Other than igloo building…
- We settled in nicely to being a family of five. As the month finished out, it had been just over 5 weeks since Rebecca joined our family, and in that short amount of time, it’s hard to believe she wasn’t always here. Gus & Calina are still in love with their new little sister, I’m getting a little more sleep, and I’m finally starting to think that managing three children (at this stage, anyway) is doable.
- James, Gus and Calina attended a Super Bowl Party at the Therien’s. We don’t follow football at all, and I’m not sure the kids even know what football is, but Gus returned home excitedly changing “Go Broncos!”.
- Our friend Katie offered to watch Calina (while Gus was at school) and provided James and I with a rare opportunity to go on a date! Of course we had Becca in tow, but she slept peacefully while we enjoyed our sushi lunch. Thanks Katie!!
- We started feeding birds on our back deck. It’s been fun to watch the blue jays, cardinals, finches, mourning doves and sparrows visit.
- James, Gus & Calina attended the Newcomers Valentine’s Day party. They had fun decorating and eating cupcakes, and playing games.
- Since Rebecca’s arrival, we have been totally spoiled by our local friends. For four weeks, two to three nights a week, we had delicious dinner delivered to our door! We had several people help out by taking Gus to school and we had people come for play dates and visits. Our friend Holly went all out when she came to visit and brought Valentine cookies to decorate and a Valentine craft!
- Leading up to Christmas, we read the book “The Sparkle Box” and recorded the ways in which we helped other people. This activity has become part of our everyday. Gus often points out things that ‘make people sparkle’, and we continue to write them down. At bedtime we ask Gus & Calina “what did you do nice for someone else today?” It’s really heartwarming to read over all our sparkle notes.
- It seems as though whining and fussiness is at an all time high in our house, and Baby Becca is not to source.
- Gus stated OT sessions in December to improve fine motor skills and build upper body strength. This month, we all had fun doing his home work of wheel barrow races.
- Gus’ school hosted an art night! Gus and Calina had fun making mosaics with plaster and paper.
- The house had received a thorough cleaning before Becca arrived, but in the weeks following, although I had great intentions of cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming after the kids had gone to bed, that just wasn’t the case. With James’ encouragement and support, we hired a house cleaner to come and help out. It was so novel to have our whole house clean at one time – that has maybe happened, um, never! My new monthly guilty pleasure.
- We finally had the opportunity to introduce Rebecca to family! Grandma Cathy & Grandpa Mike joined us for 5 days, and it was wonderful to have extra hands helping out. James and Dad took Gus snowboarding one day, which is likely the highlight of Gus’ winter.
- For the duration of the winter Olympics, James and I tried to keep up with Team Canada’s accomplishments. Without a T.V., we were regularly on-line checking the medal counts and results for various events. We were so pleased with the results, and we had a wonderful time boasting in a fierce but friendly rivalry of Canada vs. USA with our friend Katie.
- He has taken an interest in playing chess, and is actually pretty good at it.
- When sung to a catchy tune, Gus will recite his phone number.
- He enjoys building his own Lego board games, and making up his own rules.
- Gus got a great fine motor skills workout making homemade Valentine’s for all his classmates. The Valentines party at school was delayed by a snowstorm, but that simply extended the fun of the festive season.
If you take an unusual amount of snow, and add a Dad who has 2.5 weeks off work, and throw in two children who need attention, the result is quonset hut/igloo! We received a lot of snow at the end of January and in early February. Spending time outside with the kids was fun, but James could only take so much of playing ‘king of the castle’ on the snow pile which resulted from having our driveway cleared. One snowy afternoon James, Gus and Calina worked at building a quonset hut – a big pile of packed snow, with a tunnel dug through it. A few days later when another 8 inches of perfect-packing snow had fallen, James set to work building an igloo. Rubbermaid containers packed with snow made great building blocks. He worked feverishly for several days - often late into the night, while the “conditions were perfect”, making and stacking blocks and then chinking the seams. The result was a quonset hut with and igloo attached and Gus & Calina having spent many hours outside in the fresh air. The igloo was tall enough for an adult to stand up comfortably inside, and had a door cut into the side for easy access. We were all happy to share this new construction with friends and laid out foam tiles to provide ‘warm’ seating.
The arrival of Grandma Cathy and Grandpa Mike meant that there were extra hands around the house to help out. This, paired with our exceptionally snowy winter, and Gus’ frequent requests to go skiing or snowboarding resulted in a boys day away at Blue Mountain ski hill in Palmerton, PA. Gus spent a few hours in snowboard lessons, and then made several runs down a small hill. He was thrilled to learn to snowboard, made excellent progress and showed no fear. Daddy James and Grandpa Mike were very supportive spectators for the day.
It is said that “you can’t spoil a newborn”, but Mom is certain that she will have me totally spoiled in no time. I loved to, and demanded to, be cuddled and held, so I spent a great deal of time in Mom’s arms. I also needed lots of help to fall asleep, which meant even more cuddling! Unfortunately, Dad had been sick with various colds since my arrival, and had been quarantining himself from me, but that means I have tons more cuddles coming my way soon. Most of the month was spent nursing, sleeping, and being adored by Gus & Calina. When I was awake, I had very curious eyes, which were eager to look around, and sweet little expressions, sometimes complimented with gassy smiles. I ventured out of the house a few times – to pick Gus up at school, to accompany Calina to her weekly classes and to chaperoned Mom & Dad on a lunch date. At my one month doctor appointment I weighed 9 pounds 13 ounces and measured 21.5 inches tall – an increase of more than two and a half pounds since discharge and two inches since birth. Since my arrival, our family has been very touched by the generosity, thoughtfulness and support of our local friends. I’ve also received many well wishes, cards and gifts from family and friends – I felt very well loved.
It’s a good thing that a picture is worth a thousand words, because I don’t have much to report this month.
- I spent most of my time falling in love with my new little sister, and my role as a big sister.
- Whether it was retrieving a receiving blanket, choosing which diaper Rebecca should wear next or handing Mom a wipe for diaper changes, I was Mom’s special helper.
- With beds made out of foam blocks, each one occupied by a stuffy of some sort, I attended to sick animals for several days. Some had broken noses, some scratches, and some were simply, sick, but I was able to bring them back to health and send them home. Being a veterinarian is a very special job.
- Since Dad was off work for 2.5 weeks, we were able to spend lots of time playing outside. My main contribution to the quonset hut and igloo was keeping Daddy company as he toiled away.
- I’m taking on more responsibility around the house. I help fold laundry – mainly wash cloths. I help unload the dishwasher – putting away Tupperware, the kids dishes and silverware.
- Speaking of being responsible, I enjoy choosing my own clothes and dressing myself. Stripes with another pattern, leopard print with poke-a-dots , anything goes.
- After being two and a quarter for a long time, I’m finally two and a half!
- I regularly pretend that “I’m baby Luca” and my baby doll has become “Baby Rebecca”.
James – “Calina, when are you going to try the jam that I made?”
Calina – “When I’m a boy.”
January was a quiet month, with much time spent at home, mostly finishing up little projects before Baby’s arrival.
- On New Year’s Eve morning we said good-bye to Gram Berny and Aunt Tina, and that evening we welcomed Aaron, Marie-Claude, Zoë and James – friends from Ottawa. We were excited to have them spend a few days with us. Seeing the new year in was a quiet night at home, but on New Years day we walked into town and enjoyed Chinese lunch at Dim Sum. That evening we ventured to the zoo again to share the fabulous holiday light display. When we weren’t out and about, Zoë, James, Gus and Calina kept each other entertained and played so well together. Thursday, was a cold crisp day, and we were off to the city. We made our way to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree, visit the Lego store and enjoy lunch at ‘Wichcraft. From there, we slowly meandered our way back to Penn Station via Times Square, and we couldn’t resist stopping at Crumbs Bakery to indulge in their delicious cupcakes. The next morning we shared in a leisurely breakfast and bid our friends farewell.
- We have spent lots of time out in our backyard enjoying the snow. Calina somewhat enjoys the snow but Gus loves it. James transformed our infrequently used second staircase from our back deck into a sliding track. With either his Walrooz sled, a cardboard box or box + garbage bag combo, Gus enjoys flying down the track! Also, the spot where our driveway snow gets piled up is a fun area to slid or dig.
- Gus is registered for 5 year-old kindergarten (5 half-days per week), and Calina is registered for Pre-K3 (3 mornings a week). How is this possible?
- My 38 week ultrasound was a family affair. James, Gus and Calina all joined me to “see the baby”, who they lovingly called Belly Bop. I was happy to know that Baby was head-down, amniotic fluids levels were good and Baby was healthy and happy.
- James and I took a prenatal partner yoga class together one Saturday. It was really nice to spend a few hours together and to refresh on some techniques to help us through labour and delivery. In addition, I kept up with my weekly prenatal yoga classes. I love prenatal yoga! The feelings of gracefulness and flexibility it offered at a time when I felt anything but, was really nice.
- I squeezed in two girls nights out this month! Knowing that my nights out would be limited once Baby arrived, I jumped at the opportunity so share in some good company, conversation and, of course, dessert.
- Each night after dinner we have 15 minutes of “family fun time”, where we all play together. Lately, it seems as though we pass this time building Lego Driods, racing Lego Pod Racers, playing freeze tag or hide-n-go-seek.
- Gus has a recent interest in solving simple math problems (1+1, 1+2 etc) and enjoys counting to 100 by 10s.
- On January 22nd we welcomed Rebecca Amity to our family! Gus and Calina were delighted to finally meet Belly Bop, and have been showering her with love and affection. We have been spoiled with dinners provided by friends since arriving home for the hospitals. We are feeling well loved and are really appreciating how thoughtful and generous our friends are with meals, visits, offers to take Gus to school, and help in various other ways. James has been home from work since Becca’s arrival, so with his help, we are settling in very nicely as a family of five!
- Happy Birthday Daddy James, who turned 38 years young on January 27th. It was a very underwhelming birthday celebration as James re-heated leftover baked ziti, poured glasses of sparkling apple cider and blew out candles on a store-bought cake. This past year we had family visit us for my and Calina’s birthdays, and we traveled to Canada for Gus’ birthday. This left Gus wondering when our company was arriving to help celebrate Daddy’s birthday. I promised to make James’ next birthday more special
Quotes from Gus:
“Where the hick did Calina go?”
“What are you going to do good for the whole world today?”
On Sunday – “Maybe I will do another chore on Wednesday.”
After watching Lego Star Wars – “Did you know that the planets in outer space are sometimes made of Lego?”
Gus – “What is that Dad?”
James – “A funeral procession.”
Gus – “Why is there a police car in front?”
James – “So they can safely go through red lights.”
Gus – “What is the black car?”
James – “That one takes the dead body to the grave yard to be buried.”
Gus – “Why are there all those cars after them?”
James – “Those are the friends and family.”
Gus – “And they follow them to make sure that the mommy or daddy or sister or brother is buried deep? So that is someone else digs there they won’t find a skeleton?”
James – “Yeah, that’s about right.”
Gus on the Morality of Lego Droids…
Gus – “Look Dad! This pile is the good guys, and these are the bad ones.”
James – “What if someone in the good pile does something bad?”
Gus in a stern voice – “Well, nothing. But if he does it again, I will put him in the bad pile.”
James – “What if someone in the bad pile does something good?”
Gus with a smile – “Then I put him in the good pile!”
Gus with canning tongs in hand – “Do you want your brains snapped out Calina?” (snap, snap, snap)
Calina – “No.”
Gus – “Okay.”
To celebrate Rebecca’s one-week birthday, here is my labour & delivery story…
The snow started to fall at the same time labour started Tuesday morning, around 8am. Contractions came and went throughout the day, anywhere from every 15 to 30 minutes. Mostly dull, menstrual type pain in my low back and, eventually, low in my pelvis. I continued with my regular day – roasted a pumpkin, put chili in the crock-pot, baked a batch of cookies, played with the kids. Contractions were fairly easy to take – and I either squatted or went on my hands & knees (with Gus and Calina eager to climb on my back to offer counter pressure) if the intensity picked up. That evening, we took some time to take final pictures as a family of four, and some final belly shots before putting Gus & Calina to bed. My friend Katie arrived around 8pm and was greeted by James who was out shoveling the driveway, which is no small feat, since our driveway is big and there was about 8 inches of snow. Katie had generously offered to care for Gus and Calina, and I wanted her to spend the night in case we needed to head to the hospital, although at that point I wasn’t expecting we would need to. Things didn’t seem to be progressing – it had been 12 hours already, and not much had changed since the morning. I showered and at 10pm I went to bed. Contractions picked up and came every 10 minutes. By 11pm, they were coming with greater intensity, every 5 minutes, and at 11:30 I had reached my ‘leave for the hospital’ mark – regular contractions every 5 minutes for 30 minutes. We left for the hospital at 11:55 – thankfully the snow had subsided, and the roads were slippery but plowed – and arrived at 12:20am. I slowly made my way to labour and delivery, stopping along the way with contractions – in the lobby, after getting off the elevator. I completed my administration on my hands and knees in pretty intense contractions. On my way to triage, I stopped again in the middle of the hallway, dropped to my hands and knees, for another contraction. I asked to pee before they checked me. When I got to the washroom, I realized baby was crowning, and I needed to push, not to pee! Multiple nurses raced me through the hallway in a wheel chair to a delivery room. They quickly undresses me and got me on the bed. There were 4 doctors and 5 nurses whizzing about the room. I was 10cm dilated, they broke my water and I pushed. Rebecca Amity Mortimer arrived easily at 12:31am, Wednesday, January 22nd, only 11 minutes after arriving at the hospital. Had we been any slower, James may have had to deliver Becca in the van. Rebecca may have my need to be punctual, as she arrived at exactly 40 weeks. As I held our perfect and beautiful new daughter on my chest, joy and love overflowing from my heart, I answered all the requisite pre-delivery questions and signed paperwork, including my consent for a natural delivery. Becca and I spent the next two and a half days cuddled up together – I didn’t want to put her down – in the wonderful care of the doctors and nurses at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. Ecstatic big siblings, Gus and Calina, and proud Daddy James made several visits to enjoy the newest member of our family.
Hello World! I’m a beautiful little bundle, with dark eyes, strawberry blond hair and soft fair skin. I look a lot like Calina when she was a newborn, but at times I have Gus’ little old man newborn face. So far, I’m sleepy, content and nursing well. Gus and Calina are very excited to have me as their little sister. They regularly shower me with kisses and affection. Calina always wants to see my bee-boo (belly button), and Gus wants to tickle me with coo-chee-coo-chee-coos. Calina regularly coos over me with “oh, she’s so little” and Gus greets me with “hello cutie heart!”.
7 pounds 10 ounces ~ 19.5 inches ~ Wednesday, January 22, 2014 ~ 12:31 am
My first name honours my two grandmas: Rebecca = Becca = Bernice Elizabeth Cathy Christena. (Gus & Calina insist my name “RUH-Becca”, and not Becca). My middle name, Amity, is a virtue which means friendship. And my initials, RAM, are the same as my Grandpa Bob’s.
- As a treat before Christmas, Gus and I watched the Polar Express while eating popcorn and sipping hot chocolate.
- I know that G-U-S spells Gus, and that my name starts with the letter C. Otherwise, I’m taking my time with letter recognition.
- I refused to sing the alphabet song. Nobody knew if it was because I didn’t know it, or if I was just being obstinate when asked to sing it. Then one day at Little Gym class when the teacher announced that our final song of the day would be the alphabet song, before anyone else could start, I began to sing and sang the whole song. I haven’t sung it since.
- I have a weird bathroom quirk: I need to be naked to have a bowel movement.
- Since receiving our new sleeping bags for Christmas, I have been having regular sleep-overs in Gus’ room. We sleep side-by-side on our air mattresses, and love having each other’s company.
- I registered for Pre-K3 preschool. I’m really excited, but September is a long way away.
- My holiday sassiness subsided at the same time my second two-year molar emerged. Mom & Dad had a huge “uh-ha!” moment and were thankful that my their sweet little girl had returned.
- I love doing crafts and other artsy projects, and as a result, my colouring skills are improving.
- I’m adamant that “I’m a baby” and when the new baby arrives, there will be two babies in our family – me and the other one.
- I’ve been somewhat adventurous with food lately. I’m willing to try more things and more often I will at least taste whatever it is Mom has prepared for dinner.
Quotes of the month:
- While at a friends house for a pre-Christmas dinner, I see that Mommy has ice in her water: ”Oh, Mommy! Can I have marshmallows too?”
- Putting a sticker over Mommy’s belly button: “Now the baby won’t get out!”
- One morning, when Mom takes the Planters peanut butter out of the cupboard to make my toast: “NO! Not that peanut butter! The Bears!” (We all really love Kraft peanut butter, which is only available in Canada. It’s our number one request when friends and family from back home come to visit. We enjoy it so much, that even I, at my young age, recognize it’s green lid and bears on the label.)
- I call pig tails for my hair “pink tails”, or whatever the coordinating colour of my elastics are, ex. blue tails.
I had come to peace with the idea of spending Christmas in New Jersey, until Christmas Eve arrived. Wanting everything to be special and perfect, I stressed everyone out, and made the evening disappointing for myself. When it was time to dress for church, Gus would not wear what I had chosen for him. There was a lack of cooperation for family photos in front of the tree. 30 minutes into Christmas Eve mass, we had to quietly exit, as our behaviour was less than appropriate for even the children’s service. Once home, we light the luminarias (white paper bag lanterns) that we had set up along the sidewalk in front of our home (this is a beautiful Christmas Eve tradition in our town). Within 45 minutes the police were at our door to make us aware that one of our lanterns was on fire, and it had been reported. It felt as though everything I had planned so carefully to make the evening special was of no interest or concern to anyone but me. Gus and Calina opened one gift on Christmas eve – new pajamas, hot chocolate and a story book. Once they were in bed, James and I curled up and watched one of my Christmas favourites, Love Actually.
Christmas morning was a fresh day, and I had lowered my expectations of how perfect it should be and promised myself to simply enjoy the day as it was. We rolled out of bed at 8:00 (best gift ever!) and stayed in our pajamas for the day. We took our time opening gifts and playing with new toys. James and I delighted in seeing Gus and Calina’s excitement and appreciation for their gifts. We chatted on the phone with family, took afternoon naps and enjoyed ham and scalloped potatoes for dinner. Although we were miles away from the holiday excitement we longed for, it was a really wonderful day – better than I had imagined.
On Friday the 27th Gram Berny and Aunt Tina arrived! At this point it felt like it was truly Christmas. Saturday morning we had a second Christmas – opening gifts that had accompanied our visitors. After our exciting morning, James had arranged to spoiled us ladies with a special gift – hour-long facials at a spa. We followed up our relaxing facials with lunch out and a little shopping. After church on rainy Sunday, we cozied up at home to play toys and paint sugar cookies (a very fun and tasty gift from Aunt Lisa). That evening we enjoyed Christmas dinner, complete with turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes and veggie casserole. Monday we were off to the Jersey Gardens Outlet Mall for some post-holiday deals and lunch out. Early Tuesday morning it was already time to say good-bye. Calina awoke after Gram and Aunt Tina (who she lovingly call, “the other girl”) had departed and wanted to know “where is my company?” and then demanded “I want them back!”. It was safe to say that we all really enjoyed our special holiday visitors!
- Since we were actually going to be in NJ for Christmas, we spent quite a lot of time making our home festive. We decorated the house with lights – coloured lights along the front porch and the back deck, Gus and Calina’s bedrooms each received a string of blue lights. On a cold, pouring rain night we walked across the street to the farmers market with our little red wagon in tow and picked out a lovely tree. We also made a few batches of sugar and ginger cookies.
- Gus was very generous with singing Christmas songs around the house, namely: Hark the Harold Angels, Go Tell it on the Mountains, Merry Christmas Baby Jesus, We Wish You Merry Christmas.
- Friends, Joy & Todd, made their usual December trip to visit with us. Although we didn’t venture into the city with them this time around, we most certainly enjoyed their company during their evenings at home – ordering in Japanese food and playing Cards Against Humanity. Gus and Calina particularly enjoyed ruff housing with Todd.
- Holly, George & Sean hosted their second annual holiday brunch. Holly went all out and provided an impressive brunch buffet as well as fun activities for the kids. The children played so well together that the adults actually had time to enjoy good conversation and yummy food. The kids picked away at food between making ginger bread houses, reindeer food and a craft.
- The first snow arrived on December 8th! And more came on the 10th and the 17th! We didn’t have a huge amount, but things were certainly white, that is, until we had +20 degree day on Saturday, December 21st. So much for our much hoped for white Christmas.
- Since being 34 weeks pregnant, weekly doctors appointments have become a highlight of my week. Although its routine weight and blood pressure checks, I do love hearing Baby’s heart beat more regularly. I’ve had friends help take care of Gus & Calina for these more frequent visits, which they love since it means fun play dates with their friends.
- Gus was the “star” in his school Christmas chapel service – not that he stole the show, but rather he played the role of the “Star over Bethlehem”. Sitting front and center with Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the Angel and the Wise Men, other members of the school played sheep, cows and shepherds while singing various Christmas hymns.
- Seeing the Holiday Light Display at the Turtle Back Zoo last year was a pre-Christmas highlight, so this year we had to check out the seventh annual light show that feature 50 animal and holiday figures illuminated by more than 100,00 lights! To make the night even more enjoyable, we teamed up with the Nesheiwat and Friedman families. Dinner at McDonalds, followed by running around the zoo looking for nocturnal animals and riding the carousel made for a fun evening for everyone.
- The Saturday before Christmas, the Kastin Family hosted us for dinner. It was a really nice evening – the perfect combination of adult and children play date.
- The lead up to the holidays was otherwise busy with play dates and birthday parties for friends of Gus’.
- Girls nights out are pretty rare, so I jumped at the opportunity to join my friend Holly for her birthday celebration. Seven ladies met for good company and delicious Mexican food at The Red Cadillac. There is something rejuvenating about girl time!
- He is able to write most letters of the alphabet, and he can identify the letter that words start with, and is doing an excellent job sounding out words.
- Enjoyed watching the Polar Express while eating popcorn.
Favourite quotes from the month:
“You can’t take me to school today because you are pregnant and it is icy outside!”
“You have to see it to believe it!”
“Mom, I want to cuddle forever.”
As you will see, I’ve been a bit of a wild one this month!
- I quite enjoy colouring, cutting, painting and playing with stickers.
- My little face is very expressive!
- Most of the time I refuse to walk down the stairs on my own, expect when I’m at Gus’ school for pick-up/drop-off and the stairway is super busy.
- I oscillate between being exceptionally sweet and incredibly bold.
- I have the vocabulary of a four year old (thanks, in part, to my chatty older brother) and the sassiness of a thirteen year old.
- In my many attempts to get what I want, I often resort to using tears. It sometimes works on Gus, but Mom & Dad are onto me and can distinguish my cries of injustice from my cries of actual need.
- The phrase “Mortimers use gentle hands” is regularly uttered in my direction. I do have the tendency to hit when I’m frustrated.
- Mom offers me “I don’t like it!” several times a day. I really don’t understand why I can’t always eat cheese, spoonfuls of peanut butter, bread and treats all day long.
- When I grow up, I might enjoy being an orthoepist, one who studies orthoepy - the pronunciation of words. I am quick to correct people when they pronounce a word differently than I do. I also really enjoy saying a word and then coming up with words that rhyme – they don’t have to be real words, just simply rhyme.
- Green is my preferred colour.
- I make Mom cringe every time I utter the word “hun?”, which I do frequently. It isn’t very Canadian of me!
- I think it’s hilarious to wear my jackets backwards, just like the silly turkey in Sandra Boynton’s book “Blue Hat, Green Hat”.
- In my bedroom there are two beds, the day-bed crib and a single bed. At bedtime I often request “tell me the story about that bed”. Whoever is putting me to sleep must tell me how the single bed use to be Grandpa Bob’s when he was little, and then it was Daddy’s when he was little, and then it was Gus’ when he was little and now it’s mine. And the same for the crib, Gus’ > Calina’s > New Baby’s.
Some noteworthy phrases this month…
- “Oh, my bum is hungry!’ when my underwear crawl up my bum
- “I’m a baby!” because I like to pretend I’m a baby all the time
- “I got it!!” usually said in an assertive voice, and meaning ‘i can do it myself’.
- Mommy says: “Is your tooth coming in?” to which I reply: “No, it’s coming out.” for growing those pesty two year old molars.