Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pay Attention!

Like most parents, I often find my attention is required in ten different places at once. Aside from the direct parenting attention required, there are meals to get, housework to do, emails to check, errands to run, chauffering to and from activities...you get the idea.

Trevor is of the age that he can manage to keep himself fairly well-occupied with minimal guidance from me; in fact, he is beginning to prefer to "do his own thing" and only wants my attention occasionally through the day.

Gavin is pretty much happy as long as I've fed him and he has some toys to monkey around with, needing attention only when he's tired. Plus, I wear him a fair bit so he has contact with me throughout the day.

Amy, however, craves my attention. She can and sometimes does manage to keep herself busy...lately she has been all about writing: cards, books, notes to friends, both on the computer and with a pencil. I've also been making a real point of making sure I spend time with her each day engaging in books and writing with her. BUT. Maybe it's because I've been spending more time on this lately that we had a little blow out this weekend.

On Sunday, I had some Christmas cards that needed to be done up and sent out. I had purchased a box of 32 cards. Some were earmarked for teachers and coaches, some for my aunties, some for various other family and friends. Amy, who loves all things Christmas especially glittery, shiny cards, immediately wanted to do a whole bunch of them up for her friends at school. I said, "Sure, just let me do mine up first and you can have all the rest of them." She is wise beyond her years and knows that I might not actually get around to doing them even that same day (especially since I've been trying to get them done for a week but can't seem to get around to giving it the attention it deserves). She grumped down the stairs, upset that she didn't get to do her cards right that minute.

About 20 minutes later as I was having simultaneous conversations with my husband in real life and my dad on the phone, she stomped upstairs and presented me with a piece of paper with a drawing on it. I glanced at it without looking and tossed it down on the desktop. She glared at me for a minute and then grumped down the stairs again. After about 10 more minutes, she came up and and glared at me some more prompting me to ask,
"What's up, Buttercup?"
"Well, did you read it?"
"Huh? Oh this, right, let's look at it." I opened the paper to see a stick person with a very frowny face and a big X through the it, with the word Mommy under the drawing. Hmmm. No wonder she was so choked at me, I didn't even give her hate mail attention.
"Okaaaay...it seems like you're pretty mad at me, is this about the cards?"
She turned on her heel and stomped back down the stairs.

I thought to myself that I should just give her some cards, I could probably scrounge up some extras or just pick up some more the next time I was out. So I counted out one of each of the eight designs and took them downstairs to her. I handed them to her and said, "Here you go, I counted and I'll still have enough cards and that way you've got some, too."

She didn't say anything. I went back upstairs. She followed me up about three minutes later and handed the cards back to me without a word, then went back downstairs again.

Hm.

I went downstairs where she was hiding behind a chair and asked her what was wrong and she started to cry. "I don't want you to not have enough cards!" "
"But I counted them," I told her, "it's ok, you can totally have them. I'm not mad at all." But that just made her cry harder. (I'm really looking forward to going through PMS with her someday.)

Then something occurred to me.
"Are you worried that I'm mad because of the picture you drew?"
She nodded.
"I'm not mad, you were just upset. But that's why you have to be careful about what you write and draw about people, it's hard to take it back. Come on, let's go do some cards together."

We sat down at the table to do some cards and I figured I could write a list for her to copy with her friends' names on it. We made the list and as she started the first card, I looked at the clock and realized that I had to get going and have a shower if we were all going to get to Trevor's hockey game on time. I started to say, "There you go, I'm just going to go have a shower..." when she stopped me and put her hand on my arm. She said, "I just want to spend some time with you."

Of course. That was what she had been trying to tell me all morning, I just wasn't listening.

I sat back down and we finished them up...and I wore a hat to hockey.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sleep Update


Dear internet, I know you are dying for the latest update on the sleep saga...if not, keep reading and you can enjoy your own little bit of sleep zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. (btw, I know the soother is supposed to go in his MOUTH, not his eye).

We got Gavin to get himself to sleep in the evening on his own with minimal stress. He squawks for about a minute and then realizes he'd feel better if he'd just close his eyes so he rolls over and goes to sleep. Mission #1 accomplished.

The problem was that we had gotten in the habit of nursing and cuddling back to sleep through the night. This, from my baby who slept through the night at 7 weeks and rarely nursed at night suddenly seemed to need to cuddle and nurse for ridiculous amounts of time three or four times per night?! The problem was mostly my fault, as usual. You see, he shares a room with Trevor and I was reluctant to let Gavin squawk himself back to sleep and disturb Trevor's sleep. So I'd rush in, pick him up and go downstairs to try to settle him. After three weeks of this, I was done!

I knew I needed to give him the chance to figure out how to self-soothe through the night, so I set up the playpen in our basement and camped out downstairs with him for a couple of nights.

The first night he woke several times; the first time he was up for about 25 minutes crying pretty hard. I went to him a couple of times and put his soother in or talked softly, but I didn't pick him up. The rest of the night, he awoke three or four times, squawked once or twice and went back to sleep.

Then last night, he went to sleep at 7:00 pm. And he slept through until Trevor came downstairs and woke him up at 7:45 am. RIGHT THROUGH. I, on the other hand, was up several times to have a peek at him and make sure he was ok.

I feel like a rock star today. It's amazing how great it feels to have some sleep under my belt! If he does it again tonight, we're moving back upstairs.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity | Video on TED.com

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity Video on TED.com




I found this so inspiring! It's worth the 20 minutes it takes to watch it, especially if you are working in education or have a child in school. It makes me reflect on my own teaching practice and my interactions with my kids about their school life; am I doing everything I can to encourage their creativity? Are they willing to be wrong about something?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sleeping

I now remember how when your kids are not sleeping how all-consuming it is and how it feels like it will never end. You ramble on and on giving minute by minute accounts of how last night's bedtime went to the cashier at Safeway because it is your sole preoccupation in your sleep-deprived state. I have also been on the other end of those conversations in times in my life that my kids were sleeping and politely nodded while thinking to myself, "Jeez, get some perspective, it's only a little sleep and it can't last like this forever." And as I recall having thought that, I'd like to go back in time and punch my well-rested self in the nose. Because it really is that bad when you're not getting enough sleep!

Now I have these conversations with myself having been through, like, three whole weeks of sleep issues with Gavin. (I know there are many people who suffer through this for YEARS with babies/toddlers who don't sleep or let their parents sleep, so don't hate me.) At times these past weeks, I felt so angry, frustrated and sad that Gavin wouldn't just go to sleep already. Then my intellectual self would try to reason with me that this struggle wouldn't last forever, in fact it might only last a couple more nights. But my sleep-deprived emotional self just couldn't deal with it.

I tried the No-Cry Sleep Solution and for us, it just wasn't a good fit. I lack the patience required to gently re-shape sleep behaviour and was just becoming totally resentful and even more sleep deprived. So we did cry-it-out. With the boys sharing a room I just needed Gavin to figure out how to get himself to sleep and quickly. The first two nights were tough to listen to, about 20 minutes of full-on crying both nights. And ever since? A minute or two of squawking, and then peaceful sleep, for naps and night sleep! He is napping better which has in turn improved his night sleep; I've had to make a commitment to do what I can in terms of activities and scheduling to support his naps during the day...not easy with two other busy kids! Night waking was becoming an issue for us where it totally hadn't been before AT ALL. Since he's figured out how to get himself to sleep, he's better at getting himself back to sleep at night without me.

I have no judgment on parents and their sleeping arrangements; people have to do what works best for their family and parenting style. For us this is what worked.

If you're interested, here is what his sleep schedule seems to have settled into:

7:00 - wakes up
10:00 - naps
11:30 or 12:00- wakes up
2:30 - naps
3:30 or 4:00 - wakes up
7:00 - bedtime
11:00 ish, wakes up and I feed him one last time. And then I get to have some sleep!

** You might notice the time stamp on this entry...I'm up not because of Gavin, but poor Trevor who has been inflicted with Barf-o-Rama making the rounds at our house again. Gavin actually got himself back to sleep after that whole commotion at 4:00 am!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Recipes

Check this out if you still have Christmas baking to do...lots of easy recipes!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Easy Christmas Shopping...

Here is a hot Christmas shopping tip courtesy of my friend, Nadia...Lee Valley Tools offers shopping on their website. They have lots of good quality and unusual items for the home, garden and even some cool gift ideas for kids. You can order and pay online with your credit card and then arrange to pick it up in the store when it is convenient for you at no extra charge. No crowds, unique gifts...easy squeezy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ummm, he's sleeping...

We toughed it out again at bedtime, 20 minutes of crying and then he went to sleep. Hopefully the night goes ok...

Update on my last post

I'm an idiot, dear internet! I wanted to go in and snap a photo of Gavin sleeping for my last post. So I tiptoed in, camera in hand, and I didn't get more than a foot in the door when he woke up, spotted me and started screaming again. It only lasted for 5 minutes this time. Man, what a gigantic ass am I.
So, I'm sorry, no picture just yet. Our sleep is more important.

Sleep - I Want Some, Please!

All of a sudden, about two weeks ago, Gavin figured out that I still exist after I leave him to go to sleep (curse you, object permanence!). And ever since, my previously magical sleeper has been a demon about going to bed.

When Trevor was about this age (8 months), I did some form of modified cry-it-out to get him to go to sleep. What I remember about it was this: it took forever and involved me traipsing in at specified time intervals to "soothe" him without picking him up. But everytime I went in, he would get all upset again because I wasn't picking him up and cuddling him - again. It was like repeated rejection. Eventually, he did learn to get himself to sleep has been a pretty good sleeper ever since and seems not to be too scarred by the experience (though it was certainly unpleasant during the process for everyone living in our house).

As usual, I barely remember this phase with Amy. I think it's because we were in the middle of trying to "train" Trevor to stay in bed so we were parked outside their bedrooms playing cards on the floor; Amy could hear and see us out there so she just crashed around in her crib amusing herself until she got tired enough to go to sleep on her own. There was no conscious training involved, we were just in baby/toddler survival mode.

Fast forward six years to my sweet angel, Gavin. I was feeling like cry-it-out was rather unpalatable this time around. I bought a book called "The No-Cry Sleep Solution," by Elizabeth Pantley. I found the premise very appealing; you gradually shift your baby's sleep associations and behaviour through making gentle changes. I bought a notebook for making sleep logs so I could track his behaviour, and thought I had committed to this plan for the next 10 days.

I'm on Day 2 and ready to throw in the towel. See, he WAS a very good sleeper. It's like we're starting from scratch. And since the primary goal with this approach is no-cry, it seems like I am just reinforcing his fussy behaviour. Everytime it is time for a nap or to settle down from a night-waking, I go in and he just gets all riled up when he sees me. Each night this week it has taken progressively longer for him to get to sleep and when he enters light sleep he pops wide awake and wants me wants me wants me! Last night it was from 10:00 pm until 1:30 am!!

I also get the importance of naps in preventing overtiredness at bedtime and helping to ensure a good night's sleep. So I went to put him down for a nap this morning at 10:15, as he seemed to be getting tired. At this writing, it is 11:20. He woke up at 10:30 or so and has been crying ever since. I went in once to replace his soother and he just got more upset. I know he needs to sleep, and I am so fed up with this after three whole days of it (sorry, those of you who live this nightmare for 2 years or more), I am not going in there. I have a shitload of things to do around here, Amy's home sick today (again) and can only amuse herself for so long quietly. So I'm not going in, no-cry method be damned. I am just not patient enough for that.

Until I can't stand the crying anymore, that is....OMG! I think he finally went to sleep! Oh please, I hope I didn't just jinx it...fingers crossed for me!

Everyone approaches babies and sleeping differently; I welcome your thoughts/suggestions/comments. Unless they involve name-calling because I let him cry it out today, you're welcome to disagree but be nice, please. I just really need some sleep.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Upsetting Headline and Flying with Babies

This headline screaming "Breastfeeding Mom Smothers Baby" made me groan out loud. In this age where many (most) people only get their news through 10 second soundbites and sensational headlines on the internet, this is particularly upsetting as it insinuates that breastfeeding might be a dangerous activity.
Breastfeeding a baby on a plane is actually a great way to help keep him settled and equalize his ear pressure (especially on descent). Breastfeeding on a plane poses no greater risk than sitting on your living room couch. I suspect that this poor mother was either a) so tired she drifted off while holding the baby and perhaps shifted position, or b) was forced to cover up with a blanket not designed to be a nursing cover (as some airlines have asked nursing moms to do in the past). Either way, this is tragic to be sure, but breastfeeding should not be maligned as the culprit in this terrible accident.

Got me thinking, though, about my recent flights with Gavin and how airlines and Transport Canada handle infants on planes. On my flight to Toronto, I was travelling without my husband so I purchased a seat for Gavin thinking that a five hour flight is a long to have to hold a not-yet-sitting baby on my lap. Initially I thought I could just lie him down when the seat belt sign wasn't on, and pick him up in the "brace" position when it was...but, no, you actually have to drag your carseat onto the airplane and install it when you purchase a seat for an infant. Actually, this kind of makes sense, and ultimately seems safer to me in case of some sort of accident. BUT, then why can you have your infant/toddler under 2 years sit on your lap while travelling? Yeah, you save the airfare, but in case of an accident the whole holding-the-baby-in-the-brace-position seems about as effective as it would in a car. Maybe they figure that the plane would be going down in a flaming ball of death anyway, so it doesn't matter if they're in a carseat or not. But if that's the case, then why make you bring a carseat on board in the case of a purchased ticket? Hmmm...

So, when we flew to and from Palm Springs recently, it was a shorter flight and Dave was with me for trading off baby-holding duty so Gavin rode on my lap. On the way there, I found it quite tiring having to wrestle with him grabbing at stuff the whole time and thought that it would be much easier to wear him on the flight home in my Babyhawk. So on the flight home, he cozied up in the mei-tai style carrier, it was much easier getting to the gate, he drifted off nicely, and then....the flight attendant came by and told me I couldn't wear him! Apparently having something tied onto me like that could hamper my ability to exit the aircraft in case of an emergency. Buuuut, it's safer to have him flying loose around the cabin?! Or my arms all occupied with holding a baby while I'm trying to secure an oxygen mask?! I was pissed! I took him out, buggered up his nap and had to wrestle a cranky monkey (with a crankier mom) all the way back to Vancouver.

I get that airlines have guidelines they have to follow, but I just don't get the logic of the guidelines. Either you value safety and require everyone to purchase a seat for their infant with an approved car seat installed. Or you let people hold their children under 2 whatever way works best for them since safety in a crash is really not the priority anyway.

Am I dense, or missing something here?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

So Much to Write, So Little Time

I have so many things that keep popping into my head lately that have me thinking, "Oh, I must blog about that!" I'm so far behind, I was a week late with Amy's birthday blog.

Part of my problem is that I am a bit of a perfectionist sometimes when it comes to writing. My university training has me thinking that I should not put my writing out there without careful thought as to argument, organization and proofreading. When it comes to parenting, however, I am a big fan of "good enough," as in, yeah the baby has cereal in his hair and his ear, but we have to get the other two to school so good-enough!

I am going to try to apply my good enough philosophy to my writing this evening in order to get down the quick and dirty version of all the potential blog posts floating around in my head these days...

1. For Amy's birthday party, we visited a local mega-theatre-plex for their birthday party special. You get a movie, popcorn, a drink, and a meal in the party room afterward. We wanted to see Fantastic Mr. Fox, but couldn't so we settled on Disney's A Christmas Carol.

This movie was TERRIFYING. Completely unsuitable for a group of sweet little six year old girls. I can't imagine who the marketers think will go and see this movie (besides morons like me). I get it that Dickens can be a little creepy, but the movie trailer we saw online was very "Disneyfied." The movie itself was so frightening that I marched them all out part way through and spent an extra hour in the party room trying to play Musical Chairs without music and Simon Says. I was looking for an easy birthday party, but truthfully it would have been easier to just host the thing at my house. Lesson learned.

2. Amy, poor Amy, is such a middle child that I didn't even remember to bring the camera to her birthday party that was a complete and total flop anyway. Nice parenting.

3. On a totally different subject, I'd like to know a whole lot more about the specifics around implementing all-day kindergarten in this province. I've read the BC Ministry of Education's stuff on the implementation process and I just don't see how this is going to work. It's EXPENSIVE to outfit a kindergarten classroom with all the developmentally appropriate learning materials and manipulatives. It's EXPENSIVE to provide all the additional human resources needed; theoretically we'll need twice as many Kindergarten teachers as we have now. The benefits to children at risk are well documented, but the benefits are minimal to so-called normal children. From a teacher's perspective, I am dubious as the government barely seems to want to fund education as it is (school closures, districts forced to make due with less...less specialty teachers, fewer teacher librarians, fewer education assistants, the list goes on). It seems like a vote getting grab to me, designed to suck up to parents who don't want to deal with the headache of arranging daycare around a half day of school; kindergarten is not daycare! As a parent, I would not have felt very good about putting my first two children in school all day at the ages of four and five. As it is, they were asleep on their feet for the first month of Grade One! I could go on and on about all this...let's just say that my knee-jerk reaction to this proposal is HUH?! and upon further consideration, I find myself seriously skeptical about the whole thing.

4. Had a baking exchange at my house this weekend. Yeah, this really deserves another blog post unto itself...tomorrow.

5. My mom recently had a milestone birthday so today we went to see Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe Christmas. It was excellent! Warm, funny, entertaining without the snark so prevalent in many comedians' shows these days. There was also wonderful music by Jill Barber and Matt Andersen. Man, that dude can SING! All in all a wonderful afternoon for my wonderful mother.

6. Some sort of stomach virus I have tagged "Random Malaise" struck at our house with a vengeance this past week. Here's a hot enviro-tip for you: those small plastic pails they serve the kids' popcorn in make perfect barf buckets. I hope you don't have occasion to try this out in your home, but file it away in your brain just in case.

7. Baby sleep. Look for this to be a recurring theme in upcoming blog posts. As in, Gavin, my previously perfectly easy baby, has suddenly developed separation anxiety and any type of sleep that doesn't involve rocking in my arms or nursing provokes screaming of the sort usually associated with banshees. So the whole "getting to sleep" process has become verrrry interesting. More on that later this week. Also, I can no longer type while nursing because Gavin wants in on the computer action; this is really cutting into my blog time. Gasp - what will happen when I go back to work?!

That's all for this evening. More tomorrow. IF I can get Gavin to nap.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Amazing Amy!


Dear Amy,
I can't believe you are six years old already! I remember the night you arrived like it was yesterday. Daddy and I listenened to the Canucks game on the radio in our hospital room while I breathed and waited for you to arrive. You had the good sense to wait until the game was over - you inherited that from your Dad's side of the family - before making your appearance at 10:00 pm. You and I stayed up all night just looking at each other. I was too excited to sleep and I remember thinking when I looked at you that this was just the first of many times I would be amazed by your presence.
Here are just some of the things I love about you:
- your determination
- your sensitivity
- your empathy
- your competitive spirit
- your intelligence
- your sense of humour
- your attention to detail and knack for organization (which I do NOT possess!)
I love the way you always find me for a hug in the morning. I love watching you in relationship with your brothers. I love the appreciation that you have for your grandparents. I especially love seeing the bond that you and Daddy have. I even love the myriad ways that you manage to delay the final good night because you just don't want our time together to end.
Speaking of which, I'm going to go and carry you upstairs now, after you managed to scoop an extra cuddle on the couch and fall asleep...
Love,
Mommy

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Loved the Muppet Show!

I'd like to watch all those episodes from the 70's and 80's again; I bet I'd like them even more this time around. Especially if they're anything like this:


***I always feel a bit like posting a youtube clip is like a cheat-post since I didn't have to do any actual writing. I shall endeavour to actually write something tomorrow if things settle down around here (more on that later...)***

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More on the Vacay...









On Sunday we loaded up my f-i-l's car and headed from Palm Desert to Carlsbad to take in Legoland. We took the Palms to Pines Hwy (74) and while it was beautiful, I was glad that the switchbacks only lasted for about 10 miles or so (Gravol, anyone?).



About two hours later we ended up at the Sheraton in Carlsbad which is directly adjacent to Legoland and has its own private entrance to the park. We quickly dumped our luggage in the room and headed to the park to take in what we could in the four hours left until closing time.



Ahhh, Legoland. This place is AWESOME and was worth every penny! If you have kids under 10 and are planning a trip to Southern California, you should definitely set aside a day to check it out. A keen interest in Lego is not a prerequisite (though it would be that much better); there are lots of rides that are fun and not too scary and a couple of roller-coastery rides that are great for the target age group. The magic height to go on the rides seems to be 36", though there were a few that were open to 34" and they have many suggestions of "What to do when you're 2." When we visited the crowds were negligible and the most we waited for any ride was 5 minutes. There were water play areas, good quality shows (not Disney, but decent), lots of Lego stores, good food at the usual theme park prices and it was all very well-laid out. One of my favourite things at the park was Miniland where they have re-created bits of the USA out of Lego in astonwishing detail i.e. Manhattan, New England, SF, Hollywood, New Orleans, and the Vegas Strip!




The Statue of Liberty (taller than me)



The Venetian from the Vegas Strip



Trevor on the Bionicle Blaster



Amy battling the Dark Force



Gavin is teamed up with someone his own size.


We'll definitely try to get back there while Trevor and Amy are young enough to enjoy it and Gavin is old enough to appreciate it!


The hotel (the Sheraton Carlsbad)...meh. It's a four star hotel, and the facilities were lovely, the view was amazing...the room was nice-ish, but freezing, the guy who checked us in had a hard time finding the reservation, not sure why. The restaurant billed itself as family friendly but really, not so much. The ambience is more like fine dining and I was very self-conscious of the level of noise of our kids (which really was very appropriate for a "family" restaurant). The prices were definitely higher end and our server was very pushy about selling and light on the actual service aspect of his job. For the price of the food, the quality was poor. Dave's prime rib was very average and my pasta was dried out and chewy. All in all we were pretty disappointed with the hotel and next time we would stay at a lower end place and catch a shuttle to the park (or walk a mile or two).
So here we are back in Palm Desert about to fly home tomorrow morning. It's a perfect desert day and it will be very hard to face the reality of cold, wet, dark, windy November at home...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Palm Desert


Here we are in the desert. A few things:


  • Back Street Bistro: AWESOME!!! In all the years we've been coming here we haven't had a chance to go there because there was always a huge line and we had little kids. We drove by on Veteran's Day (in the evening) and there was hardly anyone there so we decided to chance it with all three kids. The owner greeted us and was so incredibly gracious and welcoming, especially mentioning that she was happy to have the children. They don't have a kids' menu per se, but she offered to do up a small portion of anything on the menu or just whip up a kid friendly dish. Trevor had spaghetti and a meatball, and Amy had plain penne with butter and a bit of parmesan cheese (this may have been her best meal in a restaurant ever). Prices at this Italian restaurant were excellent; on par with franchise-type restaurants (think Olive Garden), but with far superior quality of food and service. FAR SUPERIOR. Can't say enough good about it. Go.

  • Olive Garden. Meh.

  • The WestJet website is a complete and total mess right now. Good luck changing a flight or even trying to do web check-in. They really need to get this sorted out pronto, it's been four weeks already.

  • It's Saturday, and guess what. We don't have ballet, tap, musical theatre, a soccer game, a hockey game, powerskating or a birthday party (all of which would normally occur on most Saturdays in the life of my family). On the schedule today: golf for Dave, bikes to the playground, a bit of shopping for new swim trunks for Dave and Trevor, swimming, playing outside, Panda Express for dinner and the hockey game on t.v. via the slingbox. I love vacations!

Tomorrow we're off to Legoland for a couple of days in Carlsbad (just north of San Diego). A review when we get back!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Travelling We Go...

I like the trip part of the travelling. Once you're on the road and away to your destination, even all the hoop-jumping to be done at the airport is kind of an adventure.

It's all bluster and fuss of getting ready that, for me, is gut wrenching. First, I have to start by cleaning my house. This is no small task as I tend to let it build and build and build...approximately the length of time in between trips, come to think of it. I clean so I can find what I'm looking for when packing, and so that when we arrive home all worn out from travelling we have a calm, organized space to put our feet up for a few minutes before unpacking.
Then there's the packing. Finding summer clothes that fit the kids, swimming gear, toiletries for five people, carry-on items that the FAA and TSB find an acceptable size, tickets, ID's, golf gear, bike helmets, car seats, and don't even get me started on baby gear. Now that the airlines have cracked down so hard on overweight luggage, we are walking a fine line with our family of five.
Organizing for the morning of travel can be challenging...making sure we've got everything, clearing out the fridge and garbage, making a quick breakfast for the kids, running the dishwasher, double-triple-quadruple checking that we've got everything. It really taxes my brain.

But then we're on our way, and we're all so excited to be having a travel adventure together, and relaxing and spending time as a family, that the 24 hours of upheaval prior to the trip makes it all worthwhile.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This Intersection Needs Help


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This is the view of the intersection at the 8th Avenue entrance to Royal Square Mall, home to my closest Safeway, Starbucks and Liquor Store (priorities, people). I travel through this intersection several times per week, both as a pedestrian and a driver. I'm not sure what it is about this particular intersection, but it is like a magnet for car accidents and near misses.

Maybe it's the confluence of a couple of factors:
- There are three traffic lights within a one block stretch of 8th Avenue. One block! The traffic light I am talking about is in the middle and I wonder if drivers are busy looking at the next light and just simply don't see the light right above their heads. In any case, I can think of seven times in the past year where I have seen a car blast right through a red light on 8th Avenue (and not a yellow light run, but fully and completely RED for several seconds). Two of these were near misses for me as I turned left out of the parking lot onto 8th and had to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision.
- The pedestrian markings for crossings within the parking lot are kind of weird. One is on an angle to the door from a parking row increasing the time it takes for a pedestrian to get across; the other one crosses very close to the lighted intersecion. It feels to me like drivers are just a little bit less patient with waiting for pedestrians, especially when they can see the light just beyond the crosswalk is green and if they could just get around this confounded pedestrian...

I know that they had to re-engineer traffic along this stretch when the Safeway was renovated and expanded and I remember reading that this was all approved by council as the best option. I'm not sure how it could be changed for the better as I know I am no traffic engineer, but it seems to me to be worth re-examining before someone gets seriously hurt. Certainly drivers should be more patient and pedestrians should be very aware of the traffic around them in the parking lot, but with darker, shorter days ahead, this seems to me to be worth re-examining (hopefully before someone is seriously hurt).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Day After


UGH! The day after Halloween. So much build up and excitement around costumes and decorations and gobs and gobs and gobs of candy, licorice, and gum, oh my! Who would ever want to deny young children the delight and pleasure they take in Halloween!

November-the-first-Me, that's who. Today we are in a hangover of 10 lbs. each of candy wrappers, chip bags, late bedtime, sugar highs/crashing lows, whining for one more treat, I-can't-get-along-with-her-because-my body-just-can't-handle-all-these-artificial-flavours, and he-has-more/different/better stuff than me.

I can't handle it anymore.

By 9:07 this morning, I just couldn't face another several weeks (at least) of this. So I offered up a deal.

For the paltry price of $40.00 (twenty each), I am rounding up their candy and buying them any toy of their choosing that falls within the price range. They get to keep twenty pieces of candy, whatever kind they want, and keep it in a bag and be totally in charge of its consumption. I predict Trevor will eat himself sick by the end of the day, and Amy will drag it out, lording over Trevor on Wednesday the fact that she still has candy and he doesn't. But at least it will all be finished within a week.

Now if I can just get them to go run laps around the cul-de-sac, it's not raining yet...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More on H1N1

'kay, I would get vaccinated if I could find out anything specific about actually getting vaccinated. And now I just heard on the news that the supplier of the vaccine is having production issues...

H1N1

Are you getting vaccinated? I sure am!

Last year I didn't get a seasonal flu vaccine. I wanted to, as I get them free through my employer because I work with large groups of germ factories, I mean, children. I showed up to get my shot but the nurse wouldn't administer it because I was pregnant and didn't have a doctor's note. At my next doctor visit, I asked about it and they went to get me one but had just run out of vaccine. I ended up with the flu TWICE. I was so so so very sick. It was really awful. I never want to be that sick again!

So I am getting vaccinated, and so is my whole family. I don't buy any of the arguments against getting vaccinated that are, in my opinion, based on junk science.

Why would I risk getting even a mild flu (or the more serious strain) when it's easily avoided with a quick shot?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One Noisy Baby!

Gavin might be the noisiest baby EVER! I will endeavour to capture this on video over the next few days (he usually clams up once he spots a camera), but in the meantime here is a clip to demonstrate just a little bit of what he sounds like these days (thanks, Megan!). He's much cuter than Pete Puma, and doesn't sound nearly that dopey when he "talks," but that inhaling wheeze is Gavin to a tee!

Actually, I just watched it again and the vowel sound in the word "woooorrrrried" isn't too far off the sounds G makes either.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Amazing Hockey Goal!

Check out this kid, nine years old and what a move!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

One Canadian's Take on Weather and Culture Clashes

I'm out in Toronto this week visiting my sister and her family. When she was last out visiting me in Vancouver in the Spring after Gavin was born, she commented a few times on how the culture of the westcoast is just so totally different than in Toronto. People tend to be a bit more "granola" about life generally from my neck of the woods, from personal health to environmentalism to fashion style. I was just reading a post at Strocel.com by Amber, a Port Moody blogger, on climate change and crafting one's life to embrace simplicity and healthful living. It got me to thinking about why it is that we westcoasters tend to be more crunchy, and I think I've nailed down at least part of the reason.

The weather in the rest of Canada, well, I don't want to say it sucks. Oops, I guess I just did. Let's be more euphemistic and say that it's challenging.

Think about it. In Vancouver, it's easier to put on a sweater in the winter rather than turning up the heat because you won't freeze to death. And you can live without power-sucking central air conditioning in the summer because we have lovely breezes off the ocean. You can wait in the car for someone and not leave it running because, again, you're not likely to lose your toes in the process. You can wear cute yoga pants and little Lulu hoodies because all you need on most winter days to brave the elements is an umbrella, not a down parka, balaclava and snowpants. Organic gardening and eating locally is relatively easy where we are; there are many backyard and community gardens popping up, and we live close to the Fraser Valley and Okanagan. In TO, there's tons of agriculture but it all seems so industrial to me, (a visitor admittedly, but that's my impression), designed to maximize production from a shorter growing season.

Or maybe I'm just wimpy about the cold now that I've lived on the coast for the past 25 years.

Toronto DOES have beautiful fall trees. And a Bath and Bodyworks not too far from here, so there's that.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Drink Urban Lounge

Check it out...a cool night spot in New Westminster! Located at 609 Columbia St (next to the Starbucks), it's not too clubby, not for geezers, has a good mix of music at just the right volume and sports on the t.v.'s. I liked the variety of drinks, including some old-fashioned sounding ones and they have several drink specials each night of the week. Fantastic ambience, the banquette was very comfortable for our group of ten people. We were there celebrating a birthday and the owner made a homemade birthday cake for us, complete with glowstick candles!
Finally, a hip place to go out without having to travel for half an hour! I am definitely a fan.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's Flu Season

I don't know about you, but I've seen this around my house a time or two...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Peanut Allergies


I went on an excellent field trip yesterday with Trevor and Amy's school. Both of their classes went and it was a really great day (more on that tomorrow). I had a moment, though, with another parent and it's been on my mind ever since...so of course I have to write about it.


There wasn't room for the parents on the bus so we all carpooled and met up at our destination shortly before the bus arrived. As I approached the group, the conversation was around what the parents had packed for their kids to eat, and one mom said she had packed a peanut butter sandwich for her kid. It went something like this:


Mom #1: I packed her a peanut butter sandwich.

Mom #2: Really? Are we allowed to do that, I thought there was a no-nut policy.

Mom #1: Well, they're not actually at the school. Besides, (rolling her eyes) what's the big deal?

Me: Well, you'd better keep your kid away from my kid, since peanuts might make him stop breathing and that's a pretty big deal to me.

Mom #1: Oh really. But that's just like, if he actually eats it, right?

Me: No, it's pretty much if he just touches it. I'm a little sensitive about it since someone offered him a treat at our lacrosse windup in June and he ended up in the hospital. And he even asked if there was peanuts in it.

Mom #2: Well, I'm sure that it was just a trace amount, probably the parent didn't know.

Me: Actually it was a store-bought peanut butter cookie. And since Trevor doesn't ever eat peanuts, he didn't recognize the smell. (Glaring at Mom #1)...so you can understand why I might be a little bit sensitive when it seems like some parents don't really care about my kid's safety from something totally avoidable.

Awkward pause...

Well, then.

This is quite something for me, as I hate conflict and confrontations. But that was just ignorant and careless and selfish, I couldn't let it go.

Weighing out the potential cost to little Timmy having to wait to only eat peanut butter at home vs. the potential loss of life for a child with peanut allergies/anaphylaxis....it's a no-brainer.
I think Mom #1 is now a little bit afraid of me.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Parade of Daily Adventures

I just read someone's FB update on my newsfeed that said: "When you have kids, Saturdays are just another kind of Monday." Amen to that, sistah!

Today our Parade of Daily Adventures included a 6:00 am 5K run, soccer photos, 2-1/2 hours of dance, a hockey practice, followed by a soccer game...some which was happening at the same time (thanks for helping out today, Mom)! Oh, and breastfeeding a baby wherever he can grab some "booby snacks" (as my friend, Jennifer, calls it).

Now I need a weekend to recover from my Saturday. But tomorrow brings birthday shopping, more soccer pix, soccer "games" for the U7 crowd, and a birthday party...I think we'll order in dinner tomorrow!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Babywearing

I am a relatively recent convert to babywearing. When I had my first baby, Trevor, he was a whopper! That kid's rolls had their own rolls. By the time he was four months old, I think he was already pretty close to doubling his birth weight. At the time I had an el-cheapo Snugli and I found it soooo terribly uncomfortable. When he was really new, I didn't find it supportive enough for his floppiness. When he was a bit sturdier (about 2 months) I thought it was uncomfortable because Trevor was such a chunky monkey. Of course, now I realize it probably had a lot more to do with its not-so-great design. The straps dug into my neck and shoulder muscles and Trevor was literally hanging, and not in a comfortable sitting position. Honestly, at the time I thought people who would cart their babies around all day in one of those things must be martyrs who were really into having a sore back all the time! So I really didn't bother with it too much when Amy came along. They were so close together that I just went out and got a double stroller and used that any time we were out and about. Which, by the way, wasn't that often because one or the other of them was always napping and I was a slave to the nap schedule.


I realized pretty quickly that things would have to be different this time around. I don't have the luxury of being able to stay home whenever Gavin is asleep. We have a busy family with two school aged kids that need picking up and dropping off at their school, their friends', and their activities. Poor Gavin could very easily spend 80% of his day in a car seat being carted around from place to place. He's such an even tempered kid that he would probably be ok with hanging out in his car seat that much but the idea of this really bothered me.


Shortly after Gavin was born I contacted my friend, Victoria, who I know is an experienced baby-wearer and asked for some advice. She was awesome and let me try out her Cuddlywrap and made a couple of other recommendations for other carriers that work well depending on the situation/setting you're in.


I have three carriers at the moment. I love all three of them for different reasons and in different settings.

1. My Hotsling: I love this one for it's simplicity and versatility. It's basically just a tube of fabric with one curved seam that you fold in half to make a pouch. It comes with an instructional DVD that demonstrates how to fold and the different carries you can use with it. I've used this one since he was tiny and have recently started using it to carry him on my hip now that he has some more trunk strength. The carrier distributes the weight nicely on my skeletal frame rather than sitting only on the muscles, so I can wear him for long periods of time in comfort even though he's getting bigger and heavier. It folds up to nothing and fits nicely in the pouch behind my driver's seat in the van.

2. My Cuddlywrap: I love this one because it really is cuddly, it distributes the weight nicely and he can face in or out. It's made of a stretchy cotton and is essentially a LONG strip of fabric about a foot wide and a few yards long that you wind around your body and tie up. The down side is that all that fabric can be cumbersome when you're out and about; this one is definitely best for around the house. I found it a little intimidating, but the instructional DVD makes it really simple to learn to tie. Hint: tie it pretty snugly! When Gavin was brand new, this one snuggled him up close to my heartbeat and he'd stay there happily for hours. Now that he's a bit bigger he likes to face out while I do stuff around the house.

3. My Babyhawk: This one really is my favourite because it's the most comfortable of all three for wearing long periods of time. It's a Chinese style mei tai carrier that offers excellent support and can be worn on the back or the front (Gavin's not big enough for a back carry yet, but I'm excited to try it this way when he is). You can custom design one on their website with different trim and panel fabrics, pockets or not, reversible or not, toy rings or not, and a warm winter-type liner or not. My Babyhawk was the most expensive of the three that I have at about $125.00, but I feel like I've already gotten my money's worth from it in the past two months! It's not bulky or cumbersome and can fit in my diaper bag and is so handy for places my stroller can't go like muddy soccer fields and hockey rinks with lots of stairs.


Now that I have a few soft carriers that are well-designed and fit properly, I love carrying Gavin around. I often find myself leaving the carseat in the van and plunking him into one of the carriers I have kicking around in the backseat. We get to cuddle and visit as we go about our day and I feel so much closer to him. Gavin gets to participate in conversations WAY more than he does when he's in car seat or a stroller. When I have him in the sling and he's awake, people talk to him. And about him. And he has a much greater awareness of the conversations around him because he's physically at that level. I am no expert, but I think this can only benefit his social and language development.

(There's Gavin in the Cuddlywrap.)
Plus I get way more comments about how cute he is, and who doesn't like that?!

Monday, September 21, 2009

We've Been Disney-fied

Disney-fied: the process by which little girls become conditioned to believe that things are "good" if they are "beautiful."

Ok, this world-view bias has probably been around a lot longer than Disney and there are multitudes of psychological studies exploring the topic of bias with regard to appearance vs. perception of internal qualities (i.e. race, gender, level of attractiveness, etc.).

But however it happened, Amy has been quite sucked in by it all as evidenced by the following conversation. This happened over the weekend as we were getting over an argument about having her hair brushed:

Amy: Why do you love me?
Me: Oh Amy, you're the best little girl I know. You're smart, and funny, and kind, and great at soccer, and such a good sister...
Me: Why do you love me?
Amy: thinking Well, because you're beautiful.
Me: Really?! Well, thanks Amy, that's a nice compliment to get, but is that the only reason? Like, what if I was in a car accident and my face got all broken up and I didn't look like this anymore. Would you still love me?
Amy: It'd be ok, Mommy, I'd just give you a makeover.

Jeesh!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Joy of a Sharp Pencil



I recently installed this very snazzy pencil sharpener, given to me by my mom.



I had no idea it would be such a hit! Amy spent half an hour sharpening every pencil that we could find in the house. I wish I had installed when my mom gave it to us a year ago!




And now I can always find a nice sharp pencil when I need it. :-)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Obligatory Breastfeeding Post



There's Gavin on his favourite side...the right one.

Mommy-blogs are rife with posts about breastfeeding. Some may roll their eyes at this, but I think all this sharing of our breastfeeding experiences arises out of a need. In today's society, we are generally more isolated than in generations past; rarely do people have a network of family and friends to share knowledge and experience and offer support in the area of breastfeeding. I know that reading about others' successes and challenges in breastfeeding fed my determination to stick with it, so if my story can help someone else I feel like I should put it out there.

I have three children, and getting started with breastfeeding wasn't easy with any of them. When I thought about how to organize this entry, I started writing it kid-by-kid, but honestly, it was kind of depressing to re-visit it in that kind of detail (and I don't want to scare anyone off breastfeeding). Instead here are some of the challenges I faced in getting started with breastfeeding:

- Latching problems. One thing led to another...fast labour = not as much time to squeeze mucous out of baby's system = not very hungry baby = baby not terribly motivated to latch or to feed vigorously when I did get him/her on.
- Supply problems. Because they weren't latching or feeding much, my breasts weren't being stimulated enough to begin producing milk for several days.
- A vicious cycle started. Eventually they did get hungry but were almost too frantically hungry to get a good latch and feeding rhythm going, and eventually all three of them dropped below the 10% weight loss expected while breastfeeding gets going.
- Add to this a solid bout of post-partum depression after each birth, especially the first and third children, which also fed into and off of the breastfeeding issues.

At the end of the week after they were born, our family was pretty frantic. I was very determined to breastfeed, but incredibly frustrated that it was so difficult to get started.

So here is what helped me:
- Pumping at every feeding (at least every 3 hours) to empty both breasts and stimulate milk production. I found it worked best to latch baby on one side and pump the other (a rented pump from the drugstore is essential!). Then I'd feed the baby whatever expressed breastmilk (EBM) I'd managed to collect.
- Taking 2 capsules of Fenugreek, 3 times per day (second baby) as well as pumping.
- Taking 2 pills of Domperidone, 4 times per day (third baby) as well as pumping.
- Family support. My husband stayed home for a week and half to help with the kids. My in-laws dropped off dinner on more than a few occasions and only stayed briefly. My mom came to my house every morning for eight weeks to walk my two older children to school when my third was born. My mom also recognized my symptoms of depression and supported me in getting to the doctor to get some medical help.
- Friend support. More dinners for the freezer saved my sanity on many a weeknight. Also, offering to take my older kids for playdates - golden!
- "Institutional" support. I was lucky to have all three kids in a health authority that is baby friendly. I was never offered free formula, I was offered a great deal of help with breastfeeding while in hospital, my public health nurses made themselves as available as possible and were very supportive of my efforts to breastfeed, and after my most recent delivery my fantastic doctor made a point of seeing us every week until he was satisfied that we were on our way and my baby was thriving.

Being a breastfeeding mom has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I'm so grateful that I had the help I needed to make it work. I hope that this post helps someone else as much as the reading of blogs that I did helped me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tooth Fairies and Other Lies We Tell Our Children


Amy's first tooth FINALLY fell out on Friday morning. It had been dangling from the tiniest bit of gum for a couple of days but she refused to let us in there to give it a good yank. On Friday morning, she had a great, big sneeze and atchooed it right out, a la Andrew's Loose Tooth by Robert Munsch. She was so thrilled! We made a huge deal about it, put it in an envelope to put under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy and then went about our day. That was my first mistake, I should have put a great big reminder on my pillow before leaving so I'd remember at bedtime...you can see where this is headed.

That evening we were at our friends' house for an evening of poker for the grownups and movies for the kids. I had a glass of wine, and not having had much to drink the past year or so I was definitely a little fuzzy (mistake #2). We didn't get home until after midnight and everyone promptly climbed into their beds and zonked out.

I still had a chance to remember in the morning when Gavin got up wanting to be fed. Alas, I sat on the couch nursing him and watching a PVR'd episode of Glee. I still didn't even clue in when Amy came downstairs with a quivering bottom lip! Talk about a Homer Simpson moment!

I did some quick thinking and came up with an excuse that we got home after midnight so we must have missed her. Then we sent an email to her (really my mom) explaining where we were and asking why she didn't come. My mom is AWESOME! She (the Tooth Fairy) wrote back saying that she was looking all over for us and even clipped a picture of a fairy with a searching expression in her email reply. Thank heavens for Grandma!

The Tooth Fairy did come last night, and she left double the amount in compensation.

I still feel really guilty, though. Why do I keep forgetting this poor kid's major life events? You might remember Kindergarten show and tell last year...? This time mommy guilt looks like a Disney Barbie. Now I just have to try to get it together so I don't forget anything else...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy School Year!



I love back to school time. I was kind of a sucky, goody-two-shoes, rule-following type of kid, so I was pretty much in my element as a young student. I became a little disenchanted with high school (37 absences from Chem 12 by the interim report...ring a bell, Mom?), but I still loved the structure and routine of a new school year. I liked the beginning of school so much that I quit university repeatedly and got to start a new school year three times before I finally decided what to do with my life. And what did I decide...to parlay my love of a new school year into a career - teaching! Now I get to start from scratch not only with shiny new school supplies, but with a fresh bunch of kids ready to craft a school year together with my teaching partner and I.

But the beginning of September can be a really stressful time for a lot of families. This was really driven home to me this week as I watched my own kids and their friends begin the school year. So much worry! Uh-oh, my kid is in the job share class. Uh-oh, my kid is in a split class. Uh-oh, my kid is not with her friend this year. Uh-oh, my kid is in with the "dim" Grade 2's, does that mean he's "dim," too?

I'm in an interesting position as both a parent and a teacher. I find myself making the same reassurances to my friends as I do to the parents of my students. So here is a summary of those reassurances that I hope will set parents' minds at ease:

1. Combined classes are not a bad thing. Notice I used the word combined and not split. Within any given group of children, you have a wide ranges of strengths and talents in a variety of different areas. Whether the children all have their birthday in one calendar year or the next doesn't make much difference to this range (this has always seemed like such an arbitrary division to me, but that's a subject for another blog post). Teachers teach children, not curriculum. In 10 years of teaching, I've yet to meet a teacher who teaches the children in a combined class differently based on the grade they are in. Teachers so their best to meet each child where they are and design instruction that best meets their needs. If anything, the advantage of combined classes is that there is usually a range of maturity that affords children a chance to be role models and learn from each other. Further, having combined classes allows schools to group children together to their advantage, and separate children who need to be apart from each other.

2. If your child is in the upper grade of a combined class, it does not mean that the school thinks they are "dim." I sometimes wish parents could see the process involved in loading classes. It's incredibly complex and usually begins the spring before the beginning of the following school year. We take into account balancing of gender, special needs, ESL, behaviour, friend groups that are socially supportive and should stay together, friend groups that are negative and should be separated for a year, school district staffing allocations, educational assistants and where they can be of maximum effectiveness. There are usually at least four or five different configurations proposed and debated before the staff and principal finally come to an agreement about the best one and can officially organize the school (in my district this does not happen until the first Monday of the school year). If your child is in a combined class, there were probably several reasons why he or she was placed there. If you have concerns about it, the very best thing to do is to have a conversation with the teacher about it...hopefully they can ease your concerns. If you still have them, then at least you've begun a dialogue about it and hopefully the school will work with you to resolve the situation.

3. Having teachers who job share usually works out just fine. Okay, I'm a little biased on this one having been in a fantastic job sharing situation for the past seven years...I've also dealt with this concern A LOT! Most parents are concerned about two things: a) the teachers are only part time, therefore, they are not fully committed to the job at hand, and b) it's confusing and inconsistent for the children to have two teachers. To the former concern, let me assure you that in all the teachers I've ever known who job share, they put way more effort in than their allotted percentage of the position. One principal I know used to say that she really loved having job shares on her staff because you ended up with way more than 1.0 FTE's worth of contribution to the staff and school community. To the latter concern, I can only think of one child out of the 24x7=168 or so that I've taught where he perhaps may have been better off in a situation with one single teacher. Kids work with all kinds of different adults in their lives (parents, coaches, childcare providers) and even within the school often have at least one other "specialist" teacher. They usually adjust to each of these adults' expectations for behaviour based on whatever context they're in. I can't speak for every job share situation, but certainly in mine and those of my close colleagues, we're in frequent communication about classroom issues to ensure that we're being consistent in our philosophy and practice. One added benefit of having your child in a class with a job share is that the children get to work with people who may have different strengths; for instance, I am passionate about teaching science in a very hands-0n way (more than my partner), and she is passionate about developing social responsibility through her personal planning and social studies lessons (fantastically, I might add). Plus, we always have someone to bounce ideas off and brainstorm with who knows the workings of our classroom and students inside-out. There are also advantages to having a single teacher; one situation isn't necessarily better than the other, they're just a bit different.

4. Your school is there to help support your child's learning journey, and that includes your input. You are your child's first educator. Of course you know them better than anyone. Parental input is crucial, and most teachers and principals welcome you it. With email, teachers are more accessible than ever these days. I routinely give out my cell phone number and email address to the parents in my class just in case they have a class-related question and it's never been a problem yet. I would never want a child to go to be worried about something that could have been cleared up with a quick phone call at 8:30 pm. A word of advice, though, 9:00 am drop-off time is not a good time to start having a conversation with the teacher as we're usually about to start the important work of providing an excellent program for your kids!

So take a deep breath and head into the school year expecting the best. Chances are your child will follow your lead and it will be a great one.







Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Shrinking Jill - revised

If you've been reading this blog since the beginning you will remember that I used to track my weight loss journey under the heading, Shrinking Jill. You may have also noticed that I haven't posted that for a while because, well, I didn't do much shrinking over the summer. I didn't gain much, but I sure didn't lose any weight either.
Health has been on mind a lot lately so I decided I needed a new focus for motivation. Not so much on shrinking, but more on being a healthy weight. I'll be especially prone to Type II diabetes having had gestational diabetes three times (insulin dependent all three times), so maintaining a healthier weight is really crucial for me.
And guess what...just keeping that in mind, I've lost 6 lbs. in the last 2 weeks! I am keeping in mind that I can make healthy choices about eating and I'm really trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour (before the crazy late night snacking sets it). I'm now almost where I was at before I got pregnant (a couple more pounds) and the jeans I bought in May are now too big...talk about motivating! And the routine of the school year is really helping, too.
Now to try to work the exercise back in...that's the hardest part for me! Got any tips? I'd love to hear them...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Looooong Weekend!

I decided to hit Seattle Premium Outlets this weekend to do some back-to-school shopping...actually, I had planned to go mid-week last week to avoid the crowds, but my plans changed drastically with my m-i-l's recent passing. My family needed me more than the Gymboree outlet. Anyway, Gavin and I packed up our stuff and headed south to the outlet mall, along with about a million other people. I was fully prepared to deal with crowds of people and wasn't at all in a hurry. All in all, it was a successful day and I got most of the stuff on my list.
One big pet peeve from the day, though...why oh why can't they leave enough room in the stores where they sell children/baby clothes for people to maneuver with a stroller?! I can see avoiding the super-hip fashion stores, and don't even bother going into a shoe store, but Carter's? Gymboree? Oshkosh? I couldn't move in there with my stroller without knocking stuff off the racks. Normally I'd wear Gavin and carry the diaper bag and stuff if it was a shorter shopping trip, but this was the mucho-shop of the year, so the stroller was a necessity.
Anyway, the whole weekend has felt a little bit looooong. We're in Birch Bay and the weather is pretty sucky so the kids are going a bit stir crazy. It's a great place for kids when the weather is good but murder when it's not. And I feel like our whole family is in limbo until my m-i-l's Celebration of Life happens on Tuesday. And then we're right back into the swing of things.
We had some lovely times together this summer, as a family. And we had some really difficult times, dealing with cancer. I'm just not sure I'm ready to be thrust right back into the craziness of the school year and activities...

Monday, August 31, 2009

To my Mother-in-Law


Thank you.
Thank you for welcoming me so warmly into your family when I married your son.
Thank you for teaching me that even if you're not a great golfer, anyone can putt and win some money.
Thank you for sharing your unfinished crossword puzzles with me.
Thank you for offering to have us for dinner on Mondays when I was frazzled and busy from being at work all day.
Thank you for cherishing your grandkids.
Thank you for making Birch Bay a highlight of my kids' summer memories.
Thank you for sharing a daily 4:00 glass of wine, Oprah, and a chat when we visited you in Palm Springs.
Thank you for raising such an incredible man.
Thank you for showing me that family is to be valued above all else.
Thank you for your incredible generosity of time, spirit, and love.

Even though you're not here with us physically anymore, I still feel your presence with us.
We love you and we will miss you always.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

May the Farm Be With You...

I've been trying to shop organic more often lately even though it's a bit more expensive. I've heard that there's not much difference nutritionally than commercially produced food, but I figure that the fewer pesticides our family consumes the better.

I saw this little short at Telus World of Science when we were there last year and loved it! The kids who are nuts for Star Wars loved it, too, and they're secretly getting the message about "the Farm."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Africa - Amazing!!

If You Need a Laugh...

This is hilarious! Randene Neill, our local noonhour Global anchor, gets lurrrrvvvved by a doggie named Ginger and never loses her cool. Enjoy!

***Did you notice that Randene seems to have forgotten real shoes on this particular day?

The Inevitable Santa Question Dodged - For Now!

Trevor is 7. Amy is 5. It was bound to come up eventually.
We're in the van on our way to pick up a couple of friends for a playdate. The subject of toys comes up...

Me: We're going to go to Toys R Us later to pick up a couple more low booster seats for the van.
Trevor: But we're not getting any more toys right? 'Cuz we already have too many, right? (hoping beyond hope that I'll disagree with him)
Amy: Yeah, but Santa has to bring us toys, right Mommy? Right?
Me: Uh huh, but Christmas is still a long way away.
Trevor: Santa isn't even real, Amy.
Me: <holding my breath, waiting to see where this goes...>
Amy: What? Yes he is.
Trevor: No he isn't. He's....a ghost.
Me: <exhaling quietly>
Amy: What?! Then what about when we saw him at the golf club last year. Remember, he brought me that fluffy puppy in the purse? Right, Mommy? Remember?
Me: That's right, Aim.
Trevor: That was just a man in a costume.
Me: <taking a deep breath> Well, at that time of year the real Santa is super busy at the North Pole getting ready for Christmas Eve. So he has helper Santas who look like him all over the place. Like at all the malls. <Trevor looks a little relieved to hear this.>
Amy: But how do they get the toys before Christmas?
Me: <getting in deeper, trying to be vague on the details with my child who never forgets ANYTHING!> Well, he sends them.
Amy: Like how, in the mail?
Me: Well...
Trevor: Well, he's magic, Amy. That's how. <So much for the non-believer.>
Me: So, what do you guys want to play with Maddie and Sydney? <trying to steer the conversation away before we pick them up and they undo whatever Santa stories their mom has told them...>

So, how have you handled the Santa question at your house? I wasn't expecting to have to deal with it in the middle of August!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Normalizing Breastfeeding

With my third baby, I've become much more passionate and rooted in my belief about the power of breastfeeding and the need to normalize it as much as possible. I really struggled to get established in breastfeeding all three of my children but it was so worth all the tears and effort of pumping (more on that in a future blog post). My point is that it can be difficult enough without the added negativity and judgment that many people put on women who breastfeed in public.

That's why I was outraged when I read this article on foxnews.com.
Controversial Doll Lets Little Girls Pretend to Breast-Feed
Wednesday, August
05, 2009 By Jessica Doyle


Bebe
Gloton means "gluttonous baby." She comes with a special halter top for young
girls to wear as they pretend to breast-feed.
A controversial new doll is
leaving some parents wishing for the good old Cabbage Patch days.
A Spanish
toymaker known as Berjuan has developed a breast-feeding doll that comes with a
special halter top its young "mothers" wear as they pretend to breast-feed their
"babies." The halter top has daisies that cover the little girls’ nipples and
come undone just as easily as the flaps of a nursing bra would.
The doll —
called Bebe Gloton, which translates as “gluttonous baby” — makes sucking noises
as it "feeds."
Click here to see Bebe Gloton on 'FOX & Friends.'
Like
many other dolls, Bebe Gloton can cry, signaling she wants more
milk.
Although many health care providers promote the benefits of
breast-feeding, parents around the world have criticized Berjuan, saying the
idea of breast-feeding is too grown-up for young children -- and may even
promote early pregnancy.

"That's not cool," Lori Reynolds, of El Paso,
Texas, told
KFOXTV.com. "No, I would never get that for my child."
But
other moms said they support the product.
"I think that it’s great that
people want to have a doll that promotes breast-feeding,” said Rose Haluschak,
also of El Paso. “Most dolls that are purchased come with a bottle. That is the
norm in society, an artificial way to feed your baby.”
Dr. Manny Alvarez,
managing health editor of FOXNews.com, said although he supports the idea of
breast-feeding, he sees how his own daughter plays with dolls and wonders if
Bebe Gloton might speed up maternal urges in the little girls who play
it.
“Pregnancy has to entail maturity and understanding,” Alvarez said. “It’s
like introducing sex education in first grade instead of seventh or eighth
grade. Or, it could inadvertently lead little girls to become traumatized. You
never know the effects this could have until she’s older.”
Alvarez said
breast-feeding reduces childhood infections, strengthens maternal bonding and
increases the child’s immune system. But introducing breast-feeding to girls
young enough to play with dolls seems inappropriate, he said.
“What’s next?”
wrote Eric Ruhalter, a parenting columnist for New Jersey’s
Star Ledger. “Bebe Sot — the doll who has a problem with a
different kind of bottle, and loses his family, job and feelings of self-worth?
Bebe Limp — the male doll who experiences erectile dysfunction? Bebe Cell Mate —
a weak, unimposing doll that experiences all the indignation and humiliation of
life in prison?
"Toy themes should be age appropriate. I think so
anyway.”

I have so many problems with the opposition to a toy such as this cited in this article (unforrtunate translation of the name aside...):

1. "Breastfeeding is too grown up for young children and may even promote early pregnancy." But playing mommy by feeding a doll with a pretend bottle is somehow less adult? Only if you view breastfeeding as a sexually charged activity. Along this line of faulty logic, playing with cars might promote underage driving? Ridiculous.

2. Alvarez's comments as a doctor are totally alarming to me....speeding up maternal urges? Pregnancy and breastfeeding could traumatize little girls? No sex ed until they are in Grade 7 or 8?! Children as young as preschool age need to know about body science, pregnancy, and birth; breastfeeding should be part and parcel of that education (for more on this read here, and here). The last thing seeing or playing at breastfeeding should be is traumatizing. If anything, it would go a long way to normalizing breastfeeding and desexualizing breasts.

3. Unrelated to the article specifically, but as more of a comment on society...why is it not okay to facilitate children's play at a non-sexual activity such as breastfeeding but it's okay to let our little girls dress up like "prostitots?"

4. Ruhalter's equating breastfeeding with alcoholism, erectile dysfunction, and life in prison is just plain insulting to all nursing moms. Playing at feeding a baby is completely developmentally appropriate for young children. That's why they make dolls, play-dishes, and bottles; this is just one more way to feed a baby.

A toy such as this is, of course, not even really necessary at all. Just ask Amy. Shortly after I came home with Gavin, she sat down next to me with her Baby Alive (whose pretend bottle has been long lost) , discreetly lifted her shirt up a little, and "breastfed" her doll alongside me (once I finally got Gavin latching and settled into breastfeeding). Trevor brought over a pillow for her to rest her elbow on, like he'd seen Dave do for me.

And no-one discouraged them one bit.


Ah, Sweet Music

I came across this at Bacon is My Enemy, and I just loved it. Music is math, music is science, music is unifying, music is universal.
Music is magic.

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Look What I Grew!


I planted some raspberry plants a couple of years ago and forgot about them. So imagine my surprise when I tackled my semi-annual gardening and came across these little tidbits! They are lovely and juicy and sweet.
If you know me and my gardening prowess (HA!), you'll appreciate how miraculous it is that these have lived in spite of me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

After a Trying Day...

It was a trying day with my darling daughter yesterday. My mom tells me Trevor went through a similar phase at five years old, but it's hard to remember when he seems (mostly) so reasonable now at seven. Compounding her five-year-old-ness, Amy's also dealing with her middle-child "stuff." Running down the list of challenges for yesterday:

- she threw Trevor's Spiderman car and broke it

- tried to slam the basement door in his face so he couldn't come upstairs

- woke Gavin up from settling down to TWO of his naps yesterday, one of which he couldn't get back to sleep

- refused to eat her pasta at dinner. This is nothing new, but I made her favourite kind and picked all the veggies and shrimp out of it, only to have her declare, "Yuck. I am NOT eating this."

- broke a lame little string of beads I won at Blackjack in Vegas last year, but they were blue and therefore, Trevor's. This had the intended effect of making him cry.


So when she asked me at bedtime:

"Mommy, why do you love me?" I had to dig deep and put aside the challenges of the day. I hugged her and listed off all of her wonderful qualities. I mean, look at her. How could you not?



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

As Seen on TV

I received no fee or compensation for this...
This thing really works! I've never been one for regular pedicures. Occasionally I've had one done for a treat, but generally, my feet have been pretty neglected. I recently took this neglect to new heights during my pregnancy when I couldn't reach my feet for more months than I'd care to admit. Socks were a struggle, shoes with laces out of the question, so I pretty much wore flipflops for much of the winter. Eventually I couldn't even get those on to the balloon-like appendages at the bottom of my "cankles," so I resigned myself to wearing slippers for the final few weeks.
Anyway, in that period of time my feet went from looking mildly unkept to becoming downright hoof-like. The demands of a busy family of five (one of whom was a newborn) made my poor, callused feet worse and I just didn't have the time or money for a pedi. I had pretty much accepted the fact that my kids would recoil in horror if accidentally brushed by the edge of my foot and that I might need to call in a farrier every now and then, when I came across this little gem.
I found it at London Drugs for around $14 or so. I went at my feet for about half an hour and finally reached skin that had some sensation! I finished that off with a whack of Vaseline before bed topped off with some old socks (tres sexy, I know) and the next morning - normal looking and feeling feet!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Much Ado About Save-on Foods

I have to say I was really looking forward to the new Save-On Foods opening up at Westminster Centre. I was hoping to see them give our two local Safeways a bit of price competition. And when you're a mom with young kids, an efficient and pleasant grocery shopping experience is a major event of any given week. Alas, I was greatly underwhelmed by my recent visit.

First of all, it's too small. Way too small. Like they tried to fit an entire grocery store in a space two-thirds the size of a normal grocery store. Each department on the perimeter of the store is like a miniature version of a real grocery store, but with all the "stuff" still crammed into every nook and cranny. The lack of space is also an issue down the aisles as it's difficult to pass two grocery carts past each other. Also, there is not nearly enough room to accomodate lineups, much less allow the shopping "traffic" to swing around the end of the aisles near the checkouts.

As for service, I had two cheerful manager-types greet my children and I, and the clerk in the bakery offered my daughter a cookie without us having to lurk around the counter. However, I noticed several of the younger clerks fooling around and they seemed more interested in visiting than getting customers through the checkout.

I opted for the self-serve checkout as the line seemed easier to access and I only had a few items. I always chuckle a bit at the notion of self-serve checkouts like it's a trick or something...sure, I'll check out and bag my own groceries, got any shelves you want me to stock while I'm at it? But whatever, it seemed like less of a hassle and we got through relatively quickly.

I went there needing to pick up 3 or 4 items and had intended to also grab a few of the weekly essentials while I was there. After trying to negotiate the tight spaces, however, I gave up and only picked up the three necessities deciding it wasn't worth the hassle of playing shopping cart-bumper cars just to save a couple of bucks.

I liked the covered parking (not such an issue now, but very nice when our winter monsoons arrive), and Amy got a kick out of the escalator for the shopping carts. My mom reported to me, however, that on her recent visit the escalator wasn't working so you couldn't get the carts up and down, so on that day she opted to only pick up a couple of things rather than doing the bulk of her shopping.

The verdict: I won't be rushing back there to do my shopping on a regular basis, though it might be a handy stop to pick up the odd necessity while I'm waiting for Amy while she's at dance nearby (starting this fall). It looks to me like they tried to do too much with too little and really missed the mark.