Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Circles of Organization

I am not a naturally tidy person. Not that I don't love everything neat and tidy, it's just that it takes work for me to do it. My Nana and mother-in-law are both naturally tidy. They immediately see disorder and almost subconsciously clean as they go. I do give myself a bit of slack giving that I have three young children, but I always wondered why it was such a struggle for me to have everything in its place.

A new book provided some much needed insight for me. The author wrote of "Circles of Organization". You see, everything we do creates disorder, but we need to complete the circle by bringing things back into order. For example, when it is mealtime, we need to pull out food, dirty pots and pans, and use dishes. So often we consider mealtime over once we have eaten the food when in fact we are only part way through the job. Instead of designating the clean up as a separate job, which leave you open to leaving the clean up for another time, think of loading the dishwasher, putting away leftovers, wiping the table and doing the dishes as part of mealtime. Mealtime is not over until all that is done.

In her own wise words:

"As I observed women who seemed to be more organized, I discovered they move around their organization circles from order to disorder back to order again without getting stuck at the bottom of the circle. They make a mess as they fix lunch, bu then they stay until their kitchen is ordered again...

In other words, we may be juggling multiple circles of organization, but we shouldn't stay at the bottom of any one circle and let inertia trap us there in a place of disorder. We need to learn to finish. If we don't leave the dishes undone after breakfast, or clean the clothes unfolded on the couch, or an ongoing creative project on the table when we leave to pick up the kids from school, we will always be traveling toward the top of our organization circle (order).

This simple habit of finishing what we start will enable us to have more order in our lives. It allows us the freedom to have some messes out, but not have the whole house be a mess."

Isn't that brilliant? It will be, to any people out there who struggle, as I do, with restoring the home to order. It is simply a matter of finishing what I start.

My biggest problems occur in these areas:

- Diaper changing - too often I change a diaper and just leave the dirty one tucked away under the living room table rather than taking it immediately to the garbage.
- I rarely do a full clean-up in the kitchen after a meal, opting instead to get to the dishes after bedtime. Then I find myself exhausted from the day and grumpy at having to do the clean-up or simply leaving it to the morning. And there is little worse than a messy kitchen when you wake up.
- Laundry. Laundry, laundry, laundry, you are the bane of my existence! I always manage to get it into the washer and dryer, but the folding and, even worse, the putting away can sometimes linger on for days after.
- Coming in the from car. This always seems like such a chore, getting three kids in and out of coats and boots and lugging in bags and toys and food. I usually get the kids in the door, leaving a collection of items at the front door and a whole host of stuff still in the car.

At least now that I know my weaknesses, I can consciously try and finish those circles of organization more often. And I can tell you, it seems to be working! Even with the three boys running around, it isn't taking much more time to completely finish what I have started.

Granted, oftentimes multi-tasking is a necessity. The important thing to remember is not to start more projects/tasks than I can handle at one time. The author recommends starting with only two or three, and seeing how you manage. It will soon become second nature to understand how many things you can do at once and still bring them all back to order. My biggest problem is starting something I want to do because I want to do it right now. Just the other day I was in the middle of doing the laundry. Obviously I don't need to sit idle while the wash and dry cycles are going. But this particular day I wanted to do a little baking for my own purposes. Just as I was about to pull out the ingredients, I heard the dryer beep indicating the cycle was finished. I held the tantalizing recipe for gingerbread cake in my hand and paused in the kitchen. I considered getting the cake mixed and into the oven before folding the laundry, since I would have 45 minutes while the cake baked. But the more I thought about it, I realized that as soon as the cake was out we were leaving to pick Colin up from school and then heading out of town overnight. There was a good possibility that Benjamin might start to fuss or Caleb would wake up grumpy or I would remember something I forgot to pack...and the laundry would be left in the dryer. So I put the recipe back down and went to empty the dryer. I quickly folded the load, put it away, and then to my delight realized I still had just enough time to bake the cake. Once the cake was in the oven, I did the dishes and put on a light load in the dishwasher so that I would come home to an ordered home after our trip.

So that is a summary of my organization revelation this week. The book (called "Project: Organization") is full of great ideas to help get you organized around the home and in your life. Although many of them I simply don't have time to get to right now (each project takes 20 to 50 minutes, but with young children, it's often impossible to even find an extra 5 minutes!), I'm so glad to have learned this new finishing-things-off technique. Even James noted the other day how things seem to be a little less chaotic around the home. Success!


Mom: Why did you wear your clothes to bed last night instead of pajamas?
Caleb: Because when I wear pajamas, I can't feel my bones. I like to feel my bones.


Monday, 29 November 2010

For Careylee

There will likely be over 400 people this morning attending a funeral service for our friend Careylee. Loving mother to three beautiful young girls and long time best friend to her husband, she will be missed by all those who were touched by her loving spirit.

Both James and I had hoped to attend, but a last minute scramble at work and all our friends also trying to get to the service meant that we had no one local to babysit. I was about to get on the phone and call around to some acquaintances when a thought passed through my mind. Although I have known Careylee for three years, we were not intimate friends. It occurred to me that perhaps the best way I could show my love for her friendship was to watch the children of the other young moms who have known Careylee much longer. And so this morning I am watching the daughter of Careylee's best friend so that she may attend the funeral with her husband. Having never experienced the loss of someone so close, I can't imagine the exact feelings she is overwhelmed with. But I do understand that in such tragic circumstances the desire to have your husband standing at your side, holding your hand, holding you up.

Pondering on life when it ends always leads my thoughts toward the great plan God has created for us. Knowledge of who we are, where we came from, where we are going, where loved ones are who have already left this earth...there is great comfort in this knowledge, for which I am eternally grateful.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Soloist in training

It's no surprise to anyone who knows us that we love music. James sings, I play a variety of instruments, and music is a part of every day here at the Gawthroupe home.

A couple of weeks back Colin sang his very first solo in church. All the children (60 or so) from the church put on the Primary presentation. This is a yearly event that takes the place of traditional talks/sermons. The children have short readings and talks and scripture passages, and sing about ten songs they have learned over the year. Every child has their moment at the pulpit microphone to speak something. Colin had a short reading, but was also asked to sing a song and share his enthusiasm he shows each week during music time at church.

I wasn't sure how Colin would react once he was standing in front of the congregation of 150 people, so I suggested James stand alongside Colin and sing with him. We practiced a bit at home, but Colin already knew the song from singing it week to week at church. During the first rehearsal, Colin took his place in front of the microphone, and James stood just behind and to the side. Colin started loud and clear: "I wonder when He comes again, will herald angels sing?" As James started to chime in on the second line, Colin (without missing a beat) sharply brought up his hand to cut James off. I, at the piano, did all I could to stifle my laughter. In the end, Colin sang his little heart out, hitting every line, if not every note.

The day of the presentation went off without a hitch. Colin even sang the second verse with the rest of the children singing in the background. This is a proud mama moment: he was the star of the show. His confidence and smile and memorization wowed everyone and made me beam and my heart burst with pride.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Welcome Dominic

I am an auntie again! My sister Krystal gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Dominic John, on Tuesday. As Krystal spent the day here waiting for her labour to progress enough to go to the hospital, I was amazed at how much like Benjamin's labour it was. I was able to predict the time she would go to the hospital, and the time of birth within an hour! I have always thought that you must have to be mother of at least 8 children to be counted an expert, since kids and associative issues are so diverse as to eliminate the ability to rely on experience with only a couple children. But as I watched my sister give birth to her second baby, and as my sister-in-law and my brother-in-law's girlfriend are both expecting later this year, I feel a surge of knowledge within. I suppose I do have a small collection of wisdom. While not all of it will be applicable, certainly sharing my experiences might have some value to those just starting to walk the path of parenthood.

And so, I am an auntie again! The name Dominic is simply a name Krystal and Jesse liked, however John is for both my grandfathers. It is wonderful to celebrate the beginning of this tiny life.

The joy was tempered the next day, however, as I received a phone call letting me know of the passing of a friend. While I never had the chance to get to know Careylee really well, there is still a feeling of absence within me. She fought a courageous battle against cancer over the past year, but has now gone on to live with our Father in Heaven. She will watch over her three young daughters from there. Within 24 hours I experienced the true circle of life. I am grateful for the knowledge of life before earth and life afterward. It helps me to remember that the time we spend here is but a moment in eternity, that my family were together before we came here and will be together again once we leave.

Monday, 22 November 2010


When Benjamin has been apart from me for a length of time, even as short as 10 or 15 minutes, he loves to get back into my arms. As soon as he is passed to me or I pick him up, he gets this grin on his face, and then slaps his hands against me repeatedly, one against my chest and the other against my back, as if to say "This is my mother. This is my mother."


I love that Colin uses adverbs properly, when the vast majority of the population doesn't. It's so cute to hear a four year old say "I want that very badly."


(overheard from the kitchen, Colin talking to Caleb)

"Just hold still for a minute...I just need to drill into your ear...."


The conversation at dinner tonight (James was at work late) warmed my heart. Colin and Caleb were discussing just how much they loved me. "I love Mommy 100." "I love Mommy 101." "I love Mommy to the moon." "I love Mommy right up into outer space." I love Mommy a thousand." "I love Mommy after a thousand." "I love Mommy above everything." Yes, that is a game I like to play!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Bored with cooking

I am bored with cooking.

I haven't been grocery shopping in three weeks. Other than picking up milk at Wal-Mart, we've basically been living off the fridge, freezer and food storage. We've been super busy and I haven't really had much time to go, but since my grocery store is open 24 hours, I supposed that's not really an excuse. Really, I think it's just that I'm bored with cooking.

The passion to meal plan, the desire to create new and exciting meals or whip up an old favourite is gone. I hope the rut is temporary, because sooner or later I'm going to have to get myself in gear for the good and nutrition of my family, and I'd much rather want to do it than do it out of obligation only.

I was reading over at the "Heavenly Homemakers" blog tonight, which I haven't been able to do lately. Laura is the one who inspired me on my current food journey of healthy homemade foods in the first place; perhaps she can inject some life into my kitchen once again. She actually meal plans every meal for the entire week. Maybe I'll just copy her menu for a couple weeks and see where I get. Her food always looks so yummy.

So I must beat the blahs, banish them away! Winter isn't even here yet, so I've still got 6 months of cold and snow to get through. I can't be gotten down so early in the season.

Hmmm. Interestingly enough, I think the flame was lit in just writing about this. Yes, there is definitely a spark of interest. I wonder what will be on the menu for dinner tomorrow...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Finding the gems amid the rubble

The following quote describes exactly how I feel about all those books out there, and why I tend to stick to reading "the classics:"

Emerson said, "There are 850,000 volumes in the Imperial Library in Paris. If a man were to read industriously from dawn to dark for sixty years, he would die in the first alcove. Would that some charitable soul, after losing a great deal of time among the false books and alighting upon a few true ones, which made him happy and wise, would name those which have been bridges or ships to carry him safely over dark morasses and barren oceans, into the heart of sacred cities, into palaces and temples."

(Harvard Classics Reading Guide, p. 11)

Friday, 19 November 2010

Christmas traditions

Traditions are such an important part of family, and there is no easier time of year than Christmas to establish and hold to traditions. This year we started something new, that was so much fun.

In the past, and even growing up, decorating for Christmas was always a family event. And while putting up the Christmas tree is always something kids love, decorating the rest of the home always lost my interest. I found the same thing with my boys: once the tree is done, the party is over and mom is left getting everything else out.

A friend told me how she loves to decorate for any holiday she can. She hits the dollar store and spends about $10, then decorates at night after the kids have gone to bed. She loves to see their faces when they come down in the morning and discover a wonderland of colour in the reds and whites of Valentines Day or the green of St. Patricks or the pastels of easter or the fall colours of autumn.

So this year I thought I'd try it her way. While the boys were napping, I got everything out and decorated the house, including some new things the boys hadn't seen yet. Their faces when they came down were priceless. The look of awe and wonder glowing in their eyes as they bounded around the home, discovering each new thing will forever be imprinted on my mind. Then, altogether, we put up the Christmas tree, then waited for James to get home from work to decorate it. After the lighting of the tree, we all went out for Christmas dinner at Swiss Chalet. My hope is actually to make a big homemade Christmas turkey dinner to kick off the season, but the whole idea occurred to me too late in the day to get that together. But that's my hope for next year.

Today and tomorrow

This is a great reminder for all of us moms with young children, caught in the daily throes of toddler drama and personality quirks and discipline debacles. I can remember when Colin was about two and his little "stubborn" personality was emerging, and I made very sure to always call him "strong-willed" rather than stubborn. Stubborn has a negative connotation to it, whereas strong-willed insinuates something positive.

The following is a list from "The Power of Moms" online contributor Chantal Sego. As she reflected on her own three year old daughter and the challenges she faced while raising her, she challenged herself to adjust her perspective. She wrote down all the personality traits her daughter displayed today, and then pondered on what those traits might develop into in the future, and how they might become useful skills. I think it is important to remember that our little ones are just that...little, new to the world, raw materials full of passion and not yet in control of themselves. As mothers, it is our job to help them reach their full potential, embracing their individuality and developing it as they grow.

Today she is...... Tomorrow she will be...

An instigator......... A leader
Argumentative...... Articulate

Thursday, 18 November 2010


"Mom, I see the moon! Well, sometimes I call it the moon, and sometimes I call it "Dreamworks." On the moon is where they make movies."


"Mom, look, the clouds are moving! They move because of the snow. The snowflakes are inside the clouds and they push the clouds along."


"I was trying to get my school bag off, but it was fighting with my coat. They had a big fight, but eventually my coat won and I got my bag off."

Monday, 15 November 2010


A good friend gave a talk (sermon) during our church Sacrament meeting this past Sunday on motherhood and raising the bar on raising our children. It was very inspirational. She spoke about intentional parenting, about the need to have goals and plans in raising our kids. It was a great reminder about something I feel is really important.

I read a study once in which university students from Harvard were interviewed on whether or not they had a written plan on what they hoped to achieve in their careers. Only about 7% had written their goals down. When interviewed some years later, 97% of those who had written down their goals had achieved that which they planned. How incredible is that!

Back to my friend's talk. She made a very poignant confession: that although she is a stay-at-home-parent, many days she feels she is the "stay-at-home" part but not so much the "parenting" part. How easily I identify with this! So many days I am at home with my kids, and I scurry around trying to tidy and cook and clean, and what little parenting I do is reacitve rather than purposeful.

But with a plan...what could be accomplished with a plan! There is a great commercial on television right now that has altered the lyrics to the "Wizard of Oz" song "If I only had a brain" to "If I only had a plan." A married couple sing about all the financial things they could do, like save for tomorrow, pay for college, go on vacation, if they only had a plan. Enter a financial planner, who offers to help them create and write down a financial plan that will help them achieve all their goals and dreams. The ad is a little on the cheesy side, but it has stuck with me because it rings true. If you aim for nothing, you are sure to hit it.

James and I are preparing for our first official sit down parenting planning meeting. Over dinner next week, we plan on coming together and sharing our ideas for specifically over the next year, and generally over the next five and ten years. Once we share our ideas, we'll come up with a plan that will include goals we'd like our kids to reach, as well as personal and family goals, and the steps we might need to take to reach them. Then I'll write it all down and have it somewhere private, and yet visible for James and I to see a daily reminder about the plan.

It will be exciting to do this again next year, and also to evaluate how the year past went. Hopefully some, if not all, of the goals will have been realized. And if we fell short in some areas, at least we will have lived more purposeful lives. I think that even if specific goals are not accomplished, when you are living day to day in working toward something, there will be progress of some sort no matter what, even if it isn't in the direction you had planned.

Friday, 12 November 2010

When God grants me peace

I just got back from the hospital again. Colin developed a bit of an infection in his eye post-surgery, which meant a trip back to the eye clinic to have it checked out (and anti-biotics prescribed.)

As I was driving down, I found my mental state was calm. Calm and peace is all I have felt throughout the past few days concerning this surgery. I didn't realize how strange this was until I was speaking with friends, my mom, my grandmother and my husband about the whole ordeal. Every one I spoke to told me how nervous and tense they have been, or would have been, in this situation. My mom reminded me about a surgery I had just before I was one year old, and she was a basketcase. My grandmother said her anxiety would have started just with the drive down into the city. James said he didn't sleep at all the night before. Most people have mentioned how brave I was to take Colin down there on my own the day of the surgery. (That wasn't planned, but a last minute cancellation of our babysitter meant James had to stay back with the other boys.)

And through it all, I didn't blink once. As I think back on it, it seemed to me nothing more than another appointment to go to. I drove down just as if I was driving to school. We stood in line patiently to register as if I was signing him up for soccer. We laughed and joked and discussed the things we saw around us, just as we would on any other day. He went off to surgery and I went to the waiting room, as if I was sending him off to his Primary (church) class and I was going off to Sunday School. I waited in the parent's lounge, reading a parenting book and making notes on some plans I have for our family direction. When it was all over, I sat at Colin's side and told him "Mario and Luigi" stories like I do at bed time. Then we got in the car and drove home.

This morning, when his eye was red and puffy and closing up, I pulled out the phone and called the hospital, just like I would make any other phone call. They asked how long it would take me to drive to the hospital - when I said "an hour and a half" and they booked me for an appointment in exactly an hour and a half, there was no panic inside, no worry for the immediacy of the appointment. I just gathered up a book, a movie and my wallet and off we went.

Even now I have no "after-hours" anxiety, now that it's all done. It was as though it was just another ordinary day.

But I know that I have been blessed with the gift of peace from my Father in Heaven. Even my laid-back style of mothering would usually have cracked under such circumstances. And yet there is peace. I am reminded of this beautiful scripture:

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled , neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)

This week I have been granted that peace. Not just for a moment, or a day, only to be done with the ordeal and be suddenly overwhelmed with pent-up anxiety and worry. This week I was granted peace in its entirety. What a wonderful gift.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

An early day at the hospital

Today we finally had Colin's eye surgery. Nearly two years after being referred, we had our appointment at Sick Kids hospital in Toronto.

What a day. It began at 4:30 am, since we had to arrive at the hospital by 6 am. Although I was bleary-eyed at 4:30, I found that by 5 am I was doing okay. I thought I would just carry Colin to the car where he would sleep again, but he was up and chipper as ever. We had a typical car ride, filled with questions from Colin's inquiring mind. We chatted about the string of green lights on Broadway (the main street in town) and why they were all green (the early hour of day). We talked about the lighted skyline of the GTA and distance and perspective. We talked about the different dividers used on highways, and their various functions. You know - typical 4 3/4 year old chatter. (He told everyone who asked him today that he is 4 and 3/4 years old.)

Once we arrived (right on time!) at the hospital things moved along nicely. We went to one desk to sign in, then to the next floor for Colin to change into hospital clothing, then to another room to wait to see the surgeon. There wasn't even time to open up a movie or a book; once Colin took in his new surroundings we were whisked onto the next place. My favourite part of the day was right when they had to take Colin off in one direction as they ushered me to the parents' waiting area. There was a little section of the room that had about 6 of those "Step 2" brand ride 'em cars that you push along with your feet, a la "Fred Flinstone", and Colin got to choose one to "drive" to the operating room! It was such a great idea, and it put a smile on my face, erasing any moment I might have had to feel anxiety as they led him away.

The parents' waiting room was full, even at that early hour (it was now about 8 am.) A few of us chatted about our children, and I felt so blessed by our situation. While surgery of any kind is always a big deal, so many of the parents I met were dealing with issues that are so huge, life-altering situations, some of which these parents will continue to deal with their entire lives. One father was their with his nine year old son - the boy's twin was at home that day, but the family had visited Sick Kids over 75 different times. Both twins have a severe form of autism and a whole host of other problems since birth. I was in absolutely awe of this father as he displayed a formidable force of patience trying to calm his anxious son, as the boy had no other way to express his anxiety than by throwing himself around and yelling. I spoke at length with a mother whose life was turned upsidedown when her daughter was born. The mother and father had been living in Sudan helping displaced refugees. The mother came home just to give birth, with the intention of returning immediately afterward. But the health issues of the baby made it impossible, since the baby would need constant hospital visits for the rest of her life.

The courage of these parents is beyond measure.

So there we all were, in the lounge. There was a huge display screen, very much like at an airport announcing the flight departures and arrivals, that had the initials of all the children in surgery, and their status (waiting, O.R, recovery.) Over a hundred eyes nervously glanced up and down from the screen, waiting for the little teddy bear to appear next to their child's name, indicating that we could be escorted to our child's side. I barely had time to grab a hot smoothee and read a bit of my book before it was my turn to head out from the waiting room and into recovery to see Colin.

Colin was such a trooper. The nurses were astonished at how "obedient" he was (their word, not mine.) He didn't pull at his I.V. or try and rip off his bandage. He sat up and lied down when asked. By the time I could come in, he was already awake from the anesthetic. He lied in the bed so quietly I worried a little. The other children around him were either crying and thrashing or sitting up and chatting. But my little Colin was just lying quietly. We only spent another 20 minutes or so before we were discharged. And just like that, it was all over, before lunch had even come.

One other notable thing: we have a portable DVD player that is perfect for things like this. I asked Colin what movie he would like to watch, and he chose "Dumbo." What is interesting is that he hasn't chosen Dumbo to watch in many months, maybe even over a year. But when he had his last surgery, two years ago, "Dumbo" is what he watched in the hospital then. Colin has very strong associative tendencies. I gave him a salami sandwich the first day of school last year, and that's all he wants every day for school, going on a year and a half now. So I'm not surprised that, consciously or sub-consciously, he chose the same movie to watch at the hospital this go around.

Now he's home and in recovery. We will have to go back in a few weeks for a post-op, and then again in a few months to have the tube removed that is forming the new tear duct. But all in all, a resounding success. It is strange to think that this block tear duct, that has been a part of who Colin is since he was born, will all be clear now.

Here is a photo of our little trooper:

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Happy Birthday Caleb!

Today Caleb turns three years old. There is something about 3 that suddenly seems like a little boy; to me, it's the age that my baby isn't my baby anymore. Although we still have lots of cuddles all around in this family, three is a reminder that they won't be little for long.

Caleb started his celebrations today by...sleeping in! That's right, he didn't wake until 6:30 am! It threw the whole morning off, because James had to be out early for work, but of course we had to do a big pancake breakfast and presents.

Caleb, Colin and I all waited at the top of the stairs while James readied the video camera. I remember my parents always made us wait on Christmas morning, and that extra 2 or 3 minutes were absolutely tortuous! James and I had decorated the kitchen last night so as to surprise Caleb this morning. As we sat waiting on the stairs, we only had a view of the living room (undecorated). As the living room came into view, Caleb stopped, and said sadly "There are no birthday decorations! Why are there no birthday decorations?" "Do you wish you had some decorations for today?" I inquired. "Yes," Caleb replied. "Maybe we can go to the store and get some later."

Cue the camera, and set Caleb off downstairs...you should have seen the look of wonder when he walked into the decorated kitchen. Streamers, banners, balloons, and a big stack of presents on the kitchen table. It was priceless.

The stack of presents was from James and I. A trip to the toy store the other day didn't yield any tips on what Caleb might like for his birthday gift. Mostly his interests are whatever Colin is doing. But one thing Caleb loves is dressing up in costumes (Score! His birthday is right after Halloween!) So I picked up a pile of superhero costumes for him. Batman, Spiderman, Ironman, and a pirate. There was pure happiness written all over his face as he tore open each package.

We got a webcam call from my parents in Australia. How cool is it that at the click of a button we can see them "face to face," and chat as if they were in the room? They sang "Happy Birthday" to Caleb. I'm pretty sure the singing of the birthday song is Caleb's favourite part of the celebrations.

Later tonight we are having hot dogs, french fries and chocolate cake (at the birthday boy's request.) Caleb's birthday kicks off a 6 week birthday extravaganza in our house, with all three boys' birthday in the next 6 weeks (as well as my nephew and arriving-any-day-new-nephew!) I guess, in our house, we sort of do have a holiday between Halloween and Christmas!

Here are some of my favourite things about Caleb:

I love his compassion. He is so attune to other people's emotions, and immediately wants to do what he can to help.
I love his grin. Still never really captured on camera, I may just have to hold this one in my memory. His eyes light up and his smile stretches from ear to ear. It warms my heart.
I love how he has embraced his role as big brother. He is always watching out for Benjamin, finding him a soother or a toy, trying to sing or clap to cheer Benjamin up when he's crying, asking him if he is okay or if he needs anything, or letting me know when Benjamin might be in trouble.
I love his train of thought. He has definite ideas he wants to express, even if there are a few detours to get there.
I love that he loves to pray. He always asks each of us what we are thankful for and what we would like to ask God for. Then he scrunches his eyes shut and does his very best to remember each and every detail.
I love that he loves to sing. He doesn't always remember all the words, but he makes something pretty good up for the lapses of memory. His favourite music selections are "Thriller" by Michael Jackson and anything by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I love when he tries to say "Mormon Tabernacle Choir." He usually gets the "choir" part, and rolls over the rest. It comes out different every time.
I love his cuddles. He loves to sit on my lap when I read to him. (He always finds a good book for Benjamin to read so that Benjamin will be happy on the floor instead of on my lap.) When Caleb is tired, he loves to hop on my lap and cuddle into my arms.
I love how he lights up when you walk in the door. James gets this every day. I get to experience it much less, but when I do get to walk in after a short absence, there is nothing like being greeted by Caleb charging at the door, eyes shining, smile shining, and then having him leap up into your arms, throw his arms around your neck and bury himself in you. This is what being a mother is all about.

I love you, kiddo.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Up and running again

The flu seems to have passed. I was so glad to wake up this morning and feel normal again, without even a hint of the "day after recovery" tiredness that usually accompanies illness. Nope, just right up and into the saddle again.

The biggest blessing was that I didn't have three days to catch up on. My wonderful, fantastic husband jumped right in where I left off. After arranging to get off early from work, he picked up Colin from school, made dinner, did dishes, cleaned up, and even threw in not one, but four loads of laundry, when he noticed the boys were out of pajamas. In the midst of that, he also planned a potluck dinner for our church tonight, along with a presentation on missionary work that he is in charge of. My husband rocks! I am so blessed.

My favourite part of when James takes over is when he dresses the boys. He always chooses orange-coloured clothing for them to wear - his favourite colour. It makes me smile when I come down to see all of them dressed, decked out in orange.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Managing the candy

Halloween night last only an hour or so, but the reprecutions can last for weeks.

Our neighbourhood is great for trick-or-treating (in my opinion, as a mother). The houses are spread far apart, and we actually only have houses on one side of the street. So by the time the kids are tired, they have really only hit 20 homes or so. Which translates into about 30 pieces (thanks to the homes who like to dole out more than one piece to cute children.)

I have always been on the side of allowing my boys one piece of candy a day. That way I can somewhat manage the sugar-highs and rotting of the teeth. But here are two other ideas shared by friends this week, both of which I think are good options.

1) Apparently, dentists say that having a lot of candy for a short period of time is better than long, drawn out exposure. The suggestion here is to allow your kids as much candy as they want for a week, and then toss whatever is leftover. What about the sugar overload affecting their behaviour? Well, you will have that to contend with, but at least it is only for a week. My friend suggests getting your kids outside to wear off the energy, or even running around the house. They made a game of it in their home: my friend would give them fun tasks to do, like running upstairs and finding something red and bringing it down, then going back up for something blue, etc.

2) The trade-in method actually might be my favourite. This idea eliminates all the extra candy that your kids don't really like but they will eat anyway, simply because it is there. (You know, all those little sugary bites, or the caramel toffee, or the candy cones. I can't believe I used to eat those!) Let your kids pick 10 pieces of candy they really like, then have them "trade-in" the rest for a small amount of money to hit the dollar store with. Truly, my kids would be happy with a dollar and a small toy, and they wouldn't even miss all that extra candy.

I love trading ideas with other moms. I was completely convinced that the one candy a day was the best (and only) way to manage Halloween candy. Now I've got three tricks in my bag. Do you have any other ideas or tips?

Nasty flu

Nasty flu.

Go away.

You are not welcome here.


Caleb, Benjamin and I have all had the flu this week. Caleb had it first, and it only presented on him as a faint body rash. Benjamin had it next, but it was just a high fever. Now I've got it, but it is just severe body aches. Funny how the same virus can affect all of us in completely different ways. Just a reminder that we are all unique.


On the other hand, flu,

I am grateful you have not brought copious amounts of vomit.

Thank you.

Trying to see the positive spin.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Writing away

Have I ever caught the writing bug! I've always been a writer at heart, scribbling stories and scripts and poetry and journals, and, more lately, blogs. I haven't written much in the past 5 years or so. Sure, I've been busy with pregnancies and babies, but it hasn't even been that. I always found it much harder to write in periods of life when I'm content. There is something about angst and unsettled feelings that lend themselves to writing. Writing is cathartic, I suppose.

At any rate, with two Christmas programs to write, I was starting to psych myself up into writing mode again. Then, a new opportunity presented itself to write a short film script for a church production. I accepted the assignment without hesitation. It wasn't until I got home that I started to worry a little. Did I still have it in me to write something like this? Penning my own life experiences on a blog is one thing - that is simply recording what happens day to day, and what thoughts are swirling in my head. But this - this was something that could potentially evolve into paid work!

As I sat down last night to start the research and reading and maybe even writing, I accidentally happened across an opportunity to submit an essay on motherhood, for consideration for publication in a book! I was excited just thinking about it! Inspiration started flashing through my mind. My fingers were itching to get typing to express the ideas overflowing. I looked for the submission deadline - two weeks away! My heart sank. That would never be enough time.

I started to push it from my mind, but then reconsidered. I had a few hours in the evening to spare. I would just start writing and see what happened.

I wrote for a couple of hours, and found that I easily met the 2500 word quota. Words tumbled into sentences as thoughts formed on the page. When I came to the end, I reread it once, then attached it to an email and sent it off. Just like that! I knew that I didn't have time to mull it over and make revisions. If I did that, I might forget and let the deadline slip by. No, this was the way to do it. If the editors liked it, I'm sure they would let me make a few revisions, if they felt it necessary.

In the hours after I sent it, of course I had more ideas, other lead-ins, different stories, more concise ways to express myself. But it was done. My hope now is that, should it be the direction they want to take, the editors will see something in the natural manner in which I wrote.

Then, this morning, I pulled out the research again for the short film, and in less than an hour I had the script written. Many artists will talk about true inspiration as being simply expressing something that is already there. For example, a music composer will say they simply heard the song first and were just putting it on paper. Or, a sculptor will say that the statue was already there, hidden in the marble, and they simply had to chip away the parts that didn't belong to reveal the work of art beneath. That is how it was for me this morning - the film was already playing in my mind, and I just had to get it down into script format.

What a rush! I feel exhilarated! Now I've got those two Christmas programs to pull together. But after that, perhaps there are a few more things swirling in my mind waiting to be written...

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


Another Halloween come and gone.

As Halloween fell on a Sunday this year, we chose not to trick-or-treat on October 31st. However, we had a plethora of other activities in which to take part and wear our costumes (a total of 5 for each of the older boys!)

From school parties to birthday parties to the town's Broadway street trick-or-treat to dropping in a good friend to the yearly "trunk-or-treat" event, the boys had a blast. Caleb wore a different costume for each of his parties. Colin wore his "Mr. Incredible" to everything except the final event, the trunk-or-treat.

Here is what the three boys went as to that main event (the trunk-or-treat):

Alvin, Simon and Theodore, otherwise known as the Chipmunks!

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Christmas season has begun!

I'm so glad that Canadian Thanksgiving is in October, because that means once Halloween is past and November 1 arrives, I can break out all things Christmas and people won't think I'm too crazy.

So, fair warning, as of today, November 1st, this blog may contain Christmas references, ideas, plans, and joy.

I've got my plate full this season, but somehow planning Christmas concerts never seem overwhelming to me. If there is music involved, it soothes my soul rather than ruffles it.

I've got 5 concerts with our community band.
I've got 3 shows with the Nativity pageant I'm directing for the city of Brampton.
I've got 2 concerts with our church stake choir.
I've got 1 Christmas program (stories and music) to write and produce for our ward Christmas party.
I've got 1 Christmas program (readings and music) to write and produce for our ward Christmas service.

In the next couple of weeks I will pull down all the fall decorations and put up the Christmas ones. Okay, not the tree yet, but I will spread a little Christmas cheer around the house. It's so much easier and more conducive to creating these Christmas programs if I have a joyous Christmas atmosphere. And now I can also blast some Christmas tunes (I admit we've had a few days already of playing holiday songs, but we've kept the volume low.)

The Christmas season has begun!

Naming toys

Colin and Caleb completely captured all the stereotypes of story narration when they named their two small Bakugon toys (fighting animals that transform into a ball):

"Good Guy Don't Die"
"Who's the Fastest?"