Thursday, October 16, 2014

Are there spirits in the forest?

Winter has come by in my neck of the woods.  It is cold, just below freezing, and also it has started to snow daily for the past few days.  The wind makes the temperatures feel like -10C easily, especially when I go running early in the morning.  I usually go at 6:30 am, and it is quite dark at that time.  My trail is not lit, and it does go through the forest for about 3 km or so, which is scary.  Some of the other girls who run say it is all a mind game, as the only thing to be afraid around here is wild life, and I believe that the bears started hibernating already.  It is only moose that we should fear, and perhaps the occasional wolf, although I have not seen or heard of any in town or around here.

A few nights ago I ran straight into a huge deer with gigantic antlers.  I have a flashlight, and by the ghostly white light of my pencil flashlight, the deer looked imposing.  I backed out respectfully and returned home.  To be honest, I am more afraid of the bad spirits that might be lurking in the woods (you know, like the supernatural kind, as in Twin Peaks), than of the real animals.  Those I know how to deal with by now.  Back up slowly and they will usually ignore humans.  The bad spirits on the other hand looked scary on the big screen and I don't want to see them in real life.  Oh, there's also the Blair Witch sort as well.  Good thing I don't watch TV anymore, as my imagination is the wildest beast of all, and I can't slowly back out of its way either.

As for the family, Daniel is growing, Emma is growing.  Daniel likes to smile at everyone, and he is such a social human being, that everybody loves to hold him.  Only occasionally he gets offended, and when he does, he cries for a long time and is upset with me for a bit.  He seems to remember that he is angry with me and gives me the long lip for quite a few minutes.  He is grabbing his toes, and started to roll from the back to the front.  He also loves to listen to me reading to both him and Emma for long stretches of time.  His attention span is actually very impressive.  The funniest thing is when he bangs on the piano with joyful glee, looking like a mini-pianist giving a concert.  Again the look of concentration on his face is really funny.

Emma is saying all sorts of funny things.  This morning she was playing with her toy German Shepherd that looks like a wolf.  She was pretending that the dog/wolf is saying "I'm gonna get you, big bad Red Riding Hood!".  I laughed to myself at the confusion and made a note to re-tell the story, as to get the characters straight.

Winter is keeping us in the house a lot more, although we get out twice a day at least.  We get bundled up, and will continue to add layers as the temperatures drop.  I remember that it was weird to me that the people around here bring their babies out in winter, bundled up to the point of being hard to hold.  I have become accustomed to the bundling up process to the point that I am finally not stressed out about it anymore.  It takes a lot of coordination to dress two kids with hats, mittens, socks, boots, and snowsuits, not to mention dressing myself as well.  As it is getting colder and colder, we will be adding balaclavas to cover up the faces, and also I will probably add a second coat over the first one, as well as a second hat, and gloves plus mittens.  (When we get back into the house, we fill up an entire couch with the clothes that we are removing).  I do think it is important to keep on getting out, just to feel free and not develop cabin fever.  Winter is a 8 month affair around here, so the sooner we adapt to it, the better.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The way of the mother

I suppose that it is a fact of life that I should just accept: the more there is to write about, the less time there is to write. I struggle to find the time for a blogpost that I compose in my head, tweaking it until it reaches a cursive flow of words that will never reach an actual page. I realize that I absolutely must write to my friend in Holland to tell her about my son, and about his baptism, and never get to sit down and do it until the moment has passed. I yearn for a fresh, smooth page in a notebook to analyze, summarize or maybe just record by hand in ink some of my days, but man, finding a half hour somewhere for actual handwriting sounds decadent and unnecessarily old fashioned even to me, who makes bread and cheese from scratch.

I wrote all this on my cellphone with my thumb while skipping a nap, while everyone else is sleeping. Perhaps this is the way of the busy mother. I know that once my kids are all grown up, and Emma's knees will no longed dig into my back, squishing me against Daniel's tummy, I will write at my desk and feel a lot more freedom but a lot more emptiness too. This is the way of the bound woman, with very little time but bursting at the seams with love and fulfillment.

The way of the mother

Monday, August 25, 2014


I woke up this morning at 6 am to go for my run.  Daniel woke up too, I think he might have been a bit hungry, and even after I fed him he was still awake and chatty, so I decided to take him with me in the jogging stroller.  After bundling him up (it is getting colder in the mornings around here), I took off for my run, and he looked very interestedly at the trees, listening to the birds, and wondering why in the world I am running.  The entire time he was smiling and flirting with me shamelessly.  (That is why I don't mind taking him along, he is such a good sport, and great company).

Once we got into the forest, where there is a paved path of about 2.5 km each way, we enjoyed the dark tall trees, and the new sounds, but all the while I was scanning for bears, because there are lots at the moment.  About midway, after crossing a small bridge, I saw a momma bear pushing one of her cubs with her nose, and the cub running happily onto the path about 20 meters in front of us.  I smiled for a moment, thinking of us mothers awake so early and busy mothering already, and turned around ('cause I'm not crazy:).

I only looked back once, and seeing that she is not following me, I did not worry.  Bears are usually peaceful, if you don't bother them, they return the favour.  And I must say, it was fun seeing her this morning.  I feel like we had a bond of some sort.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Parenting up close and personal

Hey, maybe I get to write an ENTIRE post before Emma and Daniel wake up and jump on me...

My kiddies are very well attached, indeed, and love to be cuddled.  Emma pretty much demands to be held every morning upon waking, and she loves the closeness.  Since having Daniel, poor girl has had to do with reduced cuddle time, since baby has to be fed, changed, etc.  She is actually pretty lucky that Daniel is a very low-demands boy, and is content enough to sit in his swing watching Emma jumping on me.

 In the mornings, our routine is something like this:  I wake up and exercise until about 7:30, then I come home, and usually find Emma just awake.  I cuddle her, take off her diaper, give her a bath, brush her teeth, brush her hair, breakfast, etc, and we sit in our rocking chair and read a book (lately Clifford or Llama Llama).  Then Daniel wakes up, and he gets changed, a bath, fed, and then I hold them one on each knee and we read some more, or we do crafts.  At 11 we leave the house, as lately she has had a daily "camp" activity like soccer, gymnastics, pool, etc (gymnastics around here comes for only one week, but it is daily for one hour and they call it gymnastics camp).  If the camp is done, then we go to the park and are just as wise.

Emma is growing into a confident, beautiful girl.  I love spending time with her.  I have decided that I am not putting her in preschool, because she is already going to daycare for five hours daily when I work, and I simply don't want her away from me for a further two hours.  I don't care what the learning opportunities that she is missing out on might be, it is way too much for this momma and child dyad.  And, honestly, if I were not working, I would for sure homeschool for a few years as well.

I have had the opportunity to observe mother-child interactions at all these summer camps that we went to.   Some of the mothers were more involved than others (and I don't mean helicopter style at all times, but watching the kid, encouraging, talking them through difficult times, etc), and those were the kids that I found were thriving.  They stood out as more confident, just for knowing that their mothers were there and had their backs. Something good happens when the mother or father are close by, and get involved.  I want that so much for my kids.

I have read a wonderful book,  Hold on to your kids, and the book has actually reinforced for me this concept that the kid needs me more than she needs friends or peers at this stage.  Emma plays a lot with other children, especially now that it is summertime, and she does very well with them, but I try not to let her hang out all day long without supervision, and both her and the neighbour's kids do better when one of the mothers is there to remind them to be gentle, be kind, share, etc.  It takes a long time to teach a kid how to be civilized, and the more time I spend with her, the better our chances :).

I would love to hear from any mothers out there who plan on homeschooling, and in particular if working part time and home schooling.  Is it working?  What are the drawbacks (and the high points too)?

Here are some pictures from her third b-day party, and from our recent day trip to Summit Lake in the mountains.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Milk issues again

I am thinking that my milk supply is not keeping up with Daniel's growth.  He was unsatisfied for a while now, and I don't have the same approach with him as I did with Emma, thinking that my body will keep up.  I now know better.  I tried to pump a bit each morning to have enough for the evenings, when the supply issue happens, but then I ended up not having enough in the morning either, and having to supplement twice a day, which was not good.  I started by pumping 30 ml (one oz) each morning, and weighing him to see how much he ate when he woke up.  He would eat 70ml and be hungry still, so I often would give him back the pumped milk, then he was satisfied.  I then stopped pumping and he would just eat 100 ml and be happy.  This is a lot less time consuming and much more satisfying to both of us.  My body just cannot make more than 100 ml, that's the way it is.  Pumping first, waiting a bit and feeding later does not change things either, that is the way I am built. The sooner I accepted this, the better it was.

My advice for the lactation-challenged ladies is (after much, much experience with hitting my head against the wall):  recognize the problem early.  If you think you don't have enough milk, it is likely that you are right.  Daniel was gaining 20g per day and doing fine, but with supplementation he is gaining 30 g and he is a lot happier.  He only needs 1-2 oz at night extra, but that is what he needs, and I won't argue with it.  Second piece of advice:  supplement at the breast using something like the SNS or Lactation Aid devices.  Bottles are fairly deadly in this situation, because a frustrated hungry baby will always prefer the faster milk flow that comes from the bottle.  Third piece of advice:  feed often.  Allow the baby to soothe-suck at the breast whenever he wants to, it will increase the prolactin levels.

I was lucky enough to have two ladies in town donate milk for him (just as it happened for Emma) and will probably be able to avoid formula until he is a bit older, and perhaps if we are lucky indefinitely :).