Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Woman Booted off Craigslist for Donating Breastmilk?!

Wow, now this is interesting...Did you know that breastmilk has its own anti microbial properties such that if you leave it on the counter, introduce a pathogen to the milk, and return to it several hours later, the pathogen will be gone? For this reason, breastmilk is NOT classified as a bodily fluid requiring universal precautions, which is particularly relevant if you leave pumped milk for your baby at daycare with them.

For some reason, the woman cited here in the Vancouver Sun today is having a heck of a time advertising donating her milk!!

I'm not sure if she's heard of Eats on Feet, the grassroots mother to mother milk sharing program that has sprung up on Facebook, but she might have better luck there...

The real story here is Canada's lack of breastmilk banks~life saving frozen supplies of pasteurized human milk that is donated out of altruism by lactating women. Breastmilk is in very short supply for those who have trouble establishing a milk supply, or who need life saving cancer treatment, or are too sick to produce milk themselves (organ donor recipients, for example). Human milk SAVES human baby lives, and we need MORE MILK BANKS!

Woman to woman sharing of unpasturized milk is actually nutritionally superior, though...so attempts to network breastmilk supplies should not be hindered, in my opinion. (donor milk CAN be pasteurized at home, though! You don't need a fancy milk bank for that process...)
When Ayden was born I donated a freezer full of breastmilk to the Vancouver milk bank (and I didn't find it prohibitively expensive or inconvenient).

Long live the wet nurse!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

More On Yelling

Can yelling at your kids be damaging to them? You bet.
Is all yelling damaging? No way.

My friend Jen recently posted about striving to become a "Yes" mom; saying yes as often as possible, and reserving No for truly important non negotiable situations. This idea came up in the comments on The One Where I Talk About Spanking, where we try and phrase as much as possible in positive terms, and try to create an environment where Yes is possible much of the time. I love this idea, because it keeps the No as effective and enforceable as possible, while maintaining a reduced conflict, positive environment for kids.

In the context of yelling, this helps set up an environment for the parent where there will be reduced frustration and incidences of yelling (or *other* strong tools we want to either reserve for dire need, or avoid altogether, depending on the parenting philosophy: wink!).

Here's the confounder: I have this kid who lives for putting his toe over the boundaries we have in place, just to check if they are still there. He pushes until he hears No. [anyone care to guess which of my children this might be? No great mystery there =) ha ha] So I've redesigned the Yes mom approach to fit this child, and it looks like this:
"Do NOT ____. You can do _____."
As much as possible, I outline what CAN be done, what is permissible, what is okay, what is good, what is kind, respectful, and within the boundaries. I do this as often as possible BEFORE the actual situation.
For example, we went to the Chapman's for dinner a few weeks ago, and on the drive there I said, "Child (only I used his name: I have to use HIS name to capture his attention or he won't apply what I say to himself. Generalized rules or guidelines hover in the air above his body but don't actually enter his ears), we are going to Kai and Koen's house for supper. While we are there, I would like you to be a good example of how kind and respectful you are, okay? I know you are good at playing with other kids. I want you to remember to be gentle with all of the kids and to be gentle with their house. Okay?"
Bored monotone from the backseat, "Okay."
And then while we are there, I have to arrest his wildness with No, No, No. It just has to be done. Redirection alone doesn't work. Phrasing things positively doesn't work. Saying 'maybe' or 'I don't think so,' or 'That's not a good idea,' when he asks for something doesn't work. He pushes until he hears No.

On the one hand, this is great. He's looking for security. He's feeling loved when he finds the outer boundary of what's acceptable, because we care about him enough to give him boundaries. Easy to give.
On the other hand, this is taxing. I don't want to be the No mom! I get tired of being The Police. I get tired of repeating repeating repeating those boundaries and having them pushed pushed pushed. It pushes me. It makes me tired. It makes me feel undervalued, unrespected, mean, and depersonalized.
And sometimes the No alone doesn't work. Oh yes, and explanations as to the why behind the no are always given, although when he was younger I found these were counterproductive. He was deaf half the time (literally, from the ear infections), and he's a physically oriented child, so a lot of talketytalketytalk was pretty well a waste of energy, and very useless.
NOW he's older, he can hear well consistently, and he is better able to take in explanations. But we have to keep them short, or we lose him.
You know you've lost him when he starts talking in the middle of an explanation, about something completely different. One sentence or less. That's all you get!

So sometimes I yell because I've said No too many times.

Other times, I yell to capture attention.

Other times, I yell because I'm talking over all the noisy boys and need to be heard!

I think these are okay, and although it's hard for me to be in the midst of chronic noise, I'm learning. I'm pretty well used to a higher level of noise than most people just by nature of the makeup of my family (three noisy boys!). But I have to admit to screaming "USE YOUR INSIDE VOICES!!!!" at my toddler boys (kind of a bad example of using your inside voice?) on numerous occasions in the early years.
And I'm no saint now, though I've vastly improved.

I know I've yelled too loud and too angry when my throat hurts afterwards.

On the one hand, what's childhood if you don't have a few examples of pushing your parents to losing their temper to share amongst yourselves as siblings? They make for funny family stories. On the other hand, a child who lives with this kind of chronic undercurrent of anger and unpredictable outbursts of yelling, or just maybe an example of an incredibly unhappy parent, will likely not find stories of their parents losing their tempers funny, or something to share as siblings.
Sometimes as parents we go through rough patches, and that is where Grace Based Parenting carries us. When my two oldest kids were little, I was angry a lot. I was anxious beyond measure. I was unpredictable much of the time. I still tried to be as healthy as possible, and I tried hard to be a Yes mom, but mostly I just tried to survive.
If I had stayed in that place for years, it would have damaging effects on my kids. Thankfully, with help and support and experience and reading helpful books and connecting with my village and examining and reexamining myself, I was able to claw my way out of that dark place. So I have grace for myself: I did the best I could at the time, and strove to be better. And my kids show evidence of this grace as well: they appear healthy and kind and empathetic and show signs of developing self awareness and autonomy and initiative and a sense of accomplishment, despite my more frequent yelling when they were little, and my far less frequent but by no means disappeared yelling now.

So is yelling unethical? What do you think?

P!nk - Raise Your Glass

I have always had a love-on for the musician Pink, and now I think I might marry her. Check out this video, where she spoofs cross species milk use--very funny! And disturbing. Which is Pink's signature combination. About 1:10 in, you'll see what I mean.
[language disclaimer: not for children]
[religious sensitivities disclaimer: she's tackling the exploitation of women, not glorifying sleeping with religious men]

DUDES. This video ROCKS. I love Pink.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Parent Teacher Conference

Last week we had a parent-teacher conference with Matthew's grade one teacher and learning assistance teacher. This is the second conference since he started grade one, and it's reassuring and QUITE hilarious that they report he continues to be very quiet, well behaved, and responsible in the classroom. My son MATTHEW was described as RESPONSIBLE!!!
[insert large grin of pride, and hysterical laughter at the contrast here]
It's not actually that he is irresponsible, but more that he needs constant reminding in order to exercise impulse control. Part of that is being a part of a larger family; there is SO much going on all the time that he wants to keep up with, and his nature is fairly competitive so he's generally trying to get or stay ahead, that impulse control goes out the window. Because it's low on his priority list. If Matthew were an only child, he would be very lonely, but he would probably be more easily described as responsible!

So the teacher was describing how Matthew takes many repetitions to internalize something new, and how if he doesn't care about a task, he just doesn't do it. I laughed and said, "This is not new information for us about Matthew!" Which made her laugh too, and we agreed it's good we are on the same page. Matthew is needing lots of one on one time with the teacher or the learning assistance teacher in order to understand instructions, but there are quite a few kids who fit that description in his class, including a little girl with Down's Syndrome who doesn't have her own consistent assistant (probably due to lack of funding, which makes me angry on her behalf).

It's tough because as Brent and I were discussing it later, we were saying how Matthew is a very bright kid whose intelligence doesn't easily and smoothly fit in the conventional education system like Ayden's does. I would guess that he will read well eventually, but that literacy isn't necessarily his primary intellectual language, and in the early primary years, school is ALL about literacy. Even math is basically literacy, because they learn to write numbers and memorize the basic 10's system and do basic addition and subtraction. Matthew is very good at building things and taking them apart, like a little engineer, which is an important math skill that is hardly touched on in grade one. They do some pattern work, but otherwise not much building.
He's also not that interested in art (though he's getting much more interested than he used to be); he'd rather be theatrical or dramatic than draw or paint, but regular school generally focuses on drawing and painting for imaginational development. Also similar to literacy skills.
Solutions included allowing him the time he needs to learn at his own pace, while ensuring he doesn't get left behind. We are to work with him at home as much as possible to give him that one on one learning he needs, and go in after school to the learning assistance room to have him spend 10-15 minutes per day on a computer program that teaches early literacy skills.

The most reassuring part of this meeting, for me, was how both teachers responded to the possibility of his emotional reaction to being a late bloomer. They both expressed independently that these early years are vulnerable ones for kids who have a slower timeline, and that how he feels about himself and about his ability to learn are very important. That was my greatest fear; that being pushed before he's ready, or needing extra assistance at school, would cause him to internalize a feeling if inadequate intelligence that will follow him for years. I know many very intelligent adults who have had that experience, and it was very painful for them.
I also expressed that it seems unfair, but for Matthew it feels as though if there is an obstacle or difficulty to be had in life, he has it. Immature bladder. Chronic ear infections. Allergies. Allergic reaction to antibiotics. Snoring. Fainting. Chronic colds/illnesses when he was little. Being very small for his age (which will become more evident as he gets older, and because he's a boy). Chronic eating issues. Crowded teeth which will mean braces. Speech pathology. A stutter. Any kid who has an active relationship with an Ear, Nose, Throat specialist, a urologist, and a speech and language pathologist AT THE SAME TIME has had fate weighted against him. Not to mention being born so poor he was relinquished to an orphanage and lost several mommas, his culture, country of origin, language, and family heritage as a very small child. This kid is resilient beyond measure, I'm constantly amazed by his persistence in overcoming difficulties in life. And he remains optimistic, energetic, positive, tenacious, accepting, and lives with his arms wide open to embrace life and the world.

I learn a lot from this kid. If he can do what he's done, I can do anything.
Including learn how to support my kid's education at home without drowning him in extracurricular school work!

Look at my kid: he's a hero already, and he's only six.


Thank you guys for the support regarding the gestational diabetes diagnosis. That first day I was pretty funked about it. Part of that was fear of being required to enter the 'medicalized pregnancy' system if my body requires insulin to control blood sugars. I can picture myself in an OB's office, dead baby scare tactics and heavy duty pressure to induce or cut coming from them and heavy duty self defense tactics coming from me...Aside from the fear of another unnecessary cesarean, I'm afraid of having the empowering aspect of this birth being taken from me. To fight an obstetrical system that wants to reduce my choices (with the best of intentions, but not always the best of research to back their methods up) as is the medical culture of today like it or not, is NOT what I want to experience. It will be empowering only because I fight to keep it so, not because my right to choose or research or control any part of the process is upheld by others.

But aren't I getting four hundred steps ahead of myself here? First of all, I might not need insulin. So then I can stay low risk, and I don't need to see an OB. Second of all, I might have a nice OB who believes in womens' right to choose and is willing to work with me instead of direct me. Third of all, even if I did have a nasty OB and a requisite for insulin, nobody is going to bully me into anything. My body, my baby, MY CHOICE. Period.

Part of my disappointment was a hidden desire to be one of those women who just have big babies but not gestational diabetes. Big babies can be within the parameters of normal, and their deliveries can remain low risk, despite everyone's fear to the contrary. Nobody likes being placed in an automatic box with everyone else and big baby mommas are no different. Some of us have gestational diabetes, and some of us have capable pelvises and roomy uteri and strong expulsion muscles and genetics for big babies. I wanted to be an example of the latter, for the sake of winning one for the Trust Womens' Bodies line of philosophy. You know? Instead I get to be an example of pathology. Nice.
One of the women I met at the breastfeeding counsellor's course I took last year had six children and was a huge natural birth and breastfeeding advocate, and she expressed several times how she wished so badly she could have given birth at home, but has a blood disorder that places her at higher risk for hemorrhage, so she's one of those rare examples of pathology too. Part of me wants to stomp my foot and yell, IT'S NOT FAIR!! So many women don't CARE how they give birth or whether they are low risk enough to deliver at home or have an empowering experience versus a hand-over-decision-making type of experience, and here I care muchos and my body fails me.

I know it's a bit hysterical and a bit narcissistic. I'm not saying it's rational, I'm explaining what was ringing in my head that first day I found out. It does seem a bit like a nasty trick from the universe, but on the other hand I wasn't all that surprised. I had a 9 and 10 lb baby the last 2 times. I'm only 5'1" and small, I have hypoglycemia, and my fasting sugars were high last winter before I got pregnant. It was the length of time between the test and notification of the results that led me to believe I didn't have it, so it took me a bit to wrap my mind BACK around having it.

Yesterday and today I feel a lot more calm and capable of tackling this. I talked to my cousin who also had it, and whose genetics and birth and parenting philosophies I share, and she had a bunch of advice for me that I was really grateful for. It is helpful for me emotionally to know someone who had it and delivered naturally, which is so important to me. And you know, she pointed out that as far as obstetrical complications go, this is a fairly minor one. It can be controlled, it's not premature labor, eclampsia, Cholestasis, and etc., and outcomes are excellent for babies born from GD moms whose blood sugars are well controlled. So the pathology is manageable.

Any and all advice from people with experience or education about GD is welcome. I do know the basics: 6 meals per day, pair carbohydrates with protein, eliminate refined carbohydrates and sugar, reduce fruit consumption, and avoid too much time passing between meals. And exercise.
I already eat well. Very little processed food, mostly homemade, whole grains, natural, plain, unadulterated whenever possible. But I add sugar to that. Or I did, until Thursday.
A complicating factor is those contractions. They like to come on when I exercise. Sigh.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Oh, Canada...

So my midwife called this morning to deliver the bad news that I DO in fact have Gestational Diabetes. Kathunk. I fell out of cloud 9ish. That took over two weeks! I'm not impressed with that fact, because of course like I've mentioned before, good old Canada with this national health care system we treasure (and I do), has designed for efficiency that if you have lab results that are benign, you will not hear back from your care provider. Knowing my midwife's office would receive the lab results from my glucose tolerance test ELEVEN days ago, I figured I was in the clear when I didn't hear either way. I really did relax. I held off celebrating but by now, I figured it was safe to assume I don't have it.
And then, I do.
Now, the test has recently been changed and is now more sensitive, so more women who are borderline will now be diagnosed. And I'm borderline. My fasting BG was 5.4 (GD is 5.1), my one hour BG was 10.1 (GD is 10.0), and my two hour BG was below the GD level. So. That's okay, because it's not so terrible as it could be. But it sure would be nice if it were the other side of that border =(

Brent said something about borderline diabetes being like borderline anemia. Something to keep an eye on, but nothing serious. But see, to a natural birth nutter, and especially one who wants a home birth, a gestational diabetes diagnosis is a really big deal. For most of us women it would be a big deal, and of concern, and then to those of us who immerse ourselves in the natural bodily processes and want to give birth at home in a body they can trust, borderline gestational diabetes is kind of like borderline anemia in an Olympic athlete. Not that I'm an olympic athlete, but this could really derail my hopes for this birth in a bigger way than if I planned a hospital birth and didn't have strong feelings about induction or cesarean for myself.

This is a big deal. This is something I've been trying to avoid and was very happy about NOT having heard after those lab tests. Fook me. This sucks. The next step is to clean up my diet and add more emphasis on exercise, and visit the diabetic clinic in town. If that is enough to lower my fasting blood sugar, I will still be in the low risk category. But if it isn't, an OB consult and an endocrinologist and a hospital birth are foregone conclusions.

I'm trying really hard not to cry.

In better news, we woke up to snow today, and it kept up all day. So we have a winter wonderland outside our windows, and I have some pretty pictures of the kids expending every ounce of energy they have on the walk home from school. I'll share those as soon as I can!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Parenting: or, The One Where I Talk About Yelling

This discussion of parenting that we've been having (and it truly is we, since That Post rustled up so many comments and emails and spinoff posts on my and other peoples' blogs and on FB) has been very, very positive. For the most part, people are listening with two ears and speaking with one mouth, and being gentle with each other. And considering Grace Based Parenting, although it's hard.

Tonya alerted me to a blog post she came across which addresses yelling, and I thought it was a good addition to the conversation. The author is a pretty good authority on raising children, since she has FIFTEEN of her own children! I don't agree with her assessment that it takes a village to raise a child is a fallacy: I am not sure what exactly her problem with that idea is, or what her definition is...perhaps she means that a child doesn't need a village (I disagree but can see how with fourteen siblings it's not really all that necessary), but when I'm talking about the village, I mean the PARENT needs a village! And on that point, I just can't budge. But I really agree with her philosophy that modeled behavior is extremely powerful when parenting, which is at the heart of her daughter's affect on children. Not just modeled behavior, but a strong sense of peace about the way one goes about things. A parent who disciplines with confidence and peace is very powerful a calming influence on their children. Anyways, here is the post (it is part II of I, but the first post is a mediocre poem and a verse from the Bible: good, and applicable, but not really universal in content for those who aren't Christians so I left it up to you to read part I on your own if you like).

I'm also reading a book called Discipline Without Distress by Judy Arnall. I find her a little ridiculous sometimes (okay, a lot), but I'm reading it for tips on discipline and teaching my kids in order to add to my toolbox, so the odd theories behind her methods don't really matter I guess. If you would like to read it, feel free to disagree with me!! But I just think she is arrogant and one dimensional in that she has The Answer with a One Size Fits All approach and frequently calls upon her years of experience as a parent educator and mother of five children. Congratulations: you may be an expert but you've just lost your credibility with me by calling yourself an expert. And it's sure hard to relate to someone who recounts ONE incidence of spanking EVER, in raising five kids, and lists ways of dealing with anger that are rather....inadequate....I mean, maybe she's never felt the kind of rage I have felt? But taking a bath just doesn't do the trick when all you can see is red...

I rarely feel that kind of rage anymore, and if I do, I have effective ways of managing it. But I look back on myself with two small toddlers and an undiagnosed anxiety disorder and I just KNOW that this author has no idea what I was dealing with. You know? At any rate, all of that is suffice it to say that I actually DO find some good stuff in this book and I'll discuss it in another post sometime. Here's a quote from her book that I thought was good;

Good parents sometimes feel anger toward their children. It's a basic fact of life. We need to accept that anger is normal in every love relationship, whether partner, co-worker, friend, or parent-child. How we deal with that anger can damage the relationship or make it a valuable source of teaching and strengthen the connections.

Just as it is valuable and affirming to validate a child's emotions, it is important that we validate our own emotions as parents. Sometimes, we get angry. And that is okay. We are still people, recipients of grace, fallible, yet good and valuable at our core. The better we can get at managing the anger, the kinder parents we will become, and the stronger that core attachment with our kids. And we will all be healthier as a result. Stumble, fall, get back up. THIS is courage.

Holy Speedy, Batman!

Okay, so today we made an offer on a house, and it was accepted.
HOLY CRAP. I might barf. I might throw a party. I might crawl under the covers on my bed and pretend my parents still make all the big decisions...

We went back today and walked through both the green/brown house (my #1 pick), and the blue house (Brent's previous #1 pick, although he def. had changed his mind by today and we were in agreement that the green/brown house was the #1 choice), as well as two other houses on the market in our area and in our price range. That was excellent confirmation that our #1 pick was the house for us. So we made an offer, and it was so good that they accepted it without changes! And the most hilarious part was that our realtor knew we had promised our kids a trampoline, so she asked for the trampoline that THEY own be included in the sale. AND THEY AGREED. Hysterical. This is subject to financing and a home inspection, of course. So we won't "own" it for sure until next Wednesday.
Holy warp speed, batman!! Spending half a million dollars on anything makes me feel really sick, but what can you do? We live in a part of the world where that is what it costs to own 1800 square feet and a yard. Hopefully someday we'll move to a community that has a more reasonable cost of living. In the meantime, I'll just be sick to my stomach while we spend it and then deal with house poverty to some degree! I love this house!!! I'm so happy!! I'm trying to envision which room the baby will be born in....
We sold our house! Hurrah, hurrah!!!

We bought it almost exactly eight years ago and did a massive amount of work on it. We redid every surface except the ceiling; totally redid the bathrooms except for the one bathtub, replaced all the appliances, new countertops, refinished the kitchen cabinets, replaced all the flooring and repainted the whole house twice, plus touchups. We sold it for $135,000 more than we bought it for, which is mostly market value increase but definitely boosted by all the work we (read mostly Brent) did on this previous RENTAL with wood panelling halfway up the walls, wood parquet floor in the kitchen, and ugly carpet throughout. Hideous paint. Huge mirrors everywhere instead of decor. But we saw potential.
It all paid off.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I found this amazing new blog called the Brave Girls Club (thanks, tamie), and I adore it. The above art is from their site; check them out here! They're right up my alley...

Long Day!

Today is technically a short day, since we're slipping towards winter solstice with remarkable speed. Thanks for all the advice and votes and comments on my last post; we're going back thru our top two picks tomorrow or the next day, and will hopefully consolidate which one is the right house for us.
Another bonus of the house I like best: I can see the entire backyard from the kitchen sink. Anyone with small kids knows how much peace this small bit of functionality can bring to a parent. =)

Also: fantastic idea of Tamie's, to buy a secondhand jacket! Hello? Fabulous idea. I also like Asheya's babywearing jacket idea, and I had thought of that one but didn't know where to find one. NOW I DO! So thanks! Tonight the temperature is supposed to hit -20 degrees, almost unheard of in this part of Canada. So a good warm jacket is particularly pertinent RIGHT NOW! Every time we go outside Riley starts screaming because he's mad at the cold. Especially when the wind blows, it's hilarious.

Today was a long day emotionally, because the purchaser of our house had a home inspection this morning. Which means a strange man who works as a house inspector comes into our house and pokes around in the crawlspace and attic, makes sure every appliance is in working order, inspects the showers and walls for water leakage and damage, and checks the electrical work. So he found some leaking in our attic, which had me freaking out that the purchaser would get scared away (our area is so wet, being rainforest climate, that water damage is a huge concern, especially in condos and townhouses), that I was literally on the verge of panic attack and had to wake Brent up from a sound, well deserved sleep to talk me down.
Brent worked last night and tonight, so he went to his parents' place to sleep, and I had to stage the house just as if the purchaser is coming for a showing. So we got up early and I threw everyone in the van after they got dressed and we went to McDonald's for breakfast. We never do this, but I figured that of all days, this was a day for a breakfast that helps us cope. Riley drank a lot of juice at breakfast.
We drove the boys to school, I drove back to our house to let the home inspector in, then left to meet a friend for coffee. Riley pooped his pants RIGHT at 9 a.m. as I'm letting the inspector in. Then he peed his pants 3 more times during my coffee date, once ON MY LAP, which is a first for him! He usually gets up and tries to hide before he pees. It was only later that I remembered the extra juice at breakfast. We got home at 12:30 and were both hungry, but the inspection was STILL not finished!! So I sat outside in my van and texted back and forth with my realtor, who is AWESOME, btw, and who was as nerve wracked as I was that today would go well, and eventually phoned and woke Brent up to talk me down.
When they were finally done and we were back inside, Riley peed his pants AGAIN, and I gave up for the day and just put him in a diaper. Jeepers, enough already.

The leak in our attic is around the seal of the roof vent, and not a roof problem. It's minor and can be repaired by our strata at no cost to the purchaser, and it really sounds as though he didn't get scared off by the water, which is great. We just need a new seal, and the moisture will dry on its own.

Cross your fingers and pray hard, peoples!! I'd love to be done with selling, because it's exhausting and because we'd like to move before the baby comes. Tomorrow is the deadline for subjects to be removed. Here's hoping...

At the end of all that, I fed Riley lunch and did some housework, and then picked the boys up from school. When Brent came home, I fell into bed and just rested. I forgot to mention this tidbit:
Riley has developed this weird intermittent habit of waking up in the middle of the night and not settling again for several HOURS. It's weird! I think we've sorted out that he's hungry. I'm not actually producing milk so his milkies can't tide him over til breakfast, and maybe he's having a growth spurt or something, because he just screams and cries and rolls around our bed hassling us for several hours until one of us feeds him. He doesn't ask for food, which is why it took us so long to sort out that he was hungry. And, you know, it's the middle of the night so our brains are not really that functional.
Last night, Riley woke up at 1:30 and fell back asleep at 3:30.
So when I laid down in my bed at 3 pm I had actually seriously earned the right to lie down in bed for a bit. Brent made me tea. So nice!
Then at 4, we had to boogie to Ayden's violin lesson, then Brent went to work and I drove the kids to their grandparents' place so I could go to book club. Book club was awesome but I'm freaking exhausted now, and it was a very long day. I actually feel very dizzy, from being so tired!!
So now that it's almost 1 a.m. I think I'll tuck myself in bed. Wish us luck tomorrow!

I also have a very good link I'll post tomorrow, which is more on the parenting discussion, so stay tuned!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bullet update

-First, I made sweet and sour stewed meatballs tonight, and YUMMY! And thumbs up from everyone! All three boys! I'm not sure I've ever hit a three in one before, especially on the first try. Sauce: 2 cups water, 2/3 cup white vinegar, 1 & 1/2 cups brown sugar, 6 fl oz tomato paste, and one can (8 oz) chopped pineapple bits. Bring to a boil in large frying pan with lid. Mix 3 Tbsp corn starch with 3 Tbsp warm water, and add to mixture JUST before adding meatballs.

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 egg
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Mix, ball, and add to sauce. Boil 20 minutes minimum. Serve over rice.

*Added later: Brent came home later and ate dinner, and didn't like them. Best three out of four, I guess...I just can't please everyone....*

-I haven't heard back from my midwife's office regarding my lab work last Wednesday, so I'm assuming I *don't* have gestational diabetes??? I'm assuming with a small measure of reservation, because you never know. Something could get missed, or be slightly elevated, or it could be assumed that GD can wait til my next appointment which is next week. Mostly, I'm pretty sure I don't have it and that the test came back normal, which is cause for celebration and relief, which I'll confirm after my next midwife appointment! =)

-We accepted an offer on our house on Monday, subject to financing, review of strata documents, and a home inspection: all subjects will be removed next Tuesday so we'll know for sure if we sold our house by then. I'll keep you posted! We're reserving celebration on that one, too!

-We looked at eight houses on Thursday. Our realtor told me we should go look only if I hold back my emotions and don't get too attached to any one house. IMPOSSIBLE. I fell in love with one house, which is perfect for us, and in pretty close love with another house right next door to the first one! Brent fell in love with my 'pretty close' and in pretty close love with my 'in love,' so now we have a dilemma on our hands...
We won't offer anyone anything til next Tuesday anyways, because it's better to offer without a subject to the sale of your own house, and was our entire motivation for selling first and not buying or seriously searching. Yesterday and much of this morning I was praying hard for God to change Brent's mind and make him fall in love with MY #1 pick, and then sometime this afternoon it all got to emotional and my brain quit and I don't care if we live in a box on the street or a hole in the wall anymore.
Ah, house hunting. So glamorous.

-I made chocolate pie yesterday. Holy crapola was it GOOD, and am I baking or what?!?!! This chocolate pie took 10 minutes. No joke! If you want the recipe you have to leave me a comment. =)

-I've suddenly realized that I'm The Birth Woman amongst my friends. Four women in the past few weeks have contacted me for information on their pregnancies! And in all four cases, their pregnancies are secrets, or one case of still to come. Which has me pretty stoked, to be entrusted with early pregnancy secrets, and to be trusted as a source of information on healthy pregnancy and access to birth options. Hooray for Mothers of Change, facebook, and blogging, because that's how many of them discovered my birth nuttyness and propensity for researching everything birth related. I actually enjoy reading research publications on birth. They are really interesting!! Anyways, I'm excited to help people find the resources they need to have the birth they want (or as close as possible). It's not quite BEING A MIDWIFE, but it's cool.

-Ayden has hit his groove with violin lessons. Hurrah! I knew he'd enjoy it if we could just find a good way for him to learn, and his teacher nailed it with a book that teaches beginners how to read music. He's such an avid reader, and such a visual learner, that I knew he would like reading music, and he really does. It frees him up to feel successful and focus on something other than the scratchy sound from his 1/8th sized violin. He can even practice without me sometimes! And he loves it when we play together, and this book has two part harmonies where he plays only open strings, and I play a harmony that goes with it (actually the melody) and it sounds real pretty without being super difficult for him. At his most recent lesson all three of us played together and that was pretty fun.
It's good for me to pick up my violin again after so many years of it gathering dust in my closet. I took lessons from age 4 to age 18, and continued to play for another 4 years after that, so I really missed the hiatus. Ayden's teacher has leant me some fiddle books and I practice those and she and I play while Ayden listens, too.
AND his teacher is someone we know from our old church, very sweet and kind, and she invited me to her prayer group on Tuesdays which was cool! I used to be a prayer warrior. Now I'm a survival and gratitude pray-er. You know, the HELPMEHELPMEHELPME or the THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU type of prayers. Digging in deeper again was nice, and I need the discipline of an outside source and an established schedule to get me to do it, so this is a good start.

-Brent and I have been going to a marriage course for the past 7 weeks, put on by our church. I mentioned it before. It was a good course, but I think mostly it was stuff we already practice. The good tips we got from it were gleaned in the first class, and that was to remember to spend focused time together where we give each other undivided attention more often (we spend tons of time together but feel guilty asking family to babysit for us to go on dates, and don't know any teenagers who babysit, making focused time together hard to come by), remember to be more affectionate, and to pray together. Otherwise, the rest of the course wasn't really that...helpful? It was a good course but I guess not for fine tuning. More for establishing foundations.

-Tonight Ayden and I went to an orchestra concert for a date. I wanted him to hear some violins in action, and he liked it. He didn't LOVE it, and we didn't stay after intermission because i could tell he was getting bored, but he liked it. We went for ice cream at Marble Slab afterwards. YUMMY! Nice mommy son date! =)

-It was incredibly cold today, and there was snow on and off, though it didn't stick and the boys were royally disappointed. I wasn't really, because all their winter gear is in their grandparents' barn awaiting our move, or our retrieval, which is what is going to have to happen instead. Hats, boots, scarves, mitts, winter jackets, snow pants...
I also have this huge dilemma in that no jacket fits around my belly, and it's too cold to have my coat undone. I get reaaaaalllly cold, really quickly--Brent's jackets fit me, but then he's needing said jacket on cold days. Do I buy a jacket just for the next 14 weeks? If the baby is full term but early, like 38 weeks, I'll only need that jacket for the next 12 weeks. But I really need that jacket. All of me shivers violently in the wind. When it rains, my belly gets wet.
On a related note, I can't wear regular pants anymore because even with the elastic, the seam where the fabric turns into regular pants fabric cuts my belly and hurts like hell. With Riley when i hit that point it was warm weather, and I had several comfy shorts and 2 pairs of capris that were made of very stretchy, comfy fabric that were like wearing pyjamas. Capris are a no go this time of year! I was desperate, and out of the blue my friend Dana came to town and brought a bagful of maternity clothes for me!! She specifically brought clothes that are most comfortable for the final stages, when normal clothes cut into your skin and everything is uncomfortable--isn't that thoughtful?! Two skirts in particular I haven't stopped wearing since she was here, and thankfully leggings are in because I wear those underneath to keep me warm. I wore her black dress tonight for the orchestra concert, and she brought several shirts as well. She's a LIFE SAVER! Three cheers for awesome friends who do thoughtful things!!
When you know it's your last pregnancy it makes it harder to buy maternity clothes.

-I sure hope I have a girl. My neighbor, who has 3 girls and a boy, is always 'reassuring' me that girls are way harder and have attitude and never shut up and are more high maintenance, and are SO DIFFERENT from boys, but I hate this. Kids have personalities. Period. Stop sticking them in boxes of 'boy' and 'girl,' and just treat each one as a whole person instead of a gender in kid form. And how reassuring is that? It's a psedo insult, because I have three boys so my life is therefore easier than hers, because boys are so much easier. Hello? My house SHAKES from their antics, my stuff is all broken, and no furniture is safe from being climbed or tipped. Having kids is work, whether they are boy kids or girl kids. I'd like to experience both. That's all.

-Here's my #1 pick for houses
-Here's Brent's #1 pick for houses
-votes? (note the matching playhouse in the backyard of my #1 pick)
(note also, you can see Brent's pick in the background of my pick's yard photos. They're next door neighbors)
(note, although Brent's is bigger, mine is better)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Simone Virk

Yesterday I went to a birth event in Vancouver! I went to an ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) guest speaker event. Simone Virk is a Dutch midwife and she did a presentation on midwifery in Holland that was incredibly interesting and informative. She also presented a book she helped translate into English which she's hoping will help change the medical approach to childbirth and radically improve outcomes for women and babies around the world. It was fascinating!
The presentation was at the home of a famous and controversial non registered midwife in Vancouver, Gloria Lemay. I was intimidated to meet her because she's so famous and so emphatic about LOTS of things, including the weaknesses in the concept of the registration of midwives/midwifery. She disdains lots of OTHER famous people in the birth world (big name doulas in our area, obstetricians in our area (including natural birth friendly ones), the Power to Push clinic supervisor, etc) so it's a bit intimidating. She's kind of angry. I mean, in a good way: she pushes for change, change, drastic change in our culture's approach to birth, but sometimes that kind of emotion can be isolating, especially if you want to change the entire culture, rather than the small group of already like minded people in your circles. There is a lot that is broken in our medical system's approach to pregnancy and birth, but most members of our society don't know that this is so. You can't expect to affect change by approaching culture with your fists swinging about an issue that culture isn't aware exists! And you can't really expect to change medical culture without consumer driven pressure on the system: changes come about because families ask for that change, and enough families ask often enough that medical culture starts to try and integrate it into the system. Canadian medicine is STILL affected by consumer pressure, even though we can't 'vote with our feet' the same way Americans can. Well, we could. But we don't.

Anyways, Gloria turned out to be nice, and welcoming, and VERY interesting to listen to: despite the anger she's still got a lot of logic and some really amazing stories to tell.

I also met the writer for Cesarean Parents Blog, and a follower of Mothers of Change, who heads up the ICAN group in Vancouver. She was hoping to have Mothers of Change come to do a presentation at one of her ICAN chapter meetings, so hopefully we can iron out some details and make that happen soon.

It was interesting to be in a room with so many birth junkies from vastly different spheres: lay midwives, non registered midwives, registered midwives, DONA certified doulas, non certified doulas (purposely rejecting certification, as opposed to not qualifying), and birth advocates like the ICAN chapter leader and some other women. I'm conservative. Like, really conservative. I want to go to UBC and become a registered midwife and work 'in the system,' so I'm VERY conservative. (Which is why coming into contact with these women is so valuable; it rounds out my systemetized approach with some valid dissonant voices). Never mind the fact that I'm a protestant Christian who goes to church every sunday and teaches her kids Bible stories and has only ever had sex with one man. I wonder if they'd even allow me to call myself a feminist?

In the church I'm a radical for being a feminist and endorsing gay marriage, and for being a (non Thomas Kincaid) artist, and often for challenging the medicalized birth trends in our culture. Definitely a radical for breastfeeding in church.

In Gloria's living room I'm a stuffy conservative prude.

Good thing I like who I am and prefer to be different from whatever group I'm in at the time, not fundamentally but as a variation! I need community, but I need to feel a bit distinct from each community I'm a part of, too. Which isn't WHY I believe what I do about feminism or the medicalization of birth!
Anyways, it was a good day!

The Secret to Success

Those of you, friends, who have followed my blog for years will remember my permanent struggles with domesticity: in particular, housework. I've conquered cooking and even love it now, and I'm beginning to conquer baking (the other night I made pumpkin pie and pumpkin tarts that were very popular and very delicious). And I've discovered the key to success when it comes to housework. Well, there are several keys. First of all, set the bar low. If you don't care if food is on the floor beneath the table for several days, it bothers you a lot less when you don't have the time or inclination to sweep =)
Another key is to focus on the final step of a task. This I have only recently put together in a way that is workable for me! For example, emptying the dishwasher of clean dishes is the key to keeping the kitchen clean. And folding laundry. Gah. For years laundry as a whole was this ridiculous insurmountable task that got exponentially worse with every child we added to the family. But pre sorting was a huge step towards manageable laundry piles! This was great, so we finally almost always had enough clean laundry for everyone. But much of the time the kids were rifling through Mt Laundry in my hallway or on our bed for socks, pants, and underwear in the morning.
Then the cat started peeing on Mt Laundry so we moved it to our bed, which was problematic when we went to sleep. I knew I had to stay on top of Mt Laundry (the clean pile) to conquer my laundry woes, but it wasn't until I discovered folding it in front of the tv that I really accomplished this.
Hurrah! Two major housework issues resolved: focus on emptying the dishwasher, and folding and putting away laundry. Funny how a shift in focus can make such an enormous difference with problems. Now that we're selling our house, I finally feel like it's under control as far as organization, which is also key to maintaining a happy level of comfortable messy/clean ratio.
We have a small Mt Laundry in our bedroom right now--this isn't perfect--but it bothers me less when it's not chronic.

Such a boring post topic. But such a cool thing for me, after years of piled up dishes in the kitchen and Mt Laundry in my hallway/bedroom. We'll tackle that mini mountain tonight when the kids go to bed and we start the mini hibernation winter tv brain freeze. One advantage to watching television: it helps us keep up on laundry!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

FB Idiot Tagged

I got tagged by Breanne on FB but don't know how to tag her back, so I thought I'd copy and paste it here since she reads my blog, and the rest of you can be bored by random trivia about me as well


8:00, what a blissful sleep in!!!




Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Squeakel? No, I saw Eat, Love, Pray with my friends Ro, Bev, and Cori


Criminal Minds (note to self: don't watch Criminal Minds marathons when your hubby's on night shift)




Oatmeal with mashed banana and cinnamon, and milk


Indian food: especially Paneer Tikka and samosas, I also love cilantro, fresh salsa, vegetarian dishes including greek, Mexican, and Indian, homemade plum perogies with sour cream, good borscht, dark chocolate, fried spinach with butter, tzatziki, gingerbread, whipped cream with no sugar, decaf lattes, chocolate croissants, steamed CRAB with butter and fresh steamed veggies, salads of all sorts though I am particular about my dressings, and pizza. Just a few favorites. I might evolve into a true foodie soon.


During this pregnancy, SALMON.

Normally, anything with too much meat or which is bland. Russian food is pretty gross, as a whole.


At home


Changes all the time: usually a vinegarette, or oil, garlic, lemon juice, mustard seed, and a dash of honey


A big ugly minivan Dodge Grand Caravan that really likes to eat gas but fits all my kids and my dog


pyjamas, leggings and long sweaters, sweat pants


Isreal, Thailand, Africa, West Europe




Evening after everyone's in bed and it's just me and Brent






I love watching birds! Sometimes I remember to look them up


NIGHT. Fortunately I married a night person, and have 2/3 night person kids. We're in sync, except for that one morning guy....


My cat Paige (I love cats) and my stinky, large, well behaved, pain in the ass dog Simon


We're 2 inches from an offer on our house


A writer


So many goodies! Food, family, tearing around the woods behind our house, riding my horse, traveling across Canada with my mom, siblings, cousin, auntie, and grandparents in 88.


Cats. Hands down. My BFF says how can you like an animal that sits on your lap and purrs while you pet it, and then without warning turns around and bites your hand? I like unpredictability, what can I say. I don't like high maintenance pets, I guess. And the dog love feels a bit like having an adoring parasite hanging around. And cats smell better.

Though i still love my dog!


You betcha


Mostly. My car dings at me incessantly if I don't. Sometimes I don't at work


Innumerable: witnessed and scraped up off the road and experienced


People who dump their household crap outside the donation bins in parking lots, noisy chewing, Kissing my prickly Movember husband






Haagen Dazs chocolate chunk




My realtor




I'm not that good at spontaneous


Yummy with homemade cheese sauce: otherwise a weird pain in the ass vegetable




Brent last Monday evening


Toy Story 3 for the 50,000th time




when I'm done breastfeeding



Consider yourselves enlightened! And tagged, all of you!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Glucose Tolerance Testing, and other tortures for Pregnant Women

Wednesday I had the two hour Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT), 75 gm. Although I'm pregnant with my fourth child, this is the first time I have undergone this test, so forgive me my ruminating about it =) When I was pregnant with Ayden, I was not 'offered' things so much as 'told' or 'not told,' so when my doctor didn't offer me the GTT test, I didn't know it existed. It wasn't like I chose not to have it: presumably she figured I had no risk factors for it and thus didn't need to be tested, since she tends to be hands off that way.
I doubt if Matthew's birth mother was tested, but perhaps diabetes in pregnancy is a growing concern in Thailand too. I doubt it, but perhaps.
With Riley, I contemplated the pros and cons of this test pretty heavily, because I had had a 9 lb first baby and and untried pelvis and a rather hefty desire for a VBAC. In the end, for various reasons, I refused the test and chose instead to eat an extremely healthy diet, and exercise regularly. I ate next to NO sugar. No honey, no maple syrup. Whole grains ONLY, no white bread, no white pasta, no potatoes, no white rice. Lean protein. Tons of veggies. No juice. No dried fruit.
I swam, did step aerobics, did yoga, walked, did water aerobics, pilates, and Tae Bo. Not all in the same week, but I sure did try hard to exercise.
And I had a 10 lb, 2 oz baby.
Did I have gestational diabetes? Maybe. Or maybe I just have big babies. I dunno.
Maybe this reality, that I ate so well and grew a small heifer anyways, is partially to blame for the fact that I eat sugar this time? Not tons of it, but I can't muster any enthusiasm for total abstinence like I did last time. Regardless, I went for the test. Because if I just grow big babies, I can trust my body to birth them. But if I have a pathological flaw that grows big babies, I have more fear of them getting hung up on the way out, and I'm willing to do what it takes to avoid that and control my blood sugars.

The test itself was awful. I had to fast 12 hours, go to the lab at 8 a.m., have my blood drawn, drink 10 oz of thick, sugary fluid in under 5 minutes, and wait at the lab for 2 hours and get more blood drawn at 1 hour after drinking the fluid and 2 hours after. Two sips into the fluid, I wanted to barf. Sweet stuff always makes me want to barf this time around, and 10 oz of sugary fluid on an empty stomach first thing in the morning was torture. My lab tech told me about women who get 1.5 hours into the test and THEN barf, and have to do the whole test again! Blech. Fortunately I didn't puke, and the two hours of sitting in a room reading my book quietly was a bit like a mini vacation from my life, so that was nice. I finished my Politics of Breastfeeding book and will do a review soon. I felt like I was in a vampire factory with the amount of blood drawn for this test, and the lab tech was pretty terrible at venipuncture: she didn't anchor the vein properly and she poked the needle in slowly so it hurt more. Some techs or nurses or paramedics who are really good at IVs can start them and it doesn't hurt at all, and others are hopeless. This one kept making suggestions for me, too. Do you want to read this book while you wait? ["All About Babies"] No thanks. This one? ["The Pregnancy Bible"] This is my fourth kid. OH! You could probably write your own book then!
Yeah, it would be titled Want To Feel Incompetent And Tired? Have Children! A How To Guide for Drowning in Guilt and Anxiety.
Ha, ha.

The test sucked. I find out Monday what the results are. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Grace Based Parenting

I'm not sure if everyone's busy, or if everyone has simply said their say! But I wanted to add some thoughts about grace, when it comes to parenting.
There is a book out there called Grace Based Parenting, which I have heard is good and haven't read myself. But the idea of grace based parenting for me, includes reciprocal grace. See, I think that often parenting gets overthought these days, and parents paint themselves into a corner of having to do it perfectly or they'll mess up their kids. There's no built in grace, no acknowledgment of the impossibility of parenting perfectly, nor how unhealthy it is to place a parent into a Godlike role: fulfilling a child's every psycholgical, mental, or emotional need so that child will grow up to be a perfectly balanced adult with no faults, regrets or wounds. This pressure is enormous, and I really think it represents a frame of mind that is backwards.
For example, if you asked an adult who was getting married to be perfect for the remainder of the relationship, you would set that adult up to fail. A healthy marriage isn't one in which either spouse is perfect all the time, or patient all the time, or never yells! It is an interconnectedness, coupled with a healthy approach to conflict or managing mistakes, that makes for a solid marriage. It is the same with parenting. A spouse can make us absolutely miserable if they are disconnected from us, or lash out or withdraw emotionally every time they are upset and don't effectively apologize and strive to do better. But the same spouse can make us very content in life if we DO feel connected with them, and they generally approach conflict openly and without anger: then the times they do withdraw or lash out are way easier to deal with and don't affect the foundation of who we are or how we feel.
I think we tend to think of married adults as inevitably going to hurt each other, and that this is okay as long as there are apologies and attempts to do better.
Children are actually more resilient than adults are, when it comes to conflict, major transitions, and dealing with adversity; so why are we so certain we will irreprably damage them with our parenting if we do it "wrong?"
This is such an impossible task, I don't blame anyone for second guessing ever wanting to have children!! We need grace, and acceptance of our weaknesses, and our failures. And we need to know that we are enough because of who we ARE, not what we do--including in our relationships, and who we are is loved by God. If we take the focus off becoming the perfect parents and onto who God is: Grace, and redemption, and enough to fill all of our wounds, we will stop striving towards perfection. Otherwise, it resembles the tower of Babel and we become our own gods.
My cousin Tonya and I were talking about this and she had some insightful thoughts:

Maybe we just need to accept that all of our children will be critical of our parenting. :-) I mean, we're all going to screw it up somehow! Guess we need to start teaching our children about grace at a very young age and hope they will have grace for our mistakes when they are older! [It] isn't necessarily about the method we use, but about the RELATIONSHIP we have with our children. That knowing your child, knowing what works for that child, loving that child despite their flaws, seeking forgiveness from our children when we screw up ... And we will screw up!!! :-) AND, such a great thing to remind people about - we are not God. We cannot do it all for our kids. We have to have grace for ourselves in parenting. [And in talking about her own parents and their imperfections:] But, you know what, I have grace for THEM. I know they weren't perfect, but I'm over it. I'm not going to dwell on how they screwed up. What is the point? Now, my parents were certainly far far from abusive, so I am not saying this to those who were abused. That is a whole different thing. I'm right back to the grace thing. :-) Let's focus on learning about God's grace for us and teaching God's grace to our children and pray that our children will have grace for us when they are older.

Of course, parenting is an enormous responsibility, and we don't want to absolve ourselves from that nor be thoughtless about it. But the goal is NOT perfection, the goal is interconnectedness and good conflict management, and methodology needs to drive us towards close attachment and reasonable conflict management with our children. That seems so much more beautiful in the end, anyways. I have grace for my childrens' faults and for my own, which models what I ultimately want my children to have, also. Grace for the faults and shortcomings of others, including myself, and grace for themselves in their own. If I model relentless drive for perfection as an individual, even in one area, even in a supremely important area, I teach my children to treat themselves that way also. When I show myself grace, I model showing grace to oneself. And that is more important to me than that my children grow up perfectly healthy and balanced in a manner that reflects well upon ME.

If I want them to be kind to themselves, I need to model kindness towards myself. And to model an appropriate posture before God: if I acknowledge my need for Him I also acknowledge His Grace, which I wish for my children to know at a deep level as they grow.

I would venture a guess that methodology is less important than interconnectedness, in parenting. Interconnectedness, and attachment, is limitless. There is no perfect score, and there is no measure for it. We simply strive to go deeper into it, and therein we find peace.