Thursday, July 30, 2015

Why I DO Shoot for Perfection as a Mom



have a sign on my wall that says "Good Moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens and happy kids."

But I don't believe it.

I can't stand a sticky floor. It's gross!

So I vacuum at least once a day, and have even got my 5- and 3-year-olds vacuuming.  My kids don't get to eat in the living room, or anywhere but the kitchen, with the exception of popcorn on movie nights, and they must pick up any dropped food at the table - yes, even the 1-year-old.

Actually, 1-year-old Zachary is so well-trained, that when water, milk or juice spills or drips a little, he says "Mess!" and often goes to get a dish rag.

This is the degree of my severe dislike for sticky floors.  The oven? Also pretty clean.

I can't help but notice the number of blog posts, signage and media centered around the principle that if you're a mom, you don't have to be perfect, just spend time with your kids and make them happy. And this is sometimes really good to hear. No, you don't have to be perfect. But a lot of these things basically tell us that it is ok to just throw our hands up and say, "Oh well. I'm a mom."

"Don't expect to have a clean house. Don't expect to make good from-scratch meals. Don't expect to ever be done doing laundry. Don't expect to also be a good wife to your husband. Don't expect to take showers. Don't expect to do your hair. You have KIDS! You're doing so much already! Kids are the epitome of work and time and effort, and you won't regret spending each little second cherishing their growth. You don't have to be a good friend, you're a mom. You don't have to be on time for commitments, you're a mom. You don't really have to be a responsible human being (except when it comes to raising perfect children) because... you're a mom."

Uh. No.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a perfect mother or housekeeper or friend... but it was around my third birth about a year-and-a-half ago that I thought to myself, "Hey, if I'm not done having babies... then I better get myself together here."

I'm constantly witnessing moms who are, as I call it, "overwhelmed with life." Be it kids, or a demanding job, or medical problems, or any of the things that come with marriage and family, they're out there, and they can often be heard saying things like, "I don't do that, I'm a mom."  I am still one sometimes.  I don't have it all together.

What I do have though is a different perspective to offer, and it came to me once when I was pondering just exactly how I as a Catholic am called to live my life - particularly this passage from the gospel of Matthew:
"Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." ( Matthew 5: 43-48)
Jesus is asking really difficult things here. He's asking people to love people who hate them, to go against the ebb and flow of what the world around them is doing. He's saying we don't need to be like everyone else. Applying this in my life, it means not buying into the idea that motherhood makes me unable to shoot for perfection. It's like Jesus is saying, "Hey little mother over there, be better than you were yesterday. Be perfect."

So I've tasked myself with shooting for perfection; with having a standard and surpassing it whenever possible. And you know what? I've never had a perfect day. I've never been perfect. I likely never will be. I don't expect my friends to be perfect - but I love to hear when they're trying, and even when I see the improvements they make in their own lives.

And, you know what else? It feels better to have perfection as the goal than to have given up and resigned myself to imperfection, and being constantly overwhelmed with my children and the world around me. It feels better to be teaching my kids to aim high too, because why shouldn't they learn, even by osmosis at less than 1 year, that life is about doing your best to be your best?

It feels good to set standards - not impossible ones mind you - and then meet them. Sticky floors? Nope. Not here. But happy kids? Here too.

I think of each little goal as a step in the direction of true peace and balance in my life. Looking back, it seems we've climbed up the ladder from "overwhelmed with life," to... well, something better.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Answer Me This! (Insert witticism here)


Linking up with Kendra today to answer some fun questions and really, who doesn't want to know if I prefer ice cream or frozen yoghurt?

1. What's your favorite grocery store splurge?
This is so tough.  Right now? It's San Pellegrino, which means I'm pregnant and can't have a real drink, so I take fancy watery-juice stuff and put it in a fancy glass with some orange slices and a straw and pretend.

Normally though, I splurge on alcohol... Usually things like Baileys Irish Cream, Killkenny and Guinness Beers and English ciders, but often other liquers and good tequila. I mean, I know that's not technically grocery store, but that's my biggest splurge. Call me a lush!

Fancy chocolate is another. Particularly this stuff.

2. How's your penmanship:


This is it. Kind of a combo of calligraphy and printing.  My answer could be pretty much identical to Christy's, who also did courses of calligraphy because... homeschooled.

Christy and I used to be pen-pals too, so my secret envy of her gorgeous writing spurred my desire to take this calligraphy stuff seriously.

Years later in journalism school, we had to conduct interviews and write everything quickly by hand at the insistence of one teacher, which kind of derailed the beauty of my writing, but I can now write quickly AND legibly, so win?

3. Do you have a "summer bucket list"?

Easy one. NO.

At the beginning of the summer, I was getting over the first trimester of the most intense pregnancy I've had so far. There was no ambition to list anything back then, not even groceries. My main goal was to survive each day, and try not to fall asleep while the youngest was awake, in order to avoid certain catastrophe.

Now that summer is half over and I feel like a human being again, I still have some stuff I want to get done, like spray park visits, mommy-get-togethers and getting Patrick's afternoon nap phased out so that he's not a basket case in September when afternoon kindergarten begins!

But I'm putting that off as long as possible, because if he doesn't nap, his extroverted little self can't seem to stay away from me for more than 15 minutes, which is endearing, but a challenge for my need for some quiet time.

4. What's the best thing on the radio right now?

I listen mainly to my province's listener funded radio station, so I end up with a lot of indie and folk and some classical and jazz...

I'll put in a shameless plug for Carter's godfather, whom we've requested to hear on said station from time to time. He's got kind of a folky-rocky Lumineersish type of sound, in my unprofessional and really biased opinion.

5. Ice Cream or frozen yogurt?
I've never met an actual ice cream I didn't like, but now that I have an ice cream maker, I'm extremely picky about it.  I figure, why waste caloric intake on something that is really only sub-par?

My favourites right now are the chai vanilla ice cream I make by infusing tea leaves and spices into the milk (sounds so fancy, but it's darn simple), and rhubarb flavour - which requires cooking and straining rhubarb, but once you've tasted the tart with the sweet of the ice cream, so worth it.

6. Have you had that baby NOW?

Eeee! Kendra has this amazing accidental home-birth story. So click back to her.
I'm so happy for her that everything worked out with sweet Mary Jane.

As for me... still a few months to go:



Sad that Answer Me This has to go... not that I participated till now, but I love a good light blog read. If you do too, click over for more fun answers to these same questions.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 33

Joining Kelly for quick takes again, because apparently my kids are going to nap and let me blog! 

ONE:


This is our weather right now.  It screams "More coffee!!!" Or something. The grey day + pregnancy = great temptation to nap.  Which I could do, but then you wouldn't be hearing about the goings on around here.

TWO: 

Growth! The more we've lived here, the more we've kind of gotten into the "urban homesteading" thing.  We have an apple tree, a Nanking cherry tree, a small raspberry patch (yeilds about 20 raspberries so far), and rhubarb! Joseph's agricultural background is soothed by the growing of a garden and the use of all the things that grow, I think.  Plus it's kind of fun for little boys to pick things. This 3 cups of cherries bought me an hour of newspaper reading and coffee drinking this morning.


THREE:
This is the face of the little nut-box who just drank a 1/4 full cup of coffee when I left the room to go get dressed.



Five minutes later, he had pushed a chair over to the cupboard, gotten a knife and started playing in the butter, yelling "Butter! Butter!" for all the neighbours to hear.

10 minutes after that, he was pulling books off the shelf, yelling "Boo! Baa!" which is his favourite book:

He then stole my phone and ran away, saying "Daddy? Hone. Hone. Daddy?"

Now, he's peacefully sleeping at his usual naptime. Phew!
The moral of the story - ALWAYS finish the cup of coffee you've got going.

FOUR:



I was in my old neighbourhood all week every morning for the boys to attend Vacation Bible School.
This gave me a chance to visit all my old haunts: the park I used to take Patrick to, the cute little cafe that was weirdly right across the street from Second Cup, and I stalked our old house one day.  Above my head is the white picket fence.  There were people home, so I didn't really want to be that weird woman selfie-ing in front of their house with people watching.

As I walked, all the feelings of being a first-time-mom came back with intensity.  It could be pregnancy hormones, but I actually shed a tear for my past self and all of the angst I had felt walking those streets with this new little guy, thinking about how much I was going to utterly fail him.

Of course now that I'm "seasoned" by 2 more children and one half-cooked sibling, I'm pretty sure I won't utterly fail at this - and standing on that street, I was filled with the joy that is my awesome, very abundantly blessed, life.

FIVE:

I wrote on marriage this week.
I was lying in bed, and had this little epiphany, and by some miracle, blogged it. Sooo if you want to know all the little secrets of a six-year marriage veteran (a baby to some of you!) click HERE.

SIX:

There are those bloggers that make me wonder, "Why do I even blog?" because everything they write is just that good. Well Kendra is one of them, and I must first congratulate her on THIS amazing birth of sweet Mary Jane.

I have to admit that I have a little bit of birth-envy.

I am one of those people who, because of my previous C-section (first birth where I knew nothing), will not be birthing at home by the community standard my (wonderful, careful) midwives follow... but that doesn't mean I don't sometimes fantasize about an accidental home birth.  I know, am I weird, or what? Probably.

But in Kendra's case, I'm so happy everything went well!

SEVEN:

A pregnancy update. 2nd trimester and I'm trying not to be a big baby myself. The aches and pains of having a loosey-goosey preggo body are here, and I'm taking a million pre-natal supplements and eating all the good food and sleeping lots to take care of myself.

The consolation in all this is that my tummy is moving with little kicks and flip flops - not the kind that are uncomfortable yet, so it's like a little miracle every time I sit down, drink water, or lie down.

Most of the other pregnancy stuff, I could take or leave... at number 4, I'm really over being pregnant, but going to sleep with gentle little movements of a human being INSIDE MY BODY?

That is still nothing short of amazing.


Happy weekend everyone! 



Friday, July 24, 2015

The Thing That Makes Our Marriage Work


Before beginning to spout all of the wise words this post will undoubtedly contain, given my six-and-a-half years of marriage to Joseph, I will first acknowledge that this "wisdom" seems paltry in the face of say, my grandparents, who were married for six decades +, or my parents' marriage of over 30 years before my Dad passed away. I profess that I still feel like a baby when it comes to being a married person, and as Joseph would tell you (or wouldn't, unless you asked) I still behave like one too from time to time.

****

This morning was like any other morning: I woke up lying next to Joseph who was starting to get out of bed and get ready for work. He gave me a quick hug before leaving the room to brush his teeth, and I began thinking about what it was like in the beginning. The getting-out-of-bed-to-brush-the-teeth-before-the-other-awakes stage. Romantic, I know... Now, I don't condone stinky breath any more than the next person, but it's a fact of life that I'm willing to overlook because hey, there are more important things.

"We have come a long way," I thought, as I crawled out of bed to go help Joseph get the kids' breakfast. That's something he nearly always does - makes us a hearty breakfast to begin our day.

In fact, I thought, staring at his back as he scrambled eggs, "Joseph is... wonderful."

I drank my coffee later while the three boys ate, lost in a little reverie, thinking about why, after six-and-a-half years, I think I just might love him more than when I married him.

I thought, "Well, he's a hard worker, and I like to think I am too, so there's that - we've just worked for this."

"And we're both great communicators, so we just talk it out and don't leave things unsaid..."

"And he's a man of action, and I am a contemplative, so I have the ideas, and he makes them happen, so that works too..."

"And we both want to get to heaven, and God is here in our life, blessing us as we go along..."

And then there was my ah-ha moment (after a brief pause to get 3 little boys and myself dressed).

As I went to to take my pre-natal vitamins with what remained of my coffee, I heard Joseph's voice in my head, saying "maybe you should take those with water..." and there it was:

"He wants what is best for me. He wants me to be the best I could ever be."

That is it right there.

I want the same thing for him.  I want him to be the best he could ever be.

As long as we've been married, we've both wanted this.

Sometimes this desire manifests itself in ways that aren't pretty. 

Take this gem from our first month as a married couple:

"(Expletive), I wish you could just learn to close the cupboard doors! That's the fourth time this week I've hit my head on one." (Maybe this is why he has not built my custom doors in our current home yet.)

All the credit can go to Joseph when I say that in my married life, I've become an organized person. Things have places in my home now, and I actually endeavor to put them there! Not, though in part, just because it drives Joseph crazy when all the things are lying around, but because through his example and philosophy, I've begun to see that there is virtue and merit in keeping an orderly home. I've still got a long way to go, but hey, now I have kids to teach this to as well, so by the time I'm oh, 45 or so, I'm hoping it's just second nature. This is only one of the virtues I've grown to embrace as a direct result of being married to Joseph. He is efficient where I am bumbling, generous where I am selfish, and reasonable when I'm being rash.

Sometimes it's really hard to see the other person continually fail at being their best.
I'm the first to say that I'm not the poster-child for pregnancy.  I go from crying-lump-on-the-couch with a dash of just-plain-mean, to overly-particular to more-than-slightly-paranoid and anxious in 9 months. Every time.  This current pregnancy is the fourth time Joseph has persevered through with "not the woman he married", and three times, I've heard him say, "That was hard. Being married to pregnant you is hard." And since I've been pregnant for over 2.5 years of our marriage, a lot of our marriage has been hard.

Daily, Joseph struggles with being merciful to our boys.  I believe discipline and order with child-raising is key, but he and I have often discussed his propensity to simply get angry and not understand the reasons for certain behavior.  If our children misbehave because they're tired, I often need to remind Joseph that they don't need to do X thing to make up for what they've done, they just have to go to bed. He has gotten better at listening to their cues, and I've gotten better at letting him input his thoughts on our parenting plans (because my failure is that I like to think I know everything because I've read a million parenting books and he has not). I've also learned that he most often spends time with them at the end of the day when he and they (and I) are not at our best, because we're all tired.  Mercy is always needed on my part here too.

Sometimes it's hard to support the dreams of the other person.
Joseph runs a carpentry company.  I often hear, "well since he's self-employed, his hours are flexible."  It's true, but there are also more hours of work to do. At night, unlike someone who just goes to their job and comes home, Joseph spends time writing quotes, phoning customers and suppliers and doing the paperwork that keeps his business going.  In the beginning, especially after our first baby, I complained bitterly about being a single-parent during some weeks.

But I was also pursuing a dream of my own in finishing my Bachelor's degree. Joseph's flexible hours were helpful when it came to childcare during some days and evenings when I was feverishly writing essays or conducting interviews. Joseph never once asked me to quit, to give up, or to cut back on classes.  He only encouraged me to be efficient with my study-time so that between his work that supported our family, my schedule, and the needs of our baby, we could find some time to be with one another. He never once balked at the fact that because we were married, he was financially responsible for paying back my student-loans, should I not be able to myself.  If not for his sacrifices, I would likely not have graduated.

Even as I typed all that, I have to marvel at how it all worked. Now, I'm better at supporting him in his job. I bite my tongue and save him some dinner when he calls me from his job sites having to work late.  He is also better at giving me a break from the kids at the end of the day, often putting them to bed by himself, or taking them out to his workshop on Saturdays to let me nap, though he'd be more productive if they weren't there.

Sometimes it seems like you're traveling in different directions:
A good friend of mine put it this way: "I was going my way, and he was going his. He didn't want to turn around, and neither did I."

I am not presumptuous enough to suggest that I have all the answers when it comes to having a happy marriage. I just know that I've been blessed with someone who puts me first, and someone who makes it easy to put him first. I get that I'm just a baby in the grand scheme of things.

My heart goes out to people who are struggling more than we are.  I think, even our biggest struggles have been nothing compared to what others have gone through together.  We likely have a lot of hardships coming our way in our lifetime, and I can only hope and pray that we can withstand them and come out stronger.

There have been times where Joseph has asked me to make sacrifices, or simply, where it has become necessary to make sacrifices on both our parts.  I've resented him, and he's resented me.  We've had our blow-ups and ugly times.  More than one day, we both have questioned whether or not it was worth it to work it out. I've honestly thought of just packing up the kids and leaving.

But usually, I end up thinking about why we're together in the first place, and come back to the one thing: He and I want what is best for each other. We both want each other to be the best we can be.  Usually, I can pinpoint exactly where I'm not being the best I can be, but only after I spend an adequate amount of time blaming Joseph for not being the best he can be.

Then we've come back together and gotten back on track.

So that's my little epiphany on marriage:

We want to help each other become the best we can possibly be.
Many thanks must go to those people who've daily given us concrete examples of this in our own lives, and to our friends, whose marriages are beautiful and blooming. Again, we're the babies, just starting out, and I can only hope we end up as beautiful examples to our own children.

****

I'm going to include some of my favourite blog posts on marriage down here, because these other writers are amazing and wise, and these particular posts moved me in my own journey.

Hallie Lord - When Your Kiss is Met With a Cold Shoulder


Catholic All Year - Dear Newlywed, You're Probably Worried About the Wrong Thing

Fountains of Home: Marriage - The Mysterious Sacrament

Carrots for Michaelmas - Marriage is a Kind of Death

Heidi St. John - 25 Ways to Stay Married for 25 Years

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!









Sunday, February 8, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 28


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

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

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

{Renovating}


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This sweet little baby?



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

Or this:

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

{Boys}

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

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

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

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

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

{Body}

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

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

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

So. Ridiculous.

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

{Grocery store visions}

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

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

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


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

Have a wonderful week, wherever you are.