Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mary Through the Eyes of aToddler

I have been having "one of those days" for the last two days. For some reason I woke up on Tuesday morning with my patience stretched very thin and it got worse as the day went on. To be honest, I have no idea why I was so stressed out. Sure I've got a Christmas to-do list, but nothing extraordinary. I guess you could just say that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Any mom will understand when I say that this attitude is contagious. Caleb felt that I was "cranky" and therefore was not his usual easy-going self. He started out just a touch more needy than usual which aggravated me even more which, of course, he picked up on and got more frustrated himself. It's a vicious cycle. One that I should have nipped in the bud. But I didn't. And despite Caleb's adorable attempts to cheer me up (by petting my head, kisses and hugs, and caressing my face) this nasty tension just wouldn't let up.

As Tuesday progressed, I got more and more tense and stressed over pretty much nothing. Anything was setting me off. Caleb wanted to feel more at ease and to do this he wanted to nurse more often. I just wanted him to leave me alone for a while. I also desperately wanted him to nap to give me some time to relax and gather my emotions. Why is it that when we need our children to nap they seem to get an extra burst of energy? Anyway, by the time Adam came in from milking I was nearly in tears (yet unable to cry for some reason). I made dinner while he showered and then Caleb nearly fell asleep in his booster seat so I nursed him (for like the umpteenth time that day) and he FINALLY fell asleep. This was great timing because Adam and I wanted to play our computer game.

Caleb woke up and I turned off my computer and asked Adam to do the same. He didn't which wouldn't have bothered me as much if I hadn't just had "one of those days." But it bothered me, I threw a fit and went to bed angry (despite Adam's apology). So this morning... another bad start. So poor Caleb and Adam had to deal with another day of Mama being on edge.

But miracle of miracles!!!!
Caleb napped today!!!
Only for an hour but he was very chipper when he woke up so I didn't try to put him back to sleep. During the time of his nap, instead of catching up on my to-do list, I was on the Internet. I read several blogs regularly and made the decision today to buy a couple books that one of the bloggers has authored. And her blog today was about shifting your attitude, something that would have helped a lot with my tension the last couple days! But better late than never right? Since he woke up, Caleb and I have colored (I'm not sure who enjoyed that more, me or him), done several puzzles, and read several books. It's been a much better afternoon than yesterday, for both of us.

So now I'm rambling off topic a bit. Back to the adorable topic at hand. I decided to "act out" the Christmas story with my little ceramic nativity scene for Caleb. He normally doesn't get to touch it so it was quite a treat for him to help me march them across the bench on their way to Bethlehem. He got very excited when the wise men came because they had shiny "hats" on their heads. He also really enjoyed the animals. My favorite part of the story was as the end. The book that I used as a guide talks about after the visitors left (not an easy tasks to take the shiny hat men away from Caleb), Mary held baby Jesus close and agreed with the angel that Jesus was a very special baby. There is a picture of this in the book. Caleb decided to imitate that picture with the ceramics. Baby Jesus was placed, manger and all, into Mary's lap.

I kept saying "that's baby Jesus" because I really enjoy seeing Caleb sign "baby" (it's one of his newer signs). He made Mary and Joseph "hug" and Joseph danced/wrestled with baby Jesus. It was neat to see Caleb's interpretation of how they must have interacted as a family. Pretty much the same way that Adam and Caleb and I do.

After playing with Mary and Joseph and Jesus, Caleb got it in his head that Jesus needed some milkies. Some of you who have ready early entries of my blog know where I'm going with this. I explained that Mary was Jesus' mama. So there went baby Jesus again, manger and all, to Mary's breast while Caleb made little "num num num" noises for Him. I have to say that was one of the sweetest sights ever!

Now I'll leave you with the same thought that I've had for the last few days. Breastfeeding is such an amazing and intimate time between a mother and her child. What must it have been like for Mary to nurse the Son of God?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Traditions

Last year Caleb was 8 months old at Christmas and could have cared less about anything that we were doing. He's still a little young but, at 20 months, he is much more aware of the fact that something is going on. He notices the Christmas tree and sees them at other peoples houses (he points at it and shakes his head because he knows he's not supposed to touch it). We had our Christmas celebration with my husbands extended family yesterday and he understood that a gift was for him and that certain gifts were for others. He even handed his cousin the gift that "he bought her."

This year Adam and I wanted to start making our own Christmas traditions. We want to celebrate Christmas with our own little family. The original plan was to go to church Christmas eve and then do a nice brunch of Christmas morning. After brunch we would read the "Christmas Story" and give gifts to Caleb (Adam and I didn't get any for eachother). Then Adam could go out a milk while Caleb napped and in the evening maybe we could watch a family movie or something. That would have been my ideal "schedule" for this year.

Once again, God had different plans which means that I needed to rearrange my plans. There is no church Christmas eve, just Christmas morning. We are spending Christmas eve with Adam's family and will be going to church Christmas morning. Which means we have a couple hours before Adam milks to eat a nice meal and then we will have the evening to give gifts and read. I'll be honost, I don't like that my perfect plans were turned upside down! But we are certainly blessed that we have family around to spend Christmas with. (We go to my parent's place next Sunday for lunch and the afternoon).

One thing that we really want to teach Caleb is that it's not about gifts. Don't get me wrong, I love to give gifts! But so many kids get excited for Christmas because they know they will get gifts. I want Caleb to get excited for the right reasons. I love Christmas because it's a reminder of our Saviour's miraculous conception and humble beginnings into this world. It's a reminder that although Jesus is still the same God that He was all year round, He's also human. In short, He's been there, done that. And most importantly, He's overcome it all.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love. Adam and I have talked about how to move the attention away from getting presents to giving love. One thing that we decided was that every year Caleb can choose one (or more) of his toys to give to a little boy whose parents can't afford toys. Our hope is that he will be reminded at Christmas that not everyone is as blessed as we are and that one way we can show God's love to others is to give them gifts. (As an added bonus, it will also help prevent our house from getting overflowed with toys.) So the plan is to have a box to put "give away" toys in and after we take care of that we will open gifts.

What are your thoughts or some ideas that you would like to try or some traditions that you already have in place?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Babies and Housework

I have contemplated writing on this topic for quite some time. I actually dreamt about this post last night and what I should write in it! A big part of me hesitated because it's definitely not something that I have down to a "t." But it occurred to me that's probably the point. You don't have to do it all perfectly.
As of the time of my writing this I have dishes in my sink, laundry in my washer and dryer, toys all over the floor and I think that all the floors in my house needs to be either swept/mopped or vacuumed. I'm ignoring that part of my housework right now. I focus instead on the fact that I folded and put away 3 loads of laundry yesterday, I cleaned all my baking pans yesterday, I have a cake in the oven (for my mom's birthday today) and my family is fed and happy (Adam cooked breakfast).
Probably later today, when Caleb is napping, I will spend some time finishing up my laundry (diapers are in the washer so I kind of need those). If he's still napping I might even get up the gumption to clean my kitchen.

I had the HARDEST time getting into a routine when Caleb was first born. Part of it was that I just physically did not have the engery (I was recovering from a c-section and suffered a lot of fatigue) so I spent most of my days napping. I tried very hard not to allow myself to feel guilty about it. I think that it was about 6 months when I noticed that I didn't need to nap every single time Caleb napped. But I also didn't want to spend that precious alone time cleaning house. I found that when I cleaned during his nap, I would resent when he woke up. So I made a deal with myself: I would take 10 minutes to "power clean" and then I gave myself permission to sit down to take some "me time." As he got older and his naps were a little more consistent (and longer) I began to expand that time to 15 min and then 30 min, but I always kept at least half of his nap time for personal time.

Now that Caleb is down to one nap per day I find myself adjusting my housework again. Certain things I can do when he is awake (such as washing dishes with a ltitle helper or vacuuming because he loves the noise) so I spend some time in the morning doing that. Most kids are happiest in the morning after they've eaten breakfast and had a good sleep. Caleb will usually play on his own or help me with whatever I'm doing. When he goes down to nap is the best time to do laundry for me because that way I don't have to fold everything two or three times. But a lot of times when he is napping I've already accomplished a couple of things in the morning. That means I get to take that quiet time to read or cruise the internet or play computer games etc. When he wakes up in the middle of his nap (he's been doing that a lot lately) I can take the time to lay down wih him for half an hour and be able to focus on him instead of everything that I should or could be doing in that time instead.

Whenever I choose to spend time with Caleb over housework I have an inner dialogue with myself. I ask some questions: What do I feel like I should be doing right now? (washing dishes) What will happen if I don't do it? (I'll have to do them later) What does Caleb need from me right now? (love and hugs) What will happen if I don't do that? (he will cry and be cranky) Which is better to do in the longrun? Caleb nearly always wins out.

Like I said, I'm not the perfect housewife. I cook dinner AFTER my husband is in from work (for a couple reasons - he can watch Caleb and he can remind me to cook and tell me what he's hungry for). I only wash my floor once a week (on a good week). I usually only do laundry when Caleb or I have run out of clean clothes to wear. My bathroom doesn't get cleaned every week (*gasp*). But my family still loves me and I get to spend every day feeling like I've accomplished what's important.

My mom always says that people want to see me they are welcome to come by. If people want to see my house they have to make an appointment in advance. I also have had friends say to never apologize for your house or kids.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Throwing a Fit vs Communication

I've mentioned how Caleb is such an easy child to pretty much every one that I know. And I will mention it again for those of you who don't know. He's very laid back and doesn't really get into stuff he shouldn't be into. He's also perfectly content playing by himself for sometimes hours at a time. Every once in a while he comes to check up on me and pulls me to where he has been playing because he has something so exciting that he wants to share with me. He doesn't complain when it's bedtime, he doesn't fuss for more than a few minutes when we need to come inside, and he is all around just a very even tempered and easy going little boy.

Now that I've bragged about my amazing son (every mother is entitled to let others know how great her children are) I will let you know that he's not perfect. He is a toddler and toddlers aren't all that great at communicating their emotions. Caleb's current way of letting us know he's upset consists of laying down on his tummy and whining (sometimes very angry sounding whines). Adam has tried to call them "fits" or "temper tantrums." I, however, would like to give my son the benefit of the doubt. I call it "inability to communicate."

Here's what I think: Caleb doesn't talk. He feels emotions very strongly and they are all new to him. He doesn't understand my reasoning when I tell him he's not allowed to play with something. So it makes sense that he gets upset and doesn't know how to express his feelings. I think that looking at his behaviour in this way has taught me to deal with it a little differently than if I looked at it as a temper tantrum.

The first time Caleb laid himself on the floor when he was upset I sat down beside him and tried to explain what he was feeling. I did that because he didn't know how to explain it but when he starts talking he will have the words necessary to tell me instead of show men how he feels. I said something along the lines of "You're upset aren't you? You don't like that mommy took away your porch privileges" Then I went on to explain to him why I did that. "Mama has told you that the kitty dishes are off limits. They are not a toy." Sometimes if it's something dangerous then I tell him that and why it's dangerous. Then I try to build up his emotions again "Mama loves you, Caleb I love you. You're a wonderful boy. Would you like a hug?"

My theory is that I'm teaching him that it's okay to feel those emotions but there are better ways to deal with them. And once he makes the decision to get up off the floor, I'm waiting with open arms. Sometimes I rub his back, just to give him that human contact and remind him he's not alone. And sometimes he pushes my hand away at first, but he always accepts it after a little bit.

Another important thing that a lot of moms have found is to see when they start that behavior. It is usually at a time when they are either bored, hungry or tired. Eliminate those factors and you'll find that those times of difficult communication lessen drastically. Or at least they don't last as long.

I know that it will make a difference in the long term. I'm a firm believer in "train up a child in the way he should go." That and I believe that children are just that, children. They don't understand things the way that we do. We expect way to much of them a lot of times. They like to try things and explore reactions and don't mean any harm by it. Just like I mentioned with the water cooler, they see something that looks like fun and don't understand the consequences. Yes, even if you're told them 100 times, they don't always remember. Kind of like husbands who need to be nagged sometimes.... not that I ever nag of course.... ummm yeah....

So anyway, Caleb barely lays on the floor like that. He did it really bad a couple times but now he will just lay there and wait for me to sit by him. Then he holds up his hand for me to help him up and crawls into my arms. It's really cute actually. Yes, I give my son attention when he "throws a fit." He's learning that I am paying attention to him and that his feelings do matter.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I'm on a Veggie Strike Mom!

For the last two months Caleb has been on a veggie strike. He refuses to eat them. He had never been picky at all until a couple of months ago. He actually loved to eat his vegetables (especially peas). Then one day he decided that they were no good. I tried to prepare them in different ways and offer him different types, but he always picked around them. I'm not sure why he decided that vegetables are no good but that is exactly what he has done.

There was one day, after about a month into this strike, that he ate about a cup of cooked baby carrots. He just kept shoving them into his mouth like they were going out of style. I thought to myself "hallelujah, the strike is over!" But I rejoiced too soon. The next day he refused them. I watched an episode of "The Doctors" a while back in which this kid refused to eat at all during dinner time. They pretty much just ignored him and he felt left out and started eating. We tried that. It didn't work. Caleb just sat in his chair and made a big mess. He picked around the veggies and ate everything else. Every other food group was fine. Isn't it amazing that a kid can see a new food and know instantly which food group it falls into?

I know that I'm not the only one going through this with my little man. I think that nearly everyone has heard the old adage of kids hating broccoli. So I gave Caleb extra fruits and I made sure to eat my own share of vegetables. Another benefit of nursing my toddler is that as he goes through these picky phases I can rest assured that he is still getting the nutrients he needs through me.

I have been a little sneaky though. I started making fruit smoothies and adding cauliflower and carrots into it. I made pasta and coated it with tomato and lentil pasta sauce (don't tell Adam that he ate lentils and actually liked them though). But other than that, not one kind of vegetable has passed those adorable little lips that have taken the role of a picket line for the last two months.

Last week I made grilled cheese and vegetable soup. I dipped my bread in it and Caleb copied. He also grabbed his spoon and ate some of the veggies in it. He doesn't normally like soup but I think the grilled cheese made it more fun. On Saturday he grabbed a piece of raw cauliflower and dipped it in my veggie dip (I have never given him dip before) and he put it in his mouth before I could grab it from him. He then did the same with a piece of raw broccoli. On Sunday he had rice with peas and corn mixed in. Normally he would have picked around the peas and corn but he actually ate some. Last night I gave him something similar and he ate a VERY small amount of it. I'm hoping this is the end of the strike.

Things I've learned from this:
1. Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing for children learning what they like to eat and don't like.
2. Ignoring a child at the supper table makes a mess but allows them to explore their food without someone constantly looking over their shoulder.
3. Keep trying because "this too shall pass."
4. Kids are very observant and will want to copy you with everything you eat. They can tell the difference between a cookie and a whole wheat cracker. (I try to only eat junk food if he is asleep, so I'm typing this with a bowl of chips beside me)
5. It's okay to be sneaky for the benefit of your family.
6. I'm glad that Adam is willing to eat healthy for the sake of Caleb. We rarely have junk food in the house and he (usually) doesn't complain.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Value of Stewardship

I've had a hymn stuck in my head the last while. It comes on and off and has been circulating through my head for probably several months.
The hymn is "Living for Jesus" and it's by Thomas Chisholm.
There's a link to the tune/lyrics if you've never heard of it.
I think that it's been on the tip of my tongue lately is because living for Jesus is something that I really want to do and want to teach Caleb how to do.

I was just cleaning up my kitchen (and singing this song) and got to thinking about what kind of values I would like to instill into Caleb. The value I was thinking of tonight in particular is being a steward to the earth. As Christian we are called to take care of this Earth that God created for us. I look at my garbage can on a regular basis and can't help but think about this mandate. Is all that garbage really necessary? What is it doing to the environment? Is there a better way?

I do cloth diapers but the biggest reason I switched to cloth was so that Caleb would potty train earlier. The fact that they were cheaper and environmentally friendly were just bonuses. I recycle my bottles and cans because I get money back on them. Adam tells me that all of our garbage gets incinerated anyway so it's not a big deal. But it's still a little unsettling to go through a bag or two of garbage every week. And we've only got three people, I can't imagine how much garbage a bigger family goes through!

It's not as easy (in my mind anyway) for us to recycle paper and such. We don't have a blue box that we can set out on the curb every week. First off, I don't have space to put another bin for it and secondly, it's kind of a pain to drive it into town to dump it every time it's full (that sounds really lame even as I type it). I am going to take it one step at a time.

I have decided to start composting. I don't know a lot about it but I have a bowl that I have been putting leftovers and egg shells in. I am planning to make a composte pile in the old horse pasture next to our house and am hoping to till some of the pasture next spring to make a vegetable garden (another thing I want to teach my child(ren) but I have never done). Step 1 is to composte. Step 2 might be to find space for a paper recycling box. Step 3.... I'm not sure yet. I'm sure that there's much more that I could do to become more "green" but I haven't thought that far ahead.

I never thought that I would lean towards environmentalism. To be honest, the word always left kind of a bad taste in my mouth. Let's face it, I live in Oil Country, good ole Alberta! But the more I think about it, the more I want to instill in Caleb the fact that we have been charged with taking care of this world. It's a pretty high calling and if I want him to take God's word seriously then I should too, shouldn't I? Children learn best by example so I better learn to be a good example for Caleb. Any beliefs and values that I want Caleb to learn, I better live them too. Wow, I have a lot to learn if I want to teach Caleb to be the man of God that he's going to grow up into!

Stewardship, reading his Bible and praying everyday, how to treat his future spouse, attitude of gratitude, loving everyone (even if you don't like them), trusting God's providence, putting Christ on the throne of our heart (and keeping Him there), making disciples of all the nations..... I have a lot to learn! Praise the Lord that He gives us the opportunity to grow as our children grow and learn as our children learn. I used to look at all of this and get overwhelmed but have learned to be ever so grateful that I don't have to teach Caleb all of this alone!

Friday, November 20, 2009

An evening out for Mama

So Caleb is finally back into his normal(ish) routine. He has no extra teeth and I still haven't figured out why he was so restless last week. But I think that responding to his cues is definatly paying off. It might seem late to some moms (especially those who have done "sleep training") but Caleb fell asleep without nursing. He usually nurses for a bit when we crawl into bed and then unlatches and wiggles/rolls until he's comfy and then falls asleep. I was gone last night to a scrapbooking workshop club that I'm in (more on that another time) and so Adam had the privilage of spending the evening with Caleb. Actually, Adam played computer while Caleb played on the floor and watched a movie.

I came home to my two men fast asleep in bed. It's not the first time that someone else has put Caleb to sleep. I've been away in the evening before and Adam rocked Caleb to sleep, or he's been at my mom's and she rocked him to sleep. There was jsut a difference in the air last night though. Adam put Caleb's jammies on (aka his night-time diaper and cover) and they layed on the bed and Caleb was asleep in about 5 mintues. I crawled into bed and neither of them stirred. Caleb slept till about 3 am and probably would have gone back to sleep with just a back rub but I was dying to nurse him by that point.

I'll just say that it was incredible to see Caleb so completely and utterly content without his mama for the evening. He was happy that I was back of course but he knew I would be. It gave me warm fuzzies to know that he trusts his parents so much to be able to sleep that peacefully. And it was very cute to see both my men sleeping on their tummies with their arms in the exact same position!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lots of Kids

I offered to watch my friend's 3 children today and I just got home. It was great! I think that it helps that her kids are usually pretty well behaved. Her boys played really well with Caleb and her duaghter was such a little snuggle bug. It was a little bit of an opportunity for me to see how challenging 4 kids could be.

I learned a few things:
- 3 years apart is a good age because then you always have a helper for the little ones
- kids play the Wii with WAY more energy and jumping around than adults do (did you know that you need to jump even in baseball?)
- Caleb gains a pound per kilometer of walking (when he wants me to carry him)
- Caleb is the only 19 month old that I know who can go for (at least) a 13 hour day with only a 20 minute power-nap
- God gives you the energy and stamina to keep up with your own kids, but not necessarily someone elses
- I need to plan at least one cup of coffee per day, per child.

And with that, I'm going to watch Caleb run around the house, while I sit on my butt behind the computer wondering where he gets all of his energy. It's certainly not from his mama!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sleep, Glorious Sleep!

I had started to take Caleb's sleep pattern a little bit for granted. I know this because his sleep pattern has changed the last couple nights.

Caleb has been a great sleeper since the day he was born. He sleeps when we sleep and when he wakes up in the middle of the night he usually goes right back to sleep. I just got used to the fact that, as a mother, I'm probably never going to get a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. And I'm totally fine with that. But the last few weeks my night weaning techniques have really seemed to be paying off. I nurse Caleb down and then slide him over into the crib. (We took a side off the crib and raised the mattress so that it's level with our bed.) He would sleep there till about 5am and then crawl into bed beside me for a nurse. Then he'd sleep till about 9am when we get up. I really liked this pattern.

Then Caleb got sick a couple weeks ago so I nursed him just about all night for two nights straight because it was the only way that any of us were getting any sleep. I was a little stiff but at least I was well rested and more able to give him the time, patience, and snuggles he required during the day. On the third night he nursed down and went into the crib again with no problems. We went back to that routine for about a week and a half.

The last two nights he has slept for about 3 hours and then woke up every half hour. Yikes! He pretty much never does this. The room is cool enough and the humidifier was running (2 very important things for him to sleep well). There is no logical explanation as to why he should be waking up.

Isn't it funny how when he was sick I was totally willing to nurse him all night but now that he's healthy and shows no real reason for needing it, I just want him to go back to sleep? As moms, we feel like we should to justify their nighttime needs. It's almost like we don't want to meet them if there's no reason for them. Yet needs they are so we, as mothers, step up to the plate to make sure our little ones feel the extra love that they so obviously crave at a time like that.

So this morning when I got out of bed I was pinned between Caleb, who felt the need to spread himself out and snuggle right up next to me at the same time, and Adam, who crawled into bed after morning chores. We have a queen size bed but some days if feels much smaller! It was a little tricky to maneuver myself out of my spot without disturbing any one's sleep.

The mantra of a mother: This too shall pass, it's just a phase. It makes me feel better to know that moms who claim that their child slept through the night at 5 weeks old has nights like this too. All kids have good nights and more restless nights. I have to remind myself of that in the middle of the night when I tell Caleb to "just go back to sleep!" FYI, telling a baby to sleep just doesn't work. I'm hoping this doesn't last too many more nights. Mostly because it disturbs Adam's sleep and he's got a lot on his plate right now.

I think I might nap with Caleb today. And I'm checking his mouth for a tooth. Maybe that's why he's restless....

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pregnancy Tests

So now that I've got your attention with the title of this entry I'll begin by saying no, this is NOT an announcement. I am NOT expecting. We are still waiting for God to speak to us as to when He would like to introduce another child into our family.

I was just thinking the other day about how exciting it was the first time I found out I was pregnant. I wasn't even late yet but I had taken a test the month before just so I could "try it out," even though I knew I wasn't pregnant. I didn't think I was either. I was due for AF in a couple days and went to the drugstore to buy "supplies." While standing there I decided to buy a test too. It was cheaper to ge the 2 for 1 box, so I did. I had been at the office all morning and then doing errands most of the afternoon so I REALLY had to go. Then I figured, "why not? There's two tests anyway." So I took the test and I'm pretty sure my heart skipped a beat when it turned out to be positive!

It was a very strange hour waiting for Adam to get home from work so I could share the news with him. When he finally did, he looked at the test (I actually giftwrapped it for him lol) and asked, "What's this?"
Me: "It's a pregnancy test."
HIm: "Yeah, I know that. But why are you showing it to me?"
Me: "Two lines means I'm pregnant!"
Him: "Well, yeah... but there's barely a line there."
Me: "Yes honey, I'm barely pregnant."

It would have been fine if it ended there. But this went on for a while. Here's about what happened...
Him: "Are you sure?"
Me: "A line is a line is a line."
Him: "It's still not really a line though."
Me: "Would you like me to take another one?"
Him: no response

He thought about it for a while. I started talking about the baby and what it would mean. I also made the mistake of trying to get him to talk names with me. He wasn't really into that. Once sufficient time had passed, I took the other test (I figured there's no point in saving it because I wouldn't need it next month anyway). Same thing, two lines! Adam was still a little unsure. So the next day (I think it was his day off) I went and bought a digital pregnancy test. You know the kind, they're like a magic 8 ball. You ask it if you're pregnant, you pee on it, and it tells you Yes or No. There's not maybe answer. I took it as soon as I got home and showed Adam. I think that was when the reality set in. You can't argue with a stick that says "yes, your wife is pregnant and you're going to be a dad!"

Unfortunaly for us, our little girl (I say girl because of a gut feeling I had right from the beginning) finished her mission on earth too quickly and we said goodbye to her when I was 8.5 weeks along. My doctor told me that it was a clean miscarriage and that I wouldn't need any procedures or anything. He gave us the green light to try again. I wanted to wait but Adam wanted to try again. So we figured we would wait till my next AF and go from there.

Not quite a month later I thought that I may have ovulated again (I was temping to track it). We went on a vacation with Adam's family (the first va-k to BC I ever went on with them!) and I took my trusty 2 for the price of 1 pregnancy tests. We stayed a couple extra days after his family had left and I took the test shortly after they did. It was positive! So of course I grabbed the camera :) I told Adam later that evening as we were on a golf course overlooking Mara Lake. He didn't doubt me this time lol! I took the second test too, just because it's way more fun to get positive results than negative ones and it's so much fun watching those two little lines develop.

So anyway, now that I've had a bit of a walk down memory lane, I'll fill you in on why I started thinking about pregnancy tests to begin with. Adam and I were in the kitchen and I saw something that reminded me of all this. I don't know if you've ever taking a pregnancy test but the whole "pee on a stick" thing sounds messy and gross to me. I found that it was way easier to pee in a cup and dip the stick in. I told this to Adam and the look on his face was absolutly priceless! I think that everyone reading this knows what was going through his mind at that moment:
Which cup?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Finding Love in the Midst of a Flood

This is the continuation of my frustrations at the water cooler...

"Spare the rod and spoil the child."
(Proverbs 13:24 "He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently")

"Thy rod and staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4)

These are the two verses that came to the forefront of my mind in regard to discipline. I certainly don't hate my son and I want him to learn certain boundaries. Especially when there are negative consequences to not following those boundaries. But instead of the common thought that the first verse gives to people about harsh punishment with the rod, I try to remember it in the context of a shepherd. The Great Shepherd in this case. I read a book by Francine Rivers, The Prophet. It was about a shepherd and it really opened my eyes to the use of the shepherd's rod in regard to protecting and guiding his sheep. I can't help but think of the visuals that Rivers put in my mind through this book. How Jesus, as our Shepherd wants to protect us from dangers and uses the crook of his staff to pull us from danger. It was a comfort to Amos' sheep (in the book) to feel the rod pull them back to safety, sometimes more harshly that others. They knew that he would protect him.

That's the way that I want Caleb to feel about me. I want him to know that I set the limits so that he can be safe. I don't want him to respect me out of fear but out of love and a want to obey. As bad as it sounds, however, it's defiantly easier if he's afraid to touch the water cooler.

I know that the Bible also says not to put stumbling blocks in front of people that can cause them to sin. I finally figured out a way to keep Caleb from touching the water cooler! I accept the fact that he's just too young to understand the consequences of playing with the water cooler. Even with all the repetition he just doesn't get it. It's not a character flaw in him, he's not doing it to be bad. He's doing it because he loves to play with water (whether that be in the bathtub, a puddle, the sink while doing dishes, cat water dishes etc).

Solution: We turned the water cooler around into the corner. Yes, it's a complete pain to turn it back around every time that I want a glass of water. But I would rather take a bit more time to get a glass of water that put something in Caleb's way that tempts him to disobey a boundary I've set out. He was a little upset at first. He didn't understand why he couldn't find the taps. We'll see how it goes over the next few weeks and then try turning it around again. Maybe he will understand that he's not allowed to touch it or maybe he'll grow bored of it. Or maybe not. But it's much easier on all of us to just take the temptation away right now.

I probably could just watch him closely and keep repeating that he's not allowed to touch it. It's just not a big enough concern for me to do so (unlike when he was learning to stay on the lawn and not run onto the gravel). The biggest thing that I've learned about discipline from this is that when I run out of patience with Caleb, I need to take a step back and put myself in his position. I can't look at him as an adult that understands the logical explanation of all the reasons why he shouldn't do certain things. I shouldn't punish him for something that he just doesn't understand. It's not like he was hurting anyone or himself with this. He just wants to have some fun. I've found that going face to face with him and looking him directly in the eye, I see that he's not out to be malicious. Not that I really thought that, I just lost sight of the big picture because I was more focused on my frustration with the situation that I was on him and his needs.

Discipline is a time to reconnect with my son and learn how to understand him more. I've learned that he REALLY enjoys playing with water. This is a great tidbit of information because it means I have a way to occupy him throughout the winter. I can plop him in the tub, even if he doesn't need a bath, and give him some cups and containers. He could probably entertain himself for quite a while (with me sitting in the bathroom supervising of course, beauties of a laptop or a good book). I also know that he will be helping me often with washing dishes (the floor is lino and clothes can get chucked in the dryer). Mama just needed to relax and take advantage of this learning opportunity.

I feel way better about things now! And I'm sure that Caleb does too because now his mama is going to give him exactly what he wanted, except within the allowed boundaries of course.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trouble at the Water Cooler

Since we live in the country and drink well water I get our water checked every year to make sure it's safe for drinking. Turns out that we have way too much fluoride for anyone under the age of 8. This means that I need to use bottled water for Caleb to drink and to cook his food with. We recently bought a water cooler for this very purpose. Plus because it's cold water my hope is that Adam will begin drinking water instead of iced tea all the time.

Why oh why don't they child proof the cold "tap" the same way they do the hot one?!?!?!

I can't tell you how many liters of water Caleb has spilled all over the floor. He really enjoys drinking a little bit of water, dumping the rest on the floor and going to the water cooler to put more in his little glass. As cute as he looks carrying his cup (and mine, and basically any other cup that is within his reach) to the water cooler to put a bit of water in, I don't enjoy the mess that this makes. My floor is soaked, my son is soaked, my feet get soaked, our chairs are soaked, and it's all with freezing cold water! Not to mention that Caleb slips and falls on the flood of water.

Caleb had a huge fascination with the garbage can for a while and with a lot of patience and repetition, he learned that the garbage is dirty and off limits and not a toy. He will now put garbage in there if I ask him to and is (usually) really good about not taking it back out. This same strategy is a little more difficult for the water cooler. He will grab his cup and my hand and bring us to the cooler, puts his cup on the little shelf, then makes sure I'm watching while he puts water in his cup. This is the tricky part: he's allowed to put water in his cup while I'm there to supervise, he's not allowed when I'm not there to supervise.

Cute side note: I was away one evening and Adam was playing computer while Caleb played around the house. I came home to find about 10 cups, filled with anywhere from a centimeter to an inch of water in them, all on Adam's desk. Apparently Caleb was on a mission and wanted to make sure his papa didn't go thirsty!

I tried to "baby proof" the water cooler to take the temptation away from him. I check my house constantly to find stray cups and put them on the counter out of Caleb's reach. This worked for about a week. He then discovered that water can go in all the plastic containers that he's allowed to play with in the kitchen (great entertainment for him while I'm cooking dinner).
Another method that I tried was when I was in another room I moved the chairs in front of the water cooler and then put the table in front of them so he couldn't move the chairs out of the way. This only lasted 2 days. His little arms can slip between the backs of the chairs with a cup or container and presto! Water everywhere.

Needless to say this has been very frustrating. I've never had to deal with this much "defiance" before. Partially because Caleb just isn't a boy who gets into a lot of things and partially because this toddler stage means a whole bunch of new developmental adventures to deal with. It's hard to have so much patience with him sometimes. I've tried these different measures and he still gets into trouble and it's hard to react with the love and support that I know I'm supposed to give him. There have been a number of occasions where I kneel beside him and tell him very sternly that the water cooler is not a toy. He either just doesn't seem to care or he gets scared of me and cries. I don't want to resort to him being "obedient" out of fear. I want him to understand consequences.

I've looked into all sorts of "methods" of disciplining and "training" a child with things like this. I don't like most of the responses. I don't want to spank him for something that he obviously doesn't understand is not allowed and I don't want to give him a time-out because he's just too young to understand why he would be getting one. I would rather he stop playing with the water cooler because he understands that it's not a toy and/or because mama will be disappointed in him if he does...

I'm going to end this entry right now because I don't want it to get too long. Those are just some of my thoughts and frustrations about the concept of discipline at this point. I've been doing a lot of reading and praying about this subject and God is steering me into a good direction on how to deal with this. I'll share some of those thoughts in my next entry.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Commitment to a Newborn

Caleb is currently out in the tractor with his papa and I started thinking about when he was just born and we thought this day would never come. The day when he is able to sit in the tractor all by himself while Adam gets work done has finally arrived. He sits in the little passenger seat and Adam buckles him in. It looks totally cute and he wants nothing to do with me. He waves goodbye to me and tries to close the door! (I’m going to get a picture of it but I forgot my camera.)

Times have changed so much. He used to need to nurse every 1-2 hours. He used to need to be in my arms at all times. He used to need a clean diaper every hour. I’m so glad that I filled his needs. Mothering is a hugely front-end loaded job. Caleb was not a high need baby by any means, by he still took a lot of time and energy. One of the biggest things to adjust to as a new mom was how much he completely and utterly relied on me to survive.

I was his source or nourishment, comfort, stability, warmth, and comfort. That’s a huge responsibility, to truly be the world to someone. It’s no wonder that so many moms suffer from post partum depression, and lack of sleep and the baby blues and mostly (I think) just a feeling of being overwhelmed and lost. Up until you become a mom things in the world make sense. You can have plans, and schedules, and goals. You can pretty much do whatever you want, whenever you want. With a baby a lot of that goes out the window.

I’m not saying that to discourage anyone. It’s quite an amazing change of lifestyle actually. Your baby is completely dependent on you but it’s not a bad thing. I made the choice to have my son’s needs as number one on my list. That meant a lot of my life had to get put on the back burner for a while. I think that’s the part of being a mother that scares people. You have to learn to be selfless. We live in such a selfish and instant gratification society. It’s pathetic how little of ourselves we are willing to give to someone else. Commitment phobias run rampant, whether it be to a career (the average person changes careers 10 times in their life), a relationship (50% of marriages end in divorce), school, a vehicle or house (we buy new ones every 5-7 years) and pretty much anything else.

My parenting “philosophy” consists of meeting Caleb’s needs. That includes his needs for a clean diaper, for play time, for food but it also includes his need to nurse, to be comforted to sleep, and even something as simple as his need to be with his mama. I believe that if I meet these needs when he’s young, they won’t hinder him when he’s older. I know that by showing Caleb a full commitment now he will learn what commitment means. He will be confident in his career and relationships, and everything else that he does in the future. Will he be a perfect adult? Absolutely not. But he will defiantly know what a real commitment looks like.

Do I miss some aspects of my life before Caleb? I don’t usually notice it actually. I enjoy being with Caleb so I don’t often need a “break” from him. I usually just take him with me. Now that he’s getting older I leave him with his Papa or his Oma (my mom), both people that he knows and trusts. I can’t even think of any other sacrifices I’ve made in my life for him. Sure I pee with the door open (and often a toddler on my lap) and cooking dinner takes a little more time than it used to but in the big picture, those amount to very little. The big picture is that my son is happy and healthy and our family has a lot of fun just being together!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Milkies for Everyone!

I am nursing my toddler. There, I said it. He's 18 months and going strong. We both enjoy it and we don't have any plans to stop nursing any time soon. That being said, nursing a toddler is completely different than nursing an infant.

This morning I nursed a zebra...

A friend was over with her little guy (5 weeks old) and sat on the couch nursing him in the football hold and he curled his little legs around his mommys back and sucked (for the most part) contentedly. Caleb is a little different. He comes up to me, tugs my shirt a bit and I have to remind him to ask. So he makes the sign for "milkies" and gets himself into position to nurse. Most of the time he's really good about either just sitting on my lap or laying in a (large) cradle hold. Sometimes he decides to attempt to stand while nursing and winds up with his head down and butt in the air. Sometimes he decides to look around everywhere while nursing. But he's usually pretty calm about it, which I appreciate.

Recently he has decided that milkies are for sharing. He grabs the Teddy bear and tries to stuff this teddy up (or down, depending on my neckline) my shirt. The first couple times he did this I just started laughing, which of course encouraged him to continue this new game. It's very sweet of him to want to share. Although most of the time I pull out the milkies and teddy's needs get postponed while Caleb sits down to have a snack and cuddle. Caleb is a very generous little boy as he has shared milkies with...
Sorry, break from blogging to find Caleb knee deep in the cats' water dish. Dry pants and socks and porch privilages revoked for the day. And now I'm typing with a botb (baby on the boob).

Now where was I? Oh right, sharing milkies. So far he has shared with the teddy dog, teddy bear, dolly, the "Little People" zoo animals, Noah's Ark animals, one of our housecats (the cat didn't co-operate with turning his head the right way so Caleb gave up quickly on that one, thanksfully) and one time even a fire truck. I wonder what he thinks a truck needs with milkies?

I'm just waiting for the day that he tries to nurse things himself. And in the meantime I try to take pride in the fact that he thinks Mama's Milkies are good enough to share with everything.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Car Seats

So this isn't really a post on parenting... well it kind of is. It's more about a pet peeve though. Regarding car seats. The law states that an infant must be rear facing until 20lbs AND 1 year old. Just because you have a big baby does NOT make it safe for you to turn your child around before they are 1. The reasons for this law is to protect your baby. A baby's neck muscles aren't well enough developed until they are AT LEAST 1 year old to turn forward facing. It drives me crazy that parents think that just because they have a big baby it's okay to turn them around. It's not safe and it's against the law.
Also, if you have a small baby, you can't necessarily turn them forward at 1 year. You may have to wait longer until they reach the appropriate weight (as was the case with Caleb). You don't have to complain about carrying the heavy bucket seat around because you are totally allowed to take the baby out of it just like you would a forward facing seat. The longer a child is rear facing, the better.
Oh, and don't try to used the excuse that a rear facing car seat doesn't fit. Lots of people have smaller cars than you and they manage it just fine. If you can fit a bucket seat, you can fit a convertable car seat. A convertable one may be more expensive that a forward facing, but isn't your child's safety worth it?

I won't even get started on the safety (and legal) issues of booster seats (law till 6 years old and at least 40lbs) and sitting in the front seat (not recommended till the child is 12).

Common errors: not tethering a forward facing seat (what's going to happen when you break hard?), tangled straps (is it really that hard to straighten them?), harness is too loose (kid's may complain that it's too tight, it should be non-negotiable), not using the right size car seat for the child, not having the seat secured properly (it shouldn't move more than 1 inch in any direction), not putting the chest clip at armpit level, and having the carrying handle (on bucket seats) sticking up (stroller toys are cute but not meant to be used in a moving vehicle).

Here's the link to the Government website that is on the back of the pamphlet that I got when I first had Caleb. The public health nurse gave it to me when she did the home visit. I'm pretty sure that it's standard in Alberta. There's no reason why mom's shouldn't know this stuff.

In conclusion, stop bragging about how big your kid is and that he/she's able to switch over to a "big boy" car seat at 6-12 months and do the right thing for your child.

I'm glad I got that off my chest. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My History

I figured that today would be a good day to tell you a little about my journey up to this point in my life. 25 years ago on this day my parents recieved the wonderful gift of their second child, their first daughter. I was born in a little farmhouse in the Netherlands with a doctor, a nurse-midwife, and my mom and dad in attendance (and probably my older brother was there somewhere as well).

About 4 years (and one more daughter) after that my parents emigrated to the "land of opportunity," Canada. I've lived on a dairy farm pretty much ever since that. Not the same one mind you, but we stuck around central Alberta and finally my parents were able to purchase their very own dairy farm back in 1994.

I have had the opportunity to attend public school, Christian school, as well as homeschool for a couple of years. I liked them all! My last year of high school I met the man that became my husband. We actually met at Youth Convention (in Edmonton) and discovered that we had many mutual friends. The second day that I knew him, God whispered in my ear that Adam was the man that I was going to marry. And sure enough, we started dating about two months later and got married two years after that. We were 19 at the time and just this past summer we celebrated 5 years together.

In our 5 years he's gone from mechanics, to dairy, to pigs and back to dairy. I was in the financial services industry for about 5 years and have also worked for a few months at a coffee shop as well as doing bookkeeping/reception for a heating/plumbing company. I have typically enjoyed working and actually planned to continue working my business in financial services/education until I realized that as much as loved my work, I love my son more.

A few months before Caleb was born Adam and I decided that we wanted to pursue dairy farming. He decided that he didn't see much of a future for himself in pigs. Not long after we decided this we got a phone call from my dad saying that my brother (his current hired hand) quit! We talked about it with eachother and with God and there was no doubt that my parents farm was exactly where God wanted us to be. So 3 weeks before my due date we renovated my brother's old house and moved into it. It was a lot of work but we had a lot of help and got most of the renos done by the time we moved. Unpacking.... well that's a long-term goal.

So we've been living in our little farmhouse for just over 18 months and despite the fact that we're still unpacking, it really feels like home. I guess it probably helps that I'm right across the yard from the house that I grew up in for 10 years of my life. Plus since I gave up my career to be a SAHM I've been able to discover who I am without having to rely on work for my identity. Another bonus of living on the dairy is that Adam is able to be inside for brunch, and snacktime, and then supper and the rest of the evening. We have been truly blessed with out time together and he's an amazing man for the way he has stuck by me thoughr thick and thin. Plus he's a great papa to our little man. It's totally true that seeing your husband become a father makes you fall in love him all over again.

I just want to give a shout-out to Christa (my sister) as she was the very first person to make a comment on my blog. Christa also gave me the idea for the blog name. I called her to run a few suggestions by her (they were all taken) to see if she had any ideas. She told me she would think about it and get back to me because she was at a friends house and they were playing Wii Resort, doing the archery game. She said something to her husband in the background about aiming, hence the title of my blog, "Aimed at the Heart." So anyway, have a great day all and I better get some housekeeping done as I have company coming over tonight to celebrate my birthday. I have no problems with turning a quarter of a century because each year of my life has gotten better and better. I'm excited about what this new year will bring!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Up and Running

I've been thinking about starting a blog for quite some time now. I have been experimenting with an anonymous blog related to a mmorpg and decided that I quite enjoy being able to type a few words and letting my friends/guildies know what's been going on in my life. This blog is completely unrelated to mmorpgs though. I am, by nature, a very stubborn, opinionated person. I prefer to call myself determined and confident in what I believe. Here's a short summery of some of my beliefs:

- I believe that Jesus Christ came to Earth to die for our sins and after 3 days rose from the grave and ascended to Heaven. He did this to pave the Way so that we can be called God's children and spend eternity with Him
- I believe that breast is best for babies
- I believe in Attachment Parenting
- I believe that cloth diapers are amazing
- I believe that my calling in life to be a mama and wife
- I believe that there is a better way to parent than "baby trainers" have led us to believe

That's basically the jist of it. I am not sitting here pretending to be perfect in following every single one of those beliefs 100% of the time. But my goal with this blog is to get my thoughts on "paper" for several different reasons. The first is to stay accountable to my beliefs, the second is to learn more about how I can be the wife and mother according to the Word, and the third is to share this journey and these lessons with anyone willing to read them.

That's all for my intro post as my son has just woke up from his nap and my alone time behind the computer is officially over. I will introduce myself and family a little more in my next post.