when we were young…

writing with passion, living with vision and acting with intention


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Sour encounters

Okay, someone tell me – what is with people who are

a) miserable in public and

b) quick to assume you are sucking at being a mom and they could show you better?!

The last few days have set a record for sour encounters while out and about with my kids. Please read along.

Encounter in the parking lot 

It was the longest drive to the pharmacy that one sun shiny morning with my seriously watery, sticky, itchy allergy riddled eye and I pulled our truck into the only available spot in the tight parking lot. It was for a small car but I was in a desperate situation and there was still room behind me for cars to pass through.

Upon getting the relief promised by Benedryl, I got my kids buckled into their car seats and hopped behind the wheel when I remembered these pills may have a drowsy factor. And that other item I needed to pick-up finally presented itself to the forefront of my thoughts. Yep, I had to do it all over again.

I got Shae out of the car and went around the other side to unbuckle Oliver when I heard an annoyed voice.

“Excuse me, are you leaving?”

I glanced over the pick-up and saw an older woman standing there.

“I can’t get out,” she exacerbated.

Confused, stressed and searching for my other offspring to make sure he was still on the sidewalk, I responded in an equally annoyed manner.

“What do you need??”

“Are you leaving or going in because your truck is blocking my car!”

What the eff is this lady going on about?

“No, I am taking my kid out and going back in,” I said. If she thought I was going to pack my kids back into the truck [for a third time!]…

I walked around the back to see what her complaint was about. Because of the angle of our two spots and the extra foot hanging off my back end, I could see that her exasperation was caused by the fact that she couldn’t back straight up and would have to swing her wheels to the left a little bit as she exited. The inconvenience!

I informed her that she was completely able to get out and even offered to help guide her out. Standing behind her vehicle with Oliver on my hip and my 31 week belly sticking out, I waved her to come. No movement. “Come!”

“I don’t need your help!” She yelled out her window.

Classy…

The neighbourhood

Later that afternoon, I sat on my nieghbour’s lawn, watching our kids ride their bikes on the street. “Car coming” and the children scampered to the side of the road. The car continued slowly on, passing closely by Shae and his friend. I guess Shae was feeling antzy and moved a foot forward as the car rolled past him. I immediately yelled out for him to stop. Admittedly, I didn’t leap up. Washing the car earlier had taken a tole on my already stiff legs. The old man in the car stopped and then continued, turning at the dead end and coming back up the street. I was still talking to Shae about the importance of not moving at all when a car goes by when the car rolled up to where my friend and I sat.  His eyes were fixated on me with a withered, accusing expression.

“That was very inappropriate,” he said in a scolding tone through his open window.

My crazy head space was attracting misery that day.

“And I’m talking to him about it,” I responded looking back directly at him.

There was a brief pause as he continued to scrutinize me, “I should hope so.” His eyes locked on mine, he rolled his car forward slowly and didn’t break the eye lock until the strain of it demanded his eyes look forward again.

Yeah, he lives four doors down from me. Blessed to have such concerned neighbours.

The thrift store.

I live in a small town, small stores. I sent my boys to the back of the store where the toys were, keeping myself in view of them as I browsed the racks.

They played happily for a good 15 minutes or longer. Then I heard Shae let out a cry that signaled either a kid had taken a toy from him or some other non-threatening circumstance. As I struggled to get a shirt back onto a hanger, I called to him. One second, two second, three, oh there’s an employee walking over to the scene. I start to walk over and I hear the employee’s critical voice say,

“Where the hell is the mother??”

Because it had been three seconds too long and what kind of mother would be acquiring items to buy in nearby racks while her children play with cheap and used toys?

Clearly inappropriate and neglectful of that mother.

I can’t wait til I have three kids and I get the stares and questions like “are you Catholic?”

 

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photoshoot with our boys


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I’m not new to this anymore

I went to a group a few weeks back called Bellies and Babies. I used to go in my old town when I had only Shae and was pregnant with Oliver. I found a place there – other moms who were speaking my language! Birth stories, swollen feet, how often our babies fed, worries about how to figure out that one tried and true way of getting the little grubs to sleep…

It was strange being back in that environment now with a two year-old and a three year-old and a little one in utero. The conversations were the same, but I had nothing to add to them. I realized that the discovery season of being a first time mom is a closed chapter in my life.

I tend to feel things pretty deeply. For another, this kind of benchmark is noted and not given a whole lot of thought. But I go through a little bit of a ceremonial release of what days used to be and how they will never be just like that again.

Being a first-time mom was a world shifting event. Every day, my world became less about me and more about my baby. Books about fictional characters and their entertaining lives were replaced with ones that assured me of the best way to get my baby to sleep, eat, play and parent. Online articles related to anything parenting seemed to jump out of the screen (and still do). “Free” time was spent making veggie purées and sleeping if baby was sleeping. Most of all, the plans I had for how my life/career would go looked increasingly ominous and distant.

But it was a journey that I embraced head on as we mothers do. Whether you get back into your kicks a few weeks post-partum, go back to your full time job before a year’s time, becoming a mom changes you – for the better in my experience. One example is I have become way more conscious of my diet and make healthy choices way more than I ever did before. Funny enough, I like food better now too.

The language of motherhood has evolved a bit for me as I contemplate with other moms with how to best prepare my kids for life in a dynamic world. Together with my husband, we are figuring out how to show these guys how to communicate, how to share, how to play with others, good manners, respect, obedience. Talk about brain power!

But I will never underestimate the journey of being a first-time mom and figuring out that you were doing “it” right. Adjusting to processing your world with a sleep deprived brain, insane feat. Realizing your partner did not have the same radical overnight transformation you did and explaining why your world is different now, a sometimes lengthy process. Finding fulfillment in days that bare no resemblance to what brought you that sense of a job well done in days past, tears will be shed.

Being a mom now (going for three!), every day I am so grateful that I get to be this person in my boys’ lives. There are few words that can express how my heart both breaks and swells when one of my little boys brings me a flower or says “I wuv you, Mom.” I share in their joy when they victoriously proclaim that they made it to the top of a rock. I swell with pride when I see them caring for each other with a gentle pat or stroke on the head.

It has taken me some time to embrace where ever I am at in this parenting journey. I think I am finally settling into a groove. Watch these guys shake things up for me because I know they will!

when it was just two


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What’s hard about blogging?

My mind’s a buzzing, my thoughts darting about never landing long enough to provide the contentment that comes with knowing what your plan is and how you are going to move on it. I want to write, I NEED to write, but it’s just not as simple as sit down and put those typing skills to use.

To provide some context, allow me to compose a string of thoughts barely connected if only by the fact that they support my buzzing brain complex.

busy brain, how, mom, wife, career, blogging, business, agh!!

I admire the moms I know who are just there, 100 per cent, fully devoted moms.

I am devoted to my boys but every day, I grapple with the intense need to pursue something outside of mothering. I feel, like my thoughts, I never fully land a patch of time with which to daily dedicate myself to these aspirations.

I am a high achiever, that is, I aim high, not necessarily make it all the way but nonetheless, I am not satisfied with anything less than an A+ whether it be a “successful” day of parenting (when I feed my kids well, they nap on time, they go to bed on time, blah, blah, blah). Chill out, me, seriously.

Making the most of the small moments, like now. Babies are both napping although the older one will wake soon. Stealing minutes to form plans but where to start? Dinner plans? That’s an immediate. Developing my business? Scramble thoughts to identify least time consuming marketing and promotional plan. Long-term living and working plans? Who got time for that??? This time is so precious, so limited and all I can do is ramble some garbled, self-interpretation of the constructive way I would like to make use of these uninterrupted minutes.

Does this happen to you?

I want to make a positive impact – I want everything I write to be useful in some capacity. I want an A+ on time well spent. Curses, it would be so much easier if I was just completely accepting of whatever my best effort produced.

Maybe I am shooting for too much?

I admire you moms who are 100 per cent, here, now, fully devoted to your role as a mother.

Making the most of small snippets of time…currently, those moments are literally anywhere from 20 seconds to 2 minutes in duration. Not really long enough to even zero in on one item to focus brain power. Enter social media – a time wasting trap and a necessary outlet for anyone who works from home.

It would be easier, with regards to blogging anyway, if I was content to write a DIY rag or a journal of what me and my boys did today; sell brands; fashion tips; mommy rants – the makings of many of mommy blog. I’ve dabbled with a few but none hold my interest long enough to really commit to a bi-weekly if not daily posting.

I am trying to slog through through my piles of laundry, list of errands, balancing the budget, keeping up with friends, getting together with other moms and their kids, plan meals, spend time with hubby, figure out who I am since talking with single, childless people leaves me feeling a lot more socially inept than I remember before having kids. The years since graduating from university are nearing four and my anxiousness to put my degree to work is mounting. Throw in learning a new menu at the restaurant I started working at a couple months ago and welcoming a Japanese exchange student into our home for a couple weeks, maybe I am being too hard on myself.

Still, the feeling remains.

Time’s up.

Thoughts still buzzing.

 

 


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The mommy guilt

There is a strong theme of illogical behaviour on the part of us moms throughout our mothering days. We worry even though we all know worrying doesn’t change anything; we repeat phrases that we know they will be ignored, [some of us] tidy up the toys mid-day just because it bugs the heck out of us to see them scattered all over the floor!

And on top of that, many of us are plagued with mommy guilt.

Mommy guilt: the state in which a mother feels bad for her child’s suffering be it physical, emotional or spiritual. Often occurs even when the circumstances are not within the mother’s control.

I have got to come to terms with the fact that I am and never will be a perfect parent. No duh, I know. But from the way I let myself be riddled with guilty emotions, it would seem that nothing short of perfect is good enough for me as a parent. I can’t help but feel it’s partly my fault that my toddler is acting out because he isn’t getting enough sleep (though I diligently get a nap in for him each day, even though that means putting him in the stroller or going for a walk). My husband and I have been implementing a new bedtime strategy and response to his protests and early (5 am) wake-ups.  I avoid making dinner plans with friends because that means he won’t get to bed til later, resulting in an overtired kid and and immensely cantankerous one the following day if not two! I try my best to have our dinner on the table by 5:30 p.m. so that we can start bedtime immediately after since he protests for a minimum of 30-45 minutes. And still, life happens. Friends visit and stay the night, weekends with family away from home are enjoyed with the days following spent trying to get “back on track” with the toddler with fights authority on every level and most of all with sleep.

I don’t know if the shadowed rings under my son’s eyes are hereditary or caused by lack of sleep. I feel responsible though, even though I try my best every day and night to help him get enough sleep and to eat his vegetables.

I am sure I will look back on this time in years to come and realize that ultimately, he was happy and healthy and he lived through it. But honestly, I could cry from frustration, feeling that I just can’t seem to do right by him in this area. I hear past comments of friends and family repeat like a broken record in my brain. “Car naps just aren’t the same,” “Children shouldn’t have dark circles under their eyes” “He’s fine (this when insisting we need to leave from whatever engagement we are at to get him home to bed a good time).”

I know I can’t stop living, although honestly, if it were just me, I probably would become somewhat of a hermit, imprisoned by my children’s needs. Ridiculous, I know. But oftentimes, I would rather just stay home than go out to a friend’s place for dinner because I don’t want to deal with the screaming, irrational and tired toddler the next day when the entertainment is gone and his fatigue catches up with him.

I have mommy guilt.

I don’t need to be told “it’s fine; he won’t remember any of this.” I need to know that I am doing a good job even when the day is one screaming fit to another.

I need to know I’m not alone and there are other moms who feel this way.

Most of all, I need to somehow accept life as it happens even when it hinders my stubborn toddler from getting the rest he needs.

sleeping toddler, car naps


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Why we all need Easter

Two Years Without Ariel and How I Go On.
By Cindy Olsen


There are over seven billion people in this world, and yet so often I feel lonely. When Ariel was travelling in Mexico, or Ecuador, or England, I missed her. But I felt her presence on this earth. If I spent the rest of my life searching the four corners of the world, I would not find her. She is gone and I am lonely for her.

Please don’t tell me I have my memories of her because memories don’t suffice. Neither do pictures, nor her sweatshirts, nor her boots that I wear. I am lonely for her physical presence; her scowling during year end finals, her laughing when I did or said something silly, her hugs, her standing in our living room with her weight on one leg so she could use the other foot to maneuver a soccer ball in such a way that it looked like she was creating a dance. I am lonely for her – the mind, body and soul that was Ariel.

And yet, I go on.

There are three reasons I go on – a trinity of sorts. This trinity is made up of myself, my neighbours, and God.

I will start with myself because I knew pretty quickly that I needed to make a choice. Every morning I woke up with a groan. Every morning Ariel was still gone and I had to live another day without her and with the incredible emotional, spiritual and physical pain that caused. But every day I woke up. This pain that was so unbearable, was not going to actually kill me. Whether I liked it or not, whether or not I liked the circumstances of my life, life was going to continue. I needed to choose how I was going to live in this world without Ariel.

I could have chosen to fade away. Not to die, but to become (or stay) broken, less then myself, uninvolved, bitter, depressed, angry, sick. I could have become a worry and a burden to my husband, daughter, my son-in-law and grandsons, daughter-like nieces, sister, family and friends.
But they were already reeling from the loss of Ariel. I couldn’t do that to them. Because you see, I love them so much too; especially Ariel’s sister. I never want my Alysse to think that I love Ariel more then her. I love them equally.

So I chose to participate in life again.

Another reason I chose to participate is because even in my darkest depths I was aware that I am not the only person in this world suffering a traumatic loss. I thought of my grandmother who had three of her four children die before her. At Ariel’s service there were at least four sets of parents who had lost children. And one couple did not know that in two weeks time two of their sons would also be gone. Life is not fair for many people, not just me. I felt that choosing to participate in life again, was a way to acknowledge the suffering of others.

So I made this choice. But choosing to participate in life and actually doing it are two different things. I couldn’t do it by myself.

That is where you come in – “my neighbours” – the second member of this trinity. I define my neighbour as anyone other then me. It is you who did the hard work to help me live out my choice.

It is Randi and Mary who cooked and cleaned, got me dressed, did our laundry, did paperwork, made phone calls, and never left me alone. And they did this for weeks. It is my husband who has been patient and caring. It is Alysse sending pictures of the boys and coming down to visit more then normal. It is Menno and Arie just being their sweet selves. It is Taylor, Rudi and Bailey constantly phoning and visiting and keeping me company. The Ens family, Sammarco’s, Samuels, my parents and too many more to mention.

It is the cards, and meals, roses, orchids, hydrangeas, soups and pies that you all dropped off. It is the cherry blossom trees you planted. It is the ornaments, “likes” on facebook, words of encouragement, Pandora charms, necklaces and gifts for my grandsons. It is the photo album, books and poems. The box of notes and treasures from Nottingham.

It is Ariel’s friends, near and far – who showed compassion and maturity beyond their years. Coming to Ariel’s Amazing Race.

It is Ariel’s bench.

It is my faith community – family actually. Hundreds of people showing me love, crying with me, giving me space when I needed it, helping out.
Today and every day, I am thankful for my neighbours. I go on because of the overwhelming outpouring of love from all of you, my dear neighbours whom I love back.

Love. It is love that brings us to God. He completes this special trinity.
In the first few months, I showed no love towards God. I swore at Him, shook my fists at him, and stamped my feet. In anger I turned my back on him and even questioned His existence; which made me question the meaning of life. I asked hard questions. And I have processed those questions. I have talked with people and read a lot and reflected. I have worked hard. I’ve prayed. And in time, I turned back to Him. My anger turned to an even deeper understanding and stronger faith.

I go on because of my faith in Jesus. I believe that there is a beautiful, mysterious, magical, spiritual truth to our lives that is bigger then our physical death. I believe that Ariel is gone from this world and a part of me will always be sad. But I also believe that she now lives in Gods presence, where she is meant to be – where we are all meant to be and in that I have peace.

I am thankful for being able to make the choice that I did. I am thankful for you, the people whom I love and hold dear; who loved and cared for me so greatly that my only response was to get out of bed, get dressed and put one foot in front of the other. And I am thankful and praise God for creating us; for creating Ariel. I am thankful that he loves us so much that he wants us to live with him for all eternity. I am thankful that He made that happen. Because of Jesus, light wins, life wins, love wins.

I go on because I believe with all my heart and soul and mind that Ariel goes on….and that more than suffices.

Wishing you all a Happy Easter this April 20th,2014.


Dedicated to my husband who journeys with me.

 

These words were re-blogged with permission from the woman who wrote them – a lady with whom I used to attend church.


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The moments between the chaos

adorable, sunglasses, cool dude You wouldn’t believe it from these shots but today was a work out. From lifting children off of each other, to dashing and lunging to save one from falling off a chair, to extending a 28 lb toddler in front of me to avoid poo smeared fingers from touching me – Jillian Michaels would be pleased with my efforts.

big baby, happy guy, sweetheart, monkey love, chubster

But there was some big love and cuteness going on so all in all, not a bad day. This guy here is 10 months old now – doesn’t lie so still with that monkey anymore.

brothers, reading books, quiet time, calm

In addition to protesting naps, Shae has been waking up at 5 a.m. and not going back to sleep! We thought we’d try skipping nap today and try a quiet time instead. He protested that too quite furiously for a while and then spotted his Thomas the Train book. Crossing our fingers for tomorrow morning.

cutest boys, happy boys, rowdy

And this is what makes my heart swell.

warm spring days, sandbox play

Today was a warm spring day and the sandbox was enjoyed again. I think Oliver is even starting to realize that sand doesn’t taste so good as I didn’t find any in his mouth.

 

These photos brought to you by the censored lens. Happy Monday everyone!

 


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Toddler says NO!

I remember back when Shae was a newborn, someone telling me that it (being a parent) was easy right now and that it got harder the older they got. “Um, what part about getting more sleep is harder?” was all I could think.

I was right about that part, sleeping is better than in the early days with Shae.

But he’s two now. He’s stubborn. He wants things a certain way and he wants them five minutes ago already! And as for sleep, yeah he sleeps, only takes like an hour to get him to surrender to drowsy eyelids.

And then there’s the whole bit about molding and shaping this spirited toddler, guiding him, teaching him, disciplining him…

Shae loves his brother, he’s very inclusive with him, protective and also likes to treat him like a pillow which he hurls himself on top of. Over and over, we tell him, “Shae, that hurts your brother; that is not kind; no push; gentle; say sorry, Oliver.” There’s just never any sign of acknowledgement from him that he understands he did something wrong – other than avoiding eye contact and refusing to apologize. The same goes for when he throws a fit because we won’t give him something he wants. Wailing, flailing, flat on the floor toddler commences.

How much can we do to show him how to treat his brother better and to place repercussions from bad behaviour that will make sense for his two-year-old brain? At this point, time outs don’t seem to be doing much except delay everything else in our day as we go back and forth to and from his room. Removing him from a situation seems to be the most effective but doesn’t prevent a future incident.

Is it just a matter of time? Are there more effective ways of communicating with a toddler? What do you do???

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