Preschool Project Board

“I can’t do it mama. I just can’t.” A phrase heard all too often in my house over the last few months. I knew I needed to put a stop to it and encourage Maija to feel confident in learning new things. Kindergarten is right around the corner. Entering school with a positive outlook from the beginning will place her on the best path possible.

project board

A few weeks before Christmas, Maija was begging to head out to the garage to help her dad work on a project. Cabin fever was setting in for the winter, and I wanted to keep Maija entertained with more than tv and ipad apps. I asked her if she wanted a project of her own, and she lit up with excitement. While wrapping gifts for dad, she was struggling with writing her letters on the package. “I can’t do it mama. I just can’t.” A light went off in my head, and an idea for a project board was born.

Maija’s preschool project board needed to have a large writing space for weekly tasks and compartments to store craft items. I wanted to have a letter of the week, a theme for art projects, and a chore chart. On Sundays we will change each item, and then write about what she learned, the things she enjoyed, as well as what she disliked. In another eight months when kindergarten begins, she will have a tub full of projects, and a long list of her accomplishments. This is my battle against “I can’t”.

project board supplies

Supplies for our preschool project board:

  • Ikea Luns Writing/Magnetic Board
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Ruler
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Glue sticks
  • Washable markers
  • Child friendly scissors
  • Cotton balls
  • Notebook for writing accomplishments
  • Paper for coloring/drawing/writing (not pictured)
  • Other supplies as needed for art projects (not pictured)

The board has been placed in Maija’s play area where it will become another item to play and have fun with. Learning new things, as well as about yourself, doesn’t need to be boring or intimidating. We are making it fun and colorful.

Our first week of projects will include the letter A, New Years themed art projects, and learning how to change the roll of toilet paper in the bathroom. Kindergarten, we’re coming for ya!


Mom, we’re going to Seattle

I could never have imagined experiencing the kind of emotional pain I felt just four days after giving birth.

Numb from the waist down, bursting with love from the waist up. I had just given birth to my daughter. It was the most intense moment of my life. I held her close and whispered my love and admiration for her. Ten fingers, ten toes and perfectly pink.

The nursery nurse took her measurements, weighed her and stamped her feet.

I hear a murmur. Usually it is nothing. Don’t worry.

Our first night went wonderfully well. Bright and early the next morning her pediatrician came to check on her.

I hear a murmur. Usually it is nothing. Don’t worry. I am going to schedule a heart echo just to make sure.

That is when the what- ifs began. That is when the Pediatric Cardiologist came knocking on the door.

I hear a murmur. Usually it is nothing. Don’t worry. I am going to have your daughter admitted to the NICU just to be sure. We’ll run another echo in the morning.

That afternoon I was discharged and my daughter was sent to the NICU. My saving grace was the graciousness that the staff blessed upon me with the allowance of staying one more night as an ‘invisible patient’.

The next morning after the echo we were sent home. All of us. We did however have strict instructions to come into the cardiologist’s office first thing in the morning for another echo. But I didn’t worry. These things were usually nothing.

This time it wasn’t nothing. The murmur was Pulmonary Valve Stenosis (a restricted valve). Her lungs weren’t getting enough blood. This time, we weren’t being sent home to enjoy our new baby.

I had to call my mom who was at my home making lunch for us and anxious to hold her first grandchild.

Mom, we’re going to Seattle.

Then the whole world shifted.

This post was written for The Red Dress Club’s Red Writing Hood challenge. The post must begin with “I could never have imagined” and end with “Then the whole world shifted”.

*Originally written in early 2011 for a retired personal blog. An expanded version may be seen on the Children’s MN Mighty Children’s Health Blog : A Heart Mom is Born.

Dreams for my child

Know that you are deeply loved.

Mistakes are okay, as long as you learn something from them.

Be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do…

…Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Believe in yourself.

Consider all options, and then dive into whatever you chose.

Know that I will always be here if you change your mind on anything.

Support those around you with genuine care.

Stand up for what you believe in.

Love with your whole heart.

Break the mold.

Never judge a book by its cover.

No one person is better than any other.

Don’t allow money to persuade you.

Listen to your gut.

Live by the golden rule.

Never take anything for granted.

Enjoy coffee down to the last drop, and then pour another cup.

Dream. Dream big.

The Secret

I had a secret I couldn’t tell anyone. A secret that I needed to tell everyone
On the drive to my coffee date with a friend, I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach the subject. Do I tell her? Do I suffer alone? Will telling her help me?

The feeling of loneliness was eating away at me. It consumed every minute of every day. Even in my sleep. No longer could I hold the secret in.

It started with small talk. How are the kids? How is school? How were your holidays? Is your coffee good?

The secret was bubbling up inside of me. It was all that was on my mind.

The espresso machine behind me was grinding and steaming away. The aroma of the juicer was intoxicating. I should have ordered a green juice. It would have been a healthier choice for my body and more calming for my mind. There wasn’t enough caffeine in the world to keep my mind and body busy enough to ignore my secret.

It started to pour out of me. And then, it stopped. I couldn’t form a single sentence. The right wording was no longer sufficient.

Nothing made sense any longer. It became more painful to explain my secret than it was to keep it. The words no longer made sense. The decision I felt so strongly about on my drive to the coffee house was now a distant memory. The clouds had dissipated and yet I was trying to explain why it was still cloudy.

My friend’s eyes were giving me both looks of love and confusion.

My life changed.

In that one chat at the coffee house, my entire life shifted course. The eyes of my friend helped me realize what made sense and what did not. I will forever be grateful for what she gave me that day. What she most likely had no idea that she gave me.

I had told myself, convinced myself, no other path was an option. My friend’s eyes lit another path for me. A wider, brighter, happier path. There were no words that I could say to convince myself otherwise any longer.

I couldn’t write and re-write a text. I couldn’t carefully formulate words over the phone. I could only carry a conversation in person with eyes of love staring back at me. I was at that moment required to be honest with myself. With the situation set in front of me.

I left the coffee house with a new outlook. A much more positive outlook than one I walked in with. My secret was out. Not to the public, but to a friend who gave me life. I will forever be appreciative of her and that chat at the coffee house.

16 month breastfeeding experience

Long before I was ready to have children, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. My mom was a huge inspiration since she nursed me until I was 9 months old. I also knew about all the health benefits for the baby and the extra calories it burns for the mother postpartum. So when Maija was born, I knew I wanted to breastfeed her immediately after birth.

A pregnant woman’s body goes through so many changes from the point of conception, through the pregnancy, during labor, postpartum, and during breastfeeding. I think that every single inch of me changed in some way. One of these many stages of change in preparing for baby is the production of colostrum. Colostrum is truly a wonderful thing! When I first noticed a little bit around week 26 of my pregnancy, I sent a text to my mom informing her a bit too much of my excitement for how my body was preparing to give birth. Of course I had no idea at the time whether the colostrum would continue and turn into true breastmilk after Maija was born, but I had high hopes. I was already so proud of my body and natures way of providing nutrition for a baby.

Fast forward another 14 weeks and I was thrilled when my milk came in a few days after birth. And oh boy did it come! This was the most painful part for me. The first few weeks of breastfeeding were most painful. Usually when I had gone more than 2 hours between nursing or pumping. I was so thankful Maija had a great latch from the beginning, but what made it difficult for both of us was that I had a bit of an over-supply. I became a bit of a squirrel, as her father called me, because of the stash of breast milk in the freezer. I was obsessed with adding to it every day.

Yes it is time consuming, yes it can be painful, yes it may restrict what you can eat, but I knew all that before I found out I was pregnant. Now it was time to face any difficulties thrown at me so I could provide the best I could for my daughter. I took such pride in nursing her, doing so on demand. Thankful that I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home-mom and continue with this haphazard schedule for M.

At 10 weeks I did hit a slump in my supply and I was devastated. I was pumping around the clock again, getting up every two hours throughout the night. I took a couple fenugreek capsules every day with breakfast and dinner, drank mothers milk tea throughout the day, and consumed more oatmeal than anyone should. All these things definitely helped. In no time, although it felt like forever, I had an over supply again. As much as that over supply hurt like hell, I wanted that more than the loss of breastfeeding because I wasn’t willing to work on it as hard as I did. It truly involves a lot of work. As long as you are committed to breastfeeding, no matter what your reasons are, I believe you can get through many of those difficulties and breastfeed for as long as you choose to.

When Maija was 6 months old we started her on purees, she loved them. I knew that feeding her solids could possibly decrease my supply, but I continued nursing her on demand and pumping as needed. If I ever felt a decrease, I would restart the fenugreek, tea, & oatmeal in mass consumption. Again, I was so thankful to have reached the 6 month point. It was my main goal before Maija was born. Now on to 9 months, then to 12.

I nursed Maija for an entire year, with only a slight hiccup over Easter weekend when I ended up in the ER twice. I had a severe case of hives and not sure if my medications were safe during breastfeeding. I knew reaching one year was a huge accomplishment and I was proud of myself for sticking with it no matter what was thrown at me. It was now time to decide how to introduce cows milk into Maija’s diet and how much I desired to continue nursing. Most importantly were what her needs were in relation to breastfeeding.

Neither of us were ready to wean from breastfeeding. I continued nursing her 3-5 times a day once she turned 1, and while we slowly introduced cows milk. Through that month I dropped our afternoon nursing session. At this time I contemplated fully weaning her. I set a schedule for it and an end date, but I could not follow through. I knew she wasn’t ready, and when I acknowledge my innermost feelings about it, neither was I. The only change I made at this point was to nurse her before both nap time and bed time. At 13 months old I was still nursing her to sleep. I saw no problem with it and ignored any articles or comments against such things. Every situation is different and nursing her to sleep was right for us.

By 15 months I dropped nursing her to sleep at nap time and made sure to drink a lot of water so that I could keep my supply up just enough to nurse her at bedtime. I knew it may not work, but I wanted to try. Neither of us were quite ready to be done. While on vacation visiting my parents, I made the decision to end our single breastfeeding session. I knew that Maija was only nursing at this time for comfort and that she was no longer getting much breastmilk at all. My thought was that if I was to have our last nursing session away from home and from our beloved nursing rocking chair that it would be easier for both of us.

After a week I felt good about my experience and the manner in which I ended it. I began cuddling and rocking her for a few minutes before putting her to bed and I did not feel as though we had lost that special bond. My memories of breastfeeding are happy ones and I greatly look forward to nursing future children.