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Consistent Parenting – sigh

We’ve been having good days around here for the most part but E seems to be going through a phase of explosive tantrums.

Life will be just going along and everything is fine and then the smallest thing will set her off and BOOM it’s epic.

I’ve been at a bit of a loss as to how to cope.

This is not behaviour that we accept in our house and so this kind of epic tantrum results in her being removed from the situation (usually to her room, sometimes to ours).

But let me tell you, it’s hard. I sometimes think parenting is the definition of insanity – you know, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Across the board parenting experts will say that consistent parenting is important. And we try. Sometimes however I want to smack those parenting experts with their own book and ask them if they have ever actually been in the situation with their own child.

It’s funny though how sometimes a few days of consistency in the face of a behavioural issue will resolve the issue never to be seen again, and sometimes it takes time. A lot of time.

Something we’ve learned here recently and have really been working on is that our own response will either fan the flames, or douse them. If we respond equally as explosively then the situation will escalate. If we can react calmly without showing our own frustration at the event then the situation diffuses pretty quickly.

There are a few things that I have found encouraging lately. One, is that I’ve been hearing from friends that they’re going through the same things with their 4 year olds – it’s so nice to know that we’re not alone!

Another is that on a podcast I listen to the couple talks openly about their own 4 year old and the struggles they have with her from time to time. They frequently mention the explosive tantrums. What I always find as a good reminder is that they talk about her like she’s a baby – like she’s little.

My kids are little. L at 15 months needs very little discipline as of yet E at 4 needs more firm guidance but she is still little. I forget this. I remember her as a wee baby and she is so much bigger now than she was then. I’ve seen the progression from babe in arms to independent child and I often think of her as so big and mature.  When you spend your days with little people it’s easy to forget that they are little because it becomes the norm!

My point is that being reminded that they are little, young, immature, helps me to remember that I can’t have big behavioural expectations. They feel emotions in big ways, but they have no way of regulating them. It’s our job to teach them.

E especially is little miss drama. She feels everything to the MAX – love, excitement, happiness, fear, anger, and everything in between. 90% of the time she’s happy, sweet and tons of fun. She is an awesome, loving, kind, big hearted kid. She is an excellent big sister, because while she’s not overly motherly, she LOVES her sister. Deeply. She  plays with her, is generally patient, and at least tries (but doesn’t often succeed) to be gentle.

This also means that frustration, anger, and disappointment come out in big ways. Always at the most inconvenient and embarrassing moments (because why not). It is my job as her parent to lovingly and consistently teach her how to manage her emotions. How to show them appropriately.

It’s so easy to tell her to calm down, stop crying, or get over it. But that’s not really the point. The point is to teach her how to recognize the emotion and respond appropriately. After all you and I feel all these things too, it’s a normal part of being human!

I still haven’t come up with the amazing perfect parenting strategy for managing these behaviours, we try to be consistent but we’re also always trying new things. So if any of you have a great tip for diffusing a major tantrum please share I am open to suggestions.

Food Foundations – Back to the Basics

A few years ago I was writing about our experiments with “Real Food“. Basically we were working on cutting out processed food and added sugars from our diets.

Why would we do such a thing? Well, E was having digestive problems, I was trying to improve my fitness and when it came right down to it we realized that we were eating a lot of processed junk.

Fast forward a couple years and add another baby and we’re back at square one.

I would say that we made some significant and lasting changes when we made our initial push to clean up our diets. There have been some things that have really stuck – like always buying the whole food – as in the full fat model. Homo milk, full fat yogurts, cheeses, etc. none of this “light” or “fat free” diet foods.

What we found was that by eating the proper amount of the full fat food we were still able to maintain healthy body weights and we stayed full longer.

I’m no dietitian or scientist, and I’m no expert. I am just speaking from our experience, and we have found eating the whole food has been that it takes less food to fill the void so we ultimately end up consuming less.

Now, let me be honest here. We are far less than perfect. In fact that is the whole point of my post. I’m figuring this all out for us again.

Adding another person to our family threw a huge curve ball to my whole meal planning/whole food/make it from scratch philosophy. I got busy, and I got lazy.

I was still making a lot of things from scratch – I always will. I love baking and if there’s any place I’m going to putter in my house it’s my kitchen. But we had also let a lot of convenience foods creep in. I think the biggest thing that I was finding was that we were eating a lot of “treats”.

All of a sudden we found that E was having digestive problems again and we were repeating our visits to Dr’s, paediatricians, & specialists to treat a problem we had already treated and we had hoped we had solved.

So, here I am again, examining our food, and trying to figure out what works for our family now. Making nutritious homemade meals is important to me, and my go-to sites haven’t changed. I still frequent 100 days of real food when I’m looking for great healthy recipes. I also adapt a lot of family recipes to suit our needs, and being an experimenter in the kitchen I often throw things in a pan and hope it turns out – this has varying degrees of success for me.

I have also recently found the Weelicious website and purchased her cookbook Weelicious Lunches which is an amazing resource because E can look through the book and pick what she wants. I have found that a lot of the recipes include items that you would have around the house without getting into too many odd items. This has really helped to get better foods into both kids, but especially E. At this point L will devour anything I put in front of her.

Ultimately everyone will define “real food” differently, so what I deem to be acceptable at my house may not be what you would choose to feed your family.

Here are the things I have learned about us, and how I define “real food” at my house:

 

  • When buying a pre-made item I want the least amount of ingredients possible on the label. I also want to read and recognize all of those items – if I wouldn’t find it in my pantry I may reconsider my choice.
  • I don’t buy any pre-packaged baked goods, and very few snack items, this is largely due to food allergies here but also because I find they have a lot of unnecessary sugars and dyes in them.
  • I am not willing to spend the money to always buy organic produce. I would love to, but I’m not willing to break the bank on my grocery bill. Fruits and vegetables are the bulk of what we eat and I serve them with every meal. I always pick local produce first, and will buy organic if possible but for the most part local is good enough for me.
  • We will never cut out all sugar, or maybe even most sugar. Ok, I get that refined sugars and added sugars (and many sugar additives) are bad. I work hard to minimize them.
  • I don’t necessarily count a homemade baked good as a “treat”. I use sugar alternatives (honey, maple syrup etc.) on occasion, but I am going to continue to use white sugar in most recipe’s (like cookies). I think this is fine in moderation and a heck of a lot better than the store bought alternatives.
  • I use margarine. I would prefer to use butter, and I tried using butter exclusively for a while but honestly I was spending like $70/month on butter alone just for all the baking that I do. CRAZY. So sorry but my baked goods most often have margarine in them. I am not willing to spend that much on butter and if I cut back on the baking that I do I find we spend a lot more at the grocery store.

All that said, this is a journey for us. Sometimes we do better than others. I do plan our meals so that I always know what’s for dinner making it easy to avoid eating out. We are still experimenting. I find that I am constantly tweaking and making changes to the way we eat, or I plan, or prep to accommodate the stage that our family is in NOW. What worked six months ago doesn’t necessarily work now and what’s working now isn’t necessarily going to work in 6  months.

Let me also say that this is something that we have decided as a family is a priority for us. It may not be a priority for you – THAT’S OK! It has taken me a lot of time and energy to figure these things out for us and they may not be things that you’re willing to spend your time and energy on. We all do the best that we can to serve our families and we all value different things.

So how bout you? Have you been changing things up in your diet recently? What worked and what didn’t? Was it easy? Hard? I’d love to know where you’re at and what you’re doing because sharing ideas is one of the best ways to learn!

2014 Goal Recap

Whew, I’m behind. Better late than never I guess.

I thought I’d do a quick review of my 2014 goals before I set my 2015 goals.

2014 brought with it many changes and adjustments as we added L to the family early in the year. It took me a lot longer to get myself organized and out of the new baby fog than I anticipated, and so my goals well, some of them were pipe dreams. But if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time (I think that’s a Zig Ziglar quote but not positive).

SO goals how did I do…

After looking at my post from last year I realized I actually did better than I thought. Some areas fell completely to the wayside, but in others I did ok. Here’s the re-cap:

Professional Goals

  • I pretty much bailed on this whole area. I tried to continue working for Curtis a few hours a week, but we ended up deciding that my time was better spent with the kids, so he hired an assistant in his business to take over my responsibilities. She is amazing, and a blessing to us and the business having her as part of the team allows me to focus on the family for now and later we can figure out what role I will play.
  • Read Entreleadership – YES I DID! And I enjoyed it. What a great way to grow a business from the ground up. I would highly recommend this book to anyone operating a business

Personal Goals

  • Run 1/2 Marathon – YES I did, I completed the Run For Water in Abbotsford last May and wrote about it here
  • Run a winter 5K charity race – I registered for the Winter Warriors race here in Chilliwack, unfortunately there was a miscommunication about the event START time – the time they sent out as a starting time was actually the registration time. We had other plans that day beginning soon after the race would have ended. Unfortunately when I showed up and found out that the event started a full hour later than I (and most of the other participants) had been told I was unable to stay. I made my donation to the food bank collected my T-shirt, and ran 5K anyway but was unable to participate in the official event. We’ll count this one as accomplished these things happen!
  • Run 5-10k, 2-3x/week Oct -Dec – YES I accomplished this! Jan/Feb/March were another story, but we’ll save it for another day 🙂
  • I’m just going to say that the rest of my personal goals happened/didn’t happen intermittently. I was a bit over eager in my goals.

Parenting Goals

  • Read two parenting books – I did! I had already read one when I wrote about my 2014 goals. I also read Parenting with Love and Logic which was great and I highly recommend it. I may even have read a couple of others you could check my 2014 Reading List to see. I also added the Podcast “Mom and Dad are Fighting” to my podcast lineup. It’s so nice to read or listen to these things and add tools to your tool box.
  • Responding kindly and being patient – I don’t think that these are things that I will ever be able to STOP working on. There will always be room for improvement here, but I worked on this in earnest, and I will continue to work on this. I think it will always be on my list of Parenting Goals.

Marriage

  • one date/month – this didn’t happen, but we did get out a handful of times. We truthfully didn’t make it enough of a priority, and then we spent the fall/winter months cancelling dates repeatedly because kids were sick. Trying to do better in 2015.
  • I read the book Boundaries which definitely applies to marriage, though it’s not directly targeted at marriage I certainly learned some valuable things.

Finance

  • 6 month emergency fund – we’re almost there, so didn’t accomplish it. We again spent a fair amount of the funds that would have gone into the emergency fund on actual emergencies. I thank God daily that we got out of debt and started piling up cash because some of the things that have hit us over the last couple years have been huge and if we’d still had debt and no savings we would have fallen on some serious hard times.

There you are, a recap of my 2014 goals for you. Hopefully in the next few days I’ll be posting some 2015 goals to follow the rest of this year.

The importance of ME!

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I learned a valuable lesson about myself today but let me start by explaining how I got there.

L is sick. again. Again. AGAIN! This is a recurring pattern in our house. She is often sick AGAIN before she’s really better. Needless to say it’s been a long winter.

I got up this morning, dressed for a run, got the kids up, E ready for school and realized that instead of running with L in the stroller during preschool as I often do, I would be spending the morning trying to figure this out. I was bummed but you do what you need to for your kids, right.

I spent 5 hours in Emerg this weekend with her and I don’t question or doubt the treatment that we received there it was excellent. I left feeling confident that my baby was on the up and up. Yesterday she seemed fine. Today, not so much.

So, my morning run was spent calling the health unit (because I was wondering if this was a reaction to her 12mo shots), calling the nurses hotline – not sure why I bothered I have never found them to be remotely helpful but that’s a whole nother rant. Then calling our Dr’s office to see if they can squeeze her in – again. They rock and know me by name.

Sadly by the time this was done my opportunity to run with the single stroller was GONE. My stress level had also exploded through the roof and I found myself for the first time in all of this truly feeling like I had reached my limit. I wanted to cry and I think that those around me were just lucky that no one pushed the right button because seriously, I would have flipped.

I was still dressed to run at preschool pick up but I had not yet run.

I spent the afternoon being pretty short with E, holding a baby that was exhausted, sick, and very fussy, and feeling my anxiety level rising. But I was still dressed to run.

I took L to her Dr’s apt. Dropped her swab off at the lab, picked up some lettuce, and came home for dinner. But I was still dressed to run.

At some point this afternoon Curtis suggested that I go for my run after the kids were in bed. They’re in bed early enough and we now have light long enough that this was a totally viable option AND I could run ALONE no stroller. This may not sound like a big deal to you but seriously can’t tell you when I last went out without a stroller.

It would be a shorter run than I had planned but it would still be a run and I was on it.

So, kids in bed, I’m still dressed in my running clothes from the AM and I walk out the door for a short run.

Ahhhh! Heaven!

I should have done it earlier. I came home totally refreshed, in a good mood, having processed my day and ready to fly.

It was such a good reminder to me that I am important. That my time to process is important. That I need to prioritize me and my run.

You see I have this aversion to running with our double stroller. It’s nice. In fact it’s a beautiful stroller but packed with both kids it’s about 100 pounds. So when my opportunity to run with the single stroller and a sleeping baby was written off this morning by things out of my control I wrote off my run.

What I realized tonight when I came home was that if I had sucked up my aversion to the double stroller and gone out after preschool with the kids we probably all could have had a better day. I would have been WAY less stressed. My anxiety level would have greatly decreased if not disappeared AND both my kids love running with me. I would have been a much more fun Mom for E, way less snappy and a lot more motivated.

So, here’s to the reminder of the importance of ME. Of my time, of my run. I need it, we all need it. Taking the time out to do something that refreshes you as a Mom is SO important. Your family will thank you for it.

Oh, and the scenery was BEAUTIFUL. Painfully so. Can’t complain about that either.

Tomorrow morning I will remind myself of this and load both kids up to go. Everyone will be happier 🙂

Vedder Mountain – “The First Hole”

We’ve been itching to get out for a while but winter has been surprisingly busy, and add a few colds/illnesses into it and we just haven’t been able to get out much.

 

Last weekend we finally had a little break in the busyness of this life and made a point of getting out. E has been asking for a while if we can go up Vedder Mountain. Curtis has told her how pretty the views are from the lookouts and the top and she needed her curiosity satisfied.

 

E & I early in the journey

E & I early in the journey

Sunday morning we packed everything up into the car, dog included, went to church, then headed into the hills. It was raining a little but what’s a bit of rain? The kids certainly don’t care so why should we?

 

It’s funny because for as busy as Vedder is with mountain bikers and dirt bikers the hiking trail is very quiet. I’ve been up there a few times, and Curtis makes a fairly regular trip up and we have yet to encounter other hikers.

 

We knew at the outset that we wouldn’t make it too far as we had only the afternoon hours to our disposal and we wanted to be home in time for dinner, baths and the many other things that occupy a young family’s evening on a weeknight. Our goal was to make it to the first lookout, or the “first hole” as E would call it.

 

We’ve all taken a bit of a hiatus from our outdoor pursuits this winter, between sick kids and weekend commitments it’s been hard to fit it in, and the few times we’ve been out I’ve had a really hard time keeping L warm regardless of how I bundle her. This trip was no different except that it was dry enough for her to walk a bit, and so my baby took her inaugural hiking steps. Hopefully there will be many more to come 🙂

 

Baby's first hiking steps

Baby’s first hiking steps

I thought the weather was warm enough that with some layering she would stay cozy in our Osprey Poco Premium baby carrier, and while her body stayed nice and toasty her little hands and feet got quite cold. Her absolute refusal to wear mitts doesn’t help with this either.  She didn’t complain (she never does, she has blessed us hugely by always being a happy baby) but it is a constant concern to this Mama when I think my baby is cold.

 

Despite the rain, and worries that L was too cold the hike was lovely and did us all well.  I love this hike because although it’s not full of gorgeous mountain vistas the forest is BEAUTIFUL, and the well placed lookouts are rewarding.

 

The forest feels like an enchanted forest that you’d read about in a fairy tale. Lush, thick, the trees and ground are covered in rich green moss, and it feels like you should be watching fairies dance amid the trees as you trek along.

 

Enjoying the Enchanted Forest

Enjoying the Enchanted Forest

We reached our goal of the First Hole, enjoyed a snack and a beautiful view of the Valley that we live in and headed back down hill.

Family Snack Time! Even Roxy was in there sneaking stray cheerios and apple bits ;)

Family Snack Time! Even Roxy was in there sneaking stray cheerios and apple bits 😉

To keep our hike down interesting I spent the first bit of it running from trail marker to trail marker and completing whatever challenge E named when we got there – burpees, push ups, jumping jacks, high knees, etc. This was great fun for everyone and we all laughed quite hard at my efforts on the uneven trail. It would have been an awesome exercise all the way down if the dang trail markers weren’t about every 30 feet. I had soon completed as many challenges as I could and we were seeking alternate entertainment.

 

The feeling of  walking through and enchanted forest served us well the rest of the way down as the grumbles set in. We spent the remainder of the hike looking for “fairy houses” (read neat little nooks and cranny’s at the base of trees and other such places where a small little fairy might make a cozy dwelling place). This actually served as an excellent form of entertainment and put an instant end to the grumbling. I need to remember this trick for the future and use it again :).

Curtis & Kids enjoying the day

Curtis & Kids enjoying the day

All in all we had an awesome time and all came home talking about when we could go out again. I’ve broken down and ordered another bunting suit to hopefully succeed in keeping L warm on future trips this spring and our family will continue on this crazy journey of being active and outdoorsy with our kids. A true love of the outdoors is one of the most important things that I hope to teach our little ones as they grow.

E & Her run bike, Christmas 2011

Childhood Joy

I’m not sure about you but I don’t remember learning to ride a bike, I do however remember my first bike. It was a red and white bike with training wheels and a big banana seat – full on 80’s style. I LOVED that bike. LOVED.

 

Me & my first bike, April 7 1986, I was 4 years old

Me & my first bike, April 7 1986, I was 4 years old

We’re a bike family. Curtis is certifiably insane when it comes to bikes. He rides like I run – a lot, in large amounts, for long distances – like from Lincoln Beach OR home to Chilliwack BC. I also really enjoy riding my road bike though I’m not as passionate about it as he is.

 

E is bike obsessed. If Curtis is doing bike maintenance she has either her tricycle or her run bike out there and is washing/fixing/working on bikes right along side him.

 

E & Her run bike, Christmas 2011

E & Her run bike, Christmas 2011

She asks every morning to watch bike races on Curtis’ iPad. She could pick Jens Voigt out of a crowd and has been able to pronounce Ryder Hesjedal properly for almost two years now. You probably don’t know who those people are – they’re pro cyclists, like Tour De France kind of guys. And YES we will be watching the tour when it starts next week.

E & her Tricycle Christmas morning 2012

E & her Tricycle Christmas morning 2012

 

We gave her a Run Bike for Christmas when she was 14 months old. Jointly  from us and my parents she got a Tricycle last year. We talked about buying her a pedal bike for Christmas this year but she wasn’t quite ready for it and we decided it wouldn’t be fair to give her something she couldn’t ride quite yet. We did promise a pedal bike this summer though, and the day has come!

 

Love at first sight!

Love at first sight!

Curtis went out and picked up her new pedal bike on Tuesday afternoon. She’s been very clear that she wants a purple bike so with that in mind he went to a local bike shop and picked up a purple bike. He also had them remove the training wheels (though he did bring them home) since she’s done so well with her run bike.

 

The squeals of childish joy at the sight of that bike were worth a million dollars. I don’t know that I have enjoyed anything quite so much in a long time. She caught on to the two wheeler after about 45 mins with Curtis running along behind. The only thing that slowed her down was her intense laughter.

Shear joy. There is no other way to describe it. She was laughing the laughter of pure childhood joy. That deep down thrilled I’m awesome and I’m loving it laugh that only a little kid can laugh. The elation on her face was amazing.

 

I don’t remember learning to ride my bike when I was little but watching her learn on Tuesday night is something I will always remember – and cherish. I felt the joy bubbling out of a place deep in my soul and had that big goofy childish grin that starts to make your face hurt on my own face as I watched her catch on. I’m not sure of the last time the enjoyment of learning a new skill made me feel that way. I can tell you that after watching her learn this week I am excited to feel it again!

Very proud new bike owner

Very proud new bike owner

Who wouldn't want to spend their days with this face?

Redefining Value

I’ve been struggling lately with my definition of value. Specifically with my personal economic value. It seems I need to work on redefining value in relation to myself.

 

Love this little face

Love this little face

 

 

Curtis and I do a lot of dreaming. We look forward to the things we would someday like to do. It keeps us going, and helps us to stay on track heading towards our goals. Something we often talk about is what I want to “do.”

 

For some reason I feel like I should be contributing financially to the bottom line in our home. I feel like I’m not adding value to our home if I’m not earning some form of income. I toss around a lot of ideas about things that I could do to earn SOME form of income.

 

The thing is I don’t really WANT to do a lot of the things we’ve talked about. When it comes right down to it ten years from now I want to be doing exactly what I’m doing now. Loving on our kids. Caring for them daily, taking them to school, the park, swimming, and whatever else it may be that they are interested in.

 

Baby Giggles

Baby Giggles

 

My life today is exactly what I want it to be, and how I want it to remain. (If my kids could stay little that would be awesome too but that really is dreaming!)

 

So WHY this feeling that if I am not earning MONEY that I am not valuable? The things I do in our home and with our kids are valuable. They have eternal meaning, and a lasting impact on our family.

 

Today after leaving Curtis here with the kids for most of the day he told me how much he appreciates what I do. He graciously acknowledged how much work it is to take care of our little loves for the day.  He told me it was just as hard or harder than what he does day to day earning an income.

 

Without coming out and saying it he told me he valued me (and he didn’t even realize it)!

 

Wardrobe Consultation

Wardrobe Consultation – no you cannot wear your Tinker Bell costume tonight

 

I am fortunate enough to be able to stay home with our family full time which is a blessing a lot of people don’t have. I have never felt undervalued by Curtis, he always appreciates the role I play in our home. He accepts my failures and we laugh our way through many of my oopses.  Again WHY do I feel such a need to earn an income?

 

We do have some big financial goals, buying a new house, going on a holiday, saving for the kids college educations etc. There has definitely been more than one occasion that I feel frustrated at the pace of our progress so maybe that’s it.

 

 

Who wouldn't want to spend their days with this face?

Who wouldn’t want to spend their days with this face?

 

I think it’s more the response I often get when asked what I “do”. Maybe you know how it goes:

Stranger: So what do you “do”?,

me: Oh, I stay home with my kids

Stranger:  awkwardly withdraws from conversation while summing me up as some uneducated frumpy housewife – THANKS

I need to start responding with: I’m the Director of Operations at McHale Inc. my responsibilities include, sanitation, bookings, time management, sleep specialist, event planning, interventions, overseeing leisure activities, nutritional planning and arbitration, wardrobe consultation, K9 activities, and financial management.”

 

Event Planning

Event Planning – splash park!

Maybe then I won’t be dismissed as the ominous “housewife” – you know that all encompassing title that you’re given under “occupation” on government forms – and just about every other form that you fill out anywhere.

 

Sleep Specialist

Sleep Specialist – transferring from carseat to couch undisturbed

 

I also like the line where you fill in your income: 0

 

I love what I do. I love my kids, and my man. I love being able to play, cuddle, kiss owies, read stories, tuck in, discipline, encourage and celebrate the three people that are most important to me EVERY DAY. You know what, sometimes it’s really easy. Sometimes it’s really hard. Either way what I do here on a day to day basis IS VALUABLE.

 

Bookings - Preschool end of year celebration

Bookings – Preschool end of year celebration

 

I need to remind myself of that. I also need to let it go when I feel dismissed by some stranger in the grocery store because I don’t have a “job”. So what?! I  love what I “do”. Not many people are lucky enough to be able to say that!

 

What about you do you love what you do? I genuinely hope so.

The Calm

Welcome Baby Lorelei

I am thrilled to announce that on Jan 27 2014 we welcomed Lorelei Nevaeha McHale into our family. She was 7lbs 9oz, born at 3:21 in the afternoon.  She is a joy and a treasure and we are so happy to have her.

The Process - she'll be here soon!

The Process – she’ll be here soon!

Rather than bore you with the details of her birth I thought I’d share a few pics caught by our friend and amazing birth photographer Jenn Foik. I have to admit that I was a bit unsure about having a birth photographer come, however because I delivered E quickly we missed all the good photo ops at her birth – we left the camera in the car and didn’t have time to get it – we didn’t want to miss out again.

LOVE her!

LOVE her!

There are also a number of shots that we just wouldn’t get if we didn’t have someone else there clicking happily away – things like Curtis cutting the cord, or holding the baby for the first time. Having Jenn there to document our life allowed us both to just be present. It’s one of the best decisions we’ve made. The pictures she took are stunning, it brings tears to my eyes to look at them, they are so beautiful it hurts. I can’t thank her enough for the service she provided us!

Getting to know her

Getting to know her

I also want to thank our awesome midwives, Cheryl Mount, and her student Erin Liang from Chilliwack Midwifery. The care they provided in both pre and postnatal visits was amazing and it made this process so much easier. I loved having them available to call for advice or information between appointments knowing that they would always take the time to give me the answers I needed.

Meeting Daddy

Meeting Daddy

I’ll leave you with my absolute favourite shot, there really aren’t words to express the emotion that Jenn captured in this picture. I want to print it on a huge canvas and hang it in my room.

The Calm

The Calm

 

All photos are courtesy of Jennifer Foik Photography

 

 

Can't stop loving this kid!

Adding Tools to my Toolbox

I’ve recently been reading “You Can’t Make Me [But I Can Be Persuaded]” by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias.  It’s a parenting book that will hopefully fill my Mommy tool box with useful tools to help this strong willed Momma lovingly guide my strong willed daughter through this thing called life while highlighting and bringing out the positive aspects of both of our personalities.

If I’ve said this once I’ve said it 100 times; E and I are two people cut from the same cloth. She is a 3 year old version of me. Our strong wills battle against each other on a daily basis. I often find the two of us locked into the same battles over and over again. My will against hers. The problem is that I am the parent here. I’m supposed to be the mature one in this relationship and yet I regularly find that my 3 year old gets the better of me.

I hear myself speaking to her, issuing commands, and rather unsuccessfully trying to “negotiate” and I think to myself “no wonder she doesn’t want to capitulate, I wouldn’t either.” I regularly find myself fearing that I am going to shred any hope of ever having a relationship with my daughter to tiny little irreparable pieces before she even enters school. I want to avoid this with all my heart.

What do I long for? Well, I long for a slightly less co-dependent Lorelai & Rory relationship. I want a closeness with her – and any other kids that come along – that is secure. I want her to know she can come to me no matter what. I want her to know she is unconditionally loved. Period. My question has been HOW? This kid gets the better of me on a regular basis and I lose my cool. HOW.

Enter my current book choice. I generally hate “labels” like “Strong Willed Child.” I think they have such negative connotations. I don’t view E’s strong will (or my own) as a negative trait. This stubborn streak that is firmly implanted in her is exactly what will someday make her a tenacious, competent, intelligent adult that knows what she wants AND how to go about accomplishing the goal. I do not want to crush that in her. I do want to help her guide it and learn to use this personality trait as positively as possible.

Can't stop loving this kid!

Can’t stop loving this kid!

As I’ve been reading (and I’m only half way through) I have been able to put SO many little things into practice that have already made my days easier. One of the things that has struck me most (and that I have been working through for a while even before starting in on this book) is how much I need to work on MYSELF. This isn’t all about molding E into an awesome little person. It’s also about molding her Mommy into an adult that can pick her battles. Be gracious, firm, loving, patient, and kind. I need to be a better person for her. I need to be able to move past my own desire to stick to my guns (sometimes) in order to help E learn to channel her own strong will into something useful.

So much of parenting is about the parent. How I react, how I respond, how I understand my child. Being able to put her first and me second. Choosing my battles wisely, allowing that outfit that makes my skin crawl slide because it makes her feel like a princess. I have to resist my own urge to push certain issues to the death so that she knows that when I do press an issue it’s really time to listen. I need to choose my battles wisely. I need to ask myself more often; if a month from now, six months, a year, five years, ten years from now does this issue I’m fighting over today really matter? If the answer is no then why am I fighting it?

One thing this book is hammering home is that my approach is everything. Deep down I knew this. I’ve been struggling with it for a while just not really sure of how to change it. What reading this book has done so far is give me some of the tools I need to do something about it. It’s been showing me how to best approach a topic and garner the best possible outcome, all the while understanding that these techniques aren’t always going to work, and sometimes we will have to do things the hard way.

Something else that has also been significant to me is that her response and willingness to comply with me is directly related to how much she values her relationship with me. It all comes back to relationship. Which is what I want so desperately to preserve with her.

So is this one book going to give me all the answers? No. So much of this process is trial and error. Figuring out what works for me and what works for her. What garners a good response and what is ineffective, while understanding that what works once may not work every time. One book, ten books, or a hundred books are not going to unlock all the secrets to parenting without ever butting heads with your child. That said, anything that makes this process a little bit easier is welcome!

Is this book going to have a significant impact on the way that I parent YES. It already has. I can already tell you that E and I have had much easier days since I started reading. I knew that I needed to make some changes in the way I was parenting I just wasn’t sure how. Now I have a few more tools that are helping my days run more smoothly.  I feel a bit more capable of navigating a day with my little one. I don’t feel like every task is a struggle, and I am enjoying it. I still have a long way to go, and will always be working on learning to do things better but today I would say that we are making progress!

2014 Goals

If 2013 was a year of change for us, then 2014 is even more so. We are excited to be imminently expecting the arrival of our second child in late January and I can’t wait to see what’s in-store for us this year especially since it’s kicking off with such a bang.

I’ve set goals a little differently this year in hopes of accomplishing a few more of them, and rounding things out a little bit more so that life is a bit more balanced. Again my thinking here is that I will hopefully have a better chance of success with more of my goals.

Another thing I’ve tried to do is set a deadline and/or come up with an action plan for each goal again to try and help myself succeed.

Professional Goals

  • Continue to work for Curtis 2 mornings/week after the baby arrives (or at least 2 x 2 1/2 hour chunks of time /week)
  • Provide regular accountability for his business goals – we’re still working out whether this will be monthly or quarterly, but we are making it a priority!
  • Read Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership

Personal Goals

I’ve been told numerous times by multiple people this year that I don’t take enough time for myself. This message hit home hardest when my Mom recently asked a few pointed questions about the time I am taking for myself and came right out and said I was starving myself of personal time. It was one of those days when we’d been struggling around here and I called her after E was in bed crying because I felt like such a failure. Her kind encouragement, and gentle reminders of the things she did for herself while we were growing up were eye opening for me. She also helped me to see more clearly that if I am not refueling myself then I won’t be able to pour into my family and friends the way that I would want to. So, here we go;

  • Go away with friends 1 weekend this year
  • Loose baby weight by June 2014
  • Run 1/2 Marathon – I am registered for the Run For Water in Abbotsford BC on May 25/2014. This goal has been my Unicorn for a couple of years now so this IS happening this year.
  • Run the Round The Lake trail race in Cultus Lake in October this year (as long as it doesn’t fall on E’s B-day, then we’ll see)
  • Run a 5K charity race in December (like the Santa Shuffle)
  • Continue to Run 5-10K 2-3x/week Oct-Dec 2014 (these are the months that I get lazy!)
  • Do 1 Strength work out/week
  • Spend 1 night/month out FOR ME (I’ve already done this in January, I was at the movies with some friends this week, so we are off to a good start!)
  • Revisit goals monthly – w/ Curtis as possible
  • Make 1 post per week on this blog

Parenting Goals

I know that all parents struggle with their kids along the way, but I want to be the BEST parent that I can be to my kids. I want them to know that they are the most amazing things I’ve done EVER and that they are unconditionally loved and cherished. I want to build a relationship with them that they VALUE deeply. There are a lot of days right now that I fail with E and I want to change that. That means I need to make a concentrated effort to bring about change in this area of my life and so here are my goals:

  • Give E 1/2 hour of my undivided attention every day
  • Attend 1 parenting seminar or class on setting boundaries and effective discipline – or something of the sort. I need a few more tools in my tool box.
  • Read 2 parenting books (I am already reading “You Can’t Make Me [but I can be persuaded]” by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias, so far it is very eye opening)
  • Work continually on responding more kindly and having more patience – these are things I often struggle with. I hear myself speak and then think “Well that wasn’t very loving”. I MUST IMPROVE THIS! I have put some gentle reminders by the kitchen sink to help me keep this in mind.

Marriage

Having an awesome marriage takes work. I have a great man, I love him dearly and don’t know how I would ever survive without him. I also think we have an awesome marriage but why not work at making it better? I certainly don’t want to wake up in 10 years and question who this person next to me is. We’ve watched too many quality marriages crumble over the last few years to be naieve enough to assume that we can just sail through without effort. Having a quality marriage is a lot of work, but I know it’s worthwhile so I want to invest in it and make sure that our marriage continues to thrive.

  • Go on 1 date/ month after March – even if it’s free (we’ve averaged about 3-4 a year since having kids so one a month would be a big step up).
  • Go away ALONE for 1 weekend by Nov 2014 (we spent our first night home alone since having E in December so again, if we can do this it’s huge for us).
  • Read 1 marriage/relationship building book that will help us grow. Right now I’m thinking of re-reading the 5 Love Languages as I found it monumentally helpful a few years back, but my book choice may change.

Financial

Family finance has been a huge thing for us over the past couple of years and it’s still extremely important. We had a number of big “set backs” in 2013 as we worked towards building an emergency fund of 6 months worth of income and so we are still working towards this goal.

  • Complete our 6 month emergency fund – hopefully by June but at the very least by the end of the year.
  • Read Rabbi Lapin’s Thou Shall Prosper – by March
  • Read Total Money Makeover in January – This is becoming an annual thing and I think it’s a great way to start the year. It reminds us of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. Also, we are once again running a small group at our church based on the book starting in February.

So there you have it. This and a few more things that I have chosen not to share publicly will be what I use as my compass to guide my decisions this year. Will I accomplish all of them? No. Is my life better for trying? YES. If we strive for nothing we will hit it every time. If we strive for something then we have moved the needle regardless of whether we achieve the goal or not. Setting goals for our life last year made 2013 a stellar year. I can only anticipate that 2014 will be better. Why not try to make it the best one yet?