Monday, October 31, 2011

Passionate Parent

In the wise words of a marvelous friend "It takes courage to be a parent". especially if you are going to be the kind of mama (or papa) that marches to the beat of your own drum (or forgoes the drum and just marches).

Everyone (and their brother) will have a running commentary on your parenting practices (or what they view as a lack of practice and parenting).  Parents and non-parents alike all have five cents worth of an opinion regarding your children and your parenting.

It's like the moment you birth a child, you are open to public scrutiny.  Child too loud?  Your fault.  Child does not want random strangers speaking/touching/invading their personal space?  Your fault.  Your one year old (insert age) is not walking (insert milestone)?  Your fault.  If you dare to frolic on the garden path (i.e. don't follow the parenting norm) and your child is not exactly like their peers, yep... you guessed it, your fault!

So, here's my ranty-rant (just a quickie... I promise)

Just shut your goddamn child up
Look, 99% of us with small people have been there.  In the midst of a world class meltdown occurring in a very public place (bonus points if it's an enclosed space [such as a bus/train/plane] where you cannot readily remove your melting child from the situation).  Do you know what does not help?  Asshole's with opinions on how you should shut your child up, or the nasty glares that literally ooze with "I'm going to smother them" attitude.  What takes my mama-bear-piss-offed-ness to a whole new level, is when said intolerant twat is a non-parent.  I vividly remember a discussion with a non-parent friend of mine.  They had a front row seat for "enclosed space meltdown", and did some bitching about it (fine, we all bitch about various aspects of our day).  What really made me want to scream (in unison with the bus banshee) is when they implied that their comfort (in silence) was more important than the mother of bus banshee.  They flat out said that the mother (and her child) should have found an alternate mode of transportation, (so that their commute would not be disrupted...?) really? 

If you don't let them CIO (cry it out) they'll never become independent
This is a real beef of mine, far be it for me to decide how everyone else parent's (really to each their own) but do not mock my parenting in an attempt to justify your parenting choices.  We choose to practice our version of attachment parenting because it makes sense, for us.  I don't feel the need to belittle a parent that chooses to follow a different parenting path because I know how we parent is right for us; so if you are comfortable with CIO or Ferberizing, or whatever parenting method that you choose... do it.  But, if you're like me and applying CIO/Ferberizing to your family literally made your heart ache, don't do it.  If you're doubting the "rightness" of a particular parenting philosophy, maybe you're doubting them because they aren't right for you.  Maybe you've heard a story from a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend who's cousin babywore/bedshared/nursed-to-sleep and their 25 year old son is a jobless deadbeat who mooches off of maw & paw between bouts of incarceration and so you CIO/Ferbrize because the babywearing/bedsharing/nursing-to-sleep must have been what caused their predicament (orrrrrrr their son is a selfish twat, for realz).

I am passionate about my parenting and sometimes I can come off strong... holier-than-thou (or so I've been told).  I don't think I'm better than anyone because of how I choose to parent.  I don't think my boys are better than your Sally/Jacob.  My children are not perfect (and neither am I... ).  My children cry, they can be clingy and ill-behaved.  I get touched out and put my boys down, walk away, readjust my sanity and come back.  I can be snippy and bitchy.  I have a quick temper (little things can make me want to lose my shit but I'm quick to come back down to earth).

At 15mos and 3yrs I don't rush them at the first sound of a cry.  I muddled through my parenting - I try to make informed decisions but I am not under the impression that my parenting is the only way to parent and that my children will be perfect.  Although, I do hope that they grow up to be well-adjusted adults. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fall in love with FALL

I love fall.  Really, I do. 

I love the colours
Taken from Explore the Bruce website

I love the crisp cool breeze with the sporadic days of summer-like bliss 

What isn't to love about it? 

You aren't sweating your ass off with the humidity and soaring temps of July/August and you aren't freezing your toes off in blustery, squally winter!  Spring (while gorgeous) is a bloody mess here... muck and guck... yuck!  I wish we could just skip from winter to early summer... but fall.  *sighs*  Fall is wonderful.

Nature puts on a gorgeous show... the leaves turning from green to yellow, orange and crimson. 

With the dipping temperatures people start their wood stoves and wood fireplaces... which leaves a heavenly scent in the air when you're out for an evening stroll.

Fall is full of promise, you might get before the snow flies and since the winter weather hasn't started you can delude yourself into believing it isn't really.that.bad (winter that is).

Fall (for my family) is the start of the holiday season... the start of more family dinners (which are hectic, stressful and gloriously wonderful

Fall is a time for traditions - the fall just after TT's first birthday we went to a local apple orchard (with a lovely friend of mine) and we've gone every fall since. 

Not *our* orchard

We go through the rows picking apples for pies, sauce, and snacks.  For sandwiches (want a delicious twist on your traditional turkey sandwich... add freshly sliced apples, a schmear of red pepper jelly and a couple glops of brie, you'll thank me... I promise) and supper (curried apple with chicken, or roast pork loin with an apple glaze).  We stop for pictures and to run around on the bales of hay and the best part is when we pop into the store and grab up some delicious preserves and treats.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving: {Buff Mama Monday} Style

So, those of us North of the 49th parallel (in the America's) are enjoying a lovely turkey weekend (seriously, it is more like summer out there than mid-October). 

I definitely have a love-hate relationship with holidays.  The family and food:  so.damn.good.  The food:  so.damn.fattening.  And yes, one could always say no to something, but who has the willpower to turn down gravy and biscuits and turkey and butter drenched mashed potatoes?  (Obviously, I do not). 

So, to mitigate the after effects of the oh-so-very-delicious supper, I walked to my mom's.  Popped the boys in BOB and away we went... just over 5km and it took us just under an hour.  Yay us!

I've plateaued... but I'm hoping that every.little.bit will count...

How do you stay on track during the holidays?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Teething Necklace

I remember when I had TT, there were these teething necklaces that some mama's were using.  I thought it was witchcraft (okay, I didn't think witchcraft but I definitely thought hokum).

Along came C-McC and I remembered reading about them and I knew some mama's that swore by them (seriously  I found one on sale and picked it up for C-McC... neither the hubs nor I were true believers, sure C-McC looked super-duper cute and he was happy but he was just a happy kind of guy!

So, being the super awesome kind of parent's that we obviously we are, we decided to do an experiment.

I would randomly put C-McC's necklace on him (and not tell the hubs).  We would do this for a week or so and the hubs would guess which days the necklace was and was not on (he isn't the cheating sort, so I didn't have to worry about him taking off C-McC's shirt to find out).

The hubs knew which days were what - seriously!  On a particularly bad day, he looked at me said to grab the necklace... C-McC obviously needed it.

So you can guess how sad I was when the clasp on C-McC's necklace broke... Guess I'll be checking out Inspired By Finn and picking up another necklace (or two TT hasn't cut his 2 year molars yet and gosh darnnit they're cute [the necklaces... not his molars])

Lemon Cranberry Cupcakes - YUM!

Lemon Cranberry Cupcakes - the perfect fall pick-me-up!

  • Bag of cranberries (I use the pre-frozen, that way I always have some on hand and can make these muffins whenever my heart desires)
  • 1 cup sugar ( I split that between brown sugar & white sugar... whatever mix pleases you)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 lemons zested and the juice set aside
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 big ol' splash of vanilla
  • 1.5-2 cups flour

Place your frozen cranberries in a bowl, zest & juice your lemons over the bowl.  Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of white sugar.  Allow to "chill" in the fridge (overnight if you can)

Next morning, pre-heat your oven to 375*F.  Strain the juice from your cranberry bowl.  Set both cranberries and juice aside.

Cream butter in your mixer.  Add sugar and allow to get soft & fluffy.

Add in eggs (one at a time) and whip mixture up together (it should whip up to soft peaks).

Add vanilla, baking soda, salt and a tbsp of flour.

Add lemon/cranberry/sugar juice (that you set aside earlier)

Sprinkle the cranberries with 1-2tbsp of flour, mix well (this is so the berries will remain suspended in the batter)

Add flour (1/2cup at a time) until you reach a nice cakey consistency (don't over mix once you start adding flour... )

Pop in cranberries and just gently spoon mix.

Spray your muffin tins and spoon your batter in.

Lick spoon (to the baker goes the spoils)

Put muffins in oven for 25min - test for doneness and turn the heat down to 350*F and bake for 5-10 more minutes (depending on if you got 12 or 24 muffins out of the batch)

Enjoy... they'll have a delightful soft cakey texture... sweet and tart.  Oh yum!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Muddling Through Grief

What you can't possibly know... until it's too late

Grief it is such a personal experience, the route that you take.  What calms one, irritates another.  What causes one heartache, provides another comfort.  

Grief is personal, but this is what I have learned as I have followed my path.

  • Talk.  Talk often.  Talk always.  Just.Talk. 
    Last weekend as we were perusing a classic car show, I made sure to point out certain cars *cough-MOPAR-cough* to TT.  I mentioned that his grandpa had a car like that... (except it was red, it was newer/older... whatever).  The purpose was to share a memory of my dad with TT.  Give him an experience to associate with my dad, no he (my dad) wasn't there but he wasn't not there (make sense?).
  • Cry.  Allow yourself to cry
    Often we feel that crying is a sign of weakness, as something that we need to hide (especially when you have an ugly non-movie-star cry [a la moi]).  For months after my dad's passing my eyelids were bruised from crying (I shit you not, bruised... trust me, there was a whole lotta ugly sobbing going on).  I still cry when I talk about him (it will be 5yrs, end of January) and I try to view that as the depth of my love.  I loved him so darn much, and thinking about everything that he's missing out on... well, it makes me cry (for the record I have big ol' tears trickling down my cheeks). 
  • Grieve as you need to grieve and respect that others may need to grieve differently.
    Some people become quiet & go into themselves... others are may need to wear their heart on their sleeve.  Some people need everyone to rally around them... others need to be left alone.  There is no right way to grieve... you just have to respect how that person needs to grieve.
  • You will be trucking along - and it will hit you.  You aren't over it!
    A year passes... two... marriage, children... life goes on.  But something, something will happen and it will bring you back to that day.  That's okay!  Look for triggers (for me, it's spring & fall... when the equipment comes out for seeding/harvest, my heart breaks all over again), and try to turn it into a positive... think about all the wonderful memories that you had.
  • Realize that whether you have been there (or not), you do not know how someone else is feeling.  Be empathetic and understanding but don't be trite.  I know it's hard on both sides, you don't know what to say and sometimes there is no right thing to say (everything hurts).  The best piece of advice that I can share - "I am so sorry for your loss, is there anything that I can do".  That's it.  That is all you have to say... if you have a special memory that you wish to share, do so but don't feel like you.must.say.something else. 
  • When someone is going through a personal loss, it really is all about them (at least to them) so please, don't compare your struggles with the loss of a parent/partner/child.
I have an amazingly wonderful friend who lost her mother in high school and I was not a good friend (honestly I wasn't... high school me had no idea how to deal with what she was going through), when my dad died she was my rock (aside from my husband... who was amazing... ).  The strength that she gave me, well let's just say this is my gigantic "thank you" to her... I hope this post will help someone else, as much as she has helped me.

I still have bad days.  A song will come on... TT will ask me "where your dad, mom?"... I'll look at my beautiful boys and will be sad at the awesomeness that he is missing... and the tears will start. 

That's my normal... you don't love someone that much & just stop missing them.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Call Me Old Fashioned?

The other morning on my drive into work, I heard a song that gave me pause... it started out as your typical life-was-so-much-better-when-we-were-young song, I may have even nodded at a line or two but I was a bit taken aback by this (disclaimer: maybe I'm being slightly dramatic by blogging about this, the line I'm about to share isn't ghastly offensive... but it did give me pause):

Now I'm more of a spiritual kinda gal (please do not confuse spiritual with hemp-wearing-patchouli-scented-hippie - while that is fine, it is not who I am), I believe that there is something more... I can't put my finger on it but I believe nonetheless.  My views certainly guide my moral compass... but I'm not perfect and sometimes I am ashamed by my actions.  However, that isn't what this post is about... it's about religion in school.  

That line just made me stop & shake my head.  I firmly believe in the separation of Church & State... I believe that the religious upbringing (or lack-thereof) of my children is my job, as their parent.  Not the job of their teacher.  I believe that my children have the right to learn about all religions, as they choose but not to have it crammed down their throat.  I don't agree with prayer in school... I just don't.   

I don't think the world would be a better place if prayer were reintroduced in school.   I think the world would be a better place if we all exercised a little more tolerance.

I'll step off of my soapbox now...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Canada's World Breastfeeding Week

As a mother; infant nutrition is of utmost importance.  I am sure you have heard that "breast is best"; most people have.  Unfortunately, the implication behind that statement is that it (nursing) will be easy, that as a natural act it does not require prior knowledge, exposure or experience.  As any nursing mother will tell you this is an extreme understatement, knowledge is key.  The best ways to gain nursing knowledge is through experience, exposure and through the normalization of breastfeeding.

La Leche League provides mother-to-mother support - under the guidance of an accredited leader.  Mother's learn to nurse their babies by being with other nursing mother's; by sharing their triumphs and pitfalls with other nursing mother's.  By seeing how it (nursing) is done!

Most new mother's will say that the learning curve for breastfeeding is quite steep; you're tired and overjoyed at the very same time, you're fumbling with various positions and holds while trying to find "The perfect latch".  Attending monthly meetings are a life saver - you're surrounded by a group of women who have "been there" and "done that".  You know that you are not alone in your experiences. 

You have your very own personal support group!  An accredited leader who will make house calls - to give you a little one-on-one help. 

La Leche League is a group that is near & dear to my heart (if you're a regular reader, you already know this); I contacted our accredited leader in October after the birth of my second child (that's C-McC, yo!), we made plans to meet and from that first meeting we have blossomed into a thriving group!

In honour of Canada's World Breastfeeding Week (yes, Canada has it's own *World* Breastfeeding week... ) I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on the awesome support and kinship that I have found with this amazing group of women, you mean more to me than you will ever know.

I'm throwing this into this week's Breastfeeding Blog hop - I know it's a bit of a stretch but LLL was definitely an important aspect of my nursing support.


Fall Fun...

Today the hubs, our boys & I went to a local fall festival... there's a slew of booths (with super-duper-yummy food), crafts, a midway and (of course) a classic car show. 

Now, we did bring BOB along (to carry my wallet, a change of diapers and TT when his legs gave out from walking) but C-McC definitely enjoyed his mama-perch.  I had him up on my back in our mei tai (with a sweater that I since ungrown [?] tossed over top to keep us both nice & cozy warm). 

It was great - I knew where he was, he could see EVERYTHING from his perch and he chatted endlessly with many a bewildered stranger (most of whom stopped for a moment to figure out where the very excited chatterbox was).

I love babywearing... I love the snuggles, I love how easy it is and I love knowing that my boys are safe and I have my hands free if I have to dash after another one of my children (yep, TT is the mad-dash-king... )

TT got to ride on a pony but was very disappointed to realize that he's just not tall enough to get on the Ferris wheel (which was fine by his mama & dad... we both had visions of him getting to the top and having an absolute shit-fit... ).

C-McC enjoyed the endless supply of french fries that I passed over my shoulder (and surprisingly my hair and back were fry-free!)

We all enjoyed the brisk, fresh fall air (which came with some not-so-enjoyable rain at the end... good thing we were already on our way home)... I think we're all tuckered out now... TT had a hard time getting up the stairs to get in the house... now both boys are playing with plastic cups (I seriously don't know why we waste money on toys) and the hubs & I are vegging out on the interwebs...

Happy Fall All!