Thursday, 28 February 2013

We love to read

   You know that kid you grew up with who spent every recess reading? Who was too excited to go to Chapters on the weekend with their Mom? Who spent all their allowance and free time shopping for or reading books? That kid was totally me, or at least someone I would have really liked to hang out with.  
     I have such attachments to the books I read growing up that even smells can remind me of favourite chapters or how I felt reading them. For instance, lemon scented car air fresheners remind me of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Why? Because I was reading that book in my parents' Mustang on the way to a neighbour's cottage and there was a lemon air freshener in the car. I remember the way the sun felt on my arms and how warm the breeze was coming in the windows. I remember the way my stomach tied itself in knots as I read about the mermaid challenge.  When I smell French toast I think of Ana Karenina because I read that book at my first boyfriend's house and his Mom always made us French toast after school. I remember the way I had to go through all the crazy Russian names in my head before I continued to read it every time I picked it up again.
   I was really shy growing up and loved to lose myself in the worlds my books created for me. I didn't need to be brave or daring when characters in my favourite novels could do the adventuring for me. I was happy to follow along from the safety of my bedroom. Reading also took me away from reality when life was difficult or when I was avoiding making serious decisions. The last trimester of my pregnancy I read five books. I was a LITTLE stressed about becoming a Mommy. Ha!

     I hope that Abigail loves to read as much as I did and still do. I hope she finds solace within the pages of a great classic, and can curl up between her Dad and I in bed and listen to our favourite fairy tales. I can't wait to read her the Harry Potter books, or classics like Jane Eyre and Peter Pan. I'm excited to use voices and accents and be as dramatic as possible. I can't wait to ask her what she thinks will happen next, or how she thinks the characters feel. I want her imagination to be more important to her than screen time. I want books to expand her mind and keep her dreaming. 

     When Abigail was a month old we started reading to her before bedtime. By the time she was three months old she was listening to two or three books a night. Really listening. Like she looks at the pages and reaches for them. For Christmas my Mom and brother both recorded her storybooks. She listens to them all the way through, smiling when she hears their voices. I cry every time.
     Right now we are getting most use out of our board book collection; those things are sturdy and can handle little people trying to turn pages and knocking them off the table. The books pictured are our current favourites, available at most book stores and totally ones I'd recommend as baby shower gifts!

Monday, 25 February 2013

A Visit Long Overdue

There are three pregnant ladies in this photo, and one month later there would be four :)

      Teacher's college has been over for me for almost a year. I can't believe how much I miss seeing the people in my classes. As a part of one of the school's special cohorts, the Comprehensive School Health Cohort, I saw the same 44 people almost everyday for a year. Those people became my family. They are the best. I miss them wholeheartedly, and think about them constantly. 

     This past weekend I got to see two of my classmates with whom I became fast friends. They are beautiful, talented women who epitomize the woman I hope to become. Steph and I grabbed lunch at the Manx on Friday, and Mark, Abby and I went to Mountain, Ontario to visit Linda and her two sons on Sunday. I didn't take pictures while out with Steph, mostly because Abigail had her first explosion of screams in a restaurant and Mark came and rescued me/her, but we had our first beer together since before pregnancy. Abigail loves her Daddy, and was happy as soon as he got there. What a turkey.

     Sunday we packed Abigail up bright and early and made the hour drive to Linda's house. She has an amazing piece of property in rural Ontario, and two very adorable boys. We both had not met each other's babies and it was fun to catch up and munch on authentic Mexican tacos. Mark and I raved about them the whole drive home. 

Gabe loved the camera and kept trying to take his own pictures, he settled for us taking some of him.

Abby warmed to Linda right away. I know how she feels, that woman is amazing. I love her. Adrian wasn't so sure of another baby showing up.

Cheese monster

How a King eats his lunch.


They might be in love.

This boy melts my heart.


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Wedding Plans: Bridal Bouquet

via Flaming Petals

via All My Wedding Flowers

      I am absolutely loving Peonies, Hydrangeas and Ranunculus. I am considering buying wholesale silk flowers and mixing fresh with silk to cut costs and have lasting power. I plan on making my bouquet and having the bridesmaids make their own too. I see greens and pinks and white, some purple and blue but nothing vibrant. All light and fresh and airy, if that's a thing for flowers to be.  I'll be sharing my plans for the grooms men boutonni√®res soon...exciting!  Here are some bouquets inspiring me right now via Pinterest:

via The Bride's Cafe


via No Knows Weddings


via Blush & Bashful Weddings

      Wedding planning has me on cloud nine. My bank account keeps me down here on Earth :)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Abigail: 4 months, 3 weeks

This is Clara and her Grandma Fran and Abby with her Grandma at the Smith's Falls arena

     Abigail and I went to Smith's Falls with her Grandma and Papa this weekend. We got to see her cousin Keely's team play. Keely had an amazing game and was awarded "Most Valuable Player" of the game! Her team went on to win the tournament. We are very proud of that lady. Abby's Aunt Beth drove us back to Ottawa after the game, it was nice to spend quality time with them all. We also got to see some of Mark's family's friends while at the game. I met them all this summer at the cottage, it will be so much fun to see all the kids play together next year. 

Abigail couldn't keep her eyes off the ice, not even to laugh or talk to family and friends.

      Monday night Mark came home! We were both very excited to see him- Abby positively lights up when she sees her Dad- I mean even smiling and laughing at him when he's not looking at her. I made ribs and potato salad to surprise him, and we watched a movie after the little one was in bed. Tuesday we were surprised when his boss called and gave him the day off! (Thanks Jen!) It was perfect: we got all our errands done, spent time together and everyone got to catch up on sleep. But that restful feeling was short-lived and we all woke up feeling under the weather today. Poor Mark got the worst of it and spent all day drinking tea and napping next to the humidifier. There's a casserole of homemade cabbage rolls waiting for him when he gets home tonight.
       Here is a wild barrage of pictures showing what being sick and stuck on the couch all morning looks like with Abigail and Mark:

Such a good sport for her Mommy

And oh so lazy.

Little stinker got up at 6:45am this morning, and didn't go down for her morning nap until 11:30 am.

Yep that's my little baby sitting up on her own. She can do it for about 30-45 seconds at a time before she bends too far for her toes and either spits up or tips over. She is getting strong though.

Another new trick in Abigail's repertoire: putting herself to sleep after soothing herself with thumb-sucking. Adorable these two.  

So many emotions, so little time.

I can hear her saying, "MOOOOOOMMMM" in my head. We are going to embarrass her so much.

My heart explodes with joy. 

   Abigail is getting too big for her infant tub so we tried just putting an inch or two of water in the full tub and SOMEONE splashed all over the place tonight. She was so excited to have so much water under her feet- bath time is getting more and more fun. We'll probably look into a bath seat soon, until she can sit more securely on her own.
      Abby's Grandma and I picked out her Christening gown and accessories and babygirl is going to look good! I can't wait to see everyone dressed up and take pictures of our little family all dolled up. We don't have many pictures as a family, especially pictures with Abigail smiling. So many exciting things in the coming months! Spring is bringing changes for us here.

What does Spring have in store for you and yours?


Sunday, 17 February 2013

While Daddy is away: Family Day weekend 2013


We match a lot of the time

      This long weekend Mark and his buds went skiing south of the border. Abigail and I have not gone without him for this long ever (okay, so for about four and a half months). We miss him, but we've been keeping busy, and taking every opportunity to soak up each others company. She is the sweetest little thing I tell ya. Daddy being gone means the tv hasn't been on much, I've been eating dinner in bed with the laptop open to wedding plans and I've actually had three square meals of salad each day. We eat well and get out a lot, don't get me wrong...but without someone else to cook for I chose ready-from-the-fridge meals. Oh, it also means Ellie Goulding all day and some Glee sprinkled throughout.

Uncle John with the leaf blower and a TML jersey. Don't worry, we're not sure either :)

bundled, blinded and frozen. 

     Friday I babysat here, as per the usual routine, and then Saturday morning we took our first sleigh ride on the Rideau Canal. It was Abigail's grandma's birthday so almost the whole clan was there to celebrate. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and we both really enjoyed seeing family. Today we'll be travelling out of town to watch Abby's cousin Keely play hockey in a tournament. Abigail is no stranger to hockey arenas. She is such a little Canadian girl already. Our first Family Day weekend has been filled with family and love, we've been very lucky.

Sleepy morning doe eyes

that tongue

little baby, big bed.

new blonde hair, and a camera-ready baby

I love this girl <3

We hope you're having a wonderful weekend too!


Thursday, 14 February 2013

Valentine's Day

Because I am about to dump some heavy stuff I want to start with this face to lighten the mood. 

     Today, like many of you I'm sure, I had love on the brain. Not that I don't everyday as a new mother and newly engaged young woman. However, after the usual thoughts (wedding dreams, baby cuddles and holding hands, etc.) I thought about something different: what happens when Abigail falls in love? I know what you're thinking, 
     "Uh Jess, that probably won't be for another 12-15 years at least." 
     Right? But honestly. I think about Valentine's Day, and the first Valentine's Day I celebrated as one half of a couple and I think about Abigail going through the same rite of passage. One day she will date, one day she will fall in love, and most likely: one day she will have a broken heart. That is unless she is REALLY lucky or careful or picky, or some combination of aforementioned traits and she only falls in love once and lives happily ever after. 
    If she's not as lucky as that hypothetical version of her future self, she will probably have at least one heart wrenching break-up to deal with. She won't be the only one going through it, her Dad and I will be there too (and most likely a sibling or two by that time). I will be there to hug her, hold her hand, keep her from texting or emailing (or whatever future teens will be doing to communicate) embarrasing things out of anger or desperation  I will listen, and give her ice cream and make sure she remembers to shower. I will do all of that, because like many of you and like her, I've been there. 

You think I'm kidding about the dramatic thing? I actually sent this head shot to movie studios the summer after grade 12. 

      I appreciate now what my mother and father did for me during those times when my heart was broken. They listened, and fed me and never once asked me what happened. Better still they never said anything like, "there are plenty more fish in the sea," or the equally as awful, "it was just puppy love, kiddo." Even if they were thinking those things at the time, or secretly jumping for joy inside, they never let on. They knew that those relationships meant the world to me at the time. They knew that just because I was young and (INCREDIBLY) dramatic I still felt the pain and it was real for me. 
     So what do I wish had happened differently during those times? When I felt like my heart had stopped and my world was ending? (Like seriously I was that girl reading Twilight going, "Yes Stephanie Meyer, yes. I know EXACTLY what you mean about Bella holding that hole in her chest, I HAVE FELT THAT PAIN.") Dramatic. I wish that beyond those completely perfect parenting moments of pure selfless love, that my parents had reminded me of one thing. (Though thinking back to high school me I doubt that I would have listened). 

     There is someone in the world right now who feels worse than you, has it worse than you, and will continue to have it worse than you long after your broken heart has healed. I live and have always lived, in a First World country, in a safe Canadian city, eaten when I wanted, walked safely through the streets, gotten an education, medical services and been surrounded by love and support of friends and family. I am so quick to forget those blessings when something negative knocks me down in life. I hope for my daughter that she never forgets it. I hope that she will always take her heartbreak or sadness, disappointment or frustration and turn it into something good. I hope she sees those times as opportunities to pay it forward. I know I will be making an effort to do so as an example to her. 
     So when I think about what I will say to her when her tear stained face has finished telling me about the break-up she just endured, I think about hugging her and reminding her of the luck we have in life.
    But until that (awful) day, I will enjoy covering every surface in our home with pink glitter, stringing paper hearts on every wall and baking cupcakes for her classmates. I will remind her everyday that I love her, that her Daddy loves her, and that she will always be our little girl.  

     So should you ever find yourself broken hearted remember that you could have it worse. Really, truthfully, there is something worse out there than the end of a relationship (I know, you don't believe me). Be thankful for what you have right now, and do something for someone who has less than you. It will heal your heart so much faster than that tub of cookie dough, I promise. But just in case it doesn't here's a hilarious photo of me when I was 19 and oh so cool. If it doesn't make you laugh your way to happiness then I don't know what to tell you:

Saturday, 9 February 2013

My Heart is Full

          This is what February looks like around our apartment. I strung up some paper hearts, wrote love letters on our mirrors and we've been taking extra time to say "I love you" every chance we get. The snow may keep us inside, but it's making us more thankful for our quiet times together. Late winter is helping us find peace. 

Little paper hearts (really they are just my way of splashing pink around while I can). 
      This is my favourite. Abigail's neck is VERY ticklish, and she makes the silliest squeals when I blow raspberries. 
          Inspired by the free printable over at Tried & True
      She has so much fun with her Daddy. Right after this shot Mark realized that Abigail kept licking his hand when he covered her mouth, it was pretty funny.
      When I see this picture I think about how pre-mom me would obsess over my gross hair and the size of my arms, but mom me only sees the love in my eyes and that chubby little face. She is making me a better woman everyday. 
         I love them, not just for the month of love, but forever. I am one lucky lady. 

How is February treating you?

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Currently Steeping: Organic Pure Chai


      Simple, spicy and easily sweetened. I love chai tea. We usually have the President's Choice on hand but this one is special. It is SO packed with flavour and heat. It's for special (and particularly cold) occasions. I love it with Eggnog during the holiday season, and with sweetner and milk the rest of the year.
     PS- yes, this is another tea from DAVIDsTEA. I promise I will branch out soon.

PPS- Red Velvet Cake tea? Chocolate Box tea samplers? A Valentines Day I can drink? I love this store.

Stay warm out there!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Valentine's Day Cards I'd Actually Buy

     Here's a handful of hilarious and quirky Valentine's Day cards for those you love via Etsy. Make them smile, and support a small business. 

From Restless Express

From Deluce Design Letterpress Paper Goods

From Row House 14

And then there's this: 

I would not complain at all if this was somehow delivered to our apartment. In fact, I'd probably wear this shirt a lot . via Better Letter

     Mark will be working come Valentine's Day, and Abigail and I will probably just lounge in our pjs. I have an idea of what I'd like to get him...but we'll just see if I can bring myself to cart Abigail with me to the store to get it before then. He might just get cupcakes, or 50% chocolate on the 15th. That's how we roll. 

      Do any of you have special plans or gift ideas for those you love?

Monday, 4 February 2013

Abigail: 4 months, 1 week

        We went for Abigail's four month appointment and immunizations this morning. She had her first rough night in months last night (rough being two wakings and a tough time going to sleep on her own) so we were all pretty sleepy getting there for 9:00 am. I think we're pretty spoiled with her, and these kinds of nights remind me of how much harder things could be.

Big news this month: 

     We are back to doing a night feeding, but she is so good at going right back to sleep afterwards that I don't even mind. Abigail has also started taking more regular (and longer) naps so we have more of a routine during the day. We tried sitting in the Bumbo in the tub too this month. I read a lot about it online and many families love it (because you can push it when the tub is empty and it actually suctions to the bottom of the tub) but our apartment tub is just a bit too curved and narrow for it to stick, so we probably won't keep doing that. That being said, she is MUCH closer to sitting on her own now, and is moving so so much. I find her turned right around in her crib every morning. I'm not sure I'm going to keep believing the "no bumper pads" thing though...her legs keep getting stuck in the bars of the crib. 
     Favourite things to do: grab her feet, make eye contact and smile, have her neck and belly tickled, touch our faces, talk and yell to herself on her playmat. 
     Even though she's constantly moving and wiggling, our little lady is still steadily gaining weight. She is a whopping 17.4 lbs and 64 cm long and wearing 6-12 month clothing. She also tasted some solids this month: cereal, bananas and carrots- seems like cereal will be the ONLY thing we have a problem with...she isn't really a fan.
     Mark and I are currently making plans for Abigail's baptism for April. His mother and I will be shopping for baptism gowns soon, I'm pretty excited to see her all dressed up again. She is such a little angel. 

I hate clipping her nails, so that scratch on her nose is totally my bad. 

Mark the date in your calendar, folks: the day you saw Abigail's neck...doesn't happen often with those chins

This face kills me, her Blue Steel.

Those hands. 

She smiles and laughs the most with her Daddy. I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. 

What we're looking forward to:

     Sitting! We also can't wait till she gets more control of those hands and plays with all the awesome toys she got for Christmas. We're SO close to that happening!