Gone Coastal

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Good day

I absolutely love days like this. The sun is shining, but it's cool in the morning, so you've slept well and the air is fresh. If I could live my entire life in late May and June, I would. When I was a kid, of course, a big part of the attraction was school was almost done and my birthday was coming. Now, it's the long days, ensuring that whatever hours I'm working, I get to enjoy a bit of daylight, and I can wear cool, comfortable things in the office. Sandals. Perhaps even a loose skirt (for those of you in shock at that last item, yes, I do own one, and I actually do like wearing them if it's warm enough to skip the nylons).
Best of all, it's the kind of weather where I find it really easy, if you can find that moment, to enter into a place of grace and be still before the Lord.
That's how my day started. I woke up gently, that is without any urgent paging, and stretched awhile in bed in the vain hope that my feet would be functional by the time I got to the steps. Downstairs I let the dogs out and fished out a bottle for the still dreaming Tweetie. In the basement I dished out the dogs' breakfast and let them back in, then headed back up. Grabbed the warming bottle and a glass of juice for myself, then back up the main stairs to the nursery and my comfy feeding and prayer chair.
A short time of stillness and listening, then prayer for a couple of folks with big days ahead. (One goes for knee surgery today, the other's off work starting today to get ready for her wedding on Saturday - woohoo!) Not my longest or deepest time, but it felt just right for today, and it left me just time to get a good start on this post before Tweetie awoke. Actually. I was typing away and looked back over my shoulder to see to big beautiful eyes staring up at me. And when I looked back there erupted her great good morning smile. It bodes well for the rest of the day, so I'd best get on with it.
Hope you all have a good one, too!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Are you in there?

These days are full of surprises and new developments. The surprises are cool and really scary all at the same time. Like when I put Tweetie down sometime this morning on the floor, pretty certain it was on her back. At this point she'll roll over, spin and push her way around the floor until she finds an obstacle, but I didn't expect to come back a minute later and find her sitting up in the corner! Bathtime found her exploiting the low-g environment of water to push herself from sitting to standing. And last week while the Goddess was here, Tweetie started saying something resembling 'khah-tah-khah-tah-kh' whenever either of our cats crossed her path. Of course, we then went to the Bear's dad's for almost a week where there were no cats, but a couple of nieces repeatedly asking, "Can you say 'cat?'" She fell quite silent, but seems to be warming up the vocal chords again since we came home. And it's still anybody's guess whether she'll walk or crawl first, as she's making steady progress on both. She even started grinding her five little teeth, which definitely surprised mem, though her dental hygienist aunt assures me it's nothing to worry about.
But tonight I added a new special moment that I just had to share. The Bear's out of town until the end of the week, and whenever we're apart we always check in at the end of the day to pray goodnight. Tweetie was asleep early tonight, and was still out when the Bear called, but a few minutes into the call she awoke in another small coughing fit. I picked her out of her crib to help her work it out, and when the coughing subsided briefly, I took the phone from my other shoulder and put it on speaker phone so we could keep talking. The Bear greeted Tweetie, and her face lit up with happy recognition, laced with a trace of confusion as she looked at the little speaking box.
I'd kinda suspected she was missing the furry face.

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Don't miss the point

This past Mother's Day was my first as a full-fledged mamma, and I naturally found myself looking back over the last eight months. In reflecting on how my life has changed and the things I've learned, one common thread was how often already we've needed to revise our plans for the ideal child-bearing and raising experience. It has come up in conversation with other moms as well, so I thought I'd put forth my thoughts on handling those changes for this week's Works for me Wednesday.
We all want to do the very best we can for these young lives in our care, and the lists of shoulds and ought tos start coming at us long before they're even born. They come from health care professionals, churches, media, advertisements, and just about every person we encounter. We did a lot of filtering, weighing all these lists against our own values and experiences to form our own plan. And then Tweetie arrived and brought her own reality. We've since had to revisit our ideas on breastfeeding, health management, development, boundaries and more.
A mom friend recently commented to me that I'm pretty laid back about all these changes, wondering how it is that I don't flip out like the other new moms. My response first had to include a confession. I do flip out, I just tend to do it quietly at home. And I pray a lot for peace and perspective. But from a strictly practical perspective, there's one thing that's helped a lot, especially when it comes to that all too common sense of failure.
When circumstances dictate that my plan or ideal can't be followed as I'd envisioned, I try hard to look at the big picture, especially the values and objectives behind the plan. What were the reasons we originally set this goal? Is the plan achieving what I'd wanted? Is the actual cost of following this plan - in time, money or impact on other objectives - in line with the value we put on this goal? Is there a change I can make that better serves all the values that our plans were based on? Sometimes one ideal gives way for something bigger. Sometimes we just find that we weren't so smart when we first thought of a given plan.
I've asked myself what were the reasons that I wanted to breastfeed Tweetie? How does continuing to nurse and pump meet that goal? Does the benefit of continuing outweigh the cost to other objectives, like spending time just playing with Tweetie? The inevitable answer was no, and while I'm still a little disappointed I know I made the right decision to switch her to formula. Later I asked what is my objective in starting early pottying? Am I still getting that benefit if we don't catch every pee or poop? Since reducing diapers and early 'graduation' were merely happy sidebars for me, it's been easy to relax and not worry if we have an off day in our communication (lots of those come with sickness or teething) or if other schedule needs mean I can't respond when I otherwise would (like when we're driving three hours to Calgary to catch a 2 hour flight home).
There are many big decisions and plans ahead of us in the years to come, and I expect I'll have to send myself back to read my own post a time or two. All I can suggest to you is to remember why you were trying to go down a given road in the first place, and make sure you don't miss the point. It usually works for me.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

On the mend

Tweetie's asleep in her playpen, bottles are washed and refilled for tomorrow, and, fool that I am, I'm up posting instead of catching some much needed z's.
I made brief mention of my head cold in my anniversary post. It came on quite suddenly, and for me it hit pretty hard, but didn't last too long beyond residual sniffles. Tweetie caught the same cold at the same time, having just gotten over the cold she got from her dad a few weeks before. She hasn't been as quick to kick it, probably because it's real hard to explain to a little person with no words to blow into a dry paper that feels like sandpaper on her little raw nose. The poor dear's had a rough go over the last couple of weeks, with the worst hitting right when we were travelling. We've been staying in the Hat with the Bear's dad for four days now, and this has been the first night with a relatively uneventful bedtime routine. With luck it will also be the first full night's sleep in a couple of weeks. Though she always tries her best to be happy, Tweetie was certainly in better spirits for most of the day today.
Methinks I'll get back to them z's now.



Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Out of the roaring silence

Yes, it's been a little quiet here, and by here, I mean Gone Coastal. It's been anything but at home.

This may be a short post while everyone (most specifically Tweetie) is still asleep. Odds are good when Tweetie wakes she'll wake up crying, as she did a few times last night. I only had to tend to her the one time, and that was alright. For one, I was still up anyway, preparing formula, so it didn't involve that violent jolt from deep, sweet sleep to triage mode. And more importantly, it didn't take long to figure out why she was upset. A quick sweep of my finger in her mouth and I think tooth number five had poked through. I'll do a more thorough verification today sometime when my sweetheart's not crying out in agony.

Between teething and the headcold we shared the past week, there've been more overnight disruptions lately than I'm accustomed to. It all balances out as we learn more about who she's becoming. Besides, it keeps me mindful of our friends Shirtless and Tiny who are still in their first week with their first child.
And I've been having too much fun having the Goddess here with us to be bothered by it. I will blame the Goddess, however, for my not posting sooner. I've been yackin' with her in whatever spare moments come up in the day.
Saturday, we were off in Sidney with Raven, my Sunday art friend. We poked about in various galleries, and determined that the Sidney Gallery Walk brochure needs some serious updating. I think they should also add a bookstore tour, as that place is full of them. Sunday we hung around in the morning, walking the dogs, then went for a drive up the coast. It turned out to be a bit too cool on the exposed coast to do much exploring or puttering, but it was still a nice drive. Yesterday we hung around for the morning. I finally got the safety gate/fence fully installed across the living room while she was napping, and in the afternoon we went downtown for a bit and found more galleries and bookstores.
But the best part of such a visit is always the days long rambling conversations that let you air out the thoughts you've been chewing through on your own on things that matter in life. And sharing little experiences first hand with a like minded soul. Little experiences like watching Tweetie go from pushing along on her belly to lifting up on hands and knees on her own (had to get a little bragging in, didn't I?).
The Goddess is heading north again tomorrow, and we'll be heading east to the prairies till next week. Don't know when we'll get together again, but I'm sure it'll feel like too long. We're off to make the most of the sunshine today.
(By the way, Tweetie woke up quite gently after all, with a content little smile on her face. Tooth number five is all that much closer to the surface, but not quite through, and number six is lining up for its turn on the other side.)

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

We have arrived...

...at the starting gate. Today marks Yesterday marked ten years of blissful marriage for the Bear and I. Okay, ten years of ups and downs, trials and triumphs. But ten very worthwhile years.
I don't remember the exact context, but somewhere in the last year I heard someone describe any marriage less than ten years as a 'starter marriage'. (Sadly, among a lot of folks I've worked with, that term is applied to their first, short-lived marriage. I'm thankful to not be in that situation). His point was that much of the first ten years is spent figuring things out. Looking back at all the lessons learned, about what's really important to us, how to understand each other, and what we really meant by all those things we said when we were dating, I'd have to agree there's a lot of truth to it.
We made it this far, and that's worth celebrating. We went out for a nice dinner, just the two of us. A big thanks goes out to our friends up the block for taking Tweetie for the evening, handling two eight-month-olds together. They look pretty cute together actually, and their son, being just over a week younger, often tries to copy Tweetie's tricks in the days following a playdate.
I often think I would've liked to have started our family sooner, but when I look at some of the ground we've covered in our marriage, and the refining work God's done in both of us in that time, I know that our little girl is already ahead, even if her parents are finding it harder to keep up these days. I hope to spend the next few decades building on this foundation, and I hope when Tweetie's grown and possibly ready to get married herself, we'll have provided something she can aspire to in her own marriage.
Here's to the journey!

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Potty Master

Okay, 'Master' is probably a little strong, but I'm her mom, alright. It's my job to applaud all the minutia of her accomplishments.

I started pottying Tweetie, and using what certain experts call EC (elimination communication) awhile back. Nothing real earth shattering there, it's just giving a consistent cue whenever you know she's going, and watching for her various cues, to help her be aware of what she's doing naturally. It's basically what a lot of our parents or grandparents did before we were told we should wait a couple of years - and hundreds of dollars more in diapers - for signs of readiness.

I got started with the help of a very useful book, The Diaper-Free Baby, at about six months. I'd looked at another book right at the start, at the bear's prompting, but it was a little over the top for me. This book was far more approachable, recognizing that we've all got a different capacity at different times for taking on these kinds of projects. Anyway, the first time I put her on her potty, she peed right away and gave me a big smile as she went, presumably for discovering that she could pee without feeling wet until the diaper soaked it up. 'This ain't so bad,' I thought, and we carried on from there.

Saturday was a bit of a red-letter day on this journey, as we made an IKEA run to the mainland, which meant we on the road and in public places pretty much the entire day. We pottied in about five different public toilets, and even had her first poop in a public potty!

I don't imagine we'll be out of diapers anytime soon. It's still far too easy for me to get caught up in something else and miss her cues. And that's just fine. EC'ing is mostly about keeping them aware of their elimination, not necessarily being free of diapers, though that will generally happen too much sooner. I am, however, looking at investing in a few cloth diapers as we get more consistent at certain times of day. Maybe when she can talk a bit and has a word to actually get my attention and ask to be pottied, we'll think about working towards graduation. In the meantime, it's not much different once you get into a routine, and the diaper pail is much lighter when you empty it, because very few diapers are really soaked. And all that aside, every poop that gets direct deposited without first needing to be scraped off her backside and that can be fully flushed away rather than ripening in the pail makes it TOTALLY WORTH IT!

I think Tweetie agrees, 'cause she's generally happier when we're in sync and has a pretty dry day.

Oh, and for those looking for the latest other minutia:
  • She's over 22lbs or 20 kg now
  • She's not really crawling, yet, but she does get more and more creative at navigating herself around the floor with a combination of rolling, spinning, and pushing on either tummy or belly. She has had a couple of moments where she's figured out how to keep her belly up, but hasn't quite coordinated the moving of knees and hands. She also did a hands and feet pose a couple of times.
  • She stands really well, and can hang on to the rail in her crib or playpen to support herself for quite awhile. Yesterday she actually migrated a little ways down the length of the crib, shifting hand over hand, and eventually letting her feet catch up. She's a little afraid to sit down without my help, though.
  • She's eating mushy solids twice a day, but that's another post entirely!
  • She put out her third tooth last Monday, and the fourth on the weekend. I think we're done now for a little while, as she invited my finger into her mouth again for a massage, which has been strictly verboten for weeks. With all this, of course, has come the introduction of her first toothbrush - with a picture of Tweetie Bird - which she's eager to help me use.
  • She does plenty of babbling, and the addition of those top teeth has added a few new sounds to her repertoire. Did you know it's hard to say 'teeth' without them? She does show signs of recognition of a few frequent words.
  • She's getting more and more control over her hands. On Friday at Costmo, she decided to wave at several nice looking strangers who gave her attention - not with her fingers, but with her whole arm. Very cute.