Friday, 22 June 2012

Reading Signs and Understanding Behaviour Cues

Yesterday was mayhem. I’m talking complete craziness. The day started out good, as most days do in this household. We wanted to get out and enjoy the beautiful start to the day so we took our little one to Mad Mango. Figured we better get in as much mango jam as we can before we move away from Pat and her awesomeness. Typically, Len loves it there. It is chill and fast and delicious. Plus, it usually is super busy so she can people watch in the small space easily as we wait for food and sip coffee. But not yesterday. She had some crazy leg syndrome going and sunshine energy flowing through those little bones and she couldn’t sit still. And she wouldn’t. 

Back and forth we battled her to stay in her seat, stop shouting, no yelling, on and on, until eventually James took her outside to run around. She came back into the store, gave me a big ol hug, and continued on her merry ‘i don’t sit still’ way. Finally, the food came and she mustered up the patience to chow down. But the moment she was done, we were off.

There are times when Lennon will have it no way but her way. Of course I understand this mentality as I struggled with control issues and honestly, still do. There are simply some things that a toddler cannot be allowed to do. Running on the road is one of them. But she was determined that she would run across the road. James told her no. She screamed. She threw herself on the ground in a flailing display of rebellion. We managed to get her across the road just in time for her to launch into full attack mode on her dad. Ripping his hat off his head and throwing it on the ground. Then going for his glasses. If he wasn’t savvy to her ways, she would have mauled the beard next. Not cool, little one, not cool.

Help! My world is ending! Oh wait, nevermind.
I warned her that if her behaviour continued like this, we would leave and go home. Our plan was to head to the water park. We had been there the day before and had a really great time. She loves water. She somewhat acknowledged the parameters I have placed on her and so we make our way to the park. Before we have even gone ten feet, she sees the lake and wants to go in. I tell her we will play at the water park, the lake is freezing and she didn’t have her swim stuff on yet. Maybe on the weekend we could go to the trailer and swim in Kalamalka lake. This was not the answer she wanted to hear. Again, she throws herself on the ground, refuses to stand up, kicks my legs, slaps my hands away from her, tries to bite me as I pull her up from the ground, people gawking at us as though never would their children behave like that let alone themselves (bullshit). So I tell her that I wasn’t just warning her, I am serious. This kind of behaviour, like all behaviour, has consequences. This time the consequence was that we would leave and that is exactly what we are going to do. The moment I picked her up, I expected a couple of face slaps, maybe a head butt or two, but instead, she went with me. She didn’t fuss. She didn’t scream. She just accepted it. Hm, kind of strange for a girl who fights everything tooth and nail. I didn’t think much of it because I was just glad she had stopped freaking out and I had held my ground and stuck to my parameters.

The rest of the day went smoothly. We played in the house and organized our millions of things that need to be sorted in the next month. Not a single temper tantrum. Eventually, we had to do some errands and go pick up James from work. She protested. I warned her about time out. She went along with me, but whined the entire time, finally breaking out into a full blown meltdown freak out which essentially threw me over the edge. There is nothing worse than driving around in a small little car while your toddler screams at the top of her lungs. We got home and did a time out. She gradually calmed down and we ate dinner. Things seemed to be going good again until all of a sudden, around bedtime, she lost her marbles again. Screaming, throwing herself on the ground, general flailing. I asked her if she wanted to go for a timeout. She said yes. Wait. Yes?

Suddenly, all of the pieces came together. We had had a crazy week full of activity. We went to the woods and explored, had friends over to our house, went out for dinner, went to the water park and coffee shop, as well as all of the usual groceries, house chores, and evening walks. She was spent. I have this strange ability to just keep going and never stop. I run myself and those around me into the ground. Even as a 40 week pregnant woman, my closest friends could not get me to sit still and rest my feet. In forgetting that I need rest and relaxation in the quiet comfort of my own home, I also forget that my child needs rest and quiet as much as she needs stimulation and fun. 
Having a blast. Maybe too much fun?

Hiking takes it out of a little one!
Tantrums are a part of being a toddler. Similar to being a teenager. Life seems so difficult when you can’t have it exactly the way you want it and unfortunately your view is limited at this age of what and how the world truly works. In these moments of being so wound up caring for someone who seemingly fights you over getting dressed, eating food, everything, it is easy to forget that firstly, they can’t really communicate the way they want to, and secondly, their actions are their words.

Here I thought I was battling against Lennon’s desire to run around at inappropriate times, or her inability to go along with me happily while I do errands, which neither of us really want to do to begin with, but I was actually missing her behaviour cues and misreading her signs. She wasn’t telling me I don’t want to do that because I don’t feel like it and I like watching you suffer (which it can feel like somedays) but instead she was asking in the only way she knows how to slow down. Her little body needs rest and even though she is still playing and possibly whining, she is at home in her safety zone having necessary down time.

So if you are at your wits end with your kid who either doesn’t want to go out or doesn’t want to stay in, or just seems to be having all out crazy behaviour, take a breath and ask yourself what is this behaviour telling me that my child cannot and how can I help remedy the situation for the both of us.

So tired in fact, she fell asleep in my lap this afternoon. Been months since that happened.
I’m not saying that there aren’t days where they just want to scream bloody murder at you because they think its funny, because we’ve had those days too. What I am saying is that with our advanced communication capabilities when its come to verbal language, we forget that our children are using the first communication tools available to us: body language and behaviour. Becoming more aware of what are children’s behaviour is telling us can also help us to realize what our behaviour is telling our children and each other. 

Heck, if it helps, thats one less meltdown a day and I would take that and run with it people!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Big Decisions Call for Big Action

Well, we did it. We conquered our fears and eased other's concerns and decided we are going to move to California! And while we aren't the types to dive head first into things, there seems no other way to approach such a monumentally huge change.

Still, all change is a process and this process may be slow, or it could be fast. Too many variables are at play here and it is literally impossible for us to know the outcome. For now, the visa process will start and that pretty much determines everything. Because James is a freelancer, he doesn't have to worry about giving and completing two weeks notice. Most of his clients will follow him wherever he goes. He will slowly finish up projects as he eases into working full time at a studio again. Once the visas are completed, we just have to find a place to live and move. As I've mentioned before, I'm not very patient so I do hope this doesn't take forever!

The other thing is that we have to be out of our current home for July 31st. Which is just 5 weeks away! If everything falls perfectly into place, we won't have to move twice. Otherwise we may find ourselves with a period of time where we are floating. My preposition is to do a road trip down to Cali, stopping in Seattle, Portland, San Fran and then finally arriving in our new home, Santa Monica. Wow, that sounds really weird and totally awesome. It's ok to feel jealous, I know I would!

But before we actually get to that stage, we have SO much stuff to do. Here is an idea of what needs to be done in the next 5 weeks:

1) Find homes for the pets
2) Find homes for the plants
3) Change over all bank accounts
4) Cancel and figure out phones
5) Clean out and declutter belongings
6) Pack entire Canadian existence
7) Find a place to live in Santa Monica
8) Physically move out of current house
9) Move into new house in AMERICA!
10) Hope there is time to say goodbye to friends and family
11) Maybe sleep, but probably not

Anyone want to come sort and pack this for me?!

Still breaks me heart to say goodbye to these two, but it is the best decision for them. 

Sweet plants that also need new homes. Sad to see these guys go too.
I've started already. Because that's how I roll. Baby steps will hopefully get me where I need to be. Pray my head doesn't explode in the process. Also, any and all help is greatly appreciated.

This is such an exciting process to finally be beginning. I wish there was a bit more time for me to be working on my poetry manuscript. Oh well, summer never was a very creative time for me. Too much to enjoy!

Well, better go sort through my heaps of winter clothes. Bon voyage everyone!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Roasted Peppers Stuffed with Spinach, Tomato, Goat Cheese Quinoa Risotto

There really is nothing better than a yummy roasted vegetable. But I also am a sucker for the creamy, delicious texture of risotto. Ooo and I do love quinoa so full of protein and all nine essential amino acids. So naturally, I crammed all of these, plus some other favourite and beneficial ingredients, into the most delicious roasted peppers yet!

Plus, their easy. I like easy. Oh, and there is wine involved, which makes everything better!

What you will need:

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped,
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup quinoa (white or red)
2 cups water
2 tomatoes, chopped,
1/3 brick of firm tofu, cut into small cubes
2 or more handfuls of baby or chopped spinach
1/3 cup parmesan
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp italian seasoning (basil, marjoram, thyme, parsley will do)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced or 2 tbsp lemon juice
1 pepper per person if this is all you are making, tops cut off and insides cleaned out. If you make a salad or something to accompany, you could do half. Depends on size of peppers also.

How its done:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a large sauce pan, on medium heat, saute the oil, onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until golden brown.

3) Add the wine and the quinoa. Bring to boil, then lower to a simmer (low heat). Allow wine to be absorbed totally.
4) Add water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to a simmer. Allow to simmer on low for 10 minutes.
5) After 10 minutes, add the tomato, spinach and tofu. Cook for 10 more minutes

Also, pour yourself a glass of wine. If you are a nursing mama, make sure your water doubles the size of your wine. Enjoy!

6) Once majority of the water has been absorbed, add your spices and salt and pepper, as well as your lemon juice. Taste test it!
7) Then add your parmesan. Mix in completely

8) Add your crumbled goat cheese, also mixing in completely. Do another taste test to determine if you need more spices or salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

9) Cut the tops off of your peppers and clean out the insides. 
10) Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and gently roll peppers in oil.

11) Stuff as much quinoa risotto into each pepper without overflowing.
12) Roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until the quinoa on top becomes crisp and the pepper begins to brown.

13) Serve!

Makes enough risotto for 4 peppers. To increase pepper amount, double recipe. 

James proclaimed this could be served at a fancy restaurant. I hope you feel the same way and wow anyone who gets the pleasure of enjoying your creation!

Thursday, 14 June 2012


I’m so lost in my own little confusion bubble and I’m finding it so difficult to talk about it and even harder to write about it. Apologies for disappearing. I’m beginning to realize I do that often and need to stop. Note to self: don’t be such a flake.

Anyways, the issue at hand is, in a nutshell, where my family will be living and what work my man will be doing, as well as what I will doing too, because of course they are all intrinsically connected. James has been offered a job in Santa Monica, California. It would pretty much be a perfect fit for him: exactly what he wants to be working on, a seemingly chill environment, steady income and full benefits. Sounds totally perfect right? Except as Canadians, this would mean a pretty substantial culture change. Yes, we are neighbours, but no doubt about it (said with token Canadian accent) there are differences in our economic, political and cultural paradigms. A change isn’t bad though! And what a wicked experience to know what its like to live as an American even if only for a couple of years.

Not to mention, Santa Monica is an amazingly beautiful place that I have been lucky to have spent time in. The chance to access the food available, the sunshine, the culture, surfing! Holy, sounds like paradise.

We have decided that if we go, which it seems we very well might, if everything falls in to place with applications and bureaucratic escapades, our sweet cats deserve to stay here. OH it BREAKS my heart to even write it!!! I know, too much melodrama, but its how I feel. They are so precious to me. But Claudio especially must have access to outside. We will look for places close to James’ office which is located close to the beach, in quite an urban set up. Not Claudio friendly. Bean of course is content either way, although I do believe she is happier and more manageable when outside. Master Chief is my little cling on pet who will probably outlive everyone and nip at ankles for an eternity. He will come along.

Lily Bean
Master Chief
Experience of a lifetime. Fur baby separation. Culture shock. Isolation. Local food deliciousness. Sweet sunshine. Bye bye snow.

Kelowna, BC
Oh my. The decision is heavy and I feel it building in my solar plex. Both me and Lennon are learning lessons in patience. To the future, where ever that may be.