Category Archives: Family

Astrid – No More Diapers

Gymnastics

The big news here is that Astrid is now diaper free, at least during the day. She’s been wearing underwear at home since October but we weren’t sure how to make the transition at daycare. She would never tell her teachers when she had to go and we didn’t want to burden them with a toddler peeing her pants several times a day.

Then suddenly on November 8, she said she wanted to wear underwear to daycare. It caught us by surprise, but we wanted to capitalize on her enthusiasm. So we sent her to daycare with 7 extra pairs of pants, socks, and underwear and pre-apologized to the teachers for the mess she was about to make. We were shocked when she came home in the same pair of pants.

Over the next few weeks she had a bunch of accidents and sometimes came home with 2 pairs of wet pants, socks, and even shoes. But she quickly got better at letting someone know when she had to pee, and it’s been a few weeks now since her last accident. We cancelled our cloth diaper service a few weeks ago and use disposable pull-ups at nighttime.

Grandkids

The next big achievement is Astrid had her first sleepover at Grandma’s. Again, we weren’t ready for it but our hand was forced when our only babysitter (Grandma) was under house arrest (backstory) and we had plans to celebrate Emily’s birthday. So we dropped Astrid off after dinner and prayed we didn’t get a phone call to come get her overnight.

We expected the worst – Astrid hadn’t napped that day and was a bit grouchy, she was still on Ventolin for asthma, and she had been waking up at night coughing and wheezing. But she had fun, slept through the night on the futon, and was brushing her teeth after eating a yummy breakfast when I came by the next morning to pick her up. If grandma is up for it, we hope to try it again in the new year.

Sleeping Bags

Astrid’s health has been pretty good lately. A few minor colds and the accompanying asthma, but no hospital ER visits. We saw our respirologist and pediatrician, who told us to keep doing what we’re doing. They were impressed with the data and charts I’ve been collecting. The goal is to see less hospital visits and drugs this winter.

Puff the Magic Dragon

Astrid loves singing. Her favourite songs right now are Puff the Magic Dragon and Frosty the Snowman.

Mixin

She also likes helping cook and bake, especially pancakes on Saturday mornings and popcorn at night (the perfect snack for a blanket fort).

Pizza

Astrid’s newest obsession is clothing with pockets. She loves having pants, jackets, and shirts with pockets on them.

More photos of November and December.

Pretending to Watch TV

Astrid – Winter is Coming

Reach Up

It’s November and cold and flu season is officially upon us. That means all the kids at daycare are snotty-nosed germ carriers now. Our doctor told us that Astrid would likely get her first cold in mid-September – two weeks after kids go back to school. And like clock-work Astrid got sick on September 14. Luckily the first cold wasn’t too bad and barely triggered her asthma. A few weeks later she had another cold which took longer to get over. The third (and most recent) moved quickly to her lungs. She was wheezing and coughing, and Ventolin was barely making a difference. So off to BC Children’s Hospital we went for Astrid’s 9th emergency visit for asthma. We’ve since started Astrid on a new asthma drug (montelukast) that we’re hoping will get us through the next 5 months of cold and flu season without regular hospital visits. It’s going to be a long winter.
Hospital Visit #9

On the positive side, Astrid started gymnastics at the beginning of September and loves it. On Sundays, she gets to jump, swing, and climb for 45 minutes at the gym. Then she comes home does all the same moves in our living room with piles of pillows and our couch as a trampoline. She’s learned to do somersaults and has gotten much better at jumping with two feet and landing with bent knees.
Jump Gymnastics

Astrid had her first dentist appointment and it wasn’t a complete disaster. I was surprised she let the dentist poke around in her mouth. The feedback was mostly positive (she has all of her teeth and no cavities). She needs to stop sucking her thumb before it causes lasting damage, and we should be brushing her teeth twice a day and flossing them too. There is little chance we’ll be able to floss her teeth, but we’ve been more persistent since the dentist that she actually brush her teeth, instead of just sucking on a toothbrush before bedtime. The thumbsucking is going to be a harder habit to break, but we’re working on it.
1st Dentist Visit

Astrid’s vocabulary has really exploded in the past two months. Unfortunately her pronunciation is lagging. We’ve gone from understanding 90% of what she was trying to tell us to 50%. Sometimes it’s like charades – “Astrid I don’t know what that means, can you point and show me?” She also likes to sing and make up new words to her favourite songs.

Monster
For Halloween Astrid dressed up as a cute monster. This is the first year she understood what was going on. She enjoyed the costumes, riding the ghost train in Stanley Park, decorating a pumpkin, making the hallway spooky, and going trick-or-treating. The hard part is now limiting how much candy she gets. Last year she didn’t eat any of it, but this year she knew what it was. We took away the really sugary stuff and have been letting her have one treat a night.

Loves: Jumping on the couch, running around with her daycare friends, building towers with blocks, helping daddy make pancakes on Saturday mornings, and her Mickey Mouse pajamas.

Hates: Getting her hair washed or brushed.

Mastered: Turning on/off the lights, putting on her jacket by herself.

Favourite expressions: “I no like it” and “my turn – 2 minutes.”

Making Pancakes

Acrobats

Playtime

More photos from September, October, and Halloween.

Thanksgiving in Kamloops

Leaf Leap
This year for Thanksgiving we went to Kamloops to visit my sister’s family. There was lots to celebrate as my parents were also visiting and it was my nephew’s birthday. The three kids (Jacob 3, Astrid 2, and Nora 1) had a blast playing together and the adults enjoyed playing along and mediating the toy disputes.

One of the biggest hits was the pile of leaves on Kelsey’s front yard. And it was a great photo op.

We crammed a lot into the one full day we had. On Sunday we took the kids to drop-in gymnastics and then played skee ball, air hockey, and rode the merry-go-round at the arcade. While we were gone the other adults decorated the house for Jacob’s birthday party with streamers and balloons galore. In the afternoon we managed both a birthday party and Thanksgiving supper, almost blended into one. By seven pm the adults were ready for bed but Astrid and Jacob were running around yelling “party, party, party”.

Arcade Fun

Balloons

Jacob's 3rd birthday

There were a lot of highs and lows between the cousins. Mostly fun and bonding but also screaming and hitting. It seemed like Jacob and Astrid only wanted to play with the toys the other one had. The most popular items were the fart gun, shopping basket, mixer, tool set, and push tricycle. We practiced a lot of taking turns (“my turn, two minutes” Astrid would say) and asking for what we wanted. They also spent lots of time hugging and teaching each other new tricks, like jumping off the sofa into a pile of pillows. Astrid also really enjoyed helping Nora, even though she’s 1-year old, walking confidently, and doesn’t need a lot of help.

We are so grateful that Astrid has cousins so close to her age and that they live only a few hours drive away.
Baba and Gigi and the Grandkids

More photos

Astrid – Surviving the Smoke

Waterpark

We did our best to enjoy the last bit of summer despite the smoky skies and air quality advisories. Astrid enjoyed playing in the Granville Island waterpark, and ice cream and popsicles were a regular treat.

Vancouver Smoke

The wildfire smoke was not kind to Astrid. We survived without a hospital visit, but I was giving her the maximum amount of Ventolin every 4 hours, even at night, in order to keep her asthma under control.

BC has now had back-to-back summers with record-breaking forest fires. The impact of climate change is all to real. If this is the new normal, it’s going to be hard on Astrid’s lungs. Winter is cold and flu season, which triggers her asthma. If summer is now forest fire season, she’s not going to get a break at all.

I was interviewed for an article in The Star about indoor air quality as a means of escaping when the smoke gets bad. Here’s one of the quotes I provided,

I don’t want to end up as a city where we’re like, ‘OK, we air-conditioned all the buildings and they’re all clean air, so just don’t go outside’. Vancouver is awesome because of all the outdoor activities we have accessible to us, and if that disappears the quality of life disappears.

Rainsuit

Needless to say we were overjoyed when the wind changed direction and started blowing cool, wet ocean air into Vancouver and cleared out the smoke.

The same week the smoke got bad, Emily was off on Cortes Island for a leadership retreat at Hollyhock. Being a single parent is hard, but we got through. It did lead to frequent conversations with Astrid:

Astrid: Where’s mama?

Me: Mama’s on an island. She took a plane there. She’s coming home in a few days.

Astrid: Mama airplane. Mama airplane. (nodding her head)

The day Emily was done her retreat, I let Astrid know that Mama would pick her up today. She was excited. Apparently she spent the whole day at daycare letting everyone know that Mama was on an airplane. Unfortunately the smoke cancelled Emily’s flight and she spent 12 hours getting home by car and ferry and didn’t arrive until 1 am. So I had to pick Astrid up. When I got there she was waiting at the door holding an airplane in her hands. It was cute and heart breaking. Thankfully no tears were shed when I explained, “Mama’s airplane is broken. Mama is on a boat.”

Flowers

Other than the smoke-induced asthma, Astrid is doing well. She’s eating well, growing like a weed, and has become quite the chatterbox. She’s tall enough now that she can reach the number 6 in the elevator. She’s started asking a lot more questions and likes pointing at things and asking, “what’s this?”

Potty training is progressing with lots of triumphs and failures. She’s peeing in the potty at least once a day but there’s still a few accidents and she wears diapers at daycare. The biggest triumph was when we spent a half day at the aquarium wearing only potty pants, she went pee three times on a toilet, and we made it home without an accident. The biggest failure was one evening when she was eating dinner without a diaper or pants on (pretty common at home now) and she stood up while drinking water and peed in her food.

Sea to Sky Gondola

We spent the last week of August and the September long weekend with Grandma Bev, Uncle Rick and Aunt Toni. Astrid warmed up to the three of them really quickly. We spent one day up at the Sea to Sky Gondola and Shannon Falls and the long weekend on Galiano Island.

Galiano Island

More pictures from August, the Sea to Sky Gondola, and Galiano Island.

Waterpark with the Holdings

Going Up

12 Days at the Ponderosa 2018

Cousins 2018
We spent the first 12 days of August in Manitoba visiting my family. Astrid had a blast playing with her cousins, running around pantless, eating peas and raspberries from the garden, and riding the tractor with Gigi.

Day 1
In-flight entertainment
The flight went pretty smoothly into Winnipeg. Astrid was excited when Gigi picked us up at the airport. We were the first ones to arrive at my parents place (affectionately called the Ponderosa) so Astrid had first choice of beds and picked the room with a bunk bed hidden behind a bookshelf.
Bunk Bed

Day 2
Holding Hands

Kelsey managed to get Jacob and Nora to Winnipeg from Kamloops all by herself. Jacob and Astrid were quickly running around together and Nora was crawling around a few feet behind them.

2018-08-01 18.25.39

Potty Training Partners

Astrid and Jacob both saw huge leaps in their potty training as they spent the 2 weeks running around without pants and copying each other.

Day 3
Sunflower Family
Kerry, Megan, Katie, and Tyler arrived from Winnipeg completing the family gathering.


Katie and Tyler were quick to setup a workout bootcamp for everyone to follow (except Emily who somehow managed to nap through it with Astrid)

Day 4
Beach Family Time
We spent the morning at Sandy Lake enjoying the beach. Unfortunately the lake was dark green from algae bloom that has plagued the lake all summer and sadly has become normal due to fertilizer runoff from the nearby farms.Green Lake Paddle
Manitoba Rash
We went swimming anyway and the next day my arms broke out in rashes that lasted until I got back to Vancouver. I also started suffering from hay fever symptoms (itchy eyes, runny nose) which I’ve never had before. Although that could have been from an accumulation of allergens like dust and pet dander.

Swimming was also not good for Baba. She hurt her foot after falling off the paddleboard onto a rock and spent the rest of our visit hobbling around with a walker or cane.

Rolled Ankle

Day 5
Forming a Band

Tractor Ride
The kids spent the day running around the Ponderosa – playing music, having a tea party, riding on the tractor, helping in the garden, building a blanket fort.

Toy Room

There is lots to keep them amused, including the most amazing kids room full of the best toys from my childhood and some new ones. It also has a little slide, cupboards to climb in, clothes to dress up, and chalkboard panels to draw on.

Day 6
Christmas in August Dinner
It’s Christmas in August. The whole point of getting everyone together in August was to replace our normal Christmas gathering. My parents live off-the-grid in Manitoba and winters are not only harsh but a time of scarcity. In the summer they have abundant solar energy, hot water, and a garden full of produce.

Perogy Making

So we made perogies and cabbage rolls, and ate a Ukrainian Christmas Eve Dinner (the borscht was served at lunch).

Day 7
Ponderosa Picnic
We had a nice picnic until the mosquitoes found us. They weren’t bad near the house, but you got eaten alive in the garden and trees.

Tent Scramble
We set up a tent, so Emily, Astrid, and I could camp one night. It wasn’t as comfortable as sleeping in the house, but Astrid had fun. It also served as another play area for the kids.

Day 8
Kinosao Lake
Emily and I left Astrid with the grandparents and went into Riding Mountain National Park to do a little hike. We saw the bison herd, a momma bear with 3 cubs, and a crystal clear Manitoba lake (so they do exist).

Popsicles
Gigi Singalong
Meanwhile the grandkids enjoyed more quality time with Baba and Gigi.

Day 9
Trans Canada Trail
Another day trip for Emily and I. This time we did a long bike trip along the Trans Canada Trail from Elphinstone to Sandy Lake.

Day 10
Mixing the Dough Rising Bread Mom Baking Bread Fresh Bread
We got to watch Baba make bread in the traditional clay oven at the Sandy Lake Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Museum.

Day 11
Ponderosa Paddle

Astrid paddling
We went for our second canoe ride on the lake, this time with Astrid. It took a few tries to get her into the boat but once she was in she loved helping dada row row. The Ponderosa has a surprisingly large lake with lots of little bays and inlets to explore. We thought we could circumnavigate the whole thing, but after 2 hours of paddling we explored less than half of it.

Coulson Family Gathering
My extended family had converged in Sandy Lake for Western Days and had a reunion and bonfire at the farm.

Day 12
2018-08-10 15.17.45
We caught the beginning of the Western Days parade before we had to hurry to Brandon to catch our flight back to Vancouver.

We had a great time in Manitoba. We love spending time with our nieces and nephews, and seeing Astrid bond with them. The food, weather, and company were excellent. Astrid misses the peas, being Baba’s little helper, jumping on Gigi, chasing after Jacob, and running around naked.

More photos
Logging Protest
Astrid staging her first naked logging protest.

Watering the Garden with a Firehose
Watering the garden with water pumped from the lake.


Gigi want a carrot?

3 generations doing dishes
Astrid helping with dishes while standing on the helper stool that Gigi made.

Full photo album

Astrid – Summer Time Fun

Vegan Ice Cream

July was a jam-packed month for us full of outdoor fun trying to stay cool but also enjoy the outdoors. We went camping at Alice Lake, splashed in the Cultus Lake Waterpark, listened to music at the Vancouver Folk Festival, and got a Science World membership. We even managed to squeeze in a trip to the hospital at the end of the month.

At the waterpark

We met up with Kelsey, Matt, Jacob and Nora for some water fun at a Chilliwack hotel and the Cultus Lake Waterpark. The waterpark was still a little intimidating for Astrid (I think it will be perfect next year), but she had a blast spending time with her cousin Jacob.


We spent a sunny Saturday at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival listening to bands from around the world. Astrid enjoyed dancing in the shade and playing in the kids area. There were a lot of great bands, but my musical highlight this year was Iskwe.

Hospital Visit # 8
We were hoping that summer would 100% healthy but after hand, foot, and mouth last month Astrid picked up another virus at the end of July. After a few days of fevers, she developed some chest congestion which triggered her asthma. She was coughing a lot one day and wasn’t able to sleep so we pumped her full of Ventolin and went to the hospital. After waiting for over an hour in the waiting room with Astrid showing no signs of breathing difficulty, we knew could have probably stayed home. When we finally saw a doctor, she gave Astrid some extra dexamethasone and sent us home without doing the full asthma protocol, which was nice. Turns out there was bad air quality in Vancouver from a bog fire in Richmond. A few days of Ventolin and she was back to normal.

Science World Explorer

Grandma got us a Science World membership for Astrid’s birthday and we finally redeemed it after Astrid got healthy again. She loves it. They have a new Wonder gallery for kids under 5 that Astrid could spend all day in. I could also spend all day playing with the giant blocks or the lego dams on the water table. Science World is only a 5 minute walk from our home, so we plan to visit frequently in the next year.

Astrid has adjusted well to the toddler room at daycare. It wasn’t an easy start – first she was sick and then when she did go back a lot of her friends were sick or away on vacation. She didn’t like me leaving her there when the only other kids were some older boys who ignored her. But now there’s a group of girls her age in the toddler room and she enjoys seeing them in the morning. She’s started talking a lot more – stringing 3-4 words together and pointing out things she sees. It’s also been noticeable in her singing. She’s been mumbling melodies for months now, but this month was the first time she would starting singing songs with words that we could understand. Her favourites are Roly Poly, The Wheels on the Bus, and a Slippery Fish.

Norquay Park

More pictures from July.

Astrid Self-Recognition Experiment

When did our sweet little girl stop being a baby and become the cute toddler she is today? If you ask Astrid, it was around 11 months old.

When we’re looking at old photos, sometimes she correctly identifies herself and sometimes all she sees is a baby. I was curious when the shift from “baby” to “Astrid” happened. So I devised an experiment.

I took 50 photos in an album and asked Astrid to identify who was in them. 25 photos were of Astrid and 25 photos were of animals, relatives, and other babies.

The photos were in a random order but here are the sorted results:

So Small Bunny Hug Astrid Kale Chewing on her spoon
Astrid – 1 month Baby – 2 months Baby – 3 months Baby – 4 months Baby – 5 months
6 Months Old Diaper Pile Big Baby 8 Months Spring daffodils
Baby – 6 months Baby – 7 months Baby – 7.5 months Baby – 8 months Astrid – 9 months
Zoom Zoom Future Artist That shirt is too big Garden Chair Astrid at Kits Beach
Baby – 10 months Astrid – 11 months Baby – 12 months Astrid – 13 months Astrid – 14 months
Pigtails Southlands Heritage Farm Chef Astrid Chef Astrid Snowshoeing with Astrid
Baby – 15 months Astrid – 16 months Astrid – 17 months Astrid – 18 months Astrid – 19 months
Repair Work Wild Hair Cardboard Fort Cutie Making Apple Crisp
Astrid – 20 months Astrid – 21 months Astrid – 22 months Astrid – 23 months Astrid – 24 months

So, around 9-11 months old she gets pretty good at identifying herself. I’d have to agree this is the point where she looks more like a child and less like a baby. I’m not sure how she identified the 1 month old photo of herself (luck I guess).

It was fun going through the photos with her. In the 2-month and 5-month photos she recognized her bunny and spoon and seemed surprised that some other baby had them. The only false positive was this photo which she thought was herself but is actually me at 18 months old.

Full album:

Diaper Pile