Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weekend Recap

It is absolutely frigid here in Ottawa, Canada, as of late. We've got blue fingers and toes (and nose) and our breath seems to freeze as we step outside. Thus, we had another fairly lazy weekend inside, and - for the most part - no one really minded. It was too cold to ski, to skate, and to go tobogganing so we made our own fun inside the comfort - and delicious warmth - of our little home.

I have started a new tradition with the kids, in which I have a special "date" with each one of them for several hours. This allows me to have one-on-one personal time alone with each Thing, so that I can enjoy their special characteristics and personalities and revel in each feature that makes them unique. This weekend I had my date with Thing 1 and it was absolutely fantastic. We had a blast. We went to the mall (his choice), went out for lunch, did errands, and chatted and laughed. It was so simple and yet so utterly special for both of us. Thing 1 has become such a mature, sensitive, witty, creative little man that I can hardly believe he is only four years old (well, turning five in a few weeks). Spending part of my Saturday alone with my oldest son completely made my whole weekend.

Needless to say, Thing 2 was not overly impressed when I ducked out of the house with his brother for four hours. I explained to him that next weekend would be his special "date" with mommy, and that he would be able to choose whatever activity he wanted.

I don't think he missed me that much because he and daddy got creative with the Playmobil toys while we were out.

Exhibit One. Thing 2's police station and police crew.

(Yes, actually all lined up by him!!)

It still remains increasingly difficult to capture decent shots of all three Things together. We did manage to get these two today . . . Thing 3 wagging her finger at her brother

. . . and all three Things nestled on the little IKEA chair.

Not oozing with syrup-y cuteness or anything, but it's all you're gonna get on this cold winter weekend!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It Ain't a Birthday Without Cake

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Since tonight was my little girl's first birthday, and daddy deemed it of crucial importance not to miss a night of curling and thus would not be present for the first birthday of his only daughter, his very last child, the absolute light of his life . . .

Well. Ok. You get it.

(Some of you Americans not know what curling is? Let's see. I call it a game. He calls it a sport. I call it shuffleboard on ice. He calls it an Olympic sport. OK, well he's got a point there because it is indeed an Olympic event - and one that Canada dominates - but it will still be a cold, crisp, "perfect-for-curling" day in HE$# before I utter any words that liken it to a sport.)

This being said, I especially wanted to make sure my sweet little Thing 3 got something on her actual birth date. So I made a home-made pizza and picked up some cupcakes at our local Cake Shop in order that I might be able to snap that "every mother needs to have it" perfect shot of the baby with cake on her face.

We're having friends for dinner tomorrow evening and I'm making an Angel Food cake for her real birthday cake.

But tonight, while daddy beat the ice with a broom, the birthday girls Thing 3 and Granny had their cake. And ate it, too.

Check out more Photostory Friday at MamaGeek's and Cecily's places.

Thing 3 Turns One

It is hardly plausible to me that my teeny-tiny little Thing 3 has graced us with her presence for 12 whole months already. Yes, my very last baby is ONE year old today. And what a year is has been.

You, my third bundle of happiness, arrived one year ago today on a cold, snowy, winter night. During a full moon. And on your very own grandmother's birthday. You came flying out quickly and changed our lives forever. As parents your father and I wondered how many children would be the right number for our family. We discussed it at length - until we were blue in the face - but that *right* answer never seemed to fall upon us.

The day you arrived, with one look at your piercing blue eyes and miniature features, we instantly knew our family was perfect and exactly as it should be.

Your brothers, Thing 1 and Thing 2, were so incredibly excited to meet their little sister. They immediately embraced you and within hours, you were one of us.

I swear sometimes I feel as if I've spent the last year gazing into those sparkling, loving eyes. Watching you grow, as you watch life around you and spend so many hours taking in all the things and people around you. Nothing pleases you more than watching your two brothers. Watching them play, scampering after them, staring at Rudy as he licks his paws in the sunlight, and observing your mommy and daddy as they spread tickles, hugs, and kisses through the house.

Your laughter and smile have been infectious since you were a mere few weeks old. You are a happy soul, with a good heart, oozing with love. Part of the beauty of existing for only 12 months is your innocence, your purity, and the unconditional adoration you shower on everyone.

And it is unequivocally reciprocated.

I can't tell you how many times over the course of the past year people have asked me "is it nice to have had a girl after two boys?" or "you must be glad you got your girl". And while perhaps the polite - or politically correct - answer is "I would have been happy whether she had been a girl or a boy", the TRUTH is that, yes, honey, I am so darn thrilled you are a girl. I can't wait to share things with you that I won't be able to share with Things 1 and 2 . . . to cuddle and giggle and shop and love and create and cook and embrace and heal and mend and cry and try.

You have a personality distinct from those of your brothers and an individuality that I can hardly wait to explore and watch develop. I've got seasons tickets to your life, and I plan on sitting in the front row for every year that passes. You are a happy, friendly, easy-going, curious, and bright little girl.

You're so patient and I can't tell you how much I appreciate your cooperation and ability to be a good sport when I constantly stick you in cute little girl outfits. It doesn't hurt that you are stunningly beautiful. Gorgeous, if I do say so myself.

I have never been particularly good at keeping regular records of your progress. I'm in awe of other bloggers who post monthly posts heralding all of their children's milestones and development. But I watch you every single day and I never miss a second of each new thing you learn.

At 12 months old you are nearly walking. You have the strength to stand on your own for up to a minute or two in the middle of the room, yet you still are mustering up the courage to take more than a couple steps. You recently started climbing up the stairs. You cruise all over the house, holding onto nearby furniture or walls to steady yourself. You love clapping, waving, finger pointing and mimicking dozens of other gestures you see those around you doing. You can't stop yourself from giggling when you stick your tongue out at me, because you instinctively know I will stick mine right back out at you.

You can say many words including "ma ma", "da da", "De-id", "Pete", "dog", "dolly", "duck", "peas", "go", "ba ba", "no", and "book". Your brothers are so excited to hear you start talking, they are constantly coming to me with news that you have said yet another new sound or word.

You love books and will sit quietly while we read story after story to you. You already have favourite books and you will crawl across the room with a book in your hand and place it in my lap. You're my best eater yet and you like everything. You try any new food I place on your tray, and you rarely turn your nose up or push it away.

You're a champion nurser, and have always been a tad particular about the source of your milk. What I mean is, at one year old your delivery method of choice is still directly from the tap. You will drink bits of water or milk from a sippy cup, but not nearly enough to consider it an adequate source of liquid. While your brothers would have little to do with breastfeeding by about this age, I am comfortable with the realization that this is still something that is best for you . . . and I. Some of my most cherished moments with you are snuggling your body next to mine as you nuzzle in for bedtime feeding . . . nothing and no one in the world to disturb us or penetrate the shield that seems to protect us from anything evil or hurtful.

And, as we celebrate your one year birthday today, I am reminded of all the reasons I am so thankful to have you in my life. The list, my dear, is endless.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

WW - 3 Things Hibernate

(Thing 3 has a cold, that's why she looks a little "out of it".)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A quick peek at some cards

On most days the 3 Things drain me of the bulk of my energy - creativity included.

Thing 3 is suddenly in the throes of getting into stuff and can hardly be left for a moment. Thing 1 is barely at kindergarten for 2 1/2 hours a day and I need to get him there, and get him home. Thing 2 has preschool two mornings a week, and I also need to ensure he arrives there and is picked up. Now that I'm watching a fourth Thing, you can see that my daily routine is sheer insanity.

These days the craft projects are few and far between, and although it saddens me somewhat, I take comfort in the fact that I know these Things will not be young for long, and in years to come they will be busy with their own lives . . . leaving their Crafty Mom to nurture her creative side and dive into the crafts in which she takes pleasure.

I did manage to make a few Thank You cards recently and sent them off to several relatives after Christmas. This photo is horrible, I truly apologize.

I made this for my cousin whose wife just had a little boy. Again, this photo is poor quality but I really liked the velvet ribbon along the bottom. I didn't cut the cardstock properly and so the stamped baby carriage image didn't fit vertically onto the card. I ended up tilting it a bit and surprisingly like it like that.

I made a couple of these for birthdays . . . I just love the colour mixtures as turquoise is one of my favourite colours.

Most of the stamps are from Stampin' Up I believe, and I had been experimenting with a couple new punches I got before Christmas. I love the scallop punch and have been using it like a madwoman on most of the cards I've done lately.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Startling Realization

We pulled into the busy parking lot of the local grocery store in my small home town in Nova Scotia. I was home on a break from university, and had decided to join my mother for the ten minute drive it took us to reach "town" from our tiny fishing village. My mother and I got out of her car, crossed the bustling parking lot and entered the store. We were engaged in some mindful chit chat when I scanned the store to see if there was anyone there I knew. It was likely, seeing as how I had gone to high school there only a few short years ago. The scene I was taking in I found suddenly appalling.

Throughout the supermarket I noticed a variety of young mothers. Tired looking mothers, some with one, two . . . even three children in tote.

"Who brings their kids to the grocery store?" I thought.

"I can't believe half of these women are wearing track pants," I murmured to my mother. "They haven't put any care into how they look. It isn't that difficult to put forward a bit of effort before you leave your house. They shouldn't go out looking like that."

Wait for it.

"I will never go out in public looking like that."

I don't even remember my mother's response that day, the conversation had been that meaningless to me. She likely suggested I be less judgmental, because she is someone who would not take kindly to one making negative comments about others, and would possibly point out that perhaps I was in no position to deem what is appropriate attire to wear to the supermarket.

The words had been erased from my mind for years after that, not to be regurgitated through time. Until today.

I woke up at 4:55 a.m. today to a crying baby with a cough and a severely stuffed nose. She couldn't breathe well. I went to her room, pulled her from her crib, and took her downstairs in every effort to make sure that Thing 1, Thing 2 and their daddy were not awakened at this ridiculously early hour.

I nursed her, played with her, and cuddled her while we watched a bit of television. By 7:00 a.m. she was so fussy I nursed her again, at which time she instantly fell asleep. I placed her back in her crib.

As I trudged back to my own warm bed, Thing 1 emerged from his bedroom, wide awake and ready to discuss the finer points of his new Lego guy in his "technology suit". We chatted while I made him breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen, emptied the dishwasher, let the dog out, shoveled the back walk so the dog could actually urinate, and ground beans for coffee.

Thing 2 arose from bed at about this time, stuffed up and feeling miserable from his cold. I cleaned his face up, cuddled and comforted him a bit, then proceeded to make his breakfast.

By the time the second round of kitchen cleaning had wrapped up, Thing 3 woke up from her early morning mini-nap.

It was evident that our sorry little gang of Things was not going to make it to church this morning. Instead, I figured I would do my Sunday morning grocery shopping to get everything we needed for this week's meals. As I finished my meal plans and printed out my list, I realized it was already almost 10:00. I offered to take Thing 2 to the store with me (his big brother was playing Wii with daddy, and he is not quite as enamoured with it yet), and he gladly accepted my invitation.

Thing 2 helped me clean snow off our car and I buckled him into his car seat. We drove to our neighbourhood Loblaws. We pulled into a busy parking lot. We got out of the car, crossed the bustling parking lot, and entered the store.

As I leaned over to place Thing 2 in the child basket at the front of the grocery cart, his boots wiped brown, filthy slush all over my pants. And right then, it stung me like a slap in the face.

I gazed down at my permanently stained and five-year-old, ripped Lululemon track pants, that were two sizes too big for me because I had bought them in pregnancy. My pant legs bulged out of my knee high "tacky" and fake-fur lined winter boots. A 99-cent plastic head band from the drug store pulled back my bangs that were already showing grey roots, and the hairs that fit were hauled into an elastic. I had no make-up on and the collar of my mis-matched sweatshirt popped out of the top of my parka. The parka had multiple stains on it.

My mind instantly rewound and took me back in time as I replayed my own voice in my head, and could so clearly hear myself saying these exact words.

"I will never go out in public looking like that."

As I have so frequently learned in the past five years of motherhood, never judge another mother until you've walked a mile in her shoes.

I looked around to see if any shoppers were staring at me as pathetically as I had stared at the unkempt mothers that day at the store, and to my surprise, no one was looking at me and no one seemed to care how hideous I looked. I laughed out loud, humbled by own thoughts and by the realization of who I had become. I pushed Thing 2 into the store and we gathered our groceries together, just as we were.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Get all Giddy for Organizing

I'm very interested in organizing these days. I follow a few excellent organizing blogs, like I'm an Organizing Junkie and Creative Organizing, and I frequently find them incredibly helpful in helping me maintain a sane and clutter-free life.

Why the heck do I care about organizing at all?

Let's see . . . I have 3 Things, each of whom comes with an array of little *stuff* including such paraphernalia as diapers, toys, clothing, gadgets, books, backpacks and sippy cups. Their stuff is everywhere. As of Monday morning, I will also welcome into my humble abode a fourth little Thing, who will spend each day with us, and who will arrive like clockwork in the morning with his own conglomeration of *stuff*.

And you all know Thing 4, aka The Thing's Cocker Spaniel. Yeah, he has a bunch of stuff too. Dog food, leashes, and other pet necessities.

The cherry on top of this very lovely and multi-tiered ice cream sundae is the fact that we all live in an extremely small house. A bungalow, to be precise. And with the housing market and the economy in the current state it is . . . well, clearly we're not "movin' on up" anytime soon.

Instead? We make do with what we have. We organize and prioritize our Things (and things) and, for the most part, life is able to chug along pretty smoothly. We make so with a small space, everything has its place, and that's exactly where it should go.

So, imagine my surprise when I was checking some recipes on marvelous Martha's website and stumbled across her Organizing Tip of the Day! Fantastic! And I can have this little gem signed, sealed, and delivered right to my very own inbox each day. My organizational little heart was oozing over Tuesday the 13th's tip to stash entire sheet sets inside one of its pillowcases inside your linen closet.

GENIUS, Martha. Pure GENIUS.

I'm re-folding and sorting as I type.

I found my gleaming eye also wandering to the section on Organizing an Entryway, and found this awesome Basket Rack How-To. I am still needing to re-vamp my teeny-tiny entryway - more than ever - now that it's January in Ottawa. I need to aleviate stress and chaos when we (and by "we" I mean me and my traveling pack of Things) enter or exit the house. Each child has a snow suit which consists of either one or two pieces, one scarf, one pair of mitts, one hat, one pair of wet, slushy boots, and one backpack. The gear needs to fall nicely into place as we embark or disembark, and thus this has now shifted its weight on the list of priorities and is one of my goals for the next month or two.

And maybe, just maybe, my dream of a beautiful and completely handy mudroom will one day materialize.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Lego Wordless Wednesday

Monday, January 12, 2009

I give my heart to Lego and Playmobil

While I understand that Jesus was born on December 25th for very powerful and world-changing reasons, I still think Christmas falls at the end of December so that little girls and boys all over the world can play with their new toys throughout the very coldest and most brutal month of the year.


It is wonderful to watch Things 1 and 2 get so excited over new toys. It's definitely the age of getting that new toy high. They are three and nearly five, so they wrote their carefully-thought out letters to Santa and waited in anticipation to see if the toy they asked for would arrive under the Christmas tree.

And now my home is filled with Lego and Playmobil, companies who arguably manufacture toys with the *most* itty bitty tiny pieces per box. Although I am painstakingly trying to contain the parts (I lost track of counting the pieces once I hit six figures), there are inevitably miniature hats, stop signs, car pieces, ropes and little body pieces all over my carpet. And floor. And couches. And bathroom tile. And squished into tiny crevices all over my house.

I spend huge chunks of my day chasing after Thing 3 and trying to dislodge little tiny people from her increasingly strong jaws. It's tiring. After three weeks of Lego and Playmobil wrangling, it's gotten old.

The silver lining to all this is how entirely enamoured with the stuff the Things are. They LOVE it. They ADORE it. They have not stopped playing with it since they opened the original boxes on Christmas morning. They play with it alone. They play with it together. They have not watched TV in weeks. They rarely argue (note I said "rarely" because they are preschool-age boys and they do, indeed, fight sometimes). They genuinely want to stay home every day and play with
their "guys".

An added benefit? These toys are not CRAP, they are well-made, educational and useful toys that I feel comfortable having my children use. Playmobil is a fantastic German company that takes pride in it's craftmanship and developes high-quality and safe toys.

Now, for the most part, the Lego toys are quite advanced and are ages 5-7 or up. I'm thoroughly impressed with Thing 1's ability to follow the directions and assemble much of the pieces on his own. While Thing 2 gets easily frustrated when his "stuff" falls apart, he does quite well for a three-year-old kid. Their imaginations are soaring and I enjoy sitting and eavesdropping on their creative and animated play. I'll often catch myself grinning ear to ear and beaming with pride as I watch my two Things play so well together.

So that makes it all worthwile, right? Even picking lint-infested little tiny boots out of my vaccum cleaner . . .

And I now have two children who emphatically know what they want to be when they grow up.

Perhaps they'll go under cover as Secret Agents and fight for the better good of all mankind.

Or they might become world-wide adventurers and search for the Ark of the Covenant.

Or better yet, they might stick a little closer to home, and serve their own city fighting crime and chasing bank robbers.
The opportunities are limitless.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Road I'm Taking

I'm currently on leave from my position as an elementary school teacher. I was teaching grade six students and dealing with nearly 30 kids on the brink of teenage-dome, five days a week, ten months a year. I am fortunate to live in a country that supports a one year maternity leave, so after I had Thing 1 in March 2004, I embarked on motherhood with a one year leave leave from my school board in my back pocket.

As my twelve month long hiatus from work and any economic responsibility drew to a close, I was already pregnant with Thing 2. With only three months left in the school year, I made a last minute decision not to return to my classroom that year. I was riddled with morning sickness and putting forth every effort to cope with an eleven-month old with severe separation anxiety.

When Thing 2 arrived in October 2005, the school board granted me another twelve month maternity leave. As my second little boy inched closer and closer to his first birthday, I began to ponder what to do with my life, with my career, both as a teacher and as a mother.

I struggled with the decision of whether to go back to work or to stay home longer with my two young Things. Day care costs were astronomical and as a relatively new teacher, my salary wasn't exactly at the higher end of the pay scale yet. Paul and I decided that the best decision for all of us was for me to stay home for another year.

In the spring of 2007, I became pregnant with Thing 3. Having another babe in the womb affected my decision to go back to work in September 2007. I was feeling sick, exhausted, and I was taking care of Things 1 and 2, only 18 months apart and ages three and almost-two. I had a full plate and didn't think I could handle the stresses and responsibilities that would accompany heading back to the classroom.

Thing 3 joined the human race in January 2008, and if you're one of those *bright* people that can zip through math calculations in their heads, that indeed means she is almost one and that I'm closing in on yet another one year leave from my profession.

I spent a great deal of time this past fall trying to decide what I would do as Thing 1's first birthday approached. I began to dig around and look into my day care options. As a mom who has been home with her children for the past nearly five years, I was absolutely and completely stunned upon realizing what the cost of day care for three children entails. It's monumentally and ridiculously expensive. It soon became evident that unless I was going to be able to find a job that afforded me a gargantuan pay raise, going back to work would have to wait for the short term.

I struggled with this and waffled back and forth on my decision for weeks. I like working. There are days I miss it and feel pangs of envy towards my employed and full-time working friends. I miss the satisfaction, the rewards of earning a pay check and feeling like a valuable member of a team. I was used to having my performance measured, and to participating in goal-setting activities so that I could improve on my abilities and set expectations for myself.

When being a mother is your full-time job, your career, it is often impossible to measure your success. How the hell do I know if I'm doing a good job at this mothering gig? When will I ever know? Maybe when the Things grow up, seek happiness, find jobs and settle down to families of their own. Who knows? There are no pay checks with this job, no vacation days, no sick days, no coffee breaks, no corporate bonuses. From day to day I can't tell if me being at home with the 3 Things is really benefiting them - or me - at all. Are they learning enough? Eating healthy enough? Stimulated enough? Involved in enough activities? Oh wait, we already know they do NOTHING! I do my best, and that's all I can do.

And just as I was sailing through the stormy waters of the parenting seas with my 3 Things, along came a wave and out of the water bobbed a new opportunity. Something told me to seize it, and for now our little boat has its course charted out for it.

A good friend is heading back to work after her own maternity leave, and was truly struggling to find day care for her son. I mentioned to her that I could watch him when she goes back to work, and it turns out she took me up on the offer. He's a few weeks younger than Leah, so for the most part they will be on the same schedule, will eat the same foods, will do the same activities, will pee and poop at the same time . . . well, one can dream, right? It seems like this may be the right decision for me, as I will be able to spend a little more time at home with the Things, and I will have some income as well. So the working world is out of my reach, for a little while longer.

And I'm okay with this.

It's definitely the road I've taken.

Friday, January 09, 2009

What Are You Wearing?

OK, so I am still learning the basics on taking a self-portrait and am failing pretty miserably.

I promised myself I would take part in What are You Wearing today, hosted by Tiaras and Tantrums. I couldn't have picked a worse day, as I didn't budget enough time for a shower, have no make-up on, and actually threw on the first two items of clothing that I found in my closet. It's freezing today and I suspected I wouldn't be venturing out in public anywhere today except to run to and from the bus stop to take Thing 1 to school. Yeah. That's my excuse.

My sporty red fleece is from Lole - one of my absolute favourite Canadian brands. They offer sporty yet chic clothing for women who want to move and be comfortable, yet look good too. I LOVE their stuff.

My jeans are a few years old, I remember buying them in Toronto on a shopping trip before I had any Things. The label appears to say "i jeans", although it's in cursive and I can hardly make it out. I remember that they were not cheap, so now I am intrigued to find out what brand they actually are. They are very comfy and have a bit of stretch in them, so I wear them quite a bit.

Wool socks.

No make-up.

I will try for something more exciting next week, I promise.

Worn Out

It was a tough first week "back to the grind" for Thing 2. The poor little guy contracted pink eye and was overflowing yellow-ish goop from his left eye earlier this week. Not a fan of the administering of eye drops, he fought ferociously each time his father or I inched close to him with the dreaded Polysporin bottle. He's got spunk, that one, and after experiencing some of the eye-drop-fights I'd say this young man may be headed for UFC one day . . .

Strangely, as his eye began to clear up, Thing 2 became increasingly miserable and was having round-the-clock bouts of crying and screaming. I eventually took him to the doctor one night, sensing that something was just not right. Luck was not on his side this week and he ended up being diagnosed with a nasty ear infection.

He was so tired and worn out that he literally passed out one evening while lounging with Daddy. So utterly unlike him, I had to capture the moment so it would stay with me. I'm hoping the rest of 2009 brings calmer waters for our little tough guy!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Blog Designed by : NW Designs