Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sick and Pregnant

As opposed to being sick because I'm pregnant, or sick of being pregnant.
I have what is known as seasonal flu. No, it's not H1N1, the symptoms are different. I woke up yesterday feeling slightly achy, but decided to brave it out and go to work. I knew by lunchtime I'd be staying home today. Last night I faced the chills and fatigue. Today, the chills and fever are gone, but the fatigue and a cough remain (a productive cough though, which is good).
My husband very generously offered to make me up a Neo Citran, which I couldn't accept because of the baby. I don't like to take anything when I'm pregnant, I even kicked my 1 a day Diet Coke habit for this little one. And then I tried to remember how did I handle being sick when I was pregnant the last 2 go rounds. Here's some home remedy tips that should help you out if you are ever in this same situation.
1. A nice warm bubble bath should take some of the edge off the chills
2. Likewise a hot shower will create the steam to help clear out any congestion you may have.
3. Take the time to rest - that's why we have sick days! Yes, I took my 2 year old to daycare today, I wouldn't have gotten a nap in otherwise. And yes, I relaxed my TV time allotment rule yesterday afternoon so I could sit up on the couch curled up in a quilt. It's just a day, it's not going to ruin them for life. Use your sick day to really rest, not catch up on stuff. The dishes, laundry and other household things can wait, they wouldn't have gotten done if you'd been at work anyways! If you are a stay at home mom, this is the time to cash in favors from friends and family, ship your kids out for a little while.
4. Make your own hot honey & lemon drink. No, it doesn't have the medicine of a Neo Citran, but it does help soothe a sore throat and cough. I have big Starbucks mugs, so I use 2 TBSP of honey and one TBSP of lemon juice to the boiling water. Smaller mugs can use less.
5. Prop yourself up a bit for sleep time - it won't irritate your cough and you'll get some much needed rest.
6. Boost up on Vitamin C. I don't like oranges (most people find this strange) - but I do like other things that contain Vitamin C, such as red peppers and strawberries. Today I munched on fresh pineapple.
7. Drink plenty of liquids - keep yourself hydrated
8. Dig out the humidifier and get it going for yourself
9. Change your bedding and your PJ's - you'll feel fresher and know you aren't sleeping in your old germs
10. Clean your toothbrush - same reason as above
11. Make yourself a warm moist cloth compress to put on your forehead, cheeks and/or eyes to relieve pressure from sinus pain
12. Ginger has long been used as a home remedy - try some ginger tea or some soup with ginger in it.
13. Cash in a backrub from your significant other - it sounds silly but it really does help fight flu and cold (I don't know why, you'll have to ask someone else about that part)
14. A warm foot soak can help relieve pain and pressure
15. Use a heating pad on your back or wherever you are finding an ache.

These are just some of my tips. You probably have some of your own to add to my list. Let me know in the comments section. Feel well and take care of yourself!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Is this supposed to be funny?

As I was teaching today I was reminded of something I really, really can't stand. Not just one, but many students wear shirts to school with a negative message on them. Now, I get that they are supposed to be humorous, but I just don't see how these shirts and messages strengthen the family and build up the child. Here's some real life examples I've seen.
"If I see it and like it, you buy it - any questions?"
"Sister for sale cheap"
"My parents are clever, but not as clever as me"
"Spoiled Brat"
"If you don't like my attitude then stop talking to me"
"I'm not trying to be difficult, it comes naturally"
As we live in a society where we complain about loss of family values, I just wonder what messages we are sending to our children. When we buy clothing like this we (their parents) are saying it's okay to have attitude, it's okay to be negative about your sibling, it's okay to be in charge of your own parents.
Think about messages you've seen on shirts. Do your own kids have clothing like this? Why? I'm curious. What kind of child do you want your child to be? Are we just buying into the message that kids have attitude so we'll just go with it? Or, are we striving for something else? The kids we raise are our future adults. They are decision makers. It is our responsibility to bring them up the best we can to help them become the best they can. The next time you are looking at graphic tees for your kids why not get one like one of these? (also ones I've really seen):
"Dream Big"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What's in a name?

I've been spending a lot of time on the message boards at lately. One of my groups is all women who are due in the same month as me. One of the hot topics seems to be "what do you think of this name?", or, "is this name getting too popular?", or, "Name poll please". And really why not? Picking a name for your baby is a completely personal, permanent decision that will affect your child for the rest of their life.
Of course I have an opinion on the whole naming your kid thing. I find picking a name extremely difficult. Not just to pick one I like, but one my husband likes and one that doesn't have a negative effect on either of us from past associations (ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-friends, ex-students). Yes, ex-students is the one that affects me most. I've been teaching for 11+ years. In that time I've worked with a lot of kids and have a lot of name associations. It's because of this that I have some advice for parents to be when it comes to naming your child.
First and foremost, pick a name that you absolutely love. You will be hearing it a lot.
Then try it out. Call it out loud a bunch of times. Say it fast, say it slow. Does it say anything to you that's different than you originally intended? Here's an example. I taught a girl named Sonata once. Pretty name, pretty song. Now try saying it fast. Do you hear what I hear? "Snot-a". What about the name Tierney? Looks pretty, sounds pretty. Do you hear anything else with it? What about 'tyranny'? Maybe not what you had in mind at first?
What about middle names and initials? Sometimes they spell words. Be careful what you are unintentionally spelling. Did you know that Michael J. Fox's middle name is really Andrew? He used a "J" instead of an "A" because he didn't want to be called Michael, a fox.
Think about nick-names too. Is the name you love going to get shortened into something you or your child may grow to hate?
What does the name mean? Is that important to you? I love the name Mary, but Mary means bitter. It makes be think twice about using it. Does your name have a meaning at all? Think of Suri Cruise. That is an example of a made up name. There is no meaning (unless you want to attach one to it). Or does your name mean something or associate with something that your child may not enjoy? I've taught a Pagan. Maybe her parents are pagans, but will she be? Delilah is a very pretty name gaining in popularity these days but I think Rachel on FRIENDS said it best, "my daughter's a biblical whore". (or something to that affect - before settling on Emma).
Speaking of which, how much does media and celebrity come into play when naming your child? I've taught Mariahs, Shanias, Kobes and Kieras. Emma was extremely rare before Emma was born on Friends. We're starting to see Maddox and Shiloh thanks to the Pitt-Jolie family.
How about popularity? Does that matter to you? I grew up as one of a few Kris's. Mine's Kristen. I've been Kris, Krissy, Kristi and Kristen over the course of my life so far. I was known as Krissy D. in school to differentiate me from Chrissy N. Had my brother been a girl he would have been one of many Jennifers that came out of the '70's. Jennifer is the most popular name among my friends. They survived it.
In my teaching career I've seen the wave of Ashleys and Jessicas. The Nathans and Ethans. I've had classes with 4 Brandons and variations similar (Brendan, Brayden, Brennan). Right now we're seeing the effects of girl M names - Makayla, Madison, Mackenzie, and Megan. Most classes I teach have at least one Aidan version (Jayden, Cayden, Brayden, Bayden, Kaydan, and Zayden - both male and female). And J's are usually Josh or Jacob. Many girls right now are Kira, Kiera, Kayla, Kara, and Kayla. Not sure where the name you love fits? Ask a teacher friend. Check popular names list (and check multiple spellings - Makayla doesn't usually make the list but when you look at all the spelling possibilities, it's one of the top ones (McKayla, Michaela, Mackayla etc).
And about spelling. Does spelling count? Well, do you want your child going through life spelling their name? Or, having someone not knowing what they said? I've had one Micheal in my career. I can imagine how often he says not Michael (traditional) but Micheal (made up spelling). Maybe he just goes by Mike by now?
And think about things like pre-made items with your child's name on it (mugs, piggy banks and bike license plates). Can you find your child's name in there? Does that matter to you? Do you think it might to your child?
How much does family influence matter to you? Are you prepared to defend your choice should your parents (or his) hate it? Or, do their objections make sense. Are they thinking about your child and how they will live with the name you want to give them? Maybe their objections are genuinely valid? Are you able to stand up to your own when they think they have found the perfect name for your child? My Nana was so sure and so insistant that we call our second child David. Nothing wrong with the name David, in fact we know lots of them, just not the name we wanted for our son. One thing to remember when it comes to family and baby naming, they've already had a shot at naming their kids, this one's yours.
And do you love the name you love so much that you are okay with keeping it no matter what? One my husband's good friends and his wife have a little boy 2 months older than our oldest son. Both boys have the same name. We had picked it and fell in love with it when I was 4 months pregnant. I couldn't believe that they had the same name all picked out. Oh well, 2 little boys who are extremely loved are growing up with the same name and sometimes they play together.
I'm just waiting now to see what happens with these next round of babies. You see my counterpart on this site, Jill and I are both pregnant (again at the same time - round 3). Our oldest kids are 7 weeks apart, our seconds are 7 weeks the other way around and now her next one is coming in Nov. and mine in Feb. We both have 2 boys and I'm just wondering if these babies are girls. I have a girl name all picked out and have for a few months now. Wouldn't it just be funny if she beat me to the punch? (although if she sticks with the "A" theme it won't happen). For the record I currently have no boy name picked out, but my husband has one he loves.
When it comes to naming your kids, it is up to you. You love what you love for a reason. So let it be. And let it be what it is. These are just tips and things to think about that I've learned and thought about along the way.
To find out more about naming your baby check these sites out:

-Find name meanings and store your favorites in a name basket -

-Name generator with suggestions for first and middle names that go with your last name -

-List of most popular names by countries around the world -

-List of the most popular baby names in Canada, 2007 -

-Tracking the most popular baby names since 1879 in the USA -

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tired Days

So, I am now 34 weeks pregnant and I have a two and a half year old. On days when my older son, Andrew, is at school, I spend a lot of time keeping Aaron out of mischeif. On days when Andrew is home, I spend a lot of time breaking up fights and stopping Aaron from smacking his brother over the head with everything. Add to this that end-of-pregnancy insomnia, and boys who think 5:30 is a perfectly reasonable time of the day to be up and about, and you get one tired mama.

I know this trend is going to continue indefinitely. Once the baby comes there will be middle of the night nursing sessions and diaper changes every 2 - 3 hrs, and no naps for mom during most days, since the two older boys don't nap regularly.

This is not new to me, since Andrew was not a good sleeper, and woke regularly once or twice a night until he was four or so. Sleep deprivation has been a pretty constant companion since I had children.

So, what can you do to get through the day when you feel like your head is full of cotton balls and you can barely drag your feet off the ground? Here's a few of my suggestions:

  • - let go of unimportant tasks - do only essential household chores. This is not the time to decide to scrub the walls or wash the windows. This will only exhaust your further.

  • - if you can't sleep, at least rest - ask yourself what you can do that will take the least amount of energy. Read your toddler books or do puzzles or draw - anything that will keep their attention and not require a lot of activity on your part is good.

  • - take care of your body - make sure you are not making things worse by being hungry, thirsty or feeling blechy. Drink water, eat healthy food, brush your hair and put on some clothes that are not going to bother you. You will still be tired, but at least you will be otherwise comfortable.

  • - ask older kids to do things for you - if I leave everything accessible, my oldest son is now capable of getting cereal or toast for him and his brother. This means I can ask him to get breakfast while I catch 20 more minutes of sleep. I now sleep until 6am wether the boys are awake or not, since they can meet their own needs in the morning.

  • - drive places you would usually walk to - I am a big fan of walking wherever we can. I like to get us all out in the fresh air, get some exercise and explore the town. But when I am really tired, I drive two blocks to the park. If I exhaust myself in the afternoon, I will not have the energy to make it through the day.

  • - be proactive with your kids - if you see them starting to get squirrely, send them out in the yard before they start fighting. If its is close to snack time, give them a snack before they start to melt down. Put your toddler in time out the first time he does something, so he doesn't escalate the stakes to see how far he can go. I remind myself that even though I am tired, the more I do now the less I will have to do later.

  • - keep your temper - don't waste your energy on stupid arguments or on getting frustrated. Shut down conflict with your kids as quickly as possible. I find that this is not the time to try to talk about feelings or reason with angry children or identify emotional roots to problems. When you are tired, it is time to send them to their room until they stop screaming, so that only one of you is screaming

  • - call in the reinforcements - do you have family locally? Give them a call and ask if they can take the kids for a few hours. Can your husband come home for lunch? Have lunch ready when he gets there and nap while he eats with the kids. Hire a teenager to come once or twice a week so you can nap while they play with the kids.

  • - focus on the present - when I am tired I tend to drift. I daydream, I analyze the past (never a smart thing to try to do while you are tired) and I am generally more prone to introspection and distraction. Focusing on what is going on around me, and letting everything else go for the time being (since I am too tired to come to any rational conclusions anyway) is really the best thing I can do.

What do you do when you are tired to keep things sane?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Socks, socks and more socks

Yes, I'm really writing about socks. You see I have two boys. The are 2 and 5 years old. When my youngest was a baby socks weren't really an issue. It was pretty clear whose were whose. As they have gotten bigger the distinction between socks became increasinly blurred. Let's face it, there isn't much of a difference between a sock for a size 7 shoe and a size 12 shoe is there? After muddling through the laundry folding yet again I'd had it. Particuarily with the cute matching socks that they each had. I took all the socks, and did away with them. I then went sock shopping. I had one clear goal in mind. Jeremy's socks were in no way to resemble Elijah's and vice versa. I came home successful. Jeremy's are all from Old Navy. They are all one colour, say old Navy on them as well as 2T-3T. Elijah's I got at Winners. They are all white with gray soles. Perfect. Never a mis-match again.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bathroom Break

My oldest son is 5. He still comes into the ladies room with me when we are out without my husband. I'm not at all comfortable sending him into the men's room by himself. The same is true when we go to the pool. At this point no one seems to be questioning his presence in these places. In fact I've seen other mothers with their 5 year old boys in the ladies changing room.
And why would we send them elsewhere? It's a sad state of our times, but true that we don't know who is in these rooms. And we don't want to risk our sons to the whims of perverts.
But how long can I safely keep him with me? At what age is it inappropriate for him to be there? And then what do I do?
I've seen some older boys(8-9 years old) in the ladies room. I'm not comfortable with this. Some of them peek - not good. I can understand why their mothers would keep them with them. I just wish there were more family friendly alternatives.
Some malls and pools (thank goodness) have created family washrooms and change rooms. I'm very glad for this. But not all are there yet. Our pool has family changing huts, which is great, but no lockers near them (the lockers are in the changing rooms). Most restaurants have a ladies and a men's room, nothing else. Some malls have a 'family room', but it is usually designed for nursing women complete with a lock and key (so if another mama is in there with her little one, you are out of luck).
I really don't have a solution, just a lot of questions. I'm sure there are plenty of other mamas out there who have been through this delemma already and have ideas. I'm hoping that some of you can share with me and other readers. Please leave your ideas in the comments, I'd really appreciate it!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Clever Thoughts: Taking the Long View

Some days, I despair that my children will ever be civilized. They fight, the whine, they scream, and they tear the house apart. I spend all day breaking up fights, cleaning up messes and putting them in time out. I come to the end of the day wondering what I have done wrong.

With my older son, I have found myself worried at every stage. I was worried he would never get potty training. I was worried he would never be able to make friends and approach other kids to play with them. I was worried he would never be able to pedal and steer a bicycle. I was worried he would not be able to handle a full day of school. And yet when the time came, and he was ready, he did every one of these things.

On my part, each of my son's successes has taken a lot of patience and consistent teaching from me (and unfortunately has also included a lot of frustration as I had to repeat myself again and again). But it has also taken a lot of trust and faith in his growing understanding of the world and innate resilience.

With my second son, I find that I am a lot more willing to take the long view. There have been a few times when he has started to potty learn. Each time, it has lasted for a few days, then he has gotten bored or interested in something else and I have ended up washing about 10 pairs of pants and underwear a day. With my oldest son I would have reacted with frustration. I would have yelled and demanded and lectured and spent a month washing 10 pairs of pants and underwear and scrubbing my carpet and wondering why my son just can't seem to "get it". With my second son, I just put him back in diapers and choose to try again later. Because I know that he will eventually be ready to go to the bathroom on his own, and I know the limits of my patience.

I am coming to believe that one of the crucial differences between an over anxious, frustrated parent and a relaxed, trusting parent, is simply taking the long view. I have learned to ask myself, "Is this just a stage? Will he still be doing this in 2 years?" If the answer is no, I have some patience with the behavior and do what I can to wait it out. If the answer is yes, it will still be a problem, then I try to stay patient as I teach my son that this behavior is not acceptable, and help him to learn alternate behaviors. Or I find out what I can do to help my son on his journey towards independence or skill building.

My oldest son has always been a kid with a low tolerance for frustration. Funnily enough, his mother was the same kind of a kid. Together, we're learning to banish the phrase, "I'll never be able to . . . " and are replacing it with the phrase "I'm learning to . . . ".

Do yourself and your kids a favor. Take the long view.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Oh the wonders of pregnancy

I'm pregnant. 21 weeks currently. My husband is continually amazed at the way my body reacts to pregnancy. For example, I've had a stuffy nose on and off. My husband asks, "Are you okay honey? Not feeling too good?"
"I'm fine, just stuffy - pregnancy you know".
"Really?, because that makes sense?!".
Oh yeah. Pregnancy affects your whole body. Some are fabulous side effects. Beautiful skin, nails and hair. I'm warm in the winter for the first time in my life (I'm usually always cold). Some are not so wonderful. I currently cannot brush my teeth without my gums bleeding (and no, I haven't suddenly become a sporadic teeth brusher, still twice a day, just like always). I'm also having a cramp in my bottom from sitting for a while (I haven't figured out why exactly, but I'm pretty sure it's a pregnancy thing).
From the top of your head to the tips of your toes pregnancy takes over the whole of you. And I haven't even begun to mention things like mood swings, bizarre dreams and lapses of memory (my poor husband had to apologize on my behalf to his sister because all of their September birthday gifts (3 in her family have September birthdays) came in October - my fault completely).
Your body is a pretty amazing thing. I know there are probably scientific reasons for all of this. I just find it funny (and my husband finds it just bizarre) the way it takes over all of you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Giving Our Kids Our Best

I teach. That's my job. Yes, I'm fortunate to get all my weekends and vacations off and I'm glad I do, but that's not why I do it. Ask most teachers and they will tell you they teach because they love their job. They couldn't do it otherwise. As my teaching career has progressed I've found it taking more and more energy. It could be that I'm a little older than I was when I started, but the more likely reason (from my own observations) is that the kids I'm seeing need more from us. I have kids who come to school hungry, who have worn out shoes and too small clothes. I had a student last year during the coldest part of winter tell me how lucky I was that I had heat in my classroom because they had no heat in their home. I know it's sad. It's very sad. And it's very draining.
Lately, I've been wondering if I'm giving my very best to my kids at school and less and less of my best to my own kids at home. It's a tough one. I'm a working mom. I want to give my best in both places. Both places deserve my very best, but how? How when you have a high energy job can you come home at the end of the day and still be fresh? Also knowing you have house things to do? Dinner. Laundry. Homework. Baths. Swimming lessons. How can you be your best and have quality time and make sure your own kids are happy? I'm really conscientious of this right now. Because of that I know I'm not getting it, but I can start taking steps to 'get it'.
Here are some things I'm trying to make better time for my kids and with my kids:
1. Game Time - my oldest son and I have started playing games like Memory and Go Fish. My youngest isn't ready for these games yet, but likes games like hide and go seek and pop bottle bowling
2. Bedtime routine extentions - Instead of rushing through brushing teeth and cleaning up to pop the kids into bed, I'm starting bedtime earlier. It gives us more story time, prayer time and talk time. I picked this one up from my own mom. Both my brother and I have fond memories of talk time before bed each night.
3. Taking my kids out for 'dates' - just one kid at a time. It can be as simple as going down to Tim Hortons to share a hot chocolate or taking a walk around the neighbourhood. They know that all my attention is on them when we are on our 'dates'.
4. Family Day Saturdays - unfortunately, this one we can't always do as my husband's work schedule causes him to work some weekends, but most Saturdays are days we set aside to be with each other. We go hiking or to the beach in the summer, now that's it's fall we can still do outings, they are just a little different. This past weekend we went to the farmer's market and the apple orchard to go apple picking.
5. Having the kids give me a hand where I need it. Both my kids like to help in the kitchen so why not give them a chance to help make cookies or stir up some juice?
I know these are just little things and I have a ways to go. What ideas do you have to make the most of your time with your kids?



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