Sunday, May 30, 2010


I can't believe it, but I baked brownies. I think I told you about them! Here are some photos to prove that I baked!!! And to show how the kids reacted to them....

Tulip Festival 2010

Well, here it is the end of May and I'm just posting pictures from April's tulip festival! I really need to get better at keeping up! So, this year our window of opportunity for travelling to Skagit Co Washington for the annual tulip festival was cut in half because as per usual, the entrance requirements to travel into the U.S. have gotten stricter and we now ALL need valid passports to cross the border, including Riley. We scrounged enough money to apply for all 3 children, since Ayden's passport had expired, Matthew was now a Canadian citizen and needed one of his own, and Riley had never had one. Plus, mine expired in January so we had to scrounge up enough money to renew mine at the same time. When we applied we were informed that the new passports would arrive by April 16th, halfway through the tulip festival month. It was a particularly warm winter and early spring this year, which I'm sure you all followed during the Olympics, so I knew the tulips would be early. And then the kids have school five days a week, Brent works 4 of every 8 days, and I work 1 or 2 of his days off, so the next thing you know, it's April 28th and we're finally getting around to the tulip festival! We drove all the way down there, 2 hours, and the main farm was closed. It closed the day before!! There was ONE ornamental garden still open, but at least half the tulips had already been beheaded! At least we didn't have to pay an entrance fee! This was a hilarious example of our family adventures gone awry, yet again, but really the tulip festival is about some family time, tradition, and some pretty pictures. I think mostly it's one of those annual treks that's mostly for me. Being the only girl around here, I have very few activities that are mostly for me, I think I'm going to hang on to this one! =) Especially because they make for such gorgeous pictures. Even in a half beheaded ornamental garden!!! And we went on a weekday, so there were no crowds, and crossing the border was a breeze.

This year I was all about the 'black' tulips. And some funky ruffled ones. Now if only I had the time to paint some!!!

I'm so glad we were able to get a few tulip photos in, and enjoy some family time together! It was a gorgeous day to go, too! Sunny and warm. I love the tulip festival. Gorgeous. Do you like our family self portrait? Getting everyone to face the camera is a challenge, as is getting everyone in the photo without cropping the bottom half of our faces. In the best of the bunch, Ayden has both eyes closed. We take what we can get!!!! Isn't my family gorgeous? Seriously cute kids. I know we're not supposed to brag, and most of the time I can restrain myself, but today I couldn't. I think everyone else's kids are amazingly cute, too! Kids are such a blessing. Their faces and mannerisms and learning curves and unbridled affection and enthusiasm just enrich my life so much!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How my parents raised me green

Ever since I read this post, "I Thought I Made Them Green, But, Really, They Made Me," by BreastfeedingMomsUnite a few months ago, I've been wanting to write a post along the same lines. When I was eleven, I had a really amazing teacher who taught us every Friday, and focused on Drama and sustainable living. I LOVED her. She was kind, softspoken, wore homemade clothing and encouraged us to be environmentally friendly. Her particular passion was reducing our garbage waste, thereby reducing landfill volume. She talked about many ways to reduce landfill waste, including using glass milk bottles and cloth diapering. I took away from that grade 6 class a determination to use cloth diapers when I had babies. Man, what an impression a teacher can make! So I hounded my mom and she switched to glass bottles for our milk, though I never could get my parents to recycle. I was frustrated by my inability to really get them to care about 'the earth.' But until I was a parent and read books like "Last Child In the Woods"

and "Free Range Kids,"
I didn't really realize the enormous impact my parents had on the way I interact with and feel about nature.
First of all, they love nature themselves. My parents were mutually attracted to each others' love of the outdoors, including hiking, camping, skiing, canoeing, horseback riding, gardening, and hunting (dad). So when we kids came along, we learned an appreciation for nature by osmosis. We lived on the edge of a subdivision before we moved to the farm when I was 13, and our house in the subdivision bordered a Provincial park, with rattlesnakes and wildflowers and caterpillars and deer and the occasional bear. My mom had a garden, and sectioned off a portion of it for me to tend my own plants, when i was quite small. Our home was heated by a wood burning stove, which we gathered wood for every year, piled in our yard in the subdivision, and burned all winter to keep warm. Our two main vacation activities were camping and visiting my dad's brother's farm in Lillooet, an armpit of a town on the Fraser River in rural BC. We fished, canoed, hunted, got wood, hiked, swam, pooped in the woods, cooked over a camp fire, grew our own vegetables and fruit, and spent MOST of our childhood outdoors. We walked to and from school every day. We built snow forts and wood forts and rock forts. My father is incredibly good at spotting wildlife, and I have many memories of him pulling over to the side of the road, or waking us up early in the morning, or getting up from the dinner table to point out wild animals trekking past where we were, or through our backyard, or across the street, or flying through the air.

Everything my dad hunted, we ate. Everything we fished, we ate. Everything my mom grew in our garden, we ate. That's pretty sustainable living. Even though burning wood might not seem like the cleanest thing to do for the air, it's remarkably energy efficient and self sustaining. There is no network of gas piping and burning or hydro electricity distribution needed for heating a home. Just some effort, a permit, and some trees. Granted, on a large scale this would eat up our forests, but for one family it's fairly small, as far as footprints go.
My mother canned peaches, pears, cherries, carrots, asparagus, pickles, applesauce, spaghetti sauce, you name it. Though she never made jam. She couldn't handle all the sugar in jam. She froze home made pies, farm pressed apple juice (to this day I hate apple juice), and buckets of fruit.
We moved to a farm and my dad made a living from the land. We still camped and fished and grew a garden. My parents still love nothing better than to be out in nature, and that love couldn't help but rub off on their kids. Recycling paper and washing diapers and walking to school and composting are all expressions of that love my parents taught me for this earth we call home. I'm just so grateful for everything they taught me, and for all the fauns and blue jays and eagles and bucks and coyotes and trout and snakes and worms and spiders and ladybugs and beetles and rocks and grass and trees I got to see as a child. What a rich gift!
So thanks, mom and dad, for teaching me green parenting, back when it was just being a natural parent with a heavy dose of hippie thrown in for good measure.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Introducing Mothers Of Change

I recently became a board member for a new company called Mothers Of Change. We are developing a multi faceted resource for women to access information, share experiences, participate in research, and advocate for evidence based change in maternity care. I'm very excited about this!! We are really hoping to help women unite their voices and advocate for maternity care that better reflects the best practices that are reflected in research and evidence, as well as what women of our generation really care deeply about. Please visit our website at, consider becoming a member of our facebook group by clicking 'like' on our page, and join in the discussions!
I also have a link to Mothers of Change on my sidebar!

The latest

This was on the UBC Midwifery School website this morning:

May 27, 2010
All of this year’s applications have been assessed by both the Midwifery Program and UBC Enrolment Services. Invitations to interview were sent this morning to 32 candidates. Those invited to interview are asked to respond by end of day May 31st, 2010. Interviews will be held on June 9th. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified in writing after all interview spots have been confirmed.

I didn't get an email inviting me to an interview, although I am not certain if they sent via email or regular mail. All other correspondence has been by email, so I'm pretty confident invitations to interview would be, also. No interview for me =(

There is a small chance specific interviewees will no longer want an interview? In that case I still have a chance...
jeepers, all this waiting!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My mornings these days

My kids are very very distractible. We get up around 7:20 and leave the house at 8:10. From 7:20 until 8:00 this is my morning refrain, and I do not exaggerate. In fact, I edit by about 38 minutes. This is me:

Good morning, Matthew. Please do your three morning jobs.
Ayden, get up please.
Ayden, it's time to get up.
Ayden, you need to get up now if you want to earn a dot on your chart for getting up on time.
Get up now if you want to have time to ride your bike to school.
Matthew, why are you still standing there in your pyjamas? Go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, and get dressed.
Okay, Riley. Time to change your diaper. Matthew, please unlock the door.
No, you don't need privacy, I can hear your toothbrush. Open the door.
AYDEN GET UP OFF THE FLOOR. Thank you. Take off your clothes. Matthew, please open the door.
Riley, come back! Time to change your diaper! Matthew, did you pee? Can you do that now, please? Thank you.
Riley, stop kicking. Gentle please.
MATTHEW. PEE. NOW. When you're finished, get dressed.
Riley, time to get dressed.
WhateveryournameisgetoverherebeforeIeatyouforbreakfast. Riley! Stop kicking! Gentle.
Ayden, did you go to the bathroom yet? Please do that!
What are you doing? Did you pee yet? WHY NOT? Oh my GOODNESS, people.
STOP kicking me!
Okay, Matthew, time to put your clothes on.
Ayden, GET DRESSED. And please hurry, if you want to have time to ride your bikes to school, otherwise we will have to drive.

And it continues from downstairs, where I let the dog out, feed him, let him out to pee, and get breakfast for everybody, while yelling up the stairs at either both older boys, or just Ayden for sure. Oh my GOODNESS that child has LEAD IN HIS ASS, people.

And then after breakfast it's, "Get your shoes on. Put on your shoes, please. Shoes. Put on your SHOES! Not flip flops, you have to wear running shoes if you want to ride your bikes. Please put on your shoes. Shoes. Matthew, get out of the closet. Then go get some socks!! Jeepers!! Socks, people. Put on some socks.
Okay, please put on a sweater because it's still kind of cold out. Sweaters, please! Sweaters! Lets wear sweaters!

While tripping over the dog.

Did I sign up for this? I don't remember signing a fully informed consent for this procedure.
This repetitive morning scenario.
Everyone says to cherish it. Treasure it. Hang on to it, because it's gone in a heartbeat.


I have some good things, and some frustrating things, and a really good trip to Seattle to report. First, a good thing! This morning I woke Riley up for the day, which is normal because he would rather sleep in and stay up late, but Ayden has to be at school by 8:40 every morning. I pulled off his diaper and found it dry, which is also very normal for him. He holds it all night. So I decided to put him on the toilet. Usually this doesn't go well because (a) he's groggy and doesn't want to sit on the potty, and (b) I don't have a lot of extra time in the mornings before we have to leave to get Ayden to school on time. But I figured I'd give it a shot. I cuddled him for a few minutes, then put him on and pulled out some books. The second book is called "Big Boys Use the Potty," and we keep it on the shelf above the toilet to read to him while he sits. This has never worked. UNTIL TODAY! Near the end of the second book, which was the BBUtP book, he peed! Hurrah!!! It was a big, looooooong pee. You should have seen his FACE! He was so proud of himself! It helps when you have big brothers to add to the cheering! So cute.

Next, a gross thing. Yesterday I was at work, and Brent called me at lunchtime to report that Riley had just picked his nose and then, when Brent wasn't looking, he put it in BRENT'S MOUTH. EW! Wasn't it kind of him to call and tell me about it? So nice.

And another good thing is that a week and a half ago Riley hit a mini word explosion! Suddenly it's verbal diarrhea. Well, not quite. But compared to before, with his four word vocabulary, this is diarrhea. His word list now includes, consistently and without prompting:
Gapa [grampa]
Gamma [gramma]
Caw [bird]
Miw [milk]
Mie [mine--the quintessential toddler word]
Mo [more]
animal noises like Moo and Grrr
Ga [thank you, in the right context]
machine noises like Brrrrr
Bap [up]
Ewp [help]
Cha Cha [train]
Bu [bus]
Bu [bye]
Bu [toothbrush]
Bu [bug, of which he is still terrified]
Ma [mouth]

He will also copy words when prompted, sometimes. Progress! It's not two word sentences, although he will SIGN two word sentences now: mostly 'milk please' or 'up please.' I figure at least he's putting two words together in some context, even if not verbally. So great. He's still reticent in public or in an unfamiliar place. I think he's just kind of introverted.

Thanks for all your support and kindness when I wrote my STRESSED post. I've been feeling a tiny little bit better since I wrote it; at least I can function. The day I wrote it I couldn't think of anything else and of course I couldn't sleep. That night when I wrote that post it was the middle of the night. I had slept from 9 pm til 1 am, then woke up and never went back to sleep again. As you can imagine, the day following that one was a bit....cranky....That night my mom arrived in preparation to go to Seattle the next day, and I had intended to do laundry and pack after the kids went to bed. But when I put Riley to bed I fell asleep, and that was the end of me for the night! But I managed: when I woke up an hour later I switched laundry over before I crawled into my own bed. I set my alarm for an hour later and fell asleep, woke up when it beeped, switched some more laundry, set it for an hour later, etc, until all my laundry was done. I got up early the next morning and packed everything and we were on the road by 8:00. Pretty impressive =)
The trip to Seattle has been in the planning for months. My mom, two of her three sisters, and all but one of their daughters, including myself, my siser, my cousin Sara, and my cousin Madison, and the two nurslings [Riley and Ryen, who both answer to "Ri"] planned a girls' shopping/fun weekend in Tulalip for the long weekend in May. As the date grew closer I got more and more stressed, and my paycheques got smaller and the Matrix didn't sell, so I decided I couldn't go. I phoned my mom and told her last week. She called me back an hour later and said, "Your Grandma will give you money for the weekend!" Holy crap. Some of it was a gift, and some of it was a loan. AWESOME! I'm so grateful. I was okay with not going [I had been planning to go but not shop, anyways], but in the end it was really really nice to be able to be included in such a fun girl event that happens, oh, NEVER! So cool. So I went. And it was FUN! We stayed in the Tulalip Casino Hotel, which was a hilarious experience in white trashiness, and so convenient. We had free shuttles everywhere. Riley was a dream baby. I have pictures. And new clothes!

In not so great news, I didn't get called for an interview for Midwifery School. Interviews aren't til June 9th but the email they sent had said that by May 26th "applicants will be informed of their status." Does that mean if I don't hear by May 26th I didn't get an interview? Likely. I'm not tossing out all hope for this year, but most of it. Hm. Kind of disappointed. Kind of not surprised, I didn't have my heart SET on going this year, and I've figured all along it would probably take two or three shots to get into such a competitive program. It would have been nice, though! Financially I guess it gives us more time to prepare, but I'm not sure HOW. How am I going to save up and/or pay down debt when we don't have enough to get through NOW? Nothings going to change unless I get a full time job. Also, if I had gotten an interview and then not gotten in, I would at least know I was high on the list of candidates. But I didn't.
Anyways, that's the update on that.

I'll post Seattle pics soon! AND do a 7 years old post for Ayden. Jeepers, I'm getting freaking behind!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Vegetarian Recipe Carnival Linky!

I submitted my Spanikopita and tzatziki to Breastfeeding Mom's Unite's Vegetarian Food Carnival~There are some amazing recipes over there, so go check it out HERE!

And become a follower of this blog--I LOOOOVE this girl, we speak the same language

Random complaints

I'm stressed out. I'm so stressed out that the other day I threw a can of PAM at the wall and left a large round dent in the paint and drywall. I don't think Brent has seen it yet. Matthew saw it happen, and reported it to Ayden, "You know, mommy threw a can at the wall. And it left a HOLE THIS BIG!" Why did I throw the PAM? Because it wouldn't stay in the cupboard. Obviously.

It's not the PAM that is the true source of my stress, though. It is money. I've been feeling a mounting sense of being financially squeezed since December, and it is getting out of control in my head right about NOW. In fact, I often can't sleep because of it. And I just don't understand WHY we are having such a hard time staying afloat. The last five pay periods we have had no money two to three days after payday, and have to wait 12 to 13 days til we get paid again before we can get anything. More food. Vitamins. Gas. Etcetera. I just. Don't. Get it. I'm not being frivolous! Food, gas, underwear and socks, house payment, bills, and BAM it's gone. The thing is, we make more now than we ever have before, so what's up? It feels worse than ever before. Well, not EVER--those first two years of marriage were pretty stinking frugal. But since then. I guess we own three cars right now, all insured, and are making payments on two of them.
Since Toyota had a rash of major recalls suddenly nobody wants a bloody Toyota. They are GOOD CARS, and our Matrix had not a single part recalled, but still. Nobody wants a Toyota. The car lot offered us $8,000. Nice try. We still OWE $10,000.

And our kids eat way more now than they used to. They eat a TON. Jeepers. I should train them to scavenge, what do you think? Plus, they cost more: Hip Hop and swimming and music lessons and soccer...not all at once, but still. I know it's a fraction of what the kids will cost when they are teenagers, but hopefully we'll make more income then.

Seriously, this lack of money thing dominates my thoughts from morning til night, and now here I am up at 3:30 (woke up at 1:00 when Brent came to bed), worrying about it again. I can't handle this. I feel like we're drowning and I can't see how it's going to get any better? We want a house, which will put our house payments up to almost twice what they are now--if we're drowning now, what's it going to be like then?
In order to counterbalance the drowning, I have been working more often since December, but it doesn't help. We're in serious standby mode on travelling to Regina to see my brother in law graduate from RCMP training, which is a big deal in my extended family, and something they did for us when Brent graduated. At this point we have six weeks until he graduates and no money to pay for flights. I can't handle this. It's springtime, full bloom, gorgeous, lush, hot (except for yesterday--random wind and pouring rain), flowers, walks to and from school, vitamin D out the ying yang, long daylight hours--this is usually my best time of year! I'm usually MOST happy during springtime! But this spring I'm so full of stress and worry over money that I can't sleep and I can't think and I am overcome.

Most days I remember that we're not that odd, but today I really feel like we're so much worse at handling finances than everyone else on the planet. Everyone else seems to be able to afford their lives...It's hard to remember I'm fortunate when I feel like I'm drowning. How is this going to get better? And when? And how will we survive on just Brent's income if I quit my job and go to school?
Insert screaming here.............

I've been contemplating getting a full time job instead of the part time one I have now--provided I don't start school in the fall. Since Ayden was born I've felt that my full time job is to be a parent, and I squeeze some work in around the edges for my own sanity and some financial padding. Not like, savings padding. Like, pad Brent's income so we can survive padding. Part time, I could live with emotionally. I generally disapproved of both parents working full time, though I try hard to remain open and non judgmental with regards to individual families and individual jobs. I definitely disapprove of the amount of time paramedics in my ambulance service spend at work--an average of 90 to 100 hours a week, which is so pervasive it's normal--you know, like porn or violence: if everyone is engaging with it it starts to seem normal and ethically sound? Men AND women--it is few and far between to find someone who is employed part time (like me) who actually works PART TIME. And full time employees pad their meagre incomes working overtime. They don't see their families at all. WRONG. Outright. [Though many of them live in townhomes or condos and drive cheap cars and never go on vacation--the cost of living around here is absolutely ridiculous].
Here I am, seriously contemplating a full time position because just for once I want some breathing space. I want to be able to have money in our bank account until at LEAST a few days before the next pay period. I want to NOT pull out the credit card for groceries because our cupboards are bare and our bank account is overdrawn. I want to be able to pay for soccer without hyperventilating. I want a bigger house. That one borders on need. Our family has way outgrown this townhouse. I have way outgrown this neighbourhood, with their anonymous notes about our cat, and their harassments about dog poop and kids' bikes and extra cars (three is too many: we have to park our extra car down the street in another complex, according to the 'warning: next time you will be fined' I got from strata), and their mismanagement of funds and nitpicky nosy CRAP. No more strata. I'm DONE. Period.

And then UBC springs a possible acceptance letter on me, and I'm freaking out. I want to be a midwife, I just have a hard time letting go of complete control of our income and just resting on Brent's. I want to go to school so badly, but I was so prepared for the eventuality of UBC not accepting students this fall that I started to make plans for this full time job thing, and it's hard to know how to switch tracks, you know? I would only work full time for a short period. But if I DO work full time we need a nanny and there's the stress of trying to find someone with flexible hours part time. The position I want is 4 on (two days, two nights), 6 off. Brent works 4 on, 4 off. So sometimes we would overlap and need childcare, and other times one or both of us would be on days off and able to take care of our kids ourselves.
If I go to school I need a nanny, too. And THAT way, I'm not pulling in any income to pay her. How on earth? Jeepers. It really is overwhelming.

I think I'll try to go to sleep now.
Thanks for listening.


Thursday, May 20, 2010


Last night I was the amazing kitchen goddess!!! I made this:

Main Dish: Spanikopita
Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic
1 onion
10 oz fresh spinach
4 tbsp butter, melted
phyllo pastry (thaw before using)
2 eggs
pinch nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 cup feta cheese (or soft goat cheese)
1 tbsp grated parmesean
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Heat oil in a pan, add onion and garlic, cook 5-6 mins until soft. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until leaves wilted. Let cool.
Beat egg with nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheeses and spinach mix.
Lay out one layer of phyllo pastry in a 9x9 dish or a large loaf pan. Brush with melted butter. Add another layer of phyllo, brush with butter. Add another layer and so on until several layers thick; leaving phyllo edges to overlap the edge of the dish/loaf pan. Put spinach and egg mixture in centre and smooth out, and tuck overlapping pastry over the top of the mixture one layer at a time, brushing with melted butter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Tends to be on the salty side; be sparing with the butter or use unsalted butter if you don't like salty.

Then we had greek salad, quinoa, grainy bread, and homemade tzatziki:
some plain yogurt
some extra virgin olive oil
minced garlic
lemon juice
grated cucumber
balanced as per your preferred taste


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Some News...

So I got an email in my inbox last night that went like this:

Dear Melissa:

We are pleased to advise you that there will be 10 students accepted into the 2010-2011 Midwifery Program at the University of British Columbia.

We have resumed the admissions process and are currently assessing your application. We are working hard to complete this process quickly in order to advise applicants as soon as possible. You will be notified shortly if anything is missing from your application. Current applicants will be advised of their status via email by May 26th. We are working to confirm a date for interviews and anticipate that they will be held between June 9th and June 15th.

The Midwifery Program did not cash your payment of the supplemental application fee ($105.00) when received earlier this year. As we are now processing applications, we will be depositing your cheque. Please ensure that there are sufficient funds available as applications will not be processed without the payment of the application fee.

If you have already decided to accept an offer to a Midwifery Educational Program at another University, we would appreciate it if you would let us know.

Further information and specific dates will be posted to our website on the 2010 Admissions page as it becomes available.

......[not her real name]

WOW! I had pretty much given up on 2010 applicants being accepted at all--and here we are getting emails to the contrary. Exciting!!! I'll keep you posted...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Another thing...

Oh yeah, Riley has learned this other New Trick which is one of those things that makes you laugh real hard and then think...Oops, I'm gonna regret THAT moment of weakness into the land of the funny...Because kids are like that: they see you laugh at something and register: Mom Is Pleased: Must Repeat 100,000 times!
Riley likes to fart. Yes, I said he LIKES it. When he farts while breastfeeding, which is often, the look on his face is priceless. It's like he has just discovered I keep an enormous bowl of whipped cream behind the couch and it's OFF LIMITS. It's the Calvin and Hobbes mischievous look. With dimples. And THEN, when I laugh, because seriously it's uncanny how he can catch me off guard with those dimples, he actually PUSHES to try and produce MORE FARTS.

It's official. I live in a boy house.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Some things...

Now that spring is in full swing for us on the SouthWest Coast, the bugs are out. I mean, these are wussy bugs--we're not talking Winnipeg bug infestation or anything, but we have some bugs. And Riley has developed a bug PHOBIA, which extends to worms. If there is an ant on the pavement, he screams like he's dying. If there is a mosquito in the grass, he screams like his guts are coming out a hole in his abdomen. If there is a worm at the playground, it's a houseful of skeletons on halloween night. This is hilarious, until it becomes inconvenient. Like tonight in the bath, for example. A small bit of toe jam from his toes floated up, and it was decapitated heads on a post, people. He wouldn't stop screaming until I fished it out, flicked it in the toilet, and FLUSHED THE TOILET.
Or this afternoon, when he was blowing bubbles in the backyard with his brothers, and he kept wanting in because of the bugs, and then out because of the bubbles. In, out. In, out. Like an indecisive cat.

Last night the younger two kidlets were crazy tired, from lack-of-nap and from swimming lessons, respectively in reverse order by age. How's that for mental gymnastics? You can probably figure out who had lack-of-nap and who had swimming, without my mathematical acrobatics. Anyways, when we got done with dinner [Brent was at work], I put the littlest ones to bed early, and they were both konked by 7:30. Ayden was nowhere near tired, so we just hung out in my room, reading books. As in, he read Geronimo Stilton and I read Infidel, and when there were funny bits we read them out loud, but mostly we were quiet. We ate chips in bed. And it was SO WONDERFUL to share an activity I adore with my oldest son. He's a reading fanatic. *Bliss out*

Matthew is SOUNDING OUT WORDS!!! O my blue jeans, this is COOL! "C. A. T. C-a-t. Cat? Cat! Does that say cat, mommy?" YOU BET YOUR BEANS IT SPELLS CAT! YOU ARE THE SMARTEST BOY IN THE UNIVERSE!!! Two years ago you couldn't even talk in four word sentences and it took two minutes to ask what was for dinner and you didn't know your colours, shapes, letters, or how to count to five. All language skills were behind. NOW you have caught up. So well. So completely. Thank you, JESUS. Thank you, Wiebke [his speech therapist]. Thank you, preschool and kindergarten. Thank you, life.

Wild Weekend

I've been trying to get computer time to blog about last weekend for a WEEK and here it is FRIDAY and I haven't had a chance yet!!! Ridiculous. Sorry, followers, if there are any of you left....I've been bereft of time!

Anyways, a wild weekend for me used to involve some makeup, and usually platform high heels, a few clubs, and a hefty consumption of vodka (my alcohol of choice). Now it involves hives, heart attacks, and BBQ chicken. :P
Here's some back story:
The week before last started this saga, with a trip to the audiologist to retest Matthew's hearing, which you may remember. That took up several hours of our morning, and then the afternoon included a trip to the doctor's office for antibiotics because he had an ear infection with some significant hearing loss as a result. Tuesday we went to the Pediatric Ear, Nose, Throat specialist in Surrey, which involved some driving, paying for parking, hunting down the office, but no anxiety, which you may also remember. Then an afternoon at the X-ray Lab in town, waiting for an x-ray of Matthew's adnoids. Friday evening I noticed Matthew's neck was kind of red, but I wasn't sure what was up. Saturday morning [Ayden's birthday], when we got up, it was a nasty rash encircling his neck and cascading down his trunk, and his tongue was 'kind of tickly,' so I took him to the walk in clinic. I figured it was an allergic reaction, or possibly measles (because measles is going around the Fraser Valley right now); I knew he wasn't on death's door either way, and the doc's office has epinephrine if he were, so I figured that was our best bet. We waited two hours, and were told that yes, it was an allergic reaction to his antibiotics and that he also had a fever, swollen glands, and his ears were still red, so he needed a different antibiotic. Yikes! This poor kid's system--ten days of sulfa antibiotics, then ten more of penicillin! I'll be busting out the probiotics as soon as these are done, that's for sure. Anyways, after the doctor's office we had to go to Costco to fill the new prescription, because they are the cheapest place in town for prescriptions, which, BTW, is a frickin' ZOO on Saturdays, so that took another two hours of our time. Luckily Ayden had a friend over so he was having a good birthday despite two members of his family being MIA for a good chunk of the day.

What a gong show! I'm pretty determined the infection is either viral or simply fluid buildup and not an infection (though swollen glads and a fever are probably indicative of infection, they could be a part of the allergic reaction instead), since he was on day 10 of that antibiotic and had been cleared by the ENT on Tuesday as having fluid but no infection.

The rash took four days to clear up, and travelled from his trunk down his limbs and onto his extremities. He was an itchy mess, even with Benadryl.

Fortunately, he is spunky and energetic, so once we got home on Saturday he jumped on his scooter and we all went for a bike ride together. Which was so fun! I have pics I'll post as soon as I can. He lasted the entire bike ride but that night we had planned an extended family dinner at Boston Pizza, which is a part of our birthday tradition where the birthday boy/girl (if it's me) chooses the restaurant for a family party. Matthew crashed. He fell asleep on the bench seat in the restaurant and missed his dinner entirely. Afterwards, his grandparents offered to take him so the rest of our family could go to a movie as planned, which was very generous of them and totally great. We saw "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," which is right up Ayden's ally. He loves the books and the movie was hilarious! It really brought the story to life in a way that balanced the ridiculousness that is middle school social scenes, and some good life lessons about friendship and loyalty and perspective on the aforementioned social scene. It is above Ayden's age level, but still young enough that I felt comfortable with him watching it; he reads above his grade level so he naturally bumps into content that is above his age level on a regular basis. We don't mind too much, so long as there is no sex, minimal violence (Harry Potter is our limit--he doesn't watch Star Wars yet), and intelligent conflict. It feels weird that I have a child who is old enough that I have to worry about the content of the books he reads and movies he watches...

Sunday was Mother's Day, and muchas gracias to Caryn for the Mother's Day Thanks post idea I totally copied. I work every year on Mother's Day, because when I put in my availability for the month of May I always forget about Mother's Day. Everyone else remembers and doesn't put in availability for that day, so I always wind up working it. Bummer. It was slow, with only a few broken bones and one heart attack. But when I got home the boys had made me BBQ chicken and asparagus, and I had gifts and flowers. It was wonderful. Not what I asked for, but definitely a close second. I asked for them to take me to see the Babies documentary. Which they might have done, had I not worked 12 hours that day. I'm not sure if they would have, because it wasn't 'mentioned, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt. :P

I'll do an Ayden Turns Seven post soon, too. I gotta get on the computer more often! :) Hope you are well!

and oooos

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Summary of Life as a Little Boy:


"You know, if I stop moving, I'll DIE!"


-Ayden Vose

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dear Mom;

[she's going to kill me for that picture!!!! That is her with Ayden a few years ago!]

Thank you for looking at Sara as a newborn baby and thinking, "I think I need one of those!"

Thank you for labouring so long and getting knocked out and having your tailbone broken by the forceps to get me out.

Thank you for feeding me your milk. I'm grateful for that gift and the sacrifice of yourself that it took to breastfeed me.

Thank you for putting up with my clingy shy introverted child self.

Thank you for being patient when I broke, spilled, tore, lost, dropped, or stole your stuff. Thank you for being patient (or acting patient, anyways) when I picked the pink fluffy lint off my security blanket and dropped them all over your house. Until I was seven.

Thank you for feeding me healthy food even when all I wanted was CANDYCANDYCANDY!

Thank you for kissing my owies.

Thank you for teaching me how to read, and reading to me, and sharing your books with me, and listening to my opinions about books, and sharing your own opinions, and instilling in me a love of reading.

Thank you for teaching me about God's love and faithful presence through lots of tough life circumstances.

Thank you for never giving up.

Thank you for the daily around and around neverending cycle of laundry, food, dishes, house cleaning, teeth brushing, bath washing, mundane chores I am just NOW realizing deserves some pretty big recognition and appreciation.

Thank you for letting us have pets.

Thank you for sending me to music lessons.

Thank you for encouraging me always.

Thank you for giving me a car when I turned 16.

Thank you for coming to see all my plays and recitals and awards presentations and Christmas concerts and always acting happy to be there.

Thank you for around 30,000 bedtime cuddles.

Thank you for modeling an ability to own up to mistakes and apologize when warranted.

Thank you for cheering me on as I wished and washed around through university, trying to decide what to do with my life.

Thank you for sharing a passion for childbirth and breastfeeding with me, and for laying the foundations for a belief in normal birth and about a million other feminist topics. Thank you for modelling that women CAN work and raise happy kids.

Thank you for your fantastic sense of humor and tons of spunk.

Thank you for not laughing at me when my first boyfriend broke up with me and I cried. Thanks also for putting up with my entire 10th grade year.

Thank you for teaching me a love for travelling, and for being brave enough to do it alone with three kids, since dad didn't want to travel. Thank you also for Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Mexico, Hawaii, and Russia.

Thank you for taking me camping as a kid and teaching me a love for the outdoors and earthy, green living and the value of a vegetable garden.

Thank you for teachung me how to can fruits and vegetables.

Thank you for putting up with my vegetarian phase. For a phase, that was a long one.

Thank you for sacrificing career, money, space, body, heart and soul to raise me.

Thank you for my siblings! One of the most valuable and simultaneously annoying gifts you ever gave me :)

Thank you for always making me a priority. I love you!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I've got the itch...

You know, when your baby grows up a bit and becomes a toddler but he still feels like a baby to you? And then a few more months go by and you just can't pretend to yourself that your toddler is a baby anymore? And then a few more months go by and you really start wanting another baby around? Or maybe that only happens to me :)
Yeah, I've got the I wanna nother baby itch...
Maybe it would be a really great thing if UBC's School of Midwifery didn't take students this fall, but waited til next year? And chose me then??
That would give me some time. And you all know that Brent just has to sneeze in my direction and voila! There's a baby in my belly, right? Sorry, to all you who have more trouble than that. :(
Not that I'm pregnant now, don't get your fannies in a knot quite yet.


In not so great news, my mom recommended that I ask Matthew's speech therapist about the fact that Riley isn't talking yet. So to appease her I did, and I honestly thought that she would raise one eyebrow and say, "Say whaaaat? He's normal. Don't be ridiculous!" Well, she didn't. She said, "I was wondering if you were going to ask me about that one of these days." And then she said, "Call public health and get him on the waitlist for speech therapy NOW. Go home and do it TODAY."
Ack. Doesn't anyone grow up and learn to talk NORMAL these days? Ayden's in speech therapy for his lispy "S" with the school speech pathologist, Matthew is in intensive therapy for a bajillion pathologies and a stutter with the school pathologist AND a private pathologist at $100/hour, and now RILEY isn't talking?!???!!!!
Apparantly Riley's vocabulary of four words just doesn't cut it at 21 months. He's supposed to have 2 to 3 word sentences by now. Instead, he grunts and points and gestures and dimples at everyone from behind my right leg.
My brother was a sweet and normal baby and toddler who never talked but instead grunted and pointed until he was 2, waited 2 years for speech therapy, fell behind in school, repeated grade one, was diagnosed with some learning disabilities and spent his entire childhood feeling stupid. So there's that to worry about. I mean, my brother is a successful and well adjusted businessman with a fiancee and a great personality, so I would never worry my kid would 'turn out' like him--rather, I would worry that my kid would have to suffer like my brother did in school. How fair is it for a kid to grow up feeling dumb? Everyone has their own brand of smart.
So I started to cry. And I drove to public health today and filled out the forms to put him on the 2 year waitlist.


Talk, baby. TALK!

Matthew's speech therapist (the expensive, private one who pointed me in the direction of "there's a problem") said she would evaluate him for me for free, and gave me a toddler packet. The free session is SO great, SOSOSOSOSO great--wonderfully generous. But the packet was frustrating, because everything in there is stuff we already do! Read to him, sing to him, talk to him about what we are doing as we are doing it, nursery rhymes, this-little-piggy-went-to-market, give him opportunity to speak/communicate, talk to him about things he is interested in, model proper pronounciation, etc, etc.

C'mon, baby....TALK....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Midwifery Day

Hooray for midwives! Thank you to ALL midwives the world over. Your baby catching is holy and magical and timeless and powerful, and I'm grateful a million times over for all your long nights and hard work and swimming against the current.

Happy midwive's day!

Thank you Ayden

Ayden came to my rescue yesterday! After I posted about my ridiculous morning (which, btw, was punctuated by thoughts that I was spending the whole morning running around doing nothing FOR ME--isn't that a ridiculous thought to have repeating itself in your skull? I promise it was not one I embraced. Despite its repeated appearance. Jeepers. One morning spent doing stuff for one son is not martyr making material), I picked the kids up from school. We went to the grocery store (more fun!), and when we got back I just HAD to crawl into bed. There was no choice in the matter. So I asked Ayden to get a snack for his brothers, turn on the t.v., and keep an eye on the baby for a bit while I lay down. His reply, "Sure, mommy!" And he did. Wow. WHAT A BLESSING! My kids are so good.

Ayden and Matthew watched t.v. for a bit, Ayden voluntarily did his homework without being asked, and Riley crawled into bed with me and nursed himself to sleep. That, my friends, made the rest of my day possible. It is amazing what a nap can do.

As for today; it was similar in that I dashed around from speech therapy to grocery shopping to school and back again, but dissimilar in that I didn't get a nap. I feel like I've been run over by several trucks. My eyes are weeping from exhaustion, and I've snot plugging up my sinuses and very little voice.

Hurrah for good kids! My kids are so good. I have to remember that when they are ripping holes in the paint and making enough noise to rival a discordant orchestra...!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Argh. Some days you just wake up on the WRONG SIDE OF THE BED, you know? Today is one of those days. I don't know why, but I'm cranky.
Actually, I DO know why--I have a sore throat and slept only 6 hours and spent my entire morning corralling two children in non kid friendly spaces [Dana knows exACtly what I'm talking about, being the involuntary doctor-visiting-queen--dontcha, babe?]. So I guess I've got some right to feel a little cranky. I'm keeping it inside pretty well, but I'm getting to the point where if I don't change that inside voice it's going to start spilling over...

So this a.m. I felt pretty terrible, but Matthew had to miss a much-anticipated field trip with his kindergarten class to go to a pediatric Ear-Nose-Throat specialist in Surrey. So right off the bat I feel awful this morning. He took it fairly well, but I still felt bad. I made Brent tell him, because I just didn't want to see his disappointed face. :(
So we drove Ayden to school, and then drove straight to the appointment. On the up side, I was not nervous about this appointment at ALL, contrary to my regular M.O. I had all the ingredients for tying myself all up in knots: I feel supremely responsible for his current medical state, which means that I made some mistakes as his mom, which becomes public in the context of a doctor's office. Public to a professional who can judge me. And will. It is also a new office, a new doctor, in a new location, and the time is tight if I want to get there on time. I'm not fully organized because Riley is still not dressed and still in his overnight diaper, because I pulled him directly from bed and put him in the car.
These are not necessarily awful things, but they are things which would normally add up to a pretty big anxiety issue for me on the way to a medical appointment.
What a relief!
Anyways, I drove out there, found the place, 'surprise!' pay for parking (this is unusual at dr's offices around here) at one of those parking meters that only takes a specific type of coin and OMG thank you JESUS, I actually HAVE THAT COIN. Holy jeepers. What pay parking lot doesn't take credit cards these days? We found it, Matthew peed his pants, I took him to the (locked, down the hall--I hate those types of buildings) bathroom, we went back and filled out a bajillion forms, we had the appointment, Riley shit his diaper and it stunk, the doc wasn't that good with kids but was good with ME--if you can't have one it's nice to have another, but why go into peds if you don't know how to interact with kids? Matthew is VERY easy to engage--Matthew peed his pants again and we went to the locked down the hall bathroom again, I filled out MORE forms, and he's going for surgery to have tubes put in his ears to prevent his chronic fluid buildup and/or ear infections and subsequent hearing loss and speech regressions.
I'm just glad he is a part of our family and lives in Canada where you can have access to help like surgery and pathology when you need it. Rich or poor.

So Riley's still running around with shitty pants because there is nowhere for me to change him. So we go down to the van and I change him there. The advantage to van diaper changes is that there is lots of space, you know it's clean or at least your own family's dirt, you generally have enough extra supplies stuffed in drawers or cupboards or under seats, and no one will pester you for the bathroom. The disadvantage is that you usually have to drive around with poo in your car for the next few hours until you find a garbage or get home. We did the latter.

We then drove to an x-ray lab in Langley, waited an interminable amount of time while the receptionist sorted out what Matthew's legal name is and where we live, in a waiting room with no toys. Then we went to a different waiting room and waited an equally interminable amount of time for Matthew to be called, on a bench in the hallway where there were no toys. Riley decided to play with my keys, and stuck them up his nose.
Fortunately they came out again. I guess we would have been in the right place if he'd needed an x ray...

They took the x-ray and then we went to our regular doctor to drop off a form and make a pre surgical appointment, all related to the ENT situation. There were toys, but we didn't stay long enough to play with them. So both kids were crying when we left that office. And I wanted to stick my fingers in my eyes and call it a day!!!


But seriously, in NONE of this was I anxious. Tired, yes. Cranky, yes, but inside. I survived! And now blogging about it has helped me to get it out and I feel way less cranky. Which is good because I'm going solo full tilt until after bedtime tonight....

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Breech Vaginal Birth

Tired of birth posts yet? Sorry. :)

My mom works as a maternity nurse, as most of you know. We are visiting my parents right now and yesterday my mom called me from work to tell me there had just been the first planned vaginal breech delivery on her ward in over ten years!!! Since the SOGC changed its recommendations last July for breech births, the system has slowly been changing. My mom brought me home the SOGC clinical practice guideline on breech vaginal birth that is being used at her hospital for me to read. My review of it is a mixed bag: midwives who have continued to deliver breech births vaginally, in particular Ina May Gaskin in the U.S.A., have noted that the lithotomy position is particularly inappropriate for breech deliveries. Hands and knees position or upright position are recommended. The SOGC guideline has 11 illustrations in it that include the mother's pelvis/uterus/body, and in all 11 illustrations, the mother is in the lithotomy position. In one, her legs are in stirrups and her body is draped! Archaic! People are visual creatures, and if obstetricians only ever see or imagine delivering breech babies with women in the lithotomy position, they will automatically prefer and perpetuate this position. Which is not optimal.
Also, the SOGC guidelines do not mention the hands and knees position at all, though they DO mention an upright position for second stage of labor, ONCE, near the end of the guidelines.

Otherwise, it's pretty good. The guidelines discuss the inclusion/exclusion criteria for vaginal breech birth, but mention three times that parturient women have the right to refuse Cesarean sections and should NOT be abandoned if they choose vaginal births despite medical advice to the contrary. Referral to a institution or physician who has the experience and skill and comfort level to deliver breech vaginally, or (barring that) delivery in a hospital by the obstetrician on hand IS an option that MUST be given to women. This jives with my philosophy. Women have the right to refuse surgery. Period.

This is addressed in the guidelines:

"The 2001 ACOG and RCOG [American and British obstetrical societies] breech guidelines left little room for parturient autonomy. Since their publication, it has been routine practice in many jurisdictions for obstetrician-gynecologists to refuse women a breech TOL [trial of labor] in hospital. On occasion, women so denied have given birth unattended at home, and perinatal deaths have resulted. Also, the volume of midwife-attended breech home births appears to have increased. Even with the quality of care limitations of the TBT [major Canadian trail in 2000 that resulted in automatic cesareans for breech babies, which has now been peer reviewed and found to have MANY major flaws], the long-term outcome was equivalent in the planned vaginal birth and planned CS groups, and parturient autonomy takes precedence over practitioner concerns about small levels of fetal risk. WOmen should be informed of the safety of a TOL in a setting with experienced care providers.

Women who have a contraindication to labor or who are considered poor candidates for a TOL should be advised to deliver by CS. However, it is the patient's right to decline any recommended medical procedure or treatment. If a woman chooses to labor despite this recommendation, she should be cared for in hospital...A woman nust not be abandoned if she does not take medical advice."

It is mentioned in the guidelines that an infant's immune system is activated by labor, and that an elective cesarean results in higher rates of infant illness and infection. This is what is conjectured to counterbalance the increased risk of deoxygenation in the breech vaginal delivery. The vast majority of deoxygenated babies have no long term effects due to the existence of neonatal resuscitation evidence based protocols and standards. VERY INTERESTING! Short and long term outcomes in several trials and data studies are mentioned, and the conclusion is that:

"Sort term morbidity [injury that does not result in death] in vaginally born breech fetuses is often increased because of the cord compression that commonly occurs during the second stage and fetal expulsion. In countries like Canada with low perinatal mortality, the absolute difference in serious short term morbidity between the arms of the TBT was 5%. However, one half of the sample was followed beyond two years, at which time there was no difference in the combined perinatal death and abnormal neurological outcome: 3.1% in the planned CS group, and 2.8% in the TOL group...At two years of age, the only significant difference in infant outcome was fewer "medical problems in the past several months" in the TOL group (15% vs. 21%; P=0.02). The neonatal immune system is activated during labour, and associations between labour and reduced incidence of pediatric allergic and auto-immune disease may be causal.
With the limitations in the TBT, women had a 97% chance of having a neurologically normal two-year old, regardless of planned mode of birth. Those randomized to a trial of labour had a 6% absolute lower chance (or 30% relative risk reduction) of having a two-year-old child with unspecified medical problems, suggesting some lasting benefit of labour to the newborn immune system."

There are a bunch of criteria for including and excluding women from TOL for vaginal breech births, and recommendations for safe labour management of breech deliveries. If women are considered good candidates for breech birth, they are to be offered a trial of labour.
I think that the language should be changed to indicate that women should be encouraged, or recommended, to do a TOL. "Offered" is too weak. IMO.

Anyways, this is great! And I'm encouraged to hear of situations where vaginal breech deliveries are being DONE, following last July's change in SOGC recommendations.

For those of you who have read this far, congratulations! :D
For any who want to read more, you can read the entire recommentations HERE.