when we were young…

writing with passion, living with vision and acting with intention


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The unbreakable bond

Sibling love. Shae and Oliver’s interaction hasn’t yet evolved to playing together but already, I see glimpses of Shae in his big brother role – like when a friend is holding Oliver and he gets quite concerned and tries to pull him away and back to my arms. Oliver watches his brother with wide eyes (often ready to wince as he anticipates being sat on no doubt). I think back to my own childhood and my siblings, especially my older sister. I was in awe of her as a child. She had beautiful soft, silky hair, eyes as bright and blue as the sky and full lips that curved up at the corners, ready to smile. She was quite creative and skilled and I strove to make my rag doll as beautiful as hers (it didn’t matter that she had six years on me, I was determined to produce something similar).

She knew me better than anyone. She was the shoulder I cried on when my first boyfriend broke up with me, she was the one with whom I could be silly, mad and however many other crazy emotions us girls feel. And I knew her better than anyone. I knew when she was pretending to be serious before I even saw a smile tugging on the corners of her lips. I knew when she was acting happy but was actually feeling anything but. We used to laugh when I would call her on her bluffs because she fooled others but not me.

It has been six years since I last saw her. There is so much I want to say to her that it is hard to determine where to start. I could tell her that everything that happened, that drew a wedge between us, it does not change anything for me because the bond we have is too strong. Some siblings don’t relate much to each other and once adults, they go their separate ways and reunite for holidays. But I was blessed to have a best friend in my sister. We used to compare ourselves to the Haine’s sisters’ in the movie White Christmas (“Sisters, Sisters, there were never such devoted sisters…”) How I wish things had been different and that we could have been there for each other during our times of joy and sadness. I wish I could have been everything she needed me to be before the chasm.

What I would say to my sister if she were reading this…I love you so so much. I miss you in my life and I don’t have any grievances whatsoever and I am sorry for the ones I caused you.

I would tell her that I am proud of her because I know that she is a devoted mother, a beautiful and gentle soul (she would likely argue this point but that is because she doesn’t see what I see) and a strong and intelligent woman. If there is something to be said for age, it makes you smarten up a little and loose some of your childish arrogance (and yes, I am talking about myself).

Oh my boys, I pray with all my heart that you will share a close bond and will take care of each other whether it be in the playground or after school at the pizza place. I pray that you build each other up and encourage those around you to act in love and kindness. I pray you have the best of times and that you will come through the worst of times closer than ever before.

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God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr


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A sacred place

This is Medicine Beach.

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I brought my boys here this past weekend while we were visiting our old home on Pender Island. I watched as Shae played in a wonderland of driftwood, marsh grasses and other beach treasures. It was a sight sweeter than any other beach I have seen him play on. I always imagined my children playing on this beach, taking delight in the beautiful surroundings to explore.

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Almost three years ago, on a cold, misty and gray day in March, Jesse and I came to this beach to have a service for our Shaely Rose whom I held in my arms for only a day. We were overwhelmed with the love and support of our community who showed up in the rain that day to hold us – nearly 80 people.

Medicine Beach is more than a beautiful location to me – it is a place where dreams were dreamt, where they died and were laid to rest and now where they are revived.

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I believe places like this are sacred in the hearts of those who leave a piece of themselves there. The stillness; the gentle lapping of the water against the rocky shore; the wind rustling the grass and the call of birds in the marsh are indeed medicine for the soul. It both hurts my heart and fills it with gratitude to have such a place. Medicine Beach is a reminder of the beauty of life – its precious and fleeting presence and the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

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Once upon a Shae on Pender

Shae’s first home was in a house on Galleon Way amidst other nautically named roads on a little island called Pender, a small community of people who are forever imprinted on my heart.

A good friend of mine knew this feeling well herself – the feeling that while you have made a new home elsewhere, there’s still a piece if not all of your heart in another place.

This is a short synopsis of what Shae’s first home was like.

Shae was conceived very soon after loosing our first baby, 32.5 weeks into my pregnancy. My grief throughout much of my next pregnancy did not squelch this guy’s zest for life.  From the very beginning, he showed a will and determination that is proving to this day to be unstoppable and admirable. Since I had been pregnant for almost a year and half straight, I suppose you could say that while we were overjoyed with our little 5 lb. 6 oz. bundle, I was also more than overwhelmed with the task at hand.

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Shae was born after a huge baby wave of girls. One such girl was born to my dear friend Amanda and while our baby’s were close to a year apart, we spent every other day walking with them in our Ergo carriers, sipping tea and hanging out at Pender’s rocky beaches.

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I always thought my children would grow up there. We felt we belonged there until circumstances changed and we were called in another direction. We moved when Shae was only eight months old. Nevertheless, he had a lot of his ‘firsts’ there.

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His first dining out experience

His first solids

His first solids

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His first wedding (on a beach no less!)

Tomorrow, we are going back as a family of four to visit Shae’s first home. For him, it’s new sights and people but for me, it is a glimpse of an alternate reality.


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Small town mothers

I live in family rich community a ferry ride away from “the city.” Everything is a little more harder to come by here: high-paying jobs, certain household products/items, childcare, Costco…:P It’s both a blessing and a disadvantage to coastal living and if there is one group that can attest to that, it’s mothers of pre-elementary school aged children.

The challenge here for many moms I encounter is either trying to stay employable or find a job that makes sense for their whole family. Many mothers I’ve talked with either never had a career here to begin with or the coastal economy does not offer enough or any work for their profession.

So the challenge is this: what is the point of working a minimum wage paying job if most of the paycheck if not all goes to pay for daycare? Might as well stay home and care for the babes ourselves.

A blessing

A challenge

A time of searching…

Why searching? Motherhood itself is a dramatic upheaval in a woman’s life. No longer is her time her own, nor her thoughts, her money, her body. Everything she built an identity around is put on the back burner or left on the pages of her journal and resumes. There is a new person that grows and develops in those months and years following the birth of her child/children. No matter what she does or where she goes, her thoughts circle around one question “will my kids be okay?” It’s a beautiful and painful transition, the roller coaster ride called parenthood. It presses her to her limits and makes her heart soar to happiness she has never experienced before. She identifies with the experiences of other mothers and takes comfort in swapping stories about how their babies are sleeping and eating.

And then the day approaches when her baby is getting older and she is able to leave him for a few hours at a time and her thoughts search for a way to revive a piece of the identity that knew a world outside of mothering.

It could be that she wants to build that career she never embarked on or get back to it, or  taking up a weekly class, organizing an event, a part-time job, volunteering, anything really.

So do it.

“Will my kids be okay?” Is this the best thing for them?

A mother who takes care of herself takes care of her kids.

She does what she can and at best, has a supportive team of fellow mothers to take turns minding each others’ kidlets. If work is scarce or doesn’t make sense financially with daycare in the equation, she might start a home business.

And sometimes, she waits (although it looks like anything but!) for the day in which she can reclaim some of what she found her identity in before motherhood. I don’t know about you but I know that a certain amount of that was the ability to be able to earn money.

Being a mother turns definitions of words upside-down and calls for a fair bit of self-analysis as she tries to figure out how she can be waiting for something but rarely  actually sitting still for an uninterrupted minute. She knows her role as a stay-at-home mother is important but searches to find the same gratification that she experienced from her jobs in the past. That’s just it though, nothing about mothering is the some as any other job a woman will ever have in her life. She doesn’t earn a bi-weekly paycheck that accounts for all the hours she worked, there’s no promotions on the horizon, no bar to measure how she is improving in her work.

But as I wrote in my post “Brain Chatter” on my other blog Mootable, mothers are skilled in the art or multi-tasking and making things work! As far as small town mothers go, there’s a few distinguishable circumstances that serve to shape their versatility as a homemaker and provider in and amidst the preservation of their cherished dreams. They search for a means to provide be it through a job, staying at home or using daycare, all in the pursuit of happiness (thanks Will Smith!).

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“Mama, happy”

It doesn’t make sense, I tell you. Each morning Jesse has been away has began earlier than the last with the winner of 4:50 a.m (and that’s including two or three night feedings for Oliver).

I have concluded that I have exceeded the limitations of regular mothering abilities together with sleep deprivation and am wired on adrenaline.

I. Have. TOO MUCH energy!

I made the “mistake” of napping yesterday and found myself tossing and turning for an hour that night.

Turns out, all this extra vigor is also fueling that ideal approach to parenting that I rarely actually employ: “get down on their level.” What I mean is, I am getting down to their level and playing cars with my kid every night. What’s with that?

I’m still trying to make sense of it, I can’t seem to though. Wonder why that could be…

I’ll give it a go.

For the first few days, I resisted the inevitable situation I found myself in. It didn’t help matters that I was feeling like I should be taken care of and doted upon with a nagging head cold. After a couple days of frustrated and “not happy” mama, as my son would say, it took watching a friend play with my boy to stir some sense into me. Only minutes earlier, my toddler had been the most disagreeable and miserable little human within a 10 km radius, I was certain. Now, my bright and happy boy had returned and giggled as my friend chased him around the yard. The transformation was instantaneous.

It was the turning point. I’ve been getting out and walking everyday since and therein lies the key for me. Never have I experienced simple exercise brightening my outlook so much.

Another thing…I started embracing having things to do – they were ways to pass the time especially in the evening which would normally be spent discussing this, that and it with my husband.

I think it comes down to accepting my circumstances, accepting my role, accepting my day with all it’s disadvantages. My two year old often has a little saying, “Dada, happy, Dada.” For the first time tonight, he said, “Mama, happy.” You see, he says Dada, happy, because Jesse always jumps right into his world – a world of silly sayings, playful wrestling and countless smiling snuggles. Why I entered that world now when logic says I should be even more grumpy and corrective than ever, I’m not sure. Maybe because “Dada” wasn’t there to keep my boy smiling and something inside me couldn’t handle that more than not having the extra set of hands. Maybe God gave me some super-human strength and I am about to CRASH once my lover relieves me of my post.

Whatever it can be summed up as, it has been a long, demanding and challenging week but I am floored to say that I have some beautiful memories of enjoying my boys. Floored because I was certain I would run crying out the front door as soon as Jesse gets home.

And no, I do not want want my husband going away for a week to become a regular occurrence. See you tomorrow baby!!!

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Seymour the foot warming pug

Seymour the foot warming pug

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The mother I wish I was

The moment I had been dreading and fearing was upon me as I braced myself for an agonizing wait at the walk-in clinic today with my two boys in tow. My Friday doctor’s appointment was too many wheezing breaths away for my asthmatic airways.

It had been a pretty decent day so far with a friend visiting in the morning and catching some fleeting sunshine with one happy toddler this afternoon. But, that was about to end and my son’s protests as soon as we pulled up in the car to the clinic were certain proof.

When we got inside, it seems we came with the rest of the “after-school” crowd. Maybe having other children waiting in the room settled Shae a bit, maybe it was throwing the contents of my purse on the floor. Thankfully, we weren’t in for an hour long wait as I had anticipated. As my boys started to get impatient, I became that mother that everyone looks at with an admiring glance. Yes, for once, I was completely calm, patient, loving and creative in diverting their attention as Oliver started to wail and Shae scrunched his face up, whimpering. Kneeling on the floor, I bounced both of them on each of my knees and recited a rhyming book in Shae’s ear, even managing to get a few giggles (enter warm smiles and admiring glances from noted people in the room) out of him.

Yes folks, this is the kind of mother I am, always loving, abounding patience, abundant empathy…

Well it was a moment in time and it felt so so right and made everything so much easier rather than seizing up, stressing out and sweating out my skull like I normally do.

Oh to be that kind of mother more than the other…I feel like I could if I consistently got a good night’s rest. That however, is quite subject to the variables: sickness, teething, a wandering toddler from his big boy bed…

Thank God each day does start anew. I guess He knew I needed some sunshine through the rain.

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:23

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At least it’s not the flu…

Sickness will just not leave this house! I tell myself it’s probably my fault in some way, too much chocolate, not enough vegetables. When will I learn?

It started with the boys coming down with these coughs the couple weeks before Christmas, then as they started to recover over Christmas holidays, Jesse was claimed by congestion, sore throat and aches for the duration of his time off. For the entirety of last week, my boys were using me as a Kleenex and going to bed by 6:30 with another gloriously productive cold. And now that they are getting back to normal, I am suffering – and my husband is out of town for six days!

Ok, so now that I’ve written it, it really isn’t as bad as I feel it to be…probably because I didn’t mention the part about how it has been raining non-stop, my children have been whining from the moment the day starts to the time they are in bed – even when I have to run to the bathroom during story time because I was having a nosebleed.

In the world of toddlers and babies, there are strict rules and demands that must be abide by otherwise, screaming and insanity will ensue.

1. Mommy is not allowed to go to the potty unaccompanied – actually, Mommy is not allowed to go to the potty at all.

2. Mommy is not allowed to do dishes – “I WANT” the dirty plate in the dishwasher!

3. Snacks and treats are to be enjoyed without limitation – unless it’s the baby enjoying some mama milk, that’s not allowed.

4. Boots will be worn.

5. Clothes and diapers will not be worn.

6. Naps are for babies, no wait, the baby can’t nap either.

7. Baby must be held during late afternoon hours with toddler scaling Mommy’s leg, insisting the baby be dropped.

8. No talking on the phone unless Mommy enjoys three and four way chatter.

9. Showers are for the whole family to enjoy together.

10. Toys are for spreading all over the floor – the more chaotic, the better.

11. Babies sitting unattended on the floor will be sat on.

12. Waking from nap is not starting the day a new and cheery unless there is something damn good to wake up for.

And with that, the toddler is disappointed to wake-up and find his mama writing on her laptop and not extending an ice cream cone.Image