Monday, 31 January 2011


This past weekend found me at my sister-in-laws home for a long, intimate chat about motherhood. She is due with her first baby, due to arrive mid-March, and as she doesn't have any sisters, I offered to share my experiences so far with motherhood, labour, delivery, and all the wonderful and crazy changes she's about to go through.

I'm not sure I've ever sat in one place and spoken with one person so long - five hours we passed in her living room, chatting about a wide range of subjects. It was fantastic. I've never been able to spend much time alone with her, let alone that much uninterrupted and distraction-free. She had a whole list of questions and concerns, many of which I never would have thought to bring up.

As a consequence of our conversation, I was able to stand back and examine my own mothering philosophies. What I realized is that five years ago when I was in her same position, I never would have guessed the ideas and opinions and positions I would take.

I'm much more unconventional than I ever used to be. I wouldn't say I'm a "hippie," but compared to the relatively conservative and mainstream ideas I had before raising my children, I've strayed hugely from that path.

I have a set of cloth diapers that I use about 30% of the time. I haven't fully vaccinated my children (yet.) I have thoroughly researched homeschooling and I'm sure we'll do it one day. I try to use as natural of products as I can, meaning I try to only put on our bodies what we could also put in our bodies (ie: olive oil, oatmeal, natural soaps.) I use silver nanotechnology instead of chemical cleaning products. I breastfeed all the time, anywhere I need to, am still breastfeeding Benjamin at 13 months and I don't have any plans on cutting him off.

But, I would say my greatest philosophy (and consequently, advice) is to mother in moderation, and never say "never."

Mothering in moderation means that I don't ever take such a hard stance on something that I'm not willing to negotiate or bend a little. I try to stand by all my philosophies most of the time, while realizing that I might be making life harder for myself and my family if I don't at least consider change now and then.

Sometimes I consider something and agree to let it go. Like letting Grandparents ply my kids with sugar. It's not like their grandparents are doing this day in and day out, and the rest of the time with me they eat really healthy food. There have been a few days when this backfired on me, and poor Colin's stomach rebelled against the junk food, but that experience helped him realize that he needs to regulate himself. (By the way, it totally worked. He is always telling me that he needs to have healthy foods first and then only a small amount of junk food, so that his tummy feels okay.)

Sometimes I consider something and stand firm in my position. Like naptimes. My boys need their naps and if they miss it, get so incredibly grumpy and teary and have more melt-downs in an hour then they would usually have in a week. Plus it usually goes on for two or three days after a missed nap before they catch themselves up. So missing naptime is one I never give in to. Oh - look at that. I said "never," and that's not even really true. Over the five years, there have been two or three times that we intentionally missed nap, like on our day at Canada's Wonderland theme park. But I did bring strollers for all, a soother for Caleb, and blankets to help them get cozy. And Caleb did sleep for an hour or so.

The one other piece of advice I think is important is to read as much as you can, sift through it all, and then pick and choose what you think is best for you, your family, and your children. I don't think you can ever read too much, as long as you read with a discerning mind. Knowledge is power, and as a mother, you need all the power you can get!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Because he's that kind of husband

I write day in and day out about myself and the kids, but there is one very important person in our home that makes everything run smoothly, plus he keeps me sane and laughing each and every day.

He's my wonderful husband.

And lately I've noticed he has kicked into high gear in helping around the home. It's just little things - things like how I walked by the kitchen the other day and realized I didn't do that load of clean dishes in the dish rack. Or as I switch over the laundry from the washer to the dryer and find a dry load I didn't put in. Or how he rolls out of bed every day at 6am with the boys and lets me lie in for as long as I can (usually about another half an hour.) And really, it's those little things that make life roll along a little more smoothly and a little more pleasantly.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Because I'm that kind of wife

I know I'm opinionated and persistent. I often stick in my heels and insist on doing things my way. Well, when you're always right, why wouldn't you always want it done your own way? But this is a little story to show that I'm not obstinate just to be contrary. I have a rational mind that can be convinced with a little forethought and planning.

This story starts two days ago when my computer finally had it. The power connector inside the computer was so loose that it could no longer hold the power cord and keep a charge. So we yanked and pulled and wrangled one last time to do a complete backup of all the files, and then let her "go gently into that good night."

The next morning I sat in the living room of my friends house and told her how there was no way I was letting James buy me a new computer when he has two. My rant included arguments like "who needs three computers when there are people in this world without food?" and "he's just going to have to pick one to give up to me," and, of course "we absolutely do not need to spend the money on something as frivolous as a third computer." I told them how I knew James was going to insist that he needed both computers for work every day - the Apple for video editing and the PC for email and linking to his Blackberry. (Don't even get me started about the Blackberry.) And I told them that there was no way, no how, I was giving in and buying a new computer.

I was so firm, so persistent in my position, so sure that I was going to win this one.

Then I came home. I made lunch and put the boys down for nap. I made myself something to eat. And just at the moment when my hunger was satiated and my brain was enjoying some peace and quiet, James very calmly came upstairs.

He told me how he had done our taxes and figured out the amount of our nice, large tax return this year. He told me that he had researched computers and how the MacBook had many advantages. He outlined said advantages, including the software that came with the computer and the major upgrade Apple had made since my computer (a 2001) that died. He said that because Apple doesn't let stores competitively price their products, they are the same price everywhere. He mentioned that our electronics store in town has one in stock. He explained that after buying the computer we would still have a portion to put against the mortgage and to contribute to our RRSP fund.

He finished without flourish.

And I said "yes." Because I'm that kind of wife.

I can be convinced with a well-thought out argument. I don't stick my heels into the ground just because I want to be right. If I genuinely think he's got a point, or he's actually right, I don't fight it. Why bother?

And later that night, I got a nice, shiny new computer out of this deal!

(My friends also had a really good laugh about it the next day!)

Friday, 28 January 2011

Is change really possible?

Sitting here tonight in a bit of a funk. A winter-blue-blah kind of feeling. I know it's common around this time of year, especially up here in the cold frigid Canadian temperatures. I posted this on my facebook status:

"House is a mess, even with a friend and my in-laws dropping in. I told them to just step over everything. Anyone else got a bad case of the winter blahs?"

That's right. Even now at 11:30 at night, getting ready to go to bed, and I'm just going to leave it all again for tomorrow. But a dear friend, seeing my status, directed me to a website that, in her words "changed her life 2 years ago. Best thing ever."

That is some high praise, especially from this wonderful woman I admire. So I clicked on over. The first quote I read on the site was:

(Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome)
Do you feel overwhelmed, overextended, and overdrawn?
Hopeless and you don't know where to start?

Wow! Does that pretty much describe how I'm feeling or what? I was intrigued and clicked further into the site. I haven't gone very far, but I did listen to what her first step is: shining your sink. The whole idea is that order comes from baby steps.

"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."

Which led me to pose this question to myself: is change really possible?

For so long we (everyone) write off our faults as character flaws. Hey - if it's embedded deep down in who we are, can we really do anything about it? I fall victim to clutter and untidiness. I don't like it, but I've never really been able to change it.

Until now?

I guess there's only one way to find out.

Here's to some serious reorganization!


I have absolutely adored watching Benjamin learn to walk. Both Colin and Caleb just stood up and went one day. Benjamin, on the other hand, has been slowly going through all the more traditional stages of learning to walk.

He has been cruising like nobody's business. He pretty much gave up crawling when he learned how fast he could propel himself along the couches and tables and walls in the house. He got fairly adept at the practice, managing his own version of the "run the circle" of the living room/kitchen/hall circuit we have. He loves chasing the boys when they get going.

In recent days he has been doing steps on his own. He would turn around and steady himself for a moment or two, and then slowly take a few steps toward something (usually me.) Each day he found more and more balance, which resulted in more and more steps.

Then today, he seemed to coordinate himself fully in order to wander across the rooms and through the main floor. There is ever so slight of a pause before he starts, as though he was gathering all the information needed, like the path to take, sizing up obstacles, finding his balance and gathering the will. Then he just plunges one foot forward and off he goes.

It is such a delight to watch it all take place. It's like this little person unfolding right before my eyes!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

When little voices grate

Today Caleb had a need to preface every sentence he spoke with "Mommy!" Sometimes, for fun, he'd change it up and start with "Mommymommymommymommy."

Needless to say, by 10 am his lovely adorable little three year old voice was DRIVING ME CRAZY! I had heard my "name" one too many times and didn't want to hear it even once more.

It was at that point that I told him that for the rest of the day, he must address me as "Anakin." (The boys are in a Star Wars phase right now.)

He seemed confused. I was just trying to maintain my sanity. Then he caught onto the game and had a good giggle every time he called me Anakin.

And that is how I made it through today.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


While Caleb and Benjamin were quietly and calmly playing this afternoon, I was finishing up a sewing project in the kitchen. As I wrapped up, I came into the playroom to gather the boys to head out. A quick glance at Caleb revealed faint smudges around his mouth.

"Did you eat something?"
Sheepish nod.
Points to the floor. My eyes follow and land on the container of chocolate chips. Correction, the container that used to contain chocolate chips! Caleb gave me this half-grin that said "I don't know if I was supposed to or not, but darn it, it was so good and I don't regret it at all."
"Did you eat them all?"
Sheepish nod.
"How many were there?"
He holds up his fingers and counts really quickly: "onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineteneleventwelvethirteenfourteenfifteen- that many!"
He cannot count any higher yet. I can only assume that it means there were a lot. My saving grace is that it was an old container, and I have a big bag of Chippits I'm using now, so I think it was mostly empty.)
"Did you get them out of the cupboard?"
"No, Benjamin did."

I couldn't get mad at him; really, he didn't know specifically that he shouldn't snack on a container of chocolate chips, especially since Benjamin was the one who took them out. And he was so darn cute with that face, staring up with big blue eyes, totally innocent. I love that boy.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


To all the Mompreneurs out there - You. Are. Awesome.

I have a billion ideas in my head of ideas that I would love to launch. But for some reason as of late, I am suffering from a major case of un-dedicatedness. The thought of committing week after week to one thing sends me running from all my possible ventures.

The biggest benefit of being a stay-at-home mom is that if I don't measure up, my young children likely won't notice, and if they do notice, won't mind. If I wake up tired and grumpy from being up all night with Benjamin, or with a case of the winter blues, or just feel blah, I don't have to perform. I can send the boys off to play with each other and lounge around with Benjamin. I can throw on a movie or haul everyone to the Early Years Centre. Now, as an involved mother and someone who likes to parent with a purpose, I don't do this everyday. I don't even do it very often. But I have the option, if I need to.

Committing to something like teaching music classes or tot school, or cooking or baking or sewing on orders...just sends me running in the opposite direction. And it is driving me nuts. Why can't I commit to something? Where is that drive and focus that filled me day after day during my school years? I was an entrepreneur for years, tutoring French, teaching piano and voice lessons, working freelance in film and advertising.

I feel my lack of success in the homeschool arena is also symptomatic of this syndrome. I've started and re-started too many times to count. Caleb and I have reached the letter "g" five or six times, but never moved past it. I am always collecting books and ideas and websites that inspire me in lesson ideas, but I never do anything with it.

Last June I wrote this post posing the question "are human beings inherently lazy?" I concluded that it is a learned behaviour, since as babies and toddlers our appetite for learning (and self-directed learning) is insatiable. So am I now discovering in myself 30 years of learned laziness?

Or can I justly write it off as being a mother of three young, very active boys? Of four years never sleeping through the night? Of three pregnancies that took a hard toll on me physically, emotionally and mentally? Of living in a country that spends half the year outfitted in frigid temperatures, driving me to hunker down indoors? Of not even being able to be caught up at home, let alone adding another responsibility to my list?

I wish I could say writing this all down has given me the kick in the pants I needed to stop wallowing in my pity party for one and to get up and get moving on something. But it hasn't. I don't feel any more drive than I did when I sat down to write. What I am doing, however, is trying to do more personal projects at home, ones that don't have outer pressures and deadlines (like having to show up at a specific time and place week after week to meet other people.) I'm doing a few sewing projects. I'm directing and editing a short film for myself. I've started a writing journal. I'm organizing lots of music at church. I'm going to start some mixed media art projects. And there is always this wonderful blog. Perhaps after some time dedicated to personal projects will get me motivated to move beyond.

Monday, 24 January 2011


Over the last week Benjamin has been perfecting his first word: cat.

Not Mommy. Not Daddy. Not food, or nurse, or milk, or play, or up, or no.


We do have a very lovely cat, Cleo. She has a beautiful white coat, and she loves to hang around us during the day. Then there is the fact that her and Benjamin are on the same vertical level most of the day. While Cleo tends to avoid Colin and Caleb, she seems to have taken a liking to Benjamin. She never runs from him, but rather lets him get near enough to pet her, which he does quite gently. They often play with each other by waving and batting hands/paws, also in a very gentle manner.

The nice thing about this first word is that Benjamin has a very pleasing way of saying it. There is no southern drawl or harsh, flat "a" sound in the middle. He starts with a round, British "cah" sound, and finishes with the softest "t" at the end, so soft it often sounds more like a k than a t. Whenever he sees Cleo, he points and smiles and repeats it over and over again: "caw-t, caw-t, caw-t."

He is managing to communicate in many other ways until his vocabulary grows. He finally picked up the sign for "milk," which I persistently taught him so that he would stop thumping my chest with all his might when he wanted to nurse. And actually, he would call that sign "nurse," since that's what I always ask him. ("Do you want to nurse?" - I make the sign, then he makes the sign. Now he does it on his own). He also knows a sign for food (pointing in his mouth.) If he doesn't want something, he quite violently shakes his head no, which is much nicer than hearing "no" screamed at you all day.


In regards to food, I have another little carb boy on my hands (much like Daddy and Caleb.) There is no fooling this boy. Tonight I made a Chicken Broccoli braid, which is basically a crescent roll laid flat, stuffed with chicken, broccoli and red pepper in a mayonnaise base, and then rolled up in the crescent roll. It's really tasty, and Benjamin loved it - the bread and chicken at least. If I tried to give him the veggies, he shook his head no. As soon as he saw something in colour coming at him, that mouth was clamped shut. But more than that - I even tried to hide a piece of broccoli inside a chunk of bun. Seeing only the light beige of bread, he eagerly ate the bite, only to roll it around in his mouth and spit out the hidden broccoli. He does seem to enjoy the baby food vegetables (sweet potato, squash and peas), as long as it's not at dinnertime, so I give him those for snacks all day. If I try to feed him baby food at meal time, he gives me this look like "are you kidding me? I'm not eating this when you're having that!"

Friday, 21 January 2011

Literature Education

One of my favourite methods of teaching is through reading. If you love to read, you can learn just about anything. On a basic level, there are non-fiction books that give you the facts, and, if they are well-written, also give some personal stories that help make the topic interesting and accessible. One step from that would be fiction in which there is an important component of research. Historical fiction is the most obvious genre in this category, however there are many authors who research fastidiously on their subjects, and you can learn the ins and outs of everything from police work to world religions to science and engineering.

But there is a more subtle form of education you can learn through reading; it is this that has been influencing me as of late. Immersing myself in classic literature as I have been, and particularly into novels whose authors have a brilliant command of the English language, I have found my personal vocabulary and ability to comprehensively express ideas has been improving by leaps and bounds. There are so many wonderful words created to express all the minutiae of emotions and experiences in life, of which we don't avail ourselves often enough.

When you thinking of all the synonyms that exist for words, we have the ability to be so precise in conveying our meaning.

Instead of simply saying I'm happy, I could say content, pleased, joyful, cheerful, elated, blissful, ecstatic, delighted. Think about each of those words; each one is a synonym for "happy," and yet each one expresses a slightly different aspect. It's amazing that we recognize the difference between pleased and ecstatic, and yet don't often choose to use one over the other.

I've also noticed that I have slowed down my speaking process. It isn't that I'm losing the ability to express myself (although Mommy Brain seems to have settled in permanently), it's just that I'm taking the time to form my ideas and then choose the most appropriate words to convey them to others. It's kind of nice. There is a lot of word pollution spewed into the air, times when we talk just to fill up the silence, or times when we stutter and stammer our way through unformed thoughts. Reading through books like Jane Eyre and The Scarlett Letter have enriched my language skills, taking them to a whole new plane.

This has also reinforced to me the importance of learning to love reading as children. I'm not talking about early reading, because knowing how to read at a young age and love books at a young age are not in the least the same thing. A child forced to struggle their way through word recognition and painful exercises of sounding out letters might very possibly learn to hate reading. But a child who is read to often and uses their imagination in story telling will be taught to love the world of literature, and that should be the true goal for teaching your kids how to read.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

"I can just tell"

When I say "I am a Mormon" there is just a little bit of a different reaction than someone saying "I am a Catholic" or "I am a Baptist" or "I am Hindu." I'm not sure what it is today; there isn't a whole lot that is controversial about us today, any more than in the other world religions.

I learned a little bit more about it on our vacation. James and I were sitting in the theatre on the cruise ship waiting for the show to begin. We had about half an hour to wait, since you have to get their early to guarantee seats together. We were chatting and laughing together when a group of 6 adults, probably in their sixties, came and sat next to us. As is normal on the cruise ship, we asked where they were from. With over 100 countries represented in the passengers, you never know where someone will be from. As it turned out, this group were all from northern Utah.

Now, I know that not everyone in Utah is Mormon, but there is a better chance than if the person had said Vegas or New York. I didn't jump in right away, since just the day before someone had said they were from Utah and when I casually mentioned having visited their on church business, they didn't bite. So James and I casually carried on the conversation about the cold weather in both Utah and Toronto, and how we were enjoying the cruise. Eventually I mentioned that we had visited Utah, and the gentleman sitting beside me asked if I had had the opportunity to see the sites around Temple square. One comment led to another and eventually he asked if we were LDS. Not too surprising, by that point in our conversation. When I replied in the affirmative, he smiled to himself and said "I thought so." I smiled, but James inquired further. "How did you know?" "I could just tell," came the reply.

I laughed, one of those genuine, infectious, ringing laughs. Then, a couple in front of us half turned back and commented "Oh, we always notice you two." Huh? Here were two strangers that we didn't recognize and likely hadn't heard the majority of our conversation. They were simply replying to the comment about recognizing us around the ship. That comment really stuck with me. Somehow there was something different about James and I that both these people were noticing, in completely different ways. Now, James and I are generally happy people; we often have a smile on our face, and certainly on this vacation we were hand in hand, usually laughing or deep in conversation. We leaned in at the table over dinner and weren't shy about cuddling up on a couch while enjoying a pianist or violinist serenading in the evening. We got several inquiries about if we were on our honeymoon. We love life, and I guess that joie de vivre shines in our eyes as we go about the day.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The history and future of society

(Mayan ruins in the city of Tulum)

I can't remember what prompted the conversation early on our vacation (before Mexico), but somehow I got thinking about our current society and civilization, and the rise and fall of different empires throughout history. I posed the question "what next?" The United States is the current major power in the world, but as history has shown, every empire eventually collapses. It seems to me that we are on the verge of that collapse. It is hard to imagine what the future might hold, since usually the next stage looks completely different to what life was.

So I put my brain to thinking about what might happen. And some very definite ideas began to form.

I think we technology will fail completely. Maybe we'll overload the system. Maybe it won't be able to keep up with our demands.

Our constant rape of the earth will also finally catch up to us. We know that there is only so much oil out there, and yet we have made our society completely dependent on it. Our dependence on corn will also aid our downfall. Millions of acres devoted to this one product will eventually mean we use up the nutrients of the land and we won't be able to grow it any longer. Have you ever read a list of what we use corn in? Corn, in some form, is in about 80% of everything.

When corn fails, our food system will collapse. The majority of people in North America live on a diet of corn. It is in all of our processed foods. So if you were to clean out the supermarkets of all processed foods, there wouldn't be nearly enough to feed everyone in all the cities and towns across the continent.

So once we can't drive and we can't eat and we can't heat our homes and businesses...well, it's easy to see how life would drastically start to change. But this doesn't mean I have a negative view of the future.

I can see some really positive things starting to happen in our culture, things that I think are nature's way of getting us ready for big changes. Have you noticed the real grass roots movement "back to the land?" People who were raised in middle class homes, with parents who work 9-5 in the corporate world are abandoning city life and trading it in for a more rural way of living. They are figuring out how to grow their own food. They are raising chickens and goats. They are homeschooling and making their own soap. Each step is small, yet natural, and driven by something they can't quite put their finger on. I think it is something beyond our consciousness that is preparing us as a society for what is coming.

Sadly, I don't think a huge majority of people will make it. I think there will be many left feeling stranded, not sure what to do when the stores are empty and food and supplies. Some people will just sit down and give up. Some people will give a half-hearted try at survival and won't be equipped with their the knowledge or the drive to succeed. Some people will go out in a frenzied, frightened state of mind and accomplish nothing but spreading their panic. Some people will role up their sleeves and get to work, carving out a simple existence for their family. Cities will be abandoned and small groups of friends and family will gather together on vast tracts of land, pooling together their simple resources and abilities to make it through.

Who knows how many years, decades, or longer it might take, but I think it is foolish to believe that our empire is immune to the devastation that rained on every single empire throughout history. The Romans sure didn't think their grip on the world would fail. The Greeks and the Mayans and the Asian dynasties and the Egyptians and Europe and Great Britain.

After the collapse, another power eventually emerges, and throughout history it has often been a rugged, brutish people and land that were the players and gameboard for the future. The Romans through the "Gaul" area was uninhabitable and its inhabitants savage. Would they have guessed the British Empire that would spread throughout the world? And then North America was considered int he same light by the British, only to emerge as the world player it currently is. Is it so difficult to imagine that some place we now consider a wasteland will have its own time to rise to the world stage?

The day after I postulated my theories for James, we visited the Mayan ruins in Mexico. As our anthropologist tour guide gave several ideas for why the Mayans abandoned their great cities to live in small groups of people in the forest, it seemed clear to me what likely happened. It is considered a mystery, but our guide thought that while they were so advanced in many areas, including mathematics, astronomy and architecture, he guessed that they didn't realize the toll they were taking on the earth as they over-planted their fields until the earth would bear no more food, and burned so many millions of acres of forest to build their cities that there was nothing left to use. Personally, for a people so advanced and at the same time so in tune with Mother Earth, I am skeptical thinking that they didn't know what they were doing. I think they knew, they just didn't do anything about it, much like the position we find ourselves in today. They raped the land until they could get nothing more from it, and then abandoned ship. Many died as they didn't know how to live off the land. Those who survived had banded together in small groups of friends and family and used the knowledge and skills they had to live.

Sound familiar?

So those are some of the ideas I had rumbling around my brain on vacation. It certainly inspired me to be a little more diligent in tending my garden this year, and learn to be a little more self-reliant. It rekindled the deep desire within me that has been flickering for the past couple of years to get off the grid and live less dependently on technologies that are beyond my understanding. I'm not an alarmist, and I'm not jumping ship. But I do think that these fringe movements to get back to the land are not just a trend, but instead are indicative of something coming.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Christmas Cards

Wow, I am such a boring Christmas card sender! First of all, I buy my cards. Usually from the Dollar store, to get the most for my money. Then I print off a tiny photo and throw it in. This year I didn't even write a letter of our goings-on for the past year. This year, my Christmas card totally fell into the "because I'm supposed to" category. I didn't send one to anyone we see on a regular basis. I didn't even send it to many of my friends. My mailing list consisted mainly of friends of mine and James' parents, and family from the older generations (who send cards and expect cards back).

Was I ever in the wrong frame of mind.

First of all, I got a card from a good friend in town, who we see all the time. She used one of those online scrapbooking sites and put together a great 4x6 photo with fancy fonts wishing a Merry Christmas. It was really cute, didn't take much time at all, printed as easily as my little family photos, but looked so great and also said "we took a little effort in making this." Plus, I felt so great getting a card from a friend who lives so close; it said "we love you guys, we're thinking about you." That kind of feeling is wonderful, especially at Christmastime.

So I resolved that next year I would do something like that. Then, this morning, I read this blog entry (click here). Granted, this author is a photographer, and so her photography is amazing, her design ideas are creative, and she probably has lots of creative, photographer friends. But she photographed some of the Christmas cards she received this year, and WOW! I can't believe some of them! It certainly got my own creative juices flowing in a completely different direction.

I have been inspired myself to look at the idea of Christmas cards from a completely different angle. In one small project, I could have the opportunity to a) let my own creativity flow b) do a great project together with my family c) let my friends and family know what's up with us and d) let my friends and family know how much we love them and are thinking of them.

I may have to start in September, especially if I'm thinking of an outdoor photo, and especially if people want to get our card sometime in December. But I'm glad to have seen these ideas and had my own ideas turned on their head. It's important to get shaken up now and then.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Benjamin's first steps

I told Benjamin before leaving on vacation that he wasn't allowed to start walking while I was away. He was so close before we left. He would take a step or two between the couches, mostly propelled by momentum he had already gathered from speeding along holding onto the couch.

But today he actually let go, gathered his balance, and then simply walked! He let go of the couch and took six or seven steps right toward me. Well, I say toward me, but really it was toward the spoonful of sweet potatoes I held in my hand. Isn't it funny that it was food that propelled him to take those steps! Once he saw my ecstatic reaction, he thought it was hilarious, and loved the attention. He quickly returned to the couch, turned about and walked to me again. Over and over he repeated the action, basking in the laughter and smiles and cheering from all of us.

First it was five or six steps, but as the evening went on he found his balance and walked greater distances. At one point, he went from the middle of the living room all the way to me in the kitchen! He has even found his balance at the end of the steps, not always falling to the floor, but managing to stop and stay standing.

Just like that, he steps into toddlerhood. My baby is growing up!

A second honeymoon

I'm back. Ten days of uninterrupted sleep and delectable meals (made by someone else) and beautiful sun and new countries. Our cruise to the Caribbean was amazing. I say "second honeymoon," although it really was our first, since I passed our first honeymoon in a Dominican Republic hospital.

There is so much to write about, and an entire memory card FULL of photos. The thought of trying to get it all down at once is daunting and not relaxing in the least, so I won't even try. Instead, I'll try and write some snippets here and there, funny stories and small adventures and new ideas and a couple of pictures.

In summation, we cruised on a massive ship for 7 days, stopping at Grand Cayman, Honduras, Mexico and the Bahamas. We had a balcony suite which meant we didn't spend much time around the rest of the ship, since our room was beautiful and quiet and we could sit on the balcony, order room service and enjoy the view and the quiet right there. We ventured off the boat at the different countries and spent some time on the beaches and some time seeing some new sites. Although it was still much like an all-inclusive vacation (not my holiday scene) the balcony and the gourmet food were outstanding and made the vacation exactly what we needed.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Helping school-agers

I did not do so well in the patience department this morning.

Colin loves Lego, especially the little kits he received for Christmas. He loves to take the little creations apart and put them back together again, following the booklet of instructions to a T. In fact, he is very good at this, and also very quick.

This morning, he took apart a fire truck and used the pieces to build two small Star Wars ships. A very impressive feat, since these kits are really designed to build just the one thing. At any rate, when he was finished, he wanted to build the fire truck again. The problem was, he had misplaced some of the pieces, and had re-ordered some of the pieces he did have so that he couldn't get going in building the truck.

So he came for me for help. Now, I will confess here that I love Lego kits! I had a ball building them the first time with Colin. I am also really good at it (where do you think he gets it from?!) Helping Colin is not a problem. But every time I sat down and picked up the piece, he would start grabbing things from my hand, trying to flip them and show me things and add things and change what I was doing and it was driving me NUTS! I got so frustrated. I kept telling him to stop yanking things out of my hands, to just give me a second to see at what stage he was at, to let me look at the picture and get my bearings. And he just kept reaching those little fingers in there!

Argh! After a few times of swatting his hands away, I just stood up and walked away. "If you don't want me to help, then I don't have to," I grumbled. After a minute he would be back begging me to help, then sticking his hands in and pulling at the pieces all over again. This went on three or four times before I told him that was it, I wasn't going to help any longer. Once longer period of time passed, he allowed me to come in and get him going unhindered, after which everything was fine.

I could have been more patient. I could have walked away the first time with a simple yet firm explanation of expectations for helping him. Not one of my better moments. But a moment nonetheless, and recorded here so that I remember that I had these kinds of days, for they are all part of motherhood.

Monday, 3 January 2011

New Years 2011

A list of personal goals for the year. Not resolutions: that word just bears too much pressure behind it. It reeks of trying to fix bad habits, which is the sort of thing I've never been keen on. I rather like to put a positive spin on things, imagining myself trying to attain to a higher level rather than simply maintain where I am while losing a few hated habits. Beside which, a resolution tends to be one short line without much description, which is the perfect recipe for failure. In writing out my goals, I have specific things in mind, and I map out the steps of the journey to get me there.

And so, my goals for 2011:

1. Getting into shape, inwardly. This is not a goal to lose a certain amount of weight, but rather a goal to be able to have a certain level of physical activity and to run for the bus without gasping for air. I have signed up for 10 weekly spinning classes at a gym, which should take me from February through to the end of April, at which time I'm hoping the weather is nice enough that I will hop on my bike once or twice a week to continue the routine. A good cardio workout, with bonus leg and stomach toning.

2. Spending time each week on something artistic. I got a fantastic new book for Christmas called "The Artistic Mother," which sort of runs itself like a 12 week art course. It specializes in poetry, photography and mixed media. It outlines weekly projects that help you get focused in creating art. This isn't something I have done before, usually preferring to freestyle. However, I have found that freestyling doesn't work so well with three boys under 5. This will also be great to get through the dreary and cold winter months during which I hibernate inside.

3. Organizing Family Home Evening lessons. Up until now we've gone by the seat of our pants, usually preparing something five minutes for showtime, if we're lucky. This year I want to sit down and do some planning. The boys have monthly themes they are taught during Primary at church, and I'd like to coordinate a little with that. At this age, repetition and reinforcement are the greatest modes of teaching.

4. Parent with purpose. This goes back to "the list" I've written about before. I want to create a list of 5 or 6 things for each of the boys to work on over the year. Some academic, some housework, some character. Over the next month I hope to come up with these lists and write down some plans of action to getting things done.

5. Improve my technique on the flute. Attending the community band each week is a start to this, but I could be doing so much more. The Conductor's confidence in promoting me to first flute was all but wasted the past four months, since I almost never practiced at home. I know I can sight read; what I need to work on is translating that to actually playing. I rarely play any fast passages, because my brain just doesn't compute the notes to fingering quickly enough. What is amazing is how far I've come, only having taken up the flute consistently for about one year. Now I'm inspired to push that even further.

6. Read through the New Testament with the Sunday School program. This is a little more difficult, since I don't get to attend the weekly class (I play the piano for the Primary kids.) But the New Testament is not long, and spread out over 52 weeks does not mean a huge amount of reading each week. Notice I said week, not day. Although I would love to say I can find time to read each day, my goal is just to keep up with the weekly reading assignments, and to finish the New Testament by the end of 2011.

That's the list for me. Anything else is bonus! But I feel that those six are manageable, cover different areas of my life, and are defined enough to produce some results. So here we go!