Thursday, January 24, 2013

Flying with two under two and a half: there will be spills

 We are headed back to Australia tomorrow after almost two months with people we love in North America.  We have five flights on this trip under our (seat) belts; some have been okay and some have been "Horrible, Horrible" to quote my husband.  I only gave it one horrible but I have a memory that covers everything with nostalgia and fondness.
photo courtesy of my two year old

Here are some things I've learned flying with two babies under 2 1/2:

The less carry-ons, the better.  If you bring the little umbrella stroller for your toddler, he will not stay in it and you will push it empty running after him.  If you tie a "leash" to his little backpack he will not wear it and you will carry that too, while chasing him.  It's possible you will actually leave all of your adult carry-ons at a table accidentally and not realize it until you are halfway through the immigration line.  You may or may not freak out slightly at your husband who was responsible for them.  It's okay, at least you didn't lose the children.

Your son might cry loudly as his beloved car seat slides away on the baggage conveyor belt in Philadelphia.  He may do this in Vancouver as well. Everyone around will worry for him but you can assure them he's just crying about his car seat.

Ergobaby carrier - life saver.  The baby can be on your back very happily while you carry the toddler in your arms.  The Ergo will be your only chance to sleep with your 22+ pound baby sleeping on you.  It's also possible to nurse the baby while you both fall asleep without worrying that you'll wake up completely exposed to the world .... like that one time.  Oops.

If the man behind you offers to hold your 1 year old so she can pound on his computer a bit (and she really wants to do that), go for it–he seems nice and you are right there.  But even if you tell him to be careful of his glass of coke and he says "Don't worry, I have lots of experience", she WILL grab his coke and spill it all over his neighbour's lap.  The neighbour will be good-hearted about it, but that's only because you were flying in Canada.

Your 2 year old will also have a spill, of his water, all over his pants.  The ONE FLIGHT that you don't pack extra pants will be the one flight he spends in his nappy, complaining of how cold his legs are.

best cargo ever
Screaming extremely loud on the plane is inevitable.  It's okay, in small amounts.  (The kids that is, not you.)  Try to stay calm - becoming angry does not help your child fall asleep any faster.  Tell him a story about himself and make up a song that goes along with the story.  Repeat the song 65 times, eventually migrating to a hum, until he falls asleep.

Of special note: Do not get up to pee if he's sleeping with his legs on you.  He will wake up and not go back to sleep for the rest of the flight.

The iPad with a few new TV shows uploaded and toddler headphones will entertain him for hours.  The iPad with adult headphones on the toddler will cause him to yell extremely loudly, "My HEADPHONES MY HEADPHONES!!!!" every six minutes as they slip off of his head.

If you are flying with your spouse or partner, you will probably be annoyed at each other from time to time.  Or most of the time.  Pack yummy treats to cheer yourselves up and forget about it once the plane lands.  

My husband adds:  If you've been holidaying in North America for 2 months, make sure you find some pants that will not cut off your circulation for the flight home.  If you can't bring yourself to buy bigger pants, feel free to unbutton the top button, but use something to cover up as your fly will tend to drift.

Only one more flight to go for us - 15 1/2 hours or so in the air and we are home! Thank you to everyone who made our traveling well worth it!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

capacity, 2013

Lots of people choose a word for the year.  We're over half way through January but I've had a word tumbling around my head for these past few weeks, a word I've explored a bit here before but I want to let it change me.  If I wasn't renting, maybe I'd paint it on our kitchen wall.  If it wasn't so permanent maybe I'd get a little tattoo on my left hand.


Sometimes we are like these pregnant bellies.  With both children, around 20 weeks I felt skin-stretched to my limit in the most physical sense.  How could I possibly get any bigger?  I was sure my tummy would tear open, that my skin was already too thin.  Somehow I made it though, to 40 weeks + 2 days with both babies and not only did my skin stay intact but it somehow, miraculously went back to normal.  Well, a new normal.  We get stretched to our limit in moments or months but there is a grace and more room than we thought possible.  Sometimes we are like this.

But sometimes we are like those big black suitcases you take on an airplane ride across the ocean, or from Vancouver to Philly.  23 kg/50 pounds.  That's the limit and nobody cares why you're trying to take more stuff with you.  Our suitcase in Vancouver weighed in at 25 kg and the man at the counter said "Do you want to try and repack or just pay the $75 overweight fee?"  Hm.  We took a winter coat out and moved a book or too to the other suitcase which was slightly underweight.  There.  All better.  I was impressed with how close we were to the allotted amount without even weighing our two bags; my husband said those suitcases are made to hold 50 pounds if you stuff them full of normal things.  There are limits in life, real ones, and if you cram too much into one of those suitcases you will either:

1. be unable to shut the suitcase and/or destroy the zipper or
2. be forced to pay $75 in overweight charges for stuff you probably don't even really need to bring.

We do have limits too.  Sometimes we need to re-negotiate our boundaries and move things to another time or place or person.  Other times we are just plain full and our zipper, and sanity, is at stake.  Have you ever replaced a big zipper like that?  I have not. 

I have traveled with textbooks in my pillow case and sterile gloves in my guitar case and way too many kilograms in my carry-on and I would not recommend it unless you enjoy getting on a plane soaked in sweat.

I'm the firstborn of five children, a pastor's kid, a teacher's pet;  I like to please people, to perform well, I like everyone to be happy and visibly expressing it on their faces at all times.  I like to read and learn and apply it to my life.  I want the best for my children, I want to parent them perfectly, I want to always treat them with the utmost respect and kindness and responsiveness every single moment of their lives.  But I am exploring the idea that I have limits, some that will grow and stretch and surprise me, but some that need to be honoured and listened to for us all to be healthy.

no more pictures, please.

"Parenting for a Peaceful World" by Robin Grille, the first book I would recommend for just about anyone who is a parent or has ever had a parent, opened my eyes newly to the idea of capacity.  In terms of parenting, we all have a certain capacity in caring for our children.  It is based on how we were parented, what our surrounding culture says is acceptable in the treatment of children, how we have processed how we've been parented and how much support we have to meet our parenting goals.  Realizing this releases us from judging others and just as importantly, from judging ourselves.  Is it right to traffic your child for money?  Is it right to participate in honour killings if your daughter has disgraced you with her actions?  Is it right to shame or manipulate your child into acting a certain way?  Absolutely not.  But Grille's insight has given me freedom from judgement.  Discernment is still needed and we must work towards justice in the lives of precious children, for their own sake and for the sake of the world.  But these people are not monsters.  They likely have been abused themselves, their surrounding culture dictates what is acceptable and it's possible they have very little support to change. And I'm not a monster either, even though I have daily instincts to push my children away from me rather than drawing them close, even though I have instincts to hit or shame.  It's not permission to act in this way but I can face my anger and frustration with a new sense of compassion and understanding and that is the way to change in myself and my children, more than any shame or self-punishment will ever bring.

Last week we spent a few hours with a precious friend and mentor.  She was the first person to introduce me to the importance of attachment in parenting and non-violent discipline.  She was the first person I knew who tandem nursed her children and nursed children well into toddlerhood.  There is so much beauty and justice in her and in the way that she parents.  Chris and I both vented to her a bit about how things were going, our frustrations with our strong-willed toddler and having two children who need us so much.  I shared about nursing my almost 2 1/2 year old, that I have moments of feeling resentful, certain times when I can't really handle it anymore.  My friend wisely and kindly told me that I need to listen to whatever that is in me, whatever is feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.


I'll write about it more later but we're setting some new boundaries with our little guy and I'm hoping to be done nursing him by the end of the year, maybe sooner.  I'd like to be down to once a day by his third birthday.  Feeling like there's an end in sight brings relief already.  To some people this will sound like extreme hippie-mama craziness.  Trust me, I am not an extreme hippie mama.  To some people this will sound like I'm doing a dis-service to my child in not allowing him to wean in his own time.  I don't think that is true either. 

This year I want to increasingly honour my capacity to parent, to give, to write, to serve, to teach, to neighbour and to love.  Sometimes my capacity will stretch and grow with new life and sometimes my capacity will demand that limits be recognized and kept.  As I honour my own capacity I want to honour the capacity of those around me.  My husband especially, the capacity of my children, friends in my neighbourhood and around the world.  We are all in this together, we need each other: ubuntu.  Judgement brings death on so many levels.  Supporting each other as we pursue our parenting goals, whatever they are, will bring us life. 

Capacity.  It's my word for this year and for all the new things that will grow and be born in our lives, and for all that we bring in our bags on big airplane rides.

Do you have a word for the year? Or are there ways you need to re-consider your own capacity and the demands you place on yourself?  I'd love to hear what you think.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

cold, wet and wonderful (a holiday photo barrage)

We've been in holiday mode around here.  It's been cold, and yet so warm.  There's less than a month left in our trip and while I imagined plenty of leisure time to hide away and write, it's not been happening.  That's okay.  There's lots of other great stuff to read on the internet. ( Just check out Rachel Held Evans Sunday Superlatives - The Best of 2012.)

What have we been doing?

the dishes
making new friends

enjoying grandparents
enjoying more grandparents

creating with old friends
bonding with family
being Canadian
being Christmas angels


making things
kissing noses

crossing the tundra

I hope your holiday has been as cold, wet and wonderful.  Unless of course you like it warm.