Archive for December, 2009

Starbucks

December 23, 2009

MMMmmmmmm….. There is nothing like enjoying a cup of Starbucks at Chapters while hanging out at the train table with my little man.

Except of course when there are 15 other children running around while their daycare providers sit on the other side of the room pretending they’re not actually supposed to be working!

I try to keep an open mind and understand that, when it comes to parenting, most people make their choices out of love for their children. I try not to judge. Well today, these were not parents, and I am going to judge.

As my friend Genna and I sat on the floor playing at the kitchen with Tristan with Emalea, chaos ensued around us. Children were running around. Children were grabbing toys out of littles ones hands. Toddlers were playing out of sight of the adults who were supposed to be caring for them. Would these women even have noticed if one of them were to disappear?  I highly doubt it. Twice I saw a Chapters employee have to stop pre-schoolers from driving the little ride-on vehicles too quickly and into shelves. All the time this was going on, three day care providers sat in their comfy chairs, engaged in discussion amongst themselves, not batting an eyelash. Only once in the hour that we were there did I see one of them get out of her chair. She came over, barked a few harsh words to a couple of kids, and then quickly retreated back to the comfort of her little circle.

These little kids were wanting attention so badly, they started to interact with Genna and I. We happily tasted the “soup” they had made and redirected them when they needed a little guidance.  One poor little kid, probably about 13 months old, sat in her stroller the whole time. I’m sure she had a blast.

Ummm, hello… you ladies sitting over there…. aren’t you being PAID to play with these children right now?? Of course children need free play time…. but they also need supervision!

The whole situation really un-nerved me. If I was the parent of one of those children and was paying my hard earned money for someone to care for my child and I found out that THAT was how they were spending their time and  THAT was how the woman was treating my child, I would be livid. What worries me even more is if that is how those women were “caring” for the children in public, how great of a job are they doing behind closed doors?

Ottawa has some really great programs and activities and I have nothing at all against daycare providers bringing groups to use them, but it is not a free-for-all.  If your job is to care for and entertain children, then that is what you do. You don’t let them run wild and leave the discipline up to a book store employee! At Chapters there is even a prominent sign stating, “Your children are precious. Please do not leave them unattended.” Apparently these women couldn’t read either.

I’m sure there are many amazing, loving care givers out there, the kind that love your children as much as you do. I wish these women would take a lesson from them!

Ok. Rant over. If you have a wonderful caregiver, give them an extra special thank you when you pick your little one up tonight! They deserve it!

‘Tis Better to Give

December 12, 2009

This morning I had my annual Christmas brunch with my wonderful group of girlfriends. We’ve been together as a group since we were 15 years old. It’s been amazing to have such a great support system for 16 years, and I look forward to celebrating many more days with these amazing women.

We’ve shared so many milestones – from having our first drinks and first loves, to graduating high school and then univeristy. The last few years have been filled with beautiful, memorable weddings and the births of five gorgeous babies (with more to come!)

There was a time when our annual Christmas gathering consisted of dinner out and a late night dancing at the bar. I have to say that I truly enjoy the evolution that has occurred. With busy lives and families to care for, it is great to enjoy a Saturday morning with friends over a cup of tea (and a few mimosas!)

Seeing as there would be three other children besides my own at brunch, I decided to buy small gifts for the kids from Tristan. I briefly pondered purchasing something for Tristan as well so that he would have a present to unwrap. Then I realized that I had stumbled upon a fantastic, meaningful learning opportunity for my son. I was hoping that he would experience the true joy of giving to others without the expectation of receiving something tangible in return.

I pulled the wrapped gifts from under the tree and handed one to Tristan, asking him to take it over to little Hailey. He paused and looked down at the gift. His hesitation made me nervous; I was worried that he was going to cry and want to keep the gift for himself. He shyly walked that first gift over and when he received a big “Thank you!” and smile in return, he proudly ran back to me, signing “more!” My heart overflowed with pride and love as I handed him the next gift and he happily carted it off to another friend. He returned a second time, eager to give another gift away.

At almost 20 months old, my sweet boy has felt the joy of giving to others, and was so happy to do so!  I am so proud of him!

And thanks to sweet little Annabelle, Tristan ended up with a gift to unwrap after all!

The ladies and babies

Day of the Child

December 8, 2009

In honour of the 2009 Day of the Child (December 1 – just a few days late!)- a thought provoking poem.

If I had to raise my child all over again…

I’d finger paint more and point the finger less.

I’d do less correcting and more connecting.

I’d take my eyes off my watch and watch with my eyes.

I would care to know less and know to care more.

I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.

I’d stop playing seriously and seriously play.

I’d run through more fields and gaze at more stars.

I’d do more hugging and less tugging.

I’d be firm less often and affirm much more.

I’d build self esteem first and the house later.

I’d teach less about the love of power,

And more about the power of love.

** From the book Full Steam Ahead, 100 Way to Build Self Esteem in Children and Adults by Diane Looma. **

The Journey Begins

December 2, 2009

I am 31 years old.

I am a wife and a mother.

And I think I have finally decided what I want to be when I grow up!

After two degrees and five years of teaching, I think I would like to be a lactation consultant. Unfortunately, this is not a career path that is set up for easy entry. Perhaps for health professionals there is a brightly lit path leading the way. But for stay-at-home-moms with a passion for breastfeeding, teaching, and helping others, I am stumbling through the dark woods to find a way to make this dream a reality.

Let’s start at the beginning. When Tristan was born on April 13, 2008, it was within the first hour of his life that I brought him to my breast. I was filled with nervous anticipation and excitement. As natural as breastfeeding is, the “technique” really doesn’t come all that naturally to many women. I remember holding his tiny body up to my chest and then looking up at my midwife with wondering eyes and asking, “What do I do?”

A few quick lessons from some patient midwives and a little suck training, and we were off. Nineteen months later, our breastfeeding relationship continues to be enjoyed by both of us. We are the lucky ones.

I know it is not always so easy. There are barriers to breastfeeding (lack of information being a huge one) that make it very difficult for some women to establish a positive breastfeeding relationship, and out of exasperation, they turn to formula.

While some women choose not to breastfeed, I would like to be part of the solution for those who choose to breastfeed but are having difficulty for one reason or another.

Enter the lactation consultant.

Lactation Consultants must be certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.  There are three possible pathways. Pathway 1 is strictly for use by healthcare professionals. Pathways 2 and 3 open up the possibility to regular people like myself.

Ideally, I would embark on pathway 2, which consists of a one year degree at an accredited institution. I love school! The problem? The only school in Canada which offers this program is Jack Newman’s school… in Toronto. Considering my family makes our home in Ottawa, this is not an option for me.

This leaves me with pathway 3. There is an academic component to this pathway, which I can do online or perhaps at Ottawa U in the nursing faculty, but the majority of the work comes from practicum hours. The final step to becoming a lactation consultant is to write the qualifying exam put  forth by the IBLCE.  On Pathway 3, I must complete 500 practicum hours in the five years prior to writing the exam.

THAT is an abundance of hours and will take a lot of hard work on the parts of both myself and the lucky consultant who agrees to work with me. So my challenge now lies in finding a mentor who is willing to guide me along my path and supervise me through my 500 practice hours working with lactating mothers.

On a mission, I set out to find a lactation consultant in Ottawa who would be willing to help me. Coached by my business minded husband Luc Levesque, I emailed a very popular consultant in Ottawa. I explained who I was, what I was hoping to achieve and offered to take her out to lunch so that I could “pick her brain” for more information.

I was elated when I received a reply in my inbox, and then gutted when I read the discouraging words. I was basically told that the pathway on which I wanted to embark was far too difficult and there really was no point in trying.  This woman wrote these discouraging words to me and then declined my offer for lunch – she was too  busy.

Thankfully, Andrea Levesque does not give up so easily. I wrote to other lactation consultants in the city and have been amazed by the amount of support that I have received. Many of the women at  Ottawa Valley Lactation Consultants have reached out to me with open arms, more than happy to help me get started on my path.

Starting in January, I will be happily shadowing Beth McMillan at her drop in clinic so that I can get a real feel for the work that a lactation consultant does. Thank you, Beth!

Oh. And she said she’d love to have lunch with me. :)

Conspiracy Theory

December 2, 2009

I am convinced that toddlers around the world are uniting  forces. There is strength in numbers. Their mission:  to ensure no unfortunate child is forced to become acquainted with (dum dum dum)…. the vegetable.

While we think the incoherent babblings of toddlers are cute and endearing, they are in fact spreading secret code to their picky eating counterparts. “Do NOT, under any circumstance, allow ANYTHING green or orange to enter your mouth. If you see this colour, alarm bells should sound warning you of the imminent, dreaded VEGETABLE. If this horrible substance should pass between your lips, it must be immediately rejected.”

At least this is how it seems to be in my house. Tristan will greedily consume crackers (or any carb for that matter), cheese, fruit and the occasional bite of meat if it is saturated in ketchup and mustard (a staple at our house!)

Well you know what buddy, I WIN!

That’s right. You know that delicious breakfast you ate this morning? It was eggs…. with squash! Oh yeah. You heard me. You ate squash. AND YOU LIKED IT!!!!  Muuuhaaaaahaaahaaaa!

Living with a picky eater, I frequently cook out of Jessica Seinfeld’s “Deceptively Delicious.”  These recipes are single-handedly saving my child’s nutrition.

The recipe for the egg puffs which were such a hit with both my boys (big and little!) is listed below. Enjoy the deception.  :)

Baked Egg Puffs

Ingredients:

Non-stick cooking spray

2 large eggs

4 large egg whites

1/2 cup yellow or butternut squash puree

2 tbsp shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat 4 (1/2 cup) ramekins or coffee cups with cooking spray and set on baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg whites, squash puree, cheese, flour, baking powder and salt until combined. Divide the mixture among the ramekins or cups and bake until the tops are puffed up and the eggs are no longer runny in the center when pierced with the tip of a knife, 13 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Blessings

December 2, 2009

Like most parents, I don’t get much time to watch tv. Of course, I do have my favourite shows, so this is where our PVR comes in handy.

During Tristan’s nap today, I settled down on the couch to watch an episode of Oprah from a month ago. It was a beautiful show profiling real life miracles and modern day heroes.

One story in particular touched my heart and brought me to tears. Stephanie and Christian were happily married with four children. On one fateful day, their tiny Cessna which Christian was piloting crashed into the Arizona desert. The plane was immediately engulfed in flames severely burning the three people on board. Christian, with a broken back, cleared a path for his wife and another passenger to exit the plane. Christian was burned on 30% of his body, and Stephanie a shocking 80%.  Miraculously, they both survived the crash. A third passenger sadly did not make it.

Stephanie remained in a drug induced coma for three months while her burns healed. Her family held vigil in her hospital room and worried about her future. Would she make it? If she did, would her life be worth living? Perhaps they should just let her go…

Stephanie recalls a vision she had while in the coma. She was told that she had a choice. She could leave her pain and this world behind, or she could choose to stay on earth, though her life would be difficult.

With her husband and children in her mind, she chose life, knowing she would have a long, painful journey ahead.

I cannot think of an emotion stronger than the love a mother feels for her child. A mother would move mountains to be with her children. And given the choice, I too believe I would choose to live with a burned body to be able to see a smile on Tristan’s face every day. There is nothing more valuable to me than to be with my son.

Enter Andrea into the story, a stay at home mother who felt that her daily existence of child care and play-doh was boring and painful. When Andrea met Stephanie and her family, she learned some extraordinary lessons about the value of her family, and the importance of all those little moments in a day.  The mundane activities that Andrea dreaded were the very tasks and joys that propelled Stephanie from her bed every day.

There are so many things that we as parents may take for granted and see as chores that really should be enjoyed as special moments with our children. Because of her extensively burned skin, Stephanie is no longer able pick up her children at times when she previously wouldn’t have thought twice, like when they emerge from the bathtub, shivering. What she would give, I’m sure, to be able to enjoy and participate more in that “mundane” task.

What a lesson to learn from this brave woman. Oprah said it beautifully at the end of the show. “What a sacred, loving, nurturing thing it is to be able to make lunch for your kids, to be able to BE there.”

This is a lesson I never want to forget.

The Best Job in the World

December 2, 2009

In a typical day,  I often have paint, play-doh, slobber or a variety of foods smeared on my shirt. I pick up packets of tea which have been strewn across the kitchen floor only to have them removed from the cupboard again five minutes later. I am constantly running the dish washer or washing machine. And I don’t get a lunch break.

Not to mention, I wipe up sticky smears from my windows. I am on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I have no corporate ladder to climb nor a high power job to dress up for.

BUT…

I am the first person to hear every new word that comes out of Tristan’s mouth. I am the person he runs to for a hug at music class when he is so proud of himself for putting the instruments away. I am the one to spend the first hour after he wakes up in the morning reading books in his rocking chair. I am there for every laugh and every tear. I see his reaction to every new taste, new experience, new friend.

I am a stay-at-home-mom, and hands down, I have the best job in the world.


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