Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stormy Sea's

An oldie (photo), but goodie; the puke roll!

One thing I have overlooked as a co-sleeping family is a mattress protector.
There is a reason that they market them for cribs, but what about the family who forfeited the crib for a family bed?
Soggy sleeps when stormy stomachs arise!
Fever and flu bug's have made their merry way into our house. With them come a host of sleepless nights and many changes of clothes and sheets. A little crib mattress protector would not have sufficed. This baby had been nursing since the moment her temperature climbed and returned all of that milk once we nestled all snug in our bed!

To all dear co-sleeping families without mattress protectors, hopefully my mistake can save your bed!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree!


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, what little gifts d' you have for me?

My mom gets a chuckle out of reminiscing about our early Christmas trees. My sister and I wanted to decorate with them and as a result, the majority of ornaments were crowded around the bottom of the tree;)

This is Olivia's second Christmas. Last year she was only 20 days old, so there were lots of other things to concern ourselves with, rather than tree safety.
On Sunday, we placed all of our plush ornaments are around the bottom of the tree.
At least they 'were'. Most are hiding in random places now!

Bears Wears

Big & Baby BBaby & Big Bear enjoying fashionable outerwear!

If you haven't noticed by my recent posts, dolls and bears are coming in handy around our house these days. Olivia LOVES copying, but HATES getting dressed.
So, Big & Baby are getting their winter wears on.
It is no coincidence that soon after they are being undressed because someone else wants to try!

Nose Frida

Olivia giving Nose Frida a run!
Mommy cleaning out Dolly's nostrils. Granted, not much came out!
Very lovely friends went Stateside and returned to Shanghai with Nose Frida.
When Miss Olivia is cutting teeth, the first sign is a stuffy nose=very unhappy times.
We used to sit in the bathroom with the shower running every time she wanted to nurse, which led to up to a week at a time in the bathroom!
Nose Frida was not originally a welcome member of our household, but with a little cleaning of dolly's sinuses, Frida has gained permission to stay:)

Friday, December 9, 2011

oh happy day!

Little Miss One-Year Old
ONE! So much fun!
First Birthday Morning
Grandma sent Mama's childhood dollie to be loved all over again!
She passed up her cupcakes, but never passes up a chance for milk!
Hard to imagine our little Olivia has turned into a wobbling little one-year old!
By far the most amazing year of our lives, we hope one of the many to come for her!
There is no love quite like this;)
Happy Birthday, Olivia Grace!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Shanghai's Littlest Dragon

Baby Dragon keeping tabs on my lens cap!

Sending Happy Hallow's Eve wishes to all the little ghouls and goblins in the West!
A group of friends got together to dress up our babies and enjoy a trick-or-treat picnic at the park. Picnic blankets were surrounded by very-interested Shanghainese (and their camera's!)

Happy First Hallowe'en, Baby Dragon!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ode to the Wet Wipe


The lovely mug of baby thug:)

The only essential,
'simply the best',
Wet wipes get kudos above all the rest.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cry Baby

Olivia, post tears

Assignment: Try my best not to eat my daughter whole because I can't get enough of her!

On our apartment elevators, we have a movie ad posted; a lady's face with a tear streaming down her cheek.
Olivia looks for this poster as soon as we get on the elevator, every day.
Then she looks at me, which is my cue to start crying, for her entertainment.
Like putty in her hands, I start heaving heavy "sobs" despite which neighbours are on the elevator with us!
At this point, she puts her head on my chest and hugs my arm with her little hand.

I melt..every time!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Is There a Farmer in the House?

The farmer picks a wife
(Cambodia, 2010. Seven weeks pregnant:)


The wife picks the child

Assignment: Honouring the farmer in the father

Dada grew up on a cattle farm.
He is a cow expert.
From the time we got pregnant, he could not help himself but to compare pregnancy, the natural birthing process and even nursing...with cows.

It became a running joke in our house, when I decided it was useless to take offense. Actually, his bovine comparisons were really no different than the books I was reading on childbirth!

Now as a father, the cow connoisseur is full force.
Cows do not actually say 'moo', but make a nasally groaning noise. I am being taught to perfect this sound, dare I substitute "moo" for the actual sound. It should be noted, Olivia cracks up when I make my best attempt:)

Then there is the 'animal game'.
Each day I divide Olivia's animals according to their habitat (farm, jungle, ocean) and hide a set for her to find on her house excursions.
I caught Dada setting up the game last week.
"Okay Olivia. Today's animals will be classed according to which ones you can eat."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Books are for reading...not for eating"

Olivia and Dada enjoying a book with binding intact..for the time being!

Assignment: Preparing board books for their fate

When the lovely board books step over our threshold, I try to give them fair warning about their fate. They will be knawed on, binding tastes best, lift-the-flaps are easier to mangle and a little chunky cardboard is no match for tiny teeth. Hubby and I repeat a thousand times a day
"Books are for reading, not for eating."
These words fall on teeny ears of our paper connoisseur! She will take the time to look our way and giggle as she opens wide for another mouthful;)

Board books are a brilliant creation; allowing babies to be tactile with their first forms of literature.
Olivia sure thinks so!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Green Up

Olivia enjoying the view: Dada's sago's and strawberries

Assignment: 'Greening' up your house for family life

We live in a big city.
Let me elaborate.
We live in a big city in China.

As a vegan, 'hippie' at heart, married to a farmers son (neither vegan or hippie!), a big city is not where we belong.
But for the time being we are here and with an important purpose, so we are doing our best to stay green where it may seem most challenging;
A big city in China.

Before baby arrived, we vowed to make smarter purchases. Albeit, often more expensive, but in these cases, less is truly more; a few cloth diapers, wooden or fabric toys, some organic produce...
Books are priceless purchases and we buy them without working them into a budget. The family Green Thumb (hint: it's not me!) is building a beautiful balcony garden. With some imagination, we have even made some cool things in lieu of buying the market version (full-sized tee pee, wooden play kitchen, canvas art, felt food...)

Our biggest dilemma in the 'going greener' department comes with the fast-approaching date of baby's first birthday & Christmas close behind; avoiding gift overload. Great we want to be greener, but how do we get Grandma to take this seriously? How do we implement a 'book or best wishes only' rule, to actually be followed?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Giggles


Little thing has giggles.
She giggles all day long.
Telling herself little joke's,
As she giggles like a song.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

'Yes' Mom

Examining the pined-for lens cap giving mom enough time to take the shot;)

Assignment: Saying "yes" as much as possible. Saying 'no' for good reasons.

A bit of a challenge, but we are trying to limit saying 'no' to Olivia. Sometimes I have to catch myself about to say 'no' for no apparent reason (somehow 'no' comes out so easily!). Turns out is becoming easier to say yes. Once she has discovered something and examined it like a little scientist, she is happily on her way to the next experiment. Otherwise, that one thing I said 'no' to is the ONLY thing she persues all day' making both of us frustrated and tired. Unless the temptation is a danger to baby, usually there is just no good reason to say 'no'.

Not that I am referring to spoiling (buying/giving things) and there are times that 'yes' comes with a condition, but it still beats a flat out 'no'.

Saying 'yes' means, "go ahead and examine the alarm clock, remote control and telephone."
The next day, there is lots to laugh about as 'yes' bites us in the bum.
This morning our normally silent alarm clock went off at 5am, the AC was blasting at an unusually freezing temp and the telephone called me back after I hung up!
Child seems to have a gift for programming our electronics!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Our New Hoover

Meet our new Hoover
Assignment: Grin & bear it; a mobile baby finds things you didn't know existed.

I thought my floors were pretty clean.
Then Olivia started crawling & cruising.
Since then, she makes her way to every corner and crevice in the room, pinching things between her baby fingertips which then get forwarded to her mouth (and somehow chewed for distracting amounts of time!)
Threads beware, you have a predator!

My hope is this means our home is so baby-proofed, 'fluff' is the only thing she can 'get into'. If that is the case, so be it;)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Move 'Em Out

Olivia moving boxes:)
Assignment: Survive the move & learn from your baby how to enjoy the process

If I wake up Sunday in a nice, new king-sized bed, beside my sleeping daughter and handsome husband..then I know I will have survived what top's my list of least favourite things to do:
move house.
Since the seven years Adam and I have lived together, we've rented seven apartments in four different cities and two (vastly different!) countries. This apartment will be number eight.

But this marks the first move with a babe in tow.

And so far, Olivia LOVES moving. She loves moving boxes, emptying boxes, pushing boxes around the house, being pushed in boxes around the house. It's like a big, indoor playground!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jaws

Many months of chomping for this major milestone!
Assignment: Celebrate the arrival of a tiny tooth & the miracle of surviving a few sleepless nights

So, today ends the knawing of cold, raw carrots and eggplants that Olivia has been happily rubbing her gums against these past few months. (Child can seriously mangle an eggplant with gums alone!)

A few sleepless nights, a few shorter naps, extra drool, some seriously strong raspberry-blowing, some very uncharacteristic days and voila; her first little toothipeg:)

Now what to do about the previously adorable chin nibbling?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Like a Duck to Water

Little Miss Duckie Armstrong beats Shanghai's summer heat...
Going for the gold! (with Dada close behind!)


Tags & Toys

Slobber-worthy tags...Mmm Mmm!

If you're not yet a mother,
Let me save you from the bother.
For your babe, there is no other
better toy than tags:)

...and tupperware (especially filled up with noisemakers), waterbottles (with condensation makes for a nice licking station), remote controls (no batteries required, just buttons), totes (very versatile as a table, car, push toy, soccer goal, hiding space!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Baby Steps

No stopping this baby!
Assignment: Learning that 'Baby Steps' are actually for parents

Olivia is learning to crawl; slowly but surely the day is near.
I watch as she props herself on hands and knees.
Rocks back and forth.
Eyes fixated ahead.
A milestone for the wee.

What a milestone for me!
I was just getting used to her rolling over!
Surely, she is further ahead and more prepared.
I am still soaking up Olivia while attempting to remain part of the wide world.
Not doing a proficient job of the latter.
She is intoxicating.

Yesterday a fellow mother mentioned very poignantly;
We bring children into our world but essentially they are introducing us to theirs.

Baby steps, Mama.
Take a breath and put one foot in front of the other...
(my husband is still trying to get me to leave the bedroom after she falls asleep!)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Am a Swim-Out Bar

Pre-bath. Contemplating snacktime!
Assignment: Learning your function in baby's world

I am a swim-out bar.
Bath-time means two things to Olivia, neither of which is getting clean:)
1. Splashing is fun.
2. Free open-bar (a.k.a. Milk-on-tap).

A month ago, Olivia was been happily kicking about like a frog during our bath-time and suddenly got her snack on:)
Because I could not help but laugh, I did.

Now she does it with a big grin and raised eyebrows, as if to say,
"Look Mama, I'm being funny again!"

And she gets the same response every time:)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Simplify

Simply irresistible!

Assignment: Simplify life (in as few words as possible:)

Less toys.
More noise.

Less mess.
Less stress.

Less choring.
Less boring.

Clean Earth.
More worth.

Simplify.

Make the most of what you already have.
Time.
Resources.
Talents (or lack thereof. Baby is your most forgiving audience!)

Babyhood comes but once a lifetime.
Relish in it's magic.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Case of the Curiosities

Hmm, if only I could remove this thing...
Assignment: Practice patience & encouragement in the face of curiosity

Olivia has the healthiest case of curiosity I have ever seen.
In anyone, let alone a 6-month old babe.
Hubby and I are trying to avoid discouraging her natural sense of wonder combined with spicy determination, mostly by how we avoid negatively labeling her attributes.
'Nosy' becomes 'curious'.
Crazy?
Spirited.
Aggressive?
Determined.

I am an artist, an adventurer and true believer in being yourself no matter what.

Now the test is, do I have the courage to support these tendencies in the one I hold most dear?
When I take the time to see how these qualities have served me; the places I have been and things I have learned, there is no question. Part of good mothering is valuing your child for exactly who she is.

I just have to remind myself when her hand is in my cereal bowl while she screeches in my ear and bites my nose...
Curious.
Spirited.
Determined.
(I guess another part of good mothering is to offer an alternative to the nose-biting bit:)

D Day

Me & D
Sending a wee shout-out to my husband and Baby Daddy on his very first D Day:)
We know we are not always the easiest girls to live with...so thank goodness we are irresistible:)

Love you lots & always
Your girls, Mama & Olivia xox

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Who Me? Couldn't Be!


Assignment: Learning about the person in the mirror

Olivia.
You look at yourself, like you're somebody else.
Little do you know.
That face that you see, is a baby as wee.
And together we watch her grow...

Social Bug

Miss Olivia with her striped buddy, BlaBla Bug.

Assignment: Observe how baby is a natural social bug

Six months Saturday past.
Roaring through the first year like the little Tiger Baby that she is.
Life is a party and if there is one going on, she self-skips her nap, as if not to miss a moment.

Even when it is just her and I, she always finds a way to connect; a tug at my hair, pinch of my skin, the 'attention-seeking' cough that never gets old...a hand on my arm.
Always making her presence known.

We hold her close, despite friendly criticism that she will not become independent.
The opposite has occurred; she feels safe, loved and explores EVERYTHING.
She's a happy kid.
Natural little social bug.
Six months old.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Race of the Turtles

Pictured above are Olivia & Miss A, movin' and a shakin'.
Little Miss A can do the downward dog with one leg up!
Now that, my friends, is style!

Assignment: Learning to look for signs of baby moving on in her own unique way!

Yes Mama.
She is moving on.
No longer happy just bouncing away the afternoon on your knee.
She wants to explore the great, wide world around her.

The beautiful thing about baby starting to move, is they each learn their own way.
With serious determination.
Poignant actually, for life itself; finding our own way.
Much like I am muddling my way through motherhood.

She wants to move.
She props herself high on her hands.
Nods her head like a chicken.
Flaps her arms like a bird!
No one showed her this.
Or how to roll.
(Or how to squawk, though if you ask my husband, he will surely tell you that she sounds "just like her mother!")

In her own way, in her own time.
Smart little things.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Roll With It

This picture happens to be one of my faves!
Assignment: Learning how to live with puke.

If you were not a fan of baby puke before baby, you may find it just becomes part of your day as the parent of wee.

Conversations with my husband have taken an interesting twist.

"Is this puke on the hand towel,"
Adam calls from the bathroom.
"It could be oatmeal," I reply.
"But it might be puke.
It`s probably puke."

Actually the more I think about it, the more I am sure the probability is high.
I laugh to myself because the chances are good he wiped his hands anyways.
You can only do so many loads of wash a day before you stop caring about a little puke here and there.

Bedsheets.
Hair.
Bra. (Kid has incredible aim power.)

At work midday, Adam receives this picture in his email from me.
The one posted here.
Olivia has learned to roll.
Not only has she learned how to roll. She has learned how to roll into her own puke.
Naturally, I take a picture.

I can hear both Adam and I giggling at our computers at opposite ends of Shanghai.

Ah, puke.
We are so proud of the little tyke:)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Post Pregnancy Brain


Assignment: Dealing with 'pregnancy brain', post pregnancy

When I was pregnant, I was cool as a cucumber.
I mellowed out to focus on keeping positive and sharp for the little. mysterious person growing inside.

Then Olivia arrived.

I could see people's lips moving but had no idea what was being said.
Not a clue.
When she laid on my chest for the very first time, I experienced my first bout of so-called 'pregnancy brain'. None of those insightful books mention that this phenomenon may arrive post pregnancy. And stick around!

It is like my only connection to Planet Earth are her immediate needs.
When she is hungry, had enough, about to get sick, needing to play or rest.
I leap before she lets out a peep.
I sway in sync with the other mothers in the room swaddling their wee.
My mouth moves while my mind wanders; nap, eat, poop, play, change, cuddle, kiss (never in any predictable order...lots of the latter.)
I have regressed in a profound way!

My old and organized brain is MIA.

I have to read the same line of a book four times before it registers.
My husband has to repeat most of what he says if he wants me to respond.
Things that once seemed very straightforward have all gone to pots.

Yesterday morning, I tried to arrange for a family gathering in a United States park.
We are Canadian.

In the afternoon, I was confused as to why I could not call an agency in Beijing with Hong Kong area codes.

Last night, I asked my husband the temperature.
"18 degrees hot or cold?" I questioned.
To which, he did not know what to say.

Note: these are only yesterdays examples:)

People who once received a Christmas card from China will have to wait until Spring.
The baby has arrived and that is all the mother knows.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In celebration...



Assignment: Celebrating Mother's Day (my 32nd & my 1st)

To my mother...
who despite all trials and tribulations, loves me for who I am.

To my daughter...
whom I thank for giving me the honour of being her mama.
You're a privilege, Olivia.

I love you both.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Like Laughing in Church

Assignment: Learning to communicate quietly

Not that long ago, I came across an article about a fellow co-sleeping family where the husband and wife felt like secretive teenagers whispering to one another in bed, for fear of waking the wee that sleeps between them.

I often think about that article, in the wee hours of the evening as my husband and I are using our limited sign language to communicate across our sleeping babe.
Or how we hold in our laughter when a loud noise explodes out of her behind, astonished it was made by our sweet, little angel and not one of us!
Or how we have mastered the ability to be whacked full on in the face by a 5-inch arm, mid-sleep without one peep, just a giant smile.
Or the first time she giggled in her sleep, the way we looked over at each other, knowing that our hearts had fully melted with that little sound...
She is helping us learn the art of silent communication.

And then....
In the morning, when a chubby hand rests on my face and a happy baby stares me in the eyes, there simply are no words needed.



The Poop Phenomenon


There is a strange occurrence,
That happens with her poo.
She decides to let that sucker out,
When the diaper is freshly new.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Funny Bunny


Hoppy First Easter, Wascally Wabbit;)

The first time Dada and I heard Olivia giggle in her sleep will be etched in my memory forever;)
A baby's laugh is the sweetest sound on earth!

Here she is on Easter Day, laughing away mid-slumber again.
Big thanks to Gram Gram for 'going the extra miles' to be with us;)
xox

Baby Boa


Assignment: Be amused by baby's similarities to wildlife;)

We're convinced Olivia has no idea she is a human baby.
Bird calls make her flap her arms with excitement.
Her cheeks & little 'paws' remind us of a chipmunk.
She smiles delicately until you get close to her mouth and she opens like a snapping turtle!
The most recent nickname she has acquired is Boa.
Anything that crosses her legs, gets trapped;)
Pictured: Dada's victim arm;)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Breast Friend


Assignment: Buy a nursing pillow for its many uses. None of which involve nursing.

Olivia is a nursing junkie.
Such a pro in fact, she nurses about twenty times in twenty four hours since the day she was born.
We found the biggest nursing pillow we could get our hands on.
We have used it once for nursing.

1. It became a great baby prop for dreaded tummy time.
2. It works as a 'cave', where Olivia sits to admire its swirly designs when cranky comes a calling.
3. She hunches over inside its 'hug' to catch wiggling toes.
4. When we were all sick and exhausted, it made a cozy cradle (it successfully holds up mama while mama holds up congested baby and everybody sleeps!).

Mama's, even if you don't plan on nursing, consider buying the pillow.
We see it having a valuable future in our family:)

(Pictured: Livie with her beloved swirls in the background)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Non-Nighttime Nursery


Assignment: Ditch the nursery for a Family Bed

I paint.
Nurseries.
For a living.

My daughters nursery?
My favourite one yet.
Where does she sleep?
Our bed;)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Boobies on Loan


Assignment:
Learning how to take your 'boobies' for real.

To my husbands great dismay; these 'fun bags' were not designed for him.
As it turns out, they have real purpose; I can actually feed a small human with their help.
There is seriously a new found fascination with breasts in our household since Olivia's arrival.
They squirt.
They leak.
They change shape.
They make milk.
Quite a cool invention.
And the baby that comes with the package has a built-in alarm system when her tank is running empty.
Alarm sounds.
Drop all current projects and bring out the boobies.

Thought I might as well start this new blog with a doozie like boobies.
Finding a theme picture was the real challenge!
(sometimes dada's nose is mistaken for a nipple, as seen above!)