Sunday, 30 November 2008

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus

Today marks the beginning of Advent, a season of expectant waiting and preparation in the weeks leading up to the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ the Messiah.

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.


We will mark the passing of Advent with the lighting of one candle on the Advent wreath each week and with a Jesse tree study beginning on December 1st.

Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the saints Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.


I know it won't yet mean much to a young toddler, but we will be starting our traditions now so that they are a part of our celebrations right from the beginning. It also helps me to prepare my own heart during this Advent season, a way to reflect on and anticipate the coming celebration at a time when it becomes so easy to get caught up in the busyness of gift buying, decorating, attending Christmas parties, watching Christmas performances, packing and travelling.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.


May this Advent season be a blessing to you as well as you look to the coming of Christ. O Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, desire of every nation, Savior of all peoples, come and dwell among us.


By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

I have a new love

...and her name is Betty Crocker.

I've had the worst luck with cookies lately. I couldn't figure out why - I'm not a completely inept individual, I can follow a recipe. I used to be able to make good cookies. But for months now, every time I bake them, they spread way out into flat little cookie-flavoured pancakes. It's really no wonder we usually just eat the dough raw (yummm).

I wanted real cookies last night, so brilliant me figured it was probably time to find another recipe, since the one I was using was clearly not working for me. Fortunately, my MIL had bought me a cookbook for Christmas last year (no, I wasn't insulted - but my husband tells me she was worried I would be!). It's a wonderful Betty Crocker cookbook. It has so many useful things, like the basic way to cook vegetables, how to identify all sorts of different veggies and spices and whatnot, what to substitute if you don't have a particular ingredient on hand, and what the problem may have been if your baking didn't turn out quite right. So useful.


So I flipped to the chocolate chip cookie recipe, noticed that it had quite a bit more flour and one less egg than the recipe I was using (gee, you think that might have been my problem?), whipped up a batch of cookies, waited anxiously for them to finish baking...and ended up with this:


Deliciously plump chocolate chip cookies.

I won't tell you how many of them I ate.


Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)


1. Heat oven to 375ยบF.

2. Mix sugars, butter and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be stiff). Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

Friday, 28 November 2008

In which I eat my words

*nom nom nom*

Today was a long day, a sadly unproductive attempt to get all of our Christmas shopping done. Ikea was sold out of the activity mat we had gone to buy for the little guy, and we found nothing there for my SIL who loves the store. The big toy superstore was sold out of large buckets of Duplo, and apparently there is a general shortage of the blocks. Shopping for my sisters, my other SIL, and my in-laws didn't go much better. I did manage to find a few things, but still have more to do.

Anyway.

We had one last store to go to and then I was done for the day. Well, so was the little guy. He was about five seconds away from a completely justified hunger-induced toddler meltdown, and he needed something to eat now.

I scooped him up and made a quick detour to the grocery store, where what did I spot but these:


Do you know what I said the first time I saw these, a couple weeks ago?

I believe it went something like this:

"Oh my goodness will you look at these, what sort of lazy parent do you have to be to buy pre-cut and pre-packaged apples and grapes?? And look at the price of these things! You could buy a bunch of grapes and a few apples for a fraction of the cost! Slice them yourself and toss them in a baggie with a few grapes! For goodness' sake, the things they come up with to cater to our laziness nowadays!"

And so on and so forth.

Well...when you're in desperate need of a quick and healthy snack, with no place and no time to prepare it, no knife to slice the apple, no sink to wash the grapes...suddenly those oh my goodness how lazy do you have to be snacks look really darn wonderful.

*BLUSH*

Yeah, I bought them. Yeah, my kid ate them. Yeah, he loved them.

Yeah, I'm eating my words.

Furthermore...

(Yes, there's more.)

That "one last store" I had to go to just happened to be Walmart. I despise the store, I really do, and I try to avoid it whenever I can, but I was having such a hard time finding gifts that I gave in and went there. I do that occasionally. I feel bad, but I do it. I've made my peace with that.

But on top of Walmart, I also generally try to avoid Disney. Big corporation, disgustingly unethical, always always always shoving their merchandise in your face everywhere you turn - I just try to avoid getting caught up in that. It helps that my husband's opinion of Disney is even lower than mine.

So we don't have a lot of Disney stuff in our house. There are a couple outfits that were given by my Disney-obsessed family members - that's fine, he wears those, as much as I cringe at letting him be a walking Disney billboard. But he really really likes the Cars stuff. One of said gift outfits is a Cars shirt and is one of his favourites. He points Cars stuff out everywhere we go. And honestly, it was kind of a cute movie (I give the credit to Pixar).

Get to the point, I know, sorry.

So we're at Walmart. So, it seems, is everyone else in the area. There are no shopping carts left. I've got an arm full of bags, my purse, a toddler who has had enough of shopping (though much calmer now that he's had his oh my goodness so lazy pre-cut and pre-packaged fruit) - and, irritatingly enough, a baby carrier I'd left in the car at the other end of the mall because I hadn't planned to use it. He finds this Cars book that makes him squeal with delight and gives him something to focus on while I quickly finish shopping, I buy it for him, and wuddayaknow, this Disney book doesn't leave his hands for the rest of the day.

Proof positive? Here ya go:


And a couple hours later:


I asked him if I could lay it on his bookshelf so he could go to sleep. He gave me the toddler version of a you can have this book when you pry it from my cold dead hands response.

Of all the books he has in this house...his favourite would have to be a Disney one.

Like I said.

*nom nom nom*

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Randomness

Melody at Transitions of an Overachiever has asked me to write seven random things about myself. How fun - so here goes!


1. I am the oldest of six kids. When I was growing up, I didn't want a large family myself. Now that I have one child of my own, I love the idea of a large family. But it seems they'll be quite spread out, as my son is 19 months old and my period has yet to return. Go, breastfeeding. I hope to foster and/or adopt children at some point in the future.

2. Everyone has at least one silly little fear. (Right? You all do? Because that's what I tell myself to make myself feel better about having this silly little fear.) I can't dangle my arm or leg - or even my hand - off the edge of the bed during the night. Why? Because I can't see what's down there. There could be - who knows? - an alligator under the bed ready to snap my hand off as soon as it dangles over the edge. Or someone could grab me and yank me off the bed. You just never know. Similarly, even though I am a very strong and comfortable swimmer (passed all my levels up to lifeguarding, participated in several mini triathalons, etc), I don't like swimming in lakes where I can't see the bottom - because again, who knows what's down there just waiting to bite my foot off or grab my ankle and drag me under? Okay, fine, so I realize that both of those are completely irrational - that doesn't change the fact that I can't bring myself to let my arm dangle over the edge of the bed at night.

3. I worked in a library for seven years. I loved working there. If I could, I'd work in a library for the rest of my life (once my children were grown). I love libraries. I love books.

4. As a work-at-home mom, I work four different jobs at the moment. I am an accountant for a public accounting firm (my boss let me start working from home instead of coming back to the office when my maternity leave ended), I am a distance education instructor for a college, I do program development and investment tracking for a man I used to work for, and I do some bookkeeping for another man I used to work for. The last three are all jobs I do for employers in a different province than the one I currently live in (I moved away from there two and a half years ago).

5. I did all of my education (a professional Certified General Accountant designation and a Bachelor of Applied Business Administration degree) by distance education over the course of five years. I took a double course load in my first year and did summer courses to cut down the time on the seven year program. I also worked three jobs at the same time and graduated debt-free. I highly recommend distance education to those who have the self-motivation to do the course work yourself.

6. I met my husband when we were in the seventh grade. We didn't start dating until two years after we graduated high school (eight years after we met). He is such a nice and loving man and I am very blessed to have married him. He's also an amazing father, so patient and silly and fun.

7. I raise hermit crabs. I think they are the neatest pet ever. I also have two cats, but pretty much they just drive me nuts.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Thank you!

Our Family is His at It's a Boy's Life gave me this amazingly sweet blog award. I was so surprised and touched by this!


Here's what I have to do now. (AKA - The Rules!)

1. Put the award up on your blog

2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you

3. Nominate at least seven other blogs

4. Add links to these blogs on your blog

5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog


Heather at A Day in My Life also gave me an award recently, the Marie Antoinette, Real Person Award. That meant so much to me!


The rules for this award want you to reflect who awarded it to you, display the icon, and pass it along to seven (7) other bloggers.

Both of these awards go to the following seven incredible bloggers (Just seven?? But there are so many!):

Lauren @ Fizleglitz
Jen @ Hilty Sprouts
Carol @ Parenting Freedom
Annie @ PhD in Parenting
Rachel @ Simplicity Soup
Stefanie @ Sparkle o' Joy
Natasha @ To Live for Him

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Perceptions

I've been pondering the idea of self-perception versus the perception others have of us for quite while now. I mentioned recently that I'd often been labeled as "stuck-up" in the past because of how painfully shy I was. I knew that I wasn't stuck-up, I knew that I was just too horribly shy to talk to other people - but they didn't. They just knew that I kept to myself and didn't talk to them.

Last year a group of moms in our church had a weekly meeting where we could get together with our kids and let them play at our feet while we did a Bible study. We discussed the fruits of the Spirit over the course of the year:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
Galatians 5:22-23

On the day we discussed self-control, we considered whether it maybe meant not just controlling in the sense of holding back, but in the sense of taking action as well. People often talk, for example, of having self-control over what they eat - which generally means restraint. Or self-control in the sense of not hitting someone when you're angry. But maybe, it was suggested, it means forcing ourselves to do things we don't necessarily want to do, rather than just not doing things we do want to do. Maybe, for example, it would include forcing ourselves to talk with people and carry a conversation despite this not being something we're generally comfortable with.

I've thought about that a lot since then. I think I've come a long way over the past two or three years. I still have a long way to go - I always will, in some area or another - but I've discovered a sense of self-confidence that was most definitely lacking in prior years. I've become better at initiating and carrying conversation. I've become less easily intimidated, less sensitive, more calm, okay with the fact that not everyone is going to like me. So maybe I'm less likely to be thought of as being stuck-up now (or maybe I'm more likely - eek!), but I've little doubt that other perceptions have risen up to take its place.

With that in mind, I find myself wondering - does it matter what others think of us? I grew up hearing that it doesn't - forget what they say, you know yourself, just ignore them, they're wrong about you, it doesn't matter what other people think.

But why do they think those things about us? And if that's the perception we're giving off - regardless of how true it is - shouldn't we care? Shouldn't we do something to change the way we come off? Why are we generally thought of as being [fill in the blank] - selfish, spoiled, hypocritical, self-righteous, callous, uncaring, stuck-up, whatever - despite not seeing those things in ourself? Maybe we should care what others think after all.

Forgive the rambliness and lack of clarity of these thoughts...I'm not sure where exactly I'm going with them. They're just some thoughts I've been pondering over the past few months. Now, to figure out what to do with them...the hardest part being, I suppose, figuring out just what others' perceptions of me are in the first place.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Mother Letter Project

I just read about The Mother Letter Project (hat tip to Laura at Wild Parenting), an amazingly sweet Christmas present from a man to his wife. From the Mother Letter Project blog:

I am creating my wife’s Christmas present-the Mother Letter Project. Simply stated, I am collecting a series of “open letters” from mothers, to mothers. Share your stories—no matter how raw or difficult. Share your concerns—no matter how foolish they may seem. Share your wisdom—no matter how you came by it. Share your mother story. The only request? Start the letter “Dear Mother” and sign it. I will compile all of the letters in a Christmas book for my wife. If you share a letter here or by email (motherletter@gmail.com) before Christmas, you'll get your own copy of the letters.

What a neat and thoughtful idea! I'm already putting ideas together in my head (and trying to remember that he's asking for letters here, not books).

So, mothers? Anyone else with me?

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Potty Learning

We've had a few more dry diapers and pees on the toilet over the past couple days. I need to get out and buy a smaller seat to put on the toilet, as he (understandably) doesn't always seem comfortable being held on the big toilet seat, and then we'll start giving him access on a regular basis. So, I guess we're starting potty learning!

Annie at PhD in Parenting shared her opinions and experiences with potty learning. Here's a snippet:

Just like with infant and toddler sleep, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about what is normal. The generation before us prided themselves on getting their babies toilet trained before the age of two (I’m guessing the fashionable question at the time was “Is she toilet trained yet?” instead of the “Is she sleeping through the night?” question that we hear so often these days). Elizabeth Pantley has a great quiz to help you assess your child’s readiness for potty training: Potty Training Readiness Quiz.

So we'll see how it goes. I don't intend to make a huge pressure-filled deal out of it and turn him off of the idea altogether; we'll just take him to the bathroom every hour and give him the opportunity to pee if he needs to.

As an amusing little side note, I turn on the tap every time I set him on the toilet so that the sound of running water sort of helps him along (Is that cheating? I don't know.). So far, every single time, my husband has said, "Great...now I need to go!"

Saturday, 22 November 2008

You know you're a bookworm when...

You go on a date with your husband for the first time in months...and you each spend intermission reading your own books.

I pointed this out...we laughed...and went back to reading our books.

Ah, the romance.

It was a very nice night. The concert (Handel's Messiah) was incredibly well done. I confess it's not necessarily my "thing", and by the third hour I was getting a bit fidgety, but my husband absolutely loved it. It was definitely interesting though, and I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on the scripture surrounding Christ's birth, death and resurrection in a new way (as they sang it over and over and over again). Beautiful.

The boy did wonderfully with the couple who was babysitting him. They said we had "the most perfect little boy ever". I'm inclined to agree, but then again my husband insists on pointing out that I might be a bit biased in this regard. Pff, whatever.

(Am I allowed to be just the littlest bit hurt, though, that the boy apparently hardly even noticed we were gone? Four and a half hours, and he didn't even miss me? Just had fun playing with the babysitters? My poor feelings. *sniff*)

We came home, put the little guy to bed, then played Risk. The husband won...again. Le sigh.

I hate that stupid game.

(Yes, I'm bitter.)

All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening. I have a Christmas party coming up that my boss has told me I will be there for...so I guess we have another date in a couple weeks!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Date night!

My husband and I used to have "date night" every Friday night. I don't know when we fell out of the habit, but now with him unemployed we spend lots of time together anyway. But tonight! Tonight we are going out on a date. By ourselves.

Oh, the craziness.

This will be only the second time we have left our son with someone else, plus once or twice when we left him with my husband's parents when we were out there visiting. So it'll be sort of strange. Perhaps a bit nerve-wracking. I admit it, I have a really hard time trusting him with anyone else - but more than that, we just haven't felt the need to. He joins us wherever we go and we enjoy being with him. We have time alone together after he goes to bed.

But my husband wanted to go to a concert of Handel's Messiah (hardly the most toddler-friendly activity) and really, an evening out together will be nice. The couple who will be watching him this evening are truly wonderful people, I don't have the slightest hesitation over leaving him in their care.

Which probably won't stop me from worrying just a teensy bit anyway.

Off to tidy up the house a bit while looking forward to our date. Ooh, whatever shall I wear?

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The training begins

Tonight was our first night of training for the Parent Companion Program that I mentioned before. Although I had originally planned to be a birth companion, I'm looking forward now to being a parent companion instead. It was a pretty overview-ish, paperwork-y night, but interesting nonetheless.

We'll be matched with a partner in January. I'm nervous but excited. This is really a big step out of my comfort zone for me, the one who was so often labeled as "stuck-up" because I was so painfully shy. I do hope it goes well.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

First steps

Yesterday - out of the blue! - we had three dry diapers and two pees on the big toilet.

Shock and amazement!

I don't know whether this will continue, and I admit I'm not holding my breath in case it was merely a fluke, not to be repeated for many more months, but perhaps it really was his first steps towards potty learning.

I admit it - I sniffled a little bit. They grow up so fast, it catches you by surprise sometimes. My husband said yesterday that while it's always been neat to watch him learn new things, it's like a switch has flicked recently and he's kicked things into a higher gear. It's true, and is it ever fascinating to watch.

I wasn't planning on starting potty learning for, goodness, another year-ish. It wasn't something I wanted to push him towards before he was ready, so I planned to take a slow and casual pace. Maybe he has different plans - they do say, after all, that kids in cloth diapers learn to use the potty earlier than kids in disposables, since you can feel the wetness in cloth diapers while disposables whisk it all away.

And besides, isn't that the core of attachment parenting - working with your child, recognizing their cues, adjusting your approach to fit an individual child...knowing them, building a relationship with them, walking along beside them? And parenting just wouldn't be parenting if it weren't always evolving, plans revised, nothing ever quite the way you expected - and so often, much much better than you could even have imagined.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Just guide gently

I read the most wonderful picture of parenting recently, Just Guide Gently over at A Holy Experience. I couldn't possibly think of a better analogy - nor could I ever say it so beautifully.

Just a snippet:

“If you’ll look closely, do you see how it puckers here, when you push the material through? Don’t rush, or push the fabric along. If you push the material through, you’ll end up with wrinkled, disappointing handiwork. You just guide….”

“Gently?” Hope offers.

“Yes! That’s it precisely: no pushing…or you’ll wrinkle everything. Just guide gently.”

My ladle hangs midair. Empty bowl waits in one hand. I have ears to hear.

Rain streams in rivulets down the glass. The needle again begins to purr. I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and finger write those words on soul sand: “Just guide gently.”

Push and it will all pucker.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Language

Language skills have absolutely erupted here over the past week or two. I've been waiting for this so it's nice to see it happen. The little guy will now mimic anything when prompted (something he hadn't been doing before) and the words he can say are even clearer.

The other day he figured out how to nod "yes" - which is hilarious. He does such an exaggerated nod, bending waaay back, then flinging his head all the way forward. My husband called it "a Japanese bow on steroids". Yes, my husbands has no idea how to be politically correct.

I'm also really impressed with how easily he can follow instructions now (the little guy that is - not my husband). Sometimes I'll ask him to do something complicated - either with multiple steps or in words that I'm not certain he will yet understand - and he'll just run off and do it. Meanwhile I'm sitting there completely flabbergasted, having expected to have to explain further or coach him through the steps.

Letting us know what he wants has become much clearer as well. He'll use words, multiple signs, pointing and occasionally some bodily tugging or pushing to get his message across. He's learned the sign for "tired" and has been using that when he wants to go to bed, which is just so sweet. And he absolutely shocked me the other day when he actually asked me to change his diaper, as he's never shown any notice of having a dirty diaper before. He's asked a couple times since then - maybe this is a sign that we can start considering potty learning? I'm a total newb, I admit it, I have no idea how to go about doing that.

He also understands the idea of "first we have to do this...then we can go do that." Not that he's always happy about it, but he understands it and accepts it.

And books! He's long been a huge fan of books, but things had started to peter off a bit in that regard. There has been a definite resurgence lately, though, leaving us with tall stacks of books in all his favourite reading spots.

He's recently started on a dinosaur kick, which surprised me for some reason. Now he points them out everywhere, has added "dinosaur" to the list of words he can say, and his most requested book is a dinosaur alphabet book. Some of those dinosaur names...quite the mouthful. Ah well, first I had to learn how to tell the difference between a backhoe and a bulldozer and a loader and all the rest, now I suppose it's time to get my "mother to a little boy" education in dinosaurs.

Ah, but with all these great leaps in communication lately, we had one dismal failure the other day. The little guy was standing beside the toilet with me, watching as I scraped out his diaper. When I was done I nodded to him to go ahead and flush the toilet, which he likes to do when I'm finished with the diaper. Well, he interpreted my "flush the toilet" nod as a "go ahead and drop that sock you're holding into the toilet" nod. Doh. I let out an exclamation and he looked up at me with a "oh...that wasn't was I was supposed to do?" look, followed by an "am I in trouble?" look, so I sighed and closed my mouth and fished the floating sock out of the toilet and tossed it in the diaper pail. Lesson learned - use words, not nods.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Sharing the love

I received this award from Heather and Korey last week. Thank you, ladies! It was so sweet and thoughtful of you.


This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.


The rules are:

1. Accept the award and post it on your blog along with a link to the person who has awarded you.

2. Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Here are the blogs I picked:

1. Stefani @ Blue Yonder
2. Adrian @ Dreamin' in Technicolor
3. Patti @ Fill Me With Beauty
4. Lauren @ Fizleglitz
5. Rebecca @ Graceful Parenting
6. Jen @ Hilty Sprouts
7. Carol @ Parenting Freedom
8. Annie @ PhD in Parenting
9. Nicole @ The Single Domestic
10. naejeirual @ Thinkin'
11. Natasha @ To Live For Him
12. Melody @ Transitions of an Overachiever
13. Sara @ Walk Slowly Live Wildly
14. Christine @ Welcome to my Brain
15. Laura @ Wild Parenting

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Mememememe

Husband has been sick. Sleep has been short. Work has been overabundant. PhD in Parenting has tagged me, and for that I am grateful.

THE FAVOURITE MEME

Fill in your favourite for each of the following:

1. Political show Don't really watch any. Especially since we don't have TV.

2. Picnic food Potato salad.

3. Mixed drink Cranberry juice and Sprite. Heh.

4. U.S. President I enjoy Reagan's quotes.

5. Kind of student to teach One who is interested in learning.

6. Hobby you do or wish you still did Knitting. It's much more interesting now that I've branched out beyond squares and rectangles.

7. Sports commentator *yawn* Sorry, what?

8. Sport to watch on TV Gymnastics.

9. Animal to have as a pet Hermit crabs are awesome pets.

10. Halloween costume you have worn I have fond memories of a very pretty ballerina costume I wore when I was very very small.

11. Kind of dessert Anything with chocolate.

12. Comic strip I love For Better or For Worse

13. Style or make of footwear My cheap $10 Walmart cork sandals. I buy a new pair every year and wear them until they quite literally fall apart. They are my guilty Walmart pleasure.

14. Ice cream flavor Ooh, that's a tough one. It would be a toss up between chocolate chip mint and chocolate cherry. I just finished eating the most delicious chocolate cherry ice cream a few minutes ago. I just discovered it at Farm Boy last week. If you live near a Farm Boy, buy some.

15. College or university president I probably liked the president of the Certified General Accountants Association when I graduated.

16. Internet news source Heh, my husband. Or at least he reads it off the Internet to me. He likes CBC.

17. Vacation spot Is it warm? I'm there.

18. Wine I'm not terribly fond of wine. Sipping it during communion every week from the time I was a little girl has made drinking more than a tiny sip of it taste incredibly weird and overwhelming.

19. Way to waste time instead of working Reading blogs and forums, not that I think I'm wasting time when I'm doing that. Not all the time, anyway.

20. Student excuse for late work Bowel reconstruction surgery. Definitely valid in my books. She got a two month extension for that. (I teach an online course.)

21. Reality show I'm drawn to shows like Wife Swap, even though they usually annoy me. I loved the first season of The Apprentice.

22. Jewelry on a man Other than the wedding ring on my husband, nothing really.

23. Pizza topping Lots of meat. Especially spicy sausage.

24. Children’s movie The Land Before Time. Only the original one though. Not the 5,386 movies that followed.

25. Celebrity you wish would retire ...Can't think of anyone.

Tag, you're it! Lauren, Melody, Karyn, Korey, Heather, and you. Yes, you. Because probably the only reason I didn't list you by name was that I thought you wouldn't be interested. If you are, consider yourself tagged.

Friday, 14 November 2008

One such day

Sometimes snuggling in a warm bath is the perfect way to redeem an otherwise grumpy day - for mama and chid.

Today was one such day.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today has been a crazy day.

I work from home, but this morning I had to go in to a client's to help them with their accounting system. I guesstimated one hour, two tops. Four hours later, I was finally done and on my way.

Sadly, I wasn't heading home, but to the mechanics, as our heater hasn't been working for a couple weeks now and it was time to admit that it needed some help (plus, the burning smell...couldn't mean anything good). I drop my car off, but now it's pouring and I've got a good half hour's walk ahead of me since the mechanic had no courtesy cars left. Meanwhile I'm imagining my poor boy at home, nearly five hours since I left and now his naptime. I just hoped the neighbours didn't complain about the wailing that was sure to be happening.

And then this lady, another customer, offers to give me a ride home! I gratefully accept and ten minutes later I'm unlocking the door to our home, after thanking the lady profusely and being told to pass it on if I can (I absolutely will!). I don't hear any screaming yet. This is good. I open the door and find, not my son crying, but my husband moaning. He's been sick ever since I left, he tells me, but the little guy has been an absolute angel for him (phew!).

After a few minutes of rushing around changing a diaper and getting a load of wash going, I get both my men settled into our bed for a nap. Shhhh, they're sleeping.

So after that crazy morning, I need to pull out the bits I'm especially thankful for:

* Having a sweet little boy who will sit on the couch at his sick daddy's feet, reading books quietly to himself.

* Having a wonderful husband who, despite spending five hours watching said boy by himself while shaking and throwing up and feeling generally miserable, doesn't grumble in the least when I finally get back home.

* Having a kind stranger offer to drive me home so that I don't have to walk through the rain.

* Having heat in my car again, and a repair bill that isn't too frightening.

* Having a job that usually allows me to work from home.

Now to continue knitting a tiny little hat for Mama to Mama's Caps to Cap-Haitien Project, and wait for my boys to wake up from their nap.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

International Babywearing Week



From the Babywearing International website:

Benefits of Babywearing

Medical professionals agree that infants thrive through touch; “wearing” your baby is another way to meet this need. But the benefits of babywearing don’t end there...babywearing offers many other advantages, some of which include:

• Happy Babies. It’s true … carried babies cry less! In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours.

• Healthy Babies. Premature babies and babies with special needs often enter the world with fragile nervous systems. When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes—walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses. Research has even shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not.

• Confident Parents. A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our babies’ cues successfully. Holding our babies close in a sling allows us to become finely attuned to their movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction deepens the mutual attachment between parent and child, and is especially beneficial for mothers who are at risk for or suffering from postpartum depression.

• Loving Caregivers. Baby carriers are a great bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, adoptive parents, babysitters, and other caregivers. Imagine a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby isbecoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements, and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Baby carriers are beneficial for every adult in a baby’s life. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you!

• Comfort and Convenience. With the help of a good carrier, you can take care of older children or do chores without frequent interruptions from an anxious or distressed infant—which helps to reduce sibling rivalry. Baby carriers are also wonderful to use with older babies and toddlers; you can save those arms and go where strollers can’t. Climbing stairs, hiking, and navigating crowded airports all can be done with ease when you use a well-designed baby carrier!

Babywearing has been wonderful for us. From the time our son was an infant, we've found it be more useful than we ever could have imagined. From those early days when he napped better snuggled close to a warm body, to long days of teething, to walking outdoors in the snowy Canadian winters, to innumerable other instances, babywearing has saved my sanity. And that's with only one child! I can imagine the benefits only increasing with each new child, allowing two hands free to chase after silly toddlers, prepare meals for hungry children, and take care of all the other demands of parenting that can't always be done with a babe in arms. And on top of that are all the benefits to the baby - and a few more!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Lest We Forget

We spent the morning at the Remembrance Day ceremonies. We were way in the back and couldn't see much, but like my husband said to me, it was just the act of being there that mattered, spending an hour in the cold in thanks and honour for those who fought and even died for our freedom.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

- John McCrae


"To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die..." May we continue to fight for freedom every day.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Homosexual marriage

At the risk of sounding snarky (I don't mean to!), I honestly don't understand some things surrounding the whole homosexual marriage issue. On both sides. So however you feel about it, feel free to chime in and edumacate me.

Let's start with the people who are for homosexual marriage, since it's the easier of the two. For the most part, I understand. But just focusing on one little thing - I absolutely understand why supporters would want same-sex unions of some sort. I don't need any clarification in that regard. What I don't understand is why supporters want to change the definition of marriage itself in order to allow for same-sex marriage, especially in places where same-sex unions are allowed and are granted the same rights as married couples. Why is a civil union with rights equivalent to marriage unsatisfactory?

Now, moving on to those who are against same-sex marriage and/or same-sex unions. If you are not a Christian and are against either/or, why? It actually shocks me that same-sex unions are still limited to only a handful of states, as the only people I ever hear speaking against this are those who are against it for religious reasons. I don't understand why, unless one is a Christian and believes homesexuality to be a sin, one would be opposed to this?

And now for the majority - Christians who are against same-sex marriage and/or unions. If you are against same-sex marriage, I more or less understand where you're coming from. But for those who are against even same-sex unions on a religious basis...why?

As Christians, we believe the Bible tells us that homosexuality is a sin. But we believe lots of other things are sins too - including other things related to marriage. How about common-law marriage? Cohabitation? Domestic partnerships? What about premarital sex? What about divorce, which God says He hates?

Why shouldn't all these things be illegal too? If marriage is so sacred, then why aren't Christians lobbying against these things the way they are against same-sex unions, or even homosexuality in general?

And if all sins, no matter how small, are enough to separate us from a holy God, then what about making those "small" sins illegal too? Lying? Greed? Arrogance? Gossip?

It seems that many of us as Christians feel it is our duty to legislate our morals. What makes us think we should be able to tell others what to do, and even to force them to do it through laws? Do we think we can bring salvation through laws? And if so, isn't that the whole point of the gospel, that the law - whether religious law or governmental law - cannot save us? That we need a Saviour? Isn't that what the Law was supposed to show us?

I do not in any way believe that churches should perform same-sex marriages or blessings. As a member of the Anglican church, this is an issue that touches very close to home for me, as the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church of the USA have both split over this very issue. We belong to a church that has chosen to reject the idea of the church blessing or performing same-sex marriages, as we do not believe the church should ever bless something which the Bible says in a sin.

But the law has nothing to do with Christianity, and we should hope it remains so. One day, should it become illegal to preach or read God's Word, will you obey the law then? And as for what the world does? We cannot (and should not) force them to conform to our morals and beliefs, nor even expect them to - for why would they? Would you obey Islam's commands if you did not believe in Allah or follow that particular religion?

Maybe we should start by showing the world Jesus.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Sweet dreams

Hush little baby, don't say a word,
Momma's gonna buy you a mocking bird.

Last night as I was laying in bed beside my little boy putting him to sleep, he snuggled up against me and put his arm around me, resting his tiny hand on my back. I think I melted. It got me thinking back over the months of co-sleeping - months of little fingers grasping mine, months of warm snuggles, months of peaceful sleeps and easy wake-ups.

If that mocking bird don't sing,
Momma's gonna buy you a diamond ring.

It also got me thinking back to how our co-sleeping began. We hadn't planned to co-sleep, not really, but we knew we wanted our baby close in those first few months. He had a bassinet right next to our bed. He slept in it at night and during the occasional nap - the rest of his naps he slept either on my lap or snuggled close in a baby carrier (usually a wrap back in those days).

If that diamond ring turns brass,
Momma's gonna buy you a looking glass.

This worked for a while. We were extremely spoiled with a baby who slept six hours straight each night by the time he was a week old, and slept ten hour stretches by the time he was a month old. Like I said, extremely spoiled. But he started making up for it when he turned 3 months old (as those early sleeping babies are prone to do), waking up first once each night, then twice, then more and more until he was up nearly every.single.hour for a stretch of I-was-too-tired-to-remember-how-many weeks.

If that looking glass gets broke,
Momma's gonna buy you a billy goat.

Exhaustion. At first I kept up the whole bassinet thing. He'd wake up for food, I'd sit up and feed him, try not to fall asleep, change his diaper, and put him back to sleep in the bassinet. Repeat as many times as he woke up in a night.

If that billy goat won't pull,
Momma's gonna buy you a cart and bull.

One night it was same as usual - he woke up, I fed him. Suddenly, I don't know how much later, I snapped awake in a full-out panic and realized I had no idea where my baby was, had no memory of putting him back to sleep, the light was still on, and oh-my-goodness where was he and was he okay and how could I do such a thing? I frantically searched the bed and the floor. Finally I noticed him sound asleep in his bassinet - apparently I had put him back to sleep after all, despite having no memory of it and having fallen back asleep with the light on.

If that cart and bull turns over,
Momma's gonna buy you a dog named Rover.

From that night on, he slept with us. When he woke up, I'd latch him on and we'd both lie there peacefully until we fell asleep again. He didn't start consistently sleeping through the night again until he was a year old, but co-sleeping made it so much more bearable. We both got more sleep because of it. But more than that, there's just something so sweet and so natural and so right about having your children tucked up beside you while you sleep at night. Now that we do it, I couldn't imagine it any other way.

If that dog named Rover won't bark,
Momma's gonna buy you a horse and cart.

We still nurse to sleep most nights, but we've had a few nights lately where he's fallen asleep with me kneeling down beside the bed and singing to him instead. He even has his favourite songs already. He'll point at my mouth when he wants me to start singing. If it's not the song he wants, he'll cover my mouth with his hand until I stop, then point at it again for a new song. When I finally start singing the song he wants, he breaks out into a big grin and lets out one of his adorable little maniacal giggles that I love so much.

And if that horse and cart fall down,
You'll still be the sweetest little baby in town.

Much to my chagrin, he has decided that his favourite song is Hush Little Baby. While I am pleased to have finally memorized the lyrics to this song (I used to always get confused somewhere around the looking glass breaking), it's never been one of my favourites. I mean, what a materialistic song! I most certainly will not buy him all of those things! I think I should rewrite it, sing him my own version.

Hush Little Baby, don't you cry,
Momma's gonna sing you a lullaby.

When your blue eyes start to close,
Momma's gonna kiss you on your nose.

When you wake all bleary-eyed,
Momma's gonna be right at your side.

When the laundry must be done,
Momma's gonna let you in on all the fun...

And so on and so forth. Brilliant, no?

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Week one over!

Week One of NaBloPoMo is over - so far so good! Irritatingly enough, though, instead of having less post drafts waiting for me to finish, I now have more. So much to write about, so little time to write.

Half-written blog posts aside, is there anything you would like me to blog about? I'm always more than open to questions, writing prompts, topic requests and any other inspiration you may have for me!

Friday, 7 November 2008

My hopes for you, Child

Child,

I hope you always know you are loved.


Child,

I hope you do right because you believe it is right.

I hope you will love and serve others.

I hope you will love yourself as well.

I hope you will be compassionate.

I hope that the fruit of the Spirit is evident in your life:
love,
joy,
peace,
patience,
kindness,
goodness,
faithfulness,
gentleness,
self-control.


Child,

I hope you come to know and to love God.

I hope you will discover the joy and peace of an ever-growing relationship with Jesus Christ, becoming His joyful disciple.

I hope you put your faith and trust in Him and find there the peace that passes all understanding.

I hope you question everything you're told, and I hope your basis for truth is always the Bible.


Child,

I hope you fight for the Truth in all things.

I hope you have an inquisitive spirit, never afraid to dig deeper.

I hope you trust generally, but trust your heart and intuition when they sense danger.

I hope you don't always do what you're told.


Child,

I hope you work hard to achieve your goals.

I hope you will be wise, discerning, and responsible.

I hope you grow to become secure, confident, and joyful.

I hope you will honour and follow your God-given bent and always seek His guidance.


Child,

I hope you will always feel safe bringing your struggles of any sort to your parents.

I hope you will always sense our love and support and know that we are praying for you.

I hope you will have a loving and secure marriage, serving each other with mutual adoration, respect, and submission.

I hope you are blessed with children of your own to love and nurture into maturity.


Child,

I hope you look back on your childhood and smile.

I hope you enjoy and appreciate nature in all its forms.

I hope your life is filled with creativity and imagination.

I hope you will have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, ever learning and ever putting that knowledge to practical use.


Child,

I hope you live your life always in the present, but with an eye towards Heaven.

I hope you approach life with passion and wild abandon, but find balance and serenity in life as well.


Child,

I hope that my actions towards you will always bear witness to these hopes I have for you.


"Are my everyday practices likely to help my children grow into the kind of people I'd like them to be? When we fail to examine our objectives we're left by default with practices that are intended solely to get kids to do what they're told."
Alfie Kohn, "Unconditional Parenting"


What about you? What are your hopes for your children?

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Misconceptions

It often frustrates me how many misconceptions there are in regards to the way I parent.

It became even more obvious when my in-laws were here this summer. We spent much of their visit travelling, which meant two long days in the car with a little boy who isn't terribly fond of long car rides. He had an even harder time of it because there were two people in the backseat with him the whole time, keeping him awake in their attempts to keep him happy. At the end of a very long day, back at home at last, my MIL - the most patient and kind lady I know - snapped at me something along the lines of "as if you would have let us leave him to cry anyway."

And yet that was exactly what I had wished she had done! Just leave the poor boy alone so he could fall asleep, even if it meant a few minutes of fussing with someone sitting right next to him holding his hand. Obviously getting out of his carseat was not an option, and a full day in the car with a baby who has not had his nap is, well, less than fun.

(To be clear - this is not a rant about my MIL, whom I love dearly. I simply mention this incident because it was the one that made me realize just how misconstrued my parenting was.)

We don't leave our son to cry himself to sleep at night. We have a good many reasons for this, most centering on the psychological and emotional impact of doing so. I'll save a more detailed explanation of why for another day.

This does not, however, mean that our child never cries. It does not me that we avoid sad, angry, or upset feelings at all costs. It does not mean we are constantly seeking to placate our child. It does not mean we are scared of our child's feelings.

Along those same lines, the fact that we parent our child to sleep, co-sleep, and continue to breastfeed him does not mean that we are "spoiling" him, allowing him to control things, or preventing him from gaining independence. Quite the contrary - physical contact, reassurance, and prompt responses to distress in infancy and childhood provide a secure foundation that leads to secure and confident adults who are better able to form healthy and functional relationships.

I frequently hear equally incorrect assumptions about our discipline techniques. We do not spank, slap, or otherwise hit our son as a form of "discipline". We have many reasons for this, generally relating to the ineffectiveness and the negative long-term effects of spanking (again, another post for another day).

Upon hearing this, the typical response is to launch into a long and wholly unnecessary diatribe on the evils of permissiveness and the necessity of discipline. Alternatively, you get brushed off as having embraced some "newfangled pop psychology" where everything is sunshine and roses 24/7 and your child can do no wrong.

*sigh*

We are not a permissive family. We are fully aware of the necessity of discipline. We simply do not choose to hit our children as a method of such.

But on the other end of the spectrum, neither are we an adversarial family. We do not look at our child as something to be conquered, as an enemy to be fought against, or as a strong will to be broken.

PhD in Parenting wrote an excellent post on discipline that summed up my feelings on the matter exactly. I couldn't say it any better than she already has.

It just frustrates me to no end when people jump to these assumptions upon hearing that we don't leave our child to cry-it-out or use spanking as a method of "discipline". It would certainly be easier for us if we did either of these things. Leaving my child to cry-it-out would save me a lot of time currently spent parenting my child to sleep. Spanking could certainly achieve outward results faster than the methods we have chosen.

But rather than convenience and appearances, I'm more concerned about the long-term effects of my parenting (is this going to lead to a secure and confident healthy adult?) and about my child's inward state rather than merely his outward behaviour (is he able to make wise decisions of his own accord, or just to avoid punishment?). Am I giving him the secure foundation he needs? Am I coming alongside him to disciple him into maturity? Is his heart in the right place - or does he just appear to be a "good boy"?

For now I simply trust that, in time, the results will speak for themselves.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

A sad day for America


Obama has been declared president-elect.

My condolences to you, America.

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."
Ronald Reagan

To those who voted against this, be encouraged. Change does not come only from within the White House. Change comes from the little everyday things that we do ourselves - loving our neighbours, caring for the poor, the sick, the orphaned, the widowed, raising our children with grace and truth, and teaching our children that which is just, right, and merciful.

As my husband and I watched the election coverage last night, I couldn't help but feeling that despite the disgusting amount of racism that still exists in America, black people have come much further than women have. These past months of campaigning have been evidence of that, with Palin mocked for everything from her hair and her shoes to the sparsity of the state she governed. Nothing she said or did, past or present, was taken seriously by the public or by the media. The Freedom of Choice Act is further evidence - women don't need to be told the truth, they're much too fragile and emotional for that, we'd much rather withhold information from them or even straight out lie to them. Silly little creatures, those women-folk are.

But that's another issue in itself.

Good luck, America. I fear you'll need it.

Monday, 3 November 2008

First snow of the season

The little man wasn't too sure what to think when he looked out the window to see the first snow of the season last week.



He stood there staring for a long time, occasionally scratching his head or looking back at me with a questioning look on his face.



But now the snow's gone again and today is beautiful. We just got back from a nice walk. The little guy's napping and I am trying to decide which of my many projects to tackle first - which so often results in me doing none of them because I just can't make up my mind. Ah, indecisiveness.

Should I work? If so, which work? Accounting? Marking? Spreadsheet development? Should I knit? Perhaps get started on a hat for Mama to Mama's Caps to Cap-Haitien Project? Or continue working on the hat my darling husband has so sweetly asked me to knit for him? Maybe get caught up on e-mails, or continue working on some more substantial blog posts?

You see? I can't handle all these options!

Ah well. Time to go do something.

Parenting challenges

Last week I hit my first major parenting challenge.

It snowed. Which meant I had to buy my toddler boots.

Gasps of horror, I know!

First I had to figure out what size his feet were. I've been careful about what shoes he wears. We started off with Robeez, which were great. When he wore a hole through those and needed something tougher for outdoors, we switched to Robeez Tredz - also great. Unfortunately, they're all sized by months, so I hadn't the foggiest idea what his shoe size was.

I picked up a boot that looked about the same size as his shoe. I went to slip it onto his foot...and that was about as far as I got. I pushed, I jammed, I rammed, I pushed some more - that boot was not going on his foot. Fine. I tried a bigger size. More pushing, more ramming - five minutes later I was sweating, he was giving me this weird look, and I was ready to call off the boot hunt and just carry him around all winter with several layers of socks on.

So we tried a different store. I found a boot that had a liner - surely that would make it easier somehow.

Hah!

I'm pretty sure I had people laughing at me as I tried to jam this stupid boot onto his foot. He thought it was pretty hilarious, anyway.

At this point I started getting a little irrational. As in the "why would anyone let me raise a kid when I don't even know how to buy him boots!!" sort of irrational.

Yes. It was boots that first made me feel like a failure at this whole parenting thing.

Not sleep issues. Not food issues. Not discipline issues.

Boots.

And so it went, boot after boot, size after size, style after style. Most boots felt like trying to ram an oversized couch around a corner in a skinny hallway, only his foot was the oversized couch and the boot was the woefully small and unyielding hallway. Some boots managed to fit on his foot, but then he couldn't walk in them, they were so tall and stiff (although I must confess it was a bit amusing to watch him try). Some boots weren't up to the challenge of keeping little feet warm enough during a cold Canadian winter. And some boots were just plain ugly.

Finally we managed to find two half-decent options. They fit on his feet with minimal swearing and sweating, they felt toasty warm, he could walk in them, and they were pretty cute to boot (pun fully intended - you may commence groaning now). Hubby and I agreed on one of the two pairs, me because it was the more flexible of the two, him because it just so happened to be a Toronto Maple Leafs boot (his favourite hockey team - and, by extension, the boy's favourite until he's old enough to start cheering for the Ottawa Senators just to make his dad mad).

Success! We bought the boots, and the little guy spent the rest of the evening gleefully stomping around the house in them.


Turns out I might be able to handle this parenting thing after all.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

NaBloPoMo



A day late and a dollar short - but better late than never.

(Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)

Every year I'm impressed by those who undertake the NaNoWriMo challenge. I find the idea intriguing, tempting, overwhelming, and fun - but mostly just overwhelming. This year, though, I think I can manage NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month. If you'll forgive my missing yesterday's post, I will aim to blog every day this month.

Maybe I'll even manage to clear out the - let's see - ten half-finished blog posts I've got on the go right now.

Wish me luck!