Park etiquette - baby bullies and moms who don't intervene

* These photos were taken a couple of years ago, when Soren was about 14 months. He's so tiny! 

Yesterday, being the beautiful day that it was, I took the kids down the street to a little playground. When we arrived we were the only ones there, and after a couple minutes a little boy and his mom showed up. The little boy was about five, and immediately asked Soren if he wanted to play with his bow and arrow set. I thought this was nice of him, although a bow and arrow set is a slightly odd toy to bring to the park! (The arrows were plastic.) Poppy and I headed for the swings as I kept my eye on Soren and the little boy.

Pretty immediately it became obvious that this little guy was a bully. He was directing Soren on what to do, how to play, where to stand, etc. Soren didn't seem to mind, and the 'rules' he was dictating seemed harmless. Poppy and I moved onto the play structure, which is when the little bully sprang into action.

'YOU ARE THE BABY PIRATE!' he shouted at Poppy.

'YOU ARE THE BAD PIRATE!' he screamed at me.

I ignored him, thinking he would move on. "GET OFF THE SHIP!' he screamed, as Soren watched in horror/amazement. At this point, I calmly told him that we could all play, and he was not the boss.

"GET OFF!!!' he continued yelling, and began advancing towards Poppy. 'Hey! Be careful, she is just a baby', I said standing between him and poor Poppy. That's when he started pushing me, and began headbutting me! Quite forcefully, I might add, as this little guy was quite a brute. I tried to explain that he could not push/touch me, I didn't want to play this way, and that we would have to leave if he continued. At this point we were at the top of a fairly large play structure, and I didn't want any of us to topple off onto the wood chips six feet down.

So what do you do when a five year old bully is attacking you? Grab your baby and retreat down the slide. Seriously, I fled. I called to Soren that we had to leave and then walked back home, as I tried to explain about what happened and how it isn't appropriate to play that way. I was rather ashamed of myself that I had let this little bully get the best of us, but I wasn't quite sure what I could have done differently. The mom MUST have been able to hear, unless she was deaf. She was a very short distance away (texting on her cell), and there was no one else at the park. I suppose I should have gone and talked to her about her sons behaviour, but to me it seemed obvious that she did not care, or was not interested. In that case - did I really want to get into an argument with her?

I tried talking to this kid for a good few minutes before the physical abuse started, and my words were not getting through to him. I didn't want to touch him - even by merely protecting myself and kids - so I took the slide down and away from him. It was the weirdest situation, and something I'm still scratching my head over. I would have expected Soren to get into a playground scrap much more than I expected to get into one myself!


Two dogs, two kids, too many??

Like so many young couples, we were super excited to get a dog together. Kya actually wandered into our lives, or, more specifically wandered into my aunts back yard. After having no luck finding her original owners, we jumped at the chance to adopt her. We had been dating for a couple of years and had just moved in together - a dog seemed like the logical next step.

We loved having a dog. She was exhausting and trying and difficult at times, but we loved picking up coffees and spending saturday mornings at the dog park. We took millions of photos of her, and even took her to 'doggy daycare' while we were at work. We drew the line at referring to ourselves as her 'mom', and 'dad', though, so we weren't totally dog crazy!

After a couple years we started to talk about getting a second dog, and then one day a perfect looking dog came up at a local shelter. Tyler made a quick trip to 'check it out', and of course came home with another scruffy terrier that we would call Rupert.

Fast forward another few months, and I was pregnant with Soren. Having two dogs and a baby was a bit crazy, and we warned our childless friends not to make the same mistake we did. Not that it was a total mistake... but it was hard. Looking back, two dogs was not the best for our lifestyle. But we'd made the decision to get the second one, and we tried to make the best of it.

Now, we are living in our cozy house with two very active babies/toddlers, and two very active dogs. I'm starting to lose my mind. There is just so much commotion all the time... as soon as the kids fall asleep a dog starts barking, needs water, wants to go out, etc. At the end of a long day I don't have the time or energy to walk the dogs like I should - like they need to be healthy dogs. One dog seems manageable, as I can tie one on to the double stroller and go for a walk in the mornings, or bring one with us when we go to the farmers market. But two... it's just crazy.

While I have often joked about finding new homes for them, in the past it has always been a light-hearted joke. Lately, I've been starting to think a bit more seriously about what is best for our family, and what it best for both dogs. Sadly, I don't think we are giving Rupert (our second dog) the best life. He is a perfect farm dog... but has trouble walking on leashes and barks like a maniac in our backyard. He is a very sweet and loving dog, but seems to thrive in one-on-one situations, as opposed to our loud and energetic house. Kya too, seems happier when Rupert is out of the house. They are both 'one-pup household' dogs, and seem to bring out the worst in each other at times. (One barks, the other barks louder, the first starts jumping at the window, all of a sudden it's a madhouse of flying fur.)

We love our dogs, and we love our kids, and right now our family of four plus two is not changing. But we are carefully considering our options, and looking to see if perhaps there is another home that may be better suited for good ol' Rupert. Or maybe we should just move to the country...


Miss Poppy - One year in (almost!)

This little babe is nearing the one year mark, and she is full of energy! At twenty-two pounds she's heavier than her brother was at this age, but that's not surprising given that she is in the 85th percentile for height and weight. I've been slowly packing up the 6-12 month clothes as they get too small, and her wardrobe is getting smaller and smaller as we run out of things that fit. A smaller wardrobe is ok with me actually, as having too many clothes just seems to create chaos. I feel badly when we don't wear something enough, and then I get frustrated in the mornings as I riffle through over-stuffed drawers and can't find that one pair of black leggings. Simple is best, especially when it comes to growing babes and their clothes. They don't need a lot.

This little weed is out-eating her brother on most days, unless he happens to have pancakes in front of him. He might win that one, but she'd put up a good fight. She is still eating pretty much everything we give her, with the exception of a creamy cauliflower soup I made last week - that she turned her nose up at. We are still nursing 3-4 times per day - morning, nap, around dinner, and bed.

Miss Poppy understands so much these days. She signs 'all done' when finished with a meal, and waves hello and good-bye. She gives hugs, and kisses occasionally. Today she grabbed her favourite book from a pile - 'Dear Zoo' - and I asked her to bring it to me so we could read together. Beaming, she grabbed the book and raced over to me, holding the book out so that I could take it from her. In the mornings she sometimes watches baby einstein (the farm episode only) with Tyler as I get ready. A couple days ago we were cuddling and playing around when Tyler asked, 'do you want to watch baby einstein, Poppy?' She leapt out of my arms and into his, and assumed her favourite cuddle position. When I say bathtime she heads for the tub... and I could go on:) She's a smart one, this beautiful babe of ours!

I'm not going to say anything about sleep, because I've talked about it to death and really, it doesn't define her. She's not a great sleeper and maybe she never will be. I think I'm finally making peace with it.

We are looking forward to celebrating her first birthday next month - Soren is insisting that I make her a cake in the shape of a baby doll, but he's offered to help so I'm sure he knows what to do. He is mostly too rough with her, always poking at her and bothering her until she cries, and he ends up in timeout. It's not really mean behaviour, just little things like throwing a blanket on her head that she clearly doesn't like, and he never seems to tire of doing it. Days are lively around the Linden house, that is for sure. But we're happy and healthy, and are counting our blessings that we get to spend so much time together.


My son wants to marry me

Last week we were driving home from a playgroup when the conversation turned to weddings. "Who would you like to marry?', I asked Soren. He thought about it for a minute, and then replied with 'You! I want to marry you, Mommy! And you can wear your net on your head, and I will wear a tie because I'll be big!' It was one of the sweetest things I've ever heard, as cliche as it may sound. Tomorrow, Tyler and I will celebrate five years of marriage. I was interested in knowing what the average length of a marriage is today, and was brought to the stats canada website. While I couldn't figure out the average marriage length, I had to chuckle at one little point - 'people who do not subsequently re-marry after a divorce keep their legal status of divorced, regardless of if they are in a common-law relationship'. How miserable is that? Why couldn't you revert back to 'single', instead of staying divorced forever?!

Luckily, we are not headed for divorce. After five years of marriage, and two children, we are definitely in the busy stage of life. Days are long, money is tight, and we argue over stupid little things. We don't get to go on dates very often, and the days of sleeping late and going out for brunch are long gone. But... I know they will be back. Today is busy, tomorrow will be busy, next year will be busy. But all too quickly we will blink and our babies will be adults, and then it will be just the two of us again. It's a journey, and it's challenging at times, but I've found a great partner. He supports me through everything, and I couldn't imagine my life without him.

If we are not too tired we are excited to drink a bottle of wine that was given to us at our wedding! It was labelled 'do not drink for five years, until September 19, 2014'. For years 2014 seemed SO FAR AWAY, and yet here we are. Cheers!


Winnipeg is pretty awesome these days

Learning, exploring, having fun… what more could you ask for? The assiniboine park zoo has undergone massive renovations and is now open with their new exhibit - Journey to Churchill. We went last week with my dad, and he ever so generously bought us a family membership. On sunday we woke up and decided to go again - this time with Tyler. There are things to do for all ages, and the park really is stunning. I haven't seen the polar bears in the water yet though, which will definitely be a highlight.

Winnipeg sometimes has a bad reputation amongst cities and places to live, but in recent months (and years) it feels like it is on the up and up. Some of our other favourite fall things to do include:

a maze in corn, we went last year
- stocking up on harvest veggies at the st. norbert farmers market
the manitoba museum - great for kids! We like it even more than touch the universe, which is designed for kids. Soren loves the displays and learning about history.
shelmerdines, especially when they start their fall 'halloween fun zone'. We went last year as one of our first outings as a family of four
- Kidspot at waverly church. If you are in Winnipeg this is a great (free) outing that is open five mornings a week. It's like a massive indoor playground - perfect when the air is too chilly to play outside
- picking pumpkins at Schwabe Pumpkins on henderson hwy. Super cute place! Here's some shots from last year
fall suppers
fort whyte - we haven't been for awhile, and it's so pretty in the fall
pineridge hollow - I've heard great things about this place, but never been! The decor looks so pretty.

We are also excitedly awaiting the opening of the new Canadian Human Rights Museum, and I managed to get free preview tickets for this weekend. So there you have it, our fall 'bucket list', of sorts. If you have suggestions to add please let me know:)