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:

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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.
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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. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Birth Order...

As we inch closer to the due date, I start looking at my children with slightly different eyes knowing that soon enough their order will shift slightly or  M. will no longer be our baby. He is growing into being a stubborn, hilarious, cheeky toddler, following closely in his brother's path in some ways but also very much blazing his own trail. Between the two boys he was the shy one. No longer. This part of his personality is slowly receding as he basks in the spotlight of attention he gets from strangers whenever we go out. And in all fairness, much like me with my older brother, next to Z. who has been blessed with the gift of gab, it's not hard to look like the quiet one. But no one, would ever call me shy. Birth order. And the more confident M. becomes in communicating, the more he interacts with others. It's remarkable how much his vocabulary has grown in just a few weeks. He says full phrases sometimes in response to our questions to him as opposed to just one or two words. Of course his pronunciation will improve and he mixes up words or uses the sounds that the animal makes instead of the noun but we know what he is trying to say as he repeats a word or phrase back, no, no want yogurt, no, no want banana, I love you, here you go, hold me....

It's hard not to compare the stages your kids are at when they are so close in age and also both boys, but we really try not to. Because I see how different they are and the strengths that one has at one age another one might have a different strength. And of course Z. being the first benefitted from a lot of one to one time from both parents. And I remember the last major milestones both kids were waiting to achieve I was surprisingly relaxed about it. I knew M. would eventually walk which he did within a perfectly normal time frame (13 months) and Z. would potty train which he did beautifully much to our surprise at a relatively early age for a boy (2 1/2). More than having confidence in us and our amazing parenting skills (ha) - I had confidence in our kids and their abilities and knew they would get there when it was time for them.

Now, facing my last trimester with this little bean currently kicking me, I'm a little daunted, I don't know why, to be the mother of a girl. Like its going to be so different. I'm not sure what my hang up is, it's just an adjustment of mind. And the fact that I really didn't think I would be mother to a girl.  And I know I will take cues from her like I think I've been able to from my boys until now. Of course I don't always get it right and we have our off days and toddlers are complicated as their brains are still very much developing to get even the simplest of concepts sometimes but they deceive you into thinking that they know more than they do and then sometimes they do! Which just makes everything even more confusing.

Our parenthood journey is only just beginning. And I am trying so hard to enjoy it all and not beat myself up too much about the small things and let our kids be who they are with us cheering them on,  teaching them the best we can as their parents, feeding their body, brains and souls, steering them the out of danger to the best of our ability and letting them just be.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Brothers...

In London 2013 (photo by S.)

Our boys are as close as they can be without being twins. They are 17 months a part. Z. doesn't remember life without M. And M. never experienced life without Z. They antagonise one another. Love each other until it hurts. Wake each other up in the morning and from naps. Steal each others toys, destroy each others towers, wrestle, play, compete for our affection. Look for each other when they've been away from each other for too long. Kiss and hug one another for no reason other than they can't keep a part. Try to console each other when they are sad. Make each other laugh. Run and chase. Did I mention that they wrestle? Wrestle, run, chase, kiss, hug, hit and repeat. Z. can't wait to start school, he talks about it all the time. I'm going to school tomorrow he says. And M. is coming? I've tried to explain that he won't be coming. It will be the first time in their life other than M.'s brief hospital stay when he was a newborn that they have ever been a part. They are always together. They are brothers and their bond is enviable.