Friday, December 17, 2010

{this moment}

"A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stay awake

Reason one million and one why I shouldn't worry about the items on the house list that stay undone longer than I would like.


These beautiful little visitors have appeared just outside our large playroom picture window, perfect for tea sipping and gazing on quiet mornings with my littlest two. Claire's pudgy little finger points and her eyes get big. Even Max notices them, swinging his arms, trying to aim his new grabbing abilities at these flittering little creatures. 

Why does this make me think of my unnecessary stress? The bushes the little birds are enjoying so much are supposed to be lawn by now. When we moved in last year this part of our lawn was turned into a moat surrounding our house while we replaced crumbly old stone basement walls. A moving in/reno winter, busy career spring and a pregnant summer followed, then a fall with a newborn and still no raking and seeding was accomplished to turn the pile of dirt back into lawn. This item on the list has drove me crazy. 

And now these little birds bring me peace. Little birds who wouldn't be here if not for the undone 'to-do'. 

There's a song they've been singing at church throughout Advent that's stayed with me lately. "Stay awake, be ready, you do not know the hour that the Lord is coming."

These little moments are the Lord coming. You have to be awake to notice them. The little voices talking to you in the middle of the bustle. The small bits of beauty surrounding us. All gifts.

I love this conversation between Shug and Celie in The Color Purple. It changed my view on religion and my spirituality. God doesn't have to be a he, or a puppetteer above us. God is in us, surrounding us, flowing between us, embodied in nature.
"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.
What it do when it pissed off? I ast.
Oh, it make something else. People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living can see it always trying to please us back. ...Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance, make faces and give flower bouquets, trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to git attention we do, except walk? ...Whenever you trying to pray, and man plop himself on the other end of it, tell him to get lost, say Shug. Conjure up flowers, wind, water, a big rock."
Or conjure up birds. And sweet little people.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Advent

Pre-Christmas bustle. Laundry, housecleaning, travel preparations. Should we empty the recyclables before we leave so they don't stink?

Be awake. Be ready. You do not know the hour when the Lord is coming. One more candle lit.

How many sleeps is that left?

Gift lists double-checked. Cards delivered.

A playdate this morning. Deep breath, slow down, enjoy, listen.

The rythym. The breath in, the breath out. The activity to the calm moment.

From home to away, or is it away to Home?

Little girl twirling in her pretty red dress. Little men trying to put up with their mama, protesting trying on their dress clothes. "Just for a second, I need to see if they fit!".

New Years plans. Will attendance be good for the gallery gala?

Dad wants to work on the heating this week. Oh. Is there enough room to work in the basement? You should organize the tools.

Sewing slings. One for a gift. A pretty one for me. Will I have time to do one for Claire? Oh yeah, I wanted to make her some hairbands didn't I.

Did I buy our Christmas Carol tickets? Hmmm. I'm looking forward to that. We should go to the AGNS while we're in town. The kids would like that. Maybe I could talk to their programming coordinator too. Hmmm.

You cut the old Christmas card this way. Then fold that way. Ta da! A gift box!

Can I babysit that morning? Yeah, I can do that. Oh, the cat puked.

Want to get together that evening? Yes. That will be really nice. We'll relax. Talk. Listen. Enjoy.

Steven and Chris had this really nice gift idea. I should do that. Do I have large mason jars? Oh, I should write the boys teachers to tell them they won't be here those days. When is the last meeting for Beavers again?

Whirling, twirling mommy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tell me a story.

Usually I identify as a very un-romantic person. Quite practical. I don't understand people's poor opinion of presents that are practical. I love them. One year, when we were particularily broke and new homeowners, I was genuinely hoping for a pile of mulch from my husband for my birthday. I really was hoping to overhaul my gardens. Jewellery and a cute bear girl I am not.

But I'm a sucker for a good story. A history. The life behind a thing.

It's exactly what I love about old houses. The energy the house holds. The lives that lived there. The cycle that continues, with me only as a small part.

What made me think of this tonight? I'm addressing Christmas cards.

I've had this address book for my whole adulthood. Since I've been old enough to need to and organized enough to write down people's addresses anyway. I was thinking this year that I really should type everyone's address into a label template and save myself the effort next year.

But as I work through my address book, it tells me a story. Not just the good story either, the whole story is there.

The story of where I've been and who I've met. Friends I've lost touch with but remember fondly are there, with their old address, where I know they no longer live. I wonder where they are now? Old boyfriends are crossed out. Some warrant the white-out. Businesses I used before moving are listed. Reminding me of that stage in my life, where I was, what I was doing. The chiropractor in downtown Halifax, where I was treating old soccer injuries. I was single, just me to think about, had no idea what the next ten years would bring. I played indoor soccer once in a while at another university, I wonder where those girls are now. I would walk into the chiropractor loaded down with all of my gear, a university student who traversed the city by foot, my art folio hanging off my backpack, my paper roll sticking out, taking forever to unravel my scarf and layers and wet boots just to sit down for my appointment.

It also tells the story of the changes in my loved ones lives. Some movers and shakers have several addresses crossed out, new ones added, some needing arrows to more space somewhere else on the page. There's new last names, one poor wife is crossed out entirely, her new replacement penciled in. One friend married another friend, her name under B, now says 'See H'. Babies are written in, with their birthdate beside. My grandmother's address still reads Grammie and Grampie.

Troy is in there. With the phone number he gave me one night. Oglivie Towers, where a year later we would find ourselves moving in a block down the street from, waiting for the impending birth of our new baby boy.

How can you replace this?

Design question

So I have these shelves in my entryway.


The entry and front living room aren't receiving the same 'gut it' treatment as the rest of the house, merely some un-wallpapering, paint, new floors, and lighting. I've changed my 'tear them out' opinion on these shelves, to let's just spruce them up with paint. But I can't decide exactly how to spruce them up.

Paint them entirely white like the trim? Paint them the wall color or just a shade different than the wall color? Paint them white with the back painted the new wall color? Or leave the shelves wood and paint just the back. Although either of the last two sound like a lot of edging. 

The wall color, by the way, is Benjamin Moore's Thousand Islands, a neutral light brown a couple shades lighter than the Wild Mushrooms going up in the living room beside it. I know, beige is boring, but these rooms open up into three other spaces so neutral was important.

What would you do with these shelves?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Just sayin' no.

I should be cleaning the kitchen.

But I don't want to. Instead I'll sit at the table with my tea and pretend my elbow doesn't keep catching on that sticky spot.

Flylady (my online housecleaning guru) lurks in my head, saying waking up to a dirty kitchen is not the way to love myself. But for now, typing, sipping, resting in silence before I go to bed, definitely is the best way to love myself.

We're coming off a week of the flu in our house. All in all it was a mild flu, the quick 24 hour zinger. But in our house the flu always causes Queen lyrics to pop into my head, "and another one's down, another one's down, another one bites the dust...". Predictably it rolled through us all, Seth on Saturday, to Claire, Max and I Monday evening into Tuesday, Troy Thursday, and finally Thane appeared with the sick face tonight.

I've been noticing lately, and it was quite apparent this week, that I'm finally beginning to learn the fine art of opting out.

Although I was feeling mostly better Wednesday, I canceled an afternoon appointment (that realistically I shouldn't have scheduled for that time anyway) so that Claire and Max could have their naps at the usual time, instead of keeping them up, dragging them out, and putting them down late. This meant that I was also able enjoy the peace their naptime brings and give myself more time to really recoup, instead of doing too much too soon.

And it was nice, this saying no.

I always thought I was really good at not overscheduling ourselves and the kids, but I really pared back our activities even more this season. We put a lot of thought into what the kids were signed up for, gave up what still didn't work out, and finally listened to them about what they wanted to do instead of pushing our agendas.

Even though that meant no to an art class that I really thought Thane would love. And he had really shown great improvements at a basketball camp this fall, but he didn't want to continue through the winter. When we realized that Claire was not getting anything out a naptime-conflicting mid-afternoon gymnastics class, we just stopped going. The worst part about that one is that I had already learned that lesson before, back when Thane was two and we quit gymnastics. For the record, free-play and unstructured activities are one thing (we love our babies at the gallery once-a-month class!), but two is not old enough for organized classes. Even Seth's gymnastics class, which at five he does get a lot out of, we've decided is going to the wayside because it is only offered on Sunday afternoons, a time we just find disruptive to an otherwise generally family day.

I was having a hard time pondering whether to sign them up for the next swimming session or not. I generally try to avoid the winter one because it's just too much of a temperature/gear change between the freezing cold outside and winter layers to the muggy pool, returning to the cold van with wet hair and socks and bags of wet towels. My brain said yes though, because post-newborn we didn't do the fall session. My brain went into 'champ mode', thinking how they both have 'missed time' and how they had such good momentum this summer, Seth moving up a couple swim levels and Thane three. I wanted to say no, but sometimes it's seems like such a weighty decision. Then I remembered, for goodness sake, that they're just little! It's not that dire. I'm sure they won't forget how to swim in a few months time.

What started out in response to Maxwell's arrival, to save ourselves the stress of a busy schedule with a new baby, has turned into much more of a good thing than I had imagined. Despite the amount of people in our family, we have a peaceful, generally unhurried life. Right now the boys each have Scouts once a week, their activity of choice that they love dearly, and it's well after supper. One morning a week Claire and Max and I troop out to the library for storyhour, if we feel like it. If we wake up early enough, we attempt to get to church on Sunday.

The kids have time for play, for creativity, for their homework, their sleep, their housework, for each other. We sit and eat together. We have routines.

There really is time for us. We just had to re-discover it. Saying no made way for lots of yes!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A few of my favorite things.

We read one of my favorite books last night, I Love You the Purplest.


The boys like this book, but it's really a book for mamas.


The mama in the book has two boys, very different from each other.
"Max exploded from the cabin, twirling the shovel in front of him. Mama came next, and then Julian. Julian shut the cabin door tightly to keep it safe from burglers and bears."
This is my favorite part, illustrating their differences, and that of my own two very different boys as well.

Seth, my carefree boy, is always puzzled as to why Julian needs to shut the cabin door tightly behind him, to which Thane, who understands such a concern perfectly, reliably replies, "Well of course he needs to keep their things safe Seth."

The mama in the book sees the good in all their different ways. At the end of the book this very smart mama doesn't love one boy more than the other. She loves one red, and she loves one blue. It's like comparing apples and oranges. But of course, together, they're purple, which is really the best.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Magic Cabin magic.

I just stumbled across the best e-store, Magic Cabin.

I was enticed by this adorable fairy doll family. Unfortunately I had misread the link that led me there, it's almost $20 per doll, not for the whole set. Not that they're not worth it, but not what I was planning to spend on Claire's stocking stuffers (as much as I had to hold back from splurging on them because they're so incredibly cute!).
I won't even start on the dollhouses and doll treehouses. With my penchant for all things forest and fairy, these are irrestible.

And then I came across find after find for active play, it's a storeful of kid and imagination powered toys. I now have a headful of ideas for our 'kid up the backyard' project planned for next summer. Look at these.

A garden fort, complete with vine seeds.

Twisty twizzler swing.

No more sore bums from the friend abandoning you mid see-saw.

This mostly made the list because I had it when I was little and loved it.

Apparently twisting the handles makes this move? I want to try this thing.

Want this very much for the now and future toddlers in my life.

The top cranks down to cover the sand when not in use! How cool is that.

Learning about science while playing. Also on my list because I daydreamed about having a pulley basket for my childhood treehouse.


I think a zipline is definitely in order.

And a few goodies receiving honorable mention...
We have a balance board something like this that I love for my boys. What started as physiotherapy for Seth's ankles (without him noticing it is physio!) became the go-to for the kids to balance and stretch on while they play video games, another minus away from the screentime. You might notice for all the 'anti-practically-everything' I do sometimes, if I can keep the time spent under control I really don't have much against video games. My kids are anything but stagnant while they play them. (Not to mention the working together and problem-solving they have to do in the newer partner games.) I was glad when the controllers started to be made sans wire, because they jump around so much they had already broken a system by pulling it down!

This balance board even takes it up a notch.


And this...

Well, it blows my snowshoes idea out of the water!

Add a platform with a slide and rope ladder, and we've got the tree space worthy of Neverland or Swiss family Robinson that I'm hoping for.

Now let's see how much this amounts to and how much of it we can realistically do!

{this moment}

"A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Monday, November 15, 2010

November sun?


This weekend, a November weekend, we played outside. Troy piled wood and worked on outdoor projects. I washed the windows. In our t-shirts?

Did you notice she's big enough to reach the pedals now?

A noise, a cow, and a cool idea...

We bought a cow!

Well, I joke. Just half a cow really. To fill up our freezer. The point being, it's grass-fed and local! I'm so so pleased that we've finally managed to do this, it's something we've intended to do for several years now and never managed to make happen. In our quest for clean food, this is a huge checkbox ticked.

In other (not so fantastic) news, there's a noise. A high pitched noise. Sometimes, it sounds like chirping. A baby bird in the attic? A bat? A chipmunk? Do these things even have babies this time of year? Troy went up and couldn't find either. But sometimes, it's regular and rythmic, maybe wind going through something? An electrical whir? Either way, it's making me a little nuts.

And then, what do you think of this?


I don't know about you, but my filing cabinet is ugly, and when I pull out a drawer the whole things nearly falls over with the weight of it. I think this is awesome.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

{this moment}

"A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Guest blog!

Hey, I'm the guest blogger today over at Birds on a Wire!

Johanna's Seeking Balance guest blogger series got me talking! I've been wanting to tell you about the new chore system we're working with the littles at our house, and my new housecleaning inspiration, Flylady, but I was waiting for this guest post to come out. Go over and check it out, Johanna's blog is a joy. A wonder in all things homemade, crafting, and art, she's also full of the cooking goodness that eludes me!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

By the river and through the woods...

Bedstemor (pronounced Besma) is my Danish grandmother. This morning I was inspired by the return of the sun and Claire and Max and I went over for a visit.

The little circus train is always there, on the special little shelf beside the cupboard, waiting for the next tiny visitor to play with. Once upon a time I played with it. Claire already knows where to find it.

A glass blue bird sits on the window sill behind the sink. Bedstemor picks it up to show it to Max, pretty with the sunlight filtering through it. She shows him how soft it is on his cheek. Just as she has to Thane, Seth, and Claire.

Her special blue Danish plates decorate the walls. Coloring pages by granddaughters hang in places of honor.

No matter what time you visit, you're never underfed at Bedstemor's. Turkey leftovers came out, and tea, milk for Claire, then the sweets. The sweets! I'm pretty sure sugar = Danish. Today there were white sugar cookies with raspberry jelly centres (and a spoonful of 'extra' jelly for Claire), and nut caramel marshmallow squares.

In the winter, my big boys will go outside and slide down the hill behind her house. In the summer, you roll down.

She bounces Claire on her knee before we leave, singing the Danish rhyme I know but don't know. I don't know the words, I don't know the meaning, I just know her voice.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Disney and all those princesses.

I stumbled onto a blog post today on Offbeat Mama about Disney, princesses, and all that is sexist and anti-feminist. The majority of the posters there clearly considered Princess Culture bad, black and white, no doubts about it.

As an art university student several years ago, I used to get fed up with the 'protester' culture of my school. Protesting works. When you believe in a change to be made, you need to voice your opinions to be heard. But I felt strongly that if you protest against everything because that is your passtime, no one will take you seriously.

The anti-princess debate reminds me of that aspect of university. If you are going against the norm just for the sake of going against the norm, you're still defining yourself by what the norm is. Comprende? Sometimes, as a deep thinker, it's all too easy to get wrapped up in all that is terrible instead of emphasizing the good.

I went through a phase where, in my feminism, I wanted to prove that I could do anything men can do. I aimed to be as strong and work as long as the big boys.

What I've come to realize however, is that I don't want to.

Feminism brought us the ability to claim our rights, to vote, to choose our career, to go to work, to be like men. But our equality does not depend on us being like men. We are equal, simply because we are. We are equal and simultaneously different. We need not shun all that is feminine.

It is equally as feminist to choose the feminine, to embrace it. Because we can. We are powerful in our own right. We birth, nourish, and raise people!

I'm not that concerned about Claire developing a poor self image as a female based on Disney movies. It takes more than that. You know what I brought away from Disney movies as a child? That I loved art. And that I could do it as a career. I wanted to be a Disney animator. Being a little girl who hadn't even thought about boys yet, I don't remember noticing the parts about the princes! I remember being enamoured with Cinderella's little mice and birds and her creativity in their cute little clothes, I remember identifying with Belle as a reader, that she was lost in books like me, I loved the dwarfs and animals of Snow White, and the future house lover in me was in love with their little cottage. All things I grew up to remain interested in.

One mama pointed out all the great virtues the movies uphold. "It has been an awesome tool for me – it's given me a singing, dancing, brightly colored medium with which to illustrate the struggles and successes of independence (Ariel), compassion and open-mindedness (Belle), industriousness and adaptability (Snow White), equality between the sexes and the historic struggle to prove it (Mulan),.." I just had a similar conversation with Thane the other day about The Little Mermaid and the virtues of curiosity and a sense of adventure.

Quite frankly I am more concerned about my boys learning that women are equal than my daughter. I believe she'll know that she can be whatever she decides, regardless of a penchant for princesses or not. I get more knotted up about play houses having a pink roof - especially when every other building in the collection features realistic coloring - thereby labeling the house a 'girls only' zone, defining to boys that the home is clearly not their arena. But I remind myself, that too is subject to so much more. Our boys seeing their daddy cook, clean, and rock babies to sleep is much more influential, just like the most important thing for Claire's development is to see me accept myself as I am, pursue my interests, and use my big, beautiful brain.

Friday, November 5, 2010

{this moment}

"A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Favorite quote today.

From a mama online:
"These sweet souls are only mine to hold for a moment before the world calls them out."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Present planning

Alright, Halloween is over, let's skip right to Christmas.

I'm trying to be on the ball and have been making my list this week of what I plan to give this year.

I had something, or multiple somethings to decide between, right off the top of my head for mostly everyone on my list. Things they would like and enjoy. Except for two very important little people. Two of my own little people.

My big boys.

I'm trying to buy non-clutter presents for everyone on my list, things that will actually be useful and loved and not just stuff, especially for my own kids. Because clutter they receive has to stay in our house! And I'm trying to buy more environmentally friendly, good for all of us presents. Less plastic, mostly just less in general. I also believe in the Waldorf ideals that children deserve and appreciate beautiful things and natural materials, toys that are healthier for them and encourage their connection with the earth and natural world around them, toys that provide a calming sensory experience. Check out this article on what makes a Waldorf toy. "Yes, these kinds of toys are good for the environment, but most importantly, they are good for children!"

For Claire and Max I have several cute ideas of simple, beautiful toys that I think they will really enjoy. Some things for me to make even.

But the big boys? Ugh..

Issue number one? What do they NOT have? They are very fortunate to have many people who love them, and to have received many gifts over the years. Our house is filled with toys of every kind. I actually have a roomful of extra toys all bagged up right now. Toys I don't want to get rid of, but that I have to figure out some sort of system of storing to cycle through or something. The kids noticably even play better when not surrounded by the chaos.

I left out their favorites, and my favorites because they encourage imagination and co-play and creativity. Lego, figures, a few dinos and animals and cars. Dress up clothes. Books, lots of books. And video games of course. We're pretty well stocked there too! I tried to keep out just a few of everything, an amount everyone is capable of maintaining some sort of order with. We're working hard on teaching the littles of our house some housekeeping skills right now.

I dunno. I also want them to be excited and feel treasured on Christmas morning. Each year we get them the new fad that they want, or more of something they already have. For Thane's birthday in September for instance, he received these Battle Brawlers, essentially spinning tops that knock each other over. He really wanted them, they were this season's new thing, the equivilant to our 'marbles' recess game, they were not in the least expensive and he was super pleased to receive them. But now they sit. Already.

I'm not blaming Thane, it's the cycle of the next big thing, the consumerism, the waste, the excess. All big topics I want to teach, but in a balanced way, not at the expense of my kids, especially on their Christmas morning. I don't want them to feel slighted because Mommy and Daddy have environmental agendas they likely don't understand, or at least understand the connection to their presents. I don't want them to feel let down or resentful, I want them to feel special and excited Christmas morning. But I honestly can't think of a single thing to get them that's not just stuff.

It's a dilemma we're furtunate to be faced with, but still a dilemma.
One thought I had was for Santa to bring us all snowshoes. Something that would enable memories, family time, encourage outdoor time connecting with the nature that surrounds us.

But I could totally see them not seeing the excitement there.

If you were an eight year old boy would you be totally pissed off if Santa brought you snowshoes?

I've got some thinking to do.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mister Maxwell

I never did give you the full birth story of little mister Max. I had so many posts leading up to the big day, and then neglected to recap the actual event itself.

I had lots to say throughout the pregnancy. You can see posts here and here and here. And here and here. And this one was the day before our little Maxwell arrived. I talked about his arrival a lot.

And now he's here. And three and a half months old.

He's just found his hands. His little face frowns in concentration as he clumsily grabs one of his hands onto the other. He's working so hard at it. The other day I laid him under a friends toy bridge at a playdate, and before too long he was holding onto the little bird dangling above him. I'm so proud for him. I love watching him. I could watch him all day.  

He's also found his voice. He giggles at us, and coos and 'talks'. We've decided he's aiming to beat Claire to talking. At this rate that just may happen! (I'm getting a little sensitive about Claire's delayed talking. But Troy reminds me that we also had this conversation about both Seth and Thane when they were this age, and they are now two intelligent little men who never stop talking. I'm not sure what's in our genes or teaching, but we have babies who could scale a fence at two years old. Early talkers, not so much.)

So as I was saying in my last post pre-Maxwell, I had been having minor contractions for about three days, sometimes elevating to me calling my sister to return from Fredericton, her city that is a bit more than an hour's drive away. Nearish but not so much when I'm in labor and need her to watch our children ASAP. She had a lot on the go that weekend and was trying to be available for me. She drove back without complaint at least twice for false alarms! My parents had decided it was good weekend to keep plans they had made away. But that's another story altogether. Maybe to be included in a future post. Possible title, "Things I will not do as a grandparent, even if it is the 7th grandkid.". I joke. I kid. I'm only a little bitter.

So where was I. Oh yes. False alarms. There had been a few.

Sunday morning, I woke up with the definite, this is it moment. These contractions just felt real. Not overwhelming, just definitely not false. It was about quarter to 5. I woke up Troy to ready himself and our things ~ having made it to my due date for the first time I actually had a little baby bag packed, I think that was also a first. I called my sister to come watch my still sleeping babes, and she called her on-call friend who lives near me and started on her way also. Within minutes this dear girl was here, and I was grateful for friends of family. She told me later that Thane woke up shortly before my sister arrived, walked by her in the kitchen (the mom of a friend he had only seen a handful of times), then retraced his steps and said "So mom went to have the baby?". So nonchalant. That boy. To be fair he had been well-informed on the plan.

We quickly made our way to the hospital, only turning around once for a cell phone or something. It was really quite a casual trip. I think we even stopped into Tim Horton's if I remember correctly. 

By the time we arrived the contractions were even stronger, but still no closer together. This was a twist unique to this birth. The contractions were three minutes apart for the entire thing. It was almost odd to me. Seconds before Maxwell was born I still had quite relaxed moments, calm between contractions. We had to do some talking with the nurses between contractions as well, convincing them that I was fine, would be fine, and that the pitocin was not necessary. This was the first birth that I had considered birthing at home, but I had decided as long as I had Troy at my side to support me and we were prepared to voice our plans, we could happily do both a natural birth and birth at the hospital.   

The contractions of course became stronger and stronger. But it was bearable. Getting better with practice proved true even in childbirth. The empowerment I felt in this birth was so much more powerful than ever before. I didn't feel out of control. I was aware of my body and the stages, confident in my capabilities. To be honest, I kept thinking of my grandmother for some reason. Who had born thirteen children. And the woman I knew wouldn't have wimped out. She would have just got on with the job at hand in her practical, faithful, quiet manner. So I did. I knew that I was doing better than my previous three births in being calm, I was breathing well, focusing and taking deep breaths to manage the pain. I knew I could do it, that I would do it, that as soon as it became too hard it would be over. And my beautiful baby would be here. 

And he was. At 7:53 am he was born.

First our surprise at his hair. He has so much hair! Our babies have never had hair.

Then, almost secondly, "It's a boy!".

And I cried. Out of joy. A boy was perfect.

And we snuggled. And he ate. And he was wide awake and wide eyed. He met us and we met him.

Somewhere along the way they gave him a cap. We got warm blankets. And Troy went to get the camera.

And Max ate, and we snuggled, like we'd been feeding and snuggling forever. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat!

Or 'chock a chock', as Claire put it.

This is what Halloween was made of at our house this year.

Pikachu and Monster Face pumpkins.

Two Clone Troopers. Commander Cody and Captain Rex.

One extra twirly Tinkerbell. Complete with big blue eyes.

And one very cute Peter Pan.

When combined with an elementary school Halloween dance, a beavers/cubs Halloween party, a library story hour Halloween party and one gymnastics party, all before the big event itself? That's a lot of use out these costumes this year.

There was already talk of what they'll be next year. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yuck.

It's been raining for a few days now. It's a little grey, inside and out. It's still dark now when the boys get on the bus this morning. There's no leaves left on our big old hardwood out front.


Sigh. Winter is coming.

Hmm. Is there anything I do like about winter?

It is beautiful.

I would add snow play, but we're a few years away from that being somewhat easy. I love joining my big boys out there, but can't do it nearly enough because of the little ones. I try, but a bundled up toddler who can't operate the snowpants and boots combo, who wants to take her hat and mittens off, and a frustrated baby who wants to nurse through the gazillion layers is not my idea of fun. It's a little complicated.

Sometimes I really look forward to the day my kids are all school age. I want to ski with my kids, cross-country and downhill. I want to snowshoe. Horseback ride. Canoe.

On the bright side, I laid Max down for a nap today when he was still awake. He was drowsy, but awake. Sounds unimpressive, but it's a good step towards routine naps. Usually, I nurse him to sleep or rely on the bouncy chair to help him soothe himself to sleep. One more step away from his newborn days.

One foot in front of the other, one step at a time. I know I'll miss the babies when they're all running around.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The fog is lifting

The sleepy fog that is.

Mister Mo, Maximillian, Maximilious Oliverious, Chunka Munka butterball (the nicknames are getting out of hand for this poor kid!), our beautiful boy Max is three months old.

And I feel... rested. Calm. Happy.

I feel PRODUCTIVE!

The organizing/ purging/ cleaning/ decorating bug has hit me hard. It's funny how similar my feelings are to this post on Claire hitting the golden baby sleeping age.

I'm excited to post soon on my friend Johanna's blog, Birds on a Wire, as a part of her Seeking Balance guest blogger series. From the many directions I could have gone on the topic of balance - balancing motherhood and career, what you are and what you want to be, food health and kids - to name a few, I'm going to post on my biggest balancing act right now, housework with kids. I'll let you know when it's up, but you should check out her blog anyway, love her!

In lue of my reorganizing, I was searching online for chalkboard tags that I thought I had seen on Pottery Barn. I actually think I can make them, I just wanted to find the picture again. They're little tags you tie to baskets and label them with chalk. Great for our ever-changing toy storage needs, and I thought I could even draw little pictures of the basket contents along with the word for my pre-readers. It really helps with cleanup time for the kids to be able to see where the toys belong, and keeps groups of toys together for easier play. I've done this before with laminated photos. Although the toy photo shoot with the kids was really fun, it was a bit of a process to print, laminate, and affix the labels, so it was a bit daunting to keep up with anytime the storage changed. I highly recommend the end product though if you want to go for it!

I didn't find them, but while I was looking for the tags I found this!


Pottery Barn's Daily System. Isn't it cool? Again, I'm not going to buy it, but it gave me great ideas. I was just thinking this morning that my organizing tools are all over the place. A binder on the counter (and we have very little counter space to begin with), a corkboard in the playroom for the kids to-do's, a calendar and a clip with school notes taking up the fridge, and a whiteboard on one of the kitchen walls. I think with a couple of magazine holders like these ones and everything on one wall though, it would make so much more sense. And if it was in the office, there would be no more papers floating around in the kitchen? That in itself would be impressive.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

For the Record.

I love Halloween. Maybe it's the NSCAD-er in me (Art and design students made Halloween a real event! One Medusa in particular stands out in my mind.), but it's one of my favorite times of the year. 

This year though, I've kinda sucked.

Admitting I was overextended (new baby, renovations, everyday chaos!) I opted to skip major Halloween creativity this year. My kids don't care. They're blissfully rocking their Star Wars costumes. (Seth ripped up the dance floor last night at their school dance. Cutest moves EVER!) It's just me really. The pride in 'I made that' and 'My baby's so cute' and having really great original costume ideas.

Not to mention after a year of pregnancy and then moving on to breastfeeding, I could really go for a night out at a great Halloween party.

But I look at the great big sweet cheeks on my breastfed babe and conceed that Halloween will happen again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. I only get to enjoy this newborn right now, this year. I don't want a night out badly enough to do bottles and formula, or pumping for that matter.

For the record though?

I had great costume ideas for our little group.

Great costume idea #1: Peter Pan
Claire could be Tinkerbell, Thane go out as Captain Hook, Seth as Peter Pan, and Max? The alligator. Another idea starred Claire as Tinkerbell and my boys as the Lost Boys. (With the cute little forest costumes ~ a raccoon, a fox, a skunk ~ they wore in the Disney movie.)

Great idea #2: Where the Wild Things Are
Max would be Max, King of the Wild Things, and the others, The Wild Things. Cool costume possibilities here. Not to mention they would play their parts well! Wild Ruckus' happen daily at our house!

#3: The good old Star Wars theme
So many options. The boys and I were brainstorming a homemade R2D2 for Seth, or maybe he would play the role of mister Luke Skywalker himself, Thane was pondering C3PO until he came up with General Grievous, Claire Yoda (mostly because the boys thought that would be hilarious), and Max, Chewbacca. Which I thought would be hilarious. Oh, and this one included Mommy as Princess Leia (Of course, who doesn't want to be Princess Leia at least once in their life? Not the sexy slave Leia though, the normal Leia would do just fine!) and Daddy as Darth Vader.

And #4, my personal favorite: Alice in Wonderland
Mommy as Alice, and the kids all the characters from Wonderland. The Cheshire Cat (Max), the White Rabbit (Seth), and the Mad Hatter (Thane). I feel like I fell down the rabbit's hole some days! Oh yes, we thought Claire would make a great Queen of Hearts. I'm sure her pre-language shrieks could be roughly translated to "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!".

Cutest costume ever.

I have not been on the ball for halloween this year. But I really wish I had got this for Max.


So incredibly cute.

It's cuteness is closely followed by this.


Found these on SweetPeaToadTots, another etsy treasure.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

100th post!

This is my 100th post, so I feel like I have to write something spectacular about something really significant.

But all I have are bits about the kids.

That's perfect.

*     *     *

This week, Seth lost his first tooth. We were visiting Troy's parents in Nova Scotia. He came running in from the living room, holding his tooth high in the air, so excited to show us. I can't believe I have TWO big boys.

Today in the van, Seth, my new kindergardener, was telling me the sounds different letters make. He's so proud of himself, finally gaining admittance into this world of letters and reading that his brother is so good at now. "G says Guh. P goes Puh." he says. Then he laughs, "Ha ha, pee." Boys.

*     *     *

Thane is excited about something!

This is the boy who we have to force into everything. Joiner he has never been. Thane is, has always been, the one who wants to stay home, the first to argue, and the first to list what he hates about something. That sounds extremely unpleasant, he's really not, but definitely introverted he is.

At two, I signed Thane up for mom and baby gymnastics. We quit half way through the season, it wasn't worth the fight. We've made him take swimming lessons for the last 6 years (we believe everyone needs to be a good swimmer), he just started liking them last year, once he became a good swimmer. Last winter, he wanted to take basketball. He hated it. He actually sat down in the middle of a game once. I was really glad it was me there, Troy (the athlete parent) would have died a thousand deaths. A few years ago, we made him take skating lessons and see out the season (another skill we thought important, we're Canadian dammit!), he hated those too. But now he knows how to skate and loves free skate at the arena. We've decided it really is in his best interest to keep pushing him, it usually turns out for the best. 

But you know what? Thane loves Cub Scouts! This week, week three of scouts I think, he was dressed and ready to go a half hour early. He has to go sell apples tomorrow, and he's pumped about it! He has his first project this week, to find and label six leaves, and he's so excited to do it.

I'm so glad.

*     *     *

And this. So we forgot Claire's beloved blankie in Nova Scotia at Grammie and Grampy Hutt's house. It was a sad thing. Luckily, Grammie mailed it quickly. This is the reunion. Claire didn't know whether to be happy or cry! (Sorry about the sideways view, I forgot you can't rotate a video like you can a photo!)



*     *     *

And hence the name of my blog, I'll wrap up my first 100 posts with tiny muses on daily life, inspired by my own personal tiny muses. Happy 100th post to me!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Not so toxic, one ingredient at a time.

Been lost in the blogoshpere tonight, and thought you all might enjoy these sites as much as I.
  • One Hungry Mama - A whole site on my favorite notion about food, that 'kids food' is a ridiculous idea. Hungry Mama serves up awesome, healthful recipes and tips for the whole family eating as one. She lead me to the next two finds:
  • Food and Water Watch: Seafood Guide - A consumers guide to fish. What to steer away from, what to gravitate to, in terms of both safety AND sustainablity. Considering we should all be getting at least three servings of fish a week (to get those omega 3's!), this is useful info for me.
  • Another food guide, a Shoppers Guide to Pesticides on our fruit and veggies. Offers a list of the dirty dozen, foods laden with pesticides and worth paying more for organic, and a Clean 15, foods lower in pesticides and not the biggest worry on your grocery list.
  • Healthy Child Healthy World offers 5 Easy Steps, along with a plethora of other information, to a less toxic environment for you and your children. 
  • David Suzuki is one friend you should add to your facebook list. His links are interesting and informative, full of what you can do. Today's article was about the toxins in your cosmetics. It's ridiculous how many toxins we're exposing ourselves and our families to before we sit down to breakfast.  
  • This site, Less Toxic Guide, is one I frequent to research the products I am using. Their list breaks down products by what's available locally, and what is Best, Good, or Simply Unscented, based on the toxity of the ingredients.
  • On that note, I'm currently reading The Green Beauty Guide, by Julie Gabriel. Tres informative and interesting, highly recommend it if you like good tips on how to live less ridiculously.
Do you have a feeling that the pendulum of stupid industrialized ideas (ie: using toxic chemicals in just about EVERYTHING) may be swinging the other way? That we're wising up and raising kids who know better than to live and produce this way? Kids who will grow up and dig us out of this toxic environment we've created?

I do. I have a good feeling about this.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Where's the Mittens?

It's that time of year again. We had to dig for mittens.



On go the winter coats, the heavy boots, and the toques. Squeeze little Maxwell into his fluffy suit. It's like putting spagetti in a pipe! Add about half an hour to our getting out the door time. Oh yes, and don't forget the mittens. If you can find two that match.

*          *          *

I'm attempting to knit a toque for Maxwell, but I think it may end up fitting Claire. Apparently I have a little work to do on my gauging skills. I don't really know how to knit. I just generally decide I want to make something and figure out how to do it as I go. Kind of like my sewing. And my renovating. And my mothering!


It's a simple little hat with a roll up brim. Whoever it fits, this color will look great with his or her sea-blue eyes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wishlist.

Pretty little play kitchen bowls.
Sandpaper letters (something I've been meaning to make for a while now). They're for teaching writing skills.
This bridge. For Mister Max.

 A playsize cute little old cupboard.

 A handmade wallet like this. With spots for cards and a zipper for change...

but cute, like this!


I, I mean, my kids, must have one of these houses. I remember every little detail of these houses. Now, A-frame or Tudor? Decisions, decisons.


And the people that go in them of course.

And did I mention this awesome jewelery display? Art, function, nostaglia, all mixed into one!

Oh, and a labeler. 'Cause I'm that cool.
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