It was a wet, muddy mess in the forest a couple of weeks ago. As we were leaving, a gentleman passed us and commented, “I guess you chose the wrong weather, eh?” His comment was in reference to Sweet Pea’s muddy appearance:
I assure you, the back was just as muddy. We knew going down that we weren’t going to come back clean. The girls know that when we go to the forest, they need to wear their “forest clothes” (our version of play clothes, those that have been worn down to the forest once or twice before, and now have holes or stains from all our fun). We play hard, and that’s OK! Actually, we encourage it. They’re only small once, right?
I’ve often heard (from my good forest friend, Anya) there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, and it’s true! We try to get out in all types of weather, which means we dress for the weather in layers, or a rain suit (or both!), so that we can keep having fun for as long as possible. Kids love to jump in muddy puddles, and who are we to deny them this childhood right of passage?
When we went down to the forest one time, and found this beautiful root system from a fallen tree, we had to explore! And you can too, as long as you’re prepared (or have a really good laundry detergent…). Also, always have a change of clothes ready, because no matter how many times you warn them of a messy area, they will be drawn to it with a seemingly magnetic force.
I want to encourage you to let kids be kids. In this root photo, Little Miss found some beautiful clay that she moulded into tea cups with a friend and her mom. There’s always something to find in the outdoors!
Full disclosure: Little Miss is not wearing a Muddy Buddy in these photos. We were able to snag a rain suit when Sears was liquidating. However, it’s the same concept, and great to have on hand for rainy/muddy days.
Hello Friends! Have you ever heard of ticks? Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 3 years, you’ve probably heard of them, or even encountered them. As we’re no stranger to the outdoors, we have been exposed as well. When Little Miss was 3 years old, we found a tick embedded in the back of her neck, right along her hairline. Eek! Once I had composed myself, we went straight over to the ER, as I didn’t know how to remove it properly.
** Warning: A slightly graphic tick story **
When we arrived, the nurses were so excited, as they had yet to see a tick! They kept calling others over to check it out. When we were seen by the emerge doctor, he said “wow! This is my first time seeing a tick in my 10 years working in the ER!” I must say, that was not exactly a comforting thing to hear… In the end, the head came off as he was trying to remove the tick with tweezers, so he had to make a small incision to remove the rest of it. As he was trying to pull it out, I knew in my mind that this was not the best way, but I didn’t say anything. However, I did decide that I would not be coming back to remove a tick, if ever the situation arose again. Little Miss ended up developing her first double ear infection 2 days later, and I think that that was largely due to the stress of the situation. She did not develop Lyme Disease, thank God.
About a year later, we were at a conservation area, and they had the Original Tick Key available for purchase in their gift store. I immediately bought it, and put it on my keychain, just in case.
Lo and behold, the following year, Tipper (our handsome Goldendoodle) had a tick embedded on his chest. I grabbed my handy dandy Tick Key, and out it came with no muss, no fuss. I got the whole thing with one steady pull of the key. You put the key over the tick, with the tick in the large hole. You then pull along the skin (not away from the body) in one steady motion (don’t start and stop – one swift motion).
Folks, if you live anywhere near a wooded area, or if you ever go exploring in the great outdoors, this is an amazingly simple, effective, solid piece of equipment. I’ve had the one in these pictures for about 3 years as a keychain, and it hasn’t bent whatsoever. I highly recommend having one on hand “just in case”. They make a great stocking stuffer!
Forever ago (three and a half years and 2 children ago), Little Miss and I had a free morning, so we took advantage of it. We went down to the ravine by our house, and I decided that I would not rush. We would take our time and see what the morning brought us. It was amazing! First, we waded in the creek with Tipper:
Then we came across a deer, nibbling in a neighbour’s backyard:
And finally, as we came upon our street, we sat and watched this construction crew repave a section of the road:
We had such a good time, and I still look back on that morning with the fondest of memories. I’ve actually had this post idea drafted for about 2 years, just waiting for me to find time to write it up. I just couldn’t let it go. A few weeks ago, I finished the book, “The Hurried Child” by David Elkind. It reaffirmed what I already knew: we need to slow down. The way we rush our children from one event to the next, from one activity to the next, foregoing their opportunity to rest and simply play, is detrimental to their mental health.
Let me encourage you to take a morning, or an afternoon, and leave the agenda behind. Wander aimlessly and go down those rabbit trails. You’ll likely be very pleasantly surprised.
My 2 month old (Mister Man) is napping. My 2 older children are playing happily, creating havoc in the living room. I’m trying to tidy in their wake, as they leave a trail of dominoes, counting bears, markers, watercolor paints (which I asked politely for them to use at the dining room table), and paper off the floor. Cue Sweetpea (2.5) who decides to climb on my back, and slide over my head, as if I’m a newly discovered piece of playground equipment. And that, my friends, was my limit.
I grab my phone and text my mom, to see if she might be available in the next couple of days to watch our little angels for an afternoon, so that I can go out for a couple of hours and read a book, while sipping on expensive coffee (*cough* Starbucks *cough*). Hurrah! She says yes, and I can mentally relax as I look forward to a little bit of “me time”. Thank you, Grandma!
Me Time. The chance to “fill my cup”, as it were. The coveted break that so many moms can only dream of. I know I am incredibly blessed to be able to call on my mom, who lives only 15 minutes away, who will almost always oblige, and help out however she can. #blessed However, here’s how my “me time” played out today.
As I was about to leave, on this fateful Saturday afternoon, Mister Man woke up from his nap. No problem. I should probably take him with me anyway (we’re breastfeeding), and he’ll likely sleep the whole time (she thought optimistically).
“Where you going?” Sweetpea asks curiously. Did I mention that she almost always naps at this time, but today, of all days, decided that she just wasn’t interested? #foreshadowing
“I’m just going to have coffee. I’ll be back soon,” I reply, with the most compassionate smile I can muster.
“I go, too!” she decides, while trying to find her shoes. I don’t think I need to recount her reaction when I told her that she wasn’t coming with me. Tired tears and crying ensued, as Grandma held her and gave me a sympathetic smile that said “she’ll be OK. You go.” And so, I went.
I had a quick errand I had to run before my “me time” destination of Starbucks, and I gave my husband a quick call to see how he was doing. While on the phone, I realized that I forgot my book at home, and that Mister Man wasn’t settling the way he normally does, 99% of the time. Sigh. Plan B.
I text my mom that I have forgotten my book, and so I’m coming back. I’ll just stay home instead. She offers to continue watching the little people, while I read in my daughter’s room. Great! Things are back on track. I pick up a Starbucks (and one for our Superstar Grandma, of course) and head home.
After making a quick lunch for myself (perogies, yum!), I head into Sweetpea’s room, and settle into my chair in the sun. Bliss! Two seconds later, “what you eating?”
Me: “Perogies. Do you want some?”
Sweetpea tries them, and decides that she does, indeed, like them. Mister Man starts stirring, so Grandma brings him over for a snack, and takes Sweetpea, who has now confiscated my lunch, into the living room. Number of pages read so far: 0. Time elapsed since “me time” started: 1 hour.
Mister Man has some mommy milk, and drifts sweetly off to sleep, while I scroll through Facebook on my phone. Why I didn’t read at this point, I don’t know, but I should have. Time well wasted, I suppose. With the baby asleep, I pass him back to Grandma, and Sweetpea brings back the leftover perogies. I’m back on track. Excellent!
I suppose trying to read in a room full of toys wasn’t the best plan. Little Miss (nearly 6) and Sweetpea decide to play doctor while I finish my lunch. Do you know how difficult it is to eat while being asked repeatedly to “open wide!!!” Although, if either of them become doctors in the future (or both!), it will be well worth it. Sweetpea also wanted to pinch my Mommy Milk (nipple) with one of the doctor tools. Umm… no.
With lunch (finally) finished, and my coffee beside me, I crack open my book (elapsed time: 1.5 hours). Little Miss comes over, upset about something Sweetpea has done (remember, Grandma has a sleeping baby on her chest, so she’s nearly out of commission at this point). Quickly remedied, she eyes my coffee and has a sip. Because I like sickeningly sweet lattes (the Caramel Brule, if you’re wondering), she stole a few more sips, and leaves me with a thimble full (note to self: don’t ask for whip cream on your drink. Apparently that indicates that you only want 2/3 of a cup of coffee…). Fine. I finish my last swig of coffee and get a glass of water. Pages read: 1. Elapsed time: 2 hours.
Yes, I did get to finish a chapter, which I think was about 7 pages long (it isn’t a long book). But, only after Sweetpea spilled my full glass of water on the floor, and countless other interruptions. Did I mention we’re potty training? Yup, add in accident clean up as well.
But that’s alright. Although my “me time” didn’t turn out the way I thought it would, the afternoon after I sent my initial text/plea to my mom, I felt much better. I think the idea that I would have a break in the near future was enough to lift my spirits. I know that we all need time to ourselves to recuperate from the busyness of motherhood, but it may not always look like we think it will (ahhhh… spa). Especially with a new baby at home, where you need to plan your life in short bursts (or else you will burst – hello engorgement!). And sometimes it helps just to have another set of hands to help hold the baby, do the dishes, or make a cup of tea (or all 3!).
“Mommy, why did the woman say ‘it’s not polite to stare’ to me?”
“Who said that?” I asked.
“The woman pushing the wheelchair,” Little Miss replied.
Ah. The moment of clarity.
Today, we decided to head over to the Markham Fair. We had never been to this time honoured tradition, and we decided to give it a last-minute whirl. Folks, we had a great time! There was lots to see and do there. There were plenty of animals to see. We got to ride up in a cherry picker (the machine that allows the hydro company to work on hydro wires)! And, they had a demolition derby (that we unfortunately weren’t able to attend). It was great.
Today was the first day of the fair, and there were lots of school children there. It was also “homeschooling day”, so we got to see some of our friends, too. There were also several people there with special needs. Fantastic! I have worked with individuals with special needs, and I know the need for these folks to get out and enjoy a community event. Wonderful! And, it appears my daughter (4.5 years young) was curious.
We all have a natural curiosity to those who are “different”. It’s human nature. Children are trying to make sense of the world, and in this case, she was trying to understand why a person was in a wheelchair. I’ve been behind the wheelchair, dealing with the curious stares. You want your client to be respected. I understand that. However, I think that this could have been taken as a learning opportunity, rather than a scolding.
My daughter did not know it was rude to stare. Again, she 4.5 years old. She did not mean to be rude, but it clearly came across that way. Instead of scolding her, the caregiver could have said, “he (or she) needs help to get around. That’s my job. They aren’t able to walk on their own, but they still want to see everything that you do!” Connection and dignity go a long way on this two way street. I also told Little Miss that the nicest thing she can do, if she sees someone in a wheelchair, is smile. There’s a takeaway that she can carry with her for the rest of her life, as opposed to being scared to look at the people around her.
When I was in grade 6, I experienced a pivotal moment. I was doing a biography on a classmate, so she came over to my house. When her family came to get her, her brother came to the door. He had Down Syndrome. I suppose I asked something insensitive like, “why does he look different?” I really can’t remember. However, I do remember her explanation.
We were in the gifted program at the time. She explained the situation that we (students in the gifted program) had an IQ of 101. Other students, in the regular stream, had an IQ of 100, and her brother had an IQ of 99. This was not (and I didn’t take it as such) an explanation that he was “dumb”, but that he thought and processed information differently. So, when I was speaking with him, I may have to choose my words more carefully so that he understood me. I found her explanation to come from a place of love and respect.
As I grew older, and I took psychology courses, I learned that the IQ disparity was greater, however that didn’t change how I viewed those with special needs. They are people who deserve love and respect, and who are all too often underestimated. This is something I want to pass on to my daughters. I don’t want them to be afraid to interact with these individuals. This is an opportunity to show love and compassion!
So, let me encourage you to view every day as a teaching day. Help those around you, especially these precious little ones, to make sense of what they see, through eyes of compassion and love. And I hope and pray that the next time she sees someone in a wheelchair she won’t avert her eyes, but meet those eyes with a smile.
Last summer, before we had even begun our homeschooling journey, a well meaning neighbour asked me “Do you feel qualified to teach her?” Beyond the fact that I am, indeed, a certified elementary school teacher, I still had a few lingering doubts.
Was this the right choice? Does she need more peer interactions? Will I miss something? Will I be “enough”?
I answered with my well thought through list of reasons that I had been rehearsing for whenever someone asks “why?”, but the question still nagged at me. There are plenty of parents who may not feel “qualified”, but they do a fantastic job! They are encouraging, inspiring, nourishing, kind, loving, and passionate. Who else can care more about your child than you? And the best part of homeschooling is that we often learn alongside our children, feeding our own curiosities as well! Learning is a lifelong venture, after all!
So, as we embark upon our second year of homeschooling, I want to encourage you. You are their first teacher. Whether they go to a physical school, or “school” at home, whatever that may look like, you are their first teacher.
Yesterday, Little Miss (4.5) was drawing in the sand. She smiled and said “Mommy, look! A mineral butterfly!” I think we’re going to be alright.
We love the forest, if you couldn’t tell. We try to go every week, with a lovely group of friends. We have been joining this group for about two and a half years. In all this time, Little Miss has never ventured over “the tree”. Ever since we’ve been coming, there has been a tree that has fallen over there creek. It’s a large, beautiful tree that just begs to be climbed and crossed.
I consider Little Miss to be rather adventurous, and I’ve always assumed she’d eagerly climb it with the greatest of ease. However, in all our time in the forest, she never has. She would explore the exposed roots, and climb to the top of them, but never over – until this week.
We’ve had a few kids over the years who love to shimmy across to the other side, but it’s never had the pull that I thought it would with her. But this week, one of the newer girls she was playing with climbed right over – and she followed! It was really exciting to watch her try something new, and be guided by her peer. She needed a little encouragement on the way back, but she did it. I love watching children attempt something, of their own accord, and accomplishing the task. It’s so exciting!
The other day, the littles and I were attending a birthday party. One of the parents was chatting with Little Miss, and asked if she knew when her birthday is.
But, before she could respond, the parent said “of course you don’t,” and turned to speak with someone else. I was flabbergasted. Little Miss is nearly 4.5 years old, and has known her birthday month for probably about a year. More recently, since this birthday party situation, she has also learned the day.
I’m not saying this to brag about her ability to know her birthday, but to ask folks to please not assume that kids don’t know. Children have varying talents, learning experiences, and interests. You never know what a child knows, unless you ask, and wait. Give them a moment or two to process what you’ve said, and formulate a response. You may be delightfully surprised.
Nearly a week ago, I posted this on Facebook, about Sweetpea:
“Now that things have calmed down, I’d like to share a bit more. PLEASE do not call 911 unless it’s an emergency.
F had a choking episode on Friday (which we think is related to the episode on Saturday that put her in the Critical Care Unit at Sick Kids). I called 911, but it was during the wind storm. I was on hold for 5 MINUTES while my daughter gasped for breath in my arms, because of the high call volume. I hung up and called my friend, who is a paramedic, because I needed to know what to do. 911 called me back a minute or so later. By this time, her breathing was returning to normal (thankfully). They sent an ambulance, but at 8 minutes it was redirected (because her breathing had regulated) and I ended up having to wait 25 minutes for an ambulance to come and check her. At this point she was fine, but it is terrifying to be put on hold while your child is gasping for breath. I am soooo thankful to God that it wasn’t the following night.
The next night, she had another episode, but it wasn’t clearing. We called 911 and an ambulance came right away (maybe 3 minutes) and the took her immediately and started to work on her. It was not good. She arrived Code Blue, and they immediately set to work. Thankfully it looks like she’ll make a full recovery but it was the most terrifying experience of our lives.
Please do not call 911 for non-emergencies. Friday night they were overwhelmed with calls about downed hydro wires. You have to call Toronto hydro for that. EMS and Toronto Police were asking people to stop calling 911 with these calls. When minutes, and even seconds, count you don’t want to be put on hold.
We are so thankful for all the work the nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists have done to ensure this healthy outcome.
Thank you to all of our family and friends for your outpouring of support and love. It means the world to us.
We are so thankful to God for His hand over us throughout this experience. He is good.” He is good, all the time.
This is what caused the aspiration:
Sometimes the unthinkable happens. Sweetpea in now home, and doing very well. If you’d like to read or see more, our story was featured on Global News.
When I was pregnant with Little Miss, 5 years ago, a friend of mine lent me a few books. This was one of them:
I remember, as she handed this book to me, she said “I barely had to change a poopy diaper after 6 months!” Well, the eager beaver that I was, I dove right in, with my little bundle of joy still growing inside.
I think I got to either chapter 3 or 4, and decided that it was “a load of hooey”. This might have been all well and good for a mama living in southern British Columbia, where they barely saw a snowflake, and the temperatures stayed well above 0 (celcius) the majority of the time, but for this Mama, that just wasn’t going to fly.
Well, fast forward to when Little Miss was just shy of 6 months, and I commented in my Crunch Mommy Group (it’s true, I joined it for the cloth diapering advice, and stayed for the overwhelming support and natural parenting techniques) that Little Miss tended to pee when I put her in the Bumbo Seat. I would regularly give her diaper free time, and found this to be the result. Someone commented that it was natural for them to pee like that, and that I should consider Elimination Communication (EC). Really? Well, sure. Why not? What did I have to lose?
Well, the next day, on the day she turned 6 months, we woke up, and I tried putting her on the potty (I sat down toward the back of the toilet, and put her between my legs), thinking that I looked ridiculous, and this whole concept is insane. Then, she peed. Seriously. 6 months. We gave it a go the next day and she pooped. I kid you not!
So, what was our technique? Well, I would give her a chance to go after each sleep (nap or night), as children naturally hold their pee when they sleep. Then, as she got older, I would pop her on whenever we changed her diaper. Gradually she started having more regular dry diapers, and by 2 years (minus 2 weeks), we went straight over to underwear, and had diapers for only night time (she’d been dry after naps for a while by this point). By this time, she was having a dry diaper at night a couple of times a week, too. A month after our switch, once she’d had a week or so of dry diapers, we got rid of our night time diapers, too. Interestingly, she would wake up to pee at night quite regularly, from at early at 12 months! I knew this because sometimes she would leak right out the side and all over me when I went in to put her back down. I tried putting her on the potty, but this groggy baby would have none of it, but I found the correlation quite interesting.
Did we eliminate poopy diapers for the majority of our diapering experience? Not quite, but she was regularly doing her business in the porcelain bowl by about a year. Did we train her? No. Really, it’s more so about training yourself, and recognizing your child’s cues. There is a lot more to this, but this is my Cole’s Notes version. Although I was a complete skeptic, I do recommend “Diaper Free Baby”. Turns out, it’s not a bunch of hooey after all! Please note that we were never forceful, nor did we ever shame or punish her if she didn’t go.
Was this a one time thing? Well, we’ve been doing EC with Sweet Pea since 3 month. Three Months?!? Yes. It all started one night when our typically easy going, amazing sleeper of a baby was having a particularly tough night. After nursing, and bicycle kicks, and anything else you would try at 3 in the morning to get a baby to settle, I thought “maybe she had to poop? Well, let’s see if this helps…” and I put her on the toilet. She didn’t poop, but she did pee, and thus began our EC journey. She’s now 13 months, and she regularly pees, and has gone #2 the last 2 days (although it’s not as often as I remember it being with LM). Hey, when it comes to cloth diapers and laundry, every little bit counts!
Here’s what I wrote back in 2014, as my Facebook status update: So, I started to read this when I was pregnant, because a friend loaned it to me with a bunch of other amazing baby books (thank you Carolina!) and I didn’t finish it because I thought I could never do it. But, after some encouragement from some other moms, girlie started using the potty at 6 months. Here’s the update: at 11 months, today she had 2 wet diapers, all other changes were dry, and she used the potty each time. I’m very excited over here, and wanted to let y’all know that this isn’t hippie craziness, but a very useful tool. We are still using (cloth) diapers, but I just get to wash less of them — feeling wonderful.
So, you never know, unless you try.
P.S. What do you think? Crazy hippy, or something to this?