Posts Tagged "kids"

Natural Playroom Dreams

Posted on Nov 4, 2011 in Featured, Playing | 1 comment

Natural Playroom Dreams

When my son was born, 6 years ago, our consumer culture was in the early stages of the move back to organic, natural products for baby. This included natural crib mattresses without fire retardant in them, homemade baby purees, organic natural fibre clothing and the rising popularity of cloth diapering. Similarly, I started seeing natural toys and wooden toys everywhere. Some expensive baby boutiques that catered to this mindset sprang up around Vancouver and Natural Pod was a new venture that I started seeing at baby themed trade shows like Birth Fest in East Van. I fell in love with the beauty and simplicity of many of the wooden toys and handmade dolls and soft furnishings. Furthermore, in the 3 years between the births of my first two children Canada declared BPA a toxin and banned it from infant feeding products. Our lifestyle began to shift away from plastic and I began to make efforts not to bring more plastic into our home. I envisioned our future playspaces to look like this, and this, and this, and this. A couple of things got in the way of this plan: Money – these natural toys are NOT cheap. Especially some of the bigger items like the wooden kitchen and play arches. I would be willing to save up cash birthday gifts from relatives until we could afford a fancy kitchen like this but Aaron finds them unreasonably expensive toys for kids (despite in my opinion, the obvious care, quality materials and craftsmanship that goes into some of them). Hand-Me-Downs – my sister with older kids gave me a lot of the things they had outgrown and my mom passed down a lot of my old toys from when I was young. My toys had sentimental value plus, being made in the 70’s, they were durable despite being plastic (particularly my old Duplo and Fisher Price sink, stove and dishes). Also, who was I to say no to free toys? Gifts – personally, I think it’s just a bit pretentious to tell people that I only want a certain type of toy for my kids, especially when these toys are also expensive and hard to find. If someone loves my kid enough to buy them a gift, I’m going to smile and say “thank you very much.” When people ask me what my child might like for Christmas or a birthday, I’ve found that the safest answer is “We always love books at our house!” About the only thing I will actually come right out and say is that we prefer not to have clothes or toys with licensed characters on them. Super Cool Non-Natural Toys – over the years, we were occasionally swayed by really cool gifts, or marketing, or our kids’ likes and dislikes, towards things like Lego, Schleich animals and so on. Mindset – to be honest, I think Aaron and I are both unwilling to be so rigidly crunchy as to make this kind of playroom a priority. We probably always will have a few plastic toys and Toy Story puzzles around. Afterall, I don’t think that the majority of non-natural toys are inherently evil (battery operated ones being the exception) so I’m not opposed to having them in the house. Frankly, I’m not wealthy or snobby enough to go all out on creating a natural playroom from scratch overnight. I assume that to be true for most people who admire these types of play spaces. That said, a mostly natural playroom is still something we’re working towards. We’ve had both challenges and successes with this and my intention was to discuss what seems to work in making the slow transition to natural toys…but alas, I blathered on too long again so I will offer that up in my next...

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Personal Space for Moms

Posted on Oct 19, 2011 in Featured, Parenting | 4 comments

Personal Space for Moms

Personal space used to be a pretty big deal to me. In highschool, friends would tease me about how much an infringement of my personal space would bother me. I am all for cuddling, hand holding, that kind of thing, but otherwise, please, don’t touch me. Someone sitting just a little too close, bumping my arm, jostling my leg, walking too close, standing too close is just… Ugh. Overcrowded schools and all, I had two lab partners in chemistry and we had to squeeze at one table. It drove me crazy. One of my lab partners was a lefty and I’m a righty and our elbows always bumped as we wrote notes. My brother is a knee-bouncer; sitting next to him in the car drove me nuts. And then I grew up and became a mom. {insert crazed laughter here} Can you imagine the adjustment motherhood has been for me in the personal space department? Moms don’t get to have their own bodies. From conception, our little ones start sharing our bodies in a way that is equal parts annoying and magical. Then, wonder of wonders, they pass right through our bodies, out into the world and we begin the slow process of separation. It doesn’t happen overnight. At first, there’s nursing. I’ve been nursing now for six years, minus a few months during each pregnancy. This means that day and night, someone is attached to me, sucking on me, crawling on me, sleeping on me, grabbing at me, sometimes even pinning me down or chasing me. (Don’t get me wrong – I love breastfeeding). Silas has also gotten to the play with his food stage: he pinches and squeezes the boob as he nurses, pulls the nipple out of his mouth, then lunges to re-latch. I know from past experience that this is coming too: sticking fingers up my nose or in my mouth repeatedly, trying to grab my tongue, while nursing. Thankfully, I’ve never allowed the nipple twiddling that most nurslings are famous for because I knew that would send me right up the wall. And it doesn’t end with weaning. My older kids are always sitting on me, touching me, pinching me. They even try to move my arms or legs to suit their own purposes when I’m busy trying to do something (like sleep, or nurse their little brother). But I’ll tell you a secret. For the most part, I don’t mind. I remember my prenatal class instructor telling us about a woman who scooped up her newborn baby, covered in blood and vernix and began instinctively, to LICK him clean…like a cat. I think it’s worth mentioning that at the time I heard this story, 7 months pregnant with my first child, I thought it was bewilderingly outrageous, but now, after three kids, I kind of see where she was coming from (though, I must say I have never done it). Because these little beings began their lives safely sheltered and cradled inside my own body, part of me views them as an extension of my own body. In my mind, I observe my interactions with Silas, the way I wrap my body around his, kissing armpits, blowing raspberries on soft belly skin, nibbling toes. I could eat him up. He’s delicious. He’s a cuddler and in the mornings, we often lay together entwined, mouths millimeters from cheeks, breathing together, feeling each other’s warmth. His neck rolls may smell like sour milk and he drools on me but I barely notice. I remember being the same with Rain and Noa. There is no too close with them. It often feels like we can’t be close enough, for long enough. There’s another little surprise though. I feel that slowly shifting with Rain. He is six now and I can feel our personal space beginning to bubble between us. Sure, we still cuddle and hug and hold hands and kiss and fall asleep with our arms wrapped around each other, but now, when I lay down with him at bedtime, his breath in my face feels...

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TV Guilt

Posted on Sep 30, 2011 in Featured, Parenting | 13 comments

TV Guilt

Lately I’ve been feeling considerable guilt and (mostly external) pressure to reduce the number of hours my children spend in front of a screen. In general, our family tries to limit tv viewing and whenever it starts to creep up, both Aaron and I make efforts to reduce it. But there have been a couple of recent factors contributing to my feeling that we need to reduce my kids’ screen time: We enrolled Rain in our local Waldorf school. Waldorf schools discourage tv and computer use by kids. A recent study has come out that showed that children who viewed 9 minutes of Sponge Bob Squarepants showed difficulty concentrating on tasks immediately afterwards (compared with children who viewed the slower paced Caillou or who viewed no tv). There are some inherent problems with this study and I also have to say that I wasn’t at all surprised—I already agree that tv viewing isn’t the best use of my kids’ time and we’ve all heard variations of this before—but, it’s the topic du jour so it’s currently influencing friends, other parents, my husband to have more discussions about kids’ tv viewing. My daughter started having wicked temper tantrums when we would ask them to turn off video games or turn down a request to play. Last week, I felt compelled to make some changes. We were letting the kids play selected video games online. They were allowed to visit CBC Preschool Games, Sesame Street and Treehouse. The games are educational so I had been feeling good about it. However, I tended to get lazy and let my 20 minute limit slip to an hour and more often than not the kids would end up watching video clips on Treehouse that I hadn’t supervised and where they were exposed to commercials. I was shocked when Rain started begging me to buy Charmin toilet paper and Bounty paper towels at the grocery store because they are 5 times more absorbent than the other brand or they disinfect better than a regular dish cloth. When Noa started having melt downs over the games, I knew they had to go.  In the last week since I made the decision that they could no longer play these online games there have been no more tantrums about media viewing. However, I’m also a stay-at-home-parent to three kids, one of whom is a baby who has been waking hourly for the last three months. We have no family living near us and no babysitter. We don’t have in-laws taking the kids for the weekend. We don’t have help/support. Our friends all have babies of their own and I’m hesitant to ask them to take our three kids when they only have one. My older kids don’t nap so I can’t nap when the baby does. I’m exhausted and sleep-deprived and as I wrote last week, I’m starting to struggle with my temper, a lot. So here’s my conundrum, as much as I would like my children to be watching less tv (perhaps none), it’s the only way I get a break at all. It’s the only sure fire way that my older two won’t start fighting right outside the bedroom door just as I’m getting the baby to sleep (meaning another hour of trying to get him down). It’s the only way that I can actually lay down and have a rest in the afternoon. It’s the only way that I can occasionally sit down and put my feet up, knit or write a blog post. Sometimes it’s the only way I can get the laundry or dishes done or dinner on the table before 6:30 or 7:00 pm. Last week, I experimented with trying to get through the day without screen time for the kids and guess what I found out? I was stretched thinner and lost my temper more often. So I asked myself: what is more damaging to my kids, tv or me losing my shit? The answer was rather clear to me. I know there are people out there who will judge me...

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Summer By Numbers

Posted on Aug 28, 2011 in Featured, Food, Parenting, Simple Living | 0 comments

Summer By Numbers

We’ve been counting a lot around our house lately. Here are some examples: Number of pounds of pickling cukes picked by Aaron and Rain while I jiggled and bounced Silas in the Ergo: 29 Number of pounds of pickling cukes bought from local farm stand: 10 Number of quart jars of homemade dill pickles made at 11pm after children were sleeping: 31 Number of times per night that Silas wakes to nurse: 8-12 Number of cute noises Silas makes per hour: 568* Number of annoying noises Silas makes per hour: 6 Number of decibels of annoying noises Silas makes: 100* Number of decibels of planes flying over our new house near the Air Force base: 130* Number of decibels of Rain’s constant singing & clapping: 75 Number of pints of strawberry jam canned while children watch movies: 13 Number of pounds of blueberries picked by 3 adults, 6 children & 1 sleeping baby: 16.5 Number of pounds of blueberries remaining after 2 weeks of pies, smoothies, snacking: 0 Number of coats of orange, yellow, red & purple paint (respectively) it took to paint our 1976 Dodge camper while the children slept and watched movies: 5, 2, 4, 3 Number of days on annual camping trip to Klein Lake (Sunshine Coast): 5 Number of sunny days on annual camping trip to Klein Lake (Sunshine Coast): 1.5 Number of teeth Silas has now: 6 * These numbers may or may not be slightly exaggerated. There you have it folks. That’s the way the final days of our summer are shaking down, in numbers. How did your summer add...

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3 Ring Circus

Posted on Aug 25, 2011 in Featured, Parenting | 1 comment

3 Ring Circus

{A couple of weeks months ago I wrote about everyone asking us how it’s going with three kids. Since that is THE question, the only thing people really want to know, I’m going to answer it, honestly. Not just with the “fine” that I tell people in real life. Part 1: the good stuff…and today, because I promised to be honest, Part 2: the hard stuff.} For me, the hardest things about having three kids: I don’t have a single minute in the day where I’m not actively caring for someone. Have you noticed that I almost never post here anymore? This is why. When Rain was a baby, he went to bed when we did but at least he took occasional naps during the day. When Noa was a baby, I was so so lucky that her afternoon nap was often at the same time as Rain’s (I know – THEY say that never happens but it does, and regularly did for me). Then, when Rain and Noa both stopped napping, wonder of wonders: we had our evenings to ourselves! From 8-10pm every night, I could punch out on the mom clock and just have time to recharge myself. Not so anymore. The big kids don’t nap so I’m caring for them all day and Silas has a fussy spell from 7-10pm every night and often doesn’t settle until AFTER I usually want to go to bed. This means no more day time breaks (though Silas naps well) and no more evening breaks. I’m even parenting in my sleep as I sleep lighter when I have to listen for a hungry baby and I’m nursing 8 times every night right now thanks to teething and 6 month developmental leaps like sitting and crawling. The moments when all 3 need my attention at once. I’ll set the scene: I’m changing Silas’s diaper (on my bedroom floor) to get him ready for a nap, and Noa falls and hurts herself badly. She begins to wail. I leave Silas and go find Noa. While I’m comforting her, I hear Silas beginning to fuss. I bring Noa with me to finish putting on Silas’s diaper. By this time Silas is screaming, probably hungry and tired too, and Noa is still clinging and wanting to be held. Then I hear Rain climbing the cupboards in the kitchen to get something from the top shelf that he’s not supposed to. I carry crying baby and clinging toddler with me to the kitchen to make Rain get down from the counter. He throws himself on the floor whining that I’ve spoiled his plans. These kinds of moments don’t happen all day long but I would be lying if I told you they never happen. When they do, I come pretty close to throwing myself on the floor and crying along with them. When 2 or more are crying/whining/yelling/shouting/singing at the same time. Does this really need more description? I didn’t think so. It’s amazing how our tolerance for chaos increases with every kid. Our house often feels like a nut house but I’ve resigned myself to that. I don’t get as worked up about it as I used to. I know it’s a passing phase. I know it will get easier and I know that there isn’t a lot I can do about it right now. It might seem ridiculous to say on the one hand that I’m hanging on for dear life and on the other that it isn’t nearly as bad as everyone expects. But you know, we’re complex beings: I think we can handle the contradiction. The circus may be loud, disorienting and a little frightening, but there’s also amazing acts, music, and popcorn. I might as well sit back and enjoy the show. Tell me about the circus at your house. I could use some...

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