Monday, 30 April 2012


Last week Benjamin discovered our family favourite film "The Polar Express."  He sits and watches the entire movie, eyes never leaving the screen except to share what is going on with anyone in the room.  "Look, it's Santa!"  "The reindeer are flying!"  "The engine is on the street!"  Every frame is filled with wonder.

For some reason (which may or may not be linked) the movie was also the instigator for Benjamin's first interest in reading.  He can sing the alphabet, but has yet to identify letters.  He has also never before shown that he understood there were words and letters on the pages of his books that created the stories.  But watching "The Polar Express" yesterday, when the title of the film appeared on screen, he pointed to it and asked me "What does that say?"  "The Polar Express," I replied.  "Oh," came his answer, as he nodded.  "A, B, C, D."  Early literacy at work!

Sunday, 29 April 2012


Colin loves to build and create, especially with Lego and paper.  His Lego creations astonish us daily.  Every time he comes across something new, or sees a new movie, he rebuilds it out of Lego, with incredible attention to detail.  The same goes with paper.  If he needs something and doesn't have it, he makes it out of paper.

Last week an enormous migration of butterflies stopped for the day in town.  Colin wanted nothing more to catch a  butterfly.  He tried for the first half hour to sneak up and catch one in his hands, to no avail.  He decided he needed a net, but didn't have one.  So he wove one out of paper, with a rolled up piece of paper as the handle.  He spent another half hour trying to use the net, but still was unsuccessful.  He then decided he needed a lure, something to bait the butterfly to one spot, rather than him trying to run after each tiny creature.  So he coloured a paper green, added 3D flowers and trees, and set out the scene on a chair in the backyard.  Then he crouched beside it, waiting for a butterfly to take the bait.  Unfortunately, he wasn't ever able to catch the elusive prize.

Today while James was out and I was resting, Colin decided he wanted to play on the back deck.  There was one problem - he was wearing an oversized t-shirt for pyjamas and had no pants.  We have a rule that you must wear clothes in the backyard.  He found his drawers empty (laundry day).  Instead of admitting defeat, I found him playing on the deck wearing pants made out of paper.  Yep - he had taped paper around his legs and up to his waist, all in the name of modesty and ingenuity.

Friday, 27 April 2012

I was raised in a home in which we were not taught about debt.  What I mean by that is, I was well into my 20s before I realized that you could buy something for which you did not have the money.  I didn't even realize my Visa card gave me that capability - all I understood is that I was building credit and creditability for my future.  I didn't understand what "minimum payment" meant - I was taught that when the bill came in you paid it in full.

I was not taught that there were people who would loan you money you wanted but did not have.  I was taught that if you wanted something, you saved until you had the cash in hand (or in bank) and then you bought it.  This upbringing has done me well.  The only thing I've ever bought "on credit" was a second hand car and our home.

Yes, that "mortgage" word.  How I hate it.  How I hate the thought of how much interest we will pay over the years.  We are doing everything we can to avoid it, by making bi-weekly payments, doubling up those payments, and making extra lump sum payments every year with anything extra.  When we got our mortgage we were one of "those people" who got the zero down, 40 year mortgages that caused the housing collapse.  But we absolutely never intended to carry a mortgage for 40 years.  No way.

I read an newspaper article this morning about a husband and wife who paid off their $320,000 mortgage in 3 years.  Headlines like that always grab me, so I clicked in and read on.  Turns out that both the husband and wife were working full time jobs with good salaries, and then took second, third and fourth jobs as well.  It was not uncommon for him to work 22 hours, sleep for 3 or 4, and then head back to work.  Once he worked over 60 days straight, took two days off, and then worked another 60 days straight.  So, yes, they did pay off all their student debt, car debt and mortgage, but the trade off was not seeing their spouse for the first three years of their marriage.

I think I've come to adopt a bit of a simpler mentality.  Yes, I'd love to bring down the mortgage as fast as possible, but I'm not panicked about it.  Mortgage payments is just one of those things I expect to pay during this years of my life.  Yes, I'll hate to look back at how much interest I gave our lender, but I will have enjoyed a happy, balanced life in a home we love.  Some things aren't measured by price tags.  After all, money is just money.  If it's not helping me lead the life I want, what good is it to me?

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A little time out from life

These past seven years have seemed like a little time out from life for me.  I know there are lots of moms who manage to stay connected to their life pre-kids, and other moms who naturally transition into a new life with kids.  But I've felt a little disconnected myself.

I've had lots of play dates, moments talking with friends with 16 kids running around in the next room and a crying baby on someone's hip.  I've had small projects here and there to keep my creative juices from drying up into an irredeemable desert.  I've made new connections, many with people I hope will become much better friends when I'm able to reconnect with life.  But to be honest, I haven't felt like I've had a focused narrative in the last seven years.

Suddenly I feel like life is on the horizon again.  A time when I don't have a nursing baby that keeps me from taking on the intensity of a film.  A time when I can get on a plane and travel somewhere on my own for adventure, with my husband for romance, or with my friends for a no hold's barred good time.  A time when I get enough sleep that I don't need to nap in the afternoon, when I can move through my home and work on projects, when I can experiment in the kitchen and not just pray for 20 minutes so that I don't ruin dinner.

It's not a selfish feeling, something that craves time away from my children.  It's more of a feeling of continuity, a life that is flowing forward smoothly, a life with a little more control than the feeling of being dragged along by a merry-go-round.  I adore balance, I need balance, I crave balance.  And, for me, these early child-bearing years have had almost zero balance at all.

And so, instead of drowning or flailing, I simply opted for a time out.  In a few short weeks (less than eight!) I will be emerging on the other side - tired and full, but with eyes on a new horizon.

Friday, 20 April 2012

31 weeks

Getting closer and closer to the end! 9 weeks officially, hopefully less. I delivered two of my three boys at 38 weeks, which would mean only 7 weeks to go. The OB said I'm measuring about 32 weeks, which could mean only 6 weeks to go! I really wish there was a more scientific way of figuring out when a baby would come, so that I could just mark it on the calendar and know when to expect him/her.

A few changes with my pre-natal care. New vitamins to try and solve the dizziness I'm experiencing, and that seems to be helping. My OB has also switched me back to try Diclectin, and anti-nausea medication that is the one usually used in pregnancy. It always made me more sick when I tried it in the past, during the first trimester, but I'm willing to give it a go again now. Perhaps things will be different this late in the pregnancy. It will take a few days to see how it works. But the nurses are having such a tough time getting IV sites in my veins that this may be my only option now. The "may cause drowsiness" warning totally affects me. About an hour after each pill I'm so tired I physically can't stay awake, and that lasts about an hour in itself. I'm trying to time taking the pills (3 times a day) so that I don't have to worry about watching Benjamin while I'm on it. He's such an adventurous 2 1/2 year old that there's no telling what trouble he might get into while I'm passed out for that hour. Yesterday was my first morning on the meds, and I fell asleep while sitting with a couple of friends having a discussion.

I still spend much of my time thinking about life getting "back to normal" once the baby comes. No, it won't be easy, but at least I'll have my health and will be able to function normally. My parents will stay with us for 6 weeks after the baby comes, which will make things much easier. But come August and September I'll likely feel like a single mom, due to the busy nature of our business (a moving company.) It's only April and already James is leaving for work before 7am, getting home in time for dinner, and then working for 2-4 hours once the kids are in bed. During the summer months, he's often gone before the kids wake up and not home until after they are in bed.

But I will have my health. After these nine months, I don't think I'll ever be able to take feeling well for granted again. Everything else that life throws me I can handle, deal with, figure out. Ill health is something you just have to live with. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Heathy, hearty breakfasts and lunches

I picked up a free e-book yesterday for my Kindle, all about making healthy, hearty breakfasts, lunches and snacks for your kids. This is really a goal for me come next school year. While I LOVE cold cereal, I know that it's not a great healthy choice, but more than that, it doesn't stick to you for very long, leaving you hungry and needing more to eat within a short amount of time. So I'm on a quest to compile some recipes that will be simple to make, can be made in big batches and frozen or stored in the fridge for the week, that the boys will like, that will be healthy, and that will leave the kids full until lunch time.

I have got some GREAT ideas so far. My plan is to start trying them out in August, and I'll post any recipes that become favourites. Here's the link to the book I got (for Kindle) (click here.) Funny enough, the author talks about how many of these recipes are adapted to be ultra healthy, including using odd types of flours and seeds and even being milk-free. While my commitment to healthy eating is important to me, I'll be adapting most recipes back to include more traditional ingredients, like all-purpose flour and honey. But it's a great jumping off point.

On another note, last night we all ventured out to do the grocery shopping. On the way out the door, Caleb got his head bumped good by our screen door, so James told him he could pick any cereal he wanted from the store, even one that wasn't on sale. Caleb was overjoyed. You should have seen the look on his face as he stared at that big, long aisle of cereals. Then you should have seen the look of joy on my face when he picked...Raisin Bran! The whole family enjoyed a big bowl this morning. It's a big favourite.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Getting back to...

Things I'm excited to get back to once this baby comes:

1. Making music - piano, guitar, flute, violin, singing
2. Baking bread
3. Major home projects
4. Growing cherry tomatoes and green onions
5. Walks
6. Photography
7. Play dates with kids (and adults!)
8. Wearing something other than pyjamas
9. Playing sports with the boys
10. Date night
11. Enjoying food
12. A good groove/home routine

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The answer

Well, just like that we found the answer to our problems with Benjamin - he sprained or fractured his foot jumping off a couch yesterday and can't walk. So now he very easily goes in and out of his carseat, and after 3 hours in the ER, only half a nap, x-rays, and doses of Tylenol, he actually asked to be put to bed just before 8pm last night.

Okay, so it's obviously not a permanent answer, but for the next week it will give me a bit of a break!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The big bribe

The number one rule in Mommyland is "never say never." Oh boy, have I learned that one. I "never" wanted to resort to bribing, preferring the much (professionally) lauded idea of natural consequences.

And then there was Ben.

And a tired, sick, pregnant Mommy.

And chocolate.

It started with the carseat. Benjamin has been doing that "stiff as a board" routine when I try to put him in the van. I'm not strong enough to force him down, and after 10 seconds or so I'm dizzy from the nausea and weak from the pregnancy. So out came the bribe. If he fusses, no chocolate. I keep a box of smarties in the van, and I'm holding his Easter eggs hostage for good behaviour.

But it's (sort of) starting to work. He sat in his chair and ate his whole lunch today. We have problems with him standing in his booster chair and it borders on dangerous. So in order to get his chocolate at the end of the meal, he had to stay seated and eat everything. He was so proud to display that empty plate for me. The car is still an issue. The fuss time seems to be diminishing, so maybe he's starting to associate the reward with the behaviour.

I just hope this doesn't end up being another parenting moment that works for the short term and then I kick myself later when I can't break the habit. Ah well, for the next 9 weeks at least, short term is all I can deal with.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Mommy-wars, blogs, Pinterest

I've read a few articles lately about the Mommy-wars that are raging. If you haven't heard this term yet, it has been coined to denote the harsh judging of one mom against another because of differing methods of child-rearing. And the main reason all this exists is because of internet tools like Blogs, Facebook and Pinterest.

Now, I love all three of these programs, and I use them all daily. I love to be inspired by other moms' adventures on their blogs, see what my friends are up to on Facebook, and gather neat ideas from Pinterest. But it's just as easy to browse these sites and start to feel down about yourself. If you aren't careful, feelings of inadequacy could start to creep into your mind. I mean, look at all these amazing parents and all the amazing things they do with their kids and in their homes every day. Then you take a look around your home and see clothes strewn about, the kids plunked in front of the TV again, no idea what to start for dinner and a bathroom that hasn't been cleaned in forever. Yeah, I can see where the problem might start.

But once again, this is a good time to remember that we can't compare the very best of everyone else to our worst? No one out there is posting about the play dough experiment that ruined their best pot, or the terrible discipline moment when you lost your temper and yelled at your kids, or the pot roast you burned. We need to push the mommy wars aside and simply celebrate the victories when we have them. Because when you're knee deep in toys and toddlers and diapers, sometimes the victories feel few and far between.

So here's my victory for the day. My interest was piqued by a post on Pinterest on how to set up a play room. We have a play room that is often the bane of my existence, given that it is on the main floor of our house, in full view from the kitchen and living room where any and all guests can see it in it's glory. So I clicked in for ideas on how to optimize the space and hopefully gain a few organizational ideas. The article was great...and it made me realize that my play room already incorporates every fantastic idea the author had. It was a really neat validation that I needed to see...this is one thing I'm already doing really well. It just took this article breaking down the different facets of a play room for me to see the amazing space I've created for the boys.

Monday, 9 April 2012


Ah, our little Benjamin. This boy is testing us waaaaay beyond anything the other two did.

First of all, there is the typical two year old behaviour. Fortunately, the older two never did the terrible twos. Unfortunately, Benjamin is making up for it with a vengeance. He loves to yell the word "no." His face gets all red and his body shakes and he clenches his fists and he yells with this really guttural pitch. It's actually really funny, and we usually have to suppress our laughter. Of course, even though it's cute as anything, we still have to deal with the defiant behaviour.

Second is his independent nature. This kid wants to go where he wants to go. And if you tell him no, then that usually intensifies the desire, even if it had been waning. There are seriously moments when I actually choose not to say anything, because if I leave it alone he'll likely stop, but if I intervene then he'll do it out of stubbornness.

He's very, very, very quick to figure things out. I built our backyard fence and gate just before Colin was two. We never had a single issue with the boys being able to get out. With Benjamin, we've had to padlock the gates shut. There's no learning curve with him. He just looked at that gate one day, wanted out, and so jammed the latch up, wiggled the gate loose and took off for the street. The same thing happened with his bedroom door. Once he climbed out of his crib, we put him in a toddler bed. Which means he has absolutely no use for actually staying in bed. Every night is a battle to keep him in there. I put a doorknob safety handle on the inside of his door, hoping it would keep him in. Plus our doorknobs are really old and are slippery and tricky to handle without the right amount of pressure and angle of leverage. It didn't matter. He had figured out the right combination of actions within two minutes.

More often than not, we find ourselves in a reasoning circle with a two year old. He simply doesn't respond much to direction. I can say with all patience "it is dark outside and you need to go to sleep" and he'll respond in a kind, explaining tone "I'd like to go downstairs." He usually isn't in a tantrum; it's more like he feels perhaps we don't understand what he's saying, or he hasn't expressed himself adequately, and so he just keeps telling us the same thing, and I keep telling him the same thing, thus the never-ending circle.

My absolute favourite thing about Benjamin right now is the cuddle time. Even though I spend most of my days in bed, he loves to wander upstairs and crawl into bed with me. We'll lie next to each other and he'll tell me stories, or we'll watch the birds out the window, or we'll play finger games like "Round and round the garden goes the teddy bear" or "Johnny Whoop" or "Give me five." He loves to snuggle right into me and put his hands on my cheeks. He is very possessive of me, even with the older boys. Colin and Caleb still love to cuddle with me, and Benjamin gets very upset if he happens to witness it, angrily proclaiming "my mommy!" and trying to push the boys off. I'm glad my parents will be here when the new baby comes, because Benjamin is really going to take it hard that he'll have to share my attention.

Most of all, Benjamin right now is just so darn cute! His soft red hair falling around his face and those big blue eyes combine to absolutely melt your heart. Everywhere we go, people think he is adorable. And he really is. Somehow I have developed a massive measure of patience, because there are certainly moments when I look at what he is doing and think "why am I not losing both my mind and my temper over this?" Benjamin certainly knows how to get under James' skin. But I guess Benjamin and I just have the perfect personality match that helps us along.

Saturday, 7 April 2012


Since it's been a week since I last wrote, I'm likely to hear soon from my mother about how I'm not keeping her updated enough. Unfortunately, this last week has been really tough. I feel like I'm slowly slipping back to the state I was in during my first trimester. I've had to send Benjamin to my friend's for daycare again, and most days I'm too sick to get out of bed. But I really judge my state based on what I want to eat, which these days is almost nothing. I crave nothing but fruit and green salads. The thought of meat makes me nauseous. The idea of bread is just too heavy. My hemoglobin and iron are so low I'm suffering from dizzy spells, but the vitamins make me sick. 11 weeks to full term, 9 weeks to when I usually deliver, and only 8 weeks if I end up with a scheduled c-section.

The c-section is one I'm having to consider. At this point I can't get downstairs without being sick, out of breath, dizzy and needing to sit down. Having been through three labours, I can't imagine how on earth I will make it, in the state I'm in. Plus there's the upside that I could be done with this whole pregnancy up to three weeks earlier, if I schedule a c-section.

Then another part of me hates the idea. I've managed three births naturally, and the thought of resorting to a c-section makes me scared. A lot more complications, pains, and scarring from that avenue. I almost feel like since I've made it this far, can't I go that bit further?

Then again, it's been a long time since I've been able to go without Zofran. And the third trimester dizzy spells and weakness won't make it any easier. But for now, it's just a waiting game. Watch each day pass, getting closer and closer to the end.