Back to School Mommy Dance

Well, well, well friends, it’s finally arrived, that day that so many of us have been waiting for since the second day the kids were off for the summer.

It’s the night before the first day back at school!!

Mothers everywhere can be seen scurrying around finishing up laundry (making sure the one and only perfect outfit is clean for the morning); throwing together lunches; setting alarms an hour earlier; taking deep breaths and reviewing master lists of things which MUST be done by the morning; leaning on door jambs, gazing at their children as they sleep remembering how it felt to hold them that very first time.

Tonight if you logged into Facebook, you were certain to see old photos of children on their 1st day of school; read Mothers and Fathers reminiscing. Blogs tomorrow morning will be filled with the same and more…tips for transitioning your children, making lunches, choosing clothing….on and on. I’m certain that I too will eventually write about some, if not all of these topics.

But not tonight.

Tonight my girls each have new indoor shoes, clean clothes, backpacks with their supplies and lunches will be made tomorrow morning amidst the chaos of preparations with a brand new 1st grader and 3rd grader.

Tonight I have a different focus……I’m not emotional, not weepy over their growth….I am not concerned about who their teachers are, nor which friends they might or might not have in their classrooms.

No, tonight my friends feels like the night before Christmas for me.

……

……

(that’s my dramatic pause)

Why?

I can sleep knowing that my children won’t be bored; they won’t be whining at me constantly; they won’t be stuck in the state of entitlement which seemed to hit my children by the 2nd week of summer activities. For the first time in over 2 months I will not have to hear my 5&7 year old girls bickering, squealing and screaming in the background of my life.

I don’t care if your kids are older or not, the summer months stretch a Mother’s patience! If you’re a stay-at-home Mom, you hear it all day. If you leave the home to work, you pay astronomical rates to have a reliable, secure daycare situation for your children. If you are one of my homeschooler friends; you already know I bow to you! And if your children are old enough not to require daycare; well at least now you’ll know where they are!

For the first time in 7 years I will be alone in this house during the day.

In

Silence

By

Myself!

WOW.

Yeah I’m a bit excited!

I am raising my glass of water at God on this one, what a great plan He reveals sometimes.

This freedom which has been granted me will allow me to continue therapy without having to find babysitters, to write that book which I’ve been struggling with for months, to lie down when the pain becomes too much…….too many positive things to list.

I’ve come along way baby! The old me would definitely have seen this as a reason to raise a glass of wine. The old me would never, ever have put this out there….I wouldn’t have been able to see how wonderful this stage is. I would have wallowed in my youngest going to school full-time, I would have longed for the baby years and stressed about EVERYTHING.

But tonight I’m not. I know that God’s plan is in action and He has a reason for this change of stage. This example happens to be easier for me to see than most, the logistics of my physical recovery alone will be so much simpler….but it still takes me to trust Him to be this comfortable with it. 

Nowadays I feel comfortable telling you that I’m so happy my kids won’t be in the house with me, not just for selfish reasons but yup they count too!

If you are a Mother or a Father, and you try to tell me that you’re not just a bit excited tonight….well my friend, you are either a liar or not looking at this from the right perspective! Come on people, do a bit of a happy dance with me.

It’s okay to admit it, while we love the summer it’s a relief when September comes around and you survived!!

 

My womb ached

This past Saturday we had the pleasure of taking my friend Krista’s wonderful children for a sleepover. Zack is 4 and his sister Charlotte is 8 months old.
Krista has gone above and beyond for us since my accident in Feb/10. At the time of the accident Hubby worked evenings and Krista was here at our home EVERY evening helping me with my girls. She simply arrived with her son and jumped in. I don’t know what I would have done without her in those first few months….and since frankly. There have been countless instances where I’ve sought her help, from understanding and completing paperwork to babysitting while I attend doctor’s appointments.
Her love for us amazes me, not to mention her husband’s patience.
And so we wanted to give her and her Hubby a night to themselves….the fact that I’d get my baby fix didn’t suck either!!
It’s common knowledge that I have a bit of a crush on baby Charlotte.
I’m sure you can see why!
And Zack, he’s a boy after my own heart. His mind is always 10 steps ahead of his body which leads to some injuries….but he recovers quickly. Oh and he’s utterly brilliant, this boy is seriously advanced in many areas. I may be a bit biased, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Zack was deemed “genius” level IQ.
So how did this look when you combine the world’s cutest 8 month old baby, a busy young genius with a 5 year old diva and 7 year old introvert?
Busy.
The fact that they are so close was both a good thing and a bad thing. Good because Zack is comfortable here and we know him well. Bad because we know him well. OK, to clarify; our 7 year old knows exactly which buttons to push to wind Zack up when he annoys her.
This presented a challenge, it was Zack’s first ever sleep over (excluding his Grandparents) and I was determined to make it a good memory for him. Our solution: keep them all occupied and supervised.
By playing on the strengths of each child, the day was a success! 
Chelsea put on shows for us all, we were a boisterous audience indeed.
Zack showed us his karate (in a wide open space), again hubby and I struggled to keep the crowd calm.
We encouraged Zack and Chelsea to spend time together playing, realizing that their dynamic was flowing easily. They had a blast, both children love to talk which explains why the volume rose dramatically.
It’s hard to be heard when your play partner doesn’t stop talking.
And Sydney, my 7 year old?
We Knighted her “Babysitter”.
I don’t know if Charlotte will ever have a more attentive babysitter, poor wee girl couldn’t look away from Syd’s face without being directed (not so subtly) back to it.
When I asked Sydney what her favorite part of the visit was, she responded “Having a bath with Charlotte.”
How bloody cute are they?????
At one point I had the opportunity to lay down with Charlotte, oh man did this bring back memories of snuggling with my babies…sigh, seriously folks this was moving!
But by the next morning I had to admit that I don’t think I could do it right now.
Lately I have had a strong baby urge, my womb has been seriously aching.
The reality is that I needed my Hubby’s help way too much during the visit to be able to handle a baby full-time.With my physical limitations and memory issues, I just couldn’t provide the care by myself. 
Hubby and Sydney both did all the lifting and carrying, they reminded me when she needed to eat…..I got all the snuggles and fun times. 
Thank goodness Krista and her Hubby trust us to watch their children, for now Charlotte’s visits are quelling my urges. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll wake and be fully restored but in the meantime I’m sure glad we get to make memories with these two little beings!

What we do as Mothers

Have I mentioned how much frogs gross me out?
Why do children love them so much?
Once upon a time, my lovely family went for a stroll to a seemingly beautiful pond.
There was a fountain, sunshine and pretty lily pads.
I sat far away, upon a pretty white bench and watched my two daughters with their father, who just happens to be the love of my life and Mr. Nature Man himself. 
They were intent upon their task, to mar the beauty of my day and make me look at frogs!
You see, the lovely facade of pond was a lie!
Under the surface hid fish, snakes, leeches and FROGS!
When I looked closely, there they were! Arrogantly gazing at me.
The audacity of it all!
Intent on making another beautiful memory with my family, I looked away from their mocking faces and ignored their croaks of laughter.
The girls were laughing and actually working together!
GASP, they were getting along.

Daddy helped, he carried the caught frogs in the handy-dandy bucket. I love this bucket, it assures me that these creepy, slimy creatures cannot get close to me.
And still these frogs mocked me, they seemed to croak happily just for my discomfort.
You are definitely a Mother if you’re willing to subject yourself to situations where the heebie-jeebie levels are this high.
In the end the girls had a blast, hubby enjoyed himself and me?
 It was fun watching them from my far away spot.
Oh and just to raise the gross factor, my daughter of course caught the mutant frog!
Check out it’s nasty tail.
On this Wordfull Wednesday I’m grateful for too many things to list, I think the fact that I was willing to get close enough to take this photo says it all.

Family Secret – EXPOSED

Today I’m coming out of the closet…..I have a sock basket.
There I said it, it’s out there finally!
When Hubby and I were together before kids there would come a time when we would notice a sock going missing. Because there was just the two of us, it was a very quick discovery. In those days I did laundry once a week, generally 3 loads and managed to sort, fold and put them away immediately.
With the birth of our first daughter came the increase in laundry. I would lovingly wash her little clothing and bedding every two days or less. In those days, being a first-time Mum I kept quickly rinsed out soiled items, sprayed them with stain remover immediately and wouldn’t allow her dirty items to sit more than a few hours.
Fast-forward to daughter #2 and an 18 month old. Suddenly the laundry wasn’t done immediately, believe it or not….quite often I would find a burp pad far under a pile of laundry. Said burp pad wouldn’t have been rinsed, no stain spray had been applied and a nasty black mold covered it.
GROSS!
And so into the garbage it would go.
It happened more than once, I am not entirely proud of that.
As our girls have grown, their clothing has gotten larger and inexplicably seems to become soiled much quicker. Oh for the days when they couldn’t even roll around. Laundry is done almost daily nowadays….I just cannot face mold anymore.
We have developed a system, Hubby does the laundry (I can’t bed or lift well), he then presents me with a basket of clean clothes (somehow not as exciting as the surprise gifts I had imagined in my 20’s), and I sit and fold them.
That’s our system right now….I’m still working on the put them away immediately portion, but for today it’s manageable.
What isn’t manageable is this.
Our sock basket.
It’s an amazing combination of different sizes, colors and textures which drives me nuts!
It began as a catcher for single-socks. Those socks whose mate was missing would be places into the receptacle to await the pairing process. Upon its initiation this basket was quite handy and the process was brisk, however the process has broken down horribly.
Hubby thought it a good idea to put ALL of the socks into the basket and pair them after folding and putting away the laundry.
 While it sounds like a great proposal for some families, within our home at this time it’s an utter failure.
With my brain injury, I cannot decipher pairs easily, if I’m tired at all it’s overwhelming.
Therefore it became the children’s chore to match socks, another great idea.
This is a nightmare….they dump it out and begin the treasure hunt. This is amusing for them for a very short period, few pairs are found and folded together and then it’s all put back into the basket for “another day”.
And so we have the pretty pink sock basket. Each time we need socks, we dig in and find a pair. The basket moves from bedroom to bedroom and haunts me. It’s like I can hear it breathing some days…..I told Hubby that I’m considering throwing out all of the socks and starting over. Alas that would be a waste.
And so this afternoon, once the girls are home from Summer Camp we will not be making forts in the living room like yesterday.
Nor will we be swimming with friends.
We will be matching socks, throwing away the single socks and bidding adieu to the sock basket forever!!!
**Disclaimer – yes I know it’s a waste to throw out the single socks but one house can only have so many sock puppets**

Today I Let Go – Just a Bit

Well friends it’s official, it’s the end of an era in for our family.
Today our youngest daughter graduated senior kindergarten, from now on both our girls will be in school full time.
Back on June 1st I wrote a post about this momentous occasion, titled simply Graduation.
I’m certain that you are all keenly aware that many graduations are taking place around the world; you just have to open up your Facebook and you’ll see the status updates and photos.
To all of those people celebrating I say congrats, the graduation ceremony is a serious marker. One which reflects your efforts, dreams and desires. That big day means so much to many of us.
I can distinctly recall beginning to prepare for my Grade 8 graduation in the month of February. Immediately following my birthday, I began to read the magazines (we didn’t have Internet…groan) and peruse the styles of dresses and hair.
One would think I could have come up with a better look than I did. Apparently I was convinced that the ultra shiny white eyeshadow, lace mock gloves and silver choker were the height of fashion. 
Oh to be able to speak to my younger, fashion challenged self.
I’m apologizing in advance to the girls with me in the photo, but it’s not like I’m tagging you all.
My high school grad was a huge deal for me but our school didn’t actually have a ceremony to hand out diplomas until September. 
By September I wasn’t bothered attending the Commencement ceremony, the way I saw at the time, I’d done the important part; I had attended the prom!!!
Yes my friends, the prom was far more important to me than the fact that I’d successfully completed my high school education. In my priority list those days wearing a cap and gown ranked far below dressing up and hanging with my friends.
My saving grace was that my fashion sense had improved and although I don’t have a photo of myself in the robe, I do have this smashing shot of my sexy, young self to gaze at admiringly.
That was probably the healthiest and fittest I’ve ever been and I am awfully glad to have this photo, even with the Debbie Gibson hair.
The time came this morning with my 5 year old daughter, where she exerted her independence. With only 10 minutes to get dressed she had a complete and utter meltdown because she didn’t like the dress we had chosen for her to wear. 
Instinctively I wanted to scream in frustration; we’d spend much too long choosing the wee summer dress and we didn’t have time for a DIVA like fit.
There I stood staring at my daughter displaying behavior shockingly like the girl in The Exorcist. My head was about to explode and that post of mine came into my mind. Instantly I was ticked at myself for writing it because it deflated my anger and had me tearing up like the softy that I am.
Right as she’s yelling and flailing her arms as only our Miss Chelsea can, I wrapped my arms around her and began talking about how she used to go to the school doors and cry when we took her sister to school. I told her how little she looked on her very first day of school, how brave she was at 3 years old. I shared with her how proud I am of her and who she is becoming and how I want time to slow down some days.
In that moment I slowed time and surrounded us with our love.
And then I allowed my darling, independent, fashion-challenged 5 year old to choose her own outfit.
She looked beautiful.
Way to go Miss Chelsea Belle, we’re so proud of you.

Fathers Day

This past Sunday was Fathers day and I’ve been reflecting on the journey my hubby has been on becoming the father he is today. Today he is wonderfully patient, kind and loving with the girls. He has a quirky sense of humor and easily understands the kids sense of fun and adventure.
It began with the arrival of Sydney on December 31st, 2003. From her first night in the hospital he was a hands on Dad. The love in his eyes brought me to tears as I observed him marvelling at her. Because I had a c-section we were in the hospital for 5 days, cocooned from the demands of daily life, we were absorbed by our new baby’s beauty.
Infancy was never hubby’s favorite age, he prefers when babies are less “breakable.” Once they are into the chubby stage he is much more comfortable.
From the moment Sydney arrived, hubby included her in all of his free time activities. He has her help him with yard work, home renovations, fishing and anything else that strikes his fancy. Below you can see them working as a team putting her toddler bed together. Hubby had her screwing it together with him, she was so proud!
Story time with Daddy has always been very important in this house; it is quiet bonding time for Daddy and the girls which began when Sydney was little.
Next on the path of Fatherhood is another child!
With one little 23 month old girl, why not add another baby?
December 13th, 2005 brought us Chelsea. Our second daughter and another opportunity for hubby to become a proud new Daddy. With Sydney well taken care of by family members, we had another 5 days in the hospital to get to know our newest addition.
Splitting his attention between two children had never worried my hubby, he would tell me he has enough love for all of us and some to spare. There never was a time where I saw him overwhelmed by these two little ladies. He has a knack to laugh off their antics, melt-downs and just glory in the moment.
He’s the father who takes his girls everywhere, wants them to see all of the things he loved when he was young.
The CNE.
Hiking
Canoeing
River rock hopping and so many more things.
My husband has been a Daddy for 7 years now and as time goes on I am continually surprised at how he grows. From the early days of diaper changes, sleepless nights, bottles and a cranky wife to the more recent challenges of little girls exerting independence one thing remains the same.
His patient love and understanding.
For that and so many more things I am blessed, I am grateful that my children’s Daddy brings out the best in me.


Prayer

I am writing this piece in response to a prompt on The Red Dress Club
This week’s RemembeRED memoir prompt asked me to dig deep to find what, from your childhood, you still know from heart.
My childhood memories aren’t very clear; frankly most of them are attached to photos taken. It’s very rare that I’m able to pull a memory from my mind by effort alone. More often it’s a scent or situation which will stimulate these memories.
One memory which I recall by heart is our bedtime routine; the simple scent of lilac can bring me back to my childhood bed. I can recall pulling back the crisp white sheets, their fresh fragrance filling my nose as I slipped into bed. The setting sun would dance upon the dollies who kept me company on my wallpaper; these companions seemed to glow as twilight approached. If the wind was just right my room would be infused with the comforting scent of lilac, calming me slowly as my busy mind reflected upon the wonders of my day.
Footsteps would approach softly as my Mummy came to tuck me in. Each night she would pull up my top sheet, nice and tight to my chin, folding it over so the line perfectly placed upon my collarbone. My stuffed elephant Tanya was next placed into the crook of my arm and Mummy assumed her position, perched on the edge of my bed.
Words of love were exchanged and then the closing ritual of the day began. Before my Mummy’s lyrical voice finished the first word of our prayer it was accompanied by my sing-song tone.
“Dearest Jesus, gentle and mild; who suffered for me, your little child Julie. Please bless Mummy, Daddy, Ami (sister), Julie, Fluffy (cat), Tippy(cat), Liptummy(fish) and Herman(fish)…..” following these lines would be prayers for friends, family and things I desired, the closing would always be the same. “And if I’ve forgotten anything God, please see into my mind and know it all….in Jesus name, Amen.”
Each night it was the same prayer. Even as an adult I pray this way, adding in my confessions and adoration but still the opening and closing remain the same although the characters have changed. There is now much more to my prayers, less demands and more gratitude but the tradition has continued.
While I don’t think that ritual or religious practices are requirements for a Relationship with God, prayer certainly is. Prayer for me in this manner is reserved for the closing of the day, just before sleep when I’m relaxed and ready for a deep, private talk with God.
This time of reflection and connection with God is a form of restoration for me, grounding me in my faith, in my purpose. In my experience when I forgo this meditative practice my spiritual self has suffered. I’ve become disconnected and misled by worldly concerns.
I’m grateful that I’ve remembered this childhood routine and have learned how to modify and implement it as an adult.
Are you stimulating your spiritual side as a natural habit in day-to-day life?
Have you developed new practices which allow you to stay connected to God and His purpose for you on this journey?

Road Trip with the Kids?

When the words “road trip” are said to parents of children under ten there is a segment of the population who cringe. Visions of irritable children, squeals of “are we there yet?”, “I have to pee” dance in our heads and immediately we’re glad we aren’t stuck in that vehicle.
And yet at some point we all do it. We know in advance the pain we will have to endure but the end destination is thought to be worth it.
With this knowledge Hubby and I set out for a journey north of our home to Muskoka, Ontario.
My sister and her husband kindly offered us the use of her trailer this weekend at our favorite place in the world, Muskoka Bible Centre. I have written about this amazing slice of the earth before, here with Sand, Love and God at MBC.
I actually acknowledged the road trip challenges within that article, this time my friends Hubby and I were prepared! We were bringing my niece with us…..yup we recruited the big guns to occupy the girls.
Armed with pillows, snacks and DS’s there they were piled in the back seat with promises of good behavior.
We knew we would have to stop often so we planned those location approximately each 40 minutes of the 2.5 hour drive.
Of course it happened, 10 minutes after the first stop the whining began….”how long until the next bathroom….I have to pee.”
Immediately the hairs stood up on the back of my neck with irritation, “who said that?” I bit out.
Typical!
I’d like to point out that there is one child who doesn’t have her hand raised, if you guessed it’s my niece you win the prize.
So here we are driving for what seemed an eternity to the next pit stop, listening to my eldest go on and on about having to pee and what do our eyes spy in the lane ahead of us?
You’re not going to believe this….we were killing ourselves laughing.
The sign on the back was clearly visible and Syd was almost crying asking to go use their bathroom
Next we passed a big touring bus which Hubby kindly pointed out had a washroom on board.
Thanks buddy.
We arrived at our 2nd destination, Webers! This is a quaint burger joint which serves as a half-way point for so many Ontarians heading up to cottage country. Webers has been in business since 1963 and has train cars to eat in, lots of space for the kids to run oh and bathrooms of course!

The rest of the drive was relatively peaceful, there wasn’t much arguing and time seemed to flow quickly.
We finally arrived and something happened immediately…..relaxation. Can you see it in our faces?

All of that nail-biting, irritating, whining, anxiety ridden time in the car was worth it!
 Here my friends is the view we are graced with, I feel touched directly by God each time I see it.
What a gift he gave us in this Earth!!
If you are anywhere near Muskoka Bible Center or if you’re planning a family road trip, today my advice is go for it! Yesterday during the drive at times I would have said never again, but now that we’re here it was all worth it.
Having this as my view for most of the day certainly helped.
Proverbs 3:5
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And he shall direct your paths.”

My TV debut

On this beautiful Thursday I had a fantastic opportunity. I was invited by Laurel Crossley-Byers, the founder of Opti-Mom to be on her TV show!!!!
Yes my friends it’s true, I’m now officially a star!
The show is aired on a local Cable Network, it’s called MomU!
This television show is totally devoted to helping Moms get an education while reconnecting with themselves, how wonderful is that??
You can see clips of the show here at MomU!
Here is my sassified self right before I left:
My friend had agreed to drive me, it was 1.5 from our home and we all now that I’m not ready to face that drive. Off we went and took 2.5 hours to get there thanks to the GPS and arrived in the nick of time, I’m so glad that Laurel is patient!
The good thing about arriving late is that I didn’t have time to get nervous about the show, I was still stuck in the anxiety about arriving at all.
The show was amazing, I loved the professionalism of it all, being told to adjust my posture just so and well let’s just hope the camera man has a chin reducer on his cam.
The topic was over-programmed Moms, my personal message was to reduce your stress and cut out all activities which don’t truly benefit you and your family.
Too often we are running around in the daily grind, taking on too much because we don’t know how to spend time slowly.
If we can find the balance in life we can learn to nourish ourselves, mind, body and soul.
If you’re running around living in tomorrow there’s no chance of growing today.
Thanks to Laurel for having me on the show, it was wicked fun and carries a great message!
Here’s Laurel and I after.
I love this lady, she is truly inspiring.

 

Have a great weekend everyone, we’re off to Muskoka, Ontario to enjoy some cottage country…hope they have internet!

Graduation

When my daughters were born they needed very little, food, clean diapers and lots of cuddles. While this led to sleepless nights and a haggared Mommy I loved each moment. 
As they grew there were milestones which we watched for, the first time they smiled, the first time they rolled over and so on. I can recall reading each chapter of What to Expect in the First Year, a book which was my handbook guide to everything I thought I needed to know.
My copy of the book was well thumbed, post-it notes littered the pages with many excerpts highlighted for quick reference. I’ve linked to the website above, if they’d had that I would never have been off of the computer.
I have written many posts on my experience and views on Motherhood, you’ll probably get a kick out of this one, My Daughters Won’t be Walking Down the Aisle in Diapers – I hope.
This time of year is graduation time, this will be the last kindergarten grad ceremony that we’ll get to attend for our girls…sniff sniff.
Our first one was in June, 2008 with out little Sydney.
It was emotional for us but we were excited for her to attend Grade 1, she really wanted to go to school full-time like the bigger kids.
Last year we attended Chelsea’s JK grad which was super cute….Chels was such a diva, she sat on that stage with the largest smile, waving like the Princess she was and afterwards telling me how happy she was that everyone came to see her graduate. She really thought that every person in that packed gym was there for her.

Last year I loved the ceremony but it was simply another milestone.
This year’s graduation will mark the end of an era for our small family. As Hubby and I sit in the audience watching the little ones sing their songs and play up for the audience it will reflect the turning of the tides.
We will officially have two children who aren’t babies anymore.
As they exert their independance more and more each day a part of me wants to pull them back, to keep them safe within the bubble of toddlerhood.
It’s not possible and it would be selfish of me to stunt their growth but as I let go more and more, there is a type of sadness….nostalgia really.
Thank goodness for video and digital photos which help me to hold on to the memories.
To all of the parents out there who are facing change in the near future, I am with you as you see the joy, feel the love and yet still feel a tinge of tear at the back of your eyes.