Tuesday, 31 July 2012

From a child's eyes

Have you ever considered what the world is like for a young child?  I think about it now and then, especially in relation to the world that they must maneuver around.  Every time I see Benjamin working his way up the stairs, I imagine what it would be like to climb stairs that were as high as my knees every day.  And when I see the boys climbing into bed, I imagine a bed as tall as my chest.  Or running a backyard 30 times my height.  Or climbing up a bunk bed ladder ten feet tall.  Or keeping up with people whose strides are twice mine.  (Oh wait - I used to have to do that in university, when I was friends with a whole group of really tall people!  I vividly remember feeling like I was scurrying beside them to keep up!)

It must be absolutely exhausting sometimes!

Sunday, 29 July 2012


Colin loves to hold Juliette.  He stares into her eyes and coos at her and chats with her.  And he always has a song to sing.

Yesterday I heard his sweet little voice singing softly as he smiled on her.  Such a sweet lullaby, I thought.  I listened closely to see if I could tell what he was singing, and heard these lyrics from a song I taught the boys a couple days back:

(to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic)

He jumped from 40,000 feet and forgot to pull the cord
He jumped from 40,000 feet and forgot to pull the cord
He jumped from 40,000 feet and forgot to pull the cord
And he ain't gonna jump no more!

Gory, gory what a heck of a way to die
Gory, gory what a heck of a way to die
Gory, gory what a heck of a way to die
And he ain't gonna jump no more!

Gotta love those good old camp songs!  So indicative of life with a pile of older brothers.


This just might be the easiest toilet training ever.  This past week, Benjamin has started telling us as soon as he has gone in his diaper.  Then, the last two days, he has been telling us when he needs to go to the bathroom, we take him up, and he goes.

Right now I can hear him sitting in the bathroom.  He's calling to me, disappointed that the pee is not coming out.  I try telling him that he might have to wait until later.  He sounds really sad it won't come out on command.

Fingers crossed that things keep going so well!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The first clear-out

The first clear-out happened yesterday.  Over the past six weeks I've filled up part of the garage with garbage to go to the dump, donations to go to a second-hand store, and a couple high value items to sell.  I'd been waiting to finish my clean/purge before taking these piles away, but there wasn't much room left in the garage.  So I got rid of it all yesterday, in preparation for the real clean and purge yet to come.  And it's coming.  Boy is it coming.  And it will be brutal and ruthless.  But I will love it.  Oh, how I will love it.


Juliette is sleeping wonderfully at night.  She wakes only once or twice to nurse and go back to sleep.  She's fussy during the day and needs to be held a lot, but I'll take that if it means the nights go as smoothly as they do.  As soon as my back is better (I'm in lots of pain after the week long stay in the hospital bed totally wrecked something in my back) and I can nurse lying down, nights will be a breeze.


It turns out, our little lady can't stand a dirty diaper.  I mean, she starts fussing and crying the minute there is something in there.  We change her about 20 times a day, and that's no exaggeration.

The other night, she woke once to feed, and NINE TIMES to get her diaper changed.  How womanly of her - she changes her outfit nine times and then eats a little dainty meal.  Caleb and Benjamin, on the other hand, nursed every two hours until they were a year old.

(PS - Juliettejots is the cute title I'm trying out for Juliette's posts.  "Jots" as in "jots and tittles," meaning a tiny quantity, which is what these little pieces are usually about - little moments in each kid's life that I want to capture.  I'm not sure I've love Juliettejots like I loved Colinisms, Calebite and Benjaminugget, but it might grow on me.  And I can't think of anything else right now.)

Friday, 27 July 2012

40 decluttering jobs - one a day

Anyone else find that decluttering usually involves wandering through the house aimlessly and randomly picking up things to throw into a donation or garbage pile?  Or maybe, like me, you pick a room to work on but never feel like it's fully tackled.

Over the last six weeks, I have definitely been working on decluttering my home, and yet I don't feel like I made the dent in it that I wanted to.  That's why, when I saw this list on 40 separate tasks to getting rid of the clutter, I knew I had found a new valuable tool to use.  Blogger Stephanie broke down the house into 40 different jobs to be tackled, one at a time, one day at a time.  Her list makes so much sense.

For example, instead of saying "work on the kitchen today," she breaks it down into:

1) kitchen drawers - cutlery/utensils
2) kitchen cupboards with dishes/storage containers
3) kitchen cupboards with pots, pans and appliances
4) kitchen drawers - junk drawer
5) kitchen linens
6) kitchen "other" - anything else stored in the kitchen
7) kitchen cookbooks and recipes

At the end of these seven days, the kitchen should be decluttered.  Stephanie recommends spending 30 minutes a day on your task, and trying to purge a minimum of 10 items a day.  This breakdown just seems to make the whole job both easier and clearer.

If you're like me, decluttering and simplifying can be depressing if you never seem to be able to get ahead and stay ahead of the clutter.  I've tried many methods in the past, and none have ever stuck.  But sometimes it's just about trying all the different methods until you find one that works for you.  Here's hoping I've collected the right combination of things to do in order to win over simplicity in my home!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Simplifying possessions

(From Josh Becker's article "The 10 Most Important Things to Simplify in Your Life)

"Too many material possessions complicate our lives to a greater degree than we ever give them credit. They drain our bank account, our energy, and our attention.  They keep us from the ones we love and from living a life based on our values.  If you will invest the time to remove nonessential possessions from your life, you will never regret it."

This is the number one area I need to work on right now.  My house is bursting with stuff and I can't stand it.  Since Juliette was born 6 weeks ago, I've done an initial sweep of the house, and I've collected two massive piles in the garage - one for garbage, one for donation.  But I'm nowhere near where I want to be.

I'm using a couple of rules when it comes to de-cluttering the house:

1.  Empty each room by half.  To do this, put everything in the room in the middle of the floor and make two piles from that - half to keep and half to go.  I have a strong feeling that 50% of all my stuff is superfluous.

2.  Keep only what is useful or beautiful.  Having something simply to fill a corner is clutter.

3.  Keep the number of things standing on the floor of a room to less than 10.  This is an original idea of mine.  I remember going into a friend's house that always feels open, clean, and simple.  In her living room, I counted only 7 things: a bookshelf, a couch, a standing lamp, a piano, an armchair, an ottoman, and a side table.  It was revelatory to me to realize that is the key to a simple feeling in a room.

4.  Stop keeping things I think I might use one day down the road.  If I'm not actively using it now, don't bother holding onto it.  If I get rid of it and then really need it one day, I can always borrow it from someone or buy it again.  Although I don't like the idea of buying something twice, I'm holding onto too much that I never use again.  I will have to sacrifice one idea (wasting money by buying something twice) for a superior idea (simple living.)

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Simplifying my life

It's coming...

...the gradual shift has been occurring in my mind, and I have been taking some gradual, unintentional steps towards a simpler life...

...but now I want to take some larger, more purposeful leaps in that direction.

I'm inspired again by this article.  And by a challenge to take on each room in my house.  I love the idea that this writer will live blog about tackling the stuff in her house.  I feel somewhat inspired to do the same thing.  Record some thoughts on simplicity, and document my journey toward achieving that.

In brief, these are the 10 areas recommended to examine and simplify:

1.  Your possessions
2.  Your time commitments
3.  Your goals
4.  Your negative thoughts.
5.  Your debt
6.  Your words
7.  Your artificial ingredients
8.  Your screen time
9.  Your connections your the world
10. Your multi-tasking

Not because I want to brag, but because I think it is important to recognize strengths and achievements, I don't feel the need to work on all ten areas.  For example, number five, debt, is an area I've never struggled with.  Number seven (think Blackberry addictions) is another that's never controlled me.  Number two has been one I've been working on over the past couple of years and I feel I have mastered to a satisfactory degree.  So that leaves seven areas I still want to work on.  And by recognizing that I've already conquered 3 from the list, with only 7 to go, it gives me a sense of partial accomplishment and leaves me with the feeling that the others can also be accomplished.

I'm going to try to remember to label the posts I write on this topic under "simplifying" so that if anyone is interested in following these posts they will be easy to find.  And be sure to let me know if you decide to embark on a similar journey.  Encouragement from others in common goals is a great form of support!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Calebite and Benjaminugget

Tonight I read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" for our bedtime story.  When I got to the part that read "That night, he had a stomachache" Caleb murmured "Oh, that's so sad!  I feel so badly for him."  That's our compassionate Caleb!


Lately Benjamin has been choosing his own story for us to read at bedtime.  I have read in the past about "good children's books" and "bad children's books," although I have a hard time accepting that, since I think that your own taste is just as valid as whether or not experts think it's well-written.  I would definitely agree that many of the books considered best-sellers or classics just seem to be better written in terms of their lyrical rhythm. Luckily, Benjamin seems to have a keen sense of good art.  His favourite books are:

Love You Forever (Robert Munsch)
Goodnight, Moon (Margaret Wise Brown)
You Can Do It, Sam (Amy Hest)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle)
Curious George (Margret and H.A. Rey)

And these are genuine favourites - there are at least 30 books on the bookshelf in their bedroom, and he can go through the bins and pick any one he wants.  But he always comes back with one of these (or all of them!)  I don't mind reading any of these night after night.  Perhaps that is the best indicator of "good children's literature"

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Every night is date night

One of the most frequent pieces of marital advice you hear out there is to make sure you frequently date your spouse.  Once a week is the recommended amount.  I remember that so often as I heard that, I thought "oh yeah, that would be so nice, if I wasn't pregnant/nursing/had young children/on a budget.  Babysitting is expensive, young children are a handful for a teenager to watch, and bringing along a nursing baby isn't exactly a great set-up for a hot date.

Then I read an extrapolation of the date night idea - that date night didn't need to involved spending money, or even going out.  Date night could simply be time spent together at home with your spouse.

As I thought about that, I realized that, for us, every night is date night.  Once the kids go to sleep, James and I almost always spend every night together.  Even if one of us is out for an activity, we're generally home with at least an hour or two before we hit the sack, which gives us a little time together. If we're going to watch a movie, we watch it together.  If we need to clean up, we clean together.  If there is work to be done, we work together.  Truly, there is rarely a night of the week that we don't hang out together.  And so while the days of "formal dating" might be mostly relegated to the past, we have no shortage of time with one another.  And, gratefully, it doesn't take that much effort for us.  We genuinely like to do things together, even when the activity is preferred by one person over the other.  I'd rather be watching a sci-fi movie I'm only half-interested in with James, than watching something I like more by myself.  For me, it's all about the company.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Classical music

It seems that classical music is what speaks to, and calms, Juliette.  (Yay - for the boys it was always Michael Jackson.)  I'm so glad that my love of classical music seems to have been passed onto my little girl.

Last night I was driving out to a meeting of my book club, 25 minutes away.  Juliette started screaming 2 minutes into the ride, the kind of scream where she can't even catch a breath.  I knew there was no point in stopping; even if I'd calmed her down, once I strapped her back into her car seat the crying would have resumed. The best course of action was just to get to my destination as quickly as possible.

I turned up the radio station I had on, and she screamed louder.  Then I remembered the last time when classical music had calmed her down.  I changed the station and I kid you not, it was less than 5 seconds and she was perfectly quiet.  And there was not a peep the rest of the drive.  She didn't sleep, she just lay there listening.

On a related note, as I listened to the beautiful pieces, images began to form in my head.  Whenever I listen to classical music, I start to see movie scenes (made up, not real ones).  It's like every piece of music is telling a story and the image comes to life in my mind.  Then, three songs later, the radio announcer came on and announced "Music at the Movies will return in a moment."  No wonder such vivid scenes were playing out in my head!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


My name is Terri-Ann, and I co-sleep with my babies.

Funny, I think that co-sleeping is one of those things that most moms do, and yet most won't admit to it.     It is one of the most natural things to do.  I mean, this baby spent nine months literally right next to my heart.  It's only natural that once the baby is born we both still feel the need to be close to each other.  When we were in the hospital last week, Juliette wouldn't even consider sleeping in the hospital crib.  She snuggled right into me on the small single hospital bed and fell into deep sleeps.  One morning we were curled into each other, her tiny face resting on mine, and I wanted to stay like that forever.

Last week, when Juliette first got sick, she was up three nights in a row.  After that many hours of not sleeping, I was wrecked.  My mom offered to take Juliette one afternoon while I had a nap.  As I lay down in my bed by myself, I was surprised to feel an emotional emptiness at the physical empty spot beside me on the bed.  I actually felt like something was missing without Juliette lying there next to me. And while I pushed through it in order to get some sleep myself, I'll always remember that feeling as an affirmation about why I co-sleep with my babies.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Beautiful moment

Every now and then you get to witness a beautiful moment, something simple that captures what life is all about.

This morning during our church service, a 12 year old young man got up to give a short talk in front of the congregation.  (At our church, the members are assigned to give talks each week, instead of one pastor giving a weekly sermon.  Generally 3 people speak each week, including one youth.)  When this boy stood up at the pulpit, his nerves got the better of him.  Standing in front of over a hundred people can be nerve-wracking for an adult, so I always admire when the teens are willing to stand up and express their personal thoughts in front of so many.

The young man stood there, staring, and everyone stared back.  And then the Bishop (leader of our congregation) rose to his feet and came to stand beside this boy.  Now, just to give a quick picture of our current Bishop, he is a self-admitted huge jokester.  His youth was not spent in serious study of all things spiritual.  He is young and has a young family.  His enthusiasm pours out from his infectious smile.  He is not what you would typically think of as a leader of a church.  And it's a lay ministry, which means while he serves in this position for 5-7 years, he does not get paid.  In fact, he serves while maintaining his own job elsewhere.

So there stood Bishop beside boy.  A couple attempts were made by the Bishop to help the boy read from the shaking paper in front of him, to no avail.  So instead, the Bishop turned the boy to face him, instead of staring out at the congregation, and began a simple conversation.  He asked the young man about recent spiritual experiences, about a trip all the youth had taken, about what he had learned while on the trip.  He asked him what his mother had taught him and how he felt about what he knew.  The microphone caught snatches of their conversation and delivered it throughout the chapel.  After a few minutes, they each took their seats.

The gesture of the bishop was one of simple compassion.  There was no sense of trying to "save" the boy or the talk, or step in because of embarrassment.  There was just the love of a bishop for one of his flock, of helping someone grow in their faith.  It was beautiful.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery

So I finally went for a hair cut last week.  It had been two and a half years since my last hair cut.  Right after Benjamin was born.  But then life with 3 boys was busy, and then I was sick for 9 months.  I know it's time for a hair cut when I go 30 days without doing anything but a pony tail.  Plus my hair is so thick I get headaches when it's too long.

So now it's super short.  Sort of 1950s inspired.  James' first thought was that it looked like it was out of "Mad Men" (a Tv show) which was the perfect comment to make, since I'm absolutely in love with the styles and looks of the 1950s.  (I'm currently on the lookout for some cute 50's style dresses as well.)

But here's the funniest part of the story.  About 6 months ago, while laid up in bed, I spent a couple of hours online doing google searches of cute short hair styles for thick, wavy hair.  These random searches took me all over the internet, and I posted my top two choices to Pinterest, so that I would be able to find them again once the baby was here and I was ready for a haircut.

So I print off the two photos and jaunt over to my absolutely lovely and talented hair stylist.  I unfold the paper and show her my ideas, but point specifically to one over the other as my preference.  At this point, my stylist's eyes bug out and an incredulous look comes over her face.

"A client brought these exact two photos in just yesterday for her hair cut!  I gave her this exact cut (my preference)!"

What a small world.

We concluded whoever the client is must be following me on Pinterest, found my style page, saw these two hair cuts and liked them so much she wanted them also.  But what a coincidence it is!  Well, they say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery.  But I did joke when my stylist was finished my fabulous haircut that "it looks better on me than the other girl."

Friday, 13 July 2012


"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

- Marianne Williamson


So when I was worried that Colin wouldn't reach 100 books by the end of the summer, what I really should have been worried about was the drain on my bank account as he blasted through book after book.  He reached 100 after 5 days.  Yay for the possibility of 1000 books read over the summer. Yikes that it might cost me $250 in reward money!


I think I have the most polite 2 year old on the planet.  Benjamin says "thank you" and "you're welcome" so automatically, in his little two year old voice, and it is so darling.  He says it in appropriate response to almost every situation - let's just hope he keeps it up!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A week of silence

A whole week has gone by without posting...unusual for my thoughts to stay silent for so long.  But the past week Juliette has been ill, and on Monday it landed us first in the ER and then admitted to the pediatrics ward, which is where we still are.  Hopefully we'll be discharged tomorrow morning.  All is much better, and it was nothing too serious, but am I ever grateful for the medical care we have in this country.  To be able to see a doctor at the drop of a hat, to be able to get the tests we need when we need them, to have a pediatrician dropping in every day, and to be able to stay all week without wondering if our bank account can afford it.  We are blessed indeed.

Many thoughts are swirling around in my head, thoughts provoked by friends and books and blogs.  But I will get to all that later.  For now I'm getting back to cuddles with my baby.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Heard an interesting thought in a movie last night.  The film character posited that we really are alone in this life.  Everyone talks about how you are born alone and you die alone, but in between we are trapped in this body that keeps us truly separate from everyone else.  Even when I am with someone, and feel as though I know him or her, I am really only seeing my perception of that person, which can never be as translucent as I think.

Within ourselves there is so much depth, so many levels.  One day we turn around and discover someone is not who we thought they were - in good ways or bad.  One day someone slips out of our life and we see a glimpse as they move quickly away and wonder what it was that we saw in that moment, something we had never seen or guessed was hidden there.

Some days we look back with rose-coloured glasses and remember snatches of the past exactly in the way we want to remember it.  Some days we imagine down the future and again only see rosy snapshots that exclude the film reel of real life.

So often life is like sitting in a darkened room at night, glancing over and seeing a neighbour flip a light switch that illuminates themselves in a room.  You witness a moment of that person within their own sanctuary, within their own private life, and can conjecture all you want but never really know anything real about it.  Lights go on and off in houses around town, throughout the world, everyone circling in their own life and witnessing experiences from their own eyes.  No one else can really see how they see.

And yet it is not as gloomy as all that - simply true.  Does truth have to be gloomy?  I think there is great and beautiful joy to be found in this life - and all of it comes from the relationships we form.  This thought seems to contradict the idea that we are always alone.  But I guess that is how a spirit reaches out beyond the physical walls in which it finds itself.  Moments of connectivity between mother and baby, between lovers, between friends.  A spark that tells us this loneliness is only physical, only temporary, only for this world's existence.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Ready to read

Inspired by Shawni Eyre at 71 Toes, I wanted to make this summer a time for reading.  It's a bit of an ambitious plan for us, since as of day one of summer, I actually didn't have any kids who could read.

Or so I thought.

My mom spent many years as a primary school teacher and always lamented that it took at least 6-8 weeks in September/October to get the kids back to where they were at the end of June.  That's how much they forget over the summer holidays.  But one of the best ways to combat that is to have them reading.  So I set out to encourage the kids to spend time with books.

My first goal was to get Colin reading some very basic English books.  Because the kids attend a Francophone school, there is no exposure to English at all.  (I'm totally fine with this, because they get lots of English exposure at home, and their French is fantastic already, even after only a year in junior kindergarten.)

As it turns out, Colin already knows how to read.  How typically Colin.

I don't know how or where he learned, but when I sat down with an easy reader to introduce him to sounding out English words phonetically, he took the book from me and read it from first page to last.  He only needed help with words that contained silent letters.  Then he picked up a second book and read it.  And so on, and so on.

I then devised a program to help them want to read all summer.  It's the old stand-by sticker chart, but by George is it working miracles!  They each designed a chart with 100 squares on it.  For each book someone reads to them, they get one sticker.  For each book they read to someone else, they get two stickers.  For each 10 books they read, they get a small chocolate.  If they reach 100, they get a bigger prize, TBD, but something like a night at the movies with mom or dad, or dinner out at a place of their choosing.  (The grand prize will be in the $20 range.)

I was worried at first they might not make 100 - after all there aren't that many days in the summer vacation.  But the incentive program worked better than I could have imagined - on day one, Colin got 14 stickers, and Caleb got 7 (I didn't have books Caleb could read yet, so he couldn't get as many as Colin, who chooses almost never to listen to a book being read, since reading it himself gets more stickers!)

Today we went by the library to check out books (they chose more than 25!)  I grabbed a bunch of French easy readers to help them keep up the French also.  Our plan is to hit the library at least once a week, to change up the books.  While we have hundreds of books at home, we've read them all many times, so it's nice to get something new.

We're only 3 days into summer vacation, and this goal setting is really working for us!  Now to implement a couple other things...

Sunday, 1 July 2012


Today, sitting in the pew at church, Caleb sidled up to me as I held Juliette in my arms.  He tenderly stroked her cheek, kissed her forehead, and softly spoke "I promise I will always protect for your whole life."  He continued to stroke her face and repeat the promise several times as he smiled upon her.

There is nothing like a big brother watching over his little sister.