Two and a half!

Dear Harrison,

Where do I start? It’s been so long since I’ve written you a letter. Not to worry, we’ve been documenting your life in other ways with our camera and phones, on video and jotting down the hilarious things you say in your “quotable” book.

I guess the first thing to say is You’re so BIG! And you’re a big brother! It wasn’t until we took Foster home that I realized just how big you’ve grown. Your hands and feet (all normal sized) seemed huge compared to Foster’s little fingers and toes. You are such a good big brother. You often say you need to “check on Foster” because that’s what I say sometimes. Or if I say “it’s ok buddy” to him, you say it too. You’ve been helpful in bringing him a soother, or a blanket, or picking up a toy for him. You have the odd bout of jealousy, but for the most part you’ve adjusted well to having a little brother.

You have continued to amaze your dad and I with your language and comprehension skills. Your vocabulary is outstanding and you’re just a little sponge and you’re so inquisitive. Always asking me “why?” and “what’s that, mom?” or one of your favourite things to say for a while was “What’s that noise?”. You don’t miss much!

Last fall we welcomed Nana and Poppa home from their time in London. It was so great to see them – the last time they’d seen you in person you weren’t walking yet, and then you were not only walking but talking and understood the concept of “almost”. As in, I would say “Harry, are you finished your yogurt?” and you would respond correctly with “Almost”. So cute.

We spent our Christmas vacation in Nova Scotia. It was a fun family holiday. You hadn’t quite figured out the Christmas present part of Christmas so it was a wonderful innocent Christmas with you. You loved opening your stocking. We probably could’ve stopped there, but of course, you had a few more presents to open. You enjoyed helping everyone else open their gifts. The unwrapping was the most fun for you! Grandma at the Lake started teaching you some more colours while we visited using the Crayola box as a guide. So at the tender age of 20 months you could identify the colours Apricot and Turquoise.

We had lots of snow this past winter so we got out and played in it a bunch. Your little legs wrapped in snow pants and boots made it tough for you to get around, but you liked to ride in the sleigh. In January you also started learning your ABCs at daycare and could recite them pretty well with just a little help. Within a couple of weeks you had it down. Your dad and I were so proud of you.

In February Dad and I took a little trip away to rest and rev up for the arrival of your brother, so that meant you got to hang out with Nana and Poppa. They spoiled you, of course.

In March we celebrated your second birthday. We went to a reptile show and you absolutely loved it! You got to meet Shuffles the tortoise, Buttercup the python, and even held a tarantula! You were totally in your element. In every picture we have of that day you were the kid closest to the animals. You still talk about Shuffles. You’re our little David Suzuki. You love animals great and small and are so curious about nature. You and Papa talk about birds and he takes you on tours of his garden. It is so adorable to hear you recognize birds like cardinals, blue jays and woodpeckers.¬†Grandma at the lake sent you a gardening kit and you loved to watch your pumpkin seeds grow.

And March was of course, also, our last month as a family of three. We celebrated Easter with Grandma and Grampy, Nana and Poppa, Uncle Jason and Aunt Megan and Marie for dinner on Saturday night. The next morning I was in labour.

We managed to find our way as a family of four through the Spring and really hit our stride as the weather warmed up. I had so much fun being off on maternity leave with you this summer because we could get out and take advantage of the beautiful weather. Luckily your little brother was happy to tag along so you could do your two-year old thing.

As I mentioned, your speaking skills are really great, and you catch on quickly learning to say “I” instead of “me”, and repeating big words like hippopotamus, and piliated. One thing that’s really cute that I want to remember is that you go through little phases where you seem to have a catch phrase. In March you loved to say “You’re my best friend”. It was so awesome to hear you say that I was your best friend, only to turn around and hear you telling daddy he was too. It got to the point that if someone wasn’t your best friend, that was bad news!

Other “catch phrases” have been:

Great job! (or Great job everyone!) One day I pulled into the driveway at daycare and you said “Great job, mommy! Good turning.” I’m glad you approve of my driving skills.

That’s ok.

Yeah. Oh well.

Does that make sense?

Is that a good idea?

Right, mom? or Right, dad?

Wednesday (everything happened on Wednesday)

Oh my gosh.

I’d like to but…

And then, there’s the roaring. You growl and/or roar when you’re upset. Sometimes you roar at someone, sometimes you just roar if you’re getting some anger out. Apparently your dad and grampy did this as kids. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

There’s so much I want to tell you and to remember, but there’s just not a great way to tell the story so first, I’ll promise to write more often, and now I’ll just list random awesome stuff about you.

You learned the alphabet, and the sounds the letters make, so now we’re teaching you to sound out the words so you can read.

You’ve mastered counting to ten as well. You can even count to five in Spanish.

You love to watch Dora and Diego (hence the Spanish).

You have moved into your big-boy room, and are doing a great job.

You’re potty trained, too.

You love chocolate anything and say it choco-late (like late for dinner)

You say computer like Q-pinter and banana like babana. I don’t know why these words trouble you when you can say much more complicated words.

You say Ta-dawn instead of Ta-dah!

You make up words just to be silly. You rhyme with other words to be silly, too.

You love books, and are really into puzzles right now.

My favourite part of my day is our drive home from daycare when we talk about your day and you blabber on about the day or anything you see. You say some really awesome stuff. It’s so great to get to see the world through your eyes.

You’re a great little swimmer. You can jump in the pool from the deck with your water wings on and pop up and swim to mom or dad. When you go under you call this going under the sea.

Your favourite breakfast has evolved from “sugar brown” (oatmeal) to Cheerios and milk to peanut butter and jam toast.

You’re into dinosaurs.

You think your dad is pretty great.

Mostly I want you to know that you’re sweet and kind, loving and so clever. You continue to surprise us every day. I can’t believe how lucky I am that I get to be your mom – and some days – your best friend.

Love,

Mama

O'Leary02

O'Leary05

O'Leary12

snack pirate

laughing

sammy birthday party

cool dude

smiley

catching snowflakes

birthday breakfast

shuffles

birthday cake

first peanut butter

lazy day

planting with poppa

bugs

candy

water baby

handy man

airplane sleep

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Lions and Tigers and Bears… Oh my!

Our day at the zoo. More perfect weather and a good day all around.

Ready to go

Leading the way

First stop was to see the panda exhibit. We saw signs at the entrance that there was a “last admission” time for the pandas and worried that there might be a line, even though we had arrived pretty early. Turns out we were early enough to not have to wait at all to get in to the exhibit. But, I’m glad we went there as our first stop anyway.

close encounter

Not too sure what Harry is doing here, but it’s cute. We then actually got to see the real pandas that are on loan to the zoo for five years.

panda playtime

This is the best picture I could get with my camera. It was so sunny I could hardly tell what I was focussing on. There was a tree and a fence in the way and I didn’t want to spend too much time trying to capture a good picture. This guy was pretty cute, though. He was playing with a ball while we were there. Kinda like panda tether ball. Ha ha!

DSC_0850

This is just a glimpse of the crowd at the panda exhibit so we peeked, but didn’t stay long. Our next stop, as per Harrison’s request was the polar bears. These gals might’ve been my favourite animals of the day since they were so entertaining.

silhouette

Aurora

After the underwater view, we headed up to check her out from above. Here’s my sister in-law, Amy (who thankfully tagged along!) giggling about the polar bear doing what seemed to be a routine. She’d dive down in front of the glass windows below and swim up along the wall showing everyone her belly and come up on her back.

view from the top

She’d then laze along and push off a rock. Roll over and do it again. Very entertaining.

morning exercises

We found ourselves a less crowded viewing area for the polar bears. Foster slept for most of our trip to the zoo.

Foster unimpressed

After the polar bears we were off to find the moose. On the morning of the trip I asked Harrison what animal he most wanted to see and he said without hesitation, “moose!” I was just hoping the zoo had a moose or two. Luckily they did. Unluckily, they are far removed (read: 15 minute walk from polar bears down a steep hill and around a bend) from everything else. Also, when we got there all he? was doing was sitting there in the shade. This picture makes it look like we had a nice view, but that’s just super zoom lens trickery.

boring moose

This is more like what we saw. Can you see the moose? Yeah. Neither could we. (He’s just to the right of the fence post in the shady area)

moose view

Before we left the “Canada” area we stopped to check out the grizzlies who must’ve known it was almost feeding time (as per the schedule), because they were out showing off for the crowd.

grizzly

After Amy and I took turns pushing the stroller back up the ginormous hill, we decided it was time for a sustenance break. On our way to find a picnic area we found the white lions so we stopped for a photo op with these rare, and very beautiful, big cats.

white lion

Foster woke up to have lunch with us. Here he is giving me a hint at what animal he’d like to see.

Foster with Giraffe

We did see giraffes, but I didn’t get any great pictures of them. After lunch, we decided that searching out the elephants was a good way to end our trip so off we trekked. And we had perfect timing. As we approached just one elephant was visible. We moved around to get a better view of her? and out waltzed another one, walking very nearby to us. Harry was impressed!

perfect timing

Foster was too.

happy Foster

He managed to stay awake for elephant viewing, but not long enough to be awake for our family photo on the way out.

family photo

Harry got a panda bear stuffy to commemorate his visit.

tuckered out

He snuggled in with Panda and his favourite “Brown Bear” and was asleep in the back of the car before I had left the parking lot!

So much fun! Toronto Zoo really is a great zoo. We hardly even scratched the surface of what there is to see.

Anyone else visit a zoo with the kiddos this year? I have to admit, I think I enjoyed it as much as he did.

Harrison’s HGTV-Style Room Reveal

I’m back and I’m not sorry that I didn’t post at all last week. We had an amazing family vacation. We managed to cram in lots of activities, but also had lots of down time to relax. We visited with family, attended a wedding, and had absolutely beautiful weather the whole time. When we returned home I packed up again, or maybe just half unpacked, and piled the kids into the car for a fun day at the Toronto zoo. So the lack of posts just means an abundance of awesome family memories and good times for me. But don’t worry, I’ll spill the beans on all that good stuff soon. But, first let’s get to some unfinished business.¬†I didn’t have a chance to finish up the video of Harrison’s room reveal before we left for our vacation (did you know it takes a long time to “prepare” a video in iMovie?), but I’ve done it now, so here it is.

It’s not every day that you get to do a room reveal (at least I don’t), so I thought it would be fun to keep Harry out of his room after a certain point in the process so that I could show off a more finished version to him and there would be some anticipation and surprise. The last time he’d been in the room the walls had been painted, but there was pretty much nothing else in the room.

Note: My iPhone stopped filming shortly after starting because I had run out of space on my iPhone. Oops! I have since dumped my photos and videos into iPhoto so I can keeping snapping.

There’s still lots more to do, but I think he likes it!

Harrison’s Big Boy Room (So Far)

Here it is. The progress I’ve made so far on Harrison’s big boy room. There’s still lots of projects I want to complete before I’ll call it finished, but for now, I’m loving it. Harrison loves it too. I’ll show you the video of our HGTV-style room reveal tomorrow.

overview

door

closets

end wall

Puff

final detail

The mysteries of this house continue to unfold

I’m just waiting for the paint to fully dry on the closet doors before I put them back on and put Harrison’s room back together for the big reveal, so in the meantime I thought I’d share an interesting little find that I’d never noticed until I started making over the room.

Here’s a picture of the window in the room from before.

Harry's before 2

Just a striped little valance over the mini blinds. But I never noticed before how it was attached.

This is what I found:

Staple

Yep. It is stapled on to a piece of wood. But wait. It gets better!

thumb tack

That’s right… it’s a thumb tack. Just popped in there all casual-like.

And to top it off, when I pulled out the tack, how was it attached along the front?

velcro

Velcro. A trio of attachment mechanisms for your Tuesday.

Anyone else find some less than common design solutions in their home?

Painting marathon

Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Back with even more progress on Harrison’s room to share. This painting is going at lightning speed! Just kidding. But painting while kiddos are napping or sleeping for the night is where it’s at right now.

I started painting the edges for the accent wall and, to be honest, was doubting my choice of Hale Navy.

It was looking a bit purple-y. Granted the lighting in the room wasn’t the greatest with the overhead light on and the sun going down.

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It was at this point, though that I was smitten. Love! I knew it would be great. (See what I mean about crappy lighting?) You’ll have to take my word for it.

That’s all for a sneak peek. The painting is all done now except for the doors.

I can’t wait to put the room back together and show Harrison.