Wednesday, 26 August 2009


Caleb constantly cracks us up with his expressions.

"I, too!" - for some reason he has adopted this expression in lieu of the more common "me too!"
"I do!" - when he hears something he wants, he lets us know he wants to be included.
"Yaah" - a drawn out, very Russian sounding "yes".
"No" - okay, this isn't original, but the firm, matter of fact way he has of saying it makes us laugh. It is part defiant and part laissez-faire. No is the answer and he's not going to fight with you.

Bed shuffle

Last night we did a big bed shuffle in our home. Colin graduated from his toddler bed to his "new" bunk beds (new to him - my parents bought them for me when I was 2 years old!) and Caleb moved from crib to toddler bed. We had to talk Colin through the changes in his room; he wasn't really opposed to bunk beds, but has a really hard time when any routine is changed. Adding the bunk beds meant moving the dressers and toy box also, so everything was really different.

Caleb didn't seem to care. He imitated Colin's excitement, and was hyped up by all the busyness of the night. Both boys brought up their own tools to help put the beds together and then helped carry out the crib pieces.

Bedtime went really well. Caleb is always exhausted by bedtime, and so he lied down in his bed as if it was the crib and fell right asleep. James got Colin excited about the bunks, so Colin finally warmed up to the idea and fell asleep, too.

Surprisingly, I was the one who was not fine! I didn't see it coming at all, but when James and I finally turned out the light in our own bedroom, the waterworks opened up and I just started to bawl! All I could think of was what would happen if the top bunk collasped on my little boy sleeping in the bottom bunk below. The more I cried, the bigger the bunks seemed and the smaller and more fragile Colin seemed. I wept and wept, gulping for air, unable to control myself. I knew they were safe; I knew my dad and James would never let Colin sleep there if it wasn't completely, totally, and unequivocally safe. But it didn't help.

I cried for an hour, then lay awake reading for another two. I finally drifted off into a fitful sleep filled with nightmares (thankfully unrelated to the bunk bed issue, but horrifying nonetheless. Perhaps I have just discovered that my nightmares are related to heavy emotional moments in my life?) I hadn't even fallen asleep when I heard the first cries from Caleb. I peeked in his room to find he had flipped himself to the foot of the bed and was head first over his laundry basket. Caleb has always been big mover while he sleeps; I even put in the bumper pads in his crib because he used to get his wrists and ankles caught in the crib bars as a baby. I soothed him quickly and he dropped off right away. But he cried another three times that night, and Colin woke twice. It was hard over that hour or two, but after that we heard nothing more.

Morning dawned and found us all sleeping (yes, even me!). Caleb jumped out of bed when he woke and starting wiggling the door handle. (I knew he would likely do that; even once we moved Colin to his toddler bed, he always called for us to "get him out" when he woke up. I only broke that habit last month by telling him it was okay for him to get up by himself and come and find us.) When we heard Colin calling for us, we found him lying on the mattress we had put on the floor beside his bed. We don't know if he fell out or climbed out, but he seemed happy.

So we seem to have luck once again with the bed issue. I know this can often cause huge problems for so many kids, and so I count myself lucky we got away with this one. Heaven knows there are many other struggles I encounter raising my children, so I celebrate the small victories, especially when they take so little effort.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Camp songs

On the two hour car ride back from my grandmother's house, my sister and I found a way to keep Colin entertained - we revisited the endless catalogue of camp songs from when we were kids. I'm not sure who had a better time - Colin or us! I also can't believe that we actually sang for a solid hour and a half, that we actually knew that many songs!

Colin also impressed his Auntie Jennifer with the number of songs he had already learned from me. As the camp song guru of my time, I felt a twinge of pride that I had a little protegee ready to able to step into my shoes.

Saturday, 15 August 2009


I have noticed lately that Colin is very in tune with people around him. He picks up on emotions of others, joining in their elation and showing concern with their distress.

The other day at the play centre a boy about 2 years old was having a complete meltdown. Tears streamed down his cheeks, great deep sobs escaped his lips. Colin hovered nearby, clearly concerned about this young boy. After a few minutes, Colin approached him:

"Would you like to play with me? I can be your friend."

I don't even think the boy heard Colin through the crying. His mother continued to try and soothe him, but Colin didn't give up so easily. He hovered near the boy, offering now and then a favourite toy he thought might cheer him. Once or twice it even seemed Colin wanted to reach out and hug the boy. It was a good ten minutes before the boy calmed down enough to hear and then respond to Colin's invitation to join in play. Moments later the two were happily engaged in a game with cars and trains.

The mother approached me after, a grateful look in her eyes. "How old is your son?" she asked. "Three and a half," I responded. "He's closer to my other boys - they're four. My son here is only two. I'm surprised he would bother with someone younger like that."

I smiled and nodded, but I wasn't surprised. Colin has a natural sense of compassion and sees beyond any seeming limitations to find the need of the person he sees.


Caleb is maybe giving us some insight into his teenage years. There are two things he has mastered in terms of communication: food and sleep. I've already mentioned the plethora of food words he has learned, to tell us everything from what he wants to drink to what kind of "dip" he wants with his food (ketchup, syrup, salad dressing, etc.)

He has also become very adept at letting us know when he is tired. I generally try to have both boys nap at the same time, around 1pm. Caleb, however, is often tired by 12:15 (what a surprise, considering is up by 6am!). I try to stave him off; some days he just wanders around with a tired look saying "nap, nap!" Other days he goes upstairs and pulls out his blanket and soother from the crib and carries them around the house. Today he took it one step further. Too tired even to eat, he tugged at me saying "nap." I asked him to wait until I had finished my lunch before I took him up. He disappeared upstairs, and then I saw him coming down again, carrying blanket, soother and his favourite book! This was a no-nonsense, clear-cut communication - it was definitely nap time!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


I am officially halfway through my pregnancy today. I thought to write more, but this one sentence seems to say it all.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

The magical age

Happy birthday to me!

Thankfully, I've never really been caught up in age and birthdays. Each year I grow one year older. Next year I will be one year older than I am this year. But the growing number doesn't really affect me at all. It did strike me that this year I am 29, that magical number that all women don't seem to age past. I guess I'll have to see how I feel next year when I'm no longer in my 20s.

What I do look forward to is a day spent mostly for me. Today I spent a lovely couple of hours at the hair stylist, indulging in the 20 minute head massage they give while washing your hair. I have a lovely, new, fun cut that can still be pulled up into a ponytail when I'm being "mom", and let loose into some curls when I want to go out. Roses arrived early this morning from my adoring husband. This evening James and I are heading out to celebrate our birthdays and anniversary, all of which fall in this same week. We will eat at one of the local fine dining restaurants, a rarely indulged in pleasure of ours.

And right now I'm doing exactly what I love most to do on a day I have to myself - grabbing some alone time. I'm in my bedroom, door closed, boys being entertained by dad. I have a bag of plain chips and some onion dip. I'll likely peruse around a bit on the internet on some favourite blog sites, and read a few chapters of my book. I know, I know - so many of my girlfriends would probably say "but you could be shopping!" or "why don't you get out for a bit?" But really and truly, I am loving the alone time, filled with peace and quiet. I've just finished "Toss the Guilt, Catch the Joy" again, and my head is swimming with ideas and my heart fully inspired. I may even just sit here and settle into some daydreaming.

Happy birthday to me.

Friday, 7 August 2009


We are now the proud owners of a dishwasher.

I know I always said it was one of those extra appliances I felt was a waste of space and money. And really, if you've seen our kitchen, you would see the added burden I felt it would be, as we have only 2 spaces under the counter, neither of which would fit a built-in dishwasher. So I knew we would have to buy a portable one, which is $500 more than a built-in, and then I'd have to find a place to put it in the kitchen.

Well, two weeks ago I finally turned to James and asked if he wanted to buy a dishwasher that afternoon. I think he nearly fainted from surprise. But my "recovery" from illness hasn't been complete, and as each week passes I realize that this time I don't think I will ever have very much energy until the baby comes. And standing at the sink doing dishes 4 or 5 times a day is one of those things I still can't do. Which left the chore for James. Which he hates. With a passion. I really don't think there is any other chore in the entire house he hates more than washing dishes. And so faced with another 5 months of him having to fill in for me, I offered the dishwasher.

It was expensive. And it's bulky. But we could afford it, and we found the space for it. In fact, the space issue was my biggest one, and it turns out that we like the layout even better now with the dishwasher in the kitchen.

I was also pleased with my efforts in getting some sort of a deal on it. James and I are not bargainers. We always pay the sticker price, mostly to avoid the confrontation. But at our first stop, when the saleperson showed us the dishwasher and told us the price, I first inquired about the features, and then asked straight out "about the price - can you do any better for us?" She went and discussed with her boss, and then they offered us a much better deal! We didn't end up buying it there, but each stop we made, I made sure they knew we were shopping around and wanted the best deal they could give us. I really felt great about the confidence I exuded in a situation where I would normally quietly slip away.

And so we have our dishwasher. The first day I was a little annoyed. I found myself washing dishes each meal because what I needed was already dirty, and I don't keep tons of plates and bowls and cutlery and bakeware. But each day we've adapted a little more. The boys have eaten cereal from tupperware, and this morning I ate pancakes with a reusable plastic fork. This machine has eased a little tension from the after dinner clean up, leaving James more time to play with the boys and me a little time to relax by myself for half an hour or so. I think, in the end, that is what convinced me to buy it. It wasn't about getting out of doing dishes, but creating a little more peace in our home. And to me, that was what made it worth it.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Our next arrival... a boy, due date December 29th! People have been asking me if I was hoping it was a girl, since I'm not sure we'll have any more, or if we were "going for the girl" this time. I have to say that I flip-flopped on this one every day. I wanted a girl, not so much as a daughter for me but a sister for the boys. I think growing up with only brothers or only sisters leaves a huge mystery when it comes to the opposite sex, because you've never had a chance to really get close in the way siblings do. For me as a mom, if I had a really "girly-girl" I think I would be totally lost, because I was such a tomboy. Now that we know it's a boy (no question there!), I'm excited to raise my little men.

My favourite book is Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women," but my favourite part of the Jo March story is actually the school for boys she opens up once she gets married. Even back when I was 20 and worked as a camp counselor, I naturally drifted to mentor the boys. I even had a friend say the other day that they couldn't imagine me with girls - they really see me as a mom of sons.

My favourite parenting book is also written by a mother of only sons (she had four), and her words were so inspirational to me. I see the wonderful, beautiful adventure of a mom raising boys, and glimpse ahead to the special reverence boys often hold their mothers in.

So Benjamin Martin Gawthroupe is due December 29th (both my sister and James' brother's birthday!), according to the ultrasound. Now at least I'm able to have a better vision of the future, of this little tiny boy arriving into our family. It really does help make the illness of the pregnancy, which seems to be holding on even worse than with the last two, more bearable.

James wanted to go to Dairy Queen for ice cream to celebrate. Sadly, the only thing I wanted was carrot sticks.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Six years

Six years ago Saturday James and I embarked on the beautiful journey of marriage. It feels like just yesterday, and yet as though it has always been there. Makes me think back on that entry I wrote about "cleaving" to your spouse; the idea of being rejoined instead of joined, that we are simply finding one another again.

Sunday, 2 August 2009


The last three days have been a bit of a downhill slide for me. I've had energy each day to get things done, but the majority of the day has been spent feeling ill again. Today I spent the afternoon and evening in bed. Much too reminiscent of these past couple of months...

I wondered what it was that has put me out. The past two weeks I have been careful with what I eat (mainly fruits and veggies) to ease the stomach pains, and careful with activity levels (limiting myself to one or two outings a week).

There has been one marked difference in the past few days. I have returned to the piano. When I'm well, I love to spend time playing. I play children's songs for the boys, and all sorts of pieces for myself. I play the piano to celebrate, grieve, find strength, relax, uplift, release frustrations, control anger, and feel joy. In short, the piano is an outlet for every emotion.

And perhaps, in the end, that is what has exhausted me. I had thought that simply sitting in one spot with limited movement would be the perfect "activity" for me as I try to resume a sense of normalcy in my life. What I didn't consider is the physical toll of such an emotional activity. Today I played in the morning for the boys, then at church played piano prelude to the meeting, organ accompaniment for the congregational hymns, and an hour of accompaniment for the children's primary. Today, by far, I exceeded any preceding time spent playing the piano. I also picked up the flute for the first time since falling sick. I played only one song, but added to the culmination of music output today, perhaps I sent myself over the top.

It makes me a little sad to think I need to wait a little longer before indulging in this love of mine again. Which is even harder when I think that being sad makes me want to play the piano and feel that healing balm it is for my sadness. But this relapse has been a caution to me...judging from the last two pregnancies, I should soon be getting to a "functioning" state, not the lying-on-the-couch-and-unable-to-stand-or-call-out-to-the-boys state I was in Friday morning, or the lying-in-bed-staring-at-the-wall state I was in today. I am feeling that I am older, that my body is even more aware of the little nuances than it has ever been before, and I cannot take the least degree of allowance without also accepting the consequences.