For Astrid’s 1st birthday, we decided it would be good to get some high quality shots of the whole family. Good photographers are in high demand in Vancouver, so it wasn’t until August that we were able to schedule a photoshoot with Rochelle Elise, who does amazing work with families.
We really enjoyed working with Rochelle. It was challenging finding a time where the lighting would be good (Rochelle prefers to shoot at dawn and dusk), Astrid would be awake and in a good mood, and the weather would cooperate. The day of our photoshoot, it rained in the morning and cleared out the forest fire smoke that had been overshadowing Vancouver for weeks. We lucked out.
Here are some of our favourite shots that Rochelle captured (all images are courtesy of Rochelle Elise Photography).
Now that Astrid has mastered walking, her brain has moved on to learning how to communicate. It’s been scary how fast she’s progressed. Her physical milestones (like rolling over, crawling, standing, and walking) were gradual progressions that developed over weeks. But communicating has been a sudden mental leap.
She only has a few formed words (‘hi’ and ”more’ are the latest), but she understands a lot and uses baby sign language and other gestures to clearly communicate what she wants. For example, if I say ‘Astrid, do you want to play outside?’, she will run and grab her shoes and sit by the door until I help put them on. When she’s hungry, she often stands next to the fridge yelling ‘more’ and pointing her fingers together (in baby sign language). She also understands (and usually follows) simple commands like “bring this to mommy”, “drink water”, “sit”, and “no, don’t touch”. Although when we say ‘no’, her frequent response is to laugh and wag her finger at us.
Astrid is extremely extroverted and sociable. I’m not sure who she gets that from. She loves running up to people and giving them hugs. When they leave she either waves good-bye or blows kisses. It’s amazing watching the joy she brings to random strangers.
Her favourite games right now involve collecting small trinkets from around the house and putting them into boxes or bags. It’s hard to keep track of my toothbrush and keys. She’s also (finally) interested in her books. She grabs a book, sits on her little chair, and flips through the pages mumbling gibberish to herself.
Astrid is loving her new daycare. I think a lot of her communication leaps can be attributed to the new environment with good caregivers and time with older children.
We had one small cold this month and a week of bad, infected diaper rash. Other than that, she’s had a great month. She transitioned to one nap a day (usually from 12-2), sleeps well at night, is a full of energy when she’s awake, and eats like a champ.
We’ve been taking advantage of our hot, extremely dry summer with plenty of trips to the parks and beaches.
We spent one weekend up in Kamloops visiting Kelsey, Matt, and Jacob. Astrid had lots of fun playing with her cousin.
We took a day-trip to Buntzen Lake to play in the sand and do a little hike.
We’re lucky to have many outdoor options close to home. Hinge Park has new swings. Creekside Park has an amazing new playground. And Granville Island has a fun splash park.
Astrid loves playgrounds. She’s mastered coming down slides on her stomach.
Last week we transitioned Astrid to a new daycare. Her previous care provider is going on vacation for 2 months, so we were forced to find a new spot (the joys of home-based daycare). Our new spot is a little bit farther away (10 minute bike ride) and Astrid will now be mixed in with a bunch of older kids, but we’re hoping it will be good for her development.
Our little girl is now walking. She’s a terror on two legs, chasing after cats and smashing into walls. She was a mischief maker before, and now she’s getting into all kinds of trouble. As a proud dad, it’s a joy to watch.
She loves running around the house with little treasures in her hands (often tubes of toothpaste). She’s getting steadier every day, but she still falls a lot. Her crashes often look epic, but they never seem to discourage her. She just bounces back up and keeps running around.
Soon after Astrid started walking, we were in a small Indian chaat restaurant, eating bhel puri and samosas. Astrid was happy sampling all the dishes (making us proud parents) and running around the restaurant. Luckily we were the only ones there.
I was walking around with Astrid when she started running toward Emily, who was eating golgappa puri (the small puff balls that you pour tamarind sauce into) off of a cafeteria tray. Before Emily could move the food out of the way Astrid grabbed the edge of the tray, causing it to flip. The tamarind sauce made this perfect arch into the air and landed directly on Emily’s forehead. It was tragic but perfect comedy.
As Emily towelled up the puddles on her chest and lap, Astrid sat giggling. Our little mischief maker.
10 days before she started walking, she went for her first bike ride. When she’s older, she’ll be able to proudly proclaim she could bike before she could walk, even if it might be a stretch. She had a giant smile on her face the whole time, so we can’t wait to get her a balance bike.
July was a good month. With our first camping trip, a day at Folk Fest, picnics in the park, and lots of popsicles to beat the heat.
Astrid’s first camping trip was a mild success. We came close to making a midnight getaway with the tent strapped to the car roof, but we were glad we stuck it out.
We went camping on the July long weekend in Golden Ears Provincial Park. We only stayed for one night because because reservations were hard to come by when we booked 2 months ago, but that ended up being a blessing in disguise.
Astrid had fun during the day, but had a hard time sleeping in the tent. She wouldn’t nap (thank god for Ergo naps), struggled to fall asleep at night, woke up at 11:30 pm, and cried on-and-off for 2 hours. We were close to bailing, but once she finally settled down, she slept until 8 am the next morning. It was cold overnight, but Astrid was bundled up and warm in the tent.
Camping with a 1-year old is a lot different than the camping trips we are used to. We needed a bigger tent, a car accessible spot, and a lot more stuff (like diapers, toys, and a cooler). We spent more time in and around our campsite than we normally would and our big tarp came in handy as a play surface for Astrid.
Golden Ears was a good spot for a first camping trip – close to Vancouver (only a 1-hour drive), with some nice hiking trails, a beautiful lake, and a family friendly campground that was pretty quiet (when Astrid wasn’t crying). The only downside is the beach has no sand – only rocks and goose poop.
It was nice to spend so much time outside in nature. We split our time between the beach/picnic area, doing small hikes in the forest (often while Astrid napped in the carrier), and hanging out at our campsite. We even had an adventurous, off-trail “shortcut” down a stream that involved a lot of fallen trees and bushwacking.
Astrid had a rough night, but enjoyed the rest of the trip enough that we are looking forward to going again next summer. By then Astrid will be walking and able to explore more. Maybe we’ll try 2 nights for her 2nd birthday.
Astrid continues to impress us with her strength, determination, and joy. She’s mastering standing on her own without support, napping at daycare (on most days), and her molars are coming in. Otherwise she’s the same exuberant munchkin she’s been for the past few months. She hasn’t checked off any new milestones, but she’s noticeably more opinionated and vocal, she’s more dextrous and enjoys climbing everything, and she’s understanding basic instructions.
As soon as Emily went back to work Astrid started napping better at daycare. She still has her bad days, but she’s generally happy to be at daycare with her friend Lara and provider Mary. They’ve been going out to the library, play gym, and on neighbourhood walks. Astrid is happy to be dropped off in the morning and happy to be picked up in the evening. Grandma picks her up early once a week so they can spend some quality time together in the park (with Grammy too).
With the nice weather and new modes of transportation, we’ve been going on a lot more outings. Astrid is pretty good at restaurants and happy when we find playgrounds or other climbing structures around the city. We visited the New Westminster Quay with Shannon and Simon this month. We were impressed by the boardwalk and the vegan food crawl at River Market.
Baba and Gido visited for a weekend. Astrid enjoyed their visit so much that she insisted on visiting them at the Ponderosa two weeks later. It was our first solo trip without Emily.
We flew to Manitoba for my Aunt Weiner‘s memorial service. Astrid was a great traveller. She slept on the flights (with only minor screaming on landing in Vancouver when her ears wouldn’t pop). I was nervous before our trip about feeding her, putting her to sleep, and separating her from Mom for 4 days, but she bottle fed in the morning and night, ate well during the day, and slept through the nights. She really enjoyed playing with her cousins and grandparents and exploring the Ponderosa.
Astrid went to her first theatre show on Granville Island. She sat engrossed with the adventures of Sun and Moon in Good Day and Good Night.
For Father’s Day, Emily made me vegan french toast for breakfast, we won a free lunch at Chau Veggie, and we spent the afternoon at Car Free Main Street. It was a perfect day.
Emily is now back at work and Astrid has started daycare. It’s been a hard transition, but luckily we had a full month to ease into it with mostly half days at daycare. Astrid no longer cries when she’s dropped and (fingers crossed) has started napping there. We’re lucky to have a patient caregiver to look after Astrid during the day, although I’m sure it’s been hard on her listening to Astrid wail when she refuses to nap.
For me, the hardest part has been giving up our data collection. With Astrid at daycare, we decided it was no longer worth collecting sleep, feeding, and diaper statistics. Asking our caregiver to use cloth diapers and feed Astrid a vegan diet was enough of a stretch without also asking her to track the timing of her poops and naps. So after 10 months of beautiful data, that project has come to an end.
Astrid’s new love is climbing and standing. She’s so determined to master standing. She repeatedly climbs up something, lets go, and topples onto her bottom. It looks jarring even with her padded diaper, but she does it over and over. I admire her tenacity, but I was less impressed when she refused to sit in the bathtub, in her crib, and on the potty (aerial bombardments). Luckily that phase only lasted 2 weeks and she’s less fidgety now.
In the past week, she’s learned how to walk with a walker. She’s growing up so fast.
She’s a lot of fun to play with right now. She can spend longer playing independently and she’s more interactive when you play with her. Our favourite game is hide and go seek. I’ll go hide around a corner or behind the couch and say “where’s daddy?” and Astrid crawls around and lets out a big giggle when she finds me.
Her other favourite game involves opening drawers and cupboards and emptying their contents. Classic.
It’s fun to rediscover the world through a child’s eyes. You can see her processing new experiences all the time, like how the tupperware lid makes everything look purple or the sound the pot lid makes when it hits the ground.
Now that it’s truly summer in Vancouver, we’ve been enjoying more time outside. Astrid loves playing in the garden and eating dirt. We’ve taken her on a few bike rides and hikes. Nothing too adventurous yet, just some local hikes and a few a seawall bike rides.
We picked up a used bike carrier and after some repair work to ensure the wheels don’t fall off, we’re ready for more bike adventures.
Astrid is making a lot of noises and babbling. Her vocabulary includes “baba”, “booo”, “mama”, “lala”, and “pbwbbbb”. No “dada” yet and we’re not sure if “mama” means anything other than “feed me”.
We’re grateful Astrid has been healthy. Her skin has been better, with hardly any eczema on her arms or legs and only a small patch on her cheek that comes and goes.
We’ve got a climber. Astrid’s bucket of skills and tricks continues to grow at a rapid pace. I was lucky to be home for 2 weeks this month to witness her transformation personally. She quickly learned to crawl, climb over obstacles, pull herself up into a standing up, and open drawers. Every day she seems to move with more confidence and coordination, and get into more mischief.
A lot of her growth seems to have come after our Easter weekend in Kamloops. Hanging out with her cousin Jacob has inspired her. It was adorable watching the two of them interact. It was also reassuring to to my sister Kelsey who is pregnant with her second, and Emily and I, as we transition Astrid into daycare.
Yes, daycare. That’s our big accomplishment of the month. Although Emily deserves all the credit for doing the frustrating work of calling over 50 daycares and reading through hundreds of Facebook and Craiglist posts. She found Astrid a spot starting next week at a small in-home (or rather in-condo) operation with 1 other kid that’s only a 20 minute walk away. It was the only spot we found, so we didn’t have a lot of choice, but we like the lady who runs it and her references were glowing – and she’s agreed to feed Astrid a vegan diet and change her clothe diapers (we’ll see how long that lasts).
Daycare in Vancouver is ridiculous. It’s expensive ($1300 – $1800 per month per child) and even at those prices there are hardly any openings. We’re still on the waitlists for the bigger facilities, but even though we applied as soon as Astrid was born we don’t expect to hear back from any of them. The YWCA let us know we were #120 on their list. It’s crazy. We’re in the midst of a provincial election right now and the NDP have promised daycare improvements if elected. Hopefully we’ll see some progress soon (please VOTE!).
The other big news this month is Astrid has started using the potty. She’s far from potty-trained, but every time we change her diaper we sit her on the potty, and she’s intuitively known what to do from the start. Although I almost screwed it up. The first time I put her on she peed, but I didn’t notice and failed to give her any positive feedback. The second time I sat her down, I wasn’t holding her and she face-planted on the ground. Luckily, no lasting potty aversions, and she usually poops and pees in the potty once or twice a day.
Picnic in Queen Elizabeth Park
It’s been hard going back to work. I enjoyed being a stay-at-home parent for two weeks. I took Astrid to the play gym, music class, and story time at the library. We went to the park as a family and enjoyed the swings and had picnics. It was luxurious, but now it’s time to earn some money so we can pay for that daycare spot.
Only 9 months but it feels like a lifetime already. It’s amazing how fast Astrid is changing. She’s almost crawling, using a worm-like shuffle to move forward. It’s a fun age. She’s giggly, mobile, and adventurous.
In previous months, it felt like she had to be constantly entertained. Now she’s able to move around more and amuse herself. She still likes it when you play with her, but it feels more interactive now. She likes to echo the noises we make, laughs when she’s tickled, and plays with her toys. She still likes putting everything in her mouth, but she also spends more time examining her toys and moving them around.
Astrid is sleeping well at night and has transitioned to 2 naps a day. A few short weeks ago she was barely staying up for 2 hours in between naps. Now she’s going 3-4 hours, which has opened up more opportunities to journey further from home.
Astrid’s skin is still in rough shape (getting roseola while we were in Whistler didn’t help). We stopped baby-led weaning and took her to see a naturopath, who recommended a more restrictive diet mixed with expensive vitamins and lotions. No more peanut butter, apples, bananas, or avocado. It has been hard cutting back what she eats because she loves food so much and she has 7 teeth she likes to use. We’re going to continue to follow the naturopath’s advice for now, but we’re seeing mixed results. Her hands are better (with only small eczema patches), however she has new rashes on the back of knees and neck.
One night at dinner, I was spoon feeding Astrid peaches but she was getting frustrated that she wasn’t in control. She was moping and whining, so I scrunched up my face and mocked her by making the same whining noise back. She burst out laughing, which put everyone in a better mood for the rest of the meal.
We spent our anniversary in Whistler and Emily was determined that it wouldn’t have the same sleep problems as Victoria. Before our trip, she got Astrid comfortable sleeping in a pack ‘n play at home, and during our trip she slept like a champ.
We bought reusable food pouches to let Astrid feed herself while protecting her skin. The pouches work well but after a few days she refused to eat from them.
You would think that less baby-led weaning would mean less food mess, but she’s managed to stain all of her bibs, clothing, our walls, and ceiling with blueberry smoothy spots.