Simple Pleasures

Life is very hectic right now. I frequently feel that I’m at my limit. Outside this, there are moments of sheer delight.
Sitting at the kitchen table last night, doing some reading for work. Baby sitting beside me with a newspaper, “write, write, write” and rearranging pens in rows and rows.

Lying in bed half asleep with baby coming in for cuddles then bouncing upright, bouncing all over the bed and squirming back in for a cuddle. “I’m having fun! I’m having fun in bed with mama!”

So, so lucky.

My daughter’s first literary joke

In the bath tonight, nursing, baby was in a bit of a playful mood. She took one finger and pointed right up at the roof, holding it there.
“Are you pointing like the baby in the book?” I asked. She has a baby colour book and the baby in the white overalls points randomly up at the sky. She’s started pointing whenever we get to that page.

She didn’t really answer, but she kind of mumbled and kind of smiled, and I knew what she meant: “I’m just playing around, hanging out, remembering that funny baby that points to the sky! Look at me, randomly pointing at the sky!”

You are funny, baby.

Something funny with wordpress

Hey everyone, something strange is up with WordPress today. I went to my main page and my eye noticed a strange number on the top right of the screen: 539. As in, 539 followers.Now, that can’t be. As of yesterday, I had 21 followers.
However, it is an interesting mystery! I will keep you posted. How delightful that would be … though then, of course, I would feel slightly more motivated to put some real effort into writing something worth reading on the blog!

For today, two baby stories from dinner last night. Dinner which was, by the way, some time after 8 p.m. How do parents get their kids to bed early in summer??

I had ridden my bike down to city park yesterday evening to meet up with hubby and baby. Baby had had a great park time, going down the waterslide for the first time! (half-way up, holding dada’s hand the whole way :)) followed by delightful diaper-free time and a spontaneous pee and poop too. Awesome!

Anyhow, on the way home she was quite insistent that I ride the bike. Not walk beside her in the stroller. “Mama, on!” “Mama, on!” and on and on.

Once we were home, she wanted to see her bike helmet. And dada’s bike helmet. And most of dinner was a series of us putting on our helmets at her bidding, buckling them up (she LOVES buckles!), and taking them back off again.

Meanwhile, hubby (who is really very very good as a parent!) enticed her into trying the mashed yams he had made by showing her how he ate them and said “Mmmm!” She loooved this. She started eating the yams, and sure enough, “Mmmm!!!”ing all the rest of the way through dinner. They really were delicious.

And finally. We’re trying a new ritual in our family. For breakfast and dinner, we want to start by holding hands and taking some deep breaths together, letting go of stress and being present and together. We did that last night at dinner. And half-way through, baby reached for dada and mama’s hands, and initiated her own deep breathing. One wasn’t enough: “mo! mo!”

Wow, I love her.

Money and Babies

Two separate thoughts.
Husband and I watched one of Dave Ramsey’s finance videos tonight, and we’re totally on board with actually getting on top of our finances. It is a great feeling to be tackling our money and future again, improving on what we’re doing now. It’s also wonderful and fortunate to have a partner who is into working together to create our future, and doesn’t run when he hears the word budget. So excited to get working on this!

Watching the video was made possible by baby’s early (6:30) bedtime, which was made possible by her lack of a nap and good fathering. They were out for a walk, he saw she was sleepy, coaxed her onto his chest and she fell asleep as he walked her home. We’ve had 2 wake-ups so far, but no stay-ups, so it’s all good. I’m relieved as this may be a chance to get her onto a more regular sleep schedule.

Today felt like a long, long parenting day. It seemed that every single thing I tried to do was met with crying and/or whining. Throwing an old bandaid into the garbage? Heaven forbid! And forget about diaper changes. My motherly patience, never a strong suit, was worn thin thin thin. Fortunately husband relieved me and I had the chance to breathe. Also fortunately, motherly love really is stronger than motherly frustration. She is SOOO sweet – squatting as she plays with the pods on a flower; stroking my chest as she nurses; running back and forth for hugs and kisses. I continue to love her madly, and only feel more inspired after today to work on my own growth, empathy and compassion to deal more effectively with days like this.

New things about baby

Amazed at the speed of change!
She’s stringing words together now. “Mama dada baby OUT!” “Ya mama no dada A’ya” “Mo yayo weee (more yellow slide)” We’re doing a better job of figuring out what she means, too. She’s very strategic with her use of yes and no!

Bedtime has been really variable and generally late. I am struggling a bit with it – finding it stressful and exhausting. I am thinking about setting an intention to have her sleeping earlier. Not sure what that means. Does not mean crying! Possibly enhancing day-time exercise and revisiting nighttime routines.

Her perky toddler personality is really coming out too! She frequently enjoys yelling just because. She LOVES running away from you if you want her to come close. She’ll race from one end of the house to the other. She’s playing peek-a-boo – hiding behind curtains and bathroom shower curtains and in corners. She loooves to tease, giving us something and then yanking it away with a firm “A’ya” (i.e., it’s for me, not you!). Or, if we ask for a kiss, saying ya, then, with a grin, “no!”

She also has remarkably clear ideas about what she wants. This book here, not there. NO MAMA don’t wear that scarf! I will NOT put on shirts that go over my head! Diaper change? I don’t think so! I am doing lots more deep breathing as I attempt to enjoy these independent moves.

And right now, she’s sleeping. Still so soft, warm and sweet when asleep, her body growing longer and stronger and still our baby.

Little Things

This morning, baby really wanted to nurse and really didn’t want to wear a diaper. Result: much sitting around, two big floor puddles, and late departure for work.
I had a meeting that went long today and I found I was a bit late for yoga class. I almost didn’t go. I was sorely tempted. But then I remembered 1) need to strengthen my bones for a long, healthy life with my daughter, and 2) I’ve paid for a semester pass and I want to get the most from it. I went, I kind of enjoyed myself, I definitely got a work out, and I’m glad I did.

Coming up soon: one week off! Because it’s around my birthday and my week was looking broken up anyways, I’m taking off the week of May 21. Can’t wait!! I feel like baby needs some mama time. I could use a break. I just hope/plan to get a lot done and catch up on things before I leave so I can relax guilt-free. There is so much to do at work. It was brought home to me again today. I don’t know when or how to do it all. Blah.

The course I”m teaching. I can’t wait to be done. Really! I have to mark papers this week. Really?! I think that will have to wait until the weekend. I have found that, yet again, I don’t enjoy it. There are about 16 students in the course, lots more than promised, so there are many, many emails and postings each day. I cannot wait to be finished!!

Had a nice evening. Husband’s brother needed a babysitter, so we brought our dinner over there and hung out with the kids for a couple hours. Baby had an awesome time playing with her big cousins and using the small slide set outside. She could climb up and slide down all by herself – exciting for her, a bit of a relief for her parents! Then kicking the ball, watching and playing with the kids … awesome fun.

Now home, tired, no lunch packed for tomorrow, not doing anything on the course … but going to bed.

I believe in hockey sticks

Second day of spring! So exciting! Woke up to snow!
The weather here is not what it was when I grew up. We used to have long, cold, snowy winters and long, hot summers. Lately, the seasons bleed into each other and it’s not predictable day to day what the weather will be.

Someone asked me once if I “believed in global warming.” I think I replied that I didn’t think it was a matter of belief. Now I would say that  I recognize that belief comes into any subject. I find it hard to evaluate the evidence on different sides of big debates: vaccines and diets come to mind. I know there are scientists and other people who have written contradictions to the global warming argument. In this case, knowing that the overwhelming body of evidence is on the global warming side, and having some awareness of the science-blind and manipulative politics behind climate denial, I would say that I believe in the existence of human-induced global warming and buy, 100%, the hockey stick graph (I never knew that name for it until a CBC interview on The Current last week).

Today was strange for other reasons. Work was busy. So many projects, so many connections to make, not nearly enough time. I pushed through and, I believe, got done all I needed though Monday will bring more.

I also got to participate in some scintillating back and forth regarding an upcoming workshop I’m supposed to do. Numerous people approached me with support and/or concerns, by phone and in person. I had the bemused pleasure of being told in a group email that the proposed workshop was a “waste of time,” followed by the real pleasure of being defended by someone who was initially skeptical. All of this I took with the flow, pleased with my ability not to take personally what was not personal.

And the day ended in the best possible way: 2+ delightful hours hanging out with my daughter in bed as we moved slowly but surely towards bedtime. Stories, songs, cuddling, playing, kissing, “this little piggy”ing, nursing, bottling and sleep. Time to bond with my favourite little person ever, who delights me more and more each day (she says “apple” now! and ball! (bau). Love!!)

Peace in the Here and Now

Baby’s favourite words right now are the names of the people she loves. Especially during quiet moments – lying in bed, nursing – she’ll start listing off the members of her family: “Ai’ya. Mama. Dada.” Repeat, repeat, repeat. She’ll often point to where we sleep in the bed, mama on one side, dada on the other, baby right in the middle. Sometimes I’ll ask her who loves her. She can name “Nana. Wawa.” (always in that order, always together) “Dada.” And, with prompting, “mama.”
I’m learning a lot from her focus on her family. I realize what peace and security our baby gets from being in a stable family and being surrounded by a core of people she spends time with who love her. She knows who we are. She knows who belongs with whom. Mama and Dada are always discussed together. A mention of Nana is incomplete without Wawa. Babies get families, they get relationships, and they derive great comfort from them. Her constant repetition of these names and connections tells me that they matter to her, and that she is reinforcing them in her heart, mind and soul.

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe your family doesn’t have a dada, or you’re physically far from Wawa, or close friends are part of the core. All these variations are part of the unique tapestry that each child inherits. I am learning through the first-hand witnessing of my daughter simply how vital it is that children be surrounded by steady, loving relationships. And a reminder that they will create a sense of the fabric of the world through what they absorb in their early years.

Peace starts in each of us, and is cemented in our families. I wish for my family that we can become more loving and united, and for all people that they can create and build peaceful, loving, stable families to nurture the next generation.

Tonight was a repetition of yesterday’s experience of anticipating baby’s sleep too eagerly. I had plans for a full blog post, about an hour of work (we’re all still sick with this cold so I’ll be staying home tomorrow – but still need to get some work done ’cause it’s a busy time), some prep work for the course, and some reading for fun. Hah. Baby seemed sleepy but in the end it took 2 hours for bedtime to happen. Pre-bed activities included many books, water, bottle, potty-time, changing clothes, up down and all around playing, and lots of time with her art project: star stickers on a sheet of paper. She wanted the stickers moved around and put on things in ways I clearly didn’t understand. “Ai’ya … mama … unh … knee knee knee.” This, it turns out, didn’t mean “please put a sticker on my knee, mama.” After about 15 repetitions of this mantra, with me repeating every word, asking questions, and trying to figure out what she wanted, I had a moment of clarity where I realized that I was truly embedded smack dab in the middle of parenting and learning patience. On and on it went, and I kept myself there and focused and questioning and trying to understand what she so desperately needed from those sticky stars. Very glad I stayed there and am being more and more focused and listening and responsive to my daughter on a moment-to-moment basis.

On to my crusade: I submitted some comment sheets to the local library a few months ago about two books I found very concerning: On becoming babywise, and Healthy sleep habits, happy baby. I found out by email yesterday that after considering my comments and the warnings from the American Pediatric Association, among others, they will be withdrawing at least the first and possibly the second of these from the library holdings. I am thrilled.

The first book – Babywise – is essentially fiction masquerading as science. The recommendations for breastfeeding and sleep training for babies have no basis in research and go against ALL the current science and recommendations for healthy care of newborns. They are also disturbing because they pit parents against babies, treating babies as little manipulators who need to be controlled by their parents rather than humans with legitimate needs which should be respected and listened to.

Healthy sleep habits by Weissbluth does have a basis in some selected research. At the same time, it is, from my perspective, lacking in any moral or common-sense foundation regarding respectful care for newborns. The author is obsessed with the need for young children to sleep through the night, treating any cases of not doing so as abnormal and portending life-long sleep problems. If he actually looked at other scientific and cross-cultural research he would know that 1) there are many emotional and physical reasons why babies continue to wake at night, including well past 1 year old, and 2) a majority of babies start sleeping through the night once they get to a few years old. Not to mention, 3) research has shown that the use of sleep training with young babies actually increases sleep problems as babies get older, partially in the way they make sleep a scary and stressful process for babies. My main concern, however, is the harsh training methods he suggests (they are so disturbing I can’t write about them), which could severely traumatize babies and cause physical and emotional damage. This review of research on infant sleep addresses these and other issues.

I have an inkling that at some stage in my future life I will start working on a “rights of babies” movement. There are the rights of the child, and these form a vital foundation. The needs of babies are particular, and there is no commonly accepted standard for how we treat babies. Of course parents need to make best choices for their families. At the same time, I would like to see this from within a context of better understanding of who babies are, what their needs are, and how best to meet those. If anyone would like to connect me with a movement working on this, please do.

My private thoughts

And fantasies, too.
Baby is nursing to sleep in the middle of the day. I’m sitting in bed, holding her. My brain goes:

“Good, she’s going to sleep. Probably be out for almost 2 hours. I might blog, get that done. Or maybe I’ll get around to working on the course – lots of prep work to do. Ooh, I’m hungry. I could whip up a cake, make some tea, and then do some email while it’s cooking. Mmm, that movie I started to watch last week … this would be a perfect time to finish it. Or an episode of Diva. Maybe while I’m making the cake I can start dinner, just something quick like chopping the onions. Or maybe I should just relax … get the tea, then sit in bed and read. I’m really enjoying my book right now. Or some magazines! I’ve got a few left in the stack and I’d love to flip AND finish looking at them. Oh wait, there’s a load waiting to get hung in the washer. I could do that. Maybe I’ll pop in a load of darks while I’m at it – baby’s running low on pants. I’ve been meaning to get to the entrance area too, so I could give that a clean-out. Oh, while I’m going through the kitchen I might as well unload the dishwasher. But then, absolutely, after that’s done I’ll put my feet up and do some reading.”

Baby switches breasts, I switch to lying down.

“Boy, I really would love to curl up with a novel. How long has it been? Well, okay, I read one last week, but I mean, really sit down with a book and a blanket and just read? I’ve got that one on the shelf I’m saving. I could treat myself and just sit and read. Ooh, with a cup of milky camomile tea. Delightful! And some roasted almonds. Yum, tamari honey-roasted. I’ve messed up the last 2 batches but I will get it right this time. I’m quite hungry, actually. I should heat up some soup and have that before I read. And speaking of hungry, when did baby eat last? I really need to get something going for her for the next meal. I’ll soak some mung beans maybe, and start a rice dish. She loves pilafs. And I just want to pop over to my email again – waiting for a reply.”

Baby finishes the breast, switches to the bottle.

“ooh, almost there. Sweet, wonderful, beautiful, adorable, beloved child. Sigh … I love her so much. Oh, and it will be so great to have a little break in the middle of the day. I so need a break. I’m wiped out from cooking and playing and diaper changes. And she really needs the rest, too – she’s been yawning for an hour. Aah, a break. A book. That’s what I’ll do. Email, blog, dinner prep, bake a cake, hang the laundry, some quick reading for the course, tea, and a book.”

Baby rolls over and snuggles into the blankets. Sighs. Wriggles. Waits. Wriggles.

And sits up.

New fantasy, in reality: my baby smiles at me and I fall in love all over again.

Life’s Roller Coaster

Up, down. Back, forth. Be, do. As I mentioned to a friend today, I feel like I flip-flop between opposites each day I post. Am I learning anything? Am I making some progress? It’s hard to tell from here. I want to take time to reflect on this, and I also don’t want to stew in my introspection for too long. And I don’t really have the long to stew in, anyways – life flies by. So I’ll just keep blogging and hope that acknowledging the struggle will bring the reward.
Today was a pretty good day. Work was full of work and stuff got done. Visited with sister and family after work. Had the joys of dealing with simultaneous massive baby poops, which were followed by a cousin bath.

Baby fell asleep on the way home, and I hoped/planned/expected that the night would go as the previous two did: put her right to bed, and have an evening of productivity.

Instead: she woke up. I nursed, bottled, played, and she fell asleep after maybe an hour. Delightful, fun, sweet time with my girl. And because I was tired and she was adorable, I opted to stay curled up in bed with her, just for a little while.

When I finally woke up and nursed her again, I thought it might be maybe, at the latest, 9 p.m. Um … 10:57. I slept the evening away while my husband prepared for work tomorrow, washed up all the dishes, emptied our bags, washed the poopy diaper and did laundry, and made dinner. Wow … what a man!! And, he tells me he’s glad I got some rest :).

I’m determined to capitalize on the unexpected early bedtime. I’ve showered, eaten, now blogged, and may read a wee but, but will be back in bed shortly.

And now it’s after midnight and I am once again posting on the next day. Welcome to the unpredictable life of this working mom.