Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cheetahs, Meerkats, Tortoises, and Peacocks.

We took EeCh to the cheetah rescue in Somerset West recently. It was to be our first time seeing cheetahs, and we were pretty excited. Excited enough to lock the keys in the car. So Eli and I stayed outside the rescue to figure out how to break into our car, while EeCheng, Eug and Noah had their "encounter with predators" (and some meerkats). 

It's one of those things that is traditionally stressful yet somehow wasn't terribly so. Each moment followed the next, EeCh was taking millions of pictures of cheetahs, the kiddies were happy, it wasn't too cold, and I didn't mind not seeing the cheetahs. Instead, I got to chat with the property's security guys, experience their kindness, and learn about breaking into cars. They didn't have any equipment and assured me this wasn't "their thing", but they managed to help me get in with just a crowbar and a wire, though it took an hour or so. We kept on reflecting on how easy it always seems in the movies. 

Grapetiser played a significant role in happiness. A worker at the rescue moved Noah away from the fence, and this is all he retells from his adventure. He was appalled that a stranger touched him.  The grapetiser was the best thing to heal the hurt.

He got to see tortoises at Lourensford Wine Estate, where we went after the Cheetahs

Fancy jungle gym.

Babycino, an essential part of a meal.

Eli willingly accompanies us on all adventures, provided I feed him often and hold him close. 
Noah meets his first Peacock. He also stopped wearing shoes at some point, I'm not sure why.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Eli learns to spell, Noah learns to cook.

EeCheng is visiting so our adventures have been supercharged. We've had a wonderful excuse to visit all the most beautiful places in Cape Town.

I gave naked boy the apron to avoid splatters 
EeCheng is here! We got hats from Tammy and Joe! I don't think this is what they had in mind when they spoke about boys sharing.

Eli sees his first penguins.
Noah is an old penguin pro after many visits.
It's also Eli's first Chapman's Peak drive.
Noah loves posing for pictures.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Elimination Communication Second Time Around

As you may know, we tried out elimination communication with Noah, and we're trying it again with Eli.

Elimination Communication involves learning your baby's elimination (pee/poop) signals, and holding them comfortably over a potty during those times when you suspect they need to eliminate. For example, Eli usually pees after he wakes from a nap, and after I take him out of the ergo baby carrier. When the baby goes, you signal to them in some way, and they learn to associate that signal with going to the bathroom. It's really simple, and can save some diapers and help your child know that the diaper is not the ultimate place to pee or poop.

With Eli, it's been low-key and fun- a really tiny part of our lives. We're not making a huge effort as it's fairly cold. Yet he clearly knows what to do.  So if you're out there with an infant, try it out (or ask me for more details/support if you need it)!

Here's some other posts I've written about our experiences with Noah- he used it regularly until winter, then had about a year break before quickly being completely potty trained around 20 months. [We tried not to coerce or pressure him, which is an important thing to avoid in EC. ]

Our experiences with EC
During the Slump
Two years of EC
Suddenly wanting to use the potty again

Monday, August 20, 2012

On Being Kinder (or at least less mean) to Noah

Three stories:

  1. Every Friday my sister takes me, Noah, and Eli to Fruit and Veg City on Roeland st. She buys Noah a Gingerbread man, invites him sit in her trolley and tell her about every thing he sees. Rather than being a stressful part of our week, as shopping with two babies could be, we really look forward to buying our food. When we come home, Noah and Kim play together and the whole house shakes with laughter. Noah feels totally loved and accepted and pretty much can't stop laughing. 
  2. I have an adult loved one with a mental disability, and he really benefits from schedule. I know all of us do to some degree, but he Really Does. We might suggest he go to the movies on a Friday, but he doesn't go on Fridays, he goes on Mondays. We accept it as part of who he is and we try our best to honour it- we'll never plan something that would interfere with his needs. 
  3. I recently reading a story about a small child who was not expected to survive past childhood. What stuck with me was that the mom said she tried to make each day as awesome as she possibly could for her son. She didn't worry if he ate junk if that would bring him joy, she didn't worry if he did things that would aid his development. I read a twitter feed that said something like "we think so much about our children having the tools to navigate 'the real world', but think so little about whether they can navigate their world today"

Seeing Noah with Kim, thinking about my loved one, and reading this story have all been helpful as I parent Noah and Eli:

Noah is at a developmental stage where his needs are as foreign and as deeply felt as a disabled adult. I often forget this as I'm planning my day around my work or errands or things that I think Noah would enjoy. I forget to listen to Noah saying 'no' or not being quite ready, even as I expect him to listen to my 'no' and my 'I'm not quite ready'.

So I'm learning to say yes to Noah, quite a lot. I'm often scared: "give an inch, they'll take a mile" you know? Only it's not true. He's willing to work with me on the things I need to get done, and our home is much more peaceful. He seems to trust us more. I feel peaceful when I'm focusing on our home as a place where everyone has needs and we can balance these needs. It makes me less of a martyr. Don't get me wrong, it's not perfect and I still freak out about stupid things sometimes.

Practically speaking, I'm learning that saying yes takes some tweaking. Chocolate and Kipper aren't dangerous, but large quantities feel unsafe as we learn what it means to be "responsible parents". Our chocolate consumption has decreased as we learn how to give Noah chocolate when he sees it and wants it and figure out if it has any negative effects. We give it to him when it's around, but we try not to have it around too much. We teach him he can buy one thing at the store because we have R20 fort all four of us, and he chooses it and rations it.

He watches Kipper at night on our iPod but we give him the battery at 15 or 20% beforehand so that it runs out naturally and he decides his own bedtime after that. It's slightly manipulative, but this is a process and we're still at the beginning of parenthood. Depending a bit on Eli's mood, giving up Noah's formal bedtime has given us the gift of two extra hours in the morning. I love that we don't have to wake up at a certain time or go to bed a certain time, that we don't have to report to work. We have responsibilities and studies and work, but they're responsibilities to people and they don't feel arbitrary.


Other random stuff:
  • Here's Beth Terry's Plastic-free deodorant roundup. Similar to Beth, I use plain baking soda. Beth is my favorite resource for tips on plastic-free stuff, although I'm having to relearn everything without the resource of a Harvest Coop and Whole Foods around for bulk bin purchases. 
  • I wanted to recommend two of my greatest discoveries during my last pregnancy: Nettle tea and Rasberry leaf tea. [You should check in with your health care provider before using them while pregnant] In addition to really helping during labour, these two teas are great if you have menstrual pain or suffer from UTIs. Here in Cape Town, you can get them at Wellness Warehouse and A. White Chemist in the CBD.
  • Here's an article about Environmental refugees, who currently lie outside the UNHCR definition.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Power of Prophetic Acts: Being the first

Last year I posted this article which made me think a lot about our efforts at sustainability at the time. Part of my recent brain freeze on the blog has been related to this thought. We've come to a plateau in  learning about sustainability, and the next choices seem a bit more complicated: Going radical on some big things- flying, driving, home size, biological family size- are tough calls to make, but they're there and can't be ignored because all of us need to make different choices on the big things for our children to have a good world to live in. We need a miracle. Sorry, that's kind of melodramatic- when I came back to edit I couldn't think of anything more true to replace it with.

I came to a hopeful thought: the prophetic act. [Sorry that the language is a bit alienating to some readers.] Though our giving up big things- or just what we can handle in the moment- doesn't evoke revolution, small bits of our lives are a reflection of the way God wants the world to be. Even if noone sees or hears about it. 

I am encouraged that radical choices can be a spiritual act. Up to now I've focused primarily on choices that have brought us fairly immediate joy- giving up the 9-5 career path, unschooling (maybe), having a little house (that's paid for), cooking from scratch, trying to get to zero waste. I want to keep exploring those that seem to be limiting and scary, because there's a picture I can't see.

Some inspiration:
  • Five gallon ideas- ideas of things to do with five gallon buckets!
  • Those of you here in S.A., check out Living Seeds, a site distributing Heirloom seeds. 
  • Tiny things to try with me this month: 
    • Refuse the tiny sweets wrapped in plastic at the end of a restaurant meal, and tell the waiter why. 
    • Explain why you don't use the tiny plastic bags (or why you reuse ones you found on the ground) for produce or milk sachets.
    • When your petrol/gas tank is close to empty, try to wait one extra day before filling it up (try to stretch your fillings by one additional day). 
  • Check out Leah's post here- we were writing simultaneously- she frames the problem with stories, which was really helpful to me.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Two Weeks of Adventures

We have had many adventures the past couple of weeks. We showed Eug's mom and brother around, and enjoyed having adventures even after they left.
I asked Eug to take a picture so that I remembered the first time I saw whales. There are two out there, but our camera didn't have zoom. It's in Hout Bay, and it's early for whales.

Eli loves getting help sitting up.

It's winter but Noah ran into the tidal pool at Camps Bay, clothes and all. It was a warm day so we thought "why not"! 

Eli is starting to develop his little personality and he's also awake most of the day already. He's not quite as portable, so we're learning to stay home a little more. He's already wearing 6-12 month old clothing. I love that, despite being new to the area and having just a few friends, we've been amply supplied with clothing on loan, and haven't had to buy one thing so far. 

This palm is growing out of a rock in Camps Bay! Isn't it amazing! It must have virtually no soil.

I learned that oats actually look like this! Who knew! We've started having whole oats and brown rice porridge for breakfast, and they are wonderfully filling.
We were able to take a really quick trip to Signal Hill in the middle of the day. That's Cape Town stadium down below, built for the World Cup. It was REALLY cold up there!

At home, I'm figuring out ways to let Eli practice using all his muscles, laying him on his back or tummy. These are the outside cushions, because on warm days our little back area is a good place for Noah to go wild and have adventures.
This is our tree- which next year will be firewood. We've ring barked it and are gradually cutting it down. It's a real, large tree despite the fact that our back area is way too tiny for a large tree to grow without destroying walls. It's sad to cut it down but we'll make good use of the back area without it.

Noah is not ready to share just yet. But he's starting to bring Eli stuff. We're trying not to push it.
We recently discovered Noordhoek beach. It's lovely, if windy, and Noah really enjoyed playing in the rocks.

I liked how bright it was.

I love that we get to visit different beaches and playgrounds a few times a week. We feel really blessed to have the time. 
Eug and Noah went to the furthest rock, until Noah was a bit scared of the crashing waves and wanted to come back.