I can do this!

blog imageI’m looking forward to the start of a new year. I can crack open that new calendar and write in the special days – birthdays, anniversaries, etc – and dream about summer plans, possible holidays, special occasions with family, etc. It’s lovely. It’s especially lovely when I find just the right pen, or even better – PENS, to do it with. I’ll admit that I am a bit of a calendar/stationary junkie. This year we have the added need for a calendar/planner for homeschool. We’ve introduced the use of Google calendars but I am a huge paper & pen fan when it comes to planning – my brain just seems to work better that way.

I have to admit that since becoming a “stay-at-home” mom (HAHAHAHA!) I’ve had a hard time finding a system that works for us, for me. I find that most calendars/planners are designed for people who work which was great when I was working. I knew the weekly routine and could set things up accordingly ahead of time. It was fabulous. Sometimes things would happen that would require me to deviate a little from the usual but temporary upsets of the norm were easy to deal with. Being at home with big kids and a baby/toddler hasn’t been so easy.

I’ve been struggling with this for a couple of years now. I’ve also settled into that and been okay with the struggle to a certain degree – it’s become comfortable. But it’s not working and that means change needs to happen. So it’s time to figure out/find/implement a system.

My kids are rolling their eyes at me right now…well, they would be if they weren’t in bed. They’ve heard it before. And watched it fail miserably. Or rather, have watched me fail to follow through miserably. I keep thinking about how things were BEFORE…the LAST time I wasn’t working outside the home. I had a great routine. Housework went like clockwork. Laundry was always up to date, for the most part. There weren’t baskets of unfolded half-clean laundry in my room all the time. I had time for me and my business. It was a well oiled machine. I’ve been having a hard time figuring out WHY it worked so well and the last couple of days it dawned on me. I had a system and I WORKED the system.

So. Back to working the system. No more late nights waiting for diapers to finish washing because I didn’t get them put on in the morning (I MIGHT be doing that right now…maybe. Or maybe not). No more wondering where the day has gone. No more failing to do something because I forgot to write it down. NO MORE FLOUNDERING.

It’s important to me that my kids live in a house that works, a home that is clean and comfortable. A place where they know what to expect and when to expect it. It’s important to me that my husband can go to work in the morning and know that when he comes home dinner will be ready or almost ready and he’s free to relax and enjoy his kids. It’s important to me to have time to connect with friends, to be able to plan errands, to have the freedom to work my business, to have regular sleep! Getting things in order is going to help with that immensely!

A new year. A new plan. I’m excited to see what 2015 is going to bring our family. Knowing that there is going to be a plan and a system in place to help things move along relatively smoothly is freeing. Now to get on with the working it part!

I can do it! I can do it!! I can do it!! One day at a time….

Bittersweet Memories

Routines are hard to change.

Liam and I were heading to the store to do some Christmas shopping. As I drove up Columbia Street, I told my phone, via bluetooth and voice commands, to make the same phone call I have made almost every time I have gotten in the car and headed out to run errands. The ringing of the phone could be heard and then the call connected. Her voice filled my car and my eyes filled with tears. She’s not there and the only way we’re going to ever hear her voice again is on the outgoing message of her voicemail.

My aunt, my dear friend.

See I had this routine. Making phone calls at home with 3 kids constantly clamoring for my attention is always difficult. There is rarely any privacy (if that is needed) and quiet is, well, if you’ve ever been on the phone with me while Liam has been playing dragon you’ll know there is no such thing as quiet. I’ve discovered the best place to make phone calls is in my car between home and wherever I am going.

Lois was always the first person I would call. Sometimes we’d talk for only a few minutes. Other times we’d talk for half an hour. Didn’t matter how long – it was the connection that mattered. The “checking in” that counted.

It’s been 3 weeks since she passed. I’m still having a hard time believing it. And then I am reminded in ways that resemble a hammer to the head, a knife to the heart.

I laid in bed last night thinking about her, of all my memories. There are a lot of memories as I’ve known her for 38 years.

Dancing with complete abandon, while singing as loudly as we could, to the tunes of Mary Poppins on the record player.

Sleepovers every Christmas where cookies would be made and eaten, movies watched, fashion shows (wearing her clothes of course) executed, snuggles had.

Visiting the office where she worked and walking down Victoria Street together to get lunch, feeling oh so very special and important.

Hundreds of thousands of phone calls over the years.

Introducing each of my 3 children to her – she ADORED them and they her. She spoiled them – after school snack wasn’t just an apple with some peanut butter. Oh no. After school snack often consisted of mac & cheese with farmer sausage, or grilled cheese sandwiches, or pie & ice cream! Often it would fill them up so much that come supper time, they weren’t quite ready for it!

Watching and listening to her reading story after story to Liam on our couch just over a month ago.

Family dinners where copious amounts of yummy food was placed in front of us, on a table that was always set beautifully. She had such a knack for pulling together the most mismatched pieces and creating a beautifully comfortable space.

“Shopping” in her closet every time I’d come home for a visit – the woman had incredible taste in clothing! My only disappointment was that our feet were never the same size…mine being 7’s and hers being 9’s.

Driving around town in that little orange “Bug” with the top down in the summer…driving up Columbia Street in the winter in a different “bug” in which the windshield wipers didn’t work very well on a VERY snowy evening. I will never forget Lois driving with one arm out the window, snowbrush in hand, clearing the window every few minutes. We laughed so hard as our feet froze!

She was always the first one to shed tears whenever extended goodbyes were required – and it was not uncommon for those goodbyes to take an hour. Ironically, her own leaving of us was quiet and quick, without any of those difficult and tear-filled goodbyes. She hated them. I hate them.

Christmas this year is going to be filled with bittersweet memories. I expect there will be moments of collective tears as we remember her and miss her presence with us. I also expect there will be quiet moments of weeping after the day is done and all is quiet, when I have nothing but Christmas lights and memories keeping me company, long after everyone else has gone to sleep. While it hurts and it’s hard, I am so grateful that the hurting comes from a place of much love and cherished memories.

Bittersweet memories.

Figuring out this "selfie" thing...not the best picture but memories of a great day go with this (my cousin's wedding)

Figuring out this “selfie” thing…not the best picture but memories of a great day go with this (my cousin’s wedding)

When Life is Noisy & My Voice Gets Quiet

I don’t know about you but I find that the crazier life gets around me, the quieter my voice tends to get. Not my speaking voice, although my family would probably prefer that, but rather the voice that I use to express whatever is in my heart and mind. For some that’s music. Others it is art. Some it’s a physical activity. For me it is writing. When life gets crazy, my thoughts jumble and the one thing that actually helps me process is also often the hardest thing for me to do – maybe because there just doesn’t seem to be time.

Anyway, lately I’ve been really quiet. I’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff and many of my thoughts have become all jumbled up and messy. A great big mess of intersecting ideas and thoughts that have turned my brain into a great big room filled with unending noise and mess. It’s hard to make sense of any one idea. It’s exhausting and has me craving escape and retreat, quiet and aloneness.

I’m honestly not quite sure what I would do if I was granted those things. I’ve become so used to functioning in what feels like a perpetual state of mental chaos lately that the idea of stepping into a place of quiet, peace and tranquility is almost frightening. I can hardly hear myself think these days and to suddenly have space to do nothing but hear myself? I’m not sure I would like some of what I would hear.

But I know that taking time every day to do just that, to enter into a place of serenity, peace, quiet and tranquility is essential for me to continue to function well in this life that is mine. Without it I flounder. Lately I have been floundering big time. I have no patience for anything or at least very little. I start my day dreading interactions to come and end it feeling anxious and frustrated. My ability to balance the daily chores and needs of my family has dwindled significantly as the thoughts in my head grow more jumbled.

I find myself craving silence and space. I long to sit down, without being plagued by the thoughts of all that needs doing, and just be with the thoughts that need to be dealt with. My heart is broken and grieving the loss of a dear dear loved one who I wasn’t ready or prepared to say goodbye to a couple of weeks ago. I’m wanting and needing to be alone with all the thoughts/feelings that come from that. I am trying hard to be a good homeschooling mom, whatever that looks like, but I need time to look over and think through things in order to be prepared for each day. I have a toddler I need to play with, to engage his little mind and body in activities that stimulate and interest him but I need time to bring ideas into being. I have friends that need attention and time. A husband that needs attention and time. A business I am trying to grow. But my brain and heart are such a jumbled mess of all these things that all I want to do is be alone.

And maybe that’s just it. Maybe, after all is said and done, the best way for me to take care of all that needs doing is to take a step back and away, by myself, for a time, and simply spend time alone. It seems almost counter-intuitive to me – that the best way to take care of my family and others is to actually retreat from them. But at the same time, it makes sense. Even Jesus took a step back from ministering to others from time to time. Those who have lived lives of service to others took time away to regroup and re-energize. There are many professions that build sabbaticals into their framework of expectations. Why then, if we allow it for others and have no problem seeing the need for it, is it so hard for moms to allow it for themselves? So hard for me?

I’m not a big “goals for the new year” kind of person but this year that is one of my goals. I want to go away for a weekend by myself, to a hotel somewhere (ideally with a spa! and maybe a giant soaker tub in my room), where I can spend some time taking care of me. Where I can wander nearby shops or go for a nature walk. Where I can enjoy good food, scenery and quiet time. Where I can read, write, plan and organize. I need this.

Sometimes it isn’t always possible to step away from life for a few days and retreat. So what then? I say this to myself more than anyone: a few days away won’t do diddly squat to help if I am not making a point of taking time every day just to be. So it’s time I start carving out thinking time for me. Processing time. Time to be alone with a notebook and a pen, my Bible and my thoughts. I try to snatch moments but often those end up being stolen moments as I retreat for two minutes to pee by myself or in the car as I run to the store for milk. Not exactly good for getting myself back into a good place mentally! So that will be my goal for the next month – to reestablish the habit of alone time.

The noises are loud and my voice is somewhat quiet. But I see hope. I hear the noises getting softer and my voice becoming stronger again. I see chaos becoming order. I see my ability to just be, to listen to what I need to hear, coming back into being. And I feel hope.

Liam My Crazy Little Joy-filled Boy

Liam
My Crazy Little Joy-filled Boy (disregard the mess behind him!)

 

This Changes Things

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo - picture taken shortly before the tragic events of today unfolded. Thank you to Guillaume Hache for sharing this with us.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo – picture taken shortly before the tragic events of today unfolded. Thank you to Guillaume Hache for sharing this with us.

Today, October 22, is a day that Canada will never forget.

History was changed and made.

A man lost his life as he stood proudly in his uniform. It was a senseless act of terror such that our country has never experienced before.

Today a country was changed.

Much will be written about today, about this man, about what this means for us as a nation. Many tears will be, and already have been, shed as a reaction to what happened today. People are mourning the loss of life and the loss of a nation’s innocence.

Today changed me as a mom.

My son recently joined Air Cadets and I’ll admit that I was viewing it as a great opportunity for him to meet other kids, to learn new skills, to learn some discipline that comes from a source other than me! The implications for the future beyond the potential for him to get his pilots’ license hadn’t really occurred to me. Until today.

Today I realized that one day my son may choose a career in a branch of our military. At 13 he stands almost as tall as myself – maybe an inch

My Son.

My Son

shorter. He can rest his chin on my shoulder when he hugs me. He is starting to look like the man he will grow up to be. And I realized that some day I could lose him simply because of his uniform. I was moved to hug him and as I did, the tears flowed as I grieved the events of the day and said goodbye, in my heart, to the little boy who has grown up.

Today my country was changed. A family was changed. This mother was changed. Will we ever be the same? No. Our country will always mourn the loss of our innocence and sense of security. A family will always mourn the loss of their father, son, friend. I will always miss the little boy who has grown into a man in front of my eyes and wonder at the speed of time.

Today has changed everything. It has changed how we see the world around us. It has changed how we see ourselves. It changes how I see my son. And now the hard work begins – working to make sure that those changes move us towards good, to make sure that we don’t lose ourselves, to make sure we don’t allow the enemy to win, to make sure that I don’t hold on too tightly allowing fear to win.

Thank you to the men and women who responded in this crisis. Thank you to those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect our nation. Thank you to Nathan Cirillo for your service. And thank you to my son who is teaching me to be a better mom simply by being himself.

“God keep our land, glorious and free…Oh Canada we stand on guard for thee.”

canada

 

 

Passions

We all have them. Things that get us excited and make the blood flow just a little faster through our veins. They can be many things or a simple few. They may be long term or they may be just for a time. Here are a few of mine both current and past:

Babywearing

This is both a lifestyle choice and a passion for me at this point in time. It may or may not be fleeting, based solely on circumstance and stage in life. Whatever the case may be, I love it!! I cannot imagine our life without babywearing. There are so many aspects to it that make it something that gets me excited – the closeness it provides between mom and baby/toddler, the convenience of being able to do things with both hands while keeping child close at hand, the beauty of the carriers and wraps that have developed as a result of others’ passion for the same. This is something that, if you ask me about it, I could go on for hours about! But I won’t. At least not in this post!

Babywearing Demo - September 2014

Babywearing Demo – September 2014

Breastfeeding

Yup. I said it! I am passionate about breastfeeding. Liam and I are going on 22 months of it so I better be passionate about it or I just like to be held captive by a young human for long periods of time each day! This isn’t something that I expect will be a fleeting passion although my hands’ on involvement will obviously not be forever! The day will come when Liam is no longer nursing but my passion and enthusiasm for it will not wane just because he’s no longer interested. It will just look different.

Photo credit: Peggy Knaak, Sunbeams and Freckles Photography, Kamloops, BC 2014

Photo credit: Peggy Knaak, Sunbeams and Freckles Photography, Kamloops, BC 2014

Shoes. Boots. Footwear.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE shoes!! And BOOTS!! And I am seriously considering getting a part time job outside of the house to help fund my love of both shoes and wraps (for babywearing). My tastes, as I am getting older and more experienced, are refining which really means they are getting more expensive. I won’t be buying cheap shoes or boots ever again even if that means I own fewer. I would give up my 6 pairs of pretty awesome boots for 1 pair of AMAZING Fluevogs in a heartbeat if I could. Don’t know what Fluevogs are? Check them out here: Fluevog Shoes.

Books

I LOVE books! I love everything about books! I love that a person can open the pages of new book and enter a world that is not their own. I love the feel of them, the smell of them, the sound of them. The soft swishing of a page turning is a sound like no other. Some of my best times have been spent alone in a book store wandering the aisles discovering new gems. Those times have only been overshadowed by the fact that I cannot afford to bring all the books home with me and I must therefore choose. It is almost like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. Impossible. I love all kinds of books – almost all kinds of fiction (no fantasy, sci-fi or vampire books for me) and many types of non-fiction. My favorite gifts as a child were books and to this day, one of my favorite gifts is a gift card to Amazon or Chapters with a large goodly balance on it with which to buy a few new friends to add to my collections. I read my books over and over and over. They never get old.

Babies

I LOVE BABIES!! Since I was a little girl I have loved babies. Pretty sure I will always love them. The wonder of them, the potential of them, the unwritten stories that they represent….LOVE THEM!!!

Grandson Jasper & I just a few days ago (he was 2 days old)

Grandson Jasper & I just a few days ago (he was 2 days old)

Creative Arts

Music. Sewing. Papercrafting. Writing. I love these things because they feed my soul. They are outlets of expression. They are feeders of my heart. They allow me to both give and receive in ways that my soul requires to remain healthy and whole. But they are also the source of much angst and anguish for me as I am a perfectionist who is learning to let go of some of that when appropriate. Better to be creating imperfectly than to not create at all.

A cool bag I created to haul my stuff that I can use while babywearing (passions coming together!)

A cool bag I created to haul my stuff that I can use while babywearing (passions coming together!)

People

I am passionate about people. I want to help them, to see them live whole and fulfilling lives. I want to see broken people fixed, hurting people soothed, wounded people healed. I want to know them, to understand what makes them tick and to use that knowledge to help them be better people, to help ME be a better person. People have long fascinated and frustrated me. The psychology of people fascinates me. This is one passion that I am not quite sure how it is going to manifest itself in my life as time goes on but it is one that I want to see grow and develop. I see glimpses of how it may play out as I muddle my way through each day but I fear it may be a long time before a clear picture of this develops in my life. It does lead to overload and burn out at times as does my passion for the creative. Something I am working on because the people in my life should not suffer because of the creative in my life nor should the creative in my life suffer because of the people in my life.

Some of the people I love to know!

Some of the people I love to know!

These are just a few of the things that I am passionate about. Some very specific. Some with room to develop and grow more specifically. Some are deep. Others more shallow or less philosophical. But all get me excited and cause me to want to go on and on about them! 🙂 I can’t do that right now though…the day calls as does another passion – COFFEE!!!

Catching Up

Phew! I can’t believe it is October! WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?!! No, seriously! Where has it gone? Wasn’t it just the beginning of summer and the start of school was months away?? How is it possible that we are three weeks into school, that the leaves are turning color, that the summer clothes are slowly finding their way into the back of the closet??

I can’t believe everything that has been happening around here. Mostly good. Some tough stuff. Some not so good. But life continues on….and it’s time for me to get you caught up on what we’ve been up to.

July was a month without big kids – they were away at their grandparents’ in Ontario and then off to summer camp for a week. I have to say, this was the best summer camp week ever! They went together for the first time ever (someone please remind me why I thought it was a good idea to send them separate weeks all these years!!) and came home with mutual stories to tell and memories made. I need to remind them of those days – they were actually FRIENDS for a few days, maybe even a couple of weeks, after that week as they reminisced about those glorious 5 days at camp!

August found us dealing with major changes – job changes for the husband, relationship changes for a few family members, a family wedding, a residence change for a family member and beautiful weather. It wasn’t an easy month, but it wasn’t a bad month. It just was life. We enjoyed ourselves at times, we shed tears at other times. I think it’s safe to say that we experienced emotions in all their vastness and the many ups and downs that it can take you on. No sooner were we adjusting to one change when another would come along. I actually felt like a pingpong ball being tossed from one end of the table to the other with no chance to regain my equilibrium in between.

September came along and before we knew it this whole adventure we decided to embark on was starting. EEK! We’re actually doing this homeschooling thing!! Now I gotta be honest with you. I had high hopes for this “GRAND ADVENTURE”! HIGH hopes. But I was realistic – I knew it was going to be a transition. But let me tell ya! I had no idea just how much of a transition it was going to be for all of us. WHOOEEE!!! It is only by the grace of God that I have not eaten my young this month and thank GOD they have had the grace and maturity to realize that their mother is simply on a crazy train and that there is no need to run away, that the train will arrive at the station sometime soon and all will go back to normal.

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY DO NOT START SUCH AN ADVENTURE AS WE HAVE WHEN YOU ARE PMS’ING!!!!

That’s all I have to say about THAT!!! 😛

Okay, no. In all seriousness, it’s been a tough go but it’s not been a bad one. I wouldn’t change our decision to home school based on the last 3 weeks. We’ve had some pretty unsuccessful days if you measure success by amount of work completed. But if you measure it by how many children lived to see another day? We’re ACE-ING this one!! 😀 Or at least I am! HA! It has been a much greater transition than I anticipated though. And it continues to be a transition as we learn to work together and around each other. Let me tell you, when you can’t even get alone to pee without someone (usually a toddler) walking in on you or pounding on the door because you’ve, for some crazy reason, locked it, well, you tend to go a little bit nutso. Or a lot. Yea. A lot might be more appropriate! Ah but things are slowly coming together and we WILL get through this too!

In other areas, we’ve all started new activities – I am heading up the childcare for the Wednesday morning group at our church and the kids are helping with the childcare (totally convenient, I know!). Isaac is going to Air Cadets and is growing through that. Emily is taking a bit of a break after several years of being very busy with choirs etc. Tim is working at a new job and we’re all enjoying the more normal hours. Liam is, well, he’s being adorable…usually. Teething is happening. And OH MY WORD!!!!!!!! I had no idea this child could be so, well, HORRID!!! I love him and it’s a darn good thing because HOLY COW he’s been CRANKY!!! Yes I am using CAPITALS – it’s really been THAT bad!!! He’s cutting his 2 year molars and they are not being kind to him therefore he’s being unkind to us. This will pass but in the meantime it makes for some long long days!! Poor little guy.

I’ve been working hard on my Stampin’ Up! business again and seeing some good results from that. It’s been fun to create projects that customers love and to see their eyes light up when they realize that they are capable of creating beautiful things that others will appreciate. Of course the admin in me loves the planning and stuff for the in home workshops, the classes and the fairs coming up. Now I just need to find the time to get all the projects completed that I really want to!!

And there you have it. A brief “here’s what’s been going on” for us. There’s other stuff going on, things behind the scenes or inside my heart & the hearts of my family members that I haven’t mentioned here. I’ll be sharing some of those things over the next little while. There are activities and changes coming up that are both exciting and scary. There are potentially new roles that will be taken on and new ideas explored. It’s all very exciting to think about how we as a family are going to grow both in numbers and in our own hearts and minds over the next few months. I’ll share as much of the journey with everyone as I can….I just hope there’s time enough to tell all the stories!

God continues to be very good to our family. I am so very thankful.

A few shots from the last couple of weeks…..

2014-09-11 11.33.40

Horseback Riding with my Girl

Book shopping with Mom - Start them young!!

Book shopping with Mom – Start them young!!

Family dinner out - Big boy didn't need a booster seat!

Family dinner out – Big boy didn’t need a booster seat!

Babywearing Demo - September 2014

Babywearing Demo – September 2014

Anniversaries

Usually anniversaries are things we love to celebrate. Whether it be the anniversary of the start of a relationship or of years worked with a single company or recovery from a life-threatening illness or of time sober, they are things we want to note and embrace and take joy in. They are easy anniversaries filled with good feelings.

But there are other anniversaries that are not so easy. The ones that are filled with pain and tears and are so very hard. The anniversary of a marriage failed, of a loved ones’ life-altering injury, a death. These are the ones that often times go unmentioned, unacknowledged and yet cause the greatest pain.

I know about both of these anniversaries but lately my mind and heart has been occupied by the latter of the two. It has been filled with grief and pain. Heartache and sorrow. A deep soul longing to return to a time that is no longer and a relationship that forever is frozen in time.

3 years.

3 years ago we were waiting on a bed in hospice for my mom.

3 years ago my kids & I visited her in her home with our brand new kitten in our hands. She knew us but was so very weak and frail. A few days later she was admitted to hospice.

A few days later she went to be with Jesus.

On Wednesday it will be 3 years since we had to say goodbye to my mom. I know she went to Heaven and I will see her again but in the meantime we have to learn to live life without her here. Some days it’s really really hard. Sometimes it’s a series of days.

Lately it’s been a series of days, almost going on weeks now. I miss my mom. There are so many good things going on in our lives right now, big changes that she would love to be a part of, and so many other things that I would really love to be able to ask her about or talk to her about.

Sometimes anniversaries are easy. Sometimes they are really hard. Both are part of life and we can’t appreciate the one without the other. While I wish with all my heart that this upcoming anniversary wasn’t one that my family had to face, I also can’t help but be thankful for the many years of memories that have made my mom’s passing so hard. I’ll embrace the tears and the painful memories and keep on living life knowing she’d like what she’s seeing.

Below are some of my favorite memories in recent years with my mom:

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Mom. Snowshoeing at Sunpeaks. December 2009.

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August 2007 – Shareski Wedding in Shaunavon, SK. An epic roadtrip weekend.

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Kamloops Lake at Tranquille. Fall 2007. My kids sure do miss her.

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Sharing a laugh on the shores of Lake Louise. August 2007. Not sure what was so funny but knowing mom it was slightly twisted! 🙂