This Tiny Spark

My 11 Month Break

So I took 11 months off from blogging, but I had a dream about it the other night so I figure now is a good time to make an effort again!

Did I mention I’m expecting  a baby? Our little boy is due sometime in August! I’m huge and pregnant and done with being huge and pregnant. I’m ready to get this kind on the outside and give him a squeeze!

Here I am pregnant with Maya (on the left) and pregnant now (on the right)… my belly is looking tiiiired and I totally agree with it.

32weeks

I also have some pretty severe pelvic pain which started up around 18 weeks and doesn’t seem to want to get better despite multiple chiropractor and massage therapy visits. Thankfully there is a cure… getting this kid on the outside!

I’m off to Vancouver’s BC Women’s Hospital for the birth, working with the Best Birth Clinic as I’m planning on a natural birth this time and not a repeat c-section. They call this a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and our hospital here has pretty abysmal success rates so I have to look further afield to find some good support! I’m pretty excited about the clinic so that is good.

We are also studying HypnoBabies which is awesome and completely changing my outlook. I love it. I really like how involved Simon is with it too, as my Birth Partner, and we both feel really prepared and excited about birth. Very cool and definitely something I whole-heartedly recommend to anyone who wants an easy and natural birth.

Maya keeps growing and changing and is so awesome. She turns 3 in October which makes total sense and boggles my mind all at once. She talks and sings and dances and signs and asks a bajillion questions. Her favourite question right now is “What’s that says?” while pointing to words. She’s become crazy about words and letters and wants to read very desperately. We’re working on letter sounds and she has a good memory for it!

She starts school at a local co-op preschool in September and it’s going to be a perfect fit for her. Just two mornings a week, and totally ideal. All the parents and kids at the school have such a calm and supportive nature. We’re already enjoying the community created around the school! Maya in Oki Kai

I’ve also really gotten into babywearing with woven wraps… so expect to see a lot of that around here! I organize a local babywearing group and I’ve bought a few pretty lovely wraps, including the one above which is an Oscha Okinami Kai. I’m pretty heartbroken that I can’t wear Maya right now due to my pelvic issues, but I’m really looking forward to having a newborn to wrap up!

Lots more updates coming soon if I can find the time to write. Thanks for reading!

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The NEW Boba Air Baby Carrier!

 

You guys, I’m so excited to be one of the first people to try out the new Boba Air baby carrier! As you probably know, I’m a Brand Ambassador for Boba, and I think they are an awesome company with outstanding products. So when I heard there was a new Boba carrier coming out, I couldn’t want to get my hands on it!

Check out the Boba Air. It is made of black nylon and weighs less than a pound. It folds into it’s own little pouch, taking up practically no space at all. And it carries children 15 to 45 lbs!

First of all, I was impressed by the packaging… There was NONE! How nice not to have another box to recycle or another plastic bag to toss. The Air came neatly tucked into it’s storage pouch, with a tiny version of the Boba manual. I was impressed to see the same high-quality straps and buckles as on the 3G carrier. I love that the waist and chest strap adjust on both sides (so comfortable!), and that ALL the straps roll up and secure with little elastic bands. It has a very clean look when on, and doesn’t feel all disorganized with straps dangling all over the place.

Maya loves baby carriers, and calls all of our carriers “Boba!”, so she couldn’t wait to jump into the Air. I put her onto my back without help, the nylon back panel is very light and easy to toss onto her. I will say I’m sorry to see there are no foot straps (like the 3G has), but I understand the need to keep this carrier light and slim. Maya weighs 26 lbs and is nearly 21 months old. The Air does not have padded straps like the 3G, but I was still very comfortable wearing her. Her weight seemed a bit lower, more on my lower back and butt. She also had her doll and a bottle of water in there with her… pretty typical for our babywearing lately!

I swivelled her around to my front without having to take her out of the carrier. Big bonus points there! The unpadded waist belt and the lightness of the carrier makes it very manoeuvrable. I don’t usually wear her on my front in the 3G (she’s just getting so big!), but she loves riding there and snuggled right in. She let me put the sleeping hood on her (I’m glad they kept this feature for the Air!) and she nearly looked like she might fall asleep. Maya hasn’t slept in any baby carrier in about a year or more, so it’s a good indication that she was very comfortable in there.

You can see that the Air also fits Simon very well! We both agreed that it’s so light on your back, you forget the carrier is there.

The geometry of the Air is very similar to the Boba 3G. Maya felt very secure in there, with its high back. The wide base is perfect. The wide straps and belt are great at dispersing the child’s weight. Yes, there is less padding, but that just means I will take my 3G if I will wear her for a long time!

The Air will be a great addition to our babywearing collection. It’s small enough to fit in my purse or into the diaper bag. Maya likes to walk now, but she gets tired, so I’ll be glad to have a lightweight, accessible carrier to pull out when she wants to be carried!

I also think this would be a great tandem carrier with a 3G. I can imagine having Maya on my back in the 3G and younger baby on my front in the Air. It would be easy to layer the straps without getting super bulky since the Air’s straps are unpadded.

One feature I would like to see is a sewn in loop on the pouch so I can use a caribeaner to attach the folded up Air to my backpack or diaper bag or even a beltloop!

Overall, Boba has done it again. This is an amazing carrier: light, comfortable, convenient. Perfect to pop into your diaper bag for babywearing emergencies! It would make an excellent baby shower (or first birthday!) gift. Recommended!

 

And… Do you still call it babywearing if your baby is… a CHILD?! Look how big this girl is getting!! I’m so glad she can still give me Boba hugs. And we will be using these carriers until she hits the 45 lb limit!

xo

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The Silver Screen

I love watching movies. I always have. I clearly remember pressing favourite VHS tapes into the player and flopping down on the floor or the couch to watch them over and over. I loved live-action more than cartoons, and I understood that the people were actors, but it still fascinated me. When I was around 4, I auditioned for a part in a movie. Not long after, I was on the set in the early morning, in front of lots of people and cameras. And my shoes were too small. But I was determined. I ran down the same boardwalk so many times, trying to get it just right. I think I did a pretty good job, and watching it now, I can’t believe how tiny I was. I remember all of it and it still makes me smile. (You can watch a crumby quality video of it here. I don’t come in until part 3, but it is a really excellent movie!)

I did a few other small movies and some commercials. I loved it! Everyone was so nice and wanted to sign my autograph book. My mom and I often had a whole trailer to ourselves to get dressed and hang out. There were tables and tables and tables full of food and fruit and bubblegum. I felt important and I took it seriously, memorizing my lines and being professional. The only sour part of the whole experience was when people in my town found out about the acting and made a big deal about it. It sounds weird to say I was shy, but I was. I am. I didn’t want to be famous, I just wanted to do what I loved!

When I was 9 I got to play Clint Eastwood’s daughter in Unforgiven which made my parents incredibly excited as they were big fans of his. The part was small, just a few short scenes near the beginning of the movie. There was an ending sequence as well, but that was cut. As a child, I was only allowed to watch my own portion of the movie, as the rest of it is pretty gory. I finally watched the whole thing a few years ago and I really enjoyed it.

Although I loved acting, it’s a tough industry. And as I became a teenager and an adult, I knew I couldn’t keep up with the pros. I’m so glad for the experience, but I never wanted to be famous.

As a teenager I worked at a movie theatre for my first real job. Everyone else was around my age too, so there were lots of people to talk to and time went by quickly. I met some great friends there! One of the perks was early admission to that week’s biggest release, on the Thursday night before it opened. I also got piles of free passes too other movies, two at a time, so I could bring a friend. Some days we would spend the whole day there, watching 3-4 movies, back to back. On my breaks, I would sneak into the already darkened cinema and watch portions of whatever happened to be on, eating free popcorn from a little paper bag.

And I still love the movies. I love sitting in a dark theatre with a sticky floor. I know my favourite places to sit depending on the type of cinema. I sit close enough to the screen so I can forget that there are other people there around me. I ask the concession staff to ‘layer’ the butter in my bag of popcorn so it’s not just on the first inch of kernels. And I still get goosebumps when the trailers end and the movie begins. For a couple of hours, I get to be somewhere else; I am swept away.

On Sunday, it rained. I microwaved a bag of popcorn and poured it into a bowl. I closed the curtains and shut out the lights. I crawled under a blanket, turned on our projector, and began a movie. And, for the first time, Maya watched with me.

Maya was excited for her first taste of popcorn, savouring each piece. She shouted at the screen, squealed with glee and surprise, and every once in a while her eyes would widen and her mouth would form a little O as she watched. And I watched her be swept away into the movie. And I loved every minute.

xo

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The Toy Diet

Before Maya was born, I had a pretty specific idea of what I wanted her toys to look like. I didn’t want princesses, or other licensed characters, worming their way into her little psyche. I didn’t want giant, plastic, pieces of crap. I didn’t want things with a billion parts that always got lost under the couch.

For her first birthday, I requested toys made of natural materials, board books and clothes… or, better, no gifts at all.

The problem is… well, I’m the problem. I was a child with not a lot of things. I remember very vividly most of the toys I did have, when I got them, who gave them to me. I loved each one. I used to tuck my favourites under my pillow at night so I could tell if they had been coming to life while I slept. As an adult, I can see this wasn’t a problem! But as a kid, I wanted the fancy toys my friends had, with toys of tiny pieces and computers in them that made them talk. So many board games, and not just the weird ones that we had from the thrift store (my brother and I played a lot of this gamed called Yuppies, which is hilarious to me now). Having few toys was great for me as a kid, I just didn’t know it until now.

But what happens when an adult with few toys grows up and has a kid of her own? She wants to BUY ALL THE THINGS for that child. Because what could be better than having one or two favourite toys? Having SO MANY TOYS THEY ARE EVERYWHERE AND I LOVE THEM ALL.

Except that nope… she doesn’t love all her toys. She is bored of her toys. She makes a huge mess with her toys and I step on them, and then I have to ‘help her clean up’ which basically means saying “Get your bear, put him in the toy box. Good! Get your dog, put him in the toy box, etc”. It is hard to not just clean up all the toys, and remember that teaching her a lifeskill is more important. And it’s even harder to not just make her a cornhusk doll (I actually had some of these as a kid!) and throw everything out and then move somewhere that you can’t even buy toys and kids just play outside all day and braid each other’s hair (let me know if you know of this place)

Because I’m not the only one buying Maya toys. Everyone likes to do it! She is the youngest child in my family and in Simon’s family. I get it, I really do. When I hear that we get to attend a child’s birthday party, I think “YAY! I get to buy toys!” Except now I try to remember that most families are probably also drowning in toys.

We’ve tried to keep Maya’s interest in her toys by dividing everything into thirds and rotating them every week or so. But now, a “new” box of toys keeps her attention for 10 minutes. And an actually new toy from the store keeps her attention for 10 minutes… and then it gets chucked in one of the toy bins, hopefully before I manage to step on it.

Today, while she napped, we went through all of her toys. We put together a bag for charity. Another bag went into storage, full of infant toys that are just too simple for Maya now. Everything else got sorted by type (cars, musical instruments, puzzles), and put into containers so she can choose an activity. Hopefully we can get her to do one activity at a time and replace it on the shelf before starting something else! But at least we all like the toys that remain.

So please, if you are one of those excellent people that we love, and who loves to buy Maya toys, please wait! She really doesn’t need anything more right now. I think I might put together a little wishlist for her so people can still spoil her if they want to.

I hope that fewer toys will help Maya appreciate what she has. I hope it will help her focus on one what she’s doing. I hope that she will not feel like she always needs something new or different to be happy. I hope it will help her to be creative.

But really? I just hope for another year or two of peace before she starts demanding big plastic pieces of crap with princesses on them..

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Once a Month Cooking – April

I came across the Once a Month Mom blog through Pinterest. I was looking for ideas on how to stock up our freezer with food. There are days when I just don’t feel like cooking. There are days where our fridge is very empty because we haven’t found time to go shopping. And usually these days end up with us getting fast food after we put Maya to bed. She’s easy to feed… grilled cheese, macaroni, scrambled eggs. Add a few fresh fruits and veggies and she’s set. She doesn’t think it’s weird to eat peanut butter toast with a side of frozen peas. But I needed to find a more long term, adult solution that didn’t involve us eating junk food.

The website I found creates a menu, shopping list and step-by-step directions for cooking an entire month’s worth of meals in one day. Everything is packaged and frozen, with a handy label attached that tells you how to prepare it. You enter how many people you want to cook for into the spreadsheet, and it automatically adjusts the shopping list and recipe cards. Each dish you make gets split into two portions, so you will eat the same meal twice during the month.

It sounded awesome. And crazy. Simon thought it sounded like a great idea, and we were both excited to stop with all the fast food. I really enjoy cooking when I have the ingredients on hand, few distractions, and the space to move around. Scraping together a meal with a whining toddler at my feet has not been fun. So we decided to print out the 2.5 page shopping list for the Traditional April 2012 Menu and go for it.

One of my major concerns was that this was going to cost us a LOT of money. But buying in bulk is much cheaper! The $20 package of chicken was 5 times the weight of the $7 package of chicken I would usually buy. And with such a long list, we didn’t have time or energy to “shop around” and fill our cart with cookies or chips… this saves us money and calories! We stopped at Costco first, and then on to Superstore. We spent just over $175… not that much more than our usual 2 week grocery bill!

Everything was unpacked onto the kitchen counter. We gave the kitchen a good cleaning and cleared off all available counter space. That night we also chopped all the vegetables and put them into individual containers in the fridge. Ground meats were browned and refrigerated. I filled the slow cooker with chicken and set it to run all night.

By morning I was ready to go and couldn’t wait to get started! Everything went really smoothly and took less time than I’d expected. I was in the kitchen from 9:45am until 4:45pm, with about a 20 minute break for lunch. I made 10 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 12 dinners… all enough to serve 3 people.

What Worked:

  • Having the veggies chopped beforehand was a lifesaver! It was so easy to just measure out how much I needed
  • The kitchen scale is a MUST for this kind of cooking. Especially when you live in Canada and packages are marked in grams… you don’t have to convert every little thing. Just toss it on the scale and go!
  • Having a sink full of hot soapy water to quickly wash or soak any dishes
  • Putting the ziplock bags into large measuring cups before filling them up. So much easier than wrestling a half-full bag of chowder!
  • Baking the bacon in the oven the night before. I can’t imagine pan-frying 1kg of bacon! Yikes!

What Didn’t Work:

  • I really hated having to wash dishes almost constantly, despite having the sink of hot water. It really slowed me down! Ideally there would be someone who would just wash dishes for me all day. Any volunteers?
  • Next time I will get printable labels to use. I just printed them onto paper and taped them on. It worked, but took a lot of time.
  • I will READ THE RECIPES before I begin! I had to cook 2 of the meals the next day because I didn’t buy chicken breasts which were required for those meals.
  • Simon was really busy with work (he works from home) and with Maya, which meant he couldn’t help as much as I would’ve liked. Next time I will do the cooking on a weekend so he can help out more when Maya naps.

The Verdict:

I loved it! It was a crazy day, but that is how I work best. I can’t depend on having energy every day, but I can handle just one day of madness. All of the food we’ve eaten so far has been delicious! And it is much more balanced and healthy than what we were eating. Maya is also totally on-board. She’s happily eaten everything from the menu so far, and she loves having family dinner times again… not us eating burgers in front of the tv once she’s in bed!

So yep, I will be doing it again next month. I’m already looking forward to seeing what’s on the May menu!

If this sounds like something you might want to try, head on over to the Once a Month Mom site for their FREE menus. They have Traditional, Whole Food, Diet, Vegetarian, and Gluten Free options. There are also mini-menus if you just want to stock your freezer with 5-10 days of dinners, and see if this kind of cooking is right for you.

And if you know a friend or family member who is expecting a baby, stocking up their freezer with meals is THE BEST gift you can give them! Simon’s mom and grandma filled our freezer (which my mom purchased for us) before Maya was born and it was amazing to have a hot, home-cooked meal at the end of a busy day.

Have you tried once a month cooking? What meal planning works for your family?

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Checking In (with a Video!)

Oh hello, little blog! I’m so sorry to have forgotten you for over a MONTH (ack!)

Since a lot has been going on, I think it makes the most sense just to check in on what’s going on in our lives, and maybe share a few ideas for coming posts.

March was probably the worst month I can remember. It started off with Simon going away for a weekend, and Maya screaming pretty much the whole time. She hates when he isn’t here and it makes it very hard on me (I miss him too!) The two days that he was gone felt like years.

Right after Simon’s return, I ended up with an awful bladder infection that quickly spread to my kidneys. I ended up at the emergency room because of the constant pain. And of course I managed to check with Dr. Google and convince myself that I would die if I didn’t get help NOW. The infection hung on for a few weeks, and the antibiotics I was taking happen to bring on depression… so that’s how I spent the rest of March.

Simon’s 30th birthday was at the beginning of April (preceding my 29th by a few days), and we managed to go to Vancouver for a few days of fun. Maya spent a night with Grandma while we went to a movie, had a surprise dinner with 20 friends, and stayed in a fancy hotel! It was an awesome time and I was so proud that I managed to keep all those secrets from Simon for so long!

Maya is a full-time walker now and she is currently learning to run! She has new words and signs and gestures every day. I’m pretty sure she’s grown at least 2 inches in the past week. She is teething again: this time it’s all 4 eye teeth. So her mood is highly variable from day to day. I’m impressed by how much she can understand, and she loves to help by following simple directions.

It’s getting more and more challenging to come up with activities to keep her busy all day long. I am participating in a Busy Bag swap with my internet moms’ group, so I’m looking forward to having a few more fun things for her to do. It will also be nice to have summer weather when we can get outside more!

Our house and yard are really showing the past few years of neglect. It is hard enough to find the energy to clean the kitchen or make dinner after entertaining a toddler all day… but it is impossible when that same toddler is clinging to your legs and crying! We are hoping to try once a month cooking in the next week or so. I’m so impressed with the organization of it, and I think that it will help to just do all our cooking on ONE day and not have to find time for it every day.

On top of all of this, I also got a promotion at work! Now I am an Education Consultant with Tutor Doctor. I get to visit families and assess their children to find a tutor for them. It’s a really great company and I love the people I’m working with. I’m really just getting started, but I’m hoping this will take off soon!

Phew! So maybe now you can see why I disappeared for a month?! I hope to be back now and catching up with a few posts I have in my head. I want to follow up on Will Cinderella Eat My Daughter? and also write about Nurture Shock and Breaking the Good Mom Myth.

Thanks for reading my little update!

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Will Cinderella Eat My Daughter?

Before Maya was born, I was really hesitant to buy her anything pink. I avoided the onesies that said “Little Princess” or “Diva in Training” or “Daddy’s Little Angel” I bought neutral browns and greens and yellows and I shopped a lot in the boys’ section. It didn’t seem fair that all the girls’ stuff had kittens and purses and shoes on it, while boys could choose from zombies, guitars and racecars.

Maya, playing with cars her Daddy handed down to her

But then it got annoying to have everyone mistaking Maya for a boy. And it was shocking how differently strangers treated “boy Maya” than they treated “girl Maya”… one man in the grocery store actually pinched her 6 month old leg and said “he’s a sturdy one, isn’t he?” and a few minutes later someone made a scary face and tried to “toughen him up”. Yikes.

And some of the girly stuff kind of grew on me. I have a weakness for poofy little skirts. And dresses with tights. I don’t wear these things myself, but they are SO cute with little toddler knees poking out. But once SOME pink and purple came through the door, it was like a tidal wave. I couldn’t really dress her in a pink shirt with orange pants… so in came more pink and purple. It was easier since almost everything she owns matches now!

I’ll admit that I worry about the princess obsession that looms on the horizon. I’m not alone in my dislike of everything princess: the commercialism (Disney!), the helplessness (“I’m waiting on my prince!”), the stereotyping (all girls like pink!). Maya’s toybox wouldn’t give away her gender: books, a baby doll, toy cars, puzzles, teddy bears. Her ears aren’t pierced (and won’t be until she’s old enough to ask for that). She is too young to realize which of her toddler friends are boys and which ones are girls, and they don’t really influence each other yet. I imagine I might get another year of blissful toddler time before Maya realizes that she’s a girl and she wants to define herself as one through every choice she makes. And I’m prepared for some of those choices to irk me, like when she wants to wear a gown all day or she stops playing with a toy that’s “just for boys”.

I understand that there ARE gender differences. I’ve seen little girls play with cars: there is a Mommy Car and a Daddy Car and a Baby Car. And I’ve seen boys play with Barbies they have imagined into swords. I’ve also seen children ostrasized by other kids for not playing like their typical gender. As parents it seems that we have to choose between going with the crowd and helping our kid fit in with her friends, or turning her into a gender neutral child who may struggle to make friends, and why? Because her parents disagree with traditional gender roles. You don’t have to go far to see what happens when parents use their children to make a statement, such as the case of “genderless” Sasha whose parents didn’t reveal his sex for 5 years.

Personally I think it boils down to more than pink onesies or racecars. Maya is going to learn gender roles from us, her parents. If she sees that either parent can give her a bath or make dinner, she will expect the same in her own marriage. If Simon shares his hobbies of mountain biking, rally cars and music, she will learn to love those things too. My husband isn’t waiting for a boy to share his interests with, and Maya will benefit from his knowledge. And when we have a second child, they will be treated the same, regardless of their sex.

Maya, in a dress, kissing a baby doll

To me it seems like boys may be getting the worse deal lately. I hate the “boys are dumb” shirts that are marketed to little girls in a pseudo-feminist style. So much of pop-culture spreads the idea that men are idiots and just need a woman to keep them from doing something really stupid. And the double standards are sickening: A mother who lets her son dress up like his favourite (female) cartoon character makes national news (I LOVED that blog post, by the way), but  little girls are told that they can do anything boys can.

A few friends have recommended I read Cinderella Ate My Daughter, and my hold just came in at the library. I’m going to read it and share some of my thoughts about it as I go along. It looks to be a really interesting and fun read, and maybe it will prepare me for the land of girldom that comes beyond genderless toddlerhood!

Do your children follow strict gender roles? How do you encourage/discourage this?

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Reflections on a C-Section

Moments after Maya's Birth

I recently came across Michele Zip’s Love Letter to C-Section Moms, and I’ve found myself going back to it again and again. As I read it, I could feel part of me relaxing, healing. She speaks about moms judging c-section moms. I haven’t found that other moms have judged me, but I have judged myself.

It is a hard transition to go from planning a home birth to having a c-section. I think I judged myself most harshly because it wasn’t an emergency c-section, but my labour just wasn’t progressing. I feel like I tried, and that I did what my midwives, the doctor and the nurses suggested. But I feel guilty for not doing more. I wonder if I’d eaten better and walked more, maybe Maya would’ve been small enough to move down lower and make labour happen naturally.

It didn’t help that I’d done my research about c-sections. I didn’t want it to negatively effect breastfeeding or bonding. I knew all the benefits of natural birth and I wanted that for my daughter. And for myself.

A number of moms I know who have had c-sections say the most damaging thing they hear when they complain about their birth experience is “But you have a healthy baby!” I heard this too, even from my therapist (who I LOVE), and I didn’t know what to say. What I want to say is that I feel like I missed out on a major life experience. I’m angry that my daughter wasn’t born “properly”. I feel guilty for not trying harder. I feel like I let her down and she was just moments old.

I’m frustrated that I have the odds stacked against me for a regular birth with the next child. Midwives in my city won’t attend homebirths after c-section, and it makes me sad and scared to think about birthing in the hospital again. My chances of a c-section again are very high, even if I work very hard toward avoiding one.

But each day seems to get a little bit easier. The scar is fading. Maya certainly doesn’t seem damaged by her birth experience. I know that I need to be healthy (for her and for me), and that I should allow myself to move past my c-section. Yes, I am happy to have a healthy child… but I’m allowed to take time to come to terms with how she was born.

 

Happy Birthday, Maya

What was your child’s birth like? Have you accepted it?

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The Importance of Parenting Groups

After Maya was born, it took about 6 weeks for us to realize we hadto get out of the house on a weekly basis. We needed to see other parents who were facing similar challenges with their babies. I wondered about diaper rashes, about gas, about how Maya would just cry and cry for no reason (thankfully those spells were rare, but still frightening). I wanted to talk about Maya’s birth. We wanted to meet new friends who knew why we couldn’t come over for dinner at 8pm, and who would laugh at baby poop stories.

The information package from the hospital included information for a Healthy Beginnings group that meets weekly in our town. Each session is mediated by a nurse from the health unit who is a wealth of knowledge on all things baby & toddler. Having an expert to see weekly, in a fun and casual atmosphere, is every new parent’s dream! A short chat with the nurse and the other parents made things like starting solid foods, continued breastfeeding, and sleep problems infinitely more manageable.

Simon was the only dad there (though a few other dads have made appearances since!), and there were lots of babies very close in age to Maya. In the 15 months since we’ve been attending the group, I’ve watched these children grow. No longer are they teeny bundles, snoozing away the meeting while their moms chat. Now they toddle around the room, “sharing” snacks and toys, knocking each other over, and making so much noise you have to shout to keep up a conversation!

Facebook has allowed a number of us to keep in touch outside of the group, and it’s a great way to organize impromptu outings or weekly playdates. But I really do look forward to the organized meeting each week, and it is a bright spot in my week to see familiar faces who have also been up from 2-5 am with a teething baby, and who understand.

So maybe you can imagine our outrage when we learned that the group would be shutting down. Sadly the government only looked at the numbers of the group… and while they are consistently helping a few dozen people each week, it’s not enough to be “worth it”. I was very sad to learn that prenatal groups are also being cancelled.

Parents who do not have support from their community and from other parents are not able to do their best. Parenting is HARD WORK. We know now how important the first few years of a child’s life are, and how parenting techniques are formed very early on. Communities that do not stand behind parents and young children are failing their citizens.

I’m thinking of ways to keep our group afloat, and to continue to offer it to new parents as well. I know how deeply our weekly group has affected me and improved my parenting skills. I can’t help but think there might be a family out there with a 6 week old that cried all night, and they just need somewhere to go where someone understands. Somewhere they can find babies the same age, who will grow so quickly (too quickly!) into teetering toddlers. And maybe, just maybe, somewhere they can tell their stories about baby poop.

Have you attended a parenting or prenatal group? How did it affect your parenting?

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Finger Tips

I wanted a mandoline for years. Not the instrument, but the kitchen tool. I was excited about slicing vegetables so thin and even, and I dreamed of perfectly uniform yam fries. I put off getting a mandoline for so long because they are really pricy and it was hard to justify dropping $100 just so I could be satisfied that my onions were evenly diced. Then last month we found one on sale for $10 and snatched it up.

I realized when we brought the mandoline home that I was a little afraid of it. It was so sharp and so fast and it seemed complicated. Simon was the only one to use it for quite some time. When I asked him to show me how it works, I used it to slice veggies for Hot & Spicy Braised Peanut Chicken and it was awesome! Slice after slice fell magically beneath the blade as the vegetable quickly disappeared in my hand. And dinner was delicious.

It was so delicious that I decided to make the same meal again this week. I chopped the onion by hand and then got out the mandoline for the carrots. I couldn’t get the hand-guard of the mandoline to hold the carrot securely, so I grabbed the carrot and started sliding it across the mandoline. Carrot and my hand sliding toward the blade. And back. And forward. I adjusted my grip on the ever-shortening carrot and slid again. I knew instantly that something was wrong because of the sound. It wasn’t a smooth “shick” of slicing carrot but something… meatier.

If you’ve ever looked at a just-mangled part of your body, you probably understand how I felt in the next few seconds. First, confusion: “why is my finger all red?” Then, fear: “my finger is GONE!” and finally: “What the hell did my first aid class say to do in this situation?!” (I didn’t actually remember what my first aid class had said to do until hours later, when the adrenaline was gone)

The next few minutes were a whirlwind of activity as Simon tried to find our first aid kit (no luck), our babysitting charge was picked up by her dad (who was thankfully nearby), and we got Maya into the car to drive to the ER.

Maya went to play with our friends who live near the hospital while Simon and I waited for the doctor for a couple hours. The worst part was the freezing needles in my hand, but they bandaged me up and sent me on my way.

I wore this huge bandage on my hand for a few days. The fingertip is pretty gory, but not too painful. What’s bothering me most is my knuckle. My finger is swollen and the knuckle had 3 days of being held straight… so now it’s super angry at me if I try to bend it. Oh and it’s hard to change Maya’s diaper because she swings her legs around and keeps bopping the end of my finger. Ow.

Lesson learned: Use the damn hand-guard. Seriously.

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