Friday, January 30, 2009

Temper, Laughter, and Magic

My youngest daughter came into this world with a set of lungs on her like you wouldn't believe.
She was delivered by c-section almost two weeks early, and I think she just wasn't really ready to come out. She looked like a little doll. Actually, everyone that saw her made that exact comment, but she had a temperament that was not quite so reposed.

She had colic for the first four months of her life. And not this sissy "few hours each evening" stuff. Nope, not her. She cried, all day, every day. For Four Months. She slept well and didn't cry as much throughout the night. But during the day it was madness. I tried to get a photographer in twice to take baby portraits. She left twice with nary a photo in sight. My husband and my mom would try to hold her and comfort her, but after about 20 minutes they'd hand her back to me. It was a trying time, for sure.

But she also laughed like a loon, and was very quick. She said her first word at 5 months and was speaking in short sentences by 1 year. She's clever and witty and compassionate. But she hasn't grown out of the feisty.

She's that child that can be so tender and sweet one minute, just melting your heart. In the next she could be yelling and stomping up to her room. The teenage years should be.....interesting.
But she is also one of the funniest kids I've ever known. And I've known a lot. She says things, out of nowhere, that completely crack me up.

Here are some recent examples:

The other night we were sitting on the couch together watching a show. I asked her to get ready to go up to bed in a few minutes. We continued to watch for a few minutes more, and I gave her the "2 minute warning." Deadpan, she looks at me, takes her slipper off of her foot and says, "Mommy, I have slippers. Don't make me use them" while holding the slipper up to me. I started laughing, hard. She did too. I honestly don't know where she comes up with this stuff, but it's out of the blue and just hilarious.

Another evening, she and my husband were lying together in our bed, reading their own separate books. My husband could see her keep glancing at him out of the corner of his eye. A few times, he looked over and caught her staring at him. After several minutes of this, he turned to her and said, "WHAT??" She looked at him, brought her two fingers of one hand up to her eyes, and then pointed them at him and said, "Daddy, I've got my eyes on you." I could hear the roaring laughter from downstairs.

But last night, she said something that showed the other side of her nature. As she was lying on the couch, sick, tired and generally not feeling well, my husband heard her speak in a quiet, strained voice. She said, "I believe in magic. Good magic. Not witches and stuff. But magic that lets my teddy bear talk to me at night."

My husband told her, "You may be grumpy sometimes B, but you have a good heart." To which she responded, "so do you Daddy. I love you."

And that makes me believe in magic too. The magic of a little five year old girl that holds my heart.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Lying. Fibbing. White lies. Big lies. Small lies. Twisting the truth. Exaggerating.

Whatever you want to call it, we all do it to some degree.

I know lately my children are in this phase where they will tell me a story about something that happened at school, or where one of their classmates said or did something that was either inappropriate or unbelievable. I'm not one of those Moms that just says, "oh? Really?" and lets them go along with the story. I always call them on it. I'll ask, "did this REALLY happen?" Usually the answer goes something like, "well not EXACTLY."

I'm a horrible liar. Really, really bad. Oh I can tell the little fib if I need to, yes. I'm not a saint! But that's usually something non-hurtful. You know the type, like where you don't want to go to a party or event so you make up a little untruth to spare the person's feelings. But even then, I'm wracked with guilt. I don't lie about things to my friends in terms of their asking my opinion, though. Whether it's on their clothing choice, or a bigger life choice issue, they know I'll give it to them straight. No, those pants do NOT do your booty justice!

But when it comes to a bigger lie, I can't do it. Even if I try!!! I get a serious case of the giggles. I just can't even get the words out. So, needless to say, everyone around me knows when I am lying. Studies have been done that show that there are cues when someone is lying. Like they'll rub their nose, or not be able to look you in the eyes, or shuffle their feet. How come I always seem to miss those? Does giggling like a mad fiend count as a clue?

And what's the deal with lying anyways???? When children tell a lie, it's usually to protect themselves from something they've done wrong. The old "the dog ate my homework" line. They don't want to get in trouble. They don't want to admit what they did, because they know inherently that it was wrong.

And I think the same goes for adults really. They lie to protect themselves from admitting wrongdoing. See, but adults are a tricky lot. They'll justify their lies to themselves. It is better to lie in this situation to protect the other persons feelings. Or, "what they don't know won't hurt them." But the thing about lies is, they create more lies. And it's been my experience that a lie usually finds a way out. And then you can't go back and undo it. And really, it's not the "other persons" feelings you are protecting, its your own butt. It's not really that different from a child.

So, are "good liars"people who just didn't get the memo in their childhood that, hello!, lying is wrong? Or are they sociopaths? Is something missing in their moral code? I just don't know. But I do know that I'm someone who would always prefer the truth. Even if it hurts. Obviously tact can go a long way in how you tell a difficult truth.

But when it comes to the 'big lie," in the end, the truth is, the one you are lying to is yourself.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Home Sweet Home

I grew up in the same city where I was born. I lived there for my entire life, except for one year that I moved away when I first started dating my husband. We lived in different houses, but basically they were all within the same general area.

In August of 2007, my husband was offered a new position in a city four hours from my hometown. It meant a raise, a promotion in position, and living in a smaller town where the cost of living was significantly less. We couldn't turn it down.

It was very difficult for us to pack up and move away. My daughters had always lived with their Granny, my Mom. That loss was a huge transition for them, and one we still struggle with daily. They were leaving behind friends and family and all they had ever known. For the "unknown."

That first year, we went "home" as often as we could. Monthly drives home for a weekend. We still referred to our old digs as "home." We LIVED here, but it would never feel like our home. Also, we always counted on the fact that we wouldn't be here long. Most moves within my husbands company, like we did, are for a few years time before you are moved again. We assumed two to three years. Tops.

This year, we decided that we would go "home" less. Not that the pull to do so is any less. We just realized that we don't know how long this move is going to be, or how long we will live where we do. With the economy in its current state, my husbands company has stated that they won't be relocating anyone unless the need is specific and warranted. Yes, we could still be moved at any time. But the likelihood, currently, now seems less concrete. We decided that if we keep waiting on that move, and keep hoping to go back, then where we are now is NEVER going to seem like home and that we will all just be anticipating leaving with each passing day. And that's truly no way to really enjoy life or where we currently reside.

It's not that we haven't made a home here either. We continue to work on our house and make improvements and upgrades. We've joined groups and activities. Our children are busy in their schools. My husband is busy in the community. I volunteer when I can. But it's all been done with the thought in the back of our minds that we'd be called back at any time. At any moment. We were just waiting on pins and needles for that call to come in.

While I miss my old hometown, and I DO hope we get to go back there, I think for my girls sake, if anything, that I need to be more positive and proactive about them being happy here. For as long as we are going to be here. This IS now our home. It's different than what we are used to, for sure. It's smaller, less big city. It doesn't have many of the amenities we are used to having. We can't go to any number of ethnic food restaurants. They don't exist. Often, the way of thinking here differs from ours. It's like being strangers in a strange land.

But it can also be an adventure. We are exposed to things we didn't ever think we'd experience. No one here locks their doors. That's vehicle and house. They let their vehicles run for a half an hour in the morning without blinking. The kids play outside, all over the neighbourhood, on their own! There are no parents watchful eyes on them. You still see your neighbours all winter long. Everyone is out, everyday. People snowshoe and ski and skate and toboggan and ice fish and snowmobile......and don't just hibernate. People did that in my hometown, as well. But you just seemed to see your neighbours less. Sometimes not for days to weeks. Every Friday for the month of February, my daughter will be having "Winter Electives". She will be cross-country skiing with her class on some Fridays. Others, she will snowshoe and learn Inuit games. She'll track animal prints and build a quinzee.

I guess it's about accepting what you have, and where you are, and making the most of it. It may not be our ideal in terms of being far from family and friends, but it CAN be whatever we make it. And memories can be made here as well. Maybe one day we'll get moved again. It may be back to my hometown, or it may be somewhere completely different. And we may leave here with the same bittersweet feelings as when we first arrived. Excited to be going somewhere new, but sad to be leaving our Home.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Drama Queen

I've mentioned before that my daughters both love dancing and singing and both have always wanted to get into acting.

Well, today is Day One of the realization of one of their dreams.

My eldest daughter auditioned way back, I think maybe September or October, for a role in the community theatre group production of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." They said they had close to 200 people audition and not everyone would be cast.(90 people were cast) They had an "info" night where the actors were taught a dance and a song, and then had to come back two days later for the audition.

This was a pretty serious audition as well. It was in front of a choreographer, vocal coach, director and producer. No parents were allowed in the room with their child, and the child had to perform the dance and song they were given in front of the panel.

We had encouraged our daughter to do her best, and we had spent many hours practicing her dance and getting the right pitch for her song.

We were THRILLED when she was cast. It's not a main character, by any means, but for a girl who has never done this before, amid some seasoned child actors, this was a thrill. She was part of the Oompah Loompah's. She is part of four numbers.

This started months upon months of rehearsals twice a week. And then, this month, to an even more fevered pitch. She has been having rehearsals four times a week. Some three hours long, some five hours long.

And today is the culmination of all of that hard work. She is at the theatre from eight this morning until three this afternoon. She will be performing two shows, each in front of three to four schools from the area. She repeats that schedule tomorrow as well. She then has performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well. Those luckily are "just" one show per day. Finally, Sunday is the cast party.

I'm excited and nervous for her, even more so because parents aren't allowed at these performances! I won't get to see her perform until Saturday night when we are going as a family. I'm also extremely proud of her because she started not feeling well yesterday, and went ahead today with a slight fever, headache and not much sleep. She truly is not up to her full "self" today, but she didn't want to let anyone down. I guess she has the "show must go on" attitude already.

This week is surely a busy one for us all. But it's also a beautiful moment. I get to see my daughter reaching for a dream she wanted to achieve, and seeing it through to the end, even when feeling like she'd rather just be lying in her bed. She made the commitment to this production, and she has sacrificed friends birthday parties, trips, and other activities she wanted to join, to pursue it.

As the lights go down on Saturday night, and music starts to resonate down the aisle, as clapping rises into the rafters......there might also be some silent tears.

And a bouquet of roses for the "actress extraordinaire."

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Mother of All Guilt

Why is it that as Moms, we feel this pressure to compare ourselves to others?

If we aren't judging one another, we're feeling internal guilt about our OWN mothering. Is this an inherent aspect of being a Mom? From what I've gathered from all of my research (okay, talking to other moms over wine and martini's!) it seems we all feel some sense of guilt or remorse about SOMETHING child related.

It's like no matter how great of a mother you think you are-how attentive, how caring, how present-there are other moms out there besting you. And the need to compare ourselves to them and compete rears its' head.

I'm the Mom that tries to go out of my way to make sure everything is "right" for my kids. I'm sure most moms do this. I want them to eat healthy foods, get exercise, try new activities, take chances. I want to expose them to culture, and theatre, and new ways of thinking and doing. I'll forgo my own activities or pursuits if it means accommodating theirs.

I make sure they have Christmas cards for their friends at school, that they bring gifts to their teachers and one for their bus driver. On Halloween, we make little goodie bags for the class. On Valentine's day, we send little cards with a little special treat attached. I make something for the class as a whole.

I work on their homework with them. I help them to work to the maximum of their ability on projects and speeches. We go out of our way to make sure they are completely happy and proud of what they are presenting.

I feel pretty smug about the fact that my kids are able to bring these things and always have a little something prepared. I feel confident as a mother that I do "all that I can."

And happens.

My kids come home with something another child in their class has given to each of them. It's extravagant! Beautiful! Or they come home from a birthday party with some sort of crazy, over the top, loot bag. The party they went to had the WHOLE CLASS invited and TWO cakes and a clown and donkey and a magician and a contortionist and Celine Dion. Or at least it seems like it.

And I feel bested and defeated. I bemoan the fact that I'll never be THAT mom and that my kids are going to need therapy from the lackluster parenting they received.

Why oh why do we feel like what we do is never enough???

Of course, then there is the opposite reaction. The feeling that "well, at least I do more than THAT mom!" You know the mom I mean. The one who never knows what her kids are doing at school, that doesn't ever send anything, that could care less what the kid does at a party or what he/she brings home as long as they are gone for a few hours and out of her hair. And we more zealous moms feel somehow self-righteous that at least we can "beat" that mom. We are at least better than HER.

But maybe, secretly, deep down inside....we'd all like to be a little more like her. A little more devil may care. A little more relaxed. A little less Type A, a little more cool.

Well, maybe just for a moment. Then reality sets in and I realize that my eldest has a speech due and she's doing it on Ireland,and really, who knows best how to help her about THAT topic, than me?? And my youngest has to do her VERY FIRST presentation to her senior kindergarten class and we need to rehearse it several times so it's just right and so that she's not nervous, of course.

It'll never be "enough", I'm sure. But it's going to be "enough for today."

Friday, January 23, 2009


It's amazing to me to watch my two little girls in their interactions together. Their personalities are very different, polar opposites in fact. They share a love of drama, of theatre and dance. And neither of my children are shy. I would say that they are both outgoing, confident and friendly. Also both have a very compassionate nature. If they see someone being hurt or bullied, even on tv, they will change the channel or turn it off. It truly bothers them.

But in some ways, it's like watching history repeat itself for me. For though they obviously are their own unique little individuals, they share many similarities between my sister and I.

My sister is 4.5 years older than me. My eldest is 4 years older than my youngest. My sister is also artistic and sensitive. She always loved "beauty" stuff like makeup and clothes and frills and jewellery. She modelled and still does occasionally. She had a temper as a child, but more of a slow fuse that was even more scary than my quick to explode but quick to cool temperament. In other words, you needed to sleep with one eye open if she was mad at you. When she was a young girl (ie before I was born!) she hated being dirty and didn't like playing with the other kids in her preschool, because they didn't wash their hands. Shudder. She liked dresses and bows and staying clean. She didn't yell or break things. She could be counted on to listen and not touch what she wasn't supposed to touch.

That's all very much like my eldest daughter, A. She was the type of little kid that I could have left in a room with dangers and toxic chemicals (not that I WOULD) and she would have sat right where I left her. If other children were fighting around her, she would simply remove herself from the situation and play on her own. Her artistic talents amaze me. She truly has a gift. When she was about three years old, her grandma taught her to sew. She started making her own doll clothing, barbie clothing, and even skirts and purses for herself. She can look at an abstract piece of fabric and not measure or draw anything on it, just cut and sew and VOILA. It comes out perfect. She was always the child that stayed clean, played gently, and rarely lost her cool.

Now that she's a bit older, I'm seeing that other side of her that resembles my sister as well. That scary, eerie, quiet temper. Her interactions with her sister remind me so much of the two of us growing up, it's frankly a little disconcerting. She wants her privacy. She doesn't want her sister touching her makeup or hair elastics or art supplies. She tends to keep her emotions more to her self, but then will let it all out a week after an incident has occurred.

Now, as a child, I was the opposite to all of that. I was loud, outgoing, and if a fight broke out, I was usually at the center. I was the child that if you told not to do something, and created barriers to prevent me from doing so, would figure out a way to do it anyways. My mom came into the kitchen when I was three, and I was standing on a chair with a ruler in my hand, trying to knock out the hook from the latch at the top of the door frame leading to our steep basement stairs. I had(umm, okay, have) a fiery temper. I'm quick to snap, but quick to move on. I'm sensitive, but hate to show it. I'm also very bossy and stubborn. I'm creative, but in a totally different way. I was the kid that was ALWAYS dirty and messy and cut or scraped up. I fractured my jaw at age three. I learned to ride my two wheeler by my sister pushing me down a hill. I rode my bike down a ravine and landed with my chin on my handle bars. I fell off the top of the jungle gym beam (you know the one over the tire) that I was walking across, in the winter. Many of my teeth were punched out rather than lost completely on their own. Ya, I was THAT kid. My Mom said she knew if the school was calling, it was likely about me.

Yet, on the other hand, I am anal. I am very organized and neat. I would have a temper tantrum and throw everything I owned around my room, and then quickly clean the whole thing up again because it drove me crazy that it was "out of place." I alphabetized my CD collection as a teen. I've told you that I was always trying to be top of the class with my grades. I was loving and liked cuddling, on my own time.

And that's my youngest, Miss B, to a T. She can go from being the funniest kid you've ever met (her one liners are hilarious!) to being the grumpiest. All in the space of 5 minutes. Her temper is legendary. Yet, as quickly as it flares up, it also recedes. Her room is always neat and tidy. If she takes something out, she folds it and puts it away. When she plays with something, she then puts it back in it's place. She clucks her teeth at her sisters room or the state of her sisters drawers. Her feelings are easily hurt, but trust me when I say, she makes sure you KNOW it. She can be the sweetest, most compassionate girl I've ever met. Or she can take you down in one fell swoop. She hates jewellery beyond reason. She won't even let it touch her skin. I swear she's accident prone because she's had more spills over the smallest crack in a sidewalk or tiniest bump in the grass, than any child I've ever known.

And when I see the two of them together, it's like a grainy snapshot of another time. My youngest thinks her sister is fascinating. She wants to be with her all of the time, do what she does. My eldest often tolerates it, at her whim, but also will lose her cool and tell her little sister to "beat it." Other times, they can play for hours, laughing and joking. The fights over the bathroom mirror and sink have also already started.

I wonder if it's all just a normal "sister" thing, this dichotomy of love and hate. A natural sister dance of togetherness and retreat. My sister and I did it for many years, and it's like history in the remaking.

The difference this time, I hope, will be the ongoing forging of that sisterly bond. We grew up in a difficult environment for many years, and my sister moved out at sixteen. The years after that created a wall between us that grew higher and higher. Our opposing traits seemed insurmountable. And who we "could have been" was altered and likely stifled during those formative years. My daughters have the freedom to be who they are and have those differences not only encouraged, but fostered. I want them to know that even though they are very different, neither one of their choices or personalities is "better" than the other. Neither is in the wrong. I want them to celebrate each others unique qualities, loving each other not in spite of their differences, but BECAUSE of them.

I've learned now, as an adult, that the qualities that my sister has are often areas where I lack. She shows me a whole other way of thinking or responding that I hadn't thought of, or that doesn't come naturally to me. And I also realize now, we are actually more similar than I thought. We share the same dry wit. We are both sarcastic and a little OCD. We are both incredibly stubborn and hard to please.

And, in a lot of ways, I'm still that little sister that wants to do what my sisters doing. I'm still fascinated by her artistic skills. I'm still in awe of the way she can do makeup, or fix someones hair. I still see her as my more beautiful sister. I think I just understand her a little better now. Maybe it's that we aren't fighting for the mirror.

But I still like to borrow her stuff. Shhhh!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dogs Tails.....

There is a Garth Brooks song called "Unanswered Prayers" that says, "Sometimes I thank God, for unanswered prayers. Remember when you're talking to the man upstairs. Just because he doesn't answer, doesn't mean he don't care.....some of God's greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers."

I've found that to be so true, so many times, in my life.

You beg and hope and plead for a circumstance to turn out the way you think it should, or for a wish to come true, or a love to be forever. When it doesn't turn out that way, we're angry and depressed and lose a little faith. And then, somewhere down the line, we see that everything actually happened exactly the way it was supposed to happen. We realize that if that wish or dream or love HAD been granted, we wouldn't be where we are today. In just the right place, at just the right time.

I remember as a teen thinking that when I had children, I'd surely have all boys. In fact, I pictured four little boys. I pictured tossing a football and running around the yard. I envisioned little sweaters and cute little boy hairdo's. I didn't really know what I'd DO with girls, since I am not very girly, nor crafty or frilly.

And then, I had two girls. And now, I can't for the life of me think of what I'd do had I had boys.

I guess in some ways, I DID get to "have" boys. I ran the daycare and in so doing, played and tossed a football and taught little boys how to use the toilet. But I think it's also different as a teacher, as opposed to a Mom. And boys are truly delightful and magical in their own right. But boys ARE different, in many ways. I know that's a generalization, and there are always exceptions. Most boys however, are just a little more rough. A little more aggressive. A little more rambunctious.

And that's probably the number one reason I didn't get bestowed with boys. I'm a worrier mom. Big time. I don't like my girls to run in sandals on cement. They might trip over the end of the shoe and fall! I don't like roughhousing. I don't, and have never, wrestled with my girls. I'm not the mom that holds her kid by the feet upside down, hanging. I worry about scrapes and bumps and bruises. I try to avoid any and all possibility of those things occurring.

And with girls, it's not that hard to do so. My girls like tea parties. They like to paint and colour. They like dress up clothes and hairdo's and painting their nails. They would sit on my lap and snuggle into me for hours, reading books or just chatting. They like playing "Mommy" and singing and dancing.

Turns out I'm more girly and crafty than I thought. And, there are Moms out there that are way more suited to raising boys than I am. Who are the perfect pairing for a little boy.

Don't get me wrong-I love little boys too. I love their sweet little faces and messy scruffy hair. I love their sense of adventure and mischief. I love to see their tenderness under all that gruff acting. But I think I'd be a nervous wreck every day of their lives, thinking about what they were getting into and what they had touched that was germy and being anxious that they were running too fast on the cement!

Right now, the only little boy in my life is my nephew. He's both mischievous and sweet. He can be as tough and tumble as any boy I've ever seen, but he can also sit with a book or play quietly with my daughter. In fact, in most cases, it's her that bosses him around and instructs him what to do. And, he abides by her demands. He protects her at all costs, if anybody dares go against her. They are a month apart, and while he is about double her size, he's never been anything but sweet to her. He's that perfect culmination of what little boys are all about. And I can see the wonderful man in him, already.

But for me, and the Mom I was supposed to be......Well, I think maybe I need to be thankful for Unanswered Prayers. I have exactly what I was supposed to have. And I couldn't be more grateful for that blessing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Same 'ol, Same 'ol

I'm someone who thrives on routine and consistency. Some might call that being ummm, anal.
I don't often like change, and I'm certainly not very spontaneous. I like when things follow along on the same path and plan, day in and day out.

Unfortunately, life often throws a wrench in my plans.

On a basic level, that's how I try to run my life. Each day has a set routine from the moment my family all gets up, to the moment we lay our heads back down at night. Each week has the same schedule.

I heard Michelle Obama speaking in an interview, where she was asked about her reputation as being a bit of a strict parent. She said it wasn't so much that she was stern or strict, it was that she believed in routine and organization. I immediately felt a kinship. Her explanation was that she thinks a routine and consistency in a child's life creates a sense of self confidence in that child. They know that bedtime is at a set time, and that the bedtime routine is a certain set of actions, followed by a story. Her children know that if there is a parent conference, both of their parents will be attending. She went on to explain her belief that if a child has consistency in the structure of her life, she can then be more confident in her own activities, because she can COUNT on her home life being as expected. When life throws you a curve ball, you know that home can be a safe haven, because it's flow will always remain the same. Consistent and secure.

For me, I could say that maybe it was my role as a daycare teacher, or in my home daycare, that created the sense of importance in following routines. No one knows better than a teacher the chaos that occurs when there is a shift in the normal structure of the day. But honestly, I think I've always been this way. Even as a child myself, I looked for and enjoyed the day more if I knew "what was coming next." And it's how I've always raised my girls as well.

Even these days, when both of my children are in school full time, I still follow a routine. My day remains structured, as does my week in general. I work out every day at the same time. I eat lunch at the same time. I serve dinner at the same time. I do laundry and cleaning on the same days each week. From start to finish, my days are mostly the same in terms of activities. In terms of content-maybe not so much.

Life certainly laughs in the face of plans and routines. It's like just when I think everything has a nice flow, the cosmos decide I need a little disorder. And I'm getting better at handling that irony, and I believe that "I" am getting the last laugh. The best way to fool the universe???

You guessed it. PLOT for the shake up. Always have a contingency plan. Make the disorder a part of your routine. And then it all just becomes part of the same 'ol, same 'ol.

Who's laughing now, cosmos??? Who's laughing now!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Weighing it all

I've been working out, off and on, for many years now. By working out I mean going to a gym (thanks Julie!) and doing a workout plan. I've taken time off (ie fallen off the wagon) but I've always tried to get back on. This has been a struggle for me for many years, since having my children really. I know for some Moms (and usually those who breastfeed it seems!) the weight comes off within a year. For others, like me, having children (bless them!) seems to have totally changed my body, and not for the best.

With my first pregnancy, within the first three months, I had stretch marks that went from the top of my abdomen down to the top of my thighs. Purple no less.(I'm sorry for that visual, people. Especially so early in the morning. I hope you have digested your breakfast) I should have realized right then and there that my skin is obviously not very pliant. It was especially upsetting to me because prior to that I had never had a stretch mark. My friends had some from growing or developing, but I was soooo smug. Hmmpf.

Then, I had to have two c-sections to have my children. Now, again, for a normal woman this would be an operation that would make it EASIER to get to the child encompassed within. They would cut you open and pull the baby out-easy peasy. Not for me. They had to use forceps and a vacuum and several hands to reach my children. My husband likes to say he saw my stomach pulled with a shoe horn and tucked under the operating table. Well, frankly, I don't know how a belly is supposed to just "bounce back" after that kind of trauma.

In the past, I've been very upset to weigh myself after all of my working out-to see the scales barely move. It seems I've been wrestling with the same weight up and down for years and years. Oh, I've noticed definition and felt the muscles getting larger and firmer. I can't complain about that. But the weight never seems to go under a set level. Which would be fine if it was my goal weight level.

Well, no more.

This is my year.

I'm working out 6 days a week currently. That's going between the gym three times a week where I do cardio and weights. I also do the 5 Factor Fitness Plan and Pilates three times a week. I'm watching what I eat. Not restricting the odd treat (a girls gotta LIVE!) but watching portion sizes and quality of food. I'm following the "eat well 80 % of the time" rule. I'm drinking lots of water.

And, I've seen changes. My clothes are looser. My silhouette smaller in the mirror. But one other difference this time; I'm not weighing myself weekly.

I used to be a chronic weigher. I would step off and on that scale obsessively. I decided this time that I would weigh in once a month. I took my measurements as well at the start of the month. I just don't want to be a slave to the number on the scale, nor do I want to be disappointed by it if it's not as low as I think it should be. So, once a month I will weigh in and do my measurements.

I've been tempted. I've even pulled the scale out a few times. But I've resisted. And that's a new change already.

Another difference this time is, I've stopped putting a "time frame" on reaching my goal. I've decided it's just going to take as long as it's going to take, but I WILL get there eventually. And then, the struggle will be to stay there. To maintain my lifestyle.

And finally, to sign up for a tummy tuck. :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Dream is Alive

Today is MLK day in the USA.

And "up here" in Canada, I can feel it in the air.

I don't care if you are a Democrat, or a Republican. If you voted for him, or not. There is just a "feeling" that's almost palpable that change is upon us.

I suppose there is a sense of a "new start" with every election of a new President or Prime Minister, but this time....the sensation is different. It's a whole new, tangible awareness.

I didn't live in the 60's. I didn't feel the rush and excitement and fear as big changes were taking place all around me. I didn't hang on to hopes and dreams of equality and freedom and integration.

But, I'm feeling it now.

Whether you are an Obama supporter or not, you have to feel the magnitude of this moment in time. Aside from the history making aspect of it, it just feels like reformation is all about us.

Oh sure, the cynic in me is fearful. Fearful that a lot of this is media and showmanship. That the concerts and the speeches and celebrities are all well and fine, but they aren't the "real" work that is going to need to take place. And that maybe somehow I'm falling hook, line and sinker for the "man behind the curtain." And how disappointing would THAT be?

But maybe that cynic is present, because promises have been made before, and yet so much has been lost. No, I'm not even American. But our relationship is a deep one. And American choices effect Canadians. And a lot of Canadians are watching with baited breath.

On MLK day, I can't help but think about HIS dream, which was taken from all of us before it came to fruition. But it opened the door. And more. Change is in the air. How exciting and proud and fascinating this time is going to be. And I get to live it this time. And so do my children. From here on out, everything changes. For so many.

The Dream is Alive. May we keep on dreaming big. One day, it CAN and WILL happen.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Weekend Rush

There was once upon a time a young woman that spent her weekends sleeping in, going out, and working mindless shifts at a part-time job. Weekends were carefree, and careless. Languishing and staying in pj's all day. Having breakfast at noon. Getting up, eating, watching a bit of TV, and going back to bed.

Sigh. Heavenly.

That Fairy Tale has ended.

My weekends now consist of travelling from one of my children's activities to the other. Granted, one very time consuming theatre production is coming to an end in a few weeks. (my daughter is an Oompah Loompah in the local community theatre group presentation of Willy Wonka. She'll be performing in front of over 17 local schools and 3,000 plus people!) But, it's to actually MAKE IT to the end of the month. And then there are still the "other" activities.

Tonight, there are swimming lessons for both girls.
Tomorrow, "Kids Club" where they cook, play in the gym or swim, and then eat what they have made. It's not all bad actually. I work out in the gym while they work out in their gym.
Sunday, the rehearsal for Willy Wonka. (which I should add runs FIVE, yes, FIVE hours)

It certainly makes a weekend fly right on by.......but is that always a welcome thing?

Oh, I know what you are all thinking; "Well then, don't put them in so many activities!" I wholeheartedly agree with not "overbooking" our children's lives. And usually, it ISN'T quite as busy. This play thing has been the topper.

But how do I say "no" to their little excited faces when they have the acting bug? Or when they are so happy meeting new friends and learning new skills? Yes, I'm the Mom. It's my job to be the meanie and say "no." And I have!

My eldest wanted to join the cross country ski team at school. I had to veto that because it conflicts with her play rehearsals. She also wanted to try out for volleyball. I okay'ed that one because it's during school hours. Both girls want to do dance. There's just no time right now!

But come February, our Sundays will be rehearsal free.

Guess which two girls are starting Belly Dancing for kids on Sunday mornings?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Snow Day, Part Two

So yesterday the school buses were cancelled due to the crazy sub-Arctic weather we are having here. The girls were excited and checked the computer website right away when they got up. I awoke to shouts of "no buses, buses cancelled!"

I planned a full day for them. It's really the only way to prevent fighting and squabbles. So, while they played barbies, I did my workout. I knew the morning, for about an hour, was the only time I'd get that kind of quiet, playing nice together, time.

After lunch, we got all the ingredients together and made some bread. I got the recipe from the website. It was entitled "easy BIG bread" and they are NOT kidding. I don't own loaf pans (ie not much of a baker) but it didn't matter because they said I'd need two large cookie sheets. We had to let the dough rise twice before baking-which was kind of neat on it's own. It ended up tasting great, but definitely did not look "bread shaped" in the end. (

Next, we decided to make my eldest daughters favourite soup. It's from Looneyspoons. You can follow the recipe here: It's pretty simple to make and not as unhealthy as the typical broccoli and cheese soup.

Finally, we snuggled in my bed and watched a movie. (Mommy MAY have dozed off for a moment or two)

Then, we made various shapes with tape and Styrofoam plates and during bath time last night, we tried out our experiments to see which would float or not.

But that was yesterday. Enthusiasm was high. Novelty was on our side.

Today, buses are cancelled once more. We didn't awake to shouts of glee. We awoke to muttering and cursing. Our van's power steering line had cracked and was leaking fluid. After a call in to Kia, we now need to wait "potentially 24 hours" for a tow. And then, a new part. Luckily, the tow and the part are under warranty.

I've pulled out all of our colouring and activity books that haven't been used in awhile. I've taken out our play dough we made awhile back, and all the cookie cutters, plastic knives and bowls and plates. We're planning on making granola bars this afternoon. The movie snuggle time is required. (again, more for Mommy than anyone else) And, I'm hoping Day 2 can be just as fun, exciting and different as Day 1. I'm not sure about my working out though. That might be asking for a little too much!

Tomorrow is supposed to be JUST as cold. I'm not sure what we'll plan for that day!

One day at a time.
One freezing day at a time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chaotic Bliss

It's still dark,
As we arise.
The sun is peeking
From the sky.

The morning chill
Hangs in the air
As for another day
We prepare.

What should I wear?
And what should I eat?
Is this paper important?
Timing, a feat.

There are mad cries
And sometimes tears
There are slamming doors
Amidst sisterly jeers.

We rush, all bundled
Up to the bus
The wind is cold
The snow a fuss.

The yellow form
Finally arrives
It's kisses and hugs
And laughing goodbyes.

I trudge home quickly
With dishes to tidy
The chaos of the morning
Left behind me.

I now sit in silence,
And sip my tea.
The chaos is over
I'm left with just "me."

The house seems so quiet
The air hangs so still,
And I miss the loud shrieks
The cries, so shrill.

While the chaos is hectic
The moment so rushed
Without my two wee ones
My world is too hushed.

So, I await.
In a day filled with chores.
For the bus to come back
And bring home my adored.

Without them the time
Seems to move
Without glee.
For I am to them,
As they are,
To me.

I wouldn't trade calm
For the bliss that is home
With my children's laughter
I am never "alone."

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Mother Load

I was having a discussion with a friend recently about how neat it is to find old friends on the ever popular Facebook. You get to see what people did with themselves, how they grew, who they became. My friend was saying she was glad she had moved away from some of the past friends, because she had made quite a life for herself, and she didn't know that she would have if she had stayed in that circle. It got me thinking about choices and perceptions.

I was kind of a keener in school. It started as soon as I stepped through the doors of elementary school, and continued on throughout high school. Well, except in Math, but that's a whole other story. I enjoyed participating in class and I would get pretty upset if I got a poor grade. Oh, I skipped classes and did all of the normal teen rebellion stuff, but at the core, I was the girl who wanted to be at the top of the class.

When I reunite with schoolmates, I feel a little defensive. I know I shouldn't-but I do. I think most of them are shocked that I am "just a stay at home mom." Now, I could do my spiel about how once my first daughter was born I decided the daycare costs were not worth it and that I was more qualified to take care of my daughter than a stranger. Which then led me to opening a successful home daycare, which I ran for seven and a half years. Well into having my second daughter. Most of the children I watched stayed with me into their school years and I still stay in touch with their families. But, I get the feeling that somehow, people expected "more" from me. And that may be my own insecurity about staying home, but the feeling is valid either way.

The truth of the matter is, though I loved learning and getting the recognition of receiving high grades, at the top of my "goals" list was having a family. I think because my own home life was filled with so much turmoil and inconsistency, the desire to have a picture perfect family prevailed. Even my graduation yearbook has my ambition listed as "realizing the white picket dream."

Fast forward to today. I closed the home daycare when my husband's job moved us four hours away from everything we'd ever known. The idea was to spend the year at home getting my girls used to their new digs. It would also be my youngest daughters last year at home before starting senior kindergarten. (I didn't send either girl to junior) And that was a great choice for us and instrumental to our getting used to our new life. Now, however, both girls are in school full time, and I'm left wondering what to now do with myself.

On the one hand, my plan was to go back to daycare centers as a supply teacher. (I have my ECE) That way I could pick my hours and days, and be home for holidays and summers and sick days. Problem is-where I currently reside the need is not there. So, I look elsewhere. But really, what job can I find that will allow me to be home by 3pm to meet the bus? To start only after my girls are safely on the bus to school. That I can be off summers, and holidays and whenever the school calls or the girls are sick??? I've done the home daycare, but I feel that has run it's course. So, what? Right. No job that I can find.

So, I'm at home. And I'm busy. Six and a half hours seems to zoom by. There is always something to do. Laundry and cooking and cleaning. Volunteering at the school. Working out. Even though I'm happy at home, and proud to be continuing my "keener" ways in my home, it still feels like it's not enough. People will often ask me (usually other women), "what do you DO all day?" or "don't you find the day LONG?" And I know they think it's somehow being lazy or not contributing. Some days, I feel like that too.

But when I look at my girls and the way they are, I have to be proud. They are wonderful, confident, secure girls. They are involved in many activities and have a mom that is very hands on. I'm here when they are sick. I'm here when they need someone to read to them. I'm here when they need help with homework. I'm not tired or stressed from my career. I truly think, for our family, my being home has contributed to them being how they are as people. They are happy and polite and caring individuals.

So, why then does that not feel "good enough" some days??? And why does the message that it's not seem to come from other Moms?

I don't judge other Moms that need to, or want to, work. Not everyone is cut out to be at home 24/7 and SHOULDN'T be. And that's fine. We all have our place and our strengths. So why can't my being the CEO of my family be enough for them? Why does it feel, at times, like I've somehow disappointed?

My Mom will say things like, "what about using your education?". I use it everyday! Others will say, "what about contributing to the family income?" I SAVE money by being home.

I'm happy at home. Yet I feel constant pressure to "do more" or "be more." And I don't know if that's external or internal. Or a little bit of both.

So, I continue to search. I search for the magical job that will allow me to be both at home and making an income. I search for the balance of being a Mom and being a Woman. I search for the acceptance from myself to just "be". And I continue to dream. Isn't that an important lesson to be teaching my children? That sometimes your own personal path isn't what others expect, but you should follow it anyways. That to pursue your own dream, you may have to take an unfamiliar or rocky route?

In the meantime, I'm a hell of a Mom. A hell of a Wife. And a hell of a Woman. And I make a darn fine CEO of our household. And best of all, I've definitely met my ambition of the white picket dream. (with a few fence posts that need mending, but still standing) And I don't think everyone can say that.

And still, I continue to dream.

Stay tuned.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Who's Your Honey??

So, I was watching "The Rachael Ray" show the other day, and she had Gabrielle Reece on the program. They were discussing the topic of Gabby's "Honeyline". Basically, the concept is that women have a network of friends, all with varying expertise, that we rely on in certain instances in our lives. These friends help us out, provide us with information, and hold us up so we can continue to thrive and contribute to the "hive." In return, we too, have our own role and area of expertise. One friend, for example, may be who we turn to when we need cooking advice or recipes. Another might be the perfect party planner. One might be our parenting guru. All have their roles and all play an important part in our personal growth and mental health.

My group of friends is large and varied. I'd even go as far as to admit that, all thrown in a room together, many would not "click." Their interests and beliefs are THAT different. However, their roles in MY life, are very significant.

Whether it's the friend I email or call just to make me laugh and be light, or the ones I confide in and pour it all out-they are all "needed." And I can't imagine feeling whole and well rounded without every single one of them. Luckily for me, many of my friends are fantastic women with so many attributes, I can go to any one of them for expertise on a variety of topics. And how great is it to have friends like that? That you can cry with, that you can laugh with, that you can vent to, that will let you hide when you can't face the world, but then bring you gently back into it's folds.

When I look back on these friendships, I see a history of love. We've experienced losses so great they are crippling, we've shared joys that make your heart soar. Deaths of family members and births of long awaited babies. Surgeries and marital crisis. And through it all, at the core, were my friends. Holding each other up and urging us all to move forward.

I can see all the faces of these friends as I type this blog. I can see my friend that knows every movie and tv show line you can imagine, and makes me laugh like crazy. I can see my friend that has heard my every cry and fear and question about my strength. She's heard about my workouts and my goals and my path in life. I can see my friend that has always encouraged me to be "better". Healthier, more "green". I can see the friend that can see so deeply into my soul and the "me" I keep hidden, it scares me as well as excites me. I can see the friend that I've known since birth. That I pushed away for years, only to discover that her heart was the only place that I would find comfort in a time with little.

Their faces are the beauty and joy in my life. They are my sanity. They are my sanctuary.
No "one" is more or lesser than another. For it's the whole that keeps my "hive" thriving.

I hope that I, too, have provided all of them with as much as they have given to me. And I know that when times are rough, or they need a laugh, or they need someone who will stand up for them-I'm their woman. For I have my role as well.

My "honeyline" is overflowing with copious amounts of sweet, tasty honey. I'm the richer for it, and more thankful today then I can express for it's abundance.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Things That Go Bump In The Night

If anyone came and secretly filmed my family while we slept, they would have crazy footage of night wanderings and worse. It's a comedy of errors here at night, with musical beds often happening as well.

I admit-we are all horrible sleepers. My husband used to sleep like a log when I first met him. I've corrupted him with my light sleeping ways. And now, our girls also have the sleep disorder.
I think I even read somewhere that sleep disorders such as night terrors MAY have a genetic link. That explains so much!!! It's not my fault then! It wasn't our family bed, or the fact that they sleep with nightlights. It's genetic. Not much you can do, then.

This isn't a "new" thing for me, either. My whole life I've been teased for things I've done in the night. There's the "I awoke to you crouching over my open dresser drawer!" story from my mom. Or the "I saw you going into the closet pulling down your pyjama pants!" story from my sister. Yep......I've done both of those things. I've also suffered from night terrors for as long as I can remember as well. My husband grew accustomed to waking up with me either screaming or kicking or even shattering something. I dreamt that I was being buried alive in a casket one night. As our bed was beside the wall, and I slept on the inside....well, you can guess the rest. I'm sure waking up to clawing and banging on the wall isn't very fun for my husband either. Another time, I wandered over to our dresser and took a wooden ornament and started smashing it repeatedly on the dresser top. Why, you ask? No clue. Perhaps this is why my husband now sleeps with one eye open. Maybe he fears he's next.

Now, a new generation of night craziness is taking place. My youngest daughter has been known to go into bedrooms and pull up the side of the blanket and pull down her pants. I have to move pretty quick when I see her start walking into a room other than the bathroom!!! She has also, and this terrifies me, gone down the flight of stairs to the kitchen and pulled out the garbage can and pulled down her pants. She's not awake at all when she does this, and when you talk to her, she starts to cry and doesn't know why she is there. My eldest talks and laughs and yells in her sleep. She also comes into my bedroom and either says something ludicrous or hands me her pillow, and wanders back to her room to go back to sleep. It's like a scene from an insane asylum here nightly. Hmmm, restraints might actually be a good idea come to think of it.

I kid you not when I say....this is NORMAL for our house. These activities take place on a regular basis. And my husband wonders why I don't get enough sleep or why I'm crabby in the morning! It's a long night when you are constantly on the lookout for someone to be tiptoeing across their floor to do who knows what.

I'd say, "well they'll grow out of it soon enough" but "I" still haven't!!! I guess I'll just have to wait till the day I can pass them on to THEIR husbands with the advice that his days of peaceful rest are numbered. In more ways than one!

Sweet Dreams!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Regrets....I've had a few....

I watched the movie, "The Bucket List" last night. I thought it was pretty good, silly in parts and poignant in others. Of course, me being the way I am, it also got me thinking about alot of things.

I think the idea of a "Bucket List" is something we've all got stored somewhere in our heads, even if we don't have it written on paper. And maybe we call it something else; a "To Do" list, or "Things To Do Before I Die" or even a "Life List." I know at one point on the Ellen Degeneres show, she was sharing her life list and checking things off as she went. I have one, you have one I'm sure.

The point though is this. As the end draws near, I don't think I'll necessarily regret that I didn't get to tick off "take up a martial art" or "learn to wolf whistle." (although I DO plan on checking those things off!) I think it might be disappointing to not be able to have done all the things I wished to have learned, to see, to do. As Lucille Ball has been quoted as saying, "I'd rather regret the things I have done, then the things I didn't do." I believe that was tongue in cheek, but still, the regrets we feel are often more about the personal relationships in our lives. We regret the things we said, or didn't say. We regret letting a relationship drop. We regret hurting someone. We regret making mistakes.

When I look back on my life, I won't regret eating or drinking too much. I won't regret that I didn't work out more consistently. I certainly won't regret that my house was not more clean. Already, the circumstances that bring regrets are the ones where I made decisions that hurt others, or even hurt myself.

And yet, with regret, comes growth. If you look at a challenging situation where you maybe took a turn you wish you hadn't, you can see it as an opportunity. Maybe that's called optimism? Every chance I have, I look for the lesson I'm supposed to learn. And the path forward from that lesson. Maybe I screwed up. Badly. And maybe I regret the pain or anguish I had to live through to get to the other side. But can I regret the lesson imparted from the mistake? I think that is the best way we learn. By making mistakes, and then by owning them.

The movie took the men to various fun and exciting locals and experiences. But in the end, the important task to them was mending the interpersonal relationships in their lives. Can we die with "no regrets?" I don't think it's possible. For "to regret deeply is to live afresh." (Thoreau)
The key is to regret, but repair. Regret the things said or left undone, but then make the effort to permit yourself to concede the lesson learned. A life lived with regrets and no effort to grow from them, is a life wasted. A life with regrets but soaked with the knowledge imparted from them, is a life celebrated.

Celebrate. Live. Regret. Learn.

And check off "Wolf Whistle."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Money, Money, Money.....It's a Rich Man's World

Economy, recession, budget, money, yada yada yada, blah blah blah, Charlie Brown's teacher......

Yep, that's pretty much what I hear too when the news regarding the current economic state comes on or I hear people discussing tightening their purse strings.

Let's face it though, it can't hurt any of us to "downsize" a little in this consumer hungry world.

In light of that, I saw a couple on CBC Canada that challenged themselves to "not spend" for a year. They allowed groceries, obviously, and necessities. However, if a necessity came up, they looked in thrift stores or tried used or trade. (you can read all about their year long experiment at As the year progressed, they started caring where they spent that money. They grew a garden. They started buying Fair Trade. The products they used were mostly organic or naturally based. They wanted their money to COUNT.

This was very interesting to me, so I proposed a challenge to my family as well. Now, clearly, this would be a lazier, less hard core, slacker kind of challenge than the one described above. Anything resembling close to that challenge and MY family-well, that's just crazy talk.

So, I proposed that for 6 months, we try to cut back on what we spend. That beer my husband buys every week or so? Reduced to one case a month. We cut back on our cable-going to digital only as opposed to HD. (there were tears involved in this one) I started making my menu plans for the week based on store flyers and what was on sale that week. We plan on eating "meatless" two nights a week, and fish another two. No more eating out-at ALL-for the 6 months. I'm trying to make meals that are "cook once, eat twice" so that my freezer is stocked. Biggest one? We are looking at trading in our minivan for something more cost effective, and with the current times being what they are, are actually looking at some good deals.

I know these aren't HUGE changes, or that this isn't rocket science for most. But for a family that is used to buying when we want and eating out every week or so.....this is making an impact. It's changing our eating habits, our buying habits, our CONSUMPTION in general.

And really, recession or no recession, I think that's a better quality of life, and a better lesson for our children. It may be small changes to some, but hopefully for us they'll snowball into something bigger. My hope is that after the 6 months, we see other ways we can comfortably cut back. That we continue on for another six months with more changes in place. Baby steps.......

Now, how many of you actually "heard" a word I wrote? Or did you just start reading and......yada yada yada, blah blah blah, Charlie Brown's teacher???

Monday, January 5, 2009

Welcome to the first day of the rest of my blog

Welcome! Today is the day I bite the bullet and start this long debated blog. It's going to be an easy post today. A little background, a little intro, a little info.

First, let's start with the name of the blog. I'm going to be "Captain Obvious" here and explain. For those of you who didn't "get" it....pretend you did and don't be insulted. No one will know.

It's a play on words. (d'uh). Basically, I'm a Mom. Hence the word "Mom" in the title. And I'm usually a very polite, caring, go by the books of etiquette and society and all that good stuff, kind of gal. But sometimes, I forget those manners and get a bee in my bonnet and say things that can be controversial. So, you can look at the title like "Miss Manners" when I'm feeling Mom like and role model like, or you can look at the title like "Mismannered" when those said niceties are tucked away for another day.

AND-it's kind of "The Two Faces of Eve" which is explanatory of the two faces (or more?) of THIS mom.

So, enjoy. Happy Reading. Pull up a chair by the fire. All that good stuff.

It's going to be a bumpy ride.