Saturday, 18 October 2014

Parenthood and Marriage...

Sometimes life is one great glorious adventure which I throw myself into with love, energy and enthusiasm and other days despite the beauty and love that my life offers me, I feel like crawling to the depths of inside my covers and staying there. Life recently has been dominated by the emotional roller coaster that is my three and a half year old and by his equally emotional pregnant mother.

Most days despite being overly sensitive and moody myself, I am able to cope and be creative in my thinking to tack the sail of sweeping raw emotion that overtakes his little soul when: He's hungry? Tired? Overstimulated? Bored? All of the above? I've given up trying to guess. We just try to keep him fed, proteins definitely help, stay away from sugars for the most part and computer screens, try to exercise outside as much as possible and sleep, well sleep...

The nap/ no nap is a huge issue at the moment. Its reassuring that it might be that Z. is transitioning out of having naps but some days may still need one, which is where we are now leaving his schedule somewhat inconsistent which also can lead to the cranks big time. We are trying to keep a penny jar to reward him for good behaviour and to deduct them from the jar for bad behaviour. So far its working pretty well, the immediate gratification of earning a penny is obviously satisfying for him and on the flip side having one taken away feels like enough of a punishment for him to have him reconsider what ever bad behaviour he's engaging in for the most part.

There are so many sides to parenting that before you become a parent you may consider but until you are in the throes of the same problems with your own children you can't really imagine. And  something I never considered is the the toll it takes on the relationship with your spouse when you have different methods of approaching problems with your children. We keep trying and are not perfect, with our children, with each other, with ourselves. I feel so lucky that despite the fact that we can be proud and stubborn and sulky with each other, when our egos get in the way of clear thinking, that we blow up and retreat licking our wounds when we can't get it together, we are ultimately each others biggest cheerleaders and supporters and we are in this journey together unquestionably.

These years are perfectly imperfect with all the moments of love and joy we experience and try to gather up with our arms and treasure when the black mood of childhood without its reason or logic throws over the table and everything on it. And we as the parents scramble to gather what was lost, damaged, spilled and set the table back again and again.

As we approach the last month of my pregnancy and embark on the next chapter of parenthood with another addition to our brood, I've never been so happy that I'm married to the man that I am. He who understands and loves me and our children unconditionally even in the midst of the chaotic beauty that is our unrefined life at the moment. And as unsteady as it can sometimes be he is the anchor for us all.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Autumn Arrives...

I've slowed down considerably in the last few weeks. It's amazing how quickly the transition is from being pregnant to being *!)*$^%£#  PREGNANT!!!! In the second trimester I've always felt like I can conquer the world. Now I just want to crawl back into to bed and stay under the covers. Of course it corresponds to the change in seasons which effects me tremendously. And the growing baby and my growing body. Its exhausting just carrying around the extra weight let alone everything else which comes with the final weeks of pregnancy. And the baby is currently head down!! Meaning natural birth? We'll see but I am faintly optimistic until my next dr.'s appointment.

And all this and trying to work when I can, extracting children from apron strings as I carry my computer bag out the door. We've also are rethinking our business plan for S.'s business all the while tackling the extra responsibility which school brings - thankfully it's only two day a week for now but its a commitment for the whole family isn't it? And this is only preschool and only the FIRST MONTH. I am chaperoning Z.'s first class trip tomorrow, we are going apple picking - of course we are, this is New England. We've got class pictures and open houses and fall festivals and parent teacher conferences and so.much.paperwork...not to mention the snacks and the lunches and the thing to bring in on Tuesdays for show and tell and I was so thankful Z. chose a pinecone, A PINECONE!!! Instead of Buzz Lightyear or Spider-Man like from weeks past.

I am trying to slowly tackle all the small projects which I would like to have finished before the baby arrives. Some things we've cut corners on. The small cabinet we've put in the boys room which we meant to strip of the old paint of and then repaint properly, you know with a primer and then the final coat of paint, we ended up not stripping and just spray painting the final colour. It's fine. I actually didn't mind it the way that it was given to us, slightly aged with paint rubbed off in some places. We still have to set up a crib, buy a stand for the newborn carseat so that we can remove it from the car without having to re-strap in into the car every time we need to take the baby out. Car culture it's a new experience for us. Also, our station wagon is suddenly looking a little small as we moved Z. into a booster seat. Not sure I'm ready for another car search but we do need another car and eventually yes, a bigger car (swallow, minivan?)

We've also managed to get out and do a few more walks before the leaves are replaced with snow. We tried to do a walk to a falls close to my parents house this past weekend and that was an EPIC FAIL. It was my fault. The hike was too long for our boys and also not the road that I had remembered it being. It was also a tourist trap on an Indian Summer day in the Berkshires. 3/4th of the way to the falls M. hit a wall and was unable to recover. S. had to carry our hysterical baby all the way back to the car without seeing the falls. Needless to say that about 5 minutes into the car ride back to my parents house he fell deeply asleep. I was reminded that the last time I did that particularly hike I was 10 years younger and without children. So my memory of it was a little different from the reality...

The walks around our local pond are proving to be the best, we can swing back around the beginning once the tireds set in and there is enough going on in the woods to let them walk/ run without fear of them falling down a steep hill of rocks. They impress me all the time though as they are still very little but love exploring and adventuring into the wild, discovering all that the woods has to offer. I can't wait to see how they are going to be in a few years. Naturalists. All of us. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Embracing the Seasons...

Summer is definitely almost over. We can already feel the autumn chill in the air and we've been dressing the kids in jeans and corduroys and even put Z. in a flannel shirt (which was a size or two too small already for him but he couldn't part with it). Autumn is normally my favourite season and I am particularly looking forward to our first New England autumn which is like no other.
I love the sound of the rustling trees, I love the colour of the foliage deepening in breathtaking swirls of ambers and brick reds and earth browns and then falling to the ground. The light changing as the sky opens up around us, trees thinning their leaves.
I love apples, apple cider, apple cider donuts, apple pie. I would love to go apple picking with the kids but probably they are still too little and I am too pregnant. I love pumpkins, pumpkin patches, hay rides,  and Halloween scaries. I can't wait for the kids to experience their first real Halloween and I am looking forward to seeing our sleepy neighbourhood town with their wood clapboard houses and wrap around porches turn their homes into haunted houses. My brother and his family are coming to visit us mid-October so we can pick out a few good pumpkins together at the local pumpkin patch - curious if our farm share has one - and carve them out on the porch.
Thanksgiving is also my favourite holiday even if it will be a little toned down this year. We've got M.'s second birthday to think about and then of course the birth of R. our last miracle baby will be blessing us with her appearance a week or two before Thanksgiving. S.'s parents are coming at the beginning of November for which I am so grateful. Without knowing how I'm giving birth - most likely C-section unless this baby moves into a good final position - its a little hard to plan around her birth. So it's amazing that my in-laws can be here and stay with us for a month. They'll have their first real American Thanksgiving which will be great, my mother will do a great job no doubt although it will be scaled back to make it easier for everyone. Last year she did the turkey in sections restaurant style as opposed to roasting a whole turkey and while I was disappointed to miss the production of a roasted turkey it was still delicious and was easier all around for my mom to cook such a meal for us all.
But as much as I love everything about the Fall I can't help but feel a little sad to let Summer go. We had a really lovely summer albeit somewhat insecure and chaotic. Also Fall leads to Winter which while it has it's own set of lovely things to look forward to can be quite long and isolating in these parts. Thankfully our high speed internet is supposed to be up and running by then. The next question we'll be asking ourselves is whether after over a decade without if we finally break down and buy a television? This summer was the summer of discoveries, the summer of firsts for us all, the summer of getting our bearings, of becoming comfortable with this house, this area, this new life. The kids spent most of the hot days naked running around in the garden, chasing each other or us with the hose. They have become confident climbers, naturalists and comfortable around bugs and animals much to our great delight.
For a while Z. was asking when we were going back to London. It was heartbreaking every time he went into his little speech about how London was so cool and America is bad - although he couldn't fully describe why it was. He didn't like our new house. He preferred the house in London. This house, he explained, is too old. But look at the wonderful garden you have here, and your playroom, and all the space you didn't have in London. You have a much bigger bedroom and you share with M. But I miss the sofa, he would say.

Finally the other day he admitted that America isn't so bad. Maybe it's not bad after all. I knew once he got into school and things in the house and our routine settled a bit more he would let go of his grudge against America. As lovely as it is here I'm sure that it hasn't been easy, the upheaval from the only life he knew. A new baby on the way. Children are resilient and our kids have it easy compared to most but I know that we shouldn't underestimate the effect change has on small children just as a change of season has on me.

Friday, 5 September 2014

A Walk and a Swim and a Picnic, sort of...

We have a lot of different hikes and water holes close by to us which we have tried to take the most advantage of. Last time we did a hike we forgot our swim suits so had a picnic in front of the pond and then to the kids disappointment left without a swim. We probably could have gotten away with letting them swim in their birthday suits but you never know how people will react. We did that in the beginning of the summer at a local lake we came across and we got a few raised eyebrows so we've tried to avoid it as silly as that is, as our kids look older than they are and I don't know are people offended by naked baby bodies? Are they concerned for us that there might be child molesters lurking in the bushes? I don't ever want my kids to be shamed for being naked so I'd rather just avoid the problem when in public because of other people's issues.
This most recent hike/ swim / picnic we started off on a hike and Z. ran down the path and scraped his knee, elbow and chin so he really didn't feel much like walking, expect in our arms, so we skipped right to the swimming part which they of course loved. Friends met us for a quick swim and catch up, their daughter stripped down to her birthday suit and no one batted an eyelid so there you have it.
The boys had slight meltdowns after our friends left so we had no time to eat and ushered them into the car and gave them their snack. I felt the judgemental eyes of the parents around us as their kids quietly minded their own business as we dried our boys off and changed them as them as they squealed and were being generally loud and uncooperative. Funnily it was the fathers I felt were giving us the once over and thought to myself do you really believe your kid is always well behaved in all circumstances? You must not spend enough time with your kids or please see in denial. It's funny how delusional some parents are about their kids actions. Oh, my kid doesn't have tantrums (as I witness no less than three in the brief time I am with the kid), oh he never plays with guns or swords, hmmm, but he'll pick up a toy bat and bang my kid over the head with it...It might have been US they were looking at because our tone with our kids isn't always sunshine and rainbows, we both believe in being direct and speaking in a tone of a authority when the children are misbehaving and not singsong sweetie honey pie let's not throw sand in the little girls face... tone we've noticed is quite prevalent in these parts.
It's such gamble with little kids you never know how quickly your well devised plan with crumble to pieces, you just have to go with it. We have the best intentions but are flexible to understand the needs of our children without completely being ruled by their whims but there are limits when dealing with a 3 year old and 21 month old. We take what we can get and it's pretty good.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Firsts...

Tuesday was Z.'s first day at preschool. We did a couple of playdates at the playground with other preschoolers and kindergarteners to get the kids acquainted and to meet other parents. It was set up by the PTO and it was a great idea. The new kids like Z. already became familiar with the school once the open house rolled around and he already knew the names of a couple of the kids come his first day. I also have since had a few nice conversations with other moms and dads and feel like we might make some new friends as parents too which is always a bonus when your kid starts school.

As expected Z. walked in and never looked back. I thought we'd at least stay until they started their circle time but as the seasoned preschoolers parents started to file out we composed ourselves, gathered up his little brother (who had no intention of leaving) and silently hugged Z. with our souls as we quietly made our exit trying not to disturb the game the teachers had so expertly involved all the children in, leaving us parents incapable of making a scene...

He led his classmates out the door later in the afternoon and one of his teachers said that he was a great leader. His father and I beamed with pride. She also said that he had shared toys with other kids without being prompted 4 times... I know that everyday will not as good as that but as a first day it was pretty near perfect for us all. Z. was never happier.

As a neurotic first time mom of a preschooler I came across this article from Wired's blog, the science of which I've heard before but found interesting none the less. Particularly this part:

+++++++++++
There are two lessons here. The first lesson is that upper-class parents worry too much. Although adults tend to fret over the details of parenting — Is it better to play the piano or the violin? Should I be a Tiger Mom or a Parisian mom? What are the long-term effects of sleep training? — these details are mostly insignificant. In the long run, the gift of money is that it gives a child constant access to a world of stimulation and enrichment, thus allowing her to fulfill her genetic potential. The greatest luxury we can give our children, it turns out, is the luxury of being the type of parent that doesn’t matter at all.
The second lesson is that stunning developmental inequalities set in almost immediately. As Tucker-Drob demonstrates, even the mental ability of 2-year-olds can be profoundly affected by the socioeconomic status of their parents. The end result is that their potential is held back.
++++++++
Its an eye opening understanding of the inequalities of two families; one without means and one with. The family without the kind of access a middle class family has, unwillingly sets their kid on a path where they cannot fulfil their potential if they don't have preschool access. So in other words, I say to myself chill the fuck out mama, your kid has got this. And while maybe preschool won't get Z. on a faster track to whatever greatness he is already destined for, I can see how he's going to benefit by just being independent from his inner family, not to mention all the new skills he's going to master and social interactions he'll encounter. He's going to rock it, school. World look out.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Here We Go Again...Baby Sideways Stories...

I should have a belly picture of my giant ballooning sideways baby tummy but as these days I spend more time tracking my kids no selfie at the moment. Also if taken today my bare tummy would show evidence of a purple circle of a bite mark given to me this AM by my baby no baby M. Yesterday Z. kicked me. I'm not sure if they feel my vulnerability and are taking advantage of it for a power play or they just want ALL my attention or they are just plain pissed off but its got to stop. The kick - which has never happened before - came after telling Z. no to something and the bite after I turned my attention away from M. to his father. School, although only two days a week for Z. comes the week after next and not a moment.too.soon. for us all...

So, sideways baby R. I was so psyched when the scan a few weeks ago showed she was head down. I really thought this time would be different - and it still could be - but it feels just a little too familiar. I've felt so awkward these past few days and it's all because she's got her big head lodged on my right side, my centre of gravity is completely off kilter. I feel like I have to start doing the inversions again to realign her at least to breech for the comfort of the rest of my pregnancy because at the moment she doesn't feel like she's budging.

S. asked me this AM if I was okay about having another c-section, as if I have a choice to be okay or not if this baby isn't in position. But I am okay with it. I'm not scared, although after my last experience I have reason to be (the spinal failed and therefore my level of sensation during the operation went from uncomfortable to downright painful). But my first c-section was perfect and so I know that things can and do normally go smoothly for scheduled sections. I am most discouraged about the recovery of the surgery and not being able to be 100% directly after the baby is born and having to manage 2 toddlers and a newborn while sleep deprived and healing. I also although have let go my ideal water birth, etc., etc. at least hoped for a vaginal birth so that I could experience labour and all that comes with a normal natural birth and was hoping that if I was able do it perhaps breast feeding would be a little easier this time around as well as some women on the VBAC pages have noted. 

Whatever comes, comes. We can't afford to go through all the acupuncture, chiropractor route this time - not that it worked for me in any case - and I refuse to obsess about it like I did with my other two pregnancies. I will start doing regular inversions and should walk more and do more yoga in any case and whatever after that happens will happen. Our third and final miracle baby will get here however she is destined to we hope in the healthiest way possible for her and me whatever that may look like.