Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Mommy Club

My younger brother (Middle Brother) has an antique spinning wheel.  All but one of the spokes on the wheel are identical.  One of the spokes though is just a little bit different.  It's still part of the wheel, but just different enough to be the odd one out.
Much of the time I have felt like that "odd" spoke.  I might be part of a group, but never quite fit in.  I can be a little awkward, and just in general, different.  I never quite felt like I was at the same place in life as my peers.
In all the lonely times, especially as I got older, I held onto the fact that one day I would belong to "The Mommy Club".  The Mommy Club, in my mind, was the club that all mommies belonged to.  You didn't have to do anything to join except be a mommy.  Once you were a mommy you would belong to this unofficial club.  Every mommy would belong because they would all have something in common - they would be mommies!
Just over a year ago, I had a baby.  I could now be part of the Mommy Club.  Except I never found it.  I suspect that the mommy club is a lie, cooked up in my own psyche.  Yes, I have a baby (toddler?), yes, that makes me a mommy, but I'm still the odd spoke.  I still dance to the beat of my own drum.  I realize that the Mommy Club is as fictional as The Village in which the women all work together raising the children and looking out for each other.
They both sound like wonderful things, but like many wonderful things, they aren't necessarily real. Doesn't mean I don't often wish it were so.  I wish there was a Mommy Club, or a Village where I could kick off my shoes (or leave them on if I wanted), curl up on a couch, stretch out on the floor, or lounge on a pillow and just be with other moms who subscribed to the same philosophies that I do, or at least similar ones, or at the very least weren't adamantly opposed to them.  Maybe we'd drink some tea, maybe we would talk, or maybe we would just watch our littles be the little people that they are, not worrying about what the other mommies think about how we are parenting.
I am so fortunate to have found at least 2 other mommies in the neighborhood who I can mostly relax with - and as I get to know them better, and they get to know me better, perhaps we will become a Mommy Club.  But even if we don't, that's okay too.
The Mommy Club doesn't have to exist for me to belong.   My parenting styles don't have to match up with anyone else's.**  I do not have to defend my parenting to anyone else.   Having the support of other parents who follow similar styles is great, but I'm learning that it doesn't have to be shared face to face over a cup of tea.  My "village" is spread around the globe, and consists of hundreds of people. I can't talk to most of them about everything, but I can talk to all of them about something. I have a group I can ask questions about babywearing (however, getting hands on help for those back carries is hard on the internet!), another group I can ask about why my son has decided to stop using the potty, another I can ask about which essential oils will most effectively treat my husband's cold, and another I can turn to for support when it comes to sorting out thing related to Bean's hearing loss.  So it's not just one village, but lots of villages and I can travel from village to village with a click of the mouse.   This virtual metropolis will never quite replace The Village of bygone days (if that Village ever truly existed), nor will it replace The Mommy Club (which I suspect never actually existed), but it will be good enough.   Because when I march to the beat of my own drum, I know who will be with me all the way:

**My parenting style does have to be compatible with my husband - this parenting gig is a two person job, but other than him, everyone else can go fly a kite (and he can too, as long as he takes the Bean with him)

Monday, October 06, 2014

I am NOT a human pacifier!

The other day I was at a large baby show with many different vendors and information booths.  As per my usual I perused the various booths, collecting information, chatting with vendors that I had seen at other shows (perhaps this is a sign that I go to too many shows?), and generally having a good time.  One of the booths I saw was advertising help with sleep.  I've got a 9.5 month old...getting sleep advice is seldom a bad idea, especially since said 9.5 month old doesn't like napping.
So I stopped and started chatting with the vendor.  She asked how sleep was going.  I told her that Bean didn't like to nap and that he slept alright at night as long as he was attached to me (we co-sleep and he likes to nurse).  I told her that if I wanted him to sleep during the day I either had to lay down with him or put him in a carrier.  She looked at me and said "Oh, so you're just a human pacifier for him".
What I wanted to say and what I did say at that moment were two very different things. What I did say wasn't much.  I nodded my head, took her card, jiggled Bean in his carrier as if he was fussing (which he was a little) and told her that I needed to keep moving.
What I wanted to say was far less polite and would have taken more guts and quick thinking that I possessed at the time.  Here is my answer to her and anyone else who wants to call me a human pacifier:
"I am NOT a human pacifier.  A pacifier is a plastic, rubber, or silicone piece of equipment that is used to placate a baby in place of meeting the actual need of the baby.  I do not hate pacifiers and have even used them on occasion with Bean, but I am not a pacifier.
I am a mother.  When Bean cries and wants to snuggle in with me at night, he's not using me as a pacifier, he's showing me how smart he is.  He knows that being close to mom is a safe place to be and that I will keep him safe.   When he wants to take a nap in a carrier on my back (or front) he's telling me the same thing.  He's saying loud and clear "I love you Mom and I know you'll keep me safe and I can sleep peacefully when you are here."
When he wants to nurse he's not using me as a pacifier, he's telling me that he's growing and needs to eat more.  When he wants to be close to me he's telling me that he's scared or confused or lonely or that this big world is simply overwhelming him.
No, I am not a human pacifier.  I am a Mom.  I listen to my baby and do my best to give him what he needs.  And sometimes, what he needs is my breast.  Other times he just needs to be held close to me and know that I am there for him.
There are other times when he wants nothing to do with me.  When his Uncle Ben walks in the door I am quickly forgotten.  When he wants to rough house with Daddy or Uncle Isaac or Uncle Reuben he will push me away so that they will take him and play with him.  When he wants to climb or get into the dog's water or play with the fire place tools, he will look at me with his impish grin and get into whatever trouble he wants to get into.
But when he needs me, when he wants me, I will be there for him, whether it's for a snuggle against my chest or a snack from my breast, I will be there for him - I am his mother, not a human pacifier."

That's what I wanted to say.

That thing in his mouth?  That's a pacifier.  That's not me.  I'm not green.  Nor am I that small. Nor is he allowed to chew on me like that!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

General Update: Bean

Time for some general update posting! I'm going to start with Bean.  Bean is now 9 months old and is dashingly handsome!
Reality check: He usually isn't dressed quite that stunningly - we'd just gotten home from church when I snapped that photo.  Typically he looks more like this: 
or this: 
Last time I checked his mouth he had four teeth.  His central incisors on the bottom are through and his lateral incisors on the top are through.  He absolutely hates people sticking their fingers in his mouth so it is really hard to get a good look at how many teeth he has. 

He is having a lot of fun playing with solid foods.  We are loosely following Baby-led weaning, which for us means that whatever we are eating he gets a little bit to eat, with a few exceptions.  He does not get any grains, nuts, or dairy yet.  Other than that, it's pretty much all good.  He goes through phases where he has a particularly favored food.  Right now it is peas and carrots, often meat is right up at the top of his list as well.  If mama has it, he wants it.  If daddy has it, he absolutely must have it!

Bean is becoming increasingly more mobile.  He can crawl with lightning speed and is pulling himself to stand and walking along furniture and such.  He also loves to climb.  If it can be climbed, he will climb it.  We picked a climber up for him at a yard sale yesterday and he loves it.  I don't have any pictures of him on it yet though. 

He has also discovered the piano.  If the door between our apartment and the big house is open, he will frequently make a beeline for the piano.  He can pull himself up to reach the keys on his own, but particularly likes it if someone holds him on their lap so that he can reach more of the keys.  In a pinch his highchair also works as a piano chair.  The hardest part is keeping the music out of his reach because he is very much at the stage that everything and anything goes in his mouth!

Bean is not great at taking naps yet, but is getting much better at sleeping during the night (not that he was ever bad at sleeping at night). He will usually nap on my back in a carrier during the morning and we often lay down together in the afternoon for "milk and snuggles" or if that's not an option, he goes on my back in a carrier again (or on my front, depending on what is going on).  On very rare occasions I get him to lay down in his bed for a nap and then I take picture as proof that it actually happened:
We are still waiting to get a definitive "pass" on his hearing test.  We had one in September and it didn't go so well - it was neither a pass nor a fail.  We have another one coming up this  month, so hopefully we will get a definitive answer.  He does appear to hear things okay, so we aren't too worried. In the meantime I occasionally use some sign with him, but that would happen whether he could hear or not. 

All in all, he's a pretty great kid and I think we'll keep him around :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Health Update

Someone asked me awhile back how my health was doing because I hadn't said anything about it recently.  She wondered if that meant I wasn't having any more seizures.  I wish that were the case, but it is not.  So this post will be a health update on me.  If that doesn't interest you, you might not want to read rest of this post.  And that is fine with me.
My last seizure was the end of August, so almost a month ago.  The one before that was in March.  Both times I could have predicted that a seizure was likely to happen well before it happened.  That's both a good thing and a bad thing.  It's great because it means that I know my body and I know what is likely to trigger a seizure and what my "perfect storm" is when it comes to seizures.  It's not so great because it means that I have had enough seizures now that I know what my "perfect storm" is...  I'll be seeing my neurologist later this week and we'll see if he has any astounding insights to add.  Maybe (fingers crossed) we'll be able to start reducing some of my medication - I'm still on the same amount that I was when I was nine months pregnant with Bean...

The headaches are still there.  Most days the headache hangs out around a 3 or so, though about a week ago it stayed at a 7-8 for most of a week.  That was not a fun week.

If I don't eat anything I'm allergic to, I'm good. :) I haven't used an EpiPen since last spring sometime, so this is a good sign.  Bean however is showing some signs of a potential dairy allergy which doesn't make me happy at all.

yup, ears are still broken.  It makes life amusing sometimes.  Today after school Littlest Brother was telling me he was going to the bush to fell trees.  He told me that if I needed him he'd have the tractor and chainsaw.  What I heard was him telling me that if I needed him to follow "vector chainsaw" which only made marginal sense, but sounded way cooler.

Other stuff
The newest "health" thing going on is something I call "sunburn syndrome".  So far no one actually knows what it is.  Everyone except my neurologist thinks it is a neurological problem - my neurologist referred me to a dermatologist.  So here's what it is:  Basically my body feels like it is sunburnt over a large portion of it at any given time.  It actually started when I was in highschool, but at the time would only happen 1-4 times a year and for less than 24 hours at a time.  Since about April/May it's been pretty constant.  It's annoying and irritating, but not the end of the world.  Combined with that has been a lot of deep muscle/bone/joint pain.  If you know what it feels like to close a car door forcibly on your arm, you have a general idea of the kind of pain - a kind of deep aching pain that you can't touch because it's so deep.  It strikes at anytime in anyplace.
The pain and the burning seem to go hand in hand, inasmuch as when one is worse, so is the other.  OTC pain relievers don't really do much for the pain or burning so I've pretty much given up on them.  Most days I just grin and bear it and try not to complain about it.
The doctor gave me one drug to try and calm my brain down so I wouldn't hurt as bad and it turned me into a narcoleptic zombie or something...all I wanted to do was sleep.  I couldn't form coherent thoughts, carry on a meaningful conversation or really function at all.  And it started affecting muscle control in my hands.  So I stopped taking it (with doctor's permision of course).  So then we tried another one and it pretty much had the opposite effect.  I didn't sleep at all.  Neither did Bean.  And my headaches were horrible.  I cannot function without sleep (one ingredient to my "perfect storm" is a lack of sleep) and I cannot function without sleep when I have a baby who is also not sleeping.  So I stopped that drug too.
I'm not sure what the next plan is.  What I'd really like to know is what this is and what is causing it. If you are the praying sort and want to pray for me, this would definitely be an area of concern - both the not knowing what is going on and the dealing with the pain part.

That's the super quick basic health update for those who are wondering.  I'll try and do a general life update sometime soon too.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bug Screen, otherwise known as: My husbandy is awesome

Summer has arrived in full force - meaning lots of sunshine and lots of outdoor time.  In years past I have made the transition from "lots of clothes on in winter" to "lots of bare skin in summer" (which, let's face it, basically means sweater and socks to t-shirt and sandals) without paying too much attention to it.  I was genetically endowed with naturally dark skin - sun burns really were never a concern for me and I soaked up as much vitamin D as I possibly could.  This year however, I had a little someone to think of, and this little someone did not win the genetic lottery when it came to the amount of melanin in his skin - he is as white as white can be.
As important as vitamin D is, I did not want Bean getting burnt.  But I also didn't want to slather him in the chemicals found traditional sunscreen.  So I took to the internets hunting down a recipe that would work for us.  I found this one (link opens in a new window) and whipped up a batch.

We were all set for fun in the sun when the mosquitoes began to take over the world.  Time to whip up some mosquito repellent.  I scoured the internets again, hunting for the perfect recipe that I would be comfortable with using on Bean.  My searches led me here (link opens in a new window).  I decided I would rather have it in a cream base instead of a liquid (less likely to make a mess), so I told Husbandy that I was going to use the same base that I used for the sunscreen, leave out the zinc oxide and put the mosquito repelling oils in instead.  This is where Husbandy's brilliance shone through.  He proposed that I not leave out the zinc oxide and instead mix the mosquito repelling oils in with the sunscreen!  In my mind it was a revolution - sunscreen that was also mosquito repellent!  Or mosquito repellent that was also sunscreen!   I set to work and our new invention, based off of the two recipes linked above was born - Bug Screen!

Here is the recipe I ultimately ended up using (ever so slightly altered from the first two):
1/2 Cup olive oil
1/4 Cup beeswax
1/4 Cup coconut oil
2 TBSP zinc oxide powder
60 drops lemongrass essential oil
40 drops eucalyptus essential oil
20 drops peppermint essential oil
16 drops tea tree essential oil
4 (ish) drops lavender essential oil

Since I made the sunscreen first and then later turned it in to bug screen I melted the first three ingredients together in a double boiler (glass jar in a pan of boiling water) and then mixed the zinc oxide powder in, stirring super well to make sure the zinc oxide didn't clump.  While it cooled I stirred it periodically to make sure it didn't settle out.   When I was ready to turn it into bug screen, I remelted the sunscreen and added the essential oils in, stirring well to incorporate.  
If I were doing it again, I'd melt the first three oils together, add the essential oils and then add the zinc oxide at the end.

It appears to work well and is non-toxic - Husbandy tricked Littlest Brother into tasting some of it, and he lived - however he says it doesn't taste real great ;)

Bean enjoying some splash pad fun

Friday, June 06, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Hands

It's been a while since I joined in the party, but it's that time of the week again -  Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker - five minutes of unscripted, unedited writing based on the same prompt that hundreds of other bloggers are writing on today.  This week's prompt is: Hands.

Hands shape the world and hands change the world.  Two appendages, each with five digits and they can hold the whole world.  My hands can (and do) tell stories - I use them to make the words when I can't hear what's going on around me, I wave them wildly when I'm excited and slowly and heavily when I'm not.  I use them to sing.
My hands also bring the world.  They bring the world to my son as I take him form place to place, as  I gently carry him and gently care for him.
My hands show my day.  Today they are dry and clean - evidence of an afternoon spent in the pool.  Yesterday they were dusty and dirty - evidence of a morning spent skirting alpaca fleeces. They've been cut and blistered and burnt and roughened.  They tell where I have been.
My hands also bring these words into being.  Without my hands I could not type these words, I could not express myself here, in this format.  My hands do that.
My hands.  They are the part of me that so many people see.  Hands are what I watch.  They tell so many stories.  Stories of where people have been and where people are going.  Stories of wonder.  Stories of sadness.   Tiny hands, big hands.

I love watching these little hands grow!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014


For the majority of my life thus far I have been a formal student - that is, enrolled in some type of formal academic program.  I lived and breathed and slept and sweated and cried academia.  My life had a rhythm that was dictated from outside of itself - the rhythm of the school year. It ebbed and flowed like the tide, cresting at midterms and finals, and entering a trough during the hot summer months, only to start up again in the fall. There were smaller troughs throughout the year when we had short breaks for Christmas, Easter, March, Thanksgiving and other such occasions.  Th rhythm was as predictable as it was familiar.   Busy times and less busy times.  Stressful times and less stressful times.

I'm still a student, though at a much slower pace, but primarily I am a mother.  My life has a different rhythm now, although it is still dictated outside of itself - this time by a squirmy little Bean rather than a calendar.  Our days settle into a rhythm of eating, sleeping, toileting, playing...however the rhythm is not nearly as predictable or familiar as the academic rhythm was.  If the academic rhythm was a steady march the rhythm of being a mom is a swing dance inspired by a group who is making up the music as they go along.

Along with the daily rhythm of being a mom comes the rhythm of living on the farm.  This rhythm not only goes from day to day but also cycles through the year.  While we don't plant seed (except for a few small container gardens) and will not (likely) be harvesting any hay this year, the rhythm of farm life is still dictated by the weather and cycles through the year, with only minor variations from year to year.  Spring brings the Alpaca Ontario show, followed by shearing, birthing, breeding, fencing and all manner of other summer activities - with swim team thrown in there for good measure.  The fall brings the Rockton Fair and the Alpaca Ontario sponsored fall show (this year it will be the all new Cavalcade of Champions), followed by Christmas craft shows.  The rhythm of farm life could be compared to a square dance - dances between couples (the day to day rhythm) taking place within the larger dance of the square (the yearly rhythm).

Dancing to the rhythm allows us to find order in our lives.  The rhythm give us all something in common, a common link, a common beat.  However, no matter the dance there is a something that all dances have in common: the need for rest.

When I got sick in 2008 I learned that my dance, my own personal rhythm would require more rests than the average dance.  My rhythm was slower.  There were are times when I forget that my rhythm is slower, that my dance requires great rests, and I pay dearly for those times.  It would be an untruth to say that I have completely embraced this slower pace of life - there are still times it frustrates me to no end that I have to slow down.  But it has taught me to savor the slow times.  It has taught me that without the rests, the dance becomes a dance marathon where you dance feverishly until you drop and a rest becomes forced.  Forced rests are not nearly enjoyable as rests that you choose - take it from someone who has been forced to rest many times.

You can't stop the dance altogether and you can't completely change the rhythm - especially when it is a rhythm from without - but you can choose to sit out part of the dance.  You can choose to take a pause, sit a spell, rest, and then join back into the dance.  I think that all dances would be better, and all dancers would do better, if our rhythms had more breaks, more rests, built in.  Life is not a dance marathon (unless dance marathons are your thing), but a dance party.  Take time to sip some punch, eat some chips, and catch up with friends.

The beat goes on!
Some rhythms are just plain special in and of themselves....

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Surprises in Parenting: It doesn't have to be just one way

Before Bean was born I did some reading on parenting philosophies. I'd listened to some friends talk, read some blogs, and done a lot of thinking.  I had my mind pretty set on a particular style of parenting and planned on reading more about it and following it.  I figured that a solid base of one particular parenting style would be what I needed to get started on this journey of being a parent.
I was wrong.
I still don't have it all figured out, but I have learned that it is okay, and perhaps even good, to draw from multiple parenting philosophies to create the base upon which Husbandy and I want to draw as we figure out this parenting thing.
I've learned that it is okay to read through the tenets of a particular philosophy, choose the ones that work in our context and let go of the rest.  I've learned to be okay with modifying tenets of various philosophies in order to make them work better in our setting.  One example that comes to mind readily is how we looked at the Montessori guidelines for allowing an infant to start exploring self feeding - giving the child real dishes (plate, cup, pitcher, etc) that are their size, yet identical to the corresponding adult dishes, which means glass.  The Montessori guidelines emphasize that even very young children can be taught to use appropriate care when handling breakable objects.
The Montessori guidelines, in combination with the new Health Canada infant feeding guidelines affirmed our decision to skip the sippy cup and go with an open cup (child sized) right from the time we introduce a cup.  However, we could not get around the idea of giving a 6-8 month old child a glass cup (often a shot glass or votive candle holder is used to get a child-sized glass cup).  So we put our heads together and came up with another option - a slightly weighted, translucent plastic cup.   For us that was a way of modifying existing philosophies to make them work in our context.  We kept the idea of a clear, realistic, open top, child-sized cup, but decided to make it much harder to break.
Naturally we'll see how well it works when we try to introduce a cup in the next couple of months - We could be in for another surprise!
Overall, coming to the realization that parenting Bean doesn't have to be based on just one style or philosophy of parenting has been very freeing.  It has allowed me to relax more about what I choose to do (or not do) and not worry about breaking the "rules" of a particular style/philosophy.  In a sense, it's given me freedom to make my own rules and develop my own style - which, if I am to believe what other mamas have told me, will be completely different with Bean than it is with any future children!
And now, to finish off this post, a picture of Bean, Husbandy, and Wifey at Husbandy's graduation.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I'm back....maybe

It has been forever since I've posted anything here.  A baby kind of keeps me busy.  But now that school is done and David will be home soon, I should be able to post more regularly.  Key word being *should*.
In the meantime, some photos (all starring Bean) to tide you over (if anyone even reads this anymore).
Swimming with Mormor

Swimming with mommy
And if you want to see more swimming action, click here (video opens in another window)
Sitting on a giant catfish with daddy

Ball pit fun

Baby in a box!

Friday, February 07, 2014

Five-Minute Friday: Write

Last night Bean put himself to bed at 7 pm. Tonight, it's almost 10 and he's still going strong, despite feeding and rocking and bouncing. He's chilling in his swing right now, so maybe I'll get 5 minutes to join in the five-minute Friday party - they just might not be 5 consecutive minutes!

When it comes right down to it, I write a lot.  It's part of being a student.  I'm constantly writing discussion board posts (I'm an online masters degree student) or papers.  It's part of living in a different country than my husband.  I'm constantly writing e-mails and skype messages and facebook messages. (PAUSE)  It's part of being a Cub Scout leader.  I'm constantly writing newsletters and meeting plans and menu plans for camp.  It's part of being me.

I write because it's who I am.  Maybe no one will ever read it, maybe it will go viral and be read my millions (who am I kidding?).  I write because it's how I process life.  I write because it's neater than painting and because I'm better at writing than I am at painting.  I write because I like to believe that someone, somewhere will be interested in what I have to say and that maybe somehow, what I write will help someone out.  Perhaps I'm delusional - I'm just one person, one very ordinary person, living a very ordinary life, in a very ordinary corner of the world.  But that won't stop me from writing.  As long as I have breathe, and at least one finger to pick out keys on the keyboard, I will write.

See?  He does sleep sometimes...just no so much right now.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Visit

Bean is sleeping so I'm going to steal five minutes and take part in  Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker - five minutes of unscripted, unedited writing based on the same prompt that hundreds of other bloggers are writing on today.  This week's prompt is: Visit

Is it sad that when I hear the word "visit" the first things that come to mind are words that combine with visit?  Words such as "Doctor's" or "Dentist's" or "feeding specialist" or "audiologist" or "neurologist"?  Why in my head is the word "visit" associated most frequently with visits to medical professionals?  I guess it says something about how my last few week's have gone...visits to the midwife, the audiologist, the feeding specialist (for Bean), scheduling visits to the dentist and the doctor, being careful not to double book myself with upcoming visits to the neurologist and the lab, and hoping that certain visits won't have to be made - such as another visit to the audiologist for Bean or a follow-up dentist's visit.

I want to think of happier visits...of visits to see friends, of visits to see David at school, of visits from friends, but right now my visits are scheduled and carefully stored in my calendar.  Will there be a time for spontaneous visits again soon?  Visits that aren't scheduled weeks in advance in a myriad of different cities?  It would be nice.

Five minute Friday is one visit that I look forward to, it's a scheduled visit, but a wonderful one.


I always look at my work and then look at what others write and wonder how they write so much in five minutes...
Bean and I on the train heading to our second visit with the feeding specialist

Friday, January 17, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Encouragment

It's that time of the week again.  Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker - five minutes of unscripted, unedited writing based on the same prompt that hundreds of other bloggers are writing on today.  This week's prompt is: Encouragement.


Never underestimate the power of encouragement.  It can turn someone's day around.  It can make the seemingly impossible suddenly possible.  It can stop the flow of tears and warm the heart.  You never know what battle someone is fighting.  As a new mom I am treasuring every word of encouragement I get.  The simple: you're doing a good job or keep up the good work, sometimes babies are frustrating, can make a huge differences on the days that Bean won't sleep or when he seems to be eating constantly or is crying non-stop and I have only had 3 hours of sleep in the past 24 and haven't even had time to comb my hair or brush my teeth and the mountain of laundry is beginning to look a lot like the tower of Babel.  Those are the days that encouragement makes the biggest difference.  But it makes a difference even on the ordinary days, the days when Bean is being cooperative and I have slept.  Those are the days that I need to know that I'm doing okay too.  That I'm not being neglectful by taking care of myself while Bean swings or plays on the floor.
I know the difference encouragement makes in my life, now I need to make sure I'm conscious about encouraging others.  That's the hard part.  I find that I always want encouragement, but I'm not always very good at giving it.  It's a place I need to grow.  I don't know what everyone is going through but I can encourage them too.


you would never guess from the look on that face that he had been screaming bloody murder only moments earlier...

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

No more dirty diapers? A surprise in parenting

I don't remember the last time Bean had a dirty diaper. No, he's not sick.  Yes, he is pooping regularly - just not in his diaper.
I remember reading about something called "elimination communication" while I was pregnant, but I didn't think it was something I'd try with Bean until he could sit on his own and sign to me that he needed to go (baby sign was something that I was 100% on board with).  Bean however had other ideas...
We noticed very early on that Bean did not like to go to the bathroom in his diaper.  He'd start to fuss and nursing wouldn't fix it.  Burping him didn't fix it.  Rocking him didn't fix it.  So the next logical conclusion was to check his diaper.  We'd check it and find it dry.  But no sooner would we have the diaper off of him and he'd let loose - usually hitting David full on (I usually escaped the "shower" - I attribute that to the fact that I have more experience changing little boy diapers than David does).  So we decided to give him an opportunity to go on the toilet.  To my surprise it worked.  Bean was routinely peeing on the toilet at every diaper change.  Quickly it advanced to pooping on the toilet as well.
At first we simply held him over the adult sized toilet and let him do his thing, but I found him too heavy to do that and knew he was only going to get heavier - and he's a squiggler and doesn't hold still well.  So a trip to the store yielded a simple potty - designed for potty training.  We got some ridicule from a store clerk for buying a potty for our three week old, but we wanted to give it a try.  If it didn't work, we'd put it in storage until he was older, but it would give me the ability to have his weight supported while he went to the bathroom.
It worked.  More and more frequently he was going on the potty instead of in his diaper.  He fusses, we take his diaper off and set him on the potty.  We still have to support his trunk (he is only 3 weeks old!), but he was going on the potty.  We still have a number of wet diapers each day, but neither David nor I can remember the last dirty diaper he had.  And we're okay with that.
I guess this is just one of the parenting surprises that we will encounter on this journey.  I'm excited to see what else the journey has in store (hopefully some sleep in the near future!).

Saturday, January 04, 2014

2013 Wrap-Up

So it's already part way into 2014 and I'm just now getting to this, but I have an excuse and he's cute.  See?
I'm borrowing this from Rachel over at "A Mixed Tape" since that's where I saw it first (and actually the only place I saw this specific one).
Gained or lost weight?
Lost.  I blame, the minor shoulder surgery and major diet change of going gluten free, but really does anyone really complain when they loose weight?

Predominant feeling in 2013?
Anticipation.  I spent a large part of 2013 pregnant, not only with my Bean, but also with anticipation for Bean's arrival.

Predominant feeling for 2014?
Uncertain. David will be finishing up at Central in May and we honestly aren't sure what will be happening next. His immigration status is still in the air (if anyone knows anyone who is skilled in interpreting immigration law and sorting through paperwork and would be willing to help, we would not turn the help down.  Immigration paperwork scares me)

Something you did for the first time in 2013?
Had a baby - it's kinda  a big deal.

Something you did again in 2013 after a long pause?
In our first year of marriage, David and I mostly cooked for ourselves and left the Big House to themselves for meals.  When David went back to school in August I started cooking regularly over at the Big House, three days a week.  I wish I had something more creative to put here, but I can't think of anything right now...

Something you unfortunately did not do in 2013?
Finish Bean's quilt.  In all honesty, it's not even cut out all the way yet.  Good thing Bean has lots of blankets and quilts (and more coming I'm sure!)

Word of the year?
Listen.  It's the word that David and I decided on at the beginning of  2013 and something we focused on throughout the year...listening to each other, listening with our eyes as well as our ears, listening for what is said and not said, listening 100%... We haven't decided on our 2014 word yet.

City of the year?
"Alpaca-ville"  It's not a real city, but some days it feels like it.  So much has happened on the farm this year and I don't spend a huge amount of time in any particular place off the farm...

Hair longer or shorter?
Longer.  I haven't cut my hair since my honeymoon in 2012.  I get the urge every now and then to chop it all off again, but then I remember how much easier long hair is to take care of than short hair and decide that easy is what I need right now!

More or less money spent?
I'd say about the same.  I'd like to be able to say less and I'm working on it, but it's a struggle at times.

Highest mobile phone bill?
I honestly don't know.  My dad manages the cell phone bills for all of us and I don't pay a whole lot of attention to it.

Hospital stays?
Way too many, if ER visits count as hospital stays.  Excluding ER visits I was only overnight/admitted to hospital once - in November when I went into status epilipticus and ended up in University Hospital.  Including ER visits the following hospitals make the list for seizure related incidents: Guelph (October), Listowel (November) and Mt. Sinai in Toronto (November).  Grand River in Kitchener is the only ER visit for allergy related concerns.

(Fallen) In love?
I am madly in love with my son and continue to fall more and more in love with my husband everyday.  There are times I'm not sure my heart can hold all the love.

Most called person?
David.  With him being away at school, I called him about twice a day, every day.

Whom did you spend the most beautiful time with?
David and Bean.  The time that I was in labor with David supporting me and the moment when we first held our son...nothing is more beautiful than that.

What did you spend most of your time with?
Myself, the dog...beyond that my family in the Big House.

Song of the year?
"I Get to Be the One" by JJ Heller.
I have loved singing this song to Bean.

Book of the year?
I didn't really read much outside of school this year and none of that was super interesting.  Sad but true.  I mean, the books were alright, but it sure wasn't pleasure reading.

TV show/movie of the year?
I've watched a fair bit of Flashpoint, NCIS, NCIS LA, and Criminal Minds...especially towards the end of my pregnancy when I didn't feel like doing much and needed to sit with my feet up more than I would have liked to. TV shows helped keep me distracted.

Insight of the year?
Sometimes you have to do what is right for you, even if it is hard.  Close to the beginning of the year, David and I left the church I grew up in and started attending Listowel Mennonite Church.  It was hard to leave DRC, but 100% worth it.  We are so much happier at LMC and healthier.

Three things you totally could have done without?
Seizures, David being gone to school, and two prolonged periods without electricity (April and just before Christmas)

Most beautiful event?
Welcoming my baby boy into the world, hands down.  In fact, he is the most beautiful thing and I could stare at him all day...but I wouldn't get anything else done if I did that!

More short-sighted or more far-sighted than 2012? 
Didn't have my eyes checked in 2013 so I have no idea.

The most dangerous thing you did?
Went on a mass transit adventure with David in Toronto...we got day passes hopped on a bus and took off, no map, no idea where we were going or anything.  Just bus to street car to subway and back again over and over.  At night of course. :)

The most expensive thing you bought?
Probably Mom's Christmas gift (weaving program)...but my siblings are supposed to be chipping in on that.  We'll see if it actually happens.

The most delicious meal or food you ate?
The Valentine's dinner that David made for me.  Not only was the food delicious (bacon/cranberry meatloaf, sweet potato heads) it was prepared with love, which makes it all the more wonderful.

The best party?
I'm not much of a party-goer.  The best I can do is remember the potlucks we've had at LMC (Mennonites love their potlucks!) and perhaps Passover, which is a pretty awesome party - we didn't really "go" to Passover though, since we were the servants...

The most important thing you wanted to convince somebody of?
How loved they are. Not enough people realize how loved they are and how valuable they are to this world.

The most beautiful present you gave to somebody?
It's kinda sappy, and kinda repetitive int this post, but I "gave" my husband a baby and Bean is pretty darn beautiful.

The most beautiful present that somebody gave you?
After my really bad round of seizures, David decided that it would be good for him to come home from school earlier than planned.  However, we had already purchased his tickets.  We were given money to help with the cost of changing his tickets and that was beautiful.

The most beautiful sentence someone said to you?
"I love you"  three of the most beautiful and powerful words that exist.

The most beautiful sentence you said to someone? 
"I love you" - see above.

How will you celebrate New Year's Eve?
Well, I passed out from exhaustion about the time we finished dinner...David looked after Samuel and brought him to me when he was hungry.  I'm pretty sure I "rang in" the New Year, sound asleep, snuggling my baby in bed.

What will you have for dinner?
I don't even was food.  Probably chicken.

What drinks will be in your glasses to clink?
Water, water, and more water.

Will you ignite any fireworks? 

What are you going to wear? Comfy or glamorous?
Comfy.  Right now with a nursing baby I don't do glamorous.

Did you have any resolutions for 2013? And how about 2014? 
No and no.

What are your wishes for the new year?
That we will get David's immigration paperwork sorted out and maybe have some sort of idea how we are going to move forward.

In one word: 2013 was...

Friday, January 03, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Fight

Oma is watching Bean for a a little bit - he's got a full belly and a dry diaper - so I think I can squeeze five minutes in here, then maybe the little stinker will be ready for bed.  Three weeks old blows my mind.
Anyhow, I'm joining up with the mob over at Five Minute Friday and today's word is "Fight".
So many words used in so many ways.  But it all comes down to a fight.  A fight for what is right and good.  A fight against what is bad.  Lately a lot of things have seemed like a fight to me.  I fight to get out of bed in the morning...or perhaps struggle is a better word, especially after I've been up most the night with a fussy baby who just wants to be held and rocked and fed.  I find to stay awake during the day.  I fight to keep calm when I can seem to figure out why Bean is crying, again, or sometimes still...I fight to find a balance in my new role as a mother while maintaining my old roles as wife and student and daughter.  I fight to navigate the new steps to the dance between our house and the big house.
Despite all the fighting, despite the daily struggles to figure things out and find balance I know that I will look back at all of it one day and shake my head - one day, maybe, I'll have found the balance that I am looking for.  One day, maybe, it won't be a fight to get out of bed in the morning and stay awake during the day.  Maybe.  Someday there won't be anymore fighting for anything.  And that will be a glorious day.  But until then, until that glorious day I will keep fighting.

This face makes all the fighting worth it though...

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

A response to "Six Things Every Parent Needs to Stop Doing Right Now"

A friend of mine shared this article on facebook (opens in a new window) and it garnered a fair bit of controversy.  David and I read it and had some discussion on it and I wanted to share my thoughts on it.  Feel free to disagree, just do so respectfully if you choose to comment.

I'm just starting on my parenting journey and I know I have a lot to learn.  I don't agree with everything the author says, but she does make some valid points.

Exercising with your child in fun ways (riding bikes, playing tag, going to the park, etc) will help keep you both healthy and exercising won't have a negative connotation for your child.  Complaining about having to go the gym will set your child up to see exercise as a negative thing and they will be less likely to want to be active as they grow older.  Model an active lifestyle and your children are more likely to develop a healthy lifestyle as well. Monkey see, monkey do.

As far as screen time, the author doesn't say that all screen time is bad, just that relying on it all the time (using the computer or TV as a babysitter) is not healthy. Sitting with your child, looking stuff up on the internet, learning together - there's nothing wrong with that.  It's a good thing, it teaches the child to use the tools that we have at our disposal and it teaches them to work with someone else to find answers to questions. The author even says that some screen time is okay.  What I think she is getting at is that nothing but screen time all day is a bad thing.  I know it's something I'm going to have to work on myself - I spend a lot of time at the screen and that's not good for me and it's not a good example for Bean.

Having healthy snacks available (I'm not sure chocolate dipped strawberries fall into that category though) sets a child up for healthy eating habits both as a child and later an adult. However it's up to you as the parent what your policy on snacking is, whether the child is free to grab a snack whenever they are hungry or if they have to ask permission for grabbing a snack.  Having healthy snacks available that they can get themselves (with or without permission, depending on your personal rules for your household) helps teach healthy eating and gives them some choice as to what they choose - carrot sticks or apple pieces or an orange or whatever you happen to have available for them.

As for ordering, directing, and correcting vs asking for cooperation, each have their place.  There are some things that are non-negotiable (wearing a seat belt in the car and being polite for example) in which ordering or directing is completely appropriate.  There are other things that are negotiable in which giving the child a choice avoids and unnecessary power struggle (do you want to where your blue shirt or your red shirt?  Do you want to make your bed first or pick up your toys first?).  The author doesn't say never to give directions to your child and does say that you are the parent and they are the child. I think what the author is saying is to choose your battles wisely.  But in the end, you know your child best and know what they will respond to best.

Skipping breakfast, but expecting them to eat breakfast just doesn't set a good example.  If I were a child, my response to that would be "why do I have to have breakfast if you don't?" it's back to the monkey see, monkey do and modeling the behavior that you want to see in them.

The author's position on helping children transition from vacation back to school has some validity, but every child's needs are different.  Some children will make the transition seamlessly, others will need help and emotional support.  I do however agree wholeheartedly with helping children develop language to express their emotions.  It's part of helping them to grow into emotionally intelligent adults.

That was a super long comment, but it's what I think.  I also think the author intentionally wrote her key points to stir up controversy.  After all, it's controversy that sells papers (and most people only read the headings anyhow).  As I said at the beginning of my novel of a comment, I'm just starting my parenting journey and I have a lot to learn.  I may be completely off-base with my thoughts and ideas and I'm certainly not trying to tell anyone how to raise their children.  I'm just sharing my opinions and views.