A love letter to my husband…

So, today was a crappy day.  Or, it could have been were it not for M.  I started feeling sick yesterday in the afternoon when we were out with the kids but chalked it up to exhaustion or the heat.  I still felt unwell once dinner rolled around so I didn’t eat much but I rallied to go out for a few hours for a friend’s birthday last night.  By the end of the night I felt awful and by the time I was home I was running to the bathroom in case I needed to upchuck.  If this is too much information, this is not the blog for you!  I didn’t puke, but spent a few minutes prone on the bathroom floor trying to stop my stomach from turning.  I managed to sleep fitfully through the night and when I woke up I didn’t feel any better.  M was already up with the kids as it was his turn to get up early and I sent him a text saying that he might have to be on his own for a bit longer as I wasn’t feeling up to participating in any parenting duties.  He didn’t mind and the giggles and shouts from the backyard that I could hear from my bedroom window indicated that things were running smoothly and that kids were happy.  I spent the next few hours napping, staying horizontal so my stomach could maintain its fragile equilibrium, and finishing the 50 Shades trilogy (!).  By the time I got out of bed and joined the crew M had fed, entertained, cleaned up after and gotten bottles and drinks for both kids.  All was well and K was napping.  Over the course of the rest of the day M proceeded to get lunches, clean the kitchen, do potty breaks, get snacks and encouraged me to rest.  In the late afternoon I managed to rouse myself enough to make a grocery list and we all went to the store together.  By the time we got home I was feeling yucky again so M unloaded the groceries and made dinner.  He also tried to act as a toddler buffer to keep R from ‘mom, mom, mom’-ing me to death as I tried not to puke on our couch.  I managed to help feed a kid and get one bath done, but by that time I was out for the count.  M took it from there and did the rest of the evening’s duties and now all is quiet and I still feel like crap. 

Or do I?  I actually feel rather elated having gone through the day watching my husband take the reins and let me rest.  My favourite part of the day was sitting outside watching him wander around with K as I looked on.  He was holding her up to touch tree leaves, running her hands over soft and prickly plants to let her feel the textures and watered the plants with her in his arms.  She was in fits of giggles as he threw her up in the air and was at other times oohing and aahing as she noticed butterflies, lights and shadows.  She got rather interested in the hose at one point and was also able to practice her new walking skills in the grass.  It was a beautiful sight to behold.  So, on what could have been a crappy and exhausting day, I actually feel rather rested and happy.  I feel secure in the knowledge that my husband is just as capable as I am in running this ship and I guess I should really let him take the reins on a more regular basis.  Let’s be clear now – he does a crap load of stuff around here every day but I have rarely been around for the occasions when he has to do it all without me.  It was nice to be a fly on the wall to see him be a spectacular dad without my interference or guidance.  He was fun, gentle, patient and loving – all things that I know he is and can be – it was just so lovely to see.  Both girls are happy and in bed now and I feel lucky to have such a great partner in this journey in parenting.  Thanks for a super day M.  Who knew that an upset tummy could make for such a great time.

Sugar and Spice VS Slugs and Snails: How different are boys and girls really?

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When I was pregnant with my first child I was convinced I was having a boy.  My husband comes from a family of four boys.  His brother has three boys and most of his cousins are boys – save for one delightful girl cousin.  I was convinced I was having a boy and that I would only have boys.  I was pretty excited to be honest.  I am a farily ‘typical’ girl/woman if we go by today’s stereotypes.  I danced, I like to wear makeup and dresses, I am feminine (no, really), I have almost always had long hair, I like to cook, sing, I like chick flicks, etc.  I never thought I would marry the ‘typical’ boy/man, but I did.  He is testosterone personified by all intents and purposes.  He played every sport imaginable, is large and in charge, eats red meat with gusto and has a hard time tapping in to his emotions – or did until I came along! Ha!  So, given our pretty traditional takes on our roles as a couple, I was pretty sure the boy we were having would be a little daddy’s boy and would be playing football by age 3. 

So, as I prepared to undergo my first ultrasound to find out what we were having – and to make sure the baby was ok and all that jazz – I was absolutely floored when the technician said we were having a little girl.  I went back to work (teaching) and met my class in the gynmasium where they were practicing for an assembly.  They all knew I was finding out the gender that day and all rushed up to ask and I made my announcement.  They all gasped and oohed and I made them get back to what they were doing.  I then excused myself to the hallway where I proceeded to cry because I was pretty upset about losing my hoped for boy.  R and K if you read this in the near or late future – I would never trade you for the world.  Mommy is just crazy. 

So, I had to drastically alter my expectations and plan for a different household.  Why?  Why should my household be different if I were having a boy vs having a girl?  We all automatically think the immediate impact would be on decor, clothes, activities, toys and the like.  Pink vs blue, ballet vs hockey, cargo shorts vs tutus.  But, the debate lately seems to be on whether or not boys and girls are inherently different or if we just make them different by the manner in which we raise them.  Nature vs Nurture – that old debate. 

I began thinking about this again when I remembered that story in the news not long ago about a Toronto couple who are attempting to raise a genderless child named Storm.  They aren’t going to reveal the child’s gender until they feel the child wants them to.  Interesting idea – but in my opinion your child should not turn into a social experiment.  You can read more about it here http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/relationships/the-genderless-baby-well-intentioned-but-wrong/article624920/ and here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1389593/Kathy-Witterick-David-Stocker-raising-genderless-baby.html

What do you think?  Can you raise a genderless child? I am not going to go in to ‘should you?’ right now – that is another story!  Having girls just makes my house different from my friends who have boys.  There is all the obvious stuff listed above, but boys also seem to have an innate need to climb, run and take things apart.  I have watched my daughter and her very close friend who is a boy play side by side and they are very different.  R sits to play.  B does not.  R is hardwired to tell all her friends the RULES about playing and to discipline them.  Her boy friends seem to just want to get down to it and PLAY with EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW!  She tends to step back and observe their behaviour and then choose a comfortable time and place to join in.  When she plays with other girls they seem to establish a similar wavelength and play with similar goals in mind.  Now, all that being said, R plays with a variety of kids who come from different types of parents with different households.  Parents have different interests – one house might be really sports focussed and another might be musically inclined but I still find that the boys in my circle tend to be more energetic, somewhat more aggressive and forecful (that does not mean violent and mean) and impulsive no matter what their parents are in to.  R and her fellow lady friends seem to be more in to solitary pursuits that they could share if they were so inclined.  Puzzles, books, art, making cookies with their fake kitchens etc.  I know that we as parents have steered them in these directions to an extent given the toys we purchase them, the energy with which we approach them and how we interact with them, but there still seems to be an unspoken difference in energy. 

Nature vs Nurture seems to come in when it comes to harnessing this energy.  What do you turn to?  How do you model gender for your child?  In our house we have been somewhat mindful to buy R and K gender neutral toys for the most part.  Now, they have been given a plethora of gifts that are purely ‘girl-focussed’ such as dolls, tea sets, and jewellry (although I know lots of boys with these toys too and R has hockey sticks… just saying).  Not to mention the girly clothes!  I secretly love them and think the girls are adorable when wearing a cute dress but I let them make their choices once they are old enough to do so and I make sure to dress them in sweats and Ts as much as, if not more than, the dresses.  I love it when R is in the backyard in her puddle boots and a t-shirt and diaper (not any more – potty trained!) tromping around after her father in the dirt pulling weeds and chasing spiders.  Now, you wouldn’t catch me dead doing that, but I am glad she considers that to be just as fun as playing dance party with mom.  R loves to play catch, to kick a ball around and also loves to draw and sing.  I believe strongly that all girls and boys are born with the ability to develop any and all of these interests and talents and more.  I do, however, believe that there is an inherent difference in boy and girl ‘energy’.  I don’t know another word for it…  I don’t necessarily mean that boys are more energetic per se, but there is a different boy aura and a different girl aura. 

Do I really know what I am talking about?  Probably not.  I have only spoken to friends and family about this and most people agree that there is some real difference to boys and girls but that parents can exacerbate that gap with choices they make and how they steer their kids play habits, extra curricular activities and clothing selections.  Parental role models play a huge part – I am sure that is no surprise to all of you. 

What is your take on the girls vs boys debate.  Born the same and raised different?  Or born different from the start?  I know there are so many layers to this question that involve gender bias, sexual preferences, traditional roles and their place in society and all that.  I welcome comments from one and all.  I just opened it up – I could go on forever!   

I’ll leave you with this link to Marlo Thomas’ song ‘William’s Doll’.  Who says dolls are just for girls anyways?! 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lshobg1Wt2M

Remember the ice cream I mentioned in the last post?

This is how it went down.  I heard of a new ice cream shop(pe) from my friend Julie’s blog www.dinnerwithjulie.com.  She mentioned a new place with interesting flavours – something out of the ordinary even for the most discerning ice cream connoisseur.  Today we were planning to go to the beach near our house but naps went long and we needed to adjust our plans.  So, we went out looking for plants for the garden, attempted another public pee with R (gah!), and decided to go downtown to check out the new spot.  It is Stampede time here in Calgary which means that downtown is officially a shit show with people asking $40 for parking anywhere you can fit a car.  We managed to find a spot and walked to the Village Ice Cream parlour.  It is a tiny spot tucked away behind a set of train tracks and you have to make 4 right turns ina row to get there.  It was worth the effort!  Cardamom, Salted Caramel, Huckleberry, Guide’s Mint and Vanilla Bean are all amongst the flavours I sampled.  I decided on cardamom and it was delish.  In a freshly made, warm waffle cone no less.  R had huckleberry as she requests purple ice cream wherever we go.  She was in heaven.  There was also a dog outside the store as we were eating which may have contributed to her blissful state.  It was a good evening.

Body After Baby

This is something that has been on my mind today because I started off my Saturday with an envigorating Barre class.  I used to be a dancer a million years ago so this type of exercise is right up my alley.  It is about a 40 minute drive to get there, but I go with a friend so we visit on the way there and back – not a bad way to start a weekend.  Check it out at www.barrebodyfit.com. It rules. 

I had my last baby 11 months ago and still feel ridiculously out of shape.  Now, I wasn’t in great shape before I started having kids but I have worked damn hard to get some semblance of a body back after both girls.  I started running and ran one 10 K when R was 11 months old, and then after K I started running when she was only 4 weeks old.  I ran another 10 K when she was 13 weeks old, and then I just did another before she was 10 months old.  I still look like what I believe to be a mixture of two of the following images:

                                                  

I know this is not a new rant…  Many moms stuggle with their bodies after having babies.  Unless we are Jessica Alba or some freak of nature supermodel or have means to access personal trainers/dieticians/meal planners/cooks/maids/nannies in order to facilitate the 8 hour a day workouts and strict diet regimen we would have to adhere to in order to look like NOTHING happened to our bodies, we are most likely going to experience some angst in getting our bodies back.

Actually, I am never going to have my old body back.  I wish I had enjoyed it more when I had it.  No matter what I do I am never going to get rid of my Kate Gosselin-esque stomach.  I only had one baby at a time!  Why do I look like a woman who birthed sextuplets?  No matter how much weight I lose I will never be the same again.  I know that my beautiful babies are worth it, but still.  I am allowed to mourn my old stomach.  I had abs. 

Anyhoo, my real issue with all this is what it has done to my psyche.  I have a hot husband.  When we were first married I felt we were on par with each other in the looks department and now I am feeling a bit lower on the totem pole thanks to my new physique.  I also believe I have aged a bit faster than him due to the sleep deprivation and general haggard appearance I keep these days.  Anyone who knows him and us knows he will love me no matter what, and he does, but it really doesn’t matter what he thinks at this point does it?  I feel less lovable, less desirable and am less approachable because of the hit I have taken to the old self-esteem.  So, a third kid in the near future isn’t likely.  Catch my drift?  Also, when I walk by a mirror I often have to do a double take because what I see doesn’t match what I still believe I look like. 

I guess I am on a journey, like many of you, to accept the new me.  I have kids – that is something to adjust to in and of itself.  Remember when a 28 degree day meant drinking on a patio?  Today, it meant a trip to Rona and out for ice cream with the kiddos.  Still fun, just different.  I guess I have to think of my body the same way now.  Still fun, just different.  Ha!  I can still do cool things!  I can run far and fast (R says ‘mama go so fass’ everytime she sees me in a headband and sneakers which is priceless).  I can still stretch and bend and that allows me to play with my kids, pick them up and run after them.  I know it is all for a good cause and I am on my way to accepting the new me.  I hope we all get there sooner rather than later. 

If anyone knows of a good plastic surgeon, let me know.

All About Boobs.

Alternate titles:  None of your boobs-ness!  Breast-spectations – yours vs mine. 

This is something that has come up a lot with my fellow young-ish moms over the past three years since we all started popping out babies.  To breast-feed, or not to breast-feed?  It astonishes me the amount of pressure there is out there to do one or the other.  It also amazes me that once you have a baby people really do not hesitate to give their opinions about what you should do – because it is what they did and they of course know what is best for you and your child if they are a nurse, your mother, or a well-meaning busy-body in the grocery store or mall.  Most moms get a clear message in the hospital after they have given birth that they must start breast feeding.  This wasn’t a problem for me as I really wanted to breast feed as long as possible for both my girls.  For the record, I fed R breast milk exclusively for 8 months when she was weaned on to formula until she was 1.  I fed K breast milk exclusively for about 5 weeks then I started supplementing with two ounces as night for a dream feed to get her to sleep through the night.  I breast fed her otherwise until she was 6 months old and then slowly transitioned to formula by the time she was 7 months old.  It worked for me, butI know this might not work for others.  That is my whole point. 

Most new moms are well aware that the approved and most recent research all points to breast is best.  The World Health Organization recommends breast feeding exclusively until 6 months and then continuing up to two years with the addition of solid foods.  I know of exactly one person who has accomplished this.  I think this is an incredible feat, but it is also not for everyone.  There are many moms out there who experience such pain, anxiety and frustration when breast feeding that it IS actually in their best interested to try something else.  If the pressure to breast feed is such that you make yourself sick over it and not being able to do it – who are you actually helping?  A lot of moms just don’t like it and feel uncomfortable doing it.  Many moms feel trapped and chained to their child because they know their boobs are going to be on call every 2 – 4 hours.  That is a really stifling feeling for some people – I know it was for me.  Moms need to know that they will be supported no matter what they try.  I say give it a go – acknowledge that it can be physically uncomfortable for a week or so (and by uncomfortable I actually mean excruciating agony – for me anyways).  Try as best you can.  Access help (see links below).  Ask trusted friends their advice.  But, in the end, do what is best for you, your child, and your family.  An anxiety ridden mom isn’t good for anyone. 

Alot of tricks can help you along the way in trying to get breast feeding going if that is something that is really important to you: 

Use lanolin on sore nipples – my daughters both chewed me to shreds due to shallow latches and tongue ties so I was cracked and bleeding within the first day or so and it lasted on and off for a few weeks.  I had been told by a health nurse to let them air dry and heal that way which was hilarious.  I was so engorged and leaking that I just walked around with my Dolly Parton-esque boobs dripping all over the place and creating a mess.  Lanolin under a breast pad to protect your bra – thank god for oily sheep. 

Get a good breast feeding bra.  Don’t try to just shove your huge boobs in your old bra and move it out of the way or undo it every time a baby needs to eat.  So annoying.  Spend the money and your boobs will thank you.  Less underwire to minimize the chance of blocked ducts and the accompanying pain.  More support. 

Get a breast pump.  A lot of people say that introducing pumped milk in a bottle will confuse a baby.  Maybe.  That hasn’t been my experience – but I have only had two babies.  I actually used it most when my boobs were so full I needed relief.  I KNOW – pumping actually tells your body to produce more milk because it is in demand.  I hear ya – but when I can pump 8 oz in a matter of 5 minutes – my boobs are in need of immediate relief that no amount of manual expression can give. 

Manual expression.  I know – I just said it wasn’t fast enough, but if you have specific hard spots and just need to get rid of a bit of extra cargo in the morning in the shower, go for it.  Get in a hot shower or stand over the sink and use a wet, hot towel wrapped around your boob like a doughnut and squeeze your boobs.  Place one hand over the boob and one hand under and twist your hands rubbing one hand over the breast and one hand under in opposite directions.  It works. 

See a lactation consultant.  Here in Calgary you are required to follow up with local health nurses after you give birth.  If you continue to experience trouble, one of them can set you up with an LC or an LC who is also a Dr.  I had to see one three months in with K as I was convinced her ‘small, insignificant’ tongue tie was actually more of a problem than people thought.  The Dr agreed and clipped it. 

Call La Leche.  I know they are the equivalent of breast feeding Nazis, but they actually have a lot of great info.  One helped me over the phone to adjust my angle of placing R’s mouth on to my breast because my nipple was coming out pinched – or as the nice lady on the phone described it, looking like a lipstick.  Genius. 

My ultimate message for this topic is that mothers need to have information, support and help.  Not judgement.  If a mom chooses not to breast feed we must respect her decision and trust that this is a mom who made the decision based on multiple factors.  If a mom really wants to breast feed and is having difficulty, she should feel like she has options and access to support. 

Anyhoo ladies – keep your tits up and good luck.  It wasn’t easy for me.  It rarely felt natural and beautiful like it does for some but I am glad I did it as long as I did.  I don’t feel guilty for adding formula or using a bottle or pump at times.  I needed relief and for my husband to be able to feed my kids so I could go OUT!  He also wanted the time to bond with them and feel like he was important to their survival too!  He certainly was important to my survival at times! 

Here are a few links that might come in handy – not an exhaustive list – just a place to get started. 

http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/ – World Health Organization

http://www.lllc.ca/ – La Leche League Canada

http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/services.asp?pid=stype&type=28 – a list of programs and services offered by Alberta Health

Also – call your Dr!  My OBGYN was amazing and so helpful with all things breast feeding related.

Potty training success – and my own worst nightmare!

We completed the three day potty training system, and I have to say it is a miracle! This kid has pooped and peed on the potty with only a few dribbles here and there for two days! She has also woken up dry from nighttime and naps which is fantastic. She feels good, I feel good, and I am excited to save a lot of money on diapers!

We even took R out to M’s (husband, father) flag football game last night even though we weren’t supposed to test drive her skills until today. She said she wanted to try once which necessitated using a – gulp – port-a-potty! As I have already mentioned, I am a serious germaphobe and the idea of using a port-a-potty makes me cringe, shudder, gag and wretch. Using it with a kid involves putting a travel potty seat ON TOP of the actual toilet seat and having said kid sit down and TOUCH things! Oh the horror! I almost lost it. The cherry on top was that as soon as she sat down she said she didn’t have to go and congratulated herself on having a ‘big try’. ARE YOU KIDDING ME????? Anyhoo – I guess that is one huge, disgusting hurdle we have conquered – thank god for copious amounts of hand sanitizer. I am still anxioius about accidents and I gave her milk in bed after she woke up and peed this morning which was stupid because she then fell asleep and peed the bed. My bad – I was too tired to get up for the third morning in a row before 6 am and foolishly thought now that she had been ‘trained’ that she would get up and pee on her own. I guess we are still learning. Diligence mama!

Mama! Look at my ‘ulla-wear’!

So, I have been hearing about this potty training method called 3 Day Potty Training for months now and have been procrastinating giving it a try.  It is an eBook written by Lora Jensen and you can find it at 3daypottytraining.com.  For starters, we have been trying for months to get our oldest daughter, R, to use the potty with any regularity.  In interest of full dislosure I mist admit that we haven’t been trying with much consistency – we have used skittles, stickers, iPhones, stories, coersion and bribery all to no avail.  I know our mistake was the lack of consistency and my honest reluctance to give up diapers.  I hate public bathrooms so much (I am a huge germaphobe) that I would rather change a poopy diaper in the car than have my kid sit on a public toilet seat.  She is going to be 3 in November, is super smart and interested, but I never really gave her the chance.  Also, we were planning and did eventually take a month-long vacation that I thought would make all this too difficult.  So, no more excuses, and here we go! 

We are on day 2 of the 3 day method and things are going well!  On day one, we threw out all her diapers and said that she was going to be wearing undies from now on.  We basically spent the day telling her to ‘remember to tell mama and dada if you have to pee or poop!’ and let her initiate the potty visits.  If we saw an accident occurring we rushed her to the bathroom and let her finish on the potty.  She had a few small accidents in the morning, woke up from her nap wet, but other than that she did great.  She pooped on the potty and did 4 pees on the potty as well.  Today was even better!  Other than waking up wet – no big surprise – she kept dry and clean all day except for a few dribbles.  She is high on chocolate and has about a million stickers but she is feeling the thrill of being a big girl!  I am so excited to not have to scrape sh*t out of her butt crack anymore you have NO idea!  Why didn’t I do this sooner?

Any success stories/nightmare anecdotes to share about potty training?  Feel free to add a comment!