It’s a GIRL!

Well, we made it! We actually truly made it to our scheduled C-section date of March 17, 2017! I’ll save the full birth story for another day but I wanted to do an announcement post for all you out there that follow along on our crazy journey.

Eden Bonandje (bon-an-jay)
March 17, 2017 @ 0938
7lb 8oz
20 inches

My entire life I’ve always been quite vocal that I would love to be a boy mom and wouldn’t mind if I never had a girl.  Regardless I was never curious enough or cared enough to find out the genders of my babies because in the end what really mattered to me was that I had a baby.  Early on in this pregnancy I had a strong feeling that I was carrying a girl, but by the second trimester I was back to the “who knows” mentality.  Still I often found myself referring to the baby as a girl in my mind.  I think there might have only been one person who guessed that the baby was a boy and the rest – even complete strangers – were convinced baby was a girl.  Ezekiel was beyond adamant that he was going to have a baby sister and you could not even try to entertain the idea that it just MIGHT be a boy.  My husband  really really really wanted a daughter and thought that since my pregnancy was so riddled with excitement that it had to be a girl because boys just don’t demand that kind of attention :).  I just continued on in the mindset that either way I would be happy.

When they pulled her out and announced excitedly that she was a GIRL the joy and pure happiness that flowed through me took me by surprise.  A girl, a daughter, my last baby is my baby girl.  I still tear up thinking about it and probably will for years to come.  I didn’t know how deeply my soul needed this girl.  She is pure perfection and we are completely smitten.  I find myself dreaming of raising her, of the values I want her to grow up with.  The fears I had about raising a girl were swept away when I looked at her and replaced with the joy I’m feeling at the privilege I have of being able to raise a strong, confident, capable and wonderful woman.

I’m so happy to have been blessed with something I had no idea I needed so badly.

 

 

 

 

Nature vs Nurture

This post has been swirling around in my brain for a couple weeks but I just couldn’t figure out how I would write it.  Then today I opened my Instagram and found out that today is “Pink Shirt” day – also known as Anti-Bullying Day and I knew that today was the day I needed to write this.

It starts with my last hospital admission and a conversation I had with one of my nurses.  She was an older more experienced nurse and we were having a conversation about raising kids.  I mentioned that we don’t have TV in our house and I’ve loved everything about that.  She replied with something about how if kids go to school not knowing what’s “cool” they are at a higher risk of being bullied.  Basically she was implying that Ezekiel would be bullied at school because he doesn’t watch TV or play with an iPad.  Instantly my Momma heart was torn and conflicted.  I started to question all my parenting decisions and convictions.  Was this true? Was I really putting my child at risk of being bullied? Should we watch TV?

The other part of the conversation revolved around “nature vs nurture.”  I’m sure all of you reading this are at least vaguely aware of this debate.  Does a child turn out “good” or “bad” because of nature or the way we as parents nurture them.  I don’t have a set answer on this but during my conversation with this nurse she mentioned that she had boy/girl twins and they were completely opposites which made her lean towards the nature part of the debate.  Instantly I was able to define my own parenting philosophy – I desire to nurture my children’s nature.

The more I have thought about this conversation – and it’s been daily, sometimes several times a day – the more confident I become in my parenting decisions.  I truly believe there is no one right way to raise children and that’s because every single child and person on this earth is different.  There are no two exactly alike and so our parenting must bend and curve and ebb and flow to accommodate each child’s unique personality and nature.  There is only one aspect of parenting I believe every single parent should do – and that is simply to take the time to KNOW your child.  Try and understand their uniqueness and your parenting decisions and strategies will flow with that.

When I was first pregnant I had a lot of ideals and ideas that I thought were absolutely essential to parenting children “right.”  I was on the side of black and white decision making, there was no in between.  Then I became a parent and that completely got thrown out the window.  Ezekiel has been such an excellent teacher for me in this whole parenting gig.  Right from day one he’s shown me that he’s actually in charge of his life – he will do things and transition through all his milestones in his own way and in his own time.  My job is to gently guide him through this life teaching him how best to manage these transitions with grace and humility.  His personality and nature takes front seat in our relationship and you know what? My own personality and nature also sits up there in the front seat, together we navigate life.  In some things I’m very strict with very little bend in my decisions, in other things I’m more in the grey area and my decision may be different from day to day.

In no way do I think I have this parenting thing all figured out and soon I’ll be adding yet another little person who has their own nature and personality to our family.  Here’s what I do know – if I spend the time and energy really getting to know and understand this little person we are going to be OK.

I think this is the way we can raise children to be kind always and to love in all circumstances regardless if they know who every character of Paw Patrol is.  We can raise children to be unique and different, to go against the grain and be proud of it.  We can raise children to understand that bullying is not OK, to know how to respond to a bully and to know that other peoples opinions of them do not define their worth.  We can raise children to be honest and open with us, to talk through issues and articulate their feelings in difficult situations.  We can create homes that are full of love, understanding and kindness, that are always welcoming of conversation.  We can raise children that are curious about the world and aren’t afraid to ask questions or take their own stance in situations.  We can raise children who are not shamed into conforming to society but who are proud to forge their own path.

So regardless of how you end up parenting your child.  What decisions you make along the way.  If you can raise your child to know and show love and kindness I think we can raise a generation where bullies are no longer an issue.

Transitioning to Quiet Time

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about our struggles with Ezekiel since I’ve been on modified rest.  The biggest challenge has been his nap times.  He’s historically and famously been the best napper, sometimes napping 3-4 hours at a time and really he needs these naps.  He also sleeps 12-13 hours at night which is a big sign to me that he still needs the naps.  When I was admitted to the hospital he began having trouble napping and also wasn’t sleeping as long at night waking up super early.  His behaviour suffered in his lack of sleep and my patience was wearing very thin.  I had no idea what to do.  I thought maybe I needed to start a quiet time routine but had no idea how to do that.  I learned early on in Ezekiel’s life that he was the leader in when he was going to be ready for certain transitions.  Any time I tried to get him to do something when he wasn’t ready I got frustrated and he got frustrated – things like rolling, sitting, walking, talking – you name the milestone and he was ready later than most kids but when he was ready he just started doing it and never stopped.

So a couple weeks ago I really had to evaluate if it was time to start a quiet time routine.  I was very resistant because I really really value nap time.  It’s a time that I get to recharge my batteries and when he wakes up we are both ready to take on the evening.  Part of the transition to quiet time (a big part really) was my own mindset – I had to accept that nap time is not always going to happen anymore and I had to become ok with that.  At the same time I had to come up with a compromise, something that was going to help me recharge and help Ezekiel because although he won’t always nap he is absolutely always tired in the afternoon.  Something else I’ve learned over the years is that I don’t do well at listening to the advice of books and blogs – I have to lean on my own understanding of my child and trust my momma’s instinct.  So our nap time routine is just something I came up with and has worked wonders for us.

The routine actually starts at lunch time.  We wind down and sit at the table having a quiet meal and quiet conversation.  I try to keep it as calm as possible.  At the end of lunch Ezekiel chooses which sippy cup he would like to have his quiet time milk in.  Then he heads upstairs, usually without cuing and I follow.  He goes potty and then we get him into comfy clothes (because who wants to relax in jeans and a button up??), and a diaper (he’s not night time/nap time trained because he’s still in a  crib and can’t get out to go to the bathroom on his own).  We close his curtains and then settle into the rocking chair with a blanket and his milk.  We rock until he’s done his milk and then we say our nap time quotes that we’ve been doing forever “I love you” “have a good sleep” “see you when you wake up” – we alternate words and Ezekiel LOVES this part.  Then he gets into his crib with the help of a stool (because I can’t lift him) and he cuddles up with his polar bear and ducky and his favourite blanket and I leave his room.

Typically he’s very quiet for about 20-30 minutes but if he can’t fall asleep in that time he’ll start talking and playing with his stuffed animals.  Typically he’s been falling asleep every 3rd or 4th day.  Between 45-60 minutes if he’s still awake he usually calls me because he needs to go potty so I go upstairs and help him get out and go potty.  At this point I know that it hasn’t been enough quiet time for him and so we’ve implemented another hour of independent quiet playtime in his room.  We open his curtains and I shut the door and go back downstairs.  He’s come to a good understanding of this time and he will read books, play with blocks and generally just use his imagination to no end.  He usually destroys his room and has everything off his shelves and out of his drawers.  He doesn’t have all his toys in his room just blocks, a car, and books so there’s not a tonne to destroy but somehow he seems to make a bigger mess each day – something that I’ve also had to become ok with!  To my amazement he actually stays and plays quietly for 45-60 minutes before he calls down saying he’s done.

The last rule to quiet time is that he has to clean up his room before he can come downstairs.  He definitely needs help but I encourage him to spend about 10 minutes by himself cleaning up his room.  Generally he’s pretty good about this but after about 10 minutes asks if I will help him and so I go up and help with the last things.

Something else that I’ve implemented is that if he’s very good during quiet time and doesn’t yell, scream or cry then he’s allowed a treat when he comes back downstairs.  Treats in our house are a bit different than some houses – right now he’s on a chocolate chip kick so he gets about 10 chocolate chips along with something else like a nut mix, or a little piece of baking that I’ve done.  The baking that I make as treats I try to make as healthy as possible so they always have nutritional value and very little sugar (no refined sugar).

The changes I’ve seen in him since implementing this new routine has been amazing.  I think a big part of our success has been the fact that I kept our original routine in the beginning and then accepted that I cannot force him to do something that he can’t do.  I know that he does try to nap but I think he’s in such a big transition in life that he’s finding it hard to shut off his brain – I totally get that!  In the beginning we had long talks daily about the importance of quiet time, the reasons we need quiet time and how being quiet is a big part of quiet time.  Ezekiel is incredibly rational for a 3 year old and processes well through words and conversation so this worked for us and after about 4 days we didn’t need to have the conversation he just picked it up and ran with it.  His outbursts and inability to process and calm his emotions has left and he’s back to his very sweet, calm rational self and I am feeling so grateful!  He’s still incredibly tired on the days he doesn’t nap and will space out frequently but he doesn’t become a little three year old monster and that is worth it! Something else that has been amazing about the new routine is that he’s learning how to play by himself and be a bit more independent with play.  He hasn’t been independent in the past, he always wants to be beside someone and play and would prefer if you joined in with his play.  He always wants help with whatever he’s doing  and usually only plays alone for short amounts of time.  If I’m preoccupied with something else and can’t play he’ll just try and join me in what I’m doing instead of playing.  Implementing the last hour of quiet play alone and has really helped him to be able to use his imagination alone and find ways to play independently.  He’s also learning how important it is to have some downtime in the afternoon, we have conversations about how his behaviour is so much better and he understands the change.  All in all this has been such a good transition for us, one that I’ve been dreading for months but that I’m pleasantly surprised with.

Do you have any quiet time transition stories?  I’m thinking of getting him some more quiet time activities in his room that would enhance his learning and independence – any suggestions??

The Toddler Challenge

In a lot of ways being on modified rest really isn’t that difficult.  In the beginning it was HARD because I was so symptomatic that I could barely do anything.  I felt incredibly unwell but being at home made me want to jump into everything I would normally be doing.  Now fast forward 5 weeks later and I’m feeling pretty good.  There are days that are bad, but more so they’ve turned into just a few hours at the end of the day.  I’m able to tolerate doing a bit more than I could in the beginning and I have my Dr’s blessing to listen to my body and do what I can but stop when it’s been enough.  So the biggest challenge hasn’t actually been me, but my 3 year old.

This week I felt like I was coming undone with him.  When I first came home he was a complete disaster.  Opposite from what he normally is.  His normal is a sweet, kind, relatively quiet, obedient and rational little one.  His behaviour normally is actually a bit abnormal for the average toddler and I’ve been so grateful for it.  Often I’ve said “I’m just waiting for it all to change” but after three years it didn’t seem like that was happening and he would continue on in his way.  Then enter me being admitted to the hospital for 7 days, him being pulled from dayhome, my mom here to live and help out and my husband on Christmas vacation.  The poor little guys life was completely turned upside down and thrown out the window.  His entire routine and what he knew to be his world was shaken up and not put back together.

He began to argue, cry over things he normally wouldn’t, wake up in the middle of the night, wake up extremely early, rarely take a nap and all around was completely different.  There were very slight breaks in the cloud but it seemed I was finally getting my threenager and it distressed me.  Where was the little boy so kind and so sweet? The biggest challenge is that his nap times are riddled with yelling and screaming for 2 hours straight, not out of sadness or anger but just “because I like to yell and scream” and although I would try and address it it would continue to happen.  He continued to become more and more sleep deprived and then on Tuesday we had our worst day yet and I felt like I was at the end of my rope.  Everyone keep saying, “maybe he’s growing out of his nap” but in my head and in my heart I know my boy and I know for certain he absolutely needs sleep.  At the very least he needs a time to just be quiet, to wind down but of course sometimes you just can’t force little ones to do what you know they need.   At the beginning of this week I committed to two weeks of solid routine and if at the end of that he didn’t nap at all I would begin to transition to “quiet time” – any and all suggestions on how to do that well are very welcomed!

Yesterday after a good nights sleep he seemed to be back to my sweet and kind little boy.  I had a long appointment in the morning and left him at home with my mom.  When I came home I prepared us lunch and just like we would before this fiasco – we immediately went upstairs for nap time.  He didn’t fight me or cry, we rocked and he drank his milk then I spent about 10 minutes talking through nap time and quiet time with him.  We discussed why it is important to sleep well, why we need rest, why we need to be quiet.  He of course had a rebuttal for every sentence but he was absorbing my words and I knew it.  On Tuesday he lost a lot of privileges because of his yelling and screaming at nap time (that he had been forewarned about) and he could recall them yesterday (thank you rationality!) so we discussed those privileges again yesterday.  I reiterated quite a few times and he acknowledged his understanding.  I put him in bed and he cuddled up with his polar bear and blanket about 2 minutes after I shut the door he made one tiny little squeal and then was silent.  HE FELL ASLEEP!  My momma heart was so relieved.

The real relief came when he woke up and I went in to his room.  He was back to the behaviour I knew to be his.  All evening he was so pleasant and didn’t fight anything all evening, even when he would start he was easily rationalized with and redirected. He could even verbalize and discuss the differences from the two days.  I could have cried after he went to bed I was so happy to have seen my little boy back to normal.

Of course that was just one day and it may all change today but more than ever I’m optimistic that I don’t in fact have a threenager on my hands.  Rather I have a little boy whose world was completely upset and has been struggling to get back to what he knows to be true and normal.  I’m going to try my best to get him back to that place before this baby shows up and throws us all for a loop.

Time IN vs Time OUT

A few days ago I browsed a blog post that talked about the difference between time-in’s and time-out’s (this isn’t the exact post but something similar I found because I couldn’t find the exact one).  I had of course heard of putting children in time-out’s and have used that strategy 4 times in the past year with great results.  However I had never heard of time-in’s and I was intrigued.  Essentially a time-out means separating your child completely and a time-in is like a time-out for you both together.  In a time-out you put your child alone in a designated spot, for time-in you sit with your child in that designated spot.

Ezekiel is 2, at that age where he is learning that he has the ability to say no and fight for what he wants.  He’s a fairly reasonable child – I can usually talk him out of a temper tantrum if I catch it right at the beginning.  He can be distracted by something equally as tempting as what he wants to do which is a strategy I use often (Ezekiel I’ve asked you to stop touching the things on the shelf, how about you come help me with supper instead).  He also understands and follows rules if I implement them consistently – the most recent one being no toys at the table.  In the beginning there were many meltdowns over that rule, but now he’s satisfied with placing his beloved toy at the foot of his highchair to play with when he’s done eating.

Side-note – meltdowns are absolutely allowed in our house, these are different from a temper tantrum.  Being upset because you really want something is different then thrashing, hitting etc. because you didn’t get what you want.  In the event of a melt down I simply allow him to cry for a while and then ask him to take some deep breaths, try and distract him by singing his favourite songs and continue to reinforce the rule he is upset about.  That strategy works 99% of the time.  1% of the time it turns into a full blown tantrum.

Of course he’s still a two year old and still gives in to so many temptations breaking rules here and there.  My general rule is that if he is breaking a rule and I’ve asked him to stop – he demonstrates he understands by stopping and then continues when I look away – if I have to ask him three times then he goes upstairs to his room for 2 minutes.  We are now working on “sorry mom I didn’t listen to you” so I go upstairs and ask him to say sorry – sometimes he outright refuses in which case I leave for another two minutes and repeat the process until he says sorry.  This specific instance has only happened once. Usually he listens and stops what I’ve asked him to do before the third time.

There have been times of complete uncontrollable temper tantrums – 3 that I recall.  All of them have happened after coming home from the dayhome before supper.  He’s exhausted and very hungry and controlling emotions is something that is just not going to happen.  I get it, I totally understand but I also get very frustrated in those moments.  Two of those times happened last summer and I put him in his room until he calmed down then went in and we snuggled for a good 15-20 minutes and from then on he was happy and I quickly fed him so he’d stay that way :).

Yesterday was the third instance.  I knew he had a rough night with my husband the night before while I was at work and I knew he would be tired.  When his emotions are extreme it indicates his level of tiredness – usually it’s overly happy, running and yelling and laughing and dancing.  He reminds me of those times as a teenager when you’ve pulled an all nighter with your friends which was usually spent laughing at nothing because when you’re overtired everything is funny.   When I picked him up yesterday his level of happiness was OVER THE TOP which is always nice when you’re child is extremely happy to see you but I also thought “we definitely need an early bedtime tonight.”  We got home and it was nice out so I let him play outside while I tidied before getting supper ready, somehow within 10 minutes he went from happy to frustrated with something (I still have no idea what) that he was not able to communicate with me.  The situation very quickly went in a downward spiral as I asked what he was upset about and he got more and more upset without trying to explain.  In that moment I decided playtime outside was done and he was MAD – over the top, more than I’ve ever seen him.  I took off his outside clothes while he thrashed and screamed bloody murder.  I knew this was not going to be controllable on the main level of our house so I marched him upstairs thinking I would put him in time-out but then I remembered the article on time-in’s and thought I’d give it a try.  I went to his room, closed his door, sat on the floor and made him sit down facing me.  I held his hands in mine and asked him to take some deep breaths, he instantly calmed down in less than 30 seconds – still upset but not thrashing around.  Then I grabbed our homemade lavender coconut oil lotion and rubbed some on his chest and feet, he helped by putting some on his feet.  By that point the pouty lip had stopped and the tears were done.  I asked if he would like to read a story, he promptly got up, grabbed a book and ran to me happily ready to read.  We read two books and he got up and I asked if he was ready to go make supper, he ran to the door laughing.

What an amazing tool! I couldn’t believe the response I got from that strategy.  It shows him that temper tantrums are not tolerated but that I’m willing to help him out when he can’t seem to help himself.  It shows him that crying and screaming doesn’t get you what you want but that there’s always other options to what you want to do.  It gives him a choice with his mom by his side helping him out with that choice.

I will still use time-outs for those instances of outright disobedience because I know very well that Ezekiel is capable of following direction and listening to rules but when it comes to uncontrollable emotional outbursts I will definitely use time-in’s.

What is your discipline strategies? Any tips for this momma? I know down the road the frequency of discipline is likely to increase exponentially!

Being a “PERFECT” Parent


Ah.

This topic can be such a difficult thing for so many people.  There’s a lot of internet chatter about expectations, and mommy guilt.  Some people find it difficult to be on social media amongst the well curated photos that portray a “perfect” life, home, mom, kids, dad, dog… and the list goes on and on.

Here’s the thing though.

There is no such thing as perfection in our humanity.

End of story.

Maybe that’s why I don’t really struggle with mom guilt.  I’m not aiming to be perfect – that’s so unattainable that my type-A personality can’t handle it. Sure I have my moments but for the most part I think I do an OK job – and if I’m not, if somehow I’m messing it all up – well God’s got that under control.

Here’s the other thing.

I was created specifically to be Ezekiel’s mother.  Me. No one else.  So if I was created to be that person then I can only assume that I’m adequate for the job.

I’ve been thinking about this so much lately.  I realize that I’m a bit radical in so many ways when it comes to my parenting style – no TV, no sugar, organic food, wood toys, cloth diapers, extended breastfeeding etc. etc. Not only am I a bit radical but I’m also VERY talkative and I fear my constant chatter makes it seem as though I believe my ways are better than others.  While it’s true I generally feel like no TV, no sugar and more organic food will benefit everyone (not just children) that’s such a SMALL portion of being a parent.  Those decisions? Those are the minute details in the grand scheme of things. Loving your child fiercely, allowing them to grow up dreaming and teaching your child to respect and love humanity? That’s huge – far greater than what you let them watch or eat.

I have so many blog posts written in my head about parenting and I have been just waiting on when to post them.  I feel like I’m coming into a place where I can start to jot it down.

More than anything my prayer and hope is that when I write I’m conveying the deep conviction I have when it comes to parenting.  God created you, He created your little one(s) and He did that ON PURPOSE and FOR A REASON – trust in that always and things will always work out.

Caught Not Taught


Happy Belated Canadian Thanksgiving! I’m sitting here in our newly designed office feeling thankful for everything in my life.  I had an unexpected and at first unwelcomed day off yesterday, but it turned out to be so very wonderful.  I was able to catch up on all the cleaning and laundry that got left to the wayside as I enthusiastically finished the office this weekend.  I do a lot of reflecting while I clean because I do the majority of it while Ezekiel is sleeping and I try to keep the house as quiet as possible so it leaves me to my thoughts.  Today I was reflecting on something my husband said to me yesterday and the concept of things being caught not taught.

Before you continue on let me just put a bit of a disclaimer at the beginning.  I’m going to talk about how we parent and what we value as we raise Ezekiel.  While I think this is the best for us and I wouldn’t really write about it unless I thought you could glean something from it as well, I also recognize and celebrate the fact that parenting is as unique as each person involved (children included).  You are you, and your children are your children each with their own personalities, quirks and needs and in the end the best expert in that is you.

I’ve been working most Sunday’s for quite a while now and every Sunday I call Carlos on my break to see how things are going.  Inevitably I get a response to the effect of “Ezekiel won’t let me do anything.” To me this translates as, “I’m trying to do homework, I’m trying to watch soccer, I’m trying to check my e-mail, I’m trying to……”  Carlos has been endlessly frustrated with the fact that Ezekiel is obsessed with computers and phones – if he sees it he wants it even though he knows it’s not allowed.  Carlos up until this point has been unable to understand why – despite my continued attempts to tell him that Ezekiel just wants to do what he sees daddy doing.

Sunday night when I came home Carlos was telling me about their day and of course the same ramble about how much he didn’t get done was happening and then he said, “you know, I think it’s our fault.” To that I responded, “what’s our fault?” and he says, “that Ezekiel always wants the computer, we should put them away when he’s awake and just play on the floor with him.”

DING DING DING

He gets it!

Yesterday as I was cleaning I was reflecting on this revelation my husband had and was reminded of a phrase I came across not to long ago – things are caught not taught.  I began to file through all the ways we interact with Ezekiel and I started to see how very true that statement is for us.  Ezekiel really does just want to be next to us at all times, doing whatever we are doing.  He loves to clean with me, do dishes with me, cook with me, garden with me, do laundry with me etc.  He is definitely my little side kick, and with every action I see his little brain going a mile a minute watching my every move and usually he picks up one little thing each time he’s with me, whether that be putting things from the washer to the dryer, or putting away the cutlery.  He sees and he takes in far more than I could even comprehend.

Yesterday I began to wonder if the way that Ezekiel responds to frustration and being upset has something to do with the way we respond to our own frustrations and the way we respond to his frustration.  I’m really conscientious of how I handle Ezekiel’s frustration and this comes from my own observations of friends and people I’ve watched parent their children.  I try my best to catch his frustration at the very beginning and I get down to his level and talk it out with him and I started doing this before he probably could even understand.  I try to be as persistent and consistent as possible – right from when he could move and get into things I would be right there with him directing him in what was OK to touch and play with and what was not ok.  I never respond to his frustration or anger with my own frustration or anger (a lot of the time this takes a GREAT deal of self discipline and lots of deep breaths).  This is not to say that my child does not have outbursts or bad days – there are plenty of those, but they last very short amounts of time and he’s always able to redirect himself.  I do recognize that part of the equation is his personality and demeanor – he’s a pretty chill kid, but I hope that as he grows and as I try my best to be aware of my own actions that he catches the things that are not just actions.

I hope he catches love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

The concept of being caught not taught puts a whole new level of responsibility on parents that I am willing to accept.