On Holden at Nine Months

Holden is the sweetest thing. He’s very similar in disposition as Hutch as a baby, except maybe slightly fussier and more dramatic. I guess he has a right to be that way because look at what he has to put up with on a daily basis (note the shovelful of sand on his head):Hutch loves his baby brother and also loves to terrorize him. Never having a baby brother myself, I can only imagine the secret joy he takes in causing Holden grief. But Holden takes it mostly in stride, and I maintain great hope that they will be best friends throughout their lives, despite it all. Nobody makes Holden laugh as hard as Hutchy can. And he doesn’t even have to try, really. All he does is look at his baby brother and the kid cracks up.

Hutch just LOVES to stand behind Holden’s high chair at dinner, despite constantly being told not to…the appeal of hiding from—and subsequently surprising—his baby brother is just too great to pass up. I love how Holden will twist almost completely around to see where Hutchy is. 

If Hutch is built like me, Holden is very much like Kyle. Hutch’s legs were always long and lean, and Holden’s got these adorable little thunder thighs that are just. so. squeezable. He’s like the little teapot—short and stout. His cheeks are droopy and huge and all kinds of awesome. He’s got six teeth (two little chiclets on the bottom and four giant chompers on the top), of which he’s very proud. He eats almost everything, baby-led weaning style, which means that I don’t have to sit and spoon feed him at mealtimes. (It also means his high chair and the floor surrounding it is a complete and utter disaster three times a day, because this kid is messy. But it’s worth it.)

He’s been a solid crawler since about 6 months old, and as of this week is *starting* to dabble in standing unassisted. A lot of people bemoan the fact when their infants start crawling and walking, but to me it’s a very joyful thing. I think the older Holden gets, the more he and Hutch will play together and the less I will have to be the song-and-dance around this joint.

Some things I want to remember about this beautiful baby boy: 

1) The chubby squishy joyfulness of him. 

2) How he is ENTIRELY squishy, even his knees and his back and his forehead. 

3) How when I nurse him, whichever side he’s laying on, he uses his top leg to kick me and grab at stuff with his toes. It’s so adorable. He’s like a little monkey baby. 

4) Whenever music starts to play, no matter where he is he stops what he’s doing and starts to twerk. 

5) His clumsy attempts to cover his own face (or mine) with a blanket for peek-a-boo. Babies doing things clumsily is probably the cutest thing of all time. 

6) His clumsy attempts to clap.

7) He will catch strangers’ eyes and smile at them but then nuzzle into my shoulder and get shy…but peek at them and grin some more. He makes everyone melt. 


It’s so hard having a toddler and a baby but I know that in a few years I will miss these days and I’m constantly striving to enjoy it. I think I’m doing pretty well. 

Love you Hody!

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On Making Hard Decisions

After the death of my grandmother, my parents decided to buy her house. For awhile they didn’t know exactly what they wanted to do with said house…only that they felt very strongly they needed to purchase it. They tossed around dozens of ideas—whether to move into it themselves, rent it, sell it, what. Plan after plan was hatched, debated, and abandoned.

Finally, they proposed an idea to me and Kyle that would make it possible for us to move into the house and live near my family in Arizona after ten years of being away.

When they first came to us with their idea, we were shocked. Mesa, Arizona is not my favourite city in the world, but nevertheless I have dearly missed living near my family these past ten years. Kyle’s family is amazing and we love having them in our lives, but it doesn’t change the fact that I miss my own family. (In a perfect world, we could have both our families just down the street from us.) And it’s been with a certain degree of sorrow that I’ve welcomed Hutch and Holden into this world, knowing they would never have the close relationship with their cousins that I had with mine growing up. There are friends, and then there are cousins. Mark my words: cousins are better. (They have some cousins near where we live, but they are older than my boys, and though they share an awesome love, it’s just not the same when you don’t grow up together.) From the minute I chose to leave Arizona, I’ve known it would cause me heartache not to raise my children there.

Still, as much as I long to be closer to my family, we have settled into a fairly comfortable routine in Canada. Slowly but surely we’ve plugged away at debt until we are now completely free from it except for a very modest mortgage. Kyle has a comfortable job at a family business which he will someday own jointly with his brothers…and more than that, it’s where he’s always lived, what he’s always planned on doing.

And me, I’ve gotten used to the idea of raising adorable little Canadian boys, and indeed become excited at the thought of sending them to French Immersion school, and ice skating lessons, and teaching them how to build snow forts (after learning how myself). Not to mention the healthcare situation up here, which is so simple it’s actually confusing to me sometimes—(You mean I can go to any doctor, at any time, for any reason, for no cost? And when I need a knee surgery I just need to get a referral for the specialist and wait a little while? And when it’s my turn, I will get my surgery, and pay nothing? And if we decide to have a baby I don’t have to plan ten years ahead of time to start saving for the hospital bill? We pay nothing? Except $40 if we want a private room in the maternity ward? And if there’s an emergency and we need to go to the hospital for life-saving medical care, it won’t bankrupt us because it’s free?) And maternity leave, for after having said baby: it’s a year long, and it’s paid.

On top of that, the truth is that I just plain like it here. Not all the time, of course. But the summers are heaven-sent. Growing a garden, basking in the sunshine, the novelty of 11 p.m. sunsets. The people are friendly, the playgrounds are abundant, the Canadian life is pretty awesome. I even like the snow a little bit, sometimes. The peaceful quiet that it brings. The beauty of everything covered in white.

All of this is to say, we did not make our decision lightly. Moving to Arizona at this point in our lives would be a huge, life-altering change. We talked with international accountants, we talked with immigration lawyers, we thought about it nonstop for what felt like months. What if Kyle can’t find a decent paying job with healthcare? What if we don’t make enough money to get by? What if Donald Trump becomes president? What if there’s a zombie apocalypse and we’re stuck in the desert without enough water? What about Zika?

But finally, in the end, we made our decision.

We are moving to Arizona.

At least, we’re hoping to. We’ve started the process of applying for Kyle’s green card, and it sounds like we should expect it to take at least 12 months before it is approved (and hopefully it will be approved). We still have so much to do—so much!—and it is overwhelming to me, but we are really excited for the possibility of how different our lives might be a year and a half from now. At the end of the day, that’s what it came down to: we feel that making this move will be the best choice for our family.

(And for the record, Kyle never really had to come to terms with any of this the way I did. He was on board almost immediately. Even now, I have a lot of reservations about it, but he is 100% excited and confident we can make it work. Where he gets his faith I may never know.)

So anyway, that’s the news. And the best part is: my grandma’s house comes on a piece of property that includes a vacant lot next door. On this lot my sister will build a new house, and we will live as next-door neighbours. Our children will grow up with cousins just a stone’s throw away!

(The second best part is that my overachieving sister is also PTO president and has, at my request, talked to the elementary school principal about instigating a Spanish Immersion program at the school my boys would likely be attending. So there’s hope for me after all.)

Wish us luck. I’m actually scared shitless.

Posted in Canada, change, the great state of AZ | 5 Comments

Reflections on Grandma Leavitt

My grandma passed away in June. This picture of her (taken in March of this year) holding Holden is the last *good* one I have of her. I was able to go back to Mesa in May/June to visit with her again before she passed, but the pictures I took of her then, she wouldn’t want shared.

Grandma loved babies. She had 6 of her own (it blows my mind; I can’t imagine having that many, and I know so many families with even more), 27 grandchildren and 22+ great grandchildren. At the time of her passing, Holden was the youngest great grandbaby and she loved him a lot, though she only actually met him twice. But I talked to her her often on the phone and she always told me how much she loved his name. “Hoooolden,” she’d draw it out. “That sure is a nice name.” 

When he’s older I will tell him all about his Grandma Great who loved his name. 

I’ve lost both of my grandfathers already, but my grandma is the one I’ve been closest to throughout my life—I grew up around the corner from her—and her passing has made me reflect on my life (and my death) in a way I never have before. 

When she was my age she was almost done having kids. When she was my mother’s age she had a gaggle of grandchildren and (in my opinion) was at her peak. Full of life and love, an evening spent at Grandma’s was always pure perfection. We played with cousins—red rover in her huge backyard, or chased chickens or made secret pacts to always be best friends. When we were older we sat around listening to aunts and uncles tell amazing stories of hilarious days gone by. And when it was time to say goodbye, she made sure her guests left filled up, both in heart and in stomach. She loved her family above all else. 

At 80 she died; she was the baby of her family and two of her sisters (her best friends) outlived her. Seriously? All those years together, and then having to part with your baby sister like that? It’s so wrong. Stupid cancer. 

The last time we visited her (before the trip in May/June which was really just to say goodbye and then stay for the funeral), she insisted that Kyle and I drop by her house on our way out of town. She wanted to say goodbye. She had a calendar of tractor pictures that she’d been saving for months to give to Hutch…22 great grandchildren and she remembered that one of them was obsessed with tractors, can you imagine?! Makes me cry just thinking about it. And for the record, he continues to love the calendar to this day. 

When he is older I will tell him all about his Grandma Great, who remembered he loved tractors. 

My crazy amazing family set up a 24-hour vigil so my grandma was never alone in the weeks before she died. I got to be a part of that and snapped this picture during a quiet moment that we had together.

I think she must have felt her life was short, in the scheme of things. She was 80 when she died. I am nearly 30. If I die in 50 more years…that’s really not much time. What do I want to do with it? Why do I waste so much of it? How can I make a difference? What is my purpose…my mission?

I want to answer these questions, and soon. But having children has, for me, made any sort of serious introspection difficult. At the end of the day I basically fall into bed and pray for 4-6 hours of sleep. Keeping my boys alive and relatively happy has been my number one priority for the past three years, and honestly most days that’s about all I can say I accomplished. My house is a mess, I’m super out of shape, my garden is pitiful, etc. etc. with the very long list of failures. 

But at the same time, having children (and watching Grandma die) has kicked my desire to change the world into high gear. I need to leave it a better place than it is right now. For them. So somehow I am going to have to find a suitable way to divide my time between them and…something else. What that something is, I haven’t quite decided. But it has to be soon because there just isn’t that much time anymore. 
Whatever I decide to do, I hope it can honour Grandma. 

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On Holden at 5 Months (though he’s actually 6 months now)


Holden 5 Months

At 5 months he has zero teeth (a fact which brings me great joy, because I am obsessed with his gummy little grin and I know that once he gets teeth he’ll start going through that weird-looking phase that all babies have). He watches us all like a hawk, especially at dinner time, so I’ve let him gnaw on cucumber slices, carrot sticks, strawberries, and the like. He really really likes to nurse (we are nursing exclusively!), and I think once I start giving him food for real he’s going to become a little addict.

Holden, 5 Months

By the time Hutch was this old, he’d spent many many hours alone with his daddy. Holden, on the other hand, has only had a handful of hours away from me, and I’m pretty sure zero one-on-one time with Kyle sans Hutch. It’s harder for Kyle this time because Holden is so attached to nursing. And Hutch’s little toddler needs are so all-encompassing that trying to manage both at one time without built-in soothers is very overwhelming. I don’t really blame him. But I look forward to the time that Holden is a little more independent from me so he can get to know his daddy better. And until then, I’m blooming. Or trying to.

In that way he is very different than Hutch, but in other ways they are a lot alike. Holden is a pretty mellow baby—we’ve been blessed with two blissfully non-colicky infants. He’s usually very happy as long as he’s well fed. He loves watching any action happening around, and complains very loudly when the action (usually Hutch) leaves the room. I have a feeling that once he starts crawling (as of yet he’s rolled over a few times but seems to have forgotten that he ever did it) he’s never going to leave Hutch alone.

And I *hope* that they are good friends and play together well so they can entertain each other and I can once again poop in peace.

Holden Chewing on Toes

People ask me if Holden is teething because he is always in search of something to chew on (including, lately, his big toe). But that’s just how he’s always been. Usually when he’s laying on the change table getting his diaper changed he will reach out with both hands and grab onto my forearm to try to chew on it. Same thing when he’s nursing—he grabs onto anything he can find: my shirt, a thumb, the blanket, the b00b—and holds on as tight as he can. It’s almost like he’s trying to somehow consume more than just milk. Like he wants to consume it all. I hope that means that he’ll set his sights high when he’s all grown up, but now look at me projecting my own adult dreams onto my infant son. It probably just means he likes holding on to things.

He’s a scrappy little baby. Even before he could roll over officially he started rolling from side to side to find me when he woke up in the night. (Oh yeah, we co-sleep. Call the parent police.) He makes sure he gets what he needs, and I think it’s pretty adorable of him, at least for now. I’m sure as a teenager it’s going to drive me kind of crazy.

He’s so soft and squishy. Everybody comments on it, even Hutch. Hutch loves to cuddle up next to him and cries when I have to take him away, to change a poopy diaper for example. Everything about Holden is soft. His back is squishy, his cheeks are squishy, his tiny little thighs are squishy, even his forehead is somehow, impossibly, squishy.

He’s started doing this adorable thing where I pick him up and he buries his face into the nape of my neck and squeals. The noise is muffled because of said burying-face-into-neck, but when I move his head up so he can not be muffled he just pushes it right back down again. I think he just likes the sensation. Try it on someone who won’t call the police—it is strangely satisfying.

He’s our funny little boy—”such a good sweet li’l baby” according to Hutch—and we are madly in love with him.

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Bloom When You Are Planted

Bloom where you are planted, they say.

How about bloom when you are planted.

It’s weird having two kids. And hard. I feel like too many instagrammers make motherhood seem just joyful and blissful and heavenly all the time, and it’s weighing me down. I’m here to say: it’s freaking hard.

I love my boys both so much but most of my days I’m left feeling like I haven’t done enough—haven’t given either child enough of my full attention, haven’t listened to Kyle enough about his day, haven’t cleaned the house enough or called my grandmas enough or worked out enough [at all] or nourished my soul enough, or, or, or…

I know when I am an old lady I’m going to look back on these years and miss them. I know I will. My struggle now is how to hold onto the joyful moments (scarce as they sometimes are) and let go of the overwhelmingly blah ones—or worse, the awful, punch-the-wall-so-you-don’t-punch-your-kid, close-the-bedroom-door-and-weep-for-how-mean-you-just-were-to-someone-you-love, hold-your-face-in-a-pillow-and-scream-until-you-see-spots moments. Those times are the weeds: you’ll never get rid of them completely but you can still grow pretty flowers.

I need to bloom when I am planted.

Here, now, today, this is where I’m planted. This day, this week, this year. This life—it’s hard times, guys. But maybe I can blossom despite it all, if only I can find one thing to love about every day, to habitually go out of my way to stop and think, “Yes. This. This is my purpose for today. This is why I got out of bed.”

Sometimes it might be digging a really massive crusty booger out of my baby’s nose. So satisfying.

Hutch and Holden, May 2016
Holden is 5 months old, Hutch just shy of 3 years.

It’s true what they say about the days being long but the years being short. Although Hutch has gotten so much better with Holden than he was at the beginning, he still has his moments (hundreds of them daily) where I wonder what the hell I am doing wrong to be raising such a terror. Then I remind myself he’s two. He’s two. And this is how it’s going to be for awhile. So bloom when I am planted.

Isn’t it wonderful? So hopeful, so grounding, so immediate: bloom now, it says. Don’t wait. Do not wait around for that perfect night of nine hours’ sleep, or that glorious tantrum-free day that will probably—surely—never come. Those things are pipe dreams. Just bloom now.

Bloom anyway. Bloom, today, despite those fifty extra pounds, those droopy saggy eyes (and other things [so many things are saggy]), that dull lacklustre hair. Find one way to feel a little pretty today, even if it’s just flossing your fuzzy teeth. BLOOM, DAMMIT.

Sometimes my toddler throws me a bone to get me through the day—like in the photo above. I was taking Holden’s monthly progress photo and Hutch started to cry literal tears because he wanted to get in the picture too. And then both boys gave me smiles for days and I have hundreds of photos just like that, because it was so glorious and lasted so long. And sometimes he cuddles up to Holden and nuzzles his little face and says, “Ho’den is my best. friend. ever.”

And then sometimes (all the times) he fights putting on pants like he’s some kind of revolutionary. A pants-free pioneer.

And sometimes he poops everywhere else except the potty.

And sometimes he cries before bed that his tummy hurts just so we’ll bring him a snack and we know he’s stalling. And other times he’ll cry that his tummy hurts and then he actually throws up and I never know what to believe anymore.

But I can bloom today.



Posted in family, hutchface, kid stuffs, Married Life, mediocrity, motherhood, parenthood, self-actualisation | 4 Comments

Ming’s Garden Restaurant Menu | Chinese Food in Coaldale, Alberta

There’s this Chinese restaurant near our house that we patronize from time to time: Ming’s Garden Chinese Restaurant in Coaldale, Alberta. But every time we try to order takeout, we get frustrated because their menu is nowhere to be found online, and we never keep the ones we get with our orders from the previous time. So I’ve decided to post it here and then the next time we want takeout all our problems will be solved. 

Future Camille will thank me. 

(I recommend the deep fried wontons.)

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Nipple Confusion…

…Holden doesn’t have it. 

In fact, he is quite good at identifying the various nipples presented to him on any given day. And shunning all of them but the two attached to me. Half the time he even laughs in the process, because he’s just a little bit sadistic. For a baby.


Yes, it matters. 

When Hutch was born we gave him his soother the first day in the hospital, and he took to it instantly. It was basically pure heaven. 

However, despite the knowledge that he would almost always be immediately calmed by popping one of those little lovelies in his mouth, I never shook the suspicion that it was part of my problem with nursing him. Also, at 2.5 years old, Hutch is still obsessed with his soother and literally—LITERALLY—won’t sleep without one. As in, he never has. Not one nap or nighttime sleep in his entire life. While it’s nice to have that sure-fire way of knocking him out, it’s also awful to be so tied down to it. I can’t count the number of late-night pharmacy runs I’ve made in a panic because Hutch is wailing (or more often, lately, just whining really annoyingly) for his soo soo, with none to be found. 

Also, at his dentist checkup this morning (NO CAVITIES!) we learned his soother obsession has affected his teeth and though the damage will self correct, it only does so if the soother is trashed by age 3. I don’t relish the thought of orthedenture, but even so, this is a fight I’m just not ready to face. 


You don’t see many photos of Hutch without a soother in his mouth. He literally lights up when he finds one, like finding an old friend. It’s both adorable and troubling.
Holden, on the other hand, only takes a soother maybe 25% of the times he’s offered one. And of that, half the time it falls out mid-suck and makes him angry. So if I did the math correctly (never a guarantee mind you), we have about a 12.5% success rate, soother-wise. Definitely not the 100% I’ve come to expect from children within my care. 

However—and here’s some good news—Holden is now officially EBF (exclusively breast fed). This is exciting for me since it’s been my goal for both boys from day one, but never fully achieved with Hutchy. A lot of factors have come into play to make this possible (truly a whole post on its own), but I can’t help wondering if waiting a few days to give Holden a soother might have played a part in our breastfeeding success. 

Who knows, really. 

What I do know is that, as Hutch says, “Ho’den don’t want his soo soo,” and since he pretty much refuses to fall asleep or stay asleep without a nipple in his mouth, my own personal God-made soothers are certainly taking the brunt of his preference. 

Just one of the many joys of motherhood.

Good thing he looks like this or I might never forgive him.
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