Friday, August 31, 2012

Reopening the School Lunch Bag

We're starting the year off with a brand new Angry Birds lunch bag.
He loved the Calgary Flames one he had last year but it was too big.
Rather than fight to get it in and out of his bag,
he'd just leave it there sometimes
and not touch his lunch!
Jonas and I are spending the day together today, and one of our goals is get the fridge and pantry stocked with healthy stuff for his school lunches and snacks. We'll probably opt-in to the fresh milk program at his school again this year. For $1 a day we can get him a fresh carton of white or chocolate milk every day. It's served cold, which he much prefers to the lukewarm version he ends up with when he brings it from home. Between that and his water bottle, his drinks are covered. That just leaves the rest of the lunch bag to fill.
Step One is to go grocery shopping. Our goals are simple: find healthy food that he likes, stay away from processed foods as much as we can, and get things that are small enough (or which can be prepared small enough) that he can eat them quickly. A whole sandwich, for example, will go to waste, but a small wrap that can be eaten in a few bites is perfect. Stated even more simply: we want to find things that are healthy and that he'll actually eat before he rushes off to play.

Our initial shopping list looks like this:
  • fresh fruit - small apples, mandarin oranges, berries, grapes, baby bananas, watermelon, homemade apple sauce
  • fresh veggies - celery sticks, baby cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, baby corn, small salads
  • eggs, cheese, tuna, pepperoni sticks, left-over meats
  • whole grain crackers and wraps, homemade mini muffins
  • mini yogurts and homemade dips
In the past five years, we've faced the "but Johnny gets to bring....." argument almost daily. (Yes, even during the first four year when he was home for lunch - the best nutritional solution - we still got comparisons to the snacks the other kids had.) It boggles my mind the number of kids who bring pop, chocolate, cookies and chips in their lunches. I've been a volunteer in the classroom and have seen it with my own eyes, so it's not just Jonas's wishful thinking that this is a regular thing with his classmates. I'm sorry but I just can't do it. Especially given how little he eats during the day, I might as well forget the healthy stuff if I pack him this kind of stuff. He needs nutritious calories, not just calories.

Step Two is to take him shopping so he can pick out the healthy things that he'd like in his lunches next week. Also, we'll pick up some new little Tupperware containers to keep everything organized. Getting him involved in the shopping will hopefully get us better buy-in when it comes to actually eating his lunches. Not to mention that better nutritional and financial awareness is a good thing for kids.

Step Three is to get him involved in preparing our lunches together at night. (I'll be modelling good behaviour by packing my lunch every day too.) He's terrible at deciding what he wants to eat, especially that far in advance. One thing we do to counter this is to send him with a variety of things every day. When we give him a choice of a couple of fruits, a couple of veggies and a couple of other things, there's a much better chance of him eating at least half of his lunch. Hopefully, when he's involved in deciding what those things are, maybe he'll be even more inclined to eat them. Maybe. Time will tell.
So, a shopping we shall go. Wish us luck!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Re-visiting the Decision to Medicate

My rose coloured glasses are firmly in their case and tucked into my purse today. The new school year is only one long weekend away and that prospect makes me feel rather unsettled. In fact, it almost scares me. I believe Jonas is going to do well this year, but I also believe that it's going to be a war to get us to that positive outcome.

Much to the dismay of some of our family and friends, we've decided to put Jonas back on his medication. He hasn't been taking it all summer and it's been a pretty good one. He's put on weight and we didn't have too many days that were write-offs because of his ADHD&ODD. Some of the people that spent time with him this summer said "See! He didn't take that "horrible" medication and he was fine."

In their rush to judge based on their own experiences with him, they fail to recognize some pretty significant facts. Namely, that it was summer vacation, which meant that some very key things were at play:
  • These visits are usually treated like special occassions when adventures are to be had, special treats are plentiful and lots of slack is given because "he's just excited".
  • Bedtime and morning routines were barely existent. He didn't have to get up and get ready for school in the morning, which is an incredible battle when and ADHD&ODD kid is up against the clock.
  • Breakfast and lunchtime was flexible. He could have breakfast and lunch when he felt like it, snack throughout the day, and he didn't have to make decisions beforehand about what he was going to eat.
  • He didn't have to go to school. No sitting quietly at his desk. No trying to organize his thoughts and get them down on paper. No struggling with his handwriting. No recalling what he just read. No tests. No homework. No clock.
  • He gets a ton of outdoor and play time during the summer and that is severely restricted once school starts. Sure there's recess, lunchtime and after school time but that's not the same as spending most of the day playing outside.
We're confident in our decision but fully expect to have to defend our decision to medicate him. (In fact it came up several times throughout the summer.) I'm rambling a little today, but I'm trying to get my ducks in a row for that inevitable confrontation. Well-meaning family and friends, who see him for a day or two or maybe a week a few times a year, only want what's best for him. I totally understand and appreciate that. They love him and I love them for that.

One of the biggest challenges with advice from most family and friends is that many of them have very little knowledge about ADHD&ODD, other than heresay or one attention getting headline on the news. Likewise, those times they see him are not really in-context with the rest of his life. What they fail to realize is that the school year is a completely different beast than summer vacation. We lose the flexibility we have during summer and break times. We can't always adjust on the fly as much as we need to and it's not fair to him to make him have to make adjustments that he just isn't capable of.

It's true that this medication he's on takes away his appetite. It's also true that we can make accommodations for that and make sure that he gets the nutrition he needs. (His pediatrian has monitors him closely and has assured us that so far he's completely healthy.) It's also true that he just can't function in school without this medication. It would be wonderful to live in a world where his school could be completely tailored to him but our world doesn't work that way and my rose coloured glasses aren't powerful enough to make those kind of changes. At the end of the day, what matters is that he does well in school, academically and socially. His meds are helping him do that.

Notice that I say helping. This medication is not the be and and end all. It is not a magic pill. Trust me, it's not a cop-out. There's still a lot of work to be done by him, his teachers and us. That includes constantly searching for new and more effective ways to manage his ADHD&ODD. Maybe some day we'll find a combination of things that works well enough to take him off his medication, but for now that just hasn't happened. The truth is that it takes more discipline, attention and energy for us to accept the realities of ADHD&ODD and try to deal with them than it does to write off his behaviour as a boy or bad kid thing. Now that would be a cop-out! I wish that the naysayers would respect us enough to at least believe that.

A war of words with naysayers is nothing compared to convincing Jonas that we're not making him take this medication because he think he's a bad kid who can't control himself. Nothing could be further from the truth. One of the side-effects of the naysayers spouting their opinions when Jonas is around is that he's now convinced that his ADHD&ODD is totally within his control and that he's a complete failure when he can't manage it. That's mostly a bunch of hooey. (Notice that I say mostly. Some of his behaviour is simply because he's a 9 year old boy. When it comes to ADHD&ODD and medication, we're not talking about those things and when you spend as much time with him as we do, the difference between the two is pretty stark.) I really wish that those naysayers could be around to hear those conversations with him and see the true effect his ADHD&ODD and the management of it has on him. They might sign a different tune if they had to deal with that.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lesson Learned!

I love my kiddo but sometimes he makes me want to start drinking. Aaron, his god-send of a teenage babysitter, met me at the door when I got home yesterday (that should have been my first sign) to tell me that Jonas had a good day but wasn't very good at listening. I now think that maybe that was code for "He's a lunatic today!" but I digress. Aaron seemed very glad to leave Jonas in my care and I should have taken heed.

The first few minutes of us being home together was totally fine and then things went South. Jonas hasn't taken his medication all summer and his ADHD has been pretty manageable. Keeping things flexible, outside and free range really goes a long way to helping keep things in check. Last night, however, it was a different story. ADHD had him fully in his grip. We had hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattentiveness out the wahzoo. It was like he was in his own little world.

Thankfully, we haven't had one of these days in a while. A combination of anxiety about school, excitement about BB, and a day stuck inside because of rain had him bouncing off the walls (and I mean that literally) and chirping the entire time. He was in a goofy mood, which only made it worse because when we'd try to corral him he'd have this huge smile on his face and then crack a joke. Of course, that just made things worse, but I have no doubt that last night was a classic case of ADHD not a smart ass kid. He genuinely wants to behave but just didn't have it in him last night.

The key to days like this are for us to dig deep down into our well of patience. Sitting still and quiet is not something Jonas is capable of most of the time but especially not on a night like last night. Steven came home with a shoulder full of work-related stress and BB has brought all my emotions right to the surface, so we weren't exactly the picture of patience. We just wanted a low-key family night. We shot ourselves in the foot, though, by insisting on watching a movie that we've all been looking forward to. It doesn't matter that it was an all-out action flick with lots of excitement, he was absolutely not able to sit through it without constant bouncing, talking, singing and, at one point, a Jonas Blanchard dance show.

In retrospect, what we should have done was turn the movie off and saved it for another night. We should have pulled out a board game or the Lego. We needed something that we could all do together without the need to sit still and be quiet or sending him somewhere else in the house to do something by himself. I guess we got lulled in by an easy going summer and forgot some of our ADHD (and kids in general) lessons. Lesson learned! Isn't hindsight a great thing?!


I love this kid!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sibling Rivalries, Age and Gender Gaps

This past weekend was all about the kids. The three amigos, who for four years of their little lives were together alost every day. Gavin and Leah have a very sick dad and Jonas has a huge life change about to come his way when BB arrives. It was important to me to give them a couple of days to spend together before the end of summer and the start of the fall whirlwind. When this opportunity came up, I jumped at it. They seemed to have a blast, and I hope it gave them all a shot of  "These people are always in your corner!" before the next wave of changes and challenges come upon them.

In retrospect, it was an important weekend for me too. It gave me a refreshing dose of reality. Went spent two days and two nights together, including 24 hours at a local campground. Pregnant mom takes three kids camping by herself could have been a recipe for disaster but it was so far from that. Oh sure, the boys had their moments when their testosterone got the better of them, and there were several little spats and one big one that resulted, but overall, it was a fabulous weekend. They all came away happy and asking to do it again, and I, well, I came away with boosted confidence.

The camping trip was a huge hit!
Let's put it this way, I got a vivid reminder of the challenges of sibling rivalry, age and gender gaps. Maybe I've got my rose coloured glasses on again, but those challenges, or rather the way I handled them this weekend, gave me hope. The age and gender gap between 8 and 9 year old boys and a six year old girl, who consider themselves to be more siblings than friends, can be HUGE sometimes. There were several times when the boys wanted to go one way and Leah the other. Even tougher were the moments when all three seemed to have completely different agendas, much as I suspect will be the case with our 9 year old and the new baby.  I may be biased but I think I did very well handling it all.

There was three moments that were particularly challenging.

The first was on Thursday night at the movie theatre. After a very late start and dinner, we hit the theatre much later than I planned. The kids were all eager to see ParaNorman so I bit, and got us tickets to the late show. (That was a mistake, but let's not dwell on that.) 10 minutes into the movie and both Leah and Jonas said they were scared. 20 minutes in and they asked to go home. So we did. Gavin was very disappointed. He's more mature than the other two, and he was very much enjoyin the movie. We compromised by going home, pulling out the hide-a-bed and putting on a movie for them to fall asleep to. Meanwhile, I promised Gavin that once everyone got settled into the school routines, we'd have a date with just him and I to watch that movie. Smiles all around. Success!

The second was on Friday morning when the three of them wanted to do three different things and required at least one of the others to so. They just couldn't find a compromise and were starting to get frustrated so I intervened with a change in the day's agenda. We left for our camping trip early and we were immediately all on the same page. It was smooth sailing for the rest of the day. Success!

The third was VERY early on Saturday morning. The boys woke up just after 6am with their gears stuck in "competitive" mode. For an hour, it was a little alpha male contest, that escalated into a pushing match when I decided to pack up camp. (The rest of the people in the campground did not need to wake up to that hulabaloo, except maybe the teenagers on the site beside us, who stayed up laughing and blaring music until the wee hours.) It relapsed into screaming/punching/biting when I packed them into the Jeep but had to jump out to grab a laundry line that I forgotten. After about 3 seconds of them shouting out that it was the other guy's fault and why, I stopped them with my own shout of "Silence!" (it was a volume shout and not an angry shout, altought I admit that I was teetering between the two) and drove everyone home. When we got there, I sent one boy to his room, the other to Tasha's room, and started to usher them into bath time one at a time, starting with Leah. By the time Gavin got out the tub and Jonas was ready to go in, they were best friends again and played together perfectly for the rest of the morning. Success!

Ok, these aren't huge successes worthy of a medal or anything, but the were eye openers for me. One of the things I worry about most when I think about BB, is sibling rivalry, age and possible gender gaps, especially with a kiddo who's ADHD/ODD and anxiety-prone. I came face to face will all of these this weekend and I think I handled them well, even with no sleep. The weekend gave me confidence. I know I'm not perfect and I'm never going to be, but maybe the fears I have about the new baby are making me doubt myself more than I should. Maybe I can pull this thing off. Time will tell but I'm going to go with that thought.


We had a few rough moments but the smiles prevailed.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

SBH Sleepover

Sibling by Heart
Leah, Jonas and Gavin have been friends since before Leah was born.
They spent almost every day together for four years.

We're VERY excited in our house today! Tonight is night one of a two night BFF sleepover. The three amigos will be together again and I couldn't be happier about it. They're more like siblings than friends. In fact, Jonas and Gavin call themselves "Brothers by Heart." They haven't seen very much of each other the last year and a half or so. They've each got a lot going on in their lives and I'm thrilled that we've been able to find a couple of days for them to spend some time together.

We're planning to go for dinner, to the movies and then play some video games before bed tonight. Tomorrow morning we're going to pack up and go on a little camping trip. They can swim, hike, explore, roast marshmallows over a campfire and sleep under the stars. (Two of them haven't camped in a tent before so we're going somewhere close to home so we can bail if we need to.)

Jonas had a hard time falling asleep last night and I imagine that we'll get very little shut eye tonight either. My hope is that they'll wear themselves out tomorrow and fall asleep around the campfire. Cross your fingers!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: The Many Faces of Homewok

Thank you to all my wonderful friends who sent me helpful and encouraging messages yesterday about the ressumption of the great homework war. I wanted to take a moment to clarify that we do NOT make Jonas sit at the dining room table to do his homework. It's more like a homework basecamp. Like many kids with ADHD, "Sit up, sit still and do your homework!" does not work for Jonas. Oh sure, sometimes he'll just sit and do it, but we discovered a few years ago that he concentrates better when we let him move around while he works. His teacher last year gave him a zone around his desk that he was free to move around in, as long as he was quiet and didn't disrupt the other kids in the class. This understanding works very well and we have no plans to kibosh it.

In honour of Wordless Wednesday, here's a peak at some of the many faces of homework in our house last year.


(Sometimes the hotwheels or lego even get in on the math homework!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hope and the First Day of School

Two weeks from today will be the first day of school. It's going to be a little different for us this year. This is going to be the first year that I am not going to take Jonas to school on the first day. Steve is going to take him solo this year. In fact, Steven is now on permanent morning duty at least until the baby arrives. That means, gulp, that I'm on permanent after school and homework duty.

Like everything else, it's going to be an adjustment - for all of us. We split mornings and after school time last year and it was ok. It gave us both a chance to do both roles, and thereby be in the loop, but it also made it harder for us to get into a groove with either one. Getting showered, clothed, fed, and out the door medicated and with all things school-related was a bumpy ride for all of us a couple of days a week. And homework? Well, homework time was dreaded by all of us.

We're hoping that a more consistent schedule will help eliminate most of those bumps. There are a few things that we expect will help turn our hope into reality, are strong evening, morning and after-school routines.
  • We've created a new corner near the front entrance of the house for Jonas to keep his backpack, jacket, shoes, Cubs backpack, etc. We're hoping it will eliminate some of the running around trying to locate stuff in the mornings and before Cubs. 
  • We added a new closet organizer to Jonas's room, to help speed him up in the mornings and prevent him from diving into his dirty clothes hamper for something to wear.
  • He's had a pretty free-range summer and getting back on a schedule is going to be a challenge. Along with a checklist posted above his coat rack, we're going to make a new daily schedule and chore chart for him and put it on the fridge and his bedroom door. Hopefully it will help keep him on track in the mornings and after school.  
  • We're going to start using a new reward system for homework and chores. Video games and and allowance are two thing he's clamouring for right now, so we're going to use those as leverage.  Hopefully, it'll reinforce our "do the right things and good things will happen" approach so that it sinks in for him. 
  •  We're once again going to set up the dining room table as a homework station, stocked well with pens, pencils, erasers, etc. We're also going to stick to eating dinner at that table every night, so we're going to use the school supplies box he made last year so we can change over the room easily. 
  • We're going to add school lunches and snacks to our weekly meal plans, and try to get them prepped at night. That will take one thing off the morning To Do List,which will hopefully lessen the morning rush.
  • We're going to go back to giving Jonas outside play time immediately after school. Added to walking home from school and a healthy snack, this should allow him to wind down a bit before he has to sit back down to do school work. (This will also increase the probability of both Steve and I being home for homework time, to better distribute the stress that seems to come hand in hand with that time of day.)  Hopefully, combined with a new reward system, he'll be a little more cooperative when it comes to homework. Our fingers are crossed that we'll once again have a year of light homework, but that remains to be seen.

Well, that's the plan anyway. I as I say, we're hoping for the best. We've still got a couple of weeks to stock up on supplies and discuss all of this with him. Of course, once school tutoring and Scouts start again, there will probably be some fine-tuning necessary.  Wish us luck!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Rose-coloured Glasses, Meet Reality

Jonas spent last week with my mom and it sounds like he was living every boy's dream. They went mini putting, go-karting, bike riding, swimming and out for lunch. The played cards, board games and hide and seek. They ate junk food, had campfires and stayed up late. He also got to give Nana heart failure with tales of exploring the black bear-infested wilderness with a couple of new friends. Sounds like a blast to me!

Meanwhile, Steve and I got a nice break that we're very thankful for. We got a few things off of our To Do List but the best part was that we spent the week enjoying the silence, and filling it with talk about the immediate and fast-approaching-not-so immediate future. They were rather good conversations, with a combination of practicality and rose-coloured glasses about baby names, the baby's room, our leaky roof, the cats, the floors, dinner time routines, Jonas's schedule, homework, Steve's work schedule, my post-mat leave possibilities, etc.

We have a lot to do before the baby arrives, and there are going to be a lot changes when he or she does join us out here. It all seemed very manageable when we discussed it last week. Seemed - until Jonas came home. Then we were smacked in the face with the realities of raising a 9 year old boy with ADHD. The prospect of doing that and raising a newborn are, well, a little overwhelming at times. Rose-coloured Glasses, meet Reality.

I have to admit to being a little imtimidated about the raising these two kids at the same time. I've become pretty proficient at dealing with multiple kids during my years as a daycare diva and Scout leader. This seems different somehow. Jonas is wondeful and a handful all that the same time. Or, as my favourite on-line group says, easy to love and hard to raise. Older generations would call him a going concern. He got home after 4pm yesteday and there was non-stop noise and action from that moment until he finally fell asleep sometime after 9:30pm. It was one challenge after another. He went to bed in tears, while I laid there taking deep breaths, reminding myself that sometimes real love is tough love. Tough love + a newborn. Yikes!

So much for mama bear feeling like she can take on the world!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Giving Thanks for Amazing Women

Today is my mom's birthday. She and Jonas have spent the week together so when she drops him off today, we're planning a birthday dinner.  I decided to make a good old turkey dinner, not just because I'm craving turkey, but because it seems appropriate to have a sort of Thanksgiving meal on a day when we're celebrating this wonderful woman who gives so much to our family. We're blessed to have such a great mom and Nana.  Happy Birthday Mom!

I had the wonderful dream last night. I was at a gathering of all the wonderful women in my life - my mom, stepmom, mother inlaw, sisters, grandma, aunts, cousins and friends. I work up feeling so blessed to be loved and supported by so many amazing women. It seems fitting to have a meal of thanksgiving to celebrate one of them, the first. Someday I'd like to have a meal like I dreamed of, with all of us sitting around the same table laughing and talking. I know it's impossible because we're so spread apart geographically, but I was thinking about them all as I prepared today's meal. If they read this, I hope they know I'll be raising a glass of cranberry juice to them today. 


Friday, August 17, 2012

The Evolution of a Family

A friend's blog this morning has me reflecting on the stages of life we go through as parents and families. As we prepare to start anew with BB, I can't help but pause to think about all the wonderful memories we've made so far on this wonderful journey together. Ten years married and nine years of parenting has been quite an evolution.

Steven and I didn't sleep a wink the night of our wedding. Get your mind out of the gutter! THAT isn't what I'm talking about. We had just enjoyed a beautiful day and we were too excited about our future together to sleep. Instead, we dreamed about what the future would be like for our family. Neither of us saw our family of two as complete. We talked about Tasha and that magical day when she would rejoin us. We talked about the babies we would have. Our rose coloured glasses were firmly in place, as they should be for newlyweds.

I think I've blocked out much of those upsidedown first few months after Jonas was born. I do remember the extreme fatigue and almost total abscence of self-confidence, but what fills my heart is the memory of falling in love with my baby. The joys of watching him learn and grow is almost as visceral to me as realizing that my own identity as a mother, as well as ours as a family, is evolving right along with him.

After years of longing for it, we were exuberant when Tasha actively joined our little tribe a few years after Jonas was born. Before then, there was a distinct hole in our family, a spacesaver that was hers and hers alone. Just like when we two became three, the addition of cherished family member number four was the catalyst for the re-creation of our family. The uncertainly of trying to establish a strong family bond with a teenager who you haven't grown into parenting is much like those first few months as newly minted parents. The bumps along the way are more than outweighed by the process of discovering who this wonderful young woman is. Our family has been so enriched by that experience that it's almost as if it was meant to be that way. Watching her enter the world of adulthood and striking out on her own, is an entirely new joy that isn't the end of parenthood, but rather an entirely new stage. I now understand what people mean when they say that parenting never ends, it just evolves.

I'm so excited about the new chapter our family is about to enter. I think it's safe to say that we all are. We've already moved into a phase of transition. In some ways, it's a repeat of a chapter we thought we were finished with, but it's so much more than that. It already is another time of re-creation of our ever-evolving family. Just the thought of it make my heart swell with overwhelming love for these amazing people who I am proud to call my family.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Reassuring Day

Wow! What a place the Special Pregnancy Program is! It was an amazing experience. I've never felt so... special... in my life. Double doctoring is reassuring to begin with but this is so much more than that.

The only downside was that it was an extremely long day, and we finished so late that the rest of the clinic was closed so I couldn't get an extra round of blood work done. (I'm going to the lab near home today to do that.) The clinic closes at 5pm and she didn't finish with me until 6pm. I suppose that's to be expected in a clinic were all the moms and dads and dealing with high-risk pregnancies. We're all full of worry, enhanced by bad experiences, so we have a lot of questions and need reassurance.

Reassuring is the best word I can use to describe my experience yesterday. The results were all good. baby, placenta, cervix, uterus lining and mom are all healthy. They are extremely thorough. They took a detailed history, have requested our medical records from Jonas, Owen, the baby we lost after Owen, my spinal surgery report from 1994, and all of the testing we completed at Mount Sinai back in 2005. They are duplicating every blood test I've had so far and doing a whole bunch more so they can have a more complete picture of what's going on in there.

Speaking of pictures, the best part for me was having another ultrasound. How times have changed! When I've had previous ultrasounds, the technician wouldn't say a thing or let me see the screen until they were finished with their basic checks and sure everything was ok. We found out we lost our last baby after we had an ultrasound in which the tech said and showed nothing, but reported immediately to my OB, who called me at home later. That memory gave me a twinge of anxiety yesterday but, as with the ultrasound we had a couple of weeks ago, the technicians are very forthcoming. I watched the monitor from second one and both the technicians explained what they were seeing and measuring as they went along, reassuring me every step of the way. VERY cool!

At 16 weeks, BB is healthy, active and NOT an octopus!
This is getting close to the time in the pregnancy when we lost our last baby so it's a little worrisome. They still don't know what happened to that baby or to Owen so they're erring on the side of caution. 7 years have gone by since then and their understanding of how these things work has improved greatly in that time. The OBs are debating doing weekly ultrasounds, but we're going to wait for two weeks to do the next one, so the two doctors can be coordinated along with all the blood work. Actually, they're going to do two that week - one with my OB near home and another, more detailed one, at Mount Sinai. They've also added a daily calcium supplement and low-dose aspirin to help ensure the health of the placenta, and are looking for what seems to be a needle in a haystack by combing through all those old records.

Before we finished last night, we spoke about a schedule of visits at the clinic. She said she'd like to see me weekly but understands that it's a long way for me to go to get there. I told her I don't care. I'll do what we need to do to keep this pregnancy on track. Besides, I'm not about to turn down the opportunity to see BB more often. 


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Visit to the Special Pregnancy Clinic

Because I'm Advanced Maternal Age mama and we've had a 1 in 5 success rate with our previous pregnancies, this pregnancy has been classified as "High Risk". I have to admit, that's a little scary. A label like that is good fuel for nightmares. (I had one last night, actually, in it but I also gave birth to a baby octopus so I don't put much weight on pregnancy dreams.)  The upside about the label is that it means the medical pros are paying extra attention to us, and that's very reassuring.

Today I'm off to the Special Pregnancy Program at Mount Sinai Hospital in downtown Toronto. (Steven can't come with me because of a work commitment that couldn't be changed because this appointment came up suddenly. We both wish he could be there but this isn't an emergency situation so cooler heads prevail.) The Special Pregnancy Program (SPP) is dedicated to the investigation and management of the full range of maternal, fetal and placental difficulties that may occur during pregnancy. We went there for a bunch of testing after Owen was born, and then again after we lost our last baby. Today we're going for a follow-up to all of that testing and a more informed opinion about this pregnancy.
Click here for more info if you're interested in the Mount Sinai Special Pregnancy Program:
I'm not sure what to expect from this appointment, other than a very long adventure in the waiting room. We're not going to turn back on this pregnancy unless there's a high risk to me. (So far it looks like that's not an issue. Knock on wood!) It'll be well worth the trip if they can offer some advice to make this pregnancy more successful. Not to mention that they are going to do an ultrasound that we wouldn't otherwise have and we might be able to help other couples who face the same high-risk status as we do.

Wish us luck!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Good Sportsmanship at the Olympics

I don't often blog about things that don't have a real impact on my life or that of my family. I'm going to make an exception today because I have a bee in my bonnet and need to set it free.

We didn't watch much of the London Olympics this year. We cancelled our cable last year so we could save money and brain cells. As a result, we don't get a chance to watch live tv very often. I did, however, follow the daily events via the news and Facebook. I am a proud Canadian and love cheering our athletes at the Olympics. I've never been one to value results over effort, and I think all of our athletes deserve a tremendous amount of credit for accomplishing all they have - medals or not. The Olympics are about sportsmanship and doing your best and It always fills me with pride to see our Canadian athletes who embody this spirit. I love watching the Olympics with Jonas because it's such a wonderful opportunity for him to see good this good sportsman in action.

I have to admit that my Canadian pride was tarnished a bit by behaviour of the Canadian women's soccer and men's relay teams in these Olympics. Both teams lost out on the medals they thought they deserved because of rules violations. The women's soccer team was charged with a  rarely called delay of game penalty, and the relay team was disqualified because of a foot fault. These penalties are not the reason for my disappointment. Everyone makes mistakes and I don't see any point in dwelling on them or letting a simple mistake ruin what would otherwise be a fine performance from both teams.

Contrary to public opinion, what embarrasses me as a Canadian is not a perception that our teams with treated unjustly. Rather it is the reaction of the teams and public to these events. "It's a stupid rule!' and "They never call that penalty!" were basically the cries of outrage heard across the country. Christine Sinclair, the captain of the soccer team, went so far as to publicly berate the referee for making the call. (I hope it's not true, but I've heard that the referee has been suspended over this international incident.) Worse still, Sinclair was rewarded for her public tantrum, by being named the Canadian flag bearer for the closing ceremonies. She might be one the best female soccer players in the world but her reaction to this incident erased any respect I may have had for her.

Like petulant children, both of these teams violated a rule, got called for it, and then cried bloody murder for having to face the consequences. It makes my blood boil. Yes, would be heartbreaking to lose some thing you work so hard for a a violation that, in the words of the relay team captain "didn't make any difference at all." I get that disappointment, I do. Feeling angry or sad is understandable, but you have to control your emotions and your reactions, and you have to take responsibility for your actions.

I will not tolerate my kids acting that way. In fact, I often use Canadian athletes as examples of good sportsmanship, a crucial life skill in my books. These two incidents are the exact opposite of the expectations we try to set for our children and I'm saddened that it seems our entire country have bought into the outrage.

To the rest of our Canadian team, I say congratulations! You've made us proud!!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Mom I Want to Be

While engaging in a discussion about the vicious breastfeeding war, I starting thinking about the mom I want to be. Though I have my moments, I'm not always her. I am always struggling to be.

I want to be the kind of mom who has a strong back bone. I want to be the kind of mom who stands up for what I believe in. I want to teach my kids to not only stand up for what they believe in, but also to respect other people who do the same.

I want to be the kind of mom who my kids respect. I hope they'll come to understand that I think through my decisions so they can respect them. I want to be the kind of mom who makes tough decisions when I think it's the right thing to do, even though they might not be the popular ones.

I want to be the kind of mom who tries to do the right thing. Right and wrong are black and white a lot of the time and I don't want to be wishy-washy about my morals. I want my kids to learn that from seeing me always try to do the right thing.

I want to be the kind of mom who has an open mind. I don't believe that I'm always right just because I'm the mom and he's the kid. I don't want to be the kind of mom who thinks that just because I think something is right or wrong, good or bad, that everybody else should feel the same way. There's a lot that I don't know. There's a lot that I can learn.  I want to be the kind of mom who teaches her kids to be open minded too.

I want to be the kind of mom who has infinite amounts of patience. I want to be the kind of mom who knows the difference between a child who is being intentionally defiant and one who truly needs extra support and reminders.  I want to the be kind of mom who knows what "boys will be boys" means and keeps it in mind when she's breaking up a play fight gone wrong for the eight millionth time.

I want to be the kind of mom who my kids feel comfortable talking to. Some people say, and I sometimes agree with them, that I talk too much. I engage in too much discussion with Jonas. They're right that he argues with me a lot, probably at least in part because I talk so much. I explain myself to him, not because I think of him as an equal, but because I want him to learn decision-making. Understanding the decision-making process will help him to develop his own skills and also, I hope, to learn to predict the consequences of his actions.

I want to be the kind of mom who's consistent. Predictable is boring but kids need predictability when it comes to things like morals, expectations and discipline. Everyone has good moods and bad ones, but I don't want themm to inlfuence the foundations of my relationships with my kids. I don't want to say one thing and do another. I want to teach them the value of hard work and honesty.

I want to be the kind of mom who accepts that things are never going to be perfect. I try to make the best of things and give more weight to the positive than the negative. I'm a little OCD and like to have things clear and organized but life can be chaotic sometimes, especially with kids. That's ok. I hope that's something that I can pass onto my kids.

I want to be the kind of mom who has faith in herself and her kids. If I do my best to raise them, I want to put my faith in that. I want to let them spread their wings and fly when they have the chance. I want to teach them to believe in themselves. I want to let them go when they're ready not when I am.

I want to be the kind of mom who fingerpaints, splashes in puddles, makes forts and builds sandcastles. I want to be the kind of mom who does all of the voices in books, who brings treats on long car rides, who is the best present shopper ever, and who makes a superb meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I want to have fun with my kids and vice-versa!


Friday, August 10, 2012

Advantage Mama Bear

"Advanced Maternal Age". I hate that label. It makes me feel old. I think maybe it's supposed to. There seems to be an expectation that mothers-to-be should worry. Have you ever read "What to Expect When You're Expecting"? I did when I was pregnant with Jonas. There were exactly 2 and a half pages of positive stuff. The rest, all 300 or so pages, we filled with things to worry about. As a not-my-first-time around mom, I've got a slightly more balanced view of those worries, but then they slap that lable on and add a bunch of new things to the list of worries.

As if all those worries aren't enough, there are also the on-going societal debates to contend with. At times, being pregnant (and, in general, a mother) can be kind of like putting yourself up a cross and inviting everyone to critique your every decision. I expect to have discussions with family and friends, with the understanding that they will respect our decisions. It never ceases to amaze me, though, how quickly people judge complete strangers.  Jonas's pregnancy and birth were littered with examples.

I recall a gentleman saying "that had better be a decaf coffee you just ordered!" when I was about 7 or 8 months pregnant. A couple of weeks after he was born, an old guy at a restaurant told me that if I fed Jonas like I fed myself he would grow up to be obese too. (He was really old, so I wrote it off to alzheimer's.) And, my personal favourite: I once got the stink eye and lecture from a random self-righteous woman in a mall, when Jonas was about 5 weeks old. I was bottle feeding him and she lambasted me with a lecture about how the breast was better. When I told her that I pumped and my bottle contained my breast milk she turned bright red, stammered for a second or two, and then told me that I shouldn't have given up on the breast. Bottle feeding is bad for children's teeth don't 'cha know?!  As Jonas got older, the unsolicited advice got worse, but my skin got a lot thicker, but seriously, what's with that?

Even though I am now 16 weeks pregnant, I've only known for about a month. In that teeny tiny amount of time, I've already been confronted with:
  • the debate over amniocentisus
  • the breastfeeding wars
  • the ethicacy of having a baby in your 40s
  • the ethicacy of having too big of an age gap between children
  • the ethicacy of telling your kids (or anyone, for that matter) you're pregnant when you know there's a chance you might lose the baby
  • the debate over cord blood
  • the war between stay-at-home moms vs work-out-of-the-home moms
  • the ethicacy of male circumcision
  • the hospital vs home-birth vs midwife/doula debate
  • the dangers of caffine, medications, non-organic foods, etc...
  • the argument between vegitarians and carnivores
  • cloth vs disposable diapers
  • discipline  (UG! Like we don't face this every day already, with Jonas!)
  • the debate over attachment parenting, co-sleeping, etc...
  • the debate over whether ethicacy is even a real word
I haven't even come to half of these bridges yet and already I feel the tremendous tug-of-war, almost exclusively from people who's opinion I don't really care about. I really wish that those people with respect us enough to accept that we're going to do our research, work closely with our trusted advisors, and make the best decisions for our family that we can. Or, at least, I wish they would understand that we are complete strangers and it's none of their business. If they don't, frankly, they're not going to know what hit them. I'm not perfect, but I've already earned my mama bear card. I'm not the timid, inexperienced, first timer I was the last time around. Advantage "Advanced Maternal Age" mom!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Belly Shots Round One

Tomorrow marks day 1 of week 16. We have about 24 weeks, or 5 months, to go. One of the fun things we haven't indulged in is belly pictures. In the spirit of concentrating on the positive and trying to have fun, here goes.

Everyone always does the profile belly shots, to show the growth of the baby/belly from month to month. While I love seeing those shots too, I thought we could try something different this time:

My waist is gone and my belly button is quickly disappearing too.
Soon enough it'll be "Bye, bye toes and feet!"


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Week 15

I have a serious craving for Wendy's spicy Chicken sandwich with extra tomatoes.
I'm craving Tim Horton's potato soup and yogurt with berries.

Like many pregnant women, I have a UTI so I'm drinking lots of unsweetened cranberry juice.

My blueberry craving continues. So does the nausea.
My new fave midnight snack to tackle them both is blueberries with ricotta on crustini with a touch of honey.

My mom brought me a batch of her oatmeal pattycakes when she picked up Jonas for the weekend.
I was nice and shared them with Steven but now I'm craving more.

It's a good thing we have a king sized bed.
This is what it sometimes looks like BEFORE we add my and my fortress of pillows.
Poor Steven!

The belly has definitely popped!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Let the Changes Begin!

One of the most important things on the Baby Blanchard Action Plan is preparing Jonas for our new family member, and trying to keep things as "normal" as possible for him. We don't want him to feel pushed aside or like he has to sacrifice crucial things in his life. It's putting added pressure onto this pre-school year planning period for the Blanchard family. Juggling school, tutoring, speech therapy, Cubs, Beavers and, oh yeah, family, can be tricky at the best of times but this year we're going to have to learn to play it by ear more than we've become accustomed. 

One of the keys to consistency for Jonas is going to be his involvement in Scouts. It's just so overwhelmingly good for him to be active in the Cub Scout program. Click here for imformation about the Scouts Canada Cub Scout Program:

One of the things we're considering is switching him for our group in Pickering in one closer to home. It's going to be a big change and doing it at the beginning of the year, well before the baby arrives, will hopefully give him time to settle into his new group before his life turns a sideways at home. Moving to group near home will not only help us coordinate our week nights a bit easier, it will allow Steve to play a more active role in Jonas's involvement in Scouts. Hopefully it will mean less gaps in Jonas's participation this year, when Scouter Mom is going to play less of a role.

Finding a group is a little easier for us because I know many of the leaders, but the trick is going to be finding a group that Jonas feels comfortable with. Like any organization, every Scout group has it's own character. We're going to visit a few of the groups in our area and see what he thinks before making a decision. We were very fortunate to join an amazing group when we started (Thank you 9th Pickering!) and I have no doubt that we'll have the same luck with this temporary switch. 

So, for the benefit of anyone who isn't involved in Scouts but is considering it, I thought I'd share a key resource in our search for a new group. Scouts Canada has lots of wonderful groups and their "Find a Group" application is a great way to start to to find groups in your area. You can find by clicking this link:

Scouts Canada has a fantastic program and lots of wonderful groups.
You can find one by clicking here:


Friday, August 3, 2012

Glory Glory Hallelujah!

I couldn't help smiling when I woke up this morning. It's the first time in over two months that I've made it through the entire night without nausea! I even woke up puke free! WOO HOO!!  (I ate my saltines before sitting up and getting out of bed though, and I'm still taking my full dose of Diclectin too - just in case.) I'm hoping it's a sign that I'm about to start enjoying the benefits of the blissful second trimester, when your energy levels rebound and your pukienss decreases and you're not yet the size of a house.

My fingers are crossed that the nausea will disappear completely, but I'm not optimistic. I had nausea from day day until I wasn't pregnant anymore with all my other pregnancies. Of course, I had two boys and there's an old wives tale that says if your symptoms are different than they have been before, it could mean you're having the opposite gender. Having a girl intimidates me a little bit but, if the trade off is no nausea for the next five and half months.....


Thursday, August 2, 2012

First Visit with the OB Specialist

Steven and I had an amazing meeting with our new high-risk pregnancy specialist yesterday. I should clarify that she's new to us but not new to the profession. She started practicing obstetrics when I was starting high school so she's experienced but not out of date. Three things in particular endeared her to us.

The first was when she got the sonogram out to listen to the baby's heartbeat. Before she started she spent about 5 minutes reassuring us that it might not be possible to hear anything yet, and not to be worried if she couldn't find it yet. Then she went to work. When she found it, her face lit up and she looked at me with the biggest smile, then at Steven, and said "That's your baby." I was overjoyed. It was a good strong heartbeat, accentuated by some good strong kicks. The best part was when the baby kicked the wand. We both felt it and she let loose a "Whoop!" and we both giggled. LOVE LOVE LOVED that!

The second was our conversation about an amniocentesis. Honestly, it scares the life out of me. If anything happened to the baby because of it I'd never forgive myself.  She explained that our risk of birth defects is low to begin with, and even lower because our family history is clear of any, although the risk is a little higher now that I'm over 40. (Having babies in our 40s is not part of our family history so we're charting new territory.) She said that the risk to the baby from an amnio is even lower but still possible. (She's only ever had one mother who had complications but the baby was totally fine.) She also reassured us that all of our tests so far have come back perfect. She said she's not going to pressure us. We're going to have the next round of blood work next week, the anatomical ultrasound in a couple of weeks, and she's also doing a thorough follow-up with the specialists at Mount Sinai Hospital who "studied" us after we lost Owen. We all agreed that we'd talk about an amnio and genetic counselling once all of that had been done and then we can make an informed decision, which she assured us she'd respect.

The final amazing moment came when we were talking about our birth experience with Jonas. When she she called the nurses and breastfeeding consultants "breastfeeding Nazis" I knew we were going to have a beautiful relationship.


My Worry Doll

It's the middle of the night and my mind is racing. Every mother worries. That's the reality of motherhood and it starts when they are still in the womb. While talking about BB (a.k.a. Baby Blanchard), a good friend told me the other day that my Mother Bear was showing. It made me smile to realize how incredibly happy I am about this pregnancy. It also made me realize that I need to manage my worries so that I can enjoy this pregnancy.

I'm trying to stay optimistic and focus on the fun stuff like baby names, nursery colours and the like. I'm pushing my fears aside but sometimes, when I can't sleep in the middle of the night, they creep back to the forefront of my mind.

Once upon a time, a friend gave me a worry doll from The idea was to tell the doll the things you're worrying about, put the doll under your pillow while you sleep and the doll will take your worries away. I lost that doll years ago, but I thought I could try the same concept here. My blog can be my worry doll. So, here goes!
Other than the obvious memories of Owen, the things I'm worrying about are:
  • The likelihood of Downs Syndrome and other disorders is higher for woman over 40, especially since I wasn't trying to get pregnant and not taking folic acid supplements until 3 months into the pregnancy
  • I treated my morning sickness and congestion with OTC meds before I knew I was pregnant
  • I ate raw salmon before I knew I was pregnant
  • The doctors have recommended an amniocentesis and that scared me before I was ever pregnant
  • How are we going to afford maternity leave?
  • What are we going to do about daycare for the baby?
  • How are the kids going to react to having a baby in the family?
  • We have too many cats and need to find homes for them
  • Babies and ADHD kids could be a recipe for disaster. (Tiny little Lego pieces hurt our feet a bit when we step on them but they could choke a baby.)
Ok, I'm going to tuck this blog under my pillow now and try to get some sleep.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: The First Few Months

Baby Blanchard reached 14 weeks this past weekend. It's been quite a journey so far. Here's a pictoral recap.

Just like my previous pregnancies, I've been sick 24/7 and it hasn't tapered off.
They say it's good for the baby and I say
"Thank goodness for prescription Diclectin!"

Saltines are my friend.

I was so so tired the first few months.
It was all I could do to get through a day at work and sometimes even that was too much.
Now that we're in the second trimester my energy levels are increasing. Phew! 

Water water and more water!

Camping while pregnant with 24/7 nausea and vomitting?
Not fun!
Craving: Nectarines

Food Aversion: Coffee

What do you mean we're pregnant and already at the end of the first trimester?

Food Aversion: Nectarines

Coffee Replacement: Steamed milk.
Random crying while watching kids tv with Jonas

Craving: Salmon sashimi
(Yup, I know it's dangerous for the baby but I indulged before I knew I was pregnant)
Food Aversion: Cooked fish
Craving: Pad Thai
Craving: Blueberries

Being 41 means that I most of my circle of of friends are past needing maternity clothes.
Last week I was down to one pair of pants that still fit so I went shopping.
How times have changed.
Cocoa Butter Stick in 2003 - $10
Cocoa Butter Stick in 2012 - $20!!
Let the belly rubs begin!
This time around Jonas wants to help too.  :D

Craving: My mom's oatmeal patty cakes.
She's bringing me some tomorrow when she picks up Jonas.