Sunday, June 26, 2011

Early Sunday mornings.

Our church begins at nine.

This morning, all of us sitting in the pew and ready for church to begin, Troy leans over and jokes that he didn't recognize this part of the service.

Since we're perpetually filing in during the first song.

This was a rare Sunday we had the whole family in attendance. I've decided now that taking one or two of the kids at a time makes so much more sense. Sometimes that way, I can actually hear.

As can the people around us.

At one point this morning, I was nursing a tired Max for the second time during the service (because it falls directly on his first naptime), looking around at the busy little bodies surrounding me.

Thane was beginning to bounce from boredom, and as I reminded him to sit still and try to listen, I tried to remind myself as well that as a little girl I too only heard the Charlie Brown teacher's 'Woh wah woh wah' when I looked at the priest.

When he did stop to listen, he caught a line about God being the living bread. This turned into a whispered comedy act of Thane exclaiming, "Agh! God is a piece of living bread!", waving his arms, T-Rex style from his elbows at his sides, like I suppose a life-sized living piece of bread would. "God's like the gingerbread man!", he explained as I attempted to bite my lip and not laugh at his humor and instead give him the Mommy stare into submission.

On my right Seth, with his blankie on his head, was wearing his crocs on his bent knees and making them talk to each other.

At one point Claire was flipping through the songbook, with each page turned her little fist would go up to her mouth as she cleared her throat pretentiously, and she would begin to sing deep and exaggerated, her finger following the music on the page.

The whole thing reminded me very much of this Mr. Bean clip.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kid Quotables

The Little Mermaid is currently the movie of choice on permanent rerun in our van right now. Watching out of the corner of his eye while playing his videogame, Thane points out,
"Mermaids wouldn't actually be able to come to the surface like that. After living their whole lives deep underwater, they'd go blind from the sun."
Yes, they probably would.

Certainly a flaw in the plot that should have be taken into consideration.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Evolution of the artist.

Claire just crossed over.

She made two dots and called them eyes.

Her art is no longer just art for art's sake, the most abstract of abstract. It's representational. Her growing brain has made the shift into trying to represent what she see's.

It starts with eyes. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Alright, so it hit me a little this morning.

I'm going back to work soon.

In 6 weeks. Not soon, but soon.

I've known this of course, planned for it, expected it. Anticipated it actually. The thought of having two minutes to myself, to think about 'grander' things than laundry and hungry bellies, that excites me. Gallery organizing thoughts are creeping in more and more when I'm washing dishes, when I'm folding laundry, mowing the lawn. In the best of neuron firing ways.

I'm comforted that I feel happy with this arrangement, this position, that I'm fairly certain I have found that blissful place of balance, where the kids days with their caregiver are scheduled to be short in hours and few in days, that I believe they will be happy in a home environment away from home, balanced by what will still be lots of time at home with Mommy and/or Daddy. If all goes to plan, the big boys will only need afterschool care one day a week. I'm pretty stoked about this schedule. I'm so thankful to have been so well supported in our efforts to be there to raise our own children.

But this morning I held my littlest man, his eleven months little snuggly body, giving him kisses as he watched, patting my mouth with his chubby hand, trying to make his mouth do that, making airy noises.

Our time together will still be less.

In a talk I once attended, the speaker said something that shaped my parenting. He said, "The special moments happen in the midst of the mundane moments. And you have to log those mundane moments, the get them up, get them dressed, get them fed, get them clean drudgery, to be there when the special moments happen." That can sound negative, but it really made me realize how important time is in raising kids. You can't say, alright, I'm home and we have an hour, let's pack in an hour of quality time. You have to be there to witness their lives, the good in between the drudgery.

I thought about Maxwell's success last week, his hour spent at the sitters, his start in getting used to the new place, the idea of a new mama for a day. He went happily, older and more confident than I had realized before, the lucky younger sibling with his big sister there as the most effective security blanket in the world. Claire is always happy to return to her familiar home away from home, where her and Seth were cared for, loved, and doted on last year while I was at work before this maternity leave. With Mommy not there for once Max drank happily from a bottle of water, something I hadn't yet been able to get him to do. When I returned he was still happily playing, using his new crawling skills to shove in on his sister's play.

Tomorrow we're moving forwards in having him nap there, staying a half day soon, and then before long getting him used to staying the full time, until mid-afternoon. While I was so excited yesterday about this development, perhaps giving me a little break and the opportunity to catch up a bit at home before returning to work, today it makes me a little teary.

This year is almost gone, never to return again. This time with my little baby. He's almost a whole year old. Have I appreciated it as much as I could have? Have I used this extra time with each of them as well as I could have? We always have so much on our plates it's difficult to feel we've slowed down enough to be there and appreciate our time with the kids. 

And I have never taken one of my babies to childcare this young before. All of them, until this point, have really been at least a year and a half before this transition. For it to be my little Maxwell too, the one who's health I've worried over the most, the baby I very much baby and admittedly treat as a delicate little flower.

Albeit a delicate little flower who now pulls hair, headbutts, and lately tends to bite. Even Claire knows to treat Max hugs gingerly now. You need to watch out for that laughing little teething mouth.

As far as flowers go, he may be more of the carnivorious flytrap variety.

He can do it, I know. And I can do it, I know. I've been watching him bloom even just this week since learning to crawl. All of the sudden he's pulling up to stand on everything, toppling sideways and righting himself quickly, determined to go again. He's changing before my eyes from his quiet, still little baby self, to the fast little toddler we'll know soon.

They slowly, gradually move further away, staying away longer. At first leaving my arms for only a minute while someone holds them, but always back to Mommy. Mommy and baby are a duo, a single unit. From my lap they feel safe to return someone's smile. Then they play by my feet, reaching out every few minutes to make sure I'm still there. Then they crawl away, at first slowly, coming back to touch base with Mommy every few minutes, soon though deviously looking over their shoulder from across the room. Next it's on the playground, waving from the top of the slide for me to watch their new feat, and then waving from the bus with their new bookbag, too big, as they go to spend their day away, their lives gradually getting more separate from mine, a little more their own. It's torturous, this raising them to optimally leave us.

Time goes so quickly. It's so slippery.

I read something recently, a passage from Sarah Napthali's Buddhism for Mothers (a book I think I've quoted more than any before), that describes so well why watching them grow is this bittersweet. It has stuck with me as I watch the kids, each constantly evolving into their new, older selves.

With the arrival of each new stage you have to mourn the loss of their previous self. While you welcome the new stage, each child of the stage before is gone, never to return again.

And it can be sad.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Peanut Butter Caramel Cookie Dough.

How many yummy things can you fit into one flavour?!

Peanut butter on anything is pretty much a good idea.

Ice-cream makes me weak.

I'm glad someone thought to omit the chocolate chips from the cookie dough.
They were too hard.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

On good days...

Patience abounds.

(Good days are usually preceded by a full nights sleep.)

On good days, I empty the dishwasher in the morning and refill it as we go.

I answer 'What's for supper?' before noon. It's a healthy and easy plan, and I remember to double check that we have the ingredients.

On good days, I'm imaginative Mommy. On good days couch forts happen. Where dollies get tucked in. On good days I fold laundry without converting our television into a babysitter.

On good days I do actually get to the folding part of the laundry.

The kids play, and read, and draw. Together. And screen-less. And not because I demanded it.

We eat supper with the windows wide open, during a breezy, loud, warm thunderstorm.

On good days supper is yummy. And calm. Everyone eats. Mostly the same food. And sits in their chairs.

I do the supperwork. After supper. As opposed to it greeting me like a hangover in the morning.

On good days, I am productive Mommy. Kids get bathed, youngest to oldest, two by two. The question of whether it's tan or dirt gets answered.

On good days Claire remembers not to dump water on Max's head, and I think to clean the bathroom while they're bathing. Of course the crawling and pulling of sister's hair has thrown a new and exciting twist into bathtime. Always a twist.

On a perfect day, all of my children would sleep like Seth, my wonder child of sleeping. Good lord that would be lovely. We're not, however, talking about a perfect day.

On good days I get to make sewing plans, and match fabric, and actually think about actually sewing sometime soon. Preferably before my little girl is too old to wear the cute little girl stuff I want to sew. That would be nice.

Once upon a time, in my pre-kids life, a good day would have be comprised of sleeping (there was lots of sleeping in my once upon a time), lots of people, and lots of art. Apparently nothing's really changed. Except now I mostly daydream of sleep, the people are very little, and the art is the most abstract of abstract made by littles variety. My own art will come back. It's coming.

Today was a good, good day.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Moving and shaking.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new mover.

Rapidfire babyproofing to begin immediately.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

You are not alone.

Aren't those the most reassuring words in the universe?

I was reading a blog post the other day, this one, and had that very epiphany.

I am not alone.

I often fight the very same battle my friend Johanna describes in her post. I have a bad set of days where I just can't shake the pessimism and feel like I'm just not keeping up, not measuring up, not doing enough, not mothering well enough, can't seem to see the cup half full. And the worst part of the whole mood is that I keep thinking no one else does this, everyone else seems to keep it together, why can't you also pull yourself together Victoria?

But the key word there is 'seems'. Everyone else seems to have it together.

Johanna also wrote me on Mother's Day to say "Happy Mother's Day to one beautiful and amazing mom. Victoria you always amaze me with how you have it all together!". While the compliment was so nice and appreciated in itself, what really made that comment so special to me (after I stopped choking on my coffee from laughing that someone thought I seemed to have it all together) was that if she thinks I have it all together when I feel like a chaotic crazy person, a juggler with a thousand balls in the air, maybe the people I admire for having it all together also really feel just as nutso as I do. Which sounds mean, to savor the chaos of others, but you get this? In which case, I might just really actually have it all together! Maybe it's just possible that having it all together in motherhood just happens to feel only one step left of chaos. That this is as together as it can get and that I'm doing just fine. This train of thought is quickly derailing into a whole pile of having it together's, but in any case it makes you feel so much better to realize you're not alone!

I think that's why blogs have become so popular for mothers, and facebook too, that this sentiment is how the 'mommy blogger' was born. Logging in to some social contact in the spare minute you have, reading the thoughts of other mothers as they journal their days makes you realize you're not alone in your trials and tribulations. And if everyone else goes through these bumps and days, then you're not some failing oddity who just can't figure it out. Motherhood is very hard on the self-esteem (and I haven't even arrived on the other side, where we see what kind of people we've turned out). It's so important to have feedback confirming at the very least that you're not alone in your uncertainty. That whatever difficulty you're facing has confronted many others, there have been women in this place before you and there will be others follow.

It calms me to think of how my grandmother would have solved a busyness dilemma, how she would have got the laundry on the line with so many little ones running around and not even the luxury of a heavy duty washer to rely on. It gives me strength to corral my one toddler again. It reminds me everyone needs help sometimes. It calms me to hear a friend, a mother of six, say she also gets tripped up on agenda items that should be so small. I can forgive myself for my son being the only child whose mother couldn't manage to scrounge up a white dress shirt for his first communion day. He still looked very nice in plaid.

David Suzuki talks of life energy. That when people die their particles don't disappear. Their energy impermeates the air, and we breathe them in, they become part of us, soak into the earth and become part of it, which nourishes our food and nourishes us. We are all one. The Secret proclaims that our  thoughts and emotions emanate from us and attract like, negative or positive, affecting the state of the world. In Catholicism it's called the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, that God is in us, within and throughout all of us, present in all living beings. Sarah Napthali writes, "In Buddhism, there is no God but rather the opportunity to realise our oneness with all that exists."

I think it's all the same. It's oneness.

It's comfort in knowing that we are not alone.
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