Monday, October 06, 2014

I am NOT a human pacifier!

The other day I was at a large baby show with many different vendors and information booths.  As per my usual I perused the various booths, collecting information, chatting with vendors that I had seen at other shows (perhaps this is a sign that I go to too many shows?), and generally having a good time.  One of the booths I saw was advertising help with sleep.  I've got a 9.5 month old...getting sleep advice is seldom a bad idea, especially since said 9.5 month old doesn't like napping.
So I stopped and started chatting with the vendor.  She asked how sleep was going.  I told her that Bean didn't like to nap and that he slept alright at night as long as he was attached to me (we co-sleep and he likes to nurse).  I told her that if I wanted him to sleep during the day I either had to lay down with him or put him in a carrier.  She looked at me and said "Oh, so you're just a human pacifier for him".
What I wanted to say and what I did say at that moment were two very different things. What I did say wasn't much.  I nodded my head, took her card, jiggled Bean in his carrier as if he was fussing (which he was a little) and told her that I needed to keep moving.
What I wanted to say was far less polite and would have taken more guts and quick thinking that I possessed at the time.  Here is my answer to her and anyone else who wants to call me a human pacifier:
"I am NOT a human pacifier.  A pacifier is a plastic, rubber, or silicone piece of equipment that is used to placate a baby in place of meeting the actual need of the baby.  I do not hate pacifiers and have even used them on occasion with Bean, but I am not a pacifier.
I am a mother.  When Bean cries and wants to snuggle in with me at night, he's not using me as a pacifier, he's showing me how smart he is.  He knows that being close to mom is a safe place to be and that I will keep him safe.   When he wants to take a nap in a carrier on my back (or front) he's telling me the same thing.  He's saying loud and clear "I love you Mom and I know you'll keep me safe and I can sleep peacefully when you are here."
When he wants to nurse he's not using me as a pacifier, he's telling me that he's growing and needs to eat more.  When he wants to be close to me he's telling me that he's scared or confused or lonely or that this big world is simply overwhelming him.
No, I am not a human pacifier.  I am a Mom.  I listen to my baby and do my best to give him what he needs.  And sometimes, what he needs is my breast.  Other times he just needs to be held close to me and know that I am there for him.
There are other times when he wants nothing to do with me.  When his Uncle Ben walks in the door I am quickly forgotten.  When he wants to rough house with Daddy or Uncle Isaac or Uncle Reuben he will push me away so that they will take him and play with him.  When he wants to climb or get into the dog's water or play with the fire place tools, he will look at me with his impish grin and get into whatever trouble he wants to get into.
But when he needs me, when he wants me, I will be there for him, whether it's for a snuggle against my chest or a snack from my breast, I will be there for him - I am his mother, not a human pacifier."

That's what I wanted to say.

That thing in his mouth?  That's a pacifier.  That's not me.  I'm not green.  Nor am I that small. Nor is he allowed to chew on me like that!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

General Update: Bean

Time for some general update posting! I'm going to start with Bean.  Bean is now 9 months old and is dashingly handsome!
Reality check: He usually isn't dressed quite that stunningly - we'd just gotten home from church when I snapped that photo.  Typically he looks more like this: 
or this: 
Last time I checked his mouth he had four teeth.  His central incisors on the bottom are through and his lateral incisors on the top are through.  He absolutely hates people sticking their fingers in his mouth so it is really hard to get a good look at how many teeth he has. 

He is having a lot of fun playing with solid foods.  We are loosely following Baby-led weaning, which for us means that whatever we are eating he gets a little bit to eat, with a few exceptions.  He does not get any grains, nuts, or dairy yet.  Other than that, it's pretty much all good.  He goes through phases where he has a particularly favored food.  Right now it is peas and carrots, often meat is right up at the top of his list as well.  If mama has it, he wants it.  If daddy has it, he absolutely must have it!

Bean is becoming increasingly more mobile.  He can crawl with lightning speed and is pulling himself to stand and walking along furniture and such.  He also loves to climb.  If it can be climbed, he will climb it.  We picked a climber up for him at a yard sale yesterday and he loves it.  I don't have any pictures of him on it yet though. 

He has also discovered the piano.  If the door between our apartment and the big house is open, he will frequently make a beeline for the piano.  He can pull himself up to reach the keys on his own, but particularly likes it if someone holds him on their lap so that he can reach more of the keys.  In a pinch his highchair also works as a piano chair.  The hardest part is keeping the music out of his reach because he is very much at the stage that everything and anything goes in his mouth!

Bean is not great at taking naps yet, but is getting much better at sleeping during the night (not that he was ever bad at sleeping at night). He will usually nap on my back in a carrier during the morning and we often lay down together in the afternoon for "milk and snuggles" or if that's not an option, he goes on my back in a carrier again (or on my front, depending on what is going on).  On very rare occasions I get him to lay down in his bed for a nap and then I take picture as proof that it actually happened:
We are still waiting to get a definitive "pass" on his hearing test.  We had one in September and it didn't go so well - it was neither a pass nor a fail.  We have another one coming up this  month, so hopefully we will get a definitive answer.  He does appear to hear things okay, so we aren't too worried. In the meantime I occasionally use some sign with him, but that would happen whether he could hear or not. 

All in all, he's a pretty great kid and I think we'll keep him around :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Health Update

Someone asked me awhile back how my health was doing because I hadn't said anything about it recently.  She wondered if that meant I wasn't having any more seizures.  I wish that were the case, but it is not.  So this post will be a health update on me.  If that doesn't interest you, you might not want to read rest of this post.  And that is fine with me.
My last seizure was the end of August, so almost a month ago.  The one before that was in March.  Both times I could have predicted that a seizure was likely to happen well before it happened.  That's both a good thing and a bad thing.  It's great because it means that I know my body and I know what is likely to trigger a seizure and what my "perfect storm" is when it comes to seizures.  It's not so great because it means that I have had enough seizures now that I know what my "perfect storm" is...  I'll be seeing my neurologist later this week and we'll see if he has any astounding insights to add.  Maybe (fingers crossed) we'll be able to start reducing some of my medication - I'm still on the same amount that I was when I was nine months pregnant with Bean...

The headaches are still there.  Most days the headache hangs out around a 3 or so, though about a week ago it stayed at a 7-8 for most of a week.  That was not a fun week.

If I don't eat anything I'm allergic to, I'm good. :) I haven't used an EpiPen since last spring sometime, so this is a good sign.  Bean however is showing some signs of a potential dairy allergy which doesn't make me happy at all.

yup, ears are still broken.  It makes life amusing sometimes.  Today after school Littlest Brother was telling me he was going to the bush to fell trees.  He told me that if I needed him he'd have the tractor and chainsaw.  What I heard was him telling me that if I needed him to follow "vector chainsaw" which only made marginal sense, but sounded way cooler.

Other stuff
The newest "health" thing going on is something I call "sunburn syndrome".  So far no one actually knows what it is.  Everyone except my neurologist thinks it is a neurological problem - my neurologist referred me to a dermatologist.  So here's what it is:  Basically my body feels like it is sunburnt over a large portion of it at any given time.  It actually started when I was in highschool, but at the time would only happen 1-4 times a year and for less than 24 hours at a time.  Since about April/May it's been pretty constant.  It's annoying and irritating, but not the end of the world.  Combined with that has been a lot of deep muscle/bone/joint pain.  If you know what it feels like to close a car door forcibly on your arm, you have a general idea of the kind of pain - a kind of deep aching pain that you can't touch because it's so deep.  It strikes at anytime in anyplace.
The pain and the burning seem to go hand in hand, inasmuch as when one is worse, so is the other.  OTC pain relievers don't really do much for the pain or burning so I've pretty much given up on them.  Most days I just grin and bear it and try not to complain about it.
The doctor gave me one drug to try and calm my brain down so I wouldn't hurt as bad and it turned me into a narcoleptic zombie or something...all I wanted to do was sleep.  I couldn't form coherent thoughts, carry on a meaningful conversation or really function at all.  And it started affecting muscle control in my hands.  So I stopped taking it (with doctor's permision of course).  So then we tried another one and it pretty much had the opposite effect.  I didn't sleep at all.  Neither did Bean.  And my headaches were horrible.  I cannot function without sleep (one ingredient to my "perfect storm" is a lack of sleep) and I cannot function without sleep when I have a baby who is also not sleeping.  So I stopped that drug too.
I'm not sure what the next plan is.  What I'd really like to know is what this is and what is causing it. If you are the praying sort and want to pray for me, this would definitely be an area of concern - both the not knowing what is going on and the dealing with the pain part.

That's the super quick basic health update for those who are wondering.  I'll try and do a general life update sometime soon too.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bug Screen, otherwise known as: My husbandy is awesome

Summer has arrived in full force - meaning lots of sunshine and lots of outdoor time.  In years past I have made the transition from "lots of clothes on in winter" to "lots of bare skin in summer" (which, let's face it, basically means sweater and socks to t-shirt and sandals) without paying too much attention to it.  I was genetically endowed with naturally dark skin - sun burns really were never a concern for me and I soaked up as much vitamin D as I possibly could.  This year however, I had a little someone to think of, and this little someone did not win the genetic lottery when it came to the amount of melanin in his skin - he is as white as white can be.
As important as vitamin D is, I did not want Bean getting burnt.  But I also didn't want to slather him in the chemicals found traditional sunscreen.  So I took to the internets hunting down a recipe that would work for us.  I found this one (link opens in a new window) and whipped up a batch.

We were all set for fun in the sun when the mosquitoes began to take over the world.  Time to whip up some mosquito repellent.  I scoured the internets again, hunting for the perfect recipe that I would be comfortable with using on Bean.  My searches led me here (link opens in a new window).  I decided I would rather have it in a cream base instead of a liquid (less likely to make a mess), so I told Husbandy that I was going to use the same base that I used for the sunscreen, leave out the zinc oxide and put the mosquito repelling oils in instead.  This is where Husbandy's brilliance shone through.  He proposed that I not leave out the zinc oxide and instead mix the mosquito repelling oils in with the sunscreen!  In my mind it was a revolution - sunscreen that was also mosquito repellent!  Or mosquito repellent that was also sunscreen!   I set to work and our new invention, based off of the two recipes linked above was born - Bug Screen!

Here is the recipe I ultimately ended up using (ever so slightly altered from the first two):
1/2 Cup olive oil
1/4 Cup beeswax
1/4 Cup coconut oil
2 TBSP zinc oxide powder
60 drops lemongrass essential oil
40 drops eucalyptus essential oil
20 drops peppermint essential oil
16 drops tea tree essential oil
4 (ish) drops lavender essential oil

Since I made the sunscreen first and then later turned it in to bug screen I melted the first three ingredients together in a double boiler (glass jar in a pan of boiling water) and then mixed the zinc oxide powder in, stirring super well to make sure the zinc oxide didn't clump.  While it cooled I stirred it periodically to make sure it didn't settle out.   When I was ready to turn it into bug screen, I remelted the sunscreen and added the essential oils in, stirring well to incorporate.  
If I were doing it again, I'd melt the first three oils together, add the essential oils and then add the zinc oxide at the end.

It appears to work well and is non-toxic - Husbandy tricked Littlest Brother into tasting some of it, and he lived - however he says it doesn't taste real great ;)

Bean enjoying some splash pad fun

Friday, June 06, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Hands

It's been a while since I joined in the party, but it's that time of the week again -  Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker - five minutes of unscripted, unedited writing based on the same prompt that hundreds of other bloggers are writing on today.  This week's prompt is: Hands.

Hands shape the world and hands change the world.  Two appendages, each with five digits and they can hold the whole world.  My hands can (and do) tell stories - I use them to make the words when I can't hear what's going on around me, I wave them wildly when I'm excited and slowly and heavily when I'm not.  I use them to sing.
My hands also bring the world.  They bring the world to my son as I take him form place to place, as  I gently carry him and gently care for him.
My hands show my day.  Today they are dry and clean - evidence of an afternoon spent in the pool.  Yesterday they were dusty and dirty - evidence of a morning spent skirting alpaca fleeces. They've been cut and blistered and burnt and roughened.  They tell where I have been.
My hands also bring these words into being.  Without my hands I could not type these words, I could not express myself here, in this format.  My hands do that.
My hands.  They are the part of me that so many people see.  Hands are what I watch.  They tell so many stories.  Stories of where people have been and where people are going.  Stories of wonder.  Stories of sadness.   Tiny hands, big hands.

I love watching these little hands grow!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014


For the majority of my life thus far I have been a formal student - that is, enrolled in some type of formal academic program.  I lived and breathed and slept and sweated and cried academia.  My life had a rhythm that was dictated from outside of itself - the rhythm of the school year. It ebbed and flowed like the tide, cresting at midterms and finals, and entering a trough during the hot summer months, only to start up again in the fall. There were smaller troughs throughout the year when we had short breaks for Christmas, Easter, March, Thanksgiving and other such occasions.  Th rhythm was as predictable as it was familiar.   Busy times and less busy times.  Stressful times and less stressful times.

I'm still a student, though at a much slower pace, but primarily I am a mother.  My life has a different rhythm now, although it is still dictated outside of itself - this time by a squirmy little Bean rather than a calendar.  Our days settle into a rhythm of eating, sleeping, toileting, playing...however the rhythm is not nearly as predictable or familiar as the academic rhythm was.  If the academic rhythm was a steady march the rhythm of being a mom is a swing dance inspired by a group who is making up the music as they go along.

Along with the daily rhythm of being a mom comes the rhythm of living on the farm.  This rhythm not only goes from day to day but also cycles through the year.  While we don't plant seed (except for a few small container gardens) and will not (likely) be harvesting any hay this year, the rhythm of farm life is still dictated by the weather and cycles through the year, with only minor variations from year to year.  Spring brings the Alpaca Ontario show, followed by shearing, birthing, breeding, fencing and all manner of other summer activities - with swim team thrown in there for good measure.  The fall brings the Rockton Fair and the Alpaca Ontario sponsored fall show (this year it will be the all new Cavalcade of Champions), followed by Christmas craft shows.  The rhythm of farm life could be compared to a square dance - dances between couples (the day to day rhythm) taking place within the larger dance of the square (the yearly rhythm).

Dancing to the rhythm allows us to find order in our lives.  The rhythm give us all something in common, a common link, a common beat.  However, no matter the dance there is a something that all dances have in common: the need for rest.

When I got sick in 2008 I learned that my dance, my own personal rhythm would require more rests than the average dance.  My rhythm was slower.  There were are times when I forget that my rhythm is slower, that my dance requires great rests, and I pay dearly for those times.  It would be an untruth to say that I have completely embraced this slower pace of life - there are still times it frustrates me to no end that I have to slow down.  But it has taught me to savor the slow times.  It has taught me that without the rests, the dance becomes a dance marathon where you dance feverishly until you drop and a rest becomes forced.  Forced rests are not nearly enjoyable as rests that you choose - take it from someone who has been forced to rest many times.

You can't stop the dance altogether and you can't completely change the rhythm - especially when it is a rhythm from without - but you can choose to sit out part of the dance.  You can choose to take a pause, sit a spell, rest, and then join back into the dance.  I think that all dances would be better, and all dancers would do better, if our rhythms had more breaks, more rests, built in.  Life is not a dance marathon (unless dance marathons are your thing), but a dance party.  Take time to sip some punch, eat some chips, and catch up with friends.

The beat goes on!
Some rhythms are just plain special in and of themselves....

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Surprises in Parenting: It doesn't have to be just one way

Before Bean was born I did some reading on parenting philosophies. I'd listened to some friends talk, read some blogs, and done a lot of thinking.  I had my mind pretty set on a particular style of parenting and planned on reading more about it and following it.  I figured that a solid base of one particular parenting style would be what I needed to get started on this journey of being a parent.
I was wrong.
I still don't have it all figured out, but I have learned that it is okay, and perhaps even good, to draw from multiple parenting philosophies to create the base upon which Husbandy and I want to draw as we figure out this parenting thing.
I've learned that it is okay to read through the tenets of a particular philosophy, choose the ones that work in our context and let go of the rest.  I've learned to be okay with modifying tenets of various philosophies in order to make them work better in our setting.  One example that comes to mind readily is how we looked at the Montessori guidelines for allowing an infant to start exploring self feeding - giving the child real dishes (plate, cup, pitcher, etc) that are their size, yet identical to the corresponding adult dishes, which means glass.  The Montessori guidelines emphasize that even very young children can be taught to use appropriate care when handling breakable objects.
The Montessori guidelines, in combination with the new Health Canada infant feeding guidelines affirmed our decision to skip the sippy cup and go with an open cup (child sized) right from the time we introduce a cup.  However, we could not get around the idea of giving a 6-8 month old child a glass cup (often a shot glass or votive candle holder is used to get a child-sized glass cup).  So we put our heads together and came up with another option - a slightly weighted, translucent plastic cup.   For us that was a way of modifying existing philosophies to make them work in our context.  We kept the idea of a clear, realistic, open top, child-sized cup, but decided to make it much harder to break.
Naturally we'll see how well it works when we try to introduce a cup in the next couple of months - We could be in for another surprise!
Overall, coming to the realization that parenting Bean doesn't have to be based on just one style or philosophy of parenting has been very freeing.  It has allowed me to relax more about what I choose to do (or not do) and not worry about breaking the "rules" of a particular style/philosophy.  In a sense, it's given me freedom to make my own rules and develop my own style - which, if I am to believe what other mamas have told me, will be completely different with Bean than it is with any future children!
And now, to finish off this post, a picture of Bean, Husbandy, and Wifey at Husbandy's graduation.