Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Latest Etsy Creations

Headband/ear warmer with vintage buttons

The kid version, modeled by Riley
Want one?  Hop over to my shop =)

Friday, August 24, 2012


So I have a concussion.  I was gardening on Monday afternoon on our front yard, very close to the house, and I stood up quickly and whacked the back of my head on the window overhang.  It hurt SO MUCH!  At first I just figured since I didn't knock myself out I was okay, but that night it hurt a ton.  And the next day my brain was all foggy and time warped and I just felt drunk or spaced out.  As I was driving the kids to the pediatrician I thought, jeepers I really shouldn't be driving!  I didn't have much choice but to finish that trip, but after that I didn't drive again for a few days.  That afternoon I got dizzy and felt nauseous.  The next day was worse.  I called my doctor's office (after much prodding from my BF, and some encouragement from Brent) but my doctor wasn't in that day.  My naturopath is closed Wednesdays.  So I was pretty well hooped until yesterday as far as medical attention goes.  My doctor said Yup, you have a concussion.  I went to my naturopath today (because I'm just not convinced that merely waiting for a head injury to fix itself is the best approach, although it is what my doctor recommended and what I knew is the allopathic norm) and she gave me a homeopathic for pain and healing, and a supplement for combating inflammation.  She also caught a symptom my doctor missed (one pupil is irregularly shaped and slower than the other) and showed it to me in the mirror.  I'm tired.  My head aches.  I feel dizzy and nauseous, on and off, and just overwhelmingly tired.  I just want to curl up on a doggy bed somewhere and sleep for days on end....

This is really putting a cramp in my style.  I am busy!  I am active!  I have FOUR CHILDREN!  My husband works LONG HOURS, including night shifts!  I don't really have sick day privileges.  Gar.

Think of me, and send me healing thoughts as I do this...

(image credit)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

4 Years Old!

Riley is FOUR!  He is growing up so fast it is unbelievable.  We love him and his personality SO much, he is a ham and makes us all laugh every day.  =)  He's a sweetheart.  My sister and my nephew came to visit for his birthday and Riley looked at his ten week old cousin the first day and said, "I just love him SO MUCH!"  Who can resist such sweetness?!  With huge, deep brown eyes to boot.  Sheesh.

Riley is making remarkable strides with pre reading skills.  He knows a good portion of the alphabet, especially the letters in his name, and his brothers' names.  He can spell "Hook" with bathtub foam letters, line up the letters of the alphabet with very little help, and sound out simple words like "man."  He loves books, letters, the alphabet, numbers, and can do addition and subtraction up to 18, and count backwards from ten, and forwards to 29.  He's so much like his daddy it's ridiculous (Brent did advanced math, physics and calculus in high school.  Plus he's easygoing and funny as shit, so Riley is absolutely his Mini Me).

He can ride a bike with training wheels, run pretty fast, play hide and seek, snakes and ladders, Monopoly and even Cranium with a little help.  He is getting a bit more logical/sophisticated with his jokes (moving up from: Why did the poop stink?  Because it was brown!  Hahahahahaha!).  He is 3 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 31 lbs.  I have HUGE babies and tiny kids.  It's hard to get weight to stick to them when they are in perpetual motion ALL DAY.  EVERY DAY.

Riley is an amazing kid.  Charming, sweet, cheerful, smart, and enthusiastic.  He is definitely his own man; he went underwear shopping with Brent and his brothers the other day and when Brent asked him, "Which ones would you like?"  He pointed at the strawberry shortcake toddler underpants and said, "THOSE!"  When I heard that story it made me so angry that culture or the powers that be would never see fit to put strawberry shortcake on little boy underpants.  I mean, it makes sense because most boys would rather die than wear strawberry shortcake but the disappointment in Riley's face when he heard that they were just for girls was a pretty big bummer.  (and you really need room for 'extra stuff' when you are wearing boy underpants, so simply buying girl ones wasn't really an option).  Matthew dies a thousand deaths when Riley makes choices like these, but man oh man Riley doesn't care a whit, and he's just so cute about it.
Fortunately, Riley is just as happy to wear Cars underpants.  So there's that =)

Riley is very much looking forward to going to preschool in September!  We bought him a backpack and a lunch kit and we are going to preschool Open House next Thursday!  He is over the moon excited.  He's SO pumped about being old enough for school, and is excited to have his very own school and his very own teachers and his very own hook to hang his backpack on, at school.  =)

We love you, baby!  I can't believe you are already four years old.

-the trampoline
-his bike
-the water park
-my little ponies
-strawberry shortcake
-climbing trees
-Star Wars
-Arts and crafts
-FOOD.  This kid eats like a hoover vacuum.  He loves everything.

-long car rides
-being thirsty
-being left behind

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Day in My Life

So I'm going to preface this by saying I know this will likely be boring.
I'm okay with that.
I actually secretly LOVE it when other people do A Day in My Life posts, because I'm voyeuristic like that.  So maybe one or two of you will be, too?  Or perhaps you will indulge me a tiny bit and read about my boring life.

Around 6 a.m. Amarys starts getting restless.  "Moe?  Moe?  MUHOWAH!" and she wrestles with my shirt from the outside while I wrestle with it from the bottom, until she finally finds what she's looking for "MUMmumumumumummm....." and we doze off for a few minutes.  But I have trouble sleeping while nursing and just want her off already so I sneak my boob back from her as soon as I think I can get away with it.

AND REPEAT.  For about 2 hours.

Finally I admit to my groggy brain that it is time to get up.  By this time I have turned down about fifteen requests to watch television or play Wii.  We have a no-screens-before-noon rule but nobody ever, EVER remembers that and they all ask me numerous times every morning.

I get up, go to the bathroom with a toddler audience, give her some toilet paper at her insistence, and wait for her to throw it in the toilet and wave goodbye.  Flush.  Brush teeth.  Protect body, hair, shirt, pyjamas, etc from grabby toddler.  Weigh myself.

Pick up toddler.  Walk to kitchen and make/drink coffee.  Thank God for the existence of coffee.  Make breakfast x 5, nobody ever wants the same thing.  Stop eating to make seconds for about half the people.  Stop making seconds to lift screaming toddler from floor to bar stool, next to her brothers.  Restart making seconds for breakfast.  Stop making seconds to lift toddler off counter onto floor, as she has crawled from barstool to countertop and I'm trying to break her of this habit, since she climbs on the counter only to throw things off it.  Like the $38 French butter dish I bought from a potter on Saltspring Island several years ago.  Or tomatoes from my fruit bowl.  Or forks.

Toddler screams and flips body onto floor.  Preschooler cries because it is taking so long for me to make breakfast seconds.
Please, no advice regarding original portions.  If I make lots, I throw it all in the garbage.
Drink from my now cold coffee, eat a bite of my now cold breakfast.  Finish breakfast seconds.  Serve.  Sit down.  Pick up whiny toddler and place on lap, get smacked for fun.

Remember to take fish oils.  Put toddler down, toddler screams and flips body onto floor.  Get up, prepare fish oil, drink it, shudder, sit down to resume eating cold breakfast.  Pick up whiny toddler.  Nurse whiny toddler for two minutes of peace.  Repeatedly remove toddler's foot from my plate while she is nursing.  Field questions regarding plans for the day (particularly screen time plans and special treat possibilities) from Matthew, listen to long drawn out description of Calvin and Hobbes comic strip that I have read over a hundred times from Ayden.  Act interested.

Get up, put down toddler, toddler walks away calmly to play.  WOOT!  Empty dishwasher, reload.  Mitigate wrestling which gets out of hand in the livingroom, admonish Matthew to get off Amarys' Winnie the Pooh ride-on car because he's too big for it and will break it, and because it makes Amarys incredibly angry when anyone rides it.  Remind Matthew that "this is an all the time rule, not a just for today rule."  Know that I may as well be blathering BlahBlahBlahBlahBlahBlabbityBlah for all the difference it will make to his behaviour.

Shower.  Tidy my bathroom from toddler entertaining herself with my bathroom items while I was in the shower.  Clean bathrooms, make beds, empty dishwasher, start laundry.  Toddler in tow.  She wants to wash her hands in bathroom, climb on dishwasher door, and push buttons on washing machine.  Also wants to be carried up and down stairs every time I go up or down stairs.

Prepare for outing.  These vary, and sometimes we don't have one.  But most days, we do something.  Go to the park, visit a friend, grocery shop, do errands, etc.  Preparing for outing means: change toddler's diaper and get her dressed.  Anyone ever dressed a resistant toddler before?  Yes?  Say no more.  No?  Consider yourself blessed.  Chasing, flailing limbs, tickling, wrestling a shirt on an upside down, wiggling little person, and attempting to remain happy and calm.  Because it's a long day and if I lose my shit now I have nowhere to go later.
Also involved in preparing for an outing: request older boys get dressed.  Repeat.  Repeat again.  Yell.  Finally get accomplished.  Also, Riley needs 'help' focusing on task of getting dressed; help choosing each item, help exiting PJs, help choosing which item to put on first, etc.  He's pretty independent but he likes moral support for life skills.  =)  And also focusing.
Also involved in preparing for outing: packing.  You would think going to the grocery store could simply involve a purse.  Maybe an extra diaper.  But actually, there are water bottles and snacks, sometimes, and always negotiations over can I bring my spending money and can I bring my lego creation and my personal favorite can I bring Big Bear (a large, four feet tall, three feet wide, furry teddy bear.  In a van with four kids.  And no air conditioning.  And a broken window.  Thank you for asking the answer is NO).
There are also cloth bags to consider, my shopping list to remember, my phone, and my keys.  Then we head for the front door, with all our gear in tow.  Shoes.  Shoes.  Put on your shoes.  Where are your shoes?  Where are MY shoes?  Sit down and put on your shoes.  Tie your shoes.  Tie your brother's shoes.  Amarys, stop throwing the shoes.  Those shoes are too hot/cold/small/they are your brother's.  ZOMG just GET IN THE VAN.


Return from outing, remove shoes at front door, try not to bump anyone with your hips or bum but there are five people in a five foot by three foot entryway and it is bound to happen.  Carry toddler up the stairs as she doesn't handle transitions well and we've just come back from Outing.  She needs cuddles to help her adjust to being home.  In her own house.  Where she has lived her entire life.  *eyeroll*  But I do it.  Balance bag full of crap, garbage, kids' legos, possibly Big Bear, extra diapers, and errand detritus on arm, toddler on hip, and grab some random items sitting on stairs waiting to be transported up, for good measure.  Because if I don't move random items, they sit there for ten years, collecting other items, and attracting rodents, and nobody bats an eye.  SAVE ME.

Unpack.  Carry whining toddler.  Fend off whines for lunch or snack from older boys.  Wipe sweat from face and pine for air conditioning.  Start lunch, usually involving sandwiches or spaghetti.  Sit toddler in kitchen sink with cold water on and several measuring spoons and a scrubber to keep her busy.  Pause lunch  prep to go pee.  Bring clingy toddler.  Re-deposit her in sink upon return.  Get distracted loading dishes in dishwasher and cleaning up from breakfast.  Return to lunch prep as result of crying four year old who is SOOOOOOO HUNGWEEEEEEE!  Feed kids.  Feed self.  Interrupt lunch eating to change poopy diaper. Wash hands four times to remove feeling of contamination.  Catch glimpse of self in mirror, fix hair.  Replace toilet paper roll which is empty.  Top up soap dispenser, which is nearly empty.  Wash hands again.  Return to lunch.

Surf Facebook and Twitter and Yahoo via phone during lunch :/  I just need to mentally check out at this point!  Lol.  After lunch I clean up, attempt to nurse toddler to sleep for nap, doesn't work.  Check Flylady for daily chore.  Do it.  Mitigate fights.  Separate children to different parts of house for cool down.  Wipe sweat from face.  Nurse toddler to sleep for nap again--SUCCESS!  Set up kids with fun activity; sprinkler in backyard, board game, reading, Wii, etc.  Make bread.  Plan dinner.  Remember my former life and wonder why I wasn't massively more productive.  Switch laundry, start new load.  Go pee. Step in pee.  Clean pee off foot and floor.  Grumble about little boys.  Write blog post in my head, promptly get distracted and forget entire thing.  Hear phone ring, upstairs, while still downstairs.  Sigh.  I never get to the phone before it goes to voicemail.  NEVER.  Go upstairs, grabbing something anything from the stairs to bring up, because wonder of wonders my hands are empty, and depositing it where it belongs.  Ask kids to clean up their activity, which, unless it was Wii, they have abandoned.

Sit down with glass of water and surf internet.  Get up for crying toddler, nurse her awake.  Tend bread.  Mitigate fights.  Hand out helping jobs, ideas for activities, or yell, depending on mood.  Kiss owie on four year old.  Listen to long description of imaginary play by play from Ayden.  Refuse requests for candy or more screen time from Matthew.  Finish water.

Catch wiff of stinky.  Change poopy diaper.  Catch wiff of another stinky.  Take out garbage.  Wash hands repeatedly to fend off germs.  Ick.  Mildly consider whether I have OCD.  Pat down hair with wet hands: still hopeless.  Sigh.  Ponytail.

Go outside and play a bit.  Sprinkler, volleyball, baseball, swings, maybe.  This is not actually a daily occurrence, I just put that in there to make me sound like a better parent.  =P  I play with my kids but not as often as I used to, because now they have each other and I have a shitload of housework and cooking to do.  Usually if I have afternoon downtime, I go on the computer (like today), or I crochet.  If Brent is home, I might paint.  Or go for coffee with a friend.  Or read.  A book!  Fancy that.  Or we do another outing together.  Mostly, I don't read except for really late at night.

Make dinner.  Serve dinner.  Involve people in dinner prep as they request it.  Hassle Matthew to eat.  Hassle Ayden to sit down.  Hassle Amarys to stay off the table during dinner.  Stay cool.  Count to ten.  Try to be pleasant.

Clean up dinner.  If Brent is home, we divide and conquer: I clean, he does bedtime.  If he is working, I clean and then I do bedtime.  Bedtime starts after dinner and goes to when its done.  Usually 90 minutes to two hours of bath/showers, PJs, tooth brushing, room tidying, stories, and cuddles.  I have no idea why it takes this long, but it does.  Possibly because we have four kids.  Solo bedtimes suck.  That's when only one parent does bedtime, alone, because the other parent is not there to tag team (after I clean I usually join the bedtime bedlam, unless I'm going running or to aerobics or something).  Sigh with relief.  Admonish middle two to stay in bed.  Help Ayden settle in, mitigate nighttime fears, and fetch water.

Retrieve laundry from downstairs (Oh you thought I was done because it is 9:30 at night?  No way.).  Wash diapers, fold 2 loads of laundry, put away.  Scrub kitchen sink.  Relax with husband for an hour or two.  Go to bed.  Wrestle insomnia.  Barely sleep.  Start again tomorrow.

This is the work that is my life, right now.  Whew, it is a lot!  There is less work some days, and more on other days.  And it doesn't describe the rewards of what I do, just the work.  I really enjoy my kids (I do!), and we have lots of laughs and good times.  But I also do a shitload of work around here, and barely realize or feel like I've done anything at the end of a day.  Crazy.  Nutbar.  Wild.  Fun.

It is true that what I wanted most in life was a family.  It is not the only thing I wanted in life, but it was what I wanted most.  And I have it.  And I'm so grateful for it!  And this busy season is only a season of life.  Already, they can do more to help me, and I can take more breathers.  =)

Add in variations for exercise, sex, book club, dates with friends, summer trips, holiday celebrations, birthdays, playdates, family pizza movie nights, and etc, and you've got my life in a nutshell.  Oh yes, and I have a job.  I work.  Part time.  From my house.  Writing for a SEO company.  And I have hobbies.  I crochet, run an etsy shop, write for Mothers of Change, promote for Mothers of Change, go to La Leche League meetings, board meetings, birth rallies, read books, paint, hike, camp, run, etc, etc.

Life is short.  Stay awake for it.
(And: coffee is my friend).

The end.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

VBAC Interview

This is ME!  I did an interview on my VBAC experience for another blogger, who is doing a series.  =)  GO VBAC!

Monday, August 13, 2012

17 Months Old!

Amarys was 17 months old on August 1st.

She's growing like a weed!  She weighs 22 lbs, she is 75 cm long/tall, and is cuter than stink.

She has learned to 'bounce,' walk backwards, spin in circles, and speak in 2 word sentences.  "More milk?"  "Big bug!" "Where Ri-ey?"  She can say Mommy, Daddy, Riley, Gramma, Grampa, and Paige ("Pay!"), which is our cat.  She can't yet say Matthew or Ayden's names, so she just calls them "Mama."  She can also say bird, hi, bye, water, poopy (as in, I have a poopy diaper please change it?), baby, hat, shoe (she loves shoes), yay, wow, no, and cheese (like, for the camera).  She's a climber, and a very determined little soul.  If she fixes her mind on something, there is no deterring her.  Sigh.

-the beach
-animals of all sizes, shapes, and types
-bikes (especially Riley's bike)
-hats (especially her bike helmet, which she calls her 'hat')
-her brothers
-playing 'chase the toddler with clothing or a diaper'
-food of all kinds, and especially meat
-sitting on the bar stools at our counter
-walking on the table/counter
-getting into mischief of all kinds

-going to sleep
-sitting still
-being restrained in a carseat
-anyone outside her immediate family especially if they come on strong (she's extending this; her grandparents are cool now, and some of our closer friends whom she sees regularly)
-bugs touching her
-being distracted, redirected, or told no

Amarys sparkles with personality.  She's vibrant, strong, willful, funny, smart, and loud.  We enjoy her a LOT and get a kick out of making her laugh; with tickles, chasing games, blowing raspberries, or playing peek a boo.  Is there anything sweeter than toddler laughter?  And baby dimples?  I think not.

She's also getting a crap load of teeth all at once.  Four molars, and four canines are working their way through right now, which is giving her grief.  She chews on her finger a lot.  And nurses a lot.  Poor baby.

She's getting leaner and taller.  And her hair is thicker, and the sun has bleached it out this summer.  We spend hours of each day outdoors.  I love the smell of her hair after a day in the sun, wind, and water.  It has a special, baked sweet toddler smell to it.  I'm so excited that she is growing and learning, and so sad that it is happening so fast.  She's my last baby!  I keep squeezing her and whispering to her to slow down!  Stay a baby forever!  But inevitably she's growing up exponentially faster each day.

Love to you, sweetheart.  You'll always be my sweet baby girl.  ♥

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Epic Trip Part 3

Okay, so when I left off describing our trip, we had finished up a lovely day on Miracle Beach with fishing at dusk and some cool deer shots.  I was on the beach while the boys were fishing, lying in the sand with Amarys, when I heard crashing in the bush behind me.  There were signs up all over the campground warning people that there was a recent bear sighting; of a momma bear with cubs (!!!) in the area, so immediately I scooped Amarys up and prepared to dive in the ocean fully clothed.  I was certain it was the bears.
Lo and behold, it was the deers.  =P
Amarys looked up at the noise, opened her eyes REALLY big, and yelled, "HI!!!"  And waved.  She won't look her grampa in the eye or let him touch her but she's super friendly with animals.  She's hysterical.  Earlier in the day I took her with me to the tap and there was a HUGE banana slug on the ground near the drain.  
(not these ones)
No lie, the first time I saw one of these suckers
I thought someone took a shit on the path.
Where I grew up, slugs are the size of a fingernail.
She was fascinated, scrunched down to its level, and kept yelling, "HI!!" and waving at it.
Have you ever seen anything so cute?  Me neither.  Sorry, no photo.

The next morning we ate breakfast and packed up our stuff, took turns showering, packed the kids in the van, and..... it wouldn't start.  Hawesome!  Brent had to go from campsite to campsite looking for someone with jumper cables who could give us a jump before we could hit the road.
We now carry jumper cables in the back of our van, just in case.  =P

We hit the road (finally), and fell in love with some awesome towns on the way up to Port Hardy on the Northern tip of Vancouver Island, where Brent's brother and his family live.  Here's Port Hardy;

So pretty!  Fishing town.
And here are my nephews and niece.  It's so funny that the most gorgeous kids on the planet are all related to me.  Isn't that weird?

Ruben, 3.  Energy.  Blur. Wild.  Reminds me of Matthew. Cute as a button =)

Ella, 5. Amazing.  Smart. Cute. Adventurous. Brave. Enthusiastic. Hilarious.
Miles, 6 months. Adorable. Serious. Intent. Observant. Sweet. Delicious.
So we spent the evening and next day indoors as it rained (it rains a LOT in Port Hardy), and the kids had so much fun making Brian and Billie's house into a natural disaster zone.  The following day was dry so we went to the park in the morning, and Brent and Brian took off to do something Very Guy.  What was it?  Oh yes, shooting guns.  Sheesh.

I make a concentrated effort to take photos of my older kids, but they
are so often out of range.  Because, free range is awesome, yo. Here is
a rare closeup...

It was Ella's birthday that day, so we had individual pizzas and cupcakes.
A huge hit.

Mug shot of Brian.

If a Vose is not goofing around, he is sleeping.

Now, Ayden has been fishing for three years now with no luck.
Port Hardy has a kid's fishing hole on their main pier so Brent and
Brian took the boys down to give it a try.  No luck, but still fun!

What, me?  Touch something squishy that might get my hands dirty???!!!  I'd rather smile cute for a photo, thanks....

We had so much fun.  Road trips are awesome.  Camping is awesome.  More to come....

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Perfect Week

So this week Brent's days off fell from Tues thru Friday.  I love it when that happens, because it feels like a particular bonus to have your spouse home mid week, all week, and anywhere you go is less crowded than normal because everyone else is working.
We didn't have any trips planned this week, and no activities for the kids.  I was worried we would be bored and hot, but we managed to fill up each day quite nicely and it was lovely to have no obligations as far as our schedule went.  We did a ton of work around the house, overhauling the playroom

and also setting up our new-to-us spare bed in our downstairs bedroom which, until now, has been the location of our main computer and a whole bunch of boxes and paintings and extra junk.  You know, THAT room.  The one you don't really use and that you always mean to organize?  It's not organized yet, but there's a bed in it!  Woop!

Our playroom was unwalkable.  I didn't take a before picture because it was frankly embarrassing.  We threw out a huge garbage can full of toys that were stupid, broken, chewed, or otherwise not usable.  Or simply not played with.  We re organized what we had, cleaned up, and put the couch where you see it now so the kids can watch the odd movie or tv show from the playroom and have somewhere to sit (the tv is in the far right corner, not visible in the above photo).

We also went to the Vancouver fireworks on Wednesday!  Every year there are fireworks competitions in Vancouver and they are pretty spectacular.  Usually around 300, 000 people show up to watch them, and each night is a different competitor from a different country around the world, and they are set to music.  Wednesday was Brazil's showcased talent.  Because they are so popular it is wise to arrive super early, so here we are killing time for 2 1/2 hours before the show;

and then I got a few crappy shots of the fireworks themselves, which of course are a moving and dynamic sort of presentation and thus never really properly represented with still photos  =)  But it was beautiful.  All the kids loved it.  And it was pretty cheap for a night out for six people!  Gas was probably around $15 (1 hr drive freeway/city traffic), parking was $3, and chocolate covered pretzels from Starbucks were $7.  We snagged a parking spot just 5 blocks from the fireworks, which is remarkable.  We played 20 questions for most of the 2 1/2 hour wait once we got there, and then because we were to the south of the main beach, it was not nearly as crowded where we were as it could be.  I get pretty out of sorts in big crowds of people so avoiding that was a huge bonus for me.

Afterwards we went to McDonald's for sundaes (2 hot fudge, one strawberry, one butterscotch, and one plain vanilla cone--Amarys was already asleep; but even so that seems like a lot.  We can really be ridiculous because we are so very plural, with four kids), and drove home after midnight.  This was a fantastic adventure and very popular.  We ALL had fun!  And slept in the next day til 10.  EVEN MATTHEW.

We also went to the water park several times, the library, and gramma and grampa's house.  So nice!

I went on an hour long bike ride with hills~I'm not sure how far I went but at least 6 kilometers?  Other bicyclists kept passing me, it was funny.  It was very lovely though, and low impact on my knees (cycling is supposed to be no impact but with a miniscus injury I'd call it low impact as opposed to no impact, because I feel it afterwards.  Ice is definitely my friend).  I also went to an aerobics class but the teacher never showed up so they cancelled it.  I had the choice of a refund or to stay in the fitness room~it hurts to pay $5 for something I could do for free (run outside), but the appeal of a treadmill in an air conditioned gym was pretty big so I stayed in the fitness room and ran.  It was sweet, and I did run 6/walk 4 for 40 minutes; and I noticed that for sure I slow down in the walking portion mid run.  Interesting!  And valuable to know, because I can hustle in the walk phase and get more fit faster without pushing myself too much if I just walk faster in the walk portion of my runs.

I can't run very often in a week, though, so I've been focusing on cross training; hence the biking and aerobics.  Hopefully that will be enough to help me reach my run 10 k goal by October; I haven't done this much cross training before but I don't have much choice with my knee the way it is.

Excellent results on the fitness front: after gaining a full pound and a half the first two weeks, this week I lost 3 1/2 pounds!  *happy dance*  This is the first time I've lost any weight in a year.  And is so great for my motivation for this fitness challenge because I think I had pretty much geared myself up to lose nothing at all.  My pancreas just can't do what it used to.  However, it looks like I can manage some modest weight loss so far!  Here's hoping more will fall off and never return....

Also?  It's hotter than hell's furnace around here.  We are hiding in our basement right now, messing up the playroom and hiding from the heat.  I love my house, but it is hot!

Also?  We got a bumper crop of blueberries this year.  We have nine blueberry plants in our garden and this year they produced a huge amount.  The kids ate them all before I could make jam out of them, but I didn't mind.  It saves me the trouble of making jam, anyways!  We will buy some blueberries later this month to freeze, and I will make jam out of those.  I already made strawberry and raspberry jam this summer.
My garden is also overproducing lettuce and underproducing everything else.  I'm disappointed in my peas, radishes (even after thinning I had to throw out a bunch of non bulbous roots), beets, and carrots, and my zucchini is way behind where they were at this point last summer.  My eggplant has flowers though!  That's promising.  My tomatoes are TINY!  So crazy.  Anyways, we can just eat lettuce, right?  =/

I have to go get four kids and myself ready to go to church.  Alone.  I know you envy me.  =P

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Modern Day Wet Nurse: Milksharing in All its Shiny Liquid Golden Glory

I wrote this post for World Breastfeeding Week!  Robin Wiess, LCCE, is hosting a blog carnival to celebrate WBW and I thought I'd join.  Check out other submissions at her blog; on topics from breastfeeding basics to a dad's perspective on breastfeeding.  Also, I wrote another submission on Mothers of Change, on Painful Breastfeeding.  Enjoy!

I'm a bit slutty when it comes to my milk.  It gets around town.  Or maybe a better metaphor would be that lovely grandmotherly type who keeps peppermints in her purse to share with kids in church?  The candy lady.  That's better than the slutty lady, I guess...

I had tons of milk with all my babies.  When Ayden was born I started pumping so that I could leave him for short stints to help tutor my ESL students, and eventually I had a freezer full of more milk than he could ever need.  Breastmilk lasts a long time in the freezer, but not forever, so I decided to donate over 100 ounces of frozen milk to the Vancouver Milk Bank.  They use donor milk for their sickest babies, to fill in the gaps when their own mothers cannot provide them with breastmilk.  I had all these frozen milk popsicles in my freezer that we didn't need, and what do you know, they are lifesaving popsicles for sick babies!  Win-win.

I took a cooler full of my popsicles to BC Children's Hospital, walked up to Information and asked, Where is the milk bank?
I thought they might look at me like **crickets** but they didn't.  It took some phoning and discussions, and eventually a security guard to walk me down into the back corner hallway in their maze of a basement, but we got there.

That was pretty easy.  I only had to drive down to donate once.  I filled out a questionnaire over the phone before donating.  [I think now they require bloodwork maybe?  Not sure].

Then when Riley was born I pumped milk to share with his adopted brother, my second son, Matthew.

pumping naturally inspires thirst...

Matthew benefits from Riley's milkies

That was lots of extra work, since I pumped fresh milk every day and snuck it into Matthew's cup at mealtimes.  If it was even slightly separated or weird looking, he wouldn't drink it.  But if it was fresh and looked homogeneous, he would drink it down and think it was cow's milk.  Knowingly drinking my milk would have been, to him, like knowingly drinking my snot.  Not cool.  Little did he know.... =P  Sneaky mommy.  Although it was lots of work and sneaking around town, it felt remarkably satisfying to pump milk for my adopted stinker.  It felt like I was defying the universe and all its laws regarding the limits of family love.  Guess what?  He didn't grow in my womb but he will have components from my milk in his body for the rest of his life.  Boo ya.

He still doesn't know, and he's seven.

Then when my fourth baby was born, she got to share my milk with my friend Melissa's baby.  Melissa struggled with milk supply issues for the first six months of baby Brayden's life, so I pumped and shared my milk with her so she could supplement with human milk.

Brayden, 4 weeks old
Brayden, now

Milksharing in this instance was a huge commitment.  I was so grateful to have milk in abundance and be able to share it, but it was more than just sharing.  It was carrying the burden of feeding another baby other than my own.  A baby who, without me remembering to pull out my pump every day and properly store the milk and remember to place it on the front stoop for pickup by Melissa's husband, would be hungry that evening.  It wasn't the pumping that was the hard part, it was carrying that knowledge; that Brayden would be hungry without me remembering to pump for him.
I was SO happy to do it, and, really, sitting down to pump once a day when you've got an oversupply isn't that big a job!  It's the remembering to sit down that is the job!  Especially with four small kids running around and a husband who does shift work.  

It worked best when I had a routine.  For several months my daughter Amarys would sleep in and I would get up a tiny bit earlier than normal, pump one breast for ten minutes, and put it outside on the front step for pickup. This worked beautifully!  I had a few quiet moments to myself in the morning, Brayden got milk, Amarys was happy, and everything was golden.  But after about four months, Amarys switched up this routine and started waking earlier and nursing nonstop for an hour or two before we got up.  So then I had no extra milk first thing in the morning anymore.  

I tried switching the routine around, but there seemed to be no time quite as perfect as before to ensure that I had enough milk in one breast and enough time and space to sit down and pump in peace, every day.  Several times, Melissa's husband would arrive and I would have no milk to give him.  And I'd feel SO AWFUL!  Then Amarys got sick and went on nebulizer medications so Melissa arranged with another nursing friend to have milk donated for the weeks that Amarys was treated with steroids.  By the time those two weeks were up, my body had down shifted in its milk production, and I couldn't get more than an ounce or two extra per day anymore.  It just wasn't enough, so we stopped.

Milksharing was awesome.  It was better than donating to the somewhat faceless milk bank, because I knew the baby I was feeding, and I got to see him grow and hear from his parents how happy they were he was thriving on a combination of breastfeeding and supplemental milk from me.  Brayden is one year old now, and to this day I think he recognizes my smell and feels fairly comfortable around me because of all that milk of mine that he drank.  Someday I can really gross him out with that information... =)

The final incidence of milksharing that I did was the truest form of wet nursing.  Last Christmas my sister in law left my niece Birch with us for the day, with several bottles of pumped milk for her to drink while she was gone.  Birch drank all the milk and was showing signs of being pretty hungry, so we phoned my sister in law to ask if she would rather come back and nurse my niece, or have me breastfeed her instead.  Which I was very willing to do; I'd never cross nursed before and this would probably be my only opportunity.  She said YES!  Please feed my baby!!  And so I did.

I thought it might be weird or awkward or feel totally different, or that my five month old niece would take one look at my boob and be, like, You're not my mother!  And reject it outright, but she did the whole bicycle riding circles with her leg while I was getting into position and latched on easy as pie.  [The bicycle leg thing is something my babies always did when they were really hungry and I was getting ready to feed them.  It's like they are saying Gotta ride my bike over to that boob and get me some damn snacks!!  They don't feed people in this town!!]

Bring on the auntie milk...
It felt just like nursing my own babies.  And a wee bit special that it was my own little niece.  Sweet baby bird.  ♥ ♥


See how I've pretty much been around town?  With my old lady peppermints at church milk?  Milksharing is one of the coolest things I've ever done.  Because it's free.  Because it's made with love.  Because it's nourishing and miraculous and even a little bit like liquid gold.  And because, at the end of the day, it feels intuitively right and actually on the spectrum of human behavior, incredibly normal.  This is what we've done for centuries, us women~share the job of feeding our babies the milk they need.  And that is really cool.