Although I've been worrying up a storm about being poor and stretched thin, I'm so grateful for my hardworking man and the job he does that allows me to stay home with our son. Paul does a very physical job and is often very tired; he doesn't complain and he still helps me with Henry and some chores at home.
To go along with this, I'm grateful, too, for so many free or cheap things to do in our community; Henry and I enjoy story time at the library, toddler gym time at the Y with friends, and a toddler music class gifted to him by my Dad and Sandi. I'm grateful, too, for the generosity of our family, who have given us snowshoes, loaned skis, provided Henry care, invited us for dinners and parties, given gifts and loans and time helping us with our house, and their support in general.
I'm missing my sister a lot, and wishing I could be with her more. But, in turn, I am soooo grateful for the group of wonderful women I get to spend time with here; I've made some good friends and have many casual friends who I enjoy spending time with. I know the years to come are only going to serve to deepen some of these friendships in the most enjoyable ways. We share time with our crazy little ones, and occasionally some time with just mamas while the little ones are with others. It's really nice to be in a small community, in so many ways, because we're all a little bit interwoven and can provide support to each other.
I miss working with birthing women and their families and have been stewing about this a bit. But, I'm grateful for the knowledge I retain, and keep fresh by talking with those involved in the birth world up here (small though it may be). I was so grateful to have been present with Holly during her labor and birth, and spending the first week at her house in December. I'm going to support a friend in her labor in a few months, and there are other pregnant friends who could use some postpartum support in the upcoming months too...so I'll just keep thinking about it.
My toddler is such a crab lately. He's really stretching his brain and body, and changing every day. He's challenging to spend the days with and it's hard to be patient. But, I'm so grateful for his lively, sparkly personality; his energy is fantastic. When he's feeling "douod and happy!" , I can hardly stand it; my heart could burst with love for my sweet Henry. :)
He's shouting for me from upstairs now, so that wraps it up for now. I love where I am, and need to think more about being patient, and in terms of the long haul, I know.
- celebrating Henry's second birthday...joyful
- seeing the Avett Brothers in Kalamazoo...awesome
- getting to know Hadley more, and enjoying her lovely company...fun (and tiring)
- snowshoeing a lot...like moving meditation
I've been asked by an acquaintance to attend her homebirth because she hasn't hired a midwife but doesn't feel okay about unassisted birthing. After thought and discussion, I told her I wasn't comfortable, and I feel badly about that-mainly because it sucks to feel forced into a fear-based decision. I wish our society wasn't set up in such a way that I could lose my nursing license for helping a friend with her birth at home...I have skills and knowledge in this area, and could be of great service to those having normal births outside of a hospital. But, if there were to be a problem, I could be held liable both professionally and criminally, if someone chose to pursue some sort of investigation or charges. I wish we lived in a world where folks could rely on their immediate community to get what they need...it's so rare now, as things have been so globalized, outsourced, subsidized, commodified, digitized and just generally controlled by those not involved in the nuts and bolts of the actual DOING. Food supply, home birth, education; these all seem to have commonality in terms of their "regulation" causing things to be far less than ideal.
Anyway, I could go on and on about that, but what I really want it to go on and on about how much I love my kid! After a really rough week last week with teething, very little sleep and a busy schedule, we are past frustration and now back on track having fun and being in good moods. Henry is just chatting more and more all the time. He's taken to playing little 2-year-old-style jokes, like calling me "Mom-na" and Paul "Pop-ta" and looking for reaction. He's very jazzed up about "scaring" folks by running toward them with arms outstretched, yelling "ahhhh!" (in case you know him in real life, he really would love a very LARGE reaction to his scaring if he does it to you!). He's madly in love with Blaze (our dog) and just lays around on her like a big pillow, hugging her around the neck and lifting her paws to mimic her "shake" trick. "Dood dirl!" he yells when he succeeds in a shake. She just patiently sits and waits to be allowed to fall back to sleep.
Henry still feels each animal toy must be named...even down to asking "whass is name?" when he sees photos of animals, or even an image on a delivery truck or a building. It's exhausting, I tell you, coming up with new names all the time. Maybe I should find a baby name book! Some samplings from recent birthday/holiday gifts/drawings: Rico (chameleon), Gina & Angelo (kangaroo and joey), Edith (giraffe), Slush (husky), and Jude (bear).
Every noise outdoors provokes a question, night or day, sleepy or awake: "whass that sownd?" We've noticed that Henry asks a question when perhaps he intends to make a statement. For example, he was petting Norah the cat. He said "is Henry petting Norah." No question mark. I figure he's just mimicking me asking him questions about what he's doing for these two years. I'm trying to break that habit and just make a statement, to help him understand. He's peeing in the potty chair quite a bit, and likes to dump it...and while he never asks to use it, but just cooperates with being plunked there, I'm still pleased to be washing fewer diapers. He loves playing in the snow, and watching for birds at our feeders, riding in the car, listening to music, reading books (always), "helping" with cooking and dishes, and sweeping the floor (gotta get an old broom to cut down, or find a short one for him because that is causing some sweeping-related damages from a flying handle!). His favorite toys are stuffed animals, and anything he can carry in his fist, like tiny cars, tiny animals, rocks, walnuts in the shells, beads, and so on. I'm forever stepping on little hard things.
We're talking about what to put in our garden, and how to make cold frames for the tomatoes out of a bunch of old windows that were left in the attic and garage, and how to make rain barrels instead of using city water to irrigate the plants. It's exciting, yet daunting, because neither of us have much experience; but thankfully, we have plenty of people who have varying degrees of gardening knowledge that we can call upon. I'm hoping to get a bunch of tomatoes to can, and potatoes and onions to cellar, as well as greens. Lots and lots of greens. And beets. And broccoli. Any suggestions are welcome, for sure!
Whew! After 2 half-days of getting up really early (5am) and figuring out how to juggle a little infant with an increasingly defiant and needful toddler I. AM. EXHAUSTED. I realize this might be a slight exaggeration, but I'm pretty tired, nonetheless. This afternoon and evening, I'm doing mountains of laundry and cleaning up the kitchen, including the loathsome task of getting some disgusting incinerated tamari/honey marinade off of my new cast iron griddle. I made some teriyaki beef last night, and didn't think about the sweet/soy marinade's potential for BLURG on the griddle. Sigh. But while Paul bathes the rascal, and the laundry just got switched, I made a press-worth of coffee and am taking some down time.
I am caring for our good friends' daughter, Hadley. She's 3 months old, and her mama just went back to work yesterday. We're taking Mondays and Tuesdays, Henry and I. So far, so good, although it's definitely going to take some tweaking and learning for all three of us. She's really a sweetie...just smiles and sleeping, mostly. She had difficulty with using a bottle yesterday, which seems to be every working mama's worst fear. She agreed to drink from it only if I held her on my lap, sitting up, facing away from me! Today was much better, and she let me cradle and snuggle her while she drank from the bottle. Poor gal...I'm sure it's so confusing for babies. She also was very happy in a carrier today! Since I loaned all but one of my carriers to my sister for her new baby, I'm trying out Hadley's stash. Today she napped on my front in an Angel Pack and it REALLY gave me the baby bug. Henry was very patient, for the most part, with me asking him to wait for things if I was tending to Hadley. Until he wanted to nurse. Then, it was very difficult. But, we figured it out.
Ok, the next part of the hodge-podge is things I want to remember about Henry. I love how he says things, like "Ferry Kissmash" and how he calls Jerome the cat "Cher-ohm!" He sings little splurts of songs to himself, like the ABCs, Jingle Bells and Three Blind Mice. He makes me laugh every single day, so many times. When he wants to be held, he comes to your legs saying "touch you mama!" and when he wants to be picked up, he says "pick you up mama!" Sometimes, when you ask him what his name is, he says "screechy bo-beachy" (which is what we sometimes call him when he's noisy), but sometimes he says "Henry Ehvit Wiwson." When I put him on my back to wrap, or in the amauti, or even just if I pick him up and his head goes on my shoulder, he puts his little arms around me, patting my back and says "aw...lovey dovey." Melts me, every time. He's pretty resigned to being denied nursing after bedtime...and if he wakes, he's usually the one to say that the nurses are resting and all done for now. Then he hogs my pillow and kicks all the covers off. :)
He chose names for all his new farm animals that came in his barn set, and they're just so cute! I'd offer him a few choices for each one, and he thought about it and blurted the one he liked (except for one, which my mom had already named). So, there's Goggles, Scotty, Pete, Julie, Alma, Sheila, and Bossy. He has two horses named Marm and Dandy. Each morning, he greets them by yelling "GOOD MORNING ANIMALS!" or just "GOOD MORNING MARMANDDANDY!" and brings them to me for a good morning greeting from me. At Hadley's, he's learned how to get one of the dogs to go in and out of his kennel, back and forth. Thank goodness for patient, gentle canine buddies!
Paul made a little hill in the backyard and found an old plastic sled that he sends Henry down many many times in a row, to his everlasting delight. When we first go outdoors, or get out of the car, Henry says "Burrr! Shilly out heah!" You gotta wonder how much of our words just stick with him and what he'll spit out next. He insists on wearing boots and mittens to go outdoors, even if we're just going from warm house to warmed car to warm house.
We got the ski adaptation for the Chariot from the guy on Craigslist. When Henry saw it, he started calling it a helicopter, which it really does look like, in a way--just upside down. He loves to sauna, and calls himself "Sauna Boika" on a sauna day. On Saturday, we were all just sitting there sweating, he in his little tub with some toys. I looked down at Henry and he gave me the sunniest, most wide-open smile and said (spontaneously) "Feel good! Happy!" and Paul and I just busted up giggling and feeling so much love for our little family. Every day, we sit at the table for supper, or in our bed reading and just fall more in love with him and each other. Life is so good. :)
Well, despite our intention to just stay home and nest for the Christmas holiday this year, plans changed! My mom and Mark came to be with us for the weekend, and we did some running around yesterday (to my dad's place, and to my Aunt Cindy's for dinner). Things have been fairly low-key though, and today we're just planning to relax and perhaps go to dad's for some family game time with aunts and uncles from afar. It's certainly awkward-feeling this year; having Mom and Mark here at our house, yet trying to spend time with Dad's side of the family (without inviting them here-uncomfortable, to say the least) and just have relaxing time with our little main family has been hard. Stuff like this makes me feel sort of rushed and anxious, but I'm trying not to let it get me down. We decorated our home, have been eating lots of good food and are enjoying the snow and sun.
Henry has been doing really well with all the visiting and attention. We were sooooo sick last week, but are now feeling better with the exception of Paul, who is just starting with the cough that we had last week. Poor guy! I'd hoped he'd dodge it, and stay healthy and strong for work. I know he's anxious about calling in sick, not only because he doesn't get paid, but also because it's very frowned-upon there, and he feels like "the new guy" still. Just trying to dose him up with garlic and honey, and herbal cough tea, and lots of rest and water and hope for the best. Here he is, getting really excited when he saw that I had found a used copy of Superior Heartland for his gift this year.
I wrote about the "gift avalanche" before...thankfully, it didn't happen that way! Henry received a few wooden hauling trucks, and a horse trailer. He also got a barn with a few animals and some books. We gave him a little wooden train track and I knitted him a balaclava...which turned out well and is adorable.
Paul's folks gave us a very generous gift--SNOWSHOES!! I tried mine in the yard on the day we got them and they. are. awesome. Wow. We are grateful. And my mom and Mark gave us some money which we're going to use to get a conversion kit for our Chariot to make it a pulk to use with snowshoeing...they're really expensive, but we had the Chariot second-hand that Paul found on Craigslist before Henry was born, and now the ski kit is on CL too and we're picking it up today! It should be perfect for us...letting us bring Henry along before he's able to snowshoe on his own, but also to carry water, snacks and such. Can't wait!
Inspired by Grace's post of things she didn't want to forget, I got to thinking about all the things that Paul and I find amazing about our son, and the things we want to remember about his childhood. I kept a journal through his first birthday, keeping a monthly-ish record of what he was doing. But, I didn't write on his first birthday, and then shortly afterward, we moved and the journal was packed away, and thus, sadly, forgotten about. I'm pretty peeved with myself for letting that slip, to be sure! So, I'd like to try to use this journal to pick back up again and make notes about the most charming and hilarious little boy I've known. :)
Henry is now almost 23 months old. He's running, jumping and climbing. He loves his learning tower, and drags it around the kitchen to watch the stove, help me with dishes, stir pots (with help) and do puzzles and sorting at the counter as I work on my kitchen stuff. We dance a lot, and he knows how to march and stomp, and loves any rhythmic bass lines, or bluegrass music. He still likes to listen to his first favorite-Bob Marley and the Wailers. I will always remember sitting in our first herb baths after he was born, for several days running, listening to Kaya, and maybe he will too! He asks me to sing specific songs to him, with certain ones waxing and waning in popularity. Right now it's Three Blind Mice ("mouse song"), Somewhere Over the Rainbow ("renbow song") and Working on the Railroad ("rayroad song"). He has decided that he loves to play with trucks and little matchbox cars, and anything that rolls, basically.
Henry is speaking like crazy, and has a near-constant stream of babble and chatter as he makes his rounds during the day. He learns so quickly, and if you spend a few minutes teaching him how to say something ("read it please mama" instead of "READ!!!") he will remember and do it that way from then on. He is saying 4 and 5 word phrases, and has almost all his books somewhat memorized. It's the cutest when he recites little snips of his books to himself "no Pat no! sit on that!" I don't want to forget how he says things with his sloppy little toddler enunciation..."spesha joosh" is our special juice (herb tea), "puppy zammies" for a special pair of PJs he likes to wear, "nythe nurthe" for when he's asking to nurse...it goes on and on. He greets the day, almost every day, with a "morning! mama!" and tells us he loves us as we hug. He's doling out the BEST kisses, too. I mean it! The BEST. He really puckers up and plants it on ya! Sometimes he will put his little hands on either side of our faces and turn them toward him to lay on a big kiss. He does this thing that Paul dubbed "triple kiss" where he does three kisses in a row, really quickly. So now, he sometimes asks for "tripah kiss mama?" So sweet!
He loved being with his cousins over Thanksgiving, and was especially sweet with new baby Isaac. He kept giving him little kisses on the head, and pointing out his body parts or attributes... "tiny feet! tiny zammies! tiny head!" and "soft hair." Maybe this was good experience for future big-brotherhood?
We're finally home from downstate! It was really something special to be able to stay with my sister while she waited for her baby to arrive, and to be present at the birth of Isaac. I was glad that I could stay for a week afterward, too, to help them keep their house in order and food cooked and such while she got some down time and began her babymoon. Isaac is such a big sweetie, and Holly faced her intense labor and birth like the brave, strong woman that she is.
It was harder than I thought to be away from home and Paul for two weeks! The longest we've been apart was a few years back, when he worked in Washington for a month (this was before Henry). He was back home twice during that month, and it didn't seem as hard then. Probably, this was because this time around, I didn't have any downtime from mama-duties, and was also taking care of another toddler (and both Theo and Henry were sick), and the cooking, shopping and cleaning for a household of 5. I felt pretty emotionally and physically exhausted by the end of my time there, and really looked forward to being home. Thankfully, Henry was really comfortable there, and really loved being with "Aunty Howy, Cuzin Teeyo, Baby Eye-sat and Unka Triss."
It's been great being back, although Paul got called in to work both days this weekend for full shifts due to the huge blizzard. I have the toddler cold now, and Henry has an ear infection, but he's doing a bit better. We'd hoped to set up our tree and winter decorations this weekend, but that didn't happen...but we'll do it later in the week. We're getting our first real snowstorm here...about 20 inches so far, and lots of blowing and drifting. Right now, it's at a lull, but I think we're supposed to get this evening. I wish we weren't sick, so we could be outside enjoying the white stuff. For now, we're enjoying it from inside the (mostly) warm house.
We've been talking a lot about celebrating Christmas...what we should do in our small family, and what we should do to balance out time with the larger family. We grew up celebrating Christmas differently (no Santa at Paul's house, definitely Santa at my house), but neither of us want to really be part of the huge consumer glut that is American Christmas. We've talked with our parents about keeping gifting to Henry minimal, and we're hopeful that perhaps he can receive one gift from each set of grandparents, although that will likely not happen across the board. We don't want him to think about this time of year as the avalanche of plastic toys. Rather, we'd like to keep it as a time to be at home, snug, and visiting with family. Candles, a special tree to bring some outdoors in, feasting, gratitude for our love and our lives seem much more what we want to focus on. It's hard to balance that out with the consumerism, especially when we have such large families...at least two of the three families have drawn names to exchange gifts, so we don't have to have gifts for so many. Next year, everyone is getting something knitted, or baked!! I will be prepared next year...this year just felt like it snuck up on me, and having planned to be away from home for a few weeks, I just gave myself lots of slack in that department.
So, yesterday, I tried something we haven't done before. My sister's son, Theo, is obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine, and left a DVD of his here last time they visited. Henry hasn't really been exposed to TV much, just at other folks' homes in little nibs. We don't watch at our house. Buuut, in a moment of weakness yesterday (really, just a wish to zone out on the couch with my tea and being completely out of steam and patience), I put the DVD in and invited Henry to watch the trains. He became mesmerized and parked himself on his little beanbag to watch. While it granted me some time, it has now snowballed into him repeatedly running to the living room yelling "watch! frains!" over and over. He's brought me the DVD case several times already today since we got up an hour ago, but I've managed to hold him off by letting him help feed the sourdough, rearrange all the refrigerator magnets and eating breakfast. One hour down from this day, and about, hmmmm, 12 more to go, minus nap (which I plan to do right along with him).
I really want to run out to the store today so I can get some citrus fruit. Nothing is good to eat right now, and I think that would satisfy me. We'll see where that goes. I plan to rest, perhaps knit and read, and that's about it. I finished a hat for my sister's new baby, coming at the end of the month. Now, I'm making that balaclava for Paul, but not sure if it's going to be just right...I might remake it with bulkier wool, and felt it a bit to be more snug, and use the merino for a hood for Henry. Anyhow, here's the baby hat:
In the meantime, I hope everyone else is well and healthy!
We're not in the habit of using conventional medicine, preferring to use herbs, food and homeopathy as our first line of family wellness. We believe that we are healthy, and supporting our health lets us stay that way. Medicine is fine for something serious, but not our usual mode of feeling better. However, having some success so far with a more natural approach to symptom management, but not complete relief (read: nothing is helping us to get more sleep), I've tried some medicines to make him more comfortable with mixed results. Giving a small dose of Benadryl in an attempt to dry up his secretions to allow him to sleep without drowning didn't really work; the secretions were a little better, but he got so excited and hyper that he wouldn't lie down to nurse or hear stories. So, that's off the table. Last night, I gave him some ibuprofen and that seemed to help him rest easier. Well, this morning, I think I understand why...since I woke up with the worst sore throat I've had since childhood. If he had the same sore throat, I understand why he's been complaining like crazy, and why the ibuprofen may have helped. Well, for the molar too, I suppose, if that were currently bothering him.
I feel like a really bad mom for being so frustrated with him, and him sensing that I'm angry. There were a couple times where I snapped at him, and he put his arms around my neck and said "luff yooo" and that just makes me want to slap myself. Operating on a level of sleep deprivation equalled only by the first two weeks of motherhood makes. me. nuts. But it's no excuse, and I must be better at reminding myself that Henry is incapable of reason and understanding in the way that I am.
So, although I woke up feeling sick today, and didn't get much sleep, I am determined to be more patient, gentle and kind to my sweet boy. I can't believe he's still sleeping! And I can't believe that, despite my throat, I feel okay. It's amazing what an uninterrupted shower, a salt water gargle and sinus rinse, and a cup of coffee by myself in a quiet house can do. And, time spent with my first seed catalog! That's really what I'm daydreaming about...we started bringing up the sod in the area where we'll till for our vegetable garden (the soil is AWESOME), and the first catalog came in the mail. Fantasies about tomatoes, broccoli, kale, potatoes, carrots and herbs are dancing through my head. One year, I'd love to start an entirely medicinal herb/flower patch on the property somewhere, like with echinacea, calendula, chammomile, etc to make remedies for our family (a la Susun Weed). I know it will all be an experiment these first few years, but we're excited to do it (and to not have to pay for so much food that we can grow on our own).
I'm also knitting like crazy and find that, this time around, I'm absolutely LOVING it. I've been hanging out with a group of women and knitting together once a week, which has helped me in both the technical skills and motivation departments. I made a sweater for Henry! My first garment.
It went pretty well, but I learned about what to do better next time (like, measure for the sleeves, don't just guess). He won't get dressed the last few days, so I haven't wrestled him into it yet, but when I do, I am sure it will be terribly cute on him and just the right size (except for the sleeve length). I'm working on a striped hat for my new nephew who should be arriving in a few weeks. Next up? A balaclava for Paul to wear at work this winter. Then, a sweater for myself. It's late in the year for this holiday season, but next year? Everyone is getting knitted gifts!
I have these phases sometimes where I get interested in a lot of new things at once and feel the urge to learn as much about them as possible. It gets to feel a little overwhelming, and like there's never enough time to stuff enough input into my brain. It's like being confronted with a plateful of foods you love, like at Thanksgiving. If I could treat my interests like that, I might be better off. Take a little bit of each thing, and savor each little bit. You can't eat a ton of everything at once, and I can't learn all there is to know about gardening at once, or listen to and appreciate the entire Avett Brother's catalog in a day, or cook everything I think about, or plan the next year's worth of tasks, or be as crafty as some folks out there.
I'm not good at flying by the seat of my pants, in the sense that I do have an urge to plan and organize--you'd think I'd have learned by now at 33 years old that no matter how much you plan, things change unexpectedly. I'm not a Christian, nor do I know the Bible well, but there was a quote that made sense to me that I read (I can't remember where now)
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
Which, if you think about it, is true in many ways. So, I am trying to use that as an inspiration to not worry about doing everything I can at this moment to impact the future moments. Grace wrote a post that made me think about this today...trusting myself that I can figure out what to do in the moment, and learn and grow. I can rely on my intelligence and skills to sort out problems, and deal with things as they arise. And slow myself down a little bit when I'm really excited about stuff that I'm interested in...just because I don't figure it all out at once doesn't mean it will disappear!
Make any sense?
In the meantime, I wanted to post this video, because it really shows how beautiful the UP is, and makes me soooo grateful to live here.
For the beautiful place in which we live...
And for everything that I'm able to do, and all that I have.
Just had to put that out there, as I've been feeling whiny about stupid stuff lately (mostly in relation to material things).
I love my life and the loved ones near and far who surround us with caring and generosity. I am also really enjoying meeting new friends, and spending time thinking about how to work to positively impact the birth community here in the UP. And I love pasty pie, although I never remember to take a picture of the finished version to brag about. I make a damn good pasty pie, if I do say so myself. :)