Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Parent Of The Year

Nay! Parent of the decade! Of the century!!!!

Good grief. Talk about keeping up with the Joneses. 

I find the paradigm shift of ultimate parenting to be nauseating. It creates tapped out parents. Tapped out mentally, physically and financially. 

Of course if you have the financial means and time, let your son or daughter play hockey. 

If being a hockey player is your child's dream and it just takes sacrificing the super duper cable package and the annual trip to Disney world. Go for it. 

If you're in financial distress and you're working a couple jobs. No. Sorry. Bad idea. There are cheaper sports and family activities that will have to do.

Maybe your kids don't need a huge range of after school activities, regardless of what their peers are doing.

If its Saturday morning and you just don't feel like making pancakes and sausages PLUS the dishes that go along with it. Then don't. Oatmeal or cereal and a piece of fruit is perfectly acceptable. 

Large dirty dishes just don't belong in the morning-time. And if you're like me they will be staring you in the face all day! Unless you have a guaranteed dishwasher. I ask John to make his delicious pancakes and I will offer to do the dishes. 

Taking your kid and a friend bowling for their 6th birthday, despite their wishes for a big party with all their friends, is (in retrospect) completely fine. 

Tapped out parents can't be fun to be around. 

So let the laundry go for a day. 
Make the kids do the dishes. 
Have some relaxed time with the family.
Don't worry so much about having them in piano AND ballet.
Don't go into debt for an expensive sport.
Go to the park.
Buy a soccer ball/baseball glove/football. 
Bake some cookies together.

The most important: Don't let anyone make you feel like you're not doing enough.

There are no perfect parents because there are no perfect people. Some people manage to do it all. It's most impressive but it's not usually realistic. These people are likely type A personalities. 

I am definitely not a type A personality. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dear: Me As A Mom

Dear Me as a Mom,

It wasn't all that long ago that you were a child and even less time since you were a teenager. You need to remember these things as the baby grows up. 

I love lists. 

1. Kids Remember Injustices
They don't understand the life is not fair argument and telling them this repeatedly is not going to create an understanding. 

Even the most ridiculous instances that an adult wouldn't bat an eye at can cut deep and will be remembered for...possibly ever. 

For example, in grade one my teacher would give out a (large, that's important) gummy treat of your choosing on your birthday. After months of watching my teacher call the birthday boy or girl to the back of the class to participate in a birthday treat, my birthday came. My name wasn't called, my day of birth wasn't acknowledged, my treat was over looked. I was overlooked. I was sad nay, crushed, but I didn't mention it to anyone. 

I didn't really like that teacher, she didn't really like me, I didn't really like the class ( it was a 1/2 split) and while my adult reasoning says it was likely an oversight my child mind says it was a personal slight. 

2. Be On Their Side
It doesn't even have to be against anyone. They will know when you aren't rooting for them and it stings.

 When they don't do as well in swimming lessons one year and have really no idea. Don't tell them they are going to fail the next year if they don't get better. It's not true and it crushes spirits. 

3. Being 6 Is A Blur
While some things are crystal clear, mostly fun things and happy memories, between the ages of 3 and I would say 10, life is generally a blur. 

School I think is the blurriest, the day to day stuff and especially stuff I didn't understand yet. 
Which leads me to...

4. Sometimes Things Haven't Clicked Yet
Kids learn at different paces and I was no different. It can be embarrassing and frustrating. 

In kindergarten we were supposed to write a sentence to go along with our painted picture. I dreaded this assignment the entire time I was painting. I believe my picture was a landscape. I knew how to write my name and probably some words but the whole sentence concept was not there yet. I completed my picture without the sentence portion and braced myself for embarrassment and a scolding. 

Thankfully, embarrassing 5 year olds is not what kindergarten is all about and my teacher, thankfully, was aware of this. I don't remember what or if they asked me any questions about my incomplete assignment. All I remember was that there is no memory of being upset

5. Being A Kid Can Be Confusing
Your logic, as you're explaining it to your mother, is perfectly sound. That should be enough to do what you want, right? Why can't I just do it? 

So you live in Canada but NOT in Ontario? I don't get it. 

Why am I in trouble? This rule is new. My mom doesn't do it that way. Oh I'm still in trouble? (Throw fit)

My name is Tia, why is it Tia? Am I Tia? That was a hilarious one to remember, I was looking in my mirror completely baffled by my own image and my name. 

This time I actually didn't do it, why am I still getting in trouble? 

The list goes on and on. 

6. If I'm Sneaky Enough...
I can surely get away with it. Kids are sneaky and I was no exception.

Like when I was allowed 2 pieces of Halloween candy but I snuck three extra pieces up my sleeve. I was found out almost immediately. The plan was flawed and based on my mother not being as astute as she was. 

7. Throwing A Fit
Might just be feeling more upset and not being able to control my emotions. Emotions and kids are a funny, uncontrollable beast on a good day. Add in difficult situations and a rocky home life and things can get out of control. 

I didn't always know why I was upset or why I was SO upset. It felt real and possibly the end of the world at the time. 

8. Sometimes A Fit
was just a fit. It was intentional and to get my way. I don't know how you're supposed to know the difference as a parent. 

9. Throwing Things Feels Good
It still does. Some parts of being a kid don't you don't fully grow out of. 

I've broken things and immediately calmed down after because I felt stupid and regretted it. 

There has to be a line drawn, of course, destroying EVERYTHING  and things that aren't yours are not ok. But they are just things. 

10. Yelling Made Me Feel
Overwhelmed, upset and confused. It still does. A barrage of accusations or scolding without time for me to process or respond makes my head spin. 
My response: crying. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mamascopes. Just for fun!

Life is heavy.We need a little silliness and stuff "just cause" its entertaining.
Today my just cause entertainment is Mamascopes. Astrology for moms (and kids). I'm an Aquarius so lets dissect a little of what this horoscope says about me as a mother.

"’ll learn the rules just so you can break them." This is partially true. I co-slept and Vi slept on her tummy which was a HUGE no-no to many people, especially forum posters and Drs (even mine). I'm just gonna do what I want to do and that's that. 

"...dare to say the things about motherhood that others may not. You’ll blurt that out, both shocking and relieving other moms who secretly felt the same way. Whatever miles you’ve walked (albeit with swollen, pregnant feet), you share your experience to help others." Isn't this why I blog?

" are your kids’ confidante — more of a sister than a mom" I am CURRENTLY my kids confidante, at least. I call her my best friend, my best buddy. We are at the moment but that line will have to be drawn when discipline becomes a thing.

"That eternally youthful spark ensures that you never parent with a heavy hand. Your own teenage rebellion is always a not-too-distant memory, and your kids can tell you anything." Yup. 

"You remember how much fun it is to be a free spirit, and you want your kids to enjoy some of that, too. Fun is a top priority for you, and you teach your children about life with your trademark wacky humor." Double Yup.

"At the very least, you’ll teach them the joys of independence, something you model through your own behavior and adventurous spirit." I hope so.  

"Although you wouldn’t trade your kids for the world, you may also quietly mourn your lost youth." I have my moments, for sure. I think everyone does. 

"Aquarius is the sign of detachment, and too much closeness weirds you out at times. You may be quick to transition from breast to bottle, or drop the kids off with a sitter even as they cry and cling to your leg. Although the level of children’s dependency can be overwhelming, you’ll need to adapt. Fostering independence is great, but sometimes your kids just need that ultra-close bond, to be held instead of given tough love. Letting them “cry it out” isn’t always the answer." This is completely opposite of how I feel. I think I am more attached than she is and that baby may be allowed to "whine-it-out" but never "cry-it-out." 

"Make every effort to build in free time where you can take off the “mommy” hat and let loose." This is just good advice for anyone because "...It’s not only good for you, but your children will benefit when you return in light, happy spirits."

Check out your Mamascope and your kids astrological signs where I found mine.

Friday, August 9, 2013

I just want to remember

Sometimes when I try to recall memories of people I've (we've) lost, I can't. I can't conjure a laugh or a smile or capture anything about them

It's upsetting. I imagine if I think really hard I can bring it all back but it seems to be lost. Probably not lost. Just hidden deep in my psyche, I guess.

How can a person affect you so deeply while no longer animated in your mind? I tell myself that maybe, just maybe, if I had not been so selfish and just lived for the moment, captured every juicy detail about a time and a place and that person so that I could bring it back to life in my mind. It really is quite the vicious cycle. What I wouldn't give to live in the past for just a second.

I know better now, whether I remember things as vividly as I care to or not. At least I won't have any regrets for not stopping and taking a really good look. Photos help, videos are even better. Nothing beats being able to remember how someone laughed or hugged you though. Nothing.

So they remain stationary in the memory I can recall but I'm convinced still very much alive when I'm dreaming.

Dear Sister Part 2: Post Baby

Welcome back to Dear Sister. In the second part I wanted to talk about the little gems of baby wisdom that have come from the past (almost) 9 months of being at home with this utterly fantastic sweet baby child.

By all means if you have pearls of wisdom to share please do.
But on that note:

1. Appreciate advice
It doesn't mean you have to follow it. It was their way and their experience. Sometimes you will receive advice and it may not be the way of the world anymore. For example, using whiskey to soothe achy teeth, thankfully not advice I've been given (only in jest) but you never know what people might pull out of memory lane. 

A lot of it is nice to keep in the back of your mind in case your way ceases to work anymore. That is the nature of a growing babe, they are always changing.

2. Go with the flow
The first couple months of your lives together won't be very structured. Some people might tell you that you should schedule the crap out of your baby. It may have worked for them. But I know you and I don't think you are capable of letting your little sweet Gerard cry it out to conform to your schedule. I personally think the cry it out method, if used, should be used later in life and only if they haven't created their own schedule that works for them. Go to your baby when he cries. If you do, he will learn to trust you.

3. Don't be afraid
Of breaking him, to take him to hospital, to call 911, to call me, to call Mom, to tell the Dr. how you're feeling, to walk away, to let SOMEONE know you need a break, to pass him off to shower and to wake Gerry up at 3 AM because you're about to lose your shit. No one is going to be upset.

4. Use Self Talk
Sometimes I (we) still have those days where its just hard. Everything is so god damn hard. Usually when I haven't slept enough and there is stuff that can't be put off.

When I have to rock her to sleep for an hour and go back and do it again 3 or 4 times I find myself clenching my jaw and just getting too upset. So I sit there and I talk to myself (in my head). I say things like "this upset won't last forever" "you love being home with her" "she is teething" "she is upset" "you love the crap out of her." Stuff like that and it calms me down. Which leads me to...

5. When you are calm, he will be too.
Eventually, at least. When you aren't, it will take longer for him to relax. I think sickness and colic are exempt from this. Regardless, try to be calm. If you can't be and there will be those times, pass him off, walk away and take some deeeep breaaaaths.

Use some self talk. If you find that its too much and you're sad all the time because of it, talk to the Dr. Baby blues and PPD can and will happen especially in those first few weeks when you're a hormonal nutcase. It can start up until around 6 months so don't dismiss those feelings.

6. Breast feeding will likely be hard
Which I know you know already because you saw me wince and carry on during those first 6 weeks. Go see a specialist, ask the Dr. for the information. I'm pretty sure its in the same building.

For Gerry: take a day off to take her there. With a new baby its much less stressful to go to appointments with another person.

 It honestly took 6 weeks but it was SO worth it because now its incredibly easy. She always has food that is the right temperature, its comforting, it helps her sleep, she gained weight like a champ (which felt super awesome), it helps her get over being sick, antibodies, so on and so forth. HOWEVER.

7. Do not let anyone make you feel guilty
About not breastfeeding, about co-sleeping, how you put him to sleep, when you start solids. So on and so forth. Sometimes breastfeeding makes PPD worse and sometimes they aren't gaining weight or they aren't latching properly. There are several reasons why people decide to switch to formula when BFing was their plan. Such is life. Don't dwell and don't feel guilty.

8. If you need advice, google it.
Not to say that you can't go to someone. I found that if I googled it and went on all those baby forums I could find someone with the advice that I wanted to hear. Their experiences were similar and they did what I am doing and they said it worked and that its OK.

This sounds kind of contrary to seeking advice but you will develop a way you want to do things and you might just need some confirmation that it works for others. Other times you may really be in the dark and haven't been set in your ways, search the comments until you find someones experience that jives with you and your baby.

9. He will be the gosh darn bees knees.
It isn't like anything you've ever experienced and it will change you.
Its pretty darn awesome most days.

10. He is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen.
Even all aliened, cone headed, old man-ish,covered in gross stuff, making a poop face, screaming his head off, and scrunchy faced. He will only become more absolutely beautiful as time passes and when you look back on his first pictures you'll go "woah, he was weird looking." You will forever have rose tinted glasses. I'm pretty sure this is evolutionary and prevented our mother from tossing us out the window.

Look at this beautiful funny face. You're gonna be done-for.
11. Be Happy
Be as happy as you possibly can be with him. It's not always easy but its not always that hard either. It will pay off because he will mirror your happiness. Again, colic and sickness and the like are exempt from this so don't feel bad if he is miserable when you are aren't.
 Sometimes she manages to be smiley even when she is upset.

12. Become a baby expert. 
Don't just guess. Find out. Look into strange things and new behaviors. From the concerning to the amusing. I did this A LOT her first couple of months. Breastfeeding takes a long time at the beginning so I always had my smart phone on me just finding stuff out.

13. Do what you gotta do
Sometimes its about surviving and thats ok. Download some baby entertaining apps, put the TV on, take hot showers, read a book, watch a movie, see a friend, go to the mall, get outside, go out for a little something everyday when Gerry gets home. Do whatever you gotta do to remain sane and happy. I still struggle with the day to day after 9 months of practice and being a parent is about as far from being perfect as it could possibly be.
This has become my child rearing philosophy and its saved me some stress.

14. Don't try to put a non-tired baby down for a nap.
He will break your spirit if you try. He will always win. Similarly, don't try to keep a sleepy baby awake. Again, he will always win.

15. You will love every age
and then be both sad and happy when they move on from it. I think I said every month how much I loved this age and that I wish she would never get older. I'm still saying that and probably will for awhile yet. Above all, appreciate your time with him as you go through his baby stages together. It's gonna be wonderful (for the most part).

16. You are going to do wonderfully.
'Nuff said. 
You are an amazing aunt and will be a fantastic mother.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Smart Hands Baby Signing App First Look

I'm hungry, I want milk, I want more milk, I'm tired, I need help.

Some basics communications that we take for granted. Not only can we fix these needs for ourselves but we could communicate them to others as well if we needed to.

Being a baby must be frustrating but being a parent who can't read minds is worse. We want to fix the problem ASAP. No one wants their baby to feel hungry or thirsty and then upset because of it.

Until a baby is able to verbalize beyond mamamamamama dadadadada nananana bababana we either become amazing at guess work (moms are pretty intuitive, I tell ya) OR the family learns to sign to each other.

I think this will not only help me but extended family who care for her as well. I'm with this sweet little baby 24/7 and know her schedule of sleeping and eating so much that my body wakes up when it knows she is supposed to. But for others, the idea that she can communicate her needs will save a lot of time and frustration. What I am looking forward to are the "more"  "hurt" and "help" things that you can't always anticipate.

So we are going to give this app a try for iPhone and iPad and see how it goes.

 In an app I am looking for something straight forward, easy to use and with plenty of features. This may sound contrary but I don't want 3 apps to do one thing. If I can find one app that does all three that is a better app. Here it goes.

This app was better better than expected. I think I expected it to be more like a book where you pick a sign and there is a picture-visual of how to perform the sign. This is fine, books don't have a choice but to do things this way. However, it doesn't give my human brain the 3D spatial instruction that it so craves.

There are two ways to look up words which I appreciated. The only category I would have liked to have seen was a Beginner/Moderate/Advanced category. Since we are just starting words like balloon and battery are a bit advanced for us, I am looking for more things like hungry and more.

However, once I went through the signs I was able to easily save them to favorites. Like, seriously easy.The very best part about this app is the explanation of the sign. She goes through the sign, then breaks it down slower with a description of the movement.

If applicable there is also an explanation of what the sign means like if the sign is a combination of letters (like I love you) or it describes a motion associated with the word. In the sign for Animal (below) you are to imagine the sign as the animals lungs breathing in and out.
 I loved this.

So you've gone through some signs and think you know your stuff. Well, this app will test your knowledge with a quiz. It changes up the signs every time you want to quiz yourself so you get the full experience.

You start out with the sign without any verbal help. Then the multiple choice part pops up. A lot of these signs are actually pretty easy and if you give it a second or two of thought you can generally guess what it is even if you're not signing proficient quite yet. 

 Because I am amazing, this is what happens. "That's right" you fantastic sign language genius.

So I'm walking away from my first look at this app pretty satisfied. I think its a great tool to add to any literature that you have on baby signing. I do recommend literature because it talks about frequency, first things to sign, when to expect them to sign back and things like that so you don't get frustrated and quit. The book that is associated with this app is the Baby Signing Bible by Laura Berg.   The author is the lady who is doing the sign instructions as well. 

If you want more information check out their website, there are online classes, games and an ASL dictionary.

When was the first time your baby communicated with you? For people still wandering through the baby garden this could be just a smile or a laugh. For those seasoned veterans selling their baby vegetables at the farmers market this would be more like mama, dada or bad (haha). 

The first time she laughed, I cried I was so happy. Communication is a beautiful thing. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Dear Sister Part 1: The Pre Baby List

My younger sister is expecting a bouncing baby boy in late September (but probably October). Even though Vi is my first baby and she isn't even a year yet I feel as though I've acquired (some) knowledge of baby rearing.

On that note, my expertise is limited to a healthy, non colicky, fairly even tempered girl baby. However, unlike the previous geneations who have solid advice my advice is so fresh that I havent even left the garden yet.

So I'm going to try to keep this fairly general and most of the things I am going to list she has already asked or saw my experiences or heard me taking about it.
Despite that. Here it goes, it's gonna be a long one.

1. Try to labour at home as long as possible.
This does not mean until you're past the point of no return. Give yourself plenty of leeway to get to the hospital in a leisurely fashion. It certainly won't be leisurely for you, I'm sorry to say. Also make sure you have enough time to have an epidural if that your plan (and I'm pretty sure it is).
It's SO much easier to be distracted when you have your own movies, music, reading material and friends who can come and go easily.
Invite everyone, the whole neighbourhood. Make them tell you jokes and basically ignore everytime you need to stop and breath and wince and cry a little. No need to dwell on a contraction everytime it happens. Live it and move on.

2. Ask for the drugs (if you want them) if and when it becomes so tiresome and painful that you panic a little. 
Or before if you want. I had the policy that the less time I was doped up the better. Don't let the nurses make you feel pressured any which way. The anesthesiologist will come back to the hospital, even if he wants to sleep, to inject that sweet sweet nectar into your back.

3. Start preparing meals for yourself to freeze.
Super easy stuff than you can take out in the morning and let thaw all day. Sheppards pie, lasagna, stews, chili, borscht. Anything with a lot of fibre.

4. Buy tucks pads, a sits bath and fibre supplements 
You're gonna need them.

5. Make Lists
Make a birthing checklist, I found one by just googling birth plan checklist or something. They are always geared towards Americans so don't take things too literally. Also when the time comes don't be upset when your birth plan gets thrown out the window. It's a guide and it's mostly so you know your options.
Make a baby stuff list, again something you can search. Don't be duped into thinking you need it all. You won't.
Lists made me feel a bit better, a bit more in control. They can also be stressful when you don't have it all a week before your due date. People have survived for millions of years without this stuff so don't sweat it.

6. Make sure the call button works at the hospital.
Not pre baby but not baby care. Call for something simple like extra bed pads.
You will want to be sure in case there is an emergency or you need something in a hurry. Call while there are still people visiting so someone can run and tell them it didn't work.

7. Bring a whole box of your own pads to the hospital for after the baby
I didn't. So stupid.
Also pack at least like 15 diapers. I think I only packed 8. Also so stupid. They don't poop or pee that much yet but that won't stop you from changing him unnecessarily.

8. Listen to and read lots of different experiences
From the 30 hour to the 40 minute. With and without drugs. Different kinds of drugs. Various circumstances. Emergency situations.
Then comfort yourself by repeatedly saying, "everyone's experience is different." Don't think about what ifs but also don't be in a situation where things are happening around you and you're the only clueless one.

9. Don't be afraid to tell people what's what during labor.
Friends, family, nursing staff. We aren't mind readers. It's ok to be bossy. Encouraged. Tell us what you need and want. We are at your beck and call.

10. Don't be afraid. 
Nervous, yes. Anxious, probably. Don't be afraid because its unavoidable. Face it head on.

Most importantly,

11. I'm there for you. 
I'll also go away when you don't need me. When it's family time.
I love you. I want this to be as awesome as an experience as I know it can be.
You're going to be amazing and I have faith in you.