Sunday, February 24, 2013

So Many Blogs

I've been keeping an eye on the Circle of Moms site for a couple years now. I read and answer questions. I scroll through the cookbook, though have yet to add any of my own recipes. I participated in the Top 25 Canadian Mom Blogs contest in 2011, and came 22nd I believe. I kept tabs on other Top 25's that I might participate in. And then I found the Single Mom Blogs contest and read through last years winners and thought, this is something I feel 'qualified' for.
So I stuck my name in for this year's, hoping to make it into the 25, never thinking it would go to top 10 and laughing at the notion of being in the top 5.

And now here I sit, flipping between spot number 4 and 5 and comparing 'little old me' to the rest of the amazing blogs on this list.
For starters, this contest is WORLD WIDE. Most of the participants are from the US. A handful from the UK. Some from Australia and the Middle East. And, as far as I can tell, only three from Canada. Those three blogs currently sit in 3rd, 4th, and 5th place.

I've read the main page and hunted for the author's bio on every single blog up to 55 (there are 71 now, more than when I was creeping people). I've found people from every walk of life....well-off and struggling, East and West, religious and not, people who love Doctor Who as much as I do, people with food allergies, people who are vegan, people who promote local beef, blogs that are very commercial and blogs that are very personal.
So many blogs.

It's strange and I guess a little comforting that there are so many people out there with the same day to day issues as you. And the ones on this list are just the ones who knew about the contest. I'm sure there are hundreds more.

So, thanks for helping me be a part of this. It's awesome to meet (creep on?) all these blogs I never would have known otherwise. If you have the time, read through a few!

5 days left to vote

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Trick Kids into Thinking You're Playing With Them, When Really You're Just Lazy.

How to Trick Kids into Thinking You're Playing With Them, When Really You're Just Lazy.

1. Over-Enthusiasm. 
"Mom let's have a race!"
"OK! Let's see how fast you can run to the end of the yard and back, and I'll time you, GO!!!"
*Cheer them on and repeat praises and starting lines as many times as you can until they either catch on or go do something else*

"Mom, let's build a HUUUUGE block tower"
"YEAH! Ok, show me how we should start!"
*Let them do the project on their own as long as you can stretch it. Maybe even dare to close your eyes for two minutes*

2. Self-Benefiting Logic.
"Mom, you have to STAND to throw the ball"
"Yeah but when I'm sitting I'm the same height as you, so it makes it easier to aim right?"

"Mom climb up as high as me!"
*Stand and reach to where they are*

3. Verbal Acknowledgement. 
Lots of "Wow!" and "MMhhM!" and "Oh No!" and "Amazing!", even if you're sleeping on the couch at the time.

"Mom, open your eyes!"
"Yep they are"

"Here mom, have some hippo soup"
"Om nom nom, yummy!"
*Eyes still closed, didn't move*

"Did you see that!"
"Sure did! Pretty awesome!"
*Eyes still closed, didn't move.*

4. Encouraging Independence.
 "Mom, can you get all the sand toys set up?"
"You know where they are! Can you find them? Then you can choose which ones you want."
*Grab a 30 second power nap*

"Mom, get out of bed, I"m hungry"
"You know where the apples are, you can go grab one. I'm coming"
*Cover head with blankets and hope that they'll intercept someone else in the house to divert attention from the fact that you haven't moved*


One week left to vote for my blog in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Single Mom blogs of 2013!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Choosing to be an 'Attached Parent' is both the easiest and hardest thing I've decided to do. Along the same lines as when I say brestfeeding was both the best and worst thing I've ever experienced. You keep telling yourself there's a reason why this is good... why this is better... but you don't see it until months or years later.

Attachment Parenting can seem daunting to someone without kids, and even I scoffed at several things before having Toby. What it comes down to is survival. And being alone, survival and sleep were things I cared about more than whether I was doing things 'by the book'.

I initially had no intentions of co-sleeping, but after a week of turning on the light, sitting up, getting up, lifting a 9 lb weight out of the cradle, and then fumbling to nurse, I just said 'screw it' and made a space beside me where I could just roll over to feed in the middle of the night.
Lying down. Sleeping. Lights off. Good.

I was wishy washy about breastfeeding, and had a hard time getting Toby started. I wanted to pump and fill bottles. I didn't want to be in pain. But then suddenly it was ok. And then it became easy. And then I couldn't imagine needing to prepare, heat or clean bottles all the time. He nursed on demand and I let him because it was easier than listening to the crying.

I was always kinda into baby wearing, but I didn't know it was a 'thing' until I started talking to other moms. I didn't know anything about the world of slings. I didn't know I'd become so passionate about it.

And while everything for ME was going well enough, you still get the comments....comments about how meeting his every need is spoiling him, and how he needs to be on a schedule in order to cope with life later on, and how I'd better kick him out of the bed before he's two, or he'll never want to leave.

The problem is, especially when you're single I think, you start to believe all that. You're doing it differently, you're acting out of desperation, so you're wrong. You can't just leave your baby with your parents for a weekend to have some personal time, so that means you're allowing your child to manipulate and control you. Even living with my parents and having my mom assure me that I had nothing to worry about, it's still not the same as having someone your own age to bounce your worries off of. I felt guilty for having personal time, but also felt guilt for myself when I spent too much time 'parenting'. After your 2-year-old waking up to nurse for the 4th time that night, you start to hate what you've done and wish it was different.

Toby was (is) shy and clingy and hated loud places and large groups. He never crawled more than a few feet away before either coming back or screaming for me to follow. For a long time I believed that this was my fault because I didn't take him to more play groups and force him to have time away from me. He screamed in the car, he screamed at nap time, he screamed when we got dressed. And again, I felt this was my fault because I 'gave in' too much to him and didn't just make him get used to 'sucking it up'.
It was 'my fault' he was cranky and demanding because I spent my pregnancy being depressed, and although I ate healthy, I should have done more. He would have been a happier baby if I was a happier person. He would like people better if I had cared enough to expose him at a young age.
But then at home most of the time he was downright lively. Curious, smart, funny, inquisitive, learning words early and speaking clearly long before others his age.
So maybe I was doing something right....right?

I have just started reading the book Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. The tag line is "A guide for parents whose child is more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent and energetic".
I'm only three chapters in, and a lot of it is stuff I already 'know' through personal experience and drawing my own conclusions, but seeing it all laid out in nice neat little headers and sections, and reading stories of other parents is just so relieving. One of the first lines of the book mentions how her son would have a 45 minute tantrum when his toast was cut into triangles but he was expecting squares. It talks about how some kids seem more stand offish and some are permanently wired.
Everything I'm reading is 'Toby'. Everything I'm reading says it's not the parent's fault. You didn't make your child hate baths and clothing. You didn't make your child moody and shy. They're born with a temperament and can have a range of characteristics therein that make them especially intense or perceptive or sensitive. You can't change them, so learn from them.
Reading this book is like getting a warm hug after a crappy day.

I could go on more about the book, but I'll be writing forever if I do.

What the book is really doing for me (even though I'm only 3 chapters in) is reaffirming things I already believed.
Working WITH your kids gets you further than trying to tell them what to do or turn them into your idea of how they should react or behave.
Respecting your child's feelings will in turn get them to talk to you and treat you with respect. You can't demand something you don't set an example for.
Getting your kids to put their energy into helping you, instead of trying to make them sit quiet and stay out of the way, will benefit both sides of the relationship and help enforce responsibility without it being a lecture.
Listen to your kids. Listen to what they want and what they're saying and try to take them seriously if you want them to take you seriously.

Obviously different things work for different kids and families, but attachment parenting is what we both needed here. It was hard. I hated a lot of it. But now, there's not much I would change.

Toby is becoming ore outgoing and friendly each time we go out, because he is sure of himself, because I helped him feel like that.
He sleeps through the night, in his own bed, because I helped him through his extended period of being insecure.
He gave up nursing and toilet trained with very little fight, because I didn't force him too early, and understood when we had the odd 'backtrack day'.
He's articulate and clever and asks questions way beyond what a 4 year old should care about, because I talk to him about things beyond what a 4 year old should care about.

Every kid is different. Some kids will be comforted by a 'shush' and a warm hand in the middle of the night, and other kids need to fulfill their vampiric need to nurse or they will work themselves into a panicked rage. There's nothing you can do about it but be understanding.
Some kids thrive in organized sports, other kids decide you're not their friend anymore because you suggested they kick the soccer ball with the inside of their foot and not their toe.
Some kids only want to eat pasta and crackers. Other kids will eat anything, but heaven forbid you only have the stick kind of pretzel when they were expecting the knotted kind.
It usually has very little to do with them 'trying' to be bratty, and more to do with them trying to figure out the world and getting mad when things don't go how they expected them to. It's confusing and overwhelming and  there is this group of 'Spirited' kids who need a little extra parenting and understanding along the way.

Listening to your child is never spoiling them. Loving them is never spoiling them. Holding them when they cry is never spoiling them. Comforting them, whether it be nursing or sleeping in your bed, is never spoiling them.
Having a 'Spirited Child' can be more exhausting (mentally and physically) on parents, especially when you're the only one, but that just means that the pay-off is more rewarding.

For the benefit of those who don't follow this blog through facebook, I'm entered in the Top 25 Single Mom Blogs of 2013 on Circle of Moms.
If you'd like to vote, you can do so once per day until the end of February!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Day in the Life


-Baths (though didn't think to photo document that early in the morning)

-Fulfull request to make play dough, even though we made some yesterday and we haven't had breakfast.

-Finally, Toby's breakfast

 -Tv snack an hour later

 -Serious construction business 

-Leftover soup for lunch

-Venturing into the frigid blindingness of the day

-Grumpy cat 1

 -Grumpy cat 2

-Shoveling the path with the smallest shovel in the entrance way....

-Icicle snack

 - Shoveling off the deck

 - Snow swinging

 -Grumpy cat 3

 - Mood stomp back to the house after mom dared to suggest that the flying saucer path was getting too slippery to be starting from the very tip top of the hill since mom just crashed into the fence and really hurt her elbow. 

-Releasing grump on play dough pile (though NOT the batch that mom was requested to make a few hours before) while mom does dishes.

 -Making chocolate pudding

-Popcorn snack and TV break...

 -To watch Best Recipes Ever..

-And Stefano Faita

-Making an Olympic sport out of slide bumping down the stairs

 -Dinner, with a side of traffic jam.

-Pasta crab salad!

-Reading with Grampa.....and mom slips away to hide....

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Food For All

I've recently been following the blog of a friend who was doing a food bank challenge, Do The Math  <<-- read up for more accurate information than I'm sure I'm going to provide...on a bit of a rage rant...

The challenge was to live off the 'menu' of what would typically be in a food bank box given to those who can't afford regular grocery trips, for one week.
Her daily blog through this experience is humerous and eye opening. <<-- go back to the first post and read onwards for the full story of how it all went down.

The overall conclusion, and what becomes very apparent while reading the accounts of the week, was that there is not enough food or nutrition being provided in these boxes. We all hear the ads at Christmas and Thanksgiving to donate food, but often the rest of the year we forget.
What upsets me is the realization of what people are donating. Pudding cups, canned beans and chocolate bars are not ANYTHING that someone living on a limited budget NEEDS. Yes, the food items need to be non-perishable, but then let's donate a box of whole grain rice, and not rice-a-roni.

The part that hits me is that nothing in this box are foods Toby and I can eat. What happens if you or your child have food intolerances or allergies? You can't just ask for the gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free box, because that's not the type of stuff people donate, and it certainly isn't anything some people can afford.
 And it may well be that some people may not even know they have these intolerances, and so continue to eat bad food and feel sick and not be able to work. Kids are being misdiagnosed with ADD, which has commonly been linked back to a gluten intolerance or over sugaring.

Maybe that example is drastic, but the point is, there is little to no option when it comes to accepting food boxes. You either take it and eat it, or you (and your kids) starve.

If I didn't have the support of my family as far as a place to live and a safety net for when I can't afford groceries, I would most certainly be needing to use a food bank.
And that terrifies me.
It's not just middle aged 'bums' who use soup kitchens and food banks, it's people with families and small children who've lost their jobs suddenly. It's single parents who can barely keep a place to live, let alone healthy food on the table. And yet any talk of raising the amounts for government support for these people is 'abusing the system' and 'sucking more money out of tax payers'.
How are you supposed to afford a warm room and healthy food when your monthly expenses exceed the amount of income you earn?

Everyone talks about the hunger problem and the homeless problem, so why isn't anything (visibly) being done?
Why are community gardens being ripped up with no compromise? Why is it illegal in most places to plant edible plants where your lawn should be?

Wouldn't it be great if, instead of arguing ad nauseam about where the new swimming pool in town should be plunked or spending absurd amounts of money on non-art art outside the local library, we took those funds and bought one of the many vacant buildings scattered about and started a hydroponic year-round garden that's sole purpose is to go to the families and individuals using the food bank.
Fresh food. Year round.
Vitamins and nutrients that people desperately need, but maybe don't know they do because they just don't KNOW and have better things to worry about. Like a clean place to live. And clothes for their kids.

It sickens me that baby formula is one of the top donation 'asks', when breast milk is FREE. What if new moms were more educated in the benefits of breast milk, and didn't feel like they were being forced back to work after three months in order to have the money to just feed and house themselves.
But then again maybe the formula really does have more nutrients if the parent is living on flavoured oatmeal, chocolate pudding and KD....

I'm sure it's been said a bajillion times, but can't we DO Anything?? Not just in the way of donating more, but donating BETTER and SMARTER options for the food baskets??

The problem is so overwhelmingly impossibly huge.... But maybe, like the Do The Math Challenge, awareness is the beginning of a solution.