Thursday, May 31, 2012

Full Disclosure-my baby's not sleeping and I'm losing my mind!

Don't let that cuteness fool you-he's a sleep evading mastermind!

In the interest of full disclosure, and the fact that I can't abide bragging about a "perfect" baby, I'm telling anyone and everyone that my baby has decided sleep is for suckers.

Remember my post a couple weeks back where I extolled the virtues of the Baby Whisperer?? Well, I've been (mostly) following her guidelines with little baby numero quatro, aka Max, for the past 5 months since he's been born. And he's been a great sleeper since birth-going to bed for the night around 9, waking up once during the night to nurse, waking at about 5 when I would just capitulate and nurse him in bed until I woke up for the other bambinos about 3 hours later! I know full well that this 5 am nursing in bed till I feel like rolling out of bed because its easy stuff is going to get me into lots of trouble. I'm also starting to hit the wall I hit with each of my kids: this only getting a max of 4 consecutive hours of sleep stuff is growing old and I'm growing cranky. So I thought we'd start sleep training a little more attentively.

My goal was to encourage a little more sleeping before he would wake to nurse during the night in hopes that he would then sleep a little later than 5 which would then let me dial back the breakfast in bed. Now, I swear he knows what I'm doing and has now adjusted his schedule to wake every. 2. hours.

Not only every. 2. hours. but every. 2. hours. with screaming involved! Its very unlike him, and while I think some of it can be attributed to teething I can't help but think he's trying to foil my elaborate sleep training plans! So I've gone a couple nights now waking every. 2. hours. and not getting much sleep. What little mental equilibrium I had has now been shattered. I'm totally freaking out, crying, raging, swearing at all hours of the night because of no sleep. I can't believe I'm still freaking out, raging, etc. when this has been my least frustrating sleeper, and my fourth kid for crying out loud!?! Aren't mothers of lots of kids holy by this point??

So I know each of my kids has gone through a really crappy sleep stage, where I literally think I'm going to throw myself out of a window, and that with a little consistency and less freaking out on my part my baby gradually mellows and things get better. Its just the process that sucks. The Baby Whisperer has great tips, and I know they work, but getting there and implementing them sucks.

I've also come to the conclusion that there is no patron saint of getting your kids to sleep through the night, because no one has made it through unscathed and in a need of a confessor the next morning!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Some inspiration for me this morning...

“I think the world today is upside down. Everybody seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches and so on. There is much suffering because there is so very little love in homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.”

~Blessed Teresa of Calcutta~

(Blessed Teresa of Calcutta pray for us-and me who has a child who wants me to make time for him every two hours during the night for upwards of an hour and a half at a time, who thinks its daytime at 4:30 am because thats when the sun starts coming up! Blessed Teresa drank a lot of coffee right?? Very caffeinated Indian tea??)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Date night at home and a small visitor

Saturday evening was beautiful. It was a gorgeous spring night, the breeze of the day had died down and all that was left was a gorgeous orange sun going down and the sweet smells of spring. We had to take advantage of this not-so-frequent evening perfection. So after we had all the kidlets tucked in the husband decided to start up a little campfire in the fire pit behind our house and I would bring the alcohol.

Just as we were lighting up the fire I look across the fence separating our "yard" from a cow pasture and see a small furry rodent gambling along. My first thought was it was another wood chuck who made a surprise visit around this time last year, but then my astute husband ventured the guess of beaver which at first I completely couldn't believe, as we live nowhere near a large enough body of water to support such a creature. But here he was! 

I've never seen a beaver this close before. And for a rodent I have to say he wasn't too revolting. 

His movement on dry land is seriously limited. He basically waddled. It was kinda hilarious to follow a beaver down the road.

Check out those bizarre feet?! 
He also slapped his tail on the ground as my husband approached for this picture. Not as loud as when they do it on water, but still fairly intimidating.

And here he is walking off into the sunset. Or down the hill behind my parents house to a small pond. He was still there yesterday, but we assume he'll move on to greener bodies of water soon.

Having your little outdoor date night interrupted by a beaver is totally normal right??!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

7 Quick Takes vol. 15

Make sure to head to the lovely Jen's for the real thing!


Yesterday was one of my favourite days of spring; buying flowers day!
Seriously, its the last weekend of May, and we can barely put plants outside, but it feels so good to go out and pick lots of fun pretty flowers. Luckily for my husband we only have some pots and containers for the deck. Once we have our own house and I can go crazy on making some flower beds he'll really regret the old greenhouse bill.


It makes me laugh every year at just how ridiculous we Canadians are. At least up here in Alberta, we have about a three month window where we can keep flowers alive outdoors. 3 Months!! But greenhouses are consistently swamped come the first of May. We will not spare any expense in finding just a little bit of flowering plant life to brighten a quarter of our year! It seems both sad and hilarious.


So although the three amigos had fun at the greenhouse, and remained pretty well behaved through all the errands I had to run, I can't help but feel when I'm out in public as if I'm constantly telling the kids what to do. I feel that way, well, because that's pretty much what I'm doing when we go into a store. I probably say, "Don't touch that please!" about 30 times per minute. But then when I think about their ages, and the fact there is three of them, I'm probably only telling each child to not touch things a couple times, which is probably totally normal right?? I have this fear of becoming a giant nag.


In the category of going out with your offspring, please go read Brianna's beautiful post of moms witnessing to others when out with their children. This is a great post that, as usual with Brianna, I wish I could have written. I love how she writes that sometimes she doesn't want to tell everyone that she's living a total counter-cultural life. I have to admit that yesterday I didn't tell several people who commented on the closeness of age between my kids that I had a 4 month old baby at Grandma's. 


I've been ruminating a little this week on kids stages again. This time in regards to my little Dominic who is 3 and a half, an undisputed age of rebellion and general crotchetiness. I'm scared that this may be his personality! And although I know his personality definitely has leanings towards control, determination, and keeping ones toys to oneselfness, I also know that these child stages influence their crazy behaviour a lot. So I feel like I'm beginning to get the hang of understanding how a kid's personality comes out in good and bad ways during their different stages. 

Then of course I thought, gee whiz-is that how God sees us as we're (hopefully) growing in holiness? Do we go through stages where our personalities tend to drag us towards particular sins? Do we outgrow things spiritually as we mature in prayer and grace? I'm sure God the Father is much more merciful in understanding than I am towards my kids even when I try really hard. But I find it a nice picture to think of God seeing us in different stages and knowing our personalties inside out and trying to help us grow. Maybe one day I'll actually write up a decent post about this.


So I'm going to be gleefully planting my flowers this weekend and upholstering some toddler beds the hubby built. He doubts very much my ability to even upholster a rectangular box, but I countered with the  clever retort of "Hey, I've read loads of blogs where they upholster s***!!"


And watch out for some instagrams of rhubarb! We've got tons and I've gotta start baking! Rhubarb. You kinda have to love it because its so strange, no?

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

cute dress moment everyone!

Just wanted to publicly profess my love for this dress! 
Yes, we can all thank J.Crew for another perfect specimen of cuteness. 
And should I start a countdown clock till June 7 and the opening of a J.Crew a mere 2 hours from my house??

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

rainy day

We're having a  rainy day over here. Not just metaphorically either. Real honest-to-goodness rain is falling from the sky, even though it feels cold enough for it to be coming down as snowflakes! But rainy days usually make me happy as they're a rarity here in (mostly)sunny Alberta. 

Of course it looks neither so romantic or urban out my window-but green and dampish. 

Our birthday weekend extravaganza was a success! Gemma got loads of prezzies which in turn caused Dominic to become almost catatonic with jealousy, which in turn made Paul and I a bit miserable from constantly trying to stop him from taking out the jealousies out on other party-goers. You know what's a hard thing to do? Teaching people to have joy in other people's joy. I'm sure God deals with that problem a lot. 

And now today, after several pots of coffee, and being named official chief search and rescue consultant over each and every toy ever owned by 3 different whining people, I decided that coffee was not enough and extra long naps were in order. So I'm blissfully enjoying me few minutes of whine-free goodness blogging away when I should be finding something for my husband to eat should he decide to come home to casa whine. Why don't men like goat cheese and crackers as their main meal of the day??

Friday, May 18, 2012

its a birthday weekend around here...

Its my first little baby's 5th birthday tomorrow! How did this happen so fast?! How did that little peanut grow up to be 5 in a blink of an eye?

I feel so old. I've been a mom for 5 years? It seems hard to believe, it feels like I haven't been a mom for more than two days and on the other hand I can't remember a time when I wasn't! 

So tomorrow we'll have cupcakes and watch her sweet little face light up as she opens presents. She has a great love of prezzies, and life, and dancing, and singing, and running, and basically is a swell person to be around, she deserves a fun 5th birthday!

 Then Sunday is my birthday...thats right...for my 22nd birthday I decided the best gift I could give myself would be to go into 34 hours of labor two days earlier...luckily a really cute baby came of it or else I woulda sued to get my birthday money back! Man, its been 5 years, you'd think I'd be over THAT labor story by now...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Secret Cardinal by Tom Grace

Who's in the mood for a Tom Clancy-esque spy thriller with a Catholic plot line??!!

What's that you say?? Definitely not the crazy girl who writes this blog and reads books only written by women who lived two centuries ago? Or as my husband calls them "books about dresses".

Its called expanding my horizons people. I'm trying new things. Branching out. Reading contemporary thrillers. I'm growing.

I can't remember just where I saw a slight reference to The Secret Cardinal by Tom Grace, but I'm pretty sure it was a Catholic blog somewhere and before you knew it I had placed a hold on it from the library and was actually reading something written within the last 5 years! And for the most part I was more than pleasantly surprised. 

The book is quickly paced, has a clear line of action, with good simple prose that doesn't try too hard to be more than a thriller, but doesn't insult your knowledge of grammar either. The plot is based on the Vatican deploying a secret team of CIA-type operatives to China in order to break a bishop out of prison. This takes place while a papal election is happening, and in light of the previous pope making the imprisoned bishop a secret cardinal. The depiction of the Church is done expertly, and was obviously written by a Catholic because there are no glaring errors in basic Church practices and presents the Church in a positive light. The character of the Chinese cardinal is beautifully developed, and Grace's hero of his previous novels, Nolan Kilkenny, comes off as a likeable hero whose faith is portrayed fairly realistically.

I personally thought what better villain for spy novel than atheistic China. Grace gives a vivid description of life under a regime that wants to obliterate the outside influence of the Roman Catholic Church, and the lengths its government will go in stopping those who fight for religious freedom. The Vatican having the capability of launching such a covert operation was a little far fetched, but how awesome would it be if the Vatican could do such things? I've gotta say its nice to read a novel that successfully employs the Church into a novel of suspense and action without treating the Church with disrespect and complete disdain.

Monday, May 14, 2012

G.K. of the Day!

Baby Gemma and Baby Dom-circa 2009

"Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren't."

- G.K. Chesterton "What's Wrong With the World". 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Seven Quick Takes-Rural Alberta Advantage Edition

Here's my Seven Quick Takes Rural Alberta Advantage(a real band name, pretty decent band!) Edition complete with Instagram pictures of Alberta roads.
Make sure you check out Hallie of course, and prayers for Jen!


So I got me to the city yesterday. I live about an hour and a half from a city-ya know a place with a starbucks and a costco? Otherwise known as civilization. I usually get to the city every couple of weeks, but I try to do most of my big grocery shopping in the city because of the price savings and the ability to buy Italian parsley. Then I shop my little small town groceries for all the stuff I need in between. Its a fairly workable system, except that when I get into the city, my very limited time is completely wasted on grocery shopping, major bummer.


In order to get to the city-espeically for a "quick" trip like yesterday (10 hours or so) I try to leave my 3 oldest babes with my mom or sister because it takes me about an hour to do up 4 car seats! So its a major time saver. But a nursing baby? Not a time saver. 


Having a nursing baby makes you live life on a 4 hour leash. I don't really complain, except when I want to get a million errands done and have to always be watching the clock so that I can get back to a nursing babe. Yesterday I was able to leave the little mister with my in-laws who mercifully live in the city so I could get to my spiritual direction appointment. It was sooo nice to be able to focus and not have to look at such a cute baby for a whole hour an a half! And then I proceeded to quickly hit another grocery store, and liquor store, and starbucks, and then boom-Times up Cinders and I gotta run! 


I'm really just explaining all this to show that I feel as though I don't get anything done in a 10 hour day in the city while I'm nursing a baby. I'm clearly a performance based person. I need to get things done! So only seeing the inside of grocery stores when I'm in close proximity to stores I want/need/sorta want to get to makes me a little crazy.


For the love of all that is good and holy could we please make a "coupon lane" at grocery stores?! I thought I was behind one lady in the checkout, she had quite a bit of stuff but all the other lanes had tons of people so I thought this was my best bet. Lo and behold she pulls out about 800 or so coupons that the cashier then proceeds to read individually and then scan through...and then phone the manager about. All while I've loaded all my groceries while at the same time rocking a tired/grumpy baby with one hand. I stood there and watched the small 5 minute window of possible starbucks in between shopping/nursing/rushing to my appointment evaporate. It was painful. Patience was exercised. Souls released from purgatory. Punches left unflown. But at the same time I'm not anti-coupon, I use them occasionally, I didn't want to be mad at the poor lady. And who knows what kind of boss the poor cashier has and his OCD-like control and emphasis on coupon checking. So just make a whole separate line. Wow, Holy First World Problem Batman! Ok, rant over.


My poor little Lukey is starting to realize he's the middle child. Because he's only 11 months younger than Dom he, very conveniently for me, simply starts wearing the clothes Dom outgrows as soon as Dom outgrows them. Yesterday when I gave Dom new very needed shoes and Dom became very excited! And Luke looked up at me with big sad eyes and said "I would like new green shoe." So I think its time to get him a little something new because I think he'll actually notice and appreciate it quite a bit. I want to do simple things that make him feel special, because I look at him and see the most special little boy. I'm getting sappy, it must be Mother's Day.


And Happy Mother's day to all! I hope you all are showered in flowers, thanks, good food and a good wine! I don't really want/expect prezzies, but I do like the idea of wishing other Moms a happy Mother's Day, and of course my mum! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

On babies, schedules, and my parenting crutches...I mean secrets!

Its been almost 5 years since my little girl was born and I became a mommy. Which seems fairly ridiculous because time has flown by and suddenly my baby is out of babyhood! And my lovely friend asked last week how I approach baby scheduling etc so I thought I might write a little about it now. All non-mommy readers feel free to glaze right over ;)

I come from a fairly attachment parenting friendly family. My Mom was all about breastfeeding on demand, and child-led weaning (even after the age of two), and baby wearing, and natural home birth, the whole nine yards pretty much. So needless to say I'm very used to these ideas and I've seen them play out in our family and for the most part thought this would be the way I'd go in parenting as well, although I have to admit I really didn't have too many preconceived ideas of my parenting style before having my first baby-and that was probably a good thing.

When Gemma was born I had no intention to put her on a hard and fast routine/schedule or breastfeed on demand, I basically thought I'd roll with how she rolled. But things got a little rough pretty quickly. Her birth was fairly tough on me, to the point that I couldn't sit up or really walk comfortably for the first week at least, and it took about 3 weeks until I was up and sweeping my own floor-which I was oddly thrilled to do! Then she hopped on board the colic train. Which meant that for the next 8-9 weeks I hardly slept at night. I really only slept at night when my husband, mom, or sister took a shift with her. It was brutal. I was a complete mess, she cried almost all the time, sleeping didn't happen much during the day and wouldn't happen any time after 9 pm. While this was happening I was falling fairly hard into postpartum depression. I couldn't really distinguish the postpartum from the exhaustion at first, but as she improved and I didn't, I realized it wasn't just lack of sleep that was making me feel miserable.

I came to the conclusion, probably with more than a little help from my husband, that I needed to make some changes to my day that would positively impact how I was feeling and help me recover. I needed routine, the baby needed routine. Thankfully, because I was so laid up after the birth, Gemma was an all-star nurser. But with the colic nursing quickly became a try-any-time solution to the non-stop crying which created a super snacker! Anytime she would fuss I'd offer her the boob which was a bad habit. Whenever she'd fuss I'd feel obligated to sit and nurse her, people would hand her to me anytime she made a noise and I'd give in to her and she'd nurse for less than 5 minutes. It was a terrible cycle. I felt like my day was held hostage to the demanding little snacker, but at the same time I thought that this is what it meant to breastfeed on demand, which was wrong of course. And the snacking also led to 15 minute naps. I had no time to myself, or even to do the dishes and I thought that if this is what motherhood is all about I'm hooped!

To get all these snacking/sleep problems under control I looked into some books and decided to give The Baby Whisperer a try. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that this book has had such a positive impact on my parenting/family that I can't laud it enough. Basically the Baby Whisperer proposes that babies are best kept to a routine of Eating, Activity, Sleep throughout their day. Eating becomes a more scheduled every 3 hr, and then as the baby gets older every 4hr thing. Then the baby happily plays and is awake for a little while before its peacefully put to bed to fall asleep on its own and to nap for about two hours at a time. I know, to anyone who has had a baby this sounds completely impossible. I didn't believe it when I first read it, but thought what the heck, I might was well try out what she suggests because I need any help I can get! And over the course of a couple weeks, and lots of hard work on my part, it did work. I suddenly had a routine to my day. I knew the times I could devote to breastfeeding her and wouldn't feel like she was making me her milk slave, she'd be awake and happy! for a good couple hours, and she'd sleep for more than 15 minutes! It was a miracle!

I actually don't think that the Baby Whisperer is contrary to attachment parenting ideals. She never promotes the cry it out method, but gives great tips to encouraging an independent sleeper. And I think independent sleeping is such a valuable skill!! Especially if you want to parent/attachment parent more than one child per decade! And I like to think that the principles behind attachment parenting motivates whatever other techniques I use, like independent sleep. I don't follow the book to the letter of course, but I've used lots of different tips with different babies and they've all worked in different situations. I've continued to use to the book's ideas of scheduling/routine right from birth with my following three kids and I can't tell you how awesome it is to be able to put a baby in his bed awake and know that he's going to fall asleep and stay asleep. With the way our family has grown and how close in age our babies are, I'm pretty confident that I would have lost my mind if my kids didn't nap!

It also has really suited my personality. I think that that's an important part of motherhood; following what works for your personality. Obviously motherhood forms you to holiness in everyday life and wears away at our selfishness, but we've also got to acknowledge our personalities. My crazy control-oriented personality deals better with knowing how my day is going to play out. I wish I was more easy going, lived more in the moment, and didn't worry about getting things done quite so much. I also still want to have a small slice of time to have to do what interests me apart from babies. You know, important stuff like Facebook, drinking wine, and sitting in the bathtub for hours at a time!  I love knowing that I will be able to give my full attention to my baby at the times he's supposed to nurse and while he's awake, AND get time to get things done around the house. We have bad days where the kids need more loving and snuggling, and of course my schedule and what I wanted to get done flies out the window, but for the most part having a daily routine from babyhood has been great for me. But the schedule/routine idea has served me well through all their ages thus far. Nap times have turned into quiet times for the older babies and as they've always been used to regular times for naps, its easy to keep up the habit of a least a little quiet time during the day. I could go on but basically naps are gold.

I could go on for about a 500 page or so book about the intricacies of babies and their schedules...because lets face it...when you have 4 in 4 year you become kinda an expert, but I'll save some to tempt you to come back! Am I a mommy quitter for admitting I love that I make my kids nap everyday?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Its the small thrill of it all...

Ever have a week begin with a burst of ambition, energy and good intentions? 
The kind of feeling that motivates you to start off the week with such lofty ideals like staying on top of the laundry?
Well, whenever this strange mood strikes me I can usually contribute it to the fact that I changed my sheets on Sunday. Somehow going to bed on Sunday in crisp, clean sheets seems to start me off on the right foot for the week-how long that feeling lasts I cannot guarantee!

Here's a pic I took yesterday to document the fact! Note the wrinkly sheets, etc. I do however, have a little  luxury item that I love:

Its this Pecksniff's Fresh Linen Spray in Freesia and Poppy. It makes your sheets smell like an English garden. Actually, I'm pretty sure its how Jane Austen's bedroom smelled. I found it for about $5 bucks at Homesense and it is definitely worth it! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fridays deserve a pretty scarf...

I saw this scarf yesterday and I can't get it out of my head! 
I've been trying to figure out why I like it so much, and I really have no rational explanation other than its orange, has giraffes on it (which can never be a bad thing), and would express a certain whimsy to any outfit. I think most outfits are sadly lacking in whimsy. As is life. 

Anyways, I'm drinking my coffee while eating some prosciotto for breakfast as I try to make a new flatbread recipe. Theres a chilly drizzle outside, two babies having "naps", and one hubby reading Winnie-the-Pooh to his daughter. I'm still debating what really needs to get done today. I'm leaning towards eating my fresh flatbread while reading copious amounts, but I have a basket of laundry taller than my oldest child and a floor that hasn't seen a mop for much more than fortnight. We'll see what happens-have a wonderful first weekend of May!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Baby stages

This munchkin is 4 months old. Its already time to start shifting his schedule to a 4 hour feeding schedule instead of three-I'm a devotee to the Baby Whisperer...I feed my babies on a schedule....I admit the mom police.

Although it seems as if one of my babies is passing from one stage to another almost constantly, its always both surprising and sad when their stages end and begin. I think I'm getting better at enjoying each present stage a bit more as I get a little more mom experience under my belt. I definitely don't feel the urge to propel Max to walking, I am over the moon in love with having even one child immobile! The prospect of 4 mobile children is a daunting one!

I love this squishy, immobile, chubby baby stage between 3 and 6 months where their little faces light up as soon as you come into their sight line and they thrive on being held for hours and hours on end...oh wait that last part??


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