Funk. FUnk.

The time is just whooshing by and I find myself more often than not staring at my hands, at the environment surrounding me and feeling paralyzed.

 

So weird.

This blog, my projects, everything has been put on the back burner as we got things in order for me to get my own car (aw heck yeah), and for the Mister to go on his trip (for which he leaves early tomorrow morning). I can kind of breathe a sigh of relief, at least, I will, once he returns home safely this Monday.

 

I’ve just been knocked for a loop here. In a funk with my writing, with the goals I have and didn’t write down. I find myself feeling like a kid who has forgotten some integral homework assignment and can’t remember what it was.

The only answer I can find is to write. And then write some more.

 

Then maybe it’ll all come back to me.

What I’ve Learned about Breastfeeding (or: Boobies are Magical)

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Spurred on by the fact I’ve been breastfeeding one child or another for two and a half years (save for a couple months just prior to Freya’s birth) I thought I’d share what I’ve learned. Super awesome Carmen from ShugarLove posted some facts she’s recently learned about breastfeeding, so I thought I’d chime in with what I’ve learned through experience! Boobs are magical.

 

  •  Breastfeeding helps make the nights easier. Freya sleeps in my bed with me. Co-sleeping is a fabulous way to take advantage of a mother’s heightened awareness of her child and when done safely, can pretty much guarantee that you’re making the most of what can sometimes not be an entirely restful night. Learning to side-lie and nurse prevents me from having to even wake up all the way to feed Freya. She’s so close I can feel her stirring and she’s latched on and happily feeding before she has a chance to even make a peep. I can then go to back sleep while she’s breastfeeding and when she’s done she falls asleep too, slips off and we’re back to snuggling! Bonus – the hormones released by breastfeeding (oxytocin) helps me go back to sleep so quickly I hardly remember waking up with her at all the next day.

 

 

  •  Babywearing is the best way to get things done with little ones and also helps with milk production. When a mother is in close proximity with her infant throughout the day, her body produces more milk – even after wearing Freya for only a couple hours today, I’ve noticed a huge difference in the quantity of milk!

 

 

  • Breastmilk is amazing for skin, for rashes, eye infections… pretty much anything. I’m not above admitting that I chased Annabelle around the house once when she had an minor ee infection shooting milk at her trying to hit her in the eye. It was excellent, silly, and did wonders for her.

 

  • Pumping is not a reliable indicator of how much milk you make. Poop/pee and weight gain are. Letting go of society’s obsession with numbers and quantifying everything can save you a lot of heart-ache. Babies are much better than pumps at getting milk out. If you’re hydrated, nursing on demand (for food AND comfort), and baby is filling diapers and growing well, you make enough milk. Until you’re sure you are, avoid pacifiers and bottles. Learning to let myself trust my body to meet my baby’s needs has been an amazing and empowering lesson for me.

 

  • Support is everything. I can’t overstate this. I would not have been nearly as successful had my partner not been 110% invested in helping me, encouraging me and  taking an interest in breastfeeding. Getting in touch with other mothers who breastfeed, natural parenting groups and trying to find environments where breastfeeding is normal is so helpful as a new mother. Truth be told, it doesn’t come naturally. It can be awkward to feed a newborn when you’re both trying to figure yourselves out – making sure you’re covered properly because someone might be offended should be the least of your worries.

 

I really hope that this might give you some insights and if there are any new moms out there reading this – trust: like anything, breastfeeding takes practice, and when you’re feeding your baby, no matter how awkward you may feel about it, know that YOU are your babies mother, and that you can nourish your new baby and help him or her grow just like you did while they were inside. Your boobies are magic.

Simplifying in 2014

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I stood in the middle of a frozen lake for the first time

This year is being attacked with enthusiasm characteristic of my do-stuff-headfirst attitude and that’s the way I like it! Handmade Freedom is central to my plans and hopes for 2014 and I’ve got my handknit spun-from-angel’s-hair big girl panties on, so let’s do this.

First things first though, cleaning up after the crazy of 2013 – I re-evaluated my life, created new friendships with women who keep me going every day and had my new precious little baby. Before progress can be made with all the goals and dreams of my heart, I’ve got to simplify.

There’s too much stuff, too much mess, too much mental blockage happening to distract me from my focus – my children, my love, my hobbies and the running of my home.

So here’s the plan:

  • Go through all the little hiding places of the house, like the tops of closets, in cabinets and drawers and purge, purge, purge. If it’s not beautiful, useful and/or durable, it goes. The perfect example of that kind of object is my tea kettle. It’s enameled cast-iron and will likely last me my entire life, it’s the most beautiful shade of Carribean blue and it can boil 1.7 litres of water for tea – more than enough for myself, my sweetheart and some friends. As I move through my home choosing what will stay or go, I’m keeping in mind some things might fit all of these categories but are just not used by us – they can go too. Ideally, I want there to be plenty of space for things to ‘breathe’, to be arranged nicely to encourage us to keep things uncluttered. It’s not going to be easy but it will be necessary.
  • Be mindful of what I buy. I love thrifting. I have found so many wonderful things at the less-than-stellar thrift shops we have here, and I’ve tried to pay attention to the value of what I’m bringing into my home as I try to simplify. For the most part, it has been upgrades to things we already have – safe cookware like stainless steel or cast-iron to replace our non-stick pots and pans, lovely vintage pyrex to replace the old plastic mixing bowls I’ve had for years, a bread box to store the homemade loaves we pull out of the freezer, things like that. I haven’t been perfect though, I definitely bring home way to much fabric and way too many books! Gotta work on it.
  • Work on one thing at a time. I have this habit of starting numerous things at once and then being overwhelmed. I need to use the projects I want to start as incentive for the ones I need to finish – no starting something new until the first is done! Of course, between sewing, knitting, spinning, writing, painting… it still works out to more than enough to keep me entertained!
  • Make do with what we have, and reduce what we need. I have plans to pare down the things we have to the bare minimum – eventually I intend on getting stainless steel cups, one for each member of our family and donating all our glasses. It’s going to take some convincing on my part to get the husband on board with asking company to bring their own cup, but otherwise, this plan is a ‘go’. At the moment we only own one set of dishes – four plates, four bowls, four saucers and four mugs, but we have probably close to 12 glasses – WAY too many for our little family. It’s just not necessary.

 

Today I’m sorting little girl clothes into sizes to be put away and going through toys for a seasonal purge/store. I find Annabelle can be as sensitive to clutter as I am – she doesn’t play as much with her toys when there’s a mess all over – she copes much better when there are fewer of them out, and when she can request special toys be pulled from the closet, like her homeschool book, her watercolour paints, flashcards and other craft supplies.

Are you simplifying?

 

In which I learn to Watch and Wait

In the last few months I’ve found myself worrying more and more about Annabelle. At two and a half, her speech is behind what I thought she should be at – mistake number one – putting arbitrary, narrow expectations on my child in terms of her development. I think at this point, looking at the ‘big picture’ of where she is would be a much more accurate gauge of how she’s doing. Yes, her speech is probably not as good as it could be at this point, but she has two points in her favour. She makes every attempt to talk, to be understood, and she is making great strides all the time.

Even so, I couldn’t help but be worried until the other day when Annabelle, completely unprompted by me, picked up wooden letter after letter at the dollar store and rattled off what they were to me. We had talked about letters, but I’ve never on purpose tried to push her to learn them, preferring to follow her lead right now with what she wants to learn and just letting her go to it.

To see her pick up a letter, thrust it toward me while saying ‘double-ya, wuh wuh wuh’ was one of the prouder, relief-filled moments I’ve had as a parent. Mistake #2 was underestimating her.

To be the Mom of the weird kid has always worried me a bit, like I was doing something wrong, like she was struggling with being social and it was somehow my fault… any number of things gave me pause.

She taught me this week, in the way only she could, that she’s different, she does things her own way in her own time and that she’s much brighter and more observant than even I gave her credit for. To see her make such leaps and bounds in understanding every day leads me to take comfort in the fact that I can raise a lifelong learner not by forcing lessons and ‘work’ on her, but by giving her every opportunity to have new experiences, by watching quietly and really listening to her, and by letting her be herself.

So this is the New Year

It’s been just over a month since I posted last, since Freya was born, since my world changed again. I am in babylove land, and slowing coming back down to earth, back to myself, back to my goals of simplifying, creating routine and growing as a self-sufficient person emotionally and physically.

 

I want to come back to a place where I can share it all here with you, my friends.

 

Here’s to the New Year, to our 2014, to limitless potential and to following our bliss.

Happiness and Acts of Creation

 

 

I made a cover for the television, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ hopefully. Reducing the screen time for the family, simplifying every day a little bit further and encouraging creative play.

Annabelle’s quilt is nearly finished now. That’s what it looks like, except it now has a navy blue binding partially attached (hand stitching is time consuming!)

A new ring sling I sewed, using rings from the great folks at Sling Rings - safe, pretty aluminum rings meant specifically for use in babywearing. I can’t wait to wear the new baby girl in it.

Annabelle, helping me bake bread. I give her some water and flour in a small cup with a spoon and she follows the steps alongside me, stirring when I stir, kneading when I knead and even periodically sprinkling flour. It’s one of my favourite chores to do with her :)

I’m plugging away at NaNoWriMo, my story is getting weirder and weirder and I’m running out of steam a little bit with everything else that’s going on. No harm in taking some time to do other things, I figure. I should take advantage of the little free time I do have at the moment because in the next month I’m going to have more constraints on my time and physical energy than ever before!

In addition to all of this, I’ve found the perfect giant wool sweater to make my own pair of swants with (hell yes, this is happening), I’ve begun cutting fabric for quilt #2, I’m planning on making some new dolls, I have one more hat to knit for Christmas for my dear brother-in-law and I’m making plans for more clothing and toys in the coming months. My dear friend Barbara from back home mailed me a serger and as soon as it comes back from the repair man (slight damage during shipping) I’m set!

All of this creating has been really very good for me, helping me stay distracted in these last few weeks of pregnancy. I’m 35 weeks along now, which means should I go into pre-term labour I can safely deliver in our local health facility rather than being transferred to the NICU in Edmonton to give birth.

I’ve been working on a lot of these projects alongside my very good friend Jess, and we’ve been able to egg each other on to finish. I’m so thankful for her, and for the distractions from my discomfort!

Happiness truly is handmade.

 

 

NaNoWriMo – The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Alright. I’m shaking a bit as I type this because I am just that excited right now. Even the dreary day I’ve had cannot squash my enthusiasm right now.

I’m going to do NaNoWriMo as mentioned in my last post, but I finally, FINALLY, finally have a rough plot/system/character idea in my brain. I’m so excited about it that I haven’t even written any of it down yet. This is happening though, guys!

I’ve tried in vain to convince my friends to join me, but they’re all understandably either uncomfortably pregnant or incredibly busy with handmaking gifts or other commitments. My darling Elyse, my soul sister, my long-distance life-partner mentioned an interest in writing alongside me this year, and I just shot her a text about it to remind her, so here’s hoping I’m not lone-wolfing this whole undertaking this year!

I am well-equipped.

I’ve got my laptop outfitted with Libre Office and Dropbox. I have my iPad with its own tiny keyboard and a word-processing app that syncs automatically to Dropbox and manually to Google Drive, so I can do the bulk of my typing comfortably from the couch. I have headphones in case of mood music emergencies that tend to arise if I get lost and forget where I’m going with a scene. I have my wordcount spreadsheets ready to go. I have yet to find my writing totem/mascot and I don’t have any snacks yet.. but all in good time. I feel like I can take a breath and savour the calm before the storm a bit here because I know roughly how I’m going to tackle this as soon as midnight on the 31st hits.

There is something about November every year, about the idea of pounding out something substantial before the end of 2013 alongside hundreds of thousands of dreamers that gets me giddy. I know I’m not alone in this! I’m a writer among writers, making my creative passions a priority!

[PS - If you're joining in, add me as a buddy on the website so we can keep track of one another!]

Cabin Adventure and Pregnancy Home Stretch!

Been busy lately with us all having the stomach flu, and healing from that. We went with friends to a cabin over Thanksgiving weekend and it was paradise – a woodstove for heat, a beautiful lakeview, no electricity or running water – just bliss, a total of 6 dogs and 6 children running around having a blast and getting dirty. I really needed this little trip. This was our view, day and night:

 

 

 

My sweet Chakra in my arms, completely pooched from being chased around by 5 other dogs and children much bigger than she – what a trooper!

 

 

I’m still working on Annabelle’s quilt top (which is almost finished and ready to assemble to the batting and the backing!!). I’ve retired my Aidez sweater for the time being to knit some more instant-gratification things and some gifts, so right now I’m knitting some convertible mitten/gloves I’ve affectionately nicknamed my Homeless Mittens, in a lovely dark brick colour. I’ve sewn a few gifts, too.

 

I’m 32 weeeks pregnant now, and our little baby has been threatening to make an early appearance lately, much in the same way Annabelle did at about this point. I’m finding I have to keep my physical activity in check a bit more, and keep vigilant watch over how hydrated I’ve been to keep the contractions in check. It’s been a blessing and a curse because on the one hand, the crafting time has been wonderfully productive, and on the other hand I have this overwhelming urge to clean and purge everything, and organize what is left and I’ve not been able to be as effective at that as I’d like.

 

NaNoWriMo is coming! National Novel Writing Month, every November, is well on its way and everyone is preparing their novel outlines and writing tools.

I have absolutely no ideas for this year. I really want to participate but holy moly do I still have a lot to do around here. I had a great time and wrote a whole bunch last year – it’s a great challenge that I love trying. I think maybe I’ll go for it, do what I can, and just use all the good writing mojo that everyone is pumping out to keep me going. I have a pretty good idea of how much of my day is really just distraction, and it’s pretty lame how much time is wasted each day doing dumb things like refreshing the same webpages over and over expecting something new, screwing about on facebook…

Maybe I can do this. Plus, the kickoff will be something fun to do the night of Halloween. We don’t get any trick-or-treaters because our driveway is quite long, dark and well-treed. We’ll likely be home fairly early from whatever shenanigans we get up to with Annabelle, too.

 

1667 words/day isn’t that much, right? You know, on top of handmade Yuletide gifts, caring for the weretoddler, napping and preparing the food I’ll need for the first month after the new baby is born, and let’s not forget baking bread and all the other upkeep of the home I do.

 

Now to come up with a story to write.

What craziness have I been up to?

I’ve been trying to immortalize these last few ‘only child’ weeks with this sweet girl.

 

I’ve started a ‘something out of nothing’ quilt – using only fabric I’ve purchased from the thrift store (except the green leafy fabric, which was scraps I had left over), I’ve made 15 blocks like this one, with borders and lattice. It will be about twin-bed sized, for Annabelle for Christmas. I’ve never quilted before, so I’m very excited about this!

 

Annabelle and I are enjoying nature walks together and with our friends, carrying along a gathering basket for autumn treasures we find. I found a small backpack for her at a thrift store that she loves to wear.

 

The great toy purge! Behold – four baskets in the tiny human’s bedroom: assorted blocks, small animals and peg dolls, books in rotation and the few dolls and teddy bears she has. The only things missing are a (very) few stuffed animals, musical instruments and puppets that live in the living room and the learning toys that are brought out occasionally – flash cards, sewing cards, small early reader books, library books and the like.

 

There were some sticks I collected. And I tried to start weaving a basket. And then I ran out of sticks. So there’s that…

 

An army of bread! So much bread! I baked 8 loaves in one day and intend on doing so almost every weekend until the new baby arrives, to help us build up a stock in our freezer. When winter has come and it is regularly below freezing, the surplus of loaves can live in a Rubbermaid tub on our back deck, while the deep freeze is filled with easily heated meals to help with the exhaustion of a new baby and toddler. :P

 

Annabelle’s room got some new curtains! I spent $4 on materials – two dollars for a thick double flat sheet I found at the thrift store and two dollars for wide bias tape for the hidden loops on the back. I’m very proud of them! Now to finish up the trim in there and we’ll be golden :P

And so, in addition to all of this, I’ve been sleeping as much as I can, doing lots of reading about birth (still on the fence about freebirthing instead of going to the hospital here) and enjoying the company of great friends. It’s been bliss, really.

Happy October, friends.

 

 

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