how much is enough?

what a beautiful day outside today. it almost felt like summer! we took advantage of the sun and headed to the university’s arboretum. glorious!

as we walked among the trees, i was handed a few introspective moments when the guys were doing their own thing, and i was left alone to take pictures and think. 
how much love is enough?
how much discipline is enough? 
how much art is enough?

this is where i’m at: as i learn about anxiety and about “sensitive” kids, i wonder where i went wrong. i mean, yes, kids are born with various maps of who they will be, but how much of my behaviour, my mothering affected bear’s temperament and personality. as usual, i feel tremendous guilt that i didn’t do enough; that i pushed when he least needed it and left him to play alone so much in the beginning. 
maybe i didn’t carry him enough? 

i’ve gone back and looked at old pictures of bear from when he was about 12-24 months, in the hopes of recognizing some behaviour he presented back then that might be connected to the stuff we see today. these walks down memory lane are wonderful, but bring on a whole new wave of guilt: that i am not mothering lion as attentively as i did bear. when bear was this age he and i spent many hours colouring, stickering, building blocks, going for walks and i would let him help in the kitchen a lot. lion, well, he has definitely been handed the short end of the stick as he does not ever get to sit alone with me and play. well, maybe not quite never, but his alone time with either dear hubby or myself is very limited. and yes, i do recognize that his relationship and hours of play with his older brother is priceless and has replaced that void. 

i am feeling very unsure, again.
as usual.

happy sunny-sunday everyone!
see you tomorrow. 

xo, mama lola

who do i trust?

what a stressful 24 hours i have had. stressful, because i have been diagnosed with strep throat for the fifth time this winter. stressful, because i am not a carrier of this sickness, but a sufferer of it. stressful, because i was prescribed an antibiotic my pharmacist said could be passed on through my milk to my lion. it was implied i should stop breastfeeding.

my heart broke a bit at the thought of weaning my 20 month old lion. these days he only nurses once or twice a day, but the thought of ending those sweet, quiet moments we share made me realize it is not our time yet. i’m a huge believer in extended breastfeeding and think the benefits are immeasurable.

[ bear at 20 months, the age lion is now. ]

bear self-weaned when i was first diagnosed with my tumour back in december 2009. he was about 22 months and i was devastated. i think my milk changed as i was taking lots of strong pain killers. i had imagined tandem nursing both boys for a long time, and was devastated when bear boldly refused the breast. 

yesterday, when it was suggested i wean, my heart broke. immediately. 
i scoured the internet for information about breastfeeding and taking this strong antibiotic i was prescribed, and the literature basically says it’s a no-no. dear hubby talked to our pharmacist, explaining that lion is not a baby, but a 20 month old who eats well and only nurses for comfort really. still, he said it was not a good idea. 

this morning, i called motherisk, an organization that helps pregnant and nursing mama’s figure out what medications or drugs they can use. they are affiliated with sick kids hospital, in toronto. i waited all night to call and this morning i talked to a lovely nurse, who explained that it was fine to breastfeed lion and take this antibiotic. if my kid was a baby and i was exclusively breastfeeding then it would not be recommended, but because he is big and healthy and eats solids like a normal kid, then it’s fine.


finally, some good news!
i have learned over the last few years, the most medical experts will air on the side of caution and tell a mama not to continue breastfeeding. it’s best to consult with people who are experts at breastfeeding. it’s not because they want to misinform you, but because there is too much info out there. plus, when it comes to breastfeeding i think it becomes a liability thing. my point, it’s ok to ask for a second or third or fourth opinion.

[ kitchen helper. ]

so, here we at home for the day. i have taken one antibiotic and feel slightly high and loopy already. i’m sure that will pass once i get some lunch in me. the boys are busy with play-doh and i am wishing i could crash-out on the couch and watch degrassi junior high (my latest netflix addiction)!

fingers crossed the strep will be gone after this round of meds and i wont have to go see a specialist and talk surgery! oh, boy!

xo, mama lola

to trust or not to trust.

it’s been a tough week for me as a mama.

bear has been exhibiting behaviours that are uncalled for, which combined with his social anxieties, make him tough company to keep. last week during a play date at our house he and his buddy dumped (and when i say dumped, i mean emptied) three big bottles of kiddie paint all over the art room table, which then dripped in chunks onto the carpeted floor. the whole situation was shocking and took forever for my friend to steam clean the rug. (luckily she lives close by and was able to hop in the car and get her machine in the first place! thanks mamaS!) I was thinking about buying Bazaar Velvet: Handcrafted Designer and Custom Rugs from London, UK but I’m scared they’ll get ruined last our last rug did!

[post painting lunch]
[baby A, about 10 days old. i was trying to take his picture with one hand i was holding him with my other.
he is precious.]

that incident made me realize, that although it was out of character for bear, that maybe that’s the whole point of behaviour like that. kids are given too much trust or freedom and then they push the limits with obscene behaviour like paint dumping or hitting friends or slamming doors or whatever. bear is working on earning his trust back and is allowed limited time alone upstairs unsupervised whether alone or on a play date, at home or someone else’s house. i think it’s the only way to really make him understand what trust and freedom actually are. i mean, after all i’m now going to be looking into this Rug Cleaning Melbourne Eastern Suburbs company to have my carpet and rug cleaned properly. here’s to hoping bear has learned his lesson.

[play date fun with friends]

but, it’s tough for me as his mama. i never thought that would be my kid, right? and everyone i talk to about these behaviours echoes their surprise “oh, that really doesn’t sound like bear”. it’s hard to know who he is sometimes. he is this growing, evolving person who is learning how to navigate the world and tests the boundaries in all sorts of ways. i guess this age also includes being intentionally mean, whether physically or verbally.
i feel sick just writing about this.

[beautiful missE]

my gut says some of this is related to his anxiety. he always, ALWAYS has various sized meltdowns in new situations and unfamiliar places, but also just places that are not our home. this weekend we went on the fairy hike, where he cried upon arrival, and here’s how our conversation sounded the following night at dinner…
bear: i cried yesterday at the new place.
me: yup. you did. it’s ok to cry, do you know why you cried?
bear: because we were at someone’s else’s house and i wanted to be home.
(the hike started at the nature centre, which is looks like an old house)

i’m hugging him more. picking him up and whispering sweet nothings in his ear.

i’m going to stop here…
i’m tired.
i obviously need some ideas on how to deal with all of this, i would love to hear your opinions. and any book recommendations would be appreciated as well.

xo, mama lola

granola mama, crunch, crunch.

this has been circulating on facebook, did you see it?

i think it’s hilarious, because this crunchy mama is such an extreme stereotype of what it means to be a crunchy mama. she mentions many of the key ideas that crunchy parents tend to do differently than mainstream parents, like opting to co-sleep, baby-wear, homebirth, cloth diaper, and opting for more natural health solutions like eating garlic or taking spirulina! i don’t like her judgemental tone about how other mamas mother, as she’s assuming her choices are best. which may be true for her family, but perhaps not for others.

[we are avid baby-wearers, both of us. above, lion at a few weeks old and still quite yellow from the jaundice. below, bear is conked out on dear hubby’s back at about 14 months of age.]

i tend to mother on the crunchier side of the spectrum. sometimes i feel like i shove attachment parenting beliefs down people’s throats, other times i feel as though i am not vocal enough about things like the positives of co-sleeping with a baby (especially a breastfed newby). i’ve actually become quite low key about breastfeeding, which when bear was a baby was a hot topic for me. some of you may remember my 30 seconds of fame a few years back when the local CTV station came to our house and interviewed me about facebook attacking women who post pictures of themselves breastfeeding.
(i tried to search CTV’s site for the clip, but alas, their search only goes until 2010. perhaps if i switched my facebook page to the new timeline format i could find it. sigh.)

this is the picture facebook found offensive and removed. i think, now, it is available again for viewing in my profile pictures. to me, this picture reminds of a time when bear was about 10 months, learning to walk and feeling pretty sensitive with his new found independence. you can see the tears as a result of probably colliding with a table corner or something! this is a mama nurturing her baby, nothing else.

although i am still a HUGE advocate of breastfeeding, i think my focus and passions in my mothering career are evolving with the needs of my kids and family. as we prepare for the world of academia and school, i am becoming aware that my role as a SAHM/ homemaker is only in its early years. even when my kids are both in all day school i will still be the mom who is available to volunteer in the classroom, field trips and is always nearby. perhaps i will take on part-time work, but for us and our family, having a parent home is the only way we can do this parenting thing. maybe one day dear hubby will be the one who is home in the afternoons and doing school pick ups and making dinner, who knows. but one thing i do know is, one of us will be here. always.

it is very frustrating when i hear people comment “oh, i wish i could afford to stay at home like you”. it makes it sound as though we are millionaires and truth be told we are far from that. it just means that what we deem important, and what is worth sacrificing, is different from the mainstream parents i think. we live in a small house, 2 bedrooms and one-and-half stories, no big tv’s here, one car, and lots of second-hand furniture and clothes. i could go on, but i’m sure my point is made.
all families and parents make sacrifices; we chose to sacrifice on material items so that i can stay home. like everything in life, these are the choices we made.

oh, the joys of baby-led-weaning! here’s bear and his beautiful spaghetti face! I’m really glad we chose to do led-weaning with him. My friend told me to check out best for mums to learn about it and after doing lots of research, I decided it was definitely something that I wanted to do!

xo, mama lola

attachment parenting.

i am having a great parenting week, for a change. typically i can be heard lamenting my woes and lows to fellow mamas, whether on the phone or on the playground. typically, i feel tired and worn down, especially by my challenging three year old bear. his growls and roars are difficult to manage and often i end up losing my cool. being a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) is a lot of work and dealing with irrational children all day is exhausting, no matter how cute they are. there is no possibility calling in sick and sometimes it’s impossible to even get a break. i can just see all you stay-at-home parents, nodding as you sip yesterday’s cold coffee!

but, the winds have shifted at our house and it’s all because of me. my attitude has shifted. yes, bear continues to be three and pushes my buttons in hopes of a reaction, but i have stopped reacting. just like that, i stopped. now, i breathe, stay calm and get down to his level and talk to him. when he loses his cool i hold him tight, whisper softly and endure the hits in the face. of course i remind him not to hit and all of that, but i don’t snap. i continue to hold him. i am the adult in this relationship and it is my responsibility to role model appropriate behaviour.
lost my voice last week. lucky kids. lucky hubby!
and this is where the attachment parenting comes in for me. i am a true believer in holding, carrying and sleeping with my kids. i think in our society we have misconstrued something so simple as touch and twisted it into being about sex. touch and touching is an intimate way to express love to those you care about. for my sweet bear, i have come to understand that his recent spike in difficult behaviour has been about jealousy and the lack of meaningful touch from me. he watches as i breastfeed his baby brother, as i carry lion in the sling or in my arms through-out the day, as i cradle our smallest cub and rock him to sleep. bear feels sad, left-out, angry, envious, resentful, forgotten, neglected; or at least these are the emotions i think he is feeling as he can’t describe what’s going on. he does however go through phases of barking (i know, lucky me), extreme screaming fits, whining, hitting, and other typical age appropriate behaviour. now that i have clued into this, i make a point of touching him, holding him, talking to him at his level (not from up high as usual) and acknowledging his confusing feelings he has started to listen to me again. actually listening to me. he also shows great tenderness towards me again with hugs and kisses, which he cut off from me for a long time. mutual respect goes a long way, baby!

very soon (like in a week or so) we will be night weaning lion, so dear hubby and i will switch the beds and kids we sleep with. since lion’s birth in july, which was quite stressful and confusing for bear, as i was in the hospital for almost a week, dear hubby has co-slept with bear. this sleeping arrangement was our attempt to try and curb jealousy and i think initially it worked.  plus, as many of you know bringing a new member into the family can be very upsetting to the older sibling(s). anyhow, i feel confident that our future musical beds dance will only be positive for my relationship with bear.

lion’s first ride in the wagon. both boys over the moon!

xo, mama lola
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