Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The dreaded flu vaccine

Well, the time has finally come for me to make my decision about the H1N1 flu vaccine. Somehow I was hoping that there would be this huge delay and then I wouldn't have to face the decision; nevertheless, being a grown-up I guess means I have to face the real world and all its issues.

My broad viewpoint on any issue is to make an informed decision. Read, research, discuss, listen, ponder, pray, then decide. Also remember that we are all trying to do what is best for ourselves and our families, and that every decision is made in that best interest. I need to be comfortable with my decision for my reasons, to the point that I don't feel the need to defend myself with others.

In the end, I believe I will get this special vaccine. My family doctor is closely involved with the flu vaccine studies, and is one week behind me in her pregnancy. She also has two boys, the same age as mine. She and her whole family will be getting the vaccine, despite the fact they have never gotten the seasonal flu vaccine previously. Her confidence did much to boost my own, as I only know one other pregnant woman who also must make this decision. And really, it is the fact that I am pregnant that is making this such a hard choice.

The second point of view that affected me was my position in our family. Although the benefits of this vaccine have been shown to outweigh the risks, my ultimate concern on the risk side is for the fetus. However, if I do not get the vaccine, the risk is about me. And although the thought of losing the baby is terrifying, I can't imagine if something serious happened to me, leaving James and the boys. That would by far have the greater implications on our family.

The tipping point for me, however, as a person who puts absolutely nothing into my body while I am pregnant, was the information on those who have died from this flu. The recommendation is that as soon as there is respiratory distress, to immediately get to the ER. Most people who died from the flu waited a week or longer to get the help they needed. My problem is that during this pregnancy, I already have most of the flu symptoms, including constant headaches, body aches, severe trouble breathing, and physical exhaustion. Since one doesn't always present with a fever with this strain of flu, it would be very difficult for me to distinguish between a flu and my regular pregnancy symptoms. If I was feeling well enough, I would likely not get the vaccine and just be sure to run to the ER at the first sign of trouble. Studies do show that severe complications are not likely to happen if the patient is treated immediately.

James will also be in line for the vaccine, as he meets daily with elderly people who are also at a higher risk. We haven't made a decision about the boys yet, although I am leaning toward "no", but with the plan to monitor their illnesses closely and not to be afraid to run to the doctor or ER if I think it necessary. I may also play "wait and see," to determine just how severe this flu becomes in our area.

Well, that about sums up my position. It will be interesting to look back on this worldwide event next year and see just how big of a position it ends up playing. I always feel, especially with our current media standards, that these things get blown out of proportion. Then again, disasters happen, and affect the lives of hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions. And every time people think "aw, they're just blowing it out of proportion." We all seem to operate under the assumption that these things can never happen to us. And although I don't advocate living in constant fear of the great "what if," I do believe that we must face these issues as they present themselves rather than wishing they would simply go away.

Monday, 26 October 2009

A hearty laugh

Sometime back in the summer, our family was pulling into our grocery store parking lot to do some shopping. With the windows down, the tantalizing smell of barbecue suddenly filled our car. Up ahead we could see some youth with a few parents, their barbecue, and a sign, as yet unreadable, but very obviously promoting a fundraiser.

"Mmmm," James said. "Can we support our local whatever?"

Every once in a while one of us says something that becomes part of our family lore - and this was one line that stuck good.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The smell by the couch

I know pregnancy enhances ones sense of smell, and I have experienced this in a whole new light over the past few days.

It started by the love seat. As I sat relaxing and watching the boys, a putrid smell wafted up into my nose. I called James over: what was that smell? He sat beside me, and pronounced there was no smell.

I let it go. It seemed to come and go, and so I figured it must just be my over-sensitive pregnancy nose, picking up on something from somewhere else, maybe the laundry or the kitchen or outside.

But over the next couple of days that smell would meet me when I sat on the couch. My initial instinct was that it was due to an "accident" from Colin, who is still working (although getting much better) at toilet training. I figured he must have been sitting on the couch and some pee dried up beneath him. After three days of smelling it, I figured this must be the case.

I started with the couch, that being the easiest thing to clean (gotta love bi-cast leather!) A few minutes with a soapy cloth should do the trick.

Nope. Somehow the smell was still there. Okay, must be the carpet (no love for carpets!). Sprinkle with baking soda, scrub with soapy water, rinse with a wet cloth. Well, at least after all that work the putrid smell had to be taken care of.

Nope. Somehow still there! Down on all fours and nose to the carpet (not so easy when your 7 months pregnant!), the smell was definitely still strong on the carpet in front of the couch. Just as I was contemplating if I should have another go at scrubbing it myself, or if I would simply call in a carpet cleaner (drastic and expensive, I know, but I'm pregnant and not feeling so "do-it-myself" right now!), a grey lump caught my eye. A grey lump under the couch.

I shut my eyes. I opened them, and the lump was still there. I shut my eyes and pushed myself up to standing. Then, taking a deep breath (and praying it was just a toy), I heaved the couch back three feet. And there it was, decomposing and radiating a smell that was now beyond putrid, was 3" of dead mouse. Gross.

This is the area in my life that I claim girliness. James laughs at me, because I tend to be more of a rough and tough and tumble, camping and play in the dirt kind of girl. I'm not "girly" in very many areas. But dead critters give me the willies! Of course it's 12:30pm, James is at work for another 5 hours and the boys are 10 feet away playing, and so there is nothing left but to buck up, hope I don't throw up (pregnancy), and scoop it up myself.

So, victory for me that there was indeed a smell, victory for Colin that it was pee on the carpet, and victory for the mouse that the carpet/couch still smells disgusting even now that the body is gone. I'm guessing I will have to pull the couch out again and give the whole area a good scrub. Sometimes I hate being right.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


I pulled out my old lego box last week. SO MUCH FUN!!! I forgot how much I love it. And my boys went nuts for it, too! We played for nearly two hours, building and playing and building and playing and building some more. I played so long that I forgot to put on dinner the other day, and nearly let tonight's dinner burn! Colin even goes on long after I've had to drag myself away and Caleb has lost interest. We built this little van that he hasn't let go of in three days.

Thank you, makers of lego. Thank you.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Caleb's super hearing

You know those days when you wonder if your children actually hear anything you say? Well, I know for certain now that Caleb not only hears, but has super hearing! Last week we were out in the back of our yard, pulling up the garden, when all of a sudden Caleb took off toward the house. With a definite purpose, he sped up onto the deck and into the house. I called after him, but there was not even the briefest of acknowledgement. A minute later he emerged and came straight to me, holding out our phone.

"Phone, Mommy," he proclaimed. Sure enough, when I took the phone from him, the line was live (although the caller had already hung up). Somehow from the back of the yard he had heard the phone ringing, ran in, climbed up to the phone cradle, answered it, and brought it out to me!

He likewise will hear many things before we will - especially airplanes and fire trucks. Just as I long ago learned never to doubt Colin's sight, I now know never to question Caleb's hearing.

"Can I read you a story?"

At bedtime the other night, Colin asked if he could read me a story instead of my reading to him. He first chose "The very hungry caterpillar," which he read word for word (okay - he recited it word for word). But then he chose another book we don't read very often. He opened to the first page and stared for a minute, then handed the book over to me.
"I don't know this one yet," he stated. "Can you read it to me first, and then I'll read it to you?"
I agreed and read through the 16 or so pages, then handed it back to him.
He then proceeded to "read" the book back to me, word for word, page by page. Talk about memory!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Keeping up with the Jones

I love where I seem to have settled in for now. Having come through the tumultuous teen years, the wary university years, and the stumbling early motherhood years, I feel like I have finally found peace where I am. And the root of this peace, for me, is that I finally realized the fruitlessness of trying to "keep up with the Jones'."

I think this expression is obvious enough in relation to teenagehood and the college era, but I was surprised to find myself hit by this desire with a vengeance when I became a mother. There were so many issues, so many positions, so many persuasive advocates, so many people I wanted to emulate. I found myself very quickly being "tossed to and fro by the doctrines of men." There seemed to be no middle ground with any of the opinions. Healthy eating meant not only baking your own bread, but cooking everything from scratch, growing your own food and grinding your own wheat. Home-schooling was a complete eschewing of all things public education. Health care meant either doctors and medicine or doulas and homeopathy. Each advocate was so persuasive as to make one believe that theirs was the only way to successfully raise your children.

My conclusion: there is no middle ground. And so began desperate attempts to read and research and integrate these beliefs into my own life. But I didn't find myself enjoying the process. I found myself struggling as I tried to copy other's lives.

Then, somehow, I emerged from this shadow and regained confidence in myself. I realized it would not be worth trying to imitate even my dear, closest friends, those whom I admire as mothers, homemakers and wives. My own uniqueness requires my own unique approach in my home. We may all have the same goals but there are an infinite number of ways to achieve them. Success only comes from discerning what methods fit with your own personality and your family dynamics.

A book I am currently reading talks about principles versus practices. The principle is the idea, the goal, what you are hoping for in results. The practice is the means to achieving that idea, goal or result. Creativity and success arise from a multitude of practices. In fact, failure may be a direct result from copying a practice that is not the right fit for you. The author encourages the reader to keep their mind on the principles and to let their minds and imaginations guide them to the appropriate practices to achieve that principle, and above all, to not let the practices of others constrict your thinking.

The middle ground on which my feet are firmly planted has opened my eyes to the contest of motherhood. Not only have I learned how to figure out what is best for me and my family and how to feel secure and unmoved in my personal decisions, but I have also developed a greater tolerance and understanding for mothers with alternate practices. Raising our kids is not about convincing other parents why "my way is the best way." Rather, it is about a community of ideas and conversations of empathy. Once I realized that I didn't need validation from others that what I'm doing is right, the contest between myself and other women not only vanished, but left in the clearing of the fog much richer relationships that have spurred me on to greater heights in my calling as a mother. I have found my ground, I feel at peace, and I have moved out of Jonesville completely.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

It's that time of year...

Actually, I may even be a little late, but I'm wasting no time as I jump into the Christmas spirit. I like to have lots of time to settle into Christmas gift ideas, choosing just the right thing for each friend and family member. It's a good thing I decided to get going, because I didn't realize how difficult this year was going to be!

My first stop is the boys...and this proved to be a great roadblock. Our playroom is currently stuffed with toys. Every few months I go through and cull out the things that aren't favourites, just to keep the amount of things manageable. But last month I only came up with two small, rinky toys that weren't used on a regular basis! And so when I started considering adding more toys to the piles, I started getting concerned about what would get the boot to make way for the new additions.

My boys are too young for collecting (ie: action figures or play sets). Truly - some weeks their absolutely favourite thing is Happy Meal toy or Dollar Store buy. Imagination through acting is much more common here than imagination through toys. Toys seem to be a secondary prop rather than a primary tool. Add to that the fact that their interests in toys come and go so quickly, I felt a little hesitant to "invest" in some of the playsets out there.

So I sat up in bed one evening, flipped on the laptop and began to do some preliminary searching online for gift ideas. An hour later, I was still nowhere. I posed the question to James, and he came up with nothing either. Over the next few days I started talking with friends who have boys older than mine, to find out what the toys with staying power really are. I got a few good suggestions, but nothing quite right for my little guys. Up until at least the age of 5, there was nothing that was really going to have the kind of staying power I wanted to spend money on.

Eventually I did decide on one thing - I wasn't going to buy everything brand new. Although our budget could certainly handle the expense, I just couldn't see the point in spending that much money on toys that wouldn't hold their interest for more than a year or two. And so, with much trepidation, I hit the "online garage sales" of Craig's List and Kijiji. Personally, I can't stand these sites. There is so much sifting through garbage, so many "hits" for each search, so few people close enough to make it worth the drive, and so many items listed for way more than they are worth second hand! Nevertheless, in the spirit of the old tale "long walk part of gift," I dove into the murky online world and started searching.

So far, I have had a bit of success. I've figured out a few things to get: a couple of toys, a couple of movies, a couple of more practical things. Again, even with a budget that would allow a little more extravagance, a mountain of presents is not what we want our focus of Christmas to be, and so as parents we are practicing a good amount of restraint. The ideas are finally starting to cement in my mind, and the first few items have been purchased already. My favourite part of this whole process is storing the gifts in bags in the basement, wandering down every so often to "take stock" of what I have, thinking about each person who will recieve the gift and what it will mean to them.

With our baby on the way, I will be certain to have most of the shopping down in the next month or so. Gratefully most of our family members feel much the same as we do, and so there isn't a huge amount of gift shopping to be done; just a few thoughtful presents to show our love of those near and dear to us, something that will truly be appreciated as more than a gift card or an envelope full of cash. that I'm Christmas shopping, does that give me permission to open up my box of Christmas music yet? I'm thinking yes...

Monday, 12 October 2009

"The Monster at the end of this book"

Going through some of the last boxes my parents left here, I stumbled upon an old favourite book from my childhood: "The Monster at the End of this Book." I think I actually let out a squeal of joy when my fingers touched upon it. If you have never read it, it "stars" Grover from Sesame Street, and he talks directly to the reader as you read, pleading that you stop turning the pages because that is bringing you closer to the monster that is at the end of the book.

As with any beloved childhood memory, I was eager to share it with my boys, and a little apprehensive about their reaction also. Would they enjoy it as I had? Or would they find it utterly boring? As it turned out, this lovable "classic" was just as much a hit with them as it was with me. Each page brought an eruption of giggles, and I had barely turned the last page when they demanded to read it again...and again...and again. Now, Colin loves books and will sit and read book after book with you, but rarely has he insisted on the same book over and over again. My heart is filled with delight at this shared experience.

Another found treasure that also brought a squeal of joy: "Charlotte's Web." I'll have to wait a year or two to start reading chapters from that, but my excitement is bubbling over with imaginations of sitting beside my boys, tucked into bed, and drinking in the characters and stories with whom I shared my own childhood.

Friday, 9 October 2009

"I have confidence in me"

I'm taking part in a women's bible study this fall that has really surprised me in what I learned about myself. The study is called "Me, myself and lies," its focus being to erase the lies we as women tell ourselves and replace it with truth. The first week involved looking into your own personal "thought closet" to see what was in there - what are the things you tell yourself? What are the negative "I am" statements that are lurking there? What surprised me is that I found my negative thought closet completely empty.

I know my parents worked overtime as I was growing up to make sure I had a positive self-image. But only upon this week of self-discovery did I realize just how well they had succeeded. I have heard told many times that we as women are our hardest critics, that we hold onto these negative labels either given by others or ourselves. "I am not smart" "I am not pretty" "I am not capable" "I am fat" "I am no good" "I am not as good as so-and-so" "I am an idiot" "I am a klutz" "I am not athletic"...the list goes on and on. I stared in front of my blank page as I searched for that lie of a label that I was "always telling myself". And there was nothing there.

I was suddenly awash in grattitude for my parents. I know I'm not the best in every aspect of my life. I know I'm not the prettiest person in the world, or the smartest, or the most talented at (fill in the blank). The reality of life is that there is always going to be someone higher up each comparative ladder we climb. But my own personal self-esteem was never built through comparison, which is why I think I never clung to any labels. If I see someone who has achieved something desirable, I simply put my mind to doing it myself. My parents also instilled an amazing sense of confidence in me: they always told me that I could do anything, and I always believed them.

I think the other large part of this confidence stemmed from my upbringing in my faith. Right from an infant I was taught that I was of infinite worth, of divine nature, a precious creation of God, and that nothing God creates is ugly or wrong or garbage. God is good, all that he created is good, and that is a piece of truth I can own my whole life. Every person is created differently, and we work together because of our differences. Somehow there has developed a human tendency to climb for superiority by pushing others down; instead I have always been taught that I can reach the greatest heights as I help others around me climb as well.

I was a little embarassingly aware of the seeming pride in my confidence as I conversed with my study group; and yet I realized the uniqueness of the outcome of my childhood and teen years, and wanted to give the deserving credit to my parents. The most valuable lesson I learned is that with all the worries I have as a parent about how my children will turn out, success really is possible.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Random bits

Colin: "I wish Heavenly Father lived in our home."


When Caleb wakes up, he runs into our bedroom and pronounces: "All done (sleeping)!"


My nausea is taking another turn for the worse. Oh, and I am now suffering from migraines, but without the headache part. My only symptom: blindness. Not darkness, but everything in my field of vision becomes these wavy lines. I can still maneuver around the house, seeing through a small clear spot in the centre. But let me tell you - VERY SCARY the first few times it happened! Each episode lasts about an hour, after which I have a very mild headache. Worst part is I can't really do any driving more than around town, in case I have an episode and have to pull over!


Colin is (finally) on the road to toilet training. He is doing great when in underwear at home. I still send him in pull-ups to school, because he isn't quite that dependent yet, but I'm hoping that after this next week (no school until next Wednesday) he'll be good to go! Yay!


I am a wandering nomad in the land of literature. It's been over a week since I finished my last book and I haven't found anything I'm ready to sink my teeth into. I've thumbed through four or five different books, but nothing is sticking. Luckily "Walden" is seeing me through for just before bedtime, but I'm beginning to feel the effects of starvation...


Caleb appears to have the same spatial awareness that Colin has. He is already directing me around town. He completes puzzles without looking at either the piece or the space - he just remembers where they all go (even after only doing the puzzle once). Nothing is ever "out of sight, out of mind" - he can always remember where things were put or left.


Only nine weeks until I'm considered full term. That's not that long. Really - this is the first time I've truly felt like the end is in sight. I officially transferred from my doctor's prenatal care to the obstetrician today.