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!


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