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As I mentioned in my last post, I am officially on maternity leave.  When I was pregnant with Justin, my last day before starting my leave was my due date, March 5, 2008, he wasn’t born until March 19.  That was one of the longest 2 weeks of my life.

This time around, I promised myself I wouldn’t subject myself to that kind of anxious boredom and committed myself to working until labor started (fully aware that I would very likely run late with Miss Georgia as I did with Mr. Justin.  It turns out there’s a difference between working part-time with no kiddo at home and working full-time with a sensitive and ill-sleeping 4-year-old Autistic boy at home.  (Who would believe it?!)

So far, maternity leave has not been the burden it was last time, for which I am thankful.  I’m working hard to keep busy, not thinking too hard about being past my due date – and I’ve been successful.  This morning I actually had to count on my fingers how many days past my due date I am (3).  My kitchen is clean enough to cook in.  All the bottles, pacifiers, nursing support gadgets (nipple shells/shields, etc) are sterilized.  Laundry is caught up.  Heck, even my bed is made!  My kitchen floor is disgusting (swept, but needs about an hour with a magic eraser and some elbow grease) and my tub could use a scouring – both projects I’m sort of saving for the bout of hormonally induced nesting that is sure to find me in the next week or so.

The crazy part?  I was in bed last night for nearly 11 hours (minus of course the few trips to the bathroom and my 45-minute, middle-of-the-night cuddle session on the couch with my sweet boy at 4am).

My anxiety is as low as it can be and I’m as tired as a woman in her 40th week of pregnancy should be – as opposed to simply being an exhausted puddle of irritable grossness.  Sure, I have moments where I think, “What if my body will never go into full labor on its own?!”  But all in all, I’m actually enjoying being home and able to focus on getting and keeping my house in order, spending time with my Little Turkey and getting my head around the whole idea of having another little person in our home.

I have been, and will continue to try all the usual methods of encouraging labor to get going.  Many of the things I’m doing I did with Justin (fruitlessly), but there’s no harm in them so I figure, why not?  I’m also trying some new things too.  Here’s my shortlist of things I’ve been doing so far:

– Evening Primrose Oil

– Blue and Black Cohosh Tinctures

– Rest

– Walking (particularly carrying something heavy – like a bag of groceries)

– Red Raspberry Leaf tea

– Greasy meals (on occasion)

– Rebozo Sifting (oh man, that felt so good!  like a belly massage!  I’m so thankful to my doula for offering this!)
And things I’ll be likely to do in the next few days:

– Hiking the stairs

– Having my membranes stripped

– Balloon Catheter induction (which I’m going to push to have done early next week at the latest)

– Taking the new breast pump for a spin

Then finally, the ultimate natural induction technique:  tempting Murphy’s Law!

On Facebook today I tossed out requests for activity recommendations so that I can build a schedule for the next week or so.  I’m thinking that if I can build a full calendar of activities, then our little princess will have to interrupt with her arrival, right?  The trick is coming up with activities that don’t wear me out, cost a fortune, require childcare, or aren’t schedule-able.

So far I’m thinking I’m going to schedule a day to finally take Justin to the FIG at the Whatcom Museum (Friday), and go on a morning coffee date with Matt (Thursday while Justin is at school).  If we can arrange childcare for Justin, I’d really like to go see The Hobbit at the new theater in town, and go have my Red Robin Birthday burger (which might happen on the same day as seeing The Hobbit).  I’m thinking tomorrow would be a good day to give Matt the haircut he needs and finish the detail on the hat I knitted for Georgia.

I have a few things in my freezer for postpartum time, but I hesitate to trash my clean kitchen only to wear myself out midway through.  And there are a few other things that I could prep, but I wouldn’t want to just make waste by prepping too soon.  Plus, a lot of the deep-cleaning sorts of things won’t work with Justin around.  Hmmm…

Any other ideas for fun day-time things to do around Bellingham with a hyperactive kiddo?

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Before I get too far, I promised pictures of Justin’s Castle Grayskull birthday cake, and of him at his own birthday party:

  Justin LOVES his kitty keyboard!

While I covered Justin’s current stats (now including the offical update where we found out that Justin is closer to 37 inches tall than 36), I haven’t gotten to fill y’all in on what he’s been up to. 

Over the last few months, Justin has started making sentences, making clear choices, and has coped VERY well with our moving to a larger apartment.  Speaking of the move, I have to take a moment to thank our friends for coming and helping out.  Brooksana, you’re amazing.  The way you kept Justin entertained and not bolting down the stairs or stabbing himself with screwdrivers while Matt and I were moving boxes was nothing short of incredible.  Thank you.  Then I have to thank those who helped us muscle through too: Subdeacon Michael and Marilynn, you made it all possible. 

Once we were into our new place, Justin had his own room complete with his big-boy-bed on a bedframe (not just the mattress on the floor anymore) with a safety bedrail.  Since the first night (excepting only a couple of exceptional teething nights) he has consistently slept through the night.  Sweet Mercy!  I am so incredibly thankful to God for that one.  I haven’t slept in more than two years, to now know that there will be a few hours of the day or night that he will be asleep without my direct assistance is amazing. 

As you can see, Justin has been very helpful in getting our apartment put together.  What you’re looking at above is Justin sitting IN the 9-cube organizer I got for his room.  Very helpful indeed!  🙂

Justin has been really into “pretend play” lately.  Not as much as some kids I’ve known, but it’s so sweet when he does it.  He does impersonations of people.  He has a “Cookie Monster” voice, and a “Pappa’s Laugh” among other things.  One day he threw a fit as I was pruning/watering our basil plant.  Apparently it was his turn to try.  He had found a small can of V8 juice and he decided that the “Bazzoo” needed a drink:

Now, since his birthday we’ve been working on a few things.  One of which is a normal bedtime.  Up until very recently, the nigh-night routine involved Matt holding Justin on his lap until he fell asleep, then moving him to his bed.  The last two nights we’ve been successful letting Justin watch one cartoon cuddled up with Matt and then I take Justin to his room, put him in bed and sit in the room until he falls alseep by himself in his own bed (it only takes maybe 15-20 minutes).  It may not seem like much of an improvement, but if you figure that until now it has taken 2-3 hours for him to go to sleep with LOTS of help, bottle/nursing, etc.  it’s pretty dramatic.  Speaking of nursing, our “Big boys no nerr” thing has been working.  Justin’s down to only nursing maybe once every other day.  Wooohoo!  Go big boy Justin! 

Counting.  Justin has decided that “2” is the best number there is.  We’ve all been telling Justin for weeks that “soon,  you’ll be 2!  Now you’re 1 and then you’ll be 2!”  He never seemed to be paying much attention.  Then on the Sunday after his birthday, someone at church asked him how old he was.  And he responded: “Tooo!”  Now, when we count, if you say “one”, “two”, Justin says “Tooo!” as soon as you start to say “two”, then waits for you to remind him of the next number.  He’ll get there.  It’s awfully cute though.

Justin Elias Owen Status Update:

On 3/19/2008, his birth day, Justin was 21 inches long, weighed 9lbs 2oz, and frequently pooped himself.  He wore newborn sized clothes and a size 1 shoe.  0 teeth.

On 3/19/2009, his first birthday, Justin was 32 inches tall, weighed 26lbs 1oz, and slightly less frequently, pooped himself.  He wore size 2T clothing and a size 5 shoe.  4 teeth.

Now, on 3/19/2010, his second birthday, Justin is 36.75 inches tall, and weighs right around 32lbs, and despite our efforts at encouraging potty time, still poops himself twice a day.  He wears a size 4T (a little long in the pantlegs yet, but fits everywhere else), and is at the ends of his size 8 shoes!  >18 confirmed teeth (he tries to bite me when I check for those two last 2-year molars).

I’ve been telling Justin for a few weeks now that soon, he’ll be a “big boy”.  “Big boys” get to do lots of things: they get to make choices, they get to help get dressed and put shoes on.  But “big boys” also “no nerr”** (meaning “no nurse”), and they put their poop and pee in the potty instead of a diaper. 

** The first time I told Justin, “Big boys no nerr” he looked at me like I’d just told him the sky was green and asked very inquisitively, “No nerr?!” “Nope, no nerr.  Dadda no nerr, He-Man no nerr, big boys no nerr.” I said.  Justin then looked at the floor and shook his head from side to side saying, “no nerr. No nerr…”

Today we’ll be having a little family birthday party at Nanna and Poppa’s house (“PoppaNanna House!” as Justin calls it).  Since the cakepan didn’t come in time, the He-Man cake will have to wait, so Momma is crafting a Castle Grayskull cake from a sheet cake.

I’ve been thinking about the topic of schooling for Justin for a little while.  I’m posting this blog more as an invitation to discussion than just a normal post as there are many people I know and respect deeply who have different views on this topic.  I recently read an article that got me thinking more specifically about this issue.  I would encourage everyone considering posting a comment to read this short article beforehand.

Since I was a child I’d always envisioned sending my children to public school.  I did very well in public school, at least for elementary and high school.  For many years I joked about the idea of homeschooling for junior high alone simply because there is no social benefit other than evil.  I had a horrible experience with middle school – kids torturing each other, making fun of each other, intense competition over trivial perceptions of status left me feeling small, awkward, and ultimately rendered me unable to learn.  I failed multiple classes in middle school, where I had tested very high in elementary and in high school, it took me just a matter of months before I was recommended for honors/AP classes – which I ultimately excelled at.  Ultimately, with the exception of middle school, I have had a generally positive view of public schools.  My experience with other kids from other educational paths were just different than I’d encountered elsewhere.  Whether because of the culture of the town I was from or some other reason, the majority of homeschooled kids I encountered were smart, well-read, but socially stunted to a painful degree, totally unable to cope with people from different backgrounds or religious traditions.   Kids I knew who went to private school (Protestant private schools) were smart, well-put together, and confident in their beliefs without being too openly judgemental of other groups, but sometimes encountered a fair bit of cliquishness.  Now of course, all of these negative situations also occur in public schools to varying degrees.

After reading the linked article, which also adds the options of Orthodox parochial schools (which aren’t available in the Pacific Northwest), and also another option – pooling resources from multiple homeschooling families in a particular Orthodox parish to form an informal mini-parish school.  My criticisms of most of the options presented in Bishop THOMAS’ article, as well as more traditional arguments generally revolve around balance.  Just because your kid goes to public school, does that mean that the only Christian education they get is at Church?  Just because you homeschool your kid, does that mean that you’re some kind of protectionist trying to shield your child from the outside world, social development be damned? 

After having been Orthodox for a little more than 3 years, and now having a small child, and reflecting on my own experience, I find that I’m at a place where I envision a mix of all the options:  Public school, but with an intentional emphasis on Church life, prayer, and right-living at home and adding Greek school if/where available.  Right now, at just under the age of 2, Justin prays with Matt his prayer rule every morning in our icon corner (even if for him that’s just sitting and chattering near Matt, occasionally doing a “toddler-matanoya”, and kissing Icons).  We bring him to every service we can afford to go to (I often work evenings and we don’t have a lot of money for consistent travel to our little church in the boonies for services beyond Divine Liturgy). 

The question is: what is the best method of schooling for Orthodox children, and more specifically my (or your) child.  Public school, private school (religious or otherwise), or homeschooling.  Why and how did you come to this conclusion?  What are your thoughts on my temporary/initial/flexible conclusion?

Hi everyone! 

Last year, as you may or may not remember, Matt and I had a rough time figuring out how to build our own family holiday tradition.  Well, after seeing how tired and overwhelmed our little boy was last year, and getting to know some other Orthodox families and how they do holidays at home, we decided to do our stockings on St. Nicholas Day instead of waiting until Christmas morning.

Saturday night we went to our Church for Great Vespers, and the end of which we were paid a visit by our own resident Bishop St. Nicholas (ie. our Subdeacon dressed as St. Nicholas) who handed out candy canes.

As you can see, Justin couldn’t wait to help St. Nicholas make his entrance.  🙂  At one point I had to hold him back, as he was losing his composure to the excitement of it all:

Kids young and old got to venerate the Cross and receive a candy cane from our, as a friend dubbed him, “Sub-Nicholas”:

And of course the sugar high ensued.  Between the half-chewed chunks of cane and the little pink candy-drool spots on the floor, you almost had to watch your step!  I’ll tell you though, everyone seemed in good spirits – despite the army of increasingly wild kids.

 After all this excitement, we headed for home and to our warm beds (it’s been an awfully cold and windy December!).  This morning, Dec. 6, we got up and “discovered” our filled stockings!

And what did our little cheese find in his stocking?  A “hoose!”, a “kitteee!”, a Potato Head booster pack, and an orange.

No overwhelming morning before Church this time!  And who could be with this cheese smiling at you first thing in the morning?!

“It’s better to get pissed off, than pissed on!” – Achoo, Robin Hood: Men in Tights

You know, as a parent, I expected some excrement.  Really, I did.  When Justin was itty-bitty I had some good adventures in Diaper-Land.  There was the time I took his diaper off to change him (1-month-old and had a cold) and he shot poop about 18 inches across the changing table.  Then there was that first Pascha where a diaper leak led to me getting poop all down the front of my shirt and no clean shirt to change into at Church.  At his first visit with the pediatrician, I went to get him in his birthday suit to be weighed and he peed straight up into his hair, down his face and across his belly.  Lately though, these adventures have been generally limited to diapers being over-saturated first thing in the morning resulting in the need to change all our sheets or the occasional poopy blow-out.

Excrement happens.

Last night, my little boy didn’t want me to put a new diaper on him when I was getting him ready for bed.  This is not new behavior.  Daddy does diaper changes, Mommy is to be toyed with.  So there I am, sitting on the living room floor in my jammies trying to get Justin into his.  He, naturally thinks it’s hilarious to run around me in circles in the buff occasionally stopping to pull my hair.  But this time, that wasn’t all he had in mind:  he suddenly stopped running long enough to lean into my back, bury his face in my hair and pee.  That’s right, pee.  Standing there, in the living room, right down my back.  I’ve never been so horrified to feel anything warm/wet in my life.  Shirt, jammy-pants, undies – all soaked through.  The carpet?  fortunately left unscathed due to the amazing absorbent power of my own, personal pajamas.   Nice.

That’s another adventure for the books, or at least the running list of stories I could unleash upon a teenage boy in front of a girl he’s trying to impress.  I don’t know a mom who would do such a thing… but it’s an option to consider.  😉

Last year, we weren’t able to go to the NW Washington Fair in Lynden because we were busy going to Justin’s godparents’ wedding in California.  That was a wonderful trip, and I think that Justin enjoyed the Fair better this year than he would have at the 5 months old he was last year.

Mostly we went for the animals.  Justin LOVES animals. 

Our first stop was at the cattle barn:

Cow!

This little bull’s owner actually let Justin touch her cow, but needless to say, the cow wasn’t terribly impressed when Justin poked his finger in the cow’s eye and enthusiastically proclaimed, “That’s yo’ eye?!”   Forgiveness was granted (I’m sure the cow promptly forgot) when we moved on to the next pen:  sheep and goats!

Baaa!

I’m sure he’d have ridden this one if we let him…  except the part where Justin kept putting his finger in the sheep’s water and making the sheep look more and more suspicious of this obsurd pink bi-ped on a leash.

Then it was off to have a bit of lunch.  Justin LOVES grapes, and Poppa and Nanna brought grapes.  Needless to say, the three got along nicely.

Mmm!  DEEE-licious!

I can’t say much for the other entertainment while we were eating though.  Here we are, in Lynden, WA of all places at a county fair and what’s the hour’s entertainment?  Well, how ’bout an offbeat klezmer band with an improvisational hula-hoop-dancer with hot pink hair putting on a show together?  Wow.  How random is that?!  I tell you, I never expected to watch a hot-pink-hair girl dancing in a hula-hoop to Hava Nagila anywhere, much less Lynden (the Dutch town that’s so Dutch -and therefore Reformed – that you get cited if you mow your lawn on Sunday, not to mention that it’s in the Guinness Book of World Records for greatest number of churches per capita).  And yet, there we were.

Then it was off to Justin’s favorite part of the whole fair – the chicken coop! 

At first we didn’t think he was enjoying it.  Then I thought I heard something.  I leaned over the stroller and put my ear down close to Justin.  What did I hear?  Very quiet repetitions of “oo OOO!”

I tried to catch it on video, but he was already on to us that we were listening so my video doesn’t catch all of his enthusiasm for it, but alas, I have some video, and to me, it’s priceless.  Enjoy.

What was cool was the fact that at home we’d taught him “Cock-a-doodle Doo!”.   And when he copied us he’d say, “Cah-doo-doo”.  But here he was in the chicken barn at the fair correcting himself on what we’d taught him: roosters don’t say, “Cock-a-doodle-doo”! they say “oo-oo-OOO!”.  Oh, and he liked the baby chicks too:

Peeps in the House!

Little yellow chicks still say “Bock! Bock!”, by the way.  Oh, and they’re awesome. 

Of course we adults wandered around the goofy salespeople at their booths, looked at over-priced kitchy crafts (Justin wanted a wooden flute SO bad!), and walked ’till our feet were sore.  Definitely a great day. 

Thanks for coming with us, Nanna and Poppa!!

Enjoy…

Shopping1

Which one?

Shopping2

Shopping3

Hello everyone!  Sorry for the delay in posting… between the colds, the incredible number of Church services (Holy Week), working 40+ hours, AND wrestling with what the doctors may or may not want to do with my gall bladder, I haven’t had a lot of free time. 

Since it’s been so long, I’m thinking I’ll tell a couple of Pascha highlights and give a little Justin update (since his 13 month birthday was during Holy Week).

We had a really good Pascha, despite all three of us being sick (that nasty head cold that’s been going around).  We got to go to all of the Holy Week services – even though we couldn’t stay all the way through most of them thanks to a sick, fussy Justin).  We did very much enjoy the time at Church we got, and the time with friends:

Holy Week 1

Holy Week 2Holy Week 3

 

Justin was VERY excited to be at Church so early in the morning for Pascha.  We walked in to the dark Sanctuary and Justin was waving and laughing at everyone.  The service felt long though, and Justin got tired but there was too much going on for him to sleep (he wasn’t too sure about the confetti – a little scary but a little exciting I think; but he liked the shouting and cheering!). 

Pascha 1Pascha 2

Pascha breakfast was the best though.  My favorite moment was him sitting on Matt’s lap with an empty plate in front of him and a fork in his hand.  Then our friend Brooksana put a little wind-up chick on the plate and let it go.  Justin spent the next few moments chasing the chick with his fork and shouting, “Bock! Bock!”.  So awesome!   He also (as evidenced by the red on the cheeks) LOVES strawberries!

Pascha 3

 The picnic was cool too – Justin did the egg hunt thing with a lot of help from momma.

Pascha 4Pascha 5Pascha 6

Yup.  A good time was had by all, but all napped soundly that afternoon. 

In general, Justin is doing awesome.  He’s a big boy who’s not walking on his own yet.  He could.  He just doesn’t.  He “requires” that he have your fingers to hang on to while he walks, but doesn’t use them for balance or support (other than the emotional kind).  He’s starting to stand alone more, and is figuring out how to climb up on the couch and similar items.  He’s really good at crawling up the stairs of our apartment complex, but still needs coaching to crawl backwards down the stairs safely.  His primary occupation is still language. 

Every day he has new words and even a few 2-word-phrases and animal noises.  My current favorites are:

“Nuss” = nurse (has replaced “na-na”)

“Geye Joe” = GI Joe.  Yes, like the toys.  He points to them in the store and excitedly says this.

“Bock! Bock!” = this is what all hens and roosters say

“Juice” = sippy cup, whether or not it has water or juice in it.

“Moe” = more.  And almost always used in combination with his first sign.  (I’ve been attempting to use as much sign language as possible with Justin, but until now he hasn’t really used it.  In this case he uses the correct sign, but only uses it when he also says the word)

In other news, Justin pretty much only nurses at night now (when I put him down to bed and if he wakes in the night).  It’s kinda nice – it’s all about cuddling with momma now and not quite so much about getting him fed.  Speaking of sleep, he’s mostly sleeping through the night now.  FINALLY!  He goes down around 9-9:30 and doesn’t wake up until around 4am (when I take him from his crib and bring him to bed with us and nurse) and he promptly falls back asleep until after I leave for work.   Still not optimal, but SO much better than it was.

Our little monkey is a big 1-year-old now! 

Okay, so our celebrations went on and off for about a week…

The weekend before Justin’s big day, we threw him a little party for our Bellingham friends.  Just a few people came, but they were important ones!  Justin got a visit from his Nouno Niko (up from California) and from our friends, the Rushes.  We had cupcakes and opened a gift or two – Justin played with Miss Magnolia (which very sadly, I didn’t get any pictures of), and a good time was had by all.  We did the whole candle in the cake thing with Justin’s nouno (btw, nouno=godfather):

Justin and Nouno

Hypnotic flame...

And yes, as is for all little boys, the flame was indeed the star attraction of the day.

On Sunday, our friend Brooksana and her daughter Sam came by for a visit.  Whatcha got in there?

What was so funny about his opening of Brooksana and Sam’s gift was that there was a small plastic cow in the gift bag which Justin grabbed first and promptly exclaimed, “Mooooo!”  Which we found very funny since we haven’t really heard him “moo” before. 

Next on the birthday agenda (after the Justin-cold that left us with a clingy, green-boogered leprechaun for St. Patty’s Day), was Justin’s 1-yr doctor visit.  Just how big is our boy?  For the official stats, see below –

weight: 26lbs 1oz

height: 32 inches (that’s well off the chart!)

teeth: 8

words: around 20 and counting.  My favorites to hear are “cracker”, “‘loon!” (meaning balloon), and his new elephant sound (he makes a high pitched “vvnn!” sound). 

Saturday morning we headed for Seattle for Justin’s weekend with his grandparents.  Nanna and I made a dino cake:

Dino-cake!

That evening, Matt’s mom, Rosalie; along with my family (mom, dad, sister, niece, nephew); and our friends, the Tasto’s (along with their 18-month-old, Edwin).  The two littlest guys were awesome to see together, and both seemed to have a good time.  Edwin, of course, had to help a little (I don’t know that Justin could have gotten through all that wrapping paper without his help!).  Here are a couple of my favorite pictures:

Justin and EdwinA little privacy

in this last picture, Justin seemed to want a little privacy to open his gift, so he crawled under the table with his gift.  It was just too funny!  Edwin had to coax him out with another one of his new toys:

A little help

Then it was on to the cake!  Justin, of course, had to have the head of the dino for his own.  And Justin, being super into forks right now, needed his toddler fork to do the dino-damage-duty.

Yum!

Yummy cake 2

After about 5 minutes, the fork went bye-bye, and Justin engaged himself fully in the ultimate in dino carnage!

Dino damage!

Some of the un-pictured highlights included singing “happy birthday” to Justin, and his utter delight in being sung to by all those people (he seemed to say, “I don’t know why you’re singing to me, but I like it!”).    Also, he said a few words for the first time that weekend: “thank you” and “kitty” were the top two. 

Kitty!

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