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Friday, January 29, 2016

winter days at home

Time has flown by since Wesley was born. He is now 6 weeks old and we are really starting to see his personality come out. He responds to our affection with the sweetest little smiles and coos. He adores his big brother and sister and likes to talk with them when he gets the chance. He loves to be held and seldom is put down. Winslow and I fight over who gets to hold him, because when you know how fast they grow, you wan to savour each second. He is a light in our lives, and we let him know it as often as we can. 
In a few weeks, Winslow will return to work, and this cozy little family-moon of ours will come to an end. Of course, how we spend our time together when he goes back to work will still be family focused, but this special uninterrupted time of bonding is going to be a bit disrupted. 
The last 6 weeks have been filled with a lot of home time and I am so glad we have made it this way. We've had some lovely visits with my dad and Sarah (and soon Leslie), but other than that, our commitments have been kept simple. Meals at home, lots of movies and Netflix, arts and crafts, stories, and lots of time just being together. 
Our desire to keep things simple I think, has partly been because we have a little babe, and that in it's self is demanding, but also because of the time of year. The winter and having a baby really do go well together.
Here on the East Coast they don't take any chances when a winter storm is predicted. So far, we've had two full "snow days" (no school) and today, the schools were dismissed early. And while it may seem a tad over reactive to shut down everything because of a bit of snow, I quite enjoy any excuse to hunker down and not have to go anywhere. 
Today's snow day saw us watching yet again another episode of Full House (seriously the perfect show to watch with our littles), doing some directed drawings for art time and generally just enjoying each other's company. Nothing exciting, but exactly what we love to be doing.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

a visit with sarah

When you find good friends, hold onto them, cherish them. 
Last Autumn, Sarah suggested that she'd like to come and visit us when the baby would be born. Just the thought of having her visit was exciting and comforting to me. I was honoured that she would make the trip to come and be with us during this special time in our lives. I looked forward to introducing our new babe to her. 
For 5 lovely days, we drank tea, cooked and ate, did yoga, watched episodes of Full House, hunkered down during snow storms and  ventured out for walks when it was nice out. We went out for lunches, went down to the sea and wandered through the Wolfville Farmer's Market. Most importantly, we shared some very special time together and Sarah was able to get to know our sweet Wesley. Sarah came ready to help (and hold!). She filled our tummies with delicious and healthy food, and loved on our children like they were her own. 
I am full of gratitude for the time we had together, and the effort that it took on Sarah and her husband Rich's part, to make it happen. Being with Sarah is always comforting and inspiring for me. I felt recharged having her here, getting to share with her my new life here in NS. There are so many layers to our friendship, where we have a level of comfort with each other that can only come with time and experience, and oh have we shared experiences. 
Truly, nothing could've topped this visit ....well ... except if Carol-Ann could've joined us. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

running through my head

Today was a feeding frenzy, literally. Wesley ate and ate. And as he did so, I reflected on how blessed I am to be in the position, where I was able to oblige him.
He ate in the pharmacy section of Walmart. He ate in the parked car outside the farmer's market. He ate and ate, and ate some more at home. And while he ate, all I could think was how blessed we are that Winslow is home and able to focus on the older kids (and dinner and cleaning!), so that I am able to focus on Wesley and his needs. And how blessed we are that Wesley is growing and is healthy. And how blessed we are to live in a country where breastfeeding is promoted and accepted (I recently read a very disturbing news story about a woman in Syria persecuted for breastfeeding. Yes, feeding her baby!).

Other thoughts...

Lately I have been pondering where I see myself and my photography business going in the next few years. I know that I am at a turning point and that things are changing. Recently, while talking with Sarah, I expressed my fears, worries and frustrations about the uncertainty of it all. And as always, she came to my rescue by reminding me that things must change, and wouldn't it be boring if we never had change. Her words comforted me and allowed me to feel hopeful. I am now feeling more accepting of the changes that are, and will continue to happen. I am going to be open to the new possibilities and allow my heart to lead my work.

And to close off ...

It was the first week back to school after the Christmas break. It was hard for us to get ourselves back into a weekday routine, and we found ourselves all wanting to stay in bed well past the alarm clock wake up.
I found myself missing Noah so much, as he was gone for much of the day. I found myself cherishing the moments I had with Katia, knowing deep down that next year, she will be gone for much of the day as well. I found myself looking forward to Saturday morning, when we will all stay in jammies and sleep in as much as we want.
But despite it being hard to let go of the relaxed holiday mood, we also felt the pull of the New Year and all that it entails. Getting back to a  more healthy lifestyle. Less indulging and more self care. Family walks in the afternoon sun. Salads, soups and more fruit. More water to drink ... and so on. It feels good to make these little but important changes. And with that, I am signing off, and heading to bed.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

word for the new year: adventure

When looking back on 2015 and looking forward to 2016, one key word and feeling sticks out to me, adventure.
We had many adventures in 2015, from camping in our camper in the Yukon and Alaska, to flying over Canada's tallest mountain (Mt. Logan), to moving across the country (driving with the whole family, a dog and camping along the way), to moving into a new home and starting over from scratch. Oh and adding another human to our family. It's true that many of these changes could have induced panic and stress on someone, but I think we did our very best to look at these events as adventures, and that outlook made all the difference.
And then there were some more personal adventures that 2015 brought to me, adventures that  helped me to see that there were more opportunities out there than I knew, adventures that would change me and challenge me.
In February, before our family went to Maui, Sarah and I embarked on an assignment to cover the Yukon Ultra, an extreme winter race that sees participants run, ski and bike over 600 km through the freezing Yukon wilderness. Sarah interviewed and wrote a beautiful story for Explore magazine, and invited me along to capture the images for her story. It was an honour to be asked to collaborate with her, and it was an experience that pushed me outside of my comfort zone. The story came out this December in the winter edition of Explore magazine, and it's pretty exciting to see both Sarah's and my name in the credits of the story.
My second personal adventure of 2015 took me to PEI for the Land and See photography workshops with Dave Brosha (and many other great presenters). I've written about how profound this experience was for me, and how I was challenged, motivated and most importantly inspired to try new things with my photography and creativity. This opportunity was a real gift to me, and truly felt like a journey for me in so many ways.
And so here we are, at the beginning of a new year, with new possibilities and adventures waiting for us. My inspirational word this year is going to be adventure, because whether the adventure is a simple picnic lunch at a park with the kids, or a more organized and complicated trip somewhere, looking at life and the everyday occurrences as an adventure a sure way to live a more positive and happy life.
All of our adventures in 2015 helped me to cultivate more gratitude and to be more in the present. It helped me to make a rough day more positive and to make the most out of everyday, and that is what I would like continue for 2016.
So here is to 2016. A year that I hope will bring more adventures! More camping, more photography, more picnics, more trips to the beach, more road trips, more creativity, more art, more reading, more precious memories with family, more time with friends, and more positive outlooks on life!
Much love and wishes for an amazing year ahead.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

a holiday wrap-up

The holidays this year were a little bit crazy and a lot special. With wee Wesley joining our family on Dec 15th, we did our very best to continue on with the festivities, while still honouring our need for a quiet and slow babymoon.
Instead of recounting all the details that I can barely remember, I will leave this post with a list of the lovely things that happened over the last few weeks, and an assortment of photos from the occasions.
Special memories to remember from the 2015 holidays:
~ Katia's preschool nativity play
~ Noah's school concert
~ Christmas Eve dinner of seafood chowder, very down East
~ Christmas Eve church, Wesley was quite popular with everyone in the congregation
~ Noah and Katia making each other Christmas gifts. Katia made Noah a robot T-shirt and Noah (with help) made Katia an Elsa (Frozen) cape (with material from our old table runners that we used at our wedding!)
~ An exceptionally warm and green Christmas Day. We went for a walk at Hall's Harbour and got our first family pic on the beach
And that wraps up the holidays! Sending a special wish to all for a Happy New Years! May 2016 bring love and adventure to you all!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Wesley Birch

I'm listening to a piano Christmas station, while we finally have the snow I've been wishing for. The older kids are out playing in the snow with Winslow and Grandpa, and I am sitting in my cozy bedroom, looking out at the snow covered backyard. Dreamy. And here I sit, almost 2 weeks into life with this absolutely sweet little being nestled on my chest, and I am finally finding the time to write about his coming into the world.
Life with little Wesley Birch has so far been a joy. Perhaps it's the knowledge in the back of my mind that he is our last baby, or perhaps it's already having two previous baby notches on my mama belt, but for some reason, I am just enjoying this period and am wishing for time to slow down.
First I want to start off with the story of Wesley's name. For years, both Winslow and I loved the name Wesley. If Katia had been a boy, her name would have been Wesley, so it was definitely a front runner for a boy's name for us. It wasn't until I was pregnant this time around, that I looked up the meaning of his name, and was pleasantly surprised. The meaning of Wesley's name is: Valley or meadow in the West. And since Wesley was conceived in Beaver Creek (Canada's most Westerly community, which is surrounded by North America's largest mountains), I found it to be quite fitting.
Wesley's second name is Birch, and is in honour of the birch trees that surrounded us in the Yukon (and here too). The First Nations people in Beaver Creek, would harvest birch bark to make all kinds of beautiful and functional items such as baskets, moose callers, baby carriers, toys and more. I have fond memories of learning to make a birch basket, and so that is where Wesley's second name comes from.
And now, Wesley's birth story.
On Dec. 14th, the day before Wesley was born, I began to feel some serious cramping that had not occurred prior. They were kinda sharp period cramps, not the low dull ones I had with Katia, and I knew that things were starting to happen. In my mind, I started to prepare. I began to make mention to Noah and Katia that things could start happening, that baby could decide to come soon. I just wanted them to feel somewhat prepared and not thrown for a loop. To be honest, I think Winslow was in a little bit of denial that things were starting to happen, he insisted that we had a few more days.
The night, I fell asleep early at about 7pm, only to wake up at around 10 pm with continuous cramps. I tried to ignore them and fall back asleep, but I recognized them as "back labour" pains, and couldn't  sleep through them. I decided to start texting my friend Leanne back in the Yukon. She was my doula for Katia's birth, and knows a great deal about birthing. I was sad that she couldn't be with me for this birth, but felt connected to her through texts, as she offered me advice and suggestions.
In the middle of the night I had a warm bath which greatly helped with the pain of the back labour. I didn't get back to sleep that night.
Come morning, I filled Winslow in on what happened. My contractions were still 10 minutes apart, as they had been all night, and I was feeling tired and in pain. I began to feel that this labour was very similar to Noah's (which was painful, long and ended up with a posterior baby and  a c-section). I recognized the similar pain (in my back) and the I felt a bit disappointed, as my experience with Katia's labour had been so lovely and relatively easy. I really wanted things to pick up, and all the while Winslow was still convinced that things weren't actually happening.
I spent the morning puttering around and stopping for contractions. We were lucky enough to have my Dad with us, and he was  helping me during my contractions by applying counter pressure on my back (meanwhile Winslow was running around, dropping Noah off at school, taking the car in for an oil change *ugh!* and charging the batteries for the cameras.)
It was around 9am that my contractions started to pick up. They were anywhere from 8, to 5, to 3 minutes apart (very similar to Noah's labour) and we decided that it might be a good time to get ready for the hospital.
To add to the excitement of an impending baby, it also happened to be Noah's school concert that day (something I had been anticipating for months), and it looked like I was going to miss it. I was terribly sad about missing it, but I knew that it was just going to be that way, so we made arrangements for Grandpa to take Katia to the show.
It was around 10:30 am when we decided to make our way to the hospital. My contractions weren't consistent, but they were about 5 minutes apart, and seeing as this way my third baby, we decided to go ahead. I had a few phone calls from friends (hi Sarah!) and then we made our way there.
I remember as we drove to the hospital, I only had one contraction and was able to walk up the stairs to the maternity unit. I knew that things were slowing down once again and began to feel defeated. I was checked by the nurse and was only 2 cm at that point. She suggested that we walk around and try to get labour going some more, so that's what we did. It was very busy in the hospital and I was not enjoying myself at all. As we walked the halls of the hospital, people would stop and ask us if I was okay. It was distracting and I felt like I was a spectacle. We decided that since things had slowed down, that maybe we should head home for a bit so that I could rest. I was very tired and since we weren't being admitted to a labour room, I wanted to be somewhere more quiet.
On the way out to the car, my contractions came on strong once again. Winslow was reluctant to drive away from the hospital, but I really felt the need to get away from the hospital and decided that a drive might do us good (at least it would be quiet and we could head back to the hospital if need be).
On our drive, Winslow stopped for some food (hey, someone's gotta eat!) and I worked through intense back labour contractions. I remember that during my contractions, I would roll down the windows and as soon as they were done, I would crank the heat up. We must have spent almost an hour and a half, driving around and ultimately parking just next to the hospital, while I worked through my contractions. Finally, when I couldn't handle the pain anymore, we pulled up to the hospital and Winslow got me a wheel chair. The pain at this point was too unbearable to walk.
I remembering covering my self with my big North Face coat, hood over my head, as Winslow pushed me through the busy main entrance.
Once up in labour and delivery, things happened quick.
I was having back to back contractions and began to feel the need to push. It hurt like crazy and I was doing everything I could not to panic and lose sight of what was happening, but at the same time, this was nothing like my previous labour with Katia. It was intense and painful and all I could do was try to breathe through each contraction.
I remember being checked upon our 2nd arrival and now I was 6 cm. I was a bit irritated that things had not progressed quicker, but also knew that this was happening and that soon we'd be having a baby.
From entering the labour room, to when Wesley was born only took 1.5 hours. The pushing part was maybe 10 minutes (a far cry from the 3 hours it took with Noah and Katia- yes- I pushed with Noah even though he was a c-section baby). I remember lying on my back for delivering Wesley (even though I HATE that position) and I remember screaming the loudest I had ever screamed in my life.
As it turns out, the little guy was facing posterior as well (some people call this sunny-side-up) and so that would explain the intense pain. Usually, babies come out crown first, but Wesley was coming out face first (as Noah tried to do as well).
When Wesley was born, he was quickly whisked over to a heated table, as he was examined by the pediatrician and respiratory specialist (he had meconium). I wasn't thrilled about that, as they cut his umbilical cord without letting it pulse (as I had requested), but at that point, I was just happy that he was safely delivered.
One funny memory I have from Wesley's delivery, was that as soon as I saw his gender, I yelled out, "holy shit! it's a boy!". I'm not sure why I felt the need to announce it that way, and I'm not entirely proud of my choice of words, but I think I was truly surprised that he was not as she. I don't want anyone to think that I was disappointed that Wesley is a boy. Infact, I was very happy to learn he was a boy. We have loved having both a boy and girl, and Wesley is the perfect little addition to our family.
And so there it is. If I had to sum up my experience with Wesley's birth, I would use the following two words: FAST and FURIOUS ... oh and CRAZY. In the end, I had an unmedicated VBAC with a posterior baby. Wesley was born at 3:00pm on December 15th, and within an hour, Winslow was out the door and off to Noah's Christmas recital (he had two performances that day).
Having a baby at Christmastime (especially when you have 2 older children) is a little bit crazy. Throw in post partum hormones, healing after birth, and then add excited hyped up children on Christmas vacation and well... you can guess how the mood was here. I think we did our very best to take care of everyone's needs, but still, I must admit, that I kind of floated through Christmas and never quite got in the mood.
We are now 2 weeks into our life as a family of five, and I am happy to say that we are doing well. Winslow is on paternity leave for 8 weeks, and the children have this week off of school. It's been nice for us to just relax and stay close to home. Winslow and Grandpa have been able to take the kids to go skating and play outside, and we've all been enjoying movies, board games and lots of yummy food. It's petty blissful here at our house, and we are beyond in love with little Wesley Birch.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

one week in welcome

I'm so happy and thrilled to announce that little Wesley Birch joined our family on December 15th.
He came into the world after a quite painful but quick labour and delivery, and weighed in at 6.7 pounds. We had our second successful VBAC and I promise to  write out his full birth story  and about the meaning of his name in the next few weeks.

Thoughts on life with Wesley, what the transition from 2 to 3 has been like, and some randoms thrown in for good measure ...

~Wesley is a sweet baby who is just happy to be held, cuddled, fed and kept comfy.
~ Wesley was born one week early.
~His first week of life has been spent mostly sleeping and eating, without many wakeful moments. Now that he is a week old, we have seen him more alert and responsive. Today I do believe he locked eyes with me and gave me his first attempt of a smile. Swoon!
~ We had no idea that he would be a he. We were certain he was a girl. We are so happy with who we got. He's exactly who we wanted and truly feel like our family is complete.
~ Having a Christmas baby when you have 2 young school aged children (4 and 6) is kinda crazy.
The kids are so hyped up with excitement and yes, with sugar. And then adding newborn to the mix? Phew!
~ One hour after Wesley was born, Winslow left us to go to Noah's school Christmas concert. There I was alone in the hospital and Winslow hadn't even held him yet.
~ When Wesley was 5 days old, we all went to watch Noah and Katia perform in their skating performance. Winslow was running back and forth between both kids helping them, while I sat in the stands (with a pillow), feeling completely overwhelmed and wanting to cry. Again I tell you, having a baby at Christmas, when you have older kids is kinda nuts.
~ Nursing is going very well.
~ We are getting good sleep. I love co-sleping with this wee little bug. He is so happy right close to me.

So there is my quick recap of our first week. There have been lots of special memories, some tears, frustrations out of exhaustion, and many "I'm sorries". We are starting to feel some kind of normal which is nice.