Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Two years ago

Two years ago, we spontaneously decided to return to Canada to visit our family. We I don't usually ever do spontaneous, but this time we did because there was an unexpected property tax overpayment cheque that paid for our flights and our green cards processed faster than we had expected. As such, we were able to join Daddy on a trip that he was required to take. I'm so glad we did because this was the last time we saw my mom, well, conscious. Somewhat, mostly herself. This visit still had hope.
Enjoying the grandkids

On our last day before we headed back over the border, we got to take mom out on a day pass. We went to one of my favourite places in the whole world: Garry Point Park in Steveston, BC. The significance of the location of our last outing has only occurred to me recently and I really believe it is just another little detail that God arranged to show me that he cares.
Garry Point Park is where I went many times throughout my mom's illness to find peace. Peanut-lover and I would talk out my fears while we ate a picnic supper and breathed in the sea air. It is where Peanut-lover and I went to pray and make our decision regarding moving to Baltimore. It is where I found myself many times when I couldn't cope with the stresses of the move. And the fact that it is where we spent our last conscious playtime with mom is just one more detail in a string of details that remind me of how intricately and carefully and detailedly God loves me.
The folder that contains these pictures is hard for me to visit, because losing mom less than 2 months after this still hurts in ways that I didn't know I could hurt, but these are some precious pictures and I want to share them with you.


Miss you mama.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mean Mommy Trick #347

Typical Shopping Trip:

Me - Kids, we need to Costco.
Kids - AWWWWW, I hate going to Costco! Can't you go when daddy gets home? Whine. Complain. Are we there yet? When are we going to be done? How much more do you have to get? Why does this take so long? He's looking at me! She keeps walking where I want to walk. My legs are tired. When are we going to be home?

Today's Shopping Trip:

Me - Kids, we are almost out of toilet paper. 
Kids - *disinterest*
Me - But it's ok, because we have lots of trees in the backyard - we can just use leaves. 
Kids - WHAT?! *shocked faces*
Me - The only thing is that we'll have to go out and get them each time before we use the bathroom.
JJ - Even if it's an emergency??!
Me - Yes, because if the leaves dry out, they'll just crumble.
KK - *tears* 
Me - Or.... *dramatic pause*
Kids - What?! What?!
Me - There's only one other thing we could do... We could go to Costco.
Kids - *jumping up and down* YES! Let's go to Costco!! PLEASE! Can we go to Costco instead?!
Me - yeah, I guess that's probably better ;)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Little House on the Prairie and the missing chapter

We have been reading through the Little House on the Prairie series with the kids for the past few months. It makes my heart so happy because it was my favourite book series when I was little. I had the whole set and as soon as I was done the last book, I'd just start back with the first one and read through the whole thing again. I must have read it 10 times.

The kids are so fascinated about life back in the day and it's pretty amazing to read about how different things were back then.

But here's my problem. They live in a one room house in the middle of the forest... or a covered wagon for weeks at a time... or a dugout beside a creek. They go for months at a time without ever seeing anyone that is not one of the five of them.

Why is there no chapter titled, "Ma loses it"?

Conversations with JJ: his turn?

Yesterday, as we were getting ready for JJ's first t-ball practice, we had this conversation, which just proves how little I know about parenting this child...

JJ: Mommy, I don't know if I'll like t-ball. Last year, all the other boys kept running to get the ball before me.

Mommy: Oh sweetie, you got the ball sometimes. I remember! But you know what? This year, you will be one of the bigger boys. You are five now, but there will be lots of little boys who are four.

JJ: There will?

Mommy: Yes, and you remember how it felt to be one of the little ones, right?

JJ: Yes

Mommy: (trying for some empathy) So this time, do you think you should be like those big boys, trying to get the ball and not letting the littler kids get it?

JJ: (face lights up and relief washes over him) OH! Yes, I guess I should! (as if to say, now it's MY turn)

See? No clue. God help me :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

True confessions: holidays

In the interest of keeping it real here, I have a confession to make: I suck at spring break. Or really, any deviation from our regular routines.

As much as I'd like to be one of those moms that loves holidays for all the extra time they get with their kids, let's be honest here, I'm not. I'm cranky and irritable and constantly feeling like I'm running behind. Running behind at what? I don't even know. Running behind at catching up maybe.

This is not me complaining, really. I'm just writing to process how I'm feeling, so I can make this work better next time. Or maybe even tomorrow Thursday.

In a normal week, I barely feel as though I'm balancing everything. On a holiday week, I still have to balance almost all the same stuff, but I also have to get to entertain kids who are used to having their time pretty much scheduled and full. And by someone who does it professionally.

The answer is the same as for almost any other mommy problem I have faced: I have to get ahead and stay ahead of them. I have to parent proactively instead of reactively. I know it's the answer, but how do I do it? And where do I find the energy to do it?

I guess by the time I get it all figured out, it won't be necessary anymore. They will be busy with their own lives and I will have plenty of time to catch up on my stuff. Right now, I just don't have the foresight or the energy to always stay ahead and keep ahead of them. Again, I face the fact that I just can't do this perfectly.

And so, I have to be ok with just muddling through it. I need to give myself grace to have bad days weeks.

(While I'm being honest here, I might as well say that I just can't find the right way to end this one. My heart is still raw from frustration at yet another day of not getting it right. This mommy thing is hard and I just want so badly to do it well. If it feels like I left it just hanging, it's because that's how it feels to me...)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Time as length

Speaking of abstract concepts like time...

A couple of years ago, the kids and I invented a way for them to better understand time which worked surprisingly well for them. I thought I'd pass it along in case any if y'all have younger kids. (Actually, I'm lying. This is less about me wanting to be helpful and more about me not wanting to be perceived as loony if you see me do it!)

Time is one of those kind of abstract concepts that my kids had a tough time grasping. And I think it is even harder now that we are not always surrounded by analog clocks. JJ especially needs ways for ideas to become concrete (just imagine our conversations about God!)

I started showing them time as a measurement of length. I arbitrarily picked 1 foot as the measurement of an hour because it is easy to estimate. Then it followed that a half-hour is 6 inches, and ten minutes is 2 inches.

When they ask how long something is, I just show them the distance between my fingers. I was surprised at how quickly they caught on to it!

Now that KK is able to tell time on a clock, she doesn't need the system anymore, but JJ still uses it quite frequently.

Oh, and a side note: don't teach them how to tell time until you have to. (Spoiler alert: it happens in grade 1, sigh ;). When mama's having a bad day and just! needs! bedtime! it's a lot harder to sneak the kids into bed early once they can read the clock. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Conversations with JJ: In the Kitchen

I can't believe I missed out on recording two years worth of conversations with JJ. He comes up with the craziest questions and is never satisfied with a simple answer. He blows me away with how smart he is (always smarter than I think) and is only limited by his ability to communicate his ideas.

And he's funny. Ever since he was a baby, he's loved to make people laugh. One of my rewards for being his mommy is that he makes me laugh all the time. Well, not all the time. There are plenty of times when I'm very much not laughing, but let's not talk about that right now.

I love when he combines his brilliance with his funny.

JJ is also my little kitchen helper. Even as a baby he loved to sit in the kitchen and just watch me do my stuff. I found, and continue to find, that things go a lot better for everyone if I can find a way to include him in my work. (KK loves to cook with me too, but she also loves her alone time and this is one way I can get her some time to herself). Now that JJ is five, he is actually helpful. I love guiding his little hands and chatting with him as we cook.

So yesterday, we were baking bread. I decided to mess with him a little when we were measuring herbs, thyme specifically.

Me: This herb is called time. You know, like on the clock. This is what 'time' actually looks like.

JJ was fooled for a moment, confused for another moment, but then quickly realized I was joking.

We started measuring out parsley and he got a little smirk on his face.

JJ: What's this one called, mommy? Gravity?

Brilliance + funny. That's my JJ.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The walkers

JJ comes out of school with an insane amount of energy, excessive even for him. He is intense, and loud, and bouncy. So bouncy.

His teacher says he is perfectly behaved in class, so I assume that he is just letting it all out once he is with me. Lucky me. And I have a wee bit of a problem with sneaking treats when the kids aren't looking. So whenever the weather is decent, we've been walking the mile home from school.

Despite this excessive amount of energy, JJ spends the entire walk whining that he's toooooooo tiiiiiiiiirrrrired. It kind of drives me crazy too, but the sunshine makes me happy, so it all evens out.

Today was a beautiful, warm day. A walking day.

We were walking draaaaaagggging along, with grumpy whines ringing in my ears, when I had a brilliant idea. It happens sometimes.

Me: Hey kids! Why don't you pretend you are brother and sister and you are walking home from school?!

Kids: Yeah!!!

...And off they go running, kind of like this, except this was two years ago...

... And they happily pretend to walk home, all the way home.

Well, ok then. The end.

Monday, March 11, 2013

True confessions: mommy snacks

You know what's one thing I love about this house?

The kids' bedroom is on the top floor and the stairs come down right beside my kitchen. Which means that when I hear them coming down the stairs, I have just enough time to shove the ice cream carton back in the freezer before they catch me.

This one might also find itself on the list of top reasons that my weight loss has stalled...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ramblings on my lack of fashion sense

I am not fashionable. No wait, it's worse than that. I am fashion deficient. When God was making me, he considered "dresses self nicely" and then tossed it aside and chose "good at sudoku puzzles" instead.

It's fine, really. Don't be sad for me. And don't feel that you need to reassure me that I dress ok. Most of the time it doesn't bother me. I wasn't even aware of fashion until I was 18 and a cute boy pointed out that maybe I should look at what other girls were wearing (because skinny jeans weren't in anymore) (That was 1998).

Most of the time, I don't need to be fashionable anyways. I need stretchy. I need holds-up-well-to-crawling-on-the-floor. I need hides-baby-boogers-well. I need no-interesting-parts-to-yank-on. I need washable. So my wardrobe is pretty plain, but it suits me fine for now. It's only when I dress up - and by 'dress up' I mean wear jeans and something that is more than one color - that I feel a little insecure about my wardrobe. And wish I had a stylist. (So much of my life could use a stylist, sigh...)

I always wondered when would I know it was time to stop shopping in the junior section. Would I know? Would I wake up one morning and declare, "I'm a grown up" and henceforth happily shop in ladies wear? Or would I get approached by security one day, "Ma'am? (I get that a lot) I need to see some ID..."

Well, it happened... It's time.

Last weekend, I took KK out for a little shopping trip. Other than a few maternity items, I haven't shopped for new clothes for myself for two years. Our budget has been tight and I can't justify the expense and honestly, even I can tell that I'm so far gone that there's no catching up. But I had a gift certificate, so back to the junior section I went. And that's when I knew.

Nothing appealed to me. Something had happened in the two-year shopping break I took - everything went 80's.

Now, I'm not saying that 80's styles are bad. I know some of y'all can wear that stuff and look pretty rad, but I did all that already, in the 80's and ok, yes, most of the 90's (not a fashion star, remember?) and I just can't do that again.

So I looked through and found a few basic pieces I liked (read: stretchy) and headed to the cashier. But the line was really long, so I headed to the grown-up's wear department to pay and found myself looking around at all the beautiful clothing there. I didn't used to think grown-up wear suited me.

And that's when I realized... It has happened. I am officially grown up and ready to leave the junior section behind... well, for me anyways.