Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dose of Perspective

This morning I went in early for a growth determination ultrasound for Gabriel. It is not only me who thinks he is growing quite my midwife thought an ultrasound was in order to see exactly HOW big.

When I was leaving and struggling to bend over and put my shoes on I noticed a woman quietly watching me. When I stood up and made fleeting eye contact she took the opportunity to step in a little closer. Her eyes flickered from my round middle to my eyes.

"Can I ask you something"? She shyly asked me. She asked me if I had just seen a particular Doctor in the clinic.
"No, I'm sorry I didn't; I was just here for an ultrasound, why?"
a sadness unlike any other took her over.
"oh we have been struggling with infertility for five years and I just had my fist appointment with this new Doctor. I was hoping you were also his patient; a success story".
I looked at her and saw in her face the expression of someone with such longing, of such a deep desperation, almost without hope.
As I rode the elevator down with her she told me of all the measures they had taken in the last half decade for a baby they wanted so desperately. I couldn't help cover my stomach as she talked, willing her eyes not to rest there for too long. I was unconsciously covering the intense shame and guilt I felt as she spoke. Shame for not always appreciating the degree of significance carrying ones child for nine months has on the very core of a woman's femininity. Guilt for the internal complaints I have relayed over the last weeks, anxious for this pregnancy to end, cursing the unpleasant symptoms it can bring. Those feelings as I left her with the most sincerest of well wishes turned quickly into such intense gratitude.
I am part of a miracle.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Case of the Missing Nativity Jesus

Ben recieved a beautiful nativity set before Christmas. We let him play with it and noticed shortlty after the key player was missing. We thought the swaddled playpeice would turn up over the next few days but it never did. This week we were putting away our Chrismtas decorations and had to box up the set without baby jesus, even after what we thought was a through hunt for him.

Later in the day we were in Gabriel's room seeing what last minute things we needed to get for him when Jon looked in his crib. There was baby jesus.

It would seem Ben thought baby jesus much more deserving of a crib than a dirty old manger so that is where he kept him...

Jing Jing to the resucue

The last two weeks of pregnancy suck. There is no eloquent way to say this.

Fortunately I have a Jing Jing (to understand what a Jing Jing is look at August/September 2007 posts; the doting Asian mother who moves in and makes herself "useful" with child rearing advice and bland soup for the six week postpartum period as Chinese custom dictates- My mother tried to assume the role, I refused...and promptly regretted this). Although I wouldn't let her help very much after Ben was born she has been ruthless this time around in making me accept help. I was trying to prove superwoman status or some such nonsense at the time of Ben's birth...but I am over that now. This week then I let her give up her week of Christmas holiday and come help me...tired, emotional, cranky and barely fit to be This is sacrifice in itself (as Jon will attest) but then I came home to find this;

How I wish I had a before picture... my house to the naked eye may have appeared organized but you would have been tackled if you dared try and open a dirty little secret remained hidden with the mismatched mess of spilled molasses in the baking cupboard (that was also the overflow pasta and cracker and salt and pepper cupboard...). My kitchen was a disaster that I repeatedly shut the door on, with intent to rectify growing stronger daily...but energy declining just as rapidly. Jing Jing however can work wonders with the order of a kitchen...I was the lucky recipient of two days work!

As the post Christmas week progressed we were cursed with a very sunny day. The rays put a spotlight on all the dusty far corners of the house that I haven't been able to reach in a good month. While the obsessive compulsive, clean freak, germaphobe in me was in tears convinced that my home would surely be condemned before we could bring a baby home to it... Jing Jing had other plans up her sleeve. Tomorrow I will be the grateful recipient of a professionally cleaned house! Jing Jing would have done it herself but she is busy with other more pressing things like giving me a prelabor pedicure...because everyone who has been there knows when you can't be looking your best, your toes should at least be pretty (Yes it was none other than Jing Jing herself that taught me that...).

I have a one hour prenatal massage on Friday and then...I should be ready to have a baby and readily able to accept the help and support I realize now is essential to the positive post birth experience.

Thanks Mom!

For "Babybell"

We joined Ben's friend for her second birthday at Build a Bear. Ben enjoyed making A monkey for himself and a bunny with a matching vest for his baby brother. He can give it to him when he comes home...complete with love inside...

Goodbye Poppa

We spent an enjoyable Christmas week with Jon's grandfather Poppa. On Wednesday Ben and I joined him with Grandma at his retirement home where a popular children's performer put on a show for the neighbouring day cares and residents. He must have been able to spot Poppa's secret moves through the crowd when he was selected to come up and shake maracas and his booty with a grass skirt on to one of the songs. Fortunately we got video evidence of this rare occasion! A few days later he shared an enjoyable Christmas with Jon's family and we were happy to drive him home afterwards. He was tired after a big week but happy and chatty. I thought as we dropped him off that this must have been a hard year for him, the first Christmas since losing Granny. Boxing day of last year was the last time she went into the hospital and we hoped he would have happy memories of this Christmas to get him through the day. They weren't needed.
He joined her the next evening.

Poppa, as he was known to us, Cliff to everyone else was, as the Pastor noted in his funeral today, special to so many people. He had a quiet softness about him; a gentle presence that will be strongly missed.

When we were going to explain to Ben in two year old terms where Poppa was now I began by asking him "Do you know where Poppa is?"

"Oh yes" he said without missing a beat.
"With Granny in the hot air balloon!"

Out of the mouths of babes...
We left it at that.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Ben's "Ice Cream"

If you ask what Ben has for breakfast he will tell you he eats ice cream every morning. This is you may be asking yourself "does he polish that off with a Pepsi?!" Except that Ben only knows what ice cream is because I tell him what ice cream is (yes I am drunk on my own power!)...BEN'S ice cream is not the Ben and Jerry's variety... Ben's is a little uhhhh less suited for the mass market.

I really believe that while Ben currently has an overactive immune system that results in anaphylaxis this is a temporary condition. I know his body is striving for wellness and can cure itself of anything if given the right tools. My job is to facilitate this healing. The first step was to take him off of cortisol steroid cream and daily inhalers for asthma. WHAT?! Go against Doctors orders??? Yup...and he has not had an asthma symptom in almost a year and his eczema that once covered his body; bleeding, infected and kept him up screaming at night while we tried in vain to soak him in oatmeal baths at 2 am is 100% gone. I imagine this is evidence of his body being allowed to heal without suppressing symptoms. The second step of facilitating Ben's "cure" was to provide him with the best possible food available to maximize nutrients... this means he doesn't know what a hot dog is...and it will stay that way if I want him to continue to love my "ice cream". We also have limited toxin exposure to the best of our ability because otherwise his immune system continues to be on overdrive.

So...without further adu... Ben's ice cream...

2 cups spinach***
1 cup blueberries
1 banana
1/2 cup pineapple
1 T ground flax
1T chia seeds
2 T hemp protein powder
1 apple
1/2 cup rice milk (or orange juice)
1 squirt of agave nectar
5-7 ice cubes

***all ingredients should be organic

throw em in, blend em up...voila!!!! It is actually really yummy...if you don't believe me, try it!

*** On a side note...I know people think I give Ben Chocolate milk in a bottle which I admit it looks like and makes me laugh because it couldn't be further from the truth...

The secret of Ben's bottle (which YES he still has and I promise won't go to college with him) is 3 oz hemp milk, 3 oz rice milk, 1T fish oil, 1t probiotics, 600IU vit D...

So at this time of the year Ben...while lots of other boys your age are eating Christmas cookies and candy I hope you don't think I am unusually cruel and you continue to enjoy your spinach...and your blueberries and fish oil... because this year I hope to give you the best Christmas present of all...the gift of good health that we want so badly for you!

(In my defence I was able to make Ben sugar, dairy, egg, nut and gluten free gingerbread men cookies this year...which on it's own is a feat in itself, considering they don't make you instantly gag).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Joys of "Two"

I ate a banana today. At no point did I consider that it may taste better if I laid flat on my back on the kitchen floor and squirmed around for maximum taste while I squished the overripe fruit into my mouth.

When Ben ate a banana this afternoon...he promptly did just this. He did look to be enjoying it just a little more than I did.

A Night In Bethelehem

This year was our church's second annual Night In Bethlehem production. Jon and I were Mary and Joseph for 5 nights last year and were happy to take part this year from the audience. It was well presented and certainly did it's job in invoking the Christmas spirit.

"Participants will become travelers who will journey in small groups of 8-10+ people on the grounds outside the Church to different parts of Bethlehem; where they will hear the story of the birth of the Saviour from different perspectives of people represented at the time of His birth. Personal guides will lead participants through many places with special surprises along the way. Have your picture taken with a Roman Centurion or a Palestine government official, walk and talk with a citizen of Nazareth, hear King Herod's response to the news of the Saviour’s birth, meet a Roman tax collector, see shepherds watching their flocks by night and bring home a souvenir from Bethlehem".

Ben took it all in and enjoyed himself I cold as it was! Baby Jesus was of course his favorite part!

Friday, December 18, 2009

With 5 Days to Go...

The stockings are hung by the fire with cheer... the cards are mailed, the gifts are made, bought and wrapped, the baking is done, snow has fallen, the turkey is in the freezer, the carols are playing... all ahead of schedule! Now we can buckle down to more pressing matters like Gingerbread house building...

Baby Jesus

As a little girl I loved dolls. They were the only toys I really played with and did so for hours. I loved my "Babies" and would dream of the day I would be a Mother. "Baby Jesus" is the first doll I remember loving. Yes he wears a (what was once) pink sleeper and was left outside many times but he saw me through my toddler years until I was old enough for the more advanced babies who could pee, blink, cry and crawl.

My Mom dug out this little well loved, albeit musty smelling doll the other week and asked if I wanted to keep it. No. I really didn't but it was sad to throw it in the garbage without a proper send off.

So goodbye ratty, smelly old baby Jesus, you served me well and as my practice baby did a fine job indeed; I no longer leave small babies out on the porch in the rain.

It is the end of an era...

I Just Love Them So Much...

The Big Guy

Ben did better than anticipated this year when he saw Santa at our church Christmas party. He LOVES santa and talks about how he brings presents for Jesus' birthday just about daily at this point...but I had my doubts about his excitment level once he was up close, let alone plunked on his knee. He was nervous but couldn't pass up the oppertunity. I am glad he didn't scream.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And Soon There Will Be Two..

Today is December 15th...My due date is January 15th.

I can't wait until there is less of "me" and more of "us"!

I also can't wait to;

-sleep on my stomach
-bend over
-pick up something without groaning
-stand without begin able to count how many places on my body are hurting
-run up two flights of stairs, at all...but especially without being out of breath or needing to sit down for 20 minutes
-unload the dishwasher since I can't quite bend down far enough to reach the bottom rack... I tried doing it on my knees but instead find it easier to wait for Jon to come home...
-wear nail polish and dye my hair (no I don't do either during pregnancy- I am not a risk taker when it comes to toxin's and the unborn...I will even give up a summer of pretty toes to be sure of it...and yes I do have a splash more of grey than I care to admit at 27...)
-be able to carry Ben on my hip, not under my arm
-eat anything without needing at least three tums to wash it down
-sleep without having to pee every 45 minutes
-Hold that brand new little baby!

What I will miss... this is hard right but I will scrounge up some things...

-nightly foot massages
-people feeding me
-people giving me their spot on a couch so I don't have to sit on the floor
-people telling me how fabulous I look (even though their eyes are selling them out for really oogling at my enormity and wondering how on earth I can go another me I think the SAME thing every time I catch my reflection waddling by and almost keel over...)
-feeling little baby jabs
-experiencing hiccups on the inside
-being able to justifiably wear sweat pants/ yoga pants every day

There...the countdown is officially on!

Come on Baby G!!!! My estimate is January 6th but I am praying for December 29th...feel free to do the same!


Ben has developed a full blown imagination and it is SO much fun!!! Yes it comes with nightmares most nights but he is quick to calm down for the most part and the entertainment value of the day more than makes up for it. He really only plays with 2 baskets and his blocks lately which are so many things... castles, buses, boats, trucks, blimps (???) and trucks. He always has a following of friends, namely the Little Bear characters; owl, mitzy (the monkey), hen and cat. He will often refer to his shoulder and ask it something..."No Feet" the snake likes to perch there apperently. It is wonderful to watch him create and pretend. His vocabulary is really taking off as well and is using very mature words. Lately he likes to tell me "Actually, Mommy..." I do love the second year...even if on more then one day this week it took 25 minutes, 2 tantrums and 2 time outs to get out the door... his made up singing all the way to our destination had him more then forgiven.

Here is a gem from the past week...

Ben- "I weely like poopin' Mommy! It kind of smells like apple butter!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bloat, Cramps, Heatburn, Indigestion, Headaches...

Either someone is in need of a bottle of Pepto Bismol or someone is 9 months pregnant. There are many unsavory symptoms of pregnancy...some woman get more than others, some get none, some get all. I am fortunate to get a few, and not usually at the same time. What I experience is leg cramps (with calcium supplements these have been minimal) at night, heartburn (because my organs that used to be a foot lower are jammed into my rib cage, compressing important things like esophagus's' and driving acid back up my throat...mmmm) headaches when pressure systems move in (because I have so much extra blood in my body) and great hair and skin...which serves to equalize my sacrifice. The worst and most chronic symptom however is my memory, or lack of. I forget EVERYTHING...I forget about the clothes in the washer so they start stinking and I have to rewash them. The load in there now is on it's third wash in a week...I go to the store only to forget what I went there for and reach into my pocket (of my pants since I forgot to put on a coat) and pull out a piece of paper that says "remember list"...I have to write reminders for my reminders but even they don't work. I forget appointments, dates, times, where I put everything, names and phone numbers. Oddly enough though if it is baby/child related I am right on the ball. It must be a primitive biological phenomenon that is occurring and proof that I am not meant for work outside the home because I am brain dead to the world with the exception of items relating to my family (unless it is to make Jon a dentist appointment...because I will forget to do that..). I am blessed to be a full time parent then because I would have been fired from any other profession last month for extreme lack of competency, the final straw being when I turned around and came home from my commute because I forgot where I was going (true story, this happened last week when we were on our way to the library...the destination remembered only after I was home again for an hour...). I hope my brain cells smarten up after the baby is born but I fear I may remain in this condition indefinitely. Ahhhh the sacrifices we make....I would have once described myself as a together, organized and competent person, today I am wearing only one sock (but you better believe that Ben is wearing two...that match his shirt). What I do remember however with extreme accuracy and vividness in every detail is the unmatchable feeling of holding a brand new baby in your arms for the first time; they smell like heaven.
You don't ever forget that.

The Countdown Begins...

6 more weeks until we will be a family of four! We got another sneak peek at our newest addition today for an ultrasound to determine placenta location; my last ultrasound showed it was too close to the cervix to allow for a low risk natural delivery. I was confident that my body is doing amazing things and it will move things around as needed....but I wanted to know for sure. we got to see the bigger, fatter even cuter version of the same little boy (he is still a boy...we asked) from four months ago. From what we could tell on the screen he looks JUST like Ben so it will be interesting to see if he truly does resemble him. If Ben is the "mold" than we will be quite happy with that one, we don't get tired of looking at him. Maybe future versions could switch up eye colour for interest.

Gabriel it turns out is no less stubborn (I say that in the most affectionate way possible as my genes can only produce stubborn offspring...) than his brother. Our last ultrasound was three times the regular length because he refused to change positions or be put out in any way and this time was no exception as he offered a repeat performance. I was coughing as hard as I could, with my bum up as high as I could go in the air (trying to get gravity on our side) and doing all the other suggested tricks the technician suggested, unsuccessfully.

"Would you believe he is actually holding on! I am so sorry but I am going to need to get someone to help..."

Another technician came in to assist and apologized for the discomfort this was going to cause (I am not worried about any discomfort really considering what is coming...but this actually was quite painful!) She dug her hands under my uterus and literally lifted him out of his position...we saw it happen on the screen and then he threw a fetal tantrum with flailing arms and legs of insult. Poor Gabriel...but they cheered at the result they needed (which was that everything is fine!) and Gabe could go back to sleep...wedged back between my pelvic bones that are evidently very comfortable.

We can't wait to meet him!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

...And She Caved...

Ben in under the purposeful impression that toy stores are the same as museums. You make look on in awe and take in the splendor. Occasionally you can touch and as a rarity you may ride on an overpriced motorized jeep if said toy museum happens to be Toys R Us. Never Never do the toys LEAVE the store however and the explanation that we have to leave them for other little boys to see seems to suffice.

Until today.

We went to Homescence to buy our Christmas angel gifts for the 7 year old girl and boy we selected. Ben was admiring the "artifacts" that had tripled since our last visit in light of the season. He is happy to hold a box, admire it and then replace it and hold something else. We have this down to a fine psychological science. Then with all the sudden excitement he could muster I saw him tear down an isle to pick up an already opened and mangled box of Tonka Truck books.
"OHHHHHHH I LUB DEES"!!!! he squealed and plopped himself down in the middle of the isle to read the 6 mini books inside. Other mothers smiled as they looked on, grandmothers cooed his adorableness, I took this opportunity to pick out our gifts quickly. I gave him a good ten minutes with the books and told him to say goodbye to them. He generally complies and off we go. Not this time. He stared at me in horror.
"Nooooo Mommy! PEEEEES Mommy- Ben take dem home wif me?!"
"Oh no Ben, they have to stay in the store with the other toys so another boy can look too".
I swear he rolled his eyes at this point as if to say "ya ya I have let you go with that crap every other time...but not this time!- but he is smart enough to know he will get further with the big pleading puppy dog eyes than a tantrum so he resorted back to his original stance of being pathetic.
"Okay Ben (as the studious eyes of the other Mother's looked on from their corners) you can hold it while we go to the check out but then you must give it back to the lady okay?"
"Okay Mommy". Whew!
He clutched this mangled box to his chest proudly and gratefully as we walked up the isles, to every passing person he exclaimed;
"Yook what I have!!! I LUB dem!" (oh fabulous).
they smiled; charmed, while my little pool of dread filled a little more each time; the check out looming ahead.
The line up we joined appropriately had an older couple in front of us for Ben's indulgment. Judging from the mountain of toys in their cart, they had a grandson (or 5) the same age as Ben.
"Yook what I have!" Ben beamed again at the man who instantly lit up at our little Tonka loving extrovert.
"Oh, yes what have you got there Buddy?"
Well didn't Ben wow them with his knowledge of everything about trucks right there and then and look expectantly back at me...
mmmm hmmmm. At this point I started to entertain the thought that this would not go as planned. I snuck a quick look at the underside of the carrying box.
$8.99!!!! Two days before pay day- not mine of full time job has yet to pay me in anything other than wet kisses and snot souvinirs on all black clothes. Accepted gratefully of course, but does not bode well for bartering purposes and thus does not leave us a lot of room for impulse buys...(did I mention that it was already opened, played with, probably transporting H1N1 and that out of necessity and skill I am exceptionally frugal....there was no SALE sticker in sight on this box...)
We're up.
"This box is broken and opened. I am wondering if you can take some money off the price considering the condition of it".
"Can I see the box please"?
Ben clutched said box to his chest... "NOOOOOOOOO MY HOLD IT!"
"ummm, can't you see it from there?"
"Yes, well, the books are not damaged and that is really the value so I don't think I can take anything off, sorry".
mmmm hmmm.

We are now the proud new owners of (full price) museum quality Tonka truck books which are currently in bed with him and will be forgotten about by Friday.

But boy you should have seen him grinning walking out that store!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Welcome December

We woke up to an appropriate amount of snow to mark the start of the most wonderful month of the year...It was the perfect kind of snow too, that knows when it has worn out it's novelty and melts by lunchtime...long enough however, for a little boy to get his fill. Nothing makes for a messier toddler than garden dirt and wet snow; he sure did have fun, until his fingers got too cold; such as it is with snow.

Home Grown Hospitality

I have taken up the 100 mile challenge; being to try and buy as much locally produced food and goods as possible. This means that anything that says KRAFT or CHINA on it is a no-no. This movement has become quite popular where we live with enough resourced to make it feasable. It is not very difficult if I can drag myself away from the alluring seasonal displays of impulse buys at the grocery store and only buy the essentials there as well as get over the convenience of one stop shopping.

This weekend Jon and I went to two new farm stores. One specializes in selling their own and other farm's fresh (or frozen) goods; 200 different local farms are represented actually. They have an on site kitchen where they make frozen, organic and local meat pies, Shepard's pie, fruit pies and soups with all natural, additive and preservative free ingredients. We tried 3 cookies and two macaroons from this kitchen. I would say the meat pies are also worth a try based on the baking results! They didn't carry a product I was looking for and placed a special order for me as well as gave me a bunch of supplies to take home and attempt making my own wreaths with after I inquired about the owner's talent. The farmers daughter greeted us warmly when we arrived and spent a good amount of time telling us all about their store and their objective. I don't ever remember the manager of Loblaws greeting me this way...I was impressed and will be back!

On our way home we stopped at another little farm store where "Hershey" the oldest and fattest black lab I ever saw waddled over to greet me as I ran in to check it out quickly (Ben had had his fill of local shopping for that day...he and Jon stayed in the car). They carried hundreds of bottles of soup and homemade crackers. A freezer full of raspberry pies from their garden slowed me down a bit and I quickly made my way over to the check out, insulting the slow and leisurely ambiance of a store that warranted more browsing. I put my purchases on the counter only to be told by the kind owner (who greeted every other person who came in by name) that they didn't have debit but he was happy to take "IOU's and Pinky Swears" I stared for a moment until that sunk in. He was offering to let me leave the store without paying....huh? This in my mainstream North American consumer brain did not compute. He laughed at my shock and reassured me that I could pay my tab next time I came in. Well hot dog to that! Be back I will!

This food isn't cheap by any means, not compared to what we are used to seeing in the grocery sale flyer's. It is however the epitome of "you get what you pay for". I think it is far better to buy less high quality food than more cheap food with goodness knows what in it (I don't believe there is anything in an Oreo or Cheese Whiz that ever saw the underside of the earth...). According to my meal planner for the week though this modest pile of locally grown food will feed us well for the week (with the addition of the bread and muffins I made today...and some grocery store organic fruit that unfortunately grows nowhere in Ontario this time of year) we will see if this works out like I hope it will!

Meal number one was wonderful; I hope Jon makes it every Saturday night!

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