Thursday, 3 December 2015

Parenting Adventure: Time Out Edition

Parenting is pretty hard. I know, I know, "this too shall pass" and "it's only a stage" and all that, but in the meantime, can we all just agree that the right here and now isn't all that easy?

Elliott is 20 months old and just last week we started time outs. Guys, he isn't even 2. 

He gets it though- oh boy does he ever understand. Here is a typical time out interaction....

Let's say he pushed one of the Dayhome kids....

"Elliott! No pushing. You get a time out for pushing"
I put him on one of the booster chairs, strap him in and push the chair into the corner facing the wall. 

*whining, crying and saying "all done" commences*

1-2 minutes later I go, kneel down in front of him and say 
"Why did you get a time out?"
"Meeeem ooouuut"
"Yes, time out. Why did you get a timeout?"
*avoids eye contact* 
"Elliott, why did you get a time out?"
"Mommy!" *Grabs my face and kisses me on the lips*
"Look at my eyes. Why did you get a time out?"
"Meeeeem ooooouuut"
"Why did you get a time out?"
"Ya ya!!"
"Yes, Olivia. What did you do?"
"That's right. You cannot push."
"Pushing is not being gentle. Pushing hurts"
"You cannot push. Do you understand?"
*nods head emphatically*
"Ok, you go say sorry please"
"Mommy!!" *Hands around my neck and big kiss on the lips as I unstrap him and get him down from his chair*

He then runs up to the "victim" and pats the on the head and says "Sowwy! Sowwy!"

He is lucky he's so dang cute.

But seriously, I think time outs have drastically improved his behaviour. He pushes and hits so much less. I often still feel like a full time referee, but I feel less overwhelmed and exasperated. 

I try to remind myself that he is who he is and his personality and behaviour will grow and change as he grows and develops his relationship with the Lord. I don't want to ever wish he was different, but instead just do my part in guiding him in healthy outlets for his personality. He is such a confident, energy filled little boy, which is what I always prayed for. I know his confidence will serve him well later in life. His pushing and hitting has never been mean spirited, but almost always because he plays too rough and is just a little ball of energy! Of course he's a toddler and fights over toys like the rest of them, but 80% of the time he is just trying to play or give hugs that turn into tackles. He just loves so much! It sounds silly (or backwards), but I really do believe that he'll be such a caring empathetic little boy once he learns not to hit and push.

Oh, and for those who may be wondering, he hasn't bitten anyone since "the incident" over a month ago. Thank the Lord that whole thing wasn't without good fruit!

So anyways, parenting sucks. Being the bad guy sucks. I hate giving time outs so young, but I do it because it works and because I'm seeing a change in behaviour. That, in itself is worth celebrating!

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Friday, 20 November 2015

Sweet Little Toddler Prayers

I think I've written about this before, but I desire for prayer to be an integral part of Elliott's life. I pray out loud with him as often as I can so that he can see our prayers at work. 

A few weeks ago I started praying with him in the mornings as I nurse him - I love this sweet time with him as we lazily start our day and wake up together. I ask him if he wants to pray and he says "mmhmm" with a little smile. So then I'll start small

"Dear Jesus, We thank you for Daddy. We pray that he has a really good day! Aaaaamen!" 

Since very early on he has always hit the table when we say Amen at the dinner table. It's very cute. When we pray anywhere else he hits his chest with his hand. Even cuter.

So he hits his hand on his chest. Now here's the best part. Next he makes the sign language sign for "More." Oh be still my heart! The first time he did it I cried. 

So I ask "Do you want to pray more?" 


This goes on and on as we pray for multiple things and multiple people. I think it's the best part of my day with him. 

Sometimes when he is really whiney I will ask him if he wants to pray. Today we had the sweetest little interaction. I started out thanking Jesus for all our family "Thank you for Grandma and Grandpa, and thank you for Auntie Gloria and Uncle Steve. Thank you for Auntie Nicole and Uncle James, and for Uncle Daniel. And who else should we thank Jesus for?"

"Nonah!!!" He exclaimed. 

(Nonah is what he calls his favourite cousin Jonah.)

I don't know why I am always so surprised at his level of comprehension, but this one struck me with more than just surprise. So much joy and love fills my heart!! I feel so encouraged that even at this young age Elliott is already engaging in a relationship with Jesus. My prayer for him is that prayer will always be front and center in his life and that he will see the fruit of it continuously. 

Happy Friday everyone!

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Friday, 6 November 2015

I Bit My Kid Today

I don't think anyone expects to one day bite their own child. I certainly didn't. There are some strong opinions when it comes to dealing with a toddler who bites in this way and I'll just start by thanking you for keeping them to yourself.

Elliott is a handful and a half. I spend approximately 98% of my day pulling him off the Dayhome kids. You might think I am exaggerating, but I assure you I am not. The pushing, tackling and hitting is enough to deal with, so when it looked like the new game was biting all I could think was NUH UH. 

The kid is just so full of love, I swear. Rarely are any of his antics out of anger, but instead out of playfulness. He just happens to love to play very very rough. His hugs are robust and his kisses usually include face pinches. He just loves so much!! Obviously, a child his size (or even a little bigger) can't quite handle the love. Or appreciate it. Like, at all. 

He had bit me while in full tackle mode a handful of times, but seemed to understand my firm "no biting!" Well, when he bit one of the kids last week  (after a loooong week of me playing referee to him all day long) I had pretty much had it. I was done. 

Why on earth would we bite our child to show them they can't bite? How on earth could it be effective to show them that it isn't an acceptable way to show your frustration when that is exactly what we are modeling? How confusing is it to hurt your child and them to understand that we love them and they are safe with us?

I've had all those thoughts and continue to, but still, when he bit me today, I bit him back. I would much rather it be me, someone who can control how hard I bite, then it be retaliation from another child that would hurt way more and possibly draw blood.

I'm still not sure it was right. Parenting is dang hard. You can have all the ideas of what is right and wrong in your head, and then you go and bite your own kid.

TGIF guys, TGIF.

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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Monday's Be Crazy

Most days my day ends at 4:30. It's pretty awesome that all I have to do is walk up the stairs to go "home," but on Mondays it still feels like I don't have enough time for anything. Chris has a night class at 5:30 and has to leave by 5, and then I leave at 6:40 for a course I'm taking at our church. (Thankfully I have a wonderful mother in law who come to watch Elliott and put him to bed because Chris doesn't get home until 8:45) Chris and I still want to eat dinner together, but that can feel like a lofty goal most weeks, especially when you factor in the toddler. 

Yesterday was shaping up to be just like every other Monday. I did have a plan for dinner, but getting it cooked and on the table in time for Chris to eat with us before he left didn't sound like it was going to happen. I suggested to him that he may want to just fend for himself before I was even done work. 

And then.... my afternoon wasn't going so well. Elliott was being a complete nut trying to take all the kids toys and pushing them around (yes the kids, not the toys) They say as a Dayhome provider your own kid is always the worst, and that is certainly true for us most days.

I think I can count on one hand the amount of times I've done this, but I was at my wits end and sent Elliott upstairs to hang out with Chris around 4 o'clock. I felt bad because I knew it would make it hard for him to figure out his dinner with a cranky toddler at his feet, but I had no choice. I was pulling out my hair!

So here's what real teamwork looks like folks. I came upstairs at 4:30 to find dinner almost ready (salmon, rice and veggies) and we were able to sit down as a family to eat it all. I felt so blessed you guys, I could have cried. When Chris was almost done his dinner he mentioned he wanted to make a latte before he left so I hopped up and made it for him. I handed it to him with a granola bar as he was walking out the door, and all I could think was "man we rocked today!!" 

Full disclosure- most Monday's have been Chris running out to get Papa John's ($6 pizza on Monday's is hard to say no to) and us scarfing down a couple pieces together as he walks out the door with Pepto in hand *just in case* the greasy pizza doesn't sit well. I think I deserve to celebrate this victory ;)

Anyways, that's just what life looks like for us these days. 

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Monday, 19 October 2015

Thirty and Flirty and Thriving

*ten points for the first person to name the title reference*

I know it's been a while, but I knew that when I returned I wanted to really return to making regular posts, and that was something I just wasn't ready for yet. Well, I decided what better time to rekindle my little corner of the Internet, that the milestone of turning 30!

To kick things off, let's start with a fun little post about the things I have learned in the past 30 years. Well, the noteworthy things. Well... the noteworthy things that I can think of off the top of my head.

In no particular order...

1. Do not take pride in personality strengths, because a different season of life may sweep you off your feet and you may find yourself showing flaws where strengths once were, and no one is harder on you than yourself. Pride = High Expectations = Possible Dissappointment 

2. If you think something is a big deal, don't act all nonchalant about it and then get angry when no one is treating it like a big deal. Again, expectations...

3. Always get AppleCare and always have a screen protector. 

4. Kids are like goldfish. They will grow as much as we give them space for. 

5. More importantly on parenting- no one, I repeat NO ONE is doing it completely right. There's no such thing. 

6. If you let yourself have fake arguments in your head with another person for long enough you will start to believe that they really feel the way you think and you really are as right as you always are when you inevitably win the argument (because you never lose arguments in your head)

7. Nothing is a substitution for prayer. Absolutely nothing. 

8. It's one thing to say you want to only surround yourself with likeminded individuals, or only want positive happy people on your Facebook newsfeed, but it's also a slippery slope down the not-real-or-authentic-community hill. 

9. If there is one thing in this life that is worth investing in financially it is your mental health. Stuff breaks, trips can wait (and frankly so can debt) but your mental health and well being pours into your most important relationships, which is all that really matters in the end.

10. You get to a point where you stop making decisions solely based on your twenty-something self and start thinking more about your fifty-something self, and how you can best serve that old geezer.

11. Speaking of your twenty-something self... Pssst, you should probably start saving for your retirement now.

12. There can be a lot of grey areas in life, but if you stick to black and white things tend to go a lot easier for you. 

That's all I've got for now folks. Maybe I'll have a second installment, or maybe I won't. I will however have a new post every week. Quiet time just got more productive!

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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Gratefulness. Simple, yet not always easy.

In my last blog (which yes, I know was a loooong time ago!) I talked about the beauty of normal and an appreciation for moments. How the routine of each day can feel like a welcome rhythm rather than a monotonous cycle. What I didn't talk about was how I got to this place of contentment and satisfaction.

Gratefulness. Simple, yet not always easy. 

Sometimes my days can seem crazy. Between the "Elliott pushed me!" and the "She said it's red but it's PINK!!" I can feel exhausted before we even get to the park at 9 am! It's easy to make a decision about my day before it has barely begun. 

Oh boy, it's going to be a long day

I see they're going to be in that kind of mood.

How long until naptime??

And then when my day is done and Chris is home it's all too easy to give him the "highlights" of the day rather than the bigger picture. It got to a point where all he heard about were the fights and the time outs.

The poor guy probably thought I hated running a dayhome, which couldn't be further from the truth. Yes, there are a lot of "teaching moments" (that sounds better, doesn't it?) but I love what I do. I get paid to play, snuggle, kiss boo boos and tickle. I make sand castles and drink coffee at the park everyday, and I get a glorious hour of quiet time each day (which is often interrupted by at least one "Melissa, I'm doooooone!!" from the washroom, but hey, I can't have it all can I?)

One day a few weeks back I was having a particularly challenging morning. The kids had just left the breakfast table and I was already having to step in to prevent a conflict. Warnings were given and kids were sent to opposite sides of the room and I returned to the dishes I was doing. I closed my eyes pleaded for Jesus to help me. It was 7:40 and I wasn't ready to write off my day just yet. I stopped and I took a sip of coffee and as I finished Elliott's toast (a secret indulgence of mine is to pile on a bit more jam. Butter and strawberry jam is just so tasty) and time slowed down just for a moment. I've trained my spirit to recognize these slowed down kairos moments. I stopped and realized that in that moment all was quiet. Everyone was playing nicely. I had hot coffee and a bite left of toast to savour. I closed my eyes again and this time gave thanks for the moment. I accepted it for what it was- not wishing it would stay quiet all day or that anything would change, but just breathing in and appreciating it.

Thank you Lord for a quiet moment.

The morning went on as we ventured to the park and back and had a snack. Soon it was lunch and I remembered I had picked up a salad from the grocery store as a treat for myself. I mixed it up to find it tasted ah-mazing. 

Thank you Lord for delicious salad. This time I scribbled it down on a piece of paper.

That particular day I experienced an entire hour with all the kids sleeping. I snuck upstairs with the baby monitors in hand and sat on my couch with the sun on my face and a piece of dark chocolate in my hand.

Thank you Lord for sunshine and chocolate.

My day was far from perfect that day. There were tears and time outs and sassy pants. What was different at the end of the day however was my heart. Chris came home and asked me how my day was and for the first time in a long time I told him it was a little crazy (as usual) but good. I recalled to mind some of the cute moments and shared those things instead of the tears.

It's been a month or so now, and I still have days where I forget to be grateful and I want to pull out my hair by 9 am, but the days I remember to stop in the slowed down moments are my favourite. It feels like Jesus is dropping me hints throughout my day; like he's reminding me of something. I'll let you know when I figure out exactly what it is.

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Sunday, 5 July 2015

The Beauty of "Normal"

Sometimes the days can pass so quickly we don't even realize another week has gone by. I've been in different seasons where this has been a welcome feeling, and also where I have felt an urgency and a loss of time. They say that time speeds up once you have a child, and I would certainly agree - it seems like I blinked and Elliott started walking (ahem *running*) and I'm not exaggerating when I say he learns a new word almost every single day. (Today was "stinky" ha ha!)

Friday, 26 June 2015

I Don't Want A Sex Chart, Thank You Very Much

There's a video floating around of an Australian woman talking about the proper time for a husband to ask his wife to have sex with him. She is quite assuming, making charts of the optimal times based on when the last time she had a haircut, how clean the house is and how long the kids have been in bed. In the end she puts all the charts together on one chart revealing the golden window which arises about once a month.

I get it. It's meant to be all in good fun. I just don't find it funny.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Slowly Getting My Head Above Water

I miss doing things for other people. Or maybe I should say that I miss feeling like I want to, or can.

I love being the person who anonymously drops off a small gift for a friend, or makes cookies for someone going through a hard time. I like to be able to make a meal for someone who has suffered a loss, or a batch of granola bars for a new mom. It's not just about stuff either- I enjoy calling up a friend who seems to be in a tough time and asking them if they need anything, if just an ear to listen. I like to make people feel as though they have been seen and heard, and it really fills my cup when I'm able to do so.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Ch-ch-ch-changes Part 2 (Sleep!)

Last time I talked about how Elliott's eating has changed, and this post will be all about sleep!

Elliott was a great sleeper for the first six months. I always felt so spoiled that he would sleep 3-4 hour stretches right from the first week. That meant I got up once or twice to nurse him and he rose for the day around 7 am. I really couldn't complain!

Then... Teething. And he forgot how to sleep. I thought it was a stage, but even as his teething got better his sleep did not. We went through different phases of bad sleep. Sometimes he woke up at 2, then again at 4 and would be up for a full hour (wide awake!) Other times he would wake up only 2 hours after we put him down, and then every 1-2 hours until 7 am. I would almost always nurse him each time because I was so exhausted, and sitting down to nurse him was way easier than walking around, bouncing and patting and trying to soothe him without breastfeeding. It was pure survival folks.

Monday, 11 May 2015


I can't believe how much has changed in the past month. New career, new routines, new season. The biggest changes have been in Elliott's eating and sleeping habits. In some ways he's a completely different kid these days!

Ok, let's rewind to the end of March. Elliott had just turned one and he still wasn't eating much of anything. I had found a couple of "favorites" but even then he would barely eat them. Here was a typical day for him:

7:00 - Wake up, nurse (breastmilk) 
8:00 - toast (half a piece if I was lucky), minigo yogurt, oatmeal baby cereal (a couple tablespoons worth)
9:30 - breastmilk
11:30-12 - turkey & cream cheese rolled in about 1/8 a large flour tortilla (He would eat about half and throw the rest on the floor), 3-4 slices of cucumber (half eaten, half thrown on the floor), 1-2 grapes, oatmeal baby cereal (fed on a spoon with puréed pears to coax him to eat it)
2:00 - breastmilk
5:00 - attempt to get him to try what we are eating for dinner. 90% of the time it was thrown on the floor. Grilled cheese, cut into 3 strips. Sometimes he would eat half of one. Cucumber slices and grapes, both thrown on the floor.
7:00 - breastmilk
8:30 - bedtime snack of oatmeal baby cereal with more puréed pears to coax him to eat it
9:00 - breastmilk (nurse to sleep about half of the time) 

Oh boy, were there ever a lot of frustrating days! Sometimes he would throw every single thing I gave him on the floor and then refuse to eat the oatmeal baby cereal. I would nurse him a lot more on those days because he was so hungry and whiney. It was emotionally exhausting. Once I opened the Dayhome I became even more frustrated because I saw how well the other one year olds ate, and I also didn't have the time to coax him to eat the cereal or to breastfeed him every 2 hours. 

Things got even worse when I attempted an elimination diet to see if he was sensitive to diary. His "favorites" both included cheese, and the dairy free versions were not going over well. Then, we got the flu and for 2 whole days he refused any and all food and only drank breastmilk. I was so discouraged by the elimination diet and how it seemed like his tummy issues (lots of painful gas) and excema were getting worse. I wondered if the oatmeal cereal was the culprit- the only thing that changed while we were off dairy was that he was getting even more of it because he was eating so little of everything else. The flu knocked me down and out and I gave up on the elimination diet. We both went back on dairy and I put the kibosh on the oatmeal.. A crazy thing happened... He started eating real food. And lots of it! I couldn't believe the appetite of this kid! He is now eating the same or more than the other one year olds in the Dayhome and is a happier, less whiney kid all around. He is still breastfeeding, but quite a bit less, and not at all through the night anymore. His sleep is a whole other long story, so I'll save that story for my next post. Just to show the contrast, here is a typical day of eating now:

6:00 - Wake up, nurse (breastmilk) 
7:30 - One piece of toast with butter and honey, half a banana, individual size yogurt (not minigo)
*sometimes he doesn't want as much, for breakfast and will only eat half of his toast and no banana. If that is the case he wants a snack around 9:00. I'll give him either more toast or some crackers and a couple slices of apple*
11:00 - wake up from nap, snack of some fruit (apple, orange slices or half a banana if he didn't have any at breakfast) one mini muffin
12:00-12:30 - a favourite lunch around here is pizza buns (pizza toppings on open face buns) He'll eat 1.5-2 of them, a couple slices of cucumber, and a couple pieces of orange pepper
2:00 - (sometimes) breastmilk
3:00 - applesauce and a mini muffin
5:00 - most days he'll eat whatever we eat, but if not he'll have about a 1-1.5 cups of pasta shells with alfredo, some  cut up ham, orange peppers and then finish off with a pouch of some sort of fruit (his favourite is juicy pears and garden greens which I think smells and tastes like nasty cabbage) He holds on to the pouch and sucks back the whole thing himself (nice change from spoon feeding!)
6:30 - breastmilk 
*bedtime is at 7:30 now*

It is worth it to note the changes in his poop (if you're not a parent I apologize for this part!) But seriously- we went from either brownie batter or peanut butter consistency to what I call "plop-able" For a cloth diapering mama this is HUGE! No more spraying diapers has made me one happy lady. 

That's all for now! I'll write a post on the changes in his sleep soon (Spoiler alert- this has also been an awesome change!!) 

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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

April, You Kind Of Sucked.

Ok, we had friends over for dinner tonight, and they left about half an hour ago and I still haven't cleaned up from dinner. No way- I just put Elliott to bed, Chris is at the pub, and I'm sitting down with a scoop of ice cream. If I don't sit here and write this blog now, it's possible I never will.

You know, I'm not much for swearing but when I look back on the month of April I have the overwhelming urge to just give it the finger.

Let's start with the opening of my Dayhome. No, let's start with the adjustment of going from maternity leave to working again. I'm sure lots of you can relate - it's hard. Twelve months of staying home and then going back to work sucks. Elliott used to sleep until 7-7:30, and now I have to wake up to an alarm? And wake him up? Gross. Oh, how I miss the lazy days of staying in our pjs while I make myself a latte, and a bowl of cereal and feed Elliott his breakfast around 8 am. I often didn't do anything productive until after his morning nap. Now my day starts between 6-6:30 (depending on if he wakes up before my 6:30 alarm, which he often does) and we hurry to get dressed and ready so we can be downstairs in the dayhome waiting for kids to arrive as early as 7.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Elliott: Twelve Months

One whole year. Boy oh boy did that go fast. Chris and I have enjoyed watching Elliott grow and change, and we can't wait to see what happens next! This past month has brought his first steps and lots of fun. He continues to try to say a few words. Da da, ma ma, buh (for buh bye) and den (for dance) he now responds to questions about his diaper with "ba ba" and tries to say ball with all his might. We practice saying our words when we change his diaper, which also helps with the fussy, screamy, squirmy little worm he becomes the second you lay him on the change table. He loves to play in a pile of laundry like no other, and perks up at the sight of yogurt. He can't possibly get into Daddy's arms without trying to take his hat off his head (and gets very confused if he's not wearing one) If he hears our bedroom door open he giggles and crawls at lightning speed towards it, and if you happen to forget to lock any cupboard in the house he will find it and he will get into exactly what you are trying to keep locked up. He is constantly babbling and when he becomes quiet that is the cue to find him asap!! We love learning more about his personality each day, and anxiously await more words. Elliott loves to give kisses- especially ifChris or I are laying on the couch. He will walk up to your face and lean in for a kiss, then walk away a couple steps and then come back and do it again... over and over! It's incredibly sweet and cute. He is still a very cuddly little boy. Loves to snuggle!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Comparison Is A Real Jerk

Yes, I know I am incredibly late with Elliott's 12 month update, but yes I am going to write this post first. It's just been burning a hole in my heart the past couple days!

Comparison is a real jerk. Leading up to, and since Elliott's first birthday I've been feeling really introspective about the past year. Unfortunately, not in the good, warm and fuzzy way. I found myself thinking about all the areas we got things wrong. Off base. Missed the mark where others obviously got it right.

I mean, surely he should be eating better by now. So and so's one year old eats all solid food. Why is Elliott still throwing everything off his tray and then when I try to fill his belly with oatmeal or purees he whips the spoon to the floor? I highly doubt other Mom's experience this much trouble at every single meal. That stupid stupid food list we were trying to follow must be to blame. Better believe we won't be making that mistake again!

And then there's his sleep. (Or lack there of?) Well, so and so's baby has been sleeping 12 hours since 6 months old. There was a good 4-5 month stretch where I was up every 1.5-2 hours. I heard it all. I need to stop nursing him to sleep. I need to stop bouncing/rocking/shushing/patting him to sleep. I need to give him a comfort item at bedtime. (Which is confusing because I thought you weren't supposed to put anything in the crib??) Put Lavendar in his bath and on his feet. Give him a bedtime massage. Bathe him every night. Oh wait, he has dry skin? Stop bathing him every night. I should wean him off night nursing. I should wean him off breastfeeding altogether. Why doesn't Chris get up with him? Why don't I let him cry it out?

Side note. Vulnerability is the key to relationship. If we can't be real with one another about our struggles, we'll never grow real friendships. However, if being vulnerable means inviting unwelcome advice, where does that leave us?

Well first of all, it leaves me so thankful for the few friendships I have where it doesn't feel like a "who's baby is better" contest, but instead just two Mom's swapping notes. You know who you are, and your friendship has been invaluable to me this past year! Next, it leaves me humbled by my lack of knowledge and compelled to keep my mouth shut, because I've been the one who broke down crying from a simple suggestion to "just fill his belly before bed" Oh, I hadn't thought of that, thankyouverymuch. Thanks for solving all my problems and then going home to sleep a full night's rest because you have a fifteen year old. But yes, by all means, give me ALL THE ADVICE.

Ok, but really.

Comparison is a jerk and steals so much from us. I'm embarrassed to say how much I have obsessed over this kid's sleep. It caused me so much anxiety I started seeing a psychologist. And you know what he said? I need to allow myself a little grace in this stage of life. I don't need to handle sleep deprivation with a smile. Sleep deprivation sucks. What makes it suck even more though, is trying to figure out why my baby isn't acting like her baby.

Here's the thing. None of us understand babies. If we're lucky, we might become experts on our own babies, and while that makes us uniquely qualified to give advice on how to care for our own child (to say, a babysitter) it does not mean that what worked for you will work for me. Or maybe it will, but your method doesn't work for me. 

Back to my point. Comparison steals joy. Instead of deciding what balance works for you, you spend all your time trying to juggle someone else's ideals. I'm not an attachment parent, a free range or a helicopter parent. We don't cry it out, and we don't co-sleep. I don't fit in any category which sounds tricky, because how do I know what to do if I don't have a specific book to follow? My meter stick for what is right is not, and can never be the woman in the fancy parenting blog or the Mom in my Mom's group who has all the answers everytime. It can't be my best friend or my Mom or sister. My meter stick has to be Jesus. That is where true joy is found. 

The Bible may not have verses that tell me what foods to feed and how to get a baby to sleep, but it is chock full of wisdom on heart posture and where I need to be placing my focus. And when I focus on Jesus, the food splattered on the floor gets a little bit easier.

This year has been amazing. Hard? Sure, at times. But so bonkers jam packed with joy that it dries up all the sleep deprived tears and points me straight towards Jesus. The joy of the Lord is my strength, and it renews me each day!

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Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Unveiled Wife

I started reading Jennifer's blog a few years ago, and was immediately struck by her vulnerability and commitment to transparency when it came to her struggles with her husband. When she asked me to review her new book, The Unveiled Wife I was delighted and honoured.

I was also terrified.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Elliott: Eleven Months Old

Eleven months! This year is going by so quickly, but we're having a blast the whole way through. I'm loving each new stage even more than the last. It constantly amazes me how much Elliott understands what we say, and how he interacts with us. It may be a little early to claim a love language for him, but he definitely seems to lean heavily towards words of affirmation. This kid will do anything for praise and applause, and it's not hard to teach him new "tricks" as long as we praise him each time he accomplishes it. Something I have realized just in the past few days is that he definitely understands what I mean when I say "let's check your diaper" If he's dirty and has been fussing he immediately perks up and says "puh puh" Not sure how that translates to diaper, but he seems to think it does! I'm also appreciating that when he wakes up from a nap or in the morning more often than not he no longer cries, but just whines and says "mama" Soo much nicer than screaming! He's SO talkative these days, and seems to really be trying to say something with all his babbling. It's so hilarious when he declares something emphatically and looks at you as though he expects you to respond or do something that he's told you to do!

Friday, 6 February 2015

The One Constant In Our Parenting.

This whole parenting thing is such a new experience. We make decisions, then learn something new and make new decisions almost on a daily basis. One thing that we know won't change is how we feel about bringing Elliott up to have an intimate relationship with the Lord. Obviously we can't control what happens once he's older, but for now it is our responsibility and our privilege to teach Elliott about Jesus. It's an exciting thought, but also a little daunting, given that we don't have a model or example from our own childhoods of how to do this. It's an ongoing conversation between Chris and I, and I imagine it will continue to be during our entire parenting journey. We've come up with a couple of things so far that I'd like to share.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Vaccines. Why We Couldn't Do What Was Best For Our Family.

Vaccines. Here we go.

I didn't think I was going to write this post, and in fact fought the urge quite a few times. I felt a little intimidated by the topic and the task of gathering all the right resources and links was daunting. Instead of providing link after link of questionable resources, I'm just going to call this my opinion.

Unless you live under a rock it's hard not to hear about the vaccine debate. I became interested in it long before we got pregnant, but it wasn't until I saw those two little lines that I started taking it seriously. I was unsatisfied with the somewhat apathetic answers I was hearing from the pro-vax side, and felt myself leaning more towards not vaccinating. It seemed to me that the anti-vax side aligned more with my philosophy of overall health. I don't want to make choices because that is just what you do, I want to know it is the healthiest and best choice for me. While I am certainly not against traditional medicine I definitely lean more towards natural options. It seemed to me that I was finding more like-minded people in the anti-vax camp.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Elliott: Ten months

This year is closing in on me much faster than I expected! I'm starting to have that feeling that you get on Sunday afternoon when you know you only have a few hours of weekend left. I'm not going back to work in the traditional sense, but I am opening a Dayhome in our home and I know I will be very busy! For now I'm treasuring all the quiet cuddles and times he falls asleep on me, knowing these sweet little moments may come a little fewer and far between once I have four other littles to run after!

This has been a big month for us! Elliott start crawling and pulling himself up on everything. I find I rarely get to sit down these days as I spend all my time chasing him and stopping him from touching/pushing buttons/pulling things down on himself. I think we have our work cut out for ourselves with this one. He knows exactly what he isn't supposed to touch and finds it hilarious. That's right, the word "No" now brings giggles, and when you remove him he thinks you're "getting him" and will crawl right back to where he was so you'll do it again. I know things could be worse and I could be dealing with a stubborn screamer, but I'm not sure that this is all that much better! I do wonder how this will play itself out in his personality as he grows..

Thursday, 22 January 2015

How I Beat Mastitis Without Antibiotics

Elliott is ten months old now, and so imagine my surprise (and annoyance!) last week when I came down with a case of mastitis. You may remember that I had mastitis twice before- once when Elliott was less than two weeks old which hit in full force. As much as I resisted at first I had no choice but to take antibiotics to clear it up. And then I got it a second time a few weeks later. I recognized the warning signs and was able to nip it in the bud with Vitamin C before developing a fever.

This time around it hit hard and fast, but I was able avoid antibiotics. I wanted to write a post detailing exactly what I did in the hopes that it will be helpful for someone else in the future.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Balancing Needs With A Baby In The Mix

A few nights ago night Chris and I were both fairly exhausted. Myself because Elliott hasn't been sleeping well this week, and for Chris because he is back in school after a month off. We're both feeling this adjustment period - he has 8 am classes everyday of the week which is hard on both of us. No more nudging him awake at 7 am after a hard night of multiple wakings so I can sleep in (It was a good run while it lasted!) He also has more classes than he did last semester which means staying on top of homework is a nightly task.

We had some company over for a short while after dinner, and then after Chris did bath time and I put Elliott to bed we both collapsed on the couch for a few brief minutes before he started writing a short assignment. Once he finished around 10 pm I was having trouble keeping my eyes open and announced I needed to go to bed early.

I decided to first prepare a lunch for Chris, which was interrupted by Elliott waking up. Groan. Into his room I go, and pat his back for a few minutes until he falls back asleep. This doesn't bode well for the rest of the night.

Now it's 10:30 and I am actually going to bed. It isn't uncommon these days for me to head to bed before Chris, but he always tucks me in and we pray together. I tell him I'm heading to the bedroom and ask for the usual 5 minute buffer for me to brush my teeth and get changed before he comes in to pray.

"Do you mind if we don't pray together tonight?" He asks

What?? My mind races. Well. Umm. Yes I do mind. I instantly feel upset, but I'm not sure why.

"It's just that if I come in in 5 minutes and we take 10 minutes to pray together, I really don't have any time to myself before bed" (we typically stick pretty close to an 11 pm bedtime for ourselves)

It's true. It was now 10:35. By the time we would be done praying it would be almost 11. I feel upset though - I just spent the last half hour doing some very unselfish things. Soothing our son back to sleep and making a lunch for Chris (cute notes attached and all!) All I want out of him is 10 minutes or less to pray with me.

"But, I love when we pray together. I don't want to get out of that habit." I say, not really wanting to reveal my selfish thoughts.

"I love it too, but it's just one night. I could just use a little time to rest and unwind before bed."

"If I stay up until 11 with you, can we go to bed together and pray?" I ask


And then approximately 1.5 minutes later after sitting there feeling frustrated, I announce once again that I am tired, and now my stomach seems to hurt so I am heading to bed. And off I go. No kiss goodnight, no embrace to reassure him I am not upset.

Because really, I am still upset.

As I am brushing my teeth I start to think more about how selfish he was being. After I made him lunch! Doesn't he realize that I need time to rest and unwind too? I spend my entire day with Elliott, and he doesn't understand that there is no "time off" when you're a Mom. My eyes are always on that little man. Even when he's sleeping my ears are tuned in to hear if he stirs (Which lately, is a lot) I sure wish I could have some quiet time where I didn't have to think of anyone but myself.

Me me me me me me me me ME.

Oh boy. The Lord (thankfully) convicted me pretty quickly on this one. Because here's the thing friends:

My need for rest does not negate his need for rest.  Let's take this a step further. My needs do not negate his needs, even if I selfishly view my needs as greater. The only reason I was accusing him of being selfish was because I was feeling incredibly selfish in that moment. The fact that I am tired does not disallow him from feeling tired. My need for rest does not minimize his need rest.

In marriage there can be a constant tension of his needs vs her needs, and adding a baby intensifies those needs, and on top of that creates brand new needs. We're still figuring it all out. I have a feeling we'll be figuring it all out for a while. In the meantime we are thankful to the Lord for the ministry of his Holy Spirit who leads us in the right direction - towards a sacrificial relationship that mirrors Jesus and the church.

Chris came to bed only a few minutes later and apologized. I also apologized for how I reacted and for how I manipulated him, because if I'm really honest I went to bed with the hopes that he would feel guilty and follow me.

Conviction. Sanctification. This can be a tough gig sometimes.

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Friday, 2 January 2015

An Argument Between My Spirit and Heart on Christmas Day

It's amazing how having a child will make you reevaluate everything. What (and where!) you eat, how you spend your leisure time, how much TV you watch, how often you get outside, and most recently, how you celebrate Christmas.

I love Christmas. I love just about everything about it- the eggnog, the delicious treats, the tree, the decorations, and finding just the right gifts for my loved ones. I even love the hustle and bustle of the malls as Christmas Day draws near (and intentionally do my Christmas shopping in the last week like a crazy person!) Of course this year we have something extra to celebrate - what a special time to celebrate Elliott's first Christmas with our family!

We decided not to get gifts for Elliott this year. We weren't trying to make some big statement about Christmas and gifts, instead we just recognized that he would get just as much enjoyment from playing with the boxes and tissue paper from our gifts as he would his own, and he has no clue what it means to receive a gift. When he needs things (or when I happen to pass by something I think he needs) we buy them for him. For this year we felt there was no need to wait until Christmas morning to give him those things. Next year will be a whole new ball game I'm sure!

On that note however, I did find myself feeling a brand new tension this year, particularly on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was a fight between my spirit and my heart. At first, it seemed fairly black and white for me - I was seeing picture after picture posted on social media of parents showing off their Christmas tree laden with gifts underneath. Some had few, and some had many, and while I'm quite sure not everyone's intent was to showcase the gifts, I know a couple most definitely were. When I saw these pictures, my spirit felt uneasy. Why is this the focus? Why is this image what we are choosing to "share" with our friends and families? Christians and Non-Christians alike all seem to agree that Christmas is so much more than gifts. Even if you don't believe that the season is all about celebrating the gift of Jesus, you likely believe that time spent with friends and family is far more valuable that what is found under that tree.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that is all I saw on social media. I saw plenty of pictures of families gathered around a meal, and selfies taken on Christmas morning in Christmas jammies. I know the giant boxes wrapped in metallic paper with red and green bows is not all my friends care about. I am also not saying I am anti-gifts. As I said above, one of my favourite parts of Christmas is finding the perfect gift for someone. I love the joy of giving! I'm not a crazy person either- I certainly enjoy receiving as well.

But back to that tension- I'm sitting there on Christmas Day feeling a little uneasy about seeing these gifts, and honestly I'm even thinking about writing this blog about it. There I am scrolling through Facebook as Elliott naps, silently writing a post in my head about how I don't want my children to grow up thinking Christmas is all about gifts, and I see one picture that flips my black and white ideals on it's head. One friend took a picture of her kids coming into the room on Christmas morning and seeing the gifts under the tree for the first time.

My heart grew three sizes for those gifts.

On one hand I still feel all the same about not wanting the gifts to take front and centre in any celebration, but my Mommy heart understood it all so much more after seeing those sweet little faces filled with surprise, excitement and pure joy.

You know, I only put this together as I was sitting here typing, but I think the Lord has already been teaching me something in this.

I've never been one for making New Year's resolutions, but this year I was challenged to ask the Lord for one word for this next season of our lives. Not necessarily the full year- just this season we are entering into. I want to know what he has to show me- it might be something he wants to grow in me, or something that he wants me to experience.

He answered me with two words. Extravagant Love. I look forward to seeing how Jesus wants to reveal this to me in this season. I think he has already given me a taste for it in the eyes of those sweet children seeing their gifts for the first time. All they knew in that moment was extravagance. What they found under that tree was so obviously more than they had expected or imagined, and I can only imagine that our Heavenly Father enjoys seeing that reaction even more than a parent on Christmas Day.

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