Friday, 30 January 2015

A special bond

*Grabbing a Kleenex may be a good idea about now*

My husband and I were driving home last week from a friend's mom's funeral. He asked me what I thought about life after death, where we go when we die and what exactly I believe in. He himself is petrified of dying, I on the other hand find comfort in the idea that there is life after death. That life on earth is only the beginning of the true test of it all. I think when you get up there it's a world of reconnecting with loved ones, meeting for tea so to speak. I don't look forward to dying and am thankful for this life on earth everyday, however I love that I have a little comfort and hope that the end may not really be an end. 

Our family lost a member this week to car accident. 2 weeks after a friend lost his mom. A week after the anniversary of the death of my cousin last year, and a week before the anniversary of the death of friend last year, my emotions, exhausted. I was going to blog about how crazy life can be, how overwhelming life with a threenager has been, and how exhausting it is picking up toys off the floor day in and day out all the while thinking about what to have for dinner... when my mind was stopped in it's tracks. How can I possibly complain at a time like this. 

In relation to those I have lost this week and last year at this time, all I can think about is the mother/daughter/sister relationship. 

I didn't know J that well, but after sitting through her funeral and listening to one of the most touching and tragic eulogies made by her son, our good friend, I can say I got a very good idea of what a beautiful and thoughtful person she really was. At the wake, I cried at the sight of old pictures. She was gorgeous, and her husband truly loved and respected her entirely. But it was the pictures of her and her grandbabies and the pure sadness in her daughter's eyes that really resonated with me. I couldn't relate to her daughters sorrow, but I could imagine the emptiness she would be feeling and couldn't imagine being in her shoes. I literally hugged her and said "I have no words, I'm not even sure I can say anything without..." and I started to cry.

My cousin R was such a beautiful person. People truly were inspired to be more like her. Taken way too early I remember at the time my heart ached for her only sister. She had brothers, but I could relate with the sisterly bond and couldn't imagine what I would be like if something happened to my sister. I am so happy to have had two beautiful little girls who I hope will mimic what my sister and I have. I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to have a little boy for my husband, but how perfect it would be if our 2nd was a sister for B. It's a bond I can't explain. 

A week today, I lost a friend to a winter crash. She was also an inspiration and had a special bond with her sisters and mom. I remember at her funeral being terribly sad for them knowing how devastating it must be. It was my last day of work before leaving my class for maternity leave. I had just mailed a package that morning to her in the board internal mail not knowing that that package would never make it to her. A colleague of mine came through my classroom door at the end of the day and started talking.... I'll never forget, 8 month pregnant, I was awkward to hug, but she did anyway. She told me the news and I crumbled. A friend. A sister. A daughter. lost. 

This week I learned of the death of another family member. Another beautiful woman with 4 children and 5 gorgeous grandchildren. I read her sons post over and over again not wanting to believe what I was reading. This morning, her daughters posted their reflections... and I wept. 
K said: "How do you navigate tragedy when the person you would turn to for help is the one you lost? Yesterday we lost my mom in a traffic accident. You think you have so much time, but you don't. You are gone far too soon, mom and I don't know how to do this without you."

There are moments here and there that stop you dead in your tracks. You've got your nose down trekking through life and suddenly something makes you look up and soak in your surroundings. I don't wish for more of these moments, but when they come, I am thankful for their message.  I can't tell you the number of times my girls eyes have met mine these last few days that I haven't just stopped in the moment, hugged them and told them I loved them. I want to wrap our lives, our bonds and our love up in bubble wrap. But I know that life goes on, you have to live it to it's fullest, love hard and be happy. People come and go in and out of our lives, we have to accept God's decisions, remember people's impact and carry inspiration from special people in our souls. I count my blessings day in and day out, because after all, life is way too fast, too short and too crazy to not be thankful it's even here at all. 


Saturday, 17 January 2015

Pity Pool

One of the crew (my mummy group) shouted out this week to ask if anyone wanted to meet up for a swim at the public pool. Instantly my 26 year old self jumped up like that was such a great idea... and then my post baby, 30 year old, mushier self hit the panic button.

I took our first daughter to the pool all the time. We did mommy and me lessons right through until she was 2. I wore a relatively non-kid friendly bathing suit to which i quickly learned wasn't the greatest for my very buoyant milk factories. (I wonder how the heck Pam Anderson did it in baywatch? She must have struggled). At the time I was in in "1st baby" bliss. I just had a baby.. yeah I was sad about the body those 9 months left me with... but I was high on life. Anyways... now with our second, not only did it become more difficult to take two very small children to a pool at the same time, but it became difficult for me to find AND fit into a child friendly bathing suit that I was somewhat ok with.

We went. We packed our stuff... and went. I didn't even model my bathing suit, shoved it in a bag, said a little prayer and went. A lady swam by me holding both girls in the pool with that "forced/i feel sorry for you" smile on her face and said "Boy, you're brave, aren't you?" I wanted to say... brave? Ha! The bravest/hardest part about what you see, I'm fighting on the inside. Brave was getting in this slightly too small bathing suit and worrying about everyone else but myself. My pasty sunless body is so white, I panicked that if I drown, they would never find me on the bottom of the white tiled pool. Brave was not looking in the mirror first to make sure I wasn't seriously offending anyone with this image. The easiest part was hiding behind  my two beautiful girls who I pray won't struggle with body image as much as their mother does.

I am lucky. I gained 26lbs with my 1st baby and 8lbs with my second. After I had D, I walked out skinnier than I had been in a while. Now, my body image sucks... but my eating habits suck worse. I love hot chocolate, jelly beans and Kraft Dinner. Kids need carbs... and when you can see 'em, and smell 'em... well... it's pretty gosh darn hard to not eat 'em. We eat healthy, don't get me wrong. We love our smoothies, fresh fish, and a very balanced diet full of veggies and dairy. However... we too, love our snacks. Those evil little goldfish (double cheddar = extra evil) and all the candy that comes with special events. I know exactly where and how I pack on my pounds, and I know exactly what it's going to take to get rid of them. So really... it's my own fault. I don't know how many times I've had my thyroid levels checked praying there is an excuse. Awful.

My friend M.H. left me with some pretty powerful words one day. I stuggled with my image following the birth of both my girls. She said "Be careful how much you talk about it, you have 2 little listeners." It really rang true to me. How much I was effecting these beautiful little creatures who don't have a worry in the world (well.. little worries, like how many pontails to sport that day, or whether B wants to wear fashion boots or snowboots). They are listening and analyzing my every move. I am now very careful to not put myself down.... out loud. Now I just need to work on internalizing my love for myself.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I made a kid cry today. I swam by this cute, relaxed little baby with his grandma in the pool and he took one look at me and started balling. I pretended like I hadn't engaged with him at all and kept moving (weird... wonder why that kid started crying?) Inside I thought to myself that's exactly how I feel about myself when I look in the mirror right now, little guy. The struggle to get ready to go anywhere public, leaves me holding back tears in a mirror and eventually saying... well... this is the best i can do, and leaving. Like an old cottage... after you have kids... everything starts to settle and shift. That strong, solid foundation becomes a little unlevel and not quite as supportive as it once was. To invest in a new foundation would cost 10s of thousands... so for now, all I can do is fix up this ole' cottage and just relax where it stands.

I'm a mum. I helped make and grow two stunningly beautiful little girls. I have the ability to show them what it is like to respect themselves and love their bodies. I just need a little personal refresher course from time to time. My body isn't and never will be what it was the day I got married (God, I worked hard for that body).... but my life isn't the same either. I have been gifted these two lovelies who I look forward to seeing every morning. Let this new year be about discovering myself... maybe my old... 20lb lighter self?! But being a lot less consumed with how fat I look in pictures or how dusty that bin of smaller jeans is getting downstairs.
I've got some work to do ;-)  Now pass the celery... Hold the dip! hahahah

Thursday, 15 January 2015

She's perfect.

Ok, Huggies... Whoever is the smart marketing exec whose idea it was to make a "variety" box of pull-ups for "threenagers" needs to give their head a shake. NO, I do not want a box where every 3rd pull-up is Dr. McStuffins... I want a whole darn box of Dr. McStuffins. The funniest part is, Bs seen the show probably twice... and yet this cute lil' face RULES our bedtime routine. Anyone want a box of pullups size 3T-4T ... missing all Dr. McStuffins pullups? Come on, really! No one wants the fish from the lil mermaid... couldn't that have been better planned.. and if they do... let them buy a whole box of the fish! hahaha
This brings me to my blog for tonight. I left the room having put out numerous toddler fires thinking about a conversation I had with a friend this week. Although, I'm typing quietly because "Duckie" is still M.I.A this evening, and the second that little stuffed "stuffy of the month" shows his head, he's got some explaining to do. If B hears me, she'll know I'm not really still looking for him, like I promised to do an hour ago.

Running some errands this week with D while B was in preschool, I ran into an old friend at the mall. As soon as I left this conversation, I was so touched by what we had talked about I vowed to write about and be inspired by it. (so it took me two days, a mid day well overdue shower and a recharge of my dead laptop to finally get me to sit down and write... that's pretty good... no?!)
My friend KD is a mother an only child. I got to know her and her family many years ago when her now pre-teen was just a little girl. Then, she was brilliant. A smart little book reader who was cute as a button, well behaved and loved her mom. As I stood there and asked how her daughter was, I expected to hear a flood of "OMG my pre-teen" type stories. She started out saying that she's doing pretty good. Despite her choice in friends that could be a bad influence, she's continued to be a little independent, goal driven, smarty. She looked me in the eye and said "Corrie, she's perfect." I have tears as I write this. This mom was giving huge props to her daughter, didn't have a single complaint in the world, acknowledged that it wasn't easy getting to where they were, but that she was simply perfect in her eyes.
After more catching up on other unrelated gossip, we exchanged goodbyes and I got back in my vehicle. I sat there... in awe. What had just taken place was so touching that it has now changed my entire perspective of things. All too often I find myself in conversations surrounding deviant toddlers, excuses for behaviours and complaints about non-compliance, time buying and temper tantrums. I speak of the struggles I have getting my Sr.Baby to eat and not choke, nap and not cry and play while being gentle. I cant' think of many times that I have stood and praised just how wonderful my children are. KD was so proud... not of herself necessarily and her efforts that got her daughter to where she is, but of her daughter and just how awesome a person she was. She stood and spoke of her unique character. How she had dyed her hair so many times and came home and shaved it to start fresh. Something a girl of that age wouldn't really think of doing in a million years. But as KD said, she just doesn't care about what other people think and that is so cool.

 I feel like the world we live in is driven by "one-upping" each other. For some reason social media has created this feeling of competition. I have been criticized for it many times as I post a lot. I'm creative and can do a lot of things myself. I enjoy doing things with my children and sharing those things for people (mostly family) to see. I'm not bragging, or showing off (well... that ombre creamsicle cake i pulled off was pure brag central!). I feel as though I complain because it's just easier to do. It's more readily understood and listened to... or is it? This is where KD has shifted my entire thought process. Why don't I speak of how perfect my children are? Why do I hide those conversations only for family. My girls are perfect. They are the easiest going, always smiling, rarely crying, loving sleeping little balls of perfection that we created and are SO proud of. Sure they have their moments, but I need to think more along the track of "I am so lucky." After all, so many people dream of what I have... and I mean that in the least cockiest way possible. I need to be less afraid to brag. To hold my head up high and not default to speaking of the struggles. I have it made, why do I feel pressured to have to downplay it?

Tonight, I pray, that when I have pre-teens, I too will stand and be able to say "they are just perfect"... although I'm not sure my mother would have said that about me (lol!).

That ombre creamsicle cake:

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Home is where all your heart should be

For years I have struggled to call this place home. Although I've lived here now since my 1st year University, it just never settled in that I was staying here forever. My plan was to get an education, and return to Ottawa to teach. Even after meeting my husband and getting hired on as a contract teacher in the local board, I would always visit Ottawa as if it was still home, and be really sad to have to leave. It's not like I made lasting connections with too many people from back home, (ha, let's be serious, I don't make lasting connections with many people), but for a long long time, I felt like a city girl trapped in the country. I knew nothing about the Peterborough lingo, highschool affiliation politics, or even what mechanic was trustworthy. I felt unsettled and out of my element so to speak. I made friends over the years, but they to moved on either back to their home towns, following their hearts in love or moving to BC (seemed like all the rage for a while). I had a lot of guy friends, or friends attached to previous boyfriends that I had to sort of distance myself from out of respect to my now, husband (although I have come to realize I really miss those friendships and was naive to think I had to let them fizzle).

This year is shaping up to be my biggest year of soul searching and learning about myself. I have had many moments of reflection while off on my second maternity leave. Lots of time to sit back and really let things soak in (between diaper changes, toddler tea parties and daytrips of course). I just got back from a 4 day trip to Ottawa to visit my parents (who still live there) and for the first time ever I didn't cry when I left. Don't get me wrong, I was sad to leave them, but for the first time ever it didn't seem sad to leave the idea of Ottawa. It's not my home anymore. I was excited to get home, here in Ennismore, to walk in the door and smell the smell of us (that I'm still tweaking... trying to find the right Bath and Body Works scent... opinions welcome). To pull in the driveway and see our house, and most of all, to jump into our own beds! There's nothing better than your own bed!!!! That first shower of stinky sulfury well water, was a little sad, but it reminded me that I'm a country girl now. I hang my laundry on the line, the dust in my house is from burning wood, I can't water my lawn with a sprinkler because I'm on a well, and it takes 15 minutes to get anywhere that sells things like construction paper, or printer ink! LOL #firstworldproblems This is where I wanna be. It's strange that it's taken this long, but now raising our children here, I feel settled. Blair is attending preschool 15 minutes up the road, and my girls already have more friends here than I do.

The only thing that could complete this picture is having my family closer. I know i'm lucky that 3 hours is the furthest I have to travel, however having been brought up in a very close knit family way... I struggle having them that far. It was all fine and dandy, fixed with road trips and cottage visits until I had children. I want to share them. Plastering them all over Facebook has become something I'm branching away from (slowly hahaha). I would love to be able to call my mom and meet for lunch. Or call my dad to come help me fix something and in turn get to visit with the girls. In my mummy group there are two sisters who have had children together. Although that's not a possible reality, to be able to have coffee with my sister or meet for lunch would be a total luxury. I shake my head at people who live close to their families and don't take advantage of such potential moments.  Sporadic Sunday dinners together would be nice too... Life doesn't leave a lot of free time, so planning and executing roadtrips can't happen at the drop of a pin like quick visits could. My husband has no clue just how lucky he is. We are able to drive to all his family members houses (even some extending family) in no more than 15 minutes (his immediate family are within' 5 min/walking distance). He has no concept of having to travel to see the people you love and the feeling of having to leave. I made the choice to stay, I just wish he understood at what cost and it's effects.

This is my home... I just wish the other bits of my heart lived a little closer.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Some Days You Gotta Dance...

       First and foremost, our "mummy group" is the best there is. We laughed together last night because we used to call it "Baby Group" and then as we started to get together with 2nd babies, somehow it changed to "mummy group." We agreed that this was most likely because we realized, heck with the babies, it was us mommas that needed the group! Sure they develop together learning the hardships of sharing and being gentle, but we also realized that that precious time should be spent ENJOYING a hot coffee, mowing down on muffins in good company. Coming together in a rather random and sporadic way through mixed and mutual friends, we have been together for both 1st and 2nd babies. There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not grateful for this wonderful group of moms.

Apparent last night as we gathered for S's 30th birthday, we all love each other's company so much and seem to share a bond that doesn't just happen overnight.

      As we sat on the couches, free of our children, with drinks and food we didn't have to prepare or clean up, for the first time in too long ... we still spoke of our children! Gone are the days of "one-upping" each other in a competitive way, like who loves their job more, or who just bought the latest expensive high heels online or where we got our purse with matching wallet (now just a glorified diaper bag/suitcase full of tricks). Instead we sit and "one-up" each other in the way of life's chaotic disasters, starring none other than our children. One of us speaks of the time our child wasn't feeling well, puked all over a retail store while waiting in line, then another offers up the story of how their already potty trained toddler has reverted to crapping in their pants and becomes possessed at night at the strike of bedtime! Another speaks of the time her husband called out gagging with disgust without a clue in the world of what to do when one of their babies had diarrhea in the tub. We spoke of the soother fairy, Santa and the stupid elf on a shelf concept that my husband and I sucked at... badly. We traded tricks and fibs that we tell our children to get them to "eat just 3 more bites" or how to avoid the "can you get daddy to lay with me..." "can you get mummy to lay with me again?" "I didn't get to hug Daddy," "I need a glass of water," "One more story!" or the ever emergency phrase... "I have to poop!" But the best part of it all is we get to confirm with one another, and to ourselves, that our crazy chaotic toddler driven lives, are normal. That those times we've sat on the toilet with the lid down behind a closed locked door, pretending to go to the bathroom, but really were catching up on the latest articles or just plain playing candy crush, we weren't alone. The funniest stories come with the brutally honest sharing of our greatest #parentfail moments. Like the time I let B pee in the sink at a store because the toilet had been destroyed by a very uncoordinated man (I am not being sexist... given the pattern of inaccuracy, it had to be a man... or a dog). I'll never forget her looking up at me with such a confused look on her face! It was that or the garbage can, as a toddler that has to pee is like a little ticking time bomb... there was no other option in sight. (Don't worry all... I ran water AND cleaned the sink after... AND i followed up with a lengthy discussion of why it's not something we do.)

We laugh, we cry, but we're in it together.

     I think back to the days of university being in the exact same bar, and just how different my world was. Then, there wasn't a worry in the world, other than making it to class (or appointing the most sober group member to go sign in and take notes for all). I didn't check my phone 10x an hour to see if there was an emergency post about my kids (who were in happy sweet slumber). I never had a thought in the back of my mind that "if i have 1 more drink, I'm not sure I can parent tomorow," in fact, back then, the worry was more whether or not there'd be a line to get a poutine or pita at the ungodly hour of 4am when the whole young adult world was booming. Last night, it was as if we high fived each other that we made it to closing time at the bar, awake and rarin' to go ... home to bed, drinking obscene amounts of water and taking a nearly lethal does of Tylenol in hopes that we'd be sober, rested and unintoxicated at daybreak. Oh how my world has changed. As my head hit the pillow, I was happy. Thankful for all that I have, for time spent with wonderful positive and hilarious people that help me take things in stride. I lay there missing seeing my tossing and turning toddler on the video monitor or standing next to D's crib watching her hugging her bear, snuggled up sleeping.

I wake up... with the initial thought of "what time is it?" then a slow "ughhh, I need coffeee,,," and then the refreshing excitement that even though I feel like a bag of poop, regret those delicious birthday shots and am reminiscing about my attempt to line dance in public (some days you gotta dance)... I wanna go get my kids! I miss them! They are my world. The house is far to quiet without them. 10 years ago, I'd move from my bed to the couch and watch a marathon of movies. My biggest responsibility would be to not fall asleep while the KD was boiling on the stove. Do I miss those days?... sure... do I want them back? Maybe (but only to really soak it in more!), would I trade the path those days have lead me to today? Not a chance.

2015 is a year of positivity (how is that not a word?... positivism just sounds improper), good company and basking in this life that really is great!
I have come to realize that you only have so much energy to give in a day. Like a battery.. if you give it to the wrong people, then the right ones get a drained version of you. You have to cut those energy wasters out. I give too much time and energy to those who don't help me recharge.
I guess this is what it is to start to understand yourself. I no longer refer to it as aging, rather maturing and growing up.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Changing Person

Hi all,

    Alright, so the blog thing is part of my resolution. The fact that I have made it to post #2 is a slow accomplishment, but I'm not quite applauding myself yet. If you've joined my journey... welcome.
Heading into 2015, I have realized I have some major life cleaning to do. I've been trekking along in this little safe zone of life, not really taking too many risks, putting myself out there or really pushing myself to my full potential. I'm not the greatest at friend making, socializing or keeping strong and lasting relationships. I tend to start projects, and not finish them (i.e. my children's baby books that still have missing pages, photos between the pages and missing data). I struggled with anxiety with Blair after I stopped breastfeeding and realized that I'm the kind of person that requires a limited workload to be truly successful, and yet I bite off way more than I can chew all too often.
This year... I'm really honing in on the person I am. The person I want to be, but more importantly, the person I want to portray to my kids. B is a sponge for information right now, and even though will always probably say "I wanna be just like my mummy," I have to make sure that that mummy she follows is the best possible person for her to idolize. I have some tweaking to do.
Still following?... this blog post is shaping up to be a brutally honest hanging of my laundry.... but you've gotta put it out on the line, let the sun/wind hit it before it emerges fresh! (Side Note: all too often I leave a whole load of laundry out on the line, forget to bring it in, let the bugs and spiders climb all over it at night and have it be a soggy rewashable mess to tackle the next morning...)
I am hard on myself. A imperfect perfectionist. An introvert who loves to hunker down at home, sometimes the thought of leaving my house requires way more thought and preparation than I'd like it to. And yet... I take my kids everywhere :-) That I am proud of myself for! I have been blessed with a wonderful mummy group that has opened so many social avenues for me and my kids. Saturating their early learning lives with real life experiences and opportunities to be social, I wanted to make sure I was doing the best I could for them. Walks, park plays, music classes, playgroups, toydrive donations, zoo visits, craft days, icecream dates, public swims, swimming lessons, preschool... all top my list of enriching experiences I'm proud of myself for providing for them.
The biggest problem with being on Maternity Leave and/or working part-time is there are hours upon hours of time spent with yourself. While folding laundry you think of everything in your life... and others. While staring at your "not so eating her lunch" child, somehow floods of thoughts (often the same cycle of thoughts) run through your mind... you fester, exaggerate, snowball and make mountains out of mole hills... It's a bad thing... and awful thing... and something I need to improve on. Why do I care if that girl read my message and didnt' respond... why do I care if joe blow is working out 5 times a week and looks like a supermodel... good for her. Why do I care if that man just fed his kids cheetos for lunch. Part of my resolution is to start caring more about myself and my own world. To essentially block out all other negativity... and keep thinking to myself ... huh, well that sucks for them... guess she won't get to hang out with us... or, she's probably thirsty on that treadmill or hmmm, maybe there is nutritional value to cheetos?!
I really need to embrace a more positive approach. Giving people the benefit of the doubt may actually help my social ineptness (is that even a word?). And if after giving them a chance, they fumble, well... move along. Essentially, I need to be that 5 year old sitting on the counter with a bar of soap in my mouth... think before I speak...
I'm workin' on it.
Happy 2015 All! I promise a lighter, funnier blog once I find my stride. This whole organizing my thoughts thing is overwhelming.