Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Driving Me Crazy

First of all I want to say a big THANK YOU for all the support and advice in regards to my breastfeeding post. I'm working my way through all the amazing ideas and am praying baby girl starts packing on the pounds (instead of just me!). Whenever I reach out with my frustrations I know I can depend on my little village of parents to come to my rescue and help me feel like my problems are normal, fixable, and don't make me a bad mama. Love to you all!

As the clouds are starting to dump a huge pile of snow (worthy of a weather warning!) on our fair city my husband has begun to take the bus rather than risk the road in our van. For most Moms, the sight of an available, gassed up vehicle in the driveway causes a sort of jubilation. A chance to escape the Mom cave! For me, not so much. Our van is nothing more than a shiny paperweight without my husband here to drive it. Not because I lost my keys again (I'd never ever lose my keys... or my wallet... or my sanity). Not because I find getting 4 kids ready for a 15 minute outing too hard (okay, that too!). Not because we don't have enough carseats (we actually have spares in the basement. Don't ask). It's because I can't drive.

You read that right. I can't drive. Excluding a brief time right before my husband and I got hitched when I got my learners permit, I've never had a strong need or urge. In fact, I've had a strong urge to not drive for almost 15 years. Don't get me wrong, I love being in the car. Getting out of inclement weather, travelling quickly, and not having to walk everywhere is wonderful, desirable even. I would love to be able to park my fanny behind the wheel and whisk my crazy brood off to the doctor without forcing my husband to take time off work.

Before I had a family, not driving was easy. My Dad was a more than willing chauffeur (thanks Dad!), as was my Mom, oldest brother, and most of my friends. When a chauffeur wasn't available, I had no problem taking the bus. Our house was steps away from no less than 7 major bus routes so I could get anywhere I wanted with ease and relative speed with minimal planning. Not so much with 4 kids (although I must say I still manage this amazing feat with nothing more than an umbrella stroller and snugli. That's right, dig it). It takes a lot more planning and is sure a lot less easy than dragging my weary self out the door with minutes to spare.

It all started innocently enough. I felt justified even for my desire to not drive. As you read in my post about my birthday, I was struck by a car on my 16th birthday. Unlike most 16 year olds lining up at the DMV to write my beginners test I was in the hospital losing my lunch in a tiny kidney shaped dish (again, thanks Dad for being there for that madness). I was not the unsuspecting victim of a drunk driver, a person more concerned with a Tim Hortons coffee than the road, a woman apply mascara in her rearview mirror, he wasn't texting or on a cellphone, or even a student driver new to the road. The man driving was a seasoned driver who simply got distracted by his wife who was chatting with him from the passenger seat. He was just talking to his wife. Words almost killed me that day. And who says the pen isn't mightier than the sword? All jokes aside, as a teenager finally legally allowed to get my license I couldn't image myself as a safe driver when a man driving a sedan had become distracted enough by a conversation to hit me in a labelled crosswalk with flashing lights and a loud beeping sound. How could I, a girl easily distracted by shiny things and bits of string (I can build a nest!!!), be trusted to control something as small as a Smart Car? (Don't laugh, my parents owned one.Well... My Dad is over 6 feet tall, so, okay, laugh away. It was kind of funny in a clown car sort of a way.)

I've let my fear of hurting or worse killing someone behind the wheel paralyse me for years. I'm almost 30 years old now and I'm still living in the shadow of 30 seconds of my life. I've been able to make good of the consequences of that moment in almost every way. I took a trip to Italy with my insurance money. While there I found a relationship with God which led me to the community where I met my husband. Since the day of my accident I've never looked back. I even see it as a turning point that changed the path of my life so dramatically that I am actually incredibly thankful for it.

For all my gratitude for the positive things that happened after my car accident I still can't seem to let go of the baggage I took on about how dangerous driving is. As the snow falls today, I can't help but gaze out at our minivan, as paralysed in our driveway as I am by the idea of driving it. Something's got to give, and I promise it won't be the van (the parking break is on). This Christmas I'm going to give myself and my family a real gift. I'm going to go get my learners permit again. And this time, I'm going to take the testing for my full license too. I don't want my children to grow up with a mother who teaches them by her inability to face her demons that fear is so strong it can't be conquered. I will learn how to drive and get my license in the New Year. Feel free to hold me accountable because this time I won't back down. I'm going to go as soon as I can to take the test and get my shiny plastic ID card with the big L on it.

That is, as soon as my husband can drive me.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Feeding Troubles

I am again faced with concerns that another baby isn't thriving on breastmilk. The second my babies start sleeping through the night (or even most of the night) I can't seem to feed them enough during the day to keep them growing. I had to resort to supplementing with formula (once on doctor's orders after my son actually started losing weight) with my three oldest children. 

With our newest baby, who was a perfect 9lbs1oz at birth, I'm doing my best to literally feed her all day. All day. I've become a pro at feeding her sitting, standing, reclining, eating, cooking and, yesterday, while finger painting.  

She's doing better on breastmilk than any of the older kids did, but at her last check-up her weight had stalled. She gained maybe a half a pound in a month. I had been so sure that, unlike her siblings, she was thriving that when I saw the number on the scale, a mere 1lb6oz over her birth weight, it felt like I'd been kicked in the gut. I'm starting to get worried. My body, which can grow babies perfectly and has no major problem with birth, doesn't seem all too skilled at feeding these precious gifts.  

I've already had comments questioning why I would want to be a slave to feeding, how inconvenient it must be to have to feed all day with three older kids that need me, and asking me what the harm is of formula feeding (as pumping simply doesn't work for me). After years of trying to breastfeed my kids I don't see it as a burden, but as an ideal to aspire too. I want so badly to be that Mom that struggled but, after some work, wound up with a beautiful breastfeeding relationship and a chubby, healthy baby who I'd have to worry about weaning.  

The 4 month appointment, days before Christmas, will be the deciding moment for my latest attempt to breastfeed. Either I'll be a happily busy Mom singing Christmas carols with my baby cozy under my shawl or Santa will be leaving a shiny can of formula under the tree.   

Either way I'll be grateful that I have the option and that, however I have to do it, I can feed my baby. I will sit in our usual pew surrounded by my family remembering the Christmas 5 years ago when I was pregnant but didn't know it yet and I said an intense prayer for my dream baby. I didn't care about breastfeeding or formula. I just knew I wanted to start a family with my wonderful husband. I know that no matter the struggles God answered that prayer and then some. No struggles seem so big next to that one, incredible, answered prayer.

Friday, 28 October 2011

I Remember - Je Me Souviens

In honour of Remembrance Day in a few weeks I want to share a story about my Grandpapa, a proud veteran of the second World War.

My Grandpapa was an incredible man. He was the life of any party and an incorrigible flirt. He was also well educated, fluently bilingual and well traveled. For us grandkids he had his own way of winning our hearts. We lived in the same city so he had time to etch out quiet traditions that were so small then but leave me with a deep sense of his unspoken love. Like most men of his generation he wasn't one for big emotional moments. My memories with him involve a very sweet nursery song that involved tickling, ringing the bell from one of his ships, Sunday trips to Swiss Chalet, and Cherry Blossom chocolates. For the record I hate the taste of cherries, but will never say no to a Cherry Blossom because that taste is a memory I refuse to shake. To me personally he gave a little silver anchor on a necklace that I still proudly wear it now.

I forget some times that my grandfather had a whole life before I came around. Sadly just as I was old enough to ask him about it dementia swept in and stole him from me. Excluding a few days of clarity over the drawn out years of his illness he didn't know me. In the early days of his dementia he mistook me for my mother, but near the end he often would confuse me for my Nonna who passed when I was 4 years old. I have no memory of what he sounded like when he spoke my name, though I vividly recall being called Gerine or Francine more than once. Even though he didn't know me I still joined my father visiting at the Veterans Hospital every few days. As the only living family member who lived nearby my Father visited him every day from the day he was admitted until the day he died. My Father was the most dutiful and caring son any parent could ask for, even or especially the days he was a stranger to his own Father.

As Grandpapa's memory regressed further back he finally reached a point that he was left terrorized by events of his days in the Navy from World War II. My Father informed me a few years ago that he used to field my Grandpapa's anguished calls in the middle of the night as he was clearly re-living a memory more persistent than his dementia. He would call my Father begging him to call the coast guard, firmly believing he was in a sinking ship and that his fellow sailors were drowning. He would say between uncharacteristic tears that he could hear the voices of dying men calling for help. Why would no one save them?

The details of this terrifying moment were all found in one particular story. In his early days as a sailor one of the ships he served on was torpedoed (this was actually one of two times his ship was sunk). Somehow, by chance or miracle, he landed on some floating debris. His body was utterly broken and he could not move let alone swim. As he lay there awaiting death, capture, or rescue, many if the men around him drowned. In particular an older man, the ship's cook, who had taken a liking to him and always gave my Grandpapa an extra apple on board, cried out for him by name, begging to be saved. Gradually his voice got quieter until it fell completely silent. My Grandpapa was fortunate enough to be rescued and even returned to service.

This tragic event haunted my Grandpapa. When all else was lost he remembered and relived it, drowning in his guilt and helplessness. My charming, confidant, flirtatious, cherry blossom loving Grandpapa carried that memory to his grave. It seems so unfair that he should lose so much of his memory but remain the prisoner to this moment of intense guilt. He sometimes would weep when he saw an apple, the unexpected reminder of the man he couldn't save.  He was one of many who returned home from the war physically whole but emotionally broken. A little piece of him died out on the water that night as he heard his friend's life fade along with his desperate cries for help. The rest of us gained peace, but those who returned home were left at war with their memories. Their joy to see their families was paired with unfathomable darkness from all the death they had witnessed and somehow managed to survive.

So this coming Rememberance Day I will proudly wear my poppy and participate in the ceremonies however I can. Our veterans will never forget what was lost, and neither should we.

For You, Grandpapa, I Remember. Pour Toi, Grandpapa, Je Me Souviens.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Join the Club

As I was walking to our Church for a young parents group today (after taking the bus with all four kids in tow!), I met 2 members of a not very common club. It's wasn't the Red Hat Ladies, or the Stonecutters, or even the Illuminati. As a member I can tell you we don't have a secret handshake nor do we whisper suspiciously in an ancient code while plotting world domination (not that I would lump the Red Hat Ladies in that category, you lively, lovely ladies! But then, again you never suspect the butterfly!). Members of our club are very noticeable up until we're in our 50s, but after that we look like any other person.

Our club doesn't have a fancy name (probably because we're too busy to think of one) but we are easily identified. We are the parents of many children. For whatever personal reason, at some point in our lives we decided it would be a good idea to have more than the average two kids. We joined the club when we had 3 and some of us kept going. The couple I met today were older than my parents, but once they had established that yes, all four children were mine, spoke to me at length about the huge blessing it was to have had their own five children in five years. The rare occasions on which all your kids are crying at once (which are nothing less than spirit crushing and usually result in Mommy bawling too) are more than made up for by the daily experience of having children who are never at a loss for a dance partner, someone to chase or giggle with, a confidante or, in other words, a best friend. If they're fighting with one sibling they can always play with another. While I do employ the electronic babysitter, I can trust that when I turn it off my kids will have some sort of wild, incomprehensible game going without any need of me in minutes. They feed off each other's imagination and energy. All of that is fabulous and the greatest gift I feel we've given our children. My Dad was an only child and he's told me more than once that the downside of that was that if something got broken his parents always knew whose fault it was. With 4 or more kids it would take the sleuthing skills of Sherlock Holmes to figure out who unravelled all the toilet paper or got marker all over the table. I'm relatively certain that that's because they're all accomplices and instigators.

It only took a few moments of conversation with the older couple we met while out on our walk to know we shared a common experience that's becoming all too uncommon these days. So to those of you out there thinking about having more kids I invite you to join the club. We have plenty of kool aid on tap (unless my kids have figured out how to open the fridge door) and we always love company. Sometimes it's better to live an uncommon life when that means there's always someone clamboring to say I love you, give you a peanut butter kiss, then get back to whatever mischief his or her siblings are up to. I promise once you join our club you'll find a hundred reasons every day to be thankful for your membership.

Crazy, Loving, Beautiful Life

I'm currently applying for a position as a blogger with Today's Parent and as such I have written this post about what makes me unique as a Mom and as such as a blogger. In many ways I feel the same as every other Mom out there but I realize that being a SAHM to 4 kids ages 4 and under my experience is unique and hopefully engaging. I have included at the bottom of this page links to my 3 favourite blog posts.

I live in a crazy house. Every day is wild and fun and entertaining. I'm lucky enough to be the Mom of four beautiful children between the ages of four years and two months. Amongst my friends I am living a rare life. Some have as many kids or more, but they're all older. Others have kids the same age but have fewer kids right now or they're spaced further apart. We are asked so often how we do it that I sometimes wonder myself! When I sit and reflect I realize more than anything that the more kids we have, the less I care about looking like a perfect Mom. There are days when I am the image of domestic bliss. My floors are washed, I have three crockpots on the go and all the kids are experiencing the rare simultaneous nap. The more kids we have the rarer those days become. The crazy thing is that I'm more than fine with the deterioration of our home into the children's playhouse. When we get to pair the daily madness with the priviledge of parenting these four incredible children l am not so easily fazed by the cheerios that seem to multiply daily, piles of unfolded laundry, and whatever crusty stuff that is in my hair.

My kids act like every other kid, but with four of them under foot our house couldn't operate unless we let them entertain each other. Any given day they're dancing, singing and playing hilarious games of pretend play in every spare moment. Now, the other side of this is that in a flash things can turn ugly. There aren't enough corners in any room to put the big kids in time out some days. Someone's crying, or bleeding or just plain sulking. With anything you have to take the good with the bad. 

Even then the bad isn't really that bad. As soon as someone falls down another sibling runs to the rescue. I watch on with tears in my eyes as the big sister cradles her littlest brother to comfort him when he trips. Or the oldest brother sings a sweet cooing song for his baby sister when she's out of sorts. I am the fortunate witness of the kindness of my children, especially when they were the guilty party behind the tears of another. When they're not fighting over whose truck that is they sit together on the floor, leaning on each other and talking their crazy kid talk.

I am a blessed spectator to the family they have given me. Life is crazy here every day. There are many days I'm ready to throw in the towel, but in the end I can't help but see what a tremendous gift I'm given every day to be a part of all of this joyful wildness. My life is unusual by today's standards, but I don't mind being unusual if I get to be surrounded by these loving, crazy, perfect little children.

Confessions of a Not So Super Mom (Why I'm Okay I'm Not a Super Mom)

4 Under 4 (10 Signs You have 4 kids under 4)

Happy Birthday to Me (Seconds Chances and Thankfulness)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

Thirteen years ago today I had a birthday like no other. I didn't have an incredible party or take a special trip. I was in an accident. I was crossing the street and a car struck me and then sent me flying 10 feet. All I really remember is that in the ambulance I overheard the paramedics whispering about how surprised they were that I was conscious and relatively uninjured. Besides a mild concussion, a broken tooth and road rash on my face I wasn't hurt at all. One of them said with a smile I was lucky to be alive. I was doing so well I was back to school the next school day. 

Ever since that day, which seems like a lifetime ago, I've struggled with the feeling I should make good of my second chance at life. For a long time I was planning on becoming a nun. When the time came to join a religious order I dove in head first. It was on my birthday six years ago that that plan went out the window. There I was, a nun in my habit sitting next to one of the monks in our order more than a little distracted. It was a few weeks later that he and I decided religious life wasn't for us. The next year we were married the same month of my twenty-fourth birthday. 

Here I am a mere five years later and it's my birthday. I just (finally!!!) put my 9 week old baby to bed after a long day of family fun. I did nothing except for spend time with my husband and our four hilarious, wild, adorable children. Just like every other day since we welcomed each of them into our family my day was full of laughter, tears, diapers, dancing, singing and fun.

As I reflect on the past thirteen years I can't help but think that I truly have made good of my second chance at life. I've surrendered myself completely to the life given to me. I may not always be the perfect woman, wife or mother, but I'm trying every day to be what I need to be in that moment with my whole heart and soul.

I had a million little reminders again today how lucky I am to be alive. How lucky I am to have this life. And how lucky I am to be reminded every year to be grateful for every second.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Yes, They're All Mine

Whenever I go out with the kids I pump myself up mentally for what I'm about to face. The words, the comments, and, for better or for worse, the judgements. It usually starts with a glance, then a double take, then an opening comment. Sometimes it's just "Woah". We get that a lot when my husband is with me too. We are clearly a family. A crazy, big, happy family! If we're not moving too quickly we get a follow up comment. First an amusing "Your hands are full!" which often has the corollary "They must be twins!" while pointing to either our oldest two or the boys. Now that we have our baby girl the next comment is inevitably "Oh! There's another one!". Apparently she wasn't visible from the snugli. All this is well and good, if not a little bit tedious.

Now when I'm out alone with the kids I get the same repetitive series of small talk. There is however another series of comments to follow. It's starts sigh "Are they all yours?" followed by "You must be busy!", and, my favourite, a variation of "Well, you must be happy to be done now!". I reply as patiently as I can but it's gotten to the point I'm thinking about making t-shirts, or buttons... Or a large flashing sign I can attach to our stroller. You know, some kind of subtle cues for strangers that would inform them immediately all the salient information they clearly require to satisy their curiosity about our circus show.

What do you think about these?

1. Yes, They're ALL Mine
2. I've Heard of Birth Control
3. I'm Not an Accident (but I may have just had one)
4. We're a Handful!
5. I'm with Mom
6. We're Not Twins
7. Less Small Talk, More Coffee

Any more ideas?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Not Too Occupied To Occupy

Believe it or not I still find time to watch the news. Or a least get the snippets from my twitter feed. The Occupy movement sweeping North America has me thinking. Firstly it has me thinking how unsurprised I am that more people on my feed were up in arms about their Blackberry service than the state of our country. But I digress. As I was pondering the state of our country, with its crumbling social services and an electorate that cannot be bothered to come out en masse to select its government, I stumbled across an article at Parent Central that surprised me. It spoke of a recent study from UBC that showed young families are struggling to do more with less money than their 1976 counterparts, even amongst 2 income families. Did you hear that, folks? As our housing market creeps up, as the price of commodities sky rocket, we're stuck with a minimum wage that is rising slower than I could waddle at 42 weeks pregnant.

Our government is standing by while we are drowning and the best life life preserver they can muster is a few more daycare spaces and an embarrassingly low maternity leave for those qualified. It's no wonder so many stay at home Moms are racking their brains for marketable talents, business ideas, or ways to monetize our blogs or become product testers. While a few are very successful, I'm sure there are many more skipping meals so they can afford a box of no name mac and cheese for their kids. We became stay at home Moms so we could raise our kids, not so that we could spend our days trembling with fear that our mortgage (if we're lucky, more like rent) cheque will bounce. Or staring down our budget trying to decide if we can put off paying our power bill one more week. Or standing in line for a payday loan just so that we can buy a carton of milk.

Our generation of parents is more aware than ever of the necessity of good nutrition from organic food sources instead of cheap processed foods, safely crafted toys, time reading and playing. We understand intellectually that our kids deserve from us every opportunity to succeed and be healthy. And yet many of us simply can't afford the best of everything. So we compromise. And compromise. And the kids lose. And we lose. And we sit up at night full of guilt and worry and fear.

How, then, can we be complacent? Why aren't we rising up demanding more? More free programming. Higher minimum wage. Lower food costs, especially for the healthier, local selections. We don't make the time to join movements like Occupy or Mom the Vote because we ourselves are occupied with the demands of our daily lives. We fight every day to survive our circumstances while giving our kids those advantages we can. That's important and needed. But we can't stop there. More of us need to speak up and join together to make our voices heard. I felt during the last election that maybe we could make a difference. The Mom the Vote movement caught the ear of our media and politicians. Why did it have to stop when the ballots were cast? I truly believe it didn't. Our activism can continue between diapers changes. A few of us could step up and make a movement for real change. If our voice is authentic and we can engage the parents just like us fighting every day to make ends meet, we could make some real change. Change that could make our lives better and give our families a chance to live in a country that seems them as an asset worth investing in and not just a prop for a photo shoot. So to all you Moms, Dads, guardians, grandparents and those who love the families struggling in your community, I say let's not be complacent. Let's not be too occupied to Occupy. Let's find our voice and let out a cry so great the powerful in our country hear us and heed us.

{Wordless Wednesday}

A chance to remember this moment that needs no words.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Two Kids Ago

In the spirit of nostalgia I was remembering how different things were when we only had two kids. That's literally half the kids we have now. We had really gotten settled into a rhythm and routine at this point. We were renting a fabulous 4 bedroom townhouse and had just upgraded to a mini-van. My husband had just gotten a hard earned pay raise and we finally had a kind of financial balance despite constantly rising gas prices. I was a Mom with 2 kids and a tidy little house. Both kids were reliably sleeping through the night and so were we. We both had energy to spare. For the few months before I became pregnant with baby I was Inspired to live another kind of motherhood than I do now. I'd get up and have my hot cup of coffee and hit the ground running. I think this lasted a ridiculously short time. Maybe 3 months. In those 3 months I:

1. Showered. Daily. And got dressed in more than pajamas.
2. Made 4 loaves of home-made bread twice a week and several batches of chocolate chip cookies.
3. Made yoghurt in my crockpot weekly.
4. Washed, folded and put away laundry. Sometimes I would hang it out on the clothesline.
5. Washed, dried and put away the dirty dishes. Daily.
6. Made 2 special home-cooked meals. Home-made baby food for the kids and something fancier for we adults.
7. Swept the floors. Vacuumed the furniture. Dusted. All daily. I'd wash all the floors on my hands and knees weekly.
8. I slept when I wanted. Or read a book. The kids lived by my schedule.

The other side of this litany of insanity is that we almost never went out. I also didn't spend as much time enjoying my kids. I ended up switching to formula because I couldn't keep breastfeeding and have a clean house. My oldest son's first year is a blur to me because I was too busy trying to be something akin to a Stepford wife to acknowledge all his needs and little milestones. I wish now that I had let the laundry wait and sat down to cuddle him when he was still able to sit still in my arms. When we had our third, our second son wasn't thriving on breastmilk and it wasn't caught until he was around 4 months old. After switching him to formula I ended up dedicating every free second to giving him as much fatty food as he could tolerate. I was so stressed I stopped all my extra baking, cooking, cleaning and self-pampering to be there for him. As stressful as it was at the time, once I dropped these (unquestionably excellent in principle) habits, I found myself with time to rediscover my older children. My priorities shifted dramatically. I didn't have to drive myself crazy with housework. It all needed to get done, but never at the sacrifice of the needs of the kids. When they're babies they need an extra hug more than they need a cookie. I'll take time later to build my legacy as an immaculate housekeeper. For now I'm happier building my legacy as the Mommy who thinks there's nothing in the world more important than kissing your boo boos, hearing your funny stories, dancing with you, and telling you "I love you" knowing those words feed your heart in ways unseen but lasting. So when people marvel at how we manage with 4 kids, I can't help but reflect that it's actually easier than when we had just two because along the way I've learned that another chance to enjoy a new baby while our house goes to pot again isn't a burden, it's a gift.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Confession of a not so Super Mom

I think all of us Moms have once looked at other Moms around us and thought how they seemed to have it all together. Then we look at ourselves and see nothing less than a mess. Maybe we haven't showered in days, there's oatmeal stuck in our hair, the kids are screaming and one of them has a distinct reek about them. SuperMom over there looks like she stepped out of a fashion magazine and her polite children are all beautifull dressed and clean. We can't help but feel so awful when we compare ourselves to these gorgeous put together Moms. They have it all figured out and we're still struggling to find a matching pair of socks for our kids.

The truth is, we can't be that SuperMom. But it's not because we aren't good enough to be a SuperMom. It's because SuperMoms don't actually exist. They may have it together in this moment, which is so wonderful, but chances are she's got the same pile of laundry and dishes at home that we do. SuperMom isn't telling you these details because either they're not important to her or she's, like us, embarrassed. When people ask US about motherhood chances are we'll say we love it. We might make a few jokes about sleep deprivation and untidiness, but few of us would tell someone that we have a more cheerios on our floor than in the box and that we've eaten take out more days this month than we can count.

We also need to remember that we can be guilty of coming across as a SuperMom to other folks too. When we have friends coming over, even if they're our dearest friends, we still do the flight of the bumblebees to get ready. Our livingrooms are immaculate, just don't look in the closet or under the couch. Not to mention the fact that the neglected pile of laundry on our couches migrate to behind closed doors. We also come across as the perfect hostesses because we already have snacks and drinks set out in our pristine livingroom. We wouldn't admit that that's because we don't want our guests in a fit of unexpected helpfulness to go in our kitchen and have to wade through the cloud of fruit flies hovering by the unruly stack of sticky dishes and sippy cups with congealed milk in the bottom. We Moms put on a good show when folks are watching but at least in the earliest years of our precious babies lives we've earned the right to let the house go to pot while we cuddle, kiss and snuggle our way through as many moments as we can before they're too busy to appreciate us. Our children crave our time when they're little and we have a duty to give it to them. We should at least catch up while they're napping, right? Wrong ladies. So wrong. Nap time is our time. We should use that time to sleep, read or do nothing. What about bed time you ask? Don't be ridiculous dear friends. That's when those of us with husbands should be spending time with them, reminding ourselves of why we wanted to make a family with them.

So next time you see a gorgeous put together Mom don't be jealous. Just be happy for her that she's having a good day. And who knows, tomorrow it could you that's inspiring awe and jealousy in friend and stranger alike. Just remember, no one has the right to make you feel lesser, not even yourself. Celebrate your victories but remember too we all share the same challenges of diapers, laundry, dishes, etc. What really makes you a SuperMom is being able to carve out a life with your kids. None of us is ever %100 perfect even with that, but the fact that we keep getting out of bed each day struggling to raise these precious gifts well means we are SuperMoms enough.

So quit worrying about looking perfect to world and go give your kids a big hug. That'll make you a SuperMom to your kids, which is all that really matters.

Friday, 14 October 2011

4 Under 4

For about three weeks after we had our 4th baby we were in the special parenting bracket of 4 kids under age 4. Just to be clear we are not one of those families blessed with multiples. We don't even have the fabled Irish Twins. Each of our babies came one at a time, no less than 15 months apart. I was reflecting as I ran another load of dirty cloth diapers that clustered families like ours have special challenges and gifts. So, in honour of the past 4 years of or being parents I give you this list:

Signs that You Have 4 Kids Under 4

1. You find yourself pregnant and one of your first discussions is whether your infant car seat can handle another baby before it expires.

2. You determine that after 3 excitable and bouncy kids, you need to retire your old crib.

3. You have one kid potty trained, one in progress, and two entirely in diapers.

4. You know how to take the cover off of your toddler car seats (yes, seatS. We have three!), wash and reassemble them with your eyes closed. You or your spouse has mastered the art of squeezing three full sized car seats in the back row of your van.

5. Speaking of vehicles, you've already long since upgraded to a mini-van and started researching the price of a Dodge Sprinter.

6. You cry when you get a dishwasher, but only for a second before you promptly fill it with sippy cups.

7. Not only do you have sippy cups in every shape and size, but the quantity of plastic dishes and utensils rivals your regular dishes.

8. Your bathroom has three toilets and only one of them flushes.

9. You didn't buy cloth diapers for the sake of the environment, but because it was financial common sense.

10. It's not unusual that you have three crockpots going at once (Yes we have three. Two are full-sized and one is small. We gave our second small one away)

For all the things that become common place, from spit up to minor illnesses to poop, there are some things that never get old. I still had tears in my eyes the first time our newest baby smiled at me. I'm also taking just as many pictures as I can each day and showing them off like there's never been a group of kids so darn cute. I'm tired of laundry, dishes and no sleep, but I will never get tired of being a Mommy. So bring on the adventure!

Friday, 7 October 2011


It's Thanksgiving weekend and as I watch my social media feeds I have the great honour of reading about what all my Canadian friends are thankful for. I read in all the posts many similar threads of gratitude for family, support and the unbelievable privilege of the every day blessings of the first world. Whenever I reflect on what I'm thankful for I can't help but remember the Gospel parable where a Pharisee, seeing the tax collector who was too ashamed to raise his eyes to heaven in his prayers, proclaimed he was thankful he was not like other men. Such a strangely isolating statement.

This thanksgiving as I read through my feeds I can't help but be thankful than I AM like other men and women. I am thankful for our similar blessings but also our similar struggles. I'm thankful I'm not the only one up all hours of the night with my new baby. I'm thankfully I'm not the only one with 4 kids. I'm thankful I'm not the only one with toddlers. I'm thankful I'm not the only one working hard on my marriage. I'm thankful I'm not the only one who is wrestling with finances. I'm thankful I'm not the only one who is lucky enough to have my friends to lean on and learn from. I'm thankful that I'm not the only one whose house is crazy and I'm thankful I'm not the only one who loves every second of it.

So let me join all of you by saying again how thankful I am that we're all in this together.

Run Down the Aisle

Today is our 5th wedding anniversary. 5 years ago today it was unseasonably warm and the sky was blue and clear. The leaves were a wash of yellows, reds and oranges. Just like the leaves were changing, so was my life. That day meant so much more than a pretty dress, nice music and a party. It was only one sweet day but it had the power to change everything. That day I knew I couldn't live for just myself anymore. As I walked up the aisle arm in arm with my husband to be I was reminded of a childhood game we all played at my elementary school. We used to play "wedding" (how we got the idea is beyond me). We'd pair off arbitrarily and walk down a winding strip of pavement and at the end say some surely hilarious vows and then we'd be "married". At least for the rest of recess. Being "married" back then meant ignoring each other completely after our "wedding". I couldn't help but reflect 5 years ago today how different a real marriage is. Besides the fact that I wasn't wearing overalls, hand-me-down pink California Raisin hightops and a jaunty blossom hat, I couldn't promptly ignore him or throw a rock at him if I got bored (which I haven't been for a moment sweetheart!). I was getting ready to dedicate the rest of my life to our marriage. A marriage of friends. A marriage of soulmates. I knew that from that moment on I would spend my life living for not just myself but for my husband too and any children we might be blessed with. After 23 years of only having to think of myself it was a strange feeling to know how everything was changing just like the leaves on the trees.

As we walked down the aisle I wasn't nervous or scared. I was giddy even. If I could have found an appropriately classy way to do it I would have run down the aisle and into the wide open arms of our future. In a way I feel like over the past five years we've done that together. Since our wedding day we've had 3 different cars, moved no less than six times (always while I was pregnant or had an infant in tow), and have had 4 beautiful babies. We've had our fair share of struggles to keep things afloat but I have always been confident knowing by God's grace I had my sweet husband by my side. We have been blessed with so many friends and our family always supporting us through our trials and victories. God's providence has taken on names in our 5 full years together.

We started out very much in love. We were dedicated to the idea of our future and how exciting it would be even though we had no idea what God had planned for us. We haven't always felt it, but my overwhelming feeling looking back has been that we've faced the first 5 years of our married life together with trust and joy. Every blessing deserved that joy and every challenge needed that trust. I pray that we can keep running towards our future with open arms with that same joy and trust. I wouldn't want to face that future with anyone else but my husband and this family we've been blessed with. So for today and every day I know that it's no longer "I do" but always "We do".

Thank you for joining me as we keep running down the aisle towards our future. I love you more than I thought possible. Always and forever!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Then There Was You

While I didn't have a webcam trained on me while I laboured, I took the opportunity to use social media as part of my labour. Mostly on my own between contractions (and with the help of my husband right at the end!) I tweeted my way through labour. I couldn't believe the tremendous reaction from the folks on twitter both in the weeks leading up to labour as well as the big day itself. Below I've posted my tweets (with their date and time stamps for a sense of the timeline) from the morning when we supposedly went in for our induction to the time of our discharge. I feel so blessed to have this Coles notes version of my labour for my fourth child. I will be able to show this to her some day and give her a sense of our anticipation and joy! Thank you to everyone who followed me and shared in our experience!

Leaving to make our way for the hospital! Thanks for all your well wishes! Will be praying for you all! #BabyWatch #zombiemoms
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-19 8:00 AM

Waters couldn't be broken bc of fetal position (too high). On the list for pitocin. Having contractions on my own. #BabyWatch #zombiemoms
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-19 2:02 PM

Out walking. Contractions 8min apart. 4cm dilated. Still no induction. In for a long night! #zombiemoms #Babywatch
Mobile Web • 11-08-19 4:04 PM

Been in assessment an hour and just for hooked up to monitors. Contractions 6-7min apart. Waiting to be checked. #zombiemoms #BabyWatch
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-19 5:50 PM

We're at 5cm but not having regular contractions. They've booked us into a hotel style room upstairs (1/2) #BabyWatch #zombiemoms
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-19 8:16 PM
No monitoring. No nurse. No drugs. They just want me in the hospital in case baby makes moves to escape quickly. #zombiemoms #BabyWatch
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-19 8:18 PM

@????? We're definitely getting there. I can't talk through the contractions. Big bonus!
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-19 10:24 PM

Doc at ultrasound predicts baby may be 9lbs12oz. Whatever! Not possible! Baby is gorgeous though! #zombiemoms #BabyWatch
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-19 10:54 PM

Off to get a few minutes rest. Thanks for all the love! Hope to be tweeting big news soon! #zombiemoms #BabyWatch
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-19 11:10 PM

Contractions slowed down to 9min apart but are waking me up. Very intense! Still labouring solo (with Hubby!)! #zombiemoms #BabyWatch
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-20 12:29 AM

It's 3am and I think I got 2 hours sleep. Labour keeps ramping up and petering off. When going labour is intense! #zombiemoms #BabyWatch
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-20 3:09 AM

Got a little more broken sleep. Just what I needed for the BIG push. Will be pacing like crazy after a quick bite. #zombiemoms #BabyWatch
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-20 7:04 AM

Got called in and admitted to the birth unit officially. Finally on our way!!! #BabyWatch #zombiemoms
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-20 7:46 AM

They broke my water!!!!! I'm already 6cm dilated. Here we go! #zombiemoms #BabyWatch
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-20 8:56 AM

8-9cm. Baby will be here soon #BabyWatch #zombiemoms
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-20 11:10 AM

Rebecca Catherine Claire P. 9lbs1oz born at 11:39am. Aug 20th, 2011. Beautiful in all ways! #zombiemoms #BabyWatch

The labour itself was intense after my water broke. I didn't get an epidural or pitocin (for the first time in four deliveries!) but I briefly sucked back some of the happy gas which took some of the edge off. The most helpful thing was the backrubs my Husband gave me as he whispered the Hail Mary in my ear. During transition I spent my contractions listening to him while focusing on the memory of my three older children all cuddling with me in our favourite recliner. I also offered up each contraction for many specific intentions. I was in labour for a full day so that was some beautiful prayer time! A peaceful inside while I was moaning lowly and sometimes yelling (purposefully I swear) through the height of the last few contractions. The attending doctor told me I had her out in 5 pushes. That's impressive as she had a stuck shoulder that they resolved by pushing on my abdomen while the doctor twisted her out manually with my legs tucked up so my knees touched my shoulders. I was so focused on getting her out I didn't notice any of those details. All I remember is that after my Husband announced her name, Rebecca!, and cut the cord they swept her away and I heard her first cry from the other end of the room. I looked up to her cry and saw the room was very full. The teams for shoulder dystocia and neo-natal ressucitation had both been called and I had the doctor and two nurses working on slowing down my bleeding. But for all that drama we were both fine. More than fine. Perfect. Our beautiful dark-haired girl, with a hint of auburn in the sun, stared up at me knowingly with her impossibly dark but still blue eyes when I held her at last. After a productive first feed I witnessed my joy again as my husband held her for the first time. After all our waiting and all the drama there she was so full of life and energy. Awake, out and ready to conquer us completely.

In Hebrew Rebecca means to tie or bind as with marriage. Her name suits in so many ways. She seemed bound to me endlessly during my exactly 42 weeks of pregnancy. Her cord was literally tied around her legs as she came out. Experiencing natural labour together brought another new kind of intimacy to our marriage too as I learned the depths of support and love my Husband has for myself and our children. And of course her joining our family has bound us together even more tightly. So thank you Rebecca. Thank you for joining us at last. Welcome home!


Being discharged from the hospital. Can't wait to be home holding all my babies and to be held by my wonderful husband. #zombiemoms
Twitter for iPhone • 11-08-21 3:26 PM

Monday, 15 August 2011

There's Something About Mary

Today is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. It's our archdiocesan feast and a favourite of mine. I love the idea of Jesus up in Heaven still having His Mama on His mind. Rather than throwing a victory party He's making a throne for her. I think as we get older and become parents ourselves we look back and feel this way about our Moms. We start to see all of her sacrifices, quiet love and understand all the worry we've caused her through the years.

I feel an even greater connection to Mary now that I'm a mother too. After years of seeing her just as the young girl of the Nativity story, I can't help but wonder about those untold years of late night feeds, toddler years and so on. A friend of mine, quite rightly, was talking about how Jesus must have been as a child. He's God, so I had always thought He'd be preaching practically from the manger. But that doesn't make sense because He was always wholly human. My lovely friend said so insightfully that Jesus would be perfectly human for each age. He would have experienced teething same as my kids, learned how to walk, hit all those milestones. There would be something special about Him, but He would still have to learn and explore just like any child. I don't imagine Mary got to stoically sit by while Jesus was doing all his growing. I bet she was chasing Him as He played, wiping up the food He threw on the floor and being just as tired as I am most days.

I suppose that's why, now that I'm a mother, I find Our Lady of Sorrows so appealing. Here is a mother, not so unlike me. She's given birth and spent over 30 years doing what all mothers do: Loving, worrying, and praying for her Son. The difference is she had the sad blessing of knowing that her Son, her precious baby, was meant to die for the salvation of all. Most of us live with the niggling fear that something might happen to our children, but she knew. That's why when I read a verse about how Mary watched and remembered the things her Son did I can understand. When my kids are sick I watch their every move and try to soak in every detail. Imagine how sorrowful life would be if you knew something incomprehensibly tragic was going to happen to your precious child because of others (oh happy fault that won for us so great a Saviour!). I remember the day I spent in the hospital with my son, crouched over his weak body as they conducted tests to see if he is diabetic. Through no fault of his own my baby was pale and sickly with tubes in his arm as he patiently endured all their tests. In that moment my 2 year old son and I clutched his rosary like a life preserver. I don't think I prayed that old comforting prayer. My thoughts were a jumble of pleas and devotion, all while I tried to put on a brave face. I sat there watching him, trying to imprint every detail of his beautifully trusting face on my brain as he turned pale. I couldn't cry the tears threatening to explode out of me. Because that's what we parents do. We put on a brave face so our children aren't afraid even when the monsters in the closet are real. Luckily everything turned out and for now my boy is fine. For all those mothers of children with chronic or terminal illness I sit in awe of your strength and endless well of love.

Knowing what she knew, Mary must have spent every day since Simeon prophesied to her the death of her son masking her pierced heart with a calm exterior characteristic of the grace God had poured to overflowing on her. With her perfect Son to care for she was the perfect mother. She experienced in a unique but universal way the joys and sorrows of motherhood. She experienced the brutal death of her only child, watched it at every step and felt it in the depths of her heart and soul as only a parent can. Today we celebrate the great act of love shown to her by her Son. When her earthly mission was done and she was ready, God lifted her up body and soul, sparing her the pain of her own death. This was God's blessing to her and to us. Now in Heaven Mary continues in her position of Mother, but now Mother of All. She still watches her children with sorrow in all our sufferings as she pleads on our behalf to her Son.

How lucky we are as mothers to have so great an example and advocate!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

How We Do It

Ever since we found out we were pregnant with our 3rd child we've had friends, family and strangers asking how we do it. It, I assume, is how are we not spending all day crying while living in a small cardboard box eating sunflowers for every meal. Or something less dramatic. For some people it is a financial question, for others a time management issue, for others it's a question of how we propose (and I'd like to think manage) to raise relatively well adjusted children. My rote answer has become "By the grace of God". And I really do mean it. There have been times that I've been ready to pack up my meagre, chewed, drooled on, or broken possessions to book into the local looney bin until the youngest is at school. In those times when I most want to give up and give in something happens to lift me back up.

This year has been a great example through and through. We've made some amazing new friends, been given the gift of slowly taking over my parents' mortgage, and my husband got a new job which fulfills his need for creativity, perseverance and respect. Nothing is ever perfect (try moving while hugely pregnant!) but everything is always beyond my hopes and dreams. Just yesterday I was lamenting (okay, okay, complaining obnoxiously) that I didn't want to cook because I was tired and couldn't think of a thing to make. In waltzed our new friends who sneakily dropped off a delicious casserole on our doorstep while we were resting. I could have cried. Alright, I did because I was so overwhelmed and touched. Bonus: The kids loved it. They ate pretty much every bite and laughed through the meal. If that's not the grace of God I don't know what is!

I have also been blessed with a husband who will work himself ragged all day (even working overtime to bring in a little more money when he can), come home and be super Daddy for hours and who has stood by me through 5 years of marriage that has seen 4 babies, 6 moves, 3 vehicles, ample poor health, and more love than I would have hoped for in 50 years. I have not been a perfect wife, but I know that regardless of how crazy life gets we keep clinging to each other and saying our prayers of thanks for all of it. 3 kids and one due any day has made our lives busy. Beyond busy. Yet I wouldn't change a thing. He knows as well if not better than I do most days how lucky we are. We have never suffered a loss of a child, never wanted for food, and have never been homeless. He has no problem telling me that it's not because of our hard work, although that helps. We have been blessed by God with people who will catch us no matter how crazy our leap of faith. We also have each other which makes even the leanest times seem full of riches.

When people imply we got ourselves into this mess by not spacing our children I can't help but wonder how different our life would be. Which child would we space out? Our daughter who single-handedly calmed the one year old by singing "Hey Jude" to him? Our oldest boy who loves to sneak up on me just to give me a hug and say "I love you"? Our one year-old boy who has the biggest, silliest smile you've ever seen? Or maybe this un-named, un-seen baby, all limbs moving right now, who we've been waiting (impatiently!) to meet for over 9 months? All I see when I try to imagine how different my life would be is a series of aching gaps where love given and most of all received should be.

So, if you really want to know how we do it, I can show your our budget, tell you about our routine, our values, and all the support we have all around us. All of that would be true and I'm forever grateful that life is working out for our good. I will also always say "by the grace of God" because without that support nothing else would matter.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Eviction Notice

Dear Baby,

I am writing this letter in order to inform you that your lease is up. When you first took up your tenancy we agreed upon a 9 month lease with no option to renew. I feel I have been more than lenient in allowing you a few days grace period to pack your things and make a graceful exit. You gave me the false impression a few weeks ago that you were prepared to find a new situation but as of yet I see no additional effort to clear out.

Let me be clear: I have enjoyed having you as a resident these 9 months, although you had little respect for the utilities and have tended to engage in late night parties with your crony placenta. All in all it has been a real delight sharing this unit with you. That being said, I feel that you have outgrown the space allotted to you and as I currently have no additional space not already in use it would be beneficial for you to seek another place to lay your head.

Speaking of which, I recently had the great pleasure of touring a new spot that would be perfect for you. It has a much better view, is much larger and best of all doesn't have the issues with humidity so characteristic of your current situation. If you'd like to interview previous tenants they're all prepared to give the most glowing reviews. They each stayed for at least a year before upgrading to a larger premises.

As for the former tenants, they would also be happy to welcome you and help you settle in. We have a professional hired for your exit from this unit. Don't worry, she's excellent and can come regardless the time of day. Once she's helped with your move-out the other tenants as well as my co-landlord, you can call him Daddy, will do all we can to help you adjust to your new home.

So have no fear, this eviction isn't an end, it's a beginning. I will remind you, however, that if you don't see fit to prepare quickly to leave we will have to consider other options and possibly involve some professional help. Please be advised it would be better for all of us if we could do this thing quietly, quickly, and with minimal fuss.

All the best,

The Landlord

Friday, 5 August 2011

My Dream Job

I have this idea. You may think I'm crazy but I hope some day I can make it happen. It's about my dream job. I want to buy a huge house on a sprawling piece of land. It would have to be close enough to the city we could get to all the amenities, but far enough we wouldn't be surrounded by the buzz of other people's busy days. 

Now before you start joking that I just want to fill said country estate up with 100s of babies (wait a minute... You might be on to something!) I have a different plan. Yes, it will involve lots of babies. And Moms. And Dads. And some quiet time. Some anyway.

My dream job is a little granola, but I think there's something to it for all of us families! I want to, with the help of my wonderful husband, use that dream house to run a retreat center just for families and young couples. A place to get away from life for a little while. Lots of good (or passable) home cooking, places to walk for private time, and a 24 hour playdate for the kids. Nothing fancy would be going on in our house. We'd have a big glorious garden to grow as much of our food as we could and we'd also only bring in local meat products for our meals. Good healthy stuff. Clothesline in the summer and a cozy fire in the winter.

Knowing our religious background we would offer little prayer sessions to remind ourselves where we get our strength to be families. With a little music and some heartfelt prayers we could just chat about our challenges and victories. A retreat for the body, soul, and self.

I think a place like that could do us all a world of good without having to give up our family to get there. Fellowship, simple living and time away from our obligations to remind ourselves why we run ourselves ragged and to show our kids how much we value our family.

Some day if it's meant to be I know my husband and I will make it happen!

I Knew She Was a Girl

I knew before I was married or even pregnant that my first child would be a girl. I knew her face. I knew her joy and her smile.

When I was still a nun I had an experience which to this day still leaves my faithful soul in awe. One Saturday afternoon, after our formation classes as a community, we were all just hanging out at the Sisters' convent house out in a small harbour town. Out of nowhere two very dear friends of mine dropped in with their daughter. In retrospect she must have been 7 or 8 months by her size and the confidant crawl she had going. Their small family left me with a feeling of joy but when they left I felt a sudden deep feeling of longing. It was as though for the first time I realized I would never be a mother so long as I stayed with the nuns. I'd always believed I was fine with that. In my mind I had decided I would be like a spiritual mother, praying for all the lost souls and my students when I eventually become a teacher. Cuddling with that little baby girl had opened up a wound in my heart I had never realized was there. 

When my friends left it was time for Adoration in our small chapel. We had the whole community with us that day so I ended up sitting on the radiator while trying to muster myself to pray. I remember how uncomfortable I was and how distracted I felt by my realization that I would never be a mother. After about 20 minutes of this I was about to leave the room to get some air when all of a sudden a wave of peace washed over me. As I looked up at the Blessed Sacrament a strange vision came before my eyes. I saw clearly an image of a woman sitting with a child in her lap. Not just a child, a little girl with reddish hair that had a cute curl around the fringe, big blue eyes and the most joyful smile I'd ever seen. The woman was me. I was wearing nondescript clothes but it wasn't my religious habit. I was sitting with this painfully beautiful child in my arms with a look of perfect joy. She and I were rocking in this very particular Boston rocker. The stain, the shape everything stuck in my memory as though it was essential to the scene. As I looked closer I noticed a man's hand on my shoulder in this vision. My mind travelled up and in the vision I saw a very familiar face. With a flush the vision fell away and I found myself weeping in our tiny chapel, my hands clutching the uncomfortable radiator. I ended up leaving the room to have a quiet moment in one of our side rooms, shaken by my vision of a life that I still felt I could never have. 

Was this a calling or a gift of realization of what motherhood could have been had I been led along another path? I couldn't allow myself to see the vision as cruel even as I tied my rope around my grey habit the next morning, counting the three knots symbolizing poverty, chastity and obedience. All good things deserve sacrifice and I knew religious life included the sacrifice of physical motherhood. I still couldn't help being haunted by the clear vision given to me, though I pushed it aside as I struggled on in this beautifully difficult community life.

Flash forward more than a year later. I'd left religious life not long after that day in the chapel and was married less than a year later. Two days after Christmas I was in my in-laws bathroom staring at this strange scientific creation with its code of colours and lines. Two lines to be exact. I let out a choked laugh and then ran across the hall with the tiny stick tucked behind my back. Pregnant. We were pregnant. I was pregnant. The girl who thought she'd never be a mother. A beautiful joke on me by a God who always has a better plan. O was convinced right away that this new life (that made me very nauseous) was a girl. Everyone found my conviction laughable except my husband.

Fast forward to our 3rd Christmas as a married couple. In my lap sits a buoyant and joyful little girl with pretty strawberry-blonde hair, smiling in the glow of her loving extended family. Behind me stands my husband with his hand on my shoulder. We're sitting in a particularly beautiful Boston rocker. It had been a gift by my father-in-law to his wife when she was pregnant with their first child, my brother-in-law, on the occasion of her first mother's day just before they became parents. I can't help but smile as I know this moment was mine before I knew the truth of it. This day was planned for me before I believed in any of the details. Every detail down to whose hand was on my shoulder was exactly right. I knew in that moment how good it was to really trust, to really give in to a plan greater than my own.

And that's how I knew my first child was a girl before I was even pregnant.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


I had one of those days yesterday when everything felt off. The kids were being fine, but I just didn't feel myself. Part of me recognized that this is just my body getting ready for labour which had me nervous, excited and slightly exhausted (already). After a day of feeling sorry for myself I was checking my twitter feed where I saw a blog being passed around by some people I followed. Often times Moms will retweet the blog postings of Moms in need of some encouragement. Usually these blogs are the product of post partum depression or just one of those days that we all have when we feel inadequate. I read them because I've felt overwhelmed in my life too and feel compelled to encourage these young, sleep-deprived Moms. We don't live in tight knit communities like we used to so the Internet is the new way to share, encourage, and vent. A simple status update on Facebook, tweet on Twitter, or blog post can remind us in seconds that we have a world wide community willing to encourage us and give us some much needed perspective.

But this blog was different. It was a young Mom in a situation I couldn't fathom: She's battling cancer. From what I could glean she's getting rigorous treatment that is making her feel worse than the cancer. Despite her painful and intense regimen she believes her cancer is spreading, growing. I was emotionally devastated to read this. While I complain about the pains caused by my growing miracle baby, she is bravely sharing the story of the death growing in her body, trying to steal her from her children. Perspective can be a harsh lesson. My gratitude grew instantaneously but also my desire to storm the gates of heaven with a prayer that wasn't for me. This complete stranger felt like a sister to me in that moment of desperate prayers. As I just yesterday prayed for my new baby to be safely separated from my body, I frantically prayed that this young mother would not be separated from her babies. Whatever His plans for this stranger, I am so thankful that her story pulled me out of my own selfishness yesterday. I hope I keep this perspective as long as I live. I am so blessed with my health and the good health of my children.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Pregnant Amnesia

It's official: I am THAT pregnant. For the fourth time. Everyone says we Mums get blissful ignorance of the details from prior labors (somewhat true), but for me the amnesia starts around 7 months pregnant. As my Hubby can attest I'm whining about aches and pains at 38 weeks like this was the first time and I didn't see it coming. Four pregnancies in I've seen pretty well all my body's going to deal with so it's actually pretty funny to catch myself hastily searching on google to make sure I'm not in labour as each new symptom arises. I have also caught myself saying meaningfully to Hubby that I think this baby might be coming soon. Hubby is unfazed. He's been through this before too and lucky for both of us he can remember all these details. He easily remembers that the earliest I've gone into labour is 41+ weeks. That being said he still is having his own pre-baby nerves but he's clearly keeping his frantic crib assembly and googling of symptoms to himself. He has found very calm and casual ways to ask how the baby is positioned (very low by the way. When I walk I look like I'm trying to shoplift a watermelon between my legs), how my feet feel (puffy and sore) and if I've had any increase in mucus (I'll spare you the details. Haha). I know he's being mindful of all these details as he helps me remember every complaint for our doctor's appointments. I may have pregnant amnesia but luckily Hubby is still sharp as a tac.

Now, it's time to google how many times a night it's normal to have to pee....

Friday, 17 June 2011

Why my Husband is an Amazing Father

In honour of Father's Day, my gift to the love of my life is a little list of why I'm proud that he's the Father to my children. It's not much, sweetheart, but I want you to have it, in writing on the internet where it will stand as a testimony to your dedication and love for our children.

1. Pregnancy: Every time we see that positive test your first reaction is joy. None of this can we afford it business. You love to sing, talk to, and lovingly poke my belly from day 1. Our babies are whole and lovable in your heart before they can hear you (let alone see you). I will always cherish the memory of you rocking out on your guitar on my belly when we were pregnant with H. And the way she did a full jumping jack kick for you on Father's Day. Don't get me started on the fact that you would be a complete slave to my whims during pregnancy if I asked. I do my best not to take advantage too much but I appreciate your completely self-giving love always bookended by comments about it being the least that you can do, what with me carrying our baby and impending labour.

2. Labour: I couldn't ask for a better supporter and partner during labour. If you could push for me you would. You are my advocate when I'm too out of it to care, and quietly do everything you can to make me feel as comfortable as possible. You're also fearless. Despite early indications that you would stay at my head during the tough parts, you always jump in to hold my feet, hold a mirror, give important progress reports, all while whispering constantly in my ear how much you loved me, how proud you are and how gorgeous our baby will be. Then, when baby finally pops out you proudly announce gender and cut the cord. After a quick cuddle with Mommy I'm proud to watch you hold our little baby, bundled up warmly. You're the first thing baby sees and I can't imagine a warmer, more loving welcome to the family!

3. Parenting: You aren't afraid of the nitty gritty. You change diapers, give baths, wipe up spit-up (and wear it) and are always handy to give me a break during those rough nuthouse days. You are all the kids' first words and you earned it. Even though you work 7-5 M-F, when you're here they are your world. You play every game, no matter how silly (or how tired and achy you are). You are the boo-boo kisser, the toy fixer, the cuddler, the tickler, the listener, the cheerleader, and according to the talking crowd, the best best friend. Ever. I love that you can be firm and help with discipline, but also know when to be gentle when I've spent my day being severe. You are always the perfect balance to me as a parent and I thank you for following my lead as much as you lead the way. You trust our kids and always want to see them have new adventures. You are a perfect example for our boys but are also never too busy to dance with your Cinderella. (I promise I won't tell anyone you play dollies and tea party, although I find it totally charming). You are not just a Father, you are a Daddy. And a darn good one.

4. Us: What makes you not just a good Father but an amazing one (besides all the stuff I already said) is how much you love me. The kids can't help but feel secure in our family because they will never have a reason to doubt your love and fidelity to me. Although we argue like everyone else, we always make a point to make-up in front of the kids. Affection comes naturally in front of their watchful eyes. They also see that even though you work all day you jump right in and help me with any task I have going. I'm proud that our children will see in us a marriage of equals, friends, and most of all two people who are more in love each day. You also joyfully share faith with us. Our faith is what brought us together and you have made a point to let it grow in us as a couple and as a family.

The best thing any parent can offer their child is emotional security, support for their dreams, real and trusting faith, and unconditional love. In front of my eyes, I watched you become all these things the day we saw those two little lines on our first positive pregnancy test. I feel privileged to have witnessed you welcome each of children and become their Daddy. Thank you for sharing with me a life worth celebrating in a way worthy of our many gifts.

I love you. Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, 31 May 2011


After months of waiting we finally moved into my parents' old house. Life is ever changing and I think always for the better. We payed movers, which made life so much easier, but then promptly got to the work of ripping up the million year old carpet on the main level ourselves. A week and a half later, with the help of hubby's Dad, almost all the new laminate is down. We also discovered that the stairs are read solid wood stair-tread underneath. With a little TLC they can be returned to their natural glory. We've discovered some mold (from a leak that a previous contractor swore up and down he fixed), some questionable plumbing (no Mom, duct tape is not the answer to a mis-matched pipe for the sink. Nice try!), and an some trim in the living room that is painted no less than 3 colours in our pumpkin orange living room. I feel like hubby and I are finishing up a lot of half-started projects my parents had once dreamed but never had the time to get to, but in our own way. My parents finally have their dream house, and we, many years younger, have the bare bones of ours and the will and talent (though maybe not the cash flow all the time, haha) to create ours. We're doing our best to make lots of little improvements where we can to make our home our own. Thanks to my parents we have some leftover flooring from their (dare I say gorgeous???) renovations that will help us over the next year to have many full weekends doing over hallways and bathrooms without any financial cost to ourselves. The living room and dining room (which are attached) are getting all the real attention as we want it safe and ready for our kids, playdates and some dinner parties with dear friends we sorely missed.

While our house is blossoming around us, it's hard to ignore that the kids are blossoming too. With more room to roam and bigger bedrooms their imagination and creativity are growing faster than my belly. This is going to be a great summer. We're finally next to a big, useable park that they can just run their wild energy off in, we're walking distance to the library, and best of all we're a 5 minute drive from the greatest friends a family could ask for. I'm also closer to many old friends and some new ones just down the street. Our beautiful, friendly, little neighbourhood from the past 2 years was perfect for our family before, but this is starting to feel right now. Already we've seen more of our friends than we did for months on end at our old home. The visits from my boys' future wives (just kidding!) and my girl's best friends and their parents, truly great friends to us, has made this not just my parents' old house, but our home. Once everything is unpacked and set up I can't imagine how much more comfortable we'll feel!

And then there's the other matter of our marriage! After some struggles to figure out what our family would become, I find myself closer emotionally than ever with my dear husband. He's been working himself to exhaustion day and night to bring home the bacon, and then he works nights and weekends to make good of our renos. His father has been no less than a saint helping him lay down the flooring and I can't thank him enough. I have the best intentions, but being ponderously pregnant I'm about as useful as a bag of hammers with our renos. So, thanks to Hubby's Dad! Meanwhile hubby himself has been quietly doing his best to accomplish the hundreds of necessary little tasks to makes this all work. While I sit in the recliner complaining about Braxton-hicks he's got an open ear while he plods away taking out an outdated and useless closet he will make into a hutch/display cabinet/toy storage. I love him more in his quiet dedication to our home and our family. He is truly the King of our family, and it shows in the eyes of our children. He is now the preferred parent for boo-boos, story time, and play time. Being big and preggo this of course suits me fine. Seeing our wee boy reach up with little squeals of "Da! Da!" is the finest moment of any day. We are so blessed to be a family.

After a lot of rambling I'm left with the profound sense of how blessed I am. Blessed with shelter, family, friends and a wonderful marriage. My complaints and rants (trust me, I've had a few) are overwhelmed by my sense that Providence has always been with us and always will be. With God so clearly leading us through our sorrows to constant joy we will surely be fine!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Mexican Steak in the Crockpot

Don't have a crockpot? You don't know what you're missing! Get yourself out there and pick one up because they are ridiculously cheap considering all the delicious masterpieces you can make. My favourite part is of course that a lot of the best recipes are a matter of dumping ingredients and leaving them to stew or hours. A busy Mom's dream! Here's a recipe I threw together this week that provided us 2 nights of delicious meals! The kids and hubby were crazy for it!

Pam Cooking Spray
Steak (enough to cover the bottom of your crockpot)
1/2 cup worchestershire sauce
1 can fresh corn (drained)
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 package Uncle Ben cheese & broccoli rice (prepared)
1 can italian spice diced tomatoes (not drained)
Salt, pepper & chili powder to taste

Spray inside of your crockpot with Pam cooking spray. Lay steaks to cover the bottom of your crockpot. Pour 1/2 cup worchestershire sauce on top. Now dump and spread the cans of corn and beans over your steak. Next layer is your cooked Uncle Ben's Cheese and Brocolli rice. After you've spread that around top it off with the Italian spice diced tomatoes with their juices. Turn your crockpot on high for four hours. If it starts smelling really hot near the end you can draw the steak to the top and stir the sides together and then let it finish. When the time's up extract your steaks and serve your layers of veggies and rice as a side. That's your whole meal in one pot! Delicious and creamy! We compared it to a sort if Mexican risotto because the rice absorbed all the extra juices. Enjoy!

Introductions First

My plan for this blog is for it to be an outlet for some of my creative energies. As a Mom of 3 and pregnant with our 4th I spend a lot of my time at home creating, teaching and, most of all, learning. Parenthood is an act of creation I've been blessed to share 4 times now. I want to share what I've learned, even if it's just into the empty space of the Internet. If nothing else to remind myself of all the small victories (and let's be honest, failures). Recipes, crafts, parenting experiences and whatever else comes along. This will also be littered with my interests outside of my brood. I'm a wife too, not to mention a woman. Not every book I read is a board book and Dora isn't the only show I've been known to watch. This mix will probably be eclectic, but whose life isn't a beautiful jumble of puzzle pieces? Let's see if I can make a masterpiece out of all these different parts.