Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ah, the silence.

Three boys are at a sleepover at Gramma and Grampy's house.

One husband is working.

One baby is sleeping.

One momma is blissing out on the couch, reading birth stories and eating chips.

Earned vacations are always so much sweeter...

A Little Indulgence


I'm not a royal watcher.
I don't follow the latest shenanegans in the U.K, and I could give a crap who marries who and what their lineage is.

But last night (fortunately, as it turns out) I fell asleep at 9 when I went to put Amarys to sleep. She woke up at 4 a.m. this morning, freaking out and pooping, keeping her dad up when he should be sleeping in for his night shift tonight. So after an hour and a half of trying to settle her back down I brought her to the living room and turned on the t.v. Precious little is on at 530 a.m. so I wound up watching Charles and Diana's wedding from 1981. Indulge me a little here.

Whew, that was a hoopla of a wedding, wasn't it? Big fanfare. Gigantic dress! Tons of sparkly diamonds and some pretty insane hats. TLC does these pop up trivia things when they show events from the past, and the trivia is pretty hysterical. Much of it is neutral, interesting information regarding princes and princesses, how old the pageboys were and how old they are now, but some of it is a bit snide; "Prince Andrew is the only one of the Queen's children not to get divorced," or "Camilla Bowles is in the audience." It's pretty hilarious to watch with the pop ups. And infuriating to watch stuffy Prince Charles act out a charade, stupid prat.

I can't handle Prince Charles. I think he's an idiot and I hold him partially responsible for Diana's death, since she wouldn't have been where she was if he would have either (a) not married her in a charade in the first place, or (b) stepped up and given himself to his family instead of Camilla.
Maybe that's a bit harsh.
By all reports he was a decent dad. So there's that.

Then I watched Kate and William's wedding, because it was on after the Diana and Charles fiasco. The fame surrounding them is a bit weird. I'm glad they seem happy, and it is historically interesting to watch a wedding like that, in places I've read about but never seen (Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, for example), and to speculate on what family life is like for royalty. At the end of they day, everyone poops, we all give birth the same, and we all need the same things growing up. Love and security, attentiveness, and opportunities to play and grow.





Ah, royalty. So much fuss, over nothing but status, hey?
And now I should go, because someone has put a blanket over my baby's face. I wonder how long she's been sitting there like that? Being number four has its ups and its downs.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Adventures In Stay-At-Homing

Today I tried an experiment. After school Matthew's behavior was over the top ridiculous. As in, almost tipped the kitchen table on its side ridiculous. Found on the very top of our trampoline's netting support (approximately 15+ feet off the ground) in his underwear ridiculous. Riding the dog ridiculous. SO. I knew that the root cause of his behavior was a need for exercise, but I also needed to start dinner so I couldn't take him anywhere for a walk or bike ride. Amarys was screeching in my ear (when I say this, I mean literally, because her favorite spot is in my arms, looking over my left shoulder. So her voice is right by my ear), and Riley was flailing and crying in classic two year old style, and I was sweating. Trying hard not to beat anyone. You know, just another day at the office...
I gave Ayden my watch, and sent them to the park BY THEMSELVES. They left at 4:10 and were under strict instructions to return at 4:30, which they did. They had a rapid fire lecture about safety, don'ttalktostrangersdon'tgetinanyone'scardon'tgoanywherewithanyonesticktogetherifanyoneweirdshowsupcomehomekeepyourclothingONmatthewrespectotherpeoplespropertylookbothwaysbeforeyoucrossthestreetcomehomeontimeactresponsibly!!!
and off they went, on their bike/scooter. It worked. Amarys fell asleep on my left shoulder and I started the meat thawing in the microwave and spent 15 minutes on the floor playing blocks with Riley, making him feel special, which evaporated the flailing. When they came home Matthew acted like a normal child again. WHEW! Experiment successful. =)

Amarys shot through six diapers in ten minutes tonight. During dinner. It's always during dinner, isn't it? Its funny, I thought I would miss cloth diapers more than I do. I actually don't feel guilty at all. I did my part! I scrubbed lots of poos! In our old place we had our original washer die a sudden death with a load of poopy diapers in it. That was really fun to scoop out. Yup, I washed my own for 2 kids, paid a service for another, and now? I'm all conventional and bad for the environment and stuff. Her ass just can't handle cloth. In fact, it can't handle most disposables, either! Fortunately the brand she likes is the Walmart brand, one of the cheapest ones! SCORE!

I miss cheese. Have I said that before? Jeepers I miss cheese.

Monday night I had an emotional meltdown because Amarys screamed for hours and then shit on me. Another grenade launched shit, after she peed on me earlier and puked on me so bad: one of those been-in-the-stomach-for-awhile, curdy, nasty smelling milk pukes, and it got in my hair, on my shirt, on my pants, and even soaked into my underwear. After she pooped on me I left her on my bed half undressed and SLAM locked myself in my bathroom, turned on the shower and the sink full blast to cover up the sound of her screaming, and cried on the toilet. My bathroom is about 3cm x 3cm to begin with; fill it with steam and tears and it feels like its shrinking in on you like the trash compactor in Star Wars. Thank God for Brent, who put her to sleep while I cried and then listened to me cry about how I just can't handle her touching me anymore...
Some nights are rough.

Riley is cute, though. I mean, when he's not breaking $400 violins. He's got ladykiller eyes and a pretty cute lisp. He calls our dog, Simon "Hymen" because he can't pronounce initial 's' yet. And when he can't hear you he cups his hand behind his ear and says, "What you hay?" In fact, today we started working on saying "Pardon me?" instead of "WHAT?!" which he says top volume a kapillion times a day until I want to rip my eyeballs out with my bare fingers. In frustration. But the "What you hay?" with the hand behind the ear is pretty cute. He also says, whenever you say "Maybe later," "Maybe next weekend!" And he's quite satisfied waiting for the perpetual "next weekend" that somehow never arrives. And of course there is the chorus of "Me hungee!" that goes on and on like 99 bottles of pop on the wall.

I'm pretty much Stay At Homing now. Which crept up on me. I think stay at home moms are cool. Like, really cool. I know lots and they're pretty well all neato people I admire. But I've never been one. Since Ayden was born I haven't really worked full time except for short stints for some reason or other (like supporting my husband through 6 months of unpaid training for a job he now loves), but I have always worked some. Apart from maternity leave, of course. I love Canada for its mandatory 52 week paid parental leave (mandatory that your employer give it to you, not that you take it off), paid by the government (55%, and some employers top up). It was never this huge deal to decide whether to return to work or not because my babies were walking, talking, infrequently nursing toddlers by the time it was an issue. I liked my job, we could use the money, we made it work in a way that prioritized our kids first, and it worked.

So that was that! It worked for us and I figured it always would. But add a third. And add a fourth. And now it is logistically ridiculous for me to go to work at this point in our lives. I work once a week and suddenly our house and kids' schedules are chaos, no one has clean underwear, and there's so much dog fur on the floor we have a hard time discerning which ball of hair is the dog. It makes no sense to pay someone to look after four kids while I work, that would cost my entire salary, and I hate playing pass-the-kid baton toss with my husband as we both run full speed ahead and don't get any rest. So, I quit my job. (or I plan to when my maternity leave is up next March).
I have plans, as you know. I'm sloooowly starting my own business, curious to see where it will take me. I'm still keeping one eye on midwifery school (Seattle Midwifery School recently merged with Bastyr University and now their program grants a MASTERS! Midwifery training and a masters degree? Seriously the better choice....now if only I could rustle up $50,000....no, I'm not exaggerating for the sake of humour, that's the actual price tag....). I'm considering art instead. But effectively I'm a stay at home mom. This is weird for me. Like I started life with an asphalt roof and wood siding, and suddenly I'm sporting cedar roof tiles and vinyl. An inside out switch. I never minded cedar and vinyl, I just always figured it wasn't what I was. Its not the most artistic metaphor, but roll with me here! I feel a little bit suffocated. And a little bit relieved. And I have a lot of trouble letting Brent be the only breadwinner. I constantly feel like I'm borrowing his money to buy groceries and gas, and I never spend money on my own clothing items or anything because I feel guilty. Like I stole from his pocket money and spent it on myself. And I feel guilty because there's millions of women around the world who don't even consider work vs. stay at home because without their income, the family starves. I feel like I owe it to them to stay in the work force and show my appreciation for my education and job opportunities, or something.
About as effective as finishing your chicken just because there are kids starving in Africa. I know. But I can't get those women out of my head.
Plus I love to work. I really do. I work really hard at home, I take care of my kids and house and invest in my friends and extended family and passions such as birth advocacy and doula care for my friends (not so passionate about doulaing for women I don't know). But there's something about putting on special clothes and getting up early in the morning and driving off to do something for the larger world that pumps me up. And then the type of work I love is hands on, has compartmentalized tasks with inherent completion and a sense of accomplishment, and is constantly changing. Different every hour. Every minute. It also has a life or death, fly by the seat of your pants quality to it that stay at homing just can't compete with. I mean, having four kids I certainly fly by the seat of my pants on a daily basis! But the life or death element is missing. There is a ton at stake OVERALL, but not a ton at stake that day, or that very minute, you know? If it takes eighteen years for a mistake or success of mine to show fruit, it's harder for me to get all pumped up about it. I prefer success or failure to wrap up within about a two hour time frame.
=)
It's hilarious! But actually accurate.

I guess the biggest thing about stay at homing is that I didn't expect it. I've considered it heavily over the years and definitely looked square in the eye at the possibility, but each time I chose to balance work and family because it fit me best, and was workable for our family. I think what I'm trying to say is that it still feels like it fits me best but is no longer workable for our family, or for me. I refuse to live in such a way that I feel rushed, harried, over scheduled, over tired, depleted, scattered, or too busy. I don't want ten or fifteen years to brush past me without me noticing, and me get to the end of this phase of my life and think, gosh I missed something really fundamental there...living it while it's happening to me! Working and having this big of a family was starting to feel like that. It got to the point where I didn't really consider stay at homing anymore, because I had considered it so many times and always come up so clearly in favour of working. But now I'm staying at home.
I know the oxytocin rush from breastfeeding contributes somewhat to this, but every single day, even when I'm being shit on, I'm grateful. So, so, so grateful. I'm so happy! I'm so blessed. I can't believe it, and I don't understand how or why, but I've got this amazing spouse and these four kids who are oozing with specialness and talent and character and intelligence and personality and jeepers, they're all so good looking, and we have this wonderful house and yard and school and family, and it brings tears to my eyes nearly every day. And I'm emotionally balanced. Life has been good to me, even when--especially when--it has been hard. Staying at home now helps me to enjoy it while it's here.
[And sometimes it's hard, to stay at home, to walk away from the job, to *just* be a mom].

Tonight I made taco pie for dinner. And it felt important, that I fed six people yummy food that was good for them, you know? It ain't CPR or driving Code 3 with lights and sirens or wrapping broken bodies up in splints and organizing helicopter landing zones on the freeway, but it's important. And even fun.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bullets

I have such random musings I think I can only do bullets today.

-Remember my pica with Riley's pregnancy? I just realized that I didn't have pica with Amarys. Isn't that weird? I had it with Ayden, too. Maybe it's the boy vs. girl mixture for me, in my body, that makes me want to eat laundry soap and deoderized kitchen garbage bags...
Or maybe this time what was lacking last time wasn't the case [I think pica has been linked with iron deficiency, if I remember correctly]

-My boys have a cold, and Amarys caught it. So far, no fever, and no difficulty sleeping or eating, but she has a cough. It sounds almost like a croupy cough, so I took her to the doctor today. She said it is upper respiratory only so she's just fine. I would have taken her back to the care provider who knows her best, my midwife/naturopath, but because it's beyond the six week postpartum mark, her care is no longer covered and I would pay out of pocket. I don't mind paying out of pocket~we have an appointment for June for well baby follow up at three months of age and that will cost us, but this week we are dirt poor (more on that later) and I was pretty sure a follow up appointment would be necessary, so that means more cost. I was pretty sure my regular doc would be just fine for a cough, so we went that route.

-I'm realizing that I make very few recipes without cheese. Or sour cream. Or milk of some kind. I'm also realizing that I thought I had it tough with other kids' dairy intolerance, but this little girl is challenging that idea. I literally cannot eat a handful of cheddar fishy crackers without paying for it later. Well, Amarys pays with pain, we pay with listening to her scream. Oh. My. GOSH, the screaming. Broccoli is the worst, then dairy. Then onions. Then garlic.

-So Brent's work paid us less than half our paycheque this week. That was nice. It was because of him taking 6 weeks parental leave, his regular pay was interrupted when he returned to work. We had no warning until last Wednesday when I double checked (thankfully) before going grocery shopping and discovered, "Wow! We only have enough money for our mortgage payment and car payment, and nothing left over for groceries or gas! For TWO WEEKS!" Thank heaven for family, willing to share ground beef and hams.

-Matthew's speech just improved by a huge leap. It's funny with speech pathology; you don't notice it's better until it slips back again for some reason. This afternoon he was distracted by the television while he was trying to tell me something, and he stuttered pretty severely. That's when I realized he has been free of stuttering for awhile! Not completely, but nearly normal. He has also suddenly become a good eater!?! He is going through a growth spurt and has a bigger appetite, and has suddenly tuned into his hunger cues for the first time in his ENTIRE LIFE! He ate THREE helpings of one of my casseroles recently, and will clear his plate pretty regularly now. WOW! This is HUGE! We are pretty stunned, because I had pictured myself spoon feeding an eighteen year old a few times, there...
He is also remarkably helpful lately.
I think he's going to make a remarkably interesting adult, as I've mentioned here before. But I also think he's going to be one of those teenagers we all love; cheerful and friendly, funny, charming, outgoing, and entertaining to be around. Charisma. That's what this kid has in spades.
And he eats with his hands and talks with his mouth full CONSTANTLY. And farts on demand. At the dinner table. Le sigh.

-Amarys weighs 5.4 Kilos now. As of today.

-It is a new experience for me to have a two year old and an infant, and I have to say, it's taxing. Every time I turn around someone needs me. Not just wants to interact with me, but needs me in a way that requires me physically. Amarys has a constant stream of needs, not just your average infant needs, but some pretty intense personality, sensitive body, and particular emotional needs which draw comfort from me, mostly. She loves her dad and brothers, but when she's upset she wants me. She's upset a lot.
And when she's not upset, Riley needs me. And often when she is. It's intense.
We make it through okay, I just feel sooooo tired by the end of the day. My saving grace is that my baby sleeps so miraculously. Eleven hours at night, regularly.

-Um, game seven just went into sudden death overtime. HOLY CRAP, talk about INTENSE! If you don't know what I'm talking about, you don't deserve to know. [There's going to be a repeat of the Vancouver Riots if the Canucks lose tonight, I'm sure of it]

-I found out today that latest research is showing a strong link between inflammation and mood disorders, including post partum depression! And that the omega 3 fish oils combat inflammation, which is at least part of how they work [and have worked so well for me for two years]. SO interesting! Inflammation has been implicated in so many illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, auto immune diseases, and now mental illness.

-Riley grabbed Ayden's violin this afternoon and slammed it into the furniture, breaking it in several places. We RENT this violin from Long and McQuade, dudes. Then a few minutes after putting the bridge back together and trying to make it playable, Brent found Ayden and Riley wrestling on the bed with the violin right next to them. OMG. There IS such a thing as justifiable homicide, right? Is it still considered infanticide if your kids are no longer infants?

-I love my kids. Babies are so wildly intense, and two year olds so CUTE, and school aged kids so remarkably smart and brilliant and funny and interesting to talk to...it's just all so great. Every stage. Even with broken violins and constant scrapping. I'm so blessed.

-That being said, I'm getting better at feeling settled about the idea of being done having babies. This is so hard for me; some days I tell random strangers we might have five, and other days I state firmly that we're done. I love babies. I love intense experiences. And giving birth and caring for tiny babies is about as intense as it gets!

-Sunday evening we had a nerdy night; Brent and some nerds went out to a pub and the girls gathered at Torie's house to visit. I had to bring all my kids, and it was a royal effing gong show. ONE of the four actually went to sleep, and the other ones interrupted me constantly and got exponentially more ridiculous the more tired they got, until finally Amarys was choking on her own spit she was screaming so loud, Riley was wailing, Ayden was flailing around in this way he gets whenever he has to pee but won't admit it, and I was sweating and wanting to cry. It was nearly a waste of time, since I didn't get to visit much at all, but at least I showed up I guess. Finally at 10:30 I texted Brent. At 11:00 he came back and rescued me. I still haven't recovered.

-My yoga studio cancelled the mom and baby yoga class they offer. Bummer.

-Having a girl is pretty cool. On the one hand, there are so many fun accessories! Hair bows and socks and tights and skirts and sweaters...
And on the other hand, it feels sort of gross. Like my baby is an accessory herself. Like beauty means too much. Like external aesthetic is of high emphasis from day one. Like an objectification of an infant.
But then, the accessories are so pretty! And I've been waiting so long to buy those little hair bows...
It must be about balance, and emphasis. Its okay to love pretty, and to celebrate party dresses, and it's okay also to be mistaken for a boy because you're dressed in yellow, or to hang out in your brother's blue onesie with "I'd Rather Be Naked" on the front.
=)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tulip Festival 2011

So this year was our tenth year of visiting the tulip festival! How are we old enough that we've been together for ten years?! Crazy...
In ten years we have missed only one tulip festival, the year Ayden was born. That was because I was hugely pregnant and didn't want to leave town just in case I went into labour. And then we found out Ayden was breech, and there were lots of appointments and tests to deal with that. Otherwise, we have visited Mt Vernon to enjoy their tulips every year! Impressive. I love tulips, they are my favorite flower.
We gathered the kids together on Sunday afternoon, and after the usual false starts--I have to go pee while we're still in the driveway, Me hungee, and Mwa, Mwa, MWAAAAAAAAAAAAA (I pooped, I want boob, I just puked on my outfit)--left town headed for gorgeous fields of tulips. Really, this annual trip is not for the kids. But they are pretty cheerful about it, especially because on weekends Tulip Town sets up a number of pretty spectacular kites, and they have a gift shop and cafe.
The border crossing always makes me nervous. U.S. border guards are scary. But I guess that a mid 30s couple in a mini van with four small kids going to the tulip festival are pretty low risk, because we had no problems getting across. :p
The kids were great. Amarys is a surprisingly good traveller! She slept the whole time. Riley was a horrific traveller from birth to about two years old; he NEVER cried, but on roadtrips? He screamed and screamed. He's great at it now, but it was tough to travel with him for the first bit. We had a hilariously awesome time; Amarys had a diaper blowout at the farthest end of the tulip fields so I had to change her diaper in the grass at the edge of the field with scads of weekend tourists walking by and her screaming like she's dying because its windy and cool and she's only six weeks old so of course she still hates diaper changes. Also, Riley puked all over himself on our way home, strawberry milkshake and french fries in all the nooks and crannies of his carseat. Which was our backup carseat because the chest clip on his regular carseat broke a few days before. What's a family road trip without some major body fluid spillage?!
In between those incidents we visited the tulips, took tons of photos, bought kites for the kids and a framed photo for us, and went to Applebee's for dinner and Krispy Kream for dessert! We had a blast. Here are some awesome photos!






Matthew took this photo below; he really liked
the fact that there was one solo orange tulip
growing in the yellow ones


We try every year to get a family shot and a good
one of each child...some years we succeed, others not so much.
But this one is nice!




I don't know if you have ever noticed, but sometimes
pictures of Matthew are in short supply. this is because he
is always moving, and my photos of him are often a blur.
You can sometimes get him to stand still for a picture
if you ask him to make a goofy face. Then you get a
goofy faced photo...





Mid field diaper change...we had lots of looky loos because
Amarys was screeching and we looked kind of weird


I wanted a daddy-baby shot but Amarys was
not cooperating


At least they look the same???






Here was the first attempt to get a solo shot of Ayden;
I was trying to get him to have a real smile so I was
yelling things about Harry Potter pooping, but the
effect was a little overly funny than I bargained for and
I couldn't get his eyes open because he was laughing too hard
(how can you tell I have boys? Potty humour. It works every time)









This is my favourite photo of 2011





The setup for the family photo--I have
no idea what we are looking at!


And the finished product



















I love family traditions in general, and this one is a favourite of mine. Its a reminder of all the years past that we have visited in various stages of our family history, and of our relationship and how cool it is that we love each other so much and really enjoy each others' company. I know that for me, this man never gets boring or distant, and that our connection just gets deeper every year. He really does make life taste better. ♥ Brent first took me to the tulip festival when we had been dating for two months, because he knew I loved tulips. Who knew we would be going back ten years later with four kids tucked under our wings?
The tulip fields also remind me of my struggles with depression in my late teens and early twenties, because the first year I really started to walk out of that struggle was a remarkably sunny one, and there were lots of brightly coloured tulips blooming. I've wrestled mental illness in different forms for years, and am grateful for everything in my life that helps keep me balanced. Although my kids test my balance, they sure make life worth living, and balance worth striving for! This trip helps me mark each year of family history, and personal journey, with gratitude. And it sure is a kick ass backdrop for photographs...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Grenade launched...

This morning around 6 Amarys woke up just enough to fill her diaper. As I was changing her, she explode-a-pooped and there was so much force behind it, it splattered all over my shirt, approximately two feet away. Seriously, it would have traveled four feet at least if I hadn't been smack dab in the way...
She missed the diaper completely. Which is nice when you pay for each diaper.

Keeping it real around here.

Plus, might I add that given Amarys' evening activities its likely a vasectomy won't be necessary to prevent any more children.
This is her:
Wah, wah, wah, MWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!
Mulitply by several hours.

It's a bit frustrating but mostly I just think its funny. She's far to young to be such a pessimist, but apparently she disagrees! She'll outgrow the evening fussiness. And even, I think, learn to be more peaceful even if momma eats onions or broccoli! Already she's better than she was, because SOME nights she is happy and relaxed and goes to sleep easily at ten. And she sleeps pretty regularly around 11 hours at night (save this morning when she barely woke up for the grenade launched poo and then promptly fell back to sleep). Can I complain? Nope. She's pretty awesome.

Tulip photos to come!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Photog carnival


So I really wanted to share some tulip festival photos with you, but had to stay chronological first...so here are some photos of us lately!


We added another [admittedly dorky, but I love them]
family member sticker to our van


Amarys, five weeks


Ayden plays his violin for someone other than myself, his dad,
and his violin teacher for the very first time...completely of his own
initiative =)


Amarys' general opinion of the world,
particularly after 7 pm


My sister in law came to town with my niece and nephew,
Ella and Ruben, and we walked the Fort to Fort one
afternoon~Riley found this a reason to celebrate...


Ayden, Matthew, Ella, and Riley on the Fort to Fort


My mom has a similar picture of her and I, when I'm
about the same age;


Vose cousins! Who doesn't love the couch lineup picture?!?!
Ayden, Matthew, Amarys, Ella, Riley, and Ruben


Snoozing...


My cousin Sara and her two boys came to visit,
to meet Amarys and hang out with our boys~the older
boys skipped a day of school and we did the Fort to Fort
in the other direction, which has horses to feed and tons of
trail (and meadow) to tear around on


Riley, Ryen, Matthew, Kaleb, and Ayden




Ryen loves babies ♥



Our new house!


Brent mows his very own lawn for the first time in his life!
(our old place had a strata and lawn care by a landscaper)
Isn't he handsome? Hands off, ladies, he's all mine...


Riley and his scooter
('mine tooter')


Ayden 'babysat' Amarys in his room while Brent and I
put their brothers to sleep one night. She was fussy (go figure),
so he gave her a finger to suck on. She fell asleep and then he was
stuck lying next to her until we came in to check on them...
too cute!


Baby fauhawk


Amarys has funny toes~they are all long, and the pinkies
like to stick out at odd angles, like this: