I hope to finish before Christmas. It’s a very pretty green, blue and purple yarn.

    You had your first bath in the big bathtub. Your little tub has gotten too small for you! We put a laundry basket into the tub so that you and your toys wouldn’t float away from each other.

    You may be getting big, but you’re still my little baby. :)


    Christmas Card?

    2013 - 11.19

    We haven’t in the past sent out Christmas cards.  We’re thinking about doing it this year.  Mostly because of Nadia.  So, are people actually interested in getting or exchanging Christmas cards or is that something that our generation doesn’t do?

    If you’re interested in getting one, let us know and make sure we have your current address.

    Month 9 Letter (Sept 15-Oct 15)

    2013 - 11.06

    Dear Nadia,

    You continue to be quite a little charmer! Smiles for everyone, reaching out to me and your dad and your grandparents to be held, waving hello and goodbye! I love watching you interact with the world. Whenever we’re out, people compliment you on a few things: your big blue eyes, your giant smile and how sweetly you behave. We’re so lucky with you…I can’t believe how fortunate we’ve been with such a chill kid. The only things we really have to complain about are you not being interested in solid food (which has been thoroughly solved!) and not sleeping through the night (which I’ll tell you about in a little while).

    You’ve begun to have really good object permanence. It used to be that we could hide something and you’d know it was there, or we would go into a different room and you would watch for a few moments after we disappeared, but now you have a strong memory of where something is supposed to be. For example, if Dad has gone out, you will stand on the couch and look toward the door even after you’ve gone to do something else, and when you hear the key in the lock you get really excited. Also, when you’re hungry, you’ll come up to me and start grabbing at my shirt.

    I’m constantly amazed by your ability to find the single solitary not-toy in the entire room. You can be surrounded by stuffies, balls, books, toys that beep, rattles, etc. and you will make a beeline to the sock that fell off the laundry basket when we were folding clothes. Or my purse. Or the empty pop bottle we haven’t taken to the kitchen yet. You’re also immediately drawn to the most dangerous thing around. Cords. A mug of hot tea. Electrical outlets. The sharp, stone corner of the fireplace. It’s amazing how perceptive you can be when it comes to stuff that can injure you; I wish you would use your powers for good. :/ It doesn’t help that it seems like you grow an inch overnight sometimes. Your arm length (or as I call it, your wingspan) is super long and you can reach things that I’m positive are way out of your range. You enjoy proving me wrong.

    Teeth number seven and eight have now come in. You have four teeth on top and four on the bottom. Thank you for not biting me nearly as often when we’re nursing. For a while, I was thinking I was going to have to wean you!

    Things you’ve learned to do this month

    • you can now go from your hands and knees to sitting up by yourself. I love that you can do that because it means that you can move to a spot on the floor by a toy and sit up to start playing by yourself.
    • you’ve started clapping! It’s super cute and you love when you clap and everyone else does it back at you.
    • you can use a sippy cup! The ones with the handles are pretty easy for you now, and you mostly don’t drown yourself when you drink your water out of them, which is nice for all of us. We mostly stick with water in your cup and you only get a little bit of it when you’re having a meal.
    • sign language you use: more (clapping), dog. You used to sign “change” and “milk” but your Dad and I got kind of lazy and stopped signing to you as much, so you have forgotten those signs for now.

    I promised I’d talk about your sleeping habits. Well…you kind of don’t have many. When you were 2 months old, you started sleeping about 8 hours straight, and I was smug. Ohhhhh how I was smug. Then, around 4 months (not so coincidentally, around the time you started teething) your sleep-through-the-night habit vanished. Poof. Completely shot. You basically wake up every 2-3 hours all night, every night. We try different things, but nothing seems to keep you asleep. The thing we’re really thankful for though is that when you’re awake, you’re still pretty happy. You have the “MOM AND DAD COME AND GET ME NOOOOWWWWWWW!” yell, but once we’re there, you’re all, “Hey guys, good to see you. Could I get some milk? Maybe a snuggle? Oh, and I can’t find my soother either. Little help?” and then you go back to sleep for another couple hours. Our goal over the next few months is to teach you how to fall back asleep on your own and get you on a bit more of a schedule so that you take a few naps, sleep well at night and get up reasonably early.

    Your Dad started a disc golf retail business this month! So far it’s been going pretty well. You like to visit him in the garage and check out the colourful discs and help him do inventory. You also like going to the disc golf courses when he’s selling and seeing all of the people.

    You had your first Thanksgiving dinners this month, so you tried pretty much everything! Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, Brussell sprouts, potatoes, other veggies…you loved it all! And the thing I’m most thankful for this year is what I’ve been thankful for the last 9 months…a healthy, happy, curious little baby.


    Flickr uploads

    2013 - 10.18

    Not something that was on my To Do list while Karin and Nadia are in Edmonton, but it’s been happening anyway.  Catching up on some of the photos that I should have already uploaded to Flickr.  Karin’s much better at keeping Flickr up to date than I am.

    Anyway, as a reminder when we upload photos that include Nadia we restrict them to people who are designated as Friends or Family on Flickr, which means you need to have a free Flickr account, and then get us to add you as a Friend or Family.  So if you’re interested in seeing any of those pictures, let us know.

    And if your Flickr account doesn’t include your real name, send us an email letting us know it’s you.

    On Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/randomsynapses/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/dcowley/

    Metric Ton of Ginger?

    2013 - 10.16

    Not everyone may know that I’ve started a Disc Golf business (retail), but I have.  As part of that I’m learning about the world of import/export and international trade.  To go with the whole international trade thing I’ve been using the website alibaba.com

    Just like Costco, you can find things which are pretty hilarious on the website.  For example:


    Fresh Ginger in Jinxiang China

    US$ 600.00 / Metric Ton  (seems like it could be a good price… for people who like ginger), here’s the kicker though:

    Minimum Order: 24 Metric Tons!


    That’s right, you too could own 24,000 KG of ginger for the low low price of US$14,400…

    Month 8 Letter (Aug 15-Sept 15)

    2013 - 10.15

    Dear Nadia,

    I know that this is the year that you change and learn the most, so it shouldn’t surprise me with all the new things that you do each month, but it absolutely blows my mind to see you achieving all of these different things!

    You’re crawling around like crazy now, cruising along furniture after you’ve pulled yourself up and lowering yourself back to the ground after standing. You’re even crawling up a ramp your Dad set up against the couch to get up onto the couch to join us. You love your Jolly Jumper and your Baby Einstein activity centre and will play in them for quite a while.

    You now have 7 teeth, and use them quite well on different kinds of food. You decided early on that you were not a fan of purees, and to be honest I can’t really blame you. Just for fun, your Aunt Jen and I let you taste a whole peach, thinking you would lick the fuzzy peel and then ignore it. You had other ideas!! She was holding both you and the peach, and you grabbed her hand and held the peach to your mouth and started slurping and chewing at it until you ate about a quarter of it. I was pretty excited because this was one of the first times you really seemed to enjoy food other than milk. Other things you ate this month: Rice, oatmeal, cheerios, apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, string cheese, blackberries, apricots, plums, yogurt, grapes, butternut squash and mushrooms. You liked all of those things, as long as they weren’t too mushy. Grandma made you some applesauce and you LOVED that. You ate sweet potato puree, but usually only if you were pretty hungry. You were kind of hit and miss with squash. You wouldn’t eat it at all for me unless I spread it on a Cheerio, you would eat it for Oma, but only if there was applesauce disguising it, and you ate an entire bowlful just plain with Aunt Jen. YOU ARE A VERY CONFUSING BABY. You tried the blackberries at Robert Burnaby Park while Dad was running the Ace Race this year and you loved them. I was breaking them up with my fingers so you wouldn’t choke and you kept biting me to try and get the juice off faster. You also are completely enamoured with grapes. We bought some Coronation grapes and I would feed them (cut up) to you by hand while you stood beside my chair. If I wasn’t fast enough, or if I had the nerve to try and eat one myself, you’d yell at me!

    You had some exciting visitors this month! My cousins A, B and Z were in town with my aunt and you got to do so many fun things with them. We all went to the aquarium. You really enjoyed looking at the jellyfish and the colourful fish. You were in the underwater beluga viewing area and thought that was pretty amazing. There was an adorable porpoise who was fascinated with you and vice versa. You weren’t super interested in the stuff above ground, but you liked being worn by your cousins.

    You also went to the PNE for the first time. Uncle Rob, Aunt Munira and Z were there and you were so interested in everything around. There was MUSIC and LIGHTS and PEOPLE and SO MANY THINGS! We went to see the Superdogs show and you were signing “dog” down at them and waving. It was pretty amazing. You wanted to eat all the food that we were eating, but at that time you had only eaten peas and carrots, so no cotton candy, corn dogs or giant fountain pop for you. Sorry! You also didn’t get to play any midway games, or go on rides, but you had a lot of fun watching us do some of that. I’m pretty sure you want to go on all the rides next year. :)

    You, your Oma and I spent some time in my old classroom. I learned that I get to go back to the same school I was at when I was pregnant with you, but in a different class, so we were trying to pack it all up and have it be ready for other people to be in. You charmed everyone and loved to be held by all the different teachers. :)

    You went to watch Dad play Ultimate a few times, which you really like. It’s starting to get chilly though, so we’re making sure you’ve got lots of stuff to bundle you up in.

    Finally, Oma and I bought the fabric for your Halloween costume. It’s going to be super cute and I can’t wait to see you in it, even though that means that you will be an even bigger girl.

    Love you sweet baby,

    Month 7 Letter (July 15-Aug 15)

    2013 - 09.14

    Dear Nadia,

    It’s been a busy time for all of us! You’ve been growing like crazy and we’ve put away almost all of your 3-6 month clothes. There are so many things that you have started doing that I’m not sure I can even list them all, but I’ll do my best.

    You’ve started getting very interested in what people are wearing, especially necklaces and earrings. I took all six of my earrings out because I noticed you had been eyeing them and I didn’t want to get yanked. You’ve also been grabbing at necklaces, and when we’re nursing you will hold and tug on my necklace, or if I’ve forgotten to put one on, you will touch the neckline of my shirt. You will also squeeze shirt fabric to see what the texture is like. This is pretty neat except when someone is wearing short sleeves and you wind up scritch-scratching them. You also like to touch people’s faces, especially mouths and eyes, and get very excited when people nibble or kiss your fingers.

    You’re getting so good at getting onto your hands and knees and rocking back and forth. You haven’t quite gotten to the point where I’m willing to admit that I have a crawler, but you’re OHSOCLOSE.  However, I cannot deny that you are a standing baby! You were kneeling beside the coffee table on August 10 and holding the edge (I cleared everything off it, and while I was congratulating myself on my childproofing, you bonked your head on the edge of it. Siiiiigh…) then you figured out how to get up to kneeling in your playpen on the morning of August 13, and THEN! You stood up in your playpen over at Oma and Grandad’s house. Oma and I got videos and pictures of it, and we were SO PROUD of you. :)

    Sometimes when I’m singing, you’ll start “ah ah ahhhh”-ing along with me, especially if it’s a song I sing to you a lot. :)

    We went to so many places this month! You and I took your Grandma to an impromptu visit to the Burnaby Village Museum. You were fascinated by all the people around, but your favourite display was the “Foley Sound” activity. It was a bunch of everyday items (like coconuts, springs and shredded plastic) that made sounds when you used them (horses, ray guns and walking in leaves). The sound effects were used by people who made radio plays. Oma and I also took you to Rocky Point Park to visit with some teachers Oma used to work with and I had Pajo’s fish and chips. Yum! We also took you for your passport photos, which you were a star for, and got your passport in the mail.

    You went to your first wedding! You wore a green dress for the ceremony, then changed into a purple suit with a bow tie and vest for the reception. You were pretty excited, and got to see so many people, including some of Dad’s family who live in Australia.

    This month was first food month. You and I and Oma went over to your Grand-Auntie’s house to make baby food with Lia and Erin. We made pears, apples, peas, carrots, yams (or sweet potatoes) and chicken. So far you’ve tried peas and…well…let’s just say that you weren’t that impressed. The very first food you “ate” (and I use the term very loosely haha) was a pea puree made from peas I grew in the garden. I thought it was fairly tasty, but you were very adamant that it wasn’t something you wanted, although I’m pretty sure the texture had a lot to do with that as well. The funny thing is that you were so against the peas, but when I brought you out into the garden to play, you thought that the grass and weeds were the tastiest thing ever! Maybe I should skip purees and just turn you loose into a field like a foal. :) You also tried carrots which you liked a little bit better, although considering how disgusted you were by the peas, that’s not really saying much.

    You worried your Oma and I a little bit when you started wheezing a little when you were upset. You don’t get upset very much for very long, so it was difficult to really hear it. We went to the doctor for your vaccinations, and he told us that it sounded like you were doing fine. Yay! At your vaccination appointment, you were 14 lb 3 oz, 26.75″ long and had a 17″ head, so all pretty normal. Just like we all knew, you’re tall and slender with a lot of brains. :)

    You’ve done this twice now…you got two more teeth the same week as your vaccinations, so you were kind of miserable for a few days. Of course, for you, that just means that you weren’t as quite smiley as you usually are, and a little more fussy in the evenings. You also got two more teeth a week after your 3rd and 4th teeth!

    Some of your favourite things to play with are your Baby Einstein activity centre, your Jolly Jumper and small cardboard boxes, like the ones cereal bars or macaroni and cheese come in. You’re also a big fan of paper bags and crinkly baby wipe containers.

    You’ve been helping me do a lot of cooking/canning stuff, mostly by taking naps when I need you to! We went blackberry picking, made a couple different kinds of jam, including plum jam from a tree near Oma’s house, apricots, and even salad dressing. I was wearing you while I made zucchini muffins with zucchini from our garden. I explained all the steps (“We’re going to put extra cinnamon in it as a special treat for Dad!”), and you were so quiet and attentive until I was ready to put the muffins into the oven. Your Dad came in and told me you were asleep! I couldn’t see see you, so I had no idea. Hopefully you were paying attention because it’s your turn next time! :)


    Rhubarb Sauce

    2013 - 07.23

    I love rhubarb. Crisp, pie, but one of my favourite ways to eat it is in sauce over ice cream or (this may be kinda weird…) on Rice Krispies with a lot of milk. By the end of it, the milk has curdled a little bit, but that’s totally the best part! I planted a rhubarb this year in a large pot and it’s doing well (as long as the aphids don’t destroy it…we have a massive ant colony in our yard and they’ve taken advantage of some of my garden. Grrr… ) but haven’t harvested it yet. Jen, David’s sister, bought a bunch of rhubarb from the farmer’s market for me and gave it to me on Mother’s Day. I cooked it into sauce, and wanted to write down the recipe here so I can finally take it off the whiteboard where it’s been since May. :/ Hopefully I’ll be able to remember it’s here so that I can calculate how much rhubarb to buy/harvest in order to make a decent amount of canned sauce. I’ve frozen the small amount of sauce I didn’t get around to eating this time around, but I’d much rather have a large batch that isn’t taking up any space in the freezer. As of this writing, we don’t have a separate freezer at our house, but that’s probably our next major household expense.  This is a crazy easy thing to make, so I mostly wanted to be able to quickly check for quantity, and because I liked the tartness/sweetness ratio I pulled off, so I wouldn’t have to experiment.

    Sorry for the weird back and forth with metric and imperial measurements, and the imprecision I put in…I’m just kinda going with what I’ve got written down, and honestly, it’s REALLY hard to screw this up.

    Karin’s Rhubarb Sauce (makes 4 cups of sauce, plus one serving over ice cream. What? I wasn’t going to waste it!)

    About 1 kg of raw rhubarb trimmed, washed and cut into approximately 1″ chunks. *
    2 cups of white sugar. **

    Put the sugar into a large pot or saucepan and warm it up (not necessary, but it seemed to melt the sugar a bit easier) then put the cut up rhubarb into the pot with the sugar and stir it up. Turn off the heat and let it sit for anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours until the sugar melts. The recipes I found had a range of times. Turn on the heat to about medium and cook until the rhubarb is soft (about 5-15 minutes). Make sure you’re stirring. Mash with a potato masher if you want it smoother, or leave it for a chunkier sauce. Remember that the sauce will be more tart if you leave it in chunks because the sugar probably won’t penetrate into the fruit.

    Eat right away, freeze or can using proper canning techniques.

    * DISCARD ALL LEAVES. They’re extremely toxic. Most recipes mention this, and most people know, but just in case someone stumbles across this recipe and didn’t know that. Because I have a 6 month old who likes to chew on my fingers, I also wore disposable vinyl gloves and washed up really well. Paranoid? Maybe.

    ** I like sour and bitter things a LOT (tonic water, beer, lemon etc), so this might be too tart for some people. Add sugar to taste. You can add sugar pretty much any time while the sauce is still hot, or even when serving individually. :) I’ve also heard of people using honey, which sounds freaking amazing, but I have no idea how much to substitute.