Friday, April 17, 2009

Bad dreams....

It started with the blood-curdling scream. Then, "MAMAMAMAMAMAMAMA!" I dropped my book and ran to the bedroom where my oldest child had been quietly taking his nap only seconds before.

Heart racing, eyes scanning for trauma. A second to realize that his eyes are fluttering - not quite open. Deep breath. It's another dream.

Sometimes he has these wicked dreams. I don't know what happens in them - neither does he. But they sure scare him - and me as a result. But when he has them, he's inconsolable - not awake enough to be brought to reason. I used to try and cradle him in my arms, reassuring him that all was good. But this usually resulted in screaming and thrashing and those eyes staring wide with fear. Not exactly the result we are going for.

But I've found the solution. If I climb into bed with him, hold him in my arms, and rub his head and back, he eases back into safety and a deep sleep.

So today that's what I did. There we lay, curled into one another in his little toddler bed. My head on the pillow, nose buried in the dark curls, inhaling that sweet scent of swimming pool chlorine and baby sweat. His dark eyelashes fluttering on the pale cheek that is just now gaining a few adorably sprinkled freckles. Our bodies folded together like the origami version of comfort. And as I lay there, I couldn't help but think about this child, once contained in the confines of my belly, and how our bodies still fit just as well together. How our closeness brings us peace. How our deep breaths start to rise and fall together and the fear and tension has left his body. At peace again. And how I wish it could always be that easy. And how I know it won't.

So those minutes borrowed from moving the laundry or emptying the dishwasher will have to be made up later. Because when you can't take a picture of those moments you want to remember forever, you have to hold really still, wait a little longer, and make sure that you absorbed it into every cell of your being. And hold it there. For just as long as you can.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

And a Joyful Easter to you.....

Not a whole lot for me to say today. We've just returned from a wonderful weekend at my parents house, and the boys are on the floor playing with their new Easter basket loot. I figured I better take advantage of the time and get a few pictures up.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for a great weekend!

Monday, April 6, 2009

We need your support....

And by "we", I mean families all across Oregon need your support.

When Dan and I decided to start our family, one issue I began to explore right away was the feasibility of being home with our children. I knew that I didn't want to quit working, but did know that I wouldn't be prepared to head back to work immediately after the birth. As I began to explore my options, what I learned was rather depressing. I was eligible for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and OFLA (Oregon Family Leave Act), which were the best our country and state had to offer. Through these laws I was entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from my job. That's it. And that was only good as long as we could afford to be without my income for those twelve weeks.

Then I began to explore the policies in other countries. Turns out that the US is one of three countries that does not have some sort of paid maternity leave plan.
Worldwide, 12 paid weeks is about the minimum, and many countries go far and above that. Here are some great charts to share these policies. I became even more frustrated (and jealous) when I realized that my sister would be given a year's leave with a high portion of that year paid by the government just across the border.

And the birth of a child was something we could plan for. What would happen if said child every became seriously ill? Or our parents/grandparents needed care for cancer treatment or recovery from a heart attack? NO time to save money, immediate need to provide care, and no assistance available through government or employers - terrifying! What would we do?

Once Max was born, I realized some of the greater implications for the lack of paid family leave. In being able to stay home for an extended period of time I was able to build a strong breastfeeding relationship and avoid high germ exposure for my newborn. Families that must go back to work almost immediately are sabotaged in both of these areas. SO those who can afford it least are saddled with the high costs of formula, daycare bills, and then additional unpaid time off work when their newborn is ill.

It was the combination of these frustrations that led me to become involved with Parents for Paid Leave, a group here in Oregon working to expand OFLA to include 6 weeks of paid leave in the current leave benefit plan. Taken as an employee tax, only those eligible (people currently employed by an employer with greater than 24 employees) to take the leave pay in to the system. There is no cost to the business, and each employee could receive $300 a week for 6 weeks. This would greatly expand the number of people who would be able to take the time that the current law already grants them to take care of a newborn or ill family member.

This week Senate Bill 966 comes before committee. I am asking for your support and help in getting this important piece of legislation passed. Please email or call your senator, or come to the rally in Salem on Wednesday at 3:00 pm We will be meeting on the Capital steps at 2:30, and children are welcome. In a time when there isn't much positive news coming from our government, this is one way we can work to help families across the state without adding to the state budget.

For more information, or help contacting your senators, please visit here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Boots...

I always remember the stories of young children and their tendency to get attached to specific items. Many kids have "lovies" that bring them great comfort and are necessary for sleep. My sister had her thumb, I had a blankie, and Luke seems pretty attached to having some sort of soft stuffed animal.

But Max? Nothing.

I tried - foisted teddy bears, blankets, and dollies on him. None of them mattered. Until 6 months ago.

Max found his object of fixation. And they haven't left his feet in 6 months.

Since their purchase, these frog boots have been everywhere. I used to argue with him, "Rain boots aren't good playground shoes," or "They'll hurt your feet to walk in them too long," or "It ISN'T raining!!!". But it never mattered. The boots were going, and they were the best option for any situation. And if I'm being honest, he has never once complained about them being uncomfortable.

Another peculiarity about the boots? They MUST be on the wrong feet. Every time. Apparently that's how they feel best.

After the first month, I stopped fighting and just embraced the boots. Really, in our Portland weather, they are a very practical option. Easy cleanup. No soggy feet. And the cuffs of his pants are never ragged - they're tucked in the boots.

But it wasn't until we traipsed through the Chicago airport in the middle of a very long day that I too came to understand the power of the boots. Now, airports are not notoriously cheerful places. Especially with an incoming snowstorm and delays appearing all over the departure board. But as we tromped through the terminal, everyone that saw Max's boots began to grin. We received many kind nods and understanding grins. Several calls of "Great boots!" to which Max always replies in his cheery voice, "Thanks!"

As we were walking, Max said, "You know what, Mom? People really like my boots. They make everyone happy."

And they did.

What more could we ask from a pair of ever-present rain boots? And how soon do we need to buy a replacement pair?