Thursday, March 31, 2011

A poem to love.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
- Kahlil Gibran, 1923
(recounted by Sarah Napthali, in Buddhism for Mothers)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's all okay.

I'm trying not to worry.

My mother often passed on the mantra of her godmother, "There's no use worrying."

Really. There is no use for it.

Thinking, discussing, identifying, brainstorming, researching, banding together... breathing deeply, those are all useful ways to address a problem. Worrying just stresses you out and shortens your lifespan.

My brain is hosting a tired (so therefore exagerated) worried riot though, over global disaster and dispair, national political unrest, house reno work and the ever growing list, my incapabilities as a housekeeper, and my mister Max's health. And his sleep. And my sleep.

My own mantra? Lack of sleep causes a skewed perspective. Surely we're not really doomed as a planet, country, or family. Surely I'm not horribly deeply flawed as a person.

In the middle of it all, I have this.
   

video

They make me smile.

Friday, March 25, 2011

'Just' the errands.

Friday, we had a busy morning out, went to storyhour at our library and then out for lunch with my mom. Is it just me or do you find doing two activities in a row difficult with little ones in tow? Even back when I had just one baby I watched other moms seemingly effortlessly and constantly on the go, amazed at their ability to endure.

It has been a big hurdle for me to get used to this country style of 'going to town', where you save up your list of errands to do and attempt to get them all done in one visit once a week because town is a half hour drive away. As opposed to the quick and frequent one-a-day stops I used to make when living in the city. For me to go to the grocery store, the paint store, the hardware store and make a deposit at the bank with the kids is quite a feat, even with just the two little ones while the bigger boys are at school. When the big boys are with me as well all bets are off. The getting in and out of the car a dozen times is a workout in itself, let alone the lugging, shuffling, and herding done in store.

Soon though we were home for the afternoon, Max down for the count and Claire even admitted defeat against her tired eyelids and snuggled up to sleep on the couch. Thane was home for the day, suffering from his own tiredness that morning. He had a long night and an emotional morning, enough to convince his father that he just couldn't possibly go to school that day. He went back to bed and awoke a couple hours later ready to greet the world with a happy face again. Sometimes we all need that mental health day, so he got to enjoy storyhour too and then I sent him up to read so everyone could enjoy a bit of downtime. The wannabe homeschooler in me thinks the time spent interacting with his sister and grandmother, the decision to listen to what his body was telling him, the visit to the library, the time spent in his room entertaining himself, those moments provide just as much learning on their own as sitting at a desk would have given him.

I'm enjoying the household downtime, but felt those jabs of guilt that I'm not either a) being productive or b) sleeping, the two ends of the spectrum I feel deserve my alone time, instead smuggling my few minutes alone with a tea and a bit of doing nothing, just typing, thinking, breathing, basking, enjoying, my own mental health minute.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Penning in Max.

Today is for cleaning, organizing, and rearranging.

Our dishwasher broke and the kitchen is rioting. It may literally take me several dishwashing sessions to catch up on the dishes I've been avoiding.

We're thick in renovation mode, using these last winter months and early Spring indoors to our advantage, knowing full well we'll want to head outdoors by May, factoring in that we'll desire to do nothing house related at all in June and July.

Our tv room and entry rooms boast new flooring! This has been a long awaited reno, the rug we tore out was well beyond it's lifespan. Next up, moulding, moulding and more moulding (the kids rooms moulding is actually in progress!), strip walls in another room to paint, new flooring there, tile in the entry.

Now to do more stuff shuffling to clear out the next room on the list, uncover and sort Claire and Max's toys from the room that holds them currently, move their play space, again.

For Max's playspace we've ressurected the playpen of the 1950's. By that I mean we're using the playpen for him to actually play in. It's his safe, clean spot in this hectic reno house. Over the years older women have often said "Well don't you have a playpen?" in response to my comments about crawlers being into everything, not getting something done for holding babies, etc. It's funny how attitudes change. Today's mothers won't 'fence our babies in' like that. It screams 'limiting their exploration' to me, my guilt crops up even though he's happily playing safely beside me as I gain the time to wash dishes, chewing on his toys and babbling away. It's not like he's crying with his face pressed against the mesh of his 'cage'. Whenever I wonder how my grandmother (mother of 13) could have possibly managed, I actually usually come up with good ideas. (How about teaching my older kids to help out and expecting a bit more from them? Penning my babies in a bit? ) My mother was saying that she recalled babies beginning to crawl much later, she thought in relation to the extensive use of playpens up to even toddling age. Max could very well be affected by his bum never touching the floor (for safety and at his request), he's not showing crawling signs yet at 8 months. Although those pre-signs are popping up, reaching far for toys when he sits, flopping onto his belly from his bum often.

Do you use a playpen? It's been one of my better 'ideas' lately.
    

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sleep

Sleep is a big topic. Especially if you're talking to a mom with a baby who is not letting her have much of it. Or to the Daddy of said baby for that matter.

Tonight, Max sleeps in his own room for the first time!

It's about time I think.

See, my parenting/baby sleep philosophy lies somewhere in the middle between the attachment parent co-sleepers and the schedule stickler let 'em cry-it-out-ers.

I royally screwed up Thane's sleep abilities. Again with my sympathies to the firstborn. I nursed and rocked him to sleep each nap and night, but forced him to sleep in his own crib, because I was told he was supposed to. I'm pretty sure he still has no idea how to put himself to sleep.

Max is still getting up, we're basically back to four hour stretches of sleep at best, nursing on and off seemingly all night at worst. He was really settling into a routine pre-Christmas, developing the beginnings of good sleep habits and routines on his own, before his eczema took over his little body and my brain. But then over the past few months while he's been feeling so miserable we've gotten into Max depending on me again for sleep, for night and naps.

In general, I follow babies lead and allow them to develop their own routines, nursing them whenever they want to nurse, picking them up whenever they cry. We're co-sleepers from the beginning for many reasons. I strongly believe in the benefits of babe and mom sleeping together. The mother-baby waking each other intermittently all night is actually important, something I don't think a lot of people realize. It gives baby a different kind of extra-nourishing night milk and promotes good milk production, by not taking an eight hour break. Sleeping together (and disturbing each other) causes mother to check on the baby throughout the night, and makes the baby practice putting themselves back to sleep that many more times a night.

In short though, at eight months old we've outgrown the goodness cosleeping was giving us, and both Max and I could be sleeping better if we were doing so apart. Even having his crib beside the bed, he knows I'm there. I'm pretty sure he can smell the milk, and he definitely senses us, no matter how quietly we try to sneak into bed or turn in the night. So it's time to get a sleep plan in action.

This is what I find works best for sleep training in our house. (When I feel like I need to do some kind of sleep training, which isn't always the case. Seth trained us really, he had sleep all figured out. Or sometimes we need it when something has changed, they've been sick or teething and we need a sleep schedule reboot.) I find their daytime naps have a lot to do with their quality of nighttime sleep, so I start with the naps routine. When baby seems ready, I begin to lay them down in their crib for a nap drowsy but awake, around semi-regular times, attempting to promote a routine and sometimes just to get them used to their crib. For me, this readiness depends on baby not panicking when you lay them down for a nap awake. There's a difference to me between small, intermittent pre-sleep fussing and full-blown baby panic, which I feel is not fair or warranted. (Something else I put my poor guinea-baby Thane through.) Then once they're napping routinely and comfortably in their own crib, I will start putting them to bed there at night as well, in their own crib and room. Usually they'll sleep there until they wake to nurse the first time, and then join me in my bed.

Although I'm crossing my fingers that without Troy and I so much as breathing and waking him up, the first time he wakes up will be considerably later in the night.

Hopefully it all goes that easy peasy with Max tonight! Wish him luck.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Redemption

Kitchen...

You don't own me.

This evening was one of those evenings. One of those delicious evenings I want to press into my brain and never forget.

Today, I was hungry. Pretty usual, I know. Happens most days.

But then, I planned ahead. Novel idea. I decided I needed more chili (yes, the same recipe that took me down the other night). I took out the meat to thaw before we went out this afternoon, and picked up a couple ingredients on the way. Next, I started to cook early. At the beginning of Max's nap.

I do learn.

The best part though? The best part had nothing to do with food.

I've had this gnawing feeling that I miss Thane lately. That he's getting so big, that my little boy is slipping out of my grasp, beginning this big kid phase that I know nothing about. Sometimes I'll be reading to him and I will straighten up, feeling his weight on my shoulder squishing me and push him off a bit. I catch myself too late, not appreciating the snuggle that comes so infrequently now with him, forgetting for a moment that inside he still is little and still needs his mommy's cuddles, even if he wouldn't admit it anymore. It's a little disconcerting buying his clothes now. One of my kids can't possibly fit into these big clothes. My kids are so little, right?

Meanwhile, I borrowed his sweatshirt the other day.

Unfortunately, the growing bigger is not limited to the actual size difference. At the ripe old age of 8, he's developed a sarcasm to rival my own. I have no idea where he picked that up. I believe we're also experiencing some results from our goals of teaching our children to think for themselves, to not just blindly do what they're told, to express their opinion. A real problem when you just want them to do what you tell them. Now that Thane is physically and mentally capable of doing many chores, there's the new element of a major 'discussion' to grapple with first. I must first convince him that while I care, I do not care that he does not want to empty the dishwasher. The conversation will probably also involve something about the injustice of Seth only having to put away the silverware, his real need to watch/play *insert closest show or game here*, or possibly that he has grieviously injured his toe, rendering him completely incapable of said chore.

This evening, in my quiet moment approaching the kitchen, I was mentally taking stock of what the kids had been up to today, which brought on the thinking all these growing bigger thoughts, when I realized this kitchen time was an opportune time to hang out with my biggest boy.

Whether he wanted to or not.

He was not keen on the idea, at first sulkily dumping the beans I handed him into the colinder to be rinsed. Fortunately it was one of my better parenting moments, patience abounding, showing him the how-to he needed to help out. A direct link to starting early, giving myself enough time to slow down to include them. Claire even joined us. I set her up with the sink, lots of water, and the peppers and celery to 'wash' and pass to Thane. Claire and the floor were washed really well.

Before long Thane was chopping veggies pleasantly, and the best part, chatting away as he went. It was fascinating.

Although there was some talk that it has to be Seth's turn tomorrow night. It would only be fair.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ode to February

February is gone for another year. I always feel if we can just get through January and February, if we can keep ourselves happy and optimistic somehow while we feel that we might possibly actually live INSIDE a snowbank, that we can make it to the other side of winter.

People in blogland keep mentioning that Spring is here. I am having serious trouble feeling springlike.

This is what outdoor time has looked like (still looks like) around here.

Shoveling driveways. Shoveling around vehicles.

Shoveling off the roof as well.





Jumping off that roof. Just because we can!

Going to festivities like SnowBlast and sliding parties.

Max too.
Claire, clearly ready to go.

Tonight though, driving home, I noticed something I hadn't seen in quite some time. It was 6:30, and the sun was just starting to set! Maybe Spring will come again. Maybe we're not stuck in a Narnia winter after all.
"Except that after February comes March, the unpredictable jackass of the calendar."
- George Stroumboulopoulos
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