June 5, 2014
I have an inquisitive four-year-old. He wants to learn about everything. I mean everything. In full detail. Then, he wants to pretend to be whatever it is that he learned about.
Last week it was chimpanzees. For a week he was outside cracking nuts with rocks on a log.
One day, he even refused to eat anything a chimpanzee wouldn’t eat. Because he would “only pretend” to eat the bugs, by dinner time he was so famished he ate an entire steak. I guess nuts and berries weren’t quite enough for this growing boy.
Today, I was outside trimming trees and cutting back our overgrown bushes. As I stood inside our small dogwood tree, I told him I felt like a bird.
“That’s because we are birds” he said.
“We are?” I asked, “I thought we were chimpanzees.”
“Today we are birds and we have to build a nest up really high to protect us from predators” he explained.
For the next half hour he ran around cawing like a crow, yelling “Predator! Predator!”
I didn’t think much about it until he pointed to a van driving around our cul-de-sac with their window down. “Predator!” he screamed, pointing at them. I went with it. I didn’t know who they were. Nothing wrong with a little stranger danger.
After he tired of running around, he really wanted to make a nest. I told him that birds fly around and collect things like twigs, grass, and dirt to make their nests. He looked at all the trimmings on the ground from the trees I’d been cutting and asked him he could use them. Of course I told him he could.
“We are a whole family of birds.” he told me as he began to build his nest on the ground next to me. “You can be the Mama bird.”
“I like being the Mama. That’s a good idea.” I replied.
“And then you can lay the eggs and sit on them.” he continued.
“Well, what if I don’t want to sit on them?” I asked.
“You have to. Daddy doesn’t want to do it. And I don’t want to do it.” he explained. I felt like this was all the sudden becoming a gender stereotype and I didn’t like where it was heading. I wanted him to think of mothers within many roles.
“That’s not fair. I have to sit on eggs all day while you and Daddy get to go out and do fun things?” I got a little defensive.
“It is fair.” he said, matter-of-factly.
“How do you suppose?” I asked for clarification.
He looked at me, as if I were crazy and said, “Because it’s the most important job. You have to make sure the baby is safe if a predator comes.”
And with that, he defined “motherhood” in it’s purest form. My son either has a future in politics (because he knows what people want to hear) or he has a greater understanding of the world than most adults. This kid amazes me.
May 14, 2014
When I was pregnant with my oldest and found out I was having a boy, I was terrified. I was just about as girly as you could get. I had no idea what to do with a boy. That was four-and-a-half years ago.
As I was outside with my both of my boys this morning, working in the garden, I had to wonder if I would even have a garden had I had a girl first. As sexist as it is, the only reason I started gardening was to make sure I didn’t pass my “girly” behaviors of running away from bugs onto my son. Had he been a girl, I wouldn’t have even thought about making her comfortable with bugs.
When I started my garden three years ago, I had to fight my inner demons to be out there, covered in dirt. Today, it energizes me to get my hands dirty, make the yard beautiful, and provide food for my family. It amazes me how much I have changed over the past few years all because I was given a boy and the opportunity to grow.
Maybe every parent grows exponentially with each and every child. I don’t know. I only know my own experiences. This boy opens my eyes to so much in life and makes me a better person every day. Today, as I pulled weeds and daydreamed about how great it would be to have software that could record our thoughts so the good ideas could always be recollected, he found a small hole in our fence, which backs up to a greenbelt. He decided it would be the perfect way to feed all the animals in the forest. He sat there for hours putting scraps of weeds and grass through that little hole.
He eventually tired of it and came to me and told me about his animals in his zoo. I asked where their cages were. With eyes full of wisdom, he looked at me and said, “Look around, Mommy. We are the only ones in the cage.”
And with that, I grew a little bit more.
Just to be clear, my younger son makes me grow too. With him, I grow more aware of cleaning up after myself and locking everything behind me, lest he ingest it and have to be rushed to the hospital.
February 16, 2014
My son celebrated his 4th birthday with his friends today. I may have gone a little overboard with the party favors, but it was fun.
We took our kids to Medieval Times. Our older son instantly fell in love with everything knighthood. Even though his birthday was still two months away, he told me that he wanted a knight party with everything that knights had. I tried my best to make it happen. I searched the internet for ideas, created a Pinterest board, and got to work.
Felt tunics, stick horses, and shiny armor… I made everything a knight has. When my son saw it all, he was very excited, but he wanted to know where the “real medal armor” and “live horses” were.
Some people… you just can’t please them. ;)
January 10, 2014
After months of back and hip pain, following the birth of my second son, my OBGYN recommended I see a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor rehabilitation and postpartum recovery. The therapist noticed I had a 2.5 finger-wide separation in my abdominal muscles (a.k.a. Diastasis Recti). She created this magical brace made of Lukeotape, pulling my muscles back together, from left to right and then right to left. It was instant pain relief. I could easily carry my children around and had no more back pain.
I was so amazed by this change that I went on Facebook and told everyone I know.
“For the past 8 months, I have had considerable back and hip pain. In short, I felt like an arthritic 90-year-old woman. I have been to several doctors and have been seeing a physical therapist for 6 months. Earlier this week I went to another physical therapist who specializes in postpartum recovery. She discovered I had a split in my abdominal muscles and she created a corset across my belly, made of therapeutic tape. It has only been two days (*knock on wood*) and I see a HUGE difference. I feel like my “old” self again. I can move with ease and even carry the 20+lbs baby around without back pain. If you are having pain post-partum, don’t wait to see if it will go away. It may be a “simple” fix.”
That first week with the tape was great. The therapist warned me that some people’s skin have a bad reaction to this tape. Mine seemed fine leaving it on for 48 hours at a time.
The second week, I was still seeing benefits from the tape. Every time I took the tape off, my back pain would return. Near the end of the week, though, it became harder and harder to remove the tape, as if it were sticking to me harder than before.
The third week, it was quite painful to remove the tape, but I saw such a great benefit from it that I grinned and bared it.
The fourth week, as soon as I put the tape on it hurt. So I didn’t leave it on very long. It had left a huge rash across my belly, that lasted the entire week.
I went back to the therapist yesterday, 5 weeks later, and my 2.5 finger gap is now down to “no more than one finger”. So the pain was not for nothing. There was improvement! Not only has the gap become narrower, but it has also decreased in length.
The therapist told me that I could also use an ace bandage, so I tried it out today. It is working great.
I was going to just post an update on my Facebook to my friends, but I decided this is good information to put out there on the interwebs. If you are having back/hip pain months after giving birth, find a good physical therapist in your area who specializes in postpartum recovery. You won’t be sorry.
Please do not put this tape directly on your skin. There is a white “cover-roll” that goes beneath it to protect your skin. I used the cover-roll and still had irritation. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist for full instructions!
June 23, 2012
A while back I gave my son an old camera of ours to play with. Then, for his 2nd birthday, he was given a camera from his aunt and uncle. Recently, I decided to go through his cameras and see what was on them. It gave me a glimpse into the world through a toddler’s eyes.
We visited the tulips fields in Mt. Vernon, Washington earlier this Spring. As you can see, below, I am taking a picture of my son taking a picture. I was quite pleased with the way my photo turned out, but I think I may like his better.
Most of his pictures are of me with the camera, because that is when he wants to use his camera, too.
I am particularly fond of this photo of an “angry” Daddy.
I’m sure he wasn’t really angry. We were at the zoo that day.
And there you have it, the world, as seen by a toddler. I think we may have a budding photographer on our hands.
June 21, 2012
Kelsey Creek Farm, located in Kelsey Creek Park, is a wonderful place to take young children in the Seattle area. And, it’s FREE! Complete with cows, goats, pigs, chickens, bunnies, and horses, visitors are free to wander about independently. They offer all types of classes (at a cost) for children, including horsemanship training.
Since I have a 2-year-old, the choices of classes are quite limited, though they do offer a “Little Farmers” class that is a parent/child class. I plan on checking that out.
During our visit, I had an opportunity to capture some images of the animals and thought I’d share them here.
I’m not going to lie, the cows smell. That should come as no surprise, they are cows after all.
The farm is home to four little piglets, born in January 2012. They were all asleep while we were there.
The horses seemed friendly. As I said, Kelsey Creek Farm offers horsemanship courses, starting at age 4.
The surrounding park is a wonderland for children to explore the good-ol’ outdoors. They loved climbing on the old trees.
This is one bird I am glad was behind bars. I don’t like the look I was getting from this one.
Kelsey Creek Farm offers the “Little Farmers” class (for ages 2-3) next month. It advertises that children will actively participate in animal care and feeding, barn chores, cooking, gardening, and arts and crafts. I’m on a mission to find out more information on it. I think this may be a good one to explore.
See my Flickr page for additional photos.
June 11, 2012
While at the park today with my 2-year-old boy, a team of what I will call “Power Moms” literally strolled in. They donned the latest, greatest workout gear, and each had their double jogger strollers. You could feel the power beaming from them, as if the Queen Bee had just flown into the hive. They parked the strollers; the kids jumped out. Both moms and daughters went straight to work. The older group laid out their blankets on the lawn and started doing all sorts of abdominal work. Their daughters grabbed their exercising bands from the strollers and took over the playground, turning it into a mini gym. They attached their exercise bands to the rope ladder and worked on their arms. They used the kiddie picnic table as a step-machine, stepping first onto the seat, then on the table, and worked their way back down. They used that picnic table seat to do reverse push-ups to tone the backs of their arms, then turned around and did push ups to work on the bicep. All the while, their mothers were cheering them on, encouraging them to do more pushups. Did I forget to mention that these were 3-year-old girls?
At first I thought it was cute. The little girls wanted to be just like their mommies. They were just imitating them and pretending to exercise. Then my little guy wanted to see what they were doing. He dropped his shovel, abandoning it in the mulch, and went over to watch. They were using their exercise bands on the rope ladder. He thought it was funny, so he laughed. Then one of the little girls looked at him and barked, “It’s not funny!” I stood up and walked over to where they were. He was laughing hysterically. I asked him what he was doing and he said, “Where’s my rope?!” I explained to him that we didn’t bring a rope to the park today, but pointed out his deserted shovels. The little girl looked at me, very seriously and said, “He’s laughing and this isn’t funny.” She had the attitude of someone in the middle of a heavy workout who had just been interrupted. “Well, he thinks it’s funny,” I said “He’s never seen this before.” She looked me straight in the eye and said with attitude, “No, my mommy says this isn’t funny. We’re working out.” Right, fine. I’m not going to pick a fight with a 3-year-old. I took my son and redirected him back to his shovel.
Back on the bench, I can hear the Power Moms talking loudly and proudly. One gloats to her friend, “I’ll be doing Jillian Michaels video and she will do the whole thing with me! She does all the moves.” Then she looks at her daughter, “Good job, Honey! Keep it up!”
That’s when the little girls started climbing “stairs” (a.k.a standing on the table). My son again wants to know what they were doing. He thinks it is funny that someone would stand on a table. Go figure, it’s not something we allow in our house. “Oh, look! Now they’re doing their ‘steps’!” one mother beams.
That’s when I made up my mind that this was not “cute.” These young girls were not playing “exercise”. They were truly working out. The whole situation made me uncomfortable. It’s great that these moms are taking their health seriously and are finding time to work out, but what kind of message is this sending to the children? It made me think about how I talk about fitness and food around my son.
There is a right time to introduce exercise to children. I’m not sure when it is; gym class, perhaps. I am sure, however, encouraging your preschooler to work her gluts and saying she “needs to do 10 more push ups” is not the right way to go about it.
As uncomfortable as this whole sight made me, I’m glad I saw it. I am definitely going to be more conscientious of how I speak about my own health in front of my son, even if I’m not speaking to him. These kids absorb everything.
I want my son to be healthy and active, and enjoy good, nutritious food, but I don’t want it to be an obsession. I don’t want him to feel like he’s dieting or exercising. I want him to feel like he’s playing and eating. And I certainly don’t want him standing on tables (but that’s a entirely different issue).
*Photo above is a stock photo advertising the BOB stroller, taken from www.healthchecksystems.com.
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