Thursday, August 25, 2011

Siblings and new babies

I am 38 weeks today and I am scheduled to have this baby by C-section next Tuesday morning. It's a bit odd to know this time around when the baby is coming, but at the same time, sort of nice to be able to plan and not have this big unknown event hanging over me waiting to go off like a time bomb. I saw my Dr. yesterday and this baby still has not dropped, she said its likely this baby would not be born naturally either (my first labour failed to progress likely because my son's head couldn't/wouldn't drop down).
 As we live in a small town, our Hospital won't do VBAC's and if I had wanted to go that route, would have to have our baby in North Vancouver (an hour away), meaning all my prenatal appointments would have had to be there as well, meaning more time off work etc. etc. I did consider a Midwife as we have 1 in Squamish, but when I called her at 9 weeks pregnant she was already full for all of September (My due date was the 8th). She would have had to deliver the baby in North Van as well, but at least all of my appointments could have been closer to home. We are getting 2 more midwives, but they won't be practicing until October. Squamish is having a bit of a baby boom, for example my own Dr. had 10 babies due./born in August alone.

Anyways I guess I just provided all this back ground info on why I am not going for a VBAC, as people usually assume you should at least try. I am a little sad about not at least having trial labour, but based on the above I think this is the right choice for us.

Things that are occupying my thoughts this week are mostly about my first son, who is VERY excited about the baby. He now sleeps with his doll instead of his 2 puppies and wakes up every morning asking about his baby brother. We don't actually know the sex of the baby, but his friend Caleb has a baby brother so I think he just goes with that. At 2 (26 months) I am not sure he even gets the boy/girl thing (the concept in general), we remind him it may be a sister and that we have to wait and see.

Things we have done in preparing out first son for the new baby:

6 weeks ago we moved him into his room full time (he was co sleeping) into his own twin bed (I will blog about this process some other time).

Read stories about new babies. Mostly ones from the library; not just books about bringing a new baby home, but about babies in general. I did buy him the New Baby Little Critter  book, which has a little sister, I try to keep it gender neutral and just say "baby".

A doll- I bought him one at Christmas when we were first planning this baby and it is just a cabbage patch doll that actually ended up in the closet for a long time, but now we change it's diaper and swaddle it together.

Remind him about the routine for the day the baby is born: he will go to Nana's house, Mummy will go to the hospital and the Dr. will take the baby out from my tummy, and then Nana will bring him to hold the baby (he is very excited to hold the baby). Side note: We have been using this routine trick in other parts of his life as well, such as bed time or leaving somewhere, talking about 3 things that will happen so that he know what is coming. For example," we will read a story, then sing some songs, say our prayers, and then Mummy will leave the room for you to sleep",  we remind him during the routine this is what we are doing and we find that it works really well in avoiding melt downs.

I have also stocked up on little gifts for him so that when the baby gets gifts, he doesn't feel left out.

I know that Kris and Jill have blogged on this topic ages ago, but I can't find their posts (will look harder later), but I thought I would share my thoughts and see if anyone else has any tips to add.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship with Lego

My boys are right into Lego right now. I think it is a fantastic toy most of the time. It's creative, it's constructive, it's brilliant in its simplicity. It also has a lot of small pieces. Small pieces that hurt when you step in them. Small pieces that no matter much you try to contain them to just one part of the house migrate to pretty much everywhere.
We've tried various ways of organizing the Lego. In our last place our boys shared a room. We bought one of those Ikea 9 drawer sets to store their Lego in. That worked pretty well. The Lego for the most part was sorted by colour, so the task of looking for the pieces that were needed went pretty well. In the place that we've just moved into our boys have their own rooms; therefore, the Lego has been split into 2 making it a lot more mixed up. I don't know about you, but I go buggy eyed helping my kids build things looking for just that one specific piece needed.
The other thing about our Lego is that my kids were gifted a huge amount of it (mixed with some Mega Bloks sets) from our nephew who is now grown. I thought that was fantastic. I thought that would be all the Lego they ever needed. Apparently, I was wrong. Lego has gotten more complicated than that. When I was a kid my brother and I had a box of Lego to share from which we built whatever we thought of. Now, most Lego is sold in sets. So there are specific things that they want to build, for which you need specific pieces that you can only get in these sets. So all of their spending money and saving money has been going towards buying Lego sets. And the Lego sets are great and neat and cool and all that. Then they get destroyed and mixed up and you just know that the day is coming when one of them says, "Mom, I want to build the fire truck, or, the Police Station" and then you find yourself digging through piles of mixed up Lego looking for that one piece that you can't find, never mind the instruction booklet for it. I have solved the second problem. Lego has very kindly posted instructions of all their building sets on their website, as long as I remember to download them to my laptop, we're good to go. (you can find that handy tool here). My boys also figured out that their cousin's Lego is made up of sets. So one bored evening I set out searching for the sets. (I know I'm a glutton for punishment) and surprised myself by finding a few of them. Some were Mega Bloks sets (Mega Bloks is a Canadian version of Lego that costs a little bit less) and Mega Bloks also has building instructions on their website (Here).
The other part of having Lego is where to store all the creations without them becoming destroyed. Because you know with kids all their creations are extremely important to them. And toddler little sisters just don't understand that concept really.
As I get all this off my chest it's really just part of the preparation for what lies ahead. I've been promising my oldest that we would have a Lego day once I was finished setting up our new home and before he goes back to school. I'm about 1 day away from that (maybe 2), so wish me well that I don't go crazy, digging through all of that Lego!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Letter to the Editor - a guest post/re-post/response post

Last month, I joined in with the #BlogforAyn bloghop, telling the tale of the 9 year old autistic girl who has been removed from her home in BC, seemingly for no reason other than being an autistic child being raised by a single dad. The case workers stated that raising three children with two being autistic is a heavy load for a single parent, and that removing his daughter would lighten his load. One of our readers made the statement, there must be more to the story than that. That's exactly where I was when I first heard the tale. Like a lot of people who work with children I've (unfortunately) seen a lot. When you start to see repeating patterns of hurt, mistreated and abused children you tend to get cynical. And I'm sure that's where a lot of CPS worker are at. They see the worst of the worst. They work in a flawed system where there can be errors that lead to tragedy if they don't have enough information to go on to protect our kids. It can also happen in reverse, where a family can be broken up without a lot of recourse. Since I first heard about Derek Hoare's story with his daughter Ayn, I started to read about more families who have been torn apart unnecessarily. It is now 55 days since Ayn was removed from her home. Her father has yet to have access to her. Meetings have been cancelled at the last minute, frustrating this father who just wants his little girl back home where she belongs.
I'm fortunate that a good friend of mine (who initially made me aware of this case) has met Derek. She was touched by his story and has made it her mission to find out how this happened and what can be done to help this family. She has given me permission to quote her here on Clever Mamas. In her own words: "I have a copy of the hospital records, and I have met Derek, been in his home, and seen how he and his ex interact with their children. He is totally above the board, and doing a much better job than I think I could do."
My friend is a mother herself of two little ones. She is a qualified teacher who oversees homeschooling families in her area. She is a well educated, caring individual. I know for me, hearing a story in the news can cause a lot of questions and disbelief. Knowing someone whose opinion I trust completely being involved in the story in question sways my opinion of what is going on here.
My dear friend wrote a blog post that was originally published last month in her sister's parenting blog "I'm a Real Life Mom - Perfecting Imperfection". With her permission, I am re-posting it here. She captures better than anyone else I know the reality of Ayn's situation.

July 14, 2011

It’s the 29th day of torture. And she’s only 9. Is she in North Korea, Rwanda or Nazi Germany? No. She is in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. Has she been kidnapped? No. She was “legally” apprehended by the Minisry of Children and Family Development. Imagine if you will:

School is almost over. She is tired. The lights, the smells, the flashes of color, the noise. It is all overwhelming to a child with autism. She is looking forward to going home to her Daddy. She knows he will hold her and help her recover from her day. She knows what to expect at home. There is routine, boundaries, safety.

Strangers suddenly appear before her. They are saying lots of things. She doesn’t understand them. They are touching her. She hates being touched. They tell her to follow them. She doesn’t want to. She doesn’t know them. They pull on her arm. She fights. She cannot understand what is happening. There are 4 strangers. And two of the people from school that usually help her. They force her into an unfamiliar vehicle. She starts to cry for her Daddy. She doesn’t stop.

They have her by both arms, it hurts. They drag her into a hospital room. It is cold, bright. The smells are strange and overwhelming. The lights overhead hum incessantly. She is still crying, and tired. She lays down on the bed, but the sheets smell funny, and they’re scratchy. Someone comes in. She wants out. She wants her Daddy. So she kicks and bites and screams. Rough hands hold her down. She feels a sudden sharp pain in her arm. She feels strange suddenly. The lights spin. Her head feels funny. Her tummy hurts. She is weak. They lay her down, but she cannot sleep. She is too sad.

Days pass. People come and go. Each time she cries and screams and fights to be with her Daddy. They keep touching her, poking and probing. She hates it so she fights. Over and over, the stabbing pain in her arm and then the funny feelings. She is lonely. The food tastes yucky. They say they need her blood. But she sees the needle and knows the pain, so she fights each time they try. In this she succeeds; they don’t get her blood from her. They don’t give her her favourite things. She misses her brothers, her clothes, her toys, her room, her special blankie and teddy. She cannot sleep without them. The constant noises, the voices, the beeping. It makes her scream. She asks for Daddy. No one will tell her where he is. She’s cold at night. The blankets feel funny. Why are they doing this to her? Her name is Ayn Van Dyk.

Why indeed? The reason her father, Derek Hoare, has been given is that her behaviours are too severe, that he must be overwhelmed, that he needs to have his load “lightened.” This story is very close to what an innocent little girl is experiencing. Much of it has been taken from hospital discharge papers her father was given. In those records, they state unequivocally that there is absolutely no evidence of any neglect or abuse. In the records it states that she is being given 2 dangerous drugs. Drugs that require a family history before being given. Drugs with severe side effects. The records state concern that she is being given double the maximum recommended dose. Her parents are adamantly opposed to her being medicated.

Can this be happening in my country? Didn’t we fight a war and sacrifice millions of lives to stop tyranny like this? How does the MCFD suddenly have Gestapo-like power? They are performing experiments on a child who functioned normally in the home. At school, yes, she had great difficulty. But for a child with autism, school is a very overwhelmingly difficult place to try to cope. Ayn is a bright little girl. At school she was working 2 years above her grade level. Surely she herself knows that what is happening to her is wrong.

Evil prevails when good people do nothing. I would challenge you, that as a public figure, if you stand by while this happens, you are condoning it. There must be investigations into this at local, provincial, national and international levels.

This cannot be swept under the carpet. The supporters of Ayn Van Dyk and her family will not stop fighting until policy changes are made and disciplinary action is taken against those who have been responsible for this.
In defense of Ayn,

Sherilyn Klassen

You can help make a difference in this case. Please visit and sign the petition there to bring this child home.

You can also visit the Facebook page for more updated information and ways to help out.!/groups/152278868178942?ap=1 and
to donate towards the cause.

You can also repost these links, tweet and facebook this blog and spread the word yourselves.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Long Car Trip

We've just moved. Not from one house in town to another. But one house in one town to another house in another town, 2 provinces away. That meant 2 full days of driving...with 3 kids. It's a great time of year to do this sort of thing. It's summer, the weather is good for driving. (The last time we moved like this, it was December and there were snowstorms to pass through). But still, it's two days of driving with kids. Kids who don't like to be cooped up. Kid who to quote my mother, "run around like crazy chickens" when they are released for a break from it all. (Yes, God bless my mother who came along to help us out!)

There was nothing that this car trip didn't have, including one bout of car sickness, a few choruses of, "Stop it!", followed by the ever so popular, "Are we there yet?" sentiment. So here are my tips for helping your kids and yourself maintain some sanity when you must be locked in a small moving vehicle for hours upon end.

First, prepare for car sickness. Seriously, even if your child has never, ever gotten car sick before. I was anticipating that this may happen with one of my children who is notorious for it. I gave him the Children's Gravol before we left. Of course this would be the trip that his little brother threw up. Give all children Children's Gravol! And pack plastic bags and lots of wipes just in case! Have a change of clothes handy for them too.

As much as you may hate the idea of your children watching TV for hours upon end, a portable DVD player can be a lifesaver for a trip like this. They are going to be sitting there anyways, may as well have some entertainment handy. It beats counting the trees as you go by.

Have snacks ready. For this, and this alone we broke our 'no eating in the car' rule. It's amazing how many extra KMs you can get by saying, "who wants a fruit snack?"

Plan in time to pee. That may sound silly, but it was the pee breaks (not lunch) that saved our sanity. Just that 15 minutes out of the car, where everyone can stretch their legs a bit, breaks up the monotony of a trip like this. It rejuvenated us all and let us get a little bit further in the day.

Gramma's secret stash. My mom packed each child a few 'little somethings' for along the way. They were given at lunchtime and at the hotels we stopped at for the night. Those 'little somethings' were great incentives for my kids to behave.

Car entertainment bags are great too. My older kids each had a Where's Waldo book, an Eye Spy book, a Colour Wonder colouring book and a few favorite toys to play with. My toddler's bag had 2 stuffed toys, a few cars and a few little people.

Remember they are kids. The excitement of the 'car trip' wears off after the first day. The second day is always harder because they now know what it really means. As much entertainment and car games that you may have handy, they really don't want to be there any more. For this reason we tried to push in an extra hour that first day, to take away an hour out of the second, make it a little shorter. It's also a good reminder that kids will be kids and they may just get cranky, heck we as adults get cranky, so give them a little bit of wiggle room to get by.

Go with the old car trip classics. Think the alphabet game, the license plate game, 20 questions and I spy. They worked when we were kids. And they still work now.

So whether your car trip is up to the family cottage, traveling across country for pleasure or like us you are moving, trust me, you can get through it, and make some good memories while you are at it. Have fun!



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