If you give a child your bagel...

If you give a child your bagel, she's going to get your cold.

Once she has your cold, she'll probably get a runny nose.

After her nose starts running, she'll refuse to use a kleenex.

To thoroughly refuse your kleenex, she'll bang her head on the floor.

Banging her head on the floor may bring about a fever, so she'll need some Tylenol.

Once the Tylenol is working, she'll feel like she was never sick, so she'll have a dance party on your bed, at 3 am. 

After the dance party, she'll be thirsty so she'll want a boob of milk. 

Boob milk is so yummy, she'll want to drink for much of the night, while showing off amazing feats flexibility; simultaneously kicking you in the throat with one foot and her father in the groin with the other. 

Acrobatics are tiring, so she'll probably need a short sleep. 

Once she wakes up, she's going to need a fresh diaper. 

Discovering for the 2500th time that bare bums are better, she'll try to escape her fate. 

In her retreat, she'll likely bang into a wall. 

Banging into walls is distressing, so she'll probably need a cuddle...and a snack.

Bagels make for excellent snacks. 

And if you give a child your bagel...

She's going to get your cold.


A Christmas Letter

Dear friends,
It's that time of year again - time to mute the Barenaked Ladies pretending to be non-unionized elves time! So sorry about my lack of correspondence over the last few months. I've been very busy looking for lost library books and bouncy balls beneath our couch.

I know you're all dying to hear what's been happening in our little neck of the woods, so here goes.

Luke is still in school. For those of you counting, this is his 7th year of university. We're all very hopeful he'll actually decide to leave after this degree. And by all, I mean our bank and me. We moved his desk into our windowless basement. I can tell he's getting smarter the paler he becomes.

Judah is three. He likes to lick his sister and put things in his nose. His favourite store is the Bulk Barn. He still prefers not to wear pants. He will, however, put on pants if you promise to take him to the Bulk Barn.

Neve is a month away from being one. She bites. She missed the class where they had, "Don't bite the breast that feeds you" unit. She walks, she talks, she does our bookkeeping. A fabulous addition.

I was supposed to return to work next month. I decided it would be more fun not to, so I quit my job. I am now a full time child delayer. Anytime a child asks me to do something, I say "One second". I'm really good. I think I may be promoted soon.

We also have a new member in the clan - Blueberry the Beta fish. He's great; quiet, eats very little, doesn't throw toys or require an RESP. A perfect child really. I may have a few more. Fish that is.

Well that's all for now. I promise to be a better correspondent in the New Year (resolutions and all that, permitting).

Much love,


There was a time...

There was a time when my image of parenting included a sleeping child and a rocking chair. Seriously. 

There was a time when I could go a whole day without someone throwing up on me.

There was a time when I would consider having to get up to pee and then going back to sleep for five or six hours a "bad" night's sleep.

There was a time when I could go out for dinner without wondering whether my spawn was at that moment peeing on someone else's furniture, or sucking on an animal's foot, or testing the volume capacity of their scream.

There was a time when I could shower every day.

There was a time when a seven o'clock dinner didn't seem like a crazy, radical idea.

There was a time when I could sit and read a book- and it wasn't Walter the Farting Dog.

There was a time when I could nap whenever I wanted.

There was a time when I could choose vacation destinations without considering their splash pad offerings.

There was a time when I could have a bath without a shark and a tug boat floating by. 

There was a time when I could play music more loudly, talk more loudly, make...tacos...more loudly.

There was a time when I didn't automatically presume I had been peed on when I felt warmth anywhere on my body.

There was a time when I could read an email and send a reply all in one sitting.

There was a time when I had a lot of time to myself, to do whatever I wanted - and it was lovely.

But this is even better.

Now I get to experience play all over again.  Today we went on two lion hunts. 

Now I see joy in new things - pine cones, trains, the moon. 

Now I think harder about how the decisions I make impact the future, because the future is you.

Now I understand what it is to truly give of yourself, because when I give, you thrive.

It's not always easy, in fact it's often terribly hard, but it is good. For that, I have you to thank. 


I'm so glad you're mine.

Happy 7th Anniversary Luke. 
If you asked me to do it all over again, I'd say yes. 

 Just a couple of hot kids tying the knot.

Back when we had a social life. 

The year we decided to invade the capital for an extended stay.


The year all of our friends got married.
That got us feeling romantic...

And before we knew it, along came Judah.

Awww, we make cute babies.

Let's do it again. 

Perfect present tense. 


Challenges and Triumphs


We're alive! It's been a dog's age since I've written, and quite honestly I thought about ditching the whole effort a few times, but I'm back. Why? Because I'm pretty sure this is the closest thing my kids will ever get to a baby book / scrapbook / childhood memorabilia of any sort. So there you have it kids. Proof that I loved you as children... no guarantees about your adolescent years.

So here's how things are...

Neve is almost five months old. She is a firecracker. She smiles with her whole face, she vocalizes every emotion, she reaches out and grabs life...and then she sticks it in her mouth. We are all madly in love.

Judah is almost three. This leaves me feeling ancient. How is he three already? The kid could ostensibly start jr. kindergarten one year and a bit from now. That is if I could bear to part with him. Instead I think I'll lock him in a tower with a soccer ball and some Mercer Mayer books. I think he'd be fine with that.

Luke is done year two of engineering. I am no longer a Western widow. Instead he is doing a co-op in Tillsonburg (my back still aches when I hear that word...get it?) and commuting an hour each way. This commute has left me car-less...or as I like to think of it now, car-free.

At first we hadn't even considered the possibility of not buying a second vehicle for the summer. Obviously I couldn't survive without a car!!! Then I began to feel the creeping protestantenvironmentalist (that's a word right?) guilt. If I talked the green talk, I had better start walking the green walk, especially if Luke was burning enough carbon to put another hole in the ozone. So we (Jude, Neve and I) gave up the car cold turkey. Although my in-laws have been their wonderful selves and offered one of their cars on days when we need one, we've been doing really quite ok. Giving up the car has been my triumph of the season.

  • We walk to the park and the library almost EVERY DAY. 
  • We have taste tested popsicles from every variety store within a five kilometer radius. 
  • We know the neighbourhood cats. 
  • We wave to the lab who sits sentinel on the upper floor of the old Victorian three blocks away. 
  • We notice when new plants bloom. 
  • We stop and smell the roses...literally...like every four houses. It's glorious.

Now, to fulfill the promise of this blog post title, I'll give you a point form run down of some recent challenges.

  • Judah likes to hug Neve's head. Tightly.
  • Neve doesn't like having her head hugged, tightly or otherwise. 
  • Neve likes to be attached to my hip.
  • My hip is not made of velcro.
  • Judah asks for pie and candy for every meal. Still refuses to eat vegetables.
  • Pie and candy always seems to get cut from the menu plan
  • Judah will only pee in toilets that meet his exacting standards, bushes apparently do not meet this criteria...even in emergencies. 
  • Neve can roll from back to front and front to back...but she prefers for you to do it for her. She will scream to tell you this. If unheeded she will take drastic measures and do it herself.
  • Judah thinks sunscreen and toothpaste are infected with the plague, that's the only explanation for his sudden (dramatic) aversion to both.
  • Judah is on a story kick, wherein he asks you to tell him a story at least 50 times a day, for real. And if he doesn't like the plot he'll say, "I don't yike dat story. Tell me another one story."
And now, photos! 

See Neve, I took pictures of you even though you were the second child...




*Warning: This post has a heavy poop quotient, because, quite honestly, so does my life.

Dear Jennie,
Why has it been so long since your last post to me? I thought we had a good thing going on. We used to talk so much, you thought about me so frequently, you really cared and now, what!? ...

Dear Blog,
I would love to write to you more frequently, alas my days have been usurped by some rather hilarious antics which prevent me from doing so. Let me elaborate... I shall narrate for you a ten minute segment of my Wednesday and you can see for yourself why I have been so derelict in my blogesque duties. 

Mama is in the kitchen. It is 11 am. 

Both children have been fed a healthy breakfast- one consisting of eggs and fruit, the other consisting of egg and fruit- flavoured boob milk. 

Both children have been bathed. 

Both children are in clean clothes and looking cherubic. 

Judah is pantsless. All is as it should be. 

Judah and Mama are putting away dishes. Judah points to the floor...
"Look Mama! Bugs!"

Mama looks to the floor. There are 30 ants attacking a yogurt covered Cheerio from the previous day's breakfast. Mama goes into panic-driven extermination mode, while still trying to promote kindness to animals. Ants are swept into dustpan and taken outside. Some ants are more alive than others. More ants have appeared at the Cheerio crash site. Mama deems it time to pull out the mop and bucket...

Before the mop and bucket can be retrieved, Neve begins to cry. No problem, Mama can soothe baby... oh wait... baby has poop oozing out of her pant leg. Poop is all over Mama's hand and jeans. That's okay, Mama will just plop baby down on the couch and eradicate the poosaster... 

What's that all over the couch? "Judah, why are there poop smears all over the couch!? Were you pooping on the couch earlier?" Judah does not respond. Looks panicked. Hides behind kitchen table. 

Mama throws Judah's discarded pants over poop smears and begins to change baby, who has now managed to get poop on every single item of clothing- both socks included. 

Two cloths later, the baby is out of her own filth and lying naked on the couch. A new diaper has yet to be applied. Judah emerges from hiding and begins to shout, "I need to poo! I need to poo!"

Judah is now fully potty-trained. This does not warrant Mama panicking, Mama thinks. Mama encourages Judah to run upstairs to the toilet. 

"Mama! I need you!" 
Mama and baby (now wearing only a diaper) rush upstairs. Judah really did need to poo. He was not exaggerating. The attempt to get on the toilet was, unfortunately, a few moments late. There is poop all over the toilet front, under the seat, on toddler legs...everywhere! 

The poo spiral begins to suck the entire bathroom into its vortex.

Baby is happily lying in the hall in her diaper, examining a light fixture she's never had the pleasure of meeting before. Toddler is enjoying his second bath in as many hours. Mama is laughing hysterically while cleaning the toilet, because, in moments like these, you laugh or the poop wins.

And that, dear Blog, is just a small sample of why I haven't been by. I hope for both our sake the next absence won't be so long... or foul smelling. 


Two Hands

I'm alive! Yes, despite being completely absent from the world wide web, I am still here.
My absence can be blamed on numerous factors...

Potty training.
Laundry from said diapers and potty training.

Cleaning up Hot Wheels.
Cleaning up play-dough.
Cleaning up regurgitated apple peels.
Cleaning up milk vomit from my own hair.

Removing fully-clothed toddler from baby eye touching- vicinity. 
Removing half-dressed toddler from furniture.
Removing naked toddler from street-facing picture window.

But most of all, I've been absent because I almost never have two free hands. As a result I've become quite proficient with my feet (thank heavens for weirdly long toes). I can pick up laundry with them, I can flush the toilet with them, I can push Hot Wheels in a Hot Wheel race. I can shoo toddlers off of furniture. I can even use the touch pad on the laptop to navigate to my email. I cannot, however, type...at least not quickly. This afternoon though, the clouds parted, an angel chorus sang in the distance and both my children went down for their naps - at the same time!!!! This may be my greatest accomplishment to date.

And now,  a quick photo recap of what we've been doing for the past month! 

Putting mustaches on the kids while they sleep... 

Having Neve suck our thumbs...for hours...

Dealing with some sibling rivalry...

Visiting friends and their beautiful babies...

Visiting great-grandmothers...

and grandfathers...

Making crafts.

Making snowmen...and snow cats (not pictured - too awesome for camera).

 Making memories a la VIA train ride. 

Hopefully, I'll make a reappearance before another month lapses. If not, happy Spring!!!


Why everyone needs a kid (or two)

Despite the fact that people who don't have children apparently have higher life satisfaction than those who do (likely based on a study by some scientist watching parents remove their children from licking the sugar bags in the grocery store), there are many sound and logical reasons to have a child. 

Here are a few such reasons from my recent personal experience.

1. They keep you modest.
Tonight, as I made dinner, Judah approached me, put a hand on my stomach and said, "Another baby in dere?" 
I gave birth two and a half weeks ago kid, cut me some slack!!!

2. They encourage you to interact with people you wouldn't normally.
While bagging our groceries, Judah proceeded to hit the advance button on the conveyor belt next to ours, flattening the Wonder Bread of the woman checking out behind us. This provided us with an opportunity to make eye contact and smile at a stranger...while apologizing profusely and attempting to fluff her bread. Yay for meeting new people! 

3. They spawn creative thinking.
When your toddler demands six stories about pie every morning, and you really don't want to get out of bed so you want to comply, you get creative with the plot lines. Pie eating contests become the storylines of novices. Try stories about pies in outer space, pies made by farm animals and pies with relatives accidentally baked inside- that's creativity!

4. They help you do everything faster.
Going pee, taking a bath, getting dressed, making a phone call; none of these things are done faster than when one or even two children are wailing just outside the door, or in the room...or on your hip. Sure, your blood pressure may jump to unhealthy levels, but just think of that as your cardio for the day. Kids also prevent heart disease. 

5. They save you heaps of money.
This may seem counter-intuitive, after all, don't you have to feed, clothe and entertain these small creatures? Well sure, but you'll be so busy doing these things you won't have time to: 
a.) Look in a mirror - money saved on cosmetic purchases
b.) Care about what you're wearing, so long as it doesn't smell like a bodily function - no more cash wasted on clothes!
c.) Have a social life, outside of meetings with other parents which revolve around a plate of goldfish crackers and discussions about diaper residue - sushi savings in the bank!
d.) Eat a diet of anything other than the remains of your toddler's meals which you dutifully gobble up while folding laundry and corralling mega blocks with your feet- add up the bucks, baby! 

6. They remind you that life is about so much more than yourself. 
When the last thing your two year old says while falling asleep is, "I love you, mama"...
When you find yourself singing the lullabies your mother sang to you and think that, one day, this baby may sing them to her daughter...
When you wake up in the middle of the night and take a moment to realize that tiny bundle of warmth next to your chest is an entire, perfect human being...
When you see the joy in your parents' eyes as they survey this awesome being that is their grandchild...
When you watch as brother insists on giving his baby "brother" (sister) a kiss goodnight...

Then you know it's all worth it; all about so much more than you. Instead, it's about something vastly better - them. 


Two and two quarters & two weeks and two days

Name: "Judah Yen Hookah"
Age: Two and two quarters

Phrases of note: 
"I don't yike dat."
 "I need a snack... cackers and cheese...and tandies."
 "Oh! Tank you, Mama!"
"I don't sink so, Mama!"
    "Piggy, piggy, piggy, piggy." *Typically said to Dada when Dada asks for dessert.

Favourite activities: 
Eating protein
"Pi-yo fights!!!"
Reading books

Current favourite books: 
Frog and Toad
Mercer Mayer anything
Something From Nothing
Pie'd and Seek- an original work by Auntie Jessie and Uncle Ted

Recent milestones: 
Learning to open the very suctiony fridge door (on strong days)
Getting his own water at bedtime
Pretending dinner plates are diapers by pressing them against his bare bottom and saying "Dat a diaper?" followed by maniacal laughter. 

Name: Neve Lolkje Hoekstra
Age: Two weeks and two days

Phrases of note: 

Favourite activities: 
Expelling food
Creating laundry

Current favourite books: 
War and Peace
Paper Bag Princess

Recent milestones: 
Lifting and turning head
Staying awake for more than 15 minutes consecutively
Sleeping for more than 4 hours, consecutively, at night. This was probably a fluke. Don't get excited. 
Remaining adorable while doing face contorting impressions of Jack Nicholson. 

"The soul is healed by being with children."


Neve's Birth

She's here! 

After several weeks of feeling like she would never come, she did! 

Neve Lolkje Hoekstra joined the family on January 16th at 12:26 am. 

I had different expectations leading into Neve's birth than I did with Judah's.

  • I had anticipated the labour would be a lot shorter than our first. Half as long, the statistics and experts told me, is the norm. 

  • I expected the pain would be less acute. I don't know why I thought this, I just sort of assumed having done this before would give me physical and mental preparation I didn't have for the first. Plus I had had hundreds of Braxton Hicks contractions, by default then my uterus must have been in the best shape of its life.

  • I assumed my water wouldn't break until late in the labour. With Judah, it was broken by my midwife right before we started to push...

Let's just say Neve had other plans from the get go...

Saturday, January 14 - 11:30 pm 
Neve is having a major kicking fest. So major, I joke with Luke that she's decided she's had enough in there and she's busting her own way out. Joke's on mama- 5 minutes later the water breaks... sort of. Turns out, Neve has broken the bag of waters high up in the sac, thus not all of it leaks out and full out labour doesn't begin in earnest. We don't know this until much later. We call our midwife and I keep my bum up in the air to ensure Neve's head can't drop down onto the cord.

Sunday, January 15 - 12:05 am
Our midwife arrives, confirms that yes that is amniotic fluid (phew, I haven't begun wetting the bed yet) and no the baby has not dropped onto the cord, nor has the cord tried to exit the building. Everything is looking good, I'm free to move around and encouraged to sleep.

2:00 am
My contractions are steady and strong enough that I can't sleep, but weak enough that I know we're in very early labour. I'm psyched. I get up and watch numerous episodes of Modern Family in the living room.

7:30-8:30 am
Eager family members/ birth team arrive to check in on progress. Much hanging out ensues...

With little progress, much of the birth team resorts to napping. 

The rest entertain themselves drawing cartoons...

1:00 pm
Clearly feeling far too comfortable, Luke and I decide to take a long walk to get things going.

The walk is fairly successful.

The midwives return to check on progress. The cervix is 85% effaced. I was hoping to hear that I was 5 cm dilated. The midwives go home again and we kick up the activity. 

Things are starting to get painful. The TENS machine is pulled out and, after shocking me once or twice, we get it going properly. Pizza is ordered.

7:00 pm
After cat napping between intense contractions, Luke, my sister Charissa and I head out for another walk. It is bitterly cold- I have intense contractions every 50 meters. We return home shortly

8:00 pm
We decide to take the action upstairs. Active labour has started. 

We hang out in the nursery for awhile. Everyone practices their deep breathing :)

The midwives return for the last time - hoorah! - and set up all of the home birth equipment. I continue to hang from Luke's aching neck. Did I mention he's a fantastic birth partner?

10:00 pm
5 cm dilated and "waters are bulging". Me: "There are still waters!?!?!"
We ask our midwife to break away!! 

Water is broken for the second time.

Now that we're cooking with gas, we move to the bedroom.

10:30 ish
We enter the transition phase of labour, wherein I hurl my cookies. Yes, labour is glamorous. But hey, we're still smiling between contractions....

Not so much during...But look at that team at work! Who needs drugs when you have 5 cheerleaders (wonderful mom in law is behind the camera).

11:15 - PUSH...and PUSH...and PUSH... this kid's head is huge!!!

January 16, 12:26am - She's here! After untangling her chest and arms from a record-length cord, I hold my daughter for the first time. What a rush!

Meeting her amazing Dada.

3 am- After the extended family comes to meet the new arrival, our wonderful midwives complete the newborn exam. Baby Neve is 8 lbs. 2 oz. 20.5 inches long, with a head circumference of 36 cm.

The next morning Judah and Neve meet for the first time. Jude is, of course, pantsless.

Welcome to the family Neve. We are so glad you've come!


10 Months!

This is it- we are done 40 weeks. The due date has come...and is almost gone. 

Where are we now?

Aches and pains
Yep...plenty. Particularly in the front of the pelvis- who knew that such pain could occur? 
The pelvic pain is rivaled only by sudden pinched nerves in the butt, causing embarrassing leg paralysis. Which results in walking/falling with one jelly-like leg- often in public places. 
Who knew pregnancy could be so dignified. 

Oh yeah, and dry skin...and braxton hicks contractions... and an inability to sleep...and...you get the idea. 

Total weight gain
34 pounds. Make that 35...I just bought chips and chocolate pudding. 

Cravings this month?


Judah's thoughts on baby now?

Judah, like his mother, has taken to shouting to the baby in-utero. Yesterday he screamed, "Come out baby! I have things to show you!" I hope those things don't include his obsessive toilet- flushing or dog- licking habits. 

Current state of the baby?
Baby's head is still riding pretty high in the pelvis. I am assured this is common is consecutive pregnancies and that she will drop when labour commences. Fetal drop zone, coming up!

Her heart rate is lovely, and amazingly, I can frequently feel her practice breathing. Super cool. 

As for her position, she's been stubbornly posterior - her back is to my back - meaning potentially late, long, back labour. This is what happened with Judah. His labour stretched out over 3 days. THREE DAYS!

In order to avoid this fate a second time, I spend much of my waking day crawling around, hanging over my exercise ball and generally creating a human hammock out of my stomach to get baby to rotate. Judah sees this as an excellent opportunity to get hourly horsey rides. My back should look like an Olympic swimmer's shortly. 

Induction attempts?
So far my induction techniques have been limited to drinking copious amounts of raspberry tea, taking long walks and willing baby out with my mind. All have proven lame. Monday, if I'm still pregnant (is there a reverse knocking on wood that can be done here?) I'll be at the midwife for a stretch and sweep. If that doesn't get the ball rolling then... I got nothing... I'll just keep waiting. 

"The whole point of woman-centered birth is the knowledge that a woman is the birth power source. She may need, and deserve, help, but in essence, she always had, currently has, and will have the power." 
Heather McCue