Friday, November 18, 2011

Say What?

Perhaps I should knock on wood before posting this, because I'm about to say that something like this has never happened to me.

Michigan Mother Reprimanded for Nursing Baby in Courtroom

I just don't get things like this. I mean, nobody would bat an eyelash if this woman had pulled out a bottle to feed her baby. What is wrong with our society and their idea of what a boob is for? Sure, there are other uses for it in the confines of a relationship, but the boob is full of mammary glands. It's primary function is to nurse. That's why we have them.

I will say that I feel very fortunate. I've never had anyone say anything negative to me while I was nursing. I've had people look the other way with kind of an embarrassed "Oh my God - she's nursing - what do I do - where do I look?" kind of panicked expression, but I don't know that I've ever encountered outright hostility. I just feel sad for people that must go through this - I can imagine that it must feel incredibly humiliating. This story in particular grabs my attention. I had to go to court when I worked in Child Welfare and sometimes the judge would ask me questions and I know how intimidating it can feel to be questioned by a judge. For this woman to be singled out in the middle of a courtroom and told by a judge that she's inappropriate must have been incredibly humiliating - my heart goes out to her. When will our society "get it", that this is just a normal thing a mom does to feed her baby?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Surf

What's The Deal With Cow's Milk at 12 Mos. Anyways? - Breastfeedingarts
But They Look So Happy - Dulce de leche
Raising Little Chefs - Natural Parents Network

Finding the Balance - Crumbs from the Communion Table

Creative Pursuits
Annabel (the sweater, not the baby) - SouleMama

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rolling Over and a Tooth All in One Week

Well, Felix turns four months on Saturday and he started rolling back to front earlier this week. Yesterday I was rubbing his lower gums and felt a sharp protrustion on his bottom right side. I felt like I should write that somewhere, so here it is. I was terrible with tracking Boo's stuff. Seriously, I couldn't even tell you when Boo's first tooth came in. Does that make me a terrible mother? I.just.can't.remember. So I'm trying to do better here by writing this somewhere where I can find it later! And I'll leave you with some almost four month old cuteness.

And some older boy cuteness. Boo is helping mommy sweep!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Playful Parenting

Look closely. The name of the book is "Playful Parenting." Is this a hint?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Multi-tasking

I am working to transform myself into the Queen of laundry - sometimes it takes a bit of creativity!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Brotherly Love

I love you so much that I want to hold you.

I love you so much that I enjoy looking at you.

I love you so much that I will incorporate you into my artistic masterpiece.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: I Can't Believe He's Here Already

"I can't believe he's here already." I've been told that I repeated this phrase over and over after Felix made his entrance!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Big Four Year Old Boy

Well, we finally officially celebrated Boo's birthday a little over a week ago. It was very low key. We had family over, ate cake and ice cream, opened presents, and called it a day. Boo was excited as he got some nice gifts. It was lovely to see everyone.

Anyways, a good friend of mine posted pictures of her little one through the years when he turned three. It's such a nice idea that I'm going to follow suit. So here's a look at Boo through the years!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Life With Two

This is probably going to be a quick update as someone will likely need something in the near future, but for now Boo is playing with his daddy and Felix is sleeping on me in the Moby (LOVE the Moby). For the purposes of my blog, baby's blog name will be Felix!

Adjusting to a second child in our lives has been an amazing experience. I have to say that all around this has been easier for me than it was adjusting to one baby. I don't mean to say that it hasn't had difficult challenges, but I think Boo and I encountered so many issues in his first month or so of life that this has seemed better by comparison.

The good: Boo LOVES his baby. He's constantly kissing him, hugging him, and saying "I love you baby." Overall I think he has adjusted pretty well to no longer being the only child in the house. Felix is beautiful and healthy. He took to breastfeeding like a champ. We had a slight stumble at the beginning, but I think it was due to hypothyroidism causing my supply to be a bit sluggish as it came in. But that's no longer an issue and Felix is gaining well. He loves to be cuddled tightly and loves to nurse nurse nurse! Wally is also fond of our new arrival. He does really great with babies. I just have to occasionally keep him from licking baby to death! He's very watchful when Felix starts to cry. Beer and wine - does it make me a lush to add them to the list? I'm just happy that I can partake now and then!

The bad: Boo definitely pushes a bit harder to get our attention much of the time. This can be incredibly challenging. The first two weeks was the worst. He seems to be doing much better now. Hurray! I'm struggling to find patience with him. I know he needs it and deserves it - he's adjusting to a major change right now. Poor Felix seems a bit gassy to me. So he definitely cries quite a bit more than Boo ever did. Gas is one of those weird things. It's hard to know if he cries more because he's gassy or if he's gassy because he cries more and takes in tons of air while doing so. I know some people swear by gripe water. I've never had to try anything like that, but I may if the screamo gassy fussiness continues to see if it helps little Felix.

The ugly: What is it about a sleeping Felix that absolutely compels Boo to touch him, push on his head, squeeze his cheeks, or find some other way of disturbing the slumber. This of course makes me feel a bit crazy!

Oh, and I will likely be posting more birth pictures when I get the chance. I've got the pics back and there's some really amazing pictures in there. So I want to share for those that are interested. Don't worry - nothing graphic - I'm just not that kind of gal!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Hypnobabies Home Waterbirth of Oliver Felix

Oliver’s estimated due date was June 26, 2011. My husband and I waited for Oliver’s perfect birthing time as June 26th came and went. No big deal – many women do not birth their babies right on their due date. So we continued to wait and tried really hard to be patient. The month of June slipped past and the beginning of July moved quickly. We found ourselves at 42 weeks and still no sign of birthing. No warm up pressure waves. Nothing. Per my home birth midwives agreement with the OB I was now required to complete a biophysical profile in order to determine that it was in fact safe for me to continue pregnancy. Luckily, my cut-off for home birth wasn’t until week 43. So I had one more week for this baby to come on his own in the comfort of his home.

Monday July 11th we arrived for our biophysical profile. I was incredibly nervous and anxious. While I felt deep down that everything was okay with baby, the idea of completing the biophysical profile caused me to feel anxious. My first blood pressure reading was artificially high due to my anxiety. Luckily the nurse wanted to double check when I informed her that my blood pressure is usually very good. I used my hypnobabies breathing to enter a state of relaxation for a few minutes before she took my blood pressure again. It had dropped close to my usual reading thanks to my ability to relax my body quickly with hypnobabies. After vitals, the next step was the ultrasound. I was told after the ultrasound that my amniotic fluid was low. I wasn’t sure what this meant and we were left to wait for the OB to discuss the meaning of this result. The OB came in and told us that the baby did not score so well on the biophysical profile. The amniotic fluid was low and “this baby needs to be delivered soon” were his exact words. I felt very out of control at that point. Of course my first priority was a healthy baby and I would not sacrifice that even for my dream of a lovely home waterbirth, but I also know that technology is not foolproof and can be misleading. The OB wanted me to go on over to the hospital for the induction. I followed my gut and told him that I wanted one more night to try to enter my birthing time on my own. I knew that I had to try. I had to be sure that if I ended up with an induced hospital birth that it was truly because I had no other choice. He said he wanted to do a non stress test and if that was okay, he would agree to postpone the induction until the next day. He also checked my cervix via vaginal exam and swept my membranes in preparation for an induction. It was my first vaginal exam of this pregnancy. I had chosen to forego all vaginal exams this pregnancy after having bad experiences with them last pregnancy and during my older son’s birth. I immediately tensed up. My husband reminded me to relax and use my hypnobabies. I focused on breathing and relaxing my body. This helped tremendously. I felt slight discomfort as my membranes were swept and when it was over I remember thinking, “That was it? That’s what I was terrified of?” The hypnobabies relaxation helped immensely. I learned that I was dilated to a 2 and 65% effaced. Of course the OB felt that this was clear indication that my body would need the pitocin as my body was “not ready.” Having read up on birthing and other’s stories, I knew that my body was perfectly capable of beginning birthing time at a 2. So I confidently clung to my idea of entering my birthing time on my own at home. The non stress test was next and confirmed what I intuitively knew to be true – that baby was healthy and able to safely handle being born.
After this long and emotional visit at the OB’s office, we went to my midwife’s home. There we informed her of the results. She confirmed that low amniotic fluid was a valid reason to induce rather than allow the pregnancy to continue. However, she remained hopeful with me and supported my plan to use castor oil as a natural induction method in a last ditch effort to get baby to come that night. She gave me a recipe that consisted of castor oil, orange juice, and ice. After visiting with her for awhile I felt significantly calmer because I now had a plan of action. She also sent a breast pump in case I needed to try that as well.

We lived forty five minutes from the midwife’s house and the ride home felt like forever as I wanted to chug my castor oil cocktail as soon as possible. I got even antsier when the doctor’s office called and told me that my induction was scheduled for 5:00am the following morning. It was between 3:00 and 4:00pm, so this left very little time. The castor oil had to work and it had to work quickly. As soon as we got into town we stopped by my mother’s house and borrowed her blender. We left our son with grandma for the night. As much as I wanted him with me, I felt like I needed to really focus and also knew that if the castor oil kicked in and I was dealing with the nasty side effects of it that hubby would not be able to simultaneously run after our three year old and get the birth pool set up. We stopped by the pharmacy, picked up the castor oil, and headed home. Once home I could not get into the house fast enough to make my cocktail.

I have to say that my midwife gave me a great recipe. I didn’t taste the castor oil at all! I chugged it very quickly though, so perhaps that had something to do with it. And now it was time to wait. This was the very hard part. I waited and waited. It was close to 11:00pm and still nothing. My hope was quickly wavering. We were rushing around the house packing a last minute hospital bag. I was half-heartedly writing a birth plan for the hospital and weeping all the while, thinking about the battles that I would now have to fight that wouldn’t be an issue at a home birth. I felt such a deep sense of loss and I felt as though my body had betrayed me. My emotions were in complete disarray and I was feeling very frantic and upset. I pleaded to God to please make this happen. I tried the breast pump for a bit around 11:00pm or so, but it took forever to get a pressure wave. Finally, I decided to head to bed. I knew that if I truly was going to be induced in a hospital the next morning I would need some strength left. So I went to bed.

And this is where the story turns. I woke up at 1:00am with diarrhea. I’ve never been so happier to experience diarrhea in all my life. However, I knew that this alone didn’t mean anything. I went back to bed. I woke up again with more diarrhea. I went downstairs. Pressure waves began. I hunted for my ipod with my hypnobabies tracks. It was now god knows where thanks to our frantic hospital packing. I hollered up the stairs and woke up my husband and told him I needed my ipod. At 1:51am I started timing my pressure waves using an online tracking tool. I could barely believe it – they were between 2 ½ and 4 minutes apart mostly. My husband brought my ipod to me and as I was tracking I found that I had to move out of the computer chair and onto my ball so that I could feel more comfortable. I pulled the computer keyboard out far enough so that I could reach the keyboard and press the proper button at the beginning and end of each pressure wave. I realized that they were harder to manage without complete focus. I knew then that it was time to contact the midwife. Up until that point I had been in denial. I think all of the prior day’s circumstances made me feel like I was dreaming this up and that I wasn’t really going to begin my birthing time. I called my midwife and told her about my pressure waves and how far apart they were. She said she’d contact her assistant and they’d head my way. To be honest, I think she might have thought this was all wishful thinking on my part. I was so nervous that the pressure waves were going to fizzle out and this would all be for nothing. But there was nothing to do except continue to contact my birthing team and hope for the best. I called my sister in law, cousin, and mother who had all been asked to come and help.

With phone calls made and my husband running around getting things ready I moved out into the daycare room where we had previously decided the birth would take place. At some point I moved the ipod onto the dock with speakers and listened to it that way instead of with the ear buds. This was more comfortable for me. I tried several positions while the pressure waves washed over me. Side-lying was by far my favorite position at that time. I wonder if this has to do with the fact that the majority of my hypnobabies practice sessions were done while in a side-lying position. I found that this familiarity gave me optimal relaxation.

I remember people arriving. My mother arrived first and my cousin came shortly afterwards. My sister-in-law was bringing food, so I knew she would likely be last to arrive since she had to make a stop at the grocery store. At this point my ability to speak was pretty compromised. I had my cousin and mom help me head for the bathroom. Upon attempting to leave, I remember having a pressure wave. I leaned over the bathroom counter and worked to relax my face and body. At one point I called out, “Somebody?” I found that there was much comfort in having someone standing close during a pressure wave. After my pressure wave I went back to the couch.

At this point things get kind of fuzzy for me. I don’t know how long I felt pressure waves while lying down. I know at one point I looked at my husband and told him, “Call the midwife. Ask her if I can get in the pool yet.” I heard him describing my pressure waves to her on the phone and I was given the okay to get in the birthing pool. I was very relieved. I somehow sensed that my body was far along enough that getting in the pool was not going to slow things down at this point.

In the pool I sat several different ways, mostly preferring to face the outer edge of the pool and lean my head over. I worked to use my finger drop method and relax through the contractions. I could hear the hypnobabies track which continued to play in the background. Kerry’s voice was soothing and relaxing, reminding me that every pressure wave was bringing me closer to my baby and it was helpful to listen to the track talking about how my cervix was opening. This helped me to allow my pressure waves to do what they needed to rather than tense up and go against them. I really think this is part of the reason my body progressed as quickly as it did. Things really ramped up in intensity once I was in the pool. I remember puking and shaking all over. At one point I lost my hypnobabies focus for a minute and yelled out “I can’t do this!” It hit me that in that moment I was likely in transformation. It’s amazing how aware of that fact I was in the moment. I followed up my negative declaration with a positive “I can do this. I can do this!” I knew I was close and remember feeling very happy about that. Shortly after a few pressure waves that brought on shakiness, I felt a slight urge to push. This wasn’t an all out push urge. It came on the tail end of a pressure wave. I followed what my body wanted me to do. I vaguely remember hearing my hubby on the phone with the midwife describing my pressure waves and telling her that I was pushing. She was of course stuck by a train (a common occurrence in our town), but was very close. Hubby got off the phone and told me to try to hold off on pushing until she got here. This was much easier said than done and I didn’t really succeed. I asked for someone to switch my hypnobabies to the “Pushing baby out” track. However, my voice was muffled and it was hard to speak clearly. I ended up with “Birthing Day Affirmations” instead, but that worked really well. There were plenty of reminders of what I needed to do to help my baby come out during my birthing time. I used the “Ah” exhale method of pushing, which is really just following what your body tells you to do. I remember my midwife and her assistant walking in the door and truly just gave myself over to my body. My midwife checked baby’s heartbeat. This was barely noticeable to me as I was truly in my own little world at this point. She wanted to check dilation since I was ready to push, but instead she saw a head. I switched to a kneeling sort of position with my arms slung over the side of the pool. It didn’t take very many “Ah” pushes (hubby says it was 5 or 6) and all of a sudden I heard my midwife telling me to pick up my baby. My response was “What?” I was so in shock at everything happening so quickly and easily that I didn’t understand that baby had left my body. My midwife pulled baby out of the water as I was just kind of sitting there dumbfounded. She immediately handed baby to me. I held baby close and checked to see what sort of baby he was. “It’s a boy!” It was so neat to be the one to make that announcement! Oliver Felix was born on July 12, 2011 at 4:27am. He weighed 8 lbs and 14 oz and he was 21 inches long. After birthing the placenta I was helped up to my bed with my beautiful little boy. It was the most amazing and intimate experience being able to lie in my own bed and nurse my little man, and he was a beautiful nurser right from the start. There was no rush to weigh him, test him, or remove him from me in any way. After a few hours he began to get sleepy and these procedures were done then. But for those first few hours of alertness he was all mine. I really got a sense of this being the way it should be for moms and babies all the time, barring medical necessity. I feel so lucky that I was able to experience this beautiful hypnobabies home waterbirth. I also felt like I had the perfect birthing team. I was incredibly comforted having my mother, cousin, and sister-in-law present – there was something empowering about having other women there. My husband was of course wonderful also. He was there for me every step of the way and I remember just hanging onto him as I sank into relaxation during many of the more intense moments. It was all just such a beautiful experience. Barring medical necessity to do otherwise, this is what I want for every future birth in our family.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Non-Spanking Help!

I found a blog post that I thought was really down to earth and practical. So here's a link for you.

Challenge the Moment: Love Your Child. Three Real Alternatives to Spanking

It's often very easy to find information about why spanking is not the best choice, the risks of spanking, etc..., but sometimes it's hard to find good practical advice as to know what to do when I'm about to blow. Pregnancy hormones can wreak havoc on the ability to remain calm and level headed with my child, so this practical advice is very welcome right now. I hope it's useful to others as well!

Friday, June 17, 2011

About a Boo

And now a post that does not talk about pregnancy and/or home birth the entire time - it's been awhile!

I realize that it's such a mom thing to say, but I have to say it. I'm so proud of my little Boo. He's nearly four years old and already he has the neatest little personality. I have been so amazed by him lately.

His capacity for love is astounding. Out of the blue he runs up to me and wraps his arms around my belly and says with the most beautiful smile, "I love you baby". Often he follows this up with a kiss for my belly. We talk all the time about how he's going to be a big brother. I tell him what a good big brother he is and he usually replies, "I am." He is a deeply sensitive soul. This can be trying at times, but it's also what makes him so loving and nurturing. He has this built in need to try to take care of mommy. Last night when we were headed up to bed he insisted on holding my hand all the way up the stairs "so that you won't fall". When I told him I was making brownies he told me "Be careful. Don't cut yourself." This is because I actually did cut myself cutting up some chocolate mint leaves for a batch of brownies a few weeks ago.

He also loves his extended family very much. He talks about Auntie Malissa, Uncle Charlie, all of his cousins, Auntie Maggie, Auntie Carey, and of course Grandma and Grandpa nonstop. He adores all of them.

His current favorite things to do are playing Mario Kart on the Wii with daddy and/or mommy, building with his legos and/or his wooden blocks, hanging from the bars of his new bunk bed like the little monkey that he is, and playing with his letters. He's loving his new superhero bedroom. Right now he has it broken in and it looks very much how one would expect a little boy's room to look - legos strewn all over the floor with things half built here and there. He has a magnetic chalkboard on his closet doors that daddy made when we painted his room and Boo loves to draw with his chalk and move his magnetic letters around. Poor man is getting frustrated with letters because he wants to spell and make real words so badly, but he's not quite there yet. He's constantly putting letters together and asking me what words they make. When I tell him that it doesn't make a word he gets frustrated. So to serve his interest in this area, I've started exploring with him and going through some of the phonics activities and he really enjoys doing some of those together.

He's very curious and inquisitive and this can lead to a lot of frustration - for everybody! He's that kid that you just never know what he might try. Especially in new situations where the rules are not yet solidly established, it's hard to know when/where he will run. That can be a bit challenging and sometimes downright scary! But as he nears four I'm seeing more of a response from him and a glimmer of hope that this crazy, bouncy, rambunctious boy will follow safety rules and stop giving his parents near heart attacks every few minutes when we're out and about!

It's definitely been a challenge to learn how to parent this wildly lovable and energetic little man of ours. Especially in wanting to stick to gentle discipline, it can be really trying at times. There are times where I get so frustrated and upset in the moment that I'm anything but gentle. But we keep plodding along in that department. And I have a feeling that even if we were inclined to something punitive it wouldn't work anyways. He strikes me as one of those kiddos that you could swat until you're blue in the face and he'd still go right on getting into things, running away in public, and, well, just being a little bit of crazy all the time! And I really love his confidence and yes, even his wild spirit. I wouldn't want to break that down in any way - just continue to work on guiding it so that it doesn't get him into trouble!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Different Kind of Party

Well here I am at 37 1/2 weeks preggo and my home birth is just around the corner. It feels crazy at times because everything is going to be so different from my son's birth. Different in a good way for sure, but this is all very uncharted territory. One thing that's going to be a different experience is the number of people that are going to be around. For my son's birth it was just T and I - no friends/family around during active labor. This time around we have chosen several family members/friends to share in this little one's birth day. Even though it's going to be different I could not be more happy about the special people that are going to be there. I feel like we have the right mix of personalities to be around during such a special occasion. Each person is contributing to the occasion in their own unique way. My mother is going to be Boo's caretaker and source of comfort. She's been a huge part of his life and he stays the night with grandma on a pretty regular basis, so she is the perfect person for the job. Boo is excited about being here when baby comes, but he admits that he's a little bit scared. My mom's nurturing personality will be just the comfort he will likely need at times. My cousin is going to be birth photographer extraordinaire. She's very artistic and I have no doubt that she'll take some great pictures of our experience. Also, she's a lifelong friend and someone who will be of invaluable comfort to me during the experience. She knows how to be encouraging and how to believe in people. She'll be the right combination of nurturing and "suck it up - you can do this" (I mean that in a good way) mentality. My sister-in-law is well, like a sister to me. I didn't know she was going to be joining the party until more recently and I've felt nothing but relief and excitement on knowing that she will be here. She has just the right amount of calm and practicality to her personality that I know she will be of invaluable assistance for anything that needs to happen while I'm birthing. She's that solid rock type of personality that you can count on when things need to happen. She's also someone who will know how to be comforting and nurturing in a very non-invasive way. I really just couldn't be more thrilled our choices. It will be a positive and empowering experience for all I believe. And what better way to welcome our little one than in the presence of family that will be there to adore him/her!

As the pre-labor signs progress (nothing serious people - don't start calling - I'm not going into labor right now or anything) I get more and more excited about the process. I feel so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life to share in the joy of this little one's birthing day!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Little Bit of This and That

Well, I feel as though I need to get something out in the blogosphere. I don't think this will be an earth shattering blog, not like any of mine are, but you know what I mean.

This morning I have the privilege of having a day off of work. Hurray me! My midwife is coming for her home visit today. She offered to come later, but I decided to have it earlier. One, I wanted to make it more convenient for her to come, and two, I wanted a freaking day off of work! Oh the lovely vacation day, how sweet it is!

Last night I cleaned like crazy. I had a bit of rearranging to do in the daycare room as my furniture that I bought with some grant money for my daycare came in. So of course everything had to be moved around to accommodate the new stuff. I'm hoping the new arrangement works out. I got most of the baseboards scrubbed and surfaces wiped down, the couch swept, my foamy cushion cleaned up, and it felt great! I still need to clear off the table and wipe down one corner of the room. Also, I spied some handprints on the windows, so I guess I will attack the windows with some cleaner. Ah - nesting - hello - my house needs you. Do you ever notice that when you do deep cleaning, the more you do the dirtier everything looks? I'm just appalled by the filth that we're currently living with. I was able to get my bathroom scrubbed yesterday during naptime and that felt wonderful.

Now I just need to attack the rest of the house with as much fervor. Instead I'm blogging, sipping coffee, and thinking about the luxurious shower that I'm going to take in a few minutes. My back is yelling at me a bit, but I hope to at least finish the daycare room and work on scrubbing down my kitchen. There's just so many piles everywhere. Does anyone else live with PBD (pile build-up disorder)? No matter how many times you clear the same spots over and over the piles just come back? And they grow from one flat surface to another until you have no table space, no kitchen counters, no desk space, you get the idea. It's a very huge problem in our house and has been for years. I can't seem to get rid of it! Perhaps there is some secret that I have yet to stumble upon?

Anyways, I'm looking forward to later today. My cousin and great friend is treating me and my little one to lunch and then we're going to come back here, watch the kiddos run around and play in the yard and the kiddie pool, and just relax. Preggo might have to take a turn in the kiddie pool as it's supposed to get up to 92 degrees today. Yikes! I guess I won't be working in the garden today. I'm hoping to drag my butt out of bed early tomorrow and tackle the garden before it warms up outside. The weeds are out of control! Anyways, I digressed. This great friend has moved here recently from a far away land and I think this is the first time we're going to get to hang for a bit where we're not so rushed for one reason or another. I think we've both had a hectic few weeks, so it'll feel good just to have time to plop down and be and catch up! There's nothing so soothing to the soul as time with a good friend!

I plan to work on my birth basket this weekend, even if that means running out and buying stuff I can't afford right now. I just need it done - for my own mental sanity. Not to mention that as of Sunday I'll be 37 weeks - fair game for my home birth should I go into labor at any point. I also should probably pack a hospital bag in case of transfer. And we need to clean out our car and get the infant seat installed. Also, we still need to finish up Boo's room and I have piles upon piles upon piles of clean laundry to put away in our bedroom before we can even begin to put the cosleeper up. I actually chipped away at the laundry piles the other night, but they're so huge that it doesn't look like I did anything. Don't you love that?

Anyways, wow, this post has turned into some kind of online to do list! I'm sure everyone was just dying to know everything I need to get done!

T has had clinicals for his CNA class all week. He's enjoying them and doing well. It seems that many of the residents as well as the staff really like him. I'm excited for him. He's seen so much success since starting on his journey towards nursing. It's been good for him to experience that and I'm very proud of him to have the courage to break out of a dead end job and walk the tightrope that is the midlife career change. It's not an easy road by any means. We've had several obstacles so far, some in the near future, and some unknowns that will continue to pop up along the way. It's been hard and stressful, but every time I imagine attending his college graduation my eyes start to get weepy. Of course, that could just be the pregnancy hormones! Probably not though - there's something so heartwarming about seeing someone you love succeed and getting to be a small part of that.

So this post I guess turned into a mish mash of everything I guess. Very random - exactly the pointless posting I'm trying to avoid. Oh well - can I blame preggo brain yet again?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Up and At 'Em

Well, I've got the up part right at least. I'm awake. I'm munching on my cereal and giving serious thought to some coffee this morning.

Yesterday was a good day. I got out of the house with my family for a bit and that felt wonderful, even if all we did was go downtown for a bit. I picked up some shampoo from the local natural health store and some incense while hubby sat at the bakery and studied his CNA stuff. Let me tell you, it's fun trying to explore different shampoo options with a three year old boy. I pretty much had to hold him down in a straight jacket sort of way while I scooted along the floor looking reading the various labels on the bottom shelf. Oy - his love of running, knocking things off of shelves, and just being a general pill really gets to me some days. Last night I left the Oxi-clean bucket on the cart in the kitchen while I was working on laundry and my son apparently thought that our dog Wally needed some Oxi-clean in his food container. A good third full food container. So, needless to say, hubby had to run out super early this morning before his CNA class and buy a brand new bag of dog food. And of course like clockwork he comes home with the wrong food...again. Our dog keeps getting switched foods for this reason. *sigh* Do I sound grumpy? I am. I'm grumpy in all of my almost 9 months pregnant glory. Anyways, I started out saying that yesterday was a good day. And it was. I finally got little man's hair cut. He's been needing one for oh, I don't know, a month or so. He was kind of starting to resemble a sheep dog. Poor little man's were hanging down past his eyes and he was getting called a girl left and right. Ummm...oops. So we got his haircut. He got to have chocolate while I cut his hair. He left a big chunk on the floor which I promptly forgot about before I let the dog out to play. So between the chocolate and the Oxi-clean it seems that we're trying to kill off our dog. So I'm really hoping that our dog doesn't develop diarrhea today because all I really need is to have to bend over and clean dog crap out of a crate periodically throughout today. Anyways, back to yesterday. I got loads upon loads of laundry done. See, I was just hoping the rapture would happen and that I wouldn't actually have to do the laundry. Bummer. I probably did 5 or 6 loads yesterday. Now I just need to get them upstairs with the mounds of clean clothes that need to be put away. That's the part of laundry that I never seem to get to, but I'm really tired of digging for clothes. I'm sick of the fact that I've been unable to wear some of my cute maternity clothes because they're too buried in clean clothes upstairs and I can never find what I want to get dressed in the morning. Ugh - I've launched into whining again. Maybe grumpy pregnant people should be banned from blogging! Anyways, my back is currently saying "thank you" to me for all of the bending and reaching that accompanies countless loads of laundry. I have a pile of dishes, at least some of which is going to need to be done if I must feed children all day long. And I must - I expect their parents wouldn't be too happy with me if I decided not to feed them so as not to create more dirty dishes! I did buy paper plates to help me get through hubby's second crazy week of his CNA class, which is causing him to be completely unavailable. I just wish I had thought to buy paper cups. I had a thought last night as I was thinking how overwhelmed I am right now as to how single moms do everything for themselves and children day in and day out and work full-time. All I can say is I'm not worthy and I'd drown in depression I think if I had to try. This place is still difficult to keep up with when hubby is around to lend a hand. But it seems impossible when he's not. But perhaps it's just me - perhaps I haven't learned how to be efficient enough, hardworking enough, or fill in the blank. I don't know. I go back and forth between feeling sorry for my bloaty, achy pregnant self and thinking that I just need to push harder and it would all get done.

All in all, I wish fairy godmothers really existed - the good kind in Cinderella, not the evil wench in Shrek. I'd call her up and with a bit of bippity boppity boo my house would be spotless, the birth basket would be ready, everything would be scrubbed, newborn cloth diapers would be prepped, and I'd be ready to get my birthing on!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Am Woman - I Can Birth

My birth pool came was delivered yesterday. I haven't had a chance to take it out and set it up yet. We'll be doing our practice run this weekend hopefully. But I did look at the instructions and I got a bit, well, excited. Yes, excited to give birth! I feel as though I've gone through a slight transformation this pregnancy. I entered pregnancy knowing that I wanted to do things differently and knowing that I wanted a home birth. But I still had apprehension and nagging doubts about my abilities - my ability to handle this, my body's ability to work right, etc...I took a lovely birth class as a way of boosting my confidence and I have to say that I really think it helped. Also, I've been going through the Hypnobabies home study course thanks to a friend who lent it to me and I LOVE it. Part of the course is listening to a positive affirmations track every day. I've been able to keep up with this most days. I feel this has been very powerful for me - hearing over and over about how my birth is going to be wonderful, my baby is going to come easily, everything will go right, etc...It's gotten me into a good head space. Obviously, birth comes with no guarantees, but having a calm and peaceful frame of mind will only be of benefit should I need to be more flexible with my plans during the birthing day.

This birth is going to be different in other ways too. With my son it was only my husband and I around, well, along with the medical staff anyways. This time my oldest friend, who I just adore to pieces, will be photographing my birth for me. My mom will be on "Boo duty" so that he is able to stay and be a part of the experience as much or as little as he wants. I like that my hubby won't have to worry about snapping pictures this time around and he can just be. Be whatever I need him to be in each moment. There will of course be the midwife and her assistant. I'm kind of excited that I might know the assistant coming. Provided she's available when I go into labor, the assistant will actually be the woman who taught my birth class. I'm actually pretty excited about that. So I kind of feel like I should buy some party hats or something. It feels like a huge group to me, but in reality there's probably still fewer people overall than there were when I labored in the hospital. I think it feels bigger because it's more people that I know. But I'm really okay with it and of course I'm reserving the right to tell anyone extra "Nevermind. Go home," if that's what needs to happen. I don't think that will be the case - but hey, a laboring woman can do anything she wants when it comes to those sorts of things!

I'm excited because I realize that I've come from a state of mind where I apprehensively wanted this home birth, but still felt nervous to a point where I'm excited about it and ready to hop in the birthing pool now. I feel calm and powerful and well, like a woman!

Monday, May 16, 2011

I Am Still Here

I really really miss blogging, but my energy and focus has been lacking lately. As I've been trying hard to decrease the number of rambly blog posts and increase posts with focus and a point, I've just stayed away from my blog altogether. However, it's been so long that I feel I must write something, even if it's rambly, anticlimactic, and devoid of anything informative and/or useful.

I guess I'll start with a quick run-down of what's been going on in my life. I'm now 34 weeks pregnant. For baby's health I want baby to "bake" as long as possible. But I do admit that I find myself longing for a 38 or 39 week baby at times, even though I don't really mean it. I'm just so ready to be done. I think pregnancy is amazing and I do enjoy the process for the most part. It's just the last few months that are not so enjoyable. I will say that I feel less miserable at this stage in my pregnancy than I felt during this stage with my son. I've been very active - running the daycare, creating a bedroom for Boo, trying to complete various projects around the house, attempting to keep up with the housework, and creating my garden. I'm upright and moving around most of the day and actually I'm sure that this has decreased my misery. It's crazy how that works sometimes. I had a training on Saturday for daycare during which I had to sit for 6 hours straight. I went prepared with my birth ball. I fidgeted the entire time, shifting from my birth ball to the chair to the floor and everything in between, but that one day of sitting felt worse than three days of daycare. I was an exhausted and miserable mess at the end of it. I was also a grump all weekend as a result. It took me the entire weekend of lying around to feel rested from that much sitting. Weird, huh?

Boo's bedroom is almost done. Almost. I wish I could say it was done. Oh I really really wish I could. It makes me crazy that it's not. It is coming together. The painting is done. The magnetic chalkboard closet doors are completed. The bed needs to be finished - it's getting there. The carpets need a good cleaning. They seriously haven't been cleaned since we moved in June of 2010. The entire floor of this room was covered with boxes for so long that I couldn't even get to the floor to vacuum it. So I'm looking forward to giving the floor a good vacuum. We have a table and chairs set that we're likely going to order for the room. Boo is very excited. He's watched the progress every step of the way. Originally I wanted to shut off the room and do a big reveal at the end and surprise him, but it makes him so happy to be a part of the process that we've been showing him every step of the way instead. He's very excited about the super hero bedroom - a little less excited when I explained to him that mommy was not planning on sleeping on one level of the bunk bed. But I'm sure he'll adjust to his bed as he's ready. We're not so worried about the actual sleeping in his room part. That will come with time. I'll just be so excited when the toys that I keep tripping over in our family room are no longer there because they have a bedroom to go to. I'm tired tired tired of the clutter in the family room and we just can't begin to do anything about it until his room is done!

One of my favorite people has moved back to the area and getting to see her a few times has been so uplifting, even though it's been rushed and when I've been tired. We're both so busy right now - she with relocating and me with various projects plus a grant program for the daycare that's consuming some extra time right now. So I look forward to spending less harried time with her as I know that will be so soothing to my soul - good friends always are!

So, I'm still here trying to keep my focus on one day at a time as it'd be really easy to get overwhelmed with everything right now if I try to think about it all at once. I don't know how much blogging I'll do in the weeks to come, but I hope to keep from disappearing completely anyways.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Good Read on Praise

Behavior Modification: Praise

I've been meaning to post a link to this for awhile. For the past year or so I've been working extremely hard on cutting out non-stop praise to my child. This has been a hard habit to break. My journey started after reading the book Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. This is one of those books that I will likely need to reread several times and perhaps smack myself with it a few times in order for the concepts to sink in. What I love about this book is that it's not another compilation of parenting techniques and/or methods of coercing a child into right behavior. This book introduces a complete paradigm shift on parenting and the role of a parent in a child's life. I'd highly recommend this for anyone, even if the end result is that a person doesn't agree with anything. This is one of those books that really causes you to think about how you're raising your children and why you're doing it the way that you are. I think the thing that I love is also the thing that makes this book difficult. It's not a step by step how to book on parenting. A person won't read this and know exactly what to do in a given parenting situation. Rather, reading this book will cause a parent to think differently about the situation at hand. It's very challenging and has probably been one of the books that has helped me the most in terms of shifting out of rewards/consequences parenting that is based on behavioral methods.

I think Hippie Housewife made some great points in her blog. I've definitely seen praise in action. As someone who trained and worked in the field of child development, I was taught to deliver a nonstop stream of praise to children. As an infant teacher I would praise a child, "Good job putting the triangle in the hole!" This sounds harmless, but here's what I've come to realize. Prior to the praise the child was hard at work figuring out the shape sorter toy. The little gears were turning in his head and he was intent on exploring the different shapes and shaped holes. Once praise enters the picture, the child has stopped focusing on the shape sorter and is now focusing on me and my reaction. Rather than continuing to work and experiencing the internal joy of figuring things out, the child is now excited by my reaction. It's easy for me to see how an ongoing pattern of such interruptions to a child's activities could cause a child to look to others for rewards as opposed to being satisfied with internal feelings of satisfaction. Another example I can think of is when I worked in a residential care facility where children were brought up on point cards and awarded positive points for "good" behaviors. I can tell you that I saw many of these seemingly "good" children engaged in completely different behaviors when no one was looking. Those children who had been at the facility a long time and had years of this sort of training seemed to lack very basic internal motivation to behave morally. This is a more extreme example, but still the result of constant external motivators nonetheless.

It is very hard though. I catch myself saying to Boo things like, "What a great drawing!" and "Good job building with blocks!" all the time. No, they're not inherently evil things to say, but better responses would focus on what he drew and discussing his drawing with him. "You used a lot of blue in that spot," or in block building "You put two towers on that castle."

I am as always a work in progress as a mother. This is one of those habits that is extremely hard to break, but I will keep trying!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Anyone Else Think This is Terrible?

I was flipping through my Parents' Magazine today. By the way I have no idea how I get it or why. I've never paid for a subscription and I pretty much never agree with much of the content. But every time that it comes in the mail I still flip through it for some reason. Well today in a section about children's sleep I read a snippet about what parents can do if their four year old wants to come in their bed with them during the night. A sleep expert from some hospital (I already threw magazine away or else I'd be more specific) suggested cold turkey as an option, stating that parents could simply lock their bedroom door after putting their little one to bed and let their little one adjust that way. I was horrified when I read this!

Am I being overly sensitive here? I mean, I know many people who do not make the choices we do. Many people are not comfortable co-sleeping with their three year old as we are and prefer for their children to be in their own beds/rooms. But I can't imagine any of them doing this with such little sensitivity. If I locked my bedroom door after putting Boo in bed in a separate room the poor child would cry hysterically at the door and probably fall asleep crying on the floor in front of our door. That breaks my heart. I don't think any child should have to experience that. There are better ways. Granted, other methods are probably not as quick and take more time and effort on the part of the parent, but they're much more respectful of children's feelings. I just don't understand why anyone would think it necessary to let a child be so upset in order to get them in their own bed! This advice fails to respect the fact that this child is a human being. Not to mention, four is an age where fear of the dark is very common. Many children would not only be sad about not being with mom and dad, but would be terrified if left in this position.

I'm so sad that Mothering magazine discontinued their print editions. It was nice to get a parenting magazine in the mail that didn't have such inconsiderate parenting advice.

I'm sorry if I sound self-righteous and judgemental. I try really hard to talk about things that I'm in support of versus things that I'm against so that I can steer clear of being a judgemental jerk on my blog, but this advice really really got to me.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Homeschooling - What It Will Mean for Us

The Perversive Effect of Tests, Scores, and Grades

I came across this post in my blog reading today and really enjoyed it. I've read similar posts and articles, but I thought this one was a concise and easy read.

I think there's so many ideas out there about why people homeschool. And truly for many families there's several reasons for choosing homeschooling, not just one reason. One of the fallacies I hear often is that homeschoolers are trying to shelter their children, protect them from the real world, and all that nonsense. Granted, there probably are some families out there for which this is true, but for most homeschoolers this is simply not the case!

Many many homeschoolers have a problem with the way education is run in this country. Kiddos are being pressured to perform constantly and with terrible results. With all of the emphasis on testing and performance one would think we'd be much higher up on the totem pole so to speak as far as our global standing in student performance. But we're not!

As a future homeschooler I have no plans to "do school" at home. Some homeschoolers take this approach and hey, to each his own. But if I wanted to use the school methods I might as well send my kiddo to school! Instead I scoured the available methods and materials available and settled on one that does not focus on testing and performance. Rather the focus is on learning. I can tell you from firsthand experience that a person can test well and perform without learning squat. Just drill me on things that I should know from my years of education (I was one of those "good" students) and my lack of knowledge will likely shock you! It's terrible and I feel terrible that I can't remember basic facts that I feel like I should know. But the reality is that I didn't learn these things. I crammed them into my head as quickly as possible in order to pass certain tests and perform well. The information was never assimilated properly and now I'm left with years sitting at school desks that could have been better spent experiencing life! I'm actually looking forward to homeschooling my own because I'll get a fresh chance to learn with them!

One of the things that we'll be doing different is delaying formal schooling. Some homeschoolers choose to do this. We won't be starting kindergarten at the age of five. Instead, until my child is six or seven we will follow interests. So in the eyes of others, he may be "behind." This is going to be hard for me as I want to prove to the world what a genius my child is and having grown up with the "performance mindset" it's easy for me to fall into the trap of wanting my child to keep up with everyone else. But the reality is, starting a child earlier on concepts doesn't always produce the best results. In fact, there's a growing body of research out there that suggests that children would benefit more from more free play at an early age. This free play is a kind of early learning that develops a child's creative mind and sets the stage for applying the formal concepts that will be introduced during formal education. But the reality is, with all of the emphasis on testing and performance, for many children in the younger grades there's just not time for both!

This will be a learning process for us. I imagine that I will learn many ways not to handle Boo's schooling as well as stumble upon things that work brilliantly. I hope that in the process I can keep an open mind and always be on the lookout for Boo's response to his schooling. As much as possible, I want to support his natural love of learning and be careful to avoid things that put out the spark in his eye so to speak. It's going to be an adventure for sure!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Consequences as Punishment

What's Wrong With Consequences to teach kids lessons?

I really enjoyed this article. This is something I'm working hard on and it doesn't come easily to me. Perhaps it's because so much of my life I've been thinking "I'll never spank and because of that I will have a different style of parenting." I think I've spent so much time feeling wonderful that we are a non-spanking household that it's taken me awhile to realize that punishment is punishment whether it's spanking, time-out, consequences, loss of privileges, etc...So while I entered parenthood firmly set against one style of punishment, others were allowed to sneak in like wolves in sheep's clothing! This has been a frustrating realization for me.

I do have positive discipline tools in my toolbox, but I often neglect to use them in favor of a control-based approach that yields quick results. This has been true the more pregnant I've become and the closer to four years old my child becomes. I think positive discipline is much more of a no-brainer when a child is two or younger. It definitely became more challenging at three and has become very very difficult at nearly four. Either that or it's the pregnancy hormones. Either way, I don't want to allow myself to slip into bad habits that will likely be hard to get out of later on.

Perhaps my personal need to feel in control works against my ability to use positive discipline with my child at times. There's also a certain amount of trust in positive discipline because children aren't as apt to respond with immediate compliance as they are with methods that are fear-based. So it's easy to feel like this isn't "working" in the moment. But I plan to hang in there, even if it feels like it's by a toenail at times. I do believe that the benefits of avoiding punishment will be seen in the long-term as I watch my children turn into young adults and make their way in the world. It's just going to take a whole lot of trust!

Lest anyone be confused, I'm not talking about a style of parenting called permissive parenting.

What's Wrong With Permissive Parenting

I absolutely believe in setting limits, saying no to children when it's necessary, and allowing them to experience some not so pleasant natural consequences of their behaviors. I think positive parenting can feel like a line sometimes. I don't want to fall to one side or I'll be using that controlling, authoritarian parenting style that is associated with all kinds of poor psychological and emotional outcomes for children. (Parenting Styles and its Correlates) I don't want to fall to the other side or I'll be using a permissive parenting style that neglects to guide and teach my children.

I will continue to read books and articles that challenge me to be better and hope that someday the lack of punishment and the use of positive discipline in our household becomes more automatic and natural for us as a family.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yell yell yell

Two blogs in one day? Well, it's been awhile and everyone's asleep and I'm too tired to go put laundry away as I should. I just read this article and thought it was interesting.

Shouting is the New Spanking

I can definitely relate to this post. Yelling is what happens when I'm overtired, overstressed, over fill-in-the-blank. I've personally found that the best way to combat this is not more parenting techniques. I've got quite a few of those at my disposal, not that I couldn't use more or do better with the things I have learned, but usually this is not the problem when I get to yell mode with Boo. Usually I need me time, rest and relaxation, hot tea, you name it. A glass of wine when I'm not

I guess if I wanted to be smart about this, I'd sit down and figure out what my triggers are, when I'm most likely to yell, etc...and develop a plan to back myself off when I feel a yell coming on. Easier said than done. It's a no brainer if hubby is here to take a break, hop in a hot bath, and escape for a bit. It takes a lot more creativity to combat yelling when hubby is at class or otherwise occupied. So perhaps it's a matter of finding creative solutions when the easy option is not available.

I definitely think it's worth the effort to continue to try to do better and be better for my child. But I do feel defeated some days, knowing that no matter how hard I try I won't ever reach that perfect ideal. Ah - such is life. Perfection is an ideal, something to strive for, but never truly in our grasp!

Just In Case Anyone Was Wondering

It's the question many parents have wondered at one time or another. That all important life changing question. Yes, how does one safely remove an object lodged in a child's nose? That's the one you were thinking of, wasn't it?

Well, there you have it. That's what I googled this morning. I had tried the blow it out method to no avail and was afraid of doing something wrong lest I cause the green pea, Boo's object of choice, further up the nose. I love love love my child. But why why why? I *know* in my head that this is a developmentally normal experiment for a 3 year old to try and I'm so glad that Boo has such a curious and inquisitive spirit, but sometimes I wish he would pass on certain experiments. Luckily he told me right away. He was pretty upset that he couldn't get it out. Honestly, I'm a bit glad that he was upset about it. Not enough to feel traumatized forever, but hopefully enough to not try this again.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gardening and I

Gardening and I
Go Together
Like Fish and Pie

At least that's how I feel right now. I love the idea of having a vegetable garden, a useful herb garden, and a flower garden of sorts. The problem is that I currently lack the know how and time to do it all right now. I admit that I've longed to be blessed with the so called "green thumb", but I do have to wonder if anyone is really born with a "green thumb". I kind of wonder if it isn't cultivated over time, slowly as a garden. Wouldn't that be fitting?

When we bought our house last year we closed mid May and moved in at the very beginning of June. By that time some areas of our lovely yard that had clearly at one time been designated as "garden areas" were overgrown with weeds. So we did the best we could last year just trying to keep the weeds at bay. I vowed that this year I would do justice to these areas. Well, here we are during gardening and planting season and I'm a bit clueless. I admit that I won't have the time and/or resources to do everything that I'd like to do.

Project #1 on my list is going to be tomatoes. I grew tomatoes several years in a row and well, once you've had tomatoes from your own garden, there's just no going back! I had such an abundance the first year that I grew tomatoes that I roasted my excess with garlic, pureed, froze in ice cube trays and had a good supply for much of winter. It was lovely - so much better than store bought sauce for pastas and such! The area for this project is a strip of land right by the garage. There's a bit of weediness in the area. I'm trying to figure out the best way to clear it without resorting to the dig it out method. I'm thinking that a tiller would work for this?

Project #2 is our front yard. In my mind I see beautifully landscaped raised bed gardens on either side of the steps in our front yard. The reality? We have neither the time or the budget for that this year. Soooo, I think this is what I've decided. I'm going to throw some landscaping fabric or newspaper down, a bunch of soil on top, mulch over the soil, and call it done for the year. Hopefully that will keep the weeds from taking over. During the year I can buy the retaining wall blocks of my choice a little bit at a time so that by next year I have the supplies I need to do a raised bed garden on either side of our front steps. It sounds good to me. I'm open to ideas and know how on this one!

Project #3 is an area in our backyard that's right by our patio. There were some leafy plants there when we moved in, but not knowing what was what I weedwhacked through everything when I was trying to keep weeds at bay. Now this area is covered with more green leafy stuff that has tiny violet flowers everywhere and a few ferny looking things. I really just want to clear out the area and start fresh so that I know what's what. I'd love to have stuff planted in there this year, but I don't know if that's too ambitious or not. How do I best get rid of the weedy stuff that's there? I don't want to go the dig it out route. I did that one year to get rid of sod to make room for a garden and it took me forever! Can I rent a tiller and till it weeds and all and then plant, put landscape fabric or newspaper around plants, and then mulch? I don't even know what a tiller looks like, let alone how to use one. Is that even the right thing for this kind of job?

Can you tell that I'm really hoping that someone who knows a fair bit about gardening reads this post and imparts beautiful green thumb wisdom to me?

On another note, while I was pulling out some dead weeds or bushes or something out of the Project #3 area today Boo started running his hands through the mud, smearing it around, and pushing the garden hoe around. It made me smile. There's something inside of me that feels like all is right when my little one is exploring dirt with his hands. Could this be some sort of primal instinct left from ancestors who worked the earth in order to eat and live? I don't know. I have to admit that there's something about working through dirt, digging, growing, and eating fresh veggies that just makes me uber happy!

So hopefully we'll have some fun working the dirt together and getting plants in the ground while it's still planting season!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

We'll Pass On The Punishment

In our home we work very hard to never punish our child. WHAT?? Yes, you read that correctly. No punishment ever is my goal, however I'm human and fail very much. But I don't agree with popular opinion that punishment is desirable or necessary in order to raise a "good" child.

I'm not going to go into huge detail because I found a post that covers this topic quite brilliantly. It's a really great read. Even for those who may disagree with my stance, her article brings up a lot of food for thought. The blogger is a christian and goes into the religious aspects of this parenting choice. But she also provides enough explanation that is not religious in nature, so I believe it's a great post for all.

Behavior Modification: Punishment

I think the hardest thing for me is being consistent with this. It is very difficult to break out of the punishment mindset when that's how a person was raised. This is the place I find myself in. I know what I want to do and what I believe and yet fall back on earlier programming when I'm tired and frustrated. It's much easier for me to stick with my big rule of no spanking since I've had this personal rule grounded into my head for years upon years. What's harder for me is the other forms of punishment. Loss of privilege, time out, and shaming are ones for me that can creep in easily if allow them to. I can look back and see that I've made progress, but there's still a lot of room for improvement!

Another thing that I'm finding hard to deal with is other people. It's amazing how many people step up and try to punish my child for me when I'm out somewhere with him. I've seen this at church as well as other places. Nobody is trying to spank my child or anything like that, but I am shocked by how many people feel the need to start shaming my child when he is behaving "inappropriately." Subtle comments meant to punish are very common in our society. "Big boys don't act like that," and "Don't say that to your mommy. I don't like that and that makes your mommy sad," (the latter one while Boo was making a valid attempt to express some anger he was feeling). And I don't say this to come across as high and mighty because I've resorted to similar guilt-inducing statements in the moment. But as a mom it's hard to know how to deal with a well-meaning person when they see it fitting to shame my child. I admit that it's easier for me to jump immediately to a defensive and snippy response than to kindly and calmly inform them that shaming is not something we use with our child.

Since I seem to have gone off a bit on the whole aspect of shaming as a form of punishment, here's an article about the effects of shame on children.

"Good" Children - At What Price? The Secret Cost of Shame

Where I need to continue to grow in my journey is to not resort to punishment and to learn how to assert myself with others so that they are not pushing punitive methods onto my child. Does parenting ever get any easier? Wouldn't it be nice if one day we could actually "arrive" at being the ideal parent?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Special Times with Touch

When Boo was an infant I bought this infant massage book. We rarely got through an entire massage when he was an infant and I wasn't overly consistent with it, but it was always very special when I made time to do this with Boo.

As Boo grew older, massage kind of fell by the wayside and I kind of forgot about this special way of connecting with my little man. Enter pregnancy and third trimester fatigue and irritability. I know I've written a lot of posts lately about this fatigue, struggle to be a loving mom, and associated stress. So pardon me another such post please!

In my brainstorming efforts, massage resurfaced and beckoned to me. I got out my Aromatherapy and Massage for Mother and Baby book and made up a basic pregnancy massage oil. The recipe called for Almond, but I didn't have any almond oil in the house. So I used apricot oil for mine instead. I added my tangerine and lavendar essential oils, which were the suggested ones. I must say that it smells a bit on the heavenly side!

Starting this past weekend and several days since then Boo and I have had special massage times during which I attempt to massage his feet or "footies" as I like to call them in the moment. He's very ticklish on his feet, so sometimes this works and sometimes not. But he's always pretty eager to try. Then he gets very excited to hold his little hands out for a bit of oil and rub it on mommy. He loves to massage my preggo belly for me. This feels great on my stretchmarked belly and we talk to baby while we massage. It's been wonderful to hear Boo talk to his sibling while he rubs my belly and it's such a relaxing time for both of us.

This all made me very curious about massage with children. The book that I have is pretty specific to infants, so I decided to do what I always do when I get curious. I googled. Here's an article that talks about the benefits of massage for children. I thought it was pretty interesting anyways. I guess it's just one more resource that links human touch to positive outcomes.

Here's another one. This isn't specific to massage. But it's about human touch. This is a blog written about skin to skin touch for siblings. It made me cry - not hard to do when you're in your third trimester of pregnancy, but whatever!

Skin to Skin Bonding

Isn't that the sweetest thing you've ever read? I admit that I'm a huge believer in skin to skin bonding. When Boo was a baby I gave up on the baby bathtub - I HATED every single one that I tried. So into the tub with mommy he went. And he LOVED it and so did I. It was so relaxing to settle into the warm water with my little one. He would often nurse during this time when he was an infant. It was much more relaxing to me not trying to hold up a squirming baby in an akward position in a baby bathtub contraption. As he grew he eventually started taking baths on his own. But even now we still enjoy the occasional bath together and it's still a wonderful bonding experience. In fact, last Saturday we had one of those dreaded meltdown moments where nothing seemed to work. I had just arrived home from a pampering session at a salon and was resting on the couch when Boo woke up from nap. He came downstairs and sat on my lap and just cried. And cried. And cried. And cried. I tried everything under the sun. Are you hungry? Still tired? Have a bad dream? You name it.I know that he really really had not wanted me to leave earlier that day and so I suspect that may have had something to do with it. Finally I said, do you want to take a bath with mommy? He cried for another minute, then hopped up and ran to the bathroom and started stripping. Crisis over. We happily reconnected and both of our stress levels plummeted. It will be a bit bittersweet when he outgrows this kind of connecting, so for now I will attempt to delight in these special times.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Loveless Place - Part 1: The Introduction

Once upon a time, before I ever experienced the joy of pregnancy or birthed my own child, I became a mother. Not in the biological sense and not in the legal sense of the word, but in responsibility. I graduated college in 2001 with my BA in Sociology. I wanted to work with children, make a difference, and leave their lives a little better for having known me. I have to laugh at that type of thinking now. It's not terrible to want those things, but how egocentric to think that I alone would be the force that would change a child's life for the better. But this is what I wanted and it's what I set out to do and it's what I believe I failed miserably at.

Enter the Loveless Place as it shall be called. It's a real place with a real name, but I guess I want to tread carefully since this place still exists and operates. Not for protection of a place that I now despise, but because I don't know the rules of blogging and slander when it comes to institutions. As a potential employer, Loveless Place promised me what I was looking for. An opportunity to work with children in a very personal way and be a part of shaping them into better functioning individuals. I immediately applied for a position. The interview went well and I fell for their program hook, line, and sinker.

Really I'm not sure how I got suckered in. The looks of Loveless Place would be enough to turn just about anyone off. The drive into the place, through a gate and guard on duty, showed a cheerless line of buildings. Old. Gray. Cold. The houses in which many of the children lived were much the same. Old, institutional looking, and free of the warmth that is usually found where children are present.

As I previously stated, my interview went well. I passed their psychological exam and sexual predator screening. I completed my fingerprinting and my physical exam. I packed my bags, my parents and I loaded the U-haul, and we were off. Upon arrival, I moved my belongings into one room in a cheerless gray house. I met the inhabitants. They were polite little girls between the ages of 7 and 10. They stood in a perfectly straight line to shake my hand and greet me. Perhaps that should have been my first warning sign. A straight and silent procession of greetings from such little ones as opposed to bombarding me with noise as only a group of little children can.

This was my arrival, the beginning of my artificially induced "motherhood" for lack of a better word. And this is a good stopping place. There will be so much to say that this will be a series of posts. I'm not a great planner when it comes to my blogging, so I don't know how many parts will be necessary until I feel done with this topic. I don't even know at this point everything that I will cover. But I know that there is a lot that is inside of me regarding my experiences that needs to get out. My hope in posting all of this is to take others on my journey, process through my own thoughts and feelings, and move on. I hope to challenge some popular beliefs regarding children and behavior along the way and perhaps explore and/or advocate for alternatives.So I guess we shall see together what this series will become!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mental Energy - Wahoo!

It goes without saying that mental energy is so important to functioning for anyone. In motherhood it can make the difference between Momzilla and functioning somewhere closer to that gentle mother ideal. Well, I have been blessed with some renewed mental energy this week and it feels wonderful. I think I know what made the difference. Yesterday we invited Boo's Grandma over to play with him. She is very playful and he always has a great time when he sees her. Sadly, we're not the greatest at making time for them to be together. Having Boo happy and occupied freed hubby and I up considerably to get some things done. As for hubby, he was stuck doing a paper for school. But I got quite a bit of stuff done upstairs. I still have a ways to go, but I was able to clear a lot of space out of our bedroom by getting laundry put away, packing away some of Boo's outgrown clothing (sniff sniff), clearing some things out of Boo's bedroom to be, and I even set up a small sewing area for me in our bedroom. It's not quite done. I have some sewing stuff thrown in random boxes that needs a spot, but it's getting there. Hurray! So hopefully that means that I'll actually do some sewing!

Seeing Boo's bedroom to be clearer of junk has made me feel so wonderful. It's interesting that I had to drain myself physically in order to feel better mentally. I admit that I wasn't sure about my decision when I got out of bed this morning. During my morning waddle to the bathroom, I wondered if I had overdone it. And let's just be honest. It wasn't even a waddle. I felt like a beginning toddler walker trying not to fall over the whole way there. My lower back was screaming at me, "What were you thinking??!!" BUT as I continued to shuffle around with my achy back, the shuffle became a waddle and the achiness subsided. It was well worth the temporary discomfort because I have just felt so mentally light today, if that makes any sense. I have a feeling that the more things we accomplish towards Boo's bedroom and preparing for baby the closer I will get to a mentally peaceful state.

On another note, I got some majorly cute diapers in the mail today that I ordered for our little one. I'm excited to try them out. Yes, I know it's weird, but once a person tries cloth diapering diapers become exciting for some reason! I mean, they have cute little giraffes on the outside. What's not to love?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Balance during Busyness

Well, I meant to get my blogger award posted this weekend, but hubby has hijacked my computer all weekend. He's running out for an errand, so I'm hoping I have time to complete an entire post while he's gone. In his defense, he's hijacked the computer for a very good reason. He's been working on a paper for school. Poor guy - he's so ready for a break. I am too. It's interesting that he's the one in school, but I'm feeling the stress also. It's one of those things that easily creeps into family life.

Many parenting books talk about balance. Balance is such a great concept, one that I wholeheartedly agree with. But it can be hard. Sometimes we have seasons of life where things are busy busy busy and there's just not much that's optional that can be cut out. I think this is where we find ourselves right now. We made the choice for hubby to go to school, so of course classes and time for schoolwork are not optional. My business is supporting the family and so my work is not optional. Our birthing class takes up time, but while this would be optional for some, when I look at my parenting and birthing priorities, there was no question of us needing to partake in this. This class has been everything I hoped it would. I feel much more confident approaching my home birth as a result of having this set time on a weekly basis to learn about and discuss birth. I also feel encouragement in learning more and more how my body was designed to give birth naturally! Since we have an hour ride to and from class, it's been a great time of togetherness for hubby and I to focus on our birth. With all of the other commitments in our life right now, I'm not sure that we would be intentionally discussing labor and birth if we did not have a set time carved out of our schedule for this. I think we've grown closer as a couple as a result. Church is another commitment we have and should not be optional, but I admit that with everything else going on we've definitely chosen to sleep in a few Sundays out of sheer exhaustion. I was happy that I was up for Mass today and took Boo, who's always so happy to go. Hubby stayed behind and worked on his paper. We do have Boo's parent/tot tumbling class on Saturday mornings and that is definitely not a necessity, but it's a really nice time of family togetherness and physical activity. Boo loves to go and the teacher is really wonderful and seems to have a great understanding of this age group. She's never pushy with doing activities the "right" way (unless it's a safety issue of course), she knows how to be respectful of children's space, and she's very encouraging of his accomplishments.

One of the key pieces of advice that I hear from books when it comes to balance is cutting out the things that are not necessary. Well, I've listed all of our commitments. I think the thing is that the few we've chosen, with the exception of the tumbling class, are very time-consuming and life changing. So while it may not sound like much, I assure you that it feels like very much. Also, being an introvert, I think that I can personally handle fewer commitments than an extrovert could, so I know that this plays into my perceived level of stress a bit. I do feel that until hubby is done with school, this level of busyness is what we're going to be dealing with. So, other than cutting things out, how does one find balance during a season of life that is just busy? Is it a matter of better managing stress? Perhaps I need to focus more on my relaxation exercises. Connecting with friends and family? Perhaps I'm on the right track in intentionally connecting with Boo more often. Taking care of myself? I admit the massage and hair color and cut yesterday felt great. So, as always I'm open to the wisdom of others!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Much Needed Connecting

Well yesterday afternoon was wonderful. I was unexpectedly off work a bit early and Boo returned from a night with grandma and grandpa to a house with just mommy and no daycare kiddos. Yes, it was technically nap time. But given that Boo is 3 1/2 and doesn't necessarily need his nap every single day I figured it would be a good day to let it go. So we took advantage of the time to be together.

I asked Boo if he wanted to paint mommy's toenails. His answer was an emphatic "Yes!" So I got out my green shimmery nail polish. I started out dipping it for him so that it wouldn't be too messy. Whatever - he quickly took over with "No mommy. I do it!" So I gave up my need to control the polish and let him take charge. I have to admit that he was oh so careful with the way he dipped the brush and scraped the sides. I was pretty impressed actually. He joyfully painted each toenail and part of each toe for that matter. He was very proud of his work when he was done. Then he asked so sweetly "Will you help me build with trains mommy?"

Let me tell you that it's hard for me to sit with him and build trains. Perhaps this sounds terrible, but the reality is that there's no building involved for me. Every time I put a train track down it's in the "wrong" spot and he must move it. Silly mommy - doesn't know where things should go I guess. So usually after a few tries I give up and sit there. Because what he really means when he says, "Build trains with me mommy" is not as it seems. What he's really saying is "Mommy, can you sit and watch me and bask in my brilliance as I masterfully put all of the pieces in the right spot? Can you just sit with me and give me 100% attention and focus so that I know how special you think I am?" It's amazing what just a bit of time with me "just sitting there" does for his soul.

I ponder this idea as I've been frustrated, overtired, and screamo mom lately. It's the idea that just 15-20 minutes or so of 100% focused time is soothing to both of our souls. So often I pay attention to him while I cook dinner, while I check my facebook, while I read a chapter in whatever book I'm reading...while, while, while! I assure you that he knows the difference. And you know what happens when he's getting 20-30% of my attention he starts becoming hyperactive, destructive, a little on the edge of completely nutso! That in turn activates Screamo Mom and so begins a vicious cycle. So perhaps if I would stop my agenda long enough to "fill his tank" as I've heard in some parenting books, I could then continue with whatever it is I'm trying to do. Now, I hope this isn't coming across badly as though I see spending time with my child as something I'm aversive to or something that's an inconvenience. I adore spending time with my little one, but I think it's easy to get caught up in what I'm doing and think "One more minute. Okay. Almost done. Just a second longer," and on and on until it's been an hour. This has to feel defeating to Boo when he hears "just a minute" and that minute is actually an hour. Perhaps I need to be more okay with stopping in the middle of sending an e-mail, reading a chapter in a book, paying bills, or whatever task that seems like it just "has" to be done in one sitting. There will always be exceptions to this - I don't want to start any kitchen fires in the name of focused attention after all. But I have a feeling there are many more things that would be just fine if left to hang for 15-20 minutes or so while I connected with my little one. What if I made a point of doing this several times throughout my day each and every day? My guess is that some of Boo's more challenging behaviors would decrease. My mood might even level out a little from all of the connecting. Perhaps I should try this as an experiment today. Anyone else want to give it a go with me and see what happens? 100% attention in increments of at least 15-20 minutes each time as often as I think of it or as Boo seems to be requesting this in one way or another. Deep breath - I can try this today!