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.