Category Archives: children

Flying with a toddler and an occupied uterus

I booked a plane ticket for Florida knowing I’d be 28-weeks pregnant when I left. I booked the ticket knowing my belly had already expanded far beyond the 28-week mark with my first pregnancy. And, I booked the ticket knowing I’d have a 16-month-old kiddo sharing my lap with her unborn sister.

I should also mention I booked a 7 a.m. departure flight (must leave house by 3:30 a.m.) and an 8:30 p.m. return flight (toddler bedtime is 6:30-7 p.m.). Not exactly prime toddler-traveling times.

“Up for a challenge much?” you ask.

Bring it. It’s winter. I live in Ontario. Florida has sun, warmth and 0-1 layers of clothing required. Ontario has grey skies, seat warmers that can’t warm up fast enough, and who knows the number of layers I’m wearing.

It turns out airlines pity those traveling with young children. Particularly those traveling solo with young children. And especially those who look 15-months pregnant and are toting a toddler.

Because, we bypassed the 157 individuals waiting to go through security. We got stickers for going through security. No X-ray machines were needed. No one questioned the 937 items in my carry-on. We were among the first to board the flights. The flight attendants asked me several times if I needed anything, including extra drinks and snacks.

Now, I won’t say the 3-hour flights were entirely magical. LO was so happy watching the four youngsters around her on the first flight that she couldn’t nap. And she continued not napping for 13 hours. For the non-parents reading this, that’s a long time for a toddler.

And, the return flight was so late, and so far past LO’s bedtime that going to sleep was, again, difficult.

And then there was the lady in front of us on the return flight who reclined her chair (non-pregnant tall person’s worst nightmare) onto my almost non-existent lap and squirming, sleep-deprived daughter.

So, I may or may not have let LO kick, kick, kick her chair while screeeeeeeaming at the top of her lungs (the latter for the 60 seconds it took her to pass out), while I managed to unlock my knees, unhinge my legs and store them in the aisle.

But, that’s all peanuts compared to some of the horrific travel stories I’ve heard from friends. So, I’ll take the over-tiredness and discomfort for a few short hours.

Because it’s Florida. And it WAS warm.

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So, let’s talk about postpartum feelings

Some of you have read this post before. If you’re in my circle of family and close friends, you’ve already seen this. I’m sharing it again in this medium because I think I think all moms and moms-to-be benefit when other moms share their real after-birth feelings.

I wrote this a few months back when my kiddo was 3 weeks old, because my DH (dear husband) said it might be cathartic to do so. He was right.

While I’m feeling 110 percent better, maybe my thoughts will help some of you.

I’m quite sure LO (little one) did some growing this week along with other cute things, but I was stuck in some weird emotional state that left me crying one moment and worrying about the dumbest thing the next.

So, let’s talk about postpartum feelings.

Namely, how much they suck. I can cry anytime, anywhere. Don’t believe me? Try me. Go ahead, call me up and try me. One moment I’m happy as a clam and loving on my sweet LO. The next moment I’m weepy and wondering what the heck I’ve gotten myself into. I can cry while changing a diaper. I can cry while looking at my LO. I can cry while looking out the window.

I’ve done all three. Separately and simultaneously.

I remember the births of my girlfriends’ children and how everything was sunshine, lollipops and teddy bears. I heard about how much they loved their child. How wonderful mommyhood was. How they could hardly wait to think about having more children.

No one talked about feeling overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time. About the uncertainty of what to do with a newborn. Of the boredom that ensues. Of the bloodcurdling screams and the inability to get any soothing mechanisms to work. Of the lack of control.

That’s what I miss the most. Being in control. No one controls a newborn. You can read every baby book under the sun and gain all sorts of examples of how to care for your kiddo, but the author never shows up to take your child off of your hands for an hour, allowing you to go back to bed or do something non-child related.

While speaking—sometimes in tears—with my girlfriends recently, I’ve learned their entry days and weeks into mommyhood weren’t as sunshine-filled as I had previously thought. They, too, shed tears, shared doubts, felt overwhelmed and were certain they’d never again gain control. In sum, raising a newborn was the hardest thing they’d ever done.

The hardest and most worthwhile. It’s just sometimes hard to see the worthwhile part while riding a rollercoaster of emotions on the way down from a hormone high. Stupid hormones.

Oh, how I miss feeling normal.

Their advice? Go create a new “normal.” Get out of the house! Go for a walk! Meet a friend! Join a mommy group! Just go! Do something! Do anything!

Most importantly, talk about how you’re feeling. Because admitting you feel off is the first step toward feeling right again. And, you know, what? They’re right.

While I miss being in control and sometimes find myself in tears wondering what exactly is it I’m crying about, I know that I’ve been blessed with a beautiful LO. And LO is continually teaching me that I don’t need to be in control of all things all day long. It’s OK to have a messy living room (ugh!) and a pile or two of dirty laundry (egads!). It’s OK to not straighten the bed every day. Didn’t wash my hair? Not a problem. And—a big one—couldn’t get to the gym? That’s OK, too.

Really, it is OK.

Because tomorrow is a new day with new adventures. The hormones aren’t for forever. But the love I have for my LO is. And knowing how much I love LO (and LO’s daddy) and look forward to watching LO grow makes it all worthwhile.

Every last annoying tear.

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Riding in a car with a kid

Travelling takes on a new meaning when you have a kid.

Before kids, people say, “When I have a kid, the kid will go wherever I go, whenever I go and having said kid won’t change my lifestyle.”

Some of that musing is true. Like, yes, “the kid will go wherever you go, whenever you go” because leaving said kid home alone is frowned upon. But, the whole lifestyle-not-changing thing?

Ha! Haha. Hahahahahahahaha!

That’s a good joke.

An 11-day trip (6 hours away) that once required a suitcase and handbag has become two giant Rubbermaid tubs, a stroller, a Pack ’n Play, a suitcase, a handbag, a laptop bag (to Skype with Daddy) a diaper bag and a spare bag filled with anything else you could possibly imagine an infant needing while outside the house.

Also there’s a car seat complete with kiddo who may or may not be sleeping.

THAT’S the trickiest part of travelling: determining if your kiddo will or will not be sleeping.

Sleeping? Fabulous. Pedal to metal! No stopping for anything. Not sleeping? Ugh. Be prepared for possible silence, jabbering, squealing and/or ear-piercing screaming. Any of which may or may not be accompanied by tears.

Thankfully, on her first road trip, my kiddo fell into the “sleeping” category. Meaning, while in her car seat she mostly slept from Point A to Point B. Sleepy McGee slept for 4 hours, ate, slept for 3.5 hours, ate and slept for another 2 hours.

Wow. Did. That. Trip. Rock. Seriously.

And the trip home? Just as fabulous. Minus the “Hey, Momma! I’m choking back here!,” the police officer pulling Momma over because she was speeding while determining if the kiddo was still spitting up and the jerk who almost side-swiped our vehicle while looking at his cell phone. Awesome.

Perhaps installing a “Baby On Board” sign would ward off the idiot drivers?

Ha! Likely no (and no way would I ever install one of those).

Here’s to hoping/praying our kiddo continues to love travelling about in a car!

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Flash cards

You know how important it is to educate small children these days. I stumbled across these adorable flashcards from Wee Gallery.

Too cute and will probably look fabulous in frames (infants can’t really hold flashcards straight out of the womb, you know).

Not quite the flashcards of yesteryear, are they?

Perhaps Baby’s first words will be “ring-tailed lemur.”


PS. Uncle Justin, the baby really will know colour. One day.

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Some art for the nursery walls

For about four months now I’ve known exactly what I want to put on the walls of the baby’s quasi-room.

“Baby?” you ask. “What baby?!” Oh, you know. There’s a baby in the works.

Anyway, I say “quasi” because, while the baby will be stored in the room, it won’t really be his/her room because it’s already the office (sorry, kiddo). I’ve just had a wee issue finding what I want. In a price range I’m willing to pay.

Enter Etsy. Oh, Etsy, how I love thee. You’re so cool.

I came across happydeliveries and Lori’s collection of fabulous letterpress prints. She hooked me up with the exact look and phrase I was going for. For a steal.

I’m so pleased. Thanks, Lori!

Of course, I was also initially attracted to this “muscular” piece:

Maybe another time.

So, along with my newly scored art, the total small-child items currently owned includes a stroller, infant car seat, 12 washcloths, three bibs, 10 onesies, a pair of overalls, a bottle and two newborn-sized diapers.

We’re almost all set, right?

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Cute is cute is cute

How cute is this guy? Cute, I tell you. Cute, cute, cute!

















Hi, Ethan. I can’t see you right now, but I sure do miss you! xoxo Auntie Jill


Thomas is 65

Engineer Ethan

So, my blog and my husband also share a birthday with Thomas the Tank Engine.

On Friday, National Public Radio (NPR) posted an excellent story, “Full Steam Ahead: Thomas The Tank Engine Turns 65,” about the engine’s origin and history.

Created in 1942 by the Rev. Wilbert Awdry for his son Christopher, Thomas continues to rumble into the hearts of small children everywhere, including my youngest nephew who loves all things Thomas (see photo).

However, I’m not sure Thomas is keeping up with my nephew’s growth spurts. Although, technically, you can only see the top half of engineers as they drive by, so this works.

Happy belated birthday, Thomas! May you continue to fascinate young children around the world for years to come.

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The dollhouse

Once upon a time, a long time ago, my paternal grandfather made me a dollhouse.

It wasn’t just a dollhouse. It was a DOLLHOUSE. Duling-style. Big, big and BIG! It had three floors and two stairs and 11 rooms and a front porch and cedar shingles and cedar shutters and wood trim around the windows. The backside of the roof on the upper level was hinged and opened to reveal a 3-room attic.

It was dollhouse heaven. Or, what I would have imagined dollhouse heaven to be, had I been a dollhouse-kind-of girl. Instead, the dollhouse sat in my bedroom, and I looked at it from time to time.

I know, Grandpa. I’m sorry.

At some point—I can’t say when—I was inspired to paint it. My paint choices were narrowed down to leftover colours used elsewhere on the farm—peach (my twin bed), brown (Justin’s twin bed) and green (Really, what on our farm hasn’t been touched up with John Deere green?). I selected peach with brown trim work. Very early ’90s of me.

Mom helped me, and I’m sure she ended up doing most of the painting. The outside was lovely. Lovely and peach. Very peach. While the paint was still drying, we began picking out items for the inside—carpet, linoleum, wallpaper, more paint (the outside AND inside could NOT be the same colour), etc. We spruced up two or three of the rooms and added some stepping stones to the front porch before I lost interest, after which Mom gave up entirely.

And, so, the dollhouse languished. Half-painted. Mostly empty. In the patio. And then, in the shed, covered with a sheet. Poor dollhouse.

I really am sorry, Grandpa.

Eventually, I passed it on to Joshua, who stored it in his garage. His wife dabbled in decorating it some more but their eventual two boys took no interest in it and, thus, she lost interest, too. Turns out their boys are more into barns and tractors.

You’d be proud of them, Grandpa.

A few weeks back, my sister-in-law let me know that she was ready to either give the dollhouse back to me or find another home for it.

What a dilemma. I know; I can hear all of my girl cousins yelling at me: “Dilemma?! What dilemma?!!”

Did I take the dollhouse back and store it for some day down the road when I’ll think about children of my own, or did I make some young woman’s dream come true and pass a dollhouse on to her?

Well, I decided to do both. Because one day, I might have a wee little girl who loves a good dollhouse. But, for the moment, I have a mother-in-law who can’t wait to get a hold of it.

So, this past weekend, my brother returned the dollhouse to the shed of yore, in preparation for its trip to the Great White North. He warned me that the house had had some “updates” done, including paint-testing and shutter-replacing, etc. Thank goodness they left all the spots untouched that indicated my growing weary of painting—my name printed everywhere. In paint.

One day, this here dollhouse will shine like a brand-new penny. One day.

You’d be proud, Grandpa.

She just needs some TLC.


And, maybe fewer signatures.

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Have you hugged your sister today?

See! Sisters are good for more than just tattletaling.

In conjunction with its Flourishing Families Project, Brigham Young University recently conducted a study about siblings. Its findings indicate that having a sister is a good thing. A very good thing indeed.

This morning, my brother Joshua e-mailed me a link to the MSNBC story “Having a sister might make you a better person,” and wrote “Good news! You complete me.” And, “You are single-handedly responsible for three people who do not suffer severe depression.”

Am I ever proud!

The study found that siblings who have a sister are less likely to experience negative feelings such as loneliness, guilt, fear, self-consciousness and unlovedness. While I’m fairly certain that last one isn’t a word, I know it’s a feeling. No matter the age difference, sisters are more likely than parents to provide their brothers with feel-good feelings.

Not to be slighted, the study recognizes the positive influence of brothers, noting that having a loving sibling of either gender promotes good deeds and charitable attitudes. I think that means I have my brothers to thank for my expressions of niceness to others.

Thanks, guys! I couldn’t have done life without you. However, I do kinda hold you responsible for not taking care of the 8th-grade bully I had to deal with when I was in 2nd grade, but, really, why dwell on the past?

So much for the big “protective factor” examined in the study.

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Hello, beach!

Poor attitude, Dude. Poor attitude.

I heart the beach. Really.

Beach vacations are the best sort of vacations ever. You get to spend your days in a swimsuit, slathered in sunscreen, lounging in a chair, laying on a beach blanket, sipping rum and Coke water, snacking on M&Ms and chips fruit, feeling the hot ocean breeze, frolicking in icy waters and praying you won’t need a coating of aloe vera before bed.

Unless you have small children. 

Small children change things up just a wee bit. Parents still get to experience spending their days in a swimsuit, slathered in sunscreen, sipping rum and Coke water, snacking on M&Ms and chips fruit and feeling the hot ocean breeze. But, they spend far fewer hours lounging in a chair, laying on a beach blanket and frolicking in icy waters.

Because small children do not particularly enjoy lounging in a chair, laying on a beach blanket and frolicking in icy waters. Shocking, I know.

But, no worries. This beach vacation is going swimmingly well. And, it started with a bang, because, 5 a.m. is kinda like BANG! Our wakeup call was followed by a 12-hour SUV ride with two adults, one 14 month old, a Pack N Play, two strollers, snacks, one suitcase, an Aerobed, snacks, two dufflebags, two canvas totes, a diaper bag, snacks, a Garmin, two AAA Trip Tiks and a JUMBO “here’s a pile of things to do in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia” travel book. Quite frankly, we looked like we were leaving and never ever ever ever returning. Ever. Suffice it to say, Erin and I do not travel light.

Twelve hours later, we were still going strong. And, not just us, but the 14 month old. I will bet you $1.73 that if, after pulling into our final destination, we had stopped a random mother on the street and asked her to guess how long the small child had been harnessed into his seat, she would have guessed “5 minutes?” because that’s how refreshed he seemed. For seven hours, he chattered and chittered and sang to himself. For three hours, he slept. And, for two hours, he ate. That boy sure can enjoy a meal.

No crying. No screaming. No GET ME OUT OF THIS SEAT, MOM!

It was awesome! I’m not even joking. Best long trip experience ever! We decided in Hour 10 that even if said child screamed for the last two hours of the trip, this trip would still be the best ride we ever took to the beach.

Thank you, Austin!

So, vacation highlights beyond the ride down?

  • Weather? Perfect.
  • Company? Excellent.
  • Children? Wonderful.
  • Tan? Coming in nicely.
  • Hair? Haven’t done it since Saturday.

Vacation low points?

  • I cannot remember to use my camera.
  • I wake up at 6 a.m. daily.
  • I cannot stay awake past 10 p.m.

Which will make for an excellent trip to the Norfolk airport tonight to pick up Adult #9. Someone should probably go turn on the coffee pot soon.

Oh, I love the beach!

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