when we were young…

writing with passion, living with vision and acting with intention


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Flipping ‘the bird’

I saw a woman flip a guy in a car the bird today.

The driver had his nose out as he was attempting to pull out from a parking lot into traffic.

The bird flipping woman stopped abruptly in front of his car, indignant that he was blocking the sidewalk. After giving him a piece of her mind with wild hand gestures, she turned on her heel and marched off with said arm and finger extended behind her.

She had a young girl with her, presumably her daughter.

My initial reaction was rather harsh – terrible behaviour to be displaying to her daughter. This is why we have kids who treat their peers with less respect than they show their pet. She is what is part of what is wrong with our society.

I’m a privileged woman. I have beautiful people in my life who inspire me with their grace, compassion and love. My twenties ushered forth people who have helped, supported, loved me at every turn. The times in my life where I have been met with criticism, mocking and judgement, I have been more likely to feel embittered, angry and resentful. Not exactly the building blocks of change and transformation.

I am a product of what has been imparted to me. The angry woman I saw today – obviously not one of her better days. But maybe it hasn’t been a kind life either. I’m not making excuses for her behaviour, we all have the choice to be an ass or have some class. I have just come to realize that some of us have a steeper mountain to climb than others. I don’t want to be a part of what hinders another person’s journey by the spirit of judgement that is so willing to ascend its lofty throne whenever presented the opportunity.

 

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When life got real

I have been grappling with some major writer’s block for basically a year now. I have so many thoughts and ideas for things I want to express through writing but when I actually have a moment (this moment is currently accompanied by my kids digging their feet into me on the couch and begging for a show), it’s like I can’t gather the pieces of my brain that are scattered all over my house.

Writers, you understand the frustration of writer’s block. I need to somehow get my words back. So I think I will just ramble, talk a bit about my past year. Not because there are wondrous tales to tell. Rather, it is an ongoing story of how life got real for us.

I feel like I became an adult this past year. We’ve had it pretty good – we still do. But if I could sum up this past year in one word it would be adversity. We have moved three times since last December. Throughout this time, I was pregnant, dealing with two separate flu bugs, an ongoing cold virus that had me bed ridden at times and bronchitis coupled with asthma that landed me in the emergency room struggling to breathe properly. At one point, we were even homeless for two weeks as we searched for a place to move into back up on the coast. After having Bronwyn, I struggled with Postpartum Depression which pulled me down to a darkness I have never known. It didn’t help that Bronwyn was “colicky” for the first six weeks of her life.

It’s no wonder, I suppose, that I feel like my brain is a smashed egg much like this picture that my friend Elyse shared with me.

brain fried, being adult, parent, small children

I do not care to repeat this past year. But I will take away some hard earned lessons from it.

Humility: We have been helped, cared for and given to again and again by dear friends. Accepting meals that you know your friends took time and love to prepare for their own families as they now offer to you – Humbling. Accepting help caring for your kids because you are so tired and sick and have never felt closer to death – Humbling. Accepting the shoulder to cry on and the ear to listen over and over as you struggle to make sense of the chaos in your life – Humbling.

Grace: Because you never truly know what others are dealing with – so be kind. Refrain from judgement and negative comments. I have wondered how many times have people become annoyed with my tardiness in getting back to them, thanking them, being that driver they honk their horn at on the road.

Relying on God: It’s just so not in my control. I can tell myself that I just need to think positively and find my inner peace, but I know that I do not have myself to thank for getting through this past year. Yes, I marched limped on but when I was loathing myself in the midst of my depression, I was reminded that the Creator still smiles and loves over me. When I was sick, I was provided for. I call that the Spirit impressing on people’s hearts to give as He gives. In acknowledging this higher power, my heart overflows with gratitude and assurance that myself and my family will not be left alone. If I all I have is myself to rely on, I am subject to my many shortcomings.

Gratitude: Because life is beautiful and that much more when health abounds and home exists.

coastal living, simple pleasures, childhood

Because pregnancy got better in the third trimester

feeling better, summer baby

Because this dad and this son light up my life every day

sunshine, warmth, swimming, lake

Along with this little one

summer sweetness, blue eyes, my oliver

Hey there’s a helmet riding a tricycle!

motorcycle helmut on toddler

And of course for this beauty!

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little girl, beauty, sweetness, God has answered

And just to keep things exciting…outside our front door!

fig tree muncher, pre hibernation, neighbourhood bear

 

 


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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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Tossing the rule book for being the optimal parent

If you’ve been reading along for a bit, you know that I have two boys, ages three and two (16 months apart to get specific) and another one due in August.

Like any good mom out there, I’m giving this whole parenting my best. I’ve read the articles, I make the food, I listen to them and teach them about respect and manners, I put them in swim lessons even though Shae hasn’t actually even got into the pool the last couple sessions for which I signed him up…

My world is a steady stream of suggestions, insights, thoughts on how I can raise my little charges into the best human beings possible. It isn’t surprising that if I had to fill out a checklist, it might say that I am failing in my role.

So what are the top offenders in my household?

Strike 1: I let my three-year-old watch a show (up to an hour or possibly more *shock, horror* almost every day during the week while his brother naps. I’d say one or two of those five days on average, I don’t let Netflix be the replacement for an opportunity to take advantage of the one-on-one time with my son and do something to help develop his eager-to-learn brain. I gotta say, I give myself a pat on the back those days I do some baking with him, take him out in the yard and do some gardening or read stories to him. As for the other three or four days, I have lived in perpetual guilt and worry that I am dumbing down my child’s ability to create, imagine and play independently.

Strike 2: I yell at my kids sometimes, they see me get mad at them.

Strike 3 (and I’m out!): I actually can’t think of anything big enough to induce guilt or anxiety.

Yep, pretty incriminating.

On TV…

Theoretically, I agree that the less screen time, the better. You know what’s even better in my opinion? A less stressed/tired mom who is able to get down on her kid’s level when he is having a fit and have enough patience to not throw one herself. I don’t know about you but there’s nothing like some peace and quiet to refuel the engine and apparently, my engine runs out by noon a lot of days! Might have something to do with being consistently woken up multiple times per night for the past three and-a-half years or maybe it’s just my personality. It is what it is.

But my friend AmazingMom somehow manages to have very limited screen time for her kids, my inner voice says. What’s your deal? You’re really just selfish. You rather sacrifice your kid’s intellect so that you can enjoy an hour or so to yourself. It’s about doing what’s best for your kid, it’s not about your enjoyment!

I have decided to tell that accusing voice to get lost and thank the Lord that I have the resources to keep my child safe and entertained while I enjoy a much needed nap, internet time, blogging or devotional time. Why? Because I value the mother I am because of this controlled silence rather than the one I inevitably become because I exhausted my mental, emotional and physical faculties with doting on my child attention all day long AND tacked on some extra special nurturing time during nap. Because I know which route does my child the greater disservice.

And judging by the fact that my kids are not whining for shows at any point in the day and thoroughly enjoy creative play both inside and outside, I think they’re doing alright.

Again, if I could get around it and put a check mark on the list for no daily screen time, I would. Maybe if my older son was in preschool a couple times a week or I could even afford a weekly babysitter,I wouldn’t rely so much on the tele. Me going to bed earlier every night might help a bit too or maybe not. Despite the fact that I do some nights, sometimes I want to nurture that other important relationship in my life. Now that’s important.

It’s not ideal, but it’s really not the worst thing I could be doing (or you!).

On yelling…

Geez, I sure can’t blame anyone else but myself for them yelling at each other can I?

I am not saying yelling is okay. I feel bad when I get frustrated and annoyed enough to yell and express my displeasure. But you know something, my kids get it. When “mommy’s not happy” comes out, they know they’ve stepped over the line. They realize that sometimes their behaviour does have negative effect on those around them. Sometimes, I remember to take five but what do you know, kids aren’t fans of that and mine like to join me (outside the door if necessary) as I attempt to calm myself and remind myself that this too will pass.

And what’s with stigmatizing yelling? Yelling is a rather normal (could even argue healthy) form of expression. To me, it comes down to words. Are my choice of words hurtful and thoughtless? Am I instilling fear, guilt and self-depreciation? I would rather my kids witness mommy exploding a little bit and realize that they are not the center of the universe than grow up thinking that yelling is something only angry people do. People yell – if I can use my in-the-moment lack of patience and self-regulation to teach them that yelling doesn’t have use hurtful and damaging words, maybe they aren’t so bad off.

So again, it’s even better if I can demonstrate patience and self-regulation. But for the times I fail, I know that my kids aren’t being verbally deconstructed because I expressed that their behaviour is not acceptable and it makes mommy “not happy.”

Here’s the thing, I’m here to guide them. There are endless scenarios ahead in their young lives where circumstances will be less than ideal and he will have to navigate many of them by himself. If nothing else, my short comings with parenting coupled with boundaries and love might enable them to take on the responsibility of making good choices for themselves. Heck, my kid knows that Diego makes him grumpy and that’s why he’s not allowed to watch it.

 

screen time


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We’re back

When I stopped writing almost a year ago, I felt I needed somewhat of a sabbatical, a chance to re-evaluate where my energies and focuses were best laid. I didn’t plan to stop for so long but you know, life happened.

I can’t begin to encompass what my past year has been like. Suffice to say it has been absolutely brutal and overwhelming in so many ways.

Inundation –  I think that’s one word to explain what I struggle with most. I just can’t slog through all the information, thoughts, ideas, desires, memories, worries and more that goes through my mind on a daily basis. Apparently I am highly sensitive.

I am hoping that I have learnt a couple things through this past year about what makes my clock tick and what hinders that rhythmic motion.

Who cares about all this? No one really. But I think that is one thought I need to get over because it hinders me from doing something that I love and find therapeutic.

So on to the journey of when we were young…

They’re a bit older now. 🙂

Just like daddy

working with the guys

 


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4 Strategies for the Picky Eater

All two years of his life, my firstborn has been a champion eater. He ate it ALL.

Almost overnight, he suddenly started shoving away his favourite foods until he was on a daily diet of toast with honey and fruit. Even the smoothies I used to

make him (which I would cleverly sneak spinach or kale into) were ignored.

picky eater, stubborn toddler, laying down the law

In the craziness of keeping up with housework, errands, play dates, planning and making dinners with a two year-old and almost one-year old literally clinging to my pant legs, it is hard to know how to combat the picky eater syndrome. For a while, I worried that if I didn’t make him something that he would concede to eating, he wouldn’t eat at all and go to bed hungry and maybe wake up in the night hungry… And then there was the battle aspect of it. Dinner is already a haphazard affair in which I usually steal bites between hopping up to grab something for someone or shoving a spoonful of food in my younger son’s mouth. Coaxing a stubborn toddler to eat something he was dead set against seemed like a battle I was doomed to loose.

Until I decided it’s a battle I am going to win because enough is enough with my two year-old calling the shots on what he eats!

So here’s what I’ve started doing differently.

1. I’ve stopped making him a separate meal – that’s all there is for breakfast, kiddo.

I expected a especially cranky toddler because of this but there’s not much change except that he’s that much hungrier and more ready to eat once lunch or dinner is up.

2. I’ve started bringing out vegetables and dip for snack time.

I slice up a colourful assortment and make a point of eating them with him. I actually got an “oh boy!” today as I laid down the plate on our picnic blanket outside.

3. I avoid giving him anything to eat three hours before dinner (which is 5:30 p.m. for us).

It’s a common practice but essential. Don’t spoil your appetite.

4. Daddy and I enjoy our meals exuberantly in front on him.

This one has had perhaps the greatest impact. Not even kidding. My husband and I started really smacking our lips and commenting on how good our food was and while Shae still frowns and shakes his head, it doesn’t last as long as before. We talk a lot about “yummy in my tummy.” Shae loves the rhyming and I love how it is programming his brain to enjoy wholesome and nutritious food.

It’s a work in progress but I am encouraged to see his reluctance to eating healthy food is already waning after a few days of stepping things up. He’s not big into the leafy greens just yet but we’ll keep trying!

 

Do you have any tips and suggestions for dealing with a picky eater?

 


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Five things to get excited about

Shaking things up today with a link-up with some other fantastic bloggers and showing you five things I’m pretty excited about right now!

5thingsbuttonmonthly expenditures, groceries, gas, household, entertainment and eating outhealthy snacks, energy, tasty, yumminessfirst year almost over, sweet boyspring, growing food, happiness, healthstickers, pee, poo, success!

1. Budget jars: I get my OCD fix right here. There’s something quite satisfying about monitoring and knowing exactly how much we are spending on things each month. The way we sort it is having six jars: Groceries, Eating Out, Household, Alcohol, Entertainment and Transportation. This is our first month doing it and I feel happy to see that we are doing pretty well although we will make some adjustments to next month’s allotted amounts.

2. I just saw this 21 ways to eat toast on Facebook and I am seriously so excited to try them all! Thanks Buzzfeed.com!

3. This little sailor  is turning one next month (already!)! He has brought so much joy to our lives and while the days are filled with many sides of craziness him and his year older brother bring, there is so much I am looking forward to in his next year of life!

4. Planting and eventually reaping the harvest has got to be one of the most rewarding things one can do in life. This year we have a box of lettuce, bok choi and salad greens in the soil soon to be followed by tomatoes which are currently budding over my kitchen sink. It’ll be another learning experience as I have moved the spinach to more suitable location (I hope!). Looking forward to a bountiful harvest this year!

5. On to Week #2 of my toddler taking it upon himself to do his business on his little potty is looking pretty promising! One day at a time. 🙂

 

This link-up is brought to you by Tairalyn of Little Miss Mama and Diana of The World Around Her. Hope you enjoyed!

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