Friday, 3 January 2014

Mom's day off

This morning, in my head, without telling anyone else,  I have declared today as Mom's day off.

At 6:36 am, my 3 1/2 year old came in to our bedroom, pressed her nose to mine and whispered, "Mom, I slept until 6:36, aren't you proud of me?"  Normal me would muster my fake early morning happiness, give her a big hug and say, "Yes, I am so proud of you!  Aren't you proud of yourself?!" But today, I said, "Mmmhumm, go tell your father." Jamie, being the sound sleeper that he is, didn't hear her the first 4 times she told him, so I may or may not have given him a bit of a kick. He heard, and got up with Sydney and Abby.
I got up at 8:00.  It wasn't a huge sleep in, but I missed the morning breakfast chaos, so I'm calling that a big win.

Jamie and I are both off from work today, but at 8:45 I took Sydney to daycare.  In all honesty, she wanted to go, and when I dropped her off, her bestie was there, so she was pumped to be there.  No guilt for me.  Fantastic!  Happy kid. Bonus!

When  I got home, Abby was napping, so I thought I should do something so I started sorting through a bag of clothes a neighbour had generously given me.  I went through it, and actually put together another bag of clothes for a friend.  I even dropped off that bag of clothes to that friend.  At that point, I felt that was enough doing for today.  Normal me would have gone into a cleaning frenzy and tidied everything up.  Today is Mom's day off, so my front room looks like this.  Ask me if I care...nope, don't care at all. 

I told myself yesterday that I was going to start Abby on finger foods today.  Lunch time came, and rather than syke myself up to peel vegetables and fruit, and then boil up bite sized pieces of carrots and pears, I went to the freezer and defrosted sweet potato and squash that I had already made in ice cube trays.  We'll try the whole finger food thing another day.

I try to always keep my kitchen island clean because otherwise it just becomes the city dump of our house.  Today, it doesn't look like a dump, just a small dumpster.  Whatevs.

The room I used to wrap our Christmas gifts looks like Hiroshima, but, conveniently a door was built attached to that room, so it will just stay closed for the time being, and I will continue to drink my coffee and pretend it isn't there.

During Abby's second nap I figured I might take a bit of time off from Mom's day off and vacuum.  Instead, I have read an InStyle magazine from cover to cover, which really, is not a lot of reading, but I did see a few nice outfits that I'll try to recreate the next time I'm at Winners.  I'm calling that literacy and creative design time.

I've already decided that I won't be making a vegetable based, quinoa, high protein, good for you,  blah, blah blah concoction tonight for supper (those always make me feel like I'm a good mother, but good lord they take a lot of time to prepare and use a lot of pots and pans).  When I was looking for a pen on top of the refrigerator I found a gift card for Pizza Delight.  I'm not even a big fan of Pizza Delight, but whatevs.  No cooking for this girl tonight, pizza for all!

Even though I don't have to work right now since I'm on maternity leave, I have never been more busy.  I know a lot of it I've brought on myself, but everything always seems like it needs to be done and needs to be done right now. Every morning when I wake I feel like I'm at the marathon starting line and when my feet hit the floor, the gun goes off and my day begins.   It's just too much sometimes.  So, today is Mom's day off and if the house falls down around me (which I know it won't), but if it does, we have really nice neighbours and we'll just go to their house and I'll deal with my lack of house tomorrow.   I highly encourage everyone to have a slack off day.  I've been having a lovely time so far.

Yours in taking a moment to regroup and unwind,


PS. In my husband's defense, he is awesome and does a ton around the house, both inside and out, but, at my house, I tend to run the show.  Today, I've hung up my director hat today, and I'm enjoying just being a member of the cast.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Where should our time go?

I'm totally in to activities for the kids.  I'm always thinking of the next thing that Sydney and/or Abby will be doing, and I usually have a bit of guilt when we stay home, but I have to admit, I am getting over that.  Some of my fondest memories of my childhood came from the activities that my parents put me in or that we participated in.  We love to go to the park, go on adventures in the woods, do fun things at the Y, and really, whatever is happening on any given weekend, we're in! I want the kids to be as athletic as their little bodies will let them, but also to experience as many opportunities as possible so they can discover where their talents lie.  I always wonder – what did I do with my time before I had these two girls? Now, it’s, not all, but mostly, all about the girls.  

I had a thought last night at about 10 o'clock on my way to bed. I thought to myself, "I think I may have my priorities screwed up a bit here when it comes to how we spend our time."  I came back out to the living room where Jamie was watching the hockey game, and I said, "I think I've been focusing on the wrong activities for Sydney." He looked at me with his Oh boy, here we go again face, and said, "Ok, well, what else should she be in?" I laughed and said, "I don't think she needs to be in something else, but I think we need to be doing something else." 

I started this blog because I'm always second guessing myself as a parent, and I always want to be doing the best for our family and for our girls.  Sometimes I'm feeling like a rock star, and sometimes I'm feeling like the roadie.  But, what I know for sure, is that to grow a great adult, you need to instill confidence, kindness and caring.  Sydney can drop kick a ball like nobody's business, she can almost swim on her own and she does exactly what her ballet teacher tells her to do.  I beam with pride when she does a puzzle by herself or makes a craft she wants to hang on the fridge, but these are all things that are about her, and I think we need to start to focus a little beyond team Henderson, and more on others.

I sat myself down on the couch and said to my husband, "If we can spend all this time going to ballet, swimming, gym tots and music, then we can spend time doing things for other people."  Jamie smiled and said, "Yes, I guess we can, but we need to remember she's only 3, we can't start off volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.  A plastic hammer can only do so much." I laughed and said, "Yes, but every time we go to the grocery store we can get one food item for our food bank box and then when it's full we can take it to the food bank."  Jamie agreed.  We then talked about other things that we can do that will show Sydney, and eventually Abby, that it's not always about them.  The world needs good citizens and teaching positive, giving behaviors begins at home.

We're going to start with the food bank box and hopefully get to the food bank every couple of months to drop it off.  I'm going to look in to whether or not we could volunteer there to help with sorting, etc.  Sydney loves to group like items with like items, so I figure that would be a good start.  We're also going to go once a month to a local seniors home and do puzzles with the residents (Sydney's going to put her puzzle making ability to use).  We also love to bake, so we'll take baking to people in our church, neighbourhood or community who need a little pick me up. 

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I guess I'm just thankful for how my life has turned out so far.  I don't really have anything to complain about, and anything that I do want to complain about, I am the one that needs to fix the problem, so there's no use in complaining anyway.  I think it's important for Sydney and Abby to appreciate that they too are fortunate, but also realize that what really matters is the good fortune they can bring to other people.  We're not going to start our own volunteer organization any time soon, but we're going to start to rethink the way we spend our time as a family.  I don't think our time would ever be wasted on others.

Yours in making a paradigm shift,


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Going Bananas?

Today Sydney started a new daycare, Abby rolled over, Jamie started going to work, at what I consider the crack of dawn, and I confirmed for myself that I was happy.  Not just a little happy, but a lot happy.
I realized I was happy when I was buying bananas at the Superstore.  Yes, strange place to have a moment of enlightenment, but I’ll take it where I can get it.  I wasn’t particularly happy that I only had 20 minutes to do a week’s worth of grocery shopping or that I had a million things to do today or that I hadn’t been doing any type of exercise for at least two weeks, but when I grabbed those bananas I thought to myself, “I have a great life.” Then, I laughed out loud because the mundane activity of buying a bunch of bananas somehow triggered self-actualization.  Maslow would be proud.

I’ve been searching for a long time for happiness.  I didn’t really know I was searching for it, I just knew that I wasn’t happy.  Not even unhappy, but more lacking a sense of peace.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m happy.  I smile, I laugh, I tell jokes (which are terrible – ask my husband), but I’ve always had this unexplained uneasiness which has left me in a perpetual state of unrest.  I’ve felt several times in my life that I have missed opportunities, been in the wrong place at the wrong time, or just plain ole felt left out. Well, somehow today, this feeling came over me at the superstore that I was happy. And, as funny as this sounds, I was happy because I realized there really wasn’t anything to be unhappy about.
I’ve spent a lot of time measuring my success against the success of others whether it was in my family life, my profession or appearance.  And, although this realization has played itself out to me several times in the last few months, it was today that I recognized that I didn’t need to compare, I just needed to appreciate.

When I think of my family, I just well up. My family and my husband’s family are just lovely.  My parents help our family so much, and just knowing that I have their support brings me a lot of happiness every day. I also feel that I have won the in-law jackpot.  My in-laws are normal, which, from talking to friends, is sometimes a quality that is difficult to come by in the area of in-laws.  Jamie’s sister and brother and their families are equally as lovely, and I’m so glad that they have accepted me and all of my quirks.  That in itself deserves a lot of appreciation.
I appreciate that I can go into the Superstore and buy 3 bananas or 100 bananas.  What I would do with 100 bananas, I don’t know, but what I do know is that when I need to buy groceries, I just buy groceries.  Yes, I don’t get to buy a 30 foot boat, or a new Mercedes, but I get the privilege to go to the Superstore, buy my groceries, use my debit card and not think twice.  I was lucky enough to be able to attend university, train for a job I love and work in a field that allows me to live a comfortable middle class life.  I’m not getting rich, but my life isn’t hard.

I am a teacher with a job.  I also have a husband who is a teacher, who has a job. I feel like I should be lighting a candle for that one.  That’s hard to come by these days and my heart goes out to all of the substitute teachers who are trying for their turn at the brass teaching ring.  This year has been a telling year for me, as many new jobs have been available in our school district.  Being on maternity leave, I’ve missed out on several opportunities.  Normally, internally I would be fit to be tied that my colleagues and friends were getting opportunities and I wasn’t, but this year, I have been anything but.  I have been genuinely, honestly and truly happy for all of my colleagues who have been asked to serve in different positions.  I know I’m a good teacher, with strong merits.  Someday I will be asked to use my talents in a different capacity, but until then – I’m good.  I am sometimes at my happiest in my classroom with my students, and I need to be thankful for that.  Not everyone can say they love their job.  As hard as it is, I honestly do love being a teacher.
I could not complete this post without mentioning my wonderful neighbourhood.  I have amazing neighbours who have wonderful children.  I feel like I might live on the best street in the world.  I smile every time I drive down my street because my children have friends to play with, and I have other adults right next door who are my new found friends.  We invite each other into our homes for meals, we love to play baseball, road hockey and soccer with the kids in our front yard, and we really love to hang out by the bbq and have a few beer.  So simple, yet so wonderful.

I could go on about all of the little things that my friends have done for me, that have, in all honesty, brought me to tears in the last few months because I am just so darn thankful. I could also go on about the three very special people that live at my house with me.  I can’t even begin to describe how thankful I am for them.
Now, don’t get me wrong.  There is stuff that, for lack of a better term, sucks, but the good stuff far outweighs the bad. And, if there is a day (or week) where the bad is truly outweighing the good, I push the bad to the side for a few minutes and remind myself that the good stuff is there, and when the bad passes the good will be there waiting. A lot of the time though, I find some good in the bad.  It just sometimes takes a bit of searching.

In the end, I now have a sense of peace because I’ve chosen appreciation.  Appreciation and gratitude have brought me stability and focus.  People talk about feeling grounded, and I feel like I have been cemented because I have switched my focus from what could be to what is.  I will still strive to reach my goals and plan for the future, but I will also appreciate what is right in front of me.  For my girls, I hope they too appreciate the love they have in their lives.  My team may not be fancy, but I am so thankful to be part of it.
Yours in choosing appreciation,


Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Broken Chain

Have you ever been on a long bike ride?  Not one that involves smooth trails, flat terrain and water fountains just at the point when you think you need a drink. But   maybe a ride that was long, the day was hot, sunscreen was forgotten, and there were a lot of uphill climbs?  And, maybe, during one of these climbs, the chain breaks on your bicycle?  Well, if you know me, you know I hate biking, but lately I feel like I’m on a bicycle chain breaking ride with my sweet girl Sydney.

I have never second guessed myself more than in the last two months.  I have questioned myself, sought advice, pondered dilemmas and lost sleep trying to remember how to care for a new baby and how to grow a loving, humble and happy 3 year old.  Remember that song “Things that make you go Mmmm…”  Well, that is currently my theme song.  I’m constantly thinking “Mmm..what can I do to help Sydney understand that telling her little friend that she doesn’t like her anymore is not okay or Mmm…will Abby become obese later in life because I’ve chosen to feed her formula because breastfeeding was as brutal as an MMA fight?”  The list of my questions and worries is long. I’ve always had a fair amount of confidence, but this parenting thing is a true test.

I am affected every day in my career by people’s parenting decisions.  As a teacher, I know what good parenting can do for a child, and how misguided parenting can leave children struggling to find their place in the world.  Each year, I meet students that leave me in awe of their awesomeness.  While I was pregnant with Abby, I would catch myself looking around my classes, and thinking, “I wonder what her/his parents did to make her/him such a wonderful person.”  In one parent teacher interview, I actually asked one parent.  She said, “Is there anything else I should know?” And I said, “No, but there is something I would like to know.  What did you do as a parent that allowed Jessie to become an amazing student, athlete and person?” Of course, Jessie’s mother laughed and said to me, “I never let her away with anything that didn’t make me proud and even when I didn’t really like her behavior, I always told her every day how much I loved her.”   I said, “Well, it sure worked.” And she replied, “Yup, but some days it was hard work, but I think it paid off.”

I’m hoping the hard work I’m putting in with Sydney, and eventually Abby will pay off.  This blog post was inspired when I said to Jamie, “Well, today was a good day.  Sydney didn’t have time out.” Jamie chuckled, but after I said it, I felt a little sad.  I was measuring a successful day by how little Sydney was punished.  I went upstairs to fold some laundry, came back down and said to Jamie, “Today was a good day because Sydney happily played by herself, painted some beautiful pictures, entertained us when she danced ballet after dinner and she hugged and kissed her sister in a way that makes your heart melt.”  Jamie of course laughed, and said, “Sydney is going to be fine, don’t worry so much.” Oh, Jamie, I would love to be you for a day.

So, for my girls, I will measure successful days by the smiling moments rather than the stern moments.  And, I will just take it one day at a time, because, I hope, in the end, it will pay off and my girls will be strong, loving and contributing citizens to the world.  

No pressure.


Friday, 5 July 2013

Saying Hi

I talk a lot when I'm out in the world.  Today I was running errands and as I was talking to a lady about her intricate hair style while I was shopping for diapers I suddenly realized I may have a stranger conversation compulsion.  I spark up conversations with a lot of people, and, the best part is that most (if not all) people will talk back to me. They just needed someone else to get the conversation started and I have no problem with that.

When Jamie and I first started dating, I would say, "Hi" to people all the time (I still do), and he would say, "Who was that?" and I would always reply, "I don't know, I just said Hi."  Very quickly, he stopped asking.  It's like this reflex I have.  Now, I don't want you to think I'm this "Hi" machine, and that every person who crosses my path receives a "Hi" from me.  No, that would be crazy.  But, when I'm out running in my neighborhood (or wherever), I say "Hi" to people I go by, or if I I'm standing in line, I might give the person beside me a little smile with a "Hi."  Not in a weird way, but a friendly way.  I don't know.  I really don't have any control over it.  It just comes out, but I'm pretty sure I know where it originated from. 

I'm an only child and I believe that my mother trained me to be friendly, or at least be open to meeting and talking to people.  She tells stories of how I would go up to kids in the playground or at the wading pool and say, "Hi, my name is Beth, do you want to play?"  As an adult, I've downgraded to just "Hi", but the effect of being friendly is just as powerful as it was when I was a kid.  I participated in a lot of fun as a child because I was willing to put myself out there and I think that's translated into a few adventures as an adult as well. 

So, that leads me to today.  I took Sydney to a friend's house who has a beautiful pool, and, if you were also in the Atlantic Provinces today, you will know it was incredibly hot outside.  I was so glad to be invited over.  As we were walking up the stairs to the house, I don't know what came over me, but I said to Sydney, "Ok Syd, Sarah is going to be here with her little girl, Tori, you remember Tori right?" Sydney nods.  "When you see her, you don't need to be shy, or hide your head.   I think you should be brave and just say Hi.  I bet they will smile and be happy when you say it, and I will be proud of you.  Do you think you could try it?"  Sydney and I were standing at the door at this point, and she said, "Yup, I will try." 

When we got in the house, I could see that they were out back by the pool.  Sydney and I got changed, and I made no mention of saying Hi. We went to the deck door, and opened it up and the first thing Sydney said was "Hi" with a big smile and a friendly voice.  Of course, Sarah smiled and said "Hi Sydney" and Tori, who is only 6 months old, smiled as well. I started chatting with Sarah and we headed to the pool.  Sydney didn't act strange (which she normally would do) and she had fun as soon as she got there, rather than needing time to warm up.  It was such a wonderful change.  We swam, we had fun, and, eventually, it was time to go.

We got outside and I loaded Syd into the van, and started to buckle her in.  You're going to think I'm making this part up, but I kid you not, this is what Sydney said to me, "Mommy, I said Hi and Sarah and Tori smiled." I was a bit taken aback because that had been well over an hour ago that we had that conversation.  I said, "I know honey, see what happens when you're friendly.  You made them happy, and all you had to do was say Hi."  Sydney smiled and said, "Are you proud of me mommy?"  Well, I don't think I have to tell you that I teared up a little bit.  I held her little face in my hands and said, "Mommy is so proud of you Sydney.  You make me so happy every day.  I love you."  She says, "I'm proud of you too Mommy."  I laughed because I was proud too.  For all the moments I have mommy guilt, I really appreciated a moment of mommy pride.

Yours in having a proud parent moment,