Friday, August 13, 2010

A Brief Note from the Land of Paternity

Yep, I'm still alive. But this summer I haven't been in a space that really facilitates blogging. Which is too bad, since I've got a lot of blog material piling up in my brain. But I find that blogging is tied to my preaching, so since I'm not preaching this summer I'm not spending time in the head space that leads to blogging.

This summer has been wonderful--three whole months off to be with Henry and to visit family and give Betsy a chance to get back on track with her studies. It's going remarkably well, and our little guy is growing into a champ. We dragged him to NJ, PA, DC, Calgary, and Banff! He did great, which means he probably will have some of his parents' wander-lust. I think, from our experience, that the key to travelling with an infant is to relax and adapt. Adapt, adapt, adapt. Sometimes I find myself thinking, "Where can I change Henry," even when he isn't with me.

People always want to know how he is sleeping. Lately (the past few months) his sleeping has really settled down into a nice pattern. Unless he has a cold or is teething, he will typically go to sleep at around 8:30 PM and wake up at 3:00 AM. Then Betsy will nurse him and he'll sleep again from about 3:30 until 7 AM. We do the morning routine and then he'll have a mid-morning nap (for about an hour) and a longer mid-afternoon nap. Our pediatrician has recommended giving him only water at the nighttime feeding to get him out of that habit, but we aren't quite there yet.

It's interesting to talk to other parents and realize that people get quite passionate about how they get their children to sleep at night. I've heard several couples talk about the "Cry-it-out" method as painful but ultimately worth it. We did the opposite and seemed to have fine results, which just goes to show that parents should simply do the research and pick their strategy and make it work.

Speaking of Henry's sleep patterns... It may not be very PC of him, but he really likes furs. Someone (CK) gave us a sheep skin for his crib. It is similar to the ones sold at Ikea, but this one can be machine washed at home. It's brilliant. Henry loves the soft feeling of the sheep fur under him and we believe it does a good job of keeping him warm when it's cold and dry when it's warm. There is something primal about putting your baby to sleep on an animal skin that appeals to me, too.

When we visited the Glenbow Museum in Calgary we let Henry touch a buffalo skin they had out as part of a hands-on fur-trade exhibit. His eyes lit up immediately with him favourite texture--softness. I thought it would be very cool to have a whole buffalo-skin rug to put down on the floor for him to play on, but then I discovered that these suckers cost about a $1,000! My David Thompson and Charlotte Small fantasies of Canadian child-rearing ended there.

Side note for non-Canadians: David Thompson was a great explorer and surveyor of the Canadian West. He mapped out 3.9 million square kilometres of wild frontier with nothing more than compass, watch, sextant, thermometer, and a nautical almanac. His journeys make Lewis and Clark look like silly boys on a late night, suburban Taco Bell run. Even more remarkably, David Thompson's half-Indian wife, Charlotte Small, came with him on many of these journeys and bore him 13 children along the way. Think about that... thirteen children while travelling 3.5 times as far as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. They were married for 58 years before he died, which is the longest marriage on record in pre-confederation Canada. She died a few months after him.

Right now I'm reading a biography of David Thompson called Epic Wanderer: David Thompson and the Mapping of the Canadian West by D'Arcy Jenish. It's a good read that gives you a sense of what the 18th and early 19th Century fur-trade in Colonial Canada was like. I am particularly fascinated with the details of how they managed to live on the frontier as well as what relations with the First Nations were like ("complex" probably sums up both). Anyway, a good summer read if you into that kind of history.

We've been going to a bunch of a different churches since we've had time off from Messiah. I'm looking forward to writing about that experience. I found our visits to non-Anglican churches particularly valuable. Stay tuned!


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