Friday, June 19, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 32


Hanging out with Kelly and the other quick takers today. 

ONE:

I just came home from Patrick's pre-school Spring Tea - the finale of the entire year, and realized I didn't even take one picture!  I brought the implements (including the real SLR camera, not just my iPhone) and I just got so caught up in it (and keeping my other two children from running to the potluck table and fingering all the food) that I just forgot.  Something in me says it's just pre-school and that there will be a lot more of this kind of thing to come, so I'm ridiculous (and likely somewhat hormonal) for tearing up at this little event, but by the end, I was kind of a sniffling, smiling mess - and I'm okay with that. Thankfully they had this adorable picture taken of him. 





TWO: 

I somehow made it through a year of being co-coordinator of a local Catholic mother's group. I volunteered for the job, because I felt like this mother's group had been a light in my life, and I wanted to help.  
But doing the job ended up helping me in more ways than I probably contributed to the overall plan.

Now, I've never really been one to feel motherly toward people - except maybe my own family - but this job just pierced my heart with the desire for these women to be loved, cared for, prayed for and helped.

I've been challenged a lot too, to be better. Somehow I feel like if I am going to lead a Catholic mama's group - maybe I should have my proverbial $#1T together?  


THREE: 

Urg. My fridge is making weird noises.  We went fridge shopping this time last year, and right now, I'm NOT feeling like doing it again.  The noises have become so loud in the last two days that they're scaring the boys. 

"I think there's a monster caught in there, mom." was what Carter said to me, as he cowered behind me.

Zachary just lets out yelps and runs over, demanding up, while pointing at the fridge.

Patrick said to me, very earnestly, "Mom. If we need to buy a new fridge, you can have some of my Lego money to pay for it, because having food is more important than Lego." 

FOUR:

My children know I blog, which is weird because I don't talk about it THAT much to them.  I'm not sure they have a concept of what it is exactly, but they know that people can see them, so sometimes they ask me to take pictures to show people. This gem is Carter. 3-year-old's are weird.
Sucking his toe?


FIVE:

We've been doing a lot of fun yard work, or more accurately, Joseph has been doing a lot to our yard in evenings and on weekends.  We now have two pergolas, a patio where there was a pile of compost and random wood, concrete bits and other surplus from Joseph's job, and we finally planted a garden after 4 years of saying we would and never doing it.  

It's funny, because I get lots of mixed reactions to our house, which is kind of a piecemeal renovation right now. It has been since we moved in. We've still got a lot to do, inside and out, and we've been living here for 4 years.  I think the whole idea of "buy a starter home, sell it and buy your ideal home" has always been lost on us, but it might puzzle others who visit.  We've got a system of doing-what-we-can-when-we-can, so... that means my dream laundry room and cupboard doors have been a long time coming, and I'm still waiting. But I really appreciate these things when they do get done because we've had to wait, pay more bills, and wait again till the time is right. I'm so blessed with Joseph, who is incredible at doing stuff.  He's not a landscaper, but he made THIS: 




It is now all finished with a beautiful pergola and filled-in stones, but I was too lazy to go out and get a picture. Aside from that, the little circle in the middle is meant to be a stamped concrete rose, and I want to find a sort of giant statue of Our Lady so that I can make it a grotto of sorts.  Joseph teases me about being an old lady in a young woman's body, some people want vacations, and I want a little garden at home to pray the rosary in - but I say that if I'm going to eventually be a rosary-praying old lady, I might as well start now.

SIX:

I have a great read for you:




The top book, The Shed That Fed A Million Children, has been amazing so far. I'm only a few chapters in, but, oh my heart, I love this charity and the place where it began.

It's a book about one man's journey into charity work and creating an amazing charity called "Mary's Meals". I had a tiny encounter with this charity years ago, as a youth minister in Scotland, and have supported Mary's Meals in whatever extra funding I happened to have since.  Why?

Because of the shed. This tiny, leaning, ugly, so-insignificant-you-might-miss-it shed that the founder, Magnus uses for an office.  There's a part in the book where he talks about how he was reluctant to take a salary to continue on with his work because that would be taking away much-needed funds from the impoverished people he sought to help. THIS is the kind of selflessness that is behind this charity. 

Anyway, the shed. I saw the shed. It's at a beautiful retreat centre called Craig Lodge, founded by the family of the author, Magnus, and it just touched my soul.  I thought, "If they're giving so much of the funding to help people, that they don't even spend it on the luxury of even a simple office, this is the kind of charity I can stand behind."  This is not to say that other charities with actual offices are less worthy of anyone's support - but it's the spirit of generosity and solidarity with the people they help that struck me in this case.

When I saw this book was out, I had to have it - the image of that wee shed amidst the craggy hills of Scotland burned into my memory.

SEVEN:

It's Father's Day this weekend!

Embarrassing story: Somehow, I thought it was last week.  I woke up early, got the kids gathered and quiet to let Joseph sleep in, and made him bacon, eggs and pancakes.  This was especially hard, because Joseph is the resident breakfast maker, and the kids woke up earlier than usual (5:49 a.m. for Zachary). I had the boys bring Daddy his breakfast, as he did for me on Mother's Day, and he was very thankful - and didn't for a second, question whether or not it was actually the day. I mean, who would, while getting the royal treatment?!

I then went on to tell the boys to wish our priest a happy Father's Day, and was then informed, that it was next week.  I don't know if I can do the breakfast thing again, but Joseph wants to take our newly acquired canoe out if it's a nice day, and I'm going to swallow my nervousness about small, wiggly children and bodies of water, and just pack lots of snacks to keep them sitting down and not jumping over the side or taking off their PFD's. 


Friday, June 12, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Staying Out of the Mommy Wars

Joining Kelly today, who wrote entertainingly about what happens to her when her husband leaves town for a few days. I died laughing. All of these things are true for me!

Today, I'm going to write about my adventures in mommy-land.

I was recently the subject of some "bad mom gossip" at my son's pre-school:

I had a minor incident in which I lost my 5-year-old at his soccer game: I pulled into the parking lot to find there was no parking, so rather than make Patrick late for his practice, I opted to drop him off at the gate to the field where I could clearly see his soccer team practicing, and told him I would go park, and meet him there. I saw him run toward the field, go through the gate, and so I drove off, happy with my plan.

Five minutes later, when I got to the field with my lawn chair and two other boys in tow, I plunked myself down and began doling out Teddy Grahams. I chatted with the other moms for maybe 5 minutes before I noticed that hey... Patrick was not actually playing with his team. My heart was palpitating in my chest and I hurriedly asked the other moms to watch Carter, while I hefted Zachary with me to go look for his brother. Two of the other moms came with me to the parking lot and I recounted my little drop-off scenario. It took one shout of "Patrick!" for him to come darting from behind the dumpster in the lot with a tear-stained face. We settled things - he had gotten shy and came back to look for me, but I had been parking elsewhere, so he just hid behind the dumpster and waited - and I thanked the other moms, who expressed relief,  took him to play his game, and all was fine, like any other night. I thought it was over.

WRONG! This morning, I got to the preschool and was surprised to be asked about "my scare the other night" by two of the other moms, who are not affiliated with the soccer team. Since Patrick and I had discussed that next time, if he listened to me, things would work out better, and I had kind of forgotten about it, I stared blankly.  Then the whole thing was recounted, with one mom saying "I heard you dropped your son in the parking lot at soccer and drove away."

*%^&# (This is where my brain exploded)

Apparently before the story had been told, the teller had also, upon learning I was pregnant with a fourth child, said I must be crazy, since keeping track of 4 kids will be a nightmare, especially since I lost one the other day...

Clearly, my parenting skills are in question. My 5-year-old was expected to listen, didn't, and it's my fault for thinking it even possible. "They never listen," is what one of my soccer compatriots told me. I don't know about you, but my mommying self is just worn out from all this DRAMA.

And so I bring you, in my rather satirical mood toward all this, 7 Ways to Stay Out of the Mommy Wars

1. Don't expect things of your children. Seriously, do not set standards like "listening" to any child. And do not ever be stern. A soft, sweet, "No, no, sweetums, mummy's heart hurts when you bite other munchkins" will have to do.

2. Don't feed your children in public. This will incite the wrath of foodie-diet-mamas everywhere. Goldfish have gluten and dairy and salt, and they're a carb so... And raisins will make your kids just want more raisins because of their high natural sugar content. Really, you should just bring kale with you, because your kids will get used to eating kale and never complain about it.

3. Don't allow your children to run until past the age of 3. They might fall. You must follow under-3's around like a hovercraft, because if they fall, there will be scrapes and bruises, which will undoubtedly have people flagging you for child-abuse. Not to mention the unending comments on "What happened to poor little pookie-wookie? Tsk, tsk. Oh he fell? I had a friend who let their child fall once too and...."

4. Don't have an inordinate amount of children (I'm looking at you, people with more than 2).You only have two hands mamas. And since you'll need to be keeping track of their every move, you just aren't equipped for motherhood. You better start looking for a nanny right now moms of 3 or more, because a good ratio of adults to children is 1:2 - or better yet, have your husband just come with you if you go out in public, your mortgage won't suffer - but if one of your children breaks an arm, that's on you.

5. If you are a stay-at-home-mom, you'd better be working on some awesome project or have a side-business, because women are more than just mothers, dontcha know?This one I can't stress enough. On top of your immaculate home, intellectually challenging activities, kale-feeding and injury-preventing, you really do need MORE in your life. So go ahead moms, solve world hunger, write parenting books (because everyone knows you are a font of wisdom), and for goodness sake, you should at least be running a pyramid retail business by now!

6. Don't attempt to befriend other moms.  Friendship means letting these people into your life and your home. It really is just easier to go it alone, because really - who needs friends? Especially ones that will talk to others about how much kale you're not eating, and the horrors of your fingerprinted windows.

7. Really, just don't take your kids anywhere, or let anyone know you have children at all.

They can be hermits! This solves so many problems! As soon as you've gotten your body back in tip-top supermodel shape, you can begin leaving the house. But don't let anyone know you're a mother. It's not really that fashionable.  When you do get groceries, make sure you make a few trips a week to disguise the fact that you're buying for a small army. Also, if you purchase the dreaded Goldfish, hide the packages under lots of kale and brocolli, which is a strategy that totally works when guys buy maxi-pads.  If you're found out, just feign surprise.
Your children will surely grow up, well-adjusted and normal in their bunker full of educational toys, and hopefully if you have daughters, the Mommy-Wars will have ended by the time they're ready to leave.

Haha, obviously I'm a little peevish today, but sometimes I think maybe the high-school drama I missed by being a homeschooler with friends who didn't need utter BS, is catching up with me. I'm usually a pretty sassy, bounce-back lady, so fear not for my overall perspective on life. I'll just keep on... keeping on.

Have the greatest of weekends! Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

If They Hadn't Been Boys

I pick up my youngest boy to go and change his diaper, and instead of willingly complying he, unsurprisingly, kicks and screams. Still clutching a blue plastic shovel, he yells,
"Dirt! Dirt! Dirrrrrrrrt!"
I sling him over my shoulder, letting him beat my back with the shovel, then wrestle him to the change table when we get upstairs. We pause for a tickle session and blowing of raspberries on his tummy, because this silly time makes him happy enough to stay relatively still for the unpleasant but necessary part.  As I clean him up and get him ready for his nap, including wiping his dust-encrusted face and fingers, I think to myself,
"Would I be doing this for the thousandth time if I had little girls, not boys?"

Maybe I would. Lots of little girls love dirt and wild tickling and wrestling, so don't go getting your feminist panties in a twist.  It's just that in my personal experience, my friends with only little girls aren't doing the things I'm doing.  They generally aren't sitting outside construction sites and correctly identifying every piece of machinery on a regular basis.  Usually they aren't constantly listening to conversations about vehicles, weapons or superheroes or Lego. They do hair and paint little toenails, and have to refuse Grandmas who want to buy yet another pink dress. They own breakable tea sets and colouring books in which some of the pages have been neatly coloured - not scribbled with a vengeance. 

Before I became a mother, I pictured myself a mother of daughters.  I pictured pink dresses and tiny ballet flats; tea parties, colouring, braiding hair and baby dolls. I like to think my girly-girl self would have loved all those things. Reality might have been different, but I'll never know.

With a new little one due in the Fall, I am often asked (or told) if I hope it's a girl. The expectation, of course, is that we hope so. Why would we try to have another boy, when we already have three? 
But to be honest, I don't care. I'd love a daughter, but I already know from loving my sons that I will not be disappointed if I never have a daughter.  

What really concerns me is the message the "hope it's a girl" comments sends my sons, who are usually standing right there. I'm not sure they're sensitive enough at ages 5, 3 and 1 to read much into it, and they even say they'd like a sister. But for my own heart and sanity here are 11 things that wouldn't be true for me if providence and genetics hadn't given me 3 little boys:

11. I would not have so many backseat drivers telling me to go faster, like driving anywhere is actually a race, then whooping with delight when I do pass someone on the road.

10. I would not have constant engines revving, gunfire and superhero themes to listen to all day long.

9. I might not understand that park play usually involves lots of noise, violence and seemingly dangerous speeds, while possibly also using the playground equipment for something other than its intended purpose.

8. I would not know many things about most construction tools and equipment. Okay, with a carpenter grandfather, father and husband, maybe I would, but I wouldn’t be reminded of the explicit details on a regular basis if not for my particular little boys: “Mom, that isn’t a track-hoe, it’s a back-hoe, it has no tracks and two shovels.”

 7. I would not know compassion and violent urges can exist at the same time:
Carter: "Aw, poor Zachy. He's just a cute baby and doesn't know... so we should wrestle him to the ground next time he has a marker!"

6. I would not be privy to constant talk and fascination with weaponry.  We don’t own real guns, we don’t hunt, and we aren’t military, and typically don’t watch television containing weapons when the boys are awake, yet they still find ways to make anything and everything into guns and swords.

5. I would not know the sweetness, stillness and relief of watching someone sleep while clutching a sword, or laying in a bed full of race cars.

4. I would not know that it is possible to love through violence. When I am tackled, it hurts, but to them, it’s a loving gesture:
Patrick: “Don’t worry Mom, he’s just head-butting me.”

 3. I would not know protective love like I know it now.  That fierce desire to protect me, their brothers, or our home and property exists in their play and their reality:
“The first thing we do, Cart, is build a fortress for Zachary, because he’s little and can’t fight like us.”

 2. I would not be explaining getting through Mass as their mission, and giving them items to seek out, and telling them that Jesus is the ultimate superhero:
Carter whispers, “Mom, I have my guns out, because I think there’s a bad guy tryin’ to steal Jesus’ beautiful house.”

 1. I would not know the courage it takes to be raising good men. My hopes and fears for them exist in a way that wouldn’t if I had only daughters, because there’s a part of me that doesn’t understand why they are the way they are.

Sometimes it’s difficult to watch their struggles, but it is amazing to watch them gather courage, learn from their mistakes, and pick themselves up again and again.



They’re beautiful and rugged and wiggly and strange, these boys of mine. 

Sometimes I think I needed to have boys: Being the main woman in their life has made me realize how important my job is, in letting them know what a woman is. Moreover, their existence has refined that woman, honed her and shaped her into something better, someone who can run faster (literally and figuratively), endure more pain, love more fiercely and persist in becoming better than she has ever been.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: In which I promise to blog again for you 4 loyal readers.


Joining Kelly for the first time in forever to quick take. Check em' out.

ONE:

I've been MIA for many reasons, so first of all, sorry if you've missed me.
Second, it's my 29th birthday today, and in the midst of having a pretty normal day, I've been reflecting on what I'd like the last year of my 20's to look like.  Since I actually really love blogging, despite all appearances around here, more blogging is on the agenda!
I'm also going to change the appearance of my blog, because this flowery weird thing going on is a bit busy, no? But since I'm terrible with doing this techy type of stuff in blogger, don't expect anything too spectacular.

TWO:

Another thing I hope to accomplish in this last year of my 20's is: Dah-dah-dah-dah! Having another baby!
We are not going to be silly enough to give out a due date this time because... all three of our boys.
Lets just leave it vague and say I hope to be laid-up, snuggling a little squish in November sometime.

That's 4 kids before age 30. That has to be some kind of accomplishment in mothering.  Maybe I'll see it that way when I'm a young, svelte, 50 and my youngest has left home (or I have 3 more kids to get through high school?) and I still have all my faculties.

This first 3 months has been the hardest of all my pregnancies.  2 weeks in I was barely making it to the couch each day on a diet of water, juice, crackers and Lifesavers.  During this time, I thought I might as well do the only thing a Catholic woman can really do with her suffering: offer it up.

So, I thought of all the women I know who are waiting to have babies, or who have babies in heaven, and all the women I don't know too. It helped me feel grateful, even though I'm just a horrible sufferer. Ask my husband about that.

THREE:

We've got to pause for some pictures, because the boys are crazy big since I last blogged:

Patrick at the zoo this week.
Carter has the best smile. It never fails to make me happier.
This kid. I do not know what to do about Zachary's hair.
It has never been cut, and it's always sad when it's time to cut my babies' hair.
FOUR:

I was listening to Patrick tell me how "before you were 28, you were 27...." all the way down to 1 on the way to preschool this morning. As he talked, I reflected on a lot of birthday memories. I've had some great birthdays, and some pretty ordinary birthdays.  From the ages of 3 - perhaps 15, I was really stuck on being Queen For the Day, and successfully ruined every single birthday party I had by being sulky and sometimes rude when every single scrap of attention wasn't on me.  My poor family and friends! Sorry guys. I'm much more gracious these days.

Today, I'm feeling blessed by the ordinary things: I have treated myself to doing my OWN laundry before everyone else's. I have a fridge full of delicious food, including a few bite-sized cheesecakes from yesterday's mom's group. My boys are all healthy with nary a runny nose to be seen. It's pyjama day at pre-school, so I didn't have to fight the "get-dressed-this-second-or-I'm-coming-down-there-to-take-your-toys" battle. I got dressed myself, did my hair in a non-fancy mom bun, and put on MASCARA.  

In case you're feeling sorry for me that my family didn't go all out and crazy over me today, Joseph has some sort of birthday surprise planned tomorrow!

FIVE:

As with all special occasions since 2011 - I had to have a little cry because my Dad isn't here to celebrate with me. My dear mom sent me a text saying to imagine him playing "Happy Birthday" on his violin for me, and I had that little moment. But how lovely to think that he might be putting in a good word for me with God on my birthday! I mean, saints on your side can only be a good thing, right!

It was also my parent's anniversary this week (May 26th), and I have been singing this old country song since.

For a little background, my Dad made a video for my grandparent's 40th with this song and I always thought I'd do the same on my parent's 40th. I won't get to, but its sentiment still rings true in my life, and as I age, I actually LIKE the music that used to annoy me when I was a teenager and my Dad insisted that every car trip be filled with bluegrass and country circa 1960.

How wonderful it has been to have parents who showed me how to love one another. In reflecting on how my mom and dad loved each other in little ways throughout the part of their marriage that I witnessed, I've had little lessons on how to be a better wife.  

May 26, 1979

SIX:


I'm really in favour of practical advice for mothers.  I often think, "If only I had been as connected to great mothering advice from the corners of the world when I had my first baby." Followed closely by, "Who are we kidding? I would still have done really dumb things and worried excessively about everything, but at least I would have heard the words of wisdom!"

This week and last, I read these tidbits of wisdom... so if you're less connected and more under a rock than I, enjoy.

My Number One Parenting Tip - Rosie @ A blog for my mom

I just found this so refreshing. My whole being was like, "YESSSSS", even though a part of me still wonders why on earth my kids go through the phases that they do, and another part of me thinks it's purely to torture me.

Kitchen Table Thoughts on Nursing the Newborn Baby - Auntie Leila @ Like Mother, Like Daughter

Another YES with every fibre of my being. I've witnessed more than one mother-in-law INSIST that the less-than-2-week old baby couldn't possibly need to nurse, and more than one mom just nod, thinking she must know what she's talking about. Well no offense to any mother's-in-law that might read my blog, but you're not right (she's not right, mamas!) and here's a wise woman telling you so!

SEVEN:

I am so happy to say that I'm sitting in Joseph's NEW office typing all this. We have a few finishing touches on this office/playroom/laundry room stage of our renovations, like uh... actually moving the washer and dryer and finishing the laundry closet, and a door on this office would keep children, and their offending Lego from encroaching on Dad's space, but the PLAYROOM.

To have all the toys belong in one place is heaven.

Here's a before and after:
Before
After (pre-cleanup, because I totally wanted to show you how utilized the space is)

Well dear readers,
That's all for me this week.  I really do intend to blog more this year about life lessons and good topics and possibly even current topics, so watch for me. We'll have a great blogging blast this last year of my 20's... you know, while I still can.


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!