Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Free Christmas Family Fun at Roedde House Museum


Vancouverites: did you know that there's a museum on the West End? Me neither. But then I learned about the Roedde House Museum, a Victorian-style house that was built in 1893 by our city's first bookbinder. Not everyone is a history buff, but I've always been the keener who gets giddy going to historic museums. I'm also a big Little House on the Prairie book fan. I like to imagine what life would have been like without all of our modern conveniences and complications, when cars were just newly invented, and bread was something you made, not something you picked up at a grocery store. Being a 21st century urbanite, I really cannot imagine, but I love walking back in time and catching a glimpse of life over a century ago.

Anyway, that's the RHM; it's a middle-class house of its era, and a heritage site as of 1976. It's also one of those museums where, if you're careful, you can touch the artifacts. You're not separated from desks and tables by velvet ropes.

On Sunday, Dec. 7, RHM is having a Christmas Family Fun day. Instead of charging the usual $8/person (cash only) for the "Tea and Tour" guided tour, they are offering treats and tours by donation. There will be a poetry reading of Shel Silverstein's work, a story time, and cookie decorating and craft-making.

If you're looking for some good times with your littles on a Sunday afternoon, why not pop in?

PS - Only the 6 rooms of their ground floor are wheelchair, or stroller, accessible. If you want to explore the other 5 rooms, consider leaving your strollers at home.

It Is Time

Time to wean my 33-month old, that is. And not necessarily a complete and immediate full-stop on breastfeeding, but a gradual reduction from what it currently is. Now, before you think I'm still nursing every 3-4 hours, I'm not. Not even close.

33 months of this little monkey drinking my milk and sleeping beside me

What does breastfeeding an almost-3-year-old look like here? On a regular day:
- A cuddle/nursing session when she wakes up
- One 2-minute quickie in the afternoon if she's feeling "off"
- Nursing down for a nap (if it happens, which is only like 40% of the time now)
- A couple of false-start nursing sessions when she is supposed to be going to bed (not every night)
- A mid-sleep nursing session

However, I'm kind of reaching that point when I want to reclaim my breasts. I think she's ready-ish.

To prep Little L, I started reading her Nursies When the Sun Shines. Since it features a toddler with crazy sleep hair like hers, it was an instant hit. Also, there is only one kid in the story, much like our situation. She enjoyed reading the book over and over, and after a few days of reading, I told her that my nye-nye needed to go to sleep too. Like the kid in the book, my nye-nye would be asleep once I fell asleep, and she would need to wait until the morning time before she could have some again.

Then I put the plan into action, and when my half-conscious toddler started rooting in the middle of the night, I gently whispered reminders to her about what we had talked about. Then I cuddled her close to me, she rested her head against my breasts and she went back to sleep. Just like that. Night two and three were similar, and on night 4 she half-whimpered in her sleep for a few minutes before settling herself down by snuggling into the pillows, a la child's pose. She didn't want to even be near me at all for the rest of that night.

It has now been over two weeks of this, and we've essentially cut out the mid-sleep nursing session. Next up will be the mid-afternoon and late evening ones. On some busy days, Little L doesn't even request the 2-minuter anymore, so I don't think it will be hard to distract her from asking.

Then I figure the morning one will be next to go, since she usually wakes up pretty excited and if I can rouse her into full awake mode right away, she will want to head off the bed to go potty and play. The trick is to wake her up fully, though, because when she is half-asleep, she will want to root and try to go back to sleep, and it's always tempting for me to let her nurse so that I can catch a few more minutes of blissful slumber.

The hardest one is probably going to be the nurse-to-sleep one, since my kid has always favoured that method of conking out. Someone suggested that I allow her to nurse, but not in the family bed or even the bedroom, and then have Hubbs tuck her in for a few nights. That way, the association between nursing and sleep can be broken and she might find a different way to settle down to sleep. If I can get Hubbs to agree to this potentially-tear-inducing method, I might try it out. Another approach is to simply tell her that God needs to take Mommy's nye-nye away because she is a big girl now. Somehow, I doubt she will accept that one without a big fight, though.

Anyway, the process might be slow and painful, and there's a huge potential for regression should Little L fall ill with a seasonal cold or flu. I am hoping that she stays healthy this winter season, and that we can slowly work towards a weaning. Hubbs wants her to be done by the time she's 3, so I have about 3 months.

Here we go.

Friday, November 14, 2014

TMI Friday : The Random 5 Meme

Thanks to Andrea at Mama in the City for the tag, and now I must complete the meme and tell you 5 random things about me, or else someone I love will get run over by a truck at 5:00 pm today. Or something like that? ;)

Ugh. So many failed selfies with this little girl. She hates posing with me.

Anyhoo, I already overshared last Thursday, for those of you brave enough to read my ramblings. Today, I am going to keep it family-friendlyish, because I have a date day with the Hubbs at Circle Craft and I stink from my workout. TMI? Whoops.

I. The shortest two jobs I've ever had (that I can recall) were at a go-cart track and an Italian restaurant. Neither one lasted more than a month, if that.
In the case of the former, the owner was a mega-creep pedo who liked asking the girls who worked with him to "take his wallet out of his pocket." He'd also change his shirt in the middle of the canteen (where I was situated). And like a sexist, he never allowed girls to work on the go-cart track. I got out of there before I could become a statistic.

In the case of the latter, I was expecting to be a hostess and do a little bit of bussing to help the servers out. I didn't want to work for such meagre wages and have to do patio tear-down, bussing, and mopping up at the end of the day. Plus that place recycled their crusty rolls, as in - if it stayed in the basket and didn't look touched, they put them back into the warmer. Yeah, I know.

2. I have a growing seafood intolerance.
It used to be just crab and lobster consumption that would put me into 12 hours of abdominal cramping and nausea. Now, I'm finding that it's best to stay away from shrimp and oysters and scallops too. Given I live in seafood capital Van-city, this really really really sucks.

3. I've actually used my travel health insurance Thailand.
In Koh Samui, I got food poisoning from the bottle of soda that I was drinking out of; I didn't use the provided glass because it was dirty. Ironic. My girlfriends who all used the glasses were fine. Anyway, after countless bouts of poop and puke in a bathroom that doubled as a shower (as in there was no shower stall, no tub, no curtains...just a toilet and a sink and a showerhead mounted on the wall), I had to ride in one of their "cabs" (a flat-bed truck that had benches and a canopy installed into the cab) along a very bumpy road all the way to the international hospital. I was put on IV and released after a day, but thank God for travel insurance, because I'm sure that would have cost me a pretty penny otherwise.

4. I hate highway driving. 
Some say it's relaxing. I say it elevates my blood pressure. Hubbs is therefore the official highway driver. I won't even do freeways if I can help it, to be completely honest. Scary.

5. I don't like to take the same route to and from a destination.
Like, if I walk to the store using one way, I try hard to return home using another. Same with driving. Otherwise, for whatever reason, I feel like I've gone backwards and didn't make any progress. It's like Derek Zoolander not being able to turn left; it's just a thing.

Now to tag my victims...actually, scratch that. If you're reading this, consider yourself tagged. Ain't nobody got time to be tagging and looking up links. I have a craft show/Christmas market to attend!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Are They Impressed Yet?

Last year's tree
You know how you sometimes start thinking about one thing, which leads to another, and then another? I was originally thinking about decorating our home for Christmas. That led to thoughts about one day buying a home that I could decorate, which led to contemplation on big beautiful homes in general ... and then it dawned on me.

I'm slow, so forgive me if you've already figured this out. While most of us probably do like living in a clean, organized, aesthetically-appealing home with matching decor, I realized that when we strive so hard to make our abodes look magazine-worthy, we do so to impress others. Not necessarily family "others," but our friends and colleagues and neighbors and acquaintances. I mean, my Hubbs and Little L could care less about the colour of the rug and whether or not the book baskets match the drapes, even though this is the space they live in 24x7. So why do I care? My comfort and convenience may be enhanced by having modern appliances, but I'm sure the white stoves work just as well as the stainless ones. The safety and sanctuary I feel from being in my home is not contingent on all of my decor being colour-coordinated, nor on how consistently the "theme" of the room holds together.

But I suppose, like everyone, I do care what others think. I want to make my home look "nice" so that nobody looks down on me, or presumes that I'm a stunted grown-up or bad parent or *gasp* poor. 

At the heart of it is a fear of people's judgement, and pride, and a value set gone awry. Though there may be great personal satisfaction derived from furnishing a home well, I wonder how much of that satisfaction comes from within, as opposed to others' admiration and envy and approval feeding into one's own pride? 

Lest you think that I'm out to lunch on this: what images do you conjure when you think of a college student's apartment? Or a bachelor pad? What opinions do you form about the residents based on these stereotypical images? And what judgements do you make when you see a home with couches that don't match, or kids' beds with floral sheets and gray comforters, or tables made of milk crates and sheets of plywood? Or when you notice a dollar-store soap dish and air freshener in the guest bathroom, or a pile of laundry sitting in a corner of a family room? Maybe you're a better person than I, but I know that if I'm being honest, I do make unwarranted judgements based on what I see: ideas about the person's socio-economic status, their domestic abilities, work ethic, maturity, and parenting. It's awful that I do this, and equally awful that I am a recipient of this kind of baseless characterization too.

And yet, it is a reality that despite our best intentions not to judge, we do so anyway. We run ourselves into debt keeping up with our neighbors or trying to impress them with our nice things and big houses and fancy cars. We spruce up our abodes before guests arrive, putting out the "good towels" and "nice dishes" so that they won't know that we normally use the crappy stuff. We shove things into storage and junk drawers to make our homes seem tidy, when in reality we live in the clutter when nobody's looking. We compete when there is no prize or even a finish line in sight, and we place so much of our identity on what we have rather than who we are.

It is a vicious cycle. I'm not sure how to break it, but I do think that being aware that I am guilty of this is a good first step. Maybe next time I won't judge when I see a messy or mismatched home, and maybe I will try not to fret so much before friends come to visit. Instead of being a Martha who needs to keep up appearances, perhaps I will be a Mary instead. And rather than spread myself thin trying to make my home a glorious spectacle of Christmas cheer, I will resolve to be satisfied with simply having decorations, period. The important thing, I must remember, isn't to impress everyone else; this is a fleeting goal that I might never achieve, and that might drive me batty in the process. The better goal is to love my neighbour as myself, and humbly consider others better than I. After all, at the end of the day, I would much rather impress Jesus from within my heart than anybody else from within my four walls. Who do you seek to impress, and are they impressed yet?

She's not impressed. And note the mess of "stuff" in the background.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Star Search: Nanny Edition, Or How I Hate to Be the Boss

Can't afford this "nanny..."

... and so sad to see this one go. *sniff*

 A recent wrinkle in our plans has been our nanny's resignation, effective mid-December. Though amicable, this sad parting leaves us with a gaping void in our child-minding plans, resulting in my quest for her replacement. 

So far, I've interviewed two candidates. Although one is decidedly stronger than the other in terms of experience, both are lovely gals who have a heart for children and a gentle and respectful approach to child-rearing. The next steps involve meeting our current nanny Miss Bee and Little Loquacious. While I am hoping that these two "trial" runs will help us all easily determine my toddler's preferences and best fit, I'm not going to hold my breath. For one, both gals are coming during the normal "nap time" period, which means that if Little L is up, she might be a bit temperamental, and if she's conked out, then I won't be able to determine how much she likes the candidate. If she hates them both, then I'm back to square one.

And then there's the issue of the hiring. How does one go about saying, "Sorry, you're not the one." In reality TV, you can hand out roses or tell someone they've been "chopped," but in real life, there are feelings involved, and hopes that can be crushed. Though possibly endowed with leadership qualities, I do not take well to the position of "boss." I hate telling peers in my charge what to do, and would rather someone be good at anticipating what needs to be done and just doing it. When I had my own classroom and worked with Teaching Assistants, this was my biggest challenge: to "supervise" them and determine their tasks. I found myself best suited to TA's who had the experience and wisdom to anticipate what needed to be done and independently handle it without my having to explicitly direct their steps. (Lucky for me, I got to work with such a person for a full year - and I know you're reading this post right now, and you should totally go to bed, my friend!).  :) How am I going to break the news to the unsuccessful applicant?!

Anyway, I digress. This hiring process really really sucks, and I am not enjoying it at all. Hrmph.

What about you? If you have ever had a nanny, how did you handle doing interviews and being the "boss" to someone? What kind of insider secrets should I know about when it comes to nanny searching?


TMI Thursday


TBT: This weirdo was on a beach in Maui a month ago

That's probably not a thing, but I'm introducing it... for this week, at any rate. Because I know you care, here are a few random factoids that you probably didn't need to know about me:

1) I rarely shave my legs past my knees, because why? Only if I am going swimming or wearing something short, which is almost never, and certainly not during winter months.

2) Apparently, a lot of post-partum mommies struggle with constipation. I had no such problem, although I was very fearful of that first post-baby sh!t. And once in high school I most definitely had to go home because I was sooooo very badly constipated.

3) I shop at Dollarama and the Dollar Tree. A lot. And I think my new favourite store might be Target. I'm as low-budget as it gets :P

4) I haven't worn anti-perspirant in several years, because I'm allergic to aluminum and whatever other chemicals are in that stuff. I do wear deodorant, but it isn't nearly as effective, so if I'm stinky - now you know why.

5) I find it inexplicably satisfying to pick and pull things off of my body, or even Little L's. Like, scabs from her scalp (cradle cap) once they've loosened, or bumps on my arms, or split ends from my hair, or unsightly eyebrow hair. I'm pretty sure it would be a clinical condition if it affected my life or happened more frequently than it does, but being a parent and having so much crap to do means that these little compulsions get kept in check by the realities of life. Still, I know it's probably a little odd.

So what about you? Anything TMI to share, or am I the only freaky one here? ;)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Happy Fallowe'en, 2014


I'm pretty sure that when we left for Maui less than a month ago, it still felt like summer in these parts. Then we were treated to 3 weeks of blistering hot and humid tropical weather. When we returned, half the trees on our street had already stripped themselves bare, and we needed to wear jackets and socks with our shoes again. I guess fall arrived sometime during our absence, and now it's mere days from Hallowe'en.

Usually, this is my favourite time of year. Back to school campaigns and all of the lovely memories that it conjures would inevitably lead to the Thanksgiving displays and then Hallowe'en. From that point, it's a mad rush toward Christmas and the gloriousness of that holiday season. On most Septembers and Octobers, I'm sipping my PSL's and enjoying the beautiful warm colours and crisp air of the season.

This year, however, the entire experience was somehow pre-empted, not only by our Maui trip, but by the sudden passing of our beloved granny in September. The time that would have been spent feeling nostalgic and romantic about the season and preparing for each occasion was instead used to mourn, to plan an impromptu Edmonton trip and funeral, and to take a blessed three week getaway to paradise. I now find myself back in the season, but nowhere near prepared for the trick-or-treating festivities set for Halloween or for November's arrival.

I feel a little bit lost.

Maybe it's the grief, or perhaps just the daunting reality that we've now buried two people who were very close to us, all in the same year. Death has a way of diluting the flavours and colours from life's other experiences, watering down the excitement of this season into a tepid gray puddle of meh.

But a pumpkin awaits displaying, and a little girl eagerly anticipates a fun afternoon of trick-or-treating. Holiday gifts need to be purchased, even though I continue to insist on a "no gifts, please" policy that nobody seems to heed.

So I trudge on, my head a bit muddled and my entire self a bit numb, hoping that I will soon be able to taste the deliciousness of the season again. Some days, when the clouds gather and conceal the light, I have to push that much harder to muster my enthusiasm. Other days, feeling the warmth of sunshine on my skin, it gets easier.

And all the while, I hold on to the hope that 2015 will be better.


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