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. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Missing my Grandpa

This morning my heart is heavy.

Early this morning my dear Grandpa passed into the arms of Jesus.

On Sunday, I held his hand and said to him, "have a good rest Grandpa."

I suspected at the time that those might be my last words to him, but I dared to hope not.

I can think of many cliches to comfort myself as I process this. 

We deal so delicately with death. 

We're always afraid to say the wrong thing. 

We always want people to feel better.

But if I may be so bold, I say that we are not meant to feel better, not
yet, and maybe never completely. 

When something is of worth - like human life, like people we love, it is supposed to hurt when we lose them. It wounds us, and reminds us of the fragile state of our own mortality.

The irony of loving is that the better and more loveable a person is to us, and the closer we are to them, the more it hurts when they die.

A person is many things to many people.

For me, my Grandpa was always big. He had an easygoing demeanour, and loved all the simply good things in life: ice cream, music, children and a good laugh.

When I was little, he would read the comics while I sat on his knee. He liked "Peanuts" and "Blondie" and "Hagar the Horrible" and "For Better or For Worse." He did not like "Garfield."

It was sitting on his knee, reading the comics at age 4 or 5 that I thought to myself, "I'd like to write stories."

It was he that always delighted in our talents and skills. He was proud of his children, and his grandchildren.  

Grandpa was born into a farming family. His whole life was spent working alongside, and for, his loved ones. He knew hard work, and how to enjoy life.

He married my Grandma 64 years ago, and together they made a life with seven children, my Dad being the fourth.

We lived in the same town as my grandparents, and in retrospect, that was one of the greatest blessings on my life.  

I got to spend time with him. And he was generous with his time, and his talents.

A rocking horse, a doll crib, a piggy bank and other wooden toys are things I will treasure, thinking that he made these things lovingly for me. 

Grandpa was a carpenter.  His work still sits in homes in my hometown. With his hands, he carved out a living to support a family.  He inspired my Dad to do the very same work, and some of his grandchildren after him.  

He loved my Grandma.  I suppose that in 58 more years, God willing, I will understand the depth of that love. I will understand what it is like to be the most significant person in someone's life, for over half a century. 

People often talk about "their other half", and I can't help but see the two loving souls that are my grandparents' as fused together through time and space.

Through births, and deaths, and laughter and hard times, they belonged to one another.  

To me, that is the beautiful reason it hurts so very much. 

A man who has loved richly and fully. That's who he is. 

Our hearts will ache for some time. We will miss him, and we will comfort one another.

Most of all, I hope we who are left behind can honour him by our own lives.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 26

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum. Visit to find more amazing blogs.

This Advent* season has been so lovely. I'm actually more excited about it than Christmas - is that totally weird?
Maybe because this year, I actually planned some things. In the past, I wouldn't really know it was Advent till I was sitting in church on the first Sunday in front of the wreath! 

 *For my non-Catholic/Christian readers. Advent is the season leading up to Christmas where we prepare ourselves for celebrating Christ's birth through prayer, some fasting and good works. Basically, we wait and make a big thing about the anticipation. Wreaths are used to help us count down and as a reminded of God's eternal love for us.

The kids have been enjoying the Jesse tree and the Old Testament stories that will lead us to Jesus' birth.  
But it's become a time of reflection for me too, as I prepare to tell them the stories. It's great to be living liturgically, and it's fun to make Catholic traditions fun, but for me, it's been a great time for me to begin concrete changes in my life for the better - health wise, spiritually and in organizing my home and life.


What you see here is a puzzle dropped in my stocking on the feast of St. Nicholas (Dec. 6). It reads basically Diapers (husband's affectionate nickname for our offspring) to Grandma and Grandpa Chickens' (because they have chickens), from the 9th to the 16th of January, Joseph and I are going to visit Hawaii!  
I'm so excited. 
Anyone have any must-sees in Hawaii? Specifically Oahu and Molokai?


Because we're off to Hawaii in January, I'm trying to get a grip on being separated from the kids. Mostly Zachary. I've never left them for that long, and haven't left Zachary overnight with anybody at all. 
I know he'll be loved and well looked after by his grandparents, it's just, my BAAABYYY!!! 

Look at his face. Could you (easily) leave that face?  So, any tips on actually enjoying yourself when you want desperately to be relaxed but keep thinking about your babies?!


I was just interrupted by an energy salesperson who had quite the reaction to my blatant Catholicism. She stepped in while I got my energy bill, turned around and was like, "Holy mother f- (she cut herself off) that's a crucifix. Like right by your door?"

She then said, "I'm all good with crosses and Jesus and stuff, it just scared me. It's like, right there! My friends' grandma is super religious, I just never met a young person."

Not to mention the one in the kitchen, the picture of the Holy Family on the walk and the stack of Bibles on the table. 

If you come to our house, it's obvious we're "super religious." And young (score!).


So, random thought about T-Swift. Why yes I am hip enough to call her by her celeb nickname.

A couple months ago I caught an interview on ET with her and she was down to earth, articulate and pretty sure of herself. Shake It Off is a pretty great song as far as pop goes, and well, I kind of like Taylor.

I've never been a huge fan-girl or into celebrities on any real level, because I usually have no space in my brain for all of the scandal and hype that comes with it.

But Taylor has me thinking.  I'm really hoping that this high in her career doesn't lead to a crash-and-burn situation as we've seen with well, many other female celebrities. Her decision to star in the Victoria's Secret fashion show has me like, ughhhh, why?!  So I wonder, will we be saying "Taylor Swift" like we say "Britney Spears" a year from now? I hope not. Stay awesome Taylor, keep it real. 

Thus ends my attempt at deep thoughts on celebrities I don't know, who I'm sure totally read my blog. (Ha!)


I'm working on not being fat anymore, but in the meantime, I love me. Good attitude? 

Anyway, shameless self-promotion, but I wrote this post about getting past the weight and being happy with myself, and it got a few loves, so maybe if you're not one if my 15 regulars, you might like it too.


I was thinking about the blogosphere, and my relatively new and minuscule place in it, and decided that being a nano-blog has some benefits.

1. No responsibility: 
Recently a blogger who is quite well-read went offline for a couple days, and there was a small uproar.  People were worried and sending all sorts of, "Are you ok?! What is going on?!" messages.  She's ok by the way. And I don't think she did anything wrong or have any bad feelings about the situation. What I felt was the opposite of jealousy - whatever that is, relief that it wasn't me, I guess.
But my thought is this - the small blogger has a tinier responsibility to their readers. When I went into blogging hiatus for 3 months, 3 people asked me where my blog went and only one was a non-friend in real life. 

I can blog whenever and all 15 readers are like, "Oh good. More kid anecdotes and mom-thoughts."

2. Nobody Gets Mad:
I can say stuff like, "Taylor Swift is selling out" or "Covering-up mothers who breastfeed is an injustice against women" and nobody flames me or writes things that make me cry.  Other bloggers say things and then regret reading the awful comments.  Of course, they are also probably changing the world with their blog a little more than I am, but it's a trade-off.  I just want people to be nice to me.

I have time to comment on what people say, because there are maybe 4 a month. Not 40 a day. 
I'm a "small intimate group" person in real life, so it fits for online too.

And there you have it. My not-so-quick-rather-rambly takes.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Good grief: Christmas when somebody's gone

This is the fourth Christmas that I'll make peanut-butter marshmallow squares and have a little cry on the first bite.

"Dad's favourite," I'll think, chewing the sweet, melting goodness.

I'll have little moments like these throughout the rest of Advent and into Christmastide. 

I'll remember the time Dad created the perfect Christmas tree by cutting two trees down, taking the branches from one and drilling holes in the sparse parts of the other one to fill it in.  It was beautiful.  Only my Dad would've done something like that.

I'll remember the ice rink he made in our back-yard, and learning to skate on it. The tobogganing and snow-man building. The massive snow forts built with the aid of the snow blower: Our "real" igloo with a roof.  

I'll remember the "Santa" writing that looked oddly familiar on Christmas morning.

I'll remember having to get to the church a half-hour early for Mass, and having to sit closer to him than I ever did normally because of the crowd.

I'll wish for that moment back so hard I think my head will explode.

I'll remember my oldest son's first Christmas - his only Christmas where he got hugs and kisses (and contraband cookies and ice cream) from Grandpa, and ache for my other two babies who will not know his touch, his laugh or his love.

It is a raw, cold, wintery ache.

It has taken me nearly four years to process that Christmas can still be Christmas without him. Though I miss him terribly, and even still, there is an undeniable hole in my family and wound on my heart, I know that Advent and Christmas do what they have always done in mirroring the joy we shall have when we, like our lost loved ones, meet God face to face.

As a faithful Catholic, my Dad believed he'd be meeting Jesus at the end of his life.   

As my family prepares and waits to meet our Lord spiritually at Christmas, I've come to the realization that my father's preparations are over. He's closer to the experience of the Christmas joy of our Saviour right now.

I take comfort in that. I hold that in my heart, believing that in His mercy, God has our lost loved ones in hand, waiting till the hour when our new Advent will end.

That seems really big.
It might be hard to believe. 
It doesn't lessen the pain of loss, that's true.

But for me, it's hope and a teeny bit of joy, which gives me the strength to keep on when the sadness strikes and the tears don't want to stop.

It doesn't devalue the memory of my Dad to go on with joy this Christmas without him in my life, or at my table - it honours him and all that he worked for in this earthly life.

"For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up on the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; so that we will be with the Lord forever."  1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Getting Past The Woman in the Mirror (Loving My Fat Self)


Nobody really wants to be that. Just saying that word makes me feel a little uncomfortable. 

But that's what I am.

I've got at least 60 lbs on this body that I don't need or want.

I look in the mirror each morning and adjust each outfit so it better hides my muffin top, and tilt my head downward so that my near-double chin is less obvious. Then I apply make-up and wear a bright scarf and hope that drawing attention to my face and neck will take people's eyes off my thighs.

But I also do something else:

Before I leave the mirror and go on with the day, I smile.

"There. That's better." I always think.

Why? Because I don't have to be miserable even though I'm fat:

I used to look in the mirror and think, "You need to eat only salad and work out for a month." 

The thing is, that was 70 lbs ago! 

I used to hate my body.  I used to feel guilty every time I ate fries. I used to obsess, and pinch my little tummy bulge and hurl insults at myself to motivate me to just work it off, tone it up, to be better.

"I'll be happier when I'm skinny," I thought.

Then I got married.  
I got married to Joseph, who told me how beautiful I was to him. I stood there in my wedding dress, feeling fat and unworthy.

Of course, I'd been hurling insults at myself in the mirror since I was 12, so it's no wonder it took me a long time to believe that Joseph actually meant what he said.

Then I got pregnant. I gained 50 lbs. Five,  zero. 

I knew I'd utterly failed in the body department.  My induction of labour and subsequent c-section, then trouble with nursing my oldest child only furthered my hatred of my body.

This fat body that wouldn't even give birth normally or feed a baby like it was supposed to.

I spent the next year losing and regaining the same 15 lbs.  My husband still called me beautiful, and said, "I just want you to be healthy and strong."

Diets were fleeting and exercise irregular. I was a full-time student, a new mother and overwhelmed.

Then my Dad died, and I lost it all. 50 lbs gone in 2 months. It was a combination of grief, stress and being pregnant with Carter, our second boy.

It was during that pregnancy that things changed for me.  I had researched how to have a natural birth after a c-section. I got accepted to a great midwifery practice.  Those women encouraged me to trust my body to do what it needed to, not only to sustain a little life, but to bring him into the world.

I gained 20 lbs that pregnancy, and had a long but wonderful birth.  I fully breastfed my baby. I was satisfied, finally, with my body's ability to mother.

Before the birth of Carter, I started doing a weird thing.

I'd stand in front of the mirror and tell myself I could do this.  I was a mama tiger, I was feirce, and strong.  My body was amazing and wonderful. I could birth this baby.

It was in this process of acceptance and awe at what my body was capable of, that I began to realize that all those pounds gained and lost were not me. Well, they were a part of my body, but they did not define who I was. 

They were just weight. 

They didn't have power, I had power. 

They did not have to mean misery and dissatasfaction.

I think marriage to Joseph and giving birth 3 times has played a huge role in my discovery that I am beautiful, and that happiness is possible even without my ideal body.

I wish though that I'd realized this a long time ago.  

I wish I could go back to my 12-year-old self and say, "Hey there, you're not fat or ugly. You are beautiful and lovely, strong and capable, and all you need to do to be more attractive is just be you and smile more."

I don't have to hate myself because 10 months after our third baby, Zachary, I still look 5 months pregnant. 

No, I don't really like when people ask if I'm expecting again.  I also don't like not fitting clothes, or being everybody's fat friend. 

But I love me. 

I'm a work in progress, trying to find balance with a lot of things, including diet, exercise and wellness.

While I'm on my way to a better physical being, my soul is not dispairing.

I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.  
                                     Philippians 4:13

Friday, November 21, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 25

Linking up with Kelly today. Go on over to find other more interesting bloggers.

We are sick. Or, I should say, we are still sick, because we haven't been all well at the same time since September.  Which happens to coincide with the beginning of Patrick's attendance of preschool.

It may be universally acknowledged that a child who enters pre-school must be ready to recieve all the germs... 

But here I must rant, because a full two and a half months of alternating colds and flu despite my hypervigilance about healthy food, exercise, enough rest, getting the flu shot, and pumping the family full of vitamins and probiotics is ridiculous. 

And I fully blame the unenforced rule that sick kids must be symptom free for 24 hours before returning to school. 

"Okay honey, just cover your mouth and don't cough on the other kids! Byyeee!" Says "always-has-a-fresh-manicure" to her snot-nosed four-year-old (aka human Petri dish of virus), then ducks her head and runs out the door. Because clearly her 2.5 hours kid-free is way more important than the health of the other kids and their families. 

Ok so that was judgemental, but I know gel nails when I see 'em.

I just got an email today though that the teachers will be sending home children with symptoms of illness from now on, due to other parent's concerns over seeing sick kids in attendance... 
We'll see how that goes.
End rant.


Despite all the illness, Patrick is loving preschool.
Ever the extrovert, he says his favourite thing about it is, "All the kids to talk to."

The benefit for me is that I get to hang out with Carter - which means that I drink coffee, read books and let my introverted child play by himself while the baby naps.
I thought Carter would suffer a bit without Patrick around, but I was wrong, thankfully. Carter likes time without Patrick as "director of the fun" and it's cool to see him grow more independent. And it's blissfully quiet for an hour+!


During that quiet morning time I've been reading for an hour or so while I put the baby down and then while Carter is playing and doesn't need me. In September I revisited the Anne of Green Gables series for the first time since high school. 

I think I'll write a whole post about it, but upon rereading, I saw just how much my own growth and maturity as a married, university-educated mom cast a different light on the Anne stories.

In my teens I was preoccupied with the romance of Anne and Gilbert, and all like, "Come onnn! Realize that Gilbert loves you and punch Christine Stuart in the face!"

This time I had a new appreciation for the reality and depth L.M. Montgomery wrote into her characters.


My newfound love for Anne added to my enjoyment to Christy and Haley's podcast Fountains of Carrots. 

If you're doing dishes or laundry and wish you could sit down for coffee with two of your besties and talk about Austen and Anne, go have a listen. 


Carter turned 3 on the 11th of November. So we had an actual party for him. It was in the evening and we had all the kids come for a pyjama party.
We had super simple decorations: what you see below plus some helium balloons in the middle of the table - I'm going to hang this bunting in the baby's room, so it's going to serve another purpose! 
I even cut out little felt pjs and hung them on some yarn with mini clothespins, but that got destroyed before I could get a photo.

So kids arrived in pjs, we ate "breakfast" for dinner; Sausage, pancakes, bacon and eggs, all cooked by Joseph, and a big ol' pile of grapes, at Carter's request. 
We decorated mini vanilla chamomile tea cupcakes (which saved me decorating a cake), read a story (Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site) sang some songs (5 Little Monkeys and Twinkle, Twinkle), then Joseph sang the kids a Carter fave, Cowboy Donkey, and that was that.  Carter really loved it.

Advent is fast-approaching, and I'm actually prepared.  I've gotten most of the Christmas shopping done, and have a little plan in my head for some prayer activities each day with the kids, and the very best thing, I was able to order Jesse Tree ornaments from two local moms. I'll be Instagramming our advent adventures at jjcyr, so follow along if you like.

I have the gift of being able to get all boys to nap at the same time, so since I am under the weather myself, I'm going to indulge in some quality time in my bed with Netflix till I fall asleep. #sickdaywin 

Have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

This blog is back!

After a 3-month hiatus, I am coming back to blogging.

My reasons for a blogging vacay were three-fold:

I left it for awhile due to not having a computer anymore - blogging on my phone, while possible, is just really time consuming.  Then, when that problem was resolved, I had just... No drive. 

I was seriously debating joining the workforce back in September and putting my hard-earned degree and training as a journalist to good use. For monetary gain that is... I actually use my university-gained knowledge a lot at home. But I ultimately decided we would carry on with me in the home, because my heart ached too much at the thought of not being there for the boys.

Then there's the whole inner-mommy-blogger angst I was having over being trained as a journalist - like being a real professional writer - and all I was doing with that was piddling away at a minuscule blog.  I needed to "develop" to blog "properly" as a trained professional, and somehow climb my way to "Queen of the Interwebz" if I really wanted to "succeed" at blogging. Or so I thought. 

But I'd lost sight of why I was blogging.
This post right here? This post by Bonnie at A Knotted Life is what convinced me I should just hop back in the blog pool.  That, and the fact that while I was away from blogging, I thought about blogging maybe 10 times a day.

I like it. That's the main thing. I like having a platform (or soap-box) for stating coherent thoughts. Or sharing my personal life with far-away family and friends. That's all there is to it. 

So here we go. Welcome back to the place where I write things.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

PSA: Blog or food? I picked food.

Well friends, 
I actually had someone ask me via email why my blog has been so quiet. 

The answer?
It all boils down to one little thing: $

Now, nobody likes to talk about their financial crises to the world, but I'm not self conscious about our need to be frugal (Plus, given that we have food and shelter and more than most people in the world, I must acknowledge the lack of real crises).

Our little single-income home has had quite the summer of surprise expenses, not the least of which was my computer just deciding not to work.  

It never got dropped, hit, or mishandled in any way. It rarely left my desk!  It just didn't work one day. It's an Acer in case you're thinking about avoiding this situation.  

So this leaves me with my phone for blogging purposes, and even with good blogging apps, it is just not convenient.


About a week before the computer died, we got the air conditioning done in our van, then after my computer died, our fridge died too!  We do have credit cards, but we're not fans of debt, so for all intents and purposes, we're saving for big purchases. 

So in my shoes, on a tight budget, what do you choose? Blogging, or the ability to store food for more than a day or two. I like outings to the store - but not that much.

So there you have it, folks.

Now, any computer recommendations for me when I can in good conscience purchase one?

I'm fluent in Mac or PC and partial to neither.

Keep an eye out for a post on frugality and needs vs. wants/stewardship of family funds from a Catholic perspective.

Thanks for your patience!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 24

Linking up with Jen today:

These will be muy rapido, because I'm actually packing to go to this conference and need to get it done before the baby is done.



Once upon a time, an awkward teenaged girl went to a Catholic conference.  Year after year she'd go, meet friends, praise God (unfortunately, in that order), pine after teenaged boys, and tolerate her family.  With each passing year, the priorities of the girl changed. This conference became a yearly spiritual pilgrimage where God came first, family second, and those teenaged boys? Men with families. The girl also met a lovely husband and now they bring their growing brood to the very same place. 

I reminisce about the changes in my life every time I return to the pilgrimage site where the conference is held. It's also a place I remember my Dad being happiest before he died, so that's something, though it'll never be quite the same.  It'll be the 4th year that I'll need to have a little cry about it. 

But God did such wonderful things for my family and I here, so I'm thankful and we'll keep going back.



Used to be my sister's.  It was in a pile to donate to charity, but my boys decided it was the perfect toy.  They play with their cars in it.  Essentially they're playing dolls, but with exciting themes like "Carter is the firetruck rescuing the racecar from the huge fire" or "We captured a monster and now we will cut off its head."


This baby:

Is so huge. Not yet six months old and Zachary is 22 lbs.  I have an ache in my arms and back if I hold him for more than 20 minutes, which is more of a testament to my fitness level, or lack thereof.  It's still ridiculous that he's so huge.  I wish I could go back and tell my past self when I had issues breastfeeding that I'd eventually nurse giant Zachary into being.


The World Cup.

My sons witnessed the biting incident by  Uruguay player Luis Suarez on  the news the other night.  

"An opportunity to discuss sportsmanship with my sons," I thought.

But before I said anything, Patrick turned to me and said,
"Mom, you shouldn't bite in soccer, it will hurt your teeth." 
Carter added, "Dat guy bited! He needs to say sorry!"

So aside from Patrick being less concerned with the bitten party than the biter's teeth, I'd say CBC news did a fairly good job portraying the values to them. 

How much they actually absorbed from the news is something to also take note of (For me. Parenting stuff, you know).


Etiquette scruple:

I had two friends over yesterday, despite packing to leave this morning for our little pilgrimage, and during our visit, folded Mount Laundry, which I had saved for their visit so that I could efficiently use the time I'd normally just use making tea and cooing at babies.  I saw no other alternative, considering I wanted to see the ladies, one of whom is moving away soon, and the other whom lives across the country, but I also had to get the familiy's clothes ready to pack.

Was this a faux-pas in the mommy-date world?     


Sorry for the bad photo. This is my attempt at redoing the upholstery and curtains in the trailer we acquired (for free!) to use for camping.  It was previously 1971 Orange, and a little worn, so I updated it. 


Sewing with three kids underfoot goes like this:

1. Lay out fabric.
2. Explain to 4- and 2-year-olds what the fabric is for. Tell them yes, they can watch but they must not step on the fabric, eat or drink over the fabric or touch the fabric with Nutella hands.
3. Give the baby a toy. 
4. Begin to iron out the fabric.
5. Two minutes later, acquiesce the requests for sustenance. 
6. Send the big boys outside for their snack. 
7. Return dropped toy to the baby.
8. Measure out and begin cutting the fabric. 
9. Nurse the baby, put him down for his nap.
10. Pin the cut fabric. Turn sewing machine on.
11. Explain to the 4-year-old that hitting is never acceptable. Comfort 2-year-old
12. Sew for 3 minutes. 
13. Baby awakes. Change diaper.

And on it goes...
I got 4 of the six cushions done this week, the curtains done last week, and left the other two cushions 1971 orange, to be done at a later date.

We are off to get a hit of Catholicism for the weekend, I hope yours is just as lovely. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Answer Me This: First-ever

Linking up with Kendra at Catholic All Year for "Answer Me This".

1. When's the last time you got a new bathing suit?

3 years ago. 
I've worn it 5 times since then, so at that rate I will have it for 25 years before it starts to wear out.

Swimming and I don't have a great relationship. Aside from my body insecurities, I have an intolerance to chlorinated pools - something in the chemical mixture makes my skin dry and rashy. I swim in oceans, lakes and rivers just fine - but not living near a desirable body of water makes it a rare occurrence.

2. Who made the last incoming call on your phone?

Normally I would default to my husband or my mom, but I checked and was pleasantly surprised that it was my friend Sara. 

I'm not great at phoning people, so nobody seems to call me either.  I text my friends for play dates so that phones ringing don't wake babies or disturb naps and I guess it's also because I can quickly say what I want to say without obligatory small talk.  

Such an introvert am I. Perhaps I'd find myself having better friendships if I took up calling people once in awhile.

3. If you receive communion, do you receive it on the hands or on the tongue.

I've done both. Currently I'm an in-hand reciever.

My First Communuion was in-hand, and I always go back to that, hands flat, left over right (unless I'm holding a baby), and I make sure to clearly say "Amen."

I do this because it seems confusing for those serving to place it on the tongue because they're used to the in-hand method.  I don't think they'd balk too much at it, but I also don't want to draw attention away from the Eucharist by being the odd woman out. 

It's the same reason we don't kneel at the consecration when we're in a parish that doesn't. We want others to focus on Jesus, not on us.

4. Do you have a tattoo?

No, and I probably never will.
I almost got a tattoo in remembrance of my Dad, who died in 2011. It would have been something like this: 

But much smaller (2 inches) and incorporating wheat somehow. 

Then, as I was going to make the call to book it, I thought to myself, "Wait a minute, why would I get a tattoo to remember someone who thought tattoos were ridiculous and unnecessary?"

I stick to the temporary ones my kids get at birthday parties. 

5. How many dinner plates are in your house?

20, and they're Corelle. I wanted to register for some beautiful stoneware, but Joseph already had been given these plates from his mom, so ever the practical couple, we registered for things like a vaccuum and an iron and a sewing machine instead.

6. Do you have an accent?

Yes. I'm a Canadian from Alberta so I have a prairie accent, which is hard to explain. But I don't say "a-boot" for about, that's more of an Eastern Canada or Ontarian thing - but I'm sure there are Easterners and Ontarians who would debate me there. I also find Ontarians more nasal-sounding, and Newfoundlanders and Maritimers have a bit of a faster rhythm in their speech.

I do say "eh?" But not a lot (I think).

When I lived in Scotland eight years ago, most people just assumed I was American if they heard me speak, but the odd few told me that Canadian accents sounded a bit "softer" than American accents they heard on T.V. 

It's relative to where you are, eh?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

When Breastfeeding is Hard

"There she goes writing about breastfeeding again, silly lactavist."

I get it. There have been lots of posts lately about breastfeeding in public. It's a cyclical subject, coming up at least once a year when some brave mom actually decides not to care what people think and feed her baby, then finds herself ostracized. Apparently we in North America are not all ok with bare breasts being used for a purpose other than being sexy.

My post isn't about that. I'm not going to defend public breast feeding or uncovered breastfeeding - I say, do it, or not, covered, or not. I nurse my babies in the way that is most comfortable for me, and it took me 3 babies to learn to do so. I wrote a post about it already, so let's move on.

Some women don't breastfeed. This, to me, is of greater concern.  There are a lot of good reasons for not breastfeeding, be it medical, financial, or being an adoptive or foster mom.  

But some don't breastfeed because it's hard.  It's recommended and even pushed by health professionals, and a lot of moms.  The lore of the day is that it is the most natural and best thing for babies and moms. It's actually scientific too. 

It concerns me so much because I struggled in the beginning of my breast feeding career and didn't know where to turn.

Nobody told me that if I had a c-section, my milk production might be delayed. Nobody told me that if I was pumped full of drugs (which I needed for the c-section) my baby might be lethargic and less-than enthusiastic about nursing from the get-go, and nobody told me that breastfeeding would hurt. 

All three of these things occurred. And all I heard about breastfeeding was that it was "best for baby", "easy", "should not hurt", and that formula was the devil's food (okay, slight exaggeration with the latter). 

So picture me, four days post-partum after a cesarean, my nipples were raw from constant feeding, and my milk still hadn't come in.  In tears of exhaustion and defeat, I fed my son the formula that had been sent home from the hospital with us, and sent my husband out for more.  I struggled into my bed, took some Tylenol because my incision was still hurting, and cried myself to sleep, feeling like I'd failed at motherhood because I'd failed to breastfeed. I was a pitiful sight. 

Church was the first place I went after the baby's birth and I fed my baby under a blanket - not because of modesty though, but because I was so ashamed that I was feeding him formula.   

I was the first of my friends to have a baby, so I did not have any young mom friends to confide in about my struggles. My own mom admitted she didn't remember it being difficult, and my mother-in-law bragged about how it was so easy that she could stand and make lunch while her babies ate.  The lactation consultant I'd had at my checkup showed me how to latch the baby properly, which I had already learned to do from YouTube, and assured me that it shouldn't hurt.  It still hurt. It turned out I had a yeast infection in my breasts which went un-diagnosed because my baby didn't have thrush.

It would go on hurting for 4 more months, the pain lessening as I breastfed more and supplemented with formula less, and of course, treated the yeast infection. In that time, I read all about breastfeeding in books and online, determined to "get it." As I read more and more, I fell in love with the concept of breastfeeding. Our bodies are truly amazingly made. Comedian Jim Gaffigan talks about how amazed he is that his wife can fully nourish her children "with her body!".  I was equally awed at this prospect. So I passionately fought the battle of misinformation, pain, and the awkward clumsiness that comes with doing something physically new.

By 5 months, I won. I was exclusively breastfeeding my son.  No more expensive formula, no more sterilizing bottles and finally, peace in my heart about my body's ability to sustain my baby.  

While that battle was raging, I was fighting another one on another front. How to nurse in public when I had to actually see my breast and use both hands to latch the baby (to avoid pain and inefficient feeding) was beyond me. Sometimes I'd be with my husband, who would kindly hold up a blanket, or I'd be around only women, and I'd explain my issue to them, and go uncovered. 

It was in front of other men that I felt compelled to cover, because after all the talks on modesty I'd taken in as a young Catholic, I just knew that baring my breasts would counter everything I'd come to "know." I thought that if wearing a low-cut shirt would lead men to sin, then my whole breast would surely send them to hell.  

But my baby hated when I tried to cover him, though I tried and tried. Even a scarf would be angrily wrenched away when it touched his cheek.  Usually I would end up just leaving if there were men present, and I'd sulk in some other room, isolated from the laughter, conversation and fun of being with friends.

But I figured this was my cross to bear as the idiot who couldn't figure out breastfeeding/modesty while doing so.

It was only when my other friends became mothers, and I began to meet and talk with more moms that I realized the lies that I told myself:

1. Breastfeeding should feel natural. 
It might very well feel natural eventually, but not necessarily when you've never done it and have rarely seen it.

2. It should not hurt.
For some people, it hurts a little - or a lot - at first.  Think about it,  prolonged sucking on a body part - it's bound to cause some irritation. 

3. It's easy.
Not always. When you're anticipating pain, wrestling a flailing, hungry baby into submission, because you've missed or don't yet understand his early hunger cues, and trying to be quick about it, it's far from easy.  

4. Formula is the devil's food.
Obviously not. Many babies grow up on formula. Some mothers need to feed formula.  That being said, it's scientific that breast milk is best suited for babies, and in my personal experience, makes for a happier child. Plus it's free. 

5. A Catholic woman must cover to maintain her dignity.

This is up for debate in the blogosphere and in my circle of personal friends. I'm just going to put this thought out there:

I'm personally ok with any woman who decides to simply feed her baby, bare breast or not, because after my struggle, the important thing for me is that she is breastfeeding. She's doing the best (scientifically supported) thing to feed her baby.

I know some moms won't relate to this. Breastfeeding has been easier for the majority of my friends than it has been for me.  But there will be women who have similar struggles to mine, which is why I write this. There will be moms who want to give up when it gets too hard to breastfeed, even though they know about the benefits and beauty of breastfeeding in theory.  These moms are the ones who really don't need to be critized or ridiculed or made to feel like they're stupid and inadequate. They just need love and support.

Breastfeeding is hard enough without the public shaming, so I need to ask, can't we just put all of our opinions about public/private aside, look at the bigger picture and just do what is best for our kids? 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why I must take a break from blogging

I don't know how many people regularly check up on my blog, but I've deemed it necessary to explain that no, I didn't die, get a terminal illness or have anything happen to me.

I just need a little break.

I need to sort out some things in my life - from closets that haven't been cleaned since we moved to our home, to whether or not to re-enter the workforce.

I've got a baby to nurse and two other little guys to keep out of trouble, plus a house still in mid-renovation, and of course, a husband to love and spend time with.

It's not that I don't want to blog. In fact, basically whenever anything happens I think, "I should write a post about X," and then I begin a post, but don't finish it, because I've got too many other things going on. 

What I do want is for this blog to be good.  I want to update you on the happenings around here and sometimes tap out some deep thoughts - but I also need to balance that with being wife, mom, friend and whoever else I am.

It's pretty easy to write about my life while sitting in my pj's, but in my Lenten exploration of self, I've realized one thing: I'm not living the way I want to

I want to be fully dressed and in the midst of a somewhat organized and relatively peaceful life, not telling the kids they need to wait for me to finish blogging so I can get them socks from the dryer.  The socks should be in drawers already, know what I mean?

I have made blogging an escape from the reality that I'm not doing what I really should be doing to be satisfied.  I know, that's pretty vague, but there are too many specifics to go into. Whole other posts could be written about them. 

So I'm putting my blog on hold.  No more escapes.  I'll be just living for awhile.

So, dear friends, till next time.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mommy-Wise Monday

It's here, it's here, it's finally here! My attempt at some meaningful fruit from my little blog!

I decided to resurrect Mommy-Wise Monday - because there's such amazing beauty and wisdom that comes from being a mom.  So, without further ado, my little story about becoming a wiser mom.


October 2013:

I was drowning.

Drowning in a way I thought nobody would or could understand.

Seven months pregnant with our third child, with two boys, ages 3 and 1, I was at a crazy point of exhaustion.  Understandably so.

But it wasn't just that. I wish it were just aches and pains and tiredness from pregnancy that made me feel like I couldn't mother my boys. It was more.

Anxiety plagued me day and night. I had gone to bed every night for seven months feeling anxious, for no apparent reason.  During the day I would agonize over every detail of life, and feel like my own walls were going to collapse in on me.  I would be irritable to my husband. I didn't want his touch. I was cold.  I would yell at the kids for things that normally wouldn't phase me.  Make them feel worthless for spilling milk, or wearing their shoes a little further than the doormat. 

"What is wrong with me?"

I asked myself that every day. 

Eventually it came to pass that I had yelled at the kids almost all day.  Joseph came home and I froze him out, yelling that I had no idea why I felt this way.  I laid in bed and I wanted to die. 

Why? My other pregnancies had been similar - I was a little more high-strung, a little more irritable and cold, but nothing like this.  Each night I went to bed thinking the world was going to end tomorrow. 

I picked up the phone some days to call a friend... then I hung it up, thinking, "I'm way too depressing to be around."  The best I could do for social ventures was to make it to my mom's group, where my oldest was babysat while I visited with other moms and only had my littlest to deal with.  Each week I'd want to ask a friend to talk - and each week I'd fail at the conversation.

It turns out, upon talking to my doctor, that I may have sensitivity to progesterone, the hormone needed for pregnancy.  Spikes in progesterone can also cause PMS, of which I've been a long-time sufferer.  I didn't know this until the pregnancy was over, and the guilt I feel over the time I spent yelling at the boys and freezing out Joseph still bothers me.

But what is the lesson here? Well, here's the thing - I isolated myself in my misery.  I will always wonder what would have happened if I'd gone to my doctor, told my midwives how I was feeling or even just called a friend.

When my boys are having trouble, whether its playing with blocks or reaching the tap to wash their hands, they don't let their pride get in the way of saying, "I'm vulnerable, and I need someone stronger or bigger or smarter to help me."

Sometimes even moms need someone. Some help.  What I see in my boys, in that willingness to ask, is what I'd like a little more of. 

Most importantly, I know I need to be asking the Biggest, and Strongest and Smartest - because He can definitely handle my problems when I can't.

Have something you'd like to share in the mommy-wisdom department?
Maybe you've already blogged it.  Send me a link, lets do an interview or guest post. I'm all ears.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 23

More amazing blogger adventures at Jen's (I completely agree with her on elephant-tranquilizers while flying btw).

Short version: Blogging woes and nice things, my need for another brain, my sad workout solution, ode to my espresso machine, a great post from someone else, brother and husband love.

Blogging failure + victory:

I said I was resurrecting Mommy-Wise Mondays. Well, Monday came and went and I did not post my post to kick it off again. BUT - I did get a comment from Kelly at A Mom for Life, offering her wisdom sometime. As you'll see from her quick takes, she is full of mom-experience and probably just the perfect person to impart some mommy-wisdom to young upstarts like me (and you?). 
This Monday, it will happen. I wrote it on my calendar in red.

Let me know if you have any anecdotal life-lessons you think are valuable mommy-wisdom, and we'll talk about a guest post or interview.


Lamenting over my need for technology:

I may have mentioned awhile back that I lost my iPhone. Well, the ramifications are still coming up. That thing held my entire life! I used the calendar to remind myself of appointments, get-togethers,  tasks, and I could remind myself days or hours ahead so that I'd have plenty of time to prepare and be on time.  It was my second brain!

Now, I'm stuck with writing things down on a calendar that I forget to look at. A calendar that doesn't buzz and ding at me to remind me of things. 

I have become a little less dependant on having social media at my fingertips 24/7 in losing my phone, but on little sleep and surrounded by constant toddler and baby noise, I really could use some help here. In highschool I wrote things on my hands... so if I don't purchase a new smartphone (and live without my buffer in the grocery budget), it may come to that. I'll just be the crazy woman in the store holding up her hand saying, "Is that an D or an O? Curse you constant hand-washing!"


I'm finding it really hard with the endless winter and 2-month-head-cold, not to mention child needs, to beat the baby-weight (plus a little extra) off my body. Then on Wednesday I turned on the T.V. at 8 a.m., and lo-and-behold, the solution:


Bo on the Go is incredibly annoying. However - the boys actually love it. They do the running on the spot, the jumping, the stretching and get even more enthusiastic if I do it with them.

I actually put effort into it and got a decent workout with the added bonus of helping the boys expend some of their pent-up little-boy energy.

Desperate times people, desperate times.


I thought I loved coffee before I had a third baby. Now that third baby Zachary is here, I L-O-V-E coffee. It's to the point where I wake up and the first thing I think about is coffee, particularly espresso.  A bunch of friends got together after I had Zachary and bought me $50-worth of Starbucks cards, but when I am not already out, I use this:

Not a Tassimo or Keurig... just an old-fashioned espresso machine.
We bought this for $15 at Value Village a few years ago when people began abandoning making their own lattes and cappuccinos by hand. Kind of like when the ringer-washer went out of style - You know, because you actually have to scoop espresso into the little cup yourself. What an inconvenience.

Anyway, in case you're interested, my go-to "recipe" is to measure out enough fresh-ground espresso to make a double shot into 1 1/4 cups of steamed skim or 1% or almond-milk and a tbsp. of honey and a little bit of vanilla.  This is my sanity-potion, the elixir of life, and something I did not give up for Lent because I really believe that caffeine makes me a better mother.


This post from Jenny at Mama Needs Coffee.

I read it over and over on Tuesday, which is exactly the day I needed to read it. Some days you just want to sell the kids and move to Hawaii. That was the day. Read the post for better context and a great perspective on having a life-giving attitude.


It's a special relationship that brothers have. One that I haven't experienced, being a woman and all. I often think of a few families with a bunch of boys and look at those relationships - that best-friends-and-enemies-for-life relationship that brothers seem to have. I look forward to watching these little guys grow and evolve personality-wise and see where they end up in relation to each other. 

One third-in-line boy we know actually said "my condolences to the baby" when Zachary was newer.  Apparently being a third brother was hard.  However, this young man is very much what I'd like Zachary to be like one day, so it can't have been bad for him to be #3.

Patrick, imparting toddler wisdom to Zach.


Joseph is a fantastic dad to our kids.  I've been thinking lately about what a steep learning curve it's been.  Before Patrick, Joseph had never changed a diaper and had held a baby rarely.  He never baby-sat or took care of little kids, and has really been thrust into it three-fold in the last 4 years.
As I was going through some old pictures, I was reminded that he does an awesome job.

Almost 2 years ago!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 22

More takes and awesome bloggers at Conversion Diary!

Short version:
Blogger angst, baby growth, more blogger angst, middle child angst, random thought, body angst and a few cute pictures to get you through all the angst.


I have this thought whenever I sit down to blog that I should be writing something more important than my musings about the goings on of my little life.  As a writer... well, more of a graduate from a journalism program who has one internship and a smattering of freelance pieces under her belt, I always feel like everything I write needs to be pure gold. Like each word needs to be soaked in and enjoyed by the reader like it's Tolkien or Shakespeare or even Robert Munsch.

But my life with three little boys  doesn't really allow for a lot of uninterrupted time to write the next great novel or even a children's book.  I have 4 children's book ideas mapped out and partially written in a file on my computer, and I intend to complete them and seek out publishing. At some point it will be more than just a hobby of mine.

Which brings me to now... I am sitting down to blog about life once again, and everything I write will be about what it is like to be me.  I'd appreciate some feedback on whether or not I'm capturing the adventure that is my life for you.  What would you readers like to hear about? 


Baby update:
Zachary is growing and growing. Latest weigh is 14.5 lbs. Not bad for 2.5 months right?
I might have said before that I love tiny babies... and I don't have them. They've been born 10 lbs, and they don't fit newborn clothes for longer than a week. It's my petty ridiculous sorrow, because kids grow fast anyway, and my time with the tininess is so limited.
Partial yawn. Double chin... I love funny baby faces.


I've decided to resurrect Mommy-Wise Mondays.  This is a series of posts I began last year, and I got stuck.  I got stuck interviewing a woman who'd suffered from post-partum depression.  She was amazing and had an amazing story, but in the end, she didn't want to see it on the Internet, even without her real name.  She figured her connection to me, since I blog as myself and not anonymously, might out her to some people in her life whom she felt compelled for one reason or another not to tell. 

I have no issue with her decision, but that discouraged me a little in my quest to get anecdotal advice from real moms on real issues out to the world via my little blog.  Then I got pregnant, and morning sickness took over my life.

I didn't want to just talk in the series about something widely discussed, like baby food or cloth vs. disposable diapers... I wanted to tackle something hard and difficult that got to the heart of something serious that affects moms like me.  I wanted to get down and dirty in personal experiences and write something that had profound impact. I failed, not just a little bit, which you will know if you read those measly posts, but maybe now, I'm in a position to innovate.

Find out on Monday how that goes - because I've got a little story of my own to start it off again.


Big brother love.

Time to unload some of my mom-guilt.
I have three boys and above you can see the youngest and oldest.  Poor little Carter was off in a time-out when this one was taken. 
Carter is a huge concern of mine, because as the middle child, he seems to get passed over. He isn't vocal enough to assert himself to get his needs like Patrick, and he isn't tiny like Zachary whose needs, though they are simple, occur often and need to be dealt with more immediately.
His age (2.5) is also a hard one sometimes because he's still very much in need of me to be close to him. 

I suppose I'm doing my best to juggle the three - but when Carter is the only one not dressed at the end of the day, which has happened a few times, I can't help but beat myself up a little.
My sweet Carter.

Random happening and musing:

We're into the movie Planes lately. As much as it's driving me nuts, it really is a great movie for kids and adults.  There's a neat story behind the mentor plane, WWII navy fighter-jet Skipper Riley: His character is based on the creator's father - who loved airplanes and flew in the navy. 

I suppose this isn't super-extraordinary, but here's why it matters to me: My own dad was into planes, cars, bikes, trucks... and I am an aspiring children's book author.  I've based characters on my own dad - capturing features of his personality in a farm truck, for example, and I found it beautiful and somewhat soothing to find that the same thing happened in the case of Planes.


Body angst + victory:
I decided to work out Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to give my post-partum body a little beating back into a shape (other than round in the wrong places), and I ordered this SoulCore Workout DVD a couple weeks ago. So... uh... RECOMMEND! 

I'm busy.  I prayed the rosary AND got a workout at the beginning of today.  They only have the Joyful Mysteries so far, but I'll take what I can get.


Ah Friday of Lent.... I really only cook three meatless meals, (aside from salmon or some kind of white fish which we rarely buy because I haven't worked it into our food budget):

Vegetarian Chili, Tuna Casserole and Quiche... 

But I'm thinking next Friday I'll mix it up a little and make this Vegetarian Korma.  We love Indian food around here (yes, the kids even eat it), and I don't experiment nearly enough with those lovely spices. The rest of the blog is worth a look too.

He's grabbing already! I love watching him grow.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 21

Find more takes at Conversion Diary!


I had a terrible dream last night that my beloved Joseph asked me for a divorce.  Over ice cream. When I asked him to give me a reason, or go to counseling with me, or try to fix it at all, he said no, he was moving out that night. I woke up flabbergasted. Not to mention that ice cream would have been ruined for me forever.

Just so you know, Joseph reassured me that this dream is nowhere close to reality.  Sweet, lovely man.

It has been rough being married to me this past month.  I caught a cold almost a month ago and either I've been infected and re-infected several times, or the same old cold is just hanging on.  Either way, it has just not been fun.  Not only did this cold (or, the first one rather) ruin our plans for our 5th Anniversary on February 14th, but it also has me (embarrassingly enough) snoring. So poor husband goes off to the couch almost every night for some shut-eye.

The two older boys have also been sickies, and now... the baby.  I've never had a sick baby. Carter and Patrick didn't get sick till they were over age 1.

I had baby Zach checked out yesterday and he's fine - it really is just a sniffly nose and irritated throat, but having never even dealt with that in a young babe, it has me hyper-vigilant and paranoid about croup, RSV, whooping cough, pneumonia... I'm Googling symptoms every hour and driving myself a little crazy.

Zach is still a cheerful fellow though, despite his goobery state, and growing like crazy.  Whose two-month-old is 14.5 lbs? Right here!  I apparently can only produce giant children.


Last QT I talked about Patrick's 4th Birthday party, which turned out to be lovely.  Here are some highlights:

Note to self: Sparklers are scary to boys who've just become educated about fire safety.
Blowing out candles.

Further note to self: Pinatas don't work for toddler parties.
In the longest piñata game EVER, we let the dads have a go
to bust this almost-indestructible dollar-store piñata.
It took 20 minutes.


Did you check out that cake up there? Strawberry race cars on a strawberry cake with whipped cream cream cheese icing. So delicious.

Here's the strawberry cake recipe. It's definitely a make-again.



I'd be completely proud of myself if I did this 40 bags in 40 days during lent.
Hop over to White House, Black Shutters to read further, but basically it's cleaning up 40 areas of the house.

Now, I'm the queen of clutter and chronically messy and I'm prone to stashing stuff to deal with later.

This is the one thing my husband would love to change about me, but alas...

It has followed me from childhood. Just ask my mother.


Cute little somethings:

Me: "Why are you following me, I just came down here to throw in the laundry and I'll be back up in 2 seconds!"
Patrick: "I.. I just like you. (shrug) That's all."

Mwah! Love him. He totally got a hug and a smooch for that one.

Carter: "Mom, I need a snack"
Me: "Would you like some raisins?"
Carter: "Yeah! And chocwit chips."
Me: "Uh... chocolate chips aren't that good for your body sweetpea, so how 'bout just raisins."
Carter: "No. Chocwit chips good for my mouf!"

He has a point. I totally caved because he's a smarty-pants.


A little Chesterton:

"There are saints in my religion, but that just means men who really know that they are sinners."

This quote was actually in a reflection I read yesterday.  It stood out to me as a great theme for my Lent. More on that later perhaps, because I'm still mulling it over in my mind.

Have a lovely weekend!