Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Call of the Conch

Those of us who spend our winters bundling up against the cold, wind, and rain often feel the pull of a warm weather destination by about... mmm, mid-January.  Call it the call of the conch.

My dad and his wife have become quite the snowbirds, flying south to Florida for the winter, and for several years, we have considered paying a visit to their nest.  Somehow we have always found reasons not to make this trip from Vancouver: a fifteen hour travel day across North America with two small children, two flights, and a three hour time difference being high on the list of so-called obstacles.

But with three sets of parents mostly in their seventies, talk also turns to spending more time with them, and creating opportunities for our children to know their grandparents.  The need to show up, to be there, to be present.... becomes increasingly urgent as time marches on. 

So this year, we finally stopped focusing on what was holding us back and heeded the call of the conch.  And oh, we most certainly did not regret it!

"Unconditional Surrender." Exactly.
The moral of the story?  Listen for the call of the conch. And follow it.
Show up. Get there. Be present.
Because it matters.

And it will most definitely be worth it!
"I'd rather regret the things I have done than the things that I haven't." -Lucille Ball

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

He Can Ask For It.

Let's talk about normal-term breastfeeding.  (Call it extended breastfeeding if you will, but I prefer full-term or normal-term.)

Right now, you are either shuddering or fist-pumping.

Breastfeeding has always been a very important part of my relationship with my kids.  Before Lilah was even conceived, I knew I desperately wanted to breastfeed.  I just didn't know how long I would want or be able to do it.  I tended to agree with that modern adage that if they can ask for it, it's kinda creepy.

Wait. What? That makes absolutely NO sense to me now.

Once I had Lilah, I realized they are always asking for it.  It's simply an evolution.  From making sucky faces to crying to nuzzling into my chest to those first rudimentary attempts at making the sign for "milk" (which both of my kids used long before they could say the word) to lifting up my shirt to saying "milk."  And in Lilah's case, all the way up to 26 months, just before she weaned, when she could say, "Milk please, Mommy."  All of this is normal.

There is no clear line where they go from "asking for it" to really asking for itBesides, even if there was, why would it make sense to cut them off just when I'm finally really sure what they want? Is that considered normal?

Please understand, I support other moms in whatever length of breastfeeding works for them and their children, whether that be never, a few days, a few months, or a few years.  I'm just saying that I, personally, have changed my tune completely because my child asking for breast milk just doesn't seem like a legitimate reason to stop giving it to them.

Henry is almost 20 months, with a mouthful of teeth, an exploding vocabulary, two- and three-word phrases, and a huge repertoire of songs.

He can definitely ask for it.  And he exercises that right several times a day.  Most of the time, I am happy to oblige.

Sometimes, it's an inconvenience.  The gymnurstics, kicks to the face, and occasional biting can be annoying or even downright painful.  But there are other parts that make it so worthwhile.  His delighted giggle when I say, "Milk? Sure!" and start to lift my shirt.  The cure-all for owies, grumpies, and everything in between. The best way to wake up.  The way he tilts his head to one side and says, "side?" when he wants to switch. His emphatic "buh-bye!" as he pulls down my shirt to show he is all done. These are just a few of the many things that make nursing a toddler feel absolutely natural to me.

Right now, we are both enjoying this aspect of our relationship.  And I plan to continue as long as we both continue to enjoy it. 

Whether that makes you shudder or fist-pump, I really don't mind. Because this is just so... normal.

I'm linking up with some other Vancouver Mom bloggers who are passionate about normal-term breastfeeding.  Drop in on Mama in the City, Hillary with two Ls,  Spokesmama, and One Crazy Kid for more normal-term breastfeeding stories.  If you're a fist-pumper, link up! Or share your thoughts on full-term/normal-term breastfeeding in the comments.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Invention of Lying Down Games

A couple of weeks ago I had a really rough bout of the stomach flu.  For just over 24 hours, all I could do was sleep, toss my cookies, or writhe around in bed with horrible stomach pains and moan.  I am not exaggerating.  And it took me the better part of a week once that part was over to really feel 100% back to my old self.

In that time, I had to get through a few (mercifully short-lived) times when I was alone with my kids and feeling ill or exhausted.  Enter the invention of lying. down. games.

Through my delirious haze, I somehow managed to convince my kids that it would be really fun to pretend Mommy was a sleeping dragon under the blanket on the couch, and they had to tiptoe around the dragon's cave.  If they were too noisy, the dragon would wake up and make them run laps from the living room to the kitchen.  (In previous, more energetic iterations of the this game, the Mommydragon would tickle them as punishment for their noisiness, but this time the Mommydragon didn't even have the strength for that.) 

Shockingly, they ate it up.  Lilah is still asking to play this game, and my inner Mommydragon is only too happy to oblige.  I'm sure it won't be much longer before she figures out how little effort it requires on my part.  But hey, as long as they're safe and having fun, it passes as parenting, right?

Have you invented any good lying down games I can add to my repertoire for the next time I find myself solo parenting through illness?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Top Ten Reasons I Haven't Been Blogging

You may or may not have noticed that I have been absent for quite a while. The hiatus was unintentional, but there is no shortage of reasons for it. Here are ten of them:

1) We got Netflix. Those of you who have it know what I mean.

2) I'm trying to get back to a healthier lifestyle and fit in 3-4 workouts a week.

3) I started a new job in November. It's only part-time, but the caseload is broader than I'm used to, and I'm spending loads of mental energy learning and growing as a clinician.

4) I have a four-and-a-half-year-old and a 19-month-old, yo. (I know, not really a proper excuse. I'm not the first woman to give birth to two children. But there hardly seem to be enough hours in the day!)

5) I've been too lazy to carry my big girl camera around. I used to find that my photos inspired many of my blog posts. Lately my iPhone has been my go-to.

6) Instagram. See above.

7) The sleep situation at our house has been all over the place for the past few months, meaning that I need to go to bed shortly after my kids if I want to have a hope of getting a good night's sleep. (Well, that's what I should be doing anyway. Netflix says otherwise.)

8) Words with Friends.

9) Despite number 6 and number 8, I am actually making a conscious effort to be truly present when I'm with my kids. Sometimes I succeed at this and sometimes I don't, but I am certainly spending less time on social media and I think my Twitter followers would say I've pretty much dropped off the map.

10) I feel a certain internal tug-of-war when it comes to blogging my thoughts and feelings on motherhood.  I struggle between loyalty to my children and the need to vent when things get frustrating.  It didn't matter so much when Lilah was younger and less aware, but now she picks up on everything and while I want to be real about motherhood, I also want to make sure I don't say things I don't mean simply in the spirit of venting or even just to get a laugh.  Sometimes I treat blogging like a conversation between friends, but the truth is, I am putting something out there on the internet and someday she or Henry may read what I've written.  All this internal struggle has lead to a bit of paralysis, I'm afraid.

What about you? Do you blog in fits and starts like me, or are you more dedicated? And how do you juggle your Netflix schedule with your blogging schedule? ;) I'll take notes!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Funk Busters

Okay, the moment has arrived. Confession time.  Here it is: I spent much of the latter half of 2013 in a funk. A big one. I blamed it on a million little things that added up, but the truth is, it had more to do with my own stress management and letting these little things get to me than with the things themselves.  

I'm determined not to let 2014 go the same way. Because, after all, who is really in control here? Me, of course! 

And so I give you my list of activities that are pretty much guaranteed to bust me out of a funk, even if only temporarily.  I should probably carry this around in my pocket all year as a reminder that I can actually do something about my mood. And -bonus!- these are things that are mostly free or at least inexpensive and pretty easy to do on the fly.

1. Dance party! Anywhere, anytime, and almost always involving the kids.  Usually in the kitchen, or while jumping on the bed. But dance parties can be mobile, so anything goes.

2. Watching the baby (okay, toddler, if I'm being honest with myself) sleep. Seeing a body that is constantly in motion during waking hours finally still; lips puckered, long eyelashes fluttering against the softest cheeks... brings an instant sense of peace.

3. Watching the big kid sleep. That four-and-a-half-year-old mouth that never stops making noise is finally silent, lips parted slightly, breathing deep and heavy.

4. Taking a long bubble bath with a good book and a glass of wine.

5. Watching Glee. I have always been, and will always be, a sucker for a good, slightly cheesy, song and dance number, especially when intermingled with the occasional love story.  YouTube clips of flash mobs that end in marriage proposals also slay me.

6. Reminding myself that it's normal. Whatever parenting or life challenges I am having, I'm not the first mom to have them, nor will I be the last. 

7. Listening to the Raffi Christmas album. I don't intentionally set out to listen to it in the middle of summer, but sometimes it randomly pops up on the iPod and I've discovered it's actually physically impossible to be irritated with my kids while listening to "A Child's Gift of Love" or "On Christmas Morning."

8. Unleashing my frustrations on a heavy bag or some Thai pads.  (If you're new around here, you should know I'm kind of a ninja.) 

9.  Finally getting a decent night's sleep. (This one is easier said than done.)

10.  Skipping down the street holding hands with my four-year-old.

Tell me what your funk busters are - I'd love to add to this list!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Top Ten Photos of 2013

I'm sure we all say this every year, but my, how 2013 has flown by!  I didn't blog as much as I would have liked, nor did I take as many photos as I'd hoped to, but here are my favourites from the past year:

First shared here.
First shared here.
Full story here.
First shared here.

First shared in this post.
My thoughts on four years of motherhood here.
Hands down, my favourite Instagram of the year.  Maybe the century. First shared here.
Birthday boy.
My happy boy at the pumpkin patch.  One of those posts I never got around to publishing!
My favourite Christmas gift of all time!
Tell me about your favourite photos this year!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Gifts.

Christmas Eve kisses.

Happy Christmas morning faces.

Two of my favourite guys wrapped up in bows.

Happy holidays from the Lilahbility crew.
Rock on. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

This one...

This one radiates joy.

This one's favourite word to say is already "no."

This one dances and "snaps" his fingers anytime he hears the faintest strains of music.

This one climbs anything that looks like a challenge.

This one's giggles could mend a broken heart.

This one has his daddy's sense of humour.

This one is a real charmer.

Watch out for this one!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

As A Mother

This post is dedicated to one of my best friends of all time, who, with the joyous birth of her son this morning, was herself reborn - as a mother. 

I wrote this a few weeks ago but, as I've been neglecting my little blog, hadn't gotten around to posting it yet.  I figure today is the day to hit the "publish" button, since this  everything I want her to know about motherhood.  I only hope it isn't too dark for such a happy occasion.

As a mother, your life will be forever changed.

As a mother, you will have some of the highest highs and lowest lows you have ever experienced in life.

As a mother, you will come to know certain things. You will develop a sixth sense.  You will become just the slightest bit clairvoyant.

As a mother, you will be a small being's source of nourishment, source of comfort, and whole world.

As a mother, you will know if your child is feverish just by brushing your lips against his forehead.

As a mother, you will sacrifice.

As a mother, your best self and your worst self will meet and shake hands. On a regular basis.

As a mother, you will be needed at just the moment when you thought you could give no more.

As a mother, you will dig down, dig in, dig deep.

As a mother, you will hold on.

As a mother, you will sometimes have to let go.

As a mother, you will deliver magic healing kisses.

As a mother, you will know a new, somewhat uncomfortable, level of vulnerability.

As a mother, you will be your own worst critic.

As a mother, you will find hidden reserves of patience you had no idea you possessed.

As a mother, you will worship ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes.

As a mother, you will experience an unearthly connection to another soul.

As a mother, you will make mistakes.

As a mother, you will have to forgive yourself.

As a mother, you will know a love like no other.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Great Big Baby-Led Weaning Post, Part 2

***For a run-down on how I decided to start Baby-Led Weaning, please see part 1.***

Getting Started

Henry's early solids included very soft-steamed or soft-cooked veggies, such as broccoli, yams, carrots, and spinach, and naturally soft fruits like very ripe pears, bananas, and melon.  These were almost always part of a family meal we were eating anyway. Whenever possible, we tried to cut them into manageable (long and thin) pieces for him to grasp with his fist. 

For example, I eat oatmeal for breakfast almost every morning, so Henry was also introduced to it early on.  You can easily make it into a finger food by cooling it to room temperature and cutting it into strips.  It holds up surprisingly well, but is also fun for babies to squish and play with.

Which brings me to my next point.  Food is very much about play and discovery in the early stages.  If you're going to go the BLW route, you have to be okay with that.  The rule of thumb is: food before one is just for fun.  (However, I think Henry may have missed that memo, because he has always eaten as if it was his job.)

Letting Go

I did my best not to worry about how much he was eating, but I have to admit, at times it was hard to sit back and let him take the reins.  I worried when he didn't eat much that it would affect his sleep (which wasn't great until he was about 9 months anyway, so who knows?) and when he ate tons I worried that he would spend less time nursing (which happens as they get more efficient anyway) or that he would become constipated.  Clearly, I'm a worrier, especially when it comes to my kids' food intake.  But it all seems to work out in the end, and BLW was an excellent exercise in relinquishing control.  A metaphor for many parts of my parenting journey.

We gradually increased how many solid meals we offered in a day, starting with dinner, then breakfast, and then finally lunch.  I didn't keep a food journal, so all of this is from memory, but if I recall correctly, I think he was on three meals a day by around nine months.  (This was following his lead.  He would literally get angry when we ate meals without offering him some, too.)  We also followed doctors' and nutritionists' guidelines of only introducing one new food every 5 days or so, watching for allergic reactions or sensitivities.

I was quite surprised at how quickly his fine motor skills caught up to his appetite.  He was extremely motivated and quickly learned to pick up small bits of food, such as kamut puffs and rice puffs.  This could simply be a difference between my two kids, but I noticed his fine motor skills improving much more quickly at this stage than Lilah's did, and my feeling is this could be partly due to BLW.

But What About Choking?

I was cautioned by a few friends early on about choking, but never experienced any problems with this with Henry.  Now, it is important to differentiate between gagging and actual choking.  Early on, he gagged fairly regularly, but I could see that it only his body's natural way of moving chunks of food he couldn't swallow from the back of his mouth to the front.  Lilah gagged with spoon feeding early on, too, so I knew this was not unique to BLW. And because we waited until he was sitting well on his own, we were confident that his system could handle it.  And, it almost goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that we watched him like a hawk anytime there was food anywhere near him.  If you are considering starting BLW with your own child but are concerned about choking, there are plenty of clips on YouTube to watch in order to prepare yourself.  Here's a video a friend emailed me when I was preparing to start BLW with Henry:


Isn't she adorable?  That was too much broccoli for her little mouth, but her physiology took care of it.  And you can see she isn't exactly traumatized by the experience - was that a little yawn between gags?  She was about six and a half months at the time of this video, and had no teeth.

Henry was rather a late bloomer in the teeth department, but that didn't stop him for a second.  His first two teeth appeared closer to nine months, and, at almost 13 months, he is just now working on his third and fourth.  He still manages to eat many different textures of food like a champ.

A Back-up Plan

Now, with all of that said, I supposed we weren't super hard-core with the BLW, since we did (and still do, sometimes) use packaged purees for when we were eating meals out and weren't sure if there were going to be any reasonable options for a baby.  These pouches

are incredibly useful.  They didn't have them when Lilah was a baby, and I was so happy to discover them this time around.  No more glass jars in my diaper bag!  I started by spoon feeding him the contents, but now he just grabs the package out of my hands and slurps it up in two seconds flat!  Many companies make pouches like these, but these particular ones are organic and from a company that was started in BC, so of course I am partial to them.  They are now available throughout Canada.

As I've said, BLW worked extremely well for both Henry and our family this time around.  It was easier, more relaxing, more fun, and felt far more natural than the spoon-feeding of fortified cereals and purees I did with big sister Lilah when she was a baby.  My two kids are different in just about every way possible, so who's to say if it would have worked as well for her as it did for Henry?  But in any case, I am very pleased we went the BLW route with Henry.

However you choose to feed your baby, happy eating!

 Would you, or have you, tried BLW?  Let me know what you think in the comments!


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