Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My daughter, Tractor Tom

Ada has decided to take on new identities, three of them in total, depending on her mood. Strangely, all three are names of sentient modes of transportation. First was "Chuggington", or "Little Red Chuggington", based on a 10 minute British show that she happened to catch one Saturday on Treehouse. She spent most of the week asking to see "the other train show" (as opposed to Thomas the Tank Engine), and when I finally figured out it was a new show called Chuggington she became obsessed. When I said to her "Come to the table, Ada!", she would correct me, in her best insulted teenager voice "Come to the table, LITTLE RED CHUGGINGTON, mommy!" Even when she referred to herself in her cute 3rd person way, she would say "Ada, no, Little Red Chuggington go upstairs!" I was glad when she allowed me to drop the "Little Red" and call her just "Chuggington", but it was still a mouthful, especially after 2 1/2 years of simple "Ada". Next came "Tractor Tom", from another 10 minute British show that we found at the library. "Good night, Ada!" "No mommy, Good night, Tractor Tom!" At least it was easier to say. Then it was "Lightening McQueen", from the Disney movie "Cars". This was an influence from her favourite 3 year old, Liam, and yet another mouthful for both of us. I think that's why she has moved back to "Tractor Tom". So, between a train, a tractor, or a race car, she seems to have settle on the talking tractor regularly saving the day within 10 minutes of the crisis. Not a bad role model, I suppose. :)

Here she is after international day at the parenting centre, wearing the same kilt my sister and I each wore when we were two.

Elliot's latest achievements: Learning to love to chew on Sophie, the ever-popular giraffe, and finding his soul-mate, the Jolly Jumper.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm back!

Okay, instead of a long-winded story about why I haven't posted for A WHOLE YEAR, I'm just going to continue on as if that never happened. I look back at what I wrote for Ada's first 18 months, and I am happy that I have those stories and thoughts written out, and I'm sorry that I have missed this past year of experiences. I feel like I should be re-introducing Ada since she is a very different girl from a year ago. Also, now I need to introduce a new member of the family that didn't exist a year ago - Ada's little brother Elliot.

So here is Ada in a nutshell:

She is now an active two and half year old, and she is beautiful, happy, and fun to be around. And for me, sometime a little exhausting to be around. She talks non-stop in her broken 2 1/2 year old way, with cute pronunciations and expressions galore. She has been described as a "walking narrator", since she gives us up-to-date running commentaries on her current thoughts and actions, usually in third person. "Ada running! Ada jumping on couch! Ada looking out window! Ada eating lunch!" She loves words, and is always trying out new ones and learning new things at an inconceivable pace. She loves to draw. She draws faces on every piece of paper she has access to, and loves to colour in her colouring books. As much as she also loves to paint, she sees it more as a science experiment and prefers mixing colours and making a general mess, which is what being two is all about. She loves to bake, especially with daddy; crafts, especially involving scissors, glue, and glitter; and exploring the outdoors, especially if it involves puddles and/or mud. For a two year old, she has a pretty varied appetite, but prefers her rice to be plain, her cheese to be cheddar, and her tofu to be peach/mango. She has her mother's sweet tooth. Her routine consists of GO! GO! GO!, then a solid 2 hour nap mid-day, then GO! GO! GO! until she drops into bed for a solid 11 hours. She is loving and gentle, especially to our two cats and her little brother, and loves nothing more than running around with another toddler while in a fit of giggles. And while she has been stubbornly testing her boundaries and exploring everything to the limit, I wouldn't have it any other way.

And now, introducing Elliot William:

Elliot was born at 12:01am on November 24th, 2008, at 7lb 14 oz. Now coming up on 4 months old, Elliot gave me a dream pregnancy and a complication-free birth. He has been a pro at nursing since day one. And now that he has overcome is Evil Gas and daily vomiting, he has more opportunity to display his happy, calm little personality. Now if only he would learn to take a bottle of expressed milk now and then, mommy would get a chance for some much needed "me time". He is my "little man" - all boy, solid build, with the longest eyelashes possible. He seems to be keeping mommy's dark hair and daddy's blue eyes, and is one handsome little guy. He loves to watch all the kids running around at Ada's groups we attend, loves splashing in his bath, playing with the arch on his chair that lights up and plays music when he kicks his feet, and is a real talker. He insists on going to bed at 7pm every night, and is usually up only 2 times for a nurse, and will often sleep in to 8 - 8:30am. He loved the "calming vibrations" mode on his bouncy chair, until it broke from over-use. Overall, he is a content little guy who is all smiles for his big sister. I can't wait to get to learn more about him as he shows off more of his lovely personality.

As for me, I'm keeping busy with these two. Some days can be rather overwhelming, but I'm lucky to live in such an accessible neighbourhood, and to have friends and family to go to when I need them. I'm looking forward to getting some "me time" again (ie overlapping naps and a baby that takes a bottle so I can get out once in a while). But I don't want to forget the current times and appreciate what I have while I have it, instead of looking back and saying "Why didn't I realize how good I had it?" I know I do - I have it good.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Long time no write

At 18 months, Ada is officially a full-time toddler, and she takes her role very seriously. Gone are the days when I could sit on the couch while she amused herself by exploring the room. Now she expects me to enthusiastically take part in her explorations by answering every "DaaAA?!?" (Translation: "What's that?"). She knows every book from cover to cover, every toy and how it could possibly be played with, and every nook and cranny of our new house (well, at least the baby-safe main floor where she spends her awake time). On to bigger and more exciting things, mum! I haven't run enough today! Let's meet more people! Explore more environments! Try new foods, new chairs, new stairs, new anything! And when nap time or bed time comes around, she is out like a light. She is now an expert napper (usually about 1 1/2 to 2 hours midday) and sleeps soundly from 8pm to about 7:30am the next morning with no nighttime waking. All that running and eating can exhaust a toddler. Besides, she still has a lot of growing to do, and a lot more learning ahead of her. That's what makes her such a special little creature, and me the exhausted mommy I am today. Luckily, we now live in a fabulous neighbourhood that has oodles of opportunity for FREE play. I have always loved having access to local libraries, community centres, and schools, but now I have so much more appreciation. We are so fortunate to have these amazing programs available to us.

The following will be an extremely quick update to the past four busy months. Let's start with December.


Packed. Cleaned. Gutted. Painted. Worked our butts off. Moved. Started unpacking. Somehow squeezed in Christmas celebrations. Played with fire engines.


More unpacking. Worked on house. Explored new neighbourhood. Crawled through blue tubes.


Unpacked some more. More work on house. Shovelled way too much snow. Made snowforts in our new backyard. Made cardboard forts in our new living room. Learned how to use a fork. Learned how to brush teeth on our own.


Still unpacking. That bathroom will get done one day. Installed a dishwasher! Played dress up in Papa's clothes. Sat in boxes. Had our first playgroup in our new house.

Ada has been working on new words and signs every day. She now has a very clear and regular "Mama" and "Da-dee", which I can't get enough of. She loves sitting on her potty, but she believes it's for reading books with your pants at your ankles. She has a huge appetite, and will eat just about anything you put in front of her. She is a master at recognizing and giving the sounds for five different letters (M, P, H, F, and S), and she knows the numbers 1-5 on a good day, and 1-9 on an even better day. She loves banging on the piano, dancing, watching videos of herself, twirling, "vacuuming", and running around non-stop. I love that she will play with taking care of her dolly one minute (insisting it needs a diaper change, or giving it cuddles) then she will drive her toy cars around the floor the next. One day she might play with each of her toys for a total of 10 seconds each, and then will want to spend the rest of the afternoon looking at books with mama. She loves the sound of her own voice. She knows all her body parts, and loves pointing them out on everyone she meets. She loves "If You're Happy and You Know It", especially when she gets to stomp her feet. She hates having her face wiped. She loves to give kisses, and receiving them even more. Daddy tickles are the best. So are daddy shoulder-rides. She can't get enough of streetcars, buses, and subway trains. She loves shoes. She loves to declare things "Doooone!", such as books and empty bowls. And this post. DoooOOONE!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chatty girl

We have temporarily lost the ability to put the pictures from our camera onto the computer. In the flurry of cleaning and de-cluttering our condo in the preparation for selling, we conveniently tidied the cord that connects the camera to the computer into a safe spot which we can no longer remember. So I have a whole bunch of cute pictures and videos that are sitting in the memory card patiently waiting to be shown to the world, but they will have to wait a little longer. I had started to post pictures of the inside of our new house, but I decided against it because it was really just pictures of the past owner's junk and messy lifestyle. They didn't really show what it was really like. I'll wait once we've moved in.

Back when we started taking the Wee Hands course, we had a lot of interest in how it would be. I have to say, it was well worth it. Ada now has about 12 signs that she regularly uses - more, ball, cheese, cracker, milk, dog, cat, bath, music, change (her diaper), finished/all done, and sleep - and she's picking up on new ones all the time. It takes away so much of her frustration - she can usually tell me exactly what she's wanting/needing. And she's learning new words all the time, too. Although, most of the are just part of the word, but she's getting more of it over time. It's so exciting. She loves to babble about everything around her. When I'm pushing her in her stroller she's looking around pointing out things she likes and calling out and/or signing words she knows when she sees them. And looking at books is a favourite activity, especially now that she is able to point at almost anything that I ask her to find on the page. She's the cutest little sponge I know. :)

We went to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair with Chris, Pam and Ethan yesterday (pictures to come), and Ada was so excited about being able to say "baa baa!" to real sheep and "moo!" to real cows. My favourite part: I was asking her to point out the different animals at the petting zoo, and when I asked her to point at the llama, she pointed at me! (llama rhymes with mama, I guess). :) Ada and Ethan had a great time. And we've been trying out a lot of different indoor activities recently (in preparation for the long cold winter) and have found some indoor playgrounds that she has really enjoyed. Her walking has significantly improved, and now she's getting a hang of running, too. But her current favourite activity is shoes. She loves going into the cupboard where all of our shoes are and spreading them around the house. We find high heels on the dining room chairs, running shoes behind the couch, and boots beside the bed. And she tries to put the shoes (or socks she find in the sock drawer) on our feet by carefully balancing them on our feet. She likes when she can convince me to put on two different high heels while I'm still in my pjs. :)

Since I can't post any current pictures of Ada, I'll put up this one of Ada celebrating her 12 months with her last monthly beer. She has a "Growler", which is from the Mill Street Brewery (in the Distillery District here in Toronto) which is basically a mix of all their beers from the bottom of the tanks. Pretty good! Ada liked the bottle! :)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

House Owners

It's amazing how life can change in one short week. Last Friday as I sat in this same chair in this same library, I had no idea how busy my life was about to become. To make a long (and complicated) story short (and simple), in this past week, we have become new home owners, and we have sold our condo. We are very excited. I was getting very close to my wit's end as we lost bidding war after bidding war, so we changed strategies, and were able to close a deal on a charming house in the west end. Here are the details:

It needs much work, but by the time we are moved in it will be more our house than ever. The house is a solid red brick semii, it has a very large living room/dining room area (very open concept, which we love) with beautiful hardwood throughout, and the kitchen is also a very good size. The kitchen needs to be completely re-done since the appliances are ancient, there are no cupboard doors, and besides, we are excited about designing our own kitchen. Beyond the kitchen is a storage room (an addition onto the house) which exits to the backyard porch. The backyard is very low-maintenance - interlocking brick throughout with flowerbeds bordering the sides. Beyond the back fence is a two car parking lane, which we plan on renting one or both out since we don't have a car. Upstairs has three bedrooms, but one bedroom has had one wall taken down, which is a weekend job to one day put back up. The upstairs bathroom needs to be completely re-done as well. The basement is partially finished, dry, and has a bathroom in good condition with a shower stall. All wiring is up-to-date, the roof is in good condition, and the house inspection only revealed a few minor things that are easily fixed.

It is in a fabulous location - five minute walk to Dundas West subway (which has an elevator for stroller access!), two blocks east of Roncesvalles Village, about a ten minute walk east to High Park, a 15 minute walk west to Dufferin Grove Park, a Loblaws just north of us, a No Frills a little further south, and a short street car ride to downtown. We couldn't be happier.

And as for our condo, it is bittersweet to see it go. We have loved living here, and we are both really excited for the new owner - she has bought a fabulous place. We signed the papers last night, selling it for exactly $1 over asking. :) Closing on the house is December 14th, and closing for the condo is January 3rd, so I guess this house is our family's Christmas present. We will have the two weeks over Christmas to paint, clean, re-do the kitchen and bathroom, and more, so we'll be a little too busy to do our usual Christmas activities. Luckily Ada is too young to actually miss Christmas, but she's going to love her new house, I'm sure of it. More room to run around, stairs to climb, her own bedroom, a backyard to play in, and fabulous parks right outside the door. But we are sorry she won't have any memories of our downtown home on the 36th floor.

Since I dedicated this post to giving details on our new home, here are some random pictures of our favourite little Ada.

UPDATE: I'm posting this a week after writing it - technical difficulties. :) We're going to see the house today, so I'll post pictures later this week - I promise!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

An explanation...

I have now found a way to squeeze in some time to sit down and write something for this blog. Our library program has just started up again (it was off for the summer), and I'm really happy to put it back in our weekly schedule. The librarian who runs it is amazing. She has all the patience in the world for the twenty or so babies that are usually crying, babbling, whining, yelling, walking around touching toes (that would be Ada), or some other distracting baby behaviour. Meanwhile, she continues on with her songs, poems, and story books as if all the babies were quietly paying attention to everything she said. And all the babies really do love her - she has this presence that attracts them to her voice. It's quite amazing. On the other hand, she does not have any patience for the adults in the room chatting with each other during her program, such as making plans for coffee later or comparing baby stories. The program is for the babies, and there is plenty of time before and after the program to chat. And even though it can get pretty hectic at times (we all know how the domino effect works with crying babies), I have never been in a group quite like it. The one downfall - there are two programs every Friday, both occurring precisely at Ada's morning nap time. But I have found a way to take advantage of this. I've chosen the 10am group so that, even though that is the time she usually has her nap, she is so entertained by the librarian, other babies, adult's toes, songs and stories, that she forgets that she wants to sleep. Then, when the program is done, I tuck her into her stroller, find a quiet spot on the second floor of the library with a comfy chair, and I can relax for about an hour and half while she sleeps soundly. Normally at home during this nap, I'm half watching The Ellen Degeneres Show (I'm rather addicted - it's a real pick-me-up!) while I run around cleaning up from the night before and breakfast, continuing with laundry (a never-ending task), getting us ready to go out for the afternoon, or other household tasks. At the library, I am forced to sit and relax! Last week I flipped through a couple of old magazines, but I realized I could fully utilize this time by bringing along our extra Mac PowerBook and type out my week's Adventures With Ada. I hope this works!

So it has been so long that I haven't even had the chance to show off the pictures from Ada's birthday. We had a small party in our condo on the Sunday before her birthday (I guess that would be the 2nd), where Ada happily clapped her hands at every opportunity so that she could emphasize the power she had over the rest of us as we all clapped and cheered in return. She wore her flower party dress and hair clip again, and Jonathan and I made a cake in the shape of a fish - one of her first words. And, in first birthday fashion, she happily stuck her hand deep into the icing of the cake while exclaiming "Mmmm!" while licking it off her fingers. She knows how to host a birthday party.

Party dress

Opening presents

New book

New bracelet

Birthday Pizza

Finishing touches

Happy 1st Birthday Ada!

Yum!  Icing!

The actual day of her birthday was a Wednesday, so I wanted to find an activity that would include as many of Ada's current favourite things to do as possible. She was pleased with my choice of going to Centre Island. We made friends on the ferry, had many opportunities to crawl around the grass at full speed while "chasing" seagulls, had lunch with a view, played on a swing, and happily spent a full, smiling day together. It was perfect.

New friends

Playing in the grass

Lunch with a view


So much fun!

Birthday cuddles

So Ada has woken up earlier that I wanted, but she's well rested and ready to go. We're going to go to King's Cafe now where we will share a plate of curry vermicelli, and Ada will be spoiled rotten by the lovely staff there. It's handy having a cute little girl with you wherever you go.

Friday, August 31, 2007

I think we should be worried...

I have heard that after you take a baby out of its normal environment for a period of time (say, for a vacation or a visit to the grandparent's house for a few days), there is usually a new significant skill accomplished shortly after. Now don't quote me on this, since I can't remember where I heard it (probably from a mother in one of our groups). But so far, I have definitely noticed this phenomenon. For example, the day after we got home after Ada spent almost a week at my parents when Jonathan and I went on our camping trip, Ada started crawling. This time, after a wonderful one week trip to British Columbia to attend Jonathan's cousin's wedding, Ada appears to have great improvements on her language skills, both understanding, signing, and verbal. It's been really exciting. Even while fighting a horrible case of the runs (probably some strange BC strain she's never been exposed to), something has "clicked" with the language part of her brain. And we can actually say with assurance that Ada has a first word. Now this is where I think we should be worried. Most babies start off with "dada" or "mama", but not our Ada. Instead, she has figured out the word "shoe", which I'm hoping is not an indication of future obsessions. I may have to start a savings account for shoes along with her education account. :)

Along with "shoe", she is pretty consistent with referring to her favourite teddy bear with a "teddy", and will occassionally point to Calvin or Max with a solid "cat". Of course, I can't ask her to say it on demand, but that's to be expected. She also has picked up on a couple more signs. Along with "dog", she will sign for "more" (it's not a perfect "more" sign, but really close), and she will enthusiastically do the sign for "bath" while she is doing her favourite activity.

And now that she has learned how fun learning words are, her favourite books are now the ones with simple pictures of objects for learning words. Goodbye nice stories with fuzzy ears or rhyming texts, hello to spending looooong periods of time watching me point at objects on the page as I say the name of the object. Not as exciting for me, but Ada loves it. She also loves her flash cards, and can now pick out the card that I ask her to find. When she's in the right mood, of course.

Here are some pictures from our trip out West. Unfortunately, we forgot our camera when we were at Adrian and Meaghan's wedding (which was absolutely beautiful), but I've borrowed a picture from another guest at the wedding, and the video from Jonathan's cousin Chris. The video is of Ada with her handsome second-cousin, Ethan, "dancing" on the dance floor. More like running in circles and using up their baby enengy, but it's cute, regardless. The rest are pictures of around Vancouver, but again, we always regret how few pictures we actually take, and missed quite a few important shots, but them's the breaks. :)

Ada and I at the wedding ceremony, while Ada claps at something she likes...
All dolled up

Ada and Ethan video - thanks Chris!

Ada after the wedding, when we got back to the hotel. I took her out of the wrap and she just flopped, exhausted, and refused to wake up.
After the wedding

Out and about beautiful Vancouver:
With Dada


Vancouver Walks

Beautiful BC

Vancouver park