Welcome to the World

Earlier today, in the wee hours of the morning, I got a text from my brother letting me know that he was a dad.  I cannot put into words the rush of emotions that swept through me.  My little brother is a dad.  My little brother is a dad and as a result I now have a new nephew.  This isn’t the first time I became an aunt.  I also have a nephew on my husband’s side of the family, who turned nine this summer.   Over the years, there were five more cousins that became part of our family, all through my step-siblings. I remember the day they were each introduced and I remember the feeling of love that spreads over you when you have a new little one who is now part of your family.  There is just something different though when it’s your own brother who becomes a parent.

Having three children myself, I remember the emotions that are experienced the day you have your first baby.  We’re coming up on that anniversary in another month, as we welcomed our first daughter, Caleigh into the world eight years ago on the 26th of October.

I remember the early contractions that are more exciting than painful.  That moment early on in labour when I looked into Tom’s eyes and we just knew that we were no longer going to be a family of two but a family of three.  This was it.  No turning back.  Labour progresses and it gets hard.  Really hard.  So intense that I could hardly breathe at times.  And in the days that followed, Tom admitted the frustration and fear to just want to take that intensity and pain away from me.  He would feel so helpless at times and just want to take some of it on to give me a break.  Fast forward to a day later and it’s that moment we held her for the first time and we knew, in an instant, that our lives would never be the same.  That immense feeling that flows through your entire body that can only be described as love but on a level that you didn’t think was possible.  Such overwhelming emotion over such a tiny little being.

And now being one step removed from that experience, as an aunt.  An aunt to a handsome baby boy.  As I lay in bed and relished in the joy of the new addition to our family, I thought of everything that my brother and his wife were going through for the first time.  The first kiss and cuddle.  Counting toes.  Holding little hands.  Stroking his cheek.  Connecting for the first time.  Falling madly in love with a boy who up until an hour ago, they didn’t know what he looked like.  I smile now, just thinking of it all.

My thoughts then moved forward to the coming days, weeks, months and years.  The adventures of parenthood that could both be wonderful and also so painful.  The excitement as he reaches his milestones. His first smile (oh my, that’s magical, yes?). His first step.  His first word.  His first tumble down the stairs. His first true scare. The first time he cries when he’s left at a daycare or with a babysitter, as their hearts are broken because even though they know it’s necessary, it is never easy.  Each lesson learned.  Each decision made, wondering if it’s the right one.  The stress of reading about and listening to what “should” be done and then coming back to the realization each time that what’s best is what is right for them.

Welcome to the world, Morley James.  You are so loved.  You’ve existed, out of the womb, for all of 15 hours (at time of writing) and are so, so loved.  You have two amazing parents who are absolutely perfect for you…but you know that already (because I strongly believe that you chose them).  They love you and every fibre of your being.  All three of you are in for a brilliantly wild ride together.

You have six incredible grandparents whose hearts were are just “over the moon” at the news of your arrival.  For two of them, you are their first grandchild.  For two of them, you are their fourth.  And for the last two, you are the eighth.  But you’ll soon discover that it doesn’t matter how many grandchildren they have, there will always be more than enough love to go around.

Speaking of those grandchildren…you have seven cousins who will be very excited to meet you.  You were already held by one today, the oldest, Caleigh.  She fell immediately in love with you and she made sure that everyone else she encountered today knew that she had a new baby cousin.  By the way, you also managed to bump her UNO cards as “show & tell” this week.  Trust me, Morley, that means you’re pretty cool.

And I’ll speak for your aunts and uncles when I tell you that our hearts are all full with love and anticipation of getting to know you.  You have a lot of us – ten in total, with the possibility of more in the future.  I have a few aunts and uncles who I love dearly and have an incredible relationship with.  I have laughed with them, cried with them, shared with them, and have always ALWAYS felt completely safe with them.  I hope that I earn the opportunity to create that bond with you.

You, Morley James, are loved.  Loved by more people than you can imagine.  Welcome to the world.

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Dear Maggie

Dear Maggie,

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Hey Kid.  You know what?  You’re very cute when you wake up from your naps in the middle of the afternoon.  And if I could see clearly at 11PM, I’d bet you’re really cute then too.  And at 1AM, 2:30AM, 4:30AM, and 5AM.

You and I had a really good thing going when you were eight weeks old.  Do you remember what that was?  You would go to sleep at 6 at night and sleep until 6 in the morning.  All night!  You wouldn’t wake up once!  And you did that all the way up until you were six months old.  At some point, you just kind of lost that ability to sleep for longer than 4 hours at a time.  And now….well, now, you can’t seem to sleep for more than 2 hours at a time.  Funny, right?

The irony of you having a three hour nap in the middle of the afternoon today is not lost on me.  Not one bit.  If I had known you would have slept that long, I might have tried napping myself.  Instead, I drank two more cups of tea while working on some marketing stuff.  No big deal….just doing my thing.  On less than four hours sleep.  Again…..

So, let’s make a deal, okay?  Tonight, you go to sleep at 7 and stay that way until the next morning.  I wouldn’t even mind a 5AM wake up call (I miss the 5AM club and my awesome power hours!) if it meant that you slept straight through.

Love and kisses,

Your mama

Baby adjustments

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  There is no greater honour in my chiropractic world than to be handed over a newborn baby and be asked to check them. There is something so perfect about providing a first adjustment to such a little being.

Little ones who, when they have a clear brain to body connection, function better.  They perceive their world more clearly.  They adapt more easily.  They are healthier.  Could a parent ask for much more?

Our own three children have been adjusted from the start.  Tom had the incredible experience to check them immediately after birth.  The birth process is hard on babies.  They go from being in a fluid, dark, warm, internal environment to the outside where there are colours, lights, smells, sounds, and touches they aren’t used to.  Never mind the journey they take to get here.  It’s a lot to process!

Why do they need to get checked by a chiropractor?  The answer is easy – they have a nervous system.   The nervous system is the most vital system of the body.  It is the master communicator and co-ordinator for the body.  We perceive our outside world through our nervous system.  The stress of birth and life in general can put stress on a baby’s nervous system causing an interference in the communication from the brain to the rest of the body and consequently impact how well they are able to perceive the environment around them.   Wouldn’t they function and adapt more easily if their nervous system was clear of any interference?  Wouldn’t they be healthier?

Absolutely.

It’s why we still check our kids on a weekly basis.  Whether or not they are experiencing challenges with their health.  Whether or not they had a fall or an injury.  Whether or not they are feverish.  Our kids can be busting at the seams with energy and expressing health and we’ll check them.  We check them because they have a nervous system.  And if there is any interference with their body’s ability to send messages from their brain to the rest of their body, we adjust.  We correct that interference, the subluxation.

It’s why I love what we do.  As chiropractors, we have the incredible ability to work with people, healthy or lacking health, and help them function better.  We can help them express greater health.  From the newly born to their great grandparents and everyone in between.  I don’t take it for granted for even a second.  And I’m so grateful to each person I have the opportunity to work with.

Especially the littlest ones, who hold within them the promise of something great.

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Sleep strike

So, if you’re just tuning in, I’m a mom of three amazing kids.  One of those three amazing kids is Maggie, who is ten months old.   When Maggie was just eight weeks old she slept through the night for the first time.  The trend continued until she was six months old, which mean that for four glorious months I slept through the night.

I could get up and enjoy my morning power hour on my own.

I could go to bed at ten knowing that I would get a solid seven hours sleep without interruption.

I could drink a glass of wine without worrying about feeling groggy in the middle of the night.

I could even get up to pee whenever I had to and not worry about creaky floors or a toilet flush making too much noise.

Four glorious months.

When Maggie started teething, that blissful well-rested state violently came to an end.  She decided one night that continuous sleep was not necessary.  She would get up once, twice, or even three times a night.  And because I am so good at creating really tasty, satisfying breast milk, I seem to be the only one who can get her back to sleep.  (What I would give for my husband to be able to breast feed!)

I remember when she was first born I wrote a post all about how while I was exhausted with newborn sleep schedules, I rather enjoyed our midnight feedings.  There are time I really do still feel that way.  I relish the quiet time while the world is silent around us.  I still talk to her about the future, about how great she is, and about what I hope for her in life.  And as she drifts off back to sleep, it puts a smile on my face because there is such a sweet innocence about it.

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Last night, however, was a whole other story.  She looked sweet but here was nothing innocent about her sleeping pattern.  At 6 this morning, I sat on our couch, exhausted and bewildered, with a cup of tea in my hand  and complained to Tom about her sudden sleep strike.  She chose to just not sleep from 2AM-5AM for no apparent reason.  And she wasn’t even upset.  She was happy.  Annoyingly happy.  She smiled, babbled, gurgled, cooed, and blew raspberries.  For three freakn’ hours.  It didn’t matter how many times I put her back down beside me into her sleeping position or got her to breastfeed or snuggled her in bed, she would not fall back asleep.  (Tom, by the way, was sleeping peacefully in the basement with our older two kids for a mid-week camp-out/sleep over)

I can handle 20 minutes of wake time but as it started to go on and we were chalking up hours of missed precious sleep, I grew increasingly frustrated.  To the point where for the first time in years, I contemplated just putting Maggie in her own room and let her sort out this sleeping thing on her own.  I don’t believe in letting a child cry it out at night.  I’ve tried it in the past, with Caleigh, and it literally felt like ripping my heart out of my chest.  I even tried to convince myself that it was okay for our child (which I now whole-heartedly know in my gut is wrong) and that she would learn.

So while at about the two hour mark, I really REALLY wanted to put her into her room and let her figure her way back to sleep….I knew there was no way I could actually go through with it.  Instead the two of us lay in my bed and I tossed and turned for the three hours until she finally, FINALLY fell back asleep.

Tonight as I write this post before going to bed, I wonder what the next few hours have in store for us.  I’m desperately hoping that the lack of sleep last night will allow her to sleep soundly tonight but I won’t hold my breath.  I know that she will eventually find her sleeping pattern again and make it through the night without needing to wake.  I’m not going to get hung up on when it’s going to happen.  Yes, it was lovely for those four glorious months.  I remember that well-rested-I-don’t-need-caffeine-lets-go-conquer-the-world feeling and I look forward to that feeling again.  Because I know that it will happen sometime in the next couple of years.   Until then, I will do my best to focus on that sweet innocent face that on a clear night, the moon highlights beautifully.

Teething Baby, Tired Mama

Somehow we managed to avoid painful teething with both Caleigh and Blake.  They would open their mouths and it was a shock to see a tooth.  Or another.  Or another.  Maggie is a whole other story.  She’s drooling.  She’s crying.  She’s gnawing on everything.  Her bum is red and raw.  I feel terrible because she has got to be in a lot of pain.  I don’t remember what it feels like to have teeth break through my gums but I imagine it doesn’t feel great. Her fist or thumb or hand (or sometimes both hands) is in her mouth at all times.  Oh yes, and she’s not sleeping.  My sleeper.  My perfectly amazing fantastic sleeper is no longer sleeping.  Or at least not well.  She goes down at about 5:30 and then wakes up 3 hours later.  Usually for a short bout at 2AM and then again at 4AM at which point she is up for a good hour before finally drifting back while nursing.  I used to be able to put her down at 5:30 and she would sleep until 7:30.  In the morning.  Yes, since about 8 or 9 weeks, she slept through the night for a 14 hour stretch.  So while she’s still getting good sleep at night, the whole 4AM wake up call has me all out of sorts.

We had a deal, Mags and I.  She sleeps 14 hours.  I sleep 8 hours.  I get up at 5 for my morning power hour.  All is good.  The sudden glitch in our schedule the last three nights has really thrown me for a loop.  I’m not getting enough sleep nor am I getting my morning routine.  I don’t know about you but I find that when thing is out of routine, it really throws off the rest of my day.  I don’t feel as productive at home or at the office.  I don’t commit as much to the things I committed to back in January (my reading and my nightly walks are two examples).  I really have to focus to get the best out of my day.

Which also explains why my Wednesday night dinner was a total failure tonight.  Well, it wasn’t a total failure, I suppose.  My family did eat.  But it was a repeat of a meal from a few weeks ago.  The original plan had been to make a roasted tomato and red pepper soup (which will probably be on the docket for next Wednesday because in my head, it will look and taste really awesome).  That meal went in the garbage (literally) when the tomatoes I picked up on Monday were turning green and fuzzy.  No penicillin for us, thanks.

So while the soup was a repeat, I did mange to whip together a breakfast for tomorrow morning of banana bread and a broccoli salad for the rest of the week.

By Design Banana Bread courtesy of Civilized Caveman Cooking

By Design Banana Bread courtesy of Civilized Caveman Cooking

This banana bread is the bomb, and I give a big shout out to my friend & colleague, Dr. Karen Osburn for putting me onto it.  And so easy & quick to prepare.  10 minutes max and then in the oven for 55.  You won’t be disappointed and so easy to get the kids involved with measuring and stirring.  I’m all for incorporating kids into the kitchen.  It not only instills a sense of responsibility but I also find they are more likely to eat what is put in front of them if they played a part.

By Design Broccoli Salad courtesy of Health Bent

By Design Broccoli Salad courtesy of Health Bent

Then there was this delicious broccoli salad from Health-Bent.  Broccoli + Bacon = Awesome.

Anyhow, so while the It’s What’s For Dinner Wednesday was kind of a bust, do enjoy the other recipes!  Totally tasty and totally by design.  And the BIG WIN for tonight was that both Caleigh and Blake actually ate the vegetables in the soup.  Ate the peppers.  Ate the onions.  Ate the tomatoes.  Victory!

A long week…and it’s only Wednesday

It’s been a long week.  I realize we’re only 3 days in so far but a REALLY long three days.  Have you ever had one of those days when at the end of it, you think “Really? Only Wednesday?”

It started off Monday morning when about 20 minutes after Tom getting out of the shower, we lost water pressure.  At first just a trickle, but then we had nothing.  Turns out that the pipe burst across the road and then backed up with mud and guck in the pipe that draws water into our home.  What started off as what we assumed to be a quick fix turned into almost 36 hours without water.  In the true sense of it, no big deal.  But I was amazed at how much it upheaved our lifestyle.  No water to drink, flush toilets with, have showers with, do laundry with, clean dishes with, clean floors with, cook with, brush teeth with, etc. etc.  The silver lining?  We live in Canada and in the middle of February we have a lot of snow on the ground.  So my stove top was filled with pots that spent their day melting snow in order to at least flush toilets.

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Blake loving the backhoe in the front driveway as they fixed the pipe!

Blake loving the backhoe in the front driveway as they fixed the pipe!

The one kicker on Tuesday morning was when Maggie decided to fill a diaper with about two days of poop she had stored up for.  It was one of those explosive diapers that not only went up her back but also down her legs and soaked her socks.  Oh yeah, it was that gross.  And usually I’d stick her under the faucet and literally hose her down.  But without water, I went through about 47 wipes to clean her up.  If it wasn’t so gross, I would have thought it was funny.

The good news came Tuesday evening when I heard that our water had been restored.  I was elated.  When I got home,  I was shocked at how 36 hours can add up with stuff to do.  7 loads of laundry, dirty dishes, and messy floors needed a lot of work.  But what a great feeling to get my home back!

Some GREAT things that happened this week so far:

  • Finished Killing Sacred Cows by Garrett Gunderson and have moved onto my 5th book of the year, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey
  • Spent an hour at my daughter’s Sparks troop on Tuesday evening to help with International Night.  Had a fun time teaching 5 and 6 year olds how to use chopsticks as we had chosen China as the country to present.
  • Maggie back to sleeping through the night after our weekend away proved to throw her out of her routine (she kept me up for a good portion of both nights away!).  And when I say “sleeping through the night”, I mean going to bed at 5:30PM and waking up sometime between 6:30 and 7.
  • Got out for two great walks around our neighbourhood.  I haven’t been at the gym for almost two weeks because my trapezius muscles (the big diamond shaped muscle that goes from the top of your spine to your shoulders to the bottom of my rib cage) seized 10 days ago.  It is driving me crazy that I haven’t been able to be there so my focus has instead been on walking and mobility.
  • Lots of adjustments!  Because of my traps being angry with me, I have been subluxated more than I ever have before.  I’ve been checked and adjusted about once a day to help my body adapt to the stress its under right now.

Before I sign off, I am totally going to share with you what we ate tonight because “It’s What’s For Dinner Wednesday” at the Ryan home.

When eating by design, I revolve all of our meals around animal protein.  My default is always beef because it’s so versatile and we have a big freezer chest in the basement full of local, grass-fed, all-natural beef.  Yum.  I branch out to other proteins but usually chicken, veal, buffalo, or pork.  I tend to forget about fish.

Mmmmm. On tonight’s menu, Salmon with Dijon Cream.  The props do not go to me, although I did manage to follow the recipe well.  All the inspiration goes to these two amazing chiropractors-to-be in New Zealand.  Check out their blog and all the incredible By Design recipes they have written about.  The recipe comes right from their site.

Pan Seared Salmon with Dijon Cream

Pan Seared Salmon with Dijon Cream

Ingredients

  • 2 wild salmon filets 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 2 tbsp freshly sage, chopped
  • 1/2 cup full fat cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard

Details

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper, then place in the pan (skin side up).
  2. Cook until for 5-6 minutes. Peel the skin off, flip and cook until both sides are golden brown. Remove salmon from pan and set aside.
  3. In the pan, add butter, shallot, garlic, and sage. Stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes until sizzling. Whisk in cream and mustard. Continue to whisk while cream bubbles and thickens. Stir for two minutes.
  4. Serve salmon, drizzled with dijon cream.
  5. I put it on top of a salad with red onion & grape tomatoes.  Homemade salad dressing was made of olive oil, rice vinegar, and dijon mustard.  Really simple and I let the salmon be the star of the plate.  Kids won’t touch salad but they do love peas.  So, served it up for them with their little green buddies.  It went over really well:
Kid tested & approved.

Kid tested & approved.