Monday, May 31, 2010

End of a Busy Week

Last week was busy. I worked a contract with full-time, in-office hours. The evenings were spent jamming everything else into a couple of hours. The kids went to bed late every night (sorry K!). And the house looked like a tornado hit it. I've gotten out of practice with the working out of the home thing.

Then we burnt that proverbial candle at both ends on the weekend, including a visit to friends in another town and another late night, followed by a birthday bash that involved flying kites and wading in a stream on Sunday. It was a blast and the kids were happy and busy! But we got home later than we had anticipated and both kids refused to nap. In all honesty, I was reluctant to have naps starting at 2 pm too.

This is what dinner looked like after a week like that...
(He's chewing and trying not to fall asleep on Daddy's lap.)

Xander is not immune to it either.

And down for the count!
I tried to get him into bed shortly after that, but he woke up and was mad. So he came back to the table for berries and pudding, then had his bedtime routine and went to bed.

They were both out around 6:30 last night.

We did have a great weekend though!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Fireplace the Ray Built

Once upon a time, we had a fireplace that came with our house. It looked like this:
(By the way, we put the screen up to keep Xander from getting himself burnt.)

In November of 2008, we decided to rip out the old fireplace. It was big, stuck into the room a lot, and was hard to turn on. It only had an on/off switch, and no thermostat. Plus the piece that caused it to be hard to turn on was no longer available...the company that made the original fireplace had gone out of business years ago.

I don't have pictures of it being ripped out, but my Uncle Ed (everyone needs and Uncle Ed!), Ray and my Dad put the actual fireplace unit in at the end of November. It was settled on a box. Ray worked on the hearth for months. He built it and then taught himself how to tile. They are tumbled slate. Since it took him a while to learn the tricks of tiling, getting to that point took a long time.

You can see it with the hearth, here.

Between the fact that Liam didn't sleep the night until the end of January, plus everything else, it took a while for Ray to get to do the rest. He worked on the boxes for the top and bottom and the base for the mantle for a long time.

Then he did the drywall.

If I thought that doing the boxes was a chore, well I was in for a treat. Puttying and sanding took almost as long. We made a few mistakes along the way (trust me on this one: don't use an electric sander for these kinds of jobs...the dust all over 2 floors of stuff is NOT worth it).

Here it is in the puttying stage:

And just this week, we painted. Ray did the actual fireplace, but I did the wall behind it, some trim, and the other two walls in the room (which you cannot see, of course).

He did a great job!

Here is a close up of the mantle. Pretty awesome!

So, this is what Ray's been doing in our house over the last 18 months.

Thanks honey. It's better than I ever imagined it would be!


Ray and I are pretty decisive people overall. So it kind of amuses me that we have the same few things that always stump us.

What to eat is the big one. The conversation goes this this:

Me: "So, what's for supper?" (This means I don't have a clue myself and can't be bothered to make up my own mind.)
Ray: "Hmmm, to tell you the truth, I hadn't thought about it."


Me: "Where do you want to go to eat?" (If I have a preference, I will say so.)
Ray: "I haven't really decided."

This can go around and around. We're equally adept at choosing furniture and paint colours. Dressing the kids. Work. Reading. Television. General conversation. We've got that nailed.

So how come we can't figure out what to eat?

Saturday, May 15, 2010


We've had a really good time lately with the kids. We've gone swimming. Had time hanging out. Xander is helping Ray paint our fireplace. And tonight we danced and sang our hearts out. It was magic.

The last song was the one I've put on my blog today.

In honour of the song itself and the wonderful times we are having, I am making a list of 10 things I am appreciating. Go ahead and make your own list. Pass it on!

1. My kids
2. Health
3. Laughter
4. Family
5. The sheer beauty of the earth: plants blooming, blue sky, and buckets of rain.
6. Friends
7. The many places I have been, from mountains on three continents to dipping my feet in the Pacific, the Atlantic, and even the Mediterranean.
8. Plans
9. Dreams
10. Love

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What do YOU see?

Shift of Gears: The Big Water Incident

I have a couple of great pics of the kids I was going to load on here for today. Except I don't have the same ports on my desktop computer...and my laptop took a bit of a swim last night. So I have to wait on the pictures.

I dropped a large glass of water on my laptop last night. A total accident. It's currently drying out.

I feel really dumb, but what are you going to do. I've had a few panicked moments, because most of Liam pictures since birth are on that hard drive. Yes, I know I should back up. And I do occasionally, but in the sleep deprivation of the first 2 years of Liam's life, I forgot to do certain things. So I have no idea what I have and where. Plus, all my work from the last 20 months and links and everything...yeah, on there. So here is hoping it is resurrected. Ray assures me that either way, the hard drive should be okay.

So we wait.

On a totally different front: while I have never, ever wanted twins, it occasionally occurs to me that Xander should have been a twin. He's so much happier with other kids to play with. And he's got a playdate today. He and Carter are making a mess, but they are happy and entertained. Hooray!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fear Factor: the Big Three

I've been thinking about the things I am afraid of lately. I used to take fear as a challenge. Or ignore it entirely. I'm not sure where and when it changed, but it did. And it weighs heavily.

Here are a few things I can think of that are holding me back:

  • Swimming. I love to swim. I used to swim quite well. Used to. I would like to do some lap swimming to improve my fitness level. I love to run, but my one foot and leg and I are in disagreement about running these days. Swimming seems like a good option. Except I haven't swam laps in forever. And I am slow. Out of practice. And just afraid. Plus, the timing sucks (I either have to go early in the morning, late at night, or over lunch time, which is all inconvenient in some way that is stupid and a big excuse: I'm just afraid to look like an idiot out there).
  • Writing. I'm doing a course on writing magazine articles. It is a good course, but I find myself stalling doing the work or even reading. I know most of this stuff, so it should be easy, but boy is it giving me pause. I want to do this. I do. But I can fell the edges of fear.
  • Another baby. Honestly, I am not sure I want to go there at all. And Ray is with me. We laugh and compare it to shopping for our tv: either one of us could have been convinced to buy the 53" television, but neither of us was willing to convince the other. So we bought the 46" one. We're in the same place with a baby. If one of us really wanted to do it, the other could be convinced. Neither of us in in the place to convince the other though. When it comes down to it, I am just afraid of the sleepless, allergy problems, crazed first year again.
There's more, I know. But those are my big three.

What things are you afraid of? Do you hold back or tackle it head-on? How do you deal with it in general?
I just came back this evening to edit this. I did swim tonight and it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I was not painfully slow. I enjoyed doing it. And it was a great experience overall. My strokes could use some work, but not nearly as badly as I had feared.

Definitely worth looking that one in the face.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monkey Business

Two is an interesting time. Liam is different in his "twos" than Xander was at that time. Xander required many, many time outs. Lots of redirection and lots of interaction. Most of the time, Liam will go off and play on his own, coming to me for snacks, diaper changes, and crisis moments. He needs little in the way of time outs, though a stern "No!" can invoke a tantrum of monstrous proportions. He's definitely his own person.

And yet he follows the family trend of single-mindedness or stubbornness, whatever you wish to call it. The other day, he was well-dressed. Part way through the day, I turned around and he had stripped off his pants, was pulling on pajama bottoms and then tromping around in shoes that are 7 sizes too big for him (he loves those things).

I managed to get a couple of pictures of him sitting and playing with (torturing actually) Woody.

Note that they are his SpiderMan pj bottoms! Strangely, they kind of match his dragon top. I especially love the Crocs on the wrong feet.

There was no way I was going to put him back in his regular pants and shoes. I did try. And decided it was not worth fighting over.

He's an interesting kid!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day: Happy and Sad

My Mother's Day was fabulous. From the wonderful meals made, to a little time to myself, to lots of family time. It was just a day of thoughtfulness from my boys. Xander was especially into Mother's Day this year, and I got a fabulous card and a picture of him with a homemade frame. Liam was along for the ride and got a kick out of the festivities. We just had a fabulous day!

I am blessed. My children are loved and they love me. My husband is a good man, whom I enjoy spending my time with and look forward to traveling the days that are coming with him.

And yet, as I checked on my sleeping children last night, my heart broke too.

I've spoken before of my online community. I know some of the women who read this blog are also part of that online community. We come together, regardless of race, religion or nationality. Our habits and parenting are different. But oh, how we support each other. We cheer for the victories of each other, love each other, and hold each other up. We are a sisterhood.

And sometimes we grieve together.

We've grieved for lost dreams. We've grieved over lost parents and husbands. We've held the horror of lost children in our hearts. When one of our members can no longer stand on her own, we try to hold her up with words. Our hearts travel distances that our bodies cannot always travel (and sometimes some of our bodies travel those distances too).

Yesterday, in the middle of Mother's Day celebrations, we all grieved. It seems a betrayal of the worst sort. One of our members has battled over four years of infertility, including a failed IVF. She wants a second baby so badly that we can all taste it for her. (Mind you, she is not the only one who is battling hard against secondary infertility. And if I could take that pain away and give each woman a baby who wants one...well, I would do it in a split second.) But this woman, she had a surprise pregnancy after all of this!

And we all rejoiced for her! This is the result we all dream of for our sisters who battle infertility. It gives us all hope.

This week she was 12 weeks pregnant. The magical number that is supposed to put us out of danger. Pregnancy becomes so much more certain after that time. And she saw the baby moving, wiggling, and living fully just a few days ago on ultrasound. A beautiful, whole, living baby.

We all believed for her. And rejoiced. And wept with relief. She was having a baby. This was real!

Except that after a few days she could no longer hear the baby's heartbeat on the doppler. And sometime in the hours between what was Saturday and the darkness that became Sunday...yes, Mother's Day of all days...she and her husband discovered that the baby had passed away.

It seems a heartless cruelty. And part of me feels like something has been yanked away. From her. From me. From our group. We all love this baby, who is now gone. And there is nothing at all that we can do.

If you pray or think positive thoughts or just spend a moment sending your heart out, then this woman and her family need it more than anyone I know. These are the darkest of days for them. Her friends and extended family need it. Our online community needs a little of it too. Healing will be hard.

The irony of it happening on Mother's Day is lost to no one. Part of me is angry about that. Sad, but angry too. Why now? Why take this day of joy from her?

But I also remember that motherhood is not all cards and appreciation. Sometimes it is standing together in hard times. Which is what we are trying very hard to do. So maybe it is appropriate after all. Hard still, but appropriate because as mothers we take what comes and travel through it all.

So, as I looked at my own blessings last night, I cried a little.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

This is my reason....

I'm a bit late in realizing that Mother's Day is this weekend. I thought it was next weekend. Oops. All I can say, is that this is my reason (excuse the crappy hair, we had a crazy morning).

Most of all, I am posting this to wish my Mom a Happy Mother's Day! We love you Mom (aka Nanny) and miss you. Can't wait to see you in June. Enjoy a very recent picture of your grandsons and me.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Xander has had a hard time learning to swim. It felt like the ah-ha moment was never coming. He enjoys the water, but I'd venture to say that he didn't get the point of it. We're at the end of his second set of private lessons and the difference is astounding.

He's now starting to tread water and to swim while using both his hands and his feet!

Today he got to go into the big pool (they have a small, square pool for teaching the young kids in) for the first time.

Getting into the big pool:

And in the big pool:
Learning to tread water:
Swimming in action!
Liam trying to figure out what this swimming business is all about and why he can't go into the pool too. (That's the smaller pool behind him. And the big pool is through the arches at the very back of the picture.)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Look it in the Eye

I've been taking a course in magazine writing. I already write for myself. I also blog professionally for another company and write articles for them. I also do editing work, when it comes around. Magazine writing seemed like a good spin-off to me. I'd like to do articles that are different. I like the variety.

I've thought about longer projects, but with small people underfoot and limited time, it seems pointless. The small people will grow and go to school more. There's time in the future. But for now I need to write more and feed my brain and my soul.

Writing can be a hard endeavour. It means looking yourself in the eye and finding something you are truly invested in to write about. Then knowing people will tear you apart for it or love you for it. Rarely an in between. It also means carving out time and brain space for it.

The other day I had an explosion of thought about carving out brain space (and not a good one). It seems every time I sit to read, think, or write, someone wants to talk to me or needs a drink or is unhappy or joyous about something. All of these things make my world go around. My family is, after all, the center of my being these ways I would never have expected before my kids came along. And yet they sometimes crowd me out.

I am important too. Without the me part, I cannot write and earn a living.

I bemoaned all of this -- letting it go into space and releasing it from being trapped in my head and taking up room -- to Ray yesterday afternoon. I told him it felt like working against the tide of my family and at this point, it seemed, well, pointless. I wondered aloud if I ought to just set all of this aside for 2 or 3 more years. Until the wee people had gone to school and left me with a bit of time to chomp on and mull over thoughts.

It's all just talk though. And letting go. For that moment.

This morning I wrote a query letter. The first of many. And I take steps toward writing in a new way.

I'm excited and my brain is already thinking and plotting. It's what keeps me going through the mountain of things between my fingers and my keyboard.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Xander's Wish

Sometimes I don't know if I should tell my parents the things that Xander says. Today is one of those occasions.

We were on the way to swimming lessons and there is a hill outside the pool that is covered in dandelions. Last week they were all golden, but this week they've matured and are gone to seed. Xander ran over, picked one, and told me he was making a wish as he blew. Where he got the idea that you make a wish when you blow on a dandelion is a mystery to me; certainly we didn't teach him that one.

He is too young to know that you don't say your wish out loud, because superstitions tell us then they won't come true, so he said, "I wish I could see Grandpa Richard every day."

Grandpa Richard lives in Manitoba, a 26 hour drive from us. He's been missing the boys terribly since their last visit. And today is his birthday.

I am not sure if I should go with how honoured he will feel to be the center of a little boy's wish and tell him or understand that while the honour will be deep, so will the cut that he cannot make this wish come true. I think it would rip out a part of his heart.

Such a hard call. And a sweet, sweet wish.