loquacious family

The ramblings of a wordy woman on life, love, and the Lord

Monday, August 3, 2015

On Flights #25 and #26

Blurry selfie while we waited for lift-off

So we recently returned from our short jaunty to E-town, the first time we've been back since our Granny's passing last September. It has also been nine months since Little L last flew, and in kid-time, that is an eternity. A lot of growth happens in nine months (e.g. a baby goes from being a newly conceived embryo of cells to a full-term fetus, etc.), so we were well aware that the little girl that we flew with to Maui last fall was not going to be the same girl we'd be doing the return 1.25h flights with. We weren't quite sure what to expect, despite having flown with her dozens of times before.

Well, let me say that it was a cakewalk. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. A pleasure, even. Here's what worked for us:

- quality kids' headphones with age-appropriate volume limits (we used a Philips brand one)

- a fully charged iPad with preloaded apps, videos, and books that don't need WiFi (we have an Epic books subscription that allows you to mark "favourites" to be read offline, along with an Awesome TV app that stores some of her favourite kid vids)

- pre-cut fruit and veggies in small Tupperware containers (because while junk food is readily available, short flights and airports have a dearth of healthy kid-friendly fruits and veggies)

- a ziploc of other savoury and sweet snacks for in-flight noshing, including lollipops for take-off and landing

- an empty water bottle and a bottle of water to be purchased after clearing security

- one "treat" purchased at the airport on each flight (Little L chose a Miss Piggy Pez on her way there, and Hello Kitty cupcake candies on her way back)

- a comfy umbrella stroller in case your kid can't walk that fast to the gate (we brought our City Mini Zip stroller)

- small toys and activities stored in a kid-sized backpack for in-flight entertainment (for us, this was a Teeny Tiny Mini-Farm, some Littlest Pet Shop critters, a book, crayons/paper/stickers, a Daniel Tiger trolley and some DT figurines)

- an in-flight snack item from the flight attendant (in our case, corn chips there and pretzels on our way back, plus I bought Little L a lentil crackers-and-hummous premium snack on each flight)

Maybe it was because the flight was short, or perhaps we flew at a good time (10:30 am there, 4:00 pm back), or maybe it was all the snacks and treats, but we had no issues with whining or complaining during any part of the flights, despite interrupting her nap for one flight and forcing her to wait on our car seat install upon arrival.

Our next flight is in December, and it will be twice as long as this one (3 hours). Little L will also be five months older and wiser, and officially a student (preschooler). I'm sure that the experience will be different yet again, not only for her but for us, but I am looking forward to seeing how we do en route to Palm Springs.

What do you find useful for traveling with a 3-4 year old?
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Simple Prayer

Over our dinner of chow mein noodles, my little girl prayed:

Dear Jesus, please come into my heart, because I need to remember God. Amen.

Unscripted, unrehearsed, unprompted, and from her heart.

Praise the Lord. Amen.
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Monday, July 20, 2015

Seagull Hostages

We are currently on semi-lockdown, at least as far as our top balconies and garage entryway are concerned. Whenever we step out onto the landing on either side (we have both east- and west-facing balconies), we are met with the raging shrieks of a protective momma gull and her bird buddies. They proceed to dive-bomb at our heads, talons outstretched and beaks open menacingly, swooping within two feet of our precious scalps. They then circle back and repeat their offensives, sometimes defecating a load onto our roof as warnings of impending attack. Only when we retreat back inside does their aerial assaults cease.

I'm cripplingly afraid of aggressive birds, so this is very freaky to me. Worse yet, Little L *loves* playing on the balcony, and to be denied this experience every time she asks has been very frustrating. Unfortunately, I would much prefer a frustrated child than an injured one. Even Hubbs, who initially thought the swooping gulls overhead was a cool thing, has come to concede that this is a major issue.

One stands guard on one side, the other stands near its nest on the rectangular structure.
Never one to be passive in a hostage situation, I contacted pest control and my strata manager and my landlord right away. The good news: they are sending someone out tomorrow to move the nests (one on our roof, and at least another one across the way from our west-facing balcony). The bad news: this is a recurrent problem that usually lasts all summer, and even after obtaining a hard-to-get permit to move these federally-protected critters from my rooftop, there is no way to prevent the gulls from nesting there again. The behaviour we are witnessing is the result of mommy gulls trying to teach their fledglings how to fly and find food and do other gull things.

I was informed that these pest control folks have actually been coming out to our complex every other week since March, but their work has been held up by the delay in getting the permit. Also, our location is especially popular with the gulls since we are close to water, and the design of our rooftops makes it difficult to set up effective deterrents to prevent future nests from being constructed. There are talks to up the frequency of pest control visits from bi-weekly to weekly. I sure hope strata passes that motion!

The fledgling is hiding beside the momma and learning to feed.
To top this all off, one of the nests on our roof cannot actually be moved; its contents are addled eggs (eggs that have been shaken) that will never hatch. Sadly, the momma seagull doesn't know this yet, and so she sits patiently waiting for her babies to arrive. It's actually pretty sad, since we know that things will not end well for her. I have been assured that when the seagull does eventually discover her loss, she will thankfully not turn psycho-crazy; she will simply abandon her nest to build a new one elsewhere. To move the addled nest now would mean that it would invite a new nest to be built, so the pest specialists have advised against relocation.

Anyway, until the pest control fellow comes tomorrow, we cannot use our top balconies. In fact, it's probably safest if we don't walk around the back of our home, period, since I did get followed and the gulls swooped by twice to remind me to stay away, when I attempted to walk through the back of our complex towards my home. The crazy territorial behaviour has been less than ideal, and the constant noises from the birds have been unnerving. Tomorrow can't come soon enough! Being a seagull's hostage sucks.

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Easing Up - Then vs Now

When Little L entered our lives, things got noticeably harder. It became very challenging for us to do many of the activities that we had grown accustomed to, from sleeping in to going out for dinner to traveling anywhere, be it the park or the aquarium or a friend's house. At the time, we climbed that steep learning curve and wondered if things would ever get easier. Fast forward three and a half years, and the answer is a resounding YES!! (Praise the Lord).

A smile as she sleeps. Of course it was a short nap!
Sleeping in short interrupted bursts of time at all hours of the day
Sleeping upwards of 10 consecutive hours with minimal disruption

Hauling a 30+ pound combination of baby and car seat/carrier from place to place
Little L walks (and occasionally asks to be picked up when Hubbs is around)

Daddy's turn to watch her while I inhaled my pork belly
Going out to dinner meant one of us ate first, while the other entertained/consoled a fussing infant
We all eat our restaurant food together, and there is a period of 10-20 minutes of dining quietude

The diaper bag was stuffed full of diapers, formula, wipes, toys, extra clothing, extra blankies, and a million other things that seemed indispensable at the time
My Stella & Dot "diaper bag" tote has a change of clothes, some snacks and water, hand sanitizer and an iPad

Somebody wanted out of her robe...STAT
There was no way to reason with, or bribe, Little L to behave better
Candy is one of several incentives we have used, along with time-ins and consequences (e.g. loss of privileges), to guide Little L's decision-making and choice of conduct

Going anywhere, be it the doctor's office or to buy groceries, was a stressful even that required some forethought and planning
We can spontaneously decide to do things like take a trip across the border without even blinking an eye

One-sided conversations with my baby weren't all that amusing
Two-way conversations are sometimes silly, sometimes serious, and sometimes stressful - but never dull

Little L couldn't be left alone with anyone save for me and a handful of family with whom she felt comfortable and familiar
We were even able to pop her in the church "nursery" for a full service without any tears or anxiety (she was, in fact, a bit reluctant to leave when church had wrapped)

Diapers always required some sort of family bathroom with a changing table to deal with
She pees and poops on a grown-up potty, and tells me before she has an accident

I sat in the back of the vehicle to try to keep Little L entertained and happy
Little L orders me into the front seat because she prefers to sit alone and be chauffeured

So much anxiety about her eating random garbage off the floor, or hurting herself at the playground
She knows to avoid ingesting inedible things, and she is mindful of her own safety (for the most part)

Yes, my girl is definitely growing up, and things are easing up for us, too! While I miss the adorable chubby cheeks and teeny tiny little babe who once snuggled up and slept on my chest, there is 0% of me that misses the challenges of our early years together :P

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Konmari De Rigeur

Have you heard of it? A method of tidying up and organizing made famous by a Japanese cleaning consultant named Marie Kondo, this approach to simplifying and decluttering spaces has folks purging their hoarder homes category by category, and keeping only the possessions that "spark joy" in their lives.

I have friends who swear by this method and have read Kondo's book cover to cover. Their own tidying journeys have been inspiring and I am happy that they have found an approach that fits them.  In all honesty, though, I did not read the book. I only skimmed the free excerpt, where she describes her belief that everything must have a designated place, and details her unsettling routine of talking to (or thanking) her belongings and clothes before putting them away, every day, upon her return from work. It was only a brief glimpse into the book, so I can't determine with any certainty if Kondo really is that uncanny valley, or if she is actually just a normal, extra-tidy human being with lots of time on her hands. 

Regardless, I'm not really interested in reading her book nor using categories to organize my stuff. My brain cannot process the "spark joy" standard as a legit and workable measure of what possessions I should keep or donate. And based on that brief blurb I read, Kondo must not have any children or a husband, or if she does, they must be really ...ahem... different.

Anyway, suffice to say that I'm not qualified to review the book that I didn't actually read, so I won't. 

I will, however, tell you about how the "Konmari Method" of folding clothes has revolutionized my dressers and drawers. The change has been so drastic that even Hubbs, who doesn't usually notice or even remember where I always put his clean workout towels, took note and commented on how awesome this new way of folding was! 

So what's the big deal? Go Google "Konmari folding method" and then come back, so that I don't have to describe it in detail to you. I decided to try sorting my chaotic underwear drawer using the Konmari technique and storing my socks and undies "vertically". After I was done, the drawer looked so tidy and spacious  that I decided to konmaritize the rest of my drawers. Everything from Tshirts and shorts to socks and bras and yoga gear got refolded and stacked "upright."It was blissfully liberating to tidy it all up. I did 9 drawers in about 2 hours, and I was flying high! Behold the fruit of my labours:

Anyway, I was originally skeptical as to whether the fold would hold for stuff like my Hubbs' bball shorts, which are made of soft, slippery material that tends to get unfolded the moment I move them. Nope! Her folding technique is universal for most articles of clothing (save for bras) and makes everything look like a little flat (or slightly puffy, in the case of sport socks) fanny pack. 

Does it take longer to fold it her way? Yes. Oh my goodness yes! But does it save space? It has for us. The bonus is that we can now see everything when we open the drawers, not just the items at the top of the pile. This is huge for Hunbs, who has a way of forgetting that he owns certain clothes until he sees them again. In sight, in mind!! 

I have yet to go to the next level with Konmari (eg., my walk-in closet and the shelves therein) but let's just say we are in the early stages of getting to know each other. And while I may not be doing it by the book, I think that even adopting these few simple folding and tidying principles has really "sparked joy" in my life, since I am deriving great pleasure from opening my neatly sorted dressers now! And as a weird bonus for this Type A, it has also renewed my drive to do laundry, since I look at it as a challenge to fill those drawers. I'm weird like Kondo, I guess! ;)

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Because... and Other Antics

In the absence of sand...

I've never interacted closely with other young children aside from Little L, so everything I know about 3-year-olds comes from my experiences with her. And I have to say, this stage of development is really amusing. 

For instance, I have heard that littles often ask "Why?" much to parents' annoyance. We haven't yet hit that stage (or maybe we already passed it). Instead, we are at the "because..." stage, where Little L likes to provide an unsolicited explanation for nearly everything, applying her own personal brand of reasoning even when it is absolutely nonsensical. She will literally explain herself as she narrates a story. "Percy [the frog] needs to lie down and be covered up with a blanket...because, he bonked his leg on the cliff!" "If we were anteaters, then we would definitely not want to eat funky ants, because then we'd spit up our germs!" "The
sow bug is gonna go home now, because he needs to rest." "We didn't paint the pine cones...because they are still brown!" Clearly, she hasn't consistently figured out how to use
because correctly, but that she is using it so very often with some completely ridiculous rationales is highly entertaining.

Watering our marigolds. Sadly, the plants didn't make it.

Another fascinating recent development has been Little L's sudden penchant for physical touch, specifically big cuddles and kisses. It is without a doubt one of her love languages, plus it seems it's a means for her to communicate her affinity for someone. She will often pretend to be a piglet, squeal "I'm a piggie! I'm a piggie!" and come running at me with arms outstretched, at full preschooler speed. Then, when she has found her home in my arms, she squeezes my face in her hands and plants a succession of forceful closed-mouth kisses on my lips. I've seen her do similar hug-tackles with Hubbs, although he is spared the smooches most of the time. At church, we even witnessed her trying to kiss one of the childcare volunteers on the lips after her successful (first-time-ever) solo stay in the little kids' room; I guess "Nancy" really made an impression as she played with my girl for that hour and a half!
Right before her death grip became a headlock

A third quirk, this one a learned attribute, has been Little L's habit of saying "Sorry, but," because she wants to do something her way and is basically verbally excusing her disobedience and asserting her will. Example: I tell her that it's time to go do X. Her response? "Sorry, but I have to finish playing with Y first, because Y needs to .... " Another example: "Sorry, but I don't want to ..., so I need to do ... instead!". #sorrynotsorry right?! This antic is both annoying and amusing, so sometimes I do let her get away with it.

My point is: the "Troublesome Threes" aren't a cakewalk, and there really are some incredibly trying moments of intentional misbehaviour, meanness, and meltdown (mostly Little L's, but on occasion mine), but there is also so much awesomeness in watching my kid grow and mature and reach new developmental milestones. I *love* that she's sassy and opinionated and bossy and determined and dramatic and talkative. I appreciate her little stubborn self, and am so looking forward to further development and progress.

She loves when her tongue turns blue. It's a thing around here.

This might be my favourite age so far. <3
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Monday, July 6, 2015

Killer World

So, wildfires the size of gorgeous Vancouver have been burning for nearly two days (some, for much longer). Apparently lightning and freakish climate conditions (lack of rain, heat wave, wind direction blowing smoke to the coast instead of inland) are to blame. Not only is this annihilating our tree population at a scary fast rate (how many trees fill a 200 square kilometre area?!), but it is also taxing our already-low water reserves to try to put it out. The result of the raging flames has been an intolerable smoke cover that has us seeing a blood-orange sun and amber skies for the entirety of yesterday.

Alas, some of my worst fears (I have many) seem to be coming to pass: 1) global warming is turning our beautiful Pacific North Northwest into a drought-induced desert akin to California, and 2) I can't breathe properly. Yes, we have air quality advisories in place for the area right now, because even with all of my windows closed in the middle of summer, it smells like a fire pit in here. Since we are also in the throes of a water ration, I am starting to wonder if kingdom come might just be nigh. If not, then please come soon Jesus, because a rapture is infinitely preferable to choking to death from debris-laden smoke inhalation or dehydration! And, I don't want to suffer.

My facetiousness aside, what kind of world am I leaving for Little L here?! It's not the wonder-filled 1950's anymore, and we aren't looking at the future through technicolor/Kodachrome lenses. Instead, technology is this crazy ever-changing industry of gadgets with 3-year-old shelf lives that leave a digital wasteland of bits and bytes and toxic metal scraps behind. Our ecosystems are irreversibly changing, and biodiversity is diminishing by the hours, while scary-ass GMO mosquitoes with faulty kill-switch genes are being introduced into our bug populations. Our food is no longer truly natural, because even the most organic produce is exposed to soil contaminants and water pollutants. The climate shifts are creating weird weather patterns for places as far north as the arctic, and I can't even see the sky today through the gray haze of smoke clouds. I'm totally Debbie Downing today, I realize, but I honestly don't see my daughter's future world as particularly hopeful and promising. 

Through our "looking glass" in the master bedroom
I keep wondering if one day we will all wake up and start doing something, or if anything can really be done at this point that is proactive rather than reactive. And I worry about the little girl who trusts me to keep her safe, when safety means she can't even go outside to play today and her young lungs will continue to inhale smoky air for at least another few days despite my best efforts. 

Come, Lord Jesus! We really need You!! 

Smoke gets in your eyes....

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