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the mommyhood memos: May 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

mr. mom saves the day

Sometimes mommy just needs a day off… to work.

I’m new at mommyhood. We’re only four months into this gig and I’m still undergoing very rigorous on-the-job training. (And it’s appropriate to say here that I’m absolutely loving it… for real.)

But this last week I’ve had this growing awareness that… unlike most jobs, I never get a day off. Because when your “job” is to be a mommy, that doesn’t change at 5:00pm Friday evening. (Not that I’d want it to.)

My husband works hard all week. And then he comes home and works hard all weekend. He’s an amazing daddy and an amazing husband, and he definitely does his fair share of caring for our son when he’s not at work. His weekends are as full as mine – wanting to use those “days off” to get things done around the house: fix things, work on projects, yard work, etc.

(And let’s not forget that we want—and need—to have family time as well. My husband and I have a strong conviction that rest and fun are good, healthy, and right. Family recreation is important... This is a given.)

But as full as those weekends are for my hard-working husband, the difference is that he gets a change in the type of work he’s doing… unlike me.

And you know what they say… that sometimes the best vacation is just a change? Well, I’m beginning to see that truth on a micro level too.

And this weekend I just needed a slight change.

I realized that what I wanted more than anything was just to have a day off to work. I needed to tend to some things that require more than sporadic attention… things that require (relatively) uninterrupted focus… like our family ministry communication and my Australian immigration paperwork.

And that’s where Mr. Mom came to my rescue.

My dear husband spent all of Saturday looking after Levi – every diaper, every naptime, every tear, and every little song and game. He also cooked the dinner (including dessert!) and cleaned the house while I locked myself in our office and got some of the things done that had been piling up. (Because as much as I love and value spending time on the floor, there comes a point where you do have to buckle down and fulfil some other responsibilities. This weekend was one of those times.)

I still got to see my little Levi at brief interludes throughout the day—and we had our time together when I nursed him—but for the first time in four months I wasn’t with him the majority of the day like I usually am.

I’ll admit that I missed him a little. But at the same time, my day of “work” was so refreshing. It was good to have a change of pace, and of course it was also good to finally cross some things off of my to-do list.

And please don’t misread me here. It’s not that I haven’t had any fun or rest since Levi’s birth—I have. It’s not been all mommy-duties and no time for anything else. And I have had partial days "off". (My hubs and I also believe that a child comes into a family… he doesn’t rule it.) It’s just that this was my first complete day of having someone else care for my beautiful baby... and by complete I mean literally from the moment he woke up in the morning until the moment his eyes shut that night. 

It was complete... And it was good.

I wouldn’t trade my job for the world. I adore mommyhood even more than I had anticipated I would. But even still, sometimes we just need a day off… even if that means it’s a day off to get some work done. (*smile*)

And let's face it... at least in my family the boys are more than happy to have an entire day together. Everyone wins.

Now... for my next day off: shopping and the beach? (*still smiling*)

Oh, and for the record, that was Saturday. On Sunday we all went for a long drive into the country and took a bush walk together... A beautiful, sunny family day of rest and fun that we could all enjoy.

P.S. When I asked Ryan to give me a "Mr. Mom pose" for this post he insisted I wait so that he could put flour on his face. (Someone's been watching too many movies.) Yup, that's my man... whom I adore. And, that's my other little man - the cute, teething, rolling-pin-chewer man.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

mommyhood memo #1: you know life has changed when… find yourself in the middle of the aisle at the supermarket comparing prices on frozen pizzas, only to realize that you’re rocking the shopping cart back and forth to keep your baby calm and soothed… even though he's actually at home with daddy.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

tiger wrestling

I've never been one who's totally sold on gender stereo types... and yet being the mommy of a little man is undeniably highlighting how different my sweet boy is from me. 

When I was a little girl I loved to exercise my imagination and play "make believe." 

I played "house" (I was the mom). I played "school" (I was the teacher). I played "hospital" (I was the surgeon). I even played "business" (I was the boss). (Haha, see any themes here?!)

I rememember playing with my dolls and stuffed animals often. Inevitably they were my "children" or my "students" or my "patients" or my "employees". 

But I don't ever remember wrestling them.

And this is one of the things that differentiates me from my four-month-old son.

I introduced Levi to his stuffed tiger-friend this week thinking he was now big enough that he may like to check it out. I wasn't sure how it would go since his whole world revolves around putting things in his mouth at the moment... and tiger-friend is a little large to fit in there.

But, alas, Levi instantly loved tiger-friend. At least it appeared to be love... in a little boy sort of way.

Immediately he grasped onto tiger-friend and began rolling around on the floor biting him, hugging him, screaming at him, squeezing him, and of course laughing at himself... All the while continuously looking over at mommy to make sure I was still watching.

I could just imagine him in a couple years time yelling, "Mommy, look at me!" from across the playground. He was already saying it so clearly with his eyes.

I assured him that I was watching and told him the things he needed to hear: he was tough, he was strong, and he was very, very clever. 

He giggled and turned away and chomped down once more on tiger-friend's face, so obviously delighted to have an audience, and so very proud of his tiger-wrestling feats.

Ah, little boys. How very special they are.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

burning down the house

I used to think I was a great multi-tasker. I could be on the phone at work, simultaneously typing an email, updating my “to do” list, answering a question with a nod or a gesture that someone near by was “mouthing” to me, thinking about what to make for lunch, admiring a photo on my bulletin board, and dreaming about some pair of shoes I wanted to buy all at the same time.

And as talented as I was, I would look with amazement at mommies in action and think that they had some hyper-ability to multi-task that I had not even tapped into yet, which of course only becomes available once that baby comes tearing into the world. (My good friend, The Aussie Mommy is apparently a few steps ahead of me and has discovered these superpowers already. She writes about her experience in her post called One-Armed Wonder – check it out!)

But yes, I’d look at these mommies and wonder just how many things I would be able to do at once when that day came for me. I was already pretty good at this multi-tasking thing, so surely this would make me a champion multi-tasker. Surely this would be when my real talents would be unleashed like never before...

And then I became a mommy for myself.

I will admit that there are moments when I feel like I’ve reached the pinnacle of multi-tasking success—like the time I chopped and prepared a salad for a dinner party with one hand while I breastfed my son with the other, debriefed the day with my husband, planned out the calendar for the rest of the week, and updated the grocery list. Yes, that was a moment of multi-tasking glory. But more often than not, my ability to multi-task seems to have floated out the window as soon as our little bundle of joy came bounding in the door.

I’ve discovered that this is especially true when it comes to the kitchen stove.

Let’s just say I’m glad that it’s very hard to burn canned soup. You know... the kind that is pre-cooked and just needs a quick warm-up on the stove?


The other day I realized at 3:00 in the afternoon that I had yet to eat lunch. By the time this fact actually made it into my consciousness I was so desperately hungry that I couldn’t wait for anything that would take more than five minutes to prepare... So, good old Campbell’s chicken noodle soup it was.

While it heated on the stove I thought I’d just get “one little thing” done... and before I knew it I had “cooked” my lunch for about 40 minutes. Yup, that’s about 35 minutes too long. I’m surprised there was anything left of it by the time I remembered. (And whatever happened to being “desperately hungry” anyway?!)

Just a few days before that I’d had another, shall we say, incident.

I had been pounding out emails with determination and focus in those precious few moments when my son was napping, and as I sat intensely typing away on my laptop—well aware of the race against the clock—I began to hear popcorn popping in the kitchen. “That’s strange,” I thought to myself, since of course I was the only one home apart from my little one...

Abruptly my mind was jolted back to remembrance as I visualized the paci’s that I had been sterilizing on the stove... an hour ago.

By the time I heard the “popcorn” the water was already completely evaporated out of the pot, the paci’s were well and truly brittle and burnt (and popping!), and my beautiful pot was completely charred. (The icing on the cake for this little episode was that these were paci’s sent over from America that aren’t available here to just easily replace. Sad.)

As thankful as I am that I’ve not yet burnt the house down, I can’t help but wonder if this is just a new-mommy phase that will soon pass, or if am I doomed to a new life of air-headedness.

I suspect that I will continue to have my multi-tasking moments of both glory and failure... But I’m just hoping that as I get used to this new gig those moments of glory will be steadily on the rise.

Either that or we’ll need to get extra smoke alarms and a fire extinguisher installed.

Oh mommyhood... you certainly bring lots of change.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

the view from down here

I can’t remember spending this much time on the floor... ever.

One of the things that I decided early on in my journey toward mommyhood was that I wanted to be the kind of mommy who is not afraid to get dirty with my kids. I want to be a mom who plays “make believe” and wrestles and tickles and runs around in the yard. I want to me a mom who makes up songs and reads stories in funny voices and accents. I want to be a mom who climbs inside the sandbox instead of just watching from nearby. I want to be a mom who finger paints and who says it’s okay to jump in puddles now and then. I want to be a mom who helps out with building forts and takes camping trips in the back yard.

Sure, there’s laundry to get done and dishes in the sink. There’s a shopping list to make and a few cards to write. There’s emails to write and paperwork to do. And getting those things done is important and good (and I will… eventually). But there will always be a list of “to do’s” longer than the hours in my day. So despite those long lists I want to keep perspective.

I want to be a mommy who spends time on the floor... Because I love the view from down here.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

splish, splash i was... going into labor

Giving birth is messy.

I remember reading when I was pregnant that only 15% of women have their water break before going into labor. I assumed that 15% must be the women you see in the movies. You know the ones... the ones that are all dressed up for a night on the town when just as they are about to enter the restaurant/theatre/benefit the camera zooms in on their face as they say “uh-oh!”? (What pregnant woman at 40 weeks in real life can still wear stilettos I would like to know?!)

So yes, water breaking as a precursor to labor only actually happens in the movies and on sitcoms... This was my first assumption.

My second assumption was that my water would break sometime in active labor... because surely I would fall into the other 85%.

To say that I was surprised to wake up drenched at 2:30am on the morning of my son’s due date is a bit of an understatement. In fact, the whole experience was totally surreal...

The only other time I even remotely felt the same mixture of emotions was when I found out I was pregnant in the first place – that mix of deeply longing for it, knowing it would happen soon, and yet still being surprised at the onset all at the same time. Add to that the instant revelation that life was about to drastically change, and that was the shock of my water-breaking moment.

It was not just a shock, it was a thrilling shock!

“It happened,” I said to my husband as I woke him out of his deep sleep. He immediately jumped up at full attention, ready to grab our packed hospital bags and hop in the car. (I think this first-time-daddy assumed that my announcement meant that the baby was probably sticking his head out by then!)

“No, my water broke,” I said with excitement before gathering my thoughts and heading to the shower to clean up. “This means the wheels are in motion and we’re having a baby today!”

Contractions started instantly from that moment—labor had officially begun—but what caught me so off guard was the amount of fluid that came out of me. (Now my intention isn’t just to be gross here for the sake of it, but this is birth and it’s messy... even before delivery starts! First time mommies need to be warned!)

So yeah, the fluid... It wasn’t just that initial gush (although the sheer volume did surprise me), but it was the continuous gushes over the next several hours that really surprised me... especially each time a contraction hit. I definitely wasn’t prepared for that!

You see in the movies when a woman’s water breaks, that’s it! There’s a little splat and she instantly starts her breathing exercises and rushes to the hospital to begin pushing within minutes. (Quick, call the nearest cab!) Of course I knew it wouldn’t happen like that (I’d heard and read plenty of birth stories to be all-the-wiser), but I can safely say that I had no idea that I’d have to walk around with a towel between my legs (catching the “excess”) for the rest of the day.

I was a giant towel-diaper-wearing fool! That’s how I started my glamorous journey into mommyhood.

I had several hours of early labor at home before heading into the birth centre. Those were hours spent doing the “curb walk” outside in the pouring rain, watching So You Think You Can Dance episodes between contractions, peeing a gazillion times, and trying to work out the breast pump for that “nipple stimulation” that was the final thing that pushed me over the edge and sent me running to give birth.

What a crazy, strange day it was with a house full of my husband, my best mate, my parents visiting from overseas... and a little boy getting ready to make his grand debut! It was wild (as in weird) and calm at different intervals, dragging at points, and more frantic at others. But the entire day was super exciting.

Levi had decided to come on his due day – my clever little monkey.

The birth itself ended up being a lot less messy than it started off with since I ended up needing a c-section after 15 hours of labor. (Not exactly the water birth I had anticipated... and of course there’s more to that story!) But I’ll never forget that moment that my water broke and labor started...

On your mark... get set... GO! 

Oh baby, what a day.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

dear God, thank you for little boys by the sea shore

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

the mommyhood memos is your new favorite?!

The Mommyhood Memos has recently been featured by From Here to Eternity as "May's Favorite Thing"! I just wanted to say a big thanks to Jhen for the great review of my new blog and publicly say that I'm diggin yours as well!

So mommy-friends, check out From Here to Eternity and show her some love!

And... check out her photography blog Jenny.Ann Photography to see her beautiful work which I loooove! (I noticed on there that she has a $30 family portrait session deal on at the moment... which is a ridiculous steal considering the quality of her work.) Check it!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

i got punk'd... by my sweet baby boy

Is it a little bit too ironic that my last post—written two days ago—was about communication with your baby… and then just today I’ve been in an all-out yelling match with my 16-week-old? (I didn’t even know children were capable of this at 16 weeks...)

Let me explain...

This morning I had meetings beginning at 8:00am at the non-profit my husband and I work for. And now that I’m (mostly) a stay-at-home-mom, I try to at least attend these weekly gatherings so that I can stay in the loop of things.

Although it may seem like no big deal, these meetings last most of the morning and cut into two of Levi’s naptimes. Now this is fine, I just have to think ahead, plan, and be creative. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about naptimes so far, it’s that when the first nap of the day goes south… it gets more and more complicated (read: difficult) as the day goes on. (Mommies, tell me you know what I'm talking about!)

This morning was no exception.

When it was time for Levi’s first nap, I quickly swaddled him, read him a short story, and laid him down in his stroller in our darkened office and went out to join in the meeting. All was good.

But after a few minutes I heard fussing on the baby monitor... and then the fussing quickly escalated into very loud crying. I went in to see what was wrong and found that my son had wiggled his way not only to the end of the stroller, but half-way out of the stroller. From his waist down he was practically hanging off the edge – ready to fall out completely!

Imagine my shock and horror as I realized that if I had arrived seconds later I would've found my baby on the floor, quite potentially injured, and most definitely screaming (with very good reason). Poor little guy! (And poor little momma was probably even more spooked than him!!)

I quickly scooped him up and settled him, but by then he was so worked up that naptime was significantly delayed, which in this baby’s world means he gets overtired… which then translates to one of his 30 minute cat-naps. (I can almost guarantee that when he is overtired, his naps only last 30 minutes – it’s like clockwork.) You’d think the more tired he gets, the longer the nap goes… but it doesn’t work this way with my little one! (And a 30-minute snooze is definitely not enough for him to make it through the morning as the happy chappy that he normally is.)

Eventually he calmed down and went to sleep.

I rejoined my meeting… but sure enough 30 minutes later Levi was awake and fussing (whereas he normally wakes happy when he’s had a full-length nap). Let’s just say the morning was already on a fast track toward disaster.

By the time we left our meetings (which I missed most of anyway), he not only had a terrible first nap, but we had eaten into his second nap time as well. He was actually quite placid as we were leaving, but I had seen this behavior before and I knew it was the calm before the storm... 'cause like his mommy, this little boy needs sleep or else he gets Grumpy. (Yes, with a capital 'G'.)

I was desperate to get him a good nap so we could “reset” the day before he had a total melt-down due to overtiredness. I had a fair few things to get done in the afternoon and needed a rested, happy baby on my hands, so I decided we’d take a little drive.

Now, I’ve heard lots of parents say that to put a baby in the car is a sure-fire way to get them to sleep for as long as it continues moving. I had not tested this theory out yet since Levi’s normally very easy to get to sleep. But today it sounded appealing… 

It was a gorgeous day, I had lots to think about, and it seemed that a long drive into the country would be perfect. Babe could sleep, I could think, and by the time we got home he would be “reset” for a normal afternoon and I could "get stuff done."

He did sleep… for a little while that is.

Before I knew it I had driven about 45 minutes and—just as I was turning around to head back to the city—my sweet sleeping babe awoke.

First, he stirred.

Then he made some sighs.

And then he started "talking."

(This is all completely normal for how he usually wakes up.)

But then in just a few short moments his talking escalated into his newest trick: yelling. (This is not “mad” yelling mind you, but happy, see-how-loud-you-can-make-your-voice-go-yelling. It's pretty funny actually.) The happy yelling was all fun and games until... He started crying/screaming/yelling for real. And when I say for real, I mean for real. (This kid can go from zero to sixty in three seconds flat!)

I found a place along the highway that I could safely pull over, went around to where his car seat was, and opened the door. (He was still screaming wildly at this point). As I reached for the buckle to take him out and settle him, the most miraculous thing happened: he stopped screaming—dead in his tracks—and laughed at me.

I mean he seriously laughed at me.

I would expect this sort of thing from a toddler… but a kid who’s not even four months yet?!

Hmmmm… is little man already learning how to push mommy’s buttons? Seriously???

When I realized he was fine and in complete control over settling himself, I got back in the drivers seat and continued toward home. We still had 35 minutes left in the car.

Not even a minute passed before little boy began with more screaming. I stopped yet again only to repeat the whole thing all over. (And just like before he immediately stopped screaming and flashed me that irresistible grin once more.)

A few minutes later we were back on the road, and, you guessed it: more screaming.

By this time I was well and truly onto him. It was obvious there was nothing wrong… But could my sweet, innocent little baby boy actually be testing me? Was this really a temper tantrum? (I like to believe the best but... where else can a mommy's mind go with this one?!)

“Two can play this game,” I thought to myself.

I rolled down my window hoping the noise and wind would catch him off guard and distract him from his dramatics. And it did… for a fleeting moment before he picked up the volume even more. (Please understand that this wasn’t a hungry cry, or a wet diaper cry, or a gas-in-the-tummy cry. This was some other cry that definitely resembled a temper-tantrum.... or something.)

After his latest volume increase I decided to turn on the radio. Levi loves music and that usually captures him enough to quiet down.

The next few minutes went a little something like this:

Music on = baby louder.

Music volume louder = baby volume louder.

Music volume waaaay louder with mommy singing at the top of her lungs = baby quiet…. Perfectly quiet.

The rest of the way home we alternated between Levi screaming and mommy singing as loud as I possibly could. As long as I was yelling—I mean singing—Levi was quiet. As soon as I stopped his wailing began.

I drove the rest of the way home with my windows down singing along to the radio as loud as I could muster. (And I had no idea the words to any of the songs that were on so most of my singing consisted of “la la las,” except for “Life is a Highway…”) Because it was no longer about calming him down; it was about winning.

Oh my. Did I really just admit that?

Yes, it was true. I wanted to win this one. (Oh, first-time-mommy... with soooo much to learn!)

"Game on!" I thought as I continued to sing at the top of my lungs. And this was not “pretty singing” or even “silly singing.” This was “yell-singing” at its absolute worst. I must have looked like a complete lunatic to anyone passing by.

Like I said… Oh my. (*sigh*)

Finally we pulled into our driveway. I was glad for this escapade to be over and right about then was wondering if Ryan [my husband] would be willing to switch jobs with me for the afternoon.

Because—yes—Levi piped up again the moment we arrived and I stopped yell-singing.

As Levi screamed his head off I turned off the ignition, got out of the car, opened the door to get him out, and it happened again: dead silence… followed by the biggest, most gorgeous grin you’ve ever seen. (I swear the cute little monkey even giggled at me... again.)

So much for a peaceful drive in the country with a sleeping babe and time for mommy to think! (Who’s idea was that anyway? Mine???!)

We got into the house and my little darling acted as if nothing strange had just gone on for the last 40 minutes. He was quiet and calm and still smiling at me… ready for some play time with mommy.

I’m quite sure he thought it all was a game. Either that or he has a remarkably short memory and had already forgotten about his untamed shenanigans and desperation to have my attention exclusively on him again. In any case, he was absolutely fine… not a care in the world.

I, on the other hand, thought certain it was a battle of the wills. (And where in the world did he get such a strong will I wondered? Uhhhh…. No comment.)

I shook my head in both mild frustration and amusement, and smiled at my son in absolute bewilderment…. I had just been duped by a 3 ½-month-old.

And really, can someone please tell me, is this normal? :)

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Monday, May 17, 2010

oh baby, baby... what's that you say?

"This child has lungs!" I'm sure that every parent has had this thought about their wee little one... Perhaps while you stand in line at the supermarket? Or at 3:00am in the morning when you're staying with your in-laws?

They say that communication is key to good relationships, but when it comes to babies that's easier said than done!

Although our bub is not talking yet--as in saying words--he is definitely learning more and more about how to communicate. It's so fun watching him develop his collection of sounds and test out his range, pitch, and vocabulary... if you want to call it that. :)

But it's not only his--uh--verbal exploits that help us understand him, it's also his body language.

Since becoming a mommy, one of my absolute favorite parenting resources has become the Baby Whisperer series by Tracy Hogg. And although I'm not intending to write a complete book review here at the moment, I will say that as I've read her books and browsed the message boards on her website, I've learned soooo much about this whole area of communication with our baby.

One of the basic things she writes about is how important it is to take a step back and listen to our infants - not just how they cry, but what their faces are saying, their arms, their legs, their mouths, their eyes, and their body as a whole. Some of it is very intuitive, some of it is far less obvious, and all of it comes from years of observing thousands of babies. Her books are full of incredible tips about how to decipher your baby's language and--in knowing what they're saying--learn how to care for them better. 

Increasingly I'm learning what Levi is "saying" to me, and that gives me more and more confidence in my ability to meet his needs - something every mommy wants (especially us first-timers).

But communication is a two-way street.

Not only does Hogg give some great tips on how to listen to your baby and learn what he is saying, but she also talks about how to help your baby understand what you are saying. It all comes back to the process of learning two-way communication.

Nearly every mommy I know instinctively talks to their baby about what they're doing (we love those running commentaries, don't we?!). And who doesn't get a thrill out of making "oohs" and "ahhs" other noises back and forth with our precious little people? But as important as those things are, Hogg also points out another level of communication that may not seem as obvious -- namely, how routine can help to communicate to our wee ones what we're doing, what is coming, and what we expect of them.

It's easy to forget that these little ones want to understand us just as much as we want to understand them.

One of things that my husband and I have implemented since reading Hogg's books is to give Levi a wind-down routine before nap times and bedtime. We check his diaper, swaddle him (though he's busting out of his swaddle blankets more and more these days), draw the curtains, read him a story, and then put him in bed. We literally do that for every nap. (And our bedtime routine is similar.) Not only does this help him transition from play time to sleepy time (focusing on the pages and hearing one of us read in a soft, low voice definitely calms him), but it also "tells" him (and prepares him for) what's coming next.

By the end of this little routine he's prepared to be "left" in his crib and he knows that once his nap is over... mommy (or daddy) will alway come back. It's evident that he understands this because he doesn't cry when we put him down. Nine times out of ten he smiles, chats to himself for a couple of minutes, and then drifts off to la la land. (This wasn't always the case... but more about sleep training in another post!)

Although he can't tell us now, I'm convinced that this short, simple routine has helped him understand what's happening in his little world... which in turn helps him settle and know what role he has in it all. I believe it helps him feel at peace and secure.

It's helped me too. I'm learning how to respect the fact that my baby is a little person and that--even at this tender young age--he needs some level of understanding, as minimal as it may be.

As a parent, it's a given that I want my children to be grow up and learn how to be obedient to us. I want them to follow our instructions and trust our decisions for them. But I also want them to grow up feeling like mommy and daddy have taken the time to communicate with them - the why's, the how's, and the what for's (when it's relevant and age-appropriate of course). We want them to be raised in a family that communicates--not just instructs--and we believe that there's no such thing as starting too early with instilling and modeling these principles.

It comes down to valuing the individual and demonstrating love and respect toward people... yes, even little children. (*gasp*)

All that to say... we do a lot of talking to our baby and we do a lot of listening. We're trying to become parents who are experts at communication, not just with each other, but also with our children. We've got a lot to learn, and some days are harder than others when it comes to understanding what Levi is "saying", but it feels good to know that we're positioned to grow.

And.... having said all of that... of course we love to practice our "ooo-ing" and "ahh-ing" and gurggling with our son as well. That part of communicating is important too.... and so much fun!!

This is a "conversation" I had with our adorable Levi about three or four weeks ago on his three-month-birthday:

Here's to the joy and struggle in the process of learning how to communicate with our kids!

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

girls rule, boys drool

Now that I'm the mommy of  a three-and-a-half month old... this statement rings true more than ever before. (Although, for the record, I think my little boy is pretty flippin' awesome.)

But what is it about little boys?

Since Levi was born he has been a champion grunter/farter/burper... and now drooler. (And did I mention the blow-outs?!) I'm sure little baby girls do this stuff too, but my sweet boy very often can sound just like his daddy... and let's just say that daddy's not the quietest of men.

Someday soon my precious little boy will most likely be rolling around in the dirt, jumping in mud puddles, shoving bugs in his pockets, and eating sand. My laundry loads will increase and my refrigerator will have to become even more well-stocked than it already is.

That day will come soon enough.

For now I'm just going to enjoy the baby boy drool... Cause boys drool and rule.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

my midwife's better than your midwife

When I first got pregnant, I didn't know much about different models of pre-natal care and delivery options. Like many first-time-mommies, I dove into books like What to Expect When You're Expecting (the "pregnancy bible") and signed up for a couple of different websites to give me weekly updates on bub's development.

And then I met Jeannine Bradow who would turn out to be my midwife.

Jeannine ("Nean") walked me through all the changes of my growing belly and body and baby until that 40-week mark, then helped deliver my precious son, and then looked after us with weekly home visits for the first 6 weeks of Levi's life.

Not only did she teach me so much about being a mother and carrying a baby, but she also helped educate me on the birthing process. Being equipped like that (knowledge = power!) went a long way toward distilling any fears or negative preconceived ideas that I had in my attitude toward the actual event of childbirth.

Now Nean is not only "my midwife" as I like to call her, but she is also my friend. I just want to sing her praises and brag about her a little because, well, she deserves it! She's a champion of mothers and a lover of babies. She helps to bring a sense of empowerment to women during this most monumental time of womanhood: the birth of her child.

Nean just won the award for Townsville's Midwife of the Year. I'm so proud of her and I can't think of any one more well-deserving.

Hooray for Nean! x

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

freecycle helps my world go round

Who doesn’t like free stuff? I mean, seriously.

A couple of years ago I got turned on to an online community called Freecycle. And let me tell you… it’s changed my life!

The basic premise for Freecycle is this: why fill up the landfills when, as the old Chinese proverb goes, “One mans junk is another man’s treasure”?

I couldn’t agree more.

I, for one, love the idea of keeping things unnecessarily out of the landfills. And how could I not feel this way? I grew up in Oregon – the home of the tree-hugger! Recycling has been ingrained in me since childhood. (I’m one of those people that absolutely cringes when I see someone toss a coke can into the garbage.)

And… I also love the idea of getting free stuff! Woo-hoooo…. Freebies!

But for me Freecycle is personal.

My husband and I married two years ago but we’ve both been working as full-time volunteers for a non-profit organization for the last ten years. This means we’ve been responsible to fundraise for our own income(s) – both before we were married, and even still two years later.

Needless to say our first Christmas together found us very low in the cash flow department. We decided to set a very small limit on our spending for each other and instead of focusing on “big” gifts, we’d fill up stockings for each other.

And then it came… the email delivered to my inbox that said someone was giving away an espresso machine!

Oh stop my beating heart!

My husband had been talking about getting an espresso machine since before we had been married, and yet we both considered this a “luxury” item to look forward to… one day. Of course when I got this email announcing the espresso machine give-away, I was desperate to be the recipient.

I politely wrote my email back to the woman who had posted, crossed my fingers, and said a prayer.

And then… it came. The response: IT WAS MINE! And it was going to be Ryan’s.

I’m pretty sure I have never been so excited to give a gift in my life. It was so much fun watching my husband unwrap the little steel milk jug that I had put in his stocking. “Why in the world would she give me this?” he must have been thinking.

Then I pulled out the big package for him. The puzzled look on his face spread to outright confusion.

Still baffled he tore into that pressie, and to his shock (and my absolute delight) he got his espresso machine.

Sure, it was a few years old, but it was a top-quality machine and still in great condition. The previous owner had decided that they were over the “espresso machine phase” and wanted the counter-taker-upper out of their kitchen.

And to us it was like hitting the jackpot. I’m pretty sure it is one of Ryan’s favourite gifts to-date, and it was definitely one of my favourite gifts of all time to give. (It worked out really well for me too considering I was delivered a hot, steamy cappuccino while I nursed my son at 6:00am this morning!)

So yeah, I love shiny, new things. I also love cozy well-loved things. I’m not too proud to relish hand-me-downs from my aunties (they are stylish ladies!) and I’m definitely not “above” grazing the sale racks at the back of stores to find ridiculously overlooked bargains. And Freecycle? Well Freecycle and I, we’ve become good friends over these last two years.

Among other things I’ve received a Bumbo, a vacuum cleaner, a high chair, a kayak (hubs got that one for our two-year anniversary after longing for one for over a year), wooden eco blinds, a glider/rocking chair for the nursery, a play pen (porta-cot), a 3-wheel jogger stroller (pram), a waffle maker, a wardrobe, dressers, a baby sling, shelves, a weight bench (also for the hubs), a bouncer, a jolly jumper… and actually, this list goes on.

But you get the point.

I’ve also given stuff away on Freecycle, but at this point in life, I admit that I’ve received even more than I’ve given. Unless, of course you count the things that I’ve “won” for friends like when I was able to get a new washing machine for a first time mom with a newborn or a new bed for a uni-student friend.

It’s so fun to be a part of a community that both freely gives and freely receives.

Because why shouldn’t we help each other?

And why shouldn’t we pass on good, usable stuff instead of chucking it in the landfill?

In my circles we have an expression: We are blessed to be a blessing. Meaning, when I get blessed, it’s so that I can turn around and then be an even bigger blessing to others.

Sounds like a pretty good motto to live by doesn’t it?

Along with my husband, I hope I can instil these values into our family: generosity, resourcefulness, gratitude, responsibility, and kindness.

So here’s to Freecycle:

Thanks for making my first Christmas with my husband so memorable and fun!

Thanks for helping to furnish my baby’s room!

Thanks for making my home more liveable!

And thanks for letting me bless friends with things I could have never afforded to buy them!

I hope you’ll join a Freecycle network near you and keep the giving going. Just check out yahoo groups and find the Freecycle group in your area. I HEART Freecycle... and I suspect you will too. 

Happy Freecycling mommy-friends!

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

every mommy needs a white couch (really?)

I love white. White linens especially – white sheets, white towels, white cloth napkins… And I also like white t-shirts, white onsies for bub, white photo frames, white shoes, white beads... the list goes on.

I also love white couches!

A couple of months ago when my husband and I moved into a new place, we decided to get a new set of couches to fill up our larger living space. We knew that we wanted leather because not only is it stylish and so comfortable, but it’s also so much easier to clean than cloth.

We thought about black... but black leather couches can tend to look bachelor pad-ish if not thought through carefully enough. We also considered chocolate brown… But all of our other furniture and living area décor was black, white, and red. We couldn’t afford to redo the entire area, so...

Is it any surprise we chose white?

Yup, for real. I’m the proud owner of white leather couches (well, off-white to be precise). And I’m also a mommy.

I know, I know, you think I’m crazy... We figure that most people do, although only one was brave enough to actually tell us that we’d regret our decision… and I love her for it! (Oh yeah, and she was wrong.)

We’re thankful to have what we regard as a beautiful home, but it’s no show-room and we’re not afraid of living in it. My husband actually tells people when they come over to not worry about spilling on the couches when fear suddenly overtakes their face as we bring them a coffee, wine, or some other bevy. Honestly, our couches are white AND we use them... a lot.

We decided on white for a few reasons:
1. We like it. So there.
2. We live in a really hot climate… and white feels “cool”.
3. It looks great and matches the rest of our décor.
4. We can quickly see if there’s been a spill and easily take care of it straight away.

Point number four is what I’m really getting at.

Now I want you to mull over this... can you clean your couch with a washcloth dampened with warm water? Can you keep your couch looking brand-new with as little effort as wiping down the counter-top? Well, I can!

In a few short months we’ve already spilled catsup, juice, and any other number of food items. (I know it sounds like it, but we really don’t eat every meal at the couch!) We’ve even managed to get blood on the couch, but you’d never know since that too was wiped up with a wash cloth straight away leaving no trace of its existence!

So, what inspired me to write a post about my white leather couches?

This morning as I was sitting on the couch holding my dear sweet three-month-old son... and you know what’s coming: He had a blow-out all over the place! Uh-huh, I’m talking runny, mustard-colored poo everywhere, including the beautiful white couch!

Did this mommy panic? Nope, I just chuckled, went to the sink, got a damp cloth, and PRESTO the couch was clean again in 30 seconds flat! (Are you jealous yet?)

So, there you have it. That’s the reason I think every mommy should have white leather couches. With white you will immediately see/notice stains before they become, well, stains! And cleaning is a snap, which is prefect for a mommy like me who doesn’t necessarily enjoy cleaning.

What’s your favourite baby-friendly (child-friendly) item that’s also pleasing to us adults?

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Monday, May 10, 2010

my unplanned c-section

Birth is such a personal ordeal - a huge milestone in a woman's life.

I had an unplanned C-Section. My little monkey was an undetected breech baby! The procedure itself went smoothly and I ended up with a beautiful baby boy in my arms so I couldn't complain. It wasn't the natural water birth in the Birthing Centre with my midwife that I was gunning for, but it was wonderful and happy nonetheless.

When I was told (12 hours into labour) that I'd need to be transfered upstairs to the hospital to be prepped for surgery, I was feeling let down but not devastated. Although I had a few tears of disappointment, I had been prepared for the unexpected and was just so thankful that I would be meeting our boy soon.

The delivery went well and soon I was enjoying my baby on the outside. It took a few days to process the fact that I'd have more limited mobility during my recovery than I expected (a set-back for this on-the-go woman!) and that was a bummer. BUT... I thought to myself,  "there's always next time." I'd fallen in love with our Birthing Centre and my midwife so much, the idea of going through the hospital was not appealing and I still wanted to try and have the natural birth experience I'd hoped for.

Let me explain a little. In Australia we have a wonderful health care system, which takes care of our babies (and mommies). Generally you get this care through the public hospitals (or if you are lucky, like me, you could get accepted into the local Birthing Centre). Although the hospitals provide very good care, it does mean that you see whoever is on call the day you go in for your pre-natal visits, and the same goes for whoever delivers your baby. (There is also a much higher rate of interventions.) 

When you go through the Birthing Centre, however, you are assigned a midwife who looks after you during your prenatal visits, delivers the baby for you, and then does six weeks of post-natal home visits to check on both you and bubs. It's such a fantastic model of care! After having experienced that I would never want to turn back!

So like I said, though I was disappointed at being wheeled out of the Birthing Centre and upstairs to the operating theatre, I also had hopes of trying again next time to have the birth I'd imagined. That is, until I found out that our local hospital policy states that any woman with a previous C-Section is now considered "high risk" and is therefore disqualified from the Birthing Centre.

To say I was disappointed to discover this is an vast understatement! I think I was more upset hearing this news than I was at the original news of needing to be transferred on the day of Levi's birth. (At least on his birthday I had a baby to look forward to meeting!)

Anyhow, I know the dust will settle and this will just seem like a minor glitch in the road, but for now I'm still processing my emotions related to future births. I'm glad for the doctors and nurses and midwives that are committed to me and that they have my best interest in mind. But still, it's hard.

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happy day of your birth (a letter to levi)

This is the story of how you were born. Now, you’re a boy… and boys don’t normally care—or want to know—about all the details of birth. But I will try to tell enough so that your future wife can have the details that she’ll want. (Joke, sweetie.) And just look at how precious you are at five hours old... Certainly the most beautiful being that I've ever laid eyes on. 


It was 2:30am the morning of your due date when my water broke and labor began. When daddy and I went to sleep the night before, we really did hope that you’d be making your entrance that day… but all expecting parents eagerly look to their baby’s due day with that hope and desire!

As soon as my water broke I immediately started contractions. Throughout the rest of the night (or should I say early morning?!) I continued to have contractions. But they were still 5-7 minutes apart and I needed as much rest as possible for the day ahead so I stayed in bed and tried to sleep.

Daddy helped me with hot packs for the pain and applying pressure to my lower back through the contractions... Except when he was busy falling asleep! J

I snoozed on and off until morning time, but didn’t really get much sleep considering it’s hard to sleep through contractions and I was so excited knowing I’d get to meet you sometime that day.

We spoke with our midwife, Jeannine, and told her that today was going to be your birthday. She gave us suggestions and ideas about how to make sure that labor kept moving along and progressing.

Throughout the morning my contractions would slow to over 10 minutes apart and then speed up again to 4 minutes apart. It was a bit all over the place. We used some essential oils that Nean said would help bring on labor and also some reflexology, applying pressure on different points in my hands and feet which is also supposed to help.

It was raining hard that day (in the middle of rainy season) and our house was full with daddy and I, Gigi and Gramps visiting from America, and Auntie Emma. I tried to watch episodes of “So You Think You Can Dance” to keep me occupied while I waited for labor to progress, but that didn’t last long since I found it hard to follow along through the contractions in addition to my endless trips to pee.

I spent some time outside doing the “curb walk” with Emma holding an umbrella and also did a few sets of stairs. I was still contracting, but just as quickly as they would increase in frequency and duration, they would quickly decrease again.

At Nean’s suggestion I used the breast pump to see if that would speed things up at all, and sure enough as soon as I turned on the power, that little machine sent me having stronger contractions than ever. Half an hour later we were headed to the hospital.

We arrived around 2:00pm in the afternoon. As soon as we got there I went into the birth room so that Nean could do an internal and determine how far I was dilated and where we were up to. During her examination her face started to look concerned… and then she told us that she thought she “felt a crack.”

This confused us as we wondered how there could be a crack in your head! But then we realized she meant a bum crack. She wasn’t feeling your head, she was feeling your bum. You were breech.

This started a series of other midwives coming in to examine me as well as the sonographer who confirmed that you were in fact breech. They told me that I’d no longer be able to birth you in the birthing centre – the natural water birth that I’d hoped for was no longer possible – and that I’d instead need to be wheeled up to the operating theatre to have a birth by caesarean.

I was disappointed to hear this (especially after already being in labor for 13 or 14 hours), and disappointed that we had not found out sooner so that we could have tried to get you turned around in time for D-Day. There were a few tears.

But, I was also glad that you were healthy and in no distress, and I was just so excited to know that I’d be meeting you soon.

It took some time to be prepped for the surgery, and they weren’t in a great rush since neither you or I were distressed. It was 5:00pm by the time I was getting the spinal. I remember looking at the clock as I lay on the operating table and it was 5:15pm.

Daddy was with me, holding my hand, and I was trying the best I could to watch the doctors through the reflection on a small panel on the ceiling. It’s not designed for people to watch – I suppose they don’t want you freaking out or fainting by the sight of it all – but I was glad that the light was hitting just right and gave me a tiny window to sneak a peek and watch your entrance into the world.

And then, at 5:46pm on January 29, 2010 you were born!

The doctors gave you to daddy to hold and I got to touch your face and look at you – the most beautiful of sights – before they took you to weigh and measure you and make sure everything was alright.

Jeannine and daddy took you to an adjoining examining area to check you out and record all your specs while the doctors sewed me back up. (Sewing me up took longer than the actual delivery itself.) I missed you like crazy during those long moments as I lay still on the operating table, and I longed for that moment when I could finally hold you myself with daddy back at my side.

When they were through I was wheeled into the recovery room and waited for you to finally be placed in my arms. It was such a precious moment as I held you for the first time and put you to my breast. You easily found your way to me and attached yourself like you had always known that this was the way it should be.

Daddy later told me there was some loud noise/alarm going off in the adjacent room but I didn’t hear a thing. All I could see was you, and everything else faded into the background. It was a very happy birthday for you my dear Levi Scott Booker. 

I don’t know how long we were there in the recovery room, but eventually they wheeled us to the maternity ward where I ended up staying for the next 5 days.

It was hard not being able to go home as soon as I had anticipated, especially since daddy was not able to stay overnight in the ward with us, but I had to stay longer because I developed a couple of fevers (which in the end turned out to be nothing serious).

As difficult as it was so stay there in the hospital, I know it was for the best. It forced me to take it easy and let others take care of me during those early days, which of course was good for all of us. The hospital staff took good care of me, and daddy and Gigi and Gramps spent most of the days with us. We also had a steady stream of friends visiting, which was so much fun. Finally introducing you to the world was such a joy!

Although your birth didn’t go as we had planned, it was still wonderful and special and so, so good.

You are such a gift to us, and we will forever be grateful for—and celebrate—the day of your birth!

Loving you so much it aches,
momma xx

p.s. These photos of you are from when you were less than 5 hours old... being held in the strong arms of an extremely proud Gramps. Oh, so very precious.

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