Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year in Retrospect

I gotta tell you all how much I love you. I really do. Friends, family, fellow bloggers, and lurkers, all. Thanks for following this blog and for loving me even at my most quizzical, angry, hyped up, and freaky! Here is a summary of my year:

I feel like a different person than at this time last year. It's wild to me that I had so recently discovered my anxiety disorder, and that I had not found my treatment group yet. This time last year I was averaging 5 to 6 hours of sleep per night, which was an improvement on my 2 to 4 hours from September to November. I loved my baby and enjoyed him immensely, but my older kids I mostly felt drained by. I was irritable a lot. I had nightmares about death, gross dismemberment, loss of a child, loss of my husband, car crashes, fires, and massive burns numerous times per week. Sometimes more than one per night. I had anxiety attacks during the day that were terrifying.

I felt pretty positive, fairly happy, content with what God had blessed me with, and excited about my recent doula training and future potential of midwifery training (it is common to feel positive and upbeat about one's life in general, yet plagued by anxiety with an anxiety disorder. It is also common to approach therapies with an aggressive work ethic and to be incredibly hard on oneself when tackling anxiety disorders--when I read that in my textbook for my treatment group I LAUGHED OUT LOUD, because it was SO ME!).

Here is what I said last year:

For New Years this year, I made two resolutions.
One, to give to charity on a regular basis, starting with $20 a pay period.

[huh. not so much on that one. It worked for awhile, but then things disintegrated with our church so I kind of stopped. We did give a big chunk at Christmas time to Doctors Without Borders and Agape Home in Thailand, which was responsible for Matthew's care while he was a baby. Not exactly the regular giving I was going for...]

Two, to write more often in my journal.

[This I managed]

So far, I've given to charity once and written in my journal every night. Since I started blogging 2 years ago I have been decidedly lax in my journal writing. Which doesn't make sense, because my most private angry, sad, or conflictual moments don't make it to my blog. I'm pretty transparent, but I don't write about EVERYTHING. Which means I had no written outlet for those most private feelings. They are pouring out of me now, I tell ya. Nothing profound or deep, but I feel VERY good about revisiting my journal. It is good for my soul.

Other things I am looking forward to in 2009 include;
Watching Riley grow.


Visiting the tulip festival in April...we are planning an overnight getaway in Seattle including a Mariner's baseball game and the tulip fields and a hotel stay which should be wonderful. Not quite HAWAII, but a nice getaway nonetheless.

[tulip festival, check. Overnight getaway, not so much]

Water park fun.

[I was desperate for winter to be over was the Seasonal Affective Disorder, untreated...this winter is eons better for me. So amazing]

Riley's first birthday!! Already planning it!!!


Nerdfest 2009 in August.

[double fun!!]

Ayden entering first grade in Sept!
Matthew entering kindergarten!
Watching Matthew's speech improve in leaps and bounds. I always knew he was smart for his age but nobody else could access his intelligence through the foggy haze of his stuttering, babyish speech. He has come SO FAR and surprises his speech pathologist every week that we go with his improvement in leaps and bounds. We are now able to correct his grammar! Believe me, before there were so many layers of problems that grammar was WAY down on the list of priorities, but now we work on it every day. Whew! What a blessing!

[he has almost worked his way out of speech therapy :DDDDD]

Breastfeeding more, and transitioning into a more enjoyable, less tethered, food-plus-breastmilk diet which will make our breastfeeding relationship more pleasant for me.

[Riley *almost* never bites me anymore, and never fights me anymore, and is less distractible, and more cuddly when breastfeeding now. NOW it feels like pleasure, not work, and I no longer have ANY anxiety surrounding milk. CHECK!]

Taking some courses next fall/winter to prepare for going back to school.

[Signed up for the Breastfeeding Course for Health Care Providers starting January 12th!!! SO EXCITED to learn more, and start this next chapter]

Applying for UBCs midwifery school for the fall of 2010 (deadline Dec 31st, 2009).


Going back to work (I'm dreading this, actually, for the first time ever...)

[proving amazingly enjoyable, and for the first time since I had children, guilt free. I feel no guilt leaving my kids with their dad while I go to work and have a stimulating day engaging with people in all sorts of crazy predicaments!! Fabulous! One day per week is perfect]

Possibly finishing up the renovations on our townhouse and purchasing a new house? We will have to see...but it is on the table for discussion just about every day.

[work in progress...]

Watching my aunt Lynne and my grandma KICK BREAST CANCER'S ASS.


Running in the Run for the Cure this September, no excuses this time, I'm doing it.


Visits to Victoria and Vernon.
Hooray for 2009!

Here are some highlights from 2009:

Finding my post partum anxiety treatment group. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My life feels SO different now than before, and the quality of my days is unbelievably changed. Especially in winter. You know who you are. Love you.

Going to Seattle with my mom and Riley in February. I LOVED that trip. I still owe my mom money from that trip. It was exactly what I needed at that time in the winter, and we had some quality time with my mom and definitely found a niche at Pike Place Market. It was fabulous.

Tulip festival in April.


Family reunions x 3 in late June and early July.

Otter Lake camping trip.

OSoNerdy Nerdfest in Osoyoos, city of grouches and gorgeous lakes and peaches.

Riley's birthday!

Kids return to school, always bittersweet....I miss them when they're at school...

Run for the Cure 2009.

Thanksgiving visit from Tamie and Jon, and wonderful Thanksgiving festivities.


Winter. Winter! Look at me, I LIKE WINTER!!!!!

Discovering and conquering my anxiety disorder AND treating S.A.D.

Breastfeeding Matthew and Riley, and especially finding a groove with Riley, so it is enjoyable rather than work and sacrifice.


My book club!!!

Cheering on one of my closest friends as she left an abusive marriage and nightmarish daily existence. I'm proud she has been liberated, and I love her. [Yes, this happens. To people we know. Silently, sometimes. It seems like something that should have happened before people knew better, before feminism, before social resources for women in distress. You know? But it happens, and it takes my breath away with grief.]


Watching myself grow as a mom, and redeeming so much brokenness and pain from 2006. Laying to rest the hefty burden of guilt.

Watching Ayden learn to read.

Watching Riley learn to crawl, then stand, then walk, then run, then goes by so fast....

And so much, much more. My life is very enriched.

For 2010, a few things I'm looking forward to:

My breastfeeding course.
My third doula client giving birth and me ACTUALLY MAKING IT TO THE BIRTH.
Watching Riley develop more and more. Watching Matthew's speech make more leaps and bounds. Hopefully diagnosing and treating Matthew's urinary problems. Watching Ayden expand upon what he has learned so far in school.
Tulip festival.
Family time.
Selling this home and buying a NEW ONE with 700 MORE SQUARE FEET and a YARD and NO STRATA.
Staying on top of my mood disorder and learning more about myself and how I operate.
Nerdfest 2010.
Leaving BC Ambulance? Contingent upon midwifery school. I'm definitely DONE with the politics, the pandering, the negativity, the hoops to jump through, the mistreatment, the poverty, the massively hard work, the lack of public interest, total absence of managerial support, and incompetent union. I will miss the amazing paramedics I work with, and the job itself. The rush and chaos and blood and gore and panic and helicopters and needles and meds and the PEOPLE with incredible stories and lives and courage and strength whom it is my privilege to help when they are hurt or sick.
Starting school? Contingent upon acceptance. :)
8 year anniversary.
Riley's second birthday.
Matthew starting grade one! Oh, the tears are creeping up already...
Ayden in GRADE TWO???!?!?
And many other things.

My resolutions are:
To enjoy and engage with the religious seasons of lent and advent in 2010. I want to explore my beliefs a bit more. Delve back into paying more attention to the presence of God, which is constant and miraculous. That God loves me AS MUCH when I am raging angry with my children as he does when I am kissing their owies and feeding them breastmilk and cuddling them and redirecting their misbehaviours with the patience of a saint, is mind boggling. I want to ponder this a bit more.

I'm going to leave this post with a quote stolen from Tamie's blog:

"We often have a kind of notion, as part of this highfalutin, noble picture of ourselves as pray-ers, that when we pray we need to be completely attentive and we need to be fully engaged and we need to be concentrating and we need to be focused. But the fact is, if prayer is our end of a relationship with God, that's not the way we are with the people we love a large portion of the time. We simply are in their presence. We're going about our lives at the same time in each other's presence, aware and sustained by each other, but not much more than that.… However we are, however we think we ought to be in prayer, the fact is we just need to show up and do the best we can do. It's like being in a family."
—Roberta Bondi

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ultrasounds safe?

I found a new blog written by a midwife in the U.S. and she has concisely articulated questioning the frequency of routine fetal sonography and I think she has some good research and very good points. Read about it here if you are interested!

Christmas 2009, Photo Edition

Gingerbread!! The fourth kid is our friend, Bodhi. Isn't he gorgeous? All four of them will be ladykillers...

Breast is best pics. My hubby knows I love bf pictures, but he constantly cuts my head out of the picture. Talk about dehumanizing :p

Here are my three breastmilk-fed boys having a cuddle with their mommy;

Christmas Eve Jammie opening. So cute!

Church and early morning stockings:

Christmas morning gifts;

And that, friends, is Christmas in a nutshell. I didn't take nearly enough photos, especially of all the OTHER people I love and am related to and saw this Christmas. It's tough whenever anything is going on to remember to pull out the camera WHILE chasing three kids...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009

So, here we go with the Christmas news post. Sorry it has taken me awhile to get to this--we've been busy!
So after I got sick, I got better. It was one of those 24-ish hour things, which I prefer because you're nasty sick but it's over quickly. None of this dragging on for weeks with a sore throat or a cough. Vomit, fever and chills, DONE. It was gross, but over and done with really fast.
Anyways, Christmas Eve I was still weak and tired, and not sure I could sit through the church service with my family. I was still in bed in my pyjamas a few minutes before they left, but at the last minute I decided to go, because church on Christmas eve is my favourite part of Christmas. I would really hate to miss out on the culmination of advent. I was glad I went, though I missed the first 15 minutes of the service. :)
It was beautiful, with lots of music and pretty christmas lights, and cute kids all dressed up in their finest cuteness.
That evening we had supper with our family, my parents, my brother, and my grandma. The kids opened their Christmas eve gift (invariably pyjamas), which they LOVED, and which I had found at Carter's in Washington at an outlet mall for $8 each! They are fleece one piece pj's with feet, size 5, 7, and 18 months. The pattern is different for each boy. So cute.
After that, we put the kiddos to bed and hung around talking until the very last one of them was asleep (this takes FOREVER on the eve of Christmas, as you can appreciate) and then we stuffed the stockings, ate the plate of cookies, and set out the Santa gifts. So much magic, so much fun.
In the morning we were prepped for a 4:30 wake up call, but everyone slept until 8:00 so we were very pleased! Everyone was enthusiastic--of course, Riley got very caught up in the wrapping paper and the first gift, and didn't want to open any more after that :)))
Matthew's enthusiasm MAKES Christmas, I gotta tell you. He's the scream with glee, fling the wrapping paper in all directions, dance around with joy type of gift opener! It's nice to see him so happy!! And I know that material objects are not what makes people happy but I do think it's neat to see the excitement in his face as he opens a carefully selected gift from us. It was very, very fun. Ayden was equally happy, though he is less exuberent in his expressions of enthusiasm than Matthew in general. I had got him a book called "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" that looked funny, and he started and finished it all in one day. Jeepers, he reminds me of me at that age. All through the different dinners and gatherings, he was in the corner with his nose in a book.
Christmas day was absolutely gorgeous. There is two inches of crusty snow on the ground, and the night before there was a hoarfrost, and it was clear and sunny. There were sparkles of frost flying around the air and in the trees and on each blade of exposed grass, and even on the crusty snow. We went for an afternoon frosty walk, and then helped my mom cook the turkey. Well, Brent and my brother and my dad helped cook the turkey dinner. I napped and looked after the kids (still recovering from the sickness!). The dinner was scandalously delicious. The turkey was 28 lbs ( forwhich my mom accidentally turned the oven OFF in the middle of the day and didn't discover for quite a few hours--near disaster!!), and there were regular and sweet potatoes, carrots, green bean casserole, stuffing, turkey, ham, gravy, cranberry sauce, AND my mom's famous trifle for dessert. TWO KINDS of trifle--fruit and custard, and black forest chocolate with cherries. Ohhhhhh myyyyyyy gooooosh it was totally worth 5 inches of gain around the waist.
Which didn't go unnoticed--my grandpa's wife asked if I was pregnant again.
Watch me puke on your plate.
Boxing day we went on another hike, climbing the hill behind my parents' house and rambling around on various rocks until Ayden fell about 20 feet off a rock face onto another rock. Fortunately he wasn't hurt beyond a scrape and a bad fright, but it was a bad moment to realize one's six year old just dissapeared off the face of a rather large rock outcropping! Meanwhile I turn around and the dog is munching on the skeleton of what looks to have been a coyote. Gross.
We found cougar tracks in the snow and showed them to the boys. So cool!
Then we returned home and got ready for a boxing day dinner at my aunt Barb and uncle John's place--where we met Mrs. Massachusetts, as aforementioned. Dinner and family time were lovely. Further to the Mrs. Massachusetts incident, my mom later told me that I misheard, and that it was not Mrs. M who had researched home birth deaths, but her SON who is in medical school. This made me angry. I have a very difficult time with men stating opinions regarding women's reproductive rights. I know I go too far with this (I remember once my cousin Tonya pointed out that men whose partners get abortions against their wishes are not entirely ethically clean, since those babies are the offspring of the dads as much as the moms, and she is RIGHT, in that a man has no say in that regard and it is tragic, and she is also wrong (IMO) in that it is still the woman's body and she has a right to her bodily integrity...but it is a very good point about the dads having no say and it being wrong), and it is something I am working on in the very initial stages of working on. But part of the problem is that I generally blame much of what has gone awry in obstetrics in the past century on the injection of male physicians into birth. It is a natural and valuable characteristic for men to want to take action and fix things, but this becomes problematic when applied to birth because (a) birth and women's bodies are not broken, and (b) interference in the birth process creates pathological states. First, male physicians wanted to fix the pain of birth, so they introduced anasthesia. Which meant that the expulsive efforts of the uterus were often not effective because the woman was unconscious, so they pulled out some giant salad tongs and started routinely using forceps to deliver babies. The forceps created a large number of lacerations which were difficult to repair and sometimes debilitating so they invented the episiotomy. Some episiotomies and some forceps births and some pain medications caused problems, and so the cesarean was put into popular use. And on, and on, and on. Each solution creates more problems, and instead of backing off the inital interference, they just created more solutions which created more problems. And women suffer. And babies suffer. And women are robbed of the rich cocktail of love hormones and sense if personal accomplishment and pride that rushes in after natural birth and establishes a mothering that is begun with empowerment and confidence.
So. Men. 99% more listening, 99% less talking. Thank you.
But the rest of the dinner at my aunt and uncle's place was very lovely.

I visited with the midwife who caught Riley, and it was very nice. I LOVE her, and she now practices in Vernon and my mom is her backup nurse for home deliveries. Isn't it funny how life works? Around and around, with fewer than six degrees of separation. It was nice to show her how Riley is now, and how the big boys have grown, and to talk about life and kids and school and birth and christmas...

I also visited with my oldest and one of my best friends, Elaine, who lives in Vernon and has a beautiful 1950s style house that she has completely renovated. It is awesome. I'm so jealous! And I love her too, and miss her lots. It was very nice to visit together.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, too! We're off home tomorrow. Pray for travelling mercies!

(pix to come)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Caught off guard

Last night we went to my aunt and uncle's in town for boxing day supper. It was delicious and very busy and fun, and my aunt and uncle live in the house that I grew up in from 2 to 13 years old so revisiting their house was very nostalgic. They had family friends there whom I had never met, from Massechusetts. Things were all very nice and friendly and civil, and someone told Mrs. Massechusetts that I had applied for midwifery school next fall. She asked some seemingly interested questions regarding the educational process and my current job, which was nice. But then she popped out, "I'm a statistician in the U.S. and I just finished a big project looking into deaths in homebirths. Is it safer to have homebirths in Canada than in the U.S? Because the home birth death rate is really high."
Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...okay, here we go, and we already know a few things about this situation:
(1) we cannot offend her because she is a guest of my relatives
(2) she has been politely inquiring about midwifery but with a backhanded motivation
(3) she has already decided that home births are dangerous.

How to deal?

My mom is awesome. She jumped in and, rather than directly address the question of comparing U.S. and Canadian maternity issues, she just pointed out that the home birth infant mortality rate in Canada is really low--lower than in the hospital--because women are screened for risks before being attended at home by midwives. High risk births are delivered in hospital. I expanded on this and said a few things about the safe parameters of home birth, but felt kinda caught off guard. I have read from several sources that it is really difficult to gather any kind of statistics on home birth, unassisted childbirth, precipitous birth, and back alley give-birth-at-prom-in-the-bathroom-and-ditch-baby-in-the-trash-can birth, and be accurate. For one thing, unassisted births are underreported AND overreported, because people are trying to get around the institutionalized birth and/or government involvement or control in their lives and still stay off authorities' radar. In states where attended home births are illegal, homebirth midwives will not sign birth documents and the birth is recorded as unattended or precipitous. Some unassisted births with no midwife in attendance will not be reported to vital statistics to avoid government involvement and/or to avoid investigation by Child Protective Services.

But how to get into all of this? How to ask: did you include precipitous births? Did you include taxi births? Unassisted births? Home births with midwives are safer than hospital births, for low risk women. Study after study shows this, and many other developed countries have a homebirth, midwifery based system for low risk births and have far better infant and maternal outcomes, and lower surgical birth rates, than the U.S. (or Canada).

Instead, I thought later I could have said:
Have you checke the infant mortality rate of any hospitals in the U.S.? Infant mortality in America is appallingly high, regardless of the place of birth. America has the highest infant mortality rate of any developed country. The next in line to the U.S. is Kazakstan. I don't think home birth is the problem, because only 1% of U.S. births happen at home.

This was tough. How do you politely get out of that one? In the end it was fine, and the discussion moved on, but I'm not sure we were able to convince her in any measure that home birth can be safe if properly managed.

Maybe YOU don't agree home birth can be safe? I can expand upon this topic in future posts if you want, but I was needing to process this interaction here....let me know if anyone wants more information regarding home birth safety.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

Merry Christmas everyone! [thanks for the well wishes--it was a quick bug that hit me; I feel much better now!]

Thursday, December 24, 2009 a dog....

We're at my parents' place in Vernon, which is very nice, with some pretty icy snow and lots of nice food and good visiting. And I'm SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK. As a dog. Yesterday afternoon I didn't feel that great. Upset stomach, low energy, etc. At suppertime I was VERY hungry, so, despite the upset stomach, I ate two pieces of pizza, some salad, and several glasses of diet pepsi. You know, carbonated beverages are supposed to help settle your stomach. I started to feel feverish, and had the chills pretty bad, so I went in the hot tub with the kids for a bit. That was a mistake. I got out and was very lightheaded and almost fainted [from, I suspect, the dilation of blood vessels that happens in a hot tub, and the subsequent drop in blood pressure], and the nausea got WAY worse. I laid down and the lightheadedness got better, but the nausea continued. I kept thinking "NO WAY AM I EVER GETTING PREGNANT AGAIN, CONSTANT NAUSEA IS TORTURE!" Which is true; I read in a medical journal that chronic nausea is rated as worse than chronic pain and should be aggressively treated. I had a patient once who had suffered from chronic nausea for several years, and he was on long term disability from it. Talk about awful. Anyways, I'm not a chronic nausea sufferer--simply a wimp--and I rolled around in bed with fever and chills, cursing the very existence of pizza and diet pepsi, until I finally threw up a few hours later. Eight times. Or maybe nine? It's kind of all a blur. The pizza and pepsi pretty much came up looking exactly the way it went in, but liquified and mixed with stomach acid. The look, smell, and taste made me throw up more. Oh my God in heaven above, the grossness.
After that, I felt a ton better. For a short period of time. Several times in the night I woke up with fever/chills/nausea, but my kind husband got me gravol and ibuprofin on demand, and my kind baby slept through it all, and my kind Jesus answered every time I prayed and asked him to send me Brent to fetch me drugs or a washcloth or to fetch AWAY the puke in a trash can. I have not been that sick since I had appendicitis when I was 15. I threw up when I was pregnant with Riley (remember the time I puked so hard at work that I couldn't take care of my 102 year old stroke patient? I'm still famous at work for that one), but nothing like this. I have an intense fear of throwing up, and I think it stems from the appendicitis I had at 15 where I threw up HARD for 24 hours and was suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper sick. So I generally would way rather put up with nausea than throw up. I'll do anything to avoid throwing up. But last night the nausea was so bad that I actually prayed that I WOULD throw up, and a few seconds later I did.

If you are still reading this, I applaud you. :)

So, if you feel so inclined, do feel sorry for me, sick as a dog at Christmas. I'm actually feeling MUCH better now--no more fever, chills, or puking, and only slight nausea when I eat something. I'm just weak and tired. And laughing at myself for the short term veto of another pregnancy. If I don't have another baby it won't be because of the nausea! Though it is pretty torturous, and I remember swearing off another baby many times in those 14 weeks of nausea with Riley. That baby put me through the ringer, man.

Merry christmas, friends!!
stay healthy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Riley update, and advent

So. Remember those glorious 10 nights where Riley slept from 8pm to 7am? It was just a blip.
S'okay! I don't mind (much), because when he wakes at night, he nurses at night, and more milk=more benefits. Every drop counts :)
When he sleeps through the night he doesn't seem to make up for it during the day, so his overall volume is down. When he wakes at night, he gets more and I hardly wake up. Well, enough to shuffle to his bedroom and bring him to my bed, but after that I hardly wake up. I just sleep with it all hanging out and he helps himself. No, I'm joking. I mean, that happens sometimes but most of the time I wake up enough to cover up when he's done. :]
Not that it would bother ANYONE who sleeps in my bedroom if I didn't cover up.

In other news, he's finally popped out some WORDS! He's been using and abusing "uh-oh" for months. Not really a word. Then he added "WOAH" particularly around Christmas decorations. Also not really a word. Then about a week ago I noticed that when he hears Brent's key in the door on his arrival home from work, he invariably screams, "DA! DA! DA! DA!" Aha! He is calling his father "Da!" which is pretty close to Dada, and pretty cool. Then today I caught him yelling "GO!" repeatedly before throwing a ball to one of us [though it sounded more like "DOH!" which would make any Simpsons lover proud], and which comes from me saying, "Ready, set, go!" when we play pass the ball. Man, is he ever cute.

He is a force to be reckoned with, I tell you. I guess it comes with the territory of being the third or the youngest child, but when he wants his way he SCREAMS til my ears ring. He has perfected the art of the falling down floppy wet noodle temper tantrum. And when I drop him off in the nursery at church? He flings his body at the door repeatedly until the nursery volunteers page me because they are afraid he will cause some sort of damage to his body. And there is no persuading or distracting or cajoling or comforting him. He takes running passes at the door, and I can hear him screaming from inside the church sanctuary. Don't worry, I never leave him in that state for any length of time--it's beyond temper tantrum. It borders on primal fear, and it really really sucks to witness. I keep trying though, because one of these days he'll realize that the nursery actually has fun toys, and that momma will come if he needs her, and that he'll survive for an hour without myself or Brent around. One out of every ten tries, he stays and has a good time. If I have learned anything from parenting my other two, it is that patience, persistence, and calmness are my most effective tools. Having a good handle on my anxiety disorder helps, too. :)

It's funny, because he is really a very laid back personality. He reminds me of Brent, to a T. But he is particular with a capital P about certain things. He hates any wall or door or gate separating him from his big brothers [his heroes]. He hates to be separated from both of his parents at the same time. And he categorically detests being restrained. You know, like in a carseat or stroller--two places where he spends pretty much the better part of two hours every day. He is also getting more opinionated about things like toys, and toothbrushes, and food. For the first time in his life he will now allow himself to be fed with a spoon, but he suspiciously inspects every spoonful for nuclear waste, first. Fortunately he loves most food. He likes to try and stuff two soothers in his mouth at the same time.
He also HITS. HARD. Smacking is a regular occurrance if you are within an arm's reach of him. He bit me really, really hard today on the finger during church--I almost screamed and I had toothmarks on the pad of my index finger for a couple of hours afterwards. He also runs away. Like, all the time. Everybody else seems to think this is a REALLY BIG EMERGENCY, and I can't tell if it's because I have three kids, or because I'm used to it because he does it so often, or if I'm just overmedicated and don't feel anxiety anymore, but jeepers, he'll show up. He always does. But people run around getting all frantic if they discover I'm looking for him, and all it does is piss me off. Keep your eyes peeled, but don't lose your lunch over it. That said, thank God for communities and people looking out for your little ones when they go astray, eh? Someone always scoops him up and eventually reunites me with him. I need to start using the kid harness I have, though that becomes a tripping hazard for all the adults in the area :)
I bought myself a ring sling for him, for exactly the purpose of keeping track of him in public places, especially stores, and I LOVE IT. I have wanted one of these exact slings since I tried my cousin Tonya's 5 1/2 years ago, and I FOUND ONE FOR $80 so I bought it. I LOVE IT!!! I keep in in the car, and use it constantly to pop into the store--you know, when I would normally carry Riley on my hip and have to wrestle to keep him there, and forfeit an arm. Forfeit both arms, because he's HEAVY and he wrestles hard. Now I have both hands free!
Yes, I officially have lots of babywearing equipment. Yes, I do need it ALL for different things at different times. Yes, I do feel defensive about the amount of baby carriers I own. Yes, my husband does roll his eyes at me.

I've also stopped pumping for Matthew. It didn't make a ton of logical sense, going in to flu season and all, but I think my body was pretty well done making any extra, and I was happy to have given him 14 months worth of momma milk, which I'll tell him about when he's older ;p
I've also stopped pumping when I'm at work. This was a big step for me. But I realized that I don't work that often, and when I do, we still only miss one feeding generally, so my body can make up for that. And I realized that I need to relax when it comes to milk, and stop constructing my entire life around it, now that he is older. It helps to see that I have enough, and that when he asks for more my body makes more within a day or two. Whew. What a big relief it is to let go of that one.

I have to say, further to that, that I have noticed that working once a week is PERFECT for me. It is so busy, so all consuming, and so energy consumptive to keep this lovely, sweet, noisy family of mine functioning, that a day per week where I'm at work lifts me out of that busy beehive and plants me firmly in something entirely different and rewarding, and refreshes me to return to the mom work. You know? It really cheers me up and energizes me. I can't describe how great it is for me to periodically CHANGE the work that I do. Because my job is really a lot of work, and on busy days it is VERY hard work, tons of stress and heavy lifting and creative thinking to solve abnormal problems [such as, this woman has fallen backwards off a bar stool, broken her wrist and possibly her back, and she's now lying on her side tucked up against a wall. How will we get her lying on our backboard in a manner that is safe to transport her with minimal discomfort??], early early early mornings, and long, long, long shifts. But #1, I get to interact with ADULTS! Who like me! And who don't ask me things like, "MOMMY CAN YOU TELL MATTHEW TO STOP BREATHING ON ME?!?!?!?" And, #2, I get to use the linear, logical, medical, methodical, task oriented loving part of my brain for 12 hours. And, #3, I get a break in routine, which helps me remember that my little world is not the only little world on the planet. And, #4, 14 hours away from my family is the best way to make me appreciate the wonderful people in it. Oh, and I think it gives Brent an appreciation for what I pull off every day when I'm at home, too. He's a stellar dad, but he's no mom when it comes to multitasking around this house, I tell ya. It's good for dads/husbands to appreciate what goes into the daily functioning of a family, I think. Appreciate it by DOING it, not by paying lipservice to it.

My hubby is so great. He's handsome, and funny, and smart, and good at his job, and loving, and empathetic, and calm, and committed, and just so nice to be around. It makes the mess he leaves in his wake almost fade away sometimes. Seriously, I cannot imagine what I would do without him, or what my life would look like without him in it. There is no other man on earth with whom I could have this kind of connection and balance and love. There just isn't. I can't believe I FOUND him, can you??! And he gave me these three gorgeous KIDS and a HOUSE and so much LOVE, it's just crazy.
Thank you, Jesus.

p.s. I'm actually sinking into the advent spirit this year, after all. Actually sinking, not just adding it to my to do list. Isn't that cool? It's a ton easier than I thought it would have to be, because all I have to do is be mindful of expectantly waiting. I've been pregnant. I can do expectant waiting!
I wait on God to open the gates and walk out among us, and touch us at last in the way we need to be touched, and to love us and demand of us everything, and I am so glad to wait, and not rush around or hustle or cram anything onto the bottom of an already impossibly long to do list, and just watch for Him. Christmas is just around the corner!! Hooray!
This shift towards the spirit of advent was largely catalyzed by this post from my friend Tamie:

Oscar Romero writes, "No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, because they have everything, look down on others, those who have no need even of God--for them there will be no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, those who need someone to come on their behalf, will have that someone. That someone is God. Emmanuel. God-with-us. Without poverty of spirit there can be no abundance of God."

The Prophet Isaiah says, "In the wilderness, prepare the way for the Lord." And John the Baptizer appears in the wilderness as a messenger, as someone who is preparing the way for the Lord.

What does that mean: "In the wilderness, prepare the way for the Lord"? I think that if the text just said, "Prepare the way for the Lord," we might fashion some easy sense out of it. "Prepare the way for the Lord"...doesn't that just mean be good, get your act together, because God could show up anytime and you don't want to have your pants around your ankles when he does? That's what we usually seem to think. But this bit about in the wilderness, it complicates easy sense. Why is it that John showed up in the wilderness? Why was it in the wilderness that the children of Israel wandered around for 40 years? Why was Jesus taken into the wilderness for temptation, why did he withdraw there when he really needed to pray? And what has this got to do with Advent, Christmas, and our lives?

It is instructive, I think, to consider the case of the children of Israel and the wilderness. What were they doing there in the desert for 40 years? Mapping the territory, looking for pieces of real estate to tame and build on, becoming productive citizens, reforming Judaism? No. They were wandering. For forty years! They were basically lost for 40 years, stumbling around this uninhabitable, harsh, waterless land. They were confused and they did dumb things like make golden calves. They were afraid. They were wandering.

And then there’s John the Baptist. Having been to the region where he lived, I can tell you it is anything but hospitable. And there he was, living off the land, seeming not entirely all there. I picture him rather like a person living on the streets, unkempt, ranting to perfect strangers that they should repent and turn to God. Actually, that’s exactly what John was like. He was homeless, he must have seemed somewhat deranged, and he ranted to perfect strangers about repentance and God.

In the wilderness, prepare the way for the Lord. Let us for a moment become biblical literalists. What would it mean to go into the wilderness and prepare for God? What would it mean if you packed a sleeping bag, food and water, maybe a tent, and stumbled off to Arizona or New Mexico—just went off into the wilderness, to prepare for God. If you lay in your sleeping bag under the zillion stars, so far away from civilization that you could hear no traffic, were out of cell phone range, turned off the music, closed the books, could see no human-made lights…what would happen then? What about being in the desert could possibly prepare you for God? If you woke up in the morning in that desert, made yourself some breakfast and then had nothing to do….then what? Would you go quietly crazy? Would you pray? What would you pray?

In the book The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje writes, “A man in a desert can hold absence in his cupped hands, knowing it is something that feeds him more than water.”

In the wilderness, prepare the way for the Lord. Maybe this means surrendering everything and everyone, letting yourself be emptied completely, and just wandering around. Maybe it means not-knowing, or silence. If you walked out into the desert with nothing but your self, perhaps you would go quietly crazy, and perhaps that is the point. Perhaps that’s what Advent is all about.

Maybe Advent is about becoming so completely empty, so stupid, so irrational, so silent, so out of your mind that you fall into your spacious soul where God can hold and meet you. Maybe we can only know God when we come to the end of ourselves, when we are alone, or afraid, or overcome with joy, or with suffering. When everything we thought would save us (and everything we thought would damn us), didn’t.

And really, it’s not like we can march smartly not the desert thinking, well it will be simple, I’ll just let go of all my extra baggage and presto, I’ll find God. Maybe we have to give up even the hope of finding God.

In “East Coker,” T.S. Eliot writes,

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love

For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith

But the faith and the hope and the love are all in the waiting.

Wait without thought, for you are not yet ready for thought:

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

Describing this experience of being drawn into the wilderness, into the place of not-knowing, the place of emptiness, Constance Fitzgerald and Dorothe Soelle write, “All supports seem to fail one, and only the experience of emptiness, confusion, isolation, weakness, loneliness, and abandonment remains. In the frantic reassurance, one wonders if anyone—friend or spouse or God—is really ‘for me,’ is trustworthy. But no answer is given to the question. The realization that there is no option but faith triggers a deep, silence, overwhelming panic that, like a mighty underground river, threatens to collapse into chaos and collapse. This ‘scream of suffering contains all the despair of which a person is capable, and in this sense every scream is a scream for God.’”

No option but faith. How painful, how impossible powerlessness is. And yet, it is to the powerless that God comes. I know that the Gospel is supposed to be good news, but sometimes when I realize what it really means—that it means surrendering everything I think is holding me together—it mostly seems like terrifying news. Maybe that is why the angels say right up front, “Do not be afraid!” Because they know that’s how we mostly feel when we encounter God.

And this brings us back to Advent and Christmas. Advent is about waiting for a God whose coming we cannot control or contrive; it’s about waiting for a God we cannot understand, can’t reason with, whose deliverance is somehow manifest among the most fragile and vulnerable. Advent is about going into the wilderness and wandering around because you do not know what you are looking for, and could not understand it if someone told you what it was. It’s about waiting for the unimaginable, waiting for mystery, waiting for God who appears in all the wrong places and acts in ways that we can only understand when we have fallen out of our minds.

I do not mean all of this in an entirely ‘spiritual’ sense. What would happen if we drove out, alone, without any form of entertainment, into the desert for a few days? Would there be any better way to prepare for Christmas?

David James Duncan offers this prayer: “When I’m lost, God help me get more lost. Help me lose me so completely that nothing remains but the primordial peace and originality that keep creating and sustaining this blood-, tear- and love-worthy world that’s never lost for an instant save by an insufficiently lost me.”

This post of tamie's was followed by this post of Asheya's, which really touched my heart as profound and earthy and honest and helped draw me towards a realization that the attitude in which I walk through my day is my advent, and not the time I set aside meditatively. At this time in my life, particularly.

The Wilderness and Monastic Experience of Motherhood
This post is going to be a bit different from what I usually write. My friend Tamie wrote an amazing Advent post on her blog about going into the wilderness to prepare the way for God. At the end of her post she asks, "What would happen if we drove out, alone, without any form of entertainment, into the desert for a few days?" This was my response:

I will tell you what would happen if I drove out into the desert, literally.

After nursing the baby every two hours in the tent during the night, the other kids would wake up at 5:30am with the sun and immediately announce their hunger. I would spend the next few hours juggling the baby and breakfast with my husband, while also supervising the other kids who would in the meantime be putting sand into each others hair and taking each others rocks, with some throwing of rocks and much crying on both their parts. After breakfast, I would spend a lot of time juggling cleaning up the dishes, nursing the baby, and supervising the other kids. After the dishes were done the kids would be hungry again. More preparing food. More clean up. Then at least one baby, maybe one of the kids, would have a nap, and I would have a chance to possibly look at whether there were any cacti or other flora in the area. And maybe have a few moments to say a few words to my husband. Then the kids would wake up and be hungry. And need interventions for sand and rocks and spiny cacti and such. Repeat ad infinitum until the sun goes down and we can all fall exhausted into bed. And I can nurse the baby all night.

I think maybe what I am trying to say is that the lostness I feel has almost no time to be felt or explored; it is the lostness of motherhood, of feeling like you are failing and totally drained down to your very bones and blood and that every day is so immediate and so intense with the immediacy and intensity that only very small children can sustain that there is no time or space or energy to purposefully go into the wilderness, whatever that may look like.

If I go into the desert I must bring my children with me, and any insanity I experience I drag them along, and there is very little room to find my way back. It seems that the desert should be about seemingly unending stretches of time and space, you know, so you can really feel lost in a visceral way, in the way of being in the midst of something so vast it could swallow you up and not even pause.

Maybe motherhood is actually like that. Maybe motherhood is my desert right now. Because I am sure feeling swallowed up, disappeared, lost, consumed by the unrelenting demands and needs of my children. I am in a foreign country and not much has changed in my day to day life, except that I don't speak the language or recognize anything. I am in a strange land and I am being wrung dry, not by the land but by the children I brought with me.

Advent is about waiting for God, who will appear in good time in the form of a baby. Let me tell you: that baby is going to take everything you have and then more. It all seems so picturesque and serene and calm and just comforting. God as a baby. What could be easier to accept? But there is so much responsibility there. Babies are helpless, needy, demanding, constant, relentless. If you don't take care of this baby, this baby will wither, shrivel, die.

I'm not sure what that says about God or Advent, really. Since I'm lost in motherhood maybe I don't need to have the answer. But I do know one thing. It's more than I bargained for. It's definitely more than I bargained for.

And then Tamie posted a comment that suggested perhaps motherhood is my monastic experience, and that hermits who went into the desert probably felt very overwhelmed at times too. Here's my response to that:

I think that part of the monastic or wilderness experience of motherhood is that even when I get an hour, or two hours, or a day, or maybe, even at some point in a barely imaginable future, a week to myself, I am still my children's mommy. They need me in a way they need no one else, and when I return from wherever I have been they will still need me. There is something in this need that is both a burden and a joy. Because I know with absolute certainty that no one can replace me; if I walked out right now and never came back my kids would never really recover. I am cemented to my children's lives in such a profound, unending way. I mean, who ever really gets over needing their mom?

And while these small, precious children drain and wring and sometimes even literally suck me dry, there is an aspect to their need that is also joy for me. When I sing for them and they want more. When they hurt themselves and only mommy can comfort. When we laugh at a joke, and then laugh again. When my baby looks at me when he is nursing and smiles.

And I am trying to remember that life is about pain and joy intermingled, just like birth. For each child I went through a process that involved pain, and intensity, and being in the moment, and resting when there was space to rest, and working when it was time to work, and great need, to bring them into the world. And I think now I have to let those birthing experiences inform my parenting experiences, and accept the exhaustion and the burden and the great need, knowing that the moments of joy are truly great moments that can balance all the other moments if I let them. And that in those moments of joy I can also find peace in the wilderness, even though I often feel lost without a map for the landscape of my children, frustrated by the seemingly unending tasks and responsibilities. There are moments of joy. There are moments of peace. There are flowers that bloom on cacti, and water in the desert. And God is coming, here, to this desert. I hope she comes, yes, as a little baby, but also as a mother to me.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

We finally tossed the rabbit ears

Dudes, for almost seven years we have not paid for t.v. We bought rabbit ears for our television and voila! Three local channels. Who needs more?
But recently Brent found a deal with Shaw where we can get phone, internet, AND cable for cheaper than just phone and internet through Telus. So we switched. And now we have cable AND PVR. So some pretty strict rules are being established for kid television watching, and I have to make some rules for myself, I'm thinking. So far: cool. I like pausing and recording live t.v. But I haven't watched much more than I was before, so that's good. Gotta keep the boob tube time to a minimum, or life just might pass me by....

Also, it's almost Christmas. I gotta do a post about Christmas gifts and stuff....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bunchy Ginch

Dudes, I got ready for work in the morning and discovered--horrors!!--I was out of clean underwear. Frantic rummaging produced one of those dregs of the underwear drawer; you know, floppy elastic, holes, tendency to ride upwards??
Hm. Better than nothing, I figured. Boy, was I ever wrong. When I got home from work that night I THREW THEM IN THE GARBAGE. Why don't we do this with the dregs of the underwear drawer, BEFORE we get to the point where we are wearing underwear that is NOT INTENDED to be shoved upwards, SHOVED UPWARDS FOR 12 HOURS STRAIGHT?!?!?!?! At least when they are designed to be up there, it's just floss. When it's not floss, it feels like you're sitting on a bunched up wad of five or six kleenexes all day. A dishcloth or two. It's enough to drive a woman to KILL SOMEONE!

Damn ginch.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Guest Blog Post from my mom

p.s. sorry for the emotional whiplash in my last post. I'll have to be more careful from now on!

So a little while ago Tamie asked me to do a post explaining how skin to skin contact with a newborn works. How it's a good thing. She said, "Hey Mel, could you do a post sometime on the skin-to-skin thing? It just makes sense to me on a gut level, but I don't know about any of the physiological reasons for it. Thanks!"
I know that skin to skin works, and I know the basics of how it works. But this topic is smack dab in the middle of my mom's extensive expertise on human lactation, so I figured it might be better to outsource this question, rather than muddle it up with my own explanations. My mom was gracious enough to reply with a dissertation length essay on the topic. No, I'm joking! She actually packed a ton of information into just a few paragraphs. Here is what she had to say. And many thanks to my mom for taking the time.

How skin to skin cuddles with babies works:

1. promotes mother/baby bonding.
When ever two people hug, especially chest to chest, oxytocin is released
from the brains of both parties. This hormone is called the "love" hormone
as it produces feeling of pleasure, contentment and happiness. When an
infant is skin to skin on mom's chest, both mother and baby are flooded
with these feelings - thus strengthening the bond between them. This
hormone also causes the "let down" during breastfeeding which enables
the milk to flow. It has recently been discovered that this hug/oxytocin
reaction happens any time 2 people hug - friends, lovers, parent/child.
Amazing! (ps, also released during orgasm)

2. increases prolactin levels in mother.
This is the main milk producing
hormone. So skin to skin alone increases milk supply. This ensures
the baby will be well nourished with colostrum initially, then by mature
breastmilk. If a mother has a difficult delivery and/or drugs during labour
and the baby is too tired or stressed to breastfeed after birth, skin to skin
contact protects her milk supply and encourages increased milk
production until the baby is able to breastfeed.
During the whole breastfeeding journey(recommended for 2 years or
longer), anytime a mom needs to increase her milk supply, she should
increase the frequency and duration of breastfeeding and go back to
skin to skin cuddling.

3. increases baby's interest in breastfeeding.
Babies can smell their way to the breast if put STS. If they wake up on
their mother's chests, this sense of smell reminds and encourages them
to find the breast and start to suckle. With no assistance, they will bob
their way to the nipple if given time. Amazing to observe!

4. promotes thermoregulation.
The skin between a mother's breasts will increase 1 degree to warm up a
cool baby and decrease 1 degree to cool down a baby that is too warm.
This works better and faster than an incubator or bundling in warm
blankets. Keeping a normal temperature is challenging for a newborn and
can lead to serious complications if not regulated. With STS, mom's
body does all the regulating without her having to think about it.

5. protects blood sugar levels.
In the first hours after birth, newborns are at risk of dangerous drops
in their blood sugar levels which can lead to brain damage if left
unchecked. Being too cold, stressed, increased muscle tension, lack
of colostrum, respiratory distress, born to diabetic mothers, all increase
the risk of decreased blood sugars in babies. STS addresses all these
potential challenges thereby promoting normal blood sugar levels.

6. decreases stress hormone levels in both mother and baby.
Stress hormone (cortisol) levels in newborns sleeping in a cot/cradle
beside mother's bed are 7 times higher than when STS and 100 times
higher when in another room. Long term separation (ie, premature
babies) when studied for 20 years, have less resilience to stress when
compared to young adults without the history of prolonged separation
in the newborn period. Babies have a primal awareness that their
chances to survive and thrive, are increased the closer they are to
their mother. When STS, babe hears mom's familiar heart beat and
smell and feels safer after being pushed out of his warm uterine cave!
Mother's stress levels increase also, when separated from their babies.
This mother/baby dyad are designed to be inseparable in the early days
both physically and psychologically.

7. increases oxygen levels in newborns.
Being able to maintain normal oxygen levels after birth is vital to supply O2
to all their organs,including the brain. There is a huge complicated
transition a baby must make between intrauterine and extrauterine
circulation of his blood. STS promotes normal oxygenation during this
time. This challenging transition is prolonged for premature babies.

8. stabilizes baby's breathing pattern and heart rate.
This is especially noticable in the first few days of life and in premature
babies as they are at risk for difficulties maintaining normal heart rates and
breathing patterns.

9. promotes better weight gain. (the main sign of health in a newborn)
When separated from mom (ie not STS) a newborn burns more calories
when trying to stay warm, regulate heart rate, breathing patterns, and
maintain normal blood sugars and deal with higher stress levels(which
increases mucle tension). Thus the ability to gain weight normally is

10. for further information and research, link to
or google Dr. Nils Bergman. He has done the most extensive
research on STS..

11. As the days and weeks go by, and babe adjusts to the outside world,
then the practice of "wearing your baby" becomes a priority....but
thats another story! (and not in my area of expertise!)

Nancy Smith RN IBCLC

Brent protests

I found this in the comments section of my last post, and it made me laugh so hard I had to share it with everyone:

Editor's note: Although the writer refers to her husband as 'hating' documentaries the editorial board knows this to be untrue. The referenced 'husband' likes documentaries but finds it sometimes exasperating when he is asked by the writer what type of movie she should get from the video store and he replies 'something we haven't seen that's entertaining' and the writer returns with an obscure documentary on the spread of foot fungus that's in an equally obscure language. Although educational, the choices made by the writer often fall outside of the 'entertaining' requirement and the really tired husband (who only slept 5 hours in the last 36) involuntarily catches up on his sleep while trying to spend 'quality time' with the writer. The editorial board requests that the writer make an immediate correction in order to convey a more balanced version of the truth.

Ha ha. I also watched another documentary last night, Air India 182.

If you want to hand select a documentary that will make you despair of human decency and the state of humanity, this is your film. Pretty grim. Pretty gruesome in some parts, too. You KNOW it's gruesome when a paramedic rates it as such. I've seen lots of dead people. But I've never seen mass murder of 331 people all at once, men, women, children, and babies. Pretty awful. The movie was about a subject that is important to know about, particularly for Canadians. But not too often, or for too long, because the disaster was so devastatingly sad, and so violent. It's not good to be in such close proximity to violence of that magnitude for very long (although the families of those who died live in close proximity to it without rest, don't they?). Sad, sad, sad.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trouble the Water

I'm a documentary freak, when I'm not doing birth crack. Brent hates documentaries, so when he works night shifts sometimes I go on documentary watching sprees! :))))
Last night I watched this film, Trouble the Water. It was incredible. It is about one couple's experience during and after Hurricane Katrina, from deep in the 9th Ward, 3 blocks from a levee breach. They had no transportation out of the city when the evacuation order hit, so they couldn't get out. Their story is pretty inspiring. Good film.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Photog feast

You know it's feast or famine around here for's a feast for you!! The reason for this is that our the main computer I use for blogging is not the same computer we put our pictures on. The photo computer is slow, so I avoid it like the plague, but for your sakes this morning, I braved the frustration...

My newly renovated downstairs bathroom...

The doggie I crocheted for my doula client to match her baby's nursery...(I made up this pattern out of my head, too)

The gentian violet on my rug...

And my dog...looking afraid of the camera...

Decorating the christmas tree...

Me in my foxy Christmas dress...

and foxy shoes...

A woman at Brent's work Christmas party said, "Wow, you're really dressed up. You're the most dressed up person here. Why did you dress up so much?" Holy crap, take your drunk cop ass dressed in bluejeans and go make some other usually frumpy mommy who is feeling sexy for once and make HER feel awkwardly overdressed.

And my cutie...

And my not so cute banana loaf yesterday (it's a non stick pan, so you can't grease it, but thank you everyone on facebook for your irritatingly unapplicable advice)

Mr. Boots in my boots...

And three men in a tub, yelling "BANANA LOAF!"

Friday, December 11, 2009

A great day

I had a very good day today. Very good.
Lately I have been having extremely vivid dreams, which I was warned can be a side effect of St John's Wort, one of the anti-anxiety supplements I am taking. I had a dream that my cousin Sara had a midwife attended home birth in a motel, and had a baby girl. So weird. Especially since she is finished having babies, and had her births attended by a midwife in the hospital, and certainly nowhere near any motels. Though I had just finished reading Pushed, where in order to access midwifery care some women have to travel long distances to meet with a midwife, and sometimes even give birth in motels or friends' homes in order to be close enough that their midwife can be there to help them deliver their babies. Still. So weird.
Then I had a dream the other night that my ex boyfriend was trying to murder me with a shovel. This is HYSTERICALLY funny to me in retrospect, but in my dream I was SO AFRAID, and it was SO REAL, and I felt SO POWERLESS, and the dream was long. It went on and on, and I was still alive, but barely escaping over and over and over and over. It sucked.
Then I had some dreams where my kids were in danger. And that's when it stopped being funny. Not because dreams about your kids being in danger are awful--which they are. But because this became very very familiar. Last year in the worst weeks of my post partum anxiety, I had several dreams every night that my children were in danger, sometimes dying, sometimes already dead, and I just cannot go back there. I will break apart into a million tiny pieces, it cannot happen.
So I cut my dose of that supplement in half [ironically, one of the side effects of St John's Wort is anxiety], and I want to do some serious writing down of my thoughts/feelings so I can get a handle on this before it spirals out of control again.

The reason why I prefaced with this story is that last night, I had no vivid/tragic/death filled dreams. I don't remember what I dreamt last night, thank you, thank you, thank you Jesus.
I got up and showered, walked Ayden to school, got there on time, walked back, put the other kids in the car, and smelled poop. So I unloaded Riley from the car, carried him upstairs, unzipped MY jacket and took it off because I could tell this was going to be THAT MESSY, unzipped Riley's snowsuit, unhooked his overalls, unsnapped his onesie, and my hands were already covered in poop. POONAMI. In a disposable diaper. Which I RARELY use, but this morning had no plastic diaper covers that were clean and was worried about him getting cold if his clothes got soggy with a double cloth diaper (which works fabulously btw, if you do cloth diapers and run out of covers--double diaper and it holds the pee away from the clothes almost as well as the plastic pants). Mistake. It was on every piece of clothing, including the socks, save the snowsuit. Thank GOD it wasn't on the snowsuit.
So I clean up from that and how do I feel? I'm laughing. And I shrug. And I don't feel anxious at all, despite the fact that I was late to meet a friend and being late for things is a huge anxiety trigger for me! My friend called and I told her the story and she laughed and then went and bought me a coffee, and met me a little later than we planned. We went for a very nice walk/hike and had a very nice chat.
I then took Matthew straight to school and took a wailing, heartbroken baby home (he wants to go to kindergarten SO BADLY), picked up Matthew's backpack and snack, and drove it back to the school with the same wailing, heartbroken baby, and I didn't feel anxious at all, despite the fact that I tend to feel tremendously guilty when my kids cry, and anxious when I have to do anything out of the routine like drop kids' backpacks off after they have already started school.
I got home and breastfed the heartbroken baby to sleep, and had an hour to myself.
(though, as my friend recently pointed out, no matter how many breaks you get as a mom, it never seems to be enough and when you go back to them, your kids make you feel just as tired as if there was no break, so what is the POINT?)
I woke the baby up at 2:00, walked to pick the big boys up from school, enjoyed the snow and the walk and the kids and thinking about Christmas. When we got home, we made banana bread together, all four of us. Something I hate about public school as opposed to homeschooling is how much time it eats up. I miss my kids when they are at school. I miss Ayden all day. And then he comes home and I'm tired and have to make dinner and clean up and put them to bed, and the next thing you know it's the next day and off he goes again. So I was very happy to spend time WITH him and Matthew today, doing fun stuff like going for a walk with Matthew and Riley and my friend and her daughter, and making banana chocolate chip loaf with all three of them after school. It takes effort to keep attachment based parenting going when your kids go to school full time. Today I did quite well at it.
I made dinner, and we ate, and I drew a huge bubble bath and all three kids were in there at the same time, splashing and farting and screaming with laughter and getting the bathroom disgustingly wet. We're redoing it anyways, so who cares? Then we read stories and Matthew was asleep by 7:30, Riley protested his normal bedtime routine of putting himself to sleep in his crib so I stayed by his bed giving bum pats until he drifted off around 8:00, and then Ayden and I read until 9:00. We finished his current Harry Potter book (number 5? 6? I'm not was over 850 pages long though, and he read the vast majority of it to himself).
And then. AND THEN! I had earned myself a reward. So I ate chocolate chip banana loaf and drank tea and rewatched The Business of Being Born. And I feel VERY SATISFIED. Today, I felt calm all day. I did good parenting. And I got my birth crack. What could be better than this?

...and I found another doula client...


More food

Categories: French, Alcohol, Cheese, Soups, Ethnic
Yield: 6 servings

2 tb (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 c Vegetable oil
3 1/2 lb Onions, thinly sliced
2 c Dry wine
6 c Chicken stock or canned
Low-salt broth

12 1/2-inch thick French Bread
Baguette slices, toasted
1 c Gruye're Cheese (about 4 oz)

Melt butter with oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions, cover
and cook until lightly colored, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.
Add wine and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Cook 5 minutes.
Add browned bits. Cook 5 minutes. Add stock and bring to simmer. Simmer
uncovered 1-1/2 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be
prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before

Preheat broiler. Ladle soup into boilerproof bowls. Top with slices of
toasted French bread. Sprinkle with grated Gruyere cheese. Broil until
cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Now dudes: this recipe takes far too long. The onions can be browned within half an hour, and simmering can be finished in another half hour. But truly true french onion soup takes more time commitment, I guess. So, if you don't mind false french onion soup, cook for shorter. If you want the truth, go long.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Huge Congrats!!!!

Congratulations go out to my new blogger friend, Ms. Emilie Louanne, on her successful VBAC and sweet baby boy, Jonah Cade!!!! Hooray!

Some more crochet toys I made

These were the two I made for Kai, as requested at OSoNerdy in Osoyoos last summer (I asked my friend Louise to take photos of them, since I forgot!). The penguin is the same pattern I have made two times before, and the rooster was the first pattern I made up totally from my own head. Apparantly Kai likes them alot, though would Louise really tell me if he thought they were dorky? :p

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The thing about cold

There are several things about cold weather around here that are notable. One, is that most of the houses in this area are really not built for it. Even with the blinds and curtains closed, six feet in front of any of our windows is freezing cold. The front door is visibly drafty. Any room over the garage is unlivable. The thermostat just can't accurately heat every room in the house to an even, warm temperature.
But I have to say that for me, the biggest annoyance about cold weather has got to be breastfeeding. When Riley nurses, he's generally fully clothed, dressed quite warmly for nighttime when he kicks off his blankets, and he's working hard, so he's sweaty and hot. When Riley nurses, I'm generally semi naked from the waist up because my shirt has to be up, my bra off, and both breasts free because he is still adamant about switching from side to side every 10 seconds or so, even in his sleep. He doesn't like being covered by a blanket because he's hot, but I can't nurse without a blanket because I'm freaking GOOSEbumpy I'm so COLD. And what does he do with his cold little hands and/or feet? Kneads my stomach.
If my house wasn't so drafty this wouldn't be such a big problem.

We found a pair of really good snowpants for Matthew today, 50% off! We paid $23 for good quality snowpants that will hopefully fit him for at least two years. Which is fantastic, because I hate paying full price for snow gear here--the amount of times you use the full snow suit in a year barely justifies the sale price. Now he needs a jacket. Costco is sold out, Please Mum has nothing in his size, Children's place had only WHITE (who buys a WHITE coat you CANNOT WASH for a BOY?!??), and the Bay had nothing on sale. If I'm going to pay $80 at the Bay, I may as well pay $80 at M.E.C. and get a decent one. We don't ski. We just get a few weeks of cold, frosty weather per year, and toboggan at my parents' place around Christmas or shortly afterwards, depending on the year.

My friend was going to lend us a snowsuit for Riley, but she hasn't coughed it up yet and Riley is freezing, so we're going to have to spring for something for Riley soon, also. Maybe I'll check out Winners? My mom found a good one last year at Winner's for Riley. Very cute. Very warm. The kids have excellent rain gear, but not so much for the snow gear. Fortunately they all have good boots, which I bought last year in the spring, on sale. That's always a gamble: "How big are my kid's feet going to be eight months from now??" This year it worked out.

Matthew said to me the other day as we got into the car:
"Mommy, can you turn on the hot conditioning? I'm very cold."
Too funny.

My laundry situation is under control again. The cat pee helps; it motivates me to keep the laundry off the floor, so I fold it more often. Washing a load every day works, too. Barely. But it works. I still wish I had a Mother's Helper to come fold it for me, but I don't know anyone the right age who lives close who might be interested. In just a few more years Ayden will be old enough, maybe I'll make it his chore. But I still have to make it through the next few years! Oh, if only I lived in a country that had affordable domestic help!!!!!

Christmas is almost upon us. I'm excited!! I tried to change things up for advent, be more contemplative, set aside more time to pray, make an advent wreath......
maybe next year? I did set aside more time for contemplation and prayer for two days at the beginning of advent, and after that I forgot. Nice. I think the problem is that I make advent one more thing 'to do,' rather than a mindset or change of heart. But how do you do that?

Brent just came in and asked me where Matthew is. I didn't know, so he started going around looking all over the house for him, and found him in the time out chair. I put him there an HOUR AGO and FORGOT ABOUT HIM!!! Isn't that aweful?! And kind of funny at the same time?!?!?! At least I didn't forget him at the gas station or a restaurant--he was safe and warm in the bathroom! Oh my gosh, what a funny kid! Why didn't he call out to remind us he was there? Maybe he was enjoying the peace and quiet?
What a zoo. I better go.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Walking to school

I have to upload some pictures for you--this is getting ridiculous!! And I HAVE to take the camera with me on the walk to school and take some pictures, because the kids are so cute. I have been letting Riley walk part of the way home in the mornings, and this morning he made it all the way from the school yard to our front door on his own steam! That is a good 1/2 to 3/4 km walk. And he's so busy. Matthew is running back and forth and doing imaginative play with sticks and moss and pieces of cement, and Riley is out of breath from trying to keep up with him--picking up sticks, doing the toddler run that is actually slower and more dangerous than walking because their feet get all tangled up underneath them, trying so hard to off road or hold the stick in a mittened hand, and screeching when he gets frustrated [like, every three seconds]. The sun has been out lately, so it is clear and cold and the sun shines between the trees and houses, and it is gorgeous. I'm so happy in this kind of weather. The kids love the frost, but they are praying nightly for snow. The trouble is, it is rarely this cold in our climate when there is cloud cover, and you need precipitation for snow (obviously)!

In other family stuff, the dog has stopped peeing on the floor, which is awesome! But he's still not allowed upstairs because every time we let him, he pees on the rug. Plus, the cat is so traumatized by the existence of the dog that upstairs is now her domain. So much so, that she has begun peeing on the clean laundry pile instead of bothering to brave the dog and go to her litter in the garage. Awesome. You get one creature to stop pissing on the floor, and he passes the torch to someone else. Cat piss is SO much worse than dog piss. A few weeks ago in church Brent discovered he had dried cat pee on the crotch of his jeans. Guess how happy he was about that? The dog also got his nuts cut off last week, so he's sporting a fashionable and useless white cone, and a tortured look on his face. He gets the stitches out and cone off tomorrow.

Last week Riley spilled half a bottle of gentian violet on his brand new, third time worn Osh Kosh B'Gosh overalls I splurged on in Washington when we went to see So You Think You Can Dance. Then he got up and walked across the rug, dragging the gentian violet stained pant cuffs from our bedroom door to our bathroom door. Purple stains on a beige rug. ROCK ON! I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed, being a scullery maid in a former life, and I'm happy to report the rug stains are out. The carpet looks a little worse for wear in those spots, but at least the purple is gone! The overalls I have not been able to save, although I think they are cheaper to replace than a rug.

We also hosted my book club Christmas party Sunday evening, with a cheese fondue followed by a chocolate fondue and gift exchange and voting on our book nominations for next year. Wow, was that ever fun! And in anticipation of all this partying in our house, Brent finished the kitchen renovations!!! He completed our downstairs bathroom JUST in time for thanksgiving in October, and now the kitchen JUST in time for book club party. We just have 2 more bathrooms to renovate and then the house will be set to put on the market. I am SO EXCITED! Not for having to keep the house clean to SHOW it, but to move. Hurrah, hurrah. I'll post before and afters--the transformation is remarkable!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Tamie wanted recipes from all my fooding last week. Okay!! My cousin also proposed a recipe sidebar on the blog...a fantastic idea...I wonder if it would work??

First of all, the roast chicken;

one roasting or frying chicken (frying ones are smaller)
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1 tsp soy sauce
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp red wine vinegar

mix the sauce ingredients and paint them on the chicken. Place the painted chicken in a roasting pan, fill the bottom of the pan with 2 cups of chicken broth (I used 2 cups epicure vegetable broth), and roast uncovered, basting every 1/2 hour or so, until meat thermometer says chicken is done (approx 1 hour for frying chickens, 1.5 to 2.5 hours for roasting chickens, depending on size).

To make the gravy, lift the cooked chicken out of the pan, skim the fatty bits out, and put the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of flour, and whisk. I added another cup of broth at this point, but had wayyyy too much gravy then because my kids wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.

I also made mashed potatoes, with my heartattack creamy recipe;
6 or 7 potatoes, peeled and boiled and mashed with:
homogenized milk
several scoops of sour cream
several scoops of butter
several scoops of cream cheese
(I wonder why I can't lose weight???)

and salad.

Cheesy Chicken Whatchamacallit is AWESOME and popular with all of my kids

Cook up enough egg noodles to fill a casserole dish (approx 3/4 of a package). Rinse under cool water, set aside.

Dice 2 to 3 chicken breasts and set aside
Cook 7 or 8 mushrooms in 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for 5 minutes (if you start with a very deep, big frying pan you will only need to dirty one pot)
Add chicken and cook until opaque
remove from heat and set aside
melt 2 tbsp butter
Add 2 tbsp flour
Add 2 cups of milk
heat until milk is boiling, stirring constantly
Add 1/4 cup of cream cheese and stir until well mixed
Add 10 oz of spinach leaves
cook for 2 to 3 minutes
Add 1/8th cup parmesean cheese
Stir in mushrooms, chicken, and juice
Add 1 to 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated, mix until melted
Add to noodles and put in casserole dish

Sprinkle 1/8th of a cup of parmesean cheese on top, and 1/8th of a cup of bread crumbs
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes
(as you can see, it comes by its cheesy name honestly)

Chicken soup

Boil the bones and carcass from the roast/frying chicken for 4 hours in 10 to 15 cups of water, with 1 tbsp vinegar added to help remove calcium from the bones and into your broth, for a great, dairy free source of calcium.

Remove bones, fat, and skin, leaving behind as many chunks of meat as possible.

Optional: let stock sit in fridge overnight, skim off fat in the morning.

Add some sort of oxo or epicure or other soup base flavouring to the stock, Add veggies (I use celery, onions, carrots, peppers, zucchini, and bok choy--grate the veggies your kids don't like and they'll never know they are in there), basil, thyme, and parsley, and simmer for approx 1 hour, then add cooked rice or pasta.

My kids rave about my soup, though this last batch they poked around whining about the ingredients and pushing them around their bowls, so I dunno what I did wrong.

Pat Harrington's famous granola (Pat is my friend's mom, and she makes the world's BEST granola. I fandangled the recipe from her, and now I share it with you)

Mix in a large bowl:
8 cups 5 minute oats
4 cups wheat germ
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds
1 cup shredded coconut (I don't like coconut so I leave this one out)
1 cup chopped almonds in brown skins

Combine 1/2 cup canola oil and 3/4 to 1 cup honey in pyrex measure and melt lightly in microwave (I use corn oil because canola oil is supposed to be less healthy since it is made from genetically cross bred/modified rapeseed, which is poisonous? I think that's how it goes)

Blend into above mix coating evenly

Divide mix into quarters
Roast 1/4 per cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 8 to 9 minutes. Turn and stir and roast another 5 to 6 minutes.

When cool add 1/2 cup green pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup craisins, and 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots (I leave out the apricots because they have sulfites added to them, and I use organic raisins, and ocean spray craisins, which have no sulfites. I can't find sulfite free apricots that my family will actually eat)

Store in airtight container.

Serve with yogurt or milk. Or eat by the handful when you are making dinner. :)))))

Here, also is my Amish Oatmeal recipe

melt 1/3 cup of butter, set aside
beat 2 large eggs well, add 3/4 cup brown sugar (I use 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey instead)
add 1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
Mix well until no lumps.
Whisk in butter and 1 cup of milk, then add 3 cups whole oats (5 minute oats), 1/4 cup each millet seeed and flax meal (I can't find millet seed so I use bran).
Stir well, pur into 8x8 dish
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 minutes

Serve with yogurt and fruit (I use frozen fruit we picked in the summer! Blueberries are most popular in our house)