Wednesday, 30 December 2015

New Years Musings From A Modern Mom

When I was younger (and not yet a Mom) my New Years Resolutions were pretty simple, or so I thought.  I'd consider "try to lose weight/be more active"; "read more books" and "keep my home neat and tidy" to be good, attainable ideas.  They were - or should have been.

For the first 2 weeks I could keep track of calories, and set aside time to read and clean.  Soon after that I lost interest.  As I feel everyone (or mostly everyone) does as the new year crawls forward.

Now that I'm a mom, and I've succeeded (very slowly) in losing some weight and increasing my activity level on a daily basis, my ideas for resolutions have changed.

This year I'd like to resolve to be a more involved parent.  I want to be active with my kids, not just for myself.  I want to eat healthier, and cook more, for all of my family to reap the benefits.  I can still try to "read more books," but now that has to include time with the girlies sitting with me and reading together.  And quite frankly "keep my home neat and tidy" has never worked for me, so it's not about to start now.  But this year I can resolve to teach the girls how to be more tidy and clean up when they're done.  They do that sometimes now, but not consistently.

I know the new year is an excellent time to start new things, or to renew those things that got lost over the year or in the holiday hubbub.  I think this past year has been a very successful one for me.  I started doing a few more things for myself that I had let go by the wayside after I had kids.  Being able to get out one night a week, I think, is making a big difference in my mindset - and my activity level, since it's a dance class!  I truthfully don't feel there is anything I need to add or change in my lifestyle right now.  I'm maintaining my weight loss, the girls are happy and healthy, and besides trivial things like "try to eat less take-out" or "magically find a ton of money on the sidewalk" I think we're doing pretty well here.

I want to wish all my readers (and "fans" if I have any of those!) a happy and prosperous new year.  Thank you for your interest in my blog over the past months - I hope to keep to posting fun and interesting things for you all to read.  I am always open to subject ideas as well - just comment any ideas or topics and I'll do my best to craft up something interesting!

What resolutions did you (or will you) make this year?  Have your resolution ideas changed over the years, or after having kids?  Share with me in the comments.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Now I Am A Dance Mom - 6 Weeks Later

Somehow I have survived 6 weeks of dance class.  True, I do only go once a week, but I need that down time to recover so I can manage the next class!  If you missed my first blog post about starting dance class, catch up here.

The exercise I get is not exactly a cardio powerhouse, but I definitely do notice some positive body changes.  While the scale does not reflect what I feel is going on I do notice a stronger core.  I actually have some abdominal definition now (up by my ribs, not down in the "belly" area which I can't seem to tone up at all!), and my hips and legs are toning up but also not getting smaller.  I've always had "big" legs - I'd like to call them muscle-y and now they are!

All the ladies that I've danced with over the weeks are so great!  When I am sure I have no idea what I'm doing they are there with positive words, or they take me aside and show it to me again and help me learn what seems so easy for them.  The environment is amazing for learning with little to no pressure to "keep-up!"

I have learned so much over the last weeks.  The words now mean something (most of the time!) and the steps come a little more easily.  I think part of the enjoyment of these classes is the mental workout of all this learning.  I'm not too worried, I still have a lot of learning to go!

My parents, upon hearing I'm taking ballet classes now, sent me this blast from the past.  This is me at 4 years old.  I have no actual memories of taking ballet, but I've heard rumours.  Now I guess I have proof that this is not my first time at the barre.

I did spend a Wednesday evening at Kingston School of Dance while Emma had her 2 hours of dance classes.  That's the night that Adult Ballet II happens.  The ladies that do both classes were asking if I was there for that, and when I said no they tried to tell me it's just the same as Monday nights.  Well, I watched that class and, while the steps are the same (as they should be - it's ballet!), the class moves at a much faster pace.  No time for me to be stumbling around and not knowing what I'm supposed to be doing.  There may come a day where I feel I'm ready to try that out, but it's sure not now!

This week's class was the last before Christmas break.  We got to wear tutus to dance - it was so much fun!  There were only 4 ladies that night, myself included.  I think there are about 12 ladies that may be there at any given week.  Of course with Christmas looming people are very busy, so I wasn't surprised that attendance was down this week.  It was a great class - as it always is.

Since we all felt so fancy in our tutus we took a few photos at the end of class.  I would have liked to get one with Ebon (the teacher) in as well, we did get a nice one.  Here we are, the ladies of Monday night Adult Ballet I.

I am planning to continue with dance for as long as I'm enjoying it.  Maybe someday some of the grace and poise the other ladies embody will be absorbed by me.  I can dream, right? 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

A Sallamong's Story - Children's Book Review

I was offered the chance to review a children's book.  I totally jumped at the opportunity!  The only minor issue I had was how long it took to receive this book.  Apparently mail takes a long time to arrive from New Zealand - who knew?

This is the story I read.  I (wrongly) assumed it was short picture book for kids.  Turns out it's more of a "reader" style, which is great because that's right where Emma is in her reading now.

The story consists of 8 small chapters - about 3 pages each.  Of course there are pictures as well.  My 7 year old found it a bit tough to read - she's easily frustrated with a ton of words on a page.

The story is very cute.  A little green Sallamong is starting to grow up.  The struggles he encounters are easily relate-able to real life.  For my kids the subject matter was a little beyond their life experiences right now.  (My kids are 4 and 7.)

I am always a fan of stories that make use of the caterpillar to butterfly life cycle.  I feel that is such a great metaphor for growing and changing and all kids understand that the butterfly is that caterpillar (their core stays the same) only "grown up."

One small criticism I have is that I feel the story could have been broken into two, with the part about the drought expanded upon as a separate storyline.  I like the shed the skin and start to grow up as one story, and family stresses about outside the home influences turned into a second story in the series.  It does all work together as a story of increasing stressors to add to Santos' mental anguish about changes in his little life.

Overall, great story: good imagination, easily relate-able to real life, cute little guy, and nice "reader" format.  I'm going to ask my older daughter to break it into even smaller chunks so we can read it together again as a learning tool.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

When Parents Get Sick - An Introspective

Having sick kids is tough.  Being a sick parent can be much tougher.  (Is tougher a word?  I'm not sold on it.)

Our house had about 4 days of sick daughters.  Fever, lethargy, vomit, the whole bit.  Then they got better!  Yay!  The plague has moved on!  As the primary parent (and all I mean by that is the one who is routinely at home more often and therefore able to do more household chores and all that) I took it upon myself to wash all the sheets, all the barf buckets and whatever else I thought might keep us from re-developing this particular plague.

Fast-forward a few days to my busy Christmas Party weekend.  Hubby's party and my work party routinely fall on the same weekend - luckily we do Sundays and they do Saturdays.  Usually it works out pretty well.

This year, not so much.  We had lunch on Saturday with the family after the newest cousin's baptism but I didn't feel my sandwiches sitting quite right.  Regardless I went ahead and ate, and then got ready later in the day and hubby and I went out to his party.

It was a good time - roast beef buffet, wine, and good company.  Until my dinner and drinks did not like their accommodations.  It was so bad I threw up twice at the venue.  Went home, threw up a few more times and then slept.

Sunday morning I had to get up with the girls (at 6:30, of course.)  This is all routine with us - I thought I was alright after a night's sleep.  I stayed up for half an hour and that was all I could manage.  I ate 2 tiny pieces of fruit and I had to go lay down.  That was pretty much the last time I saw the girls until Monday morning, in those precious few moments before school.

I couldn't get myself together well enough to do anything that Sunday.  Every time I tried to do anything, or if I managed to eat a few crumbs of something, I had to go lay down.  For at least an hour at a stretch.  I was so glad the girls were out for the day.  I even had to skip out on my work Christmas party.  That really bummed me out.

Hubby collected the girls from their Nanny day while I was upstairs sleeping off another smidgen of food I thought I should eat.  I didn't see them, they didn't ask to see me, and when I awoke he had just finished getting them down so I didn't dare peek at them yet.  Cue the mom guilt!

Overall I missed 3 nights in a row with my children and, rather than it feeling like an escape, it was a huge guilt burden for me.  Of course the kids have no idea - I tried to tell them I was sorry for not being there for 3 bedtimes and they just looked at me like I was weird for apologizing.  That didn't stop me from having a tear or two in my sentimental mom moment the girls didn't know I was having.

Being sick sucks - did I say that already?  Luckily when I felt better I saw that hubby and the girls did a good job of looking after each other.  Sure, there were dishes in the sink, and the laundry wasn't magically done or anything like that, but overall the house was still standing and all the advents hadn't been opened, and even Elf on the Shelf had managed to find a new resting place each day.

What happens in your house when one or (god forbid!) both parents are under the weather?  Do routines have to change?  Do the kids leave you alone to rest up?  Share your experiences in the comments below!

Friday, 4 December 2015

How Kids Change Your Sleep Habits

When I was young I could sleep through anything.  I never heard my sister calling out or talking in her sleep (unless I wasn't asleep yet.)  Once we were camping and there was a thunderstorm so intense it shook the ground - everyone else woke up (we were sleeping in a tent) and I missed the whole thing,  That made me mad because I love thunderstorms - I did even when I was a kid!

Now I can't sleep through any tiny sound my children make.  I definitely think it's a biological parent thing.  I call it "Mom sleep" although I'm sure Dads suffer from this as well.  Although definitely not in my household...

I can still sleep through storms or other disturbances in the night, but I cannot sleep though noises my offspring make in the nighttime.  Especially when they are sick, as was the case this week.  I'm sure my "mom anxiety" is partly to blame for this lovely sleep disturbance.

Any noise (a cough, an excessive rustle of bedclothes, a door opening) is cause for me to be instantly wide awake.  Both my girls used to have no compunction about throwing up in bed, all over themselves and all the bedding, and even on their toys. So gross!

My eldest still doesn't wake up fully before the need to vomit overcomes her - I'm sure this is the cause of my "Mom sleep" from early on.  She used to cry until she threw up as a very small toddler - back in the controlled "cry it out" and "sleep training" days.  Although now that I think of it I co-slept with my first child, and I'm sure for the first year of her life I slept in a continual state of "Mom sleep" where I would close my eyes but never fall into a good sleep.  I was always so exhausted back then!

When my second child was born she was a pro sleeper.  No co-sleeping required.  As a result I had to move her out of my room (she was in a bassinett) very early on.  Her asleep rustling disturbed my sleep so much that I would lay awake listening to her breathing and moving slightly, waiting for her to wake up to nurse.  She slept so much longer in a stretch right from birth than my first did in her entire first 4 months of life.  Once I moved her to "her" room my sleep quality increased dramatically!

Between bouts of sick children I am revelling in my sleep.  There are no more diapers, training pants, or nighttime accidents.  There is rarely a need to get up in the night.  The girls will even get up and pee and then go back to bed without any outside assistance.  I'm loving it!

But what that really means is I'm way out of practice when I do have to get up in the night - especially multiple times, or for 3 or 4 nights in a row.  I actually thought I would fall asleep in the middle of my workday this week because my girls were sick and I was only getting about 4 hours of "real" sleep while everyone was quiet in the night.

Do you suffer from "Mom sleep"? (even if you're a dad!)  How do you deal with sick kids in the night?  Any tricks to train older kids to the cues of their body (so they don't barf everywhere!)?  Please share with me in the comments!!