Tag Archives: family

We’re Pretty Good, Sure As You’re Born

Where, oh where, have I been?

Well to tell the truth I’ve been hiding under my covers waiting for spring. Okay maybe that’s not the truth, but the days are getting colder and the blankets are oh so inviting. Especially since a certain little baby isn’t sleeping all that great right now. Cordelia’s currently working on her 7th tooth. Or is it 8th? I’m not sure – I’ll wait until she bites me next and I’ll count the indents to be sure.

8 Months already. Where has the time gone? We now have a stander. She pulls herself up onto everything and cruises around the room, but that isn’t enough. She also lets go and stands. Yep no hands. Besides standing she also climbs. Its her favourite game. I set her down and she crawls as fast as possible for the stairs, while I sit at the computer. She climbs and I pretend not to see her until she’s at the third step. Then I say “I’m watching you.” She looks over her shoulder, grins, and climbs faster. By that point I need to go over because our stairs curve. She has a tough time with the curve and’s more likely to fall. But it’s been weeks since she actually fell. Well that’s if you don’t count today when she laughed so hard she couldn’t support herself and slid down the stairs on her belly. It was pretty funny to watch. No babies were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Cordelia’s also eating everything in site. In fact she eats more than her big sisters in a day (and that’s both of them – combined). I can just see her grabbing her tummy and saying “In Greece, we eat a lot” much as a waiter did on our honeymoon when Ryan didn’t finish his meal.

She’s talking. Her favourite word is “Dada” followed by “Yesh” (yes). She also says all of our names, banana, avocado, ouch, I know there’re others – oh yes “Hi” and “bye” and even a couple of times a couple two-word combos – “Hi dada” – “more dada” “Ouch Eya (Ella)” lol the important ones. Though right now there are only about 6 words that everyone can recognize other than just us.

Agatha’s decided she doesn’t like swim lessons as much as dance and ridding lessons. So come winter there’ll be one fewer class. Ella’s cutting theatre from her class line-up but that’s mostly due to me wanting to cut back. She’d happily continue all her classes, and more. But she does love the marathon play-dates where we go to a friend’s house once a week or so and play for 4-6 hours straight. lol Even then, she pleads not to leave so soon.

Agatha’s firmly in need of mommy right now. I have to put her to bed, and help her with everything. Time at the computer only happens after she’s in bed, and time in the kitchen means time with her. Though things are improving. Yesterday she allowed me to go out for a couple of hours to a meeting. And Ryan’s been permitted to get her a glass of milk once or twice. She also has a tough time when we leave the house too many times in a week. That’s the number one reason we’re cutting back on classes. We had a play-date one day and she was hitting, and refused to share. Those aren’t normal behaviours for her so I knew something was bothering her. As we’ve cut back on things, she’s become happier again.

Ella thrives on being out and about doing things. Especially if it’s something different everyday of the week. But we have to balance out her needs/desires with everyone else’s. So we try for one play-date a week (two if one’s home) and between her and Agatha we leave home 3 times a week for classes. All in all it’s not too bad.

We’ve hit a turning point with Ella, she’s so close to figuring out the whole reading thing. Everyday she’s asking us to spell new words for her. She’s playing with words, sounds, and letters all the time. There are a few games we play on the computer that allow her to type messages, so she does. Her favourite word to spell right now is ‘Boo’ in favour of a certain holiday coming up. We’ve brought a couple early readers home from the library that she’s read cover to cover on her own with only minimal help. She was so proud of herself. She read the books to everyone who’d stop and listen. Her stuffies had no choice but to stay put and listen to the story over and over again every night before bed.

She’s also finally hit a turning point and has been using the potty for the past 2 days. (But that’s a story for another post in a day or two).

Ryan’s working. All the time. We’re really looking forward to his vacation in November. We’ll be off to the Happiest Place on Earth. I can hardly wait.

I’m tired and grumpy. I’ve been adjusting my thyroid meds hoping to find a balance, but things are pretty precarious and even the slightest bit off on either one leaves me foggy and unable to cope with even the smallest things.

Luckily I seem to have found a bit of balance right now. Which is part of why I’m able to write tonight. Stringing words and sentences together when I can barely think is almost impossible. It’s still pretty difficult. The screen is a sea of red and blue right now. The computer’s either changed all my words, or can’t figure out what I mean. My words are ending up jumbled, letters swapping places. But that seems to happen a lot when my head gets foggy. It takes more effort to write so I just don’t do it. The good news is that at 8 mos postpartum we’re closer to the point of finding actual balance that lasts more than a week or two.

In other news Ryan is doing a dairy challenge, that means less cheese in the house for the rest of us. Otherwise I add cheese to everything. And he’s apt to eat it by the brick (yuck). We’ve also confirmed that corn really is a big deal for Cordelia. So I’m gluten-free, corn-free and Ryan’s gluten-free, dairy-free. So food is quite the adventure around here. For our trip we’ll stick to just gluten-free; we have to sacrifice so many yummy treats already, we don’t want to lose anymore while we’re in the land of Mickey Ice Cream Bars and Dole Whips.

What’s new with you?

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Sibling Bonding

Everywhere I turn I hear parents lamenting sibling rivalry. I hear them asking how to get one child to leave the other alone. I hear them saying they don’t want the four year old to touch the baby, but then in two years they get upset when the six year old doesn’t want the two year old around.

When Agatha was born, we had our fair share of ‘problems’ as we navigated from one child to two. Our poor little Agatha was bumped and bruised, cut and scraped so many times. But she was so in love with her big sister (when she wasn’t afraid). We eventually figured things out and the relationship improved.

Now that Cordelia’s here things could be very difficult, but instead we find things even better than before. Our two big girls are so excited to help and share, and Cordelia is so in love with her sisters. She can’t get enough of them. There is no fear, there are no cuts or bruises, just love.

How did this happen?

First, the girls were involved with the pregnancy. They came to appointments, they helped us choose names, they touched my belly, they talked to the baby, they hugged and kissed her while she was still inside. They were present at her birth, and were invited to hold her as soon as I was willing to let my baby out of my arms for the first time.

When Cordelia came home with us, we encouraged the girls to hold her as much as they wanted. We’d sit them at the couch and hover. After all a newborn baby is rather floppy. As Cordelia became stronger, we hovered less. Now Agatha holds Cordelia on her own all the time, Ella carries Cordelia around the house. Whenever they want to do something with each other, or the baby, we try to find a way to help them play together, to accomplish their goals.

Some ways we do that include: playing tag with the girls, and tackle games. I carry Cordelia and chase the girls around the house. I’m sure to give all of them plenty of chance to see each others faces. In the beginning, I’d point out the huge smile, the look of intense pleasure, on Cordelia’s face, now we just play. They all have so much fun together. They all get a chance to be on an even playing field. As Cordelia gets bigger I’ll add in soccer. I carry her (when she’s bigger I’ll hold her hands) while she runs and kicks the ball, and the big girls try to get the ball away, or Cordelia tries to get the ball from them. They aren’t competition games because there is no win or lose. The whole entire point is to have fun. It doesn’t matter who has the ball because everyone’s playing together. As they get older these games could translate into competition, but for now it’s bonding.

During the day I spend a lot of time interpreting for the big girls. They rush over and pick Cordelia up and she whimpers. I point out the sounds, and let them know she doesn’t like that. I then offer a suggestion for what they could do that’d she’d likely enjoy. As she gets bigger, I’ll also help her figure out words to use so she can let them know on her own that she’s unhappy with a particular turn of events.

Right now it seems as though the most important part of having a positive experience with their sisters is me helping them figure out what the other means. They don’t have the knowledge base to figure out on their own that certain faces or sounds mean someone else isn’t having fun. They also don’t have the ability to put someone else’s needs or desires above their own. It’s my job to advocate for each of my children.

It doesn’t matter, for the most part, what happened, who started it, why someone’s crying, or anything else that divides the children. What matters is figuring out how to find a solution that preserves respect. It matters that they learn new methods of communicating, and playing together.

One day they won’t need me to step in as often as I do, one day they won’t need me to point out when someone else cries. One day they’ll take these skills and use them on their own, in the ‘real’ world. But for now they’re little girls playing together, loving each other, and loving life.

Is there something your family did – or does – that helps promote bonding between children, particularly children of vastly different ages and abilities?

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Life Dreams

When embarking on the unschooling, life-learning path, a person needs to de-school. This invokes breaking away from the conventional set of wisdom that says a person needs to worry about X, Y, Z or should do Q, R, S. It means realizing certain things aren’t important after all, and other things are.

Each person, each family, will follow a different path. Some will need to de-school more than others. Some will have no trouble stepping away from certain fears, others become even more frightened at the thought of such freedom.

The questions revolve endlessly. How will children ever learn? How will they ever socialize? If no one tells them what to eat, or not to eat,t hen how will they be healthy? If they don’t have a bed time, then how will the adults ever have alone time together? The questions I ask are different than the ones you ask – and our answers will be different as well.

Because my family, my background aren’t yours.

Most of the time I don’t have those fears. I know myself and my husband, and I know my children. They’ll learn and they’ll be healthy.

For me, I’ve had to deschool in a different manner. I’ve had to pull away from the idea that adults wake up, go to work, watch TV, eat, and go to bed. There’s more to life than that and I’m not going to fall into the trap of believing I shouldn’t expect anymore than that.

Over the past year I’ve starting writing again. It’s slow at the moment, but I’ve completed two novels. I’m working on another. I’ve outlined a children’s/young adult story that’s been heartily approved by the girls. I think I’ll finish this one before I finish my other one. lol I find I work better with multiple things on the go.

I’ve also taken up painting. It’s just for fun at the moment, but I enjoy it and that’s the important part. I’ve also been having fun cooking, baking, sewing, gardening….I keep finding new ideas and pursuits. I’m not sure which I’ll stick with, which I won’t. I’m not sure if any of them will ever make me money. None of that matters. What does matter is that I’m showing my children what a full life looks like. They see me spending time with them, with Ryan, with friends and family. They see me doing things for myself as well as my family.

Someone once told me that in order to be ‘happy’ a person needs to have ten labels for themselves that do not involve their role within the family or work force. Only in the past few months have I been able to actually say I’m leading a full life, by this definition. And I feel better than I have in years. I enjoy jumping out of bed each morning (okay that’s figuratively – I really love my bed int he morning) and wish there were more hours in the day in which to chase my dreams (and children).

Have you tried something new recently, pulled yourself out of your comfort zone in order to pursue your dreams?

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Unschool Life

When someone walks into our house, they see a home well lived in. Some people may see the paint on the floor, or the million-and-one pom-poms scattered from wall to wall. But others race in, unaware of the clutter. Instead they find one station or another and begin working.

 

At the dinning table we have crafts of one sort or another. Right now we have popsicle sticks, pom-poms, paint, feathers, and the glue-gun. We’re all working on a structure of sorts. We hope anyone who comes to visit will help build it. Though so far no one’s really shown that much interest in the crafts.

We have crafts supplies in various places around the house. We believe availability will increase the girl’s desire to create, as well as their ability to express. Right now the girls enjoy working at the kitchen table. It’s close to where I spend the majority of my day. There’s also easy access to food, music, and shows.

Over the past few months we’ve seen our girls blossom in their ability to create masterpieces using the materials available to them.

We try to keep snacks available at all times.

Beyond the stuff we strew around for the girls to use, they also find other items to play with, and new uses for old toys. Here are the scissors and Ariel wig Ella first used to practice hair cutting on.

 

 

 

We’ve moved bean-bags to the living room so the girls have a comfortable place to sit while watching shows or playing Wii. They also provide a place for the girls to climb and jump. Otherwise they climb on our recliners – I really don’t want our recliners broken, and I don’t want someone hurt by them flipping over the back. Now there’s a place for their BIG activities right there in the heart of the home.

 

 

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Someone Broke Her Funny Bone

The girl’s discovered a new game – thanks to Daddy. For the past several nights we’ve had to play doctor. Before you get concerned, it’s not that kind of doctor. First someone must be injured in some way (pretend), then Mommy or Daddy give an ambulance ride on our back (Eoo, Eooo) around the house a few times. Then we diagnose the injury.

“Oh, no. Someone broke her funny bone. There’s only one cure…Tickles.”

We then proceed to tickle from head to toe, briefly. We stop and ask if they’re okay. They dissolve into fits of giggles and declare their funny bone’s still broken. This goes on until Ryan’s completely tired out and ready for bed. By then the girls’ve received enough love to allow daddy some space.

When it’s time for bed, everything runs smoothly. They ask for their story, they fall sleep. Easy. They’re secure in our love – and that makes all the difference.

We have many variations on this type of game. Another one we play quite often has been around since Agatha was about 6 months old. I’d hold baby in front of me, facing out, and we’d chase Ella around the house. When we caught her, baby would tackle Ella and we’d tickle her. Then it’d be Ella’s turn to chase us. I’d periodically turn so baby could see Ella, then with a squeal we’d turn and flee. This game helped the girls bond in such a wonderful way. It also wore them out in such a wonderful way. We now play this with Cordelia chasing the big girls. It helps put them all on even footing. It’s a game that allows everyone to play, and there’s no competition because everyone WANTS to get caught. After all, that’s the fun part.

We have many fights during our days.  “She took my toy.” “I want her toy.” “She’s sitting on me!” the list goes on. But ultimately those dissolve into nothing when faced with the many ways our girls do play together. They’ve both had moments where they don’t like the other – and that’s okay – because they overwhelmingly love each other.

If children can move beyond conflict by playing with each other, don’t you think parents can move past conflict by playing with their children?

 

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Gluten-free: A Fact of Life

Today we visited new friends at their home for the first time. Within five minutes of stepping through the door, Ella ate a cookie. With gluten in it. The second she found out it had gluten, she cried. She spit it out, hid her head, sobbed, pleaded with me to leave.

We didn’t leave. Partly because I felt bad to leave when we’d only just arrived. But also because I knew we had some time before a reaction occurred (and I didn’t really want the results in the van – I hoped it would happen outside).

I did, however, cuddle Ella, and talk to her about the gluten how she felt emotionally and physically. I also told her she didn’t need to play, we could find a quiet place for her to sit where she’d be free from other children. Though if she’d still insisted we leave, we would have.

She didn’t stay hidden for long, she joined everyone else picking berries, and racing through the yard.

She was upset, she’d asked if the cookie was gluten-free. She’d been told it was safe. Unfortunately she asked a three-year old. Ella sobbed, “I don’t want to throw-up. I don’t want to feel yucky.” She knew what was coming.

I could’ve prevented all this from happening. Part of me wishes to turn back the clock and erase all of my baby girl’s pain. But there’s another part of me that can see the lesson learned. Ella now knows to ask an adult, more importantly: Mommy or Daddy, to find out if something contains gluten. She is also more aware of how her body specifically reacts to the gluten. And so am I. We’ve discovered that it becomes painful a lot faster than we realized, but that she can prevent herself from throwing up long enough to find a safe space to do it (though apparently our van constitutes a safe space).

Also I want her to learn how to be safe at other people’s homes. I want her to know it is possible to visit others, and still be safe. I don’t want her friendships limited to the non-gluten eaters.

One book I read just after finding out about the celiac’s disease told parents to tell their children that gluten caused every little upset. If they fall and scrape their knee, it’s because they ate gluten. They catch a stomach bug and throw-up, gluten’s to blame. The point was to scare the child away from ever wanting to try gluten.

I have several problems with this. First it creates a very scary view of the world. Second, a parent should not lie to their child, third, the child will figure out what gluten does to their body, but they’ll figure it out faster with a parents guidance. Lying to the child will actually make the process take longer because the child will have to figure out which of the many upsets are really caused by gluten. Then have enough of them to realize what the results are.

Also the child will soon realize that mom and dad lied. They’ll no longer trust what mom and dad say about gluten. SO the child will be more likely to stray from a  gluten-free lifestyle.

At 4.5 Ella knows to avoid gluten. She knows to ask first, she knows exactly what it’ll do to her. We have never needed to scare her. Even at the stores when they have samples to taste she’ll sometimes ask for one. We can’t always tell how safe the item is. We let her know it MAY contain gluten or may have touched gluten. It MAY make her sick. We then let her decide what to do. Sometimes she tastes it, sometimes she doesn’t. If the item contains gluten, she says, “No thank you.”

By being truthful and open with her, she’s gained the knowledge and experience to begin to protect herself. As she gets older we’ll continue to assist her. We’ll show her what a gluten cookie looks like vs a gluten-free. The same with breads etc. Most of the time a single look is all it takes to tell the difference. If the look doesn’t give it away, then the smell will.

Yes at times the girls may taste something with gluten, and they may end up sick because of it. It won’t be fun. But the experiences provide new information. And that knowledge is what they need to protect themselves. One day they’ll be on their own no one will step between them and gluten.

We follow a special diet, but in no way should that limit our life in any other way. Gluten-free is a fact of life. But it does not define us or our life in any way.

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Oh Wow! Look At Me Now!

As most of you know, Cordelia is growing. And learning.

At 5.5 months she can now hands and knees crawl – about 5 feet when angry – about 1 foot when happy. She now says ‘Dada’ and ‘Eya’ (Ella). She almost had mama, but she said, ‘Ma’ pause, grin, then, ‘Dada’ as she turned toward Ryan. Yep He’s loving this!

She also waves Hi and Bye-bye – to everyone. Though her reaction time is a bit slow and half the people miss it by the time she does it. Oh well. We can tell she’s very proud of herself – and that’s really all that matters.

She can roll front to back, back to front, from sitting to tummy, or back – and from tummy to hands and knees. She can pick stuff up with her whole fist, and can cross a room to pick up the only small item I didn’t notice before putting her down.

She’s now tried avocado, lemon, and watermelon. Though really it’s more tasting than actually eating at this point. Though if Agatha had her way, Cordelia would be spoon fed – all the time. Poor Agatha wants so much to help feed Cordelia.

Ella’s been in a couple camps this summer and has been having so much fun with friends coming over. Agatha is very jalous of Ella’s camps, and can hardly wait until her 3rd birthday so she’s old enough to go to. Speaking of birthdays, she turns three on Saturday. She’s grown so much since we brought that tiny llittle baby home. But she is still just as sweet as can be. She loves so much.

In the past year she’s learnt how to do so many things. Now she is starting to peddle a bike and can glied for short distances on her  balance bike. She loves to have stories read to her, and she loves to tell stories. She sings almost non-stop, and dances along to her own songs. Whenever Cordelia is upset, she sings to her. She loves ladybugs – a lot. She wants a pet kitty. She loves watching shows, though I think she loves shows because her big sister Ella loves shows. She loves to paint and colour, but she still lovves to paint and colour on some surfaces I’d rather weren’t pained or coloured. She’s really needing lots of extra love right now. So each day I try to do something special with her, even if for only five minutes.

In September Ella starts a French class, They both start horesback riding, and swimming. Ella will also take gymnastics and agatha will be in Dance. They both have a long list of things they want to try, but for now we think that’ll be good enough. We’ll see how they do with so many things happening before we decide to add anything else to their days. We’ve seen the girls tire out very quickly with 3 hours worth of camp each day. Though in the fall the majority of their classes will only be 30 min each so we hope it won’t be too mcuh for them. The way I look at it is that it’s still less than kids in preschool or kindergarten. And since it’s by request we can always stop the classes if it’s too much.

Ella is growing so much. She’s no longer a baby, but such a big girl. Unfortuantely her abilities haven’t quite caught up to her desires yet so we see a lot of moments of frustration. But mostly we see a little girl who wants desperately to help out around home. She helps Cordlelia – but her help often results in tears. She wants to do everything Mommy and Daddy do, but some things are still beyond her reach – and she does not like that.

Ryan’s painting and putting together his army (War Hammer) – but don’t worry, I doubt he’ll try to take over the world anytime soon. He’s also continuing to clean up around the house and try to make the spaces in our home useable.

I’m awaiting the arrival of my new computer – since my old one died, a horrible, painful death. Eating two manuscripts of which my final copy was not actually saved elsewhere. All of our pictures were also on there. Luckily most of those are backed up, but I still want them back. Sigh. I really dislike needing to move computers. It’s almost as much work as moving house – though less physically taxing.

I’ve also been enjoying the company of other moms and children. I really feel like we’re in the right place right now and am so happy with the conections we’ve been making. I now have time to write again too, which is truly wonderful, though as of yet I’m not sure what that means. Cordelia usually sleeps in the evening allowing me time, the question is: will I be able to keep that time for working, or will I while it away with various other hobbies? Only time will tell.

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