Friday, June 19, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Vol. 32

Hanging out with Kelly and the other quick takers today. 


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. 


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?  


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." 


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?


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.


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.


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.