Thursday, March 31, 2011

2 Weeks and 1 Day Left

The last two days have been busy, as usual. First of all, I finished my toys for the kids for Easter. Each of them gets one and it's the same toy - it's a reversible duck/bunny. It isn't perfect but it didn't turn out too badly. I have a few other things I would like to make for their Easter baskets but I don't know whether there will be time.

Before Pk went to the sitter yesterday, we took a couple of minutes to start a craft. We are making a sunshine using food colouring and a coffee filter. Part one was soaking the filter in coloured water. I got the idea from a blog I get a lot of ideas from - Teach Preschool. Unfortunately, ours didn't seem to accept the colour the way the ones on the blog did.
Each morning, we have a routine - I get up early and work out and then shower, I get breakfast started and then I go and wake the kids up. Baby Bean is quick to get up but Pk isn't always thrilled to get out of bed (which doesn't bode well for the earlier mornings when I start back at work). We start in Baby Bean's room and get him dressed and tidy and make the bed. That's repeated in mummy and daddy's room and then in Pk's room. We have a selection of toys there for Baby Bean. It might sound silly but it's a favourite part of my day and one that I will miss. More than anything, I will miss the slower pace.
Of course, the dog always has to be involved in everything.
We are finally seeing some glimpses that spring is coming and yesterday, I decided that it was high time for Baby Bean and I to walk up to pick Pk up from her sitter. It's about a 20 minute walk, all uphill, but that makes it good exercise.
When I got there, there was a post-it note on the sitter's door letting us know that they were at the park. Pk was thrilled and it took a while to get out - she has a big thing for the swings and needs a good bit of swing time before we are allowed to leave the park.
Last night was storytime at the library. Pk finds it so exciting that she is allowed to wear her jammies. (Note to mummy, make sure that her jammies truly fit when being worn out of the house - we are some "oldies but goodies" that really aren't fit for an audience and we were seeing lots of her navel last night). She was thrilled to see her best friend V and her friend O from daycare. It's funny, each family has a child +-3 and one +-12 months so they all have a friend.
I had to get a photo of this one - it's a song about elephants marching that Pk loves. She marched around at home singing part of the song and doing this strange action and I had no idea what it was. She learned it in the storytime group in the morning that she attends that I never go to. I had to corner the librarian and grill her one day because not knowing what on earth was happening in the song was driving me crazy.
Today was fairly quiet. We were supposed to go to the city to see my mom but she is really not doing all that well health-wise and called to say that she wasn't up to a visit. Pk was pretty upset. We ended up having a fairly quiet day at home. While Baby Bean slept, Pk and I did some learning work and then I was bad and let her read/listen to Veggietales stories on the computer while I did knitting. We made cinnamon buns to take tomorrow for our Friday playdate (sniff, it's our last one as M, V's mom, is going back to work next week). We've really, really enjoyed having our Friday date, the moms get to visit and the kids love playing together. These cinnamon buns are what I learned to make in grade 7 home ec and while they aren't anything special, I dare you to eat just one!
We wound up the day with our weekly trip to Costco, which is our Thursday tradition. I am buying more and more stuff there since I find that their dairy prices, fruit and meat are great. I always get teased by the guy at the door that we only buy healthy stuff but he isn't seeing all the crappy free samples that we try. Pk thinks all the free food is a mighty good thing.

I just had to share this last photo. A couple of weeks ago, I propped Baby Bean up on the bathtub edge when Pk was in the tub and now, he wants to cruise there all the time. He has been pulling up on our fingers for a while but yesterday at the doctor's, he pulled himself up on furniture by himself for the first time. He's a good two months younger than Pk was the first time she did it so we are interested to see whether he will walk sooner than she did (at 14 months). He's still showing no signs of crawling, which stresses me out a teeny bit but my doctor wasn't concerned at all and she suspects he is going to bypass crawling altogether. I have a feeling that life is going to get a whole lot more complicated around here - I'm not sure how we will get Pk to keep all the little Playmobil pieces in her room!
See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Days

It's only three more weeks until I return to work and I have determined that I am going to make the most of the time I have. I wanted to turn it into a three week photo project here on the blog but for some reason, I keep forgetting to take photos. Last week was HORRIBLE with poor, sickly kids and absolutely no sleep. At the time, I was feeling rather grouchy about the fact that I had only four weeks left and I just seemed to be getting further and further behind. This week, now that Baby Bean is finally sleeping again and Pk seems to be recovering from a rather nasty ear infection, I am wondering whether that awful week last week was sent to make me realize how lucky I am to have this time.

So far, the last two days have been good, even if I don't have pics. Yesterday's highlight was my first official run in my "couch to 5k" plan. It was freezing and I didn't know whether I would be able to do it but at 5 a.m., Chelsea (my older dog) and I set out and, guess what? It was great! I came home feeling like I had worked without killing myself and I started the day with a feeling of accomplishment. Today, the highlight was a visit for tea with a good friend. We don't see each other often enough and I wanted to fit in this visit and, best of all, Pk LOVES her children ad so it was a big treat for her, too.

I have also started going through my teacher stuff, getting prepared to go back... it's not so bad, I am actually remembering some stuff that I enjoy about teaching. I am terrified about managing to get everything done in a day and maybe fit in five minutes for me here or there but once I am in a routine, it will be better. It helps that spring is in the air - I love the longer days, the bright evenings and most of all, the slow re-emergence of green and flowers around me. I have fantasies of coming home and taking the kids with Dh and I to hike the forest with the dogs or hanging out in the yard outside with the kids playing and Dh barbecuing our supper.

Finally, at the end of this totally rambling post, I'd like to share a post that Laura at Nestled Under Rainbows shared in the last few days. It's called an "Endo Book" and I MUST start one of these!

I'll try to be better tomorrow about having a structured post.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Telephone Tag

I have gone through different stages in my life in terms of how I deal with telemarketers. At first, I would hang up but then, after Dh did the job for a week, I realised just how awful the job was and felt sorry for these poor people working such a thankless job for minimum wage so I would be polite. Then, after I had to have five stitches after making the mistake of politely discussing with a telemarketer from our bank while making dinner (I wasn't paying attention and slipped with the knife and cut off the top of my finger), I realised it was time for a new strategy.

I have informally polled our acquaintances about how they deal with them. I know many who hang up, a few who just hear them out and then, there is my father. Like me, he doesn't want to be rude but he gets really annoyed, so what he does is that he counts. That's all. No matter what they say, he just continues, "One, two, three..." and if they say too much, he starts over again. He likes to see how high he can get in a conversation. I even know someone who determines that he is going to try and get the salesperson to agree to buy something from him. He has had a great deal of fun with that game.

I should say that we have registered for the Canadian "Do Not Call" list and we get fewer calls than we did before but, if you have done business with a company in the past or they are a charity, they can call. The most annoying ones are the calls that originate outside of Canada (largely coming from India, I believe) and they ignore all of our laws. We still get the annoying calls.

It became more of an issue for me in the last six months when I have begun to see a more menacing side of this. The first was a call I got about three months ago. The man told me that he was from "........ Credit Solutions" and that he was calling to tell me that my credit rating had dropped 10 points and that they wanted to help me improve my credit or get to the bottom of what the problem was. I panicked, which was silly, as I knew that 10 points means very little anyway. I got all their contact info and fortunately, I refused to give any information (I will not give anything out over the phone). I called my bank, worried about my credit and my bank helped me understand that the problem wasn't my credit, it was that these people had either seen my rating or were claiming to have seen my rating, which is illegal without my prior permission. I called Equifax, who told me to call the company back, to demand to speak to a supervisor and get to the bottom of it, which I did. It was interesting. At first, the man lied and said that it had not been said and then, he changed his tune and said that would listen to the recording of the call and if the called had discussed my personal credit rating,"appropriate steps would be taken". Of course, I told him that I would not accept this, as they would just write me off as a crazy. He insisted that he would call me back to fill me in. After I got off the phone, I became increasingly angry. I was smart enough not to give out any information but there are many, especially those who are in financial difficulty, who might panic (or older people, like my mother, who wouldn't really understand but would be scared by it). I decided that I would pursue a strategy that others had shared with me - to waste as much of their time as possible, giving them less time to harass others. I called them back every hour on the hour for the next 24 (as long as I was awake) and I filed a police report since they were fraudulantly asserting they had seen my credit rating. At the end of the time, I was assured the man had been fired. Right...

Fast forward to today. There is another company that has been really getting on my nerves and they worry me. They identify themselves as "Virtual P.C. Solutions" and they tell you that your computer is sending out virus/error messages and they are going to talk you through fixing the problem (and buying their software in the process). I only know because my brother carried the call through to completion (I still laugh at this, the guy kept telling my brother to type things and push buttons and my brother just kept agreeing that he had done it. At the end of the conversation, the guy told my brother to push "run" and then read back what was in the box. J said, "What box?" and the guy replied, "The box on your computer screen". J responded, "On my computer? I thought you wanted me to push the buttons on my t.v." and the guy hung up on him). Today when the guy called, I just kept asking to speak to his supervisor. No matter what he said, I just kept repeating my question. I gather that I really annoyed him because at the end of the conversation, he finally said, "Ma'am, put an ice block on your head and go to hell."

That tells me that I have found a strategy that works. Dh and I have decided that from now on, we are just going to keep asking to speak to a supervisor and if we do get one, we will request to speak to that person's supervisor and make it a challenge to see how high we can go. Maybe we will waste enough of their time that we can save some people an annoying call.

How do you deal with these people in a way that is kind yet without wasting too much of your own time?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Knit Bits

When I was young, I was very close to my mother's mother. She was a minister's wife and the most comforting and genteel lady. Her apartment was an oasis of calm in a life that was rarely calm - while my parents were wonderfully loving, their semi-hippie lifestyle (minus the drugs) and my mother's lack of interest in the homemaking department as well as living in some pretty rough places (partly their ministry, partly the result of being poor money managers) made home a pretty chaotic place. Grandma's place was the opposite - clean, quite and filled with comfort.

I will always associate my wonderful grandmother with the lovely things that she knit. She was northern Irish and along with her softly accented voice, Ireland had given her a skill with knitting. This was the late 70's/early 80's and my grandmother was the queen of the legwarmers. I had them to go with every outfit. She also specialized in cozy mittens and, what we loved most, her toasty bedsocks.

When I was about 9, she taught me to knit. I never progressed very far. I remember making a blanket for my Barbie doll and I believe that there were endless attempts at scarves never finished but I did learn to knit, to cast on and off and to purl. Then, when I was 11, she died and the knitting left my life, too.

When I was in my late teens, I was cleaning out at mom's house and found my grandmother's knitting needle case. I was curious and got out some yarn. I was pleased to discover that I could still remember the basic stitches. At that point, a love affair was born. I may dabble in scrapbooking or quilting but truly, I am a knitter at heart and when I knit, I feel closer to this special women.

One on the drawbacks of being largely self-taught is that there are certain techniques that I avoid since I wasn't sure I could figure them out on my own. One such technique was knitting with different colours. Last winter, I decided it was time to learn and I took a course at the knitting shop in town. To my surprise, it was incredibly easy. In the two classes, I managed to make a fairly decent pair of mittens, although they were a bit large since I tend to knit loosely. The teacher suggested that I begin knitting with a pair of needles smaller than the pattern size. The mitten pattern came with a matching hat pattern that I decided recently to make.

As you can see from the photos below, while the technique was mastered, the size, not so much. What was supposed to be a hat for me resulted in a hat that fits Baby Bean fairly well. Let's hope it matches his coat next winter!

Knitting dishcloths is probably a silly use of my time given that I could buy a pack at the dollar store but I am finding these are really fun. I have a short attention span and it's fun to make something that I can use and make it in an hour or so. These two patterns (left and right) came from Ravelry (if you are a knitter and haven't been on Ravelry, YOU MUST GO NOW!!!)
This was a pattern I grabbed to start some Easter cloths. There's a woman who does wonderful collections of patterns for different seasons and celebrations and she has a super cute set of Easter cloths but her patterns are not free and I am not sure I can justify spending money on patterns right now when they are available for free. This worked up very quickly.
This was another dishcloth that I did just for something to do. This was another wonderful free pattern.
For Baby Bean, I have been working on a blanket. I made him this blanket before he was born and he has used it for every nap and at night since he was born (I know, you aren't supposed to use any blankets but when you have a little guy who doesn't sleep, you will try anything and a blanket always seemed to help). Since he starts daycare in three weeks, I wanted to send him with one like he has at home to bring him some comfort. I finished this two days ago and I am quite happy with it. It's knit in Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo, which works up with a nice softness and weight. The pattern is in the booklet Baby Bamboo Too.

A friend showed me the pattern for this super-cute reversible duck/bunny and I have gotten it started. I hope to finish one for Pk and one for Baby Bean for Easter. So far, it's a bit fussy but very cute.And finally, the perfect project to use up little bits and bobs of yarn - these super cute Easter eggs. I have no idea what I will use them for but Pk loves them and they give me a chance to play with lots of different yarns. I am truly addicted!
I'm off to knit. Have a lovely evening!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Co-Sleeper's Dilemma

On Saturday night, illness invaded our house. At first, we didn't realise how bad it was going to be, it just seemed like both kids had a little cough. We had a marvelous day with friends and then at bedtime, the reality of our situation hit. There was absolutely no sleep and both kids were feverish and miserable. The coughing made the house sound like a t.b. ward. We began to implement the usual - we got out the humidifier, brought them into the bathroom with the shower running, began dosing with Advil and for Pk, we started dosing with honey (Baby Bean isn't a year yet so honey wasn't an option).

Monday evening led us to the walk-in clinic, where we were told it was viral and other than dosing with Advil and Tylenol, our options were fairly limited. Things did not get better and Baby Bean taught us that there is no limit to the amount of time a baby can be awake at night (I had been under the misconception that all children will eventually sleep - I was wrong). Wednesday night, we went back to the walk-in with Baby Bean. He didn't seem right and had cried constantly all afternoon. I had resorted to driving around randomly, hoping that the car would lull him to sleep. We were told that he needed antibiotics for a double ear infection, that he likely has bronciolitis and possibly pneumonia, as well. The doctor said that we were doing the right thing but that we needed to ensure that he was sleeping upright.

We are a co-sleeping family. The children are committed co-sleepers (at least, Pk was until about 8 months ago and this illness seems to have reawakened her need to have someone with her at night). Dh and I would probably be happier without little bodies in our beds, only because we might get a bit more sleep but we are weak and not fit for the battle. It's amazing how exhaustion can take the fight from you. I love my time with my littles and as a nursing mother, there are convenient aspects of co-sleeping but truly, I have very detailed fantasies about cool sheets, pillows I don't have to keep away from sleeping bodies and an urge to move my legs and sleep in the position most comfortable to me without having to consider the comfort of others.

As co-sleepers, that left us a bit flummoxed. We sleep in a large queen sized bed with a very solid pine frame. It doesn't lead to being tilted up. Baby Bean has always slept with me for the majority of the night. We couldn't figure out how to do it. He is too big for his swing, his carseat is now permanently in the car and we didn't think he would be willing to sleep in his crib.

When you really want something, you find a way to make it work and there are not words to express just how much I wanted more than 10 minutes of sleep. We remembered that our co-sleeper converts to a playyard and an idea was born...

The even bigger miracle is that it seems to be working. He slept much more last night than he has all week, despite still being miserable during the day and tonight, he is asleep again in the chair. Cross your fingers for me that it continues to work until he is well. This wave of illness is beginning to feel endless and I find that exhaustion often leads to sick mummies and daddies.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tribute to a Car Seat

Today, we went out and bought a new carseat. Baby Bean has been in the Graco Snugride that we used for Pk. I am embarrassed to say that I had forgotten about the weight limit until a friend had expressed surprise that Baby Bean was still in it a couple of weeks ago. It's only good up to 22 lbs and he must be very, very near that if not over (I'll find out next week when he is at the doctor). We decided that Baby Bean would move into Pk's Britax Marathon Classic that we love and we would move her into a booster (that's a post for another day, I learned SO MUCH about changes in car seats and guidelines in the last few years).

We got the new seats into the car and then had the Graco seat sitting in our hallway. I looked at it and got hit with such a wave of melancholy. I love the fact that I have healthy, growing children but it makes me sad to think that there won't be any more babies from our family to ride in the seat (with its matching stroller). It hasn't been the most incredibly set of baby products (I have never been especially fond of the stroller) but the components have been such a big part of my life, they symbolize a stage of my life that is quickly passing.

Since I can't change things, I thought I would wallow for a minute or two and share some photos of my kids and their seat.

P.K. in the seat (I don't have many pics since I took many of them off the computer and burned them on CD and am too lazy to put them all back on)

The Stroller with P.K.

Baby Bean

Thanks for the memories and for keeping my babies safe in the car!

Friday, March 18, 2011

On Mothering and Sacrifice

I follow Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience, through Google Reader and she often has links to other blog posts that she recommends. This morning, she linked to the post "Relationship and Sacrifice" from Elizabeth Foss. It was an interesting read.

Elizabeth unpacked some important beliefs about mothering, part of which is encompassed in the following quote from 'Hold on the Your Kids',:

“No matter what problem or issue we face in parenting, our relationship with our children should be the highest priority. Children do not experience our intentions, no matter how heartfelt. They experience what we manifest in tone and behavior. We cannot assume that children will know what our priorities are: we live our priorities.”

In the post, Elizabeth spends a considerable amount of time highlighting the importance of having our use of time demonstrate to our children and our families how they fit into our priorities. This has really been on my mind of late. As you know if you have been around here for the last while, I am returning to my job in about a month, something about which I am certainly ambivalent. I enjoy my job, I am a teacher and I am able to reach students every day. It isn't as if I were working in a career in which I was just making money or in which I felt that the rewards were superficial - teachers make a difference and I am given the chance to make that difference each and every day. If I am honest, though, I will confess that I am returning to work for one reason and one reason only - to pay the bills. I wish I could remain at home, at least until my children are both in school full-time but that isn't in the cards for us financially right now. Please don't leap in and give me the "where there's a will, there's a way..." speech - right now, it isn't possible for us for several reasons that I don't need to get into. Suffice to say that my regret at going back to work has me pondering use of time.

I have found the last four years to be a real struggle in terms of time management. I have breastfed both children exclusively and while Baby Bean is now taking a bottle, neither child took a bottle as a younger baby. Both babies were also co-sleepers and we don't have any access to local babysitting - several times a year, my mother would come up to cover for us if we both needed to be out but with Pk, that never happened until she was well over a year old and I have never left Baby Bean in the evening for a significant amount of time (and he is now 9 months old). Leaving home to have "me" time was not an option.

Before I continue, I want to say that my feelings are my own and are related to my experience only. I don't condemn any other mother and I don't pass judgement on the choices that other mothers make. I can't get into another person's head and until I have walked a mile in someone else's shoes, I can't know what they are thinking or feeling. I will admit to having felt that some friends weren't home enough for their kids but I have also seen other mothers who are so wrapped up in their children that they have entirely disappeared. We all have to determine what is best for us and for our families and if there is one thing that I have learned on my mothering journey, it's that constant judgement is so diminishing to all of us. I hope that nobody will feel criticized in the rest of what I have to say - I speak only to my own path.

I have gotten a lot of grief for that from other mothers and from friends without children because I don't go out much. I have been made to feel like I am somehow lesser because I don't want to go out for girls' nights or to groups at church or to showers or concerts. I live in a funny world - we have a great deal of contact with friends who are either secular and "out there" in the world on one hand and with church friends on the other who, for the most part, are much more connected to being home with their families. That doesn't mean that the church friends don't put the pressure on as well. I was pretty shocked when last April, I got a LOT of flack from women at our church when I declined to go on the women's retreat which was a weekend away because I didn't want to be away from my daughter, especially given that I had been working during the week. I was repeatedly told that going away from her would make me a better mother.

I am often treated as though I am giving my life away. I can see people thinking that I will be one of those mothers who will be adrift when my children leave home. People believe that I am giving up so much and I can't tell you how many times I hear, "I don't know how you do it. You must be so sick of..." People see motherhood and being at home with the family as drudgery and something to be escaped.

It's funny but it doesn't feel that way to me. I won't lie, there are evenings (like several this week!) when Baby Bean refused to go to sleep and then, once asleep, was up again after an hour or so, a pattern which constantly repeated. On those evenings, there are certainly moments during which I wish I could have a few minutes to knit or watch a programme or finish on the computer. It's nice to have those built-in "me" moments, especially when they happen naturally and I don't have to feel as if I were taking something away from my children. There are those days, when my nerves are frayed and I don't want to deal with anything, when we get in the car and drive somewhere, anywhere, with the DVD going in the car so that I can get that jolt of caffeine and that bit of quiet time to think, to listen to the radio, to not have to answer the constant barrage of questions.

On the other hand, though, I want to be with my children. I don't need girls' nights, I don't feel like I want a weekend away and I don't think that being away from my children for a weekend after being at work all week with make me a better mother. Today I went and bought Pk her new booster seat which means that Baby Bean will move into her old seat and no longer be in the bucket carseat. How could the time have passed so quickly? How could there no longer be a baby from our family in that seat anymore? How could I watch the images of families in Japan and not recognize that the time with which we are allowed our children is so incredibly brief, I MUST grasp every second? I want to always have the lingering warmth of my childrens' skin on my hand, the sound of a voice in my ear, the smell of their hair in my nose. Being away from them, I miss so much.

Today, I looked at Pk and saw a girl. It made my heart ache. My baby girl is gone. There was no trace of the colicky baby or the grinning toddler left. She is a girl, struggling to find her independence, needing me but wanting to not need me quite so much. I am thrilled that she is maturing and growing (the alternative is unthinkable) but I am so sad that I will no longer cuddle that baby in the rocking chair as we nurse or strap her into her highchair to enjoy a meal together or support her as she takes wobbly steps. My arms ache for the baby that she was and there is no way that I am going to miss the fleeting moments with my emerging girl. It's the same with Baby Bean and I could list the many things that are fleeting with him, too (and given his age, there are so many more fleeting things now).

For me, the sacrifice is not that I have to be with my children but that for so much of life, we aren't able to be with them. I don't want to miss those moments and my prayer is that my children will always know how much I love them and the space that they fill in my life. Yes, we will be apart and yes, I do believe that any healthy relationship needs distance and children need to learn to exist apart from their parents. We will enjoy times apart but I hope to continue to make the priority the "us" time, rather than the "me" time. If I can only convey to my children (and my husband) that they are my calling and one which I accept with pleasure, I will consider that I have done a good job.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

We went to church as a family this evening for the Ash Wednesday service. My mother talks of her childhood when every Sunday night, the family went to church. I have to admit, I would love that. For me, there is something so powerful about being in a church in the evening with the darkness outside and the light and warmth and community in the sanctuary. Tonight was no exception. One thing that I love about our church is the fact that children are always included in the important events. I know that for some, they are uncomfortable with this from a doctrinal perspective but for me, there is nothing that reminds me of the open and wonder-filled spirit with which we should come to God as to see my daughter enthusiastically taking communion, or, as tonight, our family of four all leaving the church marked with the cross of ashes.
What a wonderful way to begin our annual trip to the cross and the empty tomb.

Lisa Leonard Giveaway

I love Lisa Leonard's jewelry and when Baby Bean was born, I bought her "Family Tree" necklace to celebrate our family and wear what means so much to me close to my heart. Lisa has a giveaway right now for a very sweet little necklace that I would love to win for Pk - it can be personalized and I haven't quite decided what I would use - either "daughter" or "beloved". Take a look!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Preparing for Lent

We are Presbyterians and in some ways, that means that we exist in a kind of limbo. We aren't "fasters" during Lent like Catholics but we do mark the church seasons, unlike some of the more Evangelical denominations. There's certainly evidence of it in our church - all of the banners and decorations have been removed. There was a pancake supper tonight (although we didn't go because Pk had her music class). Tomorrow night, we will go to the Ash Wednesday service. I don't know whether this is a universal thing but our ministers save and dry the palm branches from palm Sunday and they are burned and the ashes are put on our foreheads. Last year was the first time we tried this and I found it incredibly moving, especially as we all left the church, young and old, wearing the mark of the ashes on our foreheads. Typically, we Presbyterians don't go for being especially public or "marked" about anything.

In the past, I have always given something up for Lent but it was more of an exercise in self-control than a spiritual discipline. This year, I want it to be a bit different. I do plan on giving something up but it's for a greater purpose in my life.

This year, I want the season of Lent to be a time of turning my attention to God. I want it to be a time of reflection, a time of prayer and a time of re-aligning. I plan to give up ice caps from Tim Hortons. That might not seem like much but for me, of late, that has become my tool for getting through the tough times. I'm still nursing so I don't drink beverages with caffeine and I am a hard core tea grannie who uses caffeine to get that boost. I have my one ice cap a day and get a shot of caffeine and sugar together in one go. Even better, it's in the car (there's no Timmies here in town). When the kids are driving me crazy and I need a break, it's easy to pack them in the car, turn on the DVD player for Pk and go for a drive. It's become something that I rely on too heavily in the tough times and it needs to stop. I need to find ways to get through the tough times that don't involve food, caffeine or stuffing myself. Relief shouldn't come from some so external or so empty.

I don't just want this to be a time of turning away from something, I want it to be a time of turning to something. It's funny how at times, an idea or direction keeps coming at you (and if you are a Christian like me, it often feels like a clear message). For me this year, it's all about prayer. I don't pray enough and I don't quiet my spirit and listen for God. I had been feeling that way for a while and have started a prayer journal and a regular prayer time in the evening before I go to bed. It helps but it isn't enough. Then, as you know, I stumbled across Ann Voskamp's Manifesto of Joyful Parenting, which I printed and posted on the cupboard in my kitchen, which begins with creating a "house of prayer" and praying at set times. I read that and thought it seemed like a really great thing to do. The next morning, I found this blog post from Megan at Sortacrunchy and it really spoke to me. While I am not sure that I am up to the entire challenge (I don't know that sharing a meal with someone with whom I have never shared a meal before is going to happen this time), I like the idea of praying at three set times each day and doing it in community. I plan to go to our Christian bookstore tomorrow and pick up the book she is using, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals and to use it to incorporate more prayer into my life.

I am also pondering how to bring Lent to Pk. She is certainly preparing for Easter in terms of the fact that "The Easter Carol" is her favourite Veggie movie of all time but even thought it has a Christian message, I am not sure how much she, at three, has really grasped. Monica, at the Homespun Heart has a wonderful "Journey through Lent" for completing with your children and I think we may aim for that next year. I am not sure the Pk is quite ready and with my going back to work, I don't want to start something so important and not carry it through.

How will you observe Lent this year?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Multitude Monday 197 -

holy experience

I'm having a very hard time right now. I go back to work in five weeks and I am feeling so incredibly sad about that fact for a few reasons. I would love to be a permanent stay-at-home parent but that is just not in our cards financially right now (or down the road, I expect). The idea of Baby Bean at the wonderful home daycare he will attend just makes me so sad - I'm not ready to have him out in the world without me. I think I am feeling this even more keenly because, unless something very big changes, we won't be having another. I will be honest, if it were up to me, I would certainly have at least one more but Dh is right, we have to look at our lives and what will fit and really, if we had another child, it would have a huge impact on Baby Bean and Pk in ways that I am not entirely sure are fair. There's also a little side of me that that feels that 1. given the overpopulation of the world, having endless numbers of children is not responsible to the earth and 2. there are so many children already on the planet without parents, if we add to our family, we should adopt. All that being said, my arms ache to hold another baby, I am desperately missing the feeling of a baby kicking inside me and as we leave each stage and achieve new milestones with Baby Bean, I find myself grieving what we are leaving behind.

As you can see, focusing on what I have is not only a good thing for me to do right but but essential. As I read Ann Voskamp's book, the power of gratitude is becoming more and more clear to me. I want to focus on the daily blessings.

197. the smiles of my children
198. arms that are filled with a child
199. the sounds of a home filled with laughter
200. naps with a warm body beside me
201. planning things for us to do as a family
202. sharing joy and laughter with Dh about things that our children have done*
203. the lengthening daylight and the change in the shadows
204. the imminent March Break and a week with Dh at home
205. the pleasure of giving something to my child that will make him or her happy
206. planning a garden
207. seeds that sprout

*When Pk was a baby, she had a very loud, very annoying fishbowl toy. We packed it away. Two weeks ago, I was trying to get a job done and Baby Bean was being fussy so I got out the toy to amuse him for a few minutes. The next day, when I was getting him down for his nap, I heard said toy and discovered that Pk was playing with it. I firmly asked her to put it away. When Baby Bean woke up from his nap, I heard her run into him and when I came into the room, she turned to me and with the most sincerely look on her face, said, "Mummy, Baby Bean is a very nice guy. We had a talk and he said that he doesn't mind if I play with his fish toy."

I am grateful that I can still see through her tricks - I am sure that soon enough, she will have us!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

In Like a Lion

This was the sight when we opened the door this morning:
Not what we were wanting to see! Dh had to get out and shovel (well, snowblow - that was our investment last year and it's been wonderful!) It's so nice that he has recovered enough from his surgery now that he can do it. We were playing a neighbour and it was quite expensive!

We took the dogs for a walk this afternoon and it was lovely, if very cold. Here's hoping we won't be seeing these kinds of views for much longer, though.

A wonderful daddy making tracks for his girl.
Our mountain climber.
Spring, feel free to arrive anytime!