Friday, June 24, 2011

Someone Take Away the Hot Glue Gun!

I have a confession to make. Most people who know me well, know that one thing I am not is a girlie girl. I can't ever recall a day when I went out of my way to buy something in the colour of pink. It wasn't until I was older that I even enjoyed wearing dresses. I think I went through most of my youth in sweatpants. In summer it was shorts and I accented my attire with grazed knees from falling off my bike an calluses on my hands from climbing and swinging from my favourite climbing tree. These are all things I look forward to doing with Lachlan, though hope his first bike attempts are painless ones.

When I found out I was having a daughter, I was surprised. I never imagined having a little girl. I hoped of course that she would be a child that would feel confident being herself. I have to admit though, a small part of me hopes that she'll me a little tomboy like I was. I think part of me is afraid that if she isn't I won't be able to relate. Perhaps sounds strange, I'm sure. Afterall we both are girls!

I was excited to have a girl in the house. One more double X chromosone to equal our house out. Someone hopefully to be my allie in times of war against the testosterones. The girls department is also always about 3 times larger than the boys so shopping would also be more fun. I just hoped that she wouldn't have a wardrobe entirely of pink and free from those dreaded baby hair accessories- yuck!

Well, something has happened to me. I find the colour pink growing on me. I actually don't mind it and think my little girl looks adorable in it. I do however love her in blues and reds and wish it wasn't so darn hard to find them from newborns. Really, people? Can't our kids be exposed to other colours! But that aside, I will admit that I no longer hate pink. We have become friends.

The most shocking thing that has happened occured last week. A photographer came to the hosue to shoot some baby photos. I grimaced as she began to pull out a pair of nappy covers with lime green and hot pink ruffles. I've come a long way, but I'm not quite to hot pink ruffles yet. Thankfully Noelle's legs were too cubby for them so it saved me from hurting the lady's feelings as she made the covers herself. Next, out of the bag came a headband with a flower. Inside my head, I was thinking, "give me a break, lady!" I obviously hadn't made my distaste for hair accessories on babies clear. Afterall, what is the purpose? They don't keep their heads warm and half the time the bubs don't even have hair. I cringe when I see bubs with no hair but have a bow on their head. Someone please tell me how the bow is attached? Is it glued, taped, stapled? Is this another purpose for blue tac? I just think it is all a bit silly. I'm sure some people are desperate to make sure people know their child is a girl and not a boy. I'm sorry for parents who feel the need to do that, but it is their choice and if it helps ease some sort of paranoia or combats potential embarassment then so be it.

As the photographer approached Noelle to place this headband on her head, I didn't know what to do. Do I save my little bub from having to look like some primadonna or do I let it happen. Well, I let it happen. Afterall part of wanting androgynous children is to let them like both sides of things. Keeping her from girlie things is just as bad as keeping her from toy trucks so this mommy had to do a reality check. Once I finished the battle in my head, I came to and looked at my little angel. There she laid with a headband on and nothing else. She was all smiles, giggling and cooing. She even seemed to pose for the camera. Then a strange thing happened. It was as if I had an out of body experience. I could here a woman ooo-ing and ahh-ing, saying, "isn't she sooooo cute! how adorable." The voice sounded familiar. I then realised that woman was me!

What in the heck happened? How could I go from being a hairband nazi to this? I found myself rationalizing the situation: well, it is a flower, not a bow. It is crocheted and made from natural fibres, not something plasticy and synthetic. Noelle seems to like it. Ohhhhh, look she's smiling....

So what was I doing the next day? I was at my local craft store finding some wool yarn and elastic. I got out my felt and began creating a flower. Before I knew it I was cuting and rolling and hot gluing felt like crazy. The entire time the angels and demons were sounding off in my head. "What are you doing?!"...."Oh, but it will be so darn cute!"...."Seriously, step away from the glue gun!!"...."Oh, it's just flowers and they are blue flowers, that's not too over the top girlie..)In the end the demons won and I crocheted a headband with a flower for my daughter. When I looked at the finished process I realised that it wasn't the demons, it was an archangel that won this match because it was too stinkin' cute to come from anywhere else and my little girl would look divine in it!

So there ya have it. I've hit the deep end. Now if I start blogging tutorials for big pink bows, do please plan an intervention! It is a cute little headband, the flowers though are too big for her head, they need to be shorter so I'll have to make another out glue gun!

A Magical Day

Yesterday was winter solstice. It was a big day at our Steiner playgroup as we have been preparing for this day for the last few weeks. Lachlan and I worked hard creating his rainbow lantern. He had been looking forward to carrying it through the spriraly walkway he had been told about and having his lantern lit.

When we arrived to playgroup that day we were all asked to wait outside until all our friends arrived. Our play group leader was busy inside preparing the surprise festivities for the children. We all anxiously awaited outside with a special food we brought to share in celebrtion of the shortest day/longet night of the year. Lachlan and I brought our favourite pumpkin pie; an American tradition, usually made for Thanksgiving. It was the perfect food for us to bring as it represented a part of our american culture. The pie was also made from one of our garden pumpkins which Lachlan and I have been tending to all autumn, weekly inspecting them to see how much they had grown.

When we were finally allowed to enter the building, the children were asked to walk in silently. The room was dark, except for a few candles that glowed around the room. The room was decorated as a night sky with stars on the walls and a spiral made from tree branches and leaves on the ground. In the middle stood a tall candle with a flickering flame. All the children were silent as thye walked in. Lachlan was the last to enter and as he saw the lovely display he let out this loud, "Whooooaaa!" which broke the silence. He was so excited to see the candles glowing, he couldn't contain himself. I think everything must have looked so magical to him. He and I sat down with his baby sister and watched as each of his friends one by one took their lanterns from a table and walked around the spiral to the lit candle. We all sang a special song as they did so. When it was Lachlan's turn he was so excited. He seemed so grown up, holding his little lantern so delicatley and making the softest steps through the spiral. When he reached the little flame his teacher lit his lantern and he smiled; his face lit up as much as his lantern.

Later our teacher told us a beautiful story about two children who walked through the night with their lantern and found a crystal cave. There a gnome gave them a bag of seeds and magical crystals. The teacher then gave each of the children a little sachet with special treasures inside. I tucked it away for Lachlan to open at home.

The next day (today), I could tell that Lachlan needed a lot of my attention. He had been a little bit clingy the last few days and seemed a bit jealous of his sister. Today I decided that I would give him my undivided attention the whole morning. No phone, computer or housework- it could all wait. My little man needed me. He needed me to be present with him. The last few weeks had been busy for our family and although I'm always with him everyday, I'm not always "present." My mind has been elsewhere thinking about work, family and close friends who have been ill. I'm certain Lachlan picked up on this; so now the day was about just him and me and Noelle tagged along like the good sister she is, sleeping most of the time.

Today was a gorgeous day. I had to spend this day with Lachlan outside, the sun was calling us to come out and play and we obeyed eagerly. In the garage I found a bucket of landscaping pebbles which I had been digging out of our garden for the last year. I brought them up to our front porch, hoping to entice Lachlan. I took out about 6 rocks and began to make a half circle. Lachlan was intrigued and began taking rocks and adding to the ones I put on the ground. I sat back and watched where he'd go with it. He was amazing! He kept adding pebble next to pebble and before I knew it, he had made a beautiful spiral. Just like the one from our winter festival! He then began to branch off of the spiral, stopping for a moment and then saying, "Mommy, it's a 'Q!" and indeed it was. It looked just like the letter Q. Lachlan continued to add to his creation and by the end he had a lovely pebble design on our porch. We went inside and got a little gnome his teacher had given him a few months ago for his brithday and also grabbed a little toy puppy dog. "Let's take these guys on an adventure, shall we?" "Oh, yes!" Lachlan replied and off we went, setting out on what would be a magical adventure. I was the gnome and Lachlan was the puppy (of course!) We hoppd along the pebbles and Lachlan suggested that we follow the path through the spiral. We went back and forth playing with our characters and having a lot of fun. I then realised that I had Lachlan's little sachet from playgroup that he hadn't opened yet. I ran inside and brought it out, placing it on one end of the pebble path. "Look, treasure!" Our little gnome and puppy discovered the treasure and Lachlan untied the string to unveil the surprise. From inside a bunch of tiny stars, seeds and precious stones fell out. Lachlan was amazed. He especially loved the tiny stones. He picked each one up with his small fingers and added them to the end of the path. Next, he had the puppy eat the seeds.

It had been awhile since I had really sat and enjoyed Lachlan use his imagination, uninfluenced by me. He has really been absorbed into trains the last year and for months that has been all he'll play with. I was eager to see him branch back out into other creative modes. The pebbles did the trick I guess. I love watching Lachlan work. Everything he does serves a purpose. You can see it in his face as his eyes concentrate so intently.His hands and fingers always move with such precision. You can tell that his mind already has something mapped out and they follow his lead like it has been rehearsed a hundred times. If Lachlan accidently drops or bumps something in the process, frustration will be released. He doesn't like anything to disturb the process and seems to want the image in his head to be replicated perfectly. These are the moments when I know it is my role to step back an let him create. When we wants to involve me he will. My cue is generally a "your turn, mommy!" or "next one, please!" And when it is my turn, I just pray I do what is expected of me! If not, we have a grumpy gus on our hands!

After lunch, Lachlan asked to go right back outside and play with his magical pebbles, as we call them now. We continued to role play. He even had the idea of using the string from the sachet as a snake, which he slithered through the pebbles and up a tree which we made with a stick. I could have played all day to tell you the truth. We had so much fun!

Later we took a break and went for a walk to the park. The day was still gorgeous and the sun felt wonderful on our faces. However, the sun began to sink lower and lower behind the trees as the afternoon grew shorter. We ran around the open playing field chasing each other and chasing our dog, Maxwell. On one end of the park is a steep ravine. He stood at the edge and looked down. From the ravine grew tall gum trees which the leafy tops where at our eye level. As we admired them, we noticed our shadows dancing in the leaves. We waved, jumped, danced and giggled as our shadows followed our lead. We then ran up a hill and rolled down, something I hadn't done in a long time! Lachlan laughed as we stood up, shaking all the grass off our clothes and out of our hair. The sun began to hide even more behind the trees and I knew that was our signal to head home. Neither of us wanted the day to end. We had so much fun. It was a spontaneous, special day just for us. I wanted to breathe it in as long as I could: breathe in the smell of the fresh cut grass, the sound of the fairy wrens singing in the distance and the youth of my son; so innocent and beautiful. I wanted all moments to be like this one and I hoped that he would remember this moment in years to come. I know he most likey won't, but I will treasure it in my heart for the both of us.

We walked home, ate dinner, lit his special lantern and I read him his books and tucked him into bed. As always, I prayed for angels to watch over him and to keep him safe until the morning light. I blew out the candle in his lantern and kissed his forehead. I could see his lips curl up in a smile as he closed his eyes and I thought, I'm the luckiest mommy in the world; my precious, sweet boy.

So our magical day is done, but tomorow will be a new one. One where I will remember to be not just physically present with my children, but emotionally and spiritually. When we do this an amazing thing happens; we can be children again! We can see things the way our children do, the way we used to before we got all grown up and sucked into the hustle and bustle of life.So go today and "be present" with your child. I hope something magical happens. xx

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hi-ho, Hi-ho! It's Back to Work I Go!

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, indeed! Last week it was back to work for me. I've had the last several months off as we welcomed Noelle to the family. I wasn't planning on working so soon after her birth but I had an opportunity come up that I didn't want to miss and since I own my own business, I can for the most part make my own schedule. If something doesn't suit my family, I don't do it. It is a luxury of owning your own business and also being able to work because you love it, not because you have to. In that regard I'm very blessed. Besides, I'm only working a few hours every fortnight (bi-weekly for my fellow Americans) so it isn't taking me away for too long. My hubby is also staying home during that time, otherwise I would not do it. Although we have an amazing woman who watches Lachlan when I need her, I'm not at the place yet to leave Noelle with anyone for a lengthy time unless it is my husband.

I did figure out the one upside to leaving your precious newbie for the first time, you are more nervous about how she is going to do, then how you'll preform at work! I was heading off to a brand new client which has potential of giving me a lot of on-going business. Generally I would be a bit nervous about this and not sleep much the night before as my mind would be racing. Instead, the sleep that I did get was good quality- the tiredness of being a mommy does wonders in the realm of sleep sometimes. Instead of worrying about what might go wrong on my drive to the city, I was worrying if Noelle would drink my breast milk from the bottle and if not would she be very upset. If she was upset would she find enough comfort in her daddy's arms? Fortunatley I was able to swith this worry off as soon as I reached my destination and parked the car. From then on I was in work mode...well, almost. My boobs start filling up with milk and became completley engorged like ballons ready to burst; but after that subsided a bit I was then ready to step out of the car as a working mommy again, praying I wouldn't let anyone down that day but most importantly that my breast pads wouldn't let me down! And speaking of 'let down' I have hyperlactation so when it does come down, it comes down like a high pressure elephant hose! It has embarassmet potential written all over it. Trust me, I know from experience!

Fortunatley work went off without a hitch (or waterworks!). I trained a lovely bunch of women on literacy development in young children. The best part is that the first half of training I got to talk about Lachlan and his literacy journey as he was my 'research subject' for the first portion of the workshop that involved development in 0-2 year olds. It was as if he was in the room. I don't generally use my children as examples in my work, but for those of you who have followed Lachlan these last two years, you know that there couldn't be a better subject then him regarding literacy. The child just loves to read and write and demonstrates this with various modes and media.

I left the workshop feeling very confident. I had excellent feedback and many of the participants waited in line afterwards to tell me how much they appreciated the information and the way it was presented. It made me feel really good as it reminded me of why I do what I do: to get parents and professionals excited about supporting childrens' development. It makes leaving my children to work so worth it, to know that I might have made a difference in the way a caregiver thinks about children and in turn, that caregiver will make a difference in the life of a child. Perhaps one day my child or your child.

So onwards and upwards! I've begun the great task of juggling it all. Somehow I seem to manage quite well--or so people tell me. Many friends ask me how I do it and I'm always surprised with this question. I just figure we all do it! I will try though to give some tips that might be helpful to others in my next blog entry; but honestly I believe most of the credit goes to the good temperment of my children and a supportive husband. I don't declare to be a supermom or domestic diva but if one trick of the trade helps ease the tension of another parent then I'm happy to help. Until next time..


Introducing Noelle and a Big Brother!

Big Brother and Little Sister

Sweet Angel, Noelle

Yes. I know, I know. I have been completley slack about blogging. I've been keeping most everyone informed via facebook these days. I've had a good excuse for my blog laziness. The arrival of our sweet little girl Noelle. She graced us with her presence in April. Since then our little world has been filled with a little bit more joy-I didn't even think that was possible! Children have a way of doing that though and she makes it very easy. She's a great sleeper and as content as can be. She's made her place in our family and all of us have welcomed her with much love; especially Lachlan.

Lachlan has been an amazing little brother. If his sister cries he tells me that he has to "check on Noelle." He returns and always tells me she "needs mummy's milk." It seems as soon as toddlers learn the ropes of becoming a big brother, they also become parenting experts as well. Lachlan loves to direct and correct me regarding my parenting skills. If Noelle cries and I think she needs a burp, Lachlan will say, "No, mummy. Noelle needs mummy's milk!" He definitley thinks we are doing things all wrong in the parent department. When Noelle first came home from the hospital I put her a little bouncy seat. The seat swallowed her up and she could't move out of it as she was so small with no strength to move around so I didn't even both strapping her in. I was sitting next to her on the floor and there was no change of her wiggling her way out. Lachlan of course called me out. He runs over and shouts with urgency, "Click, clack, Mummy! Click, clack Noelle!" He was right. We should always, "buckle up" what kind example was I setting and certainly what kind of parent am I? I'm sure this is what was running through Lachie's head. From then on he insisted on supervising me when ever I put Noelle in her seat. Most of the time insisting that he 'click-clack' her in himself. I'm sure he thought I'd muck it up. He'd lost all trust in me!

So with a second on our lives have changed but definitely for the better. I thought it would be a lot more busy in the house, but surprisingly not much has changed. I believe this is because Noelle is very content. She has really become even more comfortable as part of our family of the last few weeks, wanting to be held less and happy sitting or lying around watching her parents and big brother. She's just taking everything in now where as before she was happy but she did like to snuggle a lot. She's a sweet snuggly baby and won't disappoint you when she's in your arms. She'll flash you a beautiful smile and delight you with many coos and gah-gahs.

A bonus about having a bub in the house is that it actually makes me slow down. Sound strange? It isn't when you think about it. A bub needs to be feed at least every four hours and that means that every four hours at least I need to slow down, sit down and focus on feeding my daughter. I breastfeed so it makes the time even more intimate as we develop a special bond. I use this time to also have a snuggle with Lachlan. To make sure he's not left out I always ask him if he'd like to come and have a snuggle with me while I feed Noelle or if he'd like me to read a book to him. He'll hold the book and turn the pages. He won't want to sit with me all the time and if he does it won't last more than ten minutes as he'll want to go off and do something else, but I let him know that the option is always open and he need not feel shy about joining in with my special time with his sister. After all there are plenty of feeds in the day that Noelle and I just enjoy our one-on-one company so no one misses out.

I've also eased the brotherhood transition for Lachlan by making sure he is an 'involved family member.' I emphasise this because I think that it isn't just important to talk about a sibling being a big brother or a big sister, although this is important but to help them see the bigger picture: we are are family. Family means that we ALL love each other and we ALL help each other out in times of need. We are a family unit and each person is as important as the other, no matter how big or small.

I explained to Lachlan that when Noelle cries she doesn't just need a nappy change or fed, she needs "help." This is a word that many toddlers understand and if not we explain it by our actions. In the beginning, if Noelle cried I told Lachlan that she needs our help. "Let's go see what she needs. Can you help me figure out what she wants?" As Lachlan has always been a 'thinker' this technique is fun for him. It presents a challenge; a problem to solve and of course helps develop those very important problem-solving skills; all great for cognitive and emotional development. When we figure out what is wrong, I ask Lachlan if he'd like to help me. If it is a nappy change he'll hand me the clean nappy, wipes and fasten the nappy as well. Sometimes he likes to help, but other times he is satisfied with determining the solution and could care less if he's involved in the rest of the process; that's alright too. I also use this technique when Lachlan is upset. I say to Noelle, "What's wrong with your brother? Let's go see if we can help him." Lachaln then understands that this help thing is a two-way street. Again, we are family and our job is to help one another, love one another and work together. I just love the fact now that when ever his sister gets upset, the first thing that pops to his mind now is to check on her.

So the time is come where I think I'm ready to write on this blog more regularly again. I had taken a break not because I was actually too busy, but because I knew that my family needed more time with me. I wanted to make sure that these first couple months, Lachlan had all the love and attention he needed from me as we all settled into our new family. He certainly didn't need a blog to compete with. It seems now that we are all confident and content with our new roles and the new dynamic of this family and there is a bit moe wiggle room for this mummy to have a bit of writing fun.  As always, until next time, Happy Parenting!