Friday, February 07, 2014

Five-Minute Friday: Write

Last night Bean put himself to bed at 7 pm. Tonight, it's almost 10 and he's still going strong, despite feeding and rocking and bouncing. He's chilling in his swing right now, so maybe I'll get 5 minutes to join in the five-minute Friday party - they just might not be 5 consecutive minutes!

Start:
When it comes right down to it, I write a lot.  It's part of being a student.  I'm constantly writing discussion board posts (I'm an online masters degree student) or papers.  It's part of living in a different country than my husband.  I'm constantly writing e-mails and skype messages and facebook messages. (PAUSE)  It's part of being a Cub Scout leader.  I'm constantly writing newsletters and meeting plans and menu plans for camp.  It's part of being me.

I write because it's who I am.  Maybe no one will ever read it, maybe it will go viral and be read my millions (who am I kidding?).  I write because it's how I process life.  I write because it's neater than painting and because I'm better at writing than I am at painting.  I write because I like to believe that someone, somewhere will be interested in what I have to say and that maybe somehow, what I write will help someone out.  Perhaps I'm delusional - I'm just one person, one very ordinary person, living a very ordinary life, in a very ordinary corner of the world.  But that won't stop me from writing.  As long as I have breathe, and at least one finger to pick out keys on the keyboard, I will write.
Stop.

See?  He does sleep sometimes...just no so much right now.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Visit

Bean is sleeping so I'm going to steal five minutes and take part in  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: Visit

Start
Is it sad that when I hear the word "visit" the first things that come to mind are words that combine with visit?  Words such as "Doctor's" or "Dentist's" or "feeding specialist" or "audiologist" or "neurologist"?  Why in my head is the word "visit" associated most frequently with visits to medical professionals?  I guess it says something about how my last few week's have gone...visits to the midwife, the audiologist, the feeding specialist (for Bean), scheduling visits to the dentist and the doctor, being careful not to double book myself with upcoming visits to the neurologist and the lab, and hoping that certain visits won't have to be made - such as another visit to the audiologist for Bean or a follow-up dentist's visit.

I want to think of happier visits...of visits to see friends, of visits to see David at school, of visits from friends, but right now my visits are scheduled and carefully stored in my calendar.  Will there be a time for spontaneous visits again soon?  Visits that aren't scheduled weeks in advance in a myriad of different cities?  It would be nice.

Five minute Friday is one visit that I look forward to, it's a scheduled visit, but a wonderful one.

Stop

I always look at my work and then look at what others write and wonder how they write so much in five minutes...
Bean and I on the train heading to our second visit with the feeding specialist

Friday, January 17, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Encouragment

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: Encouragement.

Start

Never underestimate the power of encouragement.  It can turn someone's day around.  It can make the seemingly impossible suddenly possible.  It can stop the flow of tears and warm the heart.  You never know what battle someone is fighting.  As a new mom I am treasuring every word of encouragement I get.  The simple: you're doing a good job or keep up the good work, sometimes babies are frustrating, can make a huge differences on the days that Bean won't sleep or when he seems to be eating constantly or is crying non-stop and I have only had 3 hours of sleep in the past 24 and haven't even had time to comb my hair or brush my teeth and the mountain of laundry is beginning to look a lot like the tower of Babel.  Those are the days that encouragement makes the biggest difference.  But it makes a difference even on the ordinary days, the days when Bean is being cooperative and I have slept.  Those are the days that I need to know that I'm doing okay too.  That I'm not being neglectful by taking care of myself while Bean swings or plays on the floor.
I know the difference encouragement makes in my life, now I need to make sure I'm conscious about encouraging others.  That's the hard part.  I find that I always want encouragement, but I'm not always very good at giving it.  It's a place I need to grow.  I don't know what everyone is going through but I can encourage them too.

Stop


you would never guess from the look on that face that he had been screaming bloody murder only moments earlier...

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

No more dirty diapers? A surprise in parenting

I don't remember the last time Bean had a dirty diaper. No, he's not sick.  Yes, he is pooping regularly - just not in his diaper.
I remember reading about something called "elimination communication" while I was pregnant, but I didn't think it was something I'd try with Bean until he could sit on his own and sign to me that he needed to go (baby sign was something that I was 100% on board with).  Bean however had other ideas...
We noticed very early on that Bean did not like to go to the bathroom in his diaper.  He'd start to fuss and nursing wouldn't fix it.  Burping him didn't fix it.  Rocking him didn't fix it.  So the next logical conclusion was to check his diaper.  We'd check it and find it dry.  But no sooner would we have the diaper off of him and he'd let loose - usually hitting David full on (I usually escaped the "shower" - I attribute that to the fact that I have more experience changing little boy diapers than David does).  So we decided to give him an opportunity to go on the toilet.  To my surprise it worked.  Bean was routinely peeing on the toilet at every diaper change.  Quickly it advanced to pooping on the toilet as well.
At first we simply held him over the adult sized toilet and let him do his thing, but I found him too heavy to do that and knew he was only going to get heavier - and he's a squiggler and doesn't hold still well.  So a trip to the store yielded a simple potty - designed for potty training.  We got some ridicule from a store clerk for buying a potty for our three week old, but we wanted to give it a try.  If it didn't work, we'd put it in storage until he was older, but it would give me the ability to have his weight supported while he went to the bathroom.
It worked.  More and more frequently he was going on the potty instead of in his diaper.  He fusses, we take his diaper off and set him on the potty.  We still have to support his trunk (he is only 3 weeks old!), but he was going on the potty.  We still have a number of wet diapers each day, but neither David nor I can remember the last dirty diaper he had.  And we're okay with that.
I guess this is just one of the parenting surprises that we will encounter on this journey.  I'm excited to see what else the journey has in store (hopefully some sleep in the near future!).

Saturday, January 04, 2014

2013 Wrap-Up

So it's already part way into 2014 and I'm just now getting to this, but I have an excuse and he's cute.  See?
I'm borrowing this from Rachel over at "A Mixed Tape" since that's where I saw it first (and actually the only place I saw this specific one).
Gained or lost weight?
Lost.  I blame, the minor shoulder surgery and major diet change of going gluten free, but really does anyone really complain when they loose weight?

Predominant feeling in 2013?
Anticipation.  I spent a large part of 2013 pregnant, not only with my Bean, but also with anticipation for Bean's arrival.

Predominant feeling for 2014?
Uncertain. David will be finishing up at Central in May and we honestly aren't sure what will be happening next. His immigration status is still in the air (if anyone knows anyone who is skilled in interpreting immigration law and sorting through paperwork and would be willing to help, we would not turn the help down.  Immigration paperwork scares me)

Something you did for the first time in 2013?
Had a baby - it's kinda  a big deal.

Something you did again in 2013 after a long pause?
In our first year of marriage, David and I mostly cooked for ourselves and left the Big House to themselves for meals.  When David went back to school in August I started cooking regularly over at the Big House, three days a week.  I wish I had something more creative to put here, but I can't think of anything right now...

Something you unfortunately did not do in 2013?
Finish Bean's quilt.  In all honesty, it's not even cut out all the way yet.  Good thing Bean has lots of blankets and quilts (and more coming I'm sure!)

Word of the year?
Listen.  It's the word that David and I decided on at the beginning of  2013 and something we focused on throughout the year...listening to each other, listening with our eyes as well as our ears, listening for what is said and not said, listening 100%... We haven't decided on our 2014 word yet.

City of the year?
"Alpaca-ville"  It's not a real city, but some days it feels like it.  So much has happened on the farm this year and I don't spend a huge amount of time in any particular place off the farm...

Hair longer or shorter?
Longer.  I haven't cut my hair since my honeymoon in 2012.  I get the urge every now and then to chop it all off again, but then I remember how much easier long hair is to take care of than short hair and decide that easy is what I need right now!

More or less money spent?
I'd say about the same.  I'd like to be able to say less and I'm working on it, but it's a struggle at times.

Highest mobile phone bill?
I honestly don't know.  My dad manages the cell phone bills for all of us and I don't pay a whole lot of attention to it.

Hospital stays?
Way too many, if ER visits count as hospital stays.  Excluding ER visits I was only overnight/admitted to hospital once - in November when I went into status epilipticus and ended up in University Hospital.  Including ER visits the following hospitals make the list for seizure related incidents: Guelph (October), Listowel (November) and Mt. Sinai in Toronto (November).  Grand River in Kitchener is the only ER visit for allergy related concerns.

(Fallen) In love?
I am madly in love with my son and continue to fall more and more in love with my husband everyday.  There are times I'm not sure my heart can hold all the love.

Most called person?
David.  With him being away at school, I called him about twice a day, every day.

Whom did you spend the most beautiful time with?
David and Bean.  The time that I was in labor with David supporting me and the moment when we first held our son...nothing is more beautiful than that.

What did you spend most of your time with?
Myself, the dog...beyond that my family in the Big House.

Song of the year?
"I Get to Be the One" by JJ Heller.
I have loved singing this song to Bean.

Book of the year?
I didn't really read much outside of school this year and none of that was super interesting.  Sad but true.  I mean, the books were alright, but it sure wasn't pleasure reading.

TV show/movie of the year?
I've watched a fair bit of Flashpoint, NCIS, NCIS LA, and Criminal Minds...especially towards the end of my pregnancy when I didn't feel like doing much and needed to sit with my feet up more than I would have liked to. TV shows helped keep me distracted.

Insight of the year?
Sometimes you have to do what is right for you, even if it is hard.  Close to the beginning of the year, David and I left the church I grew up in and started attending Listowel Mennonite Church.  It was hard to leave DRC, but 100% worth it.  We are so much happier at LMC and healthier.

Three things you totally could have done without?
Seizures, David being gone to school, and two prolonged periods without electricity (April and just before Christmas)

Most beautiful event?
Welcoming my baby boy into the world, hands down.  In fact, he is the most beautiful thing and I could stare at him all day...but I wouldn't get anything else done if I did that!

More short-sighted or more far-sighted than 2012? 
Didn't have my eyes checked in 2013 so I have no idea.

The most dangerous thing you did?
Went on a mass transit adventure with David in Toronto...we got day passes hopped on a bus and took off, no map, no idea where we were going or anything.  Just bus to street car to subway and back again over and over.  At night of course. :)

The most expensive thing you bought?
Probably Mom's Christmas gift (weaving program)...but my siblings are supposed to be chipping in on that.  We'll see if it actually happens.

The most delicious meal or food you ate?
The Valentine's dinner that David made for me.  Not only was the food delicious (bacon/cranberry meatloaf, sweet potato heads) it was prepared with love, which makes it all the more wonderful.

The best party?
I'm not much of a party-goer.  The best I can do is remember the potlucks we've had at LMC (Mennonites love their potlucks!) and perhaps Passover, which is a pretty awesome party - we didn't really "go" to Passover though, since we were the servants...

The most important thing you wanted to convince somebody of?
How loved they are. Not enough people realize how loved they are and how valuable they are to this world.

The most beautiful present you gave to somebody?
It's kinda sappy, and kinda repetitive int this post, but I "gave" my husband a baby and Bean is pretty darn beautiful.

The most beautiful present that somebody gave you?
After my really bad round of seizures, David decided that it would be good for him to come home from school earlier than planned.  However, we had already purchased his tickets.  We were given money to help with the cost of changing his tickets and that was beautiful.

The most beautiful sentence someone said to you?
"I love you"  three of the most beautiful and powerful words that exist.

The most beautiful sentence you said to someone? 
"I love you" - see above.

How will you celebrate New Year's Eve?
Well, I passed out from exhaustion about the time we finished dinner...David looked after Samuel and brought him to me when he was hungry.  I'm pretty sure I "rang in" the New Year, sound asleep, snuggling my baby in bed.

What will you have for dinner?
I don't even remember...it was food.  Probably chicken.

What drinks will be in your glasses to clink?
Water, water, and more water.

Will you ignite any fireworks? 
Negative.

What are you going to wear? Comfy or glamorous?
Comfy.  Right now with a nursing baby I don't do glamorous.

Did you have any resolutions for 2013? And how about 2014? 
No and no.

What are your wishes for the new year?
That we will get David's immigration paperwork sorted out and maybe have some sort of idea how we are going to move forward.

In one word: 2013 was...
Intense.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Fight

Oma is watching Bean for a a little bit - he's got a full belly and a dry diaper - so I think I can squeeze five minutes in here, then maybe the little stinker will be ready for bed.  Three weeks old already...it blows my mind.
Anyhow, I'm joining up with the mob over at Five Minute Friday and today's word is "Fight".
Start
Fight.
Battle.
Struggle.
War.
Skirmish.
Overcome.
Victory.
So many words used in so many ways.  But it all comes down to a fight.  A fight for what is right and good.  A fight against what is bad.  Lately a lot of things have seemed like a fight to me.  I fight to get out of bed in the morning...or perhaps struggle is a better word, especially after I've been up most the night with a fussy baby who just wants to be held and rocked and fed.  I find to stay awake during the day.  I fight to keep calm when I can seem to figure out why Bean is crying, again, or sometimes still...I fight to find a balance in my new role as a mother while maintaining my old roles as wife and student and daughter.  I fight to navigate the new steps to the dance between our house and the big house.
Despite all the fighting, despite the daily struggles to figure things out and find balance I know that I will look back at all of it one day and shake my head - one day, maybe, I'll have found the balance that I am looking for.  One day, maybe, it won't be a fight to get out of bed in the morning and stay awake during the day.  Maybe.  Someday there won't be anymore fighting for anything.  And that will be a glorious day.  But until then, until that glorious day I will keep fighting.

Stop.
This face makes all the fighting worth it though...

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

A response to "Six Things Every Parent Needs to Stop Doing Right Now"

A friend of mine shared this article on facebook (opens in a new window) and it garnered a fair bit of controversy.  David and I read it and had some discussion on it and I wanted to share my thoughts on it.  Feel free to disagree, just do so respectfully if you choose to comment.

I'm just starting on my parenting journey and I know I have a lot to learn.  I don't agree with everything the author says, but she does make some valid points.

Exercising with your child in fun ways (riding bikes, playing tag, going to the park, etc) will help keep you both healthy and exercising won't have a negative connotation for your child.  Complaining about having to go the gym will set your child up to see exercise as a negative thing and they will be less likely to want to be active as they grow older.  Model an active lifestyle and your children are more likely to develop a healthy lifestyle as well. Monkey see, monkey do.

As far as screen time, the author doesn't say that all screen time is bad, just that relying on it all the time (using the computer or TV as a babysitter) is not healthy. Sitting with your child, looking stuff up on the internet, learning together - there's nothing wrong with that.  It's a good thing, it teaches the child to use the tools that we have at our disposal and it teaches them to work with someone else to find answers to questions. The author even says that some screen time is okay.  What I think she is getting at is that nothing but screen time all day is a bad thing.  I know it's something I'm going to have to work on myself - I spend a lot of time at the screen and that's not good for me and it's not a good example for Bean.

Having healthy snacks available (I'm not sure chocolate dipped strawberries fall into that category though) sets a child up for healthy eating habits both as a child and later an adult. However it's up to you as the parent what your policy on snacking is, whether the child is free to grab a snack whenever they are hungry or if they have to ask permission for grabbing a snack.  Having healthy snacks available that they can get themselves (with or without permission, depending on your personal rules for your household) helps teach healthy eating and gives them some choice as to what they choose - carrot sticks or apple pieces or an orange or whatever you happen to have available for them.

As for ordering, directing, and correcting vs asking for cooperation, each have their place.  There are some things that are non-negotiable (wearing a seat belt in the car and being polite for example) in which ordering or directing is completely appropriate.  There are other things that are negotiable in which giving the child a choice avoids and unnecessary power struggle (do you want to where your blue shirt or your red shirt?  Do you want to make your bed first or pick up your toys first?).  The author doesn't say never to give directions to your child and does say that you are the parent and they are the child. I think what the author is saying is to choose your battles wisely.  But in the end, you know your child best and know what they will respond to best.

Skipping breakfast, but expecting them to eat breakfast just doesn't set a good example.  If I were a child, my response to that would be "why do I have to have breakfast if you don't?" it's back to the monkey see, monkey do and modeling the behavior that you want to see in them.

The author's position on helping children transition from vacation back to school has some validity, but every child's needs are different.  Some children will make the transition seamlessly, others will need help and emotional support.  I do however agree wholeheartedly with helping children develop language to express their emotions.  It's part of helping them to grow into emotionally intelligent adults.

That was a super long comment, but it's what I think.  I also think the author intentionally wrote her key points to stir up controversy.  After all, it's controversy that sells papers (and most people only read the headings anyhow).  As I said at the beginning of my novel of a comment, I'm just starting my parenting journey and I have a lot to learn.  I may be completely off-base with my thoughts and ideas and I'm certainly not trying to tell anyone how to raise their children.  I'm just sharing my opinions and views.