Monday, 26 November 2007

Back to work

Tomorrow, I go back to work. I've had two weeks off since having Caleb - two weeks of going by my own (and Caleb's) schedule, and not really needing to worry about much else. Yes, I've cooked some meals and put my hand to a bit of cleaning, but mostly I've been attending to myself and Caleb. Tomorrow, I go back to work.

I don't have to leave to go to work - I work in the home. For those of you moms who stayed home to raise your kids, you know how tough the job is. No more sleeping late if Caleb sleeps late. No more doe-eyes at James to get him to do the chore I can't find the energy to do. No more handling only one child. Tomorrow I go back to work.

I'm admittedly worried about how to handle a two year old and a newborn baby. Colin is very high maintenance right now and still hasn't completely settled into the idea that my attention will be permanently divided from now on. Caleb is still feeding almost every hour during the day. I don't think I want to admit online how long it's been since I dragged out the vacuum. At least I can say that the grocery shopping gets done each week and I've managed to get three meals a day on the table. (That might have something to do with the fact that neither James nor Colin would like it very much if they didn't get their meals!) I'm also worried about how I'm going to manage to get a shower each day (something we haven't been able to work out yet, even with two of us on childcare!) But somehow I'll have to work it all out, because tomorrow I go back to work.

I feel like it's September. Not because of the weather (it's been snowing outside for the last five hours!), but because it feels like the first day of school again. January 1st never meant much to me, in terms of New Year's Resolutions, because it was always in the middle of the "year" (school year, that is.) September was always when I examined myself and my life and made personal goals. And tonight I have that feeling again.

I want to experiment more with our meals. I've fallen into a pattern of about 10-14 meals that we continually recycle. I'm not a world-class chef, but if the meal is quick to bake and the recipe has a manageable list of ingredients, I like to change things up with new ideas. I want to make more homemade soups and home baked bread. I want to try new recipes. It's time for a new cookbook!

I want to have a personal study every day of the scriptures. I have the terrible habit of a wandering mind and too often I find I've read entire pages and can't remember what it said. I also have the terrible habit of doing great on day one, so-so on day two, and completely missing day three. I don't think I've ever gotten to day four. They say if you do something every day for three weeks it will become a daily habit. They also say that unless your heart is really in it for the right reason, it will never stick. Somehow I have to find out how to tap into the love of studying I know I have and bring it out again.

I want to keep current with our family photos and scrapbooks. I'm fairly good at the photos part - the scrapbooking, not so much. I have baskets and bags and piles of things I want to put into scrapbooks, but I'm afraid to start. I'm afraid that I'll glue things into the pages and then realize I've missed something I wanted to include, or things went in the wrong order...there seem to be so many ways to mess things up, it's easier not to start!

I want to start having friends over for lunches or dinners. James and I tend to be homebodies, which is perfectly fine, but we also do love chatting with and entertaining small groups. And now that we have made so many friends that live so close to us, I'd like to try to have an evening of entertainment once a month.

I want to read more non-fiction books. Some histories, some spiritual, some biographies. The few non-ficiton books I've dappled in I have absolutely loved (like "Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology") and I know there are some amazing and inspiring books out there. I just have to figure out how to find them!

Well, those are some goals that I've been mulling about in my mind. There are many more swimming around up there, but too many goals gets me flustered and discouraged. I hope these don't disappear after a few days or weeks. But if they do, I know I won't have just wasted the time. I think we all naturally grow and move forward, just not always in the direction we had planned. Maybe in a couple of months I'll remember this entry and take the time to review those months. Perhaps I'll have implemented some of the above, perhaps I'll be wandering down a different path. Either way, it will be good to take the time to look back and see where and how far I've gone.

Developing my talents

I am stepping outside my comfort zone. I hadn't quite intended to do jump into such deep waters, but nevertheless, I am pushing forward. I made a goal to develop some smaller talents I have, and I have been provided with ample opportunity to meet my goals.

You all know I love to play the piano. I also played the clarinet, and dappled on a few other instruments as well. I have no problem playing the piano in public, and often jump in to help out at church playing either the piano or the organ. But there is another instrument I love just as much as the piano - the voice. I love to sing. I have sat for hours (literally!) at the piano, playing and singing through my songbook collection. And yet I am terrified to sing in public. It's not that I can't sing. I can hold a tune, and even pick out the alto line of a choir piece. However, I don't have a solo voice. That's okay with me. You can't be great at everything. But you can work with what you've got, and develop it into something stronger. I'll never record a CD, but there's no reason I can't gain confidence and sing in a small group.

So this year, I joined our church choir. I've led many choirs in the past, but this time I get to sing in it. I'm so excited about it, and having an absolute blast. We're currently preparing for a Christmas concert, and we're singing some fabulous songs. They aren't your traditional carols. Among the pieces are a Nigerian chant, a Caribbean-style song, and "The First Noel" sung to "Pachabel's Canon in D". I'm truly stretching my voice talent through this experience.

I thought I was doing pretty good. It was the perfect start - a good way to ease myself into singing. But we all know that "easing your way in" doesn't produce maximum results. I love the analogy of firing a clay pot. You've got to give it some heat to keep the shape of the mold. And yesterday, I was thrown into the fire!

A woman at church asked me if I'd like to sing in a smaller group - about 6 people, for the Christmas concert. I said yes immediately, though nervously. With two other people singing the alto part, I could sing in the small group and still have others to lean on if necessary. The woman met up with me an hour later to pass off the music - and she handed me two songs! She charmingly smiled and asked if it would be alright if I joined a trio to sing at our Christmas Church service. And yes, I have to carry my own part.

I guess this is where I express my gratitude for these opportunities. I know without a doubt that I lack the courage to have approached someone and said "Hey, I want to be a better singer. Can I sing a duet in front of a hundred people next Sunday?" And so I am grateful for these circumstances. With performance dates looming within a month's time, if you need to find me I'll be glued to the piano working on my goal of developing my talents.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

A little prayer

Sitting at lunch today, Colin gave his first prayer. We always say a blessing on the food before eating and also say an evening prayer before he goes to sleep. Today at lunch, when we said "time for blessing", Colin promptly clasped his hands together and proceded with the following:

Dear Heavenly Father...thank you... mumbling we couldn't make out)...Amen.

As they say..."Train up a child when he is young, and when he is old he will not depart from it."

I love seeing the daily growth Colin makes...each day brings new achievments for him. It makes me also grateful I have a brand new little baby, because my first baby is growing up!

Monday, 19 November 2007

Reading with Colin

I know I've mentioned in my writings before Colin's love of reading, but I just had to highlight it again today.

Colin now has a good 10 or 15 books that he loves, and he genuinely likes to browse through his collection when choosing the 3 he gets to read before going to sleep. He recognizes each cover, and can call the book by name (ie: "Goodnight Moon" is known as "Moon"). Often he is actually looking for a specific book, mumbling the title to himself as he sifts through the piles until he finds it.

Today, however, he wanted to read a book to me. He chose Robert Munsch's "Love You Forever" (a classic for every parent). I figured I'd get a babbling nonsensical version, but to my surprise, he actually knew the key words that went with each page. For those of you familiar with the book, here's Colin's rendition: (I'll number each page)

1. New baby...back and forth, back and forth, back and
2. Grew and grew and grew....Grew two years...ran!
3. Back and forth, back and forth, back and
4. Grew and grew and grew...dinner...grandma bad words...zoo.
5. Back and forth, back and forth, back and
6. Grew and grew and grew...strange friends...strange clothes...strange music...ZOO!
7. Back and forth, back and forth, back and
8. Grew and grew and
9. Car.
10. Back and forth, back and forth, back and
11. Older, older, older.
12. Back and forth, back and forth.
13. Stairs.
14. New baby, back and forth, back and you be.

Granted, the story is repetitive, but I was amazed at all the other words Colin managed to throw in! I have started to appreciate children's literature on a whole new level. I wonder how many people think that it must be easy to write for kids. As a parent who reads daily to her children, however, I'm able to see what stories Colin likes, which he doesn't, which ones he picks up on, and those that he finds are not worth his time. Inevitably, it's rarely the ones we'd pick out for him. The best example of this is John Lithgow's books "Marsupial Sue" and "I'm a Manatee". These stories are probably at the top of Colin's list, and yet they are not your traditional children's narratives. Here's an example of a line from "I'm a Manatee":

"With my wit, sophistication and urbanity,
I dignify my watery domain.
No one near will ever hear me use profanity,
Because a manatee has his image to maintain."

In no other children's book have I seen a writer use this level of language, and yet Colin is enthralled by the poetry of it. He seems to have no problem with the fact that more than half the words he doesn't understand. There's just something lyrical about it that touches him.

Personally, I'm just excited that he loves to read so much and hope that it's something that only grows as the years go by.

Friday, 16 November 2007

"Mommy's Baby"

Caleb is almost a week old now, and has been home for 4 whole days. James and I are adjusting well to the change, however Colin is having a bit of a rougher time.

Wanting to make this as easy as possible on Colin, and knowing that it probably would be a difficult change for him, we decided to have Colin help bring Caleb home from the hospital. We didn't want to just show up with this new strange baby and have Colin feel like his space was being invaded. So Colin met us at the hospital, helped tuck Caleb into his carseat, and walked us out to the car. The moment we arrived at home, we had Colin show all his toys to Caleb, which he really seemed to enjoy. So far so good.

The next day, however, was a little different. James was holding Caleb when Colin cautiously approached the two of them. It appeared Colin wanted to give the baby a kiss, but when he was within a few inches, slapped his face instead, and forcefully proclaimed "my Daddy!"

Using this possessive word is relatively new, something he picked up at our local play centre from another child. But now he's really getting the hang of how to use it!

When referring to something that belongs to Caleb, Colin adds on "Mommy" to the beginning. For example, Caleb's diapers are "Mommy's baby's diapers." His crib is "Mommy's baby's crib". He really is associating that I am responsible for Caleb's presence in our house.

Colin's behaviour toward Caleb is starting to settle down, though. The first few days he was so confused he was easily irritated and found himself in tears often. (I have always called him my "100% baby". He experiences all his emotions at 100%, nothing halfway!) He still will let us know when the other parent should take the baby, and is learning to understand that we can't always drop everything to do something with him, but generally Colin is doing really well. I've heard much worse horror stories about bringing home a new baby!

Of course, it's still early. The days before Caleb seem so far removed from now, that it's hard to imagine that only a week ago there was no baby! I've always believed we knew our family before we came to earth, which is why Caleb is such a natural addition.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Caleb James Gawthroupe

He has finally arrived! Caleb James Gawthroupe, born November 9th, 2007 at 4:15 pm. He weighed in at 7 pounds, 9 ounces, and was 21 inches long. Healthy in ever way and as beautiful as can be.

I had endured 19 hours of false labour earlier in the week, each time our hopes raised that "this is it". However, I decided to make it "mind over matter", and when I awoke on Friday (the 9th) I told myself, "okay, today's the day." It was strange - each day over the two weeks before I'd been hoping and anticipating the birth. But that Friday, it was different. It wasn't about the excitement or the wish that the pregnancy would just be over. I just knew Caleb was ready to come.

Contractions began exactly one hour after this realization, at about 8am. They were intense, but not at all regular, ranging between 12 and 20 minutes apart. Then around 12:30, they suddenly jumped to 5 minutes apart and everything went forward from there. We got to the hospital around 1pm and was immediately in the throes of labour. There was just time for an epidural, which worked on the left side of my body. (An improvement over last time - with Colin it didn't work at all!). Then at 4:15 Caleb was born.

We stayed in the hospital until Sunday evening, which was wonderful for James and I. We really got to bond with Caleb over those first two days. Colin's grandparents were down and watching him, so we were able to focus exclusively on Caleb.

We're home now, and starting to get back to things. I can't believe how much better I feel. I'm still recovering from the birth, but all my pregnancy woes are gone. I can breathe much better, and have more energy. The dizzy spells are gone and even though Caleb is feeding every two hours, the sleep I do get is deep enough to rejeuvinate me.

The strangest feeling I have right now is the realization that each day Caleb is getting another day older. I know this feeling is something that doesn't normally kick in until your kids are hitting milestones like first day of school and the like, but I just watch this beautiful baby and cherish each moment I have with him while he's this new.