Monthly Archives: November 2011

Post Travel Thankfulness

It is day 30 of the blog every day month and I have managed to blog every day.

I woke up at 4:30 in the warm desert and flew over nine and a half hours with my husband and kids back to Alaska. In the desert it was 60-70 degrees. In Alaska it has been well below zero. The inside of our windshield had to be scraped.

I am thankful:

that I stuck with the daily blog thing for November

for iPhones and amazing technology that allowed it to happen

that my boy puked all over his dads head AFTER we got off the plane and walked across the icy runway to the terminal

for my husband who entertained and played with the kids on the plane and seemed to get an unequal amount of the stinky diaper changing (I’m thankful I got to also play with the kids and lucked out in the diaper arena today)

that the majority of the time our kids were great on the plane

for chocolate covered espresso beans for those times I wanted to nap but the kids clearly did not

that we cleaned part of the house when we left – it was nice to come home to

i’m too tired to care about the state of the rest of the house

my kids both went right to bed

And Oh – I’m thankful our car started, our pipes weren’t frozen and our heat was on! I’m thankful for the friends that watched out for our house and our frog. And Im really thankful that we have food in the fridge for breakfast tomorrow! And of course I’m very thankful for the friends and family that we were able to visit.

The Next Morning – Did I say the pipes weren’t frozen?  I was wrong.

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A Giraffe and a Lion

“I rode a giraffe” my two-year old shared with my sister-in-law when she asked about our trip to the zoo. A giraffe?! It is possible I envisioned her thinking. Doubtful, but possible – can’t people ride giraffes? Or is that just camels? And then he continued to share, “and sister rode a lion”. Hmm. Hum. Definitely doubtful. Sister-in-law pursed her eyebrows and asked again. Same response. Has he branched from telling mistruths about the origin of a stinky diaper to all out tales of fantasy? No. Not yet. But a touch of clarification from other adults helps. A carousel. He and sister rode the giraffe an the lion on the carousel. And tonight are two very tired children.

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Early Morning Conversation with a Two-Year Old

“Grandpa punched bathroom” my 26-month old boy shared with me on our morning walk.

Let me stop a second and point out those words, “Morning Walk”.

I thought the kids were kinda falling into a desert rhythm – up with the sun and down with the stars.  I was wrong.   The kids were up far before the night sky began the process of morning.  Five am.   At five am while I was sleeping soundly I heard a sweet little voice in my ear say, “mommy?”. I turned to my little smiling boy and he climbed into bed, nestled in next to me and began to quietly talk to himself.

He often does this before nodding back off, but this morning he was wide awake. After a short bit he let me know he needed a diaper.  Knowing that there was no chance of sleep, I began picturing a walk outside in the dark desert morning with my boy.   I quietly slid out of the bed and immediately soundly-sleeping-little-girl began crying – the kind of crying where she was now wide awake.  So I scooped her up, put shoes (and a fresh diaper) on my boy and headed outside and hoped we’d have a good walk and the others would get to sleep.

And the walk was GOOD!  It was beautiful out and the sky was starting to lighten up. We saw some birds begin to wake up and there is something fun about saying that we were up before the birds.  And now back to where I started…

We were walking along and little boy says, “Grandpa punched bathroom yesterday”.

Wow.  Let me repeat that – grandpa PUNCHED the bathroom wall  My little boy is absorbing everything and SHARING everything! But the idea of grandpa punching a hole on the bathroom just didn’t jive with my picture of my father-in-law.  It didn’t jive one bit so I questioned my son and he repeated the info and I wondered if perhaps this very gentle seeming man had an inner Hyde that I knew nothing about.

And then I wondered if THiS was even possible. No less did it not fit his temperament, but to punch the bathroom wall in front of his grandson??? And then my boy adds, “Daddy punched bathroom yesterday.  Daddy and grandpa punched bathroom”

And it fell into place. They PLUNGED the bathroom toilets! I checked with my son if this was correct and he confirmed it was.  And then he told me that grandpa also read him In the Night Kitchen as we walked back to the cabin with the sun beginning to peek over the horizon holding hands on a beautiful early morning walk.

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Ready for a Nap at 6:30 AM

The sun rises in the desert EARLY. And before it even comes over the mountain horizon, the cabin is lit with early morning light. And in that early morning light are two children; one of whom is a one year old child who desperately needs more sleep and cries out just that fact before nodding off again (giving the parents hope that this time she really will fall back into a deep sleep) and one of whom is wide awake litle boy just waiting for a slight movement from the parents before climbing into bed with them to snuggle, hug sister with a “good morning sister good morning” in a gentle little voice with a forehead hug and nose to embrace.

He kinda ruins any chance of little girl sleeping any longer which kinda officially ruins any chance of parents sleeping She officially wakes up, stands up and begins flopping over our faces. Husband opens an eye and I wonder what his expression will be today. I love when he smiles and today the kids are charming. He smiles. We all smile.

Little girl points to the birds at the window. Husband closes his eyes. Little boy sits on my stomach and we sing “sun sun mr golden sun please shine down on me” as we watch the sun edge over the hills. Little boy suggests the next verse should be “Ron” for our friend who is also here so we sing, “Ron Ron mr golden Ron. Please shine down on me”. And then we sang it a few more rounds using other people such as sister in law Megan. I sing “Megan Megan ms golden Megan” and wonder in my head if he notices the switching from mr to ms. We sing some more rounds and then get up to get breafast ready and pictures drawn and breakfast finished.

And the time? Very very early. By 6:30 I was pretty much ready for a nap.

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Yoga – Not My Scene So Much

I went to a yoga class once thinking it would be a good way for me to stretch and connect with my body and feel a bit more centered. I was wrong. I did stretch and it did feel good, but I was so BORED!

My stress energy doesn’t want to cone out by breathing and listening to a cd of calm ocean waves in a peaceful jungle. My system wants to punch or run or Get Going! For a while I felt bad or wondered if I was in some sort of denial, but I’ve come to recognize that we deal with stress differently and it would make sense that we work with it differently.

I love the energy that comes with having a full plate. It gets me enthused and interested and excited and I organize my time to fit it all in. I abhor the energy that comes with “chilling”. Well, I don’t ABHOR it because I am in fact very good at sitting around doing nothing. But I find it doesn’t really do anything for me an I end up with less energy at the end of the day than I thought possible.

I think I’ve been stressed lately and not a good level of it. If I had more stress in my life I might rise to the occasion, but if I had less I might embrace the occasion. I’m hoping to find a nice balance. So when I’m stressed I like getting out and getting stimuli in to my brain or my body. I like loud music, hikes by myself, good lectures, raquetball ( I don’t actually play, but I think I’d like it if I did).

But this is the kicker – I’m too stressed to do anything about my stress so I invariably do nothing which doesn’t really get me out of this rut. I think that’s why I went to yoga – seemed like a low energy commitment. And there really were good people there and it seemed like worthwhile stuff except that I was just so darn bored and and yearning for something more.

Energy is a fascinating thing as well as its relationship with stress and procrastination. I don’t even pretend I’m going to do some things early because I know I take advantage of the stress that comes with putting some things off to the last minute (like cleaning and packing before a trip). I’m curious how many people find they thrive on a healthy amount of stress and the types of activities people have enjoyed doing to keep that stress in a healthy check.

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The Glowing Parents – and then there’s Us.

We have a friend who recently had a baby and she just seems to glow.  I don’t.  There was a point after our second baby when I felt pretty on top of things – full of energy and focus, good cheer and self-discipline.  But all that is gone.

I blame myself for my lack of energy and committment to making more effort at improving things.  “If Only I……”  That’s what I tell myself.  If only I got up every morning and ran five miles, my energy would be better and life would be better.  If only I planned out the week and stuck with the plan, my energy would be better and life would be better.  If only I ate healthier.  If only I….

There is perhaps some truth (a lot of truth) to the above, but at the same time, I recognize that the self-recrimination trip will get me nowhere.  Perhaps a bit of self-compassion and some lessening of things on our plate and a few well thought out New Year’s resolutions.

There’s a lot going on in the life of parents with young kids.  Not only are you caring for children full time, but you are doing so on limited resources.  Sleep becomes a precious commodity and so does quiet time with your partner.  On top of that is a change of identify and a need to figure out a daily routine that gives you energy and inspiration.

Our house is not clean – it seems we are constantly working on it, but it’s usually in need of a lot of help.  Our meals for ourselves and our kids are hit or miss.  Many are loaded with vegetables, beans and grains, but many are equally non-loaded with those things such as tonight’s pizza crust and water dinner for our little girl.  We haven’t been helping the neighbor’s chop wood or carry in groceries.  We haven’t been going out on date nights.  We don’t practice musical instruments or read books in the evening.  We just kinda seem to get by.

But as un-inspired as it sometimes all feels next to our glowing and talented friends and neighbors, I think we are doing a-okay.  And I think we are doing even more a-okay because we are giving ourselves a bit of room to just accept and “be” in this experience that we are in.  And I think we are doing even more than a-okay because we really do have a great number of wonderful people around us – now, if only we would find time to hang out with them a bit more!

(And perhaps a bit more sleep would help as well)

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Thankful for Vomiting Children (TWO Days BEFORE Our Flight)

Vomiting children doesn’t make for the most pleasant Saturday, but I tell ya – I am THANKFUL.  They’ve got the stomach bug and I am thanking our lucky stars that the kiddos are sick today (and probably tomorrow) and not two days from now when we board a full day of planes to go visit family.

A friend of ours recounted a flight where the first sign of the stomach bug was on their first flight of the day.  The child threw up several times on the 90 minute hop to the big city of Anchorage (Not sure it felt like a “hop” that day).  Mom bought all new clothing at the airport (certainly not at bargain prices) for the baby and a new shirt for herself before boarding the next flight to have those things puked on as well.

I generally pack an extra t-shirt for myself and clothing for the kiddos in case a drink spills or I break out in some anxiety laden sweat when my child starts screaming (hasn’t happened yet), but I have never carried on a full change of clothing – nor two full changes.

If today was the day of our airplane….well, just thank goodness it was not.

Little boy’s pukes are fairly self contained (kinda).  Little girl has the projectile thing going. Little boy coughs a bit before he pukes so there’s a moment to kick into action and turn him in a better direction.  Little girl gives no warning that we can see.

All in all, it’s not that bad – when you’re at HOME!  My husband and I immediately jump up, de-clothe, wipe them down, clean and sanitize the floor and all is good again.  Not quite as much room to operate on an airplane.  No, nothing about being sick on an airplane sounds good.

So I am very thankful for the stomach bug hitting our house today.  And now I just hope that my husband and I, who are bound to come next, are hit strong tonight.  Tonight, tomorrow – anything but the day of our travels.

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Co-Sleeping Controlversies: Are Scare Tactics the Way to Make Change?

A recent ad campaign in Milwaukee likens co-sleeping to putting a baby to bed with a big sharp butcher knife. Well, of course that is dangerous. So is putting a baby to bed in the beds pictured in the ads – big cushy pillows and blankets. But that is not what co-sleeping is about.

Milwaukee is trying to prevent preventable deaths. The number of children who die while in co-sleeping situations in their city is horribly high. Nix co-sleeping, nix the problem. But the problem is not co-sleeping in and of itself. The problem is not practicing safe behaviors while co-sleeping such as minimizing the blankets and pillows, ensuring that everybody is sober, keeping a house free of cigarettes, and having the baby sleep face up. THESE are things that help make bed a safer place.

I am bothered by the fact that the ad campaign seeks to scare a population of parents into a different behavior. I don’t think it will be effective. They are trying to scare people into stopping, but how many of us change our eating habits because of the fear of future diseases – or quit smoking – or start exercising – or….the list goes one. Scare tactics do not produce long lasting change.

Education does. It allows us to adopt changes that work with our chosen lifestyle. And in the case of a crying, fussy child who can’t fall asleep except snuggled up to mom or dad – I don’t see people all of a sudden putting their hollering, crying children in pack-n-plays because of these fear based billboards.

People want their children to fall asleep and they do what they can to help their child do so – and that is quite often, lying beside them. What angers me is that nothing about the ad campaign is honest. It portrays co-sleeping as dangerous in and of itself. It is not. It equates co-sleeping with the deaths of babies, but we know that the risk of death goes up when alcohol, certain types of bedding and houses with smokers are involved.Co-sleeping has been used by people from all walks of life and, done safely, is a wonderful way for parents and children to create a special intimacy.

According to articles about the ad campaign, it targets a specific socio-economic group in which it seems that the assumption is is that they are not educable so scare tactics based on misinformation are the best route. Are the parents in the targeted group not as capable of learning safe processes? Do they not care for their children as much as other socio-economic groups? Do they not have the right to enjoy that special connection that comes from sleeping beside one’s baby? Do they not have the ability to make informed decisions about what is best for their family (cribs, co-sleepers next to the bed, co-sleeping in the bed)?

Instead of focusing on an education campaign that teaches people how to make their sleeping routines safer, they seem to say, “You are not capable of educating. Therefore, we will try to scare you into a new behavior”. I think we are better off teaching people the ins and outs of various sleeping arrangements AND teaching people how to do those well – employing safe practices, using nurturing behaviors and working to develop healthy relationships between the parent and child. People makes changes when those changes make sense to them and work with their beliefs – let’s educate people instead of scaring them.  And let’s certainly never leave big knives in bed.

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Bedtime for the Kiddos and I’m Not Feeling The Love

It’s bedtime and both children are sobbing.  Well, little boy is sobbing with a plaintiff cry saying, “Mommy, I’m crying.  I want water.  I’m crying”.  Little girl is just standing and screaming – really loud.  I go through the mental checklist:  Injured, feverish, teething, constipated or just plain old tired?

I’m pretty sure they’re just plain old tired, but I’m not feeling The Love tonight and I don’t think my level of calm patience is quite what it should be.  I want to send a snotty message to my boy and say, “Fine – sleep on the floor if you don’t want to be in bed”.  I want to pretend scream at my girl, “Arrrrrrghhhh!”.

Neither of these things I will do.  First, I think it would be mean.  Second, it would make everything far worse.  They’d both break down into insconsolable tears.  I’d feel even grumpier and even more powerless and they – this is the big one – wouldn’t trust me to get them through their stuff.

They are two tired little bumpkins.  I opt to go downstairs, use the bathroom and come back up in a more loving mood.  I take a couple deep breaths and re-enter their room.  To my little boy I say it’s time for bed and lo and behold, he gets in bed.  I give little girl her binky and her little monkey and she lies down also.

Literally – literally! – they are both asleep in under three minutes.

Be Consistent and Trust That it Will Work Out – Instead, I let myself get riled and annoyed.  I forgot my own advice as I do on occasions – could this have any connection with a touch of sleep deprivation???

(Side talk – last night I posted on sleep deprivation and thought it was kinda funny the experience we parents share.  I went to bed at 11:30 feeling confident about the night and solidly knowing that the WORST of the sleep deprivation was behind me with the newborn stages and then, only TWO hours later I got a call saying I needed to go into work.  Really?  Yes.  I was only there for a couple hours, but by the time I got home (4:00), little girl was restless, I was coughing, blah blah blah – four hours of sleep total for the night we were up having breakfast like any other day –  today was not the best of days)

Be Kind to Myself and Recognize When Being Tired Makes Everything Harder – another needed reminder!

And how is the night ending – pretty a-okay.  My husband braved the minus fourteen temperatures (six degrees, but the wind chill took it below zero) to get desert for the two of us, the kids are asleep, and I expect that statistically, I’m due for a somewhat decent night of sleep – I hope.

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The Scheming Mind of a Two-Year Old

I held up a banana and an apple.  Little boy said he wanted a banana and that his sister wanted the apple.  Really?  From what I recall, little sister loves bananas.  Usually we split the bananas and I had a slight suspicion that my darling little boy – so concerned about his sister’s snack choices – really had ulterior motives and wanted a WHOLE banana for himself.
“I’m going to ask sister which one she prefers, ” I said.

“No.  No.  Sister prefers apple” (Notice the fine persuasion tactics he uses – adopting MY vocabulary to use in his argument)

He stands in front of sister blocking my view.  I hold out the apple and banana and ask her.  She doesn’t   talk yet and has to choose by reaching for one or the other.  Guess who tries to pull down her arm?  (If words don’t work, then go into action)

Exactly.  It was a very difficult voting process because little sister’s arm, assisted by big brother, kept grabbing the wrong thing which she clearly did not want.

“Oh” I say in a surpised voice, “She wants a banana also”.

The start of a whine begins to emerge.  I can see his body begin to tighten and twist (When language and physical interaction don’t work, employ The Whine complete with The Fall to the floor).

But he pauses momentarily and looks up questioningly as I question, “Hmmm – How can we solve this problem?  You want a banana and she wants a banana”.  He knows the answer is to split a banana – I can see his mind turning and considering The Whine when I suggest a second option, “How about we get a SECOND banana?”.

Two bananas peeled.  Two bananas eaten.

I am left a bit amazed at my boy’s ability to try to control the world and plan ahead.  He’s a cunning little whippersnapper and I think this is just the beginning.

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