Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Strawberry fields

Today Riley and I picked strawberries. It was SO nice, to go out with just my littlest boy, spend some time hunched down in the strawberry fields, talking and dreaming and filling up four pails of fresh, gorgeous, delicious strawberries! Riley can be fairly talkative these days, when his brothers aren't around to fill up the airspace. Hooray! I've determined that my biological kids just walk early and talk late, and that's just the way they are. I don't have to worry about their speech development. They talk when they are ready.
His favorite topic today was the fact that he was helping me, and I noticed many times he put three words together, which is pretty new for him.
"Mine. Ewp. Mama!"
{I'm helping momma}
over and over
"Pay. Up. Yay!"
{Airpline up in the sky. Yay!}
"Muk. Pss."
{Milk please}
So, I breastfed my two year old while standing in a strawberry patch, surrounded by four half full ice cream buckets and tons of other strawberry U-pickers. Thank heaven for the Ergo. Most people had no idea, though it must have looked weird, just standing there for a bit. Thank heaven also for floppy boobs. I've never been thankful for those before, but it's easier to breastfeed a toddler in the ergo if your boobs are kind of go-go-gaget, you know what I mean?


We had a great time!

I'm also torn in three directions this weekend. Sunday, my very good friend Rob is getting married in Korea. We were, of course, invited, but couldn't quite manage to get there, though we did seriously contemplate it for a long time!! You can read Rob's blog here, if you'd like a peek at him: he's seriously cool, and a wonderful friend, and although he's a teacher, he's really a writer. We artists all need our day jobs.
The next place we need to be is in Regina, cheering on Brent's brother as he graduates from RCMP training. We are, in fact, going there.
The third place we need to be is at my grandfather's funeral on Saturday. This past Sunday night he passed away peacefully in his sleep, after a full extra year of life [last summer his heart gave out and suddenly stopped while he was in the car, which happened to be pulling into the parking lot OF THE HOSPITAL, of all places, NEXT TO AN AMBULANCE, of all things, and that proximity meant that the CPR and defibrillations performed on him worked like they are meant to, and he survived!! Some of you may remember praying for him at that time]. It is sad, but we did have that extra year. And he lived a full and memorable life. I would like to devote a post to him in the next few days. Because of our trip to Regina, we won't be able to attend his funeral here in the lower mainland. I'm very disappointed.
It never rains but it pours!

I sure hope it doesn't pour any more in this area for the next THREE MONTHS! We could use some summer weather already!!!

Mothers of change

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Quick answers...

Answers to the questions in the comments from my last post!

@Em~Butter chicken is an Indian recipe that is kind of like our spaghetti and meatballs. A staple, everyone has their own sauce recipe and they're all delicious. I'll have to post my butter chicken recipe sometime soon. I make it best of any non Indian I know...It's the most delicious thing EVER! Lots of flavour, not too spicy. Yummmm...

And @Asheya~the purees for the muffin recipe you make by steaming the veggies and pureeing them in your blender or food processor. I usually buy a 5 lb bag of carrots, steam them all, puree them, and freeze them in 1/2 cup portions so they're ready to add to any recipe. I also steam 2 or 3 sweet potatoes at a time and freeze those, and butternut squash. Other common veggies she adds are easy to mash when you are ready and don't freeze as well, like the banana, or avacado. You should see if you can get this cookbook from the library! It's great!
My cousin adds cauliflower to her mashed potatoes and she can make up to HALF the mashed potatoes out of cauliflower and her family doesn't notice! I detest cauliflower so I can't do that one, but you might be able to get away with it in your house! It's a great idea!! That's in the cookbook, too.
My other favorite Deceptively Delicious recipe is one that has pureed avacado, carrot, cocoa powder, and some sugar: voila, chocolate fondue dip for fruit for a mostly healthy after school snack. How else to get such great avacado fats into my kids? They hate anything green, especially if it's 'slimy.' But puree it and add cocoa? Suddenly it's fabulous.

Friday, June 25, 2010


My hubby has this way with food, where if he's making it, it tastes amazing. No matter what. And I've got to hand it to him, he's a way better baker than I am. Baking is too exact, I've determined. When I cook, I rarely actually measure anything, I just eyeball it, taste it, guess, or go by 'glugs,' 'handfuls,' or 'pinches.' I like this. Every time I make butter chicken, it's a bit different. But it always tastes delicious! [case in point: tonight we had butter chicken! and it was a huge hit]

All this to preface that Brent made the MOST amazing muffins I've ever tasted this afternoon. I have this cookbook called Deceptively Delicious, which my cousin Sara recommended to me, and which I asked for for Christmas. Everything in it has pureed vegetables hidden in it. Even the chocolate fondue. So, I saw this recipe for peanut butter and banana muffins and thought that looked like a nice breakfast alternative (I hate most breakfast foods, so I'm always looking for alternatives), and is healthy and has PROTEIN! HELLO!

Here's the recipe:
1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I buy the 1 Kilo organic all natural PB at Costco--no sugar! No preservatives! YET--my kids will eat it!!!)
1/2 cup carrot or cauliflower puree (I don't do cauliflower)
1/2 cup banana puree
1 large egg white
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

we also added ground flax and chocolate chips

preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with paper cups. In bowl, mix half of the brown sugar with PB and vegetable purees and egg white. Separately, mix flour, bkg pwd, soda, and salt. Add to wet mixture and stir just to combine. Add remaining sugar and stir once or twice. Put in muffin tins and bake 15-20 mins.


Some photogs from Father's Day

Runners up....

The top three choices in my business name poll were:

I'd have to wholeheartedly agree! Those are my three favorites, also. I'd have to say, though, that after saying them out loud a bunch of times, Adero and Arbutus roll of my tongue a little more comfortably than Maisha, so I'm narrowing it down to these two....

I'll have to think about it for a bit, but I'll let you know as soon as I decide!

Thanks for all the help! Your votes really helped me narrow it down!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Something in the AIR?!?!??

I just have to vent a bit. Matthew is being extremely difficult right now. It's like he hit the terrible twos, but he's nearly six years old. He's been caught hitting Riley, calling him 'stupid, stupid, stupid' under his breath, sitting on Riley, yanking toys out of his hands, and stealing his candy and snacks. He walked by another kid's desk in kindergarten today, swiped her cookie, and stuffed the whole thing in his mouth. When she started to cry, he pointed at her and said, "HA HA!" He threw a piece of chalk at his aunt's head today. He blatantly defies us and disobeys us. He hits me. He hits me with sticks, books, play swords, lego, or his hands. He has always been a touchy guy: instead of exploring the world with his eyes, he explores with his fingertips, almost as though he were blind! We've been directing him towards less tactile behavior since he was VERY little, and as a result he generally has good self control in this area. All of a sudden, it's touchtouchtouchtouchtouchtouch, take, poke, smash, crumple, rip, touchtouchtouchtouchtouch, which may not SOUND bad, but it sure does wear thin when you live with it.
Paying more attention to him doesn't seem to be working. Getting to bed earlier doesn't seem to be working. Yelling at him doesn't seem to be working [go figure!]. Oh my GAWD I want to sell this kid. Anyone? Anyone? Free to a Good Home: one five year old boy, no self control, touches everything, violent towards others, and pees his pants daily. Holeeee crap. How To Feel Like A Bad Parent: post the above on your blog.

Good moms are patient. Right? Every other mom out there would welcome these minor irritations in the Name of Love, right? And here I am all Free To A Good Home. Gah!

New Posts

New posts are up on Mothers of Change!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Update on crochet adventures

I'm learning a gazillion things lately in the world of crochet and beyond. Most notably, I have decided that I detest working with cotton yarn. It's fussy and sticks to itself, doesn't take kindly to verigated dying, and turns into a shapeless bag after a few months of playing with end item.
Acrylic yarn is much softer, dyes well, and holds its shape. It has the added bonus of being 100% machine washable and dryable, which is a big bonus with children's items. BIG negative? It's fake. It's someone's Chemical Romance cooked up in a plastic manufacturer's lab. Ew.
Wool ranges in softness and holds its shape best of all yarns. It holds dyes gorgeously and comes in all weights, colours, and from all original animals (sheep, alpaca, you name it). It needs hand washing and air drying, generally.
I am officially in love with WOOL! Wools of all kinds, but especially soft wools in chunky weights in bright colours, and PARTICULARLY artisan wools which are hand spun and dyed by the farmers. Delish.
[knotty by nature being my #1 favourite yarn store. thank you, sara]
Wool, wool, wool, I love you, I love you!
I recently discovered that wools and other fuzzy materials are referred to as fibres. There are FIBRE FESTIVALS! [tiny orgasm]
Jeepers, who knew I would ever get this excited about YARN?

I've also been teaching myself to knit this week, wanting to branch out in versatility and pattern availability. I bought "Amigurumi Knits: Patterns for 20 Cute Mini Knits" at Michael's the other day. Last year at a craft fair I bought "Easy Baby Knits: Clothes and Accesories for 0-3 Year Olds," and at the beginning of Easy Baby Knits there are detailed instructions and photos to teach oneself to cast on/off, basic stitches, common pattern abbreviations, fixing mistakes, finishing, and more. I've taught myself to cast on, knit, and purl. No mean feats! My goal is to be able to make a baby hat by three weeks from now. My friend has a baby photography business and she knits the most amazing items to act as props and costumes for her photos. Her items are so popular she can't keep up with her orders, and is searching for someone to do piecework for her. She is a very accomplished knitter with VERY high standards, so I am worried my knitting won't be good enough for her, but here's hoping! I'm good at crochet, so hopefully I can catch up with knitting pretty fast. In fact, she writes her own patterns and is hoping to publish a book of her patterns for photography props, but is so busy working pieces she has no time to even write down her patterns, let alone get them published in a book!
Here's her website: Mamique Photography, with tons of her knit items. She sells these pieces to other photographers and is in quite high demand.
Wish me luck

[And to reassure myself that I'm not entirely made of left thumbs, I'm crocheting a jellyfish at the same time. The tentacles are FUN!

The Picker

Riley is a certified Nose Picker. He's a professional. He does it IN HIS SLEEP, PEOPLE! He does it when he's waking up, when I pop him off my breast when he's sleepy, when he's falling asleep, and all day long. ALL DAY LONG. It's so gross. Not only does he pick, he eats. Eats and eats and eats: I don't need to feed this kid! He's getting all kinds of calories, just from the contents of his nose!
I can't remember if I told you this, but the other day I was at work and Brent called my cell phone to tell me that Riley had just picked his nose and put it in BRENT'S MOUTH!!!!
[in Brent's defense, he was looking the other way at the time]
Our other two kids went through an exploratory stage regarding the nasal passages, but they never picked like this. As I said, Riley is a professional.
I'll capture you a photo of it, so you can all enjoy it as much as we do.

Also, Ayden and Matthew have reached a new stage in their relationship. It's called the Hate Your Brother stage. They fight NON STOP. Fortunately, they are separated by virtue of being at school all day long, except on weekends. But the summer vacation is rapidly approaching and THIS COULD BE DANGEROUS! Or at least supremely annoying.
Until now, we have had good success with teaching them to try and talk out conflict with each other, and find a grown up to help if that doesn't seem to bring the argument to any sort of satisfactory conclusion. This has recently devolved into incessant tattling. "MOMMY! MATTHEW LOOKED AT ME!" "MOMMY, AYDEN SCRAPED ME WITH THE BLOCK BY ACCIDENT AND DIDN'T SAY SORRY!" "MOMMY, RILEY TURNED ON THE T.V.!"
It looks to be a summer of refereeing. I'm so looking forward to it. NOT.
I look forward to sleeping in, travelling near and far, staying up late, and tons of quality time together. I look forward to summer vacation with the same anticipation that the kids do!! Because I miss them when they are at school. My very bones ache. So it will be wonderful!!! Except for the incessant fighting and tattling. Oh, that.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Runners Up

Anyone know how to turn this into a poll? Caryn, you're the pollmaster....anyone? Anyone?
Here are my shortlisted favourites for business names:

[looks like this]

Adero-African-She who creates life
Aamira-Arabic-full of life

Ayla-oak tree/related to the moon

Manadis-Norse-Moon woman

Alina-bearer of light


Recent Shenanigans

Ayden's lost tooth!!!

White Rock beach day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

7 Years Old!

I can't believe my baby is SEVEN!!! I remember like YESTERDAY he was a tiny newborn, all floppy and red, puking and poonamiing and yawning and crying and smiling so captivatingly. Now lookit him! He's tall and gangly, independent, funny, outgoing, cheerful, helpful, goofy, and wiggly.
Ayden likes
-writing, and has his own journal he writes in, which I do not read unless invited to
-riding his bike
-climbing trees
-exploring wooded areas
-bugs, he wants to be an entymologist when he grows up, and work at the Victoria Bug Zoo, and recently completed an in depth learning experience at school on insects. He LOVES them
-hex bugs and their habitats
-my cooking
-building forts
-travelling anywhere
-family traditions
-hip hop, he's got the moves! And he remembers his dances VERY well!
-babies, big and small

-melted cheese
-being harrassed by his brothers
-the sight, mention, or thought of blood
-the sight, mention, or thought of puke
-deep water

He can read very well. He reads everything, everything, everything. Including my blog, whenever he gets the chance! I have to start watching my language...
He can also spell very well (here, he takes after me, and not after my mother...), scoring perfect on all his spelling tests so far except one, including bonus words like Chrysalis, Olympics, metamorphosis, etc.
He is good at math.
He is outgoing, enthusiastic, and approaches new situations and people without fear. He is encouraging. He is the most patient seven year old I've ever met, especially with his brothers (perhaps a *little* more taxed as far as patience with that middle brother of his...).
He's impossibly slow to wake up. Equally slow to get dressed. Frustratingly slow to get out the door in the morning!!
He loves school, rides his bike everywhere, and is very much looking forward to summertime, camping, going to Regina, Portland, the water park (which I may develop a complex regarding...), having picnics, sleeping in, and etc!
He LOVES hip hop and is remarkably good at remembering his steps. He might look like the awkward white boy in shorts and black socks, but when he dances he's cool!!!

looking forward to seeing you grow some more, and as ever, so proud.
Love you baby....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thank you

I have to tell you, I can't say enough how grateful I am for every single one of these comments. Seriously, you are so supportive! I don't know what I'd do without friends (and my mom, who also commented). So I wanted to respond to each of your comments

~@ Caryn, thank you for your words of encouragement, and for believing in me as a good mama. I think you are right, that this woman was triggered into some sort of flashback or wide open, deeply felt emotions regarding her daughter's abduction, and directed those feelings onto me. I think part of what was so hard for me was that those fifty feet were the outer edge of my own comfort zone, so it felt like she was right. But I WAS actually watching him, it just didn't appear to be that apparent to anyone else that I was, I guess!
But why then did her friend team together with her, and why the poopy butt accusation? I guess more 'evidence' of my neglect and poor judgement??? A naked baby in the water park is CUTE, to me. But then, my parents were hippies, like I said. Nudity was just not an issue.

~@Robo, thanks for the love, babe. What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger, right? Or at least, more empathetic and less judgmental of other moms in parks. And wayyyy less inclined to confront people, not that I was ever in much danger of that!! Lol! Thanks for affirming my parenting! It's a tough job.

~@Mom. I love you. Thank you for being strong and loving and wise, and for setting a good example for me of how to teach your children autonomy and self sufficiency, and how to love them fiercely at the same time. I sure wish sometimes I was raising my kids in your generation, with more trust for all things natural and more support from your community. I think you're right, this lady is doing more damage to herself (and likely stifling her daughter) than to me, and that's not cool. I did get sleep! And I'm entertaining the idea of quitting altogether, in which case I won't have to ever work under such awful conditions again...
Anyways, you're so supportive and I'm very grateful. Thanks for loving me.

~@Emilie, Thanks for trusting that I love my kids, even though you have never met me! I'm not perfect by any means and I sometimes make errors in judgement--too much freedom or too little, but I think we could ALL use a little more grace and a lot less judgment by others, hey?

xo, you rock, too!

~@Tonya, Thank you, thank you for being on my side. I've told you before I really look up to you as a mother. You are absolutely right that we trust GOD to watch out for our kids, which has been something I have had to intentionally LEARN, since much of my post partum anxiety was wrapped up in a belief that I had to keep my children alive by constantly monitoring their breathing and car seats and whereabouts, to the point where I couldn't sleep. I had to learn that it is God's job to keep my children alive, not mine. My job is to love them and teach them and watch out for them and give them boundaries, but whether they live or die is actually God's job. I trust Him totally. Doesn't He do a better job than I, anyways? Thank you for affirming me, too. You are wonderful, and your story about Abi and Liza is just so perfect for me to hear. Yes, other parents think that responsibility and autonomy are good, and yes sometimes risky situations arise, but our kids are well equipped, and God watches out for them. He watches out for all children. xo, you are the best.

~@Sarah; Hello lurker! Congratulations on your delurking! :) I'm very glad to know you exist. I think you are exactly right, that she acted out of her own fear and pain, and I do feel empathy for her. I did right there in the park when her friend told me about the abduction, but she was too far gone to receive anything from me or connect in any way. That was when she yelled at me that she doesn't care about me at all, but only cares about my little boy and that I don't deserve to have children. Ouch.

You (and my mom) are right about the inappropriateness of her having Matthew sit with her. It didn't occur to me until the next morning when I had calmed down that it was weird that she had done that. I wondered if she had seen Matthew huddled on the ground, shivering, or if she had approached him while he was playing? So I asked him about it, and he said, "I was playing and she came and talked to me, and gave me her towel." I asked if she said anything else to him and he said, "Yeah, she said next time go with your mommy." So it was HER who initiated contact with my kid, which oversteps the bounds of acceptable behavior with children you don't know. But she was benign enough with him. She didn't say anything bad about me, and he didn't say if she asked about his relationship status to me, as far as I know. So it could have been worse. But it WAS wrong of her. She should have brought him to me if she really felt she had to get involved, you know? Not take him to sit with her and her friend.
I think also that I concur that her assumptions regarding our relationship based on the colour of our skin was very horrible. It was like being slapped by an unknown man in a grocery store: surreal, and you know it is wrong but you can't even articulate why at the time or formulate an appropriate response!!! It was particularly confusing for me because her friend was black and her friend's kid was a mix of black and white. Shouldn't that make someone more open to mulitcoloured families??? What if I had said to her friend, "Is that your foster child?" Wouldn't THAT be rude! Prejudice comes dressed in all kinds of clothes, I guess. Here's a glaring example!
Being Canadian I encounter a lot less open, obvious prejudice and racism and prying questions about my family than some American parents describe, for which I am grateful. But it doesn't mean prejudice isn't there! It's just hidden under the surface.
Ooooh, whenever I think of that moment when she said, "You're his foster mom, I presume?" I remember an overwhelming urge to SLAP her. Then the shit REALLY would have hit the fan, eh?!


Thanks for commenting! Do it again soon!! :)

~@Ms Lambert ♥
Thank you, thank you. You are so sweet and kind to me, and your words and the other kind words people have said have helped rebuild in me a belief in myself that was shaken pretty profoundly on Sunday. This kind of situation reminds me of when I was in University and my girlfriends and I would get so offended when women would knowingly entice away another woman's boyfriend (or sleep with him, or what have you). We have to stick together, as women, you know??!!! Why do we rip one another apart with judgment and malice? Why assume the worst?
I think it's fortunate that I AM a Christian, since this kind of treatment from a Christian to a non Christian would be about the worst situation I can think of. At least I know she doesn't represent Jesus at ALL! So awful. Yuck, yuck, yuck. It was horrible to live through. Thanks for your support!

~@Louise, I think you are right that the woman deserves empathy because of her lack of peace, and very obvious pain. But I hope she feels bad. Is that bad?!!?? Gahhhh....
I have totally done that before, where you watch someone's wandering or unattended kid: I once did it in my own backyard for almost 45 minutes before I figured, someone's going to call the police and wonder why on earth I didn't bring you home! So I did bring her home--fortunately she knew the way--, but I reassured the dad over and over that she wasn't a bother and that he hadn't made a mistake (she had told him she was going to a friend's house to play, but that friend wasn't home and on her way back she saw us with our sprinkler and decided to play with us instead!), and that these things happen. Community, as you say. You just never know the back story or reason behind what appears to be lack of supervision, and you'd be hard pressed to find even a foster family that doesn't deeply care about it's littlest members.
She asked Matthew how old he was, and i knew she had because when she was yelling at me she knew he was five. He looks younger than he is, that's for sure (he's actually almost six now!), but she KNEW he was five and thought fifty feet was too far for a five year old.
I leave him a kilometer away from me when I leave him at his school every day!! Many, many times he gets way further than fifty feet ahead of me on the path through the woods that we take to school because he rides his scooter and I walk. I trust him. He's a smart boy with good instincts and he knows what is safe and what is unsafe. He would put up a royal fuss if anyone tried to swipe him from the park (or the path).
And yes, Matthew heard that crap from her. Every word. When we got home he said to his dad, "Some lady was mean to mommy at the park." He also gave me a hug in the van before we drove home, and said, "I love you princess mommy!" and when we got home he made me a paper airplane as a gift to make me feel better. He restores my faith in humanity, man.
I was also very impressed with the grandmother and very, very grateful for her willingness to try and reconcile, and to be Jesus' hands and feet to me. When i see her in heaven I'll have to thank her for that.

And thanks for affirming my diaper cleaning skills--that means a lot to me =P

~@Rach; THANK YOU for all the love!!!! Seriously, I totally agree that if I ever made a woman sob the way I did on Sunday, I would be utterly ashamed of myself and totally retract what I had said and apologize. It doesn't help any child to make their momma feel like shit, and it certainly doesn't help the momma to be a better mother!!!
I'm just as shocked by her friend's behavior. Who goes along with such irrational and unkind treatment of another human being? Well, I can think of lots of examples in history, but I expect more out of women these days I guess!!!
I appreciate you saying that we are the most judgmental of the things that we are ashamed of. I think it can be true, although in my personal experience any painful event (including this one) only serves to deepen my experiential empathy for others. Not embitter me towards them. You just NEVER KNOW until you walk a mile in another woman's shoes. You just never know.
And I hope you were able to get over this, eventually! I'd hate to work your heart up into knots when i love you so much!

I also read that TFB post about mother judgment and the superiority of kindness, although it didn't occur to me to apply it here until your comment on it. So true!! A little kindness would go a long, long way. Ick. I can still see them gossiping about me and sending me disgusted looks: I noticed it before the confrontation but didn't give it much thought or consideration, because I was so distracted by caring for my kids...
Gossip, judgment, slander, aggression, can we count how many sins these women performed??? PLANK IN YOUR OWN EYE, PLANK IN YOUR OWN EYE!!!!!!



~@Lori, Thank you for saying it is evident that I love my kids! I think you're right, to say accept the acceptance from people who know me, not the judgement of a total stranger, but it's HARD!!! Those total strangers seem to have it all together and seem to be so SURE! It's hard not to believe them, especially when they band together. Yuck. It's like elementary school all over again, with the popular girls giving me the random silent treatment and hating me because i had a hole in the knee of my pants, you know?
You think this woman feels guilty? I guess probably, hey? I figured pain and anxiety, but I hadn't thought guilt until you guys mentioned it. You just might be right about that one, and don't I know how dangerous guilt can be!!!

~@Amy. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Not only did you tell me it's obvious I love my kids, but you gave specific examples of WHY it's obvious. I cried when I read your comment, because it hit me right where I needed. You're a blessing! Thank you! xoxoxox

You all are amazing. Thank you for loving on me, I really needed it!!!!

This confrontation has been ringing in my ears ever since it happened, and it has been very hard to put to rest. I feel that I didn't do a good job of defending my parenting style and philosophy (probably because she shook my own faith in my judgement). I firmly believe in freedom, and following your child's lead regarding what they are ready for. I also firmly believe that the risk of abduction is so small that it doesn't factor very heavily in my at the park parenting decisions [the vast majority of child abductions are performed by someone the child knows, and the vast majority of THOSE are a result of custody disputes--ironically, the best thing we can do to protect our children from abduction is to work on the strength of our marriages!].
If I am going to be a Free Range Parent, I need to be prepared to intelligently defend my parenting style in public, because it goes far beyond what most parents are comfortable with, and I will likely encounter opposition to it again. Funny, I have always been fully prepared to defend myself for breastfeeding in public but have never actually had to. I didn't anticipate having to defend the amount of free range I grant my kids, but apparently I do have to!!!
The woman who started the Free Range Kids movement taught her nine year old who to trust and how to get around, gave him a map, and let him ride the subway alone. In NEW YORK CITY. And her kid didn't die.
It is good to have our philosophies questioned, so that we re-examine them. In the future, I will re-teach Matthew about not going anywhere with people he doesn't know, re-discuss appropriate and inappropriate touch and that he can tell me and his dad anything, no secrets will get him in trouble, and make triple sure he knows he can come get me if he has a problem or is uncomfortable.
I might also keep that hypothetical leash 40 feet long, instead of 50, just in case I was erring on the side of too much freedom. I love my kids. I want them to grow up as whole and healthy as possible, with intact imaginations and an experiential love for nature and a knowledge of the origins of their food and a realistic view of humanity. If they are going to realistically view humanity, they are going to have to encounter its not so pleasant side sometimes. I can't actually protect them from everything: I'd do better to equip and empower them to cope well, and stay true to themselves.
[Free Range Kids]

"Children, like chickens, deserve a life outside the cage."
-Lenora Skenazy

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oh, oh, wait!!! The saga continues!!!

If you are reading THIS post before you read the PREVIOUS post, go back and read "Living Life as Full as We Can....and I hate my job..." first. Trust me, context is everything. And please, forgive my f* bombs... my language got a little out of hand...
(of course, it's nothing you haven't seen come out of my mouth before, but I've been a ton better lately. I don't know why. Minor blip, I'm sure the filthy mouthed monster will come back again to live in my mouth. It's only a matter of time. Hi, mom)

To start off with, please forgive me if I don't make much sense, am not as witty and charming as usual (haha), and have more grammatical mistakes than normal. I've had about two and a half sporadic hours of sleep in the past 36 hours. Which does not mean that I should be pitied or made allowances for, because I knowingly kept an assigned shift that put me at a serious conflict of interest with sleeping. I chose to work, I chose to work in a job with 12 hour shifts, I chose to work in a job that has night shifts which I frequently prefer because I can 'cheat' and be with my family during the day, sacrifice mere sleep, and work at night. Guilt free working. I take responsibility for how tired I get when I choose to keep a shift that's assigned to me that compromises my sleep. The reasons I took it were (a) it was a high paying shift, (b) it was on a weekend when I can rely on relatives for the overlaps, and (c) it had been over a month since I pulled something similar. Oh, and (d) it's really inconvenient for a number of people at work if I give back an assigned shift.
So, no pity. But a bit of an explanation for rambling and grammatical errors.

I got to my in-law's place, dressed the kids and packed up their stuff, and went home to get ready for church. Church was awesome! The older kids were well behaved and are very comfortable in their sunday school class at our new church now. Riley stayed with me for the worship, and then it took me only about 10 minutes to ease Riley into the nursery and leave without him freaking out. I went back, sat down, relaxed, and listened to an entire sermon. That is a first for me since Riley was born almost two years ago! I usually get either the first half or two thirds of a sermon and the nursery pages for a freaking out baby, or I am distracted by needing to keep him occupied or quiet or staying covered while breastfeeding.

[aside; yes, I do breastfeed my toddler in church. I believe breastfeeding toddlers is something most of us need more exposure to, especially if we happen to be conservative evangelical Christians. It was God who created boobs and their functions, after all. He can't be that opposed to breastfeeding in church]

So. Autonomous church service. Beautiful. I collected the kids and we returned to my in-laws to pick up a bottle of my milk I had forgotten in their fridge, went to get dog food, and returned home. I cleaned, in order to stay awake. I knew if I relaxed at all it would be hard for me not to drift off, and I generally feel more comfortable supervising if Riley is up and about, so I cleaned to stay awake. Not that my house is now clean. It's simply less dirty than it was before. =)
Ayden had hip hop class at 5. I dropped him off, went to the grocery store, and returned with half an hour to spare. There is a playground and water park next to the community centre where Ayden takes hip hop, so I let Matthew and Riley play while we waited. Part way through, they discovered the water park, which was on because the sun had popped out and warmed things up in the afternoon, so we wandered over there to play in the water. Riley pooped his diaper, so I ran to the van, which was parked about 50 feet away, and grabbed some wipes--of course there was no spare diaper in the spare diaper spot in the van--and ran back. I took off the dirty diaper, scrubbed his butt clean, and set him free to splash in the water, naked except for his shoes. I had a moment's pause...what if there is a pervert wandering around the park, and here my kid is running around naked? But I determined that a little nudity is fine in a 1 year old (my parents were hippies--we spent half our childhood running around in various stages of au natural, especially in the summer), for a few minutes while we waited for Ayden to be finished hip hop. I noticed the hip hop class was demonstrating its dance for the parents during the final five minutes of class [this was the final class]. I put Riley's shorts on and went over to watch, 50 feet away from the water park where Matthew wanted to continue playing, and kept giving myself whiplash double checking on him. When Ayden's class was done we went back to get Matthew, and he was sitting with some women, with a towel wrapped over his shoulders. And one of the women started in on me,
"Are you responsible for this little boy? You are his foster mom, I presume?"
"Yes, he's mine. NO, HE'S MY SON."
"I watched you leave him here all by himself in the park, you had no idea he was even cold! He's been here without supervision for like six or seven minutes!"
I pointed to where I had been, and said,
"I was right there! It's fifty feet away!"
"Fifty feet is TOO FAR AWAY!"
And she tore a strip off me. She yelled at me to shut up at one point, and I told her not to use language like that in front of my kids. She told me she and her friend and another man had been watching me all along, and noticed me 'leave both your children unattended while you disappeared' [when I ran to the van for wipes], then watched me take Riley's poopy diaper off and let him go play in the water park, getting his poop everywhere
"But I WIPED HIM OFF, that was the whole point of going to the van!!! He was clean!!!"
And she said, "You call that clean? He was covered in poop!" and her friend is nodding away, uh-huh, he was all poopy. This was crazymaking, and actually took me few minutes to figure out exactly what they were talking about, because he really was scrubbed clean. I think they just associated the nudity with germs, especially after watching me scrub off a poop. But I promise you, his ass was CLEAN.
And then she watched me 'walk away and leave this poor little boy to fend for himself in the water park, where anyone could walk in and just TAKE HIM!!!'

Fifty feet, people. Fifty feet. Never out of my sight.

I yelled, "Don't you DARE accuse me of neglecting my child! I was NOT too far away!!"
And she's yelling and red in the face about how lucky I am nobody in authority saw me abandon my kids in the park, and I'm all,
"Yeah, you call the cops, then! Call them here so they can see how crazy you are!! Because when they show up and you tell them what happened, they're going to think 'This blonde chick is LOONY TUNES!'

It was not my proudest moment, people. But this was mama bear on mama bear on 36 hours no sleep on defensive for having walked 50 feet away from my kid for five minutes (remember the whiplash? I did feel kinda conflicted about it, although I kept checking and checking) on how dare you accuse me of being a (utterly inaccurate) stereotypical foster parent who doesn't care about the well being of her foster child just because my kid is brown and I am white on Oh My God you have been watching me for half an hour and think I'm a horror show of a parent on you just accused me of being a DIRTY PERSON WITH DIRTY KIDS, the fear of which triggers anxiety attacks in me on I can't believe I'm being harrassed yet again after being harrassed at work all night on I try my best everyone makes mistakes in judgement sometimes on you're ganging up on me on I fear you are right and I'm a terrible parent what is God thinking entrusting me with these children???

She's all,
"Don't you know how fast someone can come and take your child? And then you'll never see them again, and you would deserve it!"
And then her friend drops the bombshell. By this point her friend was actually kind of taken aback by her behavior, and was sympathetic to me. She says,
"You have to understand, this lady had her two year old abducted from her several years ago when she was at the park. She got her daughter back and everything was fine, but she's really sensitive about kids being abducted."

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, suddenly this makes more sense. Although what was up with the poopy butt accusation? And WHAT is UP with the freaking gang up judgmentalism and tongue lashing in front of about twenty five kids and their various parents?!??!
I turned to lady #1 and I said,
"Why didn't you say that? Why didn't you start with that, instead of attacking me? You have to rethink your approach if you want people to listen to you, because nobody gets anything but defensive when you just attack them! Why didn't you approach me like your friend did just now?" Lady #2 turns and walks away.

"Because I don't care about you at all! All I care about is this little boy and how you left him here all by himself and he was COLD!"

And I turned slightly to my left and Lord Jesus in Heaven Thank You My Love, one of my oldest friends was walking towards me with her husband and little girl. "Hi Meliss! Do you need some help!"
YES! Lady #1 turns and runs away, still yelling about how I should be arrested, and I fall into my friend's arms and was sobbing. Like, wracking your body, shaking, snot everywhere sobbing. She's so wonderful. She just hugged me SO tight and said, "You're a good mom. You're such a good mom. You are a fantastic mom. And you love your kids SO MUCH! And it SHOWS!" and it was Jesus in her words, Jesus falling from her lips, Jesus holding me tight. Because all my mind wanted to do was panic attack, and I couldn't have held it off if I were alone with no one to counter the OhmyGosh she's right I'm a terrible parent I'm an awful person I don't deserve to have children I'm evil incarnate. My friend even said, "It's a miracle I'm here! It's a miracle. It's God letting you know it's okay, and I'm so glad I could be a part of a miracle for you." And her husband watched my kids while I cried on his wife's shoulder and she held me and I shook and shook and snotted. Thank God for good friends.

It took about half an hour for me to calm down, gather my stuff, gather my kids, and walk them to the van (with the help of my friend and her husband). After I loaded the kids in the van I started up again crying and we were talking about, what would I have done differently and isn't kindness a better approach if you see a parent doing something you aren't comfortable with, and wouldn't an offer of help be so much better than judgement and accusation and yelling in the park? And I was saying I wish that woman knew who I really was, instead of taking a snapshot of my behavior in a park on one of my most tired days and judging me based on that? I told Dawn, my friend, about the 36 hours with no sleep, and she commiserated. Then WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT, the woman and her friend and their kids are loading themselves into the vehicle RIGHT NEXT TO OURS and I'm still the one crying and they're all pretending not to notice and all holier than thou averting their eyes. I'm just wanting the ground to eat me whole, and contemplating never returning to this park ever again, in case these women are there, when around the back of my van comes a woman about my mom's age. She says, "I'm so sorry. Is there anything I can offer you, you are obviously very upset at what my daughter did to you. Is there anything we can say that would make you feel better about this situation?"
"Yes! Maybe, instead of judging me for an apparent lack of judgement, next time she could offer to help me?" I'm crying pretty hard again, it's hard to get it all out. Because an offer of, "Hey, I can see you just went to your van, I had my eye on your kids while you were gone so you wouldn't have to worry about them. Can I carry anything or do something to help you?" would have actually been something I welcomed as I was pulled in several directions at once. Teamwork. A village raising a child. All that jazz.
My friend says, "And you know what? My friend here has three small boys, so she's doing the best she can. And she's been up for 36 hours because she worked last night and has to stay up to watch her kids. And her husband works shift work, and she adopted this little boy because she loves children and is really really good with them."
So the grandmother says, "We are Christians, we shouldn't act this way, I'm so sorry, why don't you come over and talk to my daughter and her friend and see if we can sort this out?"

This behavior came from a CHRISTIAN? But I'm actually not surprised. Just embarrassed to share the same religion as this Woman Without Grace (or manners).

So we go around and the grandmother rolls down the windows and says, "Okay, who here is a perfect mother, raise your hand?" And we all snort and say no way not me nuh-uh. And she tells my story: 36 hours no sleep, have a job, three energetic boys, husband works shift work, adopted my son and love him very much, and I can see the friend, lady #2, soften her face and entire body language, and she nods when I say, "Perhaps next time, instead of judging me, maybe offer to help? That would be more kind."
But lady #1 is still angry, and attacks me again.
"It's pretty hard to be kind when you see children being neglected by their parents who are supposed to love them--"
And I said, "It is not hard to be kind," emphatically.
She started in on me again and I put up my hand and said, "Stop. You are still judging me and being unkind, so I am going to leave." And I did.

Her mother followed me around the side of my van and said, "Please, can I pray for you? Come here." And she enveloped me in a deep hug and prayed, "Jesus bring peace to this girl, bring peace to us all, bring us peace. Shower down love on this woman and her children, and cover them in your care, Amen."
And it was Jesus again, Jesus pouring words from another woman's lips for me for me, how is there so much love and so much hatred living intertwined in this world? How is it that Jesus speaks to me in this way, a small suburban nondescript mom with so many faults? This grandmother had no idea I was a Christian too, wasn't she brave enveloping me in her arms and praying for me right then and there?
How can I be kinder to the women I meet or see in the park or the woods or the school or in their cars or in the grocery store, so that I don't ever make a woman feel the way I was made to feel today?

I'm torn up for me but also for her, because she obviously was completely traumatized by her daughter's abduction and it is the lens she sees everything through now, she's so full of worry and guilt and anger she can't even be kind (don't I know how that feels?!).
I feel better. I came home and told Brent the entire story wide open no hiding anything I said or she said, and I was totally second guessing my parenting because of the run to the van and the fifty feet of distance at the end there, and of course I would do it all differently had I known I was being WATCHED FOR BAD PARENTING, but I'm trying to balance Free Range Parenting with safety and teaching my kids appropriate touch and inappropriate touch without spooking them into not trusting adults and the world around them and a hefty dose of common sense, since 97% of abductions are by someone the child KNOWS, the vast majority of the time someone the child is RELATED TO, and the remaining small percent of stranger abductions seem to me a small enough risk for fifty feet of distance at the water park with my five year old (and also a run to the van for wipes). I try my best I try my best don't we all just try our best?

They don't come with a frickin manual.

But when i described the scene to Brent he said, "There is absolutely nothing wrong with what you did. The kids were safe. You are a great mom, that woman was crazy and had no right to talk to you like she did."
Maybe he's right. Maybe Lady #1 is right. I'm doing the best I can.

[here is a message Brent wanted to type on here:]
brent says hi...and melissa is a great mom...and hot

And now I'm going to sleep. Please don't judge me too hard, I do the best I can...

Living life as full as we can...and I hate my job...

Today has been a mixed bag. Brent worked day shift, I'm on nights, and tomorrow he works day shift again. It's 2 a.m. and we're in between calls and I should really be sleeping, but I'm wanting to post first, quickly, then try and get an hour or so of sleep (I hope!) before our next call. We are down 4 cars tonight, so it's run-your-asses-off time!
So I slept an extra hour today--the boys turned on the t.v. and ate some cookies for breakfast, and I didn't wake up until 8:30 when Riley crawled in my bed smelling like death warmed over and soaked in poo. Not wanting to halt all things fun and livable just because I was working tonight, we packed up the van and took off for White Rock beach. Parking was horrific. I think everyone and their dog (literally, except ours, who was home in his crate) saw the sunshine and was like, "I need to go to WHITE ROCK!!" Jeepers! We found a spot, though, and hunted down some fish and chips, which is a White Rock beach tradition. Then we went down to the beach and the kids had a blast in the tide pools. Matthew is hysterical. He baisically screams the whole time in excitement, until his voice goes hoarse. He captured a bunch of crabs and got totally soaked. Ayden is pretty fascinated by all the creatures in the tide pools, and he's fabulous with his brothers. I can actually sit on a towel and just watch, and they are great. Ayden solves most problems and is a very good negotiator and SO patient. Incredibly so. Riley is also hysterical, because he's afraid of everything but UBER curious. So he walks around with his fingers splayed and his toes curled, screeching because he's getting left behind or because there's sand on his leg or sand moving in the tide pool and he thinks it's a bug or salt water got in his mouth or the sea grass moved too close to him...I got the most incredible pictures today. I'm so glad we went. Sometimes the effort and distance involved in White Rock make it less than enjoyable for me, but today was absolutely worth it. Although Ayden was mad at me on the way back for some reason...what was it??? Oh, I made him walk in water deeper than he was comfortable with on the walk back to the car, so he was kind of mad.

Oh, and Ayden lost his first tooth!!! I know, he's old! His teeth were late in coming, so I guess they're late to leave, too. I was at work, and he was so proud he called me to let me know it fell out, but I was busy so he left me a message. It was, "Hey mommy! I have a loose tooth! My tooth is loothes! [Brent's voice in the background incoherent] Actually no! My tooth fell out! I'm holding it in my hand and the tooth fairy might come! Bye, mommy!"

So cute.

So after a really great afternoon on the beach, we hiked back to the car, drove home, I threw on my uniform and tossed clothes in suitcases for the boys, and took them to my in-law's place where Brent's sister was so kind as to take them for the hour and a half overlap between the beginning of my shfit and the end of Brent's shift (and again in the morning for the hour between when Brent left for his shift and I came home from my shift). I ran so fast and drove so fast, and JUST made it to work on time!
And my job sucks. Literal quote from my partner at 3:00 a.m. last night:
"Wow, I can really tell you don't have much experience based on the way you did that call."

Seven years. I've been doing this for seven YEARS. I stood up for myself, and called him on it:
"Why would you say something like that? Are you trying to make me feel like crap? Are you trying to put me down? I don't appreciate you saying that at ALL, that was totally rude."
And he was all,
"Well, I've been a preceptor (instructor) for years, and I've seen tons of students come through here and lack of confidence is a big indicator of inexperience, and you didn't decide who was going to take him to the hospital until the very end of the call and you wanted to bandage his wound inside the ambulance when it would be impossible and he needed it bandaged as soon as possible, and I didn't want this to blow up all in my face, but I thought you should know, etc, etc, etc."
And I was all,
"I have my own style of doing calls, and it doesn't make any sense to say it's impossible to bandage that wound inside the ambulance where the light was better, you just didn't want to get blood on the inside of the car, and I looked at that wound very closely before you even came around the edge of the ambulance, I don't appreciate being accused of inexperience, why would you assume that? Why would you think I'd like to hear a thing like that? I was perfectly comfortable postponing deciding who transported to hospital because dressing the wound was more important at that point in time, because what's the rush? We'll decide eventually, and I was the one who said, 'This guy definitely needs to go to the hospital and get stitched up, do you want to ride in the back with us, or follow us in your police cruiser?' What part of that is indecisive to you?"

And then another guy I work with tore a strip off me for 'driving too fast,' when I was going the BC Ambulance Service policy 25 km above the speed limit on the freeway, is it my fault there are bloody bumps in the road? Is it my fault I didn't slow down for them IN THE DARK? Code 3 driving at 110 on the freeway is ridiculous: people pass you. With the lights and sirens flashing. "This guy's not so bad you need to risk MY life by driving too fucking fast!"
I think I've discovered the answer to my should-I-work-full-time-at-this-gig dilemma. No fucking way. The ambulance service is full of these assholes, they're crawling all over the place like cannibalistic cockroaches, nice to patients' faces and total fucking cannibals to each other behind closed doors or when patients are flat out unconscious.
It's not worth the money. I hate that platoon and I've vowed never to work it again. Hate. Hate. Hate.

Seethe. Seethe. Seethe.

In a job so mentally taxing why should I have to wear emotional armor to protect myself from my coworkers? Isn't it bad enough I have seen dead babies and dismembered people and burns over 90% of the body and eviscerated bowels (self afflicted)?? Why the cannibalism on top of everything else? And it's not just this platoon. It's rampant. RAMPANT. Every station, every city, every platoon, every division, every single one.
I like the job. The JOB. Hate the social environment. HATE.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Road, Precious, Bright Shiny Morning

I haven't done any reviews of things I've read/watched in an extremely long time. I think since I was pregnant, which is pretty much two years ago? Where does the time GO, man? And women? Jeepers. Okay, first of all Brent and I rented The Road tonight (we also rented G-Force, a movie about four Guinea Pigs and a Mole who save the world from total destruction and enslavement, but I won't be doing a review on that one!!! Family Pizza Movie night, folks. Gotta love it!). Brent read The Road when he was at Polizei training, and I read it when we were in Hawaii two years ago. It was mind blowing good, very sparse prose that reminded me of Hemingway, and bleak settings that reminded me of MacDonald's 'Lillith', and apocalyptic plot that was a mixture of Atwood and Lord of the Flies.

And sadder than shit. I cried as much in this book as I did in Schindler's List. It was very good. I'm pretty sure most of you will be fairly familiar with the idea behind The Road because it's now a movie, as aforementioned. Tonight we watched it and both cried buckets; it's one you only want to watch if you have a steel bunker set up around your mental health, because it's so dark. But if you happen to be in a strong emotional space, it is a movie that is very engaging and worthwhile, and as art is invaluable in its expression and philosophical struggles. The film is beautiful to watch. Definitely don't watch it in the first few months after you give birth, though. It's far too dark to watch during a time when one's emotional and spiritual self yawns so wide open.
It's like any epic film dealing with humanity at its most visceral: hard to watch, but necessary to engage with.

Another film I saw recently was 'Precious.


Wow. Another must see film, so good. It was so, so good. This was also pretty dark, but with way more light in it than The Road. It's ultimately a triumph over darkness and abuse and profound poverty of spirit (and money), and shocking in its depravity at times. I fell in love with the main character about five minutes into the movie, though she had little to redeem herself at first. There was just some spark in her that pulled me in. MUST see.

I also finished another book last night called 'Bright Shiny Morning,' which is by the same author who wrote 'A Million Little Pieces,' a fantastic book that melts two incompatible genres by being semi autobiographical, and semi fictitious. He got some bad press for the melding of the two, but I never understood what the big fracking deal was: all non fiction fabricates some, and all fiction accurately portrays real life situations some...Why did anyone care? Oprah loved the book, but she sure cared that he mixed some fiction into his nonfiction, I tell you. Anyways, that book is amazing also, but yesterday's book 'Bright Shiny Morning' is, interestingly, ALSO a melding of the same two genres, but declares itself fiction. So I guess everyone will be more comfortable with it now. It's a book 'about' Los Angeles, but about the heart and soul of any urban setting: its inhabitants. It mixes lists and lists of facts about the history and present of different L.A. characteristics, like the origins and history of each freeway, gang activity, artistic regions of the city, natural disasters on record since the early 1800s, beaches, boulevards, suburbs, aqueduct and water purchasing, etc, etc, etc, with what seems like hundreds of deeply engaging characters and their stories. It is one of those complex books that weaves together many storylines and you could easily get lost as it jumps between them, but each subplot and character is so engaging that it draws you in anyways, and jogs your memory of who is who. The descriptions are so colourful. I loved this book so much I could hardly put it down to do my homework. Five thumbs up!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Back to Business Names

Okay, I'm still mulling around for a name for myself/my business for doula care, midwife homebirth assistant, crochet toys, and snooty art. I like the idea of having a name and then having 'divisions,' as it were, for each offshoot of my business.

So far, helpful suggestions have steered away from Bumpin sMels, and towards name meanings. I can't find a translation website that will give me the english phonetic sound of a word from another language that doesn't have the cyrillic alphabet. Here is my list so far:

Adero-African-She who creates life
Aamira-Arabic-full of life
Etsuo-Japanese-Joyous life
Ayla-oak tree/related to the moon
Koray-ember moon
Manadis-Norse-Moon woman
Mitsuki-Japanese-beautiful moon
Phoebe-bright moon
Alina-bearer of light
Chandrima-light of the moon
Marama-Polynesian-moon, light

And then there are plants that I like; I love the name Olive for a business but I have an acquaintance who is an artist and has a soap making and photography business she has named Olive. So no dice. Arnica (healing plant). Bamboo appeals to me: Bamboo shoots? Bamboo baby? Moon Bamboo? Bamboo moon?

I also like trees (bamboo is technically the largest species of grass). Oak, birch (too close to bitch), Ash, cedar, Arbutus: Arbutus shoots, arbutus leaf, arbutus branch, arbutus blossom, Arbutus bark, Arbutus baby? Arbutus birth (doula care), Arbutus baby (toys), Arbutus blossom/branch (midwifery assistant), Arbutus root/arbour (snooty art)?
I love dogwoods but who wants a baby catching business name with the word 'dog' in it? Seriously. Magnolia (Steel Magnolia, anyone?). And Mag sounds like hag, not the sound I'm going for.
Cedar is cool, too. But is Arbutus cooler? It's southern coastal specific, since they don't grow throughout the province, whereas cedars do.
Trees denote strength, loyalty, dependabiltity, ability to withstand storms, etc.

I should really go back to my homework, but I would LOVE your input: votes? Suggestions?

Mothers of Change

Check out our Mothers of Change website! We have a few new posts there you might like to read!!! You can also find us on our facebook page. It gives me an outlet for all those birth-related posts flooding my brain, but I don't always put on here because this is more of a here's my lifeworkfamily blog...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Breastfeeding Adults in Saudi Arabia

My friend Rob just sent me this link to an article on breastfeeding adults in Saudi Arabia as a way to loophole around the whole women-can't-be-in-contact-with-men-theyre-not-related-to Sunni Islamic rule....

Read it here....

Holy crap. Humans are weird.

Monday, June 7, 2010


As an alternative to my stress freakoutazoid, I'm going to share with you that I love all my boys. I think in fact, that although I grew up wanting FOUR GIRLS, I'm actually better suited to raising boys. With a little practice, which I've gotten a lot of in the past seven years, I get them. I know what they're up to. I know what makes them tick, what they're thinking, what motivates them, and how to distract them and calm them down. This doesn't erase my desire for a girl, nor my green envy when I see a friend with a little girl. But it makes me happy for what I've got.

Until very recently, #5 (Riley's nickname) has been an anti-affectionist. He likes his milkies, but otherwise DON'TTOUCHMEDON'TCARRYMEDON'THOLDMYHANDANDDAMMITWOMANYOUBETTERNOTKISSMEORELSE!!!!!
A few days ago he came up to me, puckered his lips, and kissed me, all over my face, like I often do to him (amid protests). I became a puddle. Since then, he hands out kisses like they're going out of style. And every single time, I puddle. Ohhhh, babyyyyy, don't grow up! You are cute as sugar coated candy just the way you are RIGHT NOW! His lips are so soft and his face is so earnest! It's just too cute.
We also played trains together today for an hour while both big brothers were at school. He's developing quite the imagination, and a funny little sense of humor. He set up the tracks to go up a hill and then drop off a cliff like face, so every train drove up the hill and then crashed in a heap on the carpet on the other side. Then he used strictly onomatopoeia to describe each crash in detail for me.

Matthew has been making LEAPS and BOUNDS forward in dealing with his stutter! Both speech therapists (the free one at school and the one we pay $100 so she can drive a Mercedes SUV, ha ha) have been focusing on managing the stutter, and he is really putting it to use. Every single sentence, just about, which is HUGE because a few months ago he didn't even have an awareness of his stutter, and here he is working on it every time he talks. So great. It is astounding to me how wonderfully simple speech pathology really is when it's broken down into manageable chunks. Like listening to an orchestra play and wondering how on EARTH so many different artists learn to play together melodically. Each one breaks a concert down to its basic building blocks and starts there. Individual notes. A. C. D sharp. G. Whole notes, half, quarter, trills. Then they try phrases, then an entire piece. Then they play together. They keep trying, and practicing, and playing together, and suddenly, it sounds melodic. This is what it is like to watch Matthew's speech transform in front of me.
Our friends who sail around the world in a fit of unconventional and totally cool living are in town again, having been gone since shortly after Riley's birth. So they were here to witness the often failing attempts to dicipher Matthew's speech just as he started speech therapy, and were gone for almost 2 years, and are back again--can you imagine the difference they see in him? They keep bolstering him up with positive affirmation that his speech is so fantastic, and it's evident he has been working hard. As tough as it was, I wish I had taken a recording of his speech for before and after comparison. I remember. But it would be neat to really compare.

Ayden and I have been keeping up with the reading dates. We eat snacks in my bed and read together, which is kick ass awesome. Except he's a talker so he keeps wanting to read me large sections of all his books. Cute in small doses. Really bloody annoying when you're deep in your own book...
He has an especial passion for Geronimo Stilton, which is nice, because although Diary of a Wimpy Kid was funny and great for meeting his reading level abilities and teaching him the subtleties of irony, Geronimo Stilton is more appropriate for his age and emotional maturity.
And I have to offer props to him in public for being consistently UBER helpful. He will show Matthew where the bathroom is if I'm busy with Riley, figure out what Riley's beef is during a freakout if I'm busy on the toilet or cooking dinner, fetch me stuff, set the table for me, empty the dishwasher, modify his behaviour MOST of the time if reminded to be a good example, comfort his brothers, pick up his toys and books, hold the dog's leash, cut vegetables for me, hold doors for me, read to his brothers, compliment my cooking, and wash Riley's hands when it's time to eat. It's hard for me to remember sometimes that he's only seven. He acts so much older that I often think of him as ten. I don't know what I'd do without him!

The Rainy Italian Festival

Thank you for your kind comments and encouragement regarding my rejection letter from UBC! It is particularly helpful to remember that God has a plan with a perfect time in it for me to move forward vocationally, whether it be towards midwifery or in another direction (I hope not!). All is not lost when I keep that in mind. But sometimes I forget to keep it in mind, you know? Sometimes I am just full of fear.

The letter was supremely good for me, though, because it gave me breathing room. It has given me the space to think about whether I really DO want to go forward in the direction of midwifery school. There are so many other options, appealing and not, and it is always good to reevaluate one's direction and plan on a regular basis. I'm also tied up in knots about whether or not to apply for a full time position with BC Ambulance. I have done the part time gig for over 7 years now, and it has totally worked for me up until now. I never work the kids' birthdays, we take holidays whenever Brent's job allows (pretty much whenever we want), I never work Christmas, easter, halloween, thanksgiving, or any other day I don't want to. The trade off is that I get no sick days, no paid holidays, no paid days off, no benefits, crappy pay, I drive really far to go to work (no part time positions closer that I want), and I'm at the bottom of the social pile at work, always. It goes: full time Advanced Life Support paramedics, part time ALS, full time Basic Life Support paramedics, full time transfer car paramedics, irregularly scheduled full timers who do holiday relief, and finally part timers. Granted, there IS one level below me, and that is part time secondary post. That's part timers from remote stations with zero seniority who work at our station in order to actually make some money, since remote stations are so quiet and hence the pay is ridiculous. $2 per hour standby. So I'm second to the bottomest bottom feeder.

Not that I care remotely, but it does lend itself to bullying. I cried at work last week because of a cranky ALS guy I work with. On dayshifts he's friendly and easy to get along with, but on nights he's a diva. Total bitch. I haven't cried at work in YEARS, but I lost it last week. And the whole tone of the station has completely shifted since over half the full time staff retired in the last year and a half, including the Unit Chief. Everything is discombobulated and less unified and there is more bullying going on than ever before, and there are very few guys left who are remotely interested in teaching or imparting things they've learned, or even swapping war stories, which is one of my favourite work activities. Going to work just isn't as fun as it used to be.

Not that I care overly much about the social hierarchy or interbitchiness at work, but it gets old. I only work one or two days a week so I'm mostly gone for much of it anyways. But I'm getting burned out of my job so my fuse is shorter for all the negative aspects, you know?

So those nitty bits are pushing me out of my comfortable spot in Chilliwack station. There are other part time positions, but honestly it's the same warm bag of shit in a different pile, if you know what I mean? The biggest factor pulling me towards full time is money. It's yucky for me to be at this point, because for years I've said that for me, working isn't about money and my kids will only be small once so I want to spend as much time at home for them as I can manage. And I'd rather live in a small house and be there for my kids than live in a big house and be forced to work more hours than I would prefer. But I have reached some sort of boiling point. My house is too small for my family! Houses cost a LOT where I live. A small 3 bedroom built in 1982 with a small yard that needs some serious work costs around $500,000. If I want a yard, we have to pay big. But houses aside, because we've been talking about options like having a suite we could rent out that would help pay our bigger morgage, I'm mostly just sick and fucking tired of running out of money 2 days after payday. Sick of it. Sick of it. SICK of it. My family costs more now that the kids are bigger--we work really hard not to overschedule but STILL soccer is hundreds of dollars and food is hundreds of dollars and clothing is hundreds of dollars and shoes are expensive and swimming lessons cost fifty dollars each kid and diaper service and property taxes and freaking GAS at $1.15 per liter and dog food OMG dog food!!! And then there's the fact that I'm CRAZY and have to take all these supplements to stay sane, and it looks like I have a thyroid problem too so I'm going to have to start medicating THAT too, and, and, and!!!! I'm feeling the pressure, and I feel like if I could just WORK MORE for even ONE YEAR, we could pay off some crap and free up more monthly income for that bigger house we need.

It's that STRESS post I did a few weeks ago, continued. Anyone know anyone who wants to buy a Matrix? Please????? We're paying over $700 a month to insure and make payments on 3 vehicles right now. I had no idea it would take this long to sell the damn car, or we wouldn't have bought the van before we sold the car! Like, we have it on Craig's List and in the Buy and Sell, and the car has signs on it, and we have gotten one email in three months. We've lowered the price twice. Our landscaper showed some interest, but never came through. Nobody wants a toyota these days, which is too bad because that Matrix is an amazing car. Anyways, if that thing could sell we'd be in a much better position!!
But even when the car sells things are still tight. I'm just so tired of things being tight. I'm tired of running out of food before payday and pulling out the credit card I know I can't pay off so I can get us milk or ground beef or carrots. We cashed in a GIC to be able to fly to Regina for Brent's brother's graduation from the police academy in July: shouldn't we be able to just save for a bit and fly somewhere once in two or three years? Holy freaking crap! It's not Jamaica! Anyways, I'm feeling the crunch these days and worrying about financial survival when I'm in school (if I ever make it in), so I'm thinking nine months to a year of full time might be an answer to consider. Oh yeah, and maternity benefits are WAY better for full time paramedics than part time paramedics and if I want another baby maybe that's something to consider, too?

I feel guilty for even having this conversation with myself in my head, because it feels like I'm compromising my kids for money. And I just don't dig that. I know lots of women who work full time and are good parents, involved, attached, loving, connected: but I just can't wrap my mind around doing it myself.
I mean, I did it while Brent was gone (70 hours a week, no less!), but that was for an express purpose and for a set period of time. This feels less legit.

And then, on top of the guilt, there's the issue of child care, which I've posted about before. How'm I going to find a nanny who will agree to one 14 hour day and two 6 hour days per 8 day cycle, provided it's weekdays? That's so few hours it feels scrooge like. Stressing about child care makes me want to abandon the entire enterprise. Screw it.

But another thing I'm tired of is always working Brent's days off. I feel like I rarely see him, and we're always recovering from some night shift or other--if I worked full time we'd have days off together. The RCMP watches and paramedic watches are offset by only one day, so our days off would overlap by 2 days. Which still isn't enough, but it's something more than what we get now.

Another option is for me to quit altogether. Trust Brent's salary and call it a day. Hire myself as our nanny. It's certainly appealing! But then I feel guilty having Brent shoulder the entire financial load for us. That's stressful! Especially with our housing market. There has to be somewhere in the world where a house with a yard is affordable. We don't live there.

I literally spend hours of every day obsessing about these issues. I feel like my ribcage is about to crack from worrying about it all!!

And I started this post intending to tell you about me and the kids going to Vancouver yesterday for the Italian Festival on Commercial street, where it poured rain and nobody but me had a rain jacket, which I leant to Ayden because he was wearing only a t-shirt. It was pretty funny actually. But that post got circumvented by my stress decompression, which apparently I needed to spew somewhere...

Sorry about that! That's kind of funny!

Church was good yesterday. So there's that.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Quotes of the Day

"Plus fait douceur que violence"
(Gentleness accomplishes more than violence)

Also, springing up from a discussion of children's behavior in public;

"Public space is not our space. Children, the elderly, and people with disabilities don’t use parks, restaurants, stores, museums, and theaters at our indulgence, because it’s not our space. It’s everyone’s space, and everyone has an equal claim on it."

And another (slightly more vulgar);

"Now, maybe I meet someone who doesn’t necessarily dislike Little V in a personal way but who is “not really a kid person.” And here I mean not necessarily someone who doesn’t want to have kids or who doesn’t have any experience being around kids or someone who lives a lifestyle that doesn’t produce any exposure to kids. I mean someone who is expressive about a “I don’t really like kids” attitude or a “I hate going to restaraunts or museums where kids are making noise” attitude or a “of course it’s fine for other people to have kids but I don’t want to be around them” attitude. This sort of thing is a deal-breaker for me. I’ve gotten pretty rigid about it in recent years as I become more assured in my certainty that it’s an anti-feminist attitude and you suck if you hold it. Kids are a vulnerable, disempowered, inevitable portion of the human community and you do not get to “not like” them or to wish that weren’t a part of your public space. Not allowed. I invite you to swap out “kids” for any other disempowered community in the above phrases (“women,” “schizophrenics,” “hispanics,” “the blind”) and notice what an a**hole you sound like."

from Rixa's blog

This discussion was a good one, and it reminded me of another of my absolute favorite quotes;

"A person's a person, no matter how small"

from Dr Seuss' Horton Hears a Who

[and yes, I do believe in teaching children appropriate behavior in public spaces! It's a balance!]

Rejection Letter

So the UBC School of Midwifery sent me a rejection letter. In it, they said "Your accomplishments in academic and service roles are impressive," but "We regret to inform you that you have not been selected for a place in the program."

They indicated that they had 'almost 100' applicants this year. This makes me a bit apprehensive about my chances for next year, although they encouraged me to reapply. Out of less than 100 applicants, they interviewed 32. Out of that 32, they chose 10. If I wasn't even in the top 32 out of less than 100??!! What are my chances? Jeepers. And based on the letter and conjecture, I did well in academic standing and work experience, but where was I lacking? It would be nice to know if it's something I can improve upon for my application for next year, like more Doula work or more volunteer experience. If it is higher academic standing, I can't fix that between now and November, but I can work on alternate plans.

I was prepared to hit the ground running in September if I got in, but now I feel a bit foolish for thinking I had a good chance, since I was somewhere in the bottom 68 or less. The thing is, there just aren't that many options out here for midwife training. I could go to Seattle Midwifery School, or distance ed through the New Mexico school of midwifery, or move to Ontario. Without my husband, who is committed to Surrey for another 2.5 years.

However, hitting the ground running while wanting another baby [but p.s. I'm not pregnant, thank you very much Rachel] and not knowing how we will be able to afford a bigger house on *less* income than before was a bit stressful, so I am somewhat relieved. I think the better scenario would have been if I had gotten an interview but not gotten a spot: then I would feel I at least had a good chance, you know? Like I was a good candidate in their eyes. I'm a good candidate in my own eyes, but apparently not so in theirs. And so I'm not entirely sure where to go from here. I was going to attend the UBC Normal Birth Conference here in Vancouver in June, but now I feel a bit disheartened. It's actually probably a very good idea to go and have that to put on my application, but it's $500 towards a profession I haven't got much hope of joining???? I know that's not entirely accurate, but that's kind of how I feel at the moment. So that's the final word.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Caution for Dumpster Divers

Last night I worked and it was REALLY BUSY!!! Early in the morning, about 3:30 or so, a garbage truck was starting its rounds. It picked up a dumpster and tossed the contents overhead into the garbage truck, and out fell a person!! Hollering to beat the band, and badly banged up in the process! He survived, but will probably be traumatized for the rest of his life. He wasn't a dumpster diver per se: just homeless and looking for a place to sleep.

We also had a 3 year old with a badly busted leg, an 8 year old with seizures, an infant with asthma, a hiker lost in the woods, an adult with a busted leg, an atypical heart attack, and a little old lady who fell out of bed and just wanted help getting back in. But dumpster diver takes the cake.

This job is nothing if not interesting. Jeepers!

Where did all the commenters go?

I know you must be out there, and I know I petered out there for a bit, posting less often which is less interesting for you wonderful readers, so I'm sorry! I'm trying to get back on the ball, and I think now that my course is done I'll be more faithful!
But only ONE comment on that photo post with my cute kids at the tulip festival? Are you DEAD? Or maybe just blind. Hm....

I'm joking. But I'm a slut for comments.

I just made my first ever batch of rice crispie squares! This was a stretch because (a) it's baking, and (b) marshmallows break one of my cardinal food rules, which I developed after reading this book "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto," which my sister recommended to me. (I'm going to do a book review post on this book, I promise! You must read it!)

That cardinal rule is: Eat Food. Marshmallows are not food, they are processed petroleum product with sugar added. But I partially redeemed them in my mind by using puffed whole wheat instead of rice crispies, adding ground flax, and two huge scoops of all natural peanut butter. The peanut butter was a suggestion of my friend and OMYGOODNESSPEOPLE! IT IS SOOOOOO GOOOOOOOD!!!!!

melt 1 Tbsp butter in pot on stove
Add one package of marshmallows and melt
Add 2 ice cream scoops of peanut butter
Add 2 Tbsp flax meal
Mix well, remove from heat, and add 6 cups of puffed whole wheat, or brown puffed rice
(optional: add chocolate chips at very end)

Put in rectangular dish coated with cooking spray. The best way I found to smooth them out is to wet your fingers and use your hands.
Let cool.
Oh my goodness don't share them with the CHILDREN!



Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Weighty Ghost

I love this song by Wintersleep, who are from Nova Scotia: Hooray!

The song isn't about death directly, but it always makes me think of all the deaths I've seen at work. Not in a bad way, but in a way that honors the fact that they lived. I don't know how to describe it, exactly, and honestly probably people who aren't paramedics might not really get it, but the song makes me feel grateful. Grateful for life, grateful for the peace death brings. It's pretty universal to be afraid of death, and most of the time I am, too. Good art engages all these things.

And this is the first time I've embedded a video from youtube. Sorry it doesn't fit perfectly.