Sunday, May 29, 2011

In Need of Prayer

This isn't for me, this time. I have two very dear friends who are in different stages with pregnancies but need prayer. Friend 1 and her husband have been struggling with infertility and finally had IVF a couple of weeks ago. She knows she is pregnant now but is in that very anxious first stage, wondering about whether she is pregnant and with how many. They only had two successful embryos, both of which were implanted and they aren't in the financial position to do IVF again... please pray for healthy pregnancy and at least one, if not two healthy, full-term babies.
Sadly, another very special person who was expecting lost the baby on Friday night. She was about 8 weeks along. I am so sad for her. They have been trying for about six months and she has several health problems that make getting pregnant more challenging. Please pray for her that she gets the right kind of support from those around her and that, if it is possible, that they conceive again soon. She has great faith that God has great plans and that there is a purpose for everything and is being really strong but I know she needs some cherishing right now.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Around the Kitchen

I really was born into the wrong ethnic group. My background is mostly Scottish and Irish, not cultures known for their soul food. I am not an exceptional cook and you won't find any particularly exotic offerings in my kitchen but one of my love languages is certainly food. As you know if you have been around here for long, I have very mixed feelings about being back at work and when I feed my family "from scratch", healthy, yummy food, I feel as bit less guilty and like I am doing my job to provide for them.

I wouldn't say that I am a health food nut but I do try to avoid proceeded foods as much as possible. Since Baby Bean refused to eat baby food entirely and we went the "Baby-Led Weaning" route, it is especially important that the food we eat is low in salt, preservatives and chemicals. He is a huge fan of baking and so that has been a big focus lately, especially mini-muffins.

Usually, when it comes to food, I share links to recipes I have found online or I plug a cookbook I am really enjoying. Today, I am pleased to offer a recipe that is truly my own! It came about just before I went back to work - I like to try and make breakfast a special meal and with out new morning routine, timelines are really tight. I got the idea for a breakfast cookie and this recipe was born. I did some research online and combined ideas from a number of recipes. I wanted something low in sugar, whole grain and not containing honey (since Baby Bean is under 1 year, honey is still no-go). Just so you know, I am following the new guidelines for feeding and since Baby Bean doesn't come from a background with any nut allergies, he is already eating nuts. I would like to try this recipe with sunflower seeds to replace the walnuts so that Pk can take them to school (nuts are not allowed in schools here) but I haven't actually tried that yet.

Good Morning Breakfast Cookies

2 eggs
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c melted butter
1 c shredded carrots
1 c ground walnuts (you can just chop them but since Baby Bean is still little, I worry about choking)
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c chopped dried apricots
1 c whole wheat flour
1 c rolled oats (not instant(
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 salt
1 1/2 c cheerios

Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with silpat sheets or parchment paper.
In one bowl, combine the eggs, brown sugar and butter until well mixed. Add the carrots, walnuts, raisins, apricots and stir just to combine.
In another bowl, combine flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Add the cheerios and stir until just combined.
Drop by spoonfuls on the cookie sheets and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until firm and golden. Cool two minutes and then transfer to racks to fully cool. Makes roughly 2 1/2 dozen.

(My kids LOVE these and we find they are perfect for a snack in the car after swimming when they are hungry. My father-in-law didn't know they were breakfast cookies and he greatly enjoyed them with his cup of coffee).

Before I go, I do want to share one cookbook and one link. I have told you before about Jonni McCoy's cookbook, Healthy Meals for Less. I love this cookbook. It is simple, very kid-friendly food with a short list of ingredients, most of which are either natural or she gives recipes for natural ingredients. This week, I went and bought all the ingredients for her onion soup mix and then used it in a couple of the recipes in the book that call for onion soup. The flavour was terrific with about 1/4 the salt and none of the preservatives and chemicals in dry soups. Dh loved the meals and even Pk, who is in a picky stage, was willing to eat. The "Chef Miser-ly's Mac and Beef" and "Popover Pizza" are Pk's favourite meals of all time. You can't beat them - cheap, quick and healthy.
In terms of a link, we made a discovery this week. I had been hearing about kale chips and wondered about them. I know that kale is one of those wonder foods and I have been wanting to get us to eat it but really, doing nothing about it. In the last week, it has become a staple. I saw the recipe on a blog for kale chips and decided to try them. They are absolutely delicious and ridiculously simple the make. The kids don't love them as much as they are supposed to but will eat a bit and dh and I really indulge. They are really worth a try!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stop on By

Two friends have started blogs and I am sure that they would love some visiting traffic. Both are mommy blogs but with very different orientations:
Lora, of "The Hugging Home", is a mom of 3 and a true wit - she's fun and wise and worth a visit
Sarah, of "Just Another Mommy Blog" is a young mother who I have gotten to know who is sweet and very good at being who she is (which, in my opinion, makes her very wise in her early 20's)
Say hi from me if you stop by to visit either of them.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Breast is Best?

I complained the other day about not having a rant. I spoke too soon. Let the ranting begin.

As you might know, I am a CBC-ophile. I listen to quite a few shows on podcast, one of my favourites being "White Coat, Black Art", which is an insider's view of the health care system hosted by Dr. Brian Goldman. In honour of Mother's Day, there was a show on breastfeeding.

What is it about breastfeeding that is so incredibly polarizing and that makes us so unkind to other women? On the show, the discussion was about women who had various kinds of trouble breastfeeding and the experiences that they had with the healthcare system through their troubles. As I listened, I could, to some degree, sympathize with the struggles faced by these women. With both of my babies, I had trouble with my children being slow to regain lost birth weight and in both cases, I found it hard to get the help and answers I needed (although the second time round, I was smart and hired a wonderful lactation consultant to come to the house and who actually had more experience than an 18 hour course - she was brilliant and so reassuring and helpful). I could totally relate to the worry, the frustration and the helplessness that these women were experiencing and with my first child, I had been the victim of a very grouchy hospital lactation consultant who was probably having a bad day but who was very mean to me when I was least up to dealing with it.

There were a couple of things that really bothered me about the show and the comments that I read afterwards on the show's website. The first is the damage begin done to the cause of breastfeeding by so-called experts and breastfeeding proponents who stubbornly maintain that if you "do it right" (e.g., correct the latch, drink enough water) or take their herbal supplements, that everything will be fine. That so clearly sends the message that 1. women who have trouble are somehow to blame for the problem and 2. they put babies at risk. What these dogmatic supporters don't realise is that they are totally undermining what it is that they hope to achieve. Women who feel inadequate or who are given simplistic answers to complex problems are going to give up and go to formula. They are going to be defensive and shut down the discussion entirely. Wouldn't it be better to have babies getting some breastmilk than none at all, which is the result of this head in the sand approach?

The other thing that bothered me is the fact that in this discussion, there is so little information about what causes these supply problems in the first place. I find that this is territory that is so unclear. As someone who likes to research, this is so frustrating. If the more natural people are to be believed, our supply issues are related to traumatic births (e.g., inductions, forecep deliveries, c-sections, lots of intervention) and that epidurals are largely connected to supply and latch issues (mom's hormones not acting the way that they should and babies who are lethargic and don't latch properly due to exhaustion, leading to poor supply). While I tend to be a bit skeptical about the claims of the natural health people, thus far, that's the only argument I can find that makes any sense. If so, aren't women being set-up to fail? On the one hand, the medical establishment pushes the message that breast is best while also telling us that we need all these interventions to have babies without telling us the possible risks. The answers aren't so easy though - as a woman who has delivered very large babies vaginally and at least in one case, was induced, I am not sure how confident I am in a totally natural birth. For women whose births are easy, sure, but I don't know whether I am up to that.

What really gets me is what comes from all of this. I am not a fan of formula. I admit it, for some, probably paranoid reason, I do not want my babies getting formula. Yes, I know that for some women, they feel it's their only option and I am not about to judge. Especially if I lived in the U.S. with the unreasonably short maternity leaves, formula would probably be my friend, too. I just can't get past the fact that formula has a list of ingredients that are chemical/processed, it comes in cans lined with B.P.A. and that it is manufactured by companies who, to put it mildly, have not got a track record for functioning out of altruism. It just doesn't seem safe to me. And yet, all this breastfeeding backlash leads to more formula being consumed.

And then, of course, I read this article and almost lost my mind. While I think that there are some interesting points (I, for one, have always thought that the claims in terms of the benefits of breastfeeding had to be somewhat overrated - simply put, women who breastfeed are women who are willing to put their own lives on hold for their children and I'm guessing that breastfeeding isn't the only thing that they do more intensely that might benefit their children), the feminist thinker quoted made me crazy. First, she questions the benefits of breastfeeding and then there is the comment that "breastfeeding is oppressive to mothers." Hello? It's oppressive to feed your child? Personally, I think that spending an exorbitant amount of money to buy stuff I have to make, bottles I have to sterilize and heat and having to schlep bottles around is much more oppressive than having to pull out my breast a few times a day (although, I expect she is referring to the fact that we can't just hand the baby off to someone else). Of course, if mothering is so oppressive, we could all stop doing it...

I just wish we could have a calm, reasonable conversation about breastfeeding. I wish we could be honest about the fact that formula is second best without all the guilt being laden upon women who give formula. I wish that those in favour of breastfeeding could be more kind and supportive to those having issues and stop pretending that problems don't exist. I wish that in our hospitals, we could have certified and highly experienced lactation consultants available in the post-partum departments so that women could get quality support before they leave the hospital and struggle alone at home. I wish that the marketing regulations for formula companies were truly enforced so that I didn't have to get all the formula coupons when I had my son. I wish that formula wasn't in such demand that it is kept under lock at the grocery store (how horrendous is that). Most of all, I wish that we could communicate to mothers that they are good mothers, whichever choice they make but that there is quality help out there for them when they have breastfeeding challenges, whatever decisions they make. Our babies deserve better.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Long Weekend Day 1 - Murphy Arrives

On one hand, I love, love, love the May long weekend - for Canadians, at least in this part of the country, it heralds the arrival of summer. Regardless of the weather, people:
-go to the cottage
-spent horrific amounts of time on highways
-stay up late and sit outside
-go to garden centres and buy plants
It's an institution and regardless of whether it is warm or cold, rainy or sunny, all these things get done because what we call "May 2-4" weekend means that summer is here.

Another aspect of May 2-4 that is not so much fun is that we have a long history of Murphy's Law arriving. Usually, it's either in the form of a sick child (meaning a visit to the hospital since everything is closed) or a sick dog (and emergency vets cost triple what the regular vet would cost). I don't like to think negatively, but there does always seem to be something. This year is no exception.
The weather forecast is for sun today (Saturday) and rain the rest of the weekend so when I got up, I decided that we needed to get out table and chairs out on one of our decks to eat outside. It ended up being a bigger hassle that I imagined. The deck faces west so the umbrella is a must later in the day. It didn't want to fit at all. We did eventually get it set up and had a lovely breakfast outside.

That's when things got a big strange. When I was making breakfast, I noticed that the fridge was making a rather odd noise. I didn't think too much of it until I went to get out my frozen strawberries for my smoothie and realised that, while they were cold, they were starting to melt. I got dh to look at the fridge and it didn't take us long to determine that we had a big problem. Luckily, we have a super repair man who works all the time, including long weekends. Sadly, the news was not good so, after taking the kids to the library for music, it was off to the furniture place to buy a new refridgerator. Not an expense that we needed right now.

Of course, being that it is a long weekend, nobody would deliver. It was 1:45 by the time we got home and, given that there had not been lunch yet, the kids weren't exactly feeling chipper. We had our lunch outside (as much as anything to avoid the mess in the kitchen - take my advice, it really is worth it to pull out the fridge and clean once-in-a-while and spare yourself the embarassment of what we got to see today).
Pk requested a peanut butter and jam sandwich and I decided I would let Baby Bean have a few bites (he has had pb before). We have discovered the one thing that he does not like. I wish I had been taking photos with his first bite - the face was wonderful. He stared at it in wonder that anyone would want to eat such a thing. He got to have chicken instead.

Then, there was the issue of getting the fridge into the house. We had managed to get it into our van (nobody would deliver before Tuesday and we needed a fridge) but getting it up into the house was another story. Dh was sure that he and I could do it - fortunately, our wonderful next-door neighbour saw what we were trying to do and came over to help.
Eventually, Pk and Baby Bean and I went to visit friends who had invited us for a visit. They have a perfect yard with great climbing equipment for kids so we had a nice time. It's great because both their kids are about 3 months older than Pk and Baby Bean so they both have a friend. Watching the two littler guys together is quite a lot of fun.

Our final destination today was the garden centre. We decided that we weren't up to getting everything today but we would get our veg bought for our veg bed. We got our tomatoes, peppers and some herbs - lettuce will have to be bought soon. It's an annual tradition to to all garden buying this weekend - every garden centre has extended hours and it seems like everyone who is not at a cottage is buying plants.

Sadly, the clouds appear to be moving in. I don't imagine we will enjoy so much outdoor time tomorrow.

Sorry these posts are kind of boring and news-y. I'll try to find something to rant about one of these days. I'm just really enjoying my weekends with my family and it's what I feel like talking about.

Have a super May 2-4!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Our Big Day

I don't know whether this is done everywhere but in the school district we live in, sometime in May, all of the students who have registered for J.K. (I may be wrong but I think it might be called Pre-K in the U.S.) go to the school for some kind of initial assessment. Today was Pk's day and we were told that we needed to be there at 10:30 to meet with a teacher who would do the assessment. One of us would have to take the day off so we decided that I would take the day and make it a special mother-daughter day. We were both really looking forward to it.

The day started out like a normal day, with our usual breakfast routine. As always, Baby Bean stuffed his face with cheerios and muffins (this is our current favourite recipe).

Pk was very excited. She argues each and every morning about getting dressed and this morning, I let her hang out in her p.j.'s until almost 9 o'clock. She also started with what she calls "a white milk tea party" using her favourite tea set. She also snacked on muffins and both children enjoyed some very ripe pears, another household favourite.
Once Daddy and Baby Bean went off for their day, Pk and I started our fun. She insisted she wanted to wear "a princess dress" and she wore her green dress that was a gift and is now the current fave of both of us. Our first stop was to the church sale. It's an annual event and they hold it in a parking lot out on the highway. We live in a pretty town just off a highway on the road to cottage country. The May long weekend is a huge weekend for traffic and the church sets up everything right there and lots of people stop. The stuff tends to smell like it came from someone's barn but you can find the odd treasure and since Pk wants a tea party theme for her birthday this year, I have started collecting teapots (I have ideas!) and it seemed like a good destination. We walked there hand in hand, chatting in a way we haven't done in a long time. I will treasure every moment. We bought one somewhat ugly tea pot and then made our way up to the school.
She was very excited but I could tell she was feeling pretty scared, too. We went in, had to wait for a bit and then it was our turn. I realised that I was a bit nervous, too. Let me say, I don't put much stock in this at all. With a three-and-a-half year old, so much can change, even between now and September, that the data they get is not especially accurate and given that we were talking a three year old working with a stranger, it's not exactly an accurate picture of what they know. Even so, it's my first experience of how she will handle the pressures of school and testing so I was a bit concerned about what I might see. I needn't have worried.
At first, Pk was really shy and was reluctant to answer. We started with her name (she had to identify it and print it), she did her colours, counted a collection of teddy bears, identified her numbers, did upper and lower case letters with their sounds and then finished with a basic speech assessment. I have to admit, I was pretty happy when, at the end, the teacher, who is kind of a friend, said, "Well, mom, I'm sure you know that she is very h-i-g-h..." I replied that I thought she was doing o.k. but that I struggle a bit, since she is a September baby and seems younger to me than many of her friends. Her reply was, "Well, that just means she's even higher than I thought if she's that young." The nicest part was that when we were leaving the room, Pk spotted the next child waiting, one of her best friends from the library and they had a big hug and were really excited that they might be at school together.
Pk thought it would be a good idea to take a photo right below the school sign (for privacy's sake, I've cut the name of it out). It's a nice momento of the start of a very special time in her life!
The rest of the day was just as fun. We came home so I could pump for Baby Bean and then we ran down to Dh's school. We treated Pk to her favourite lunch - "Old McDonald's" (yes, healthy-eating conscious me does give in on that every so often) which we took back to eat at dh's school and then we went on to get my hair done. Pk loves going to my hairdresser and it's a nice thing for us to do together.
I didn't get any photos of the rest of the day but it was all great. We went to pick up Baby Bean from daycare and our sitter was getting ready to take the kids to the park and so we joined her and Pk's friends for about an hour. We went on a visit to the garden centre and wound up by having a great "start of summer meal" for dinner - grilled steak, shrimp, nice bread, asparagus and salad. I love the May long weekend and the joys of summer that it brings.

It's hard to imagine a nicer day. I just hope the rest of the weekend is as wonderful. I feel so lucky right now!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

An Evening in the Life

We've hit that stage in life when lessons are a love/hate thing for me. I love seeing my kids get a chance to get out and learn and, I hope, develop passions that will be part of their lives forever. On the other hand, life is just so busy and especially as the evenings get hotter, I'd love to be able to throw meat on the grill and have leisurely evenings together. It will ease up - music class (Tuesday night) has only one more week, swimming ends next week (Wednesday night) but highland dance (Monday night) and library bedtime stories (alternating Wednesdays) will continue.

Last night was an especially crazy night. I got VERY sick on Tuesday morning. It was strange, I felt a bit cold-y on Monday night and then I woke up Tuesday morning feeling like I was dying. I have NEVER felt as achy or tired and my throat was killing me. Strep and I have a long history of badness (a double case that turned into 3-and-a-half months of extreme rash and endless medical tests being one example) and I was terrified I was going down that road again. I ran in to the doctor and was promptly given antibiotics and by yesterday noon hour, I was slowly starting to feel human again and by late yesterday afternoon, I was ready for the swimming/library tour. I didn't feel well enough to swim so I got the chance to take photos while dh swam with Baby Bean. Enjoy.

A girl in Baby Bean's class threw up in the pool and all the kids from both the beach pool and the therapy pool (where the "Salamander" and "Starfish" classes take place) had to move into the very cool lane pool). It was her second week throwing up - the teachers and some of the students were pretty ticked off. Pk didn't seem to mind, though - she loves the independence of swimming in a life jacket.

As always, the bedtime stories at the library was lots of fun with singing, games and stories (we arrived a bit late for the craft). The families who go are becoming quite a little community, which makes me very happy. I just wish I didn't look quite so hit-by-a-train-recently in these pics.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Another Milestone

It's so hard to believe that my baby girl is getting ready to start school. It really hit me last night. It was the "Welcome to Kindergarten" at our local school. Pk was beside herself with excitement - becoming a "big girl" is very important to her and starting school represents that in a big way for her. I wasn't quite sure how I felt. As a teacher, I have seen school at its best and at its worst and I would have to say that I have mixed feelings.

It was an interesting evening. It was nice to see people that I know and for Pk, it was incredibly exciting to see friends. We met teachers and saw classrooms and did some activities. It's interesting to see your child in that environment. I have had parents perplexed and surprised when I describe what I see in their child in the classroom and with Pk, there was a bit of that for me. To me, anyway, she seems young. She is a September baby and while she isn't all that late in the year, a few months do make a difference and I can see it comparing her to some of her friends. We also have kept her somewhat sheltered - t.v. is closely monitored and Pk has grown up in a world of Veggietales and Wordworld, unlike many of the children around us. I think that one aspect of her starting school that scares me is the fact that she will be thrust into contact with things I don't want for her. It's a dog eat dog social world and while kindergarten is usually a fairly gentle place, kids can be mean. She will have times when she is hurt. As a mother, I would love to keep her away from all of that. I know, though, that she will need to learn that she is strong and can survive.

Fortunately, we live in a town with a great school with great teachers. It isn't in an overly affluent area with the social baggage that comes with that but Pk also shouldn't be faced with the issues that come with poverty, either. It's just a nice, neighbourhood school with some struggles but nothing exceptional.

My dream is that school will be a magical place for Pk. A place to develop a love of learning, to form lifelong friendships and a place to discover and pursue her gifts. I just wish that my excitement for her wasn't tinged with a sense of loss. My baby is moving out into the world and the part of her life that happens without me is getting bigger. I don't feel ready for that.

My Happiness Project

I recently read "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. I was a bit skeptical - seriously, how could making lists and setting goals make a big difference in my day-to-day happiness? That just smacks to me of making New Years' Resolutions and while I do make resolutions, given the fact that my resolutions are the same every year, I am quite aware of how successful the practice is. I have to say, I tend to think that happiness has more to do with a. life circumstances and b. your natural temperament than anything else. It's like worrying - you can tell me to relax and not to worry so much but I am who I am and if I am genetically pre-disposed to worrying, making a conscious decision to try not to worry is not going to change who I am. On the other hand, I heard Ms. Rubin interviewed on Q on CBC and there was something about her approach that appealed to me.

I really enjoyed the book. I don't know if you have this but as I read, I just kept thinking that I didn't want to forget things. Fairly frequently, I read something and as I am reading, I keep thinking that I will need to read it again and again because something is very powerful or significant. This was one of those books. I was reading a library copy so it isn't like I could highlight or make notes. One thing I have decided is that I am going to have to buy a copy - there is so much here and I honestly believe it can make a difference.

I would not say that I am an unhappy person. While I have a tendency to worry and a type-A orientation to pushing myself too hard, I do enjoy my life and especially in the last few years, I have been gradually feeling less pressure to be what others think I should be and have felt less apologetic for being myself. Having children has truly opened up a world of pleasure and of savouring the little moments that had been missing from my life. Reading "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp has also helped me to focus on how richly blessed I am, even in the difficult or painful times and I do try to "praise God in the storms".

On the other hand, I certainly do seem to have areas of my life that take away from my pleasure, add to my stress and lend themselves to feeling frustrated. For me, at least, that's where "The Happiness Project" has a role. The clutter in my house drives me crazy. I take years off my life in running around and I know I need to slow down. I push myself too hard and the feeling of exhaustion taints much of life. I over commit and then feel guilty because I know that I am not giving what I would like to things. I get frustrated because my over-busy life means that I don't give enough time to the things that really matter like prayer and devotions, journaling and spending time with my kids.

I am turning 39 in two-and-a-half weeks. What a perfect time to get my life in order. I would like to feel some forward momentum and, as those of you with little children will surely understand, so much of my life is spent right now in just getting through the day. My blog gets ignored, I frequently want to journal about my feelings about things and it doesn't happen and I have no time for any kind of reflection. I'd love to spend a little bit of time on the bigger picture. I would like to take a year and pursue my own "Happiness Project" and see if I can make some changes that bring me closer to living the life that I want to live and dropping the clutter (physical and emotional) that takes me away from the contentment that I would like to feel. It's kind of sad that the only time I have to really reflect on this stuff is when I am home sick from work (an illness that I am sure is largely brought on by being so run down).

I have decided that I will take the next year of my life and pursue a "Happiness Project" and I plan to use my blog to keep me accountable. Each month will have a focus and like Gretchen Rubin did, I plan to set goals for each focus and to track my progress. At the end of each month, I will take stock and see whether I think that I have improved my life and whether the practices I have incorporated have improved my life. Here's hoping that I can go into my 40's in a better place emotionally and with a sense of calm that is missing in my life at the moment.

After some reflecting, here are the monthly themes I have chosen for my year:
June - Energy and health
July - An Orderly Home
August - Faith
September - My Marriage
October - My Children
November - Money
December - Slowing Down
January - Enjoying winter (I have HUGE S.A.D. and find winter very hard emotionally)
February - Friendship
March - Family
April - Interests
May - Scaling Back

Cross your fingers for me, I am guessing that it will be difficult to keep momentum and not give up part way through the year.

Have any of you read "The Happiness Project"? Does the idea hold any appeal for you?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Checking In

It's been a while and for that, I am sorry. There just seems to be so little time these days. Blog posts bump around in my brain and then they don't get written. I'm trying to get my life sorted out and am setting some goals - one blog post a week is one goal.

I've been back at work for four weeks now and there have been some highs and some lows. I think we are finally getting ourselves into a routine and I have accepted that this is how life is going to be. As always, the thought of the change was scarier than the reality and I think this will work, if only I can keep myself putting one foot in front of the other.

The kids have settled in fairly well. As you can see, they haven't been totally traumatized.

Baby Bean has made the transition to daycare fairly smoothly, although he decided to celebrate his new freedom by coming home with a nasty cold that turned into an ear infection and then into a stomach bug, right around day 3 of my being back to work. The Thursday before Easter found Dh taking him to the walk-in (that was our fourth of five walk-in appointments over a one-month period) and getting round 2 of antibiotics (sadly, Pk's record of never having been on them up until three and a half was also broken). That Thursday was truly the hardest day of going back - I can't tell you how I felt leaving for work knowing that he wasn't well and I couldn't stay home with him. I felt so guilty. Initially, Dh was resistant to taking the time off, which was a crushing blow - I just didn't think I could take the day before a long weekend off, especially since I have a child suffering from anxiety in my class who was finally starting to adjust to me as her teacher. Thankfully, Dh changed his mind and was able to leave work at 1 p.m. to go and get Baby Bean to the clinic. All of our family Easter plans had to be cancelled but I think we needed that quiet time.
Anyway, back to daycare, Baby Bean cries going in but Dh is good at dealing with it, I would have a hard time going to work at that point. I leave at 7 roughly to get into work and get started but I try and leave the second my class is dismissed so I can get the kids. When we pick him up, he's happily playing with the other kids until he notices us (then we get the crying) and both Pk and the sitter say he is very happy there. He's eating solids like he's 15 - feeding this boy is going to be expensive, I have a feeling!

Pk has had a harder time adjusting. With her, as always, it's subtle. She isn't crying as I leave or kicking up a big fuss but she is back in bed with me most nights now and asks frequently about whether today is a "J" day or whether she gets to stay with me that day. We are seeing some behaviour issues, too, but sadly, I am utterly convinced that goes with daycare. Even with a great home daycare, the kids have too much time without direct adult intervention and it changes how they relate to people. It's the reason that I was determined to do the home daycare route - in my years of teaching, I find that institutional daycare kids are very bright academically and very verbal but also very pushy, demanding and aggressive with each other (not so much fighting physically but more socially). I am seeing a less gentle side of Pk and while it isn't the end of the world and I think that the socialization is good prep for her at school, it still makes me sad. I don't think it's an entirely positive change.

I've been trying to make the most of the time I do have with them. Pk and I have done lots of cooking together, our weekends are filled with family activities and I am trying to do little things to make memories. One example was our morning picnic a couple of weeks ago. Pk LOVES to eat outside so we decided to have breakfast out on the deck. There have been many requests to do it again and once the weather dries up (will this rain never end???), we will try and do it more regularly. I'm hoping that once school is done for the summer, we can do it daily.

Pumping has been really draining. On the one hand, I am thrilled with myself that I am making it work and I haven't even had to take much of the milk out of the freezer. Baby Bean will be 11 months on Tuesday, so I think that we will make it the full 12 months without starting cow's or goat's milk (I am debating which way we will go - goat's is easier on his tummy but also twice as expensive). The pumping can be really demoralizing though. The only place to pump is the handicapped washroom at work that is used by the caretakers. It's not all that clean, very institutional and very boring to spend 15 minutes twice during my workday stuck in there, worried that someone won't pay attention to the "occupied" sign and use their key to walk in. I was finding that pumping was making me cry and I felt like a complete loon until someone pointed out that it's releasing "love my baby" hormones and I have no baby around to cuddle. It just makes me more convinced than ever that mat leave laws are positively dinosaur and that all women should have the chance to be home with their babies for at least six months.
Baby Bean is up crying and I have to go. Enjoy a few photos - we have had the last two weekends with the grandparents and it's been awfully nice.

See you next week!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My "Endo" Book

As I mentioned before, when I read Laura's post about her "Endo Book" at Nestled Under Rainbows, it really spoke to me. I love scrapbooking and recording memories - I am very nostalgic that way. I knew that I didn't want to get into making another formal scrapbook. That can be fun but it's expensive and time consuming. I wanted to do something simple that had meaning for me. This really isn't for other people, although I am not opposed to other people seeing it.

The first step was to choose my book. I didn't have much time and money is very tight so I decided to go to Homesense and see what was available. I was hoping for a scrapbook with lots of heavy blank pages. I didn't wanted a hinged book, I wanted some kind of bound book. Nothing was right. Everything was 12 by 12, much bigger than I wanted and the pages were the kind inside a plastic cover, again, not what I wanted. I settled on a basic journal, spiral bound and lined pages. Not ideal for photos but it has worked brilliantly.

I started by browsing my thousands of photos (literally) on the computer and brainstorming which ones I might want to include and to group. That has been immense fun (and horrible on the amount of printer ink I have used). At first, I was just going to put photos but then, I started to journal. I started to get hooked and page after page has emerged.

I can't tell you how much I am enjoying this. I can sit down feeling stressed or down about life and after a few minutes of reflecting on what makes me happy and how lucky I am, my outlook totally changes. For me, my Endo book has become a cross between a happiness book and a gratitude journal and I adore it. I plan to keep it going and to add things other than just photos - quotes, scripture passages that speak to me, concert ticket stubs, cards that mean a lot... anything that makes me aware of how lucky I am and the things that make my life special. For me, one of the biggest benefits of this book is the fact that I have been much more aware of the things that do make me happy and I seek these things out. As an example, a few days ago, I did photos of picnics (something that really makes me happy) and so this morning, for breakfast, Pk and I made muffins (cooking with her being something else that makes me happy) and we put a plaid blanket out on the deck and ate breakfast as a family outside. Pk thought it was marvelous and I really enjoyed it to. What could have been a boring, routine morning became something special that drew us together.

Here are a few sample pages:
crafting with my kids and cooking with Pk

Eating dinner on our deck and picnics

My children asleep and the letter books I write for each of them

Cuddling in bed as a family and being mom

Sibling Love

Thanks, Laura, for getting me started on this. I can't tell you how much joy I am getting from it!