Saturday, 27 February 2010


Babies grow way too fast. I have already had to break open my second bin of baby clothes - the 6-12 month bin. That's right. Before he was 2 months old, I needed the 6 month sleepers! Benjamin is about 12 pounds, but growing so long he needs the bigger sleepers.


Our little guy is so mellow. He cries when he needs something, but is so easily soothed. And if he's fed and changed and rested, he's content to just sit and watch the action. Which is nice, because it means I'm actually able to cook and clean a bit during the day.


Benjamin is a cuddler. He loves to snuggle up for his naps, and yes, I indulge him in that. Babies are only this little for such a short time. Although Colin and Caleb both still enjoy a good cuddle, it's not the same when their legs are overhanging the chair and their bodies run the entire length of your upper torso. There's just something so wonderful about a tiny baby tucking his legs up and curling his head into the crook of your neck. We take every afternoon nap together like that, and every other day or so I let him fall asleep at night on me also. It's funny - as we are fairly sure Benjamin will be our last baby, I find myself treasuring all these moments rather than becoming frustrated. Knowing as each day passes I won't have it again, even with another little one, makes me want to savour every second of it.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

On the fringe

So I'm sitting in a mother's group the other day, and we're talking about "Death by Rubber Duck," - in other words, the insane amount of exposure to harmful substances we experience in our daily lives. We're sharing ideas about natural cleaning products and organic foods and low toxic makeup, and someone makes the comment "but I'm not one of those left-wing, granola eating hippies."

You know what she means. Those people who are so far out of society, doing their own thing, living their own really strange way of life. Probably live in California. They don't only live outside the box, they've never even seen the box. Or at least their kids haven't, since they tossed all conventionalism out the window during their university days.

Yeah, I'm not one of those either! Right?


I'm not one who really needs the praise of the general population. I don't mind dancing to my own beat, doing my own thing. I like to think of myself as an individual, carving out my own path, the path that is best for me. I love to learn new things and am not afraid of change when I do learn. But I'm not out on the fringe. Right?

I started to wonder how people view me. (Again, not because I need to fit in - just curious about how people perceive me and my lifestyle). I feel "normal." I feel like I'm just like all those other moms out there, just like my friends. Different enough that there is variety in our friendships, but much like them in many ways.

I thought about the changes I've made to my lifestyle since becoming a mom:

- I try to make most meals from scratch
- I bake my own bread
- you would likely not find any junk food in our cupboards
- I clean using silver nanotechnology, vinegar, baking soda and lemon
- I have seriously considered homeschooling (and still haven't totally ruled it out)
- my kids are not fully immunized
- I am learning more about naturopathy and homeopathy as an alternative to modern medicine
- I grow and can my own food
- I want to do my grocery shopping at local farms this year

This is just a small list...but as I considered everything together, I suddenly felt on the fringe. Although many of these things are certainly becoming more popular, I bet much of the general population would look at me and think "left-wing, granola eating hippie." But I certainly don't feel much different than who I was growing up to this point. Perhaps because the core of these ideas (healthy living, questioning the norm) were a part of my childhood home education, even if these specific actions weren't. Perhaps because my journey has been an inward evolution, a slow change and growth from within, a natural progression. Perhaps because many of my friends have shared their ideas and beliefs with me, without the pressure of conforming, with only the intention of enlightenment.

I heard a great quote the other day. It went something to the effect of "the purpose of a debate is not argument, but enlightenment." I love that, because it means that when we share ideas and debate conflicting opinions, it is not about making the other person think the way you do; it is simply about a sharing of ideas, opening our minds to other possibilities.

I guess I am on the fringe. If I were to view my journey from a metaphorical distance, I must be traveling in a spiral, each arc taking me a little further from the centre. I love where I am. I love what I've learned. I love talking about new ideas with old friends, new friends, and strangers who become friends. Isn't learning a wonderful thing?

Monday, 22 February 2010


I like things to be orderly. My house doesn't have to have a spotless shine to it, and I'm okay if everything is not always in its place, but I like to have general order in my home. Clutter drives me nuts, and things "put down here, just for now" nearly kills me. And it seems as I tidy ahead of me, things keep jumping out of their place behind me.

But I have had a gravitation as of late toward containers. Instead of just a "place for everything and everything in it's place," I am looking toward the more specific "a container for everything and everything in its container." It just seemed to be that much easier.

Well, today I came across a blog post on "I'm an Organizing Junkie." Just the name of the site lured me in, as I know I am not as well organized as I want to be, and clearly this woman has her stuff together in that area! She posted the other day on containers, and she actually clarified just what it is about containers that are so lovely. In her words:

"One of the most important things about containers and other storage solutions is this:

Containers establish boundaries and limits.

"So often people don’t pay attention to the space they really have available to them. They figure that if their space is full they must then just need more space. When rather what we should be thinking and what would be painfully clear if we had established limits and boundaries is that we just need less stuff.

"Let’s take my cookbooks for instance. I have a designated space for them on one shelf in one of my bookcases. That is the space I have set aside for them based on the space I have available in my home. I have established that to be the boundary and limit to my cookbooks. When that gets full I don’t then start piling the books up on the floor as I get more. I’ve exceeded my limit and therefore need to reign in my over consumption by purging out the excess or making some tough choices about what else I could part with in order to make room for them. And because all of that takes work it definitely makes me think twice about what I buy in the first place.

"Those in place boundaries and limits keep me in check."

Isn't that wonderful? I had never considered that once I run out of space, I need to stop buying that thing. I have a little shelf for my cookbooks. It fits the ones I use, and one or two extra. And I don't need anymore. Truthfully, I won't use any more than those. And so next time I'm out and see a great deal on a good cookbook, I DON'T BUY IT!

Currently I have containers for the boys' books (means that they can only pull out one box of 20 or so books at a time), containers for the boys' toys (one group of toys per box, with lids) and a container for my cleaning supplies (which ports around the house quite nicely!) I also recently finished organizing the basement into storage totes - no more mismatched boxes piled in the corner. And every time I organize into containers, it makes me really question whether or not I need this item. I used to be terrible for "I might use this one day." Now I limit myself to things I really do use (plus one or two boxes for things of a sentimental nature). My storage boxes are mostly for seasonal items (clothes that rotate, or winter/summer sports equipment). I access those boxes almost daily, which tells me I'm not hoarding, just organizing.

Any other fantastic organizing tips out there that you've found really work for you?

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Olympic junkies

James and I have become Olympic junkies! I think for me it's part of my athlete past - I know and love that feeling of sport, the high of competition, the grueling training of your body. Although I don't compete anymore, I still love to participate in any way I can.

Plus, the only channel we really get on our television is showing non-stop Olympic coverage over these two weeks. So there isn't any other choice. But I really am enjoying catching all these sports. The best part, I think, is how all the coverage makes the average viewer feel like an expert in all these sports. Seriously - James and I now watch snowboard cross and short track speed skating and skating and ski jumping and make comments like:

"I knew he was going to miss that jump - his approach was way too fast!"
"She started out too strong - she won't have enough endurance to finish it out."
"Just take it easy and then pass on the next jump."
"Come on - you've won all the races on the circuit so far this year - you can win this one!"

From having been in sports competitions in the past, I also really feel the successes and the failures. When I played high school field hockey, we would trounce every school in our area during the season, and then lose the final to the same team to go to the provincial championships 1-0. Every year I played we lost to that same school. It was heartbreaking. I remember going back to watch the final when I was in my first year university, and found tears in my eyes when our school lost again. Every athlete knows the elation of a win and the heartbreak of a loss. And I sympathize with all these Olympians as they go through their ups and their downs. I'm not sure it's good for my heart to get going so fast that late at night - it doesn't help with sleeping!

Nevertheless, I will be sad when these games end. I enjoy the winter Olympics so much more than summer - perhaps because these sports are so much faster because of the skates and skis. Speed makes things that much more exciting. But there are always another set of athletes and another Olympics. Sure, it may be another 20 years before it's in Canada again (maybe Quebec?), but at least every four years we are guaranteed another chance to cheer on our country and our competitors.

One last note about Canada - I can't believe how our country has united together in these games. I have my own pair of red Olympic mittens, and there's a little swell of pride from within whenever I see someone else sporting a pair. It's like a little bond between strangers in a common land. I think one day I'd like to volunteer in an Olympic Games, just to be up close and part of the action. My Dad's family live in the Greater Vancouver area, and have said it's been a wonderful experience to be a part of.

We Canadians have an international reputation for being the nice guys - but I think we've shown we have a fantastic spirit also.

Thursday, 18 February 2010


On his crayon drawing (inspired by the movie "Up"):

"Look at the sky all tucked around the sun. It's that way because God made Paradise falls."


Because of the cold weather, I hired my friend's 13 year old son to walk Colin home from school each day (so I don't have to take Benjamin out in -20 C weather and winds) We know this friend and her son well and have played over at their house numerous times. I asked Colin how the first walk home went, and he responded "Great! Grant is my buddy. I'm going to invite him to my birthday party, because he's my best friend." When I recounted the conversation to my friend, she smiled and said Grant is the type of kid who would definitely come. Have I mentioned how much I love our little town and the wonderful friends we've made here?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Valentine's Day

This year for Valentine's Day James and I had the opportunity to do something a little out of the ordinary. Usually we would head out for a nice dinner, just the two of us. Well, this year involved dinner, but with a little bit of a larger crowd.

Friends of ours invited us, along with 3 other couples, to participate in a evening with a Viet-Thai chef! The chef, Sally, owns their favourite Thai restaurant in a nearby town. One of the services she offers is to come to your home and show you how to cook Thai food. Although it is a little expensive, once the cost was divided between the 8 of us, it actually ended up being about the same price as going out to our local Thai food restaurant.

We had a blast. We had a coconut soup, fresh spring rolls, Pad Thai (our favourite, and the entire reason we went!), Coconut curry tofu and vegetables on jasmine rice, and a special Thai dessert. We floated between the kitchen and the dining room, learning from Sally, trying our hand at the cooking, and then indulging in our creations. The food was delicious and the company enjoyable. All the guests attend our church congregation, but none were couples that we regularly hang out with. It was nice to get to know them, laughing as we shared stories and a passion for eating (and now cooking) Thai food.

Bonus: Sally left us with a gift bag of food goodies: noodles, rice, wraps, and 4 different sauces we used in creating the dishes. We are so grateful for this new knowledge. I'm a pretty good cook, having learned over the years of marriage; there has only been one misfire. I tried once to make Pad Thai, and it was so bad we actually threw it out and ordered pizza. That was the only time in six and a half years of marriage that we ever tossed something we tried to make. I haven't tried since then, but after this weekend's lesson, I feel pretty confident to try once more!


On compassion:

When Caleb was playing with a toy Colin wanted, Colin threw a fit and pronounced "Fine then. I'm not playing with you anymore, Dad." Colin proceeded to stomp off upstairs. Caleb, a little worried, ran after him, offering the toy in his outstretched hand, pleading "Here, Colin. You have it. Just please still play with Daddy!"


I recently purchased a DVD set that goes through 5 different types of exercise routines, one of which is Yoga. One morning last week while Colin was at school, I did the Yoga routine for the first time. Caleb saw what I was doing and stood right alongside for the entire length of the workout, concentrating hard on the woman showing the poses and doing his best to imitate her and I. This morning he found the DVD case and came running to me:

"Mommy, let's play yoga!"

Thursday, 11 February 2010

I'm the Mommy, he's the Daddy

I love how the boys seem to have James and my roles defined in their own way. James is playing with the boys, when all of a sudden they break from the game and run all around the home to find me: "Mommy, I'm thirsty, I need a drink of water!" Then I hear from the other room "Hey boys - I can get you a drink." But nope - apparently Daddy plays and Mommy takes care of them.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

A little bit of philosophy

No, I won't be expounding on any philosophical conversations here. I just wanted to pay tribute to a couple of very good friends with whom I enjoy long visits a couple of times a year. It was just a couple of weekends back that Kevin and Mike dropped in again for the morning, lunch and afternoon. You see, once the conversation gets flowing around all things philosophical, it's hard to find a natural ending point! (We ended up having to reluctantly bring things to an end when I had to pick up Colin from school. I can certainly understand why some of the great thinkers of our time speak about conversations lasting until the wee hours of the morning, and even past that. Time seems to stand still when you're discussing ideas that go outside the realm of reality.)

I can't even begin to list the ideas and people we covered. The natural flow of conversation, to be sure, led us all around the world, spanning many eras, meeting different philosophers. All throughout we added our own two cents, wondering how this person might have felt about that person, discussing the ups and downs of different modes of thought, hashing out the age old philosophical questions. We talked about the merits and downfall of different pieces of literature and film, personal favourites and those things that caused us to cringe. We spoke of books we had read, introducing each other to new ideas and thoughts. We pondered on society and its rules, morals, ethics. We simply let the conversation guide itself, following wherever it led.

These are my absolutely favourite types of conversations. My brain is stimulated, my memory stretched, my debate skills honed, and my mind enlightened. They happen far too seldom, due to distance, time commitments, family, and work obligations. I can recall reading about C.S. Lewis, and how he would spend hours on end in the evenings with a group of friends (including J.R.R. Tolkien) in such a manner, and I yearn for a chance to engage more regularly in such an activity. All well. There is a time and a season for all things, and although I am not in a place or time to welcome friends to sit out on the back deck and while away the evening hours in pleasant philosophical conversations right now, I shall be sure to try and have them more than once a year!

Monday, 8 February 2010


Today is Monday. Today marks the first day back into the swing of things as a mother of three. Unfortunately, it is also marred by the end of an icky cold that got to everyone in the family - including Benjamin. So right after getting Benjamin used to sleeping in a bed by himself, he's sick again and all over the place with sleeping and eating. Plus he's so stuffy he needs to be upright again, which means even less sleep for me and my cold.

On the upside, however, I had a fairly good morning. Day one of working out at home, which I've never done before. I bought a workout kit that came with 5 DVDs: including yoga, tai chi, fitness, pilates and personal training. A different workout for each morning, to keep things interesting. This morning I thought I'd keep things low key with a short yoga workout (I'm still feeling the end of this illness). Caleb thought it was great and did all the moves along with me! If you're toddler hasn't done a workout with you before, you've got to try it. So cute, so hilarious!

After the workout Benjamin needed a feed, which coincided nicely with a radio broadcast I like to listen to (Focus on the Family). So by 9:30 I had worked out both my body and my spirit. Next on the agenda: cleaning.

I instituted Monday as cleaning day last year when Colin started preschool and it was just Caleb home with me. Caleb likes to watch/help me clean, so it's a relationship that works out well. While Benjamin was awake, he sat in his bouncy chair and watched Caleb and I dart around the main floor. I got through the cleaning the windows, dusting, vacuuming and half the sweeping before Benjamin had had enough. (And to be honest - I was tired by that time, too!) So I still have to mop, clean the kitchen counters, vacuum upstairs and do the bathroom, but I'm thinking I'll leave that for another day this week. Oh - I've also been loading up the laundry in between everything else. So all in all, I figure I can check off cleaning for today.

Things that didn't work out so well:

1) Nap timing. Caleb has been down for half an hour and Benjamin is due to wake up. Once Benjamin is feeling better I hope to coincide afternoon naps a little better.

2) Dinner plans. Because much of what we eat is frozen, it takes a little advance planning, which didn't happen. This isn't such a big deal, because we always have stuff for stir-fry. Not James' and the boys' favourite meal, but it is mine. Maybe I should make Monday stir-fry day, so that I don't have to worry about thinking ahead into the week on Sundays. I like having Sundays off.

Last week I organized for my friend's son to walk Colin home from school, at least for the month of February. We will pay him a small amount (it's only a 10 minute walk, twice a week), and it saves me from having to wake up the boys from nap and bundle them up to pick up Colin from school. Plus it's REALLY cold (-15C with the wind chill lately!) and I don't want to take Benjamin out for that long if I can avoid it. Today is the first day this will happen, so I'm anxious to see how it goes.

This entry feels more diary like than journal, but it's good to take stock of where you are, once in a while. I like a little order among the chaos in my life, and this helps me see the accomplishments and analyze the things which could be better. All in all, it has been a very fruitful exercise!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Mom and Dad

This week my parents, who have been living with us for the past 6 weeks, left for their new homeland of Australia. They, of course, wanted to be here for the birth of Benjamin, but my mom also wanted to stay for 4 weeks after the birth, to help out with Colin and Caleb and the housework, allowing me to concentrate on Benjamin and myself. (When Benjamin came nearly two weeks early, we scored an extra 2 weeks postpartum!) Our home doesn't have a guest room or a pull-out couch, and they were such good sports about crashing on the two mattresses from the bunk beds, laid out on the living room floor.

I have been getting so many comments about how good I look so few weeks after having a baby, and I contribute it all to the amazing help I received from my parents, and James (who took the month of January off). Many people have commented about how "lucky" I am to have had such help. It made me a little sad. That is such a "North-American" attitude to have. In many countries and cultures around the world, it would be the norm for a family to swoop in and devote such care to a new mom. But in this, our land of "independence", we seem to have eschewed much of the connectivity in families in exchange for the idea that "I can do it myself." In fact, someone "doing it all on their own" seems to be the model example to which we aspire. When did we decide that helping one another out was such a foreign idea? When did asking for help become a weakness?

I am beyond grateful for my parents' sacrifice. They had only just retired and had barely gotten off the boat in their move to Australia when they turned around and flew back to the cold winter of Canada to be here for me.

You took night shifts when Benjamin couldn't sleep.
You changed an endless amount of diapers.
You smiled when dragged from your bed at 7 in the morning.
You tirelessly cleaned every inch of the house.
You tackled the mounds of laundry, leaving every item but the clothes on our backs clean when you left.
You encouraged me to get out once in a while.
You dropped off and picked up Colin from school.
You entertained a toddler and a kindergartener while holding a newborn.
You appeared to enjoy every second of it.

You ticked off every item from my around-the-house-to-do-list.
You changed diapers.
You rocked Benjamin when he cried.
You got down on the floor to play with the boys.
You took out the garbage and recycling.
You taught me how to install a furnace humidifier.
You made shopping runs to the store.
You drove Colin to school.
You seemed to love every moment.

I have pondered the thoughts contained in this entry for the past two months. I have sat down numerous times to right them down, never really seeming to have the right words come. Even these sentences seem inadequate in conveying how I truly feel. But if no one else ever understands the gratitude in my heart from these words, I hope they will always serve as a reminder to me of the emotions I feel today. And all this was summed up between my mom and I as we said our quick goodbyes Wednesday, and tears filled both our eyes, a rarity for the two of us.

Thanks Mom and Dad. I love you.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Food, glorious food?

I heard a great talk by a nutritionist this morning. With a whole host of studies and credentials behind her name, I was glad to get to hear an honest and balanced view of food and eating.

Now, however, I am sort of wishing I had skipped it.

Okay, that's not true. But I went into the session feeling pretty good about my eating habits. We don't have chips and pop and cookies and the like in our home. We snack on fruits and vegetables and whole wheat crackers. We eat small portions of a balanced diet. We drink mainly water. We don't eat packaged/prepared foods and I try to cook as much from scratch as I can.

I still came away feeling like I might as well be eating from the four food groups of sugar, pop, chocolate and fat.

Here are some of the interesting facts I learned today:

1) Orange juice is useless as a vitamin C booster, especially when you're sick. The amount of sugar in the juice actually shuts down your immune system for about 5 hours!
2) Whole wheat crackers/pasta are really no better than their white counterparts.
3) Bran cereals are more sugar than fibre. To determine the amount of sugar (or things that become sugar (glucose) in your body ones metabolized), add the sugar, carb and fibre numbers on the nutritional label. Oh - and milk actually counteracts the fibre absorption.
4) The majority (not all, but most) cancers can be prevented through diet/lifestyle. Cancer cells "eat" sugar (glucose), and need an acidic environment in which to live. Therefore, try to eat foods that create an alkaline body (ph level between 7-8), rather than acidic.
5) Vegetables should still have a crunch to them when cooked, or you are getting almost no nutrients.
6) Milk (cow's milk, like we buy in the store) is fairly useless to us. It is not a good source of calcium.
7) Your metabolism can be controlled! Once you go longer than 3 hours without food, your body starts preparing for a fast, slowing down your metabolism. Eat something every 1.5 - 2.5 hours to counteract this. Also, muscle burns calories. 1 pound of muscle burns 60 calories every day. Without doing any exercise at all!
8) Running and heavy cardio can actually cause you to gain weight: when you are pushing your body hard for more than 30-45 minutes, your body starts to take from your muscles to supply the rest of your body. And so for every pound of muscle eaten away, you need to find a way to lost an additional 60 calories!
9) Eat carbs for fuel before exercising and protein to help repair afterwords. Otherwise your body starts to eat into your muscles again.
10) The most beneficial for of exercise is weight training. It builds muscle (which burns calories on its own!) and still gets your heart going (which is what cardio would do).
11) Remember that any form of "cleanse" or "flush" or "detox" flushes everything out. It gets rid of the bad...and the good. In 10 years of practice, our speaker only recommended 5 people actually do this. (Mainly to flush out a host of medications in the system).

Well, now you know. Do you wish you had stopped reading at the beginning? Don't you hate that knowledge = responsibility? I can honestly say that although there are some changes I will be making, I won't be drastically altering our food diet. I still think we do fairly well. And I just don't see my boys eating mounds of kale and turnip and carrot juice. This is definitely another step in my eye-opening journey about food. Each step gets me further down that path. Another small victory.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


Right now, at this very minute, there are three sleeping boys upstairs!

Two have been sleeping for an hour, and Benjamin has been sleeping almost 40 minutes. There is relief ahead!

It's amazing how little I still feel I know about raising kids. Sure, there's a lot I do by feel now, a lot that has become second nature. But last night I found myself flipping through another book, trying to refresh my memory about how a newborn should be sleeping! I remembered that eventually over the next month or two a baby settles into a morning and afternoon nap, and a late afternoon catnap. But a newborn? My mind was blank; it was as if I hadn't done it twice already before!

Thankfully, a friend loaned me a book that filled me in. In fact, a newborn's day is divided up by feedings: each two to three hour block involves eating, awake time, and a nap (about 1 1/2 - 2 hours of nap). Now, Benjamin is not sleeping that long on his own yet, but he has been doing a solid hour or so. On his own. In a crib. I also realized (thanks to the book) that when we started to fuss exactly 1 hour and 15 minutes after eating (like clockwork) he was actually over tired, not just gassy! And so I have been putting him down an hour after eating, and he just closes his eyes and goes to sleep!

That's a lot of exclamation points in one entry, but that's the best way I know to express my joy! Now all I have to do is work in getting Colin to school and back.

One mountain at a time.