Friday, August 30, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Volume 3

See Jen over at Conversion Diary  for more great stuff.


I am without my computer for two or three weeks, so I'm doing this on my phone.  I have owned this computer for about 8 months, and the screen has been flashing these terrible lines at 2-5 minute intervals.  I took it in to Best Buy, where I was made to feel totally inferior because I had not thought 8 months ago that I might actually need the, as the greasy-nerdy sales rep called it, "higher-end" tech support package where they give you a loaner laptop while yours is being excorsised. (Oh and clearly this iPhone hasn't familiarized itself with spiritual jargon, because exorcism, even though I am spelling it correctly, is auto correcting to excursion) Anyway, sorry sales rep, I never thought I'd need the $200 package because my last computer lasted me 7 years before its screen died! Oh technology and planned obsolescence (ok iPhone, why do you know THAT?).


I got Carter a "ba-pa" so he can be just like his brother.  He loves it. He didn't even want to take it off to nap, despite my insistence that rolling over on his things might be less than comfy.  We compromised by hanging it on his bed frame.  His last sleepy sighs were "ba-pa." 

This book came in the same amazon package as the backpack.  Just in the nick of time, since I finished the second Harry Potter book and haven't ordered the 3rd from the library.  I'm at page 50 and laughed a little too hard to be drinking afternoon tea while reading.

I'm still in denial about maternity pants.  However, the results are less than pretty. If I'm standing it's okay, but when I sit, I feel like my poor pants are saying, "Nooooo! Why do you do this to us?!"  Maybe in September, when the weather is more conducive to those belly-covering stretchy bits, I will admit to myself that it's time.

Now, to be clear, I'm not one of those skinny women who wear size 2 till they pop.  I've always had a slight-medium overage when it comes to weight, so when I say I'm fitting into non-maternity pants, I'm saying that I'm fitting into post-first-baby pants that losing (uh, puking out) 20 lbs at the beginning of this 3rd pregnancy helps me fit into 5 months pregnant.   

We'll get into body image another time. Promise.


I may have found a way to stay sane while dealing with semi-rational beings (otherwise known as children) all day.  Projects!

Last month I began organizing a freezer-meal prep with 4 friends.  Last Friday, we made 100 meals in about 5 hours (with some prep the night before) and though it was a little more chaos than I'd hoped, we got it done.  

Last night we enjoyed a  lasagna made that day:


These are my sillies.  This is last night when their Dad got home.  His presence seems to make them crazed with excitement, which is great. 

We are having a hard time consistently disciplining our increasingly difficult 3-year-old.  Sometimes I forget that reason is practically nonexistent at this age.  Patrick is pretty articulate as far as 3-year-olds go.  As one friend put it, he's like a "little man."  This constantly tricks me into thinking he makes more sense of the world than he actually does.  I think to myself, "He really should know by now not to take Carter's toys! Aaaaarrrgghhh!!!"  (Sometimes I don't just think that last part). But realistically, he's a selfish, impulsive little boy who still has a lot to learn.

Before Patrick was born, I read a lot of James B. Stenson, who subscribes to the philosophy that we are not raising children, we are raising adults.  It makes sense.  Patrick's only job is to be a kid.  My job is to slowly teach him how to be an adult. I just need to remember that all of that won't be taught at once.

Maybe remembering that will help me to enjoy his childhood while it's still here.

This is Carter right now.  He needs a mommy-snuggle, so off I go!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wouldn't you rather have a smart mom?

First, you should read this article, O, Alma Mater, by Anne-Marie Maginnis for Verily Magazine, because it is a great read and reflects much of how I feel about my own education and its value in my life, not despite the fact that I'm a stay-at-home mom and raise little people for the foreseeable future, but because that's what I am.

Maginnis' article is a response to this one by the Guardian's Keli Goff.  In it, Goff explains that motherhood does not require an elite degree, like one from Harvard or Yale. She concludes with,
The next frontier of the admissions should revolve around asking people to declare what they actually plan to do with their degrees. There's nothing wrong with someone saying that her dream is to become a full-time mother by 30. That is an admirable goal. What is not admirable is for her to take a slot at Yale Law School that could have gone to a young woman whose dream is to be in the Senate by age 40 and in the White House by age 50.
Clearly here, Goff is trying not to offend those who choose to be mothers, but what she seems to be saying is that being a full-time mother is not inherently as valuable to society as getting into politics or any other "elite" job out there.

I don't have an elite degree from Yale or Harvard. I attended a well-reputed college journalism program in western Canada. While I was there, my college became a university and I choose to obtain a Bachelor of Communications degree, instead of an applied degree, which would have taken less time, and cost less money.

At the time that I started my degree, I thought, "This degree will qualify me to do the job I want." It was simply a means to an end: to get a better job than I'd have without post-secondary.  Getting married and being a mother was at the time, a long way off.  If the admissions office had asked me what I planned to do with my degree, I'd have given the cookie-cutter answer: "To be a journalist, of course!"

But during the summer before my second year, I began dating a young carpenter from my hometown, and I began to envision a different life.  The life I'd filed away as wife and mother because, quite frankly, when I began my journalism degree, the only man I'd been semi-interested in went to the seminary.  There were no other current prospects. So I stopped looking, figuring if God wanted me to get married - He'd put somebody there.  (Advice to young women who are pining for husbands... Stop looking. Stop worrying about it. Not only will you stress less, and focus more on being a better person, but something might actually happen.)

I love what Maginnis has to say about the choice of women to stay home and the value of a degree to the women in question:
If a woman at home doesn’t need an elite degree, as Goff argues, one wonders, does she need a college degree? A high-school degree? At what point is a woman not worth educating at all?
This perspective completely disregards the inherent worthiness of educating a human mind to know the world, to think independently, to judge accurately, and to live confidently. For these reasons alone, an elite education should be available to the best and brightest minds. To concede Goff’s point would be to reverse hundreds of years of progress in women’s rights.
Yesterday, a friend and I chatted about the disappointment I perceive when people ask me, "Now that you've finished your degree, what are you going to do?" and I say, "Have another baby," jokingly.  It is the truth though... I'm 5 months pregnant. It's the future.

What I don't tell them (unless they ask) is that I've written part of a children's book, that I read the news and constantly critique the story style, writing, and whether or not the journalist was diligent in answering all the pertinent questions, and that I am constantly formulating plans in my head for articles I'd write if I would just get myself organized and put my resume and writing samples out there for some publications to peruse.  I also think about my husband's company and how I could use my communication skills to advance his public image and give him an online presence and develop a photographed portfolio.

Why don't I say all this? Because my role as wife and mom is at the top of my priorities.  My friend's words were that the perceived disappointment is because I'm "not using my degree." And clearly, that's the perception I put on a proverbial platter for people when I say "have another baby."  Yes, I'm not using my degree to make money. I'm not using my degree in the conventional sense.  I'm not in the workforce, and, as Goff says, spending my "entire life using it to advance the cause of women -- or others in need of advancement."

The value of education became clearer to me as I worked to obtain my degree while I had my two boys, all the while asking myself, "Why am I doing this? What am I working for?"  I realized that what I was doing was more to me than "getting a good job."  I realized that it had helped me to think more clearly, to look at the world in a different way and to try to understand the perspectives of others.  It has helped me to become solid in my values by having to wrestle with them, and explain them in a way that makes sense to the people who challenge them.  I realized that education, when embraced - be it in a university setting, or learning any kind of skill, is infinitely valuable to a person's development.

Marriage and motherhood gave me a different way of approaching the classroom, and the classroom gave me a different way to approach this life I am trying to build. The two things, because they happened simultaneously are integral to the person I am today. Even if I never see a cent because I am now qualified to "get a better job," I have invested in myself, my development, and in turn, the way that my children will be raised.

In my eyes, raising children is very important.  I don't currently have time to write a thesis on whether or not children who grow up with university-educated mothers who choose to stay home with them grow up to be axe-murderers or terrorists.  However, I believe that I'm doing my little guys a world of good by staying home with them and fostering their growth and development.  It also may be looked on as selfish, for various reasons - making my husband bear the financial burden of the family, for one.  But I believe that life as "just a mom," is far from "throwing away" that degree I worked hard to obtain.  It is using it for the benefit of what I value most - my family.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 2

Linking up with Jen over at Conversion Diary:


I'll open with a fun thought:  Pregnancy and marriage - good for it, or not so much?
I'm driving my husband crazy with my pregnancy brain, pregnancy hormones and just talking about pregnancy and the baby All. The. Time.
He doesn't say much about it, but yesterday, as I was speculating about what it'll be like when we have 3 boys running around, he began to nod off. I then realized that I'm getting a little self-absorbed and well, boring.

Pregnancy is an amazing thing, no matter how many times it happens to you, but I think Joseph is getting a little "we've been here twice, why are you still obsessing about it?!" Only, he doesn't say that. He just listens.  He's learned, I think, not to upset my pregnant self with any indication that I might be ridiculous, because that just isn't pretty.  He has often said that when we were pregnant for the first time, he suddenly didn't know who he married. The way he tells it, he thought, "Who is this person? Is it too late for an annulment?"  I really put him through hell... well, purgatory. Then he says, "Literally the hour after Patrick was born, you were yourself again."

I'm afraid it's true. Pregnancy just does a number on me personality-wise, and I'm sure I'm not alone.  I have just felt emotionally dry and mentally stunted for the duration of my pregnancies, including this one.  I blew up at an old man in a grocery store, which is something I'd be way less likely to do un-pregnant (more on that below).  This personality shift really affects Joseph.  He needs my love and affection, but I'm either just numb, or super-irritable.

Picture this: He goes to bed with a tired, slightly plump, but not very snuggly wife, and in the morning, wakes up with a bear. A Grizzly even.

This time, we saw all this coming, since it happened twice before, so we've been talking about how we're feeling and our marriage-needs a lot.  It comes down to the fact that I need him to realize that I've gone temporarily crazy, and patiently wait for me to return.


I just read John Kinnear's 5 Things Parents Need to Stop Saying to Non-Parents which a few friends posted on Facebook. (Not all non-parents either.)
His numbers 4 and 5 really struck me.
5. "My life didn't have meaning before I had kids!"Another way to say this: My life was meaningless before I had kids. Another way: Life without kids is meaningless.
Uuugghhh... I hear this from people and I hate it too.  I like to think that despite growing children in my body and then feeding them with it and then meeting their every other need in life, I've retained some autonomy from Patrick, Carter and Little Boy 3.  My life certainly has a different meaning, and possibly a deeper personal meaning than before I had children - but that's the nature of becoming less self-absorbed.  Kids make that self-giving thing more necessary and that, I think, is the key to my happiness in motherhood.

I agree with Kinnear wholeheartedly on this one, especially when he makes the point about how non-parents who are wanting children, and trying to have them, but can't, feel when you imply that their lives don't have meaning unless they pop out some more people.

I have friends who feel sorry for me because I had a baby during university and didn't get to live that freedom-loving, drunk-most-weekends, party lifestyle like they did.  Or you know, have a career involving an office, a water-cooler and some prize-winning journalism.  Puh-lease. My life was very full and meaningful before I had children, and I don't have regrets about having children. I do not need the pity - nor do I pity people who've chosen not to have kids for the moment.  I kind of pity people who are saying they want no kids ever, but that's because I never pictured my own life without them.

Infertility has also been on my mind and heart and in my prayers a lot lately. Maybe it's been put there because I've had a hard time being grateful that I'm pregnant again with very little effort.  I don't claim to have even a little understanding about what a couple might go through upon an infertility diagnosis, or even just a few failed attempts at getting pregnant.

We'll just leave that one there.


Kid moment:

Patrick (after tripping and falling): "Mom, I just dropped myself. You should have been there to catch me!"

I was recently told that all of the things I post on facebook about my oldest, Patrick, are really funny.  A couple single friends had apparently been discussing how it annoys them when parents over-post every aspect of their kids lives - when a lot of it isn't that newsworthy or funny, or even exciting to the majority of social media.  According to my friend, they'd both agreed that what I posted was actually great.  I was so flattered, though I had to tell my friend that what I post is funny only because Patrick Does. Not. Stop. Talking.  It's quantity vs. quality here folks. So I can post a lot of funny things, because about 10 per cent of what he says is genuinely cute or hilarious. The rest - babble, singing, whining, pretending etc.

"I'm finking." 


Urg. Sadness. (If you're not up for my sorrowful little moment, skip to number 5. I promise it'll be happy!)

The above photo was taken in the house I grew up in.  That house, as of yesterday, no longer belongs to my family.

I'm mourning it a little. I'm not really that sad - it was just a house, just a thing. It is the people that inhabit a house that make it a home, and I still have most of those people around.

But sadly, the selling of our childhood home has brought back loosing my Dad again.  He was killed in a car accident in 2011.  He was a carpenter who built and renovated parts of our house continuously throughout my childhood.  His effort was in everything: The refinished hardwood floor in the living room, the kitchen cabinets, the paint on the walls, his writing, marking our heights as we grew up there.  Sometimes when we'd visit, I'd close my eyes and pretend for a minute that the family sounds included his. It was comforting to have the home he'd built and cared for around us when he wasn't anymore.  It was nice to look into a room and just remember him there.

I still can't fathom that I won't take my children there to celebrate holidays and birthdays and to visit their grandparents.  There will be no more memories for our family there.

In all this, I realize that moving on when you lose someone is really important. It has helped me separate the life of my father from the objects that remind us of him.  They will pass away, but his life goes on. I've always thought it must be hard for people who don't believe their loved one's souls go to heaven.  We have the comfort of knowing that God is our true home - and that is where my father has gone.


I'm so happy to share with you that I've finally finished The Lord of the Rings! I can now join the ranks of my homeschooled Tolkien fanatics. (This post touches on my humble beginnings).

Somehow I feel like I've fulfilled a small dream of mine.

My next venture is to complete the Harry Potter books. Why? I read up to number six, years ago, then got distracted by um... well, becoming a youth minister in Scotland for a year and a half.  A worthy distraction, I think.

Maybe if I become well-read in the fantasy genre, I'll write my own fantasy. I've always fancied myself a bit of an author. We'll see. You heard it here first.


Last week I mentioned I'm turning over a new organized home leaf.  Well, I think I've hit a pot-hole in this proverbial road.  My basement.

It's actually not a basement. It's the ground floor. It's a four-level split, but the ground floor is not the main floor, so it feels "basementy."  Plus, we think it used to be a garage and has pokey little basement windows, making it even more basement-like.  The ACTUAL basement is finally dry-walled and painted and ready to become our boys' bedroom, the guest room and a nicer bathroom than we have upstairs.

Pre-kitchen reno (which is still not complete, though I'm in a functioning main floor kitchen), we had a little kitchen down there.  It was possibly the worst kitchen I've ever worked in. I cooked in that place for a year and a bit, when we'd originally hoped to be out of there in a month.

Back to the faux-basement. It has become the place where stuff goes to die - or to sit in storage getting covered in dust. Yesterday, I attempted some organization and discovered that I have SEVEN YEARS worth of hoarded miscellaneous keepsakes which, though I have sentimental attachment to, I never did anything with.

I had every intention of taking my World Youth Day 2008 paraphernalia and memories of that trip to Australia (where my husband and I had our first date) and making some sort of scrapbook or shadow box to capture the whole amazing experience. But then... I went back to school, got married, had a baby, went back to school, my father died, we moved houses, we had another baby, then I finished my degree, and now here I am, a few months away from Little Boy 3.

So maybe all this stuff deserves better than the little post-office bag it is currently housed in, but I'm questioning whether or not to just rely in my ability to remember and write all the stuff off as weighing me down.


My pregnancy rage.  Otherwise known as my evil twin.
Above I mentioned that I blew up at an old man in the grocery store, so before you think I'm some horrible person who flies off the handle at small things that seniors do, like pick through the bags of grapes or take one banana off of 4 or 5 bunches in order to obtain perfect bananas, leaving me with bunches of 3 or 4 bananas, of which I have to buy two to satisfy my kid's morning wants, instead of being able to quickly grab just one bunch... I digress.

Anyway, before you think I'm horrible, know that this man bumped into the back of my legs. Not just one leg, BOTH.  I was surprised, obviously, and turned around to find a cute little man who said, "Excuse me. Need to get through."  Well, beside us was another lady, shopping for lemons, and I, having not yet obtained my bananas, due to the aforementioned issue, was not ready to move.

I said to him, "Well, you could say 'excuse me', or wait your turn instead of bumping into me with your cart!"

To which he replied, "It's ok, nobody get hurt!"

Enraged, I said, "THANKFULLY! You don't just go bumping into people! What is wrong with you?!"

I walked away before he could apologize, feeling my body tense and the actual urge to turn my cart around and ram into his.

Another lady then had the nerve to tell me that I was rude.  I said to her, "You think it's OKAY to bump into a pregnant lady with your cart just because you're old?!"  I also walked away from her.

These two people clearly did not catch me at my best.  I still haven't gone to confession for this, because I'm having a tough time with contrition. I'm just not sorry yet. Prayers please.

Well thanks for taking time to glimpse my life. Have a lovely weekend.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 1

This is my first-ever 7QT, which is ridiculous! I have read 7QT for a whole year, and have found some fabulous blogs by randomly clicking to see what the rest of the world has to say. However, apparently I didn't feel worthy, despite loving the concept - UNTIL NOW.
Unfortunately this means I have an inner desire to make this the most awesome 7QT of all time, but after a month of attempts at knocking your socks off and getting writer's block, I've decided to just post whatever crazy things happen to come out of my brain. Speaking of brains...

Speaking of brains... Where is MINE?! I'm having a serious case of baby brain this pregnancy.  I swear I didn't have this with the other two... but who really knows. Babies have a way of clouding the memory. 

I ran the stop sign on our block. You know, the one I have to stop at every single time I go anywhere. Thankfully, there was no other traffic, so I saved face just a little.  I must also confess that I've probably air-conditioned my kitchen with the amount of times I've opened the fridge to get something, and in the span of a nano-second, forgot what I went in there to get.  I found myself standing there, staring blankly at the containers, the milk, the random condiments that never get used and just... nothing. It was gone. Baby boy kicked it into oblivion with his progesterone-inducing presence. 

I'm considering doing some brain exercises or something because I'm driving my poor husband crazy! He says things to me - important things, like "Pay the credit card today, okay?" and I listen - I really do, then about 3 days later, I remember that I haven't done the important thing I said I would do, sending me scrambling to explain to him that, "I just forgot."  Since I'm generally pretty sharp when it comes to important things, he looks at me like I've just kicked one of the boys, and sometimes I cry. He's fairly comforting, but still puzzled at my lack of neural ability. 


So, above, I mentioned we're having another baby boy. At least the purportedly 85% accurate ultrasound says so.  
What makes me regret finding out though is that many people's in-person reactions have been somewhat negative. If not negative towards us finding out, then negative toward the fact that our male baby is not female. 

So we have two boys already! So I have said I'd like to have a little girl someday. But for goodness sakes, now that you know we're "stuck" with a boy, why would you say anything out loud!?  What flabbergasts me is that these are my lovely, Catholic, militantly pro-life type, NFP-loving acquaintances. If I hear about "early days" and female sperm survival and "well, at least you already have everything for him," again. I'll probably punch something. 

I'll admit I have set myself up for this, thinking that since this pregnancy has been les miserables compared to the previous two, baby must be a girl. I've speculated upon this with friends. Maybe I'm oversensitive.  Huh. Pregnancy and sensitivity... nahhhh.

My point is. Be they boys or girls, babies are awesome. Their little lives are so amazing to behold - and each child is so different. When I found out baby boy was a boy, and saw what I saw, I can tell you that I had such peace.

Okay, so I won't be french-braiding hair or playing princess tea party with this one, but he'll be a different boy than Patrick and Carter, with his own little odd way of capturing my heart  (Cue the "Awww.")

Hmmm, salad craving. That's a new one. Most of the time through pregnancy, I have craved junk - chips my friends, lots of chips. My body is probably thanking me for not actually buying the chips I crave. Triumph of the conscience. Yesterday, I actually wanted a salad and ate one. Hellooooo health!

With this pregnancy, I am turning over a new organized house leaf. I think it's out of necessity or just out of boredom - not out of some self-righteous-perfect-mom syndrome. During my last two pregnancies, I was a full-time student, so I didn't care about my housekeeping, or making sure my kids didn't watch too much Toopy and Binoo (words on why I hate this show some other time.) Plus, I've been living in a renovation for the lifetime of my second child... It's hard to care about cleaning your kitchen when there are no cupboard doors and no baseboard or trim. Once it's clean, it's still not as pretty as you'd like it, which is so dissatisfying. However, that problem is slowly being remedied by my carpenter husband, and I'm patient (or so I keep telling myself.) Also, I'm not a student anymore... so I've slowly started to see that I actually have the time amidst my two-toddler chaos to clean up my act a little before this third babe comes along. Inside my messy little soul, I've discovered an odd liking for organizing. Maybe it's all the time I spend on Pinterest. Maybe it's that I've discovered it's way less stressful to get toddlers out the door when you can find their shoes.  
My husband is loving this newfound cleanliness. He grew up in a house-turned-bed-&-breakfast, so it is constantly neat as a pin.  Ne'er is there a dish unwashed or a crumb unswept.  Friends of mine have complained about their husband's untidiness, but I have always had to admit that in our marriage, I am the untidy one.  

I'm still skeptical that I can hold it together very long, because friends, this is some untested water.

My lovely husband, playing a song for Carter: Just one part of our perfect bedtime routine. (Bahaha... please get the sarcasm that typing does not communicate).
Lets talk for a minute about blogs. Lately there's been a lot of bigger-blog commentary (like Simcha's post) on whether or not blog reading makes us feel bad about our lives. I have to say, I'm relatively new to blogging and reading blogs, but when I read blogs (I may be reading yours) and see a lot of humility and inspiration. I don't think anything I've read on the internet has made me feel bad about my life. But then, I'm supposed to be a journalist, so I'm desensitized and trained to see through just about everything I read. Do I really believe Miss Perfect Blog with a thousand Pinterest posts of her organizational and crafting skills actually has it all together? Nope. Do I read her posts anyway? Oh yeah, because I could use a little help in that area... in lots of areas. The lovely Catholic women who blog and share their spiritual breakthroughs and hindrances also only help me not to feel so alone. Oh, and praise of husbands... praise away. There is far too much complaining going on in the world about husbands. When good women appreciate and love good men, we can only have good results. Sorry if that makes people jealous, that's their issue. I'm also inspired purely by some writers of blogs. If you can't write worth a darn, I'm probably not reading your blog. If you can write about vacuuming your carpet in elegant prose, I'm there. If you're funny because you just write what's absolutely true but nobody actually says, I'm there. There's my little take on that. I'm not going to apologize for things I write... hello, thingsiwontapologizefor! But I do dearly hope that nothing I write is ever written with a condescending or discouraging tone. Kid moment: Carter came in this morning to wake me up (at the somewhat reasonable hour of 6:30) and just stood there for a few seconds before he quietly said "Mom." When I looked at him he said, "Brrr" which actually means "banana". Then, I, brilliantly thinking I'd buy myself a minute or two more in bed, said to him, "Say 'banana' Cart, and I'll get up and get you one." He just looked at me like "Oh yeah, you're going to play that game?" and said, "Bana." I had him on a technicality (two few syllables) but his little face and hilarious morning hair (His super-baby powers of cuteness) really makes it easier to drag myself to the kitchen to peel a banana. I give them a banana every morning. It has a symbiotic relationship with getting me out of bed in time to shower before the husband goes to work.
Playing "Ice Cream Shop" at the park. Here's where he says "Ummy!" and pretends to eat the rocks, or he actually eats the rocks, I haven't conducted a thorough investigation.
I've been trying to reduce the T.V. time in my kid's lives. It just one of those things that I let them do that turns into HOURS instead of the half-hour that I intended. I've been digging through Pinterest to find activities that fill their time, but thankfully, filling their time hasn't been as difficult as I thought it would be. We went to the library and brought home a stack of books, and I've unearthed appreciation for old classics like "Amelia Bedelia". Now, if the library staff could just stop lecturing me about how bringing my books back on time or renewing them will ensure that I don't get late charges (a whopping 14.90 this time!) perhaps I'd do this more often. I don't understand why I frequently bring back books late. My first job was in a library. I worked there for 5 years off and on, and they'd still hire me back if I moved to my hometown. When I worked there, (single, no kids mind you) I had no idea how you could bring your books back late time after time, but the same people always did. One lady would just come in, plop them down and say "Well, some people donate to the library, I keep my books a little longer." (Ugh! I plagiarize that) She'd pay her $30 no problem and get another 20 books and keep them for a month longer than the due date. Now I'm those people. Irony.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!