Wednesday, December 28, 2011

First Violin Recital

Ayden was so nervous for his first violin recital.  It took Brent all of twenty minutes to talk him out of the van!  We didn't want to make him play in the recital per se, but we wanted him to give it a shot and not be held back by fear (he said, "I'm afraid everyone will laugh at me!" which of course is not true at a kids' music recital, since everyone is in the same boat and just thinks all the kids are amazing for getting anything resembling a coherent noise out of an instrument).  In the end Suzie got him to warm up, and he was last on the roster so he had a chance to see that many other kids were at a similar level to him.  And then he rocked it, and he was so pleased with the experience in the end!
Sometimes it can be tough to know when to respect your child's space or preference for something, and when to challenge them beyond their comfort zone, in hopes they will discover something they truly like.  I'm not sure Ayden passed into the category of actually liking violin, but he got to experience the joy of performing, and audience applause for a job well done.  Verrrry cute.
We are also taking Ayden out of voilin lessons for the time being, for financial reasons, so this was his first and last recital, for now.  I'm sad because (a) it is a dumb reason to quit lessons, (b) he was hitting his stride with practicing, feeling confident, and learning to like it, and (c) he has an ear and affinity for music, which he was born with.  And also (d) I played violin for years and it was cool to have a kid choose the same instrument I enjoyed for so long.  AND also maybe (e) it was good for Ayden to participate in something that took work to master.  He tends to prefer to master skills quickly and easily, and to quit if he doesn't.  That approach isn't going to particularly help him in life, so challenging him to persist when a skill has a steeper learning curve has been helpful.  Our plan is to 'take a break' from lessons and hopefully return to them when we can afford to again.
Go Ayden!  He played "Good King Wenceslas" and played well.  Most of all, he was proud of himself once he finished, and people were genuinely pleased at his bravery and cuteness.  Woot!

Ayden and his teacher Suzie setting up

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

The night before...
My friend's husky needed holiday dogsitting: she's huge.  Her name is Patty.
Our dog Simon, who is still looking for a new home after 3 false starts
Christmas morning!!
My organized hubs: I do the everyday cooking, he does holiday fare...and does it well
After this point we took no photos because we got wrapped up in cooking and eating and enjoying Great Grandma Vose's company.... It was an awesome Christmas!! =)


My blogger friend Jorje had her baby this morning--congrats to Jorje and family on the arrival of baby Spencer!!  Yippee!!  *jumps for joy* It sure is baby season!!!  =)

Saturday, December 24, 2011


I have a new nephew!!!!  Myles Corbin.  6 lbs 15 oz, born yesterday evening (Dec. 22nd)

Isn't he sooooo cute?!?!!  I can't WAIT to meet him!  [Ruben needed a wrestling partner.... Ella needed Ruben to have a wrestling partner... =)]

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On Schooling

My friend Melissa wrote a series recently about education that I thought was very well done.  She looks at her own childhood experiences with public school and homeschooling in Part I and Part II, then her experience as a teacher and her educational philosophy in her conclusion, Part III.  She's a wonderful expert to have around when discussing education and I really appreciated what she had to say about her experiences; as a student, as a teacher, and now as a parent.  In fact, her series inspired me to write about a few of my own thoughts on education, especially as it pertains to my children.  I like Melissa's approach, which is flexible and open to many possibilities, and above all puts the child's freedom at the centre of educational focus.  I have a soft spot in my heart for Montessori style education; my Aunt Lynne is a Montessori expert and has special training as a Montessori educator.  She doesn't teach at the moment because she's so busy being an expert adviser to the government on early childhood education.  =)  She rocks my socks.

Ayden went to a Montessori preschool.  Both my kids are in a multi aged classroom at their public school which is loosely based on the Montessori method.  If I had my 'druthers, my kids would go to the private Montessori school here in town but at $15,000 per year per student PFFFFFFFTTTTT that's not an option.  So, we have an appreciation for Dr Montessori's educational methods in common (though by far my Aunt Lynne and Melissa would be better experts on me in this area), and I appreciate Melissa's style.

With that segue I'd like to say that I think my fundamental educational philosophy is one of universal access.  I believe in education, period.  I've traveled a bit, and seen a great number of situations involving poverty and lack of access to education, which perpetuates poverty.  I am no expert on the affects of poverty nor its connection with education, but WHO research and experts like Greg Mortenson (from Three Cups of Tea) attest that the link is powerful.
I ascribe to Greg Mortenson's belief that education needs to involve the basics of literacy and mathematics.  In particular, educating girls has a huge impact on community quality of life, and WHO/UN research shows a minimum grade 5 educational level is the bottom line that makes the difference when it comes to changing poverty levels.

I think that some of that translates into a non poverty context as well.  The basic tenets of education is access to it, particularly educational basics~literacy and mathematics.  The reason I mention this in a first world context is because I have seen intense poverty in rural Canada that shocked me to my core.  Much of this was linked to a reduced access to education (amongst many multi layered cultural and social problems).  A good portion of the adults I came across in my work with BC Ambulance in rural areas were illiterate or had only very basic literacy skills.  If a child born into this community were to go to school, it was often with sporadic attendance.  Many of the children had major developmental, emotional, social, or learning difficulties and there were few specialized resources to deal with them.  Many families were broken or destablized with little enforcement of school attendance, homework completion, or modelling of literacy skills at home.  It was as though I could map out a child's entire future as I stood in her livingroom, mopping up a bleeding nose or soothing a croupy cough.  Or, alternately, caring for an adult in the house with bleeding kidneys, accidental stabbing with a water glass that tore open the skin down to point where I could see muscles working every time an arm moved, Delerious Tremins, or broken bones, while little ones watched.  Those kids had nothing to look forward to but more of the same; sporadic education, emotional and family chaos, early drop out, high teen pregnancy rates, abuse of all kinds, alcohol, drugs, babies, poverty, illness, tragedy, high suicide rate, and low life expectancy.  If that child got up in the morning, ate breakfast, and got to the bus stop on time, she would be delivered one of two local schools.  Both schools struggle with staffing.  Bullying runs rampant.  One of my coworkers' children was sexually abused in the school bathroom by another student.  Fetal alcohol syndrome is high and special education resources non existent.

I know that this is not unique to Canadian remote communities.  Inner city schools in the U.S. are frequently lacking in funding, staff, and specialized support to the point where children slip through the cracks or graduate illiterate every year.  I imagine there are similar social and financial problems in first world countries all over the world, since (in my opinion) poverty has very little to do with a lack of money. 

Suffice it to say, I believe children have a right to education.  There are many wonderful ways to deliver this education, and several poor ones.  Homeschool, unschool, private school, and public school are good, strong options in many cases. 
Both Brent and myself went to public school as children, and went to a private, religious university as young adults.  My brother was homeschooled for one year of his educational career, by my dad, who was a grade six teacher.  I should ask him what he thought of that experience, and whether he thought it was better or worse than public school.  Maybe I will over Christmas when I see him, and I will report back what he has to say!  He had a number of challenges in school, and I know that the educational system itself in the early years was very supportive of him, and in many ways failed him when he was older.  At least, that is my opinion on that topic.  A completely alternative school that was based in the outdoors and emphasized self sufficiency and attentiveness to detail, or apprenticeship for a skilled trade would have been better suited for him (he did do one year in grade eleven in a program much like this, through our city's public school system and did very well.  It was likely the only year of school that he enjoyed).  Hopefully he doesn't mind me sharing this part of his history here on ye olde blog.  I'd like to add that he is a very successful entrepreneur at present, and a loving dad to my niece.

my bro, with Amarys in April

I have mixed reviews of my own educational experience, but believe that overall I was one of those kids who are very internally motivated to learn and would have done well in any educational system.  Brent as well.  I like the idea of attending public school in the early years and developing an inclusive, balanced world view, and then attending private religious university during young adulthood when most people are forming the basis of their spiritual beliefs as separate from their family of origin.  But I believe kids have the right to input in their educational direction and style, and would never push a kid to attend this or that type of school.  I want them to attend school, but where that is or what it looks like is a collaborative thing.  We discussed at length the idea of a multi aged class with Ayden before he entered it, and have discussed this style with Matthew as he entered it also.  Both kids were involved in this decision, although at this age we had the final say.  This is given that we know a bit more about the world in general, and our kids' personal characteristics~not that either kid disagreed with us thus far.
I will say that I think we should have held Matthew in preschool for another year when he was five, because he matures more slowly than his peers of the same age. 

Another fundamentally important value for me is family togetherness, which is harder to create when your kids 'go' to school, as opposed to home or unschooling.  Given this value, we would never send our kids away to go to school until they leave home.  Boarding school is not an option we would entertain.  If we lived somewhere (like the town I started out my career in and described earlier in this post) with limited or no access to high quality school education, we would homeschool.  Since we live close to a number of quality public schools with specialized support systems for kids with learning challenges or unique qualities (like our Matthew)~admittedly not perfect by any means, but at this point better than I could provide at home, we are happy with our choice to send our kids to public school.  Particularly given the wonderful teachers and unique Montessori style class our older kids are in.

So if I'm willing to homeschool in some situations, why not homeschool now?  Hm.  Good question.  Brent does not think homeschooling is right for our family at this time; if I felt strongly otherwise we would discuss it and come to a consensus, but I don't.  Partly because public school is familiar to me and is working for us as far as establishing literacy and mathematics skills, and so much more.  And partly because I was not born to be a teacher.  Parenting involves a ton of teaching, but there is something distinct about teaching from parenting that is not my especial strength.  I'm willing if necessary, but do not feel compelled to choose to homeschool, and don't even really think I'm the best person for the job.  Particularly with a differently-wired kid like Matthew.  I'm not sure my life, my parenting, and my mental stability would be what I want it to be if I homeschooled at this point.  I love my kids, and I believe that if one of them came and asked me to homeschool them, I would consider it seriously, and that there would be benefits for all of us if I did.  But I also think that parenting is a knock em down, drag em out, woah nelly difficult job.  If there is an aspect of parenting I can outsource to an expert and still maintain that fundamental value of family togetherness, I'm getting on that gravy train.  We all have bottom lines, beyond which we are not entirely sure we could maintain a sense of healthy self, and this is mine.  It sounds selfish, but I contest that this would only be true if my kids lacked access to education, or if their fundamental learning style was so incompatible with traditional school as to be fairly unhealthy, like in my brother's case in high school.  I'm willing to give up my life for my kids, but not my self.  This is because (a) a healthy mom is a better mom, and (b) it's my life, too.  And a short one, at that.  And I want more out of it than a world mainly built around educating my children.

This is NOT to say that moms who homeschool have no life.  Or sacrifice their fundamental selves to do it.  Not at all.  This is more an evaluation of myself and my characteristics, my introvertedness, and my intellectual and self actualization needs, than an evaluation of homeschooling parents in general.
It does take a village to raise a child~not as a democratic left wing political statement, but because humans were made to function in community.  If that community is healthy and safe and offers access to public education, I am very happy sending my kids to public school.  For now.  And because they are happy there, and want to be there.  I did not go to school for five years specifically to learn how to educate young children.  Nor did I go to school for a period of time on top of that to learn specialized skills in educating kids with learning needs that are different from the norm, which my precious and intelligent second child needs.  This was on purpose, because for my career I didn't want to be a teacher.

I haven't addressed the private school idea yet, but this post is getting long.  I can see why Melissa divided up her post into three parts!  Suffice it to say that we cannot afford it, and if we could we would choose Montessori school and not religious private school.  We are very religious but within that umbrella, fairly liberal.  There are a few values which we hold that we believe are better taught by immersion in a diverse community rather than a homogenous one, and would choose private school if, say, we won the lottery or something, based on educational ideology and not religious ideology.

I would love to hear other peoples' (respectful) thoughts on this topic, because the whole concept of education is a fluid and developing one, and one that many people have intelligent opinions about.  Chime in!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Natural Parents' Blogger Blitz

I am proud and honored to be volunteer with the Natural Parents Network (NPN), a community of natural-minded parents and parents-to-be where you will be informed, empowered, and inspired. When you visit the NPN’s website you can find articles and posts about Activism, Balance, Consistent Care, Ecological Responsibility, Family Safety, Feeding With Love, Gentle Discipline, Healthy Living, Holistic Health, Natural Learning, Nurturing Touch, Parenting Philosophies, Practical Home Help, Preparing for Parenting, Responding With Sensitivity, Safe Sleep, and so much more! The volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to make NPN the outstanding resource it is also spend countless hours informing and inspiring others on their personal blogs. To close out 2011, the NPN volunteers have come together to provide you with some valuable reading material. Each volunteer has selected either their most viewed post of 2011 or their favorite post and shared the link here. Please take a few moments to visit each post. Our intention is to expand our reach as bloggers and informed parents and parents-to-be who are still growing as we move through our own journeys. Each volunteer has provided links to other social media sites where you can follow them as well. We hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as we enjoyed writing them. We are always looking for new volunteers so please, contact us if you are interested. Just a few hours per month can help other mamas in a huge way!

Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares her Christmas Cookie Swap Blog Hop, which is her fourth annual virtual cookie swap and most popular post of the year. Please stop by and link up your favorite holiday recipe until Dec. 31. You can find Farmer's Daughter on Facebook and Twitter.  
Adrienne from Mommying My Way shares Fear vs. Faith, one of her favorite posts about how often living a life of faith can look like a life of fear, but the two are really quite different. You can also find Mommying My Way on Facebook.
Alicia of Lactation Narration retells the story of her oldest daughter's 5 years of nursing and weaning in her favorite post of 2011, The Weaning Party. You can find Lactation Narration on Facebook and Twitter.  
Amy of Toddler In Tow shares Finding My Mommy-Zen, her most viewed post of 2011. In this post, she shares her desire to balance her own self-esteem by choice in order to parent with peace and compassion. You can also find Toddler In Tow on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, and follow Amyables (Amy W.) on Google + and Ravelry.  
Arpita of Up, Down, and Natural shares one of her most popular posts titled Reflections. This is a beautiful look at the type of mother she wants to be. You can find Up, Down, and Natural on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  
Charise of I Thought I Knew Mama shares Why Do Children Have More Food Allergies Than Ever Before?, her most viewed post of 2011. This post explains the shocking info that one unsuspecting mother discovered when she started researching why her daughter had a violent allergic reaction to eggs. This is a must read post for ensuring the health of your family. You can also find I Thought I Knew Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Stumbleupon.  
Christine of African Babies Don’t Cry shares The Best First Food for Babies, one of her favourite posts of 2011. This well-researched post delves into the healthiest and most nutritious food to feed your baby. You can also find African Babies Don’t Cry on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest.  
Cynthia of The Hippie Housewife shares Gentle Discipline for Toddlers, her most viewed post of 2011. This post describes five gentle discipline tools for parenting toddlers. You can also find The Hippie Housewife on Facebook, Google +, and Pinterest.  
Darcel of The Mahogany Way shares how Babywearing As a Way of Life one of her favorite post of 2011. This post showcases some beautiful woven wraps that she has purchased, traded, borrowed, and sold over the years. Darcel also talks about the benefits of babywearing from the newborn through toddler stage. You can also find Darcel{ The Mahogany Way} on Facebook, Twitter, Her Community for Mothers of Color, and Pinterest.
Dionna of Code Name Mama shares 50 Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids Plus Fun Serving Suggestions, her most viewed post of 2011. Most of these snacks are quick to fix and portable, so you can pack them to send with your child on play dates, at preschool, or to just have handy in the refrigerator for when your child wants to grab a bite to eat “all by himself.” You can find Dionna on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.
Erica at ChildOrganics shares a post that is not only close to her heart, but also her most viewed post for 2011 titled Attachment Parenting in the NICU. This post shares her top 10 tips for parenting should you find yourself with a baby in the NICU. You can also find Erica on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  
Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen shares her personal experience of returning to work, expressing milk, and the ups and downs in between in her 2011 most viewed post, Mama's Milk. You can also find Gretchen on GFC, Blog Lovin', Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Isil of Smiling like Sunshine shares how to make an autumn tree using pumpkin seeds, her most popular post in 2011. This post features a lovely craft activity that you can do with your kids! You can also find Isil on Facebook and Twitter.  
Jennifer of Hybrid Rasta Mama shares 80 Uses For Coconut Oil, her most viewed post of 2011. This comprehensive post provides background information on the benefits of coconut oil as well as outlines 80 uses for it. You can also find Hybrid Rasta Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest.  
Jennifer of True Confessions of a Real Mommy shares her most popular post of 2011, Weekly House Blessing (Otherwise Known as Cleaning Once a Week). This post outlines a once per week cleaning routine for busy moms. You can also find Jennifer on Twitter.  
Joella, the mama behind Fine and Fair, shares An Unusual Gripe with Bebe Gluton, one of her most popular posts of 2011. In it, she discusses the controversy surrounding a "breastfeeding doll" and offers her take on the gender role implications of dolls in general. Fine and Fair can also be found on twitter and facebook.  
Julia of A Little Bit of All of It shares the story of how her co-sleeping relationship ended with her daughter, her most viewed post of 2011. This post shows how her daughter transitioned to her own bed on her 2nd birthday and the emotions involved for her mom. You can also find A Little Bit of All of It on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest.  
Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares True Blessings: White Noise and Grandparents, her most viewed post of 2011. In this post, Kat talks about how she maximizes getting sleep and how grateful and blessed she is to have her parents be so involved in helping and spending time with her kiddos.
Kelly of Becoming Crunchy shares That Cup Does What?, her most viewed post of 2011. This post is one of a series of reviews and information on switching to all natural menstrual products - having heard so many different options and recommendations, Kelly decided to give a whole bunch of them a try and pull all the reviews together in one week for anyone interested in making the switch. This post in particular covers the ins and outs of the Diva Cup. You can also find Becoming Crunchy on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest.
Kristin of Intrepid Murmurings shares a popular post from 2011, something she and her husband made for their girls for Christmas, great for open-ended play and construction: Handmade Tree Blocks. You can also find Kristin on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.  
Lani of Boobie Time shares Helping a Fellow Breastfeeding Mom, her inspiration for starting to blog. This post discusses the importance of fellow moms supporting each other and some tips on having a successful breastfeeding relationship. Lani can also be found on Facebook.  
Laura at WaldenMommy: Life Behind the Red Front Door writes about finally entering "spring" when her child with special needs begins preschool. After battling post-partum mental illness (post tramatic stress disorder) after the preterm birth of her third child, she finally begins to feel healthy and whole again in "It's Fall, Ya'll-Again."
Lauren of Hobo Mama shares On not having an AP poster child, her (OK, second) most viewed post of 2011. Lauren's first child shook her certainty that attachment parenting meant babies never cried and toddlers grew independent — and that's all right, too. You can also find Hobo Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.
Luschka of Diary of a First Child shares Lactivism, Breastfeeding, Bottlefeeding and Mothers at War, one of her most viewed posts of 2011. This post discusses how the breastfeeding/bottle feeding debate causes a division between mothers, leading to the alienation of women and babies, while divisive companies prosper. You can also find Diary of a First Child on Facebook, and Twitter.  
Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shares how With Privilege Comes Responsibility, one of her most viewed posts of 2011. This compelling post explains her strong felt desire to stand up for those less privileged. You can also find Living Peacefully with Children on Facebook.
Melissa of Vibrant Wanderings shares a Montessori-Inspired Checklist for Choosing Toys, her most popular post of 2011. The article outlines some important Montessori principles and how they relate to children's toys, translating that into some simple guiding principles. You can also find Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.
Melissa of White Noise shares Modern Day Wet Nurse, her most viewed post of 2011. In this post, Melissa shares the benefits of human breast milk and human milk sharing. You can also find Melissa at Mothers of Change.
Momma Jorje shares Amniocentesis - What is it *really* like?, one of her most viewed posts of 2011. This open and honest series offers not only the technical process of amniocentesis, but also the emotions involved in awaiting (and receiving) the procedure and a diagnosis. Momma Jorje can also be found on Facebook.  
Moorea of MamaLady: Adventures in Queer Parenting shares Fluoride: Another Reason Breast Is Best, her favorite post of 2011. This post provides research on the harmful effects of fluoride in drinking water for babies and toddlers and ways to limit fluoride consumption in your home. You can also find MamaLady on Facebook and Twitter and her Parent Coaching Site.
Rachael at The Variegated Life is Calling the Muse in her most viewed post of 2011. In this post, she describes how she uses ritual to help her tap into her creative spirit. You can also find Rachael on Twitter and The Variegated Life on Facebook.
Rebekah and Chris from Liberated Family shares Using Cloth In a Disposable Society, their favorite post of 2011. This extensive post provides a lot of information regarding the varied uses of cloth as well as the many benefits. You can also find Liberated Family on Twitter.  
Sarah at Parenting God's Children shares her most viewed post: Confessions of a Breastfeeding Advocate: I Couldn't. She confesses her struggles with breastfeeding her daughters, but shares why she'll continue the good fight. You can also find Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  
Seonaid of The Practical Dilettante offers a science- and reverence-based meditation on The Living Earth, her most viewed post of 2011. This meditation was originally written for Earth Day, but it provides a way to reconnect with your place in the living breathing planet at any time of year. You can also find Seonaid on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.
Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes shares I Recommend (But Moira Likes This Book Too), her most viewed post of 2011. This post is a review of a wonderful book that talks about all the different ways that families can be made up, along with some of why this topic is so important to her family.
Sheryl at Little Snowflakes shares her experiences with tandem nursing in Tandem Nursing – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, her most viewed post of 2011. You can also find Sheryl on Twitter.
Stay tuned for some amazing posts from all of these tremendous bloggers in 2012!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Advent: Peace

Saskatchewan sunset

For an anxioid, peace can be hard to come by.  My brain is hardwired to think everything, every day, is an emergency, and my nine years as a paramedic and some early life experiences reenforced this messed up brain's approach to the world.  I was born with no filter in my mind to allow me to tune out all of our naked, wide open vulnerability to pain and suffering.  And then I walked out into a job world of suicide, house fires, and drowned babies; where death was normal, and heart attacks were every day.  Some nights I still wrestle to fall asleep, even after years of treatment and balance.  Peace is tough.  Every bit of it is hard won.

I think this is true for the human race, entirely.  None of us gets out alive, none lives unscathed, no one arrives at the end intact.  War, poverty, racism... A lack of water, for God's sake; how much more basic can our human depravity get?!  When we find pockets of peace, they are beautiful.  A few years to create art, build civil societies, and have babies are miraculous.  They are hard won and lavish gifts.  Thanks to the law of entropy, they are brief.

For me, peace comes with feeling grounded and still, despite my lack of a filter, despite having no guard in front of my heart and mind, despite the howling possibilities of tragedy.  Life doesn't stop screaming around me; I simply feel my feet on the ground in the midst of it all.  Jesus grounds me.  He roots me to the ground through my children, my husband, beauty, art, music, and laughter.  He roots me to the ground by walking with me.

Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us,
To shine upon those who sit in darkness
and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace

I don't need rescuing from the storm.  I just need to know and be known.

Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I fear no evil;
Thou art with me cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

One more for old times sake...

Newbie Amarys sleeping in my arms

More fun pix

Here's Amarys waving, and Matthew being cute

Double dose of Vose

Who doesn't love to watch cartoons in a basket?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Funny Story II

I took Amarys to the doctor when she had bronchiolitis, and forgot to share this funny thing my doctor said.  First, she said Amarys sure is a calm and peaceful baby.  She really just goes with the flow, doesn't she?

I don't argue with people about this anymore.  Why bother?  I grinned and shrugged my shoulders.

You're a pretty relaxed person, though.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

If I didn't have my polite face on, I would have snorted boogers onto the wall across the room.  Hello, My Name Is: I have an anxiety disorder.  And this is my daughter, I am a pessimist.  Pleased to meet you!  Wow was that awesome.  It made my day.  

Baby in a Basket

Update on Amarys

I forgot to include a few things in Amarys' 9 Months Old post!  She's growing so fast and furious that I want to make sure I get everything down.
She learned just before the 9 month mark how to clap two toys together to make noise.  She doesn't clap her hands yet, but she will clap toys!  Especially if you demonstrate it for her.  She also picks up toys and shakes them to see if they make noise~if a toy doesn't make noise it is infinitely boring and she will drop it unless it seems like an intruiging thing to put in her mouth.
She also climbs stairs (and hearths, which I posted about earlier last week), and has pulled a stocking holder down onto her head by pulling on the stocking attached to it.  We put the stockings away for now and will put them up on Christmas Eve, once she is ready for bed!  She was also climbing from the hearth to the toy box, so I moved the toy box because it is just too high and in close proximity to the stone fireplace for my comfort.  But her latest trick is to climb onto the hearth and then INTO the toy basket I keep there.  And then look triumphant, like she just conquered Everest.
While she falls sometimes, it is generally because she is tired, and not because she crawled off something.  She seems to have a good sense of where the edge is and not to get too close to it (unlike our boys at this age).  She has also learned through trial and error a unique way to climb down from the hearth (she was NOT keen on being taught to roll onto her tummy and then climb down).  She sits on her bum and slides close to the edge until one foot hits the floor, and launches forward.  It works!

She reaches out when she wants to be picked up, and has just discovered that she loves her daddy.  She always put up with him but preferred me, and now she loves him especially.  It is neat to see her face light up when he comes in the room, and to see her reach up for him and engage him in play.  Very special!  She will also follow the kids' voices to wherever they happen to be, and they generally know she's coming because she is a noisy crawler; thumpTHUMPthumpTHUMPthumpTHUMP!  And they make a mad dash to hide whatever is most precious to them because she will wreck it all.  And scream with laughter.  If you are reading a book, she acts like a cat and crawls onto your book and moves in circles on it, and eventually sits down and looks at you like, Aren't I so much more interesting than this piece of paper?  Don't you want to pat me on the head?

Recently however she has discovered that she loves books; in particular her favourite is the Usborne book "That's Not My Monster"~she loves the touchy feely parts of the book, and that she can turn the board book pages on her own.  Her favourite monsters are the hairy eyebrowed one, the red one with green bumpy paws, and the final monster with green, fluffy ears.  She will 'read' that book on her own for up to ten minutes.

The other night we took her to a work Christmas party and she looked so pretty, all dressed up in her white dress and blue tights, with a pink bow in her hair!  She lasted until eleven p.m.  Woot!  But we paid for it the next day because she was CRANKY.  [You might say, DUH, but our other kids weren't like that; Ayden and Riley would sleep in the next day and be just as happy go lucky, and Matthew would fall asleep at 7:30 on the dot regardless of where we were, pretty much.  He would definitely NEVER last until eleven at night]

She's a funny kid.  And oh my GOSH how I love her.  Crazy love.

Spaghetti girl

Crazy hair baby

Daddy's biggest fan

**p.s. After I published this I wanted to add two other new tricks: she waves hello and goodbye when she's in the mood, and she JUST started saying "Uh-oh!" when she drops something.  It sounds more like "Uh-uh" but it has the right intonation and she says it in context.  So cute!**

Quote of the Day

Zwitterions and mindful parenting have a lot in common. A zwitterion is an ion carrying a positive and negative charge. Parents will have positive days filled with powerful, focused, harmonious energy. Parents will also have negative days where the vibes are off center, nothing seems to align, and at the end of the day you feel like you just make a train wreck of your relationships with your children. Both are ok. The positives balance out the negatives so long as the positives are more frequent and more intense than the negatives. Remember – life and being human happen even to the most mindful of parent.

-Hybrid Rasta Mama

Thursday, December 15, 2011

CoSleeping ROCKS

Welcome to the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival
This post was written for inclusion in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival hosted by Monkey Butt Junction . Our bloggers have written on so many different aspects of cosleeping. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
The first time I saw cosleeping in action was in India.  Every afternoon the family that cooked and cleaned and looked after our hostel would snuggle in together for a nap on the open air porch at the front of the house.  Mom, baby, gramma, auntie, toddler, and preschooler in a jumbled pile of saris, long dark hair, and peaceful baby faces.  It was beautiful.

We have an open door policy in our house; if our kids need us at night, they can come get us, or they can call out and we will go to them.  The vast majority of the time, if they have nightmares or are thirsty or whatnot, our kids come into our room and snuggle into our bed.  I'm an introvert.  I like my space.  I don't enjoy being the peanut butter in a babytoddler sandwich.  But it is also extremely important to me that my kids not feel alone or frightened at night.  Now, I could get my bum out of bed and comfort my kids in their own rooms and then return to my bedroom and settle back in alone and unencumbered, but I'm thinking that's a little ambitious.  I have four kids.  I need shortcuts.  Besides, they grow up so fast: how can I miss even a nanosecond of breathing in baby smell or cuddling with my toddler as he wedges himself as close to me as humanly possible, poking the back of my knees with his too long toenails and whispering, "Move over, mommy" in his grouchiest midnight voice?  It's just too cute.

Brent and I met ten years ago.  He's my balance, my stable force, and the best man on the planet.  Period.  Everything we do is a part of this amazing, multi layered, gorgeous love story, shot through with red and blue and folded in on itself like ribbon candy.  Every baby we have is a delicious retelling of our story and filled up with so much life it's blinding.  Nothing makes me happier than sleeping curled up with my hubs and a handful of our kids, wrapped up in each other like puppies, feeling love in an enormous fullness.  This is all I want, in life.  All I've ever wanted.
It's not perfect.  There are toenails in my knees at night, baby farts in my face, I have a mental illness, a dog who needs a new home, and a secret desire to slide a knitting needle in my own eye every time my three year old refuses to get dressed yet again with a flailing and grating "NOOoooOOOoooOOOoooOOo!  I hAAAaaaAAAaaate getting drEeeeeEEEEeeeeEeessed!!!!"   We get stressed out about money.  My hubs is a nag about towels, water usage, and toilet flushing.  He also sorts his all black, identical socks according to how faded they are.  How am I still alive, after ten years of this?!!  Seriously.  But it is all so reminiscent of that family on the porch in India; we work, we clean, we feed people, and in the midst of it all the best part of our day is spent curled up together, sleeping.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.

******* Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival

Thanks for reading a post in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival. On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the #CosleepCar hashtag.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Emotive Co-Sleeping Campaign - Miriam at Diary of an Unconscious Mother talks about her feelings on Milwaukee’s anti-cosleeping crusade and its latest advertising campaign.
  • Why Cosleeping has Always been the Right Choice for My Family - Patti at Jazzy Mama shares how lucky she feels to have the privilege of sleeping with her four children.
  • Cosleeping is a safe, natural and healthy solution parents need to feel good about. - See how Tilly at Silly Blatherings set up a side-car crib configuration to meet her and her families' needs.
  • Black and White: Race and the Cosleeping Wars - Moorea at Mama Lady: Adventures in Queer Parenting points out the problem of race, class and health when addressing co-sleeping deaths and calls to action better sleep education and breastfeeding support in underprivileged communities.
  • Reflections on Cosleeping - Jenny at I’m a Full Time Mummy shares her thoughts on cosleeping and pictures of her cosleeping beauties.
  • Cosleeping and Transitioning to Own Bed - Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine shares her experiences in moving beyond the family bed.
  • What Works for One Family - Momma Jorje shares why cosleeping is for her and why she feels it is the natural way to go. She also discusses the actual dangers and explores why it may not be for everyone.
  • Really High Beds, Co-Sleeping Safely, and the Humanity Family Sleeper - Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives a quick view of Jennifer’s bed-sharing journey and highlights the Humanity Family Sleeper, something Jennifer could not imagine bed-sharing without.
  • Crying in Our Family Bed - With such a sweet newborn, why has adding Ailia to the family bed made Dionna at Code Name: Mama cry?
  • Dear Mama: - Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares a letter from the viewpoint of her youngest son about cosleeping.
  • Cuddle up, Buttercup! - Nada of The MiniMOMist and her husband Michael have enjoyed cosleeping with their daughter Naomi almost since birth. Nada shares why the phrase "Cuddle up, Buttercup!" has such special significance to her.
  • Co-Sleeping With A Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler - Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how co-sleeping calls us to trust our inner maternal wisdom and embrace the safety and comfort of the family bed.
  • Fear instead of Facts: An Opportunity Squandered in Milwaukee - Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction discusses Milwaukee’s missed opportunity to educate on safe cosleeping.
  • Cosleeping: A Mini-rant and a Lovely Picture - Siobhan at Res Ipsa Loquitor discusses her conversion to cosleeping and rants a little bit about the Milwaukee Health Department anti-cosleeping campaign.
  • Our Cosleeping Story - Adrienne at Mommying My Way shares her cosleeping story and the many bonus side effects of bedsharing.
  • Cosleeping can be safe and rewarding Christy at Mommy Outnumbered shares how her cosleeping experiences have been good for her family.
  • Adding one more to the family bed Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the safety logistics of bed sharing with a new baby and a preschooler.
  • The Truth About Bedsharing - Dr. Sarah at Parenting Myths and Facts discusses the research into bedsharing and risk - and explains why it is so often misrepresented.
  • Cosleeping as a parenting survival tool - Melissa V. at Mothers of Change describes how she discovered cosleeping when her first baby was born. Melissa is the editor and a board member for the Canadian birth advocacy group, Mothers of Change.
  • Dear Delilah - Joella at Fine and Fair writes about her family bed and the process of finding the cosleeping arrangements that work best for her family.
  • CoSleeping ROCKS! - Melissa at White Noise talks about the evolution of cosleeping in her family.
  • Safe Sleep is a Choice - Tamara at Pea Wee Baby talks about safe sleep guidelines.
  • 3 Babies Later: The Evolution of our Family Bed - Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment talks about how her family’s cosleeping arrangements evolved as her family grew.
  • Tender Moments - The Accidental Natural Mama discusses tender cosleeping moments.
  • Cosleeping Experiences - Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure describes how she ended up co-sleeping with her daughter through necessity, despite having no knowledge of the risks involved and how to minimise them, and wishes more information were made available to help parents co-sleep safely.
  • The early days of bedsharing - Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares her early memories of bedsharing with her then new born and gets excited as she plans including their new arrival into their sleeping arrangements.
  • The Joys of Cosleeping in Pictures - Charise of I Thought I Knew Mama shares pictures of some of her favorite cosleeping moments.
  • Symbiotic Sleep - Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children discusses how the symbiotic cosleeping relationship benefits not only children but also parents.
  • Co-sleeping Barriers: What’s Stopping You? - Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares how she was almost prevented from gaining the benefits of co-sleeping her family currently enjoys.
  • Co-Sleeping with the Family Humanity Sleeper - Erica at ChildOrganics shares a way to make co-sleeping safe, comfortable and more convenient. Check out her post featuring the Humanity Organic Family Sleeper.
  • Why We Cosleep - That Mama Gretchen’s husband chimes in on why cosleeping is a benefit to their family.
  • Adding to the Family Bed - Darah at A Girl Named Gus writes about her co-sleeping journey and what happens when a second child comes along.
A big thank you to all of the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival participants!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Baby Birch

My bro and my niece, with Dewey the mule.  This is on Chad's farm =)

Funny Story

My kids are all sick.  The night before last I was awake until 5 a.m. going from kid to kid and being kept awake by Ayden coughing in my face every 5 to 10 seconds (eight year old non cobedding rules don't apply when kids are sick).  It's pretty bad when your spouse comes home from a night shift and you haven't fallen asleep yet...
And said spouse crawls into bed to catch up on sleep...
And you have to get up in two hours.

Anyways, last night was shaping up to look similar or worse.  Incessant coughing.  Children up and down.  Amarys wanting to nursenursenurse.  Ayden coughingcoughingcoughing.  Riley restless.  But we went to bed at midnight after hours of juggling kids and trying to watch one PVRd CSI.  I wasn't optimistic.

Generally Amarys wakes up sometime around 4 o'clock in the morning these days, nurses to sleep in our bed, and wakes us up in the morning by smacking and screeching and hairpulling.
I put Amarys in her bed after she had fallen asleep in my arms on the couch, and we crawled into our bed and drifted off.  About 4:30 I woke up in my usual position: curled around the baby.  Except she wasn't there.  I was mildly worried: did she work her way under my blanket?  I pulled it down a bit to uncover her head.  But her head wasn't there!  I panicked a bit, patting the blankets further down, worried she'd gotten under our blankets and then continued to wiggle down; she sleeps soundly but tends to squirm around a lot.  When I didn't find her there I totally freaked that she'd fallen off the bed or got stuck in a mattress crack somewhere and WHERE WAS MY BABY?!?!!!!  All this thrashing around looking for the baby woke Brent up and he said,
I think she's still in her bed, isn't she?
Of course she isn't!  I woke up and got her not half an hour ago!!  I nursed her back to sleep and now she's GONE!
No, I don't think you did.
What does he know?  He sleeps through EVERYTHING.
He got out of bed and went to check:  Yup, baby sleeping soundly in her own bed.

Oh my goodness.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Riley just informed me of some news.

My ears has some boogers in them.

How did they get in your ears?

Them jumped in there, from mine nose.

Wonderful Advent Sunday

We took advantage of last Sunday's sunny weather to get all Christmassy!  I've been meaning to post each Sunday of Advent on an Advent theme but this family day got in the way last week... I'm pretty sure it was an excellent excuse!

This year has seemed the proper amount of speedy~not too quick, not too slow.  The kids are amazing as far as joy and wonder because they are the exact right ages to fully enjoy and understand the many levels of Christmas, engage with its spiritual meanings, and throw themselves into the spirit enthusiastically.  It wasn't deep or literary, but I think for an Advent Sunday post (one day late) it pretty much captivates this week's Advent theme of Joy.  I'm so lucky.  My cup is full.  My arms are full.  My van is full.  And my heart is grateful~more than anything in life I have wanted a close knit family with lots of kids and a caring partner in crime, and love in abundance. Sometimes it's hard, which just makes me appreciate what I have so much more, especially on days like this one.

The obligatory fence picture




Amarys and I

This tree was too big for our living room but we thought it was pretty hilarious and dubbed it the Dr Seuss tree.  I think it looks a bit holy; worshipping in true charismatic tradition =)

This was our tree in the end~Amarys fell asleep in the sling so she was underenthusiastic about it, but it was definitely the perfect tree for us

I laughed SO HARD at this outtake~Brent got speared

First candy cane

We took the tree home, made apple cider from scratch, and cooked up some gingerbread to eat while we decorated the tree.  I got this awesome idea from Riley's Strong Start teacher to fill the pan with gingerbread cookie dough and stuff it full of candy (we used up the last of the halloween candy for this project~and it was delicious)
Posed SO dorky
Advent week two: Peace~we have a tradition where each Sunday of Advent we help one of the kids light the candles, and leave them on all evening.  I LOVE this tradition and the kids do, too

We're in the market for a new tree topper but in the meantime...
Another Vose family tradition; daddy makes one lucky kid fly to the top of the tree to place our wonky star