Christmas Weekend Fun

It's almost Christmas and our gifts are finally wrapped and under the tree. Maude has been sick so we've been trying to stay close to home so she's comfortable.

Rudy had a blast this morning sliding down the hill in our yard and playing in the snow. There's something so sweet seeing kids all bundled up and toasty warm!

Earlier this month, we bought some plastic ornaments for Rudy to decorate. We use glitter and glue and tissue paper and it makes for the easiest craft. It might be craft time this afternoon!

While we were playing in the snow, we collected some fresh snow and made snow ice cream using this recipe.

Other activities we have planned for the next couple of days include baking shortbread cookies, tobogganing and watching this movie. Can you believe I've never seen it? We also may take this girls to see this festive street!

It has been non-stop action this month at our house between Rudy's Birthday, Hanukkah and now Christmas. I've also been really busy and work and Rudy started a new school this month. Our heads are spinning but we're excited to relax a bit over the next week.

What are you doing over the break? Do you have plans for NYE? Friends of ours are having a bunch of families with kids over and we're going to have an early countdown at 8 so the kids can crash after in the basement and the adults can stay up for the real countdown. Fun, right?

Season's greetings and have a wonderful and safe holiday! Happy Tibb's Eve, if you like to drink! ;)



Photo by Maria-Lise Young Photography.

I'm 35 today. I can no longer pretend that I'm in my early-thirties because I'm now as mid-thirties as you can get! How did this happen? When I was in my twenties I always hoped I'd one day grow up, find a great job, buy a house, have kids, maybe get married... I guess I just never pictured it actually happening. Sometimes I still think that it's crazy that Corey and I are attending Parent Nights at Rudy's school. Then I look at us and think "Who invited these dorks?" I guess that's how it happens to everyone: Your adulthood sort of creeps up and surprises you and by the time it happens, you're
teetering on the border of middle age... Okay, maybe I'm not at the border just yet but I can see it without using binoculars so it's closer than I thought. ;)

The Type-A in me uses birthdays to measure whether I'm meeting my goals and for the first time in many years I'm feeling quite content. Usually, in the aftermath of a birthday, I'm motivated to make a huge change: start a new project, try for another baby, buy a new house. This year, I can actually say that I have everything I immediately want and much much more than I need. Sure, we'll continue renovating our house. I'll always strive to improve at work; be a better mom; lose the baby weight... but at this moment, I couldn't ask for any more than I have and I'm feeling incredibly grateful.

This past year has brought us many good things like new friends, a new home and a new member of the family. It was also one of the most emotionally and physically difficult of my life. I wouldn't trade our amazing Maude for anything but I'm happy to put this past year behind me. Pregnancy was not easy for me and, while I love Maude fiercely, I'm tired of having a newborn and excited at the prospect of having two children rather than a child and a baby. As we're learning with Rudy, each year brings it's own challenges and worries but the monotony of life with a newborn suffocates me. I've come to realize that I don't need to love every stage as long as I love my kids and just accepting that fact has brought me a lot of relief.

On my last birthday, I was not yet pregnant with Maude and we had not even decided to move... although we bought our house one week later. What a difference one year can make!

I began the day at 5 a.m. after Rudy woke up from a bad dream and we let her crawl into bed with us to watch a movie. I'm ending it now after finishing some paperwork and eating the better part of a caramel crunch birthday cake (right out of the box) with Corey for dinner. Not exactly glamorous but I loved the extra cuddles I got from Rudy this morning and the cake was from friends who wanted to brighten my day. So, despite my day being long, it was filled with love and a lot of reminders that I have so much to be thankful for. There is sweetness in the exhaustion.

So that's how I've left 34 behind: thankful for all that I have (with my family at the top of that list) but also very happy to close the door on 34 and look toward the future!


Let's Get Real: The Truth Behind My Instagram Posts

Let's get real: Life with a toddler and an infant is raw and messy and exhausting. However, my Instagram page may tell a different story. There's been a push lately to raise awareness to the fact that social media distorts reality and can make us feel inadequate.

Browsing through my Instagram feed, I'm often in awe of people's picturesque vacation photos, angelic looking children, HGTV worthy homes and expertly plated home-cooked meals. How does everyone find the time? How does everyone find the money?? I realize that I am also guilty of showcasing an airbrushed version of our lives online. I crop out the mess, lighten the photo and for every photo I post, I discard several others. Nobody wants to see runny noses or dishes on the counter so I don't post them. I think for most of us, it's not an intention to deceive but rather to only remember the happy picturesque moments that's really behind our posts. Isn't it only natural to want to focus on the very best times?

The danger is that we sometimes forget that everyone is doing the same thing. With this in mind and drawing inspiration from a very honest blog post: It Ain't All Rainbows And Matching Pajamas: The Truth Behind One Mon's Facebook Posts, I'd like to share our own reality behind the photos. Here are some of my recent Instagram posts with explanations of what's actually happening behind the scenes:

Instagram Post: Before and after photos of Maude's nursery are up on the blog. Link in profile

Reality:  When I took this photo, Maude was a newborn and Corey and I hadn't slept in days. The nursery was supposed to be finished before she was born but preeclampsia complications resulted in an early c-section and my hormones made my disappointment at not being "ready" for Maude even worse. I only took a few weeks off from work and we wanted me to be able to enjoy Maude in a serene space so Corey and I (Corey especially) worked really hard the week after she was born to get this room in order.

Instagram Post: 🐶❤

Reality: I took this photo minutes after Maude's newborn photo shoot ended. Rudy had been an uncooperative two-year-old and I was feeling totally deflated since I feared that our photographer hadn't had the opportunity to capture a single good shot. It had literally been hours of tantrums and bribery while I tried to keep my hormonal body from sweating through my dress. I saw Rudy being so sweet and gentle with Barkley and I was determined to capture one good shot that day. In the end, my photographer captured many beautiful moments that morning but I didn't realize that at the time.

Instagram Post: 🛩❤

Reality: We were trying to kill time at the airport because we had arrived way too early and then found that our flight was delayed. We arrived so early because we were determined not to miss our flight like we had that morning. If you look closely, you can see that Rudy's airplane toy has a broken tail. This happened earlier that morning as we were racing for the gate and Rudy fell out of the stroller because I had neglected to strap her back in after security.

Instagram Post: There was no caption for this photo. I posted it in a group with others from the butterfly house.

Reality: Rudy loved the butterflies so much that she picked one up and injured it before I could stop her. I explained sternly that she was hurting it's wing as I pried open her fingers so she could let it go. She cried because I made her let it go. I felt terrible for the butterfly.

Instagram Post: There was no caption for this photo either but I posted several of Rudy and Corey on the beach flying her new kite at sunset.

Reality: Our evening beach walks in P.E.I. genuinely were beautiful moments but they were carefully planned around meal times and nap times and we often had to wait in the car for half an hour when we got there so Maude could eat. It was a beautiful but exhausting vacation and having two young kids while away made me feel like a plate spinning circus act where as soon as one was having fun or sleeping, the other would need something. Back and forth.

Instagram Post: We just can't keep this one out of her sister's crib.

Reality: Seriously guys, how do we keep her out? Now that Rudy can open doors and climb into the crib, I live in fear that she'll either break an arm climbing out of the crib or that she'll crush the baby.

Instagram Post: We had a successful morning of orientation at our new school. School officially starts tomorrow.

Reality: Rudy has had a successful transition to her new school. I'm so proud of how confident and brave she is! That doesn't mean I wasn't still terribly nervous for her first day. All the kids have to be toilet trained at her new school so naturally I was terrified she'd have several accidents the first day and they'd kick her out. (That didn't happen, by the way.) I was also nervous that the kids wouldn't be kind to her or the teachers wouldn't see how special she is and would be put off by the fact that she doesn't always listen. You know... regular parent fears!

Instagram Post: Go Rudy!

Reality: Go Rudy indeed! We spend a lot of time working on things like listening, following instructions and vocabulary because Rudy takes a little longer to learn those things. Sometimes it's no big deal but sometimes it can make new activities challenging. But there are many other skills that Rudy's learned even faster than her peers. We celebrate her strengths and climbing is definitely one of them!

Instagram Post: knee socks, cats and chilly fall mornings...

Reality: This was taken the morning of our worst zoo trip ever. Rudy didn't listen, Maude fussed and, while Corey and I genuinely enjoy parenting about 90% of the time, this day fell into the other 10%. At least Rudy and the cat were cute!

Instagram Post: We can't believe our little Maudezilla is two months old already. She's still mostly nocturnal but life with two is starting to seem more manageable. Maude smiles at us occasionally, relaxes in a warm bath, loves being read to and gets excited when we turn on her mobile. She is so loved and gets lots of "high fives" from her big sister. The cat likes to sleep on her crib but he's terrified of her.

Reality: Maude's first 6 weeks were so hard that we'd already forgotten them. At two months, we were just hoping to finally get some sleep.

Instagram Post: No caption for this one.

Reality: It pains me to look at my post-pregnancy face and body sometimes and it makes it so hard to pose for photos. Two giant babies, two c-sections and two rounds of gestational diabetes have taken their toll but I am making an effort to respect (if not love) the way I look and pose for photos so that the girls can one day see that my love for them was stronger than my vanity. Still, it's nearly impossible to get four people to smile pretty for a photo when one is a newborn and one is a squirmy toddler. We tried our best.

Instagram Post: 1 balloon= hours of fun for both Rudy and Cricket

Reality: I received so many compliments on our living room after I posted this photo. What you don't see here is the mess in the dining room or the fact that that rug has been shampooed more often than Rudy (Okay, not quite but almost!) because our senior dog can't always hold his bladder and our white rug is like a giant puppy pad!

Instagram Post: No Caption.

Reality: It scares me every time I see Rudy balancing on the arm of our rocking chair. She gets that balance from Corey! We left the tags on her ballet outfit (She didn't wear it to class but we let her try it on a few times at home) because she was so wild in her first class that we wanted to speak to the teacher before continuing. We love that she marches to the beat of her own drum and likes to make people laugh but raising a child with such a unique personality can be challenging and scary.

Instagram Post: No caption.

Reality: This picture is probably about as close to perfect as it gets. Sometime a photo really is true to life!

So let's raise a glass to injured butterflies, tantrums, dog pee inside and all the B-List family moments that don't make it to our social media pages. 


Prince Edward Island Family Holiday

Guys, we're back from holiday and you'll be relieved to know that Corey and I survived our first holiday as a family of four! 

I won't lie- we got off to a rough start. We missed our first flight (by a couple of minutes) and we had to go home for several hours before departing about 12 hours later than expected. The airport was rough (sooo much luggage for the girls as well as a stroller and two car seats) and by the time we boarded the plane, I wanted to cry. I really think that anyone who is brave enough to fly with a child or baby alone is a ninja parent. That being said, the rest of the trip was quite lovely. I'll share some highlights and photos with you if you're curious.

So this vacation almost didn't happen. We only booked it 5 or 6 days before we left because we weren't sure if we could handle a trip this soon after Maude's birth. I was terribly worried a trip would be more stress than it was worth. In the end, we decided to go and we chose Atlantic Canada because it's laid back and we know the people there are so nice so we wouldn't feel judged if both girls decided to have meltdowns during dinner... which happened once, by the way. It turned out to be the perfect choice for us! We're also eager to explore more of our own beautiful country and I really enjoyed teaching Rudy about the places we visited. We bought Rudy this atlas and before bed, we'd point out where we drove and which sights we saw. 

We actually flew into Moncton, NB and visited friends who have a hobby farm just north of there. Rudy was in heaven running through their house and "visiting" all the cats and dogs (there seemed to be a different cat in each room of their gorgeous old farmhouse) and they let her feed their chickens and pet their sheep and alpacas. After such a challenging start to the trip, it was lovely to just let Rudy roam free while our friends fed us and took care of us so we could just relax and visit. Rudy was so happy and comfortable there- I think the country life really suits her!

While in New Brunswick, we also visited the Hopewell Rocks. Rudy was so sure-footed, jumping from rock to rock over puddles. I was just proud to have completed the hike while wearing Maude.

After a couple of days in Moncton, we drove into P.E.I. via the Confederation Bridge. Rudy was excited to cross the bridge we had been pointing out in her atlas and to see her first lighthouse. We stayed in a cottage near Cavendish as our home base but we planned day trips all over the island. The scenery was just as beautiful as I had hoped.

Our trip had so many highlights. I loved collecting sea glass in Souris and visiting the Sea Glass Shanty there. It was a tiny shop but the owner was so sweet and made a necklace for Rudy with some sea glass we had found.

We also found the most charming toy store called The Toy Factory. They have the most incredible selection of toys (really well curated) and they're all out and unboxed for the kids to play with. We visited twice and spent hours there both times. Rudy got to make her own wooden car the first time and the second time, the owners (who are really lovely people) followed us out of the shop to give Rudy a little wooden toy she had been playing with. When you visit, don't forget to visit the bunnies in the front or the enchanting fairy garden behind the playground in the back.

We did some typical tourist things like visiting Cows for ice cream, visiting the Butterfly House, eating our weight in lobster and, of course, Green Gables. I probably love Anne of Green Gables more than an adult woman should admit to, so seeing some of the places described in the books nearly brought tears to my eyes.

We were about 20 minutes away from Brackley Beach and we went there several evenings because it was so serene and pretty. It's so rare for a beautiful beach to be nearly deserted and we really enjoyed the solitude. P.E.I. sunsets are even more spectacular set against the sand dunes.

Let's not forget to mention the people. The people on the island were so friendly and warm that we felt right at home. At first, we couldn't understand why they made such a fuss about Maude (strangers kept asking if we could come over or if we could turn her head so they could see her face) and it seemed a little familiar to Torontonians like us. Then we caught on to the fact that in a small population of less than 150,000 people on the entire island, newborn babies aren't as commonplace as they are in the city. People were genuinely excited about Maude because they don't see a dozen babies every day like we do. In Toronto when people stop me to comment on Maude, it's usually to suggest that we're doing something wrong "She's too cold. She needs to be covered" "She looks hot. Should you take off that hat?" "Should her neck be at that angle in her car seat?" but in P.E.I. it was more "Was she born on the island?" "How are YOU feeling?" "Good for you for being out and about!" -Now don't get me wrong, I love Toronto and Toronto people (who are mostly well-intentioned) but P.E.I. was a breath of fresh air.

But more than the sea glass, the beaches or even Green Gables, I loved giving Rudy the type of carefree holiday that reminds me of my own childhood. Rudy thrived on being off-schedule and just exploring in the outdoors and bumming around. She picked wildflowers, collected rocks and sea shells, ate junk food (We let her drink sooo much "chocky milk" at restaurants!) and jumped on the bed. We let her stay up late every night and one night we let her stay up until the sky was completely dark so we could look at the stars. Another night, we went to the beach for sunset and brought a kite to fly.

We had a lot of fun and made some of our first memories as a family of four. It was magical.


Family Photos

We had a photographer come to our home to take some family shots (and some of just Maude) a couple of weeks ago and we ended up with some very sweet candid shots of our family.

Rudy was acting like a typical two so there were a few meltdowns and in some photos, you can see that she's just doing her own thing and eating a snack. At the time, I wanted to cry but I love those photos too because one day I know I'll miss this time in our lives.

Here are some of our favourite shots from the photo session, if you'd like to see.

Some of our favourite shots were taken before the shoot officially started. I wasn't ready at all for the photo below but I'm so glad this special moment was captured.

I love this photo- Rudy and Maude each have a slightly different version of it hanging in their rooms. We want them growing up with the knowledge that they were close from the start.

Rudy was far more interested in jumping than posing.

At one point, Rudy insisted on wearing my watch. With a toddler you sort of learn to just go with the flow...

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