Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Don't Want Anything, Mama

No, I haven't raised a generous, truly selfless little angel. Not quite.

B1 does actually understand the concept of giving some of our things away when we don't need them anymore, and helping others where we can (he tells people he has a sister, that's our World Vision child in Brazil). And he did tell me yesterday that he doesn't want anything for Christmas this year.

But it's not nearly as noble as it sounds. It's actually kind of chickeny.

It's because I was getting the boys' letters to Santa written and ready to send away. He's been terribly indecisive about what he wants to ask Santa for, and I finally found out why. It's because he's terrified of Santa.

It's our fault. Everything was fine. He went to see the big guy at the mall last year, and he wasn't thrilled, but didn't fuss, didn't cry, didn't complain, and he wasn't even 2 1/2 at the time.

He was happy as heck when he got a video reply to his letter to Santa, from  

And then we got the fantastic idea to stage a little show at home Christmas Eve night. I was at Walmart and saw a Santa suit, so I grabbed it. My dad was in town and after we got B1 ready for bed, we heard a jingling and crept downstairs, to spy on Santa in the living room, filling our stockings. B1 got a look of horror on his face and fahreaked out.
The view from the stairs
Immediately before he turned and bolted

We have tried, and tried, and tried to explain to this boy that it was a fluke, that it almost never happens, that it will probably never happen again...but he isn't buying what we're selling. He is scared of Santa. Period. He says he MAY go see him at the mall but he isn't crazy about the idea. And he said he's going to bed early Christmas Eve just in case. (Which we are MORE than ok with.)

So this year, as I was working on the letters, and gently pressuring him to make up his mind and choose his most wished-for toy, he waffled for a while, then finally said he doesn't want anything.

He'll appreciate the fact that I rarely believe him.

But the little stinker outsmarted me yet again and quickly amended his statement to say, "From Santa. I don't want anything from Santa. I still want stuff from you and Daddy."

That's my generous, truly selfless little angel.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Someone Has Been Watching Too Much Food Network

Because I think I can create things in the kitchen, when probably I can't. My husband lucks out big time tonight. He won't be home for supper, so I'm making things I know he doesn't like.

It started as a recipe I saw on Pinterest that looked yummy. But I can't be content to just replicate it, I must Improve it.

It's all things my boys like, so keeping my fingers crossed for some Yums tonight.

I made some layers, starting with sliced sweet potatoes, then black beans, corn, diced red peppers, quinoa cooked in tomato sauce, and more sliced sweet potato. I will bake it for a while, then top with tex mex shredded cheese. I may also add some more tomato sauce before the cheese if it's too dry.

I don't think it should suck. But maybe I'll just have some frozen chicken strips on standby just in case.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Surely that doesn't mean ME?

I'm generally a pretty big rule-follower. And it bugs me when other people act like rules don't apply to them. I'm not talking about kid stuff, like kids climbing up slides or playing on playground equipment designed for kids younger than they are (although that kind of stuff irks me). Kids will be kids and I don't really think play should have all those rules enforced. Would be nice for the control freak in me, but I'm aware it's totally unrealistic.

I'm talking about adults selectively ignoring rules. That chaps my lips. Especially rules of courtesy that relate to hygiene, saftey, or spreading communicable diseases, i.e. stuff that can affect me and my kids. I'm having a grouchy day, so in no particular order, here's a list of offenses that annoy me.
  • Socks. If you go to a play place that has signage about requiring socks...WEAR bloody socks! Put socks on your kid! If you don't have any, buy some (most places that require socks also sell socks). Or don't go.
  • Stroller parking. If you're at a zoo, or a playcentre, or somewhere where it is a bad idea to bring your stroller in (this is generally obvious from there being a long line of parked strollers outside, or a sign that says something vague like "Stroller Parking"), how's about you park your stroller and don't try to wedge it where it doesn't fit.
  • Pregnant woman/family parking spots. These are a courtesy thing, not a legally enforced thing, sure. But why be so discourteous to use it if you don't really need it? And if you do use it when you aren't the designated type of user, for heaven's sake don't get all huffy and eyerolly if you have to wait for a legitimate user (say a mom with a stroller and shopping bags and two small kids, one or two of whom are probably demanding something Right Now) to get themselves loaded and unpacked and organized. If you parked beside me, and it takes me a long time to get us to a point where we are not blocking your door, that's not my fault. You could have parked anywhere else.
  • No outside food. Honestly? If you're going somewhere that sells food, don't be surprised if they aren't happy to see you bring in outside food. Most places are happy to make exceptions when necessary, but businesses don't stay in business without sales. This is not rocket science.
  • Smoking areas. I don't even think I need to say more about this. I don't object to anyone's right to smoke, but it's my right not to.
  • Sick kids sharing their germs. If your kids is barfing, being a pudding pants, or has green goo all over their noses or spewing from their mouths, they really don't need to go infect the train table at Indigo. Or anywhere else. Yeah, yeah, I get that it's inconvenient, and it sucks to have to stay home. But it sucks for everyone else too. And some kids are more delicate and what's a minor annoyance to yours can be a hospital visit for another. I can't confirm it but I think we picked up our latest stomach virus at a coffee and play place. I did not enjoy spending all night cleaning up puke and comforting my toddler. But guess what - we stayed home the next day so that someone else wouldn't have that kind of night.
That felt good.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mmm, that is some tasty crow!

Recently I got involved in a debate with some moms about parenting methods. It wasn't a knock down, drag out, but there were two clearly opposing "sides." Basically, some moms recommended a book and using approaches based on this book (Honey, I Wrecked The Kids ) and some others objected and resisted and justified why this would never work and wasn't reasonable. I was on the negative side.

In a nutshell, Honey I Wrecked the Kids talks about democratic parenting and shows how different it is from the dictator parenting we are more familiar with. It highlights some of the long term negative effects that can come from a bossier, less fair, more combative family approach and gives parents tools to listen better, understand more, and get connected to their kids, which ultimately makes everyone happier and more cooperative.

I bought this book at least six months ago and it's been sitting in my kobo app, collecting virtual dust. Finally I decided to start reading it. I haven't really been able to stop thinking about it since I opened it two weeks ago. It is life changing for me. And I think for my kids too.

It seems like so much common sense, but obviously it wasn't so common, because I never thought of it before Alyson Schafer pointed it out to me.

I'm far from an expert yet. I still redline every now and then and lose my mind on the boys, but before this book I was doing it daily. Multiple times a day. I was hating being a stay at home mom and at times desperately looked for a job just so I could stop screwing things up. Now I am able to see attention seeking behavior or power struggles for what they really are and stop myself from engaging in that. I'm better at reframing things and finding win win solutions. I'm just having more fun, and I think they are too.

Which is pretty much everything the moms I was arguing with said, but I had all my reasons why I didn't want to agree. I thought it would be too hard - don't I work hard enough already? I thought it was unrealistic - the world doesn't work that way, sometimes you just have to suck it up and do stuff you don't want to. I thought it would make kids more entitled - you can't expect teachers and coaches and bosses to stand on their heads to get cooperation. But the truth is it really isn't a Herculean effort to laugh more, be optimistic, and listen better.

Again, it's not being used here 100% yet, and my kids still have the odd tantrum. No parenting method can take away the pain and frustration of a toddler cutting 8 teeth at once and not having quite enough words to explain how he feels. And as with anything, change is hard. When a preschooler is used to Mom putting up a fight and giving him attention (even if it's angry attention), and suddenly she stops, it's normal to try harder at first. So we've still had some rough days. But I feel much less guilt now and more as though I'm actually shaping them into normal, happy, emotionally healthy humans.

So...I was wrong! So very wrong. And I've never been so happy to admit that.

If, like I did, you struggle with your kids' behavior, if you hate yelling, if you ever feel like nothing works...drink the kool aid. Read this book. Live this book. Your kids will thank you.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New name!

I decided to change the name of my blog. I think I chose the old name in a passive aggressive response to some Momzilla debate I became embroiled in a long time ago but can't quite remember. So it's not really appropriate anymore.

I think I plan to change the URL at some point too, as soon as I can figure out the safest way to do that.

Un-happy anniversary (warning, sad miscarriage related)

Today is a blue day. Four years ago today was the worst day of my life.

Hubby and I had been trying to have a baby for almost a year and not having much luck. When we finally had a positive pregnancy test, I was delighted. There was a lot of stress and turmoil going on at the time and this was a bright light in an otherwise dark time. I started spreading the news, and was crazy excited.

(Don't read this next paragraph if you're fragile)

And then October 15th came. I went to work that morning, bubbling with my secret, wishing I could tell people at work. And then I went to the bathroom and saw spotting. I told myself it was ok, lots of women have that and it's fine. I googled it and started to get scared. Way more bad outcomes than good. I called Hubby and told him and he said he wanted to come pick me up and go to the hospital. I went to the bathroom again while I was waiting and this time I saw what I now know was my baby. But I was still in denial and hopeful that it would all be ok. This was something that happens to other people, not me. Not when this baby was so wanted.  A few hours later, after waiting, cramping, and bleeding more and more, I was seen by the doctors and ultrasound department and they confirmed that my baby was gone.

I fell apart. I knew that miscarriages happened, but never considered it might happen to me. I was feeling every emotion all at once. Sadness, anger, jealousy, hopelessness. I could not be in the same room with pregnant people, or even people with small kids. I felt like I would never have that.

Normally when something bad happens to me, I am able to find a lesson from it. I needed to learn humility, or to be more independent, or that I am stronger than I thought, or to be more patient. I searched and searched for the lesson I needed to learn from this, and I just could not see it. Wasn't a year of infertility enough of a test to teach me patience? Didn't starting my life over again and learning to be alone and support myself teach me to be strong and independent? Didn't trying to conceive and failing teach me I wasn't in control of my entire life? Didn't I learn to be less jealous when I had to smile and congratulate friends on their pregnancies when I couldn't have that? Losing my dog unexpectedly was traumatic and taught me to deal with loss and grief. My wedding was stressful enough. I'd already lived through tight finances and impossible deadlines. I didn't NEED any more lessons. I racked my brain to try to see the good I would take away from this loss and I was unable to see it.

Two months later I was pregnant again. And this time I didn't tell as many people right away. This time I was cautious. This time I respected it and cherished every second of it, not knowing if it might be my last. This baby was even more wanted than the first one had been, and I spent a lot of time in fear that I would lose this one, even after he was safely born.

When he was 9 months old, I was pregnant again, this time a complete surprise. Now, I have two amazing, wonderful boys that call me Mommy and I can't imagine life without either of them.

The lesson hit me just recently. If I hadn't lost that baby, if things hadn't unfolded the way they did, I wouldn't have my boys. My wonderful, special, perfect boys. And that would be horrible.

On the day that would have been my first baby's due date, I went off alone to a park. I wanted to just walk, and be alone, and cry. The whole time I was there, a robin was flying around, following me along the pathway and to a playground where I sat for a while with my tears. I named my angel Robin that day. And we've had a robin living in our yard in both houses we've lived in since then. I like to think it's her.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Junior Dog Rescuers

In my pre-kids life, I was a dog rescuer. Usually this meant taking foster dogs in to live with me for a while and helping them, training them, rehabbing them as needed. And of course then screening applicants and approving or rejecting matches. Sometimes I would transport dogs around the province (or further).

I also roped my hubby into this job. We placed a few foster dogs together and he grew to love it too. A few short weeks after we were married, we took in a foster who had some aggression issues, but we didn't know how bad they were until he broke down our door, bit a child, and then bit the animal control officer who came to give us a warning about this. We made the painful decision after much consultation with our rescue organization, several behaviourists, and even an animal communicator (psychic) to release him to the Rainbow Bridge. It was the right decision, albeit terribly painful.

I found out I was pregnant with our first baby just a few days after he was humanely euthanized at our home, in my arms. In my grief and excitement, I told myself his spirit was part of our baby and I was so happy that the universe had granted me this gift. I lost that baby a few weeks later. That was without question the worst time in my life. I was wrecked over the loss of the baby and it re-opened all my wounds for the foster dog.

This experience made me step back and take a break from fostering for a while. Also the fact that I became pregnant again soon after with B1, and then again soon after with B2. Being pregnant and having infants around, especially colicky, clingy, terrible sleeping infants like mine have been, just doesn't leave a lot left over to help dogs, even as much as one might want to do it. I still helped where I could with transports and interviews, even driving 12 hours in a day once to deliver a dog to a foster home while 7 months pregnant. And made a few road trips with one or two babies in tow. The aggressive foster also fought with one of our own dogs, and made him a little dog reactive. Both of our dogs are special needs (one has a serious heart condition, the other is blind) so I was feeling protective over our family. But I still missed it.

Now that B1 and B2 are a little bigger, we took a leap and opened our home to another foster. She has been with us for a month and she's an absolute delight. From the first few days, we had to keep reminding ourselves, "She's not staying/We can't adopt her/Don't love her too much." She needed to gain some weight and needed time to adjust to family life, and we didn't want to rush putting her up for adoption because she's so lovely and we adore her so.

Today she went up for adoption. I've been hovering on the edge of tears all day. When I sent the link to Hubby, he replied saying "Don't show me that, now I want to keep her!" B1 constantly sings songs about her and tells us he wants her to stay for a long, long, time. And wants to plan what to buy her for Christmas. She probably won't be here for Christmas. She's a lovely and remarkably problem-free dog. I have no doubt she'll be snapped up quickly. And I want that for her...I want her to get into her forever home and start living her happily ever after. I will be very choosy and will not hesitate to reject any applicant that is less than a rock star dog parent.

This one's going to hurt a lot. I've temporarily loved and said goodbye to over 20 dogs over the years, and it's always hard, but I have a feeling this one is going to be as hard as my first, if not harder. Mainly because this time I also have my kids to worry about. B1 in particular is going to be crushed and will probably hate me for a while after she goes. But also there was just so much backstory...I have been so afraid to make myself vulnerable again after all the pain that happened last time I fostered a dog. Taking this girl in was a big leap and letting her go will be emotionally really tough.

Painful or not though, she has been worth it. Having her in our lives has been a gift and I'm grateful we did it. Even if I do kind of wish she could stay forever.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Play dating

Ugh, I thought I was done with the awkwardness of dating once I got married! Apparently not so. I'm currently enjoying torturing myself and obsessing over whether or not to ask this question:

"Are you Kid Friend's mom?"

Why would I feel nervous to ask that? Why would I feel compelled to ask that? Well, because Kid Friend is blond and fair as can be. Mom (?) is a visible minority. And from what I know of genetics, that isn't very possible. However, it is possible he's adopted, or is her step-kid, so assuming this woman is the nanny just feels wrong, and racist. Add to that the fact that I overheard her say goodbye and she hugged and kissed Kid Friend and said "I love you", and I'm not really sure if a nanny would do that.

So the trouble is I want to invite Kid Friend for a playdate, because B1 will not stop talking about this guy. But I really don't want to insult who might be his mother by asking this question. I SAW her with him, and I wouldn't ask if she was his mom if he had darker hair and skin. So why do I feel like asking in this case??

I just really don't want to risk offending someone who could be in our lives for a long time, if these boys grow to be friends, over such a stupid question.

Maybe I could get someone else to ask her for me or drop a hint that I'm interested. That used to work with guys sometimes when I was single.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Caution: Mommy cracking

I read an article recently about a study that was done and proved that a child's whining makes parents unable to make good decisions, to concentrate, and to keep cool. No kidding.

I also read a stat that on average a child whines 11 times before either giving up or getting his way. And the average parent has the capacity to hear 10 whines before giving in.

Honestly, whining has never been my Achilles heel. My kids have always just gone straight to the epic tantrum. With defcon 5 screaming, turning purple, crapping their pants, using vomit as a weapon, etc.

And this I am unable to deal with. I try, oh how I try, but I apparently have a limit of just slightly shorter than B2's tantrum stamina.

This morning he asked for some bearpaws as we got in the van. Except it wasn't snack time, and we didn't have any bearpaws. I offered him something else. I told him he could have some when we got home. No dice. He wanted them, and wanted them NOW.

I managed to make it 12 minutes with smiles and sympathy and patience. At minute 13, I snapped. "We don't have bearpaws! Stop screaming at me!! That is enough!!!"

The irony of bellowing at someone not to yell does not escape me.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Perception is at least 80% of reality

Recently B1 came home from preschool complaining about someone pushing and "bumping" him. This kid, "X", was apparently bumping into him in line to wash their hands at snack time. B1 mentioned it every day, which could mean it happened every day or it could mean it happened once and he was ruminating about it for weeks. I know this because it's what I do when I think someone may have done something mean to me.

This situation has been resolved and now B1 tells me X is his friend.

But one morning when I was dropping him off a mom bumped into me and then swung her bag and hit me with it. I spent the whole morning stewing about it and wondering if she did it on purpose and why and who she thought she was and getting really mad about it.

Then I remembered. The entry way is very small and congested. I should be surprised more people don't smash into each other. I highly doubt she did it on purpose and maybe didn't even realize it happened.

But just look at all that time I spent being upset about it. If I was 3, I might have said something to my parents. I might have repeated it for days. And it might all have been nothing.

If I ever needed proof that B1 is my kid, this is it. He not only inherited my facial features, he evidently got some of my neuroses too! Poor guy...I'd better start saving for his therapist now. Guess I need to start teaching him the world isn't against him!

And the really funny part...the mom that bumped into me...was X's mom.

Friday, September 30, 2011


B1 has just started preschool and is one of the younger ones in his class.

After two weeks, he has mentioned a few times that one of the boys is "bumping" him. I ask if he's just playing or if he does it meanly, and B1 says meanly.

And last Wednesday when I picked him up, he had a big scrape on his face. I asked how he got it, and he said this boy C pushed him and he fell and hit his face on the sidewalk outside. I didn't talk with the teachers, just figured he hurt himself on the playground. He didn't tell me how it happened until we had left.

So part of me wants to find out who this C kid is (and his mom!) and put a stop to it.

Buuut I'm really on the fence about whether or not I should say anything to the teachers. I don't want to suggest that I think they're not doing their jobs. I don't want to be "that helicopter mom" who meddles and hovers and fights all my kid's battles.

But I also don't want my precious baby getting bullied. Or pre-bullied.

This is something I never considered when I enrolled him. Didn't even cross my mind.

I wonder what I'll do on Monday.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mobile and blogging? Mlogging!

Huh. Would you look at that? I found an app for blogging. You know, cause I have so much time on my hands.

But it may actually help me with two problems.

1) I think of loads of awesome topics to write about all the time, but my two little dictators have this way of preventing me from writing. And by the time I remember I had something to say, I've long since forgotten what it was.

2) Because in the past three minutes, I've discovered that blogging from my iPhone is a little annoying, this may cure, or at least help, my verbal diarrhea.

That is all.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Playful Parenting

Do you ever get tired of the sound of your voice, nagging your kids? They probably do too.

More and more, we are a society that's pressed for time. We are also more overprogrammed than ever before. As a result, Canadians are often found dashing out the door, running late for some activity. When you add kids into this mix, two things happen. 1. The number of activities increases exponentially, and 2. The number of bodies to get out the door is greater. Thus the number of delaying factors is enhanced. And when the kids are younger than, say, five, there are a whole lot of extra delaying factors.

This is a recipe for frazzled moms and dads who are chasing daylight to have very thin patience. We nag, we demand, we threaten, we yell. And, at least in my home, none of it does one lick of good.

It seems obvious, but its easy to forget that when we are stressed, our kids pick up on that and it affects their behavior, their likelihood to comply, and their willingness to be cheerful. After all, if we're being Mean Scary Mommy, what motivation is there for them to be sweet and cooperative?

Enter Playful Parenting. In this book by Lawrence J. Cohen, we explore the concept of making parenting more fun. For everyone. The book discusses approaches like ensuring you are at child level when asking them to do things. The importance of eye contact and face-to-face communication (vs. shouting from downstairs). Making tasks more fun, offering choices, and challenging kids to cooperate without commanding them. Parents who try the approach sing its praises and say their kids have never been so happy, cooperative, or pleasant to be around. Just build in extra time for things, make it fun, and you will get where you need to go without yelling.

But is too much accommodation a bad thing? What happens when our kids start school, or organized sports, or enter the workplace? After living with parents who are ultra creative and use these approaches to coax out the behaviors, will these kids expect everyone to do that? I daresay that teachers, coaches, and bosses will not have the time, energy, or inclination to find every child's hot buttons and maneuver a way to press them. Will these kids then be faced with a crushing disappointment and have trouble adjusting to having to do things they don't really want to do? Is this actually a way of manipulating them - and if so, is that really what we are aiming to do?

I suggest that the best approach is to aim for an 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, be fun. Be sweet. Be creative and inventive and do what you've got to do to get things done with smiles on faces. 20% of the time, allow yourself to fail. Snap. Order, command, and demand. And be ok with that. Showing your kids that you are human is a good lesson for them. Making mistakes, and apologizing for them, are wonderful life lessons in modeling humility. Demonstrating that the world does not revolve around them 100% of the time is a teaching opportunity and it sets them up for realistic future expectations. Not to mention, expecting yourself to be darling and awesome 24/7 is a lot of pressure. And I, for one, am probably not capable of that. Kudos to you if you are, but if you give yourself an ulcer trying, maybe you want to reconsider.

I don't think anyone would say that being Drill Seargent Mommy all of the time is a good idea, nor would it be effective in shaping kids with good self esteem, work ethics, or happy childhood memories. But I also think that being Warm Fuzzy Mommy all of the time sets kids up with unrealistic expectations of life.

So go ahead. Lower your expectations (they ARE kids, after all). Have more fun. Enjoy their littleness. And on the days when you are worn too thin and you lose it, don't beat yourself up. But the great thing is, if you don't nag them daily, it can't really be considered nagging anymore. And you'll stop hating how it sounds if you do less of it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ten MONTHS????

Oh my. Ten months since I last wrote. That's awesome. I knew we were busy, but I didn't realize it was that busy!

A lot has changed. My little boy is getting bigger, and my big boy is huge! They both walk, talk, sing, argue, use the potty (to varying degrees of mastery), and try my patience on a daily basis. My big boy has started preschool and is slowly getting used to the routine, being away from me, and learning to follow instructions. My little boy has had massive vocabulary explosions and chatters constantly. He's also flirting with sleeping through the night most nights (finally, after 18 months of all night nursings!!).

We are still on the fence (mostly me) about having a third child. My husband is much less undecided than I am...he has moments where he thinks another baby would be nice, but I think about it much more than he does. As time goes on and my two boys get bigger, more independent, and more fun, I find the idea of a newborn much less appealing. And then I see someone at the mall with their brand new baby and get that squeezing aching needing feeling.

I've stopped working as much outside the home. I didn't return to my full time job after mat leave, and went through a phase where I was working at a part time job a lot, and then scaled it back too for better work/family balance. Currently I'm freelance writing as much as I can (which isn't enough) and working odd jobs where I find them. I may return to work part time or even full time soon, but for now being a stay at home mom (SAHM) is working for us. We'll see how things look in a few more months - budgeting is difficult, for sure. I'm hatching a few plans for going back for some re-education, and also keeping an eye out for opportunities in my old field, just in case. The idea is for me to stay home until we have both boys in full time school, but that's still a long time away and I don't know if we can do it, both for financial reasons and reasons of maintaining my sanity.

We've enjoyed a few vacations, some mini ones and one larger one. I have a new stepfather and some stepsiblings and stepnieces.

Right now we have a foster dog staying with us while we look for a new home for her. She's precious, and fitting in really nicely with the other dogs. At least once a day someone mentions adopting her and keeping her forever...but I don't know if that's such a great idea. We'll see how things unfold.

All that is the catch up post. Doesn't sound very interesting, but there have been a lot of smiles, a lot of celebrations, a lot of stresses, and a lot of learning and growing these past ten months. I'll be back soon.