Thursday, November 25, 2010

Just sayin' no.

I should be cleaning the kitchen.

But I don't want to. Instead I'll sit at the table with my tea and pretend my elbow doesn't keep catching on that sticky spot.

Flylady (my online housecleaning guru) lurks in my head, saying waking up to a dirty kitchen is not the way to love myself. But for now, typing, sipping, resting in silence before I go to bed, definitely is the best way to love myself.

We're coming off a week of the flu in our house. All in all it was a mild flu, the quick 24 hour zinger. But in our house the flu always causes Queen lyrics to pop into my head, "and another one's down, another one's down, another one bites the dust...". Predictably it rolled through us all, Seth on Saturday, to Claire, Max and I Monday evening into Tuesday, Troy Thursday, and finally Thane appeared with the sick face tonight.

I've been noticing lately, and it was quite apparent this week, that I'm finally beginning to learn the fine art of opting out.

Although I was feeling mostly better Wednesday, I canceled an afternoon appointment (that realistically I shouldn't have scheduled for that time anyway) so that Claire and Max could have their naps at the usual time, instead of keeping them up, dragging them out, and putting them down late. This meant that I was also able enjoy the peace their naptime brings and give myself more time to really recoup, instead of doing too much too soon.

And it was nice, this saying no.

I always thought I was really good at not overscheduling ourselves and the kids, but I really pared back our activities even more this season. We put a lot of thought into what the kids were signed up for, gave up what still didn't work out, and finally listened to them about what they wanted to do instead of pushing our agendas.

Even though that meant no to an art class that I really thought Thane would love. And he had really shown great improvements at a basketball camp this fall, but he didn't want to continue through the winter. When we realized that Claire was not getting anything out a naptime-conflicting mid-afternoon gymnastics class, we just stopped going. The worst part about that one is that I had already learned that lesson before, back when Thane was two and we quit gymnastics. For the record, free-play and unstructured activities are one thing (we love our babies at the gallery once-a-month class!), but two is not old enough for organized classes. Even Seth's gymnastics class, which at five he does get a lot out of, we've decided is going to the wayside because it is only offered on Sunday afternoons, a time we just find disruptive to an otherwise generally family day.

I was having a hard time pondering whether to sign them up for the next swimming session or not. I generally try to avoid the winter one because it's just too much of a temperature/gear change between the freezing cold outside and winter layers to the muggy pool, returning to the cold van with wet hair and socks and bags of wet towels. My brain said yes though, because post-newborn we didn't do the fall session. My brain went into 'champ mode', thinking how they both have 'missed time' and how they had such good momentum this summer, Seth moving up a couple swim levels and Thane three. I wanted to say no, but sometimes it's seems like such a weighty decision. Then I remembered, for goodness sake, that they're just little! It's not that dire. I'm sure they won't forget how to swim in a few months time.

What started out in response to Maxwell's arrival, to save ourselves the stress of a busy schedule with a new baby, has turned into much more of a good thing than I had imagined. Despite the amount of people in our family, we have a peaceful, generally unhurried life. Right now the boys each have Scouts once a week, their activity of choice that they love dearly, and it's well after supper. One morning a week Claire and Max and I troop out to the library for storyhour, if we feel like it. If we wake up early enough, we attempt to get to church on Sunday.

The kids have time for play, for creativity, for their homework, their sleep, their housework, for each other. We sit and eat together. We have routines.

There really is time for us. We just had to re-discover it. Saying no made way for lots of yes!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A few of my favorite things.

We read one of my favorite books last night, I Love You the Purplest.

The boys like this book, but it's really a book for mamas.

The mama in the book has two boys, very different from each other.
"Max exploded from the cabin, twirling the shovel in front of him. Mama came next, and then Julian. Julian shut the cabin door tightly to keep it safe from burglers and bears."
This is my favorite part, illustrating their differences, and that of my own two very different boys as well.

Seth, my carefree boy, is always puzzled as to why Julian needs to shut the cabin door tightly behind him, to which Thane, who understands such a concern perfectly, reliably replies, "Well of course he needs to keep their things safe Seth."

The mama in the book sees the good in all their different ways. At the end of the book this very smart mama doesn't love one boy more than the other. She loves one red, and she loves one blue. It's like comparing apples and oranges. But of course, together, they're purple, which is really the best.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Magic Cabin magic.

I just stumbled across the best e-store, Magic Cabin.

I was enticed by this adorable fairy doll family. Unfortunately I had misread the link that led me there, it's almost $20 per doll, not for the whole set. Not that they're not worth it, but not what I was planning to spend on Claire's stocking stuffers (as much as I had to hold back from splurging on them because they're so incredibly cute!).
I won't even start on the dollhouses and doll treehouses. With my penchant for all things forest and fairy, these are irrestible.

And then I came across find after find for active play, it's a storeful of kid and imagination powered toys. I now have a headful of ideas for our 'kid up the backyard' project planned for next summer. Look at these.

A garden fort, complete with vine seeds.

Twisty twizzler swing.

No more sore bums from the friend abandoning you mid see-saw.

This mostly made the list because I had it when I was little and loved it.

Apparently twisting the handles makes this move? I want to try this thing.

Want this very much for the now and future toddlers in my life.

The top cranks down to cover the sand when not in use! How cool is that.

Learning about science while playing. Also on my list because I daydreamed about having a pulley basket for my childhood treehouse.

I think a zipline is definitely in order.

And a few goodies receiving honorable mention...
We have a balance board something like this that I love for my boys. What started as physiotherapy for Seth's ankles (without him noticing it is physio!) became the go-to for the kids to balance and stretch on while they play video games, another minus away from the screentime. You might notice for all the 'anti-practically-everything' I do sometimes, if I can keep the time spent under control I really don't have much against video games. My kids are anything but stagnant while they play them. (Not to mention the working together and problem-solving they have to do in the newer partner games.) I was glad when the controllers started to be made sans wire, because they jump around so much they had already broken a system by pulling it down!

This balance board even takes it up a notch.

And this...

Well, it blows my snowshoes idea out of the water!

Add a platform with a slide and rope ladder, and we've got the tree space worthy of Neverland or Swiss family Robinson that I'm hoping for.

Now let's see how much this amounts to and how much of it we can realistically do!

{this moment}

"A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Monday, November 15, 2010

November sun?

This weekend, a November weekend, we played outside. Troy piled wood and worked on outdoor projects. I washed the windows. In our t-shirts?

Did you notice she's big enough to reach the pedals now?

A noise, a cow, and a cool idea...

We bought a cow!

Well, I joke. Just half a cow really. To fill up our freezer. The point being, it's grass-fed and local! I'm so so pleased that we've finally managed to do this, it's something we've intended to do for several years now and never managed to make happen. In our quest for clean food, this is a huge checkbox ticked.

In other (not so fantastic) news, there's a noise. A high pitched noise. Sometimes, it sounds like chirping. A baby bird in the attic? A bat? A chipmunk? Do these things even have babies this time of year? Troy went up and couldn't find either. But sometimes, it's regular and rythmic, maybe wind going through something? An electrical whir? Either way, it's making me a little nuts.

And then, what do you think of this?

I don't know about you, but my filing cabinet is ugly, and when I pull out a drawer the whole things nearly falls over with the weight of it. I think this is awesome.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

{this moment}

"A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Guest blog!

Hey, I'm the guest blogger today over at Birds on a Wire!

Johanna's Seeking Balance guest blogger series got me talking! I've been wanting to tell you about the new chore system we're working with the littles at our house, and my new housecleaning inspiration, Flylady, but I was waiting for this guest post to come out. Go over and check it out, Johanna's blog is a joy. A wonder in all things homemade, crafting, and art, she's also full of the cooking goodness that eludes me!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

By the river and through the woods...

Bedstemor (pronounced Besma) is my Danish grandmother. This morning I was inspired by the return of the sun and Claire and Max and I went over for a visit.

The little circus train is always there, on the special little shelf beside the cupboard, waiting for the next tiny visitor to play with. Once upon a time I played with it. Claire already knows where to find it.

A glass blue bird sits on the window sill behind the sink. Bedstemor picks it up to show it to Max, pretty with the sunlight filtering through it. She shows him how soft it is on his cheek. Just as she has to Thane, Seth, and Claire.

Her special blue Danish plates decorate the walls. Coloring pages by granddaughters hang in places of honor.

No matter what time you visit, you're never underfed at Bedstemor's. Turkey leftovers came out, and tea, milk for Claire, then the sweets. The sweets! I'm pretty sure sugar = Danish. Today there were white sugar cookies with raspberry jelly centres (and a spoonful of 'extra' jelly for Claire), and nut caramel marshmallow squares.

In the winter, my big boys will go outside and slide down the hill behind her house. In the summer, you roll down.

She bounces Claire on her knee before we leave, singing the Danish rhyme I know but don't know. I don't know the words, I don't know the meaning, I just know her voice.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Disney and all those princesses.

I stumbled onto a blog post today on Offbeat Mama about Disney, princesses, and all that is sexist and anti-feminist. The majority of the posters there clearly considered Princess Culture bad, black and white, no doubts about it.

As an art university student several years ago, I used to get fed up with the 'protester' culture of my school. Protesting works. When you believe in a change to be made, you need to voice your opinions to be heard. But I felt strongly that if you protest against everything because that is your passtime, no one will take you seriously.

The anti-princess debate reminds me of that aspect of university. If you are going against the norm just for the sake of going against the norm, you're still defining yourself by what the norm is. Comprende? Sometimes, as a deep thinker, it's all too easy to get wrapped up in all that is terrible instead of emphasizing the good.

I went through a phase where, in my feminism, I wanted to prove that I could do anything men can do. I aimed to be as strong and work as long as the big boys.

What I've come to realize however, is that I don't want to.

Feminism brought us the ability to claim our rights, to vote, to choose our career, to go to work, to be like men. But our equality does not depend on us being like men. We are equal, simply because we are. We are equal and simultaneously different. We need not shun all that is feminine.

It is equally as feminist to choose the feminine, to embrace it. Because we can. We are powerful in our own right. We birth, nourish, and raise people!

I'm not that concerned about Claire developing a poor self image as a female based on Disney movies. It takes more than that. You know what I brought away from Disney movies as a child? That I loved art. And that I could do it as a career. I wanted to be a Disney animator. Being a little girl who hadn't even thought about boys yet, I don't remember noticing the parts about the princes! I remember being enamoured with Cinderella's little mice and birds and her creativity in their cute little clothes, I remember identifying with Belle as a reader, that she was lost in books like me, I loved the dwarfs and animals of Snow White, and the future house lover in me was in love with their little cottage. All things I grew up to remain interested in.

One mama pointed out all the great virtues the movies uphold. "It has been an awesome tool for me – it's given me a singing, dancing, brightly colored medium with which to illustrate the struggles and successes of independence (Ariel), compassion and open-mindedness (Belle), industriousness and adaptability (Snow White), equality between the sexes and the historic struggle to prove it (Mulan),.." I just had a similar conversation with Thane the other day about The Little Mermaid and the virtues of curiosity and a sense of adventure.

Quite frankly I am more concerned about my boys learning that women are equal than my daughter. I believe she'll know that she can be whatever she decides, regardless of a penchant for princesses or not. I get more knotted up about play houses having a pink roof - especially when every other building in the collection features realistic coloring - thereby labeling the house a 'girls only' zone, defining to boys that the home is clearly not their arena. But I remind myself, that too is subject to so much more. Our boys seeing their daddy cook, clean, and rock babies to sleep is much more influential, just like the most important thing for Claire's development is to see me accept myself as I am, pursue my interests, and use my big, beautiful brain.

Friday, November 5, 2010

{this moment}

"A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Favorite quote today.

From a mama online:
"These sweet souls are only mine to hold for a moment before the world calls them out."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Present planning

Alright, Halloween is over, let's skip right to Christmas.

I'm trying to be on the ball and have been making my list this week of what I plan to give this year.

I had something, or multiple somethings to decide between, right off the top of my head for mostly everyone on my list. Things they would like and enjoy. Except for two very important little people. Two of my own little people.

My big boys.

I'm trying to buy non-clutter presents for everyone on my list, things that will actually be useful and loved and not just stuff, especially for my own kids. Because clutter they receive has to stay in our house! And I'm trying to buy more environmentally friendly, good for all of us presents. Less plastic, mostly just less in general. I also believe in the Waldorf ideals that children deserve and appreciate beautiful things and natural materials, toys that are healthier for them and encourage their connection with the earth and natural world around them, toys that provide a calming sensory experience. Check out this article on what makes a Waldorf toy. "Yes, these kinds of toys are good for the environment, but most importantly, they are good for children!"

For Claire and Max I have several cute ideas of simple, beautiful toys that I think they will really enjoy. Some things for me to make even.

But the big boys? Ugh..

Issue number one? What do they NOT have? They are very fortunate to have many people who love them, and to have received many gifts over the years. Our house is filled with toys of every kind. I actually have a roomful of extra toys all bagged up right now. Toys I don't want to get rid of, but that I have to figure out some sort of system of storing to cycle through or something. The kids noticably even play better when not surrounded by the chaos.

I left out their favorites, and my favorites because they encourage imagination and co-play and creativity. Lego, figures, a few dinos and animals and cars. Dress up clothes. Books, lots of books. And video games of course. We're pretty well stocked there too! I tried to keep out just a few of everything, an amount everyone is capable of maintaining some sort of order with. We're working hard on teaching the littles of our house some housekeeping skills right now.

I dunno. I also want them to be excited and feel treasured on Christmas morning. Each year we get them the new fad that they want, or more of something they already have. For Thane's birthday in September for instance, he received these Battle Brawlers, essentially spinning tops that knock each other over. He really wanted them, they were this season's new thing, the equivilant to our 'marbles' recess game, they were not in the least expensive and he was super pleased to receive them. But now they sit. Already.

I'm not blaming Thane, it's the cycle of the next big thing, the consumerism, the waste, the excess. All big topics I want to teach, but in a balanced way, not at the expense of my kids, especially on their Christmas morning. I don't want them to feel slighted because Mommy and Daddy have environmental agendas they likely don't understand, or at least understand the connection to their presents. I don't want them to feel let down or resentful, I want them to feel special and excited Christmas morning. But I honestly can't think of a single thing to get them that's not just stuff.

It's a dilemma we're furtunate to be faced with, but still a dilemma.
One thought I had was for Santa to bring us all snowshoes. Something that would enable memories, family time, encourage outdoor time connecting with the nature that surrounds us.

But I could totally see them not seeing the excitement there.

If you were an eight year old boy would you be totally pissed off if Santa brought you snowshoes?

I've got some thinking to do.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mister Maxwell

I never did give you the full birth story of little mister Max. I had so many posts leading up to the big day, and then neglected to recap the actual event itself.

I had lots to say throughout the pregnancy. You can see posts here and here and here. And here and here. And this one was the day before our little Maxwell arrived. I talked about his arrival a lot.

And now he's here. And three and a half months old.

He's just found his hands. His little face frowns in concentration as he clumsily grabs one of his hands onto the other. He's working so hard at it. The other day I laid him under a friends toy bridge at a playdate, and before too long he was holding onto the little bird dangling above him. I'm so proud for him. I love watching him. I could watch him all day.  

He's also found his voice. He giggles at us, and coos and 'talks'. We've decided he's aiming to beat Claire to talking. At this rate that just may happen! (I'm getting a little sensitive about Claire's delayed talking. But Troy reminds me that we also had this conversation about both Seth and Thane when they were this age, and they are now two intelligent little men who never stop talking. I'm not sure what's in our genes or teaching, but we have babies who could scale a fence at two years old. Early talkers, not so much.)

So as I was saying in my last post pre-Maxwell, I had been having minor contractions for about three days, sometimes elevating to me calling my sister to return from Fredericton, her city that is a bit more than an hour's drive away. Nearish but not so much when I'm in labor and need her to watch our children ASAP. She had a lot on the go that weekend and was trying to be available for me. She drove back without complaint at least twice for false alarms! My parents had decided it was good weekend to keep plans they had made away. But that's another story altogether. Maybe to be included in a future post. Possible title, "Things I will not do as a grandparent, even if it is the 7th grandkid.". I joke. I kid. I'm only a little bitter.

So where was I. Oh yes. False alarms. There had been a few.

Sunday morning, I woke up with the definite, this is it moment. These contractions just felt real. Not overwhelming, just definitely not false. It was about quarter to 5. I woke up Troy to ready himself and our things ~ having made it to my due date for the first time I actually had a little baby bag packed, I think that was also a first. I called my sister to come watch my still sleeping babes, and she called her on-call friend who lives near me and started on her way also. Within minutes this dear girl was here, and I was grateful for friends of family. She told me later that Thane woke up shortly before my sister arrived, walked by her in the kitchen (the mom of a friend he had only seen a handful of times), then retraced his steps and said "So mom went to have the baby?". So nonchalant. That boy. To be fair he had been well-informed on the plan.

We quickly made our way to the hospital, only turning around once for a cell phone or something. It was really quite a casual trip. I think we even stopped into Tim Horton's if I remember correctly. 

By the time we arrived the contractions were even stronger, but still no closer together. This was a twist unique to this birth. The contractions were three minutes apart for the entire thing. It was almost odd to me. Seconds before Maxwell was born I still had quite relaxed moments, calm between contractions. We had to do some talking with the nurses between contractions as well, convincing them that I was fine, would be fine, and that the pitocin was not necessary. This was the first birth that I had considered birthing at home, but I had decided as long as I had Troy at my side to support me and we were prepared to voice our plans, we could happily do both a natural birth and birth at the hospital.   

The contractions of course became stronger and stronger. But it was bearable. Getting better with practice proved true even in childbirth. The empowerment I felt in this birth was so much more powerful than ever before. I didn't feel out of control. I was aware of my body and the stages, confident in my capabilities. To be honest, I kept thinking of my grandmother for some reason. Who had born thirteen children. And the woman I knew wouldn't have wimped out. She would have just got on with the job at hand in her practical, faithful, quiet manner. So I did. I knew that I was doing better than my previous three births in being calm, I was breathing well, focusing and taking deep breaths to manage the pain. I knew I could do it, that I would do it, that as soon as it became too hard it would be over. And my beautiful baby would be here. 

And he was. At 7:53 am he was born.

First our surprise at his hair. He has so much hair! Our babies have never had hair.

Then, almost secondly, "It's a boy!".

And I cried. Out of joy. A boy was perfect.

And we snuggled. And he ate. And he was wide awake and wide eyed. He met us and we met him.

Somewhere along the way they gave him a cap. We got warm blankets. And Troy went to get the camera.

And Max ate, and we snuggled, like we'd been feeding and snuggling forever. 

Related Posts with Thumbnails