The One Where its been Forever

For a host of reasons it has, unfortunately, been a while since I put thoughts to page.

Thankfully right now the minions are being entertained by animated Dr. Seuss and I am actually sitting down.

Fall has been a whirlwind. Today marks the beginning of week 7 of first grade for Bug, the boys are loving preschool and wishing every day was show and tell day. We had our first big fall storm with winds and rain and branches littering the roadways, thankfully we didn’t lose power this go around. I am looking forward to the end of the week when we get the wood burning fireplace inspected/cleaned so that once again on the cozy days we can snuggle up with a good book and the crackling logs.

Another thing is also on the horizon for fall. After much asking, pleading and praying, Bug has been given her wish. A baby sister will be making her appearance in the next few months. I say few because we don’t really know. I had severe pre-eclampsia with both pregnancies and this one has been different thus far due to a daily baby aspirin and my own slowing down. Our goal with this little girl is 32 weeks and I’m almost to 31. This would mark the longest I’ve ever managed to keep a bun baking, which is exciting, it also comes with all new territory I’ve never experienced. At this point I’m pretty confident we will have our sweet little girl home for Christmas (another first) and I can’t imagine anything more wonderful and exhausting than combining the advent season with a newborn.

The small ones have adjusted fairly well to our new boring life. I spend most afternoons trying to sit or lie down and thus they have had more screen time than I like, thankfully it is just a season and once the littlest one arrives we will get back to our daily outings of hiking, exploring, and many more adventures. I am very thankful the boys have 6 hours of preschool a week. It is strangely quiet without their constant narrative.

I hope fall has been good to all of you. The changing colors and crisp air never ceases to thrill my soul and I hope for many more good years with my littles enjoying my favorite season.

There is much to catch up on and at least 4 more posts in my head, for now I just wanted to say I’m alive and well and finally getting back into some me time.

Happy Fall everyone!

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So it Goes

It is the peak of Summer. Despite the last week being a crazy heatwave which included the worst air quality in years (fires in Canada blowing smoke down into the states) and a last minute family reunion under difficult circumstances, it is indeed, the peak of Summer.

I do enjoy the sun and the hotness, however, I think I have officially reached my limit. How do I know? For one thing when I woke up to low fog and crisp air I wished it was Autumn, despite logically knowing it was August. The other day at the coffee stand I mistakenly ordered a GF pumpkin scone….far too early and yet on my mind. I’ve also realized that the impending school year is helter skelter at best and it is time to get my act together.

Bug will begin 1st grade this year, the curriculum has been ordered and I anxiously await its arrival so I can begin scheduling her year. Now that my fluent in French father is retired I also have the matter of convincing him to be a language teacher. I myself learned French and Japanese, neither of which have helped very much. Considering the fact that I learned both languages in high school, this is not so surprising. I am hoping if Bug gets into a language earlier it will be more beneficial. Her homeschool journey also included art lessons with Nanga (her grandmother) last year so we may try to continue those depending on how extensive the curriculum art portion really is. She is excited to be a big 1st grader and her knowledge of letters and smaller words is getting better. I am hoping she will be reading well about mid school year. She keeps busy with a dance class with a bunch of other homeschool girls which is quite fun and she will continue this for next year. I have yet to decide what we will do about musical education as she is very inclined to it and loves to sing. We recently were gifted a piano so we may throw in some piano lessons as well. The beauty of homeschool is bringing all these things together and not having to “add” them to a 9-3 school day so our schedule will still remain open for our treasured time outside and having adventures around the region.

The rascals begin preschool in just 4 short weeks. I am absolutely sure they will love it and not look back. They will attend the same preschool their sister did, which is only 10 blocks away and a huge part of its appeal as in the glorious Fall we can walk! I am excited to see them blossom and grow, to find the same friends or different ones and to have their own tales to tell sissy when they come home from school. The preschool is 2 days a week from 9-12 so it will give Bug and I a chance to have some girl time and also buckle down without interruptions for our school day.

I woke up this morning and lit a fire under myself and copied my wall calendar to my weekly planner, made phone calls to schedule things, began a new budget and a to do list. In Summer as is right to do, I often let the inside things like deep cleaning and sorting and organizing go, so that we can enjoy our outside time fully. Now I am looking down the barrel of a busy Fall and realizing how it is time to make the rounds and clean out the playroom, our closets and outside. Lots of trips to consign things or drop at the goodwill or haul junk to the dump are in the future. I will especially relish the yard clean up where I will sit on the deck and make the kids pay penance for a summer of freedom and general cluttering up of the deck and yard. Another nice thing about the Summer is its ability to bleach/dry the grass and I haven’t mowed in weeks. It has been lovely.

Apologies to all you Summer lovers out there, but I cannot WAIT for Fall!

Here’s to enjoying our last few weeks of freedom and sunshine, salute!

The Endurance Race

No I’m not someone who runs marathons. I ran a half marathon just to prove I could and that pretty much settled it for me.

The race I speak of is parenthood. Not a race to win for first or tie with your friends. A race to keep your sanity and to go the distance in the most challenging endeavor you could imagine.

As I sit (finally) writing again, its a sunny beautiful Sunday. I was watching my kids digging in the dirt/running through the sprinkler and in general just playing joyfully and I thought as I looked at them, these are my humans. Somehow in this life, they belong momentarily to me, they are the people I love the most and who can also drive me the most crazy.

PAUSE-to rescue Fuss off the fence which he has perched himself precariously on.

The point is, for better or worse I am in this. I can either agonize the whole way through about how it hurts and the bad days go on and on, or I can take it one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. I know someday I will reach the finish, all the hard work will be worth it. All the bad days will fade in my memory and I will cherish all the moments that I have been privileged to be a part of.

My kids are still little, 7 and 5 this year and already it feels like I have run a half marathon. Each day brings new challenges and new joys. I have to remind myself on the tough days that a good one is just around the corner. The enormity of the task of raising small humans to walk, speak, write, retain knowledge and show kindness and love to those around them is sometimes too much. Instead one can focus on trying to get them to just brush their teeth twice a day.

Webster’s dictionary defines endurance the following way:

The ability to withstand hardship or adversity: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.

The fact is parenting is hard work, it should be hard work, it some of the most important work on the planet in my opinion. It is not for everyone. Our reward for these tough days and years is those lucky moments of pure joy and accomplishment when our children discover something new or finally do something on their own.

Lately I have been beating myself up for not doing enough, not for my kids, but for my old self I suppose. Sometimes I have moments where I realize all I could accomplish on my own, how productive I could be, selfish thoughts of doing something worthy. I forget momentarily that I already have followed a worthy calling, a road which has many ups and downs, and no accolades or end in sight for some time. It is a tough race alone, made easier when you have someone by your side to run with, someone who pushes you when you feel faint. For this I am grateful and thankful that our children do have 2 parents who are willing to go the distance. I can’t imagine doing this without the husband and I so admire those who are parenting on their own with no one left to pick up the slack.

Keep putting one foot in front of the next, sometimes you may crest a hill and have the wind at your back and you will float gloriously as if in the clouds. Don’t forget what this feels like when your hips begin to strain and you can’t feel your feet. Don’t give up.

Enjoy and revel in all the moments, the journey is long and the path a winding one.

Farewell for now…

Split Personality

This sounds odd, I know, and no this isn’t some weird confessional post. This title seemed so fitting given the things I’ve been ruminating on lately.

Here’s the thing. The year before I was born was the year that CD-ROM was introduced, when I was in middle school DVD’s started to replace the ole VHS. When I was 4 years old the World Wide Web was coming to fruition.

I straddle the divide of Generation X and Millennials though I am more inclined to put myself into the Generation X category. I have the unique perspective of knowing what its like to play outside til the street lights come on and also to have learned technology from the ground up.

My childhood was spent outside playing or inside reading books (to generalize) and though we had a computer in our house it was just another thing to play with, not an all encompassing machine of wonder.

I remember playing coloring games on our box shaped computer or even sliding in a floppy disk to play “Where in The World is Carmen San Diego”. It was cool, but so were a lot of other things. My friends and I would play Oregon Trail in their basement for an hour or so then go explore the neighborhood on foot for a few hours, crossing small creeks and hiking through woods. All unsupervised of course with no cell phones and knowing we had to eventually head back home or our mothers would worry.

I have always had a kinship with pen to paper, always preferred hand written notes to typing on a keyboard. Nonetheless, because of the timing of when I grew up it just so happened that typing classes were mandatory in high school, and power points were the ultimate for school presentations.

I suppose it is because I’m growing older and seeing how technology has seemingly taken over all aspects of our life that I have always had a hesitation to jump in feet first to embracing its presence in my life. I grew up with a dial channel TV for pete’s sake, I still have a collection of burned CD’s from when music was pirated on the internet before Apple had an ITunes.

My very modus operandi has always crossed into both these worlds. I embrace the technology that makes things better or more efficient, and yet I find myself longing for the slower pace of life that was my childhood. It seems as processing speeds grew on computers so as well did our pace of life. It is because of this that I understand my children must learn about technology that surrounds them and at the same time why I feel such a burden to show them how going barefoot feels in the grass, or how the forest air fills your lungs like nothing else.

My constant goal is to slow (lets face it, normalize) the pace of life, despite the pressures the world puts on us, to teach my children to stop and smell the flowers. I wonder often what they will think when they have grown up, how different the world will look with the constant barrage of technology invading our homes, our cars, our workplaces. I certainly know that I cannot go back. There is no time machine to be had, nor would I want to change what has come to be. We cannot go back in time, though some try. There are many people, quite often those in my generation, who buck the trend and shackles of technology and choose to live off grid, or make their life more green. I applaud those who choose to forge their own path this way, To control the hold that technology has in their world. It was a simpler time, our tech free childhoods, but the reality is the world we are living in now, today, tomorrow will continue to change and accelerated into a technology dominant world.

You see, change is inevitable in this life and progress is what makes us so uniquely human.

We are meant to change, to adapt, to grow, to learn. The machine of progress will not be stopped, the challenge is to realize it is in our power to slow it down.

For me, living my life at a slower pace keeps me sane. Letting my children become familiar with computers is something I try to do, albeit at the library rather than at our home (for now). Teaching them the common sense principles of safety and responsibility as my parents did for me will help them no matter the situation.

So I will take from my “old” and do my best to meld it with this “new” in such a way that myself and my children are able to use technology for our purpose rather than having it be a controlling aspect in our lives. I will try to teach them the joy of having a childhood outside in the beautiful world, or diving into a book to experience another world. I will teach them how to type but also how to pen a letter in cursive. I will teach them how to do math without a calculator, to journal and maybe even to blog some day. I will continue to draw on my split personality to benefit the next generation. They will know no other world exists unless we reveal it to them, hand it down so they may continue to make this world a better place.

So here is to progress, and to passing on that which is not found in our imaginary world of zeroes and ones.

Thanks for reading.

E

 

A Weekend with Thing 1 and Thing 2

Bug and the Husband spent the weekend meeting the new baby cousin so I was here with the boys this weekend. Its been a while since we just had mama and boys time and it was a full weekend with lots of fun.

Friday my dad (Boppa to the littles) had the day off so we headed up to hang with him for a bit and visit with Nanga (grandma). We set off Friday with adventure in our hearts and got 1 exit down the highway and immediately stopped. The highway near our house goes over a bridge and it is badly in need of replacement, just as so many bridges in our nation are. The biggest headache is when an accident happens on the 2 lane freeway and the bridge chokes off traffic because of its lack of shoulders. Nonetheless the sun was shining and the boys were happy so we listened to the police scanner and eventually got moving 20-30 minutes later. Skittle passed out in the car so Fuss and I took a walk to the store with Boppa while Nanga monitored the exhausted one.

It didn’t take much convincing on my moms part and she had us staying for dinner. With full bellies and tired eyes we went home at bed time. I had a friend come up to visit and we had a good chat and went to bed.

At 6am the twin alarm clock went off and I grudgingly kept them company as I slowly woke. We all got ready and packed in the car to stop for coffee and head up north so my friend could visit her godmother and the boys could throw rocks in the “ocean” as I had promised them. We picked up my mom and had our first stop at the chocolate/gelato shop I have been frequenting since I was 7. The boys had cocoa and I had a delicious mocha. After too much deliciousness we headed out in the grey day with a light drizzle and went to throw rocks in the water. We walked, we played at the playground, then once the rain picked up we went to grab lunch.

Keeping two 4yr old boys occupied for 30 minutes at lunch is always fun. Thankfully afterwards we wandered into the bookstore and novelty shop and Giddy picked out a Lego book and Fuss found a retractable pirate dagger. Happy and content we had a quick visit to say hello to Boppa then headed back down south for home.

My friend and I headed out, leaving the boys with their favorite sitter, to meet another friend for dinner at a local farm to table restaurant. 4 hours later, full of amazing food, good wine and wonderful company, we parted ways to head home for bed.

Another 6am wake up on Sunday and my friend did the coffee run while I got the boys ready for the day. We needed some fresh air so the boys and I walked downtown and took the first bus at the bus station. The bus is basically a carnival ride for children. It was quiet and relaxing and I found myself just staring at both of them and realizing just how much I love them. The moments of slow and still are so rare in our house, especially adding sissy in the mix. It was a wonderful moment. We hopped off at the park and played in a very wet playground where Giddy managed to mop up all the water from the slide onto his pants. With wet bums we started the walk back home.

It was slow going because of all the glorious puddles and it seemed everyone was hiding inside from the rain so we had the neighborhood to ourselves. We arrived home and made hot pizza for lunch just as the rain picked up again.

Queue the 2 hour struggle to get the boys to nap/have quiet time. Skittle finally fell asleep 20 minutes before we needed to leave for my little sisters birthday party.

A quick grocery stop and we headed to my parents to celebrate my little sister turning 26. The boys ran wild, ate dessert and Fuss hilariously insisted on playing waiter and loading up all the tiny appetizer plates with Chinese pork and mustard and handing them out to all the guests.

When the boys had reached peak rowdiness we headed out to walk to the store (the walk I’ve followed since I was in a stroller) and Auntie and Uncle came with. We managed to get back before more rain again and we packed everyone up to head home. The boys ate pb&j in the car and happily watched a movie while my friend and I talked in the front seat. Shortly after arriving home she headed back to her house and the boys went to sleep. I watched a movie I hadn’t seen in a while and promised myself to be in bed before 10pm.

Today has been lazy, its cold and wet outside and we are watching Curious George in peace. Skittle is dressed, Fuss in pajamas still and I have been wishfully looking up short hikes for the day in case the weather clears. We are ready to have Daddy and Sissy back, although the peace and quiet hasn’t been terrible.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with these little Buggers and I’m looking forward to future weekends before they grow up and stop thinking I’m the most fun!

Hope all of you had a relaxing and enjoyable long weekend!

 

The Edge

The edge, the advantage, the upper hand. No matter what you call it, there is always a win to be gained. A play to be made, an unseen element which can elevate you to a victory.
We are all born as babies, correct? Naked into the world we come. Some of us are born to riches some to poverty. We are born to broken families and to those who seem as if nothing could tear them apart. It is our distinct difference and individuality that make us such interesting people, people who have unique gifts and talents to bring to the world.
I was born into a stable family. A family in which once I could speak and talk and generally think for myself. Being the middle sister and having an older sibling I learned quickly about good old competition. Who was faster, who could understand better, who could negotiate better (always my older sister, who at times I’m sure thoroughly exasperated my parents).
In the world in which I am raising my children there has been a vast scaling back of the idea of winning or competition to be the best. These days’ children are given ribbons or trophies simply for participating or taking part in something. Now I’m not against participation, I think it’s fabulous when a child can try something new and be encouraged to figure out where their strength lies, however, I am absolutely against treating all children exactly the same and rewarding such behavior.
I participated in various sports and learned the concept of losing and winning. I felt the sting of a loss, the anger and sadness when things didn’t turn out how I’d hoped. This losing made me try harder, look at what needed improving and tested my resilience. Perseverance was learned often and early. Winning was a great feeling, to know that a battle had been fought and until the last second you had given 110%, well there isn’t anything like it.
My competitive spirit has certainly not faded with age. The other night I went to bed laughing (albeit painfully) because of an incident with the Husband and I. We had finished watching Sherlock on BBC and I mentioned I was so glad it was over as I was bursting to go to the bathroom (we’ve forgotten about the pause button huh?). All he had to say was “well I think I may have to get there first” (keep in mind that our family of 5 shares 1 bathroom upstairs) and I promptly leapt from the couch, shoved him back into the couch and raced to the stairs taking them 2 at a time to reach the bathroom before he could. This hasty exit meant that in my hurried and crazed state I smacked a flailing hand into the plaster wall of the stairwell and had two knuckles swollen up like a prizefighter about 2 minutes later. My competitive streak has not retreated much.
Today my knuckles are turning that lovely yellow and purple color of bruise and each time I look at my hand I cannot help but giggle. This is who I am. It is preposterous, but there is something in my very DNA that springs to compete and win, even in something so ridiculous as a race to the bathroom.
You see, God made us each with unique and wonderful capabilities. We are so amazing at being us and we can feel so fulfilled when we use our gifts to the fullest that it can feel a little like winning, even if there is no one to compete with. Comparison is the thief of joy (or so the saying goes I believe). When we compare ourselves to others we do not see what God sees, we see what the world sees. How successful someone may be, how much money they make, etc. My favorite competition in life is with myself. How can I get better, how can I improve upon the gifts that God has given me? Striving to elevate myself in all areas, without comparing myself to others and in doing so pushing them down the heap it what I aim for. There was a time when I had 3 kids under 3 that I timed how long it took me car door to car door to do a Costco run. It seems ridiculous but at the time I was out for a personal record (against yours truly) and it was such fun to see if I could get the whole list done, loaded and kids back in car seats in the shortest time. I finally shaved it down to 27 minutes or something crazy and then it was over. Like I said, my competitive streak is a bit ridiculous.
I am grateful for God given talents and the ability to compete. I am so thankful I married someone who loves competition as much as I do. After all its much more fun when you are fully vested in the game, be it Scrabble or the game of LIFE. Our children will no doubt inherit some competitive streak as it is strong in both of us. I can only hope this yearning to win will motivate them to work harder, learn more and be the kind of people who can be proud of their accomplishments without having to stand on someone else’s shoulders.
We all have an edge: being ourselves and embracing our talents.
To learn in the face of defeat and come back stronger to the challenge and win is one of life’s gifts. Not to be taken lightly, not to just “participate” but to want to be the best you can be of who you are. This is the edge. What’s yours?

The Three Blessings of the Season

They are all on the couch, munching fishy crackers and entranced by my little pony. We’ve finished school for the day, Bug and I.

For a few minutes here it will be peaceful, serene and lovely. A chance for me to gaze at these faces in their perfect slightly chubby childhood wonder.

Oh its been a season.

This season of Autumn has included 3 birthdays, a Christmas tree hunt (the first year they understood the concept of hanging up the ornaments and actually helped) and many other fun family moments. Obviously its been a busy season, I have thought many times of opening up my notebook or tablet to write and the intentions were good but things always seemed to deter me.

These three. These three keep me on my toes. Amidst the constant requests for help or snacks or breaking up arguments I’ve tried to take a step back and really see the brains churning. I’m enjoying Bug learning in school, finding her eyes light up when we talk about things that interest her. In truth it is an education for me as well, a chance to cast off my self doubt about where I rate on the “making good choices as a mother” scale and realize that they all go to bed each night with full bellies and knowing they are loved. This. This is the most important.

In this season of so much STUFF especially with the birthdays thrown in too, I’ve enjoyed doing things like making cookies with them or the nightly Bible reading and advent calendars, watching the delight on the faces of the boys as they woke before dawn to their first real chance to make a snowman.

This is a season of giving, of realizing how fortunate we are as the world struggles, mothers who can’t feed babies, fathers who have no work to support families, those who are simply struggling to live. What a privilege it has been to give money away to help those who just need a leg up or even just a warm meal.

Next week when the Christmas shine has dulled we will begin the process of giving away old toys or those that are not played with. I have made it a habit over the years to clean house literally and metaphorically in January. I love teaching my children that their things can bring joy to new children, that things can be recycled, that all the toys in the world can’t replace the love of our family and everyone who cares for them. We come into this world with nothing and yes, leave with nothing too. I am completely guilty of getting way too excited at Christmas and buying gifts for everyone way too early. This year I have attempted to be more practical but the consumerism still seems to push in at times.

This year I have had to work to mentally train myself to slow down, to take the kids for cocoa instead of buying things they point at in the store. This year was also fun because for the first time Bug got $ from her savings account and we went shopping for Dad and the boys. What fun to watch her decide on what to give and to understand that though she saw a lot of neat things for herself, that it was not the point.

Of all the gifts in the whole world, this time of year reminds me of just how wonderful each of my babies are. What a blessing and a miracle their very existence is. So I will continue to try, to carry on through the season, knowing that all I really need is the ones I love. Watching new things learned, listening to my children play together and learn to love. What a wonderful life it truly is.

Slow down, savor the ability to breathe, eat and sleep, the chance to laugh with friends and see family far flung and near.

May your Christmas be merry and your blessings abundant.

Here’s to a wonderful new year to come.

Cheers and blessings to all.