Friday, November 28, 2008

Thing 1 on milk production

I mean, really, there are some things that are just impossible not to blog about, right?

As I was nursing Thing 3 this morning (that's right, she still does not take a bottle or a sippy cup), Thing 1 became interested and oddly intrigued with the process of lactation. It's not like he's never seen me nurse her before, and I nursed Thing 2 for over a year, and had nursed him as well . . . but as the inexplicable mind of a four-year-old works, today was the day that he chose to be perplexed about the whole thing.

"She gets the milk from your boobie, right mommy?"

"Yep, that's right, buddy."

And then, as I sit patiently and wait for what the next question would be, the kid hits me with THIS:

"I get it now, mommy. You have those nipples so you can swish and stir the milk all around and have it ready to go when Leah starts sucking."

Uh, something like that.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I just may be in love . . .

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Although it is not Thanksgiving here in Canada, I am extremely thankful today for a local camera store having a sale on DSLR cameras. After waiting patiently for over a year, I am finally the proud owner of a Nikon D60 digital SLR camera. Because I was good this year, I was even allowed to open it before Christmas.

And while I do not profess to be anything that remotely resembles an expert photographer (or even a person who knows how to use her camera yet), I couldn't NOT share my first few shots with you.

Thing 1

Thing 2

Thing 3

Thing 4

Be patient.

I promise to get better!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy MOMMY

See that? That book. Right up there. Yup, that's the one.

That book has changed my life.

And I've had it in my grubby little hands just over a week.

Oodles of friends (and complete strangers, for that matter) recommended it to me, but I had yet to take the bait. I feared with every fibre of my being that it would be exactly like the other sleep books out there . . . and I've read at least a half a dozen of them.

When Thing 2 was a baby and not sleeping through the night, I purchased The No-Cry Sleep Solution in hopes that it would revolutionize our lives and magically transform my eight month old baby into an all-night sleeper. And while no tears were shed from little Thing 2 - I assure you this crafty mom did cry!

In all my reluctance, I picked up the book while visiting my sister last weekend. She calls the book her sleep bible and has used it successfully with both her children.

As my fingers grazed the first few pages and my eyes and my brain scanned and processed the so-called "sleep words of wisdom", I heaved a gigantic sigh of relief as I knew I had finally found the holy grail. Of sleep.

The book is simple, basic, and makes total sense to me. Everything I read just clicked. Where in other books I may have agreed with several points the authors made, I nearly pulled a ligament in my neck from nodding so vigorously as I read each chapter of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I agreed with everything Weissbluth stated and am fully embracing his philosophy for healthy sleep habits. I'm a convert, plain and simple.

How did I - an intelligent mother of three, an avid reader, and an owner of more parenting books than our local library - not know about this book? I didn't have it recommended to me until I started publicly whining about Thing 3's issues with sleeping and naps.

I am even going to go as far as to say that every parent should read this book. If you have a child, or two, or three, or more, the philosophies in this book will help you understand sleep, it's importance, the parameters around how to get enough, and the difference you will see in a child who is well-rested.

After having read only a couple chapters last week, I had begun putting Thing 3 to bed an hour earlier than normal. Because sleep begets sleep. But somehow I couldn't wrap my head around that . . . until I tried it. She is THRIVING on her earlier bedtime - she is out cold by 7:00 p.m. now, leaving me free for some much-needed mommy time in the evening. It gives me more time to cuddle and read stories to Thing 1 and Thing 2, and we are no longer struggling to "hold her off" for another half hour while I am busy and can't nurse her.

And that?

I'm not nursing her to sleep anymore!

I lie her down in her crib awake and she falls asleep on her own.

Hear that? That's fireworks outside my bedroom window erupting in celebration of this small, but mighty, victory.

For the first few nights she fussed and cried, but it was less than five minutes and I could tell she was tired. And I was in tune with her "sleepy" signs because . . . I had read the book which explained them to me in fine detail. So I was confident in my ability to know when it was time for her to sleep. She sleeps until 7:00 or later the next morning, with no night wake-ups. (Well, with the exception of this morning when she woke up at 6:15 a.m. because she had a cold and a cough . . . hey, no plan is fool-proof, right?)

Have I mentioned I love the book?

Reading subsequent chapters fueled me with with the knowledge that Things 1 and 2 likely needed more sleep as well. They are now successfully in bed asleep 30-45 minutes earlier per night, and are not waking any earlier than they had been. And while they have colds (hey, it's Ottawa in November!) and it's hard to tell how much the extra sleep is assisting in transforming their general moods, overall things are just running smoother over here at the crafty household.

The copy of the book I have now is my sister's and she wants it back. So off fall the diamond earrings from my holiday wish list as I bump Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child up to the top of my list.

Note: I really should be honest and mention that my sleep issues are hardly serious at all - on the whole I have been pretty fortunate to have three kids who all sleep through the night for 11-12 hours. Thing 2 was my only thing who didn't sleep through the night at about 4 months old - he waited until after his first birthday, and even that really wasn't truly stressful for me as he only woke once per night to nurse and always went right back to sleep.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mrs. Potato Head?

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

I finally got around to cleaning up and organizing my photos. As I perused my folders from the past year, I stumbled across this photo I took of Thing 3, snapped only seconds after Thing 2 kindly planted Mr. Potato Head's glasses on her one day last winter as she rested in her butterfly swing. She is less than a month old here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Girls' Weekend

Going out of town for the weekend really throws off my rhythm. I'm way behind on all sorts of things, but it was well worth it for me to have escaped the chaos for a few days.

Thing 3 and I headed out early Friday morning for Canada's East coast. Thing 3 did fabulously well on three of four flights over the weekend. And on the fourth flight coming home late Sunday night from Toronto to Ottawa - well, there are no words for the kind of screaming that took place that night, far above the clouds in an otherwise quiet and tranquil evening sky. I extend a public apology to all my jet-setting buddies who were seated near me (or anywhere on the plane, for that matter) the other night. Thing 3 had some ear trouble and was not coping well with the pressure problems in the cabin. And while it was uncomfortable and painful to sit on a flight listening to a baby's blood-curdling screams, it was also uncomfortable and painful to be the mother doing everything in her power to comfort said baby, a mother quickly realizing that not one single person on such a giant aircraft was human enough to extend even a few kind words of support, a helping hand or - god forbid - a warm, kind glance in my direction.

But, I digress. We made it home safe and sound and also learned a valuable lesson in time. Or, should I say, CLOCKS?

Did you know Air Canada schedules its flights based on the 24 hour clock? Of course, you do! Who would think a flight scheduled for 5:30 on Sunday would actually mean 5:30 A.M. and not 5:30 P.M.??? And, yes, I did arrive for my 5:30 A.M. flight at 4:00 P.M. in the afternoon.

I was fortunate enough to have been given another flight so that I did not have to spend another night in Saint John and could make it back home to see my other two Things. Crisis averted. Lesson learned. And while I whole-heartedly admit that I was in the wrong . . . would it KILL Air Canada to put A.M. or P.M. after each time slot on their web site when you're booking flights?

Here's a quick recap of my fantastically fun and relaxing weekend with my sister, her husband and my niece and nephew.

The "gurls" chill out after a bath.

Three mommies with their three girls.

Cousins making their way from the airport.

Fistfuls of mashed potatoes for supper.

Two for the price of one!

One of the highlights of the weekend (besides hanging out with my sister) was my eye-opening experience of reading a new book on sleep. More to come on that topic - I'm completely a convert!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The evolution of mommy hair

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

I splurged this week and had my hair cut and coloured. This is terribly exciting for a busy mom of three Things who has very little excitement in her life outside of getting to the bus on time. After having short hair for years, I decided to grow it longer. After the birth of Thing 2 in October 2005, I committed myself to the hell that is growing out your hair.

A year later, things were looking pretty good . . . just in time for our holiday photos. My hair stylist convinced me to go with some blonde. Completely not me, but I had a lot of fun with it.

I kept growing it and growing it and growing it.

In April 2008, I had reached my goal. "Longish" hair that I could completely sweep back in a ponytail if I so desired.

After I had Thing 3, I had (for the third time) tremendous hair loss. It fell out in gargantuan clumps and managed to clog my shower each and every morning. I feared I would soon be bald, however, just when things became truly grim, the shedding stopped. I recently began to notice new hair growth . . . to the tune of 2 inch hairs sprouting out all over the top of my head. I began to resemble a porcupine as I pulled my strands back into my trusty elastic band. Pieces stuck up everywhere!!

So I put my trust in Joanne again and allowed her - two days ago - to use her discretion and do what she felt was best for my current situation. I was terrified to re-enter the domain of bangs after spending nearly THREE years to grow mine out, but I have to admit, the whole new look is growing on me.

(There you go, mom, I know you like me better with bangs anyway!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Little Wave

Thing 3 learned a new trick recently. I can't wait to show my sister the trick IN PERSON this weekend when I visit her in Saint John! (I booked a last-minute flight out East for the weekend for a much needed little get-away.)

Taking stock of socks

I am *so* lucky. I have a ridiculously talented mom. Some of you know her - she is the Nova Knitter.

This morning I was taking stock of my socks (no pun intended), as we have some cooler temperatures gracing us with their presence this week. I like my feet warm. If my feet are warm and cozy, I am a happy person. A happy person makes a happy mom and wife, which in turn (if you do the math correctly) equals one wonderfully-happy family.

I pulled out all my hand-knit wool socks my mom has made me over the past few years. I have over TEN pair!! (Some were in the laundry and one pair were on my feet when I took this picture.) See that bright red pair, third from the left? I delivered all three of my babies wearing those cozy feet-huggers. I think they were good luck for me.

They're so colourful, I can usually match a pair to any outfit I'm wearing. They're also not itchy because they are made with fancy, expensive sock yarn (excuse me Nova Knitter for not knowing all the proper terminology). I LOVE THEM.

And Thing 2 LOVES them too!!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Back to the Doghouse

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

I took this shot last night, to commemorate the very last time our personality-clad five-year-old cocker spaniel would be sleeping on our bed. Yes, you read that correctly. ON OUR BED. I made the grave error years ago when he was tiny, fluffy, and gazing at me with his gigantic saucer eyes to welcome him into our bed. I knew better, and I still did it.

Well, thirty pound Rudy is now a large, sprawling, snoring, vibrating mass occupying about 75 per cent of our queen-sized bed each and every night. The time has come - for a variety of reasons - that he be relegated to his comfy doggie pillow at the foot of our bed. Tonight is the night that we put our foot down.

Wish us luck.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Need a Crash Course on Sleep

For a long time, I used to just think that some people were *lucky*. You know, they had kids that napped well. Napped for long periods. Napped whenever and wherever. Napped twice a day. Napped until they were four. And it's really not that out-of-the-ordinary, I don't think, because I personally know a number of mothers with children such as this.

But my university education is proving worthwhile and I'm now learning/figuring out that the inability of my children to nap well is likely my own fault. I mean, there is no statistical possibility that a woman would have THREE children who all give up their second nap by nine months old, right? That's right. All three Things stopped napping twice a day - once in the morning and once in the afternoon - at least three months before their first birthday.

Then, to make matters worse, Thing 1 gave up his afternoon nap shortly after he turned two. That saddened me to no end, because I had a baby at home at the time, and desperately needed the break that used to be Thing 1's nap time. As any sane mother would, I strictly enforced "quiet time" in lieu of a nap, but as the months wore on quiet time's length shrank. And shrank further. Until I was lucky to get 15 minutes of him staying in his room . . . not even being quiet.

Thing 2 gave up his afternoon nap right around the time he started climbing out his crib. Around his second birthday - and before this time he teased us with a couple months of napping only two or three times a week. Before I knew it, I had a three year old and a two year old - both not napping in the afternoon. By this time, as life would have it, I was pregnant with Thing 3 and reading all about Witchcraft so I could cast a spell on the little fetus to ensure she would nap every single day until she got her driver's license.

And here we are with Thing 3 just past nine months and only napping once a day. I try vigorously to ensure she naps between 12:30 and 3:00 p.m. - from when we return from the dreaded bus stop up until the time we need to return to said bus stop.

Any parent will be bobbing their head up and down in agreement when I state that it's all about the sleep when you have kids. How much, when, how, where, etc. I think my sister thought I was nuts when Thing 2 was a newborn and I was strictly religious about Thing 1's naps . . . until she herself became a mother of - you got it, CHILDREN who need to nap. Your life revolves around the naps, for a couple of valid reasons. Firstly, you need the break. Whether you clean and tidy, cook, read a magazine, have a shower or DO NOTHING - as a mother you with no uncertainly need the break. But secondly, and sometimes more crucial than the break, is the crazy/nasty little person your child can become if he/she has not had enough sleep. Don't tell me you haven't looked at the clock, heard a peep from the crib, and panicked, realizing the baby needs two hours sleep, and not thirty minutes - and this just won't do because you know you are in for an afternoon of HELL if they wake up early??

So, I mostly joke about it because I have to. Otherwise, what would I do? Feel anger and resentment towards my mommy friends chillin' out in the afternoons while their little one(s) sleep? Not really an option . . .

I'm also finding myself in a real bind lately because I just don't know how to get my kids to sleep. I need a rule book. I want someone to tell me what to do - and I want it to be easy. Because, I sort of feel like I've earned it.

Right now - and this wasn't always the case, but it is as of late - Thing 3 needs to be nursed to fall asleep. So many of the experts recommend this . . . and what a farce. A joke. Did it really take me three children to figure out that if you nurse a baby to sleep for long enough, that is the only way she will be able to fall asleep? We went through this with Thing 2 already. I nursed him to sleep most nights until he was one. We then had to endure a brief stint of "let him cry it out" because I simply couldn't handle it anymore. I'm only human. I needed the ability to be free in the evenings if I wanted to be, and felt I had a right to a little time on my own at bedtime. Time I felt of which I had been robbed each afternoon because I no longer had a napping older son. I don't remember it lasting all that long, or being all that traumatic, but I do remember the pain and heartache it caused me listening to my little one cry out for his mommy before he fell asleep.

And here we go again. Thing 3's naps are not always at a consistent time because she often falls asleep when I nurse her - and then I place her in her crib (if we are home). I nurse her to sleep every single night (because she still will not take a bottle, or a sippy cup) and then lay her in her crib. The next added bonus of parenting fun is the fact that she is now waking up after I lay her in the crib - and some nights staying up for another hour or two.

I just can't take it. I can't do it. I need that time in the evening to write my blog, read, watch TV, make cards or do whatever I need to keep me sane. I absolutely love breastfeeding, I nursed Thing 1 and 2 for at least a year each and I assume I will do the same with Thing 3. But I can't stand the feeling of being shackled to my baby forever, especially at nap and bed time. I feel like I'm doing a million things wrong, and the fifty parenting books on my book shelf aren't giving me any of the answers I need.

How do you get your kids to sleep? Do you have consistent nap times and how do you enforce them?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Full Week

Here's a brief overview of our very busy past week. We started out with a bit of a freak snow storm, followed with Thing 2's birthday, and then lastly - but not least - we hit the town for our annual celebration of Halloween.

Thing 2 had a quiet birthday this year. I really just couldn't delve into the craziness that is a child's birthday party this year, so we had our good friends over for dinner one night and had cake. There were times this week that I felt like a slacker mom for not hosting a huge, lavish birthday party for him. I mean, he already does nothing, and I feel guilty about that. But I simply couldn't get into the overpriced and overdone and the often completely unreasonable child's birthday party. I am in awe of what I see taking place out there in the big world of kiddie birthday parties, and I am reluctant to become a part of it all. For as long as I can manage, I plan to keep the 3 Things birthday parties simple, understated, and basic.

Our friends' little girl was born on the same day as David, so they both had a lot of fun and exchanged gifts. My incredibly-talented cake-making cousin granted Thing 2's only wish for a Scooby-Doo birthday cake. It. Was. Delicious. We had a family supper on Tuesday (his actual birthday) with Granny and some delicious Swiss Chalet chicken.

Much of Tuesday night was filled with snow, much to my dismay and much to the Weather Network's credit. They got it right for once. Although it pained me a little do so in OCTOBER, I had to take the 3 Things outside to play in the fresh, fluffy white stuff. I mean, they are kids, they're not bogged down with silly notions like it shouldn't be snowing in October.

It took 45 minutes and unmeasurable amounts of patience to get the 3 Things ready to embrace their first fall snowfall of the season.

I forget what we're supposed to do with this stuff.

Never. Eat. Yellow. Snow.

No smooch on my cheeks is gonna make me forgive you for shoving me into this big pink snowsuit . . .

Thankfully, autumn quickly returned to our lovely, capital city and the above seen snow was pretty much melted within a day or two. Just in time for . . . Halloween. Things were busy and I didn't get very many photos of the kids in their costumes. They were full of anticipation and excitement to go trick-or-treating and wanted to get out the door.

Here is Thing 3 totally squished into an adorable banana costume, lent to me by my friend Liz. Although she may be a completely mashed banana, she is still cute, nonetheless. She was a wonderfully good sport. By the end of the night she was most certainly ready to peel off that big yellow costume and cuddle into her warm PJs.

Thing 2 went as Spiderman, and looked so cute and super-hero-ish, he made his mama quite proud. After dutifully requesting "Trick or Treat" at four homes on our street, he finally reminded us that he is still a wee little toddler as he rang the doorbell at home number five and asked them, "could I have some candy, please?".

The obligatory family shot didn't work so well, Things 1 and 2 wouldn't sit still and you can barely see that Pete is Indiana Jones in this picture. I learned one valuable lesson in my role as parent chaperone and trick-or-treater-herder last night. No head-to-toe black on Halloween night!

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