Saturday, August 29, 2009

Amish Fascination

I've been reading a bunch of Amish Fiction novels from before summer started, and throughout the course of hot, humid days. I've read at least three series as well as singular novels. (the authors are Beverly Lewis and Wanda E. Brunstetter for those interested in reading) I have a new fascination with all things Amish and I would even go as far as to say, they've made me re-evaluate some things in my fast paced life. A visit to Amish country is definitely on my Life List, now.

I've always been interested in the Amish way of life, in general. In reading these novels though, it's opened up a whole new world to me that is very appealing on so many levels. I never really subscribe to "any" doctrine completely, but there are many great things to learn and appreciate from the Amish way of life. If you go back over the last months of my blog, you'll see I've been searching and seeking for some of that morality and some of that simplicity in a world that seems to be lacking.

I can't imagine living the way they do, on the one hand. While some "New Order" Amish do embrace some of the more modern conveniences, many of the "Old Order" still don't have electricity! Say, whaaat? That (and indoor plumbing) I so could not do. When I think of the way they work from sun up to sun down, daily, it makes me cognisant of how truly lazy we have become as a society in general. I find a day of watching children and making three meals, and keeping my home clean, tiring. The Amish prepare their meals from scratch. That's food from their gardens or farms (mostly) on top of that. For some of our meals, I throw a waffle into the toaster oven. Phew. Difficult! Though my family do eat at the table, together, for breakfast and dinner. I pack some cold meats and cheeses and breads and raw veggies into a lunch bag for my kids, or put some leftovers in a container for my husband. Again, challenging stuff! I was amazed at the amount of food prepared and eaten for each Amish meal, which was left to the women of the household. It certainly made my efforts seem less than adequate.

I run a vacuum, spray some cleaner, throw clothes in a washer and dryer. That's got to be way less time consuming than hand washing and using a clothes line! How the heck did we get so dang lazy? Oh ya......MODERN CONVENIENCES. The curse and cure for what ails us.

I respect the Amish's peaceful way of life and their respect of family and matrimony. When you make the pledge to finally join the Church, you better be serious because it's for life. They give their young people the chance to explore and go out in the world, but once you commit, you are ALL IN.

Could I, would I, want to live as the Amish on a daily basis? Probably not. But I do think there is something to be said for growing and enjoying food from your own garden. I think it's commendable to eat together as a family. I believe in the sanctity of a matrimonial promise. I try to lend a hand to a neighbour or friend when I can. I think it's smart to use up every morsel of food and make it stretch. I think food in general tastes best when it's homemade. And what's nicer than an Amish quilt or furniture, handcrafted?

It's unlikely that society will ever go back to that simpler way of life when the dangling carrot of convenience is procured. I certainly love when I can make things easier, quicker or less time consuming in my daily schedule. I'm no martyr!

I do however relish the thought of making homemade pies and tarts, relishes and pickles, salads and breads. I enjoy paring my life down to essentials, while still enjoying luxuries. I look forward to a simpler lifestyle that may be less full of material things, and richer in friends, family and spirituality.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Little Bit Of This And That

There seems to be so much going on right now around me, and it's both exciting and a bit nerve wracking at the same time. So here's the update on all of that news around my tiny, little life.

My neighbour and friend is due with her third child on Saturday. She's nearing the homestretch, and we all know how that can be. She's tired and drained and while a bit anxious about what needs to happen to get this child into the world, she's ready. She has two beautiful little daughters at home that still need Mommy, and it's taking a toll. So today, my Mom is here visiting, and being the kind of lady that she is, made my friend a big pan of lasagna. I had made an Italian panzanella (bread salad) and we carted it over to her door. The gratitude was almost overwhelming. She said that one gesture had changed the entire tone of her day, and she was brimming into tears. I told her we had actually put some secret "stuff" in there that would bring the baby out, so here's hoping. I picked tomorrow as the day he'd be born as well. Guess we'll see if Mom's Lasagna does the trick!

Our girls soccer season ended this week as well, with my eldest daughters playoff game on Monday night. They played a hard season, but couldn't seem to get the wins they had enjoyed in their championship season last year. They didn't make it to the finals this year, but man they played fast and strong. My daughters skills improved tenfold, and her coaches (the same from last year) are two amazing, wonderful men. I'm a competitive person by nature, but when it comes to my children and sport-it's really not what I put the focus on. I don't want them to be the types of people that don't enjoy the game because it's only at the price of winning or being the "best" at it. I want them to enjoy the sport, the teamwork, and just being out there. Winning is definitely the icing on the cake, but it's not the reason to play. I'll never be the parent you see writing about my kids many achievements, academic or athletic, to any degree other than "they did great." We celebrate them for sure, and encourage them to always try their hardest. We recognize where their talents lie, but we believe in fostering all of their interests. Not just the things they excel in. But I truly believe the best attitude is one of humility and respect and good sportsmanship.

Today was haircut day to prepare for the upcoming school year! They both just wanted a trim and some long layers. I was super ticked to find them coming home with just the trim. My husband had taken them and told the lady what they wanted. I don't know if she misunderstood or what happened, but they didn't really even look like they got their hair cut! No word of a lie, I've been on youtube looking up how to cut long layers. I don't dare attempt it, for fear my kids look like they were attacked by Edward Scissorhands. It seriously ticks me off given the amount paid for two children's haircuts though. I told my husband and daughters they should go back to the salon and ask for the layers that aren't there, that they had originally requested, but I was met with expressions of horror. So, no layers I guess til next haircut.

School begins on Tuesday and for me, that's New Year's Day. I still live my life it seems by the school year calendar. The first day of school signals a new start for me, every year. The end of the year is the last day of school, and summer is the holiday season. Yes, I'm a nerd of epic proportions. We aren't completely ready, in my mind. We have the first day outfits and the new backpacks and lunch bags and all of that. Where I currently reside, in younger grades, you don't have to provide ANY supplies. Crazy, eh? I used to get a page long list of things I needed to buy. Here, it's indoor shoes and a box of Kleenex. My older daughter needs a calculator and math set, but again, that's about it. I've got the shoes covered, as well as the calculator and math set from last year, but I still need some pencil cases and I'll still likely get a few supplies anyways. I can't seem to fathom starting school without them.

This new year also sees my girls attending a new school. They've put the two Early Immersion schools together in one new "super school." I'm hoping it's a good change. It's going to be a lot more children than they are used to, and it will cover JK-Grade 8. I imagine the first week will be ironing out many glitches, hopefully not at my kids' expense! Their new bus ride is also now, brace yourselves here, ONE HOUR long. The school is oh, 5 minutes up the road? I've complained about this to the school and transportation boards and they said they've received many complaints and are looking into it but it will take a few weeks to see how the new route goes. Uh huh. How about NOT trying to cover three areas on ONE bus? I don't see how they think four and five year olds are going to be able to sit that long, without bladder or behaviour issues. I was told that 60 minutes is actually the provincial guideline. I told them that this needs to be looked at on a provincial level then because whomever made up that little tidbit clearly had no child development training. And don't get me started on the headache this is going to create for the bus drivers in terms of behaviour management. It's not like we are coming from a rural area to an urban one. Nope. Again, 5 minutes away. Sigh. My children are the first stop on, and the last stop off, as well.

I'm hoping with the start of school to get back into the swing of things in terms of a routine. I need to set a schedule for working out again, for meal times, and to register and plan around activities for the children. I also have a lot of little projects around the house that need doing, which I couldn't do over the summer with children underfoot. I'll have nap time with the daycare children to try and tackle some of those "honey-do" lists.

My husband has also had the hint dropped that we might be looking at a move, again. They had initially said to be prepared in the February or March time frame. Then it was asked if we'd be ready in 30-60 days. Now, it seems the spring time frame is being mentioned again. It could all turn out to be nothing, but for now, I'm preparing myself for the possibility. I'm not someone who does well with change, in general, so the additional time to wrap my mind around it is welcome. The thing with my husbands job is, you never know WHERE or WHEN. For a control freak like me, that's anxiety inducing! And it's difficult to live with one foot here and one foot preparing to go. I try to look at it as an exciting opportunity, and being outgoing as I am, I know I'll be fine and make a ton of friends wherever I am, so I don't worry about that aspect. My concern is more for my children and what effects the moving will have on their lives. Not everyone is as adaptable to picking up and leaving as my husband can be, so it's necessary for me to pave the way for them.

And it's another reason to get to those little projects! You can't procrastinate when you have a deadline!

I'm off to check the moon phases for tonight. Hopefully, a new little life will be brought into the world by tomorrow!

Monday, August 24, 2009

No Holds Barred Soap Boxing

Please remain seated at all times and keep your hands and arms inside of the ride. This, folks, is going to be a bumpy ride.

I'm going to rant my head off here for a little bit because if I don't get it out, I'm liable to let it all out on some poor sucker who has come to me for advice or help or just to vent. It's not going to be pretty. In fact, it might be quite ugly. Deal.

I've told you a few times how in the last few weeks, heck months, I've been hearing story after story of marriages gone sour. I would say 3/4 of those is due to infidelity. That meets the current statistic that says that(now up from the previous 50%) of marriages out there in the world, 75% will experience infidelity at some time. That is a huge, huge number.
And I'm seeing it at work every day, in my own friendship circles.

It's even top press too. John Edward and his DNA test with the woman he had the affair with, as his wife battles for her life!! Eddie Cibrian and LeAnn Rimes parading all over the place with smiles on their faces, as his children try to figure out where their Dad went. Or even Jon and Kate and his "woman of the day." Seriously, what the hell is wrong with people?

Have we lost all modicum of values or morality in this day and age? Does ANYONE care anymore about the state of their children's psychological health? We wonder why so many of the "younger" generation don't value marriages or seem to flirt unnecessarily with sexuality, well what would make them want to commit when their role models can't keep it in their pants? Doesn't put a lot of faith in the institution.

Listen, if you want out of your marriage and it's not going well, fine. Get out. Work out a plan with your former spouse to remain amicable and be present in your children's lives. Show them two individuals with the class and maturity to work together still for their sakes. Show them you value each other, still, as individuals. Don't run off with someone else and expect them to be "okay" with your new boyfriend or girlfriend. Bottom line-most kids would rather see their parents together. NOT with someone else.

All of these people claiming mid-life crisis or that they "missed out" because they got married too young and now need to party seriously need to grow up. And grow a pair while you're at it. It's not just about YOU. Remember those little people you so lovingly anticipated? Well, sucks to be you, but they have first claim on what you do from day 1 on. Once you are a parent, you don't have the luxury anymore, in my opinion, to make decisions based solely on your needs. And I use the term "needs" very, very loosely. Heck, let's even say tongue in cheek.

I think cheating is one of the most selfish, cowardly, egocentric things one person can do to another. The total lack of how it's ripples are going to effect everyone in your life is appalling to me. It creates chaos and heartache and studies show it's as devastating as a car crash or death in terms of post traumatic stress.

Recently, someone I know whose marriage had fallen apart and whose spouse was out partying it up and allegedly dating, ended his life. That's how deep it cut and how great a loss he felt. How one reacts to cheating is an individual thing, but his wife now has to live with that guilt her whole life. Is getting your ego stroked REALLY worth ruining someone else's life? And with children in the mix, ruining SEVERAL people's lives? If so, that's quite a big ego you've got there.

I would say all of these cheaters need to think before they leap in search of "excitement" and "flattery", but we all know nothing is going to change. Our generation is raising the bar (and the percentage) on failed marriages. And there's something to be proud of folks. Sigh.

I long for the days when all of my friends were just getting married, standing up in front of all of their family and friends, radiating with joy and hope, and proclaiming to love and honour and cherish their partners for the long haul. Guess it's the rare individual, nowadays, who is as good as their word.

I hope, at least, my kids can have a role model in me, come what may.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Growing Up and Growing Apart

Do you have friends that have children the same ages as yours, and for awhile you seemed very on par on most aspects of the whole parenting racket? Then, slowly and stealthily, you realize that bond is slipping through the proverbial discipline philosophy cracks?

I have friends that I saw eye to eye on in terms of most parenting practices for many, many years. However, as our children get older and issues go from diapering and feeding to makeup and peers, it seems many of those close friendships are beginning to change.

We all want our kids to succeed and to be healthy and well rounded. THAT hasn't changed. But how we go about achieving those goals, and what we see as important on the grand scale, has certainly shifted.

It's difficult to regard those friendships the same because you just know that what you value, on a basic level, is very different. And it's strange to come to that realization because you always felt you were on the same page-how dare they change that up now!!!

Now, I just try not to ruffle feathers. I agree to disagree. Actually, most times, I just choose not to answer the queries about "what do you think?" because I know if I do, it's not going to be pretty. Most people think they are right. Their way is the right course of action. And how can you make them see that maybe they are pushing too hard or not enough, are too competitive or too lackadaisical, are too lenient or too strict.

I welcome input from others, and I see sometimes that I could change something I previously thought and try a new way. That doesn't mean I always do, or will. I often think I'm doing pretty well. I think many others though, truly, don't want to hear your advice or your objective opinion, even when they've asked. Does that mean that even in parenting circles we're reverting to a "don't ask, don't tell" policy? I hope not.

Eventually, these friendships will right themselves again as we begin to struggle through the teen years together, where we are all floundering like the toddler stages, once more. Or, they'll just gradually move away to more agreeable parenting cohorts.

Being both a parent and a friend. It's a tough gig.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lucky 13

Today is my 13th wedding anniversary. We've been together for 16 total but only 13 of those years were not what my mother-in-law classifies as "living in sin." That's a long time to be with someone, from my late teens to a family of four.

It's been quite a journey. Since we started out together quite young, we had growing up to do still, and I think we've been doing that together along the way. Then came babies and careers and the years in there when your children are very young seem like a blur. I think those years you are just struggling to keep your head above water and you're just holding on to each day. I remember lots of arguments over responsibilities. We were still trying to get our roles down, and who's job it was to do dinners or baths or bottles or bedtime.

Now, our children are a bit older, and so are we. And I'd say we are learning and growing more now than we have in our whole time together. We've discussed and resolved a lot of the previous issues with in laws and parenting and household roles, and now we're on to the real meaty questions of life and goals and the future-and how we both see it.

It's been a roller coaster adventure of a ride. We've had a lot of ups and downs, a lot of laughter among the tears, and a lot of stumbles, falls and getting back up. The good news is, even when I'm upset or mad, I still look across the table at the man sitting there, and see the one person who knows me better than anyone else and who is still my "choice" when it all comes down to it.

There's something to be said for that.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Study In Contrasts

Here is a classic indicative example of how my girls are very different personality wise.

The other day, one of the little neighbour girls told my eldest daughter that she didn't like her sister, my youngest. Now, this little girl comes to my door about fifteen times in the space of two hours asking for my youngest to come out and play. This day, she was with the "older" girls and my youngest with playing with someone else.

My eldest then TOLD my youngest what the little girl had said. The indignation that followed was quite a sight to see. My eldest begged her sister to calm down and told her she wished she had never mentioned it.

Fast forward to last night. The doorbell rings, again. We see through the window that it's the little neighbour girl. My youngest says she's going to ask why she said that about her, and my eldest begs her not to and that she's going to embarrass them all!

My youngest stomps to the door, wings it open, and says, "So. I heard you said you don't like me. So why are you at my door???" My eldest hightails it up the stairs and basically hides because she's so mortified!!!!

That's my girls. One is not at all confrontational and will do whatever she can to avoid it. The other is right there in your face. They've both been that way since birth. Those personality traits were not learned.

The girl's answer, by the way? "I DO like you! I DO! Really! I was just being silly!"
Really, there's no other way to dare answer with a near six year old glaring you down with her hands on her hips, daggers in her eyes and fire in her soul.

And the neighbour girl is a full year and bit OLDER than said almost 6 year old. She's THAT fierce.

And I love it! (well, except when it's aimed my way!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mutual Appreciation Society

We all like compliments. We all like to feel needed and like our lives have value, to someone, on this Earth. And yet, the simple act of telling someone that you appreciate something they do, or who they are, often gets shoved to the wayside. Why is that?

It's like it's physically painful to put ourselves out there and tell another individual that, "hey, you rock!". I know for me it feels too mushy and oozing with sentiment. Those are things I have difficulty sharing. My soft, gooey center. However, I have no problem encouraging and praising my children.

THEY get told daily how I love their artwork, or how I love them for who they are, just the way they are inside. I tell them that even though they are grumpy, I love that they can come back and apologize. Or that I appreciate the small things they do to make my day and job a little easier.

I find a lot of adults are like that as well. They are comfortable showering their children, heck even their dog, with niceties and words of appreciation, but they certainly don't express those feelings to those other big, non furry, individuals in their lives.

I think if we all took that moment in a day just to say what we're probably thinking but just not saying, the world would be a nicer place in general. You compliment me, I'll want to say something nice back etc etc etc. It's a mutual ego stroking and no harm can come from that when it's done with a pure heart. Imagine if you KNEW that little things you did were noticed and actually warmed another's heart. IMAGINE.

I know there are times every day that I think, "oh that was sweet" or "wow, that person is really generous" or whatever the case may be. Strangers, friends, and family alike, I think it's time to start speaking up when I feel it. It'll make me feel better, it'll make them feel better.

Mutual Appreciation Society. Let's start one, today!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Gut Rot and Curveballs

Before we left on our vacay, I was feeling kind of "off" for about a week. That culminated in the purging just before we left for our first leg of the trip. I generally didn't feel great that whole week. By week two, I felt "mostly" better, but my stomach was still pretty sore at night, and bloated.

I tell you these things so that you realize that I, too, am human. Yes folks, I'm not the Superhuman, Perfect Specimen you've formed in your minds from reading my blog. Ahem.

So, here we are on Week 3 of feeling like complete and utter uselessness. I'm exhausted literally from sun up to sun down. It doesn't matter if I get the recommended hours of sleep or not. By late afternoon to early evening, my stomach is "off" again and I spend the time from then until blessed sleep rolling around clutching my belly. Something is not right in tummy land. I just wish I felt normal, dagnabbit!

I'm back to work, and having my own two here, who simply do not understand or appreciate the peaceful calm that is "Quiet Time." It hasn't been so peaceful, nor has it been so calm. So, on top of that bliss, by days end I'm feeling rotten and just want to put myself out of my misery.

I'm hoping that by this time next week I'm feeling brand spanking new and up to my old tricks again. I kind of need to be! I have a 6 year olds birthday to plan, a 13th wedding anniversary, my Mom coming back to visit, getting prepared for back to school (ie shopping and tidying stuff that is still hanging around from LAST year) and whatever other curve balls Life decides to throw my way. And oh, Life will. It never fails.

I just think that maybe, Life, I'm due for some good news curve balls heading my way. How about that? Or maybe just take away the constant bloat. It's not a good look when you're Superhuman. And it's hard to fit into the tights.