We've spent the last month preparing for this weekend's London Bridal Expo at Western Fair, which runs Saturday and Sunday. It's hard to express how thankful we are for Anjhela's father, Patrick Michielsen of Sylvan Kitchens, for the work he put into making our set one of the best at the show. If only they would change the floor colour. Next time, we'll have to bring in our own flooring, but we're still learning! Here are some photos of Pat at work on site today, plus the finished booth. He also made the stunning live-edge walnut table we'll be using to show off our albums. If you're interested in it or other similar tables (you should see our coffee table!), drop me a note.
We got a fair bit of snow on New Year's Day, and we thought Iris might enjoy a reminder of the place where she was born. So we bundled her up in her snowsuit and went out to play...
Who would have predicted, even just three months ago, that we would have spent Christmas Day in Parkhill hosting all of Iris's grandparents? When we were driving back to the airport to return to Nunavut that fateful September day, being able to spend such occasions with our family certainly became a mitigating factor in our decision. We haven't been home for Christmas for the past three years, so it was a real joy to see our families (short of my brother and nephew, who were working out west) this year, and to spend today in our new place with my parents and Anjhela's parents.
For our fine feast, here's the Jamie Oliver mushroom risotto I made with acorn squash, and the cake Anjhela's sister Leanne made (with a hint of blueberry inside, yum!):
The reasons we moved home:
Iris and her grandparents:
And Iris sends out her wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone in our lives (thanks to aunt Val and uncle Mike for the cute outfit).
Looking forward to reconnecting with you soon, with a revived 365 blog of sorts for the year 2013. Stay tuned! Lots of love from all of us.
Today is a milestone for us, as Iris turns six months. I remember the fateful Sunday night: we were resting just before midnight when I realized Anjhela should go to the hospital. Oddly, the weather in Iqaluit on May 28 resembled today's weather here in Sylvan, Ontario. Hopefully the weather is slightly warmer for Iris's first birthday! Those reading between the lines will see that I mentioned we are in Sylvan, Ontario, where I have been for a month now, and where Anjhela and Iris have been since August. We decided not to stay in Iqaluit so Iris could get to know her grandparents and extended family, and vice versa. It just didn't seem fair to go back North, and Anjhela would have been cooped up for the winter anyway.
So we will move into a house in Parkhill Dec. 10, and we will have a studio in the back of the house for client visits and for photography classes. It's hard to miss the home Anjhela's grandparents built: it has the words Sweet Home in the front brickwork. Sounds good to me!
I am eager to be part of the Parkhill/Grand Bend/Exeter communities again, but this time principally as a photographer and educator. If you know someone getting married in the next year or two, I would appreciate any business you send my way. I am also keen to do more family photography in familiar locations, and portraits in our studio.
I recently updated my portfolio at http://www.caseylessard.com, where you will see how my work has progressed over the past two years to a fine art, lifestyle form of wedding portraiture combined with the photojournalism you expect from my work.
If you have any ideas how I can work with you to meet your needs, feel free to call 519-494-6236 or use my contact form.
In the meantime, here are a few photos of Iris on her half-birthday!
An ice island that broke off Petermann Fjord in Greenland in 2010 may be to blame for an ice flotilla that has spent the summer in Iqaluit's Frobisher Bay. Locals say it has been decades since there has been sea ice in the bay in August. Cognizant of rumours that polar bears like to hunt stealthily from between the icebergs, I got a quick up-close glance at these beautiful bergs.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lg-gYjklsOQ]
Sometimes it feels as though Iris is bored, so what's a new parent to do? Thanks to Karen Brown, we've been able to show her the joys of a Jolly Jumper, thanks to Montessori, she's shown she loves the latest mobile we've set up, and thanks to mom and dad's strong shoulders, we've seen that gently swinging her in her car seat can put her to sleep (eventually). But sometimes you have to pull out the biggest weapon: television. However, we don't have one, so YouTube it is. Check the video to see her reaction to watching Baby Einstein on YouTube. P.S. if you have ways to energize and relax a baby, let us know!
Since the day our potty arrived, one month after our baby was born, we have been successfully helping her use it. That's right, our one-month-old baby uses the potty. It's pretty common anywhere other than the Western world to pick up hints when your baby needs to go to the washroom, so we've learned how to take our baby's cues and get her on the potty. This is called elimination communication, and it's pretty easy to do. It works almost all the time, except for some late night misses. What a relief, though, as we save a lot of hassle cleaning dirty cloth diapers. Those who use paper diapers would save lots of cash doing this.
If you're considering doing this with your baby, there are some good books out there, but our favourite is Diaper Free by Ingrid Bauer. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this.
Iris gets the royal treatment in our house, as should be expected. We're only weeks away from heading south for a summer vacation, and we're looking forward to sharing the joy of being with our princess with our family and friends. We're going to hold court at a friend's house in late August or early September to save Iris from getting worn out. Stay tuned if you're interested in coming out and visiting us in Exeter.
So after being on Canada AM for a brief shining moment as the show broadcast from the Nunavut legislature Monday morning, Anjhela, Iris and I decided to go to Joamie School this morning and see if we could all get on TV. We saw lots of friendly faces from the community, and lots of unfriendly mosquitoes. It was worth it, though... we were all on TV! You can see me in the final minute dancing in the background from Monday's show.
And you can see all of us (well, Iris is covered by a blanket - darn!) in the Arctic Circle segment, and I'm taking photos in the Arctic Games segment on today's show
Here are some photos of Anjhela and Iris (who is wearing a cute hat made by a friend of Anjhela's, and a seal skin flower made by an elder in Pond Inlet), as well as host Jeff Hutcheson learning to do the one-foot high kick with Thomas Anguti Johnston and Johnny Issaluk. To see a guy hit 9'2", visit the Arctic Games section of my portfolio site.
Anjhela suggested I should post a list of some of the products that have been making our life easier over the past little while, so here goes. For us, life is good when we are able to do a few things: avoid sleepless nights, avoid getting puked on, and avoid changing and cleaning our cloth diapers.
- Ergo Baby carrier
- Dr. Harvey Karp's Soothing White Noise Sleep Sounds
- Mimijumi bottles
- Applecheeks cloth diapers
- hoppop Donut Potty
- The Potty Pail
This carrier, with the infant insert, makes baby cuddle up nice and cozy enough for even a brisk walk in the Arctic spring. I'm still learning how to get her legs in a good spot to keep her comfortable, but we're getting there. Walking in this knocks Iris right out.
This lamb's wool blanket is pretty nice. Even I like to have my legs on it. It's a great pillow and bed for baby.
These songs, designed by the author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, are supposed to put even the fussiest baby to sleep. They work.
We supplement breastfeeding with some formula, so we use these bottles that look like a real nipple. I'm still not sure how I feel about these bottles, as they don't make a perfect seal on her mouth, but I'm getting the hang of it. Even with a bad seal, they've helped reduce the amount of gas in baby's belly. And that helps stop the puking, from our experience.
We love these cloth diapers. They are expensive (we bought off someone here for about half price), but they are a money saver, especially in the Arctic, and are so easy to use. Plus they're very cute.
Yes, at one month, Iris is using a potty. After she wakes and after she eats, we hold her over it. We make noises to inspire elimination, and it really works. We've even facilitated a BM. Saves us from cleaning another diaper!
But when we have to clean a diaper, the Potty Pail is a life saver. With a sprayer, we can clean the cloth diapers quickly and without getting our hands dirty. I don't know how parents stuck with cloth diapers without this must-have invention.
As this is a photography blog, you're probably expecting some photos, so I won't disappoint. Iris is now just over a month old, so we're starting to get into a routine. She loves baths...
... but not as much as she loves sleeping on mom's belly. Luckily another one of our routines is taking a nightly walk, which gives Anjhela a chance to leave the recliner.
If you received our newsletter, you've seen the smiles we can get from Iris. To be fair, the one in the newsletter was probably not a real smile, but she's lighting up the room now. We're not sure yet what colour her eyes will be, but we're leaning toward blue. It's a colour that suits her well, but we're mainly saying that because a lot of her clothes are hand-me-downs from her male cousins Quinn and Rhys.
Being a dad is the most fundamentally creative thing a man can do. Forget inventing the Internet, Al Gore; your most creative act was helping give life to your kids. I like to consider myself a creative person, having been able to make a living making photographs and writing stories. But often I find words and photos are not enough to describe what it's like to wake up and change diapers, make meals for Anj while she breastfeeds, and let Iris cozy up against my chest. More important than any portfolio shot or writing award, this is what life is about.
I have to give a shout out to my brothers and brothers-in-law, who all know what I'm talking about. I'm the last in the family to join this club, but I never really got a sense of how important I would feel doing the things I describe above.
And to my dad, well, thanks for making me so I could have this day.
Happy Father's Day to every dad. I know it's a happy one for me!
Be sure to go past the photos and check out the little video of Iris and me hanging out.
I love to use natural light when I can, and we get about 24 hours of it these days (we know because we're up all hours of the night). We have a great big patio door in our living room, which allows for great light, at least for a few months. Better take advantage of it while it lasts, as come December, it's short-lived.
One thing I've learned about luxury products: they never go on sale. That's for a reason. Once you discount a luxury product, people will assume it is worth the sale price, not the full price, and won't pay full price again. If your product is worth a premium, don't undercut its value. That's why we got a pleasant shock today at NorthMart, where all winter I've walked past the gloves and pined for a pair of Canada Goose down gloves. But at $119.99, I've never been able to stomach the thought of pulling out the credit card.
Until today. On a chance visit to the store during an outing with the girls, I noticed the gloves were not in the locked case (yes, I was still looking in June!). Anj called me over to a discount cart to look at something else, and I noticed a pair of CG gloves. I wondered how much they were, and got a bit of sticker shock, in a good way. $24.99! But would they fit? Large, yes! Last pair.
Can't wait for winter. Wait, I take that back!!
After a scare that Iris wasn't gaining enough weight, she finally had a surge this weekend and returned to her birth weight by the two-week mark, right on time. We haven't gotten a lot of sleep, and we don't have much time for much else (including photos and updates), as Iris consumes all of our time. We wouldn't have it any other way. As a side note, we have made some very good investments as new parents. Cognizant of the outrageous cost of diapers here, we are using cloth diapers, but with that comes the necessity for The Potty Pail and Sprayer. Seriously. My shirt is thankful for it (I won't go into details).
Sometimes I have to remind myself that a great portrait doesn't need to show the person's face. Thanks for the reminder, Case.
I'm sure the Apple version of FaceTime is great, but face time with Iris is way better. We spent about 20 minutes today just staring at each other. That 20 minutes was awesome, so I can only imagine how great it is for Anjhela, who gets many hours of skin-to-skin contact with the little one. Paradise for this little girl is hanging out with mom. But today's 20 minutes was yesterday's 15 and the day before's 10. Someday I'll get equal billing, I hope! BTW, if you're wondering, almost all of my photos with Iris are taken using Canon's 50mm f1.4 lens.
God, I love this kid. My world has been flipped upside down, and she is so cute and sweet. Yesterday she was enjoying face time, but today, she's obsessed with breasts. I understand that sentiment. Not just any breasts, though. She won't accept my hairy nipples as a mommy substitute, but doesn't mind sucking my finger in the times mom needs a break.
Iqaluit, Nunavut - Iris is a true Arctic baby. Born at Iqaluit's Qikiqtani General Hospital Monday, May 28, 2012 at 2:46 a.m., she entered the world in the twilight hours of a sub-zero night, and a dusting of snow fell to cover the ground.Weighing 7 lb 14.8 oz and 18.5" long, Iris is just right, in our eyes at least. She cried when her head emerged, and quickly took to life on - instead of in - mom's belly, where she stayed for several hours. She's been breast-feeding well, and isn't fussy. She rests a lot and eats when she is awake. She also likes cradling in daddy's arms, finding the crook of my elbow quite comfortable. She has a head of black hair and a strong neck: within the first 24 hours, she lifted her head for about 10 seconds during belly time on mom's chest, and got a good look at her mom's lovely face. We came home today and enjoyed some pita pizzas, and she's been resting in the car seat beside my desk since. I don't dare wake her from her beauty rest! During one of her first moments, she was comforted by the sound of my voice humming Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, which we listened to several times Sunday while looking for a decent version with real cannon fire. She's found our regimen of classical music soothing today as well, which is a contrast to the fire alarm howl as the power goes off, which it did earlier this afternoon. Anjhela is napping and is very happy to be home. I'm happy to be able to share a few days alone nesting with my girls. Life is good.
The countdown is on for our Iqaluit, Nunavut baby
The time is ticking away before Anjhela becomes a mom and I become a dad. These are exciting times for us, and I'm not sure you're ever ready for the change that comes from becoming a parent.
Anj's belly is quite big, but she doesn't look any different from the back, other than the fact that the bump is visible at the sides. Otherwise, it's sometimes easy to forget she's pregnant.
Anjhela keeps saying she wants to go into labour now, but I'm going to miss the bump. That said, we're both looking forward to seeing the person behind it.
People keep asking if we will be having our baby here, which of course we will. Qikiqtani General Hospital is just around the corner, and the doctors take a midwife-style approach to childbirth, saying it's a natural life event, so they embrace that.
We plan to head to Ontario for vacation at the end of August for four weeks, so hopefully by then our baby will be ready to take her first trip with us, and ready to meet her grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as our friends.
Becoming a dad is not something I ever thought about, so I hope I am up for the challenge! If you have any advice, please tell me in the comments section below.
P.S. I now have a newsletter notice below, as I plan to update this site quite regularly once the baby comes. If you'd like to stay up to date on what we're doing, please sign up. I won't be a pest!