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where brown meets blue

This vase

This vase was filled with sand, eight years ago today. We stood, side by side, each with a colour of our own, and simultaneously we poured the sand from our separate vessels into one. On that day we promised to love each other at all times, giving ourselves to one another.  We had no idea of what was to come. What life would bring our way – what ups and downs, what adventures and challenges, what struggles and victories we would face along the way.

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Eight years. 2,920 days, 70,080 hours, 4,204,800 minutes of … life – washing dishes, getting groceries, cleaning house, watching tv, going for walks, drinking coffee, cooking, fighting, making up, talking about nothing, talking about everything, listening, ignoring, holding on, moving on – learning through it all that this process of loving is a choice we make every second of every day.

Eight years. Two new careers. Countless hours spent in classes, writing essays, studying for exams, completing projects. One diligently working to get the task done while the other missed their company. But all along the way, cheering each other on to complete the goal set before them. To finish that degree, to earn that title, to fulfill the dream together, and make two dreams into one.

Eight years. Two baby boys. Parenthood both unites and divides. It brings you together with newfound purpose, propelling you into the greatest and most beautiful adventure this life has to offer. But it takes so much of your time and energy, there is often little left at the end of the day for each other. Sleepless nights, feeding struggles, the hard work of establishing routine, trying – sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding – to make time to continue the romance in the midst of it all. Disciplining, teaching, engaging – epic wins and epic fails. And then starting all over again. And through it all, growing to appreciate each other all the more, as we press on to raise our boys in the way they should go.

Eight years. Six moves. Six. Taking down, sorting, organizing, selling, packing. Unpacking, setting up, buying, decorating. Address changes, utility set ups, internet installations, drivers licenses, car registrations, health cards, recycling programs. Heartbreaking goodbyes, joyful hellos. Moving is not for the faint of heart.

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This vase has been through each step. The first few times we moved, I packed it so tight, afraid the sand would change too much, that you wouldn’t be able to distinguish the unique pattern of both colours. That it wouldn’t be preserved as it was on that day. Today, as I look at this sand, as I think of it packed in a box, jostling it’s way in a car, or truck, or bus, from one home to the next, across the prairies, then across the country, I think how perfect it is that it’s not the same as it was eight years ago. It has changed. It is still two colours, but they are more well blended. They have bled into each other here and there. In some places one colour is more prominent than the other, but they are both always present, wrapped tightly together, immersed in each other. And with each passing day, more impossible to separate.

“I promise to love you at all times, giving myself to you.”

Happy Anniversary my Hubs.

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On the move again

We’re moving. Again. Across the country. Again.

Two cross country moves with two little guys in less than a year. It’ll be fun, we said. (Spoiler alert – it’s not).

We’re actually getting pretty good at moving. I’ve essentially mastered selling stuff on Kijiji (the trick is to ask for a little more than you actually want, and then settle on what you were hoping for in the first place). We’ve come up with a detailed list of what needs to happen when, including packing, sorting, errand running and cleaning, and each day we tick off the tasks we’ve completed. This makes my heart happy, and allows me not to spend each day curled up in fetal position on my kitchen floor stressing over how all this stuff is going to get done. In theory, we have got this.

Except, what we have also got is two toddlers. So of course, today when I finished packing a big box of cooking utensils, set it down on the floor, and then ran to the bathroom for 20 seconds, I came back to find the utensils being used as all manner of musical instruments, and also, a hat.

I also spend 45 minutes out of every hour reassuring my sensitive toddler that yes, Thomas the train will be coming with us to our new house. Yes, James will be coming too. Yes, we can take your Blue Jays hat. Yes, we can also take your digger. We are taking all the toys, bud. Yes, that means Luka’s phone too. And your soccer ball. Yes, the football too. And on and on we go until all toys within eyesight have been accounted for.

I don’t particularly like moving. It’s a lot of work to pack up a whole house and move it. But this time I have been  grateful for the to do list, the never ending tasks that must get done; for the busyness that occupies my mind, so that I can keep my heart from dwelling on what is to come.

At least, that is what I was doing, until recently when a wise friend encouraged me to let my heart grieve.

I can’t say I was prepared for the torrent of emotions that hit when I began to heed that advice. It’s been an emotional roller coaster. There is so much to look ahead to. A new adventure. Renewed friendships. Time with family.

But there is also much to grieve. For the first time in over ten years, I have spent the last few months living close to my family. I have loved every minute of it. I have been at my nephews and nieces birthday parties; watched them blow out candles, and open their presents. I have kissed their cheeks, and squeezed them, listened to their endless concerts, rocked them to sleep, and grown to love their unique personalities. I have spent hours and hours in conversation with my mom, and my sisters – talking about nothing, talking about everything. Those moments – the moments when our kids are running around singing, or just yelling for no reason, and the babies are incessant in their quest to get up the stairs, and we are just talking, and talking, and talking, and talking – over all the noise, over all the chaos; those are the moments I will miss the most.

A few months ago, I came across this:

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My time with my sisters has been so good for my soul. It has given me strength, and confidence, and joy, because with them I can be truly and wholly myself. I have soaked up each second we have spent together, and it has left me better. To leave them, to give up these times together, breaks my heart.

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Yet sometimes, you have to do the things you don’t want to do, because you know that they are right. You have to walk down the path laid out for you, do what you are called to do, even though it hurts.

And it hurts. It really does. I’m struggling to focus on the positive, to look forward to the good, all the hellos in store, because right now, I can only feel the goodbyes.

But that’s the beauty of grace. I don’t have to hold it all together. I don’t have to know exactly what’s in store. I don’t have to put on a brave face, and push through. Because there is grace for me. In my heartbreak, in my struggle, there is One who will hold me. One who will give me hope. One who will be my strength, my confidence, my joy. Because He and He alone helps me to be truly and wholly myself.

We are moving. And my heart is breaking. But there is grace for me. And I would follow my Hubs to the end of the world.

So here we go.

 

 

 

 

 

Quirks

My sister and I have been reading this book, which is mostly about being yourself, loving who you are, and loving who others are. It’s pretty great, and pretty funny (you can find it here).  A recent chapter discussed some of the author’s quirks, and it got me thinking about some of the things that only people who know me really well would know about me. I’m kind of a weirdo, so these are but a few of the many things that make me strange and unusual.

1. I get immersed in books, shows and movies.

The mere fact that I am writing this blog post is testimony to this. I get hooked on something I’m watching or reading, and jump into it completely. I’ve been known to finish a book in a day, if its a good one (and obviously, before I had kids). But sometimes I get so immersed in it, that I actually start thinking in the manner that the people in the book or show talk. For example:

Call the Midwife (with English accent) –  I say, this watermelon is bally enormous. I haven’t the foggiest how I shall get it home. I daresay I will need a good Horlicks after that feat. Never the matter, one must do one’s best.

Gilmore Girls (in warp speed) – Woah, that watermelon is bigger than Paul Anka’s head! I’d need a van the size of Emily’s ego to get that thing home. Ugh, there is never a good manservant around when you need one.

Shakespeare –

Behold! What mammoth fruit of the earth is this?! Methinks it is akin to the great leviathan of the sea! Oh what tragedy shall befall me whence I labour under this great burden! (Sadly, I don’t think in iambic pentameter)

Basically any legal drama –

Imaginary lawyer in my head: And what time was it when you saw the watermelons, Mrs. Weinmaster?

Me: It was 3 pm when I saw the watermelons. I had checked my phone as I walked in to the store.

Imaginary lawyer in my head: And are you in the habit of checking the time while you do your groceries?

Me: Well, no, but I was expecting a text from my sister, so I had checked my phone, and when I looked up, I saw the watermelons.

Imaginary lawyer in my head: And can you comment on the size of said watermelons?

(Curiously, I am never the lawyer in these thoughts, but always the one being deposed. I sometimes wonder what this means about my personality.)

And etc, etc, etc. I could go on, but I think you get the point. Once, when I had been watching a lot of police dramas at the same time as reading a book about an FBI agent, I saw a big brown van pulling up to a house across the street, and I kid you not,  my first thought was, “Shoot, SWAT is here. I better get the baby downstairs.”

2. I love baby thighs

I mean, I absolutely ADORE baby thighs. The rollier, the better. I am overcome with the desire to squish said thighs, all the while exclaiming my sheer joy in much too high a tone of voice. This is the best part of having my own baby, as I find it’s a bit awkward trying to do this to someone else’s child. Especially if they aren’t somehow related to you.

My little babe has wonderfully rolley thighs, which get squished and praised at every opportunity. Summer, and the subsequent rompers, are a delight for the sole reason that I have better opportunity to squish those thighs.

To be honest, though, this isn’t really about the thighs. Pretty much any chunky part of a baby gets the same treatment. Chubby cheeks, the little pudgy spots on a wrist, an especially round tum. So much chunk to squish!!

3. I’m shy

This might come as a surprise to some, as I think in recent years I have learned to overcompensate for my shyness by being excessively friendly. In high school, I was so shy it almost killed me to ask for my own ticket at a movie theatre, or order my own food. I would beg my friends to do it for me, and just give them the money. This shyness often came across as snobbishness. I remember one specific occasion when a guy at school asked me if I had ever taken voice lessons. Dying inside, I kinda half laughed, shrugged and said, “No way!” My inner dialogue said, As if I could ever be good enough to take voice lessons! But later, as I reflected on his puzzled look at my response, I realized it must have sounded like I thought I was too good for voice lessons.

To be fair, I think I have genuinely overcome some of this shyness. Nursing requires you to get up close and personal with someone, and you don’t always have the time to get to know them first. I find myself more and more being the one to strike up a conversation with the cashier at Walmart…

I’m turning into my mother.

4. I think baby toots are super cute.

Ok, so this may be reserved to my babies only, and I suspect that it will not last beyond the sweet years of toddlerhood for either of my boys. But these days, any time one of them lets one go, it just makes me giggle. I can not help it. This of course, has created a culture in which all toots are celebrated and laughed at in my household. A culture which I am sure to regret at some point. But that is then, and this is now.

5. I hate working out

HATE, HATE, HATE. I hate sweating, I hate feeling like I’m going to die, I hate not being able to breathe. Hate it. I still do it, though you wouldn’t know it to look at me, almost everyday of the week. But because I hate it so much, I find myself getting inordinately angry at the workout people in my video. I’ve been doing this one specific workout video for some time, so I pretty much have the monologue memorized. There is this one part in the video where the leader messes up the time count and you end up getting only 10 seconds of rest between banded punches instead of 20, and every single time I have to resist the urge to kick the screen right in his face. I mean really?!?! You’re not even doing the workout, you’re just keeping track of the time, and you can’t even do that right!!!! You try doing it again with only ten seconds of rest, you little you! And as if you couldn’t have edited the video somehow to make up the 10 seconds so as not to make someone swear in front of their toddler!!!!!

Ok, I have never actually sworn at the computer, but it’s been close, and on more than one occasion I have been asked, “Mama, why you don’t like that guy?”

So there you have it. Five little things that make me who I am.

And now, I simply must go see about that cup of Horlicks.

(Note: I have no idea what Horlicks actually is, but in my world, it’s a nice cup of sweet coffee).

 

 

 

Dear 431,266 people

Dear 431,266 people who signed the  Justice for Harambe petition,

I get it. I admit, when I first saw that video, my first thought was “where are this child’s parents?!?!” Because, it’s kind of our nature to start blaming right of the bat, isn’t it? Something bad happens, and we want to know who is responsible.

But as I watched the events unfold, I couldn’t help but put myself in the shoes of that tiny little boy. Harambe was a magnificent, and beautiful creature…to us. Adults. From the safety of our couches. To that child, he must have been a monster of nightmarish proportions. To think of the fear that boy must have been feeling as he looked into that massive face, took in those huge arms and hands, felt the strength behind them,  made me feel sick. And then I thought of his parents. Dear God. I cannot imagine the panic, the horror, the paralyzing terror that would have gripped me if it had been my child in that cage with that animal. It honestly brings tears to my eyes.

Which is why I just can’t bring myself to understand this petition.A petition that calls for the investigation of parents whose kid fell into a gorilla enclosure, because “We the undersigned want the parents to be held accountable for the lack of supervision and negligence that caused Harambe to lose his life.” (https://www.change.org/p/cincinnati-zoo-justice-for-harambe)

I sincerely hope that none of you, not a single one, has children. Because if you did, I would hope you’d understand that you are not immune. That sometimes, despite the best parenting, the best teaching, the best preparing for the worst, the best safety measures being put in place…accidents happen.

A few days ago I was getting my baby out of his car seat, and my toddler was standing by my side. I have taught him exactly what space on the driveway he is allowed to be on. He knows which areas are safe and which aren’t. He understands that I need to be able to see him, and he shouldn’t go on the road and there are cars and etc, etc. But in the two seconds that I took my focus off of him to unclip the car seat buckle, I turned and he was gone. Panic. I called for him. No answer. More panic. I searched the road and he was not there. I called louder. “I’m right here, mom,” he said from the other side of the car, where he was admiring his reflection in the door.Phew. That could have been bad.

The thing is that no matter how hard you try, these little people are little people. They make their own decisions – sometimes very bad ones – because they don’t have the mental capacity yet to fully understand danger, and what could happen. If you are a parent, you know this.

Perhaps you signed this petition because you are childless and assume you could do better than this mom at the zoo on that particular day. I know that you would try. But trust me, you wouldn’t always succeed. I sure hope no one will create a petition calling for you to be investigated on the day of your biggest failure.

Perhaps you signed this petition because you are a parent, and know you could, and already do, do better. Oh sweet parent. It’s going to be a long hard fall when you come crashing down off that pedestal. I hope that you will be caught by grace rather than the judgement you so freely distributed.

Perhaps you signed this petition, not because of anything to do with parenting, but because you hate the idea that a stunning animal like this was killed. I hear you. This was a tragedy. And I commend your passion and desire to fight for the wildlife of this world. The earth and all it’s creatures are unique, beautiful and deserving of protection. If you carry a passion inside you to fight for the animals that need fighting for, I respect and admire you for that. And if Harambe had been killed by a hunter hungry for a trophy, or for the sake of clearing land to make room for development, or some other such unworthy cause, I would wholeheartedly sign this petition.

But he was killed for the sake of the child. It was not his fault. I know that. But you know what? It wasn’t the child’s fault either. And it wasn’t his moms, or his dads. It was a sad accident. Can you see that it would have been so much more tragic if that tiny boy had been hurt or killed? Can you understand that this child’s life was worth protecting, no matter the cost? Or does your compassion not extend that far?

Dear 431,266 people who signed the  Justice for Harambe petition, this is unacceptable. Please. Lets do better.

 

 

Becoming a nurse

Once upon a time, a very long time ago it seems, I was a fourth year History major, English Lit minor at Queens University. For four years, I had taken courses in Shakespeare and Chaucer, Sociology and histories of all types: Chinese, Sub-Sahara African,  Middle Eastern, and my all time favorite – Latin American. I had written essays and exams and given oral presentations. I worked hard, studied lots, and read until my eyes were popping out of my head. It was four years of diligent, and intense, schooling. And I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

And so I found myself at Stauffer library, late one night, reading through some notes as I prepared for finals, and contemplating the seeming uselessness of this degree I had worked so hard to achieve. I didn’t want to go to teacher’s college. I didn’t want to pursue a masters in History. What was I going to do? The goal had been to graduate. How had I forgotten to look beyond that goal?

I tried to push aside these thoughts and focus on the details in front of me, but I just couldn’t shake the train of thought. And then, out of nowhere, a stray whisper of an idea.

You could be a nurse.

Wait, what? I can’t be a nurse. I’d have to do a bunch more schooling. And I’m so not scientific.

Yes, but you could help people. All those people you’ve been learning about. The ones whose lives have been shattered by years of war, or famine, or disease. You could do something to help.

Over the next few weeks, this idea kept coming back to me. And with it came a growing excitement. So when finals were wrapped up and I headed home, I decided to share my revelation with the most important people in my life.

My parents were the type of people who always said I could do anything I wanted. Singer? Yes. Actress? Yes. Writer? Yes. Teacher? Yes. Journalist? Yes. Yes. Yes.

So, you can see just how off base this idea was when I said to them, “I think I want to be a nurse,” and my dad’s first response was, “You? A nurse?!” And then he laughed. He wasn’t trying to be harsh. It was just that ridiculous of an idea.

So perhaps it was for that reason that I decided to keep it on the back burner and do something completely different for a while. Instead of nursing school, I found myself on an airplane to Afghanistan by the end of the summer. And over the two years I spent there, my eyes were opened to a whole new world. A passion to provide the medical help that people so desperately needed grew in my heart.

It would still be another three years after Afghanistan, years in which I got married, moved across the country, and worked on all those pesky subjects I had never had time for in university (like basic biology), before I would finally find myself sitting in a classroom, ready to learn how to become a nurse.

Nursing school was a whole new level of intense. I’ve never worked so hard at anything. It was at once the most satisfying, and most excruciating experience I’ve ever had. And I learned a lot of stuff, about how to carry out the duties of a nurse – things like giving injections, and calculating medication dosages, and charting, and changing dressings, and starting IV’s (I LOVE starting IV’s).

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Ok, so it was really hard, but we also had some fun.

But nursing school didn’t teach me how to be a nurse.You know who did?

My patients: They taught me how to ask questions – even the embarrassing ones I didn’t want to ask (For example: Mr. Watson, can you describe the consistency of the bowel movement for me?). They taught me that they are just people. People with a disease, people with an injury, and that in order to truly be a nurse, I must look beyond the disease and the injury to see the whole person. They taught me that they are the experts on themselves, that to be a good nurse, I must always be willing to listen to their stories, to hear them. They taught me that more often than not, what really makes a difference in their lives is not the skill I offer them (though skills are important – no one wants to be jabbed 15 times getting an IV), but the way in which I offer those skills- with gentleness and caring, with empathy and grace. And they taught me that sometimes, to be a really truly good nurse, you have to lie. (Some of my frequent lies include: That was a really good push! No, you are not pooping, I’m just changing these pads to freshen up. Keep pushing! Yes, the anesthesiologist will be right here. I just saw him walking down the hall.)

My classmates: They taught me to be driven. To work hard, to do well, not because of the grade that was coming, but because it would make me a more knowledgeable nurse. They taught me to value teamwork – because though nursing school is often a place where the competition can cause people to turn on each other, we had a cohort that wanted to push each other ahead. And this is one of the most critical skills a nurse can have – to work on a team, as part of a team – to be supportive as well as know when to be supported.

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Me, RN

My coworkers: These women have taught me most of all. They have taught me how to blend the skills of a nurse, with the being of a nurse.They have taught me to be truly caring. How to feel the joy and pain of each patient. How to come along side them and offer comfort and encouragement – when to do it with a soft word, and when to be more direct.They have taught me that you are never done learning, that no matter how experienced you are, or aren’t, it is always ok to ask questions. They have taught me to think critically  – to watch for what is unseen, to anticipate what may come. I have watched in awe as they respond to emergencies with speed and precision, I have listened with respect as they speak just the right word at just the right time. I have watched them fight and advocate for their patients with ferocity. I have seen them break and cry under the weight of a stressful shift, a difficult patient load, or a heartbreaking outcome. And I have seen them come back, to do it again, to offer more of themselves than they feel they have to give. Because that’s what nurses do.

So to all the wonderful nurses in my life, in all different practices, thank you for all you have taught me, for all you have inspired in me.

And Happy Nurse’s Week.

well-adjusted-nurse

 

 

The mirror

You know what I really wanted for Mother’s Day? I wanted a picture of me and my boys. The kind that so many of my beautiful Facebook friends were posting on their timelines. A shot of my handsome boys, and me – looking fresh, young and carefree, with flawless skin, and a pure white smile, and my hair all curly and gorgeous.

And I got a picture of me and my handsome, perfect boys. In fact, I got about twenty of them. Ten at my parents house, where we had an awesome bbq to celebrate the day. Then I tried my hand at a couple selfies when I got home, first in front of the window, next with the light behind me. And then I made the Hubs take another five pictures, one of which I ran through several instagram filters before I finally, begrudgingly, settled on one. And you know what? I still wasn’t happy with it.

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“Why are my eyes SOOO baggy all the time?!?!?!” I complained to the Hubs.

“They’re not,” he said simply.

I didn’t believe him. In fact, that night, I spent a good fifteen minutes leaning over the bathroom counter, my face about an inch from the mirror, taking a good look at myself. And my inner monologue went a little like this:

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who has the baggiest eyes of all? Why me, of course. Along with crazy unkempt eyebrows that haven’t been tweezed or waxed or threaded in a year. Wow, my skin tone is uneven. I’m like the before picture for a Nivea commercial. And why is this dark spot getting bigger?!?! I’m not pregnant anymore, for goodness sake. If the Hubs asks one more time if that’s food on my face I might cry. Isn’t your skin supposed to completely restore itself in like a month? Then why do I still have so many acne scars, nearly ten years later? And of course, this lovely scar across my forehead from the accident when I was three. I can usually hide that with my hair pretty good. UGH, MY HAIR!!!! I want a nice hair cut. Like, nice bangs or a cute bob or something. But then I’d look like a giant q-tip. Only chubby. Oh, hello, wrinkles all over my forehead. I see you invited some of your friends to camp out at the corners of my eyes, and what’s this?!? Around my lips too. Great. Thanks ever so much for that. Make yourselves at home why don’t you. I can’t look at myself anymore. This is depressing.

And all the time this was going through my head, all I could see were the beautiful faces of all those other women who weren’t me.

Do you play this game? The comparison game? Sometimes I play it knowingly, as I did on Sunday night. And sometimes I play it without even realizing. When I’m watching a show or see a poster at the mall, when I’m looking at a magazine, or even meeting new people. It can seem like a harmless game, but it is far from it. It’s dangerous, and toxic. And it hurts.

It hurts me. When I berate myself for the extra pudge here, or that flabby bit there. Out of the shame that accompanies that hurt comes a self-hatred that only leads to darker places. Insecurity fuels judgement, and soon my self-criticism turns outward.

It hurts my boys. When I gasp in exasperation and despair at the sight of myself every time I pass the mirror, my son learns that I only value myself based on how I look. I am teaching him that my happiness is based on my appearance. And I am teaching him that the first thing he should look for in the women around him, is outward beauty.

It hurts my marriage. When I don’t take my Hubs at his word, when I don’t trust that he truly thinks me beautiful, I create a breach in our relationship. When I look at other women and think, I wish I looked like that, I foster an insecurity that will only lead to doubt and destruction. I open the door to lies.

Thoughts are powerful. When we let our minds wander down a certain path, we can soon find ourselves in a jungle of ideas and emotions that have nothing to do with the truth. If we take a moment to really step back and think carefully, we can sometimes be amazed at how we arrived in that dark place.

My truth is this: I have tired, baggy eyes. I have too much flab here, and too much pudge there. I have bushy eyebrows, and when I raise them in surprise my forehead looks like a piece of school lined paper. These things are true. These things make me, me. But who I am is so much more than those things. And who I am, is loved. Loved by my Hubs, loved by my boys, and loved by the One who gave me life.

You are loved too.

Imagine the joy and the freedom that truth would provide, if we could just keep it in the forefront of our minds, every time we looked in the mirror.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, poop.

Disclaimer: This is a mommy post, mostly about poop. If you’re squeamish about poop, you probably shouldn’t read it.

It’s been a blow out kind of week. It started on Monday. My not-so-little anymore babe was sitting in his Bumbo, happily chewing on his fingers when suddenly he got that look in his eye, and made that certain facial expression that only means one thing: poop. Soon enough, he was grunting away, and I could hear the telltale squirts and toots coming from his rear. I gave him a few more minutes to make sure he was done, and then lifted him from the Bumbo, and laid him down on a blanket on the floor to change him, as I’ve done a few hundred times before.

But this time, when I undid his sleeper and began to undo his diaper, I realized there was a lot more poop than usual, and when I lifted his feet to look under him, I saw, with horror, poop all the way up his back. Like, all the way. Almost to his neck. For a brief moment,  I wished desperately that the Hubs was home, because even thought it was really only a one person job, I felt like I needed to confer with another adult as to what the plan should be. I gathered everything up in my arms, took the little babe up to his change table, and began the long and laborious process of taking off his clothes, cleaning all the poop off of him, and getting him dressed again. Then of course, there was the question of what to do with the clothes. I thought seriously about throwing it all into a garbage bag and tossing it out the front door, but in the end decided I shouldn’t be so frivolous, and rinsed them out in the tub, treated them with stain remover and put them in the wash. Then I scrubbed the tub. Success. I felt pretty proud of myself for handling the situation so efficiently, and even laughed about it with my sisters via text message.

But when the exact same thing happened the next day, I didn’t find it so funny. And it was even less funny the day after that.

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The great offender. On his throne.

Which brings us to Wednesday night. When the Hubs got home from work, Mateo wanted to know what sound an elk makes. So, out came the computer and within minutes the house was filled with the creepy calls of various elk (seriously those things make the creepiest sounds). Inevitably, seeing the elk inspired the hunter in my Hubs, and soon all four of us were sitting on the couch watching moose hunting videos (I still don’t really understand why I got sucked into that activity). Luka was perched on my knee, and decided that would be the perfect opportunity to have his second massive poop of the day. This time, I checked his back carefully before setting him down to change him. It was, happily, poop free. So imagine my surprise when, after plopping him on the floor, I suddenly found that not only his pants, but also my pants as well as my hands were scattered with it. I shrieked in alarm, glared at the Hubs for laughing at me, and proceeded, once again, to rid both babe and I of poop. Ten minutes or so later, the babe and I descended clean and ready to get on with our evening.

At least, I thought I was clean. In fact, the next morning, when I went to retrieve my shirt from the pile on the floor where I had left it the night before, I realized there was poop on it. Like, a lot of poop. I had gone the whole rest of the evening, which included supper, playtime, bath and bedtime for the kids, and a movie with the Hubs, with poop on my shirt. A new low.

So today, I was not going to be trifled with. When I looked over from feeding the toddler and saw the babe making the poop face, a plan began to form in my head. I waited patiently until I was sure he was done, then sprang into action. Ever so gently, I lifted him from the Bumbo, carefully extracting his chubby thighs from the tight grip of the leg holes. But instead of perching him on my arm as I usually do, I had a moment of pure genius. You see, I realized the reason the poop was shooting up his back had more to do with my positioning of him than with the chair. So this time, I placed him on his tummy, and carried him superman style, all the way upstairs. He screamed in delight, as though congratulating me on my brilliance. At the same time, I undid the buttons on his onesie, and had it pulled way up to his neck before I laid him down on the change mat. He kicked his legs in applause. And this time, when I changed his diaper, I was able to put back on the same outfit he had been wearing prior to the poop. Boom.

Sometimes being a mama is all about the little victories. Even poopy ones.

 

I cried today

I cried today. I cried a lot. Because today it was just too much.

Some of the tears I cried were tears of empathy. My little babe, at 5 months old, is cutting his second tooth in three days, and he is miserable. I looked at his scrunched up, tear stained face and cried because all I wanted was to take away his pain, and I couldn’t.

Some of the tears I cried were tears of frustration. After three hours of dealing with the fussy baby, I cried because all I wanted was for him to stop crying, and for all my rocking, soothing, and applying of homeopathic ointments, I couldn’t make him stop.

I cried tears of guilt. These are the ones I cry the most. I cried tears of guilt because when I finally got the fussy baby down, all I wanted was to sit and read a book, watch a show, or maybe just take a nap. But instead my 2 year old wanted my attention, and I just didn’t have it in me to get down on my hands and knees and play firetrucks under the kitchen table.  So I set him up with a colouring book and some markers while I poured myself more coffee and tuned out on my phone.

At 3pm I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My greasy hair was pulled back in an unflattering bun, and a big white spit up stain adorned the shoulder of my pyjama shirt (yes, I was still in my pjs). Cringing, I allowed myself to take in the whole picture – and I cried tears of self-loathing as I stared at the exhausted woman in front of me, with her excess belly fat, and wide arms, and big black bags under her eyes, and baby cereal crusted in her curls.

I cried because when I texted my husband this morning at 9 and suggested a coffee date after the kids went to bed, I had been full of excitement and love and passion, and now all I wanted was to hand over the kids the moment he walked in the door and go somewhere – alone, by myself, with no one talking to me or crying at me or touching me or pulling on my hair. I cried because I know that’s not the wife he wants to come home to. I cried because he deserves better, and so do my kids. I cried because so do I.

Ok, so this was an especially hard day. Due to some registration issues with our car (one very helpful government of Alberta employee suggested we move back there, and then back to Ontario, to sort out the issue) I haven’t been out of the house for a week, my baby is teething, and has uncharacteristically been up at night. I’ve told myself a hundred times today that this is not how it usually is. And it’s not. But as I’ve been coaching myself through this day, I’ve been very aware that a big part of this problem is not the circumstances I find myself in.

It’s me.

I’ve become a critical woman. Not just of others, but mostly of myself. Recently a woman I respect and admire greatly started a Facebook page dedicated to sharing triumphs goals, positive experiences, and encouraging one another. And it’s been a place where women can open up about their vulnerabilities and struggles with no shame. And it’s been shocking. Because so many of these women are women that I have seen as “perfect” not in the sense of actually being perfect, but in the sense of being strong, confident, successful, and put together. And the thing is, they are all of those things, but they are also women who struggle with self-worth, who have fears and doubts just like me. And they are rising above.

So today, as I’ve been fighting back the tears, I’ve also been trying to fight the lies that tell me I’m failing, that I’m not good enough. I’ve been trying to replace those lies with truths – I was fearfully and wonderfully made, I am loved, I am a good mom, I am doing my best. I want to take hold of the critical thoughts in my head, to make my mind and my heart a place where truth and grace reign. So that out of a place of wholeness and love, I can offer truth and grace to others. Which means I need to start choosing to be ok with being me. I need to choose, when I have a hard day, to get through it, and just move on.

I cried today. A lot of my tears were tears of sadness, but a few of them were tears of laughter, and a few of them were tears of joy. Before bed my toddler gave me an especially sweet kiss. For a few blissful moments this afternoon, my baby’s cries turned into gorgeous smiles and giggles. And when he heard about my day, my husband listened and prayed for me.

Of all the tears I cried today, I’m going to choose to focus on those.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas time is here

It’s been over a month since we made the big move East, and relocated our family to Ontario. It’s almost nine at night at this moment, and it’s 6 C. Earlier today I went out grocery shopping and wore a t shirt and a light rain jacket. If I hadn’t thrown all of them away in the Great Moving Purge of 2015, I would have totally broken out the flip flops.  So, I’m feeling like this was a pretty good move so far. This is my kind of winter.

To be truthful, however, this is not the norm for this area, and I know that inevitably, winter will arrive and with it the minus digit temperatures and big dumps of snow. Ontario tends to be a damper cold than out West, but I’m still betting that even at it’s worst, it’s going to feel like a mild winter compared to Edmonton.

It’s been over a month since we made the big move East, and we are starting to feel at home. All the boxes are officially unpacked, and almost everything has a spot. I spent nearly a month packing our things up in Edmonton, sorting the items that were going to be stored in Yorkton, and packing them separately from the things that would be making the move to Ontario. It just so happens, however, that I am spatially challenged, and unable to accurately predict how much room a certain item is going to take up. So when Paul did a trial run of packing the Ontario boxes into the car, a second purge and repacking of all the Ontario items had to take place.

To some degree not having all the things you deemed necessary can be liberating. We have not had a microwave for a month, and for the most part, I don’t even notice. As a mom of two young boys I was used to reheating my coffee ten times and eventually drinking it cold anyway, so now I just skip the middle steps. On the other hand, there is a constant feeling of confusion that comes with looking all over for an item that you know you packed, so it must be here somewhere, but where could it possibly be, because you already unpacked all the boxes and it wasn’t anywhere in them, and now you’ve looked all over the house, and it can’t possibly be hidden anywhere because you don’t have that much stuff for it to be hidden in, and ….Oh wait. Maybe it got left in Yorkton. Yes, now that I think of it, I am pretty sure we put that in the “nice to have” pile. Shoot. That would have been nice to have.

It’s been over a month since we made the big move East, and we are loving spending time with family. Visits with my sisters and their kids occur multiple times a week. They have babysat for me, and I have babysat for them. My boys have spent time with their grandparents and their great-grandma. I cannot overstate how truly wonderful it has been to be near family again. I know that every time we get together, we are creating memories that will last a lifetime.

It’s been over a month since we made the big move East, and now it’s Christmas time. It crept up on me this year, with all that we have had going on, but now that gifts are bought and wrapped, now that all the family is here for the holidays, now that plans for Christmas Eve lunch and Christmas day dinner are in full swing, I am finally feeling like its Christmas. So even as I embrace the busy-ness of all that Christmas brings, with family gatherings and traditions, I also want to take a step back to embrace the simplicity of what Christmas is about.

A time to reflect on the promise of the One who would be the Saviour of the world – the Messiah. A time to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Hope of the world. A time to rejoice in the miracle of God incarnate. A time to bask in God’s great love for us, a love so deep that He would humble Himself to become a tiny baby, the most vulnerable of creatures, in order to save us.

It’s been over a month since we made the big move East, and now we celebrate Emmanuel, God with us.

Merry Christmas to all, with love.

 

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