Friday, March 13, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Vol 30

Click over to Kelly's today for more quick takes!
Today, I need a bit of a pep talk, so prepare yourself for 7 positives and some random cuteness from the kids. Please don't read these like life is all sunshine and rainbows around here. It's not. I'm just choosing not to moan and groan (today) about the crazy, the sad, and the mundane.

ONE:

I can't be Canadian and not talk about the weather. This time though, it's because it is BEAUTIFUL. I'm barefoot right now, albeit, badly in need of some nail-polish, and we have been outside for at least 60 consecutive minutes every day this week!
My littlest, Zachary, loves outside. At 6 months old, he loved to just crawl around and explore. By 7 months, we were so confident in his happiness outside that we lost him in the back yard! He had just crawled around the corner of the garage, and we found him playing with a small stick, content as can be.

I'm really looking forward to the summer when I can just keep the cool drinks, snacks, sunscreen and sprinkler going, because all three boys can basically take care of themselves in the back yard for more than 20 minutes.

20 minutes of quiet house. Think about it.

Bliss.


TWO:

It's over halfway through Lent and I've come to that point where I'm realizing that I took on way too much and was a leeetle ambitious in what I thought I could do, but all is not lost:

40 Bags in 40 Days was on my radar last year, and I started and completely failed because, well... newborns. This year, I have no excuse, just laziness.  But also, I realized that I'm a bit more organized and clutter-less than I thought. So I've looked at areas I've written down to declutter and fix up, and thought, "Actually, I just need a box for all these winter clothes! Viola! Done."

But the whole idea has struck a chord in me that I need to cleanse my life of the superfluous. With most of the giveaways I've done throughout Lent, I've just realized that I could just as easily left these items in the store to begin with, and never have had to deal with them later.  Buh-bye beautiful black boots that were uncomfortable to begin with, but I thought I would "break them in." Lesson learned.

That, and the spiritual side of things, where I've realized I don't need to bog myself down in "clutter" like guilt (confessing those sins like a boss!) and over-thinking and analyzing "What are you doing with me, Lord!?"
I've realized that God is giving me the Lent for me because I'm open to the possibilities He has. Victory!

I'm in a good place here. I have bad days, but overall, good place.

THREE:

Our renovations are going so well!

We've got a play-room, an office and a laundry room/closet framed, drywalled and painted!

One night, I had this crazy dream that I had a grand-opening of our new-improved playroom, complete with a bouncy castle outside, some form of entertainment (a magician?) and lots and lots of pink lemonade.

I may not be able to afford entertainment or a bouncy castle, but a grand-opening of the kid's space is actually a great idea, and may materialize once we have carpet, shelving and the toys all in place again. I love the idea of christening the space, and who doesn't love a good kid's party?!

Good job subconscious!



FOUR:

Speaking of parties. This year for Patrick's 5th, I opened the "drop-your-child-off" can of worms. I invited 6 other 4-5 year-olds over and decided that Joseph and I could handle it. Some of my family was like, "You're doing what? Are you crazy?! Why would you outnumber yourself like that?!"  My mother-in-law stopped by and said I seemed to be doing great, and made some comment about how I'm probably going to need a drink afterward. But you know what?

I liked it more than any other birthday I've had for the kids. It was simple, less chaotic than filling my house with people, and fun for the kids, and me.

I did have one mom offer to stay and help, which was great, because it turned out Zachary and Carter were going to have meltdowns (Tired, and Jealous, respectively), and having that extra pair of hands to clear dishes etc. was wonderful while Joseph was dealing with the other two.

But the kids, void of parents, were so well-behaved.  Really, this probably speaks to the kind of parents I hang out with, who actually expect things of their children, but I was actually surprised there were no fights, no major messes and kids left saying what fun they had.



FIVE:

Last Saturday I went to my great-uncle's funeral. He left a legacy of 5 children, all with families and spouses and each of the children spoke about him.

This was not a close great-uncle, unfortunately, but I somehow really connected to what his children, my Dad's cousins, were saying about him.  He loved the outdoors, hunting and fishing and camping. He loved music, and he was handy and good at fixing things.  Maybe I connected because my own Dad was a similar type of man.

Anyway, the positive in this, was that while I was listening to these grown-children speak about their Dad, all I could think was, "What a nice family," and I was just so happy that someone could leave this world so loved and so cherished for who they were.

Rest in Peace, Great Uncle John. Rest in Peace.

SIX:

Some good reads and inspiration this week:

When God Makes You Wait  by Anna Bachinsky

I really loved this. So much of my life is like this, always waiting, always wondering what next. I think it applies to a lot of situations, so it was really encouraging.

This Mailbag question to Kendra of Catholic All Year  It's about how to introduce little kids to the idea of a new sibling. I just love Kendra's "life goes on, and it is what you make it" approach. I feel like she doesn't let life overwhelm her (as I sometimes often do). Oh yeah and if you want to learn how not to raise narcissists, her entire blog is just gold.

Fountains of Carrots: This Painful, Beautiful Life with Karen Edmisten

I have to admit, I cried a little listening to this podcast. I have been thinking a lot lately about how to support friends who are experiencing infertility, miscarriage and child loss and this conversation was just beautiful in that regard.

SEVEN:

It's Friday, so we are cooking something meatless! We are typically really bad at abstaining from meat within the year. I make the excuse that my husband works hard at his physically demanding job, and loves his meat, but really, I just forget it is Friday most of the time, so for Lent, I really remind myself and stick to it. Plus, with the kids doing a Lenten calendar, it is convenient that they see the fish on the Friday and remind me too!

So, without further adieu, a link to a recipe: Bean Me Up, Scotty (When I saw the name of this, I was like ehhhrrrrmmmm, but it is actually worth eating! Also, this is the only link I could find, the original is from the Looneyspoons cookbooks)

My friend Michelle introduced me to this recipe, which is a soup, but she serves it over rice with little sprigs of cilantro and sour cream on top, and it is great. So Michelle, if you're reading this, thank-you for your culinary genius and recipe.  My kids actually like it too. And the husband? Well, he never complains about anything I cook, but he hates cilantro, so I omit it for him. That's love right there.


Have a great weekend! 







Monday, March 9, 2015

International Women's Day for the Stay-At-Home Mom

Yesterday was International Women's Day, which meant... not a whole lot for me.  I "celebrated" by reading a few posts from Facebook while nursing a baby, only to be interrupted by a brother on brother brawl, and then I took care of the other needs of my kids, like diaper changes and lunch (hand-washing in between, don't worry) and curating the afternoon sleep.

I'm a stay-at-home mom by choice.

Now there have been plenty of posts saying that actually, my job is really hard, and most unglorified, and really, if I were paid in currency, I'd be deserving of a six-figure salary. This is not that post.

A few months ago, I had a conversation with a neighbour, who asked when I would be returning to work.  I said, "I'm already at work," and I laughed,
"I know," she said, "But don't you want to write for a paper, or do something not at home?"
"Maybe," I said, and we left it at that.

To be honest, I felt bad after that conversation.  I felt like she expected more of me somehow. That I wasn't reaching far enough with my life choices. This feeling is familiar: I feel it whenever I talk to my working-mom or single-working friends, or when my university is mentioned in the news.

After these conversations, I can't shake the  feeling that the world is at my doorstep - that opportunity to step out of the role of wife and mother, and be "reporter" or "communications specialist" is calling.  It's the feeling that I'm wasting the opportunities that so many women fought for me to have.

But am I?

Is it really a waste to stay at home and be with the children that I brought into this world?

I can't seem to say yes to that question.

I can't seem to think that my being here, in my home, is throwing my education, or the gains that women have made throughout history, away.

But to choose to be in the home really is looked at as a step backward.  I often feel as if choosing to stay home couldn't possibly be looked at as meaningful, at least not to someone who isn't doing it themselves.

But maybe it could. I know I could view my choice in a more positive light, so while I was enjoying my morning coffee and perusing pro-women articles, I thought up 5 things specific for me, and maybe, just maybe, we stay-at-home mamas can redeem our image a little:

1. Stop Complaining about Being a Stay-At-Home Mother. 

Yes, it's hard. It's long hours, little pay...we get it. But whether we've chosen this role., or are simply here because we can't find a viable, satisfying, well-paying job, we are here. The only thing stopping us from being productive members of society is us.  Complaining about it doesn't help us. Thousands of women would love to be where we are, but for whatever reason, can't be. And finally, having to tell the world how difficult it is to be us, doesn't make us look like motherhood is at all rewarding, and you and I know that actually, it is.

2. Use Our Time Intentionally:

I'm as guilty of spending hours on social media and Netflix as anybody. I feel like I "deserve" it, because I'm a stay-at-home mom of little kids, and hey, maybe I do. There is nothing wrong with a little downtime at an opportune moment, but there have been days where I've read blogs, watched Netflix, cruised Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram ALL day.  Guilty. This might be something our working counterparts don't have time to do.  In fact, most working mothers in our country are also doing a lot of the housework and meal preparation in addition to their part- or full-time job. Many women have to work a few jobs to make ends meet. I think one thing I can do for women of the world, is to use the time I have intentionally, and perhaps not just to better myself and my own family.  I often feel like I don't have time - but I've also found that the busier I've gotten as a mom, the more I'm able to accomplish. Maybe it's momentum, or becoming more efficient. But striving for the best use of our time can really only be a win.

3. Get Involved:

We have the time to make our communities vibrant and beautiful.  If we're at the park with our kids, we can pick up litter or untangle the swings. If we're the ones who have time to be the soccer coach, we can do that.  We can teach our kids first-hand that giving of ourselves is fulfilling and life-changing.  Being women in our community, we can make a difference in the lives around us in a way that working women can't.

4. Support Women:  

We can stop having "Mommy Wars" and deal with real injustices. We can help our working neighbor or nearby single mom by dropping off a meal or some cookies.  We can ask other women, "What can I do for you?"  We can babysit for someone who is looking for a job. We can read the news, keep up with the world around us, and fill the cracks in the system where other women aren't finding comfort, love or support.

5. Teach and Form our Kids:

Because we're the primary caregiver of our children, we're also the primary influence.  How does this help women? Because we're the ones to teach them how to treat women or how to be women.  I tell my sons daily with my actions what it is to be a woman. I've taught them that women can use tools, play sports, and get dirty, and I'm in the process of teaching them that all people are to be treated with love and respect.

Teaching kids to make good choices, accept consequences and take responsibility for themselves and their space is a big job. I view the formation of my children as the hardest part of being a mother, but it is also the most important. Why? Because they are the future of the world. The future of women, men, governance and peace is what I'm investing in by spending my life as a stay-at-home mother.  There comes a point where the choices our children make are no longer as woven into our lives, so the small years are the important ones to give them a good start on the journey to adulthood.

I have often thought to myself in regards to my intelligence, that I learned a lot of things in university, but I learned to think from my parents.

A lot of who I am has to do with my mother, who stayed at home with me, working tirelessly to make sure that I would be kind, courageous and make a difference in the lives of those around me. So, thanks Mom, and thanks to the women of Canada's past. I'm happy I have the right to vote, the right to speak, and the right to practice the lifestyle of my choosing with relatively little persecution. That is a victory to me, and one I don't take lightly.






Friday, February 13, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 29

Check out more awesome bloggery at Kelly's.

{Lent is ALMOST HERE}

I love Lent for the opportunities to form better habits and renew the scope of my life. So I'm kind of excited to challenge myself beginning on Ash Wednesday to do some things to make life better.
On the spiritual side, I'll be following along with hundreds of others who purchased the Blessed Is She journal Only One Thing.  I'll have a paper copy, but there's a digital download now too!

And the other thing I thought I'd challenge myself to do was the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge at White House, Black Shutters. I started last year but after 4 days, I got lazy... OR maybe I just had a 2-month-old baby and 2 other kids under 4 to see to, haha!

I really loved what Haley had to say on the Fountains of Carrots podcast about doing something physical along with the spiritual during Lent.  In their show notes, there are a bunch of other awesome links to open your eyes up to an amazing world of Lenten suggestions.

{Mom's Groups}

Shout out to my Mom's Time Out ladies if you're checking out my blog for the first time. I'd love it if you'd stay around and learn a little more about your crazy co-coordinator.

I've never written about this before, but my Mom's group is a real light in my life. Somehow, I volunteered to help coordinate it, and that has been an exercise in humility.  I really don't think I'm cut out to be doing this, but with the guidance of my co-coordinator, she and I somehow get things done and lead the moms into something lovely.

I should have more confidence about it. I've always been a pretty "take-charge" person, but I'm also a serious scatterbrain when it comes to accomplishing simple tasks. I promised for 2 weeks to get a volunteer sign-up sheet there so that the ladies could work out when the bring a snack to share... It took an insane amount of time for me to finally just push print on the nice Excel document my husband set up for me.

But I love all of these moms. I think the leadership role has helped me to see them as more than just friends or potential friends, but as beautiful creations of God whose spiritual journey I play a part in by welcoming them back each week.  I find myself praying for them and their husbands and children when I go to sleep at night, and thinking about their prayer intentions as I go through my day.

This mom's group saved my mommy-life in some ways when I began attending 3 years ago.  I found like-minded friends, friends for my children, spiritual support and got to actually drink a warm cup of coffee in peace. I was extremely depressed during my last pregnancy, and some weeks Thursday morning was the light in my week. So I'm so thankful for this ever-changing group of ladies. They're wonderful!

{My oldest child}

I've been a mother for over 5 years, if you count maternity, which I do. Trying to wrap my brain around that is insane.

Patrick will be 5 next Sunday.  He's having a dinosoaur party, complete with these cookies which I will shape into dinosaur bones and bury in chocolate mousse and oreo crumbs with some gummy worms for the cake... which is apparently also supposed to have a volcano (cereal treats and icing probably).

But aside from celebrating his 5th year, I will take out our photos and tell him the story of his life as I see it, and remember the day he was born.

He usually wants to know all about my c-section, and I try not to emphasize that too much, because it's kind of emotionally scarring for me that I had to have one.  But he's fascinated that he was cut out of me, and he knows that the other two weren't, so he likes to know all the details.

He also still likes to snuggle up and have me hold him like I did when he was a baby while I tell him what it was like when he was a baby. My heart hurts a little thinking that maybe next year or the year after, he'll be like "Moooooom, I'm too old for that."

{Switching Gears}

Last Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the law against assisted suicide was unconstitutional, and there's been all sorts of uproar about it. I was shocked and reeling for two days, then I figured some things out and wrote this post about what I should be doing in light of this situation.

However, my friend Stephanie wrote this beautiful, hopeful post about it, and I think she said what I wanted to say, only better. You be the judge.

{Marriage}

My 6th Anniversary is tomorrow. It doesn't seem like we've been married that long.  I'm still finding out more things as the inner layers of Joseph peel back, revealing more of his soul.  I think maybe it's the having 3 kids in 6 years that has slowed time for us - there's a lot of caring for them and doing "their" things that goes on, leaving less time for us to talk and wonder "Why the heck does he do that?" about each other.  We're just clinging to each other for dear life on this wild parenthood ride!

I say all that with utmost positivity. We honestly have no regrets. We often say to each other, "I like our life," or, "I'm so glad we got married."

I'm always finding more reasons why marrying Joseph was really the best direction I could have taken. I am so much better than I was 6 years ago. This due to the fact that he either makes me want to change myself because of how good he is, or he just tells me, point blank, "X thing that you do is dumb, so you should work on that, but I love you."

I'm excited for our Anniversary. We already celebrated it by taking a week away to Hawaii last month, but I'll probably take a little extra time in the kitchen making something yummy for dinner.

{Teething Baby}

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Teething is the most horrible stage of my baby's life. If it could just all happen in one week of blood and tears and horror, I could probably do it, like a marathon of baby-hell. He wouldn't remember, right?
He is having such a rough time. So 25% our nights are filled with crying and homeopathics and soothing back to sleep. Last night though, Zachary actually just decided it was time to play, sooo... 1.5 hours later, at 5 a.m. I crawled back into bed.

This is why you're only getting 6 takes, because he just woke up SCREAMING from naptime and I must go console him and let him growl at me.

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!









Sunday, February 8, 2015

Assisted Suicide: My Arguments Don't Hold Water, But I'm Not Doing Nothing.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday, that the law banning assisted suicide was unconstitutional.
When I heard, I felt like I was standing on the edge of a historic moment: The historic moment when people in my country decided to further devalue the lives of some of its most vulnerable citizens. 

But I’m not here to give you the rundown of events. That’s all over the news.

And, cleverer people than I have written articles about the conflict of ethics we face and the reasons that this decision is to some, a great tragedy.

My feeling on this is one of helplessness.  I’m so small in the face of this.  I’m just a little stay-at-home mom whose heart is weeping.  If you haven’t gathered by now that I’m against this decision, I am. There it is.  Those who would argue with me, and tell me I’m wrong not to support assisted suicide will simply write off my opinion as something to be tossed aside like garbage because of one thing: my faith. 

That, more than anything makes me feel helpless.  There is a difference in philosophies that is an unbreakable barrier without a complete change of heart and mind.  My friend says that the when and how of death should be the choice of the terminally ill patient – that’s death with dignity to her.  To me, dignity in death is how one is treated, both physiologically and personally as they spend their last days, hours and minutes.

For me, the spiritual being of God informs my life and the way I live, but for my friend who believes there is no God, the Laws of God simply do not exist.  I believe you can be compassionate without taking someone’s life, and further, that compassion is not in killing at all – but my friend believes that assisted-suicide is the very compassion we've been lacking.

With this impasse reached, the discussion ends, because it is impossible to convince someone of the existence of God, His laws and the dignity of human beings from conception to natural death when they have no intention of being convinced. To Godless people, the "because of God" argument doesn't hold water.

But that's all I've got.  I'm afraid I have no time to research and study ethics and argue philosophical points. I've got kids to take care of and a never-ending laundry pile. I've got a little life of domesticity, though I'd love nothing more than to be well-versed enough to argue in the courts.

From behind my computer, while I read the news, I’ve asked myself over and over, “Is there nothing I can do?”

Today I sat in a pew and listened.  I listened as the words of Job filled the church:  What was life? Was it not simply as conscripts of God? Life was filled with suffering for Job, but he still believed. He still carried on living his life as a faithful follower of God. 

It occurred to me at that moment, (and hopefully my priest will forgive me for not listening to the rest of his homily very closely) that there is indeed some things I can do in the face of this decision of the lawmakers of my country.

Pray.
To think about prayer as a means to an end often makes me feel passive and desperate.  It’s like, “This is all I can do?”  But if indeed all things are possible with God, then I’d better be asking His help. 

Listen.
This decision made me sit up and pay attention.  This will affect us.  I will be vigilant in finding out exactly how it may affect me, my family, health care, and our society as a whole.  Knowing these things, and becoming prepared and educated on the decisions that are made will only strengthen my resolve to make what little difference I can.

Speak.
Here it is. My little battle cry from my busy life with kids and responsibilities.  I likely won’t have the opportunity to speak publicly to the masses, and my little blog with its miniscule amount of hits may only encourage a few, but I really do pray that I have the opportunity from my little realm of the home and church and grocery store to either speak on the importance of human beings and each life or show it by my actions.

Hope.
The most important thing I think I can do in my little world is to live in hope.  That’s what this is about isn’t it? Hopelessness? The terminally ill who want to die feel there is no hope. Their families see no hope.  Without hope, what is life?
Living in hope and continuing to bring those around us closer to the Source of that Hope. That’s something, isn’t it?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 28


This will be my 75th blog post, which is kind of surreal.

{Posts}
There's something strangely liberating about having put myself out there 75 times, even though a lot of it was just catch-up-with-the-family moments and some ranting about parenting, breastfeeding being hard, breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding toddlers, and why I don't cover... Yeah. I feel like I wrote a lot about boobs. But hey, if you've got em.... no, I'm not going there.

I'm linking up with Kelly today for Seven Quick Takes, which I love, because I have many topics floating around in my swimming pool of a brain that I am always up for sharing a little about. And I'm counting this as a take, because, time. Mine and yours and not wasting and all that.

{Renovating}


For those just tuning in, we've been in a constant state of renovating since we bought our house 4 years ago. Scenes like the one above are not uncommon. That's my new laundry space just FYI.

I'm pretty excited about this. It'll be pretty and functional with the right amount of storage, a folding table, and most importantly, heat! The current space is not heated, so we have this hose freezing problem that has me leaning over the freezer with my hair dryer to get the machine to fill or drain on days when it's below freezing, which, in Canada, is quite a bit. MUCH frustration. MUCH expletives muttered under the breath.

But despite all that inconvenience and the mess you see here, it does not drive me crazy.

Most visitors to our house just see a big mess and ask me when I'll crack the whip to get it finished. But since my husband is an actual carpenter, not just a handy dude who thinks he can DIY who then eventually hires someone at his wife's insistence, I am basically at the mercy of time. His time. AND, since he has a business to run and needs to eat and rest, and spend time with our children, time grows short.

Maybe I've just been given some sort of miraculous gift of "renovators vision" but when I look at that space, I see the finished product.  I see cupboards and a sink and pretty, witty, painted laundry signs and a vase full of flowers and a sunbeam. If only I could pin that on the wall for the whip-crackers.

But mostly, I just like the guy, a lot. So as much time as I've spent sitting watching him work with a cup of tea in hand (my hand, not his)... a snuggle on the couch and a movie is just so much more fun. So you could say, it's my fault. Me and my feminine wiles.

{Podcasts}
I've just discovered podcasts this year.  It's a little ridiculous that I didn't jump on this train sooner, because there are some gooders.

But this one, from Christy and Haley at Fountains of Carrots with Auntie Leila was my favourite ever. I think it might have changed my life.

I have struggled so much with passing on the faith to my little ones. I've Pinterested and whispered wonderful things to them during Mass, and prayed little books with them, and taught them prayers, and just felt totally inadequate always. Especially when my oldest said to me this week, "Mom, Mass is horrible. I hate it. The only thing I like about church is cookies."

I tell you, if you listen to nothing else for encouragement in this area, this podcast.

{Mass Destruction}
Just as things got back to normal after a horrendous, illness filled December, and then a wonderful vacation, Zachary has entered a new phase of life.

This sweet little baby?



Yeah him. He's now in the phase referred to as "Mass Destruction". Of what? Anything he can get his little dimpled hands on. Mostly, my sanity. Every time I turn around there's another one like this:

Or this:

I'm sure this happened with the other two kids, but at that time, I didn't have the other two kids. But I just keep breathing in and moving stuff, and realizing that hey, his little newspaper mess helped me prep lunch rather peacefully, so win?

{Boys}

Being mom of three, or really, any number of boys is a special job. It constantly surprises me.
Lately my four-year-old has talked a lot about guns and weapons and fighting of "bad guys". His 3-year-old brother of course, plays right along, and together they make elaborate plans for the demise of these enemies.

At bed-time last night, I said, "I really don't like it when you talk so violently about shooting and hurting and blowing up people. It doesn't sound nice."

"Mom," Patrick said, "I just want to protect my family, and that's nice, isn't it?"

It is. It really is. I still would like him to know that guns are not toys, and that killing is a very grave thing, not to be taken lightly, but his basic thought is to defend and protect. And that's noble and good.

I went away from that tuck-in slightly less disturbed about the day's play.

{Body}

I recently integrated a workout into my day. Before 7 a.m. AND, I've stuck to it.  But I also realized my pattern every time I begin a workout routine:

I start excited.
I stick to it for a week.
I do a workout that's a little too hard for me and actually injure myself, or I get sick.
So I stop.

So, I just have to stop stopping! That, and injuring myself by getting a little overambitious.  Usually what leads to this is my hearing about a workout that someone else is doing, and deciding to power through it. Seriously, at my level of fitness, I should have realized that I needed to work up to Jillian Michael's House of Pain. <---not actual="" br="" its="" name.="">This is what makes working out unappealing for me, PAIN. But not just the dull ache of having worked muscles - that's ok - even awesome. I'm really talking about overdoing it. Not working up to it. Not challenging myself slowly and pushing a little harder over time. I'm talking just deciding to go for it because other people are doing it, and paying the consequences of a strain.

So. Ridiculous.

So, turning over a new leaf, I'm not working out for other people. I'm working out for me. I'm not working out to make other people think anything about my body. I'm working out because I want my body to last till my kids are 40+. I'm not working out because I hate myself. I'm working out because I love myself, and I will nurture my body into health, not break it in the process.

{Grocery store visions}

Since I really don't get out much, I seem to have all my unsuccessfully-evangelizing-people-to-more-than-2-kids moments at the grocery store. But I haven't had one lately. All I've had are really positive experiences. So maybe this means my kids are now accustomed to our weekly trek to obtain sustenance - and know that if they're good, I'll buy them animal crackers or some other devil-food; or I'm just putting on my rose-coloured glasses and seeing the good in everyday life.

This week, I saw a mom with 4 kids. She was calm. The kids were fairly calm but acting normal, asking questions, wanting this, wanting that, and she... she was radiant amidst it all. I mean this was a gorgeous woman.  I would have snapped a picture but I didn't want to be a creeper. It wasn't just her stylish boots and her cute hairstyle, but also the way she talked to her kids (who I'm sure were all hers because they looked like little mini-me's and called her mom). I was seriously in awe. I briefly considered following her beyond the canned vegetables aisle just so I could see if her kids acted up or she lost it on them and made them stand by the oranges while she shopped the rest of the aisle (no experience there or anything...).

Normally I would envy someone like this, but this particular day was a better one, and she gave me hope. Hope that maybe I could be like that, and hope that there are other moms out there trudging through the trenches of life, and succeeding for the world to see. So I abandoned all thoughts of stalking and let her go on with her day, thankful for this little moment of clarity.


Well there you have it dear readers, you beautiful people who've made it to the end once again.

Have a wonderful week, wherever you are.





















Friday, January 23, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 27

Linking up with Kelly this week. Head on over to discover more blog fun.

ONE:

That's where I was last week. 
My lovely husband took me, sans children to Hawaii. The trip was incredibly restorative. I didn't realize how much I needed it. Having the luxury of uninterrupted time with my husband in beautiful surroundings was like a dream.

TWO:
A bonus picture that has nothing to do with the complainy take that follows, because hibiscus are gorgeous.


The reality of life struck me in the face on Saturday when we got back.  During our week in Hawaii, I missed the kids terribly, even though I was very happy not to fulfill any of their near-constant needs. But the kids had spent a week at their grandparents, to whom I'll be eternally grateful, of course, but even after a weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's when we are there, there's always what we call "a disciplinary hangover." 
It's like a reset button where the kids forget every rule we've ever taught them. Just to be clear, I don't think this has anything to do with the Grandparents themselves, Lord bless them and restore their energies, but I think it's the difference in place, routine and interaction, and possibly the inability to communicate their feelings about us up and leaving them for a week.
So this week has been particularly challenging in that regard.  Patrick said to me Wednesday, "I thought your vacation was supposed to make you a better mom!" 
We've since established that being a better mom still means there's no snacks unless the previous meal has been eaten.

THREE:

This is the construction site I spent part of our last full day in Hawaii outside of while Joseph spent a little under an hour talking to a local builder, handing him things and working on stairs with him, and taking pictures of the steel studs and framing (They frame for hurricanes and termites in Hawaii, while we don't have to worry about either because, cold.) 

I had the foresight to pack a book for the day so don't worry.  I've learned to love that Joseph's enthusiasm for his job doesn't leave - not on weekends, or vacations.  

He's always saying that you have to love what you do, especially since you spend most of your waking hours working.  
A pearl of wisdom perhaps?

FOUR:

We have a climber everyone!

I've been less than thrilled at this development, because a. Babies + high places = nothing is safe, and b. My other boys think it's their duty to get him down, whether they're capable of such endeavours or not. 

But... And here's where you'll question my parenting, I discovered this fabulous thing when my first, Patrick, began climbing. He didnt want down, and wouldn't try to get down if nothing was within reach. He'd stay there and play with whatever, and one time he was happy and content as I worked on the desk near him on an assignment, and he laid down and fell asleep. 

Zachary did much the same once I moved the chairs. 

Now, uh, before you call the authorities, caveats:
I was right there in my teeny kitchen and went over if he stood up. 
I'm not saying this is what you should do.
We also don't have baby gates and have never - not once - had anybody (except ME) fall down those ungated stairs,  so my confidence that kids don't just walk off ledges if they've been taught about them (yes, even at one year) is pretty high.
This was more of a "let's just watch and see what he does" moment than a solution for the climbing, and basically I learned that my child, even at 1, has a little common sense.

FIVE:


I made a turtle on the beach while I contemplated life last week. 

Maybe it's because I hate air travel, or because I was leaving my boys for the longest I'd ever left them, or because I'm a little scarred from my father's unexpected and highly traumatic death in 2011, but I really thought we might die on our way to or return from Hawaii. 

So the prayer/question of whether or not my life has been what it is supposed to be was on my mind the entire trip.

You're like, "Wait, they doesn't sound like a vacation!" But bear with me:

It was really good to be asking that question on the edge of the ocean with my fingers and toes in the sand.

My husband was swimming, and I, not being a strong swimmer, was a little afraid of the crashing waves and tide and current, so I sat on the beach, thinking and praying things over.

That's who we are - a doer and an observer.  

It occurred to me then that God probably isn't finished with us yet.  I looked at our little life and our little selves on the edge of the ocean and realized that God wants us to be better than we are, than we've been, and continue on building our little life for His glory. That was of great comfort, and so I stopped imagining what our funerals would be like. 

Oh cliche! A good cliche. This is the revelation I've had over and over in my spiritual quest, yet something new happens each time.

This is the key reason the trip was so restorative. I came back ready to take on my life and responsibilities and calling with new appreciation for them.

SIX:

I'm still getting my mind around blogging more often. In my roster of new posts are 

Why I Attend A Small Church

Slow Living in the City: How We Beat The Rush

I'm in a writing rut, so here's hoping I can pick myself up and get back to it.



Forgive the unrelated flower. There were too many beautiful ones not to share.

SEVEN: 

Thank you, dear reader, for making it this far with me.  

It's taken me the entire day to do these takes! Kids needs, car troubles, pre-school snack day and other diaper-related realities have left me just done.

So I've poured a glass of wine and will put myself to bed shortly!

Cheers!




Have a fantastic weekend!











Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: A Year in Photos

Linking up with Dwija at House Unseen, Life Unscripted today with a year in 12 photos.

What a year.  It's hard to believe it's over. Birth and death sit like bookends on this year for us: Lovely, little Zachary Maurice was born in an amazing, short birth 12 days past his due date, and my dear, sweet Grandpa died on Dec. 18. 

It has me reflecting today on living life to the fullest, because it is a precious and wonderful adventure.  I'm so thankful for another year with my family.

The Photos:

1. Our third baby, Zachary Maurice was born. 


2. Little curled up newborness! 

3. We spent the first few months of the year hibernating with our newborn wonder. 


4. I have loved having 3 boys.


5. Football. Our team won the Grey Cup this year! Woo!

6. We got outside to climb and run and adventure with the boys this summer.

7. We sent Patrick to preschool. I love watching him learn and become his own person. 

8. We had a summer snowstorm. We snuggled up and had some tech-free time, then built these the next day.


9. Carter turned 3. He went from toddler to little boy this year. He has the complicated job of both little brother and big brother, but he's taking it all in stride. He's caring and silly and attentive to the little things.


10. Life at home with these dudes is far from dull.  The power of the imagination is out in full force.


11. A house full of boys is a house full of joy.


12. We close the year remembering my wonderful Grandpa.