loquacious family

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Little Older, A Little Thinner

It's my birthday today, so I get to enjoy some personal time doing things that aren't the least bit parental. I took a bubble bath, had Starbucks delivered by my sweet family, and soon we are off to a play cafe (more coffee for me, and some play time for the kiddo). I will be making some cream cheese icing later today so that Hubbs and Little L can ice my cake (you know, the one I won't be eating because of carbs), but otherwise I'm washing my hands of all mundane life chores today, with the exception of doing laundry, because when am I *not* doing laundry?!

I also get to reflect on the last year, which was the first one I've had in this decade of life. You know, the season oft-referred to as middle age. I have to be honest, I don't feel like I'm in middle age, and as my numbers go up, I keep thinking that middle age is a different phase of life far, far down the road. Like, maybe it refers to people in their 50's, but it certainly doesn't refer to *me.*

Anyway, this was a turning point year for me professionally. I have been a teacher for nearly two decades on and off, since my career didn't exactly follow the usual trajectories of most educators. While there was a time when I thought I might return to the classroom full-time once Little L was a bit older, I've since reconsidered. I was introduced last year to a program called Structures of Intellect, which is actually a fairly established program that has been around for several decades. It hasn't taken off in Canada in the same way that it did in the U.S., although I think funding cuts and such have also reduced its popularity down south in recent decades. In a nutshell, SOI is a program that assesses people on their fundamental academic abilities and skills, the ones that everyone would need in order to be effective learners. Then, based on their learning profiles, certain exercises and modules are recommended to help them bolster their cognitive abilities in the areas that are underperforming. Basically, it's like brain training to help rewire the weak parts of the brain. I will probably blog further on that, especially once the website is up and I'm in full-on marketing mode, but for now, let's just say that I am taking as much training as I possibly can in this field of alternative education, and am astounded by the science that is emerging to support its effectiveness as a learning tool for remedial learners. I'm happy to say that I have found a good niche that allows me to use both of my degrees and also help kids who don't have formal learning disabilities or diagnoses, but are "falling through the cracks" of the educational system due to things like poor retention or visual processing challenges.

My hope is to set up a learning centre in the next couple of years, and to have a dedicated space where people can be assessed, work through the physical exercises as well as paper and computer modules, and find success and improvements in their cognitive function. This past year was when I was given clarity and direction into my career, so I am thankful that God is opening up a door for me to take this less-trodden path.

My 40th year also set me on a road towards a healthier me. The low-carb diet that I started to follow in October has proven to be fairly easy to incorporate into my life, and I have responded well to it. I've only lost 26 pounds so far, and am kind of at a plateau at the moment because I haven't prioritized clean eating during my birthday/Vday month. However, I'm back on the wagon tomorrow, because while I'm down about 2 clothing sizes, I'm still nowhere near my goal yet. The great thing, though, is that a host of crappy health issues I had before are no longer issues! That's huge in my books, since I plan to live long enough to watch my kiddo walk down the aisle one day several decades from now!

Finally, being 40 (now 41) has also meant that I no longer have an F's to give. The trappings of self-consciousness and people-pleasing that may have influenced my choices in my twenties, and even my thirties, have all but dissipated. I'm finding a more authentic, more confident me as a result, and I'm feeling more at peace with my ideas and beliefs and the crazy world around me.

I am so thankful, too, that God has given me the most patient and amazing man to grow old with. I'm forever grateful that the man the Lord chose for me is really truly my perfect match. For my birthday this year, he wrote me a poem, which I have his permission to share on here. It's all rights reserved, though (so he tells me), so please don't plagiarize.

Grow old with me
As our hair turns shades of gray,
With the passing of each day
As I get lines from smiles
And grinning at your wiles.

Grow old with me, 
As that hair fades into white,
As the day sets into night
As our girl goes from five to ten
And then twenty years again.

Grow old with me,
As we look upon amazed
At the woman that we have raised
Who now has children of her own,
And grows her family and a home.

Grow old with me,
So we can walk along the shore,
Recall adventures held before,
And I'll thank the Lord for all the time
That I've been yours and you've been mine.

Grow old with me,
And if you get confused and say
"What day is it today?"
I will smile at you and boast
"It's the day I love you the most."

Grow old with me
Until there's no sight left to see
Until there's no place left to be
Except with the One who is above,
The One who taught us how to love.

Grow old with me
Because you know, I love you so...

Grow old with me,
Until there's no more old to grow.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Outgrow. Outlast. - The Finale of Our BF Journey

To be completely honest, I almost didn't write this post. While I'm usually fairly open about my opinions and parenting choices, I've held this one pretty close to the vest in recent years, because it is a more controversial - and personal- decision than most others. Sadly, it is one that many Western mothers are also unfairly judged for, despite it being completely natural in many other parts of our world.

The choice: full-term, aka "extended," breastfeeding. Little L and I chose to continue our nursing journey beyond age 2, and 3, and even 4. In fact, we only weaned a couple of weeks ago. We had already stopped nursing in public and nursing on demand several years earlier, but it was only recently that Little L was ready to completely wean from her nighttime and early morning sessions; she had finally outgrown her need to drink from my milk. The most clear signs of this were her growing desire for "privacy" and alone time, and her "nye-nye" sessions getting shorter and shorter. Sometimes the total duration was a minute. I think my milk production was also slowing down, although Little L claims that I was still producing sweet, yummy nye-nye

It was certainly a marathon for us, though; I outlasted everyone I know in the breastfeeding department, and continued even longer than I had initially planned. However, I chose to wean on Little L's schedule for a few reasons, including attachment, immunity and health. My little girl, whose anxiety at times is off-the-charts, found great solace from nursing, so I didn't see the need or value in removing this coping mechanism at a time when she didn't have very many other ways to handle her big feelings. 

That's not to say that we didn't attempt weaning much earlier on in her childhood. Every birthday that passed, and every quarter year, we initiated the discussion and tried to reduce the frequency or duration of her nursing sessions. It was always met not only with tears, but a tremendous grief and anxiety that we sensed was borne out of not feeling ready for that kind of separation. Originally, we had hoped to set the hard limit at age 4, but when she came down with the stomach flu while we were in Palm Springs that Christmas, nursing was her single most effective method of keeping hydrated and recovering quickly, so our plans were postponed indefinitely.

Before you think this is an incredibly freakish or unnatural process, though, let me tell you that the natural/biological age range for humans to wean is somewhere between 2.5 and 7 years of age. So, technically, we aren't too far off the mark in that we fall smack dab in the middle of this range, although I am keenly aware that Western practices tend towards a much younger weaning age than some other cultures. My suspicion is that there are some moms out there who would have preferred to breastfeed for longer, but were prevented from doing so because of subsequent pregnancies, health issues, work, social pressure, or life circumstances. There is also probably a population of mommas like me who simply stop talking about breastfeeding after the "common Western weaning ages" come to pass; the stigma and criticism that oft-accompanies such a decision to continue is enough to drive moms "underground." So yes, while I would say that a majority of Canadian mommas probably weaned their babes well before age 2 (and in some cases, never breastfed at all), I would like to suggest that there are other populations of moms out there who also believe that "fed is best," no matter what form that takes.

I'm putting this blog out there for the sake of that small population of mothers who may be wondering if they're the only weirdos who are still nursing their kids. You're not alone. Honestly, you're not. And while nobody else around you may be breastfeeding their preschoolers, it is one of those decisions that is entirely up to you, and doesn't diminish your judgement or your worth (nor increase it) as a parent whether you have chosen to full-term breastfeed or not. It's okay to outgrow nursing at any age, and it's also okay to outlast everyone else when it comes to breastfeeding. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Creature of Habit - Shoe Edition

I just pressed send on my most recent online order for Little L: two pairs of Pedipeds in larger sizes in anticipation of her feet growing again. She has outgrown nearly every pair of her shoes, versus having worn any of them out. Her hands and feet are, IMHO, unusually large. 

This is probably the 20th pair of Pedipeds I've bought for her in the past four years. She didn't need them for the first non-mobile year of her life, but when she finally figured out her steps, I was desperate for some good shoes for developing walkers. I mean, she wasn't very stable back then, so I needed to get something that would support her as she figured out how to walk and run; this kid has my piss-poor coordination genetics, after all. That is where the Pediped habit began. 

Since 2013, I've kind of stuck with this company despite not really needing to. I mean, Little L's current favourite shoes are her rubber boots from Superstore, which make her feet smell like pungent pickles. Her most recent Pedipeds, a gorgeous pair of suede ankle boots, have remained largely unworn due to her preference for some random other boots I ordered off Zulily (which, incidentally, are beyond cheap and may very well be the first pair of her shoes to ever fall apart on her). 

So why the heck do I keep paying the big bucks for Pedipeds when my kid is completely okay wearing no name brands?! 

I am a sucker, a creature of habit and predictability. That is the only conclusion I can come to. It is easy to order from the same company because they always use the same sizing system, so you know that if your kid has outgrown 29, she probably needs a 30. For online purchases, this offers some peace of mind and saves me the time of having to return a pair that doesn't quite fit because its sizing is different or it just isn't wide enough. 

Also, I have guilt about her wearing non-ergonomic shoes. The ones we purchase tend to have the support she would need for good posture when she walks, versus some of the cheaper alternatives out there with zero in-sole or arch support. I'm honesty not even sure if this makes a big difference or not, but the part of me that is all about comfort over couture and function over fashion likes that I can have both with this brand. 

Anyway, I've heard amazing things about Stride-Rites, and I'm sure as Little L gets older and starts caring more about footwear, we will be forced to commit our hard-earned dollars to other overpriced brands. Until then, however, I plan to order Pedipeds (on sale, of course) because it makes one aspect of this crazy parenting adventure just a little easier. 

Do you have any brand loyalty for your kids' stuff? What are theirs (and your) favourite brands of shoes?

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

(S)P(l)urge - The Book Dilemma

As you know, I've been Konmari-ing my home for the past year and a half. Old clothes and shoes are being sold or donated, clutter is being cleaned up, toys are being Varage'ed and the whole goal has been to purge excess and try to simplify our stuff. You know, in case we ever move again;

Fewer boxes = easier, cheaper, and faster move.

Anyway, I'm getting to be pretty adept at this purging business. However, there is one area that has been a very fatal weakness for me: books. Specifically, Little L's books. I'm a bibliophile at heart, and I have been amassing a fairly decent library of books for my girl since before she was even born. Add to that Hubbs' collections of books from his own childhood days, as well as birthday and Christmas gifts that tend towards beautiful hardcovers, and the collection grows quickly. I'm also a sucker for cheap books, so whenever the Scholastic flyer comes a-callin', I answer with an order, even if it is just a minimal one. And then there are my completionist tendencies; it just seems wrong to have only *one* or two of a series, when you can have the whole set. Currently, our Little L book count is somewhere in the 300's, if my estimates are correct. I dare not count, but judging by the pics (and the full bin of Mr. Men/Little Miss books, plus the two-row-deep shelves in some cases), I'd say that is a pretty fair estimate.

Books are heavy though, and also space-eaters. They take up room and they also get dog-eared and worn out, particularly if they are paperbacks and printed by Scholastic. Some of our books have seen better days, and are currently bound together by an intricate web of packing tape that speaks to my prowess as a former library page and book mender. But I can't bear to throw any of them out, or sell them.

Because they have sentimental value to Hubbs.

Because they are still being read by Little L.

Because they are part of a set that is beloved by the whole family.

Because they would be too costly to replace if we ever needed to get them back.

Because they're quality children's literature, and/or a Newbery or other literature award winner.

Because they've been signed by an author.

Because they were a gift from someone special.


Now don't get me wrong; I've already gotten rid of a good number of board books or duplicates. Little L and I periodically sift through her library and make keep/donate piles. For the most part, the donated ones aren't usually missed when they're gone.

However, my kid is a bit of a packrat and has an amazing memory. She will sometimes ask for books that haven't been read in over a year. Her attachment to certain titles make it impossible to covertly purge them without my feeling immensely guilty.

And if I'm being honest, I am a bit of a packrat too when it comes to our books. I love children's literature, and I am not quick to part with titles either. Hubbs is a bit more ruthless, but even he has second thoughts about donating some of the books we've kept from his or Little L's early childhood.

So what is a girl to do? At the rate that I'm going, our book count will definitely hit 400 by the end of the year. I will continue to do the quarterly inventory with my little bookworm, but if our track record is any indication, she only relents on about 15 titles at any given purge. Those same 15, and more, are quickly replaced within the quarter, thanks to Chapters-Indigo, Scholastic, and Costco.

While I'm hopeful that a day will come when the Little Piggie Boynton book set can be sold, or she has moved on from the crappy paperback stories we've ordered from Scholastic (half of them are kind of duds), that doesn't seem to be the case anytime soon. We are running out of bookshelf space!! Please send help...or more bookshelves.

How do you decide which titles to keep or to get rid of? What's your bookcase situation?

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Monday, January 16, 2017

OnAnOff Buddyphones - a Review

**(I composed this post almost a month ago, but due to recent events with our extended family, the publish button didn't get hit until now).**

We accidentally stumbled upon some awesome kiddo headphones recently. After arriving at the airport for our Christmas flight, we discovered that we had forgotten to pack Little L's Panasonic headphones. She had taken them out of the Stella & Dot Getaway (my fave travel bag) earlier, and I had forgotten to put them back.

Anyway, we ended up at the airport electronics store, desperate for a quick replacement. Originally, I would have opted for the cheapest pair possible, but who are we kidding? Airport mark-ups are insane, so it was a better value to get the good ones since either way, we'd be paying out the wazoo for them.

They had a huge selection of OnAnOff Buddyphones headphones in a multitude of colours. I grabbed a fuschia pair, which set me back $75 after tax, and promptly removed the packaging to get them flight-ready.

Now that we have used them for a bit, I'm so glad we splurged on these headphones. They have three volume settings, including a child-safe airplane mode, which is important because the in-flight ambient noise renders most kid headphones virtually inaudible. In the case of these ones, there is also a volume control switch on the cords, and a jack spliced so that multiple kids (with additional headphones) can listen in and watch the same videos together without bothering the grumpy old lady seated behind you. The headphones also come with name labels in different colours, so that these rather pricey headsets don't get lost or confused with another kid's. And the headband part is soooo soft; it is by far the cushiest pair I've encountered in the 5 pairs that Little L has owned.

So yes, this was an investment (thank you Nana and YeYe for the Christmas gift!), and an impulsive purchase borne out of an immediate need, but we don't regret it one bit!
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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Good Grief

Sitting on our bookshelf is a Charlie Brown Christmas book that Little L received from her Nana for Christmas a few years ago. What makes this book extra super special is that it forever preserves Nana's voice as she reads the story. When you turn the page, some transitional music plays and then you can hear Nana narrating the classic tale of Charlie Brown's search for the true meaning of Christmas. 

This is our second copy of the book. Little L read and reread the first one so often as a toddler that it came off its spine and no longer played the correct page when you opened it up. Nana and YeYe searched high and low to secure a second copy for their first grandbaby; I suspect they were secretly delighted both by her love of reading and also by her enthusiasm for their personalized gift.

Anyway, when I open the book now, and hear Nana's expressive retelling of the story, it seems particularly poignant because it points out focus to what really matters at Christmastime - Jesus Christ, God Incarnate who came to deliver mankind from sin and give us the hope of eternity. It is especially meaningful, too, that it was right after the Christmas season that she surrendered her spirit to Jesus. We are filled with good grief, because we know the hope found in Christ, but we also have a sorrowful grief, since her fairly sudden departure leaves us with an unspeakable void. 

My sadness is like Swiss cheese with all the holes; some are hidden from view deep within me, while others appear as giant ugly cry craters on my surface. And much like my grief over my Dad, the things that I tend to miss most are the smallest things that capture the essence of who Mom was. I miss her expressions when she would savour that first bite of some delicious meal; she would close her eyes, smile, and make this mm-mm-mmmm sound while simultaneously wiggling in her seat to reveal her satisfaction and delight. Or the way she would break into a boogie in celebration over the little and the big things, or when a favourite song would come on the radio. I cherish that moment when her eyes widened and filled with happy tears at the realization that she was going to be a Nana for the first time. I miss my shopping buddy; we were unstoppable at Christmas markets and also at Winners. I long to hear one more laugh, clap, and conspiratorial whisper in my ear, "Oh, you SO get me!" To sit with her at the slots and feed one more $20 into the machine just for the heck of it. To taste her culinary skills crafting her trademark linguine and clam sauce again, which she made often because she knew it was a favourite of ours. To even have her correct the way I loaded cutlery into her fancy dishwasher or stacked her pots for storage. Oh, to have my second Mom again! I am undone.

Grief comes in waves for me. I usually hold together fairly stoically, and then melt in an emotional heap when I randomly come across a "Mom thing". I won't be sad until I am, and then the sorrow at yet another loss to the devil's plague - cancer - will unravel me like a cheap sweater. 

But grief is healthy and good, too; it reminds us to celebrate a life well lived and offers us a challenge to go forth and live fully while we can. And Mom lived well; her days were full and so was her heart. Her love and her positivity will be missed, but our farewell is only temporary. We will meet again one day, God-willing. 

Until then, Mom, I'll remember to do a happy dance every time I remember you. ❤️
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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fab Fit Fun - Winter 2016/2017 Editor's Box

I did it. I splurged and subscribed myself for a FabFitFun box. I'm no C-list celebrity but I've seen the ads on FB and IG and I knew I wanted my own box, and I even taped my unboxing:

Sorry the light and audio were suspect; my kid was napping and I was so excited I didn't even bother to find a well-lit location (or fix my ghetto make-up). 

The items in my box were:

An engraved Jook & Nona necklace ("happy") - $65
Zoya 5-free nude nail polish - $10
Marrakesh Argan & Hemp hair serum - $23
Anderson Lilley Winter in Manhattan Beach Beach Butter body cream - $24
Good Morning Gorgeous! Coffee mug - the Created Co. $19
FabFitFun penci crayons and colouring book - $14
Modcloth Lock and Key blanket scarf - $35
Manna Kadar lip gloss stain in Lucky - $24
O.R.G. skincare mineral peel for face - $44

Total retail value: $258USD
Paid: $39.99USD + shipping

Verdict: totally worth it! I can't wait for my spring box, although I'm not a preferred member and so I won't get mine shipped out early. I also wasn't comp'ed for this glowing review, although I'm shamelessly open to swag! 😘

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