Sunday, May 30, 2010

Birthdays Drive me Crazy

Because we are moving in August, and my oldest son's birthday is the first week of September, I told my son he could have his birthday party in June. This means that he can have his friends at his party. This also means that the count down to excitement has started.

Two days ago I told him we were going to do his birthday party in three weeks. Since then he has compiled a guest list, chosen a present (he is not the kind of kid who likes surprises), and decided that he wants a knights party. Tonight he can't sleep because he knows I am ordering his present for him. All day for the last two days he has asked me questions about his party. Who will come? What presents will they bring him? How long is three weeks? Do we have to wait that long? Will it be fun? Will anyone bring him lego? How will it be fun if he doesn't have a best friend? How can he go about finding a best friend in the next week?

Last year, we went through two months of this. He decided he wanted a Playmobil castle in June. And we heard about playmobil castles every day for three months. We heard about his party and his cake and his presents daily. We had melt downs every day for the week before the party about who was coming and what gifts he was going to get. Then after the party we had a meltdown because not enough people showed up and he didn't get enough presents.

Right now, in fact, he has got up to ask me what we are going to put in the goodie bags and what activities I have planned. And now he his having a meltdown, because he was too excited to eat his supper. Its going to be a long three weeks, friends . . .

Saturday, May 29, 2010

When did 2 mean perfect?

This little rant has been preying on my mind for a few months now. Because my daughter was born prematurely we were automatically entitled to a visit from the public health nurse. It was alright, though a little useless to me as she was my 3rd child and a month old when she came home. What irked me was the phone call I got the next day. Her supervisor noticed that I'd been pregnant 6 times and did I need any help with birth control? Excuse me? I don't know if she noticed that while I'd been pregnant 6 times, I'd lost 3 babies to miscarriage. All pregnancies were planned. All children were wanted and all lost babies were mourned. So no, I didn't need any help with birth control.
My husband and I always wanted a big family. We knew we wanted at least 3 and probably 4 children. We certainly didn't anticipate miscarriage(s) along the way. We also didn't anticipate the health risk that this last pregnancy posed to me in the end.
What I did become aware of before and since having my 3rd baby was the surprise that we wanted more than 2. And odd thoughts came into my head. Was I being greedy having 3. Socially irresponsible? Unreasonable? Wait a minute, since when did 2 become the magic number? Isn't that what our society like? 2 kids, preferably a boy and a girl. I got that comment a lot too, "pregnant again, going for the girl are you?" Honestly, we would have been just fine having a 3rd boy.
It's true though, having more than 2 you get a few looks. We were out at the store without our oldest the other day (he was at school) and someone actually said to us, "Hit the golden jackpot did you, a boy and a girl", you should have seen the surprise when I told her that our other son was at school.
I don't know why our culture feels this way? Why shouldn't a happily married, socially responsible couple have more than 2 children? You know that for the first time ever our country is facing an upside down population, where the retired age is outnumbering any other age? We have a declining birthrate for the first time ever. It's funny isn't it? We have less marriage, increased birth control, increased abortion, increased number of children in a 1 parent household, increased children being raised by grandparent. What does that say about our view of family? Maybe it isn't so odd that I would be asked about birth control? Maybe the public health system doesn't see a lot of happily married couples raising their kids and taking responsibility for them? I don't know.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Not Me Monday

It's been a while since I've written one of these...
I certainly did not pretend to not hear my three year old announce that he had to pee on the grass at the park we stopped at so I could nurse his baby sister. I did not pretend not to notice his pants dropped as he faced the lake and started to sing as he peed. My husband and I definately did not have a giggle over this. Because of course I was sitting in the car nursing the baby and he was rummaging in the trunk, looking for a snack for the boys, so how could we possibly have known that our young one decided to relieve himself in plain sight?

Giving Credit

I want to welcome some of our new readers/followers of Clever Mamas that have joined the ranks over the past few months. A number of you have commented (positively) on our template. We really can't take credit for it other than having good taste. We found it at Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates. I (Kris) use her templates for all of my blogs, I love them. You can check her out by clicking the link on the sidebar.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Food for Thought - Why does our culture fight our nature?

I got my new issue of Today's Parent in the mail this week and I read the most interesting article in it. Well, I found it interesting because it confirms something I believed in quite naturally that our culture would have wanted to correct me on. Let me explain: I'm a breastfeeding mama. I've nursed all three of my children. What's one thing that you always hear about nursing your babies and sleep? "Don't let your baby get in the habit of falling asleep while nursing!" It's one of the supposed sins of parenting. Apparently that's just a terribly bad habit. Well, I am one parent who admits to nursing her babies to sleep. I rocked them to sleep. I cuddled them to sleep. All things that we are not supposed to do because we are supposed to teach baby how to go to sleep on their own. That is one of the goals in our culture.
Here's a quote I read this week: "Babies are biologically designed to sleep at the breast. It's clear from the composition of the milk and the baby's hormonal response to nursing that babies are meant to go to sleep in association with breastfeeding. Human milk even changes over the day to have more sleep-inducing components during the evening and at night." Beth McMillan, lactation consultant (Today's Parent, June 2010).
This quote is prefaced with the response of sometimes it is okay to let your baby to fall asleep at the breast, and sometimes it isn't. My second child was one who needed to be woken up at feeding time to make sure he was getting a full feed as a newbie. He wasn't gaining weight properly and was in a vicious sleep/eat cycle. But, once a baby is established in feeding and is gaining weight properly, I believe it is perfectly natural to let a baby fall asleep at the breast at the end of a feed. They don't have to stay there. My daughter does this at night. I then transfer her to her bassinet to sleep, and she sleeps well.
It's funny, I wonder if perhaps our culture isn't so completely bent on proving that humans are so different from every other creature on earth that we forget that we are by nature mammals. Think of other mammals in the world. How do their babies interact with their mamas? Puppies, kittens, piglets, and chimps, they all snuggle with their mamas. They nurse and the fall asleep all cuddled up together. I remember meeting another mama once at a conference (we were the only 2 nursing women there and the only ones who brought a child with them). In a whispered voice she admitted to me that she nursed her son to sleep. I looked at her and said, mine does the same thing. Well, you should have seen the look on her face. The anxious guilt just melted away. Incredible.
Baby eats. Baby is full. Baby is snuggly and content. Baby is relaxed and falls asleep in mama's arms. Mama has a peaceful child. Mama is relaxed too. So why are we punishing ourselves over this again?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"It's Tide Fresh"

"Mom, are our clothes Tide Fresh?" is what my near 6 year old asked me the other day. Pardon me? Tide Fresh? What the heck does he know about Tide Fresh? "Well you know Mom, most other detergents are made up of mostly water, Tide has more cleaners in it".
Oh, right, I forgot, my child has now crossed to the dark side, TV with advertising in it. Up until about this past Christmas the only TV my kids viewed was pre-school TV. In Canada pre-school TV has very strict rules in advertising. There is very little to no direct advertising (unless you count all the toy tie in products). Then my son turned 5 and a half (the and a half being extremely important) and decided that Spider-man would be the one show a day he was choosing to watch. Spider-man airs on Teletoon. Teletoon has advertising. So we now hear about cool toys, which toy is available in a Happy Meal, and apparently laundry detergents. I can see why the CRTC decided to outlaw preschool TV advertising, but now what do I do with my school aged child? Yes, I know it's yet another teaching opportunity, just one I was hoping to avoid for a little while longer. (For the record, we use Kirkland laundry soap, the Costco brand. And yes, we did tell our son this and explain why we buy it).

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Glass of Wine

My husband and I went out on a date tonight. We rarely eat out, never mind in a restaurant void of a playplace, so this was very exciting for us. Uninterrupted adult conversation and good Italian food on the table. What more could I ask for. A glass of wine to go with it? Perhaps, but I really wasn't sure. I knew a glass of wine would be enjoyable, but I'm a breastfeeding mama. My 4 month old daughter relies on me for her dinner. Yes, I could (and did) give her a bottle, but how long until I could breastfeed her again? Do I pump and dump? Or can I just wait it out?
I found the answers at Motherisk's website. Motherisk is a program out of Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. For 25 years it has been dedicated to research and education for women concerning the health of their unborn and breastfeeding children. It is a clinical, research and teaching program dedicated to antenatal drug, chemical, and disease risk counselling. I knew if anyone would have my answer it would be them.
They have developed a chart based on the mother's weight and number of drinks consumed as to how long they would have to wait before being cleared to breastfeed again. The chart is an estimate and the Motherisk article preceding it fully explains the thoughts behind alcohol consumption and breastfeeding. I strongly suggest you take a look through it. Personally, I do not want to expose my baby to alcohol which is why I found their chart helpful.
To find the article and the chart click here
To find out more about Motherisk and their programs click here

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nostalgia Already?

"Eps, Ips, Eps, Ips" is what my 3 year old chanted while galloping around the house this morning. And then in the back of my mind I heard, "Oot, ot, Oot, ot" and visualized another 3 year old galloping around. Only that 3 year old is turning 6 in a few months. He's my oldest son. And I admit I got a little teary, I miss that boy. You know in your head that your children will only be the age they are once, but you don't really know what that means. I love my oldest boy as he is now, but I miss who he was too. Already I have memories of him that he doesn't remember. I keep thinking that I need to journal down more and capture a little more of who he is before he grows up so much that there isn't any little boy left.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Why Not to Wake Up Before your Children

Do you want to know something? I don't wake up with my kids in the morning anymore. For five years, I have been completely sleep deprived because I have woken up between 4 and 5:30 am with my oldest son. When he was a baby, it was necessary to wake up with him because he needed to eat and be changed and comforted. When my oldest was a toddler, it wasn't safe to leave him alone for an hour or more in the mornings. When my second son came along, he would sleep in until 7 or 8am, so I woke up with my oldest son to stop him from waking the baby. My second son started waking up to play with his older brother and soon I had two children awake at 5 or 6 am every morning. Over our holidays this summer, my husband woke up with the boys for a week straight and let me sleep in until 8am every morning. It was only then that I realized how utterly exhausted I had been for the last 5 years.

Now, I am dealing with baby #3. And she likes to stay up late -- until 12 or 1am and sleep until 8 or 9 in the morning. Her brothers still tend to wake up between 5 and 6am. If you do the math, that means that if I wake up with them, I am getting four or five hours sleep, usually interrupted once by the baby feeding and often a second time by my 3 yr old climbing into bed in the middle of the night. So I have decided that unless there is something unusual going on, I don't wake up before 7am.

Yes, that's right. I leave my 5 and 3 yr old to fend for themselves for an hour and a half or so each morning. I will get up once to change the 3 yr old's diaper, get them some juice and turn on a video. Other than that, they know where the bread and jam or the cereal and milk are if they are hungry. They know where the toys are. And usually they can self-regulate pretty well. Occasionally, they come running into our room in the heat of a fight or argument, but honestly, it is mostly a bid for attention. When I tell them I am not getting up and they should find something else to do or play seperately if they can't get along, they do.

I know that lots of mommy blogs laud the virtues of waking up before your children, so that they only ever see you fully dressed, and ready to tackle the day. And I tried this for a few weeks. I had just got my oldest finally sleeping until 6am. And then I set the alarm for 5:30 to wake up and get ready for my day. He heard it and decided that if mommy was up, he needed to be up too. And I lost that whole extra hour of sleep as he anxiously woke up earlier to make sure I wasn't getting out of bed before him, and we were both tired.

In my world, there are several advantages to waking up later than my kids:

1. I am more reasonable for the rest of the day. Seriously, the difference is amazing. I am much less likely to snap when asked "Can I have juice?" for the fifth time after I've said, "Yes, you can have juice" and ambled my over tired body over to the fridge to get the juice. I am much more likely to stay one step ahead of my kids and get them fed or outside to play before they start beating on one another. I am much more likely to put my 3 yr old in time out the first time he does something rather than yelling and nagging for 10 min, then putting him in time out and then following this by a 10 min. diatribe on how much I hate cleaning up messes all day (which really just makes my kids feel like they can't get any toys out, but never seems to make them feel like maybe they shouldn't mix their cheese and juice together and pour it over their heads).

2. The children learn some independence. Seriously, they can work things out on their own for an hour. They can share, they can agree on things, they can be patient with one another for a little while without Mom's help. I love hearing them helping each other out and co-operating to get a morning snack, or finding them sitting next to each other "reading" books on their bed.

3. I don't resent my children. I don't think people with later risers understand how infuriating it is to be woken up early every morning at an ungodly hour. It really does grind down your appreciation for these little souls that live in your house. Even though they don't wake up early to spite you, it certainly feels like they do after a few years. If I can wake up a little later than they do, I don't feel like my life is being run by the children, and I can appreciate them a little more throughout the day.

4. The children learn about boundaries. This is one that it took me a while, and a second child, to understand. It is not okay for my children to run my life. Of course, when they are tiny, they are in charge -- they feed when they are hungry and sleep when they are tired and I need to be awake when they are. But when they are old enough to be a little more independent, it is time for them to learn that other people have needs and limits, and that they need to respect that.

Of course, this doesn't always work. If only one of the boys wakes up, they are often hesitant to get up by themselves, so I will wake up with them. If someone is sick or turning the house upside down or losing their temper, then it is time for Mom to get up and help. But often, they do just fine for that first hour of the day.

So don't let the uber-mamas tell you you have to wake up at an ungodly hour of the morning to be a good mom. Sometimes, you need to follow your instincts, and do what keeps you sane.

The Dangerous Side of Potty Training

Over the past week, my 3 year old has become potty trained (daytime only). Yay! I'm so excited about this because let's face it, having more than one in diapers at a time stinks (pardon the pun), especially when you know that the older one of the 2 is perfectly capable of using a toilet. And now that he's a week dry I feel I can celebrate it. I really don't have anything new to offer to the "how to train your child" mix. I think finding the right motivation helps. With this one, it was the Ikea playplace. Ikea won't let any kids in who aren't trained yet (no pull-ups either). He was very jealous of his older brother getting to go in and he couldn't. So sure, I made sure we made one more visit to Ikea to boost him along. And today is celebration day. After lunch we are headed to Ikea where I will drop the 2 of them off for 45 minutes of playtime and I will get to shop with just the baby in tow.
So what's the danger? Well, you see this particular child has a habit of crawling into bed with us in the middle of the night. He also talks in his sleep. So one night last week I woke up to the sound of, "but I'm a big boy now, I don't wear diapers" followed by the distinct sound of his night diaper tab being ripped off. Yikes! Needless to say that was the last night I put a diaper on him at night - he's been wearing night pull-ups ever since.



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