Thursday, 31 December 2009

The Love Dare

A local Christian television program (100 Huntley Street) is launching an interesting project for the New Year. Based on the book "The Love Dare" (which is based on the movie "Fireproof"), it is a challenge for couples (mostly married couples) to expand and explore their relationship. No matter the condition of your relationship - whether you are both hanging on by a thread, or if one person seems to have checked out, whether you are newlywed or celebrating 25 years together, whether your marriage needs a little check up or if you want to enrich an already wonderful marriage, the Love Dare has something to offer you.

At this time of New Years Resolutions, promises we traditionally make to ourselves and break within the month, this resolution is 40 days long and involves considering a different aspect of love and relationships every day. Each day also has a challenge - some active step you can take to demonstrate love toward your partner. There is no illusion that it will be easy - the first day involves saying nothing negative toward your spouse for the entire day. Heaven knows that can be difficult, if not next to impossible some days! But just imagine the reward after 40 days of selfless acts of love toward the one you have given your heart to.

You don't even need the book - you can follow along online at Every day a new dare will be posted. There are three couples taking the challenge and posting online about their journey. You can follow along with them and read about others as they are en route to discovery.

I'm definitely going to take this journey also, although I will likely wait for a month or so until we are settled in a little more with Benjamin. But I so encourage everyone to pop over to the webiste, have a look, and see if it isn't a New Years Resolution you might be interested in making. This is one challenge that could change your life and your marriage.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The days go by

There is something magical about the first week of a baby's life. I look down into Benjamin's eyes as I cuddle him in my arms, and I realize that he will never be just a few days old again. After week one, you start to count his age in weeks. But these first few days are simply amazing as I think to myself "you are only 3 (or 4, or 5) days old. It's like I can't wrap my head around just how tiny and young that is! Truly, it feels like he's always been a part of our family.

The boys are head over heels for their baby brother. Caleb constantly stops what he's doing to inquire where Benjamin is, just to make sure he's okay. They both love to cuddle him, and give him kisses and hugs all throughout the day.

Benjamin is doing great. He's taken to breastfeeding really well, and, like Caleb, seems to get most of his meals within 10 - 15 minutes. Which is really nice, as it means I don't have to spend hours and hours each day sitting and feeding. I guess my milk flow is really strong. He also hasn't taken to long bouts of crying. He fusses a little when he's hungry, but when he's not eating or sleeping, he likes to just sit and look around at the world. His eyes seem to slowly scan all around him, as though he just wants to observe and take it all in.

The one trouble we have is his congestion. He has trouble lying down, which means that we need to hold him upright a lot. It also means that some nights (every other night or so) I stay awake and hold him in my arms at an oblique angle so he can breathe better while he sleeps. I'm hoping it's just related to the delivery (mucous and such) and that it will clear out soon.

Most of all, I am amazed at the feeling over overwhelming love I experience when I hold him. Just like the other two boys, my heart seems to grow and multiply in its emotional capacity with each baby. I spend a lot of time just gazing down at my little boy, basking in the pure sense of joy that fills me. There is nothing better than being a mother.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Benjamin's birth story

Our newest family member has arrived! Benjamin Martin Gawthroupe entered the world on Sunday, December 20, 2009 at 9:38pm. What a whirlwind it all was!

Sunday morning at 3am I awoke to moderate yet manageable contractions. They didn't last more than 20 or 30 seconds and were 15 - 20 minutes apart. As the day went on, they never got closer than 15 minutes, and I sometimes went 45 or 60 minutes without one. All this means that while labour might be close, it could still be days away. (I experienced this with Caleb; the contractions got all the way down to 10 minutes, and then I didn't have him for another 5 days!) While I started getting excited, knowing that likely he would arrive by Christmas, I didn't really expect anything to happen that day.

Then in the afternoon, I began to wonder if might be leaking amniotic fluid. With Colin my water broke at home, with Caleb they broke it in the hospital. Unsure, I called the maternity ward at the hospital and they told me to come in for an assessment. With my nephew's birthday party happening at my house for dinner, and then a Christmas music program I was scheduled to play the piano for that night, I figured I'd hurry over, get assessed, then zip back for all my events.

The nurses confirmed everything was okay. Benjamin reacting a little negatively to the random contractions, but then seemed to settle down. They sent me on my way: contractions were still about 20 minutes apart, and not showing any sign of progressing further.

The moment I walked back in my house, the contractions jumped to 7 minutes apart, then 6, then 5 within about half an hour. And each contraction was long and severe. My mom looked at me and said "I think you're having this baby tonight!" Knowing the long and hard labours and deliveries I've had in the past, I decided to head back to the hospital, having been discharged less than an hour and a half before. I wanted to make sure I had time for an epidural.

We signed in around 7pm, and the nurse laughed: she had only just finished cleaning out the room I had been in. She took us down and got us settled again. I immediately requested the epidural. The nurse looked a little skepitcal. Honey, she said, I will put in the request, but we've first got to do some blood work and get the results before they can hook you up. We'll start on it, but I don't think you're going to make it.

That tweaked my attention. Wtih my last two labours, it was at least 6 or 8 hours from this point before the baby was born. Did she know something I didn't? I hardly dared hope, but I was praying she would be right.

Well, she was right! I was already 5 cm dialated. By 8pm I was 7 cm, and the contractions were fairly running into each other. By 9pm I was 9 cm and ready to start pushing. The on-call obstetrician (who happened to be my own OB), was called in. Luckily he only lives 5 minutes away, because I was ready to push as they were calling him. The nurse hadn't left my side since I arrived, which I knew was a good sign. Usually the nurses are so casual about it all (they've seen it thousands of times), hanging around, gabbing, walking in and out of the room. Very frustrating for a mother in labour and in pain. But this nurse stuck close, so my instinct was it would all be over soon. My previous labours, I pushed between one and two hours. The the nurse intimated it would all be over before 10pm. So, with only a shot of painkillers in me that hardly took the edge off at all, I started pushing. It was not a pretty sight. Throughout the labour contractions the pain was so severe I was really thrashing around, demanding that they get the baby out. I alternated between threatening them and complete focused silence as I tried to deal with the unimaginable pain.

With both previous births I was eventually given an episiotomy. Even though my OB does less than one per year on all his patients (he was constantly amazed when he read my chart and saw that he gave me one with Caleb!). But I think that was part of the "pushing" problem in the past - they made me push and push and push, and then eventually resorted to the episiotomy. This time, after a few pushes to get the baby to crown, and after a few more pushes wouldn't get him out, I told them to just do the cut and get it done with. Thankfully there was no arguing, and with three more pushes Benjamin was born!

I immediately turned over and curled up in a ball. In fact, I didn't even see Benjamin until 11pm that night. I knew he was being taken care of, that the nurses and James were all there, and that he was sleeping in his cot right beside me. But exhaustion took hold, and all I wanted was to rest.

When I finally turned over around 11pm, I was filled with immense joy. I snuggled my baby boy in my arms, feeling a sense of completeness.

Congratulations have been pouring in from friends and family, but two comments specifically I want to record here, because they really touched me.

The first was from a friend who was attending the church Christmas musical performance I was supposed to play at. At the beginning of the program, they excused my absence, saying that I was in labour. Then my friend said that Brad Miller, Stake President of Mississauga Stake, who knew James and I really well when we lived in Toronto, opened the program with a prayer, in which he blessed my delivery. This would have happened at 7pm Sunday night - right as we were arriving at the hospital. I was humbled to know such an inspirational and spiritual leader was asking our Heavenly Father to bless the delivery of this little boy. And every aspect of this labour and delivery shows how that prayer was answered.

The second comment was from an old high school friend with whom I've recently reconnected. I knew him from the drama program we were both a part of. His comment came as a reply to the birth announcement I sent out. It was short, but both beautiful and touching:
"Welcome, Benjamin. You have no idea that you just won the lottery of good moms."

Well, I certianly know I won the lottery with my three boys. I'm fairly certain this is the last pregnancy for me, and I really do feel the completeness of our family as we welcome Benjamin into our fold.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Kitchen Aromas

Sometimes I amaze myself when I remember I'm the grown-up here. Even though I'll be 30 next year, I think I permanently feel about 20. And so, even though I'm feeling like I've been hit by a bus, there are still things that, as the grown-up/mommy, I still need to do.

Cooking is one of them. For some strange reason, my children and husband still seem to want to eat even though the thought of food and cooking is tiresome for me. And my body demands nourishment also. A couple of months back I bought a terrific book called "Once-a-month cooking," with the idea of taking a Saturday at the end of November and cooking up a month's worth of meals that go right into the freezer, ready with little preparation on the day you want to eat them. My thought was to have them stored for when the baby comes. Unfortunately, I started getting even worse through November, which not only meant that I never got around to my cooking marathon for the baby's arrival, but also that I didn't even have the energy to put a meal together now. I knew I had to do something the night James came home and asked what I made the boys and I for dinner, and I replied "oatmeal." He genuinely thought I was kidding. I genuinely wasn't. Instant oatmeal from those little Quaker pouches. I think I made "Raisins 'n' Spice," hoping the raisins could count in the "fruits and vegetables" food guide category.

So the first week, I broke down and bought a pile of frozen meals - lasagnas, stir fries, frozen entrees and the like. I can't remember the last time I bought or served one, but I figured it was better than oatmeal. Unfortunately, my kids weren't fooled for a second. James and I thought they weren't bad, but my kids have grown-up with whole foods and meals I make from scratch. They wouldn't even eat a bite.

With a freezer still half stocked with those prepared boxes, I happened across a lovely book in our local bookstore: "Crock Pot: 5 ingredients or less." Well, I have a small crock pot, and with 5 ingredients or less to toss in a pot and let simmer all day - I figured even I, feeling like I'm on my deathbed, could handle that. Turns out - I can! We've had numerous delicious meals, rounded out by a side of frozen vegetables. We've had to adjust a little to the higher salt content (most meals use a can of condensed soup as the base), since I never cook with salt, but other than that it's been a hit! Each meal does us at least a dinner and a left-over lunch, and sometimes even a second dinner.

I think this will be my new "baby shower" present for my friends.

PS - I also did a little "holiday baking" today. Ginger cookies and some yummy bars. Not too much and not too difficult, but it will be nice to have them around to put out over the holidays. We're hosting both family Christmas' this year (as the only ones with a house)!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The nesting itch

I've got the nesting itch and I can't wait to scratch it! I'm still beyond exhausted and can't find it in me to tackle the day old dishes, mop the much-needed kitchen floor, do the bi-annual toy clean-out, scrub the bathroom, or do any of the other hundred things around here that need doing. But I'm really feeling the urge to get down to it! Should be less than 2 weeks until the baby arrives, and hopefully my recovery is as quick as my last two.

The once nice thing about winter babies is that there is nothing outside to lure me away from getting the house back in order. I'm not a winter person at all; if I have to go outside I bundle up in more layers than the kid in the book "50 Below." I will have lots of time to bustle around my home, cleaning and tidying and making our house feel like a home again.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A time apart

My parents, who arrived back in Canada last Thursday, have graciously taken Caleb up for a visit at my grandmother's, in Bobcaygeon. They left Sunday night and will return again this Sunday. This is the longest stretch I've gone without my little boy. The trip came about after both my mom and Nana noted how worn out I was looking at our family Christmas on Saturday. And it's true. I hadn't had a day in a while where I found myself rejuvenated enough to get me through two or three rougher days. And knowing that sometime in the next two weeks I am going to be facing labour, I knew I had to somehow get some strength back. Colin is in school three full days this week, and so having my mom take Caleb is giving me exactly what I need - a good solid week to store up some strength and energy for what lies ahead.

I miss my little guy, though. He calls each day to tell me what he's up to. My mom says he's been good as gold, although he does ask several times a day about me. He is even more attached to me than I am to him, and I wondered how he would do apart from me. But my parents, my Nana and her husband are all wonderful with him; what toddler wouldn't bask in the complete focused attention of four adults, with no other children or chores getting in the way?

Already I'm feeling much better. I've been able to sleep in until 7am, take uninteruppted naps, and spend most of my days lying about, reading. James has also been gone during the days, which has left me with some much needed quiet, alone time. I know that within weeks this will not be possible again for a while, and so I am relishing this week of solitude before I embark once again on the craziness of life with a newborn.


Caleb tried egg nog for the first time yesterday. He thought it was amazing. He calls it "Meg MAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHG", using a very loud and gutteral voice for the "nog" portion. Every time. And then he dissolves into laughter. He makes me laugh.

Monday, 14 December 2009

The Blessing of Work

This is a concept I've been mulling over in my mind for the past while: when did "work" actually become that dirty four letter word? When did life become about entertainment and pleasure, about building machines to eliminate the amount of work we have to do? What have we filled our lives with that is better for us and better for our world? If you look back through history at eras in which pleasure was the main goal, you would fine the Rome of Nero, the France of Marie Antoinette. And you would see the decline and ruin of those eras follow quickly.

These thoughts all started when I saw a news piece on the end of the TV Soap Opera. A few of these shows that have been on the air for nearly half a century are being canceled, and the reporter wondered if and why this might be the end of the Soap Opera format. Well, my theory is that soap operas become popular with the rise of machines in the housewives' world. When all of a sudden dishwashers did the dishes and washing machines did the laundry and microwaves did the cooking...women who would once fill their days morning to night with making and keeping their homes and families suddenly found themselves with unprecedented amounts of free time. Which was promptly filled by another machine - the television. These days, fewer women are staying home, and those who do are making that choice to consciously spend their time with their children, not in front of the TV. Hence the end of the Soap Opera.

But I'm wondering what we as a people and a society are losing as we eliminate the need for work in our lives. Here is an excerpt from a magazine article from the "Ensign" that touched on exactly this:

Today, many have forgotten the value of work. Some falsely believe that the highest goal in life is to achieve a condition in which one no longer needs to work. David O. McKay was fond of saying, "Let us realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that power to work is a blessing, that love of work is success."

Work is not a matter of economic need alone; it is a spiritual necessity...To work - honestly and productively - brings contentment and a sense of self-worth. Having done all we can to be self-reliant, to provide for our own needs and those of our family, we can turn to the Lord in confidence to ask for what we might yet lack."

This passage made me reconsider my own views of work. Like most, I feel like work is something I need to get through and finished with so that I can get on to the "fun" things. But can I find pleasure and joy in work? Can I languish in my work, not feeling the need to rush through and get it done? Can I find peace and a sense of calm while I am working? My work right now is specifically related to housework (ugh). But I wonder if I can shift my mentality of it so that hemming a pair of pants or mopping the floor, or organizing the garage or cleaning the bathroom or tending a garden are simply ways of passing time, not things that are eating up my time.

Why must my day be divided between dreary work and pleasure activities? I need to find the joy in every aspect that is my life, and even eliminate the word "work" from my vocabulary. Although in its original form "work" might simply have meant those necessary things in life, it has come to carry such a negative connotation that I think I should drop it altogether.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

"Mommy" in movies

Caleb calls every female character in the movies he watches the "Mommy." And it is the only character he is genuinely concerned about. He tells me when the mommy is sad, or happy, and continually asks "where's the mommy?" when she is not on-screen. And, more specifically, he thinks that Princess Fiona, in the movie "Shrek," is me. (Likely it's the red hair). He is extra concerned over the princess and her trials and tribulations. I love my little boy.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Test results are in

I seem to have come to the end of the testing possibilities for what it is that ails me. The conclusion: pregnancy. Although my heart rate is getting up to 180 bpm (while resting!), I'm still suffering major dizzy spells, and the nausea has no end in sight, everything else is checking out just fine. So the only conclusion is that my body is just taking the pregnancy really really hard. Needless to say, I don't think I'm doing this again!

I saw my family doctor today, and she was overjoyed to hear that my parents arrive in town tomorrow, and will be staying with us for about 4 weeks after the baby comes. She was really concerned about how I would manage once the baby arrives. I was a little surprised to hear that - I thought all my problems would be solved once this baby came out. But apparently even the normal amount of blood loss during delivery will likely set me back a good deal, and that's if everything is normal. She also echoed my own concerns about being able to handle labour and delivery. I am not a 'one hour, one push and the baby is here' person. I am an '8 hours of hard labour followed by two hours of pushing' person. Oh, and I'm also an 'epidurals don't seem to take' person. The last two labours were difficult, and I was nowhere near as sick as I am now. My doctor assured me that they would monitor me the whole time and would step in as soon as they saw either myself ro the baby in distress. Once again, I am so grateful for modern medicene.

So the only thing left is to actually go into labour! Let's get this thing started. My bag is packed, baby clothes washed, everything is in place. So, any day now, any day...

Monday, 7 December 2009

I've done this before...really...

I'm now 36 1/2 weeks, and I forgot to pre-register at the hospital.

I've done this before...twice. You'd think I'd have the hang of things by now. I know a mother's memory of birth is somewhat wiped after the experience (so that she'll do it again), but somehow I seem to have forgotten everything to do with pregnancy! I've given more than a few blank stares to my OB when he asks a question I should know the answer to. I've blown tests that they assume I know how to do. I actually have been checking up on the Ask Dr. Sears website about the different stages of pregnancy, and how to recognize labour. And I forgot to register at the hospital. I called this morning, but it's too late now (they can't fit me in before I will likely deliver). It's not a big deal - for some reason there's still always paperwork to fill out when you arrive, keeled over in pain and in the midst of contractions. I just can't believe I forgot yet another thing.

I think this solidifies my argument, however, that until you're on your 5th or 6th kid, please do not consider yourself an expert in pregnancy and childbirth. Everyone's experiences are different, and this whole memory loss thing makes it unlikely much of what you say will be relevant to me or that you even recall it correctly.

Hard days, good days

Sometimes the hard days and good days are all wrapped up in one, oscillating from one to the other by the minute.

This morning I had to carry Caleb stretched out across my chest through Zellers while he had a crying fit. He didn't want to follow me through the store, and I was getting a little dizzy and needed to go. I then strapped him into a cart, where he proceeded to scream and cry until I got him to the car.

Then, for lunch, I made him crackers, cheese and frozen mixed vegetables. He ate the whole plate, then asked for more vegetables. Yes, my two-year-old asked for vegetables. And then he told me that "after vegetables, time for nap." Ah, there are some fair moments to life after all.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The waiting game

This period of waiting during my pregnancy is a curious one this time around. With Colin, his early arrival was so completely unexpected that I didn't have time to wait in anticipation. With Caleb, I was wrung with suspense beginning at 38 weeks, wondering if each pain I felt might be the onset of labour. With this pregnancy, I have an eerie sense of calm, behind which lies the knowledge that labour really could begin at any moment - in the next five minutes, or in the next 4 weeks. It is strange to know that there is little that precipitates the big event. One minute I will just be pregnant, and the next I will be on a quick journey toward my third baby. And everything will change in a matter of a day or two.

I feel this one will come early, but perhaps that is just wishful longing. Maybe I am bound to go all the way to my due date, or even past (although I certainly hope it will not string out that long!) I worry a little about the actual labour. My labour and delivery history is a long, drawn out, and painful one. I wonder, in my weakened physical state, if I will have the same strength I had for the last two. I see images of myself lying in exhaustion, overcome by the pain and anguish, much more silent than before. I fear a pale complexion dampened with small beads of sweat. I rejoice in the apparent strength of the baby, but tremble slightly at my own disappearing strength. I am grateful for the wonders of modern medicene that will ensure all goes as it should, for I need this assurance more than anything right now.

And so, I wait. I have more days of exhaustion than energy lately. A day of rest doesn't seem to restore to me what it used to. Sometimes two or three days go by before I can muster the strength to do what I need to. A day full of activity is sure to set me to bed. And yet, there is an end in sight...

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Happy Birthday Colin

Today my big/little boy turns four! Perhaps because he is in school now, or perhaps it's just the number itself, but four years old suddenly doesn't seem like my little boy anymore. What a wonderful joy he is in my life. He has an insatiable sense of wonder and curiosity, a touch of seriousness and a deep compassion for family, friends, and all those around him. I am amazed to watch this little soul grow and develop before my very eyes.

Happy birthday, Colin.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


Over the past month or so, Colin has developed a soft spot for me. Not that he hasn't always shown great love towards myself and other family members, but he's been very independent since the day he was born. He often stops to tell me that I'm beautiful, or that my hair is very pretty, or that I look beautiful. Then there are times, once every few days, where he approaches me, takes my hand, gazes into my eyes, then looks down to kiss my hand before gazing back up into my eyes. The gesture is very tender and slow, as though it is taking place outside the realm of time. The past few days he has also started to put his hand to my cheek and smile at me, caressing my cheek in a moment of pause, much the same way I do to him. I'm not sure if it's a stage, or perhaps related to our impending new arrival, or because he has started school, or simply a facet of his personality opening itself to us. Whatever it is, they are wonderful moments shared between mother and son. I hope they never end.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

When frustration builds...

I never like how I feel when frustration is boiling up inside. I have this acute awareness of myself when I am in a bad mood. Instead of just grumbling and moping and being generally unpleasant and not realizing it, it's like a part of myself is floating above me, watching me sulk in my grumpiness. So I can never even enjoy a bad mood, because I'm always aware of what a grinch I'm being to those around me, and feel guilty about my attitude.

Yesterday I had one of those afternoons. I got a call from the Internists' office requesting more tests (blood work). She asked me to swing by to pick up the requisition form, and then I could get the blood work done in the lab in their building. Perfect. I told her that I pick up Colin just before 3pm, and then I would be by.

Well, she neglected to remind me on the phone that their lab closes at 3pm. So after bundling the kids in the car and driving over, we arrived at 3:05 pm, and the lab was already closed. I knocked on the door hoping for a sympathetic lab technician who might take pity on a pregnant woman with two small kids in tow - no such luck.

The other lab in town is on the way home, so although I wasn't looking forward to bundling children in and out of the car again, I really just wanted to get the tests done. So we drove to the other lab. Out we all get, up to the door, only to find out that lab had been moved. Frustration mounting. Bundle the kids back into the car, drive to the new location.

Get the kids out. Walk up to the lab. Find another sign: lab has moved again. Now you can see the smoke pouring out of my ears. I'm exhausted from lifting the boys in and out of the car. They are peppering me with questions about why the lab was closed or why it was moved, or why it was moved again. This time, the lab was moved across the mall parking lot, and as I don't feel like doing the whole carseat buckling again, I scoop Caleb up in my arms, hold Colin close, and dart across the roads and parking lots to the lab location. I know that if this last step falls through, I think I will simply collapse on the spot in frustration.

As I approach the lab, there is a sign on the door. It's the lab hours. I grumble aloud that it had better be open. Wonder of is. And there is no one waiting there, which means we can go right in. Thankfully, the boys behave and stand obediently against the wall why I have my blood drawn. The kind nurse offers them stickers, which makes their whole afternoon adventure worthwhile. I'm just glad to have the lab work completed. The Internist already scheduled a follow-up appointment next week, which worried me a little. Usually they say "we'll call you if we find something wrong." To pre-schedule an appointment likely means they either expect to find something wrong, or, if they don't, know already they will need to do more tests.

Unfortunately, the whole afternoon put me in a funk. My stomach was already not cooperating, I had had two seperate medical appointments earlier in the day, I hadn't slept or napped well, and even though it was Monday (cleaning day), I was too exhausted to do any of it, which means it will likely go another week before I try again. The only load of laundry I did was towels, the easiest but also least important load to do.

Have I mentioned lately that I'm ready for this baby to come...any time now...really...I'm ready...let's just do this...please...

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Funny words from the mouth of Caleb:

"Chaput" - ketchup
"Eatmore" - oatmeal
"Gravy" - scary
"1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 18, 20" - his way of counting
"__________, best friend" - the first time he said "Colin, best friend" which completely melted my heart. Since then he has filled in the blank with some of his play friends, and even some movie characters. The funniest one: "Grinch, best friend." At least he's learning to see past people's rough exteriors!


Caleb has developed the same love for the film "The Polar Express" that Colin has. And although he isn't reenacting full scenes yet, he's well on his way. He has ticket that he likes to get punched, and then "loses" it, and then runs around the house looking for it. And if you feed him the line "She didn't lose her ticket..." he throws his hand up in the air and replies "I did." He know acts out several parts, knows several lines, and has started to learn the songs. How cute will it be once Colin and Caleb can sing "When Christmas Comes To Town" as a duet?!


We always knew Colin had a great memory. He loves to "read" you books - and if you didn't know better, you would be completely fooled, because he has memorized several books word for word, page by page. Although this is remarkable, he took it to the next level last week. Before, I always assumed he used the pictures in the book to cue his memory, help him remember what part of the story came when. But last week he wanted to read "The Monster at the End of This Book," and the actual book wasn't nearby. So he chose another book, and read "The Monster" to me from that book! Word for word, page by page, and not distracted at all by the fact that the book he was holding was actually something completely different!


Colin seems to have a mental block on the number 17. He always skips it when counting. Yesterday, he counted to 20 for me in French - and yes, still skipped the number 17!


Thursday, 26 November 2009


Today I am especially grateful for friends. Over the past few days I have had friends really step in to help me out. I've never been partial to large group gatherings, preferring to socialize in smaller settings. I've always had people I like to hang out with, but until this "crisis" hit, I didn't realize just how many friends in how many circles I have. I am so grateful for all the help they have stepped in to offer, from watching the boys to making dinners to organizing frozen meals for when the baby comes - it's been amazing. And this isn't just a group of people trying to do something nice; these is a group of friends who are in tune with my situation and needs, and have truly discerned my needs and took the initiative to fulfill them. I've only lived in Orangeville for two years, and yet I feel more at home here than anywhere I have before. For the first time I feel as though my community is my family.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Health update

Today I had my first of 5 appointments as my OB checks into my dizzy spells, breathing difficulties and exhaustion. It was a little scary - I am not one who is usually found in a doctor's office, and this was certainly the most invasive medical appointment for me to date. I am currently hooked up to a small monitor that sits in a purse over my shoulder by all those little circle stickies that you see on medical TV shows. It monitors the activity of my heart, and I have a little log that I have to keep about what I do during the day and how I feel. The tape is itchy and the monitor is cumbersome - especially when I try to sleep. I keep it on for 48 hours and then they analyze the data. More tests and appointments to follow in the next few days.

Pregnancy Menu

How I wish I had found this menu a few months back! With my body craving healthy foods, and with me trying my best to get all my nutrients from food alone (without a supplemental vitamin), I often struggled with coming up with meal ideas. Today as I searched through the "Today's Parent" website, I came across this 7-day menu for pregnant women.

It's awesome!

Every meal is different, easy, and mouth-watering. Could you ask for anything more in a menu? Only more of them! And although there is no way I eat all that food in one day, it's at least nice to have some options at my fingertips. I may only have 5 weeks (or less) to go, but I'm hopping on this bandwagon today! And very likely most of these meal ideas will hang around in our menu even after the baby comes.

(If you want to have a peek, click here)

Sunday, 22 November 2009

A baby shower for my third baby

I was pleasantly surprised last week when I received an email from an acquaintance from the community band in which I play. The band has seen this pregnancy progress since the start, and some of the ladies wanted to throw me a baby shower!

Now, what on earth could I possibly need, seeing that this is not only my third baby, but my third boy at that? I wondered briefly, but let the thought pass, awash in gratitude for such a thoughtful gesture. They have all loved sharing in this experience with me, and just want to celebrate.

Then, today she passed along the invite to me (it has the date, time and location as a reminder for me!), and I saw that this is actually going to be a "freezer shower." I had never heard the term before, but as she explained it on the invitation, I was amazed at such a brilliant and perfect idea. The concept is that instead of a baby gift, everyone brings a dinner that I can throw into the freezer for when the baby comes, so that I'm adequately prepared to feed my family without having to tire myself out with yet another chore. And this is actually the perfect idea for a third baby! With one baby, you can grab a few minutes when he sleeps. With two, you can still generally coordinate naps. But now with three (plus a husband) - that's getting busy, and warming up a can of Scarios just won't cut it any longer.

I am so grateful for good friends with brilliant ideas. This one is definitely going on my list of excellent ideas for the future.

Friday, 20 November 2009

More tests

I had my 34 week OB appointment today, and mentioned the dizzy spells I'm having that are occurring about every other day. As a result I have a battery of tests and appointments over the next week I have to go to. There are no big concerns yet, as all my and the baby's regular vitals are perfect. But dizzy spells are concerning, hence the tests.

The big disappointment was that I was advised if I have one more bad spell, I need to stop driving. Yikes! Not having the energy to walk all the time, and then taking away the car...and at this time of year. But since the first spell occurred while I was driving, and while I had Caleb in the car with me, it is by all accounts the safest thing to do.

I'm at the point now, however, that I'm ready for this baby to come any day.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Get it together, body!

Dear body,

You are not allowed to crave a certain food, and then reject it once I give it to you. This is especially not fair when you ask for chocolate and then punish me with hours of pain.

PS - I hope you enjoyed that entire crate of clementines I ate over the course of 4 days. You may be lacking in iron, but you have no shortage of vitamin C!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Getting used to our new family

This pregnancy has been interesting, because we've really gotten to talking about "Benjamin", when he'll arrive, what he'll be like, the things he will do (or won't be able to do). It truly seems like he's already a part of this family, and has been since we found out I'm having a boy back in August. We picked his name out, without any indecision at all. And although there has been nothing about being pregnant that I have liked, it's been an interesting feeling to talk about this third baby as if he was already here.

He moves like crazy inside. Almost every moment of the day (and even through the night) he's wiggling around. I don't get any kicks, or elbows sticking out in one spot - just the endless wiggling and tossing and turning, like when you're lying in bed at night half asleep and half awake and can't seem to settle down to sleep. Actually, if anyone were to sit near me, they would basically see a constant shifting. It's actually really visible, which makes me a little self-conscious. I just hope people don't stare too often at my stomach. I'm always aware of how much he's moving. It's hard to forget he's there when he's making himself known all the time! Maybe that will be part of his personality. Heaven knows there isn't a shy bone in our family yet!

The boys are really taken by him. Usually at least once a day one of the boys comes to give Benjamin a hug (cuddling my stomach). They like that they "share my lap" with Benjamin when we read stories. Caleb likes that I can carry both him and the baby at once. We often talk about how Benjamin will be coming at Christmastime. If you ask Caleb who is coming at Christmas, he will actually answer Benjamin, instead of Santa! Oftentimes Caleb will even offer Benjamin his soother.

It's just over 6 weeks until my due date, so hopefully about 4 weeks until Benjamin makes his debut. It will be interesting to see how things actually change once Benjamin is actually here. This is the first time I've felt so attached before the baby arrived. I think it's probably a good thing; I still worry every day that everything is going fine with the pregnancy. Everything has been picture perfect, but that there's a little dark corner in the back of my mind where worry still lingers. That's partly why I haven't complained much about how much Benjamin moves: every movement is a relieving reminder that he's thriving and doing just fine.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Online garage sales

I have, in the past, complained about shopping the "online garage sale" sites like Craig's List and Kijiji. There is just so much stuff out there that people are selling, and I have little patience for sifting through the ads, trying to find what I want for the price I want in a location that is even somewhat accessible. Mostly I end up frustrated and just give up.

But today I have made what is likely the best online garage sale buy I could get! It struck me the other day that it could be time for a new double stroller. I bought the one I currently have the same way - from a Kijiji listing. It cost me $40 and I have gotten more miles out of it than I imagined. It is still functional, but getting really worn out. Because I got so much use out of it, I didn't feel bad about searching around for something better.

And wow, did I find it! I was out and about town a few weeks back and saw a double stroller that just made me drool. It was sleek, functional, had two seats that can face forward or toward each other, could fit both a newborn (fully reclining position) and preschoolers. It had these fantastic little wind blankets that attached to the stroller. Nice canopies, and it all collapsed down really well. I took a mental note of the name and looked it up when I got home: Peg Perego Duette. For those of you currently in the throes of motherhood of young children, you might recognize the name. Their strollers retail for around $1000! Yes, there are three zeroes after that 1. I could never bring myself to pay that for a stroller, no matter how pretty and functional it was. But knock a zero off that, and that's what I'm paying for this gently used, second-hand stroller.

The best part of it all is that I know that probably 90% of moms who buy strollers don't get nearly the use out of them that I do. Especially in a country where half the year is wintery and snowy, most strollers get walked around the malls, and pushed on occasional walks to the park. Me, I have taken my double stroller out on average 3-5 days a week, 12 months a year, through rain and sun and snow. I have pushed it over nearly every square inch of my town, loaded it up with shopping, and used it more than I used the car in the past two years. I love to get outdoors and I love walking, and having two kids in tow hasn't slowed me down yet.

And so, despite all the annoyances and complaints I have had in the past about online garage saling, I will try in the future to hold my tongue and remember the fantastic stroller deals I have been able to find. Oh, and because the double stroller I currently have is still functional, I will also try my hand at selling it online for a small price. It will serve someone else well who really needs one and can't afford the current prices out there.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Food fun

Is anyone else as excited as I am about holiday feasts? And not just the eating of them (in fact, I always find that part rather anti-climactic), but the planning and preparing of the meals? I've spent the last hour or so flipping through a free food magazine that came in the mail today, bursting with beautiful (and simple) dish ideas and decadent, mouth-watering photos. Although this year I won't be too ambitious with any plans, I've been savouring each page, "tasting" the recipes as I read them, making some mental notes and alterations, and just generally getting excited for this artform. Even most weekdays I opt for dishes that are a little bit of a step up than usual family weekday fare. Because I enjoy the process, it never feels like work to me. Perhaps the magic of cooking will fade as I rack up meal after meal over the years for four men who can devour a meal before I make it to the table. But I'm hoping to foster that same love of food in my family, helping them to appreciate meal time as an opportunity to connect as a family, engage in good conversation, and feed the soul while we feed our bodies.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Happy Birthday Caleb

It was two years ago today that Caleb arrived into our family. James had to put in an extra long day today, which meant that I've had the boys all to myself. I was able to sneak in so many extra cuddles with Caleb - he's been a little under the weather these past few days, which makes him even more cuddly than his usual self. But I'll take it - I know it won't last forever.

I love how Caleb adds to the dynamic of our family. His infectious smile and darling eyes, his husky voice and bouncy manner, his love of just spending time with you. He's still my baby right now, which adds to my surprise that he's already two! I'm sure once the new baby arrives he will all of a sudden seem so big - just another reminder to treasure each and every day.

Happy birthday, Caleb!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Slowing down

This pregnancy is making me slow down more than I've ever had to in my life. The toughest part has been that I'm mentally gearing up while physically slowing down. I have all sorts of projects I'd love to have my hands into, including tearing out and replacing the bathtub faucet, cleaning out the garage, directing the city Nativity pageant, singing in a Christmas choir, doing the "once-a-month" cooking, getting set-up for the arrival of our baby, organizing the basement, getting an electrician in to do the basement lighting, being a little more hands-on with Caleb's "schooling" (letters, colours, numbers, etc)...

But these days I can barely get the basics done. I don't always get to my weekly cleaning. Many days I can't be standing long enough to make dinner or clean up afterwords. I'm struggling still to breathe, and find I can't even climb the stairs without needing to sit down at the top. Laundry piles up because I don't have the physical energy to walk to the basement. It's even too much now for me to take Colin to school, so if James isn't home to take him, Colin will have to stay home also. For a person who is a "doer", it's becoming really hard on me.

But I know I've got to just take it easy. Last week I landed in the hospital after coming this close to passing out while driving in the car with Caleb. I was gratefully only a few streets from a friend's house, and so by running all the stop signs and praying with a fervour I have never prayed with before, I was able to pull up to her house and crawl to her front door. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. Thankfully her husband was home and watched Caleb while she drove me to the hospital. Everything is fine with the baby (as has been this whole pregnancy), but once again the tests showed that my own body is just taking a terrible beating from pregnancy.

I can't decide if I only have 8 weeks to go, or I still have 8 weeks to go. Some days it seems like it's right around the corner, other days it feels like I'll never get there. But the beautiful thing about time is that it passes no matter what. The nausea and illness and exhaustion will soon come to an end. And even with a newborn I know that recovery is right around the bend, and I can get myself back into the routines and organization and involvement that I'm used to.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The end result

Well, we have made our decision - informed and with prayer. Which I think is the only way to do things.

Both boys and James received the H1N1 flu vaccine today. I will be waiting until the baby comes, and then get mine done (if it is still available).

I'm feeling a little exhausted after all the reading and research I've been doing. Never mind the actual reading and understanding of all the medical terms, just trying to sift through all the information available to make sure I was reading only reputable facts and not people's personal opinions. But I feel very educated about the situation now, and confident with my decision.

In the end, there was one important fact that was reinforced for me: God has a plan for me and my family, and if I seek his guidance, He will not let me walk in darkness. The decision about the vaccine will be different for every person based on circumstances, experience, and a myriad of other factors. It is possible a person could get serious complications from the vaccine; it is possible that a person could get serious complications from the flu. It seems like a game of chance, if you try to make the decision alone. But with the knowledge that God has a plan for me and my family, and if I seek Him he will make it known to me, I can have confidence that we have made the right decision for us.

Does that mean He will necessarily protect us from all harm? I am not that naive. Suffering is a part of life, and it could strike our family in many ways and at any time. Ask a mother that loses a child, a husband that loses his wife, a family that endures great tragedy - they all could suffer from the unending questioning of "what could I have done differently?" But I have been greatly reassured by this quote lately:

"We should never complain, when we are living worthily, about what happens in our lives." (Richard G. Scott)

What a wonderful reminder of who is in control. We can find peace in these troubled times, we can conquer the fear swirling around us. We can put our trust in God. We can not only believe in Him, but believe Him - believe the assurances and promises he has given us and take shelter in his loving arms.

Christmas shopping

Is it okay to brag that I had all my Christmas shopping done before November? I'll use the excuse that I need to be ready early because I'm due during the holiday season, but really I just love doing the shopping! No quick stops, last minute shopping for me. I love to peruse the stores, thinking about each person I'm buying for, what they might like, and the smile on their face when they open the gift.

This year I headed down to a huge toy warehouse with my sisters. What drew us down was the promotion of huge savings. The deals weren't all that fantastic, but it was wonderful to see such a widespread selection all in one place. And each toy was $5 or $10 cheaper than in a store like Toys R Us. Add that to the savings on gas and time from store hopping, and it really was an economic decision after all.

Next week I'm planning an afternoon of wrapping - possibly one of my most favourite times of the holiday season. Listening to favourite Christmas songs, I lay everything out and visualize again what I've got for each person. Then I choose the wrapping paper and write up the gift labels and then pack all the wrapped presents into a few boxes to be stored away until Christmas.

It seems appropriate to be thinking and writing about this today, as this morning we had our first snow in town. Big, huge, fluffy white snowflakes falling slowly from the sky. It didn't snow long and it didn't stay on the ground, but it was a beautiful sight out the bedroom window while it did fall.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Still on the fence

Just when I thought I had worked everything out in my mind about the flu vaccine, things change again.

Firm in my resolve to get the vaccine for myself, I called our local public health office to find out when the "pregnancy" vaccine (a different one than the general public one) would be available in our area. I was told that being so late in my pregnancy, they would not give it to me. I was both shocked and outraged. Although the health experts are saying that it is possible to give the regular vaccine to pregnant women, they strongly encourage the separate one. What had eased my mind about the vaccine was the fact that it had been used in Australia over the past 6 months, which ultimately can amount to "testing." The regular vaccine has not been tested on pregnant women.

And now, over the past few days, I have heard from several health expert sources that the flu season in our province is essentially peaking right now. And so, even if I am able to get the special vaccine over the next few weeks when it is anticipated to arrive, add another 10 days for the vaccine to take effect and I wonder if there is any use in it at all. I will be less than a month to my due date, and from what I hear, past the real danger of the flu season. At that point I see myself simply waiting until the baby is born, as my baby is my real concern when it comes to injecting myself with a new and relatively untested substance.

Add to that the fact that I am not willing to go and stand outside in the cold for 5 hours to wait for the vaccine. Caleb has the sniffles, I can barely stand for more than 10 minutes, and there is no way Caleb would actually wait that long.

And so the waiting game continues...

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The dreaded flu vaccine

Well, the time has finally come for me to make my decision about the H1N1 flu vaccine. Somehow I was hoping that there would be this huge delay and then I wouldn't have to face the decision; nevertheless, being a grown-up I guess means I have to face the real world and all its issues.

My broad viewpoint on any issue is to make an informed decision. Read, research, discuss, listen, ponder, pray, then decide. Also remember that we are all trying to do what is best for ourselves and our families, and that every decision is made in that best interest. I need to be comfortable with my decision for my reasons, to the point that I don't feel the need to defend myself with others.

In the end, I believe I will get this special vaccine. My family doctor is closely involved with the flu vaccine studies, and is one week behind me in her pregnancy. She also has two boys, the same age as mine. She and her whole family will be getting the vaccine, despite the fact they have never gotten the seasonal flu vaccine previously. Her confidence did much to boost my own, as I only know one other pregnant woman who also must make this decision. And really, it is the fact that I am pregnant that is making this such a hard choice.

The second point of view that affected me was my position in our family. Although the benefits of this vaccine have been shown to outweigh the risks, my ultimate concern on the risk side is for the fetus. However, if I do not get the vaccine, the risk is about me. And although the thought of losing the baby is terrifying, I can't imagine if something serious happened to me, leaving James and the boys. That would by far have the greater implications on our family.

The tipping point for me, however, as a person who puts absolutely nothing into my body while I am pregnant, was the information on those who have died from this flu. The recommendation is that as soon as there is respiratory distress, to immediately get to the ER. Most people who died from the flu waited a week or longer to get the help they needed. My problem is that during this pregnancy, I already have most of the flu symptoms, including constant headaches, body aches, severe trouble breathing, and physical exhaustion. Since one doesn't always present with a fever with this strain of flu, it would be very difficult for me to distinguish between a flu and my regular pregnancy symptoms. If I was feeling well enough, I would likely not get the vaccine and just be sure to run to the ER at the first sign of trouble. Studies do show that severe complications are not likely to happen if the patient is treated immediately.

James will also be in line for the vaccine, as he meets daily with elderly people who are also at a higher risk. We haven't made a decision about the boys yet, although I am leaning toward "no", but with the plan to monitor their illnesses closely and not to be afraid to run to the doctor or ER if I think it necessary. I may also play "wait and see," to determine just how severe this flu becomes in our area.

Well, that about sums up my position. It will be interesting to look back on this worldwide event next year and see just how big of a position it ends up playing. I always feel, especially with our current media standards, that these things get blown out of proportion. Then again, disasters happen, and affect the lives of hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions. And every time people think "aw, they're just blowing it out of proportion." We all seem to operate under the assumption that these things can never happen to us. And although I don't advocate living in constant fear of the great "what if," I do believe that we must face these issues as they present themselves rather than wishing they would simply go away.

Monday, 26 October 2009

A hearty laugh

Sometime back in the summer, our family was pulling into our grocery store parking lot to do some shopping. With the windows down, the tantalizing smell of barbecue suddenly filled our car. Up ahead we could see some youth with a few parents, their barbecue, and a sign, as yet unreadable, but very obviously promoting a fundraiser.

"Mmmm," James said. "Can we support our local whatever?"

Every once in a while one of us says something that becomes part of our family lore - and this was one line that stuck good.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The smell by the couch

I know pregnancy enhances ones sense of smell, and I have experienced this in a whole new light over the past few days.

It started by the love seat. As I sat relaxing and watching the boys, a putrid smell wafted up into my nose. I called James over: what was that smell? He sat beside me, and pronounced there was no smell.

I let it go. It seemed to come and go, and so I figured it must just be my over-sensitive pregnancy nose, picking up on something from somewhere else, maybe the laundry or the kitchen or outside.

But over the next couple of days that smell would meet me when I sat on the couch. My initial instinct was that it was due to an "accident" from Colin, who is still working (although getting much better) at toilet training. I figured he must have been sitting on the couch and some pee dried up beneath him. After three days of smelling it, I figured this must be the case.

I started with the couch, that being the easiest thing to clean (gotta love bi-cast leather!) A few minutes with a soapy cloth should do the trick.

Nope. Somehow the smell was still there. Okay, must be the carpet (no love for carpets!). Sprinkle with baking soda, scrub with soapy water, rinse with a wet cloth. Well, at least after all that work the putrid smell had to be taken care of.

Nope. Somehow still there! Down on all fours and nose to the carpet (not so easy when your 7 months pregnant!), the smell was definitely still strong on the carpet in front of the couch. Just as I was contemplating if I should have another go at scrubbing it myself, or if I would simply call in a carpet cleaner (drastic and expensive, I know, but I'm pregnant and not feeling so "do-it-myself" right now!), a grey lump caught my eye. A grey lump under the couch.

I shut my eyes. I opened them, and the lump was still there. I shut my eyes and pushed myself up to standing. Then, taking a deep breath (and praying it was just a toy), I heaved the couch back three feet. And there it was, decomposing and radiating a smell that was now beyond putrid, was 3" of dead mouse. Gross.

This is the area in my life that I claim girliness. James laughs at me, because I tend to be more of a rough and tough and tumble, camping and play in the dirt kind of girl. I'm not "girly" in very many areas. But dead critters give me the willies! Of course it's 12:30pm, James is at work for another 5 hours and the boys are 10 feet away playing, and so there is nothing left but to buck up, hope I don't throw up (pregnancy), and scoop it up myself.

So, victory for me that there was indeed a smell, victory for Colin that it was pee on the carpet, and victory for the mouse that the carpet/couch still smells disgusting even now that the body is gone. I'm guessing I will have to pull the couch out again and give the whole area a good scrub. Sometimes I hate being right.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


I pulled out my old lego box last week. SO MUCH FUN!!! I forgot how much I love it. And my boys went nuts for it, too! We played for nearly two hours, building and playing and building and playing and building some more. I played so long that I forgot to put on dinner the other day, and nearly let tonight's dinner burn! Colin even goes on long after I've had to drag myself away and Caleb has lost interest. We built this little van that he hasn't let go of in three days.

Thank you, makers of lego. Thank you.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Caleb's super hearing

You know those days when you wonder if your children actually hear anything you say? Well, I know for certain now that Caleb not only hears, but has super hearing! Last week we were out in the back of our yard, pulling up the garden, when all of a sudden Caleb took off toward the house. With a definite purpose, he sped up onto the deck and into the house. I called after him, but there was not even the briefest of acknowledgement. A minute later he emerged and came straight to me, holding out our phone.

"Phone, Mommy," he proclaimed. Sure enough, when I took the phone from him, the line was live (although the caller had already hung up). Somehow from the back of the yard he had heard the phone ringing, ran in, climbed up to the phone cradle, answered it, and brought it out to me!

He likewise will hear many things before we will - especially airplanes and fire trucks. Just as I long ago learned never to doubt Colin's sight, I now know never to question Caleb's hearing.

"Can I read you a story?"

At bedtime the other night, Colin asked if he could read me a story instead of my reading to him. He first chose "The very hungry caterpillar," which he read word for word (okay - he recited it word for word). But then he chose another book we don't read very often. He opened to the first page and stared for a minute, then handed the book over to me.
"I don't know this one yet," he stated. "Can you read it to me first, and then I'll read it to you?"
I agreed and read through the 16 or so pages, then handed it back to him.
He then proceeded to "read" the book back to me, word for word, page by page. Talk about memory!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Keeping up with the Jones

I love where I seem to have settled in for now. Having come through the tumultuous teen years, the wary university years, and the stumbling early motherhood years, I feel like I have finally found peace where I am. And the root of this peace, for me, is that I finally realized the fruitlessness of trying to "keep up with the Jones'."

I think this expression is obvious enough in relation to teenagehood and the college era, but I was surprised to find myself hit by this desire with a vengeance when I became a mother. There were so many issues, so many positions, so many persuasive advocates, so many people I wanted to emulate. I found myself very quickly being "tossed to and fro by the doctrines of men." There seemed to be no middle ground with any of the opinions. Healthy eating meant not only baking your own bread, but cooking everything from scratch, growing your own food and grinding your own wheat. Home-schooling was a complete eschewing of all things public education. Health care meant either doctors and medicine or doulas and homeopathy. Each advocate was so persuasive as to make one believe that theirs was the only way to successfully raise your children.

My conclusion: there is no middle ground. And so began desperate attempts to read and research and integrate these beliefs into my own life. But I didn't find myself enjoying the process. I found myself struggling as I tried to copy other's lives.

Then, somehow, I emerged from this shadow and regained confidence in myself. I realized it would not be worth trying to imitate even my dear, closest friends, those whom I admire as mothers, homemakers and wives. My own uniqueness requires my own unique approach in my home. We may all have the same goals but there are an infinite number of ways to achieve them. Success only comes from discerning what methods fit with your own personality and your family dynamics.

A book I am currently reading talks about principles versus practices. The principle is the idea, the goal, what you are hoping for in results. The practice is the means to achieving that idea, goal or result. Creativity and success arise from a multitude of practices. In fact, failure may be a direct result from copying a practice that is not the right fit for you. The author encourages the reader to keep their mind on the principles and to let their minds and imaginations guide them to the appropriate practices to achieve that principle, and above all, to not let the practices of others constrict your thinking.

The middle ground on which my feet are firmly planted has opened my eyes to the contest of motherhood. Not only have I learned how to figure out what is best for me and my family and how to feel secure and unmoved in my personal decisions, but I have also developed a greater tolerance and understanding for mothers with alternate practices. Raising our kids is not about convincing other parents why "my way is the best way." Rather, it is about a community of ideas and conversations of empathy. Once I realized that I didn't need validation from others that what I'm doing is right, the contest between myself and other women not only vanished, but left in the clearing of the fog much richer relationships that have spurred me on to greater heights in my calling as a mother. I have found my ground, I feel at peace, and I have moved out of Jonesville completely.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

It's that time of year...

Actually, I may even be a little late, but I'm wasting no time as I jump into the Christmas spirit. I like to have lots of time to settle into Christmas gift ideas, choosing just the right thing for each friend and family member. It's a good thing I decided to get going, because I didn't realize how difficult this year was going to be!

My first stop is the boys...and this proved to be a great roadblock. Our playroom is currently stuffed with toys. Every few months I go through and cull out the things that aren't favourites, just to keep the amount of things manageable. But last month I only came up with two small, rinky toys that weren't used on a regular basis! And so when I started considering adding more toys to the piles, I started getting concerned about what would get the boot to make way for the new additions.

My boys are too young for collecting (ie: action figures or play sets). Truly - some weeks their absolutely favourite thing is Happy Meal toy or Dollar Store buy. Imagination through acting is much more common here than imagination through toys. Toys seem to be a secondary prop rather than a primary tool. Add to that the fact that their interests in toys come and go so quickly, I felt a little hesitant to "invest" in some of the playsets out there.

So I sat up in bed one evening, flipped on the laptop and began to do some preliminary searching online for gift ideas. An hour later, I was still nowhere. I posed the question to James, and he came up with nothing either. Over the next few days I started talking with friends who have boys older than mine, to find out what the toys with staying power really are. I got a few good suggestions, but nothing quite right for my little guys. Up until at least the age of 5, there was nothing that was really going to have the kind of staying power I wanted to spend money on.

Eventually I did decide on one thing - I wasn't going to buy everything brand new. Although our budget could certainly handle the expense, I just couldn't see the point in spending that much money on toys that wouldn't hold their interest for more than a year or two. And so, with much trepidation, I hit the "online garage sales" of Craig's List and Kijiji. Personally, I can't stand these sites. There is so much sifting through garbage, so many "hits" for each search, so few people close enough to make it worth the drive, and so many items listed for way more than they are worth second hand! Nevertheless, in the spirit of the old tale "long walk part of gift," I dove into the murky online world and started searching.

So far, I have had a bit of success. I've figured out a few things to get: a couple of toys, a couple of movies, a couple of more practical things. Again, even with a budget that would allow a little more extravagance, a mountain of presents is not what we want our focus of Christmas to be, and so as parents we are practicing a good amount of restraint. The ideas are finally starting to cement in my mind, and the first few items have been purchased already. My favourite part of this whole process is storing the gifts in bags in the basement, wandering down every so often to "take stock" of what I have, thinking about each person who will recieve the gift and what it will mean to them.

With our baby on the way, I will be certain to have most of the shopping down in the next month or so. Gratefully most of our family members feel much the same as we do, and so there isn't a huge amount of gift shopping to be done; just a few thoughtful presents to show our love of those near and dear to us, something that will truly be appreciated as more than a gift card or an envelope full of cash. that I'm Christmas shopping, does that give me permission to open up my box of Christmas music yet? I'm thinking yes...

Monday, 12 October 2009

"The Monster at the end of this book"

Going through some of the last boxes my parents left here, I stumbled upon an old favourite book from my childhood: "The Monster at the End of this Book." I think I actually let out a squeal of joy when my fingers touched upon it. If you have never read it, it "stars" Grover from Sesame Street, and he talks directly to the reader as you read, pleading that you stop turning the pages because that is bringing you closer to the monster that is at the end of the book.

As with any beloved childhood memory, I was eager to share it with my boys, and a little apprehensive about their reaction also. Would they enjoy it as I had? Or would they find it utterly boring? As it turned out, this lovable "classic" was just as much a hit with them as it was with me. Each page brought an eruption of giggles, and I had barely turned the last page when they demanded to read it again...and again...and again. Now, Colin loves books and will sit and read book after book with you, but rarely has he insisted on the same book over and over again. My heart is filled with delight at this shared experience.

Another found treasure that also brought a squeal of joy: "Charlotte's Web." I'll have to wait a year or two to start reading chapters from that, but my excitement is bubbling over with imaginations of sitting beside my boys, tucked into bed, and drinking in the characters and stories with whom I shared my own childhood.

Friday, 9 October 2009

"I have confidence in me"

I'm taking part in a women's bible study this fall that has really surprised me in what I learned about myself. The study is called "Me, myself and lies," its focus being to erase the lies we as women tell ourselves and replace it with truth. The first week involved looking into your own personal "thought closet" to see what was in there - what are the things you tell yourself? What are the negative "I am" statements that are lurking there? What surprised me is that I found my negative thought closet completely empty.

I know my parents worked overtime as I was growing up to make sure I had a positive self-image. But only upon this week of self-discovery did I realize just how well they had succeeded. I have heard told many times that we as women are our hardest critics, that we hold onto these negative labels either given by others or ourselves. "I am not smart" "I am not pretty" "I am not capable" "I am fat" "I am no good" "I am not as good as so-and-so" "I am an idiot" "I am a klutz" "I am not athletic"...the list goes on and on. I stared in front of my blank page as I searched for that lie of a label that I was "always telling myself". And there was nothing there.

I was suddenly awash in grattitude for my parents. I know I'm not the best in every aspect of my life. I know I'm not the prettiest person in the world, or the smartest, or the most talented at (fill in the blank). The reality of life is that there is always going to be someone higher up each comparative ladder we climb. But my own personal self-esteem was never built through comparison, which is why I think I never clung to any labels. If I see someone who has achieved something desirable, I simply put my mind to doing it myself. My parents also instilled an amazing sense of confidence in me: they always told me that I could do anything, and I always believed them.

I think the other large part of this confidence stemmed from my upbringing in my faith. Right from an infant I was taught that I was of infinite worth, of divine nature, a precious creation of God, and that nothing God creates is ugly or wrong or garbage. God is good, all that he created is good, and that is a piece of truth I can own my whole life. Every person is created differently, and we work together because of our differences. Somehow there has developed a human tendency to climb for superiority by pushing others down; instead I have always been taught that I can reach the greatest heights as I help others around me climb as well.

I was a little embarassingly aware of the seeming pride in my confidence as I conversed with my study group; and yet I realized the uniqueness of the outcome of my childhood and teen years, and wanted to give the deserving credit to my parents. The most valuable lesson I learned is that with all the worries I have as a parent about how my children will turn out, success really is possible.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Random bits

Colin: "I wish Heavenly Father lived in our home."


When Caleb wakes up, he runs into our bedroom and pronounces: "All done (sleeping)!"


My nausea is taking another turn for the worse. Oh, and I am now suffering from migraines, but without the headache part. My only symptom: blindness. Not darkness, but everything in my field of vision becomes these wavy lines. I can still maneuver around the house, seeing through a small clear spot in the centre. But let me tell you - VERY SCARY the first few times it happened! Each episode lasts about an hour, after which I have a very mild headache. Worst part is I can't really do any driving more than around town, in case I have an episode and have to pull over!


Colin is (finally) on the road to toilet training. He is doing great when in underwear at home. I still send him in pull-ups to school, because he isn't quite that dependent yet, but I'm hoping that after this next week (no school until next Wednesday) he'll be good to go! Yay!


I am a wandering nomad in the land of literature. It's been over a week since I finished my last book and I haven't found anything I'm ready to sink my teeth into. I've thumbed through four or five different books, but nothing is sticking. Luckily "Walden" is seeing me through for just before bedtime, but I'm beginning to feel the effects of starvation...


Caleb appears to have the same spatial awareness that Colin has. He is already directing me around town. He completes puzzles without looking at either the piece or the space - he just remembers where they all go (even after only doing the puzzle once). Nothing is ever "out of sight, out of mind" - he can always remember where things were put or left.


Only nine weeks until I'm considered full term. That's not that long. Really - this is the first time I've truly felt like the end is in sight. I officially transferred from my doctor's prenatal care to the obstetrician today.


Wednesday, 30 September 2009

More from Thoreau

I picked up "Walden" again last night, for a few more pages on some thought-provoking insight. He wrote of the beauty of each new day dawning, each morning being a chance to lift ourselves higher than yesterday. Somehow the dawn of a new day speaks to artists; I certainly have experienced this. I have been at my most creative when I have taken an early morning hike through the wilderness of a forest, letting the early light fall on my shoulders and awaken my mind and spirit.

He also had a humourous passage about the nonsense that is news today (it applied 150 years ago, and I think rings even truer today). Who has decided that murders, car crashes, accidents, disasters and such are news? Sure, they are tragedies, but they really are personal tragedies, affecting the lives of those directly involved. I feel it is nothing more than a sick form of voyeurism that we feel the need to watch images and hear the stories of these awful events. And besides - once I have seen one car accident scene, why do I need to see another, and another and another? This has not expanded my world view, challenged my ideas, or informed me about world and community events. The way I see it, these "news items" are no better than any of the other drivel on TV today. Thoreau makes the point that, other than a few items here and there, the news stories could have been written last week, last month, last year, and no one would suspect it. Argh. In case you can't tell, this is a real pet peave of mind, and I got a good chuckle out of the fact that we haven't seem to have progressed at all in this area in the last 150 years.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Random bits

Tonight the boys were out late with us at a church function. When I finally wrangled them out the door about 8:30, Colin stopped in his tracks as he stepped outside.

"Wow, Mom, I can't believe my eyes! It's so dark! And look at the moon - it's sooo beautiful."

Has it really been that long since Colin has seen nighttime? (Summer means going to bed while the sun is still up) But it was a beautiful, clear, crisp fall night with a gloriously shining sun. I think he has inherited my love and awe of nature.


It was the neatest experience this afternoon to actually go out to the garden to pick carrots for the roast dinner I made. I popped the roast in the oven, peeled the potatoes, and then thought to myself: time to go get the carrots. Orange tops peeking out of the soil, green leaves reaching for the sky, slipping the large, fat carrots from the earth, being overwhelmed for the first time in my life at the real fragrant smell of carrots that hasn't been lost in transit to my grocery store. It was beautiful. I'm disappointed my tomato plants have died before I got a single tomato from them. The small, hard, green balls just sit there, taunting me, starting to rot. And I didn't realize that there is supposed to be a pumpkin already on my pumpkin plant, not just flowers. But the green onions I've been putting into my quesadillas were great, and these carrots have provided just enough inspiration to try again next year, under some closer tutelage from expert friends.


If you ask Caleb what he wants to eat, he says, without fail, in the following order:

Mac and Cheese
Sausage rolls


I have just finished reading "The Question of God" - a collection of thoughts by C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud about their positions on theism (Lewis being the theist, Freud the atheist). I was astonished by the logical, intelligent and well-formed points of view of these two men. It was interesting to see Freud's dismal conclusion, that life sucks and then you die, so deal with it. He was a pessimist his whole life, but didn't see any other choice than to live in the miserable reality of atheism. With Lewis' writings, I was amazed to read such a logical explanation as to the existence of God. My own personal experiences are much more emotion-based, although I have a strong tendency to the logical side of things. It was neat to read how a "lazy atheist" eventually came to the conclusion that there must be a God. I hope to write in more detail about this book at another time, but in case "some day" never comes, I wanted to note that it is a fantastic read, one I would love to pick up again.


My parents are currently sailing to Australia. They will be back in December for the birth of our baby, and so really it seems like just an extended vacation. But I do miss already how often they were around. Colin and Caleb still tell us that "Pa will fix it" when a toy is broken. Caleb still looks for "Ma's van" out the window now and then. Travel has always been a huge part of who we are as a family, and so perhaps their absence will always seem impermanent, that they'll be back again soon.


The house is a disaster. Tomorrow should be cleaning day, but it's a PA day at school, so Colin is home, which makes it a lot more difficult. I am seriously considering calling a friend and inviting ourselves over for a morning playdate, while hoping a cleaning fairy stops by while I'm out.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Homeschool considered

Well, Colin's start to school has been less than stellar. I'm surprised I even feel this way after being so confident he would absolutely love going, and that he would be absolutely ready.

First and most concerning, I have encountered some serious safety issues at the school. The first day I dropped Colin off I found four kindergarten kids who had been left in the school yard, after all the teachers and kids had gone inside. Two were near tears, and two were running around near the busy road. I took the initiative, gathered them up and took them into the school. Even more concerning, they were kids from Colin's class, meaning it was Colin's teacher who had missed her head count and left them behind. Then, this past Monday, the teacher lost Colin. James was a few minutes late arriving to pick Colin up, and when he arrived Colin was nowhere to be found. After 20 frantic minutes of the teacher, the principal and James searching the school and the grounds, they eventually found him. All we could get from Colin was that when Colin didn't see me at pickup time, he figured he would just walk home. The teacher didn't notice he had wandered off. I was surprised at how calm I was at the whole experience: I think it was a combination of knowing that a) Colin is capable enough to actually walk home on his own and would adhere to all our safety rules and b) the teacher was likely in as much of a panic as I would have been.

Second, Colin isn't enjoying going at all. He absolutely loved his preschool last year, but this year all he says about his days is that it's boring. Other than the story the teacher reads each day (which he then recites verbatim to me when he gets home), he doesn't talk about anything he is doing there. Every day he has to go, he tells me he's had enough.

Third is the ongoing exhaustion of it all for him. He continues to fall asleep every day at school (no, there is no designated rest time - he just opts out of an activity and falls asleep instead!) Once on the playground, once on the carpet in the classroom, once under his table.

Fourth, we've encountered the inevitable teasing that comes along with growing up. I know I won't be able to protect my little boy from all the heartache he will encounter in the world, but I feel like I want to shield him just a little longer.

Fifth, I don't think Colin's teacher is a good match for him. She seems to be very laid-back, whereas Colin craves structure and organization. I think his dislike of class and his some of his disruptive behaviour is a result of undefined rules and laissez-faire teaching styles. Not that anything is wrong with the teacher's method, it's just that it's not a good fit for Colin. His preschool teachers were extremely surprised to hear about Colin's attitude at and toward school - it is nothing like their experience with him last year, where he absolutely thrived in the "school" environment.

All this has made got me thinking about homeschooling again. If I weren't so ill and exhausted with this pregnancy, I might give it a go. I admit I feel slightly guilty about sending Colin to school so that I can get a bit of a rest, but really it is the best answer for us right now. Caleb is down to 8 or 9 hours a night and is starting to give up his naps, which means I'm not getting near the amount of sleep I need to sustain my own health. Add to that the return of the nausea and overall weakness - I'm not like I was at the beginning of the pregnancy, but I can feel myself on a slow downward slide again.

And so, at least until Christmas, I think we'll have to stick it out with school. For the life of me I can't remember a thing about my own kindergarten experience; my memories begin in earnest at grade one. So hopefully we can see how this year goes and see if Colin eventually settles into the routine of it all. What I love most is that I feel like I always have options - no decision ever has to be permanent. And so the ever-vigilant mother stands her post...

Monday, 21 September 2009


Caleb is growing and changing every day. I absolutely love this age.

His vocabulary grows in leaps and bounds. Just like Colin, he spoke his first word around 18 months. And, just like Colin, as soon as that first word was out a fountain burst forth, as though a deep sea of words had been collecting beneath the surface and was only waiting for the geyser to erupt above the surface. Every new word he hears he immediately repeats, adds to his vocabulary and uses on a regular basis. I, of course, am his sole translator; pronounciation of sounds will develop over the next year or so, but I am generally able to understand based on the context of the conversation, and closely following his train of thought. He is also moving right into stringing words together, to combine a person with an action, to relate multiple thoughts, or to tell a brief story: "Mommy sleeping...wake cereal." or "Daddy working...come home soon...go to park."

The one thing that isn't changing is his lack of sleep. His afternoon naps measure around an hour and a half to two hours, but at night he still needs no more than about 8 1/2 to 9 hours. He wakes usually between 5:30am and 6:30am, ready and rearing to go. "Mommy" is the first word out of his mouth, summoning me to his room. "Cereal" is without fail the second. Just like his mother, he likes to eat first thing. The nice thing is that he doesn't seem to be suffering because of the short sleep he gets; on the contrary - he wakes in a happy demeanor and gets right into his day. It is myself who is desperately looking for ways to prolong his sleeping hours; if I want to get the eight hours I need, it means going to bed almost as soon as he does. This proves difficult if I want to get something done after he is in bed, or spend time with James or on my own. It also means that we spend every waking minute together (because by the time naptime comes, I am in desperate need also!). I love my boy to the ends of the earth, but there are times I need some solitude. I have tried moving his bedtime around, to no avail. The suggestion of ridding him of the afternoon nap is also a fruitless one - he is so tired by noon (having already been awake 7 hours) that he actually asks for his nap, and will put himself to bed if I don't comply right away!

He is still in the "copying everything Colin does" mode. Half the time this leads to hilarious romps around the house between the two of them; half the time Colin is thoroughly put out.

Caleb still loves to help me cook. As soon as he hears me rustling in the kitchen, he races for a kitchen table chair, pulls it over to the counter and climbs up with the pronouncement "I watch." Luckily he is very patient in this activity, and although he wants to help out also, he is very willing to wait until it is his turn.

Last item - Caleb has entered the "why?" phase. Colin never went through this, so it's a new game for me. I'm managing to stick to my guns about always answering the "why", and not just with "because." Two things make this really easy: the first is that although there is never just one "why," Caleb is never asking it as a game. He genuinely wants to know why. If I think my answers through enough, I can usually bring the conversation to a close with a well-thought out reply that truly answers his line of thought. The second thing that makes it easy is that he has developed this Transylvanian-like accent that actually sounds like: "Vye?" So cute, so irresistible.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Tuckered out

So it turns out that a whole day at school seems to be a little too much for my little guy. On Wednesday the teacher mentioned that when she went out to collect the kids after lunch recess, Colin was lying face down on the grass, dozing. He pronounced himself "too tired" for any more kindergarten that day. Luckily the teacher encouraged him enough to come inside and not only did he finish the day out, but he pulled his brother in the wagon the entire walk home from school.

So even moving bedtime to 7pm for Colin (a feat in this house, where we can't let Caleb go to sleep any earlier than 8pm) and letting him get at least 12 hours of sleep at night doesn't seem to be enough yet. I really thought he might nap more regularly on his days off, but he hasn't taken to that, either. I'm hoping that after a couple of weeks he will settle into a routine and either find more energy or succumb to the afternoon nap (I wish!)

There was no question in our mind if Colin was socially and intellectually ready to start school this year. Being born in December, I always kept it in mind that it would be easy enough to wait until next year for him to start. What I have noticed, however, is that there are some areas now evident in which his young age is showing in a classroom with children nearly two years older than he is. Exhaustion and energy levels is definitely one, toilet training another. A third I have realized is being emotionally ready, being in a classroom of 20 children and needing to operate on his own to a certain extent. This will definitely take some time for him to adjust to, but I hope that the independence we have fostered in him will kick in and ease this transition a little more.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Thank goodness for breathing room

Many people (friends, family, acquaintances, and even those I don't hardly know) have found themselves at the other end of my tirade about the start of Colin's school year over the past few days. For this, I sincerely apologize. I have started to see some of the not so positive aspects of public schooling, and even reconsidered (for a brief moment) the idea of homeschooling. But in the end, a little time, a little breathing room and a whole lotta prayer have seen everything work out just fine.

It's a long story, and one I'm not going to record in detail, because I'd rather just bury the whole thing and move on. Suffice it to say that I have some interesting run-ins with the school administration that made me realize the golden truth behind my mother's wise words: I am the only one who will be advocating for my child. I was loaded with a little guilt at wondering if I'm just becoming "one of those parents" who is always complaining about one thing or another and seeking special treatment for my child. Luckily I was reassured by those I spoke with that the issue at hand was indeed important enough to be addressed.

I learned two important lessons after this whole debacle. The first is to trust that "all things work together for good to them that love God," and the second is to always take time to calm down, process, ponder and consider a situation before running in head first.

I was speaking with a good friend on the weekend who found herself in a hard situation regarding her son's school start. I hadn't had any issues at this point, but as we spoke on the phone I counseled her to remember that it was important to believe that everything would work out as it needed to, and her son would find himself in the place he needed to be. Little did I know that two days later I would find myself in the exact same position! It did me much good as that phone conversation came flooding back, and amid my confusion and anger I heard my own words echoing clearly in my mind: everything will work out as it should.

It was a phone message yesterday that sent me spiraling, and when my phone messages went unreturned, I could feel the frustration rising higher and faster within me. But in the end I was grateful to have missed the phone call (I just didn't move fast enough to pick it up!) and also to have not had my own calls returned; it allowed me to really think through the possibilities presented, consider the positives and negatives of each decision (yes, I even made a list!), ponder, pray and read from God's word in search of guidance, and take the next 24 hours to really think about all the angles of the situation, instead of jumping in with an instinctual answer.

And so, all's well that ends well. In the end, the situation resolved itself even without the "meeting" this morning I prepared myself for. I had a whole list of well-thought out points to discuss, and when I arrived they simply said to ignore the phone message, all would be left as is. So although it might appear to have been a fruitless exercise in frustration for me, I have learned two important lessons that otherwise might have eluded me. Life lessons are always learned in the tough times, aren't they?

Monday, 14 September 2009

Being a wife

I'm reading a great book right now, great in that it is well-written and chock-full of fantastic ideas, but also great because it is bringing to mind many of the other little tidbits I've packed away in my memory over the years. "Building a Home Full of Grace" is written by a family - mother, father, and their five children, a culmination of more than 30 years of experience building a home and family.

More than anything, I have been reminded that my role in this family is wife first, then mother. Although I will always be mother to my beautiful children, I have less than 20 years in which I am living with them, where they are directly in my home. After that period of time, the goal is that they will "leave" their parents and "cleave" to their own wife, start their own family. Sad as it is to consider, I will then move into a secondary role. I realize this is the circle of life, and would not want to interfere by trying to cling to my boys when they should be stepping into the role of head of their own family.

And, what this is all a reminder of, is that James and I will always be a family together, here in our home. This is not the time to neglect my marriage in favour of raising my children. It is an easy rut to fall into; babies and toddlers and children demand so much attention because of their dependent nature.

And so I am remembering to be sure to date my husband, make time for him without the kids, support him and praise him and build him up in any way that I can. With my patience so short these days, and the boys driving me up the wall, I found myself resenting our business, James' work which demands so much of his attention. I found myself trying to get him to change something in his day, positive that the problem could be solved if only he would do something on his end.

Then, blessed by the book I have been reading and by some timely inspiration during Stake Conference on the weekend, I realized that I was going about it all wrong. Complaining and arguing and pushing someone else only tires you out; it is usually a fruitless exercise. True change comes from within. I realized the one who needed changing was me.

So I sat down and made three lists. The first was a list of the situations that appeared to be irking me. Then I went down that list and looked past the surface irritations to the reality and truth behind each one. Finally I looked for a way in each situation I could adjust my own attitude and do some small thing to show my love and support for my husband.

My list, of course, is personal, but here is an example of a situation that many women, especially stay-at-home moms, might come up against.

He is working all the time.

He loves to spend time with us and would much rather be hanging out with his wife and boys than working such long hours.

Make his favourite meal after an especially hard day.
Give him 30 minutes to unwind before bombarding him with the problems I need to share.

I was excited as the list of ways I could support James grew longer and longer. And I was excited to be able to start implementing them. I realized that as the primary parent in the home, I am the primary person who determines the atmosphere in our home. What a responsibility! Like it or not, my attitude is most likely to determine my home's atmosphere. And attitude is catching - if I'm short-tempered and irritable, then it's much more likely there will be negative feelings and attitudes all-around. But if I can get my chin up and try to speak softly, kindly, and supportively to everyone, then it's much more likely the atmosphere of peace I find so elusive will be much more pervasive. It's a huge responsibility and task - and one I know I won't always be up to. But as I consider the important role of wife that I am filling, I realize that I can't let it wait until the kids are older/grown/out of the house/business is slower/tasks are fewer. Because if (and that's a BIG IF) I ever do get to that point, I might turn around and find myself staring at someone I hardly know any longer.

And so I have opened my eyes to a huge role as a stay-at-home mom that I never realized I had before - that of supportive wife to my beloved husband. Likely it is one of the best examples I can set for my own kids, one of the best ways I can be the best mom to them: by demonstrating how sacred I hold this holy calling of womanhood I have been blessed with, inspiring each of them as they grow into young men, husbands and fathers one day, too.