Archive for the ‘Just Me and My Smudges’ Category

Back-to-School

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”…usually this song pops into your head when you think of Christmas shopping and family visiting for the holidays, but now Staples has claimed this popular song as part of it’s commercial campaign to celebrate the Back-to-School season. 

I watched the commercial the other day and it got me thinking, “Is this the most wonderful time of the year for me?” ironically, despite my children having spent the last 12 days of August bickering over whose turn it was to choose the cereal, or who gets stuck with the earphones that don’t work as well, I am going to miss them when they are back in school full time. There I said it. Sue me. I know that most people are thinking that I must be crazy to be sad that they are going back to school; and don’t get me wrong, I’m going to enjoy a little bit of free time each day and enjoying a full cup of coffee while it’s hot or an uninterupted shower. But I will also miss the lazing around on the sofa taking turns snuggling the dog or reading a book. I will miss playing Wii with the kids who marvel at my athletic ability because they haven’t realized the playing Wii games doesn’t really involve full body interaction, really only a little flick of the wrist is needed. I will miss the hours spent at the splash pad and how the icky things discovered at the Lowville park creek mysteriously finding their way into my car.

Back-to-school is great because it brings routine and consistency to our home, schedule and family. But it also means that my babies are out in the world marveling and learning with other people besides Mommy. For 6 and a half hours a day, someone else gets to hear their incessant questions and wipe their tears when they fall off the monkey bars. I miss that. I guess the only consolation is that rather than being ready to lock them in separate towers to keep them from fighting by 3:10pm, I am actually anxious to see them and hug them and hear all about their day!

Lovin’ Miller Lake

Our family just got back from our annual family vacation up near Tobermory, Ontario. This is the fourth year we have gone with about 15 families we know, to a campground on Miller Lake where we spend the week in the sun and the sand, swimming, fishing, playing games, fellowshipping and relaxing. It is the highlight of my year and I know that my children absolutely love it, in fact they have started talking about what they want to take next year and what we should do to prepare for Miller Lake 2011!

As family vacations go, our Miller Lake trip is not very flashy or exotic, and it might not rate on everyone’s list as the best way to spend a relaxing week. However, I happen to find the whole experience to be a fantastic way for our family to get away and spend some quality time together…and apart! Why do I love Miller Lake? Let me count the ways….

1. Less hair-brushing and laundry…most of the time I put my kids in clean clothes and brush their hair, but for one week out of the year they get to have messy hair and sand in their clothes and toes!

2. Staying up with other grown ups, my favourite part of the whole week is putting the kids to bed safely and getting to sit around and chat with our friends (old and new), play games and eat snacks that the kids can’t have!

3. Ear phones for the van dvd player, so the kids can watch movies on the way…4 hours of peace and quiet!

4. Other people cooking alongside me in the kitchen. At home it’s usually just me preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we go away I really like that other mom’s and dad’s are getting meals ready for their families too!

5. No plans. I really enjoy the spontaneous nature of the vacation day. It’s great to just get up, eat breakfast and have nothing major on tap for the day.

6. Fun time with my amazing kids! As a SAHM, I usually get to spend lots of time with them, but throughout our week I have laundry and dishes to do, house cleaning, errands to run, the phone rings a couple of times a day, the dog needs walked, dinner gets cooked, there are Soccer or Tae Kwon Do schedules etc…on vacation, I LOVE that I get time to just hang out with them, play in the lake or watch them catch frogs!

7. Sleeping In! It’s nice when there’s nowhere to be and nothing specific on tap for the day, and even more wonderful when the children miraculously allow us to sleep in on our vacation days…love it!

8. The Offspring fight much less than normal. It’s wonderful to have so many other kids around for mine to play with because it means that they are more easily entertained and there is less pressure on them to play together, which means less brother/sister conflict. Not to mention it gives me a sense of what it would be like to have more children and I remember now why I only need two!

9. It’s just like Summer Camp; roasting marshmallows, kayaking, swimming in the cool crisp lake, bunk beds, the dinner bell, capture the flag and pranks. Spending a week with all sorts of different people in a camp atmosphere takes me back to my years spent at Summer camp. (although significantly less heartbreaking, because I have married the love of my life, so there are no summer crushes for this girl!)

10. Coming home to my bed…it’s great to get away, but nothing makes me appreciate my own little house and big bed more, than going away on vacation and then coming home to a good night’s rest in my OWN BED! Wonderful…..

The Luxurious Stay-At-Home-Mom

As a Stay-at-Home-Mother (SAHM) I often find myself faced with various questions regarding my choice to make Mothering my only full-time job. Any woman who chooses to have children will inevitably face the issue of whether to stay at home with them, work full-time and put them in some form of daycare, or try to work out some manner of part-time work as well as staying at home. It’s a difficult and delicate struggle, individual to every woman and every family.

Although I believe that God has entrusted me with amazing children and I believe that I have been called to make raising them my first and foremost priority, at the same time I believe that it is up to each couple to determine what is best for them. It is not my place to judge any parent for the choices they make in child-rearing; be it potty training, discipline, schooling or working outside the home.

Unfortunately despite my efforts to live and let live, I am periodically subjected to the insensitive commentary of working Mom’s, forcing me to defend my personal choice. One such instance occured just the other day when I was at the store shopping with my 5 year old daughter. The lady asked me about whether G was in kindergarten yet and in the course of regular conversation the topic of me staying home came to light. The woman said “Wow, you are SO fortunate…I wish I had the luxury of staying home….” See?? Now that’s my problem, I’m sure you heard it too, the inference that I am sitting around all day basking in the glow of Stay-at-Home-Mommyhood; lounging on the patio all day with a fruity drink and servants fanning me with palm branches while my children raise themselves.

The truth is that my luxurious choice comes at a price; not working outside the home means that I am not bringing in a second income, which drastically alters our family lifestyle. I don’t want you to misunderstand me, God has more than provided everything our family could need and more, but staying home with the children has definitely meant a pay cut! Fortunately the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

The discussion with the store clerk, although disturbing, was in no way unique. I have been subjected to any number of comments referring to the perceived luxury of being a SAHM. Let me share some of my favourites with you…

  • “Must be nice! I CAN’T go on all the school trips because I have to work…”
  • “Yeah I would LOVE to stay home with the kids, but I have a mortgage and can’t afford to have it ALL!”
  • “Wow, you’re SO LUCKY that you GET to stay home and not work.”
  • “Boy, I’d love to NOT work, but you know…”

The truth is, both sides think they have it rough. I am not going to lie, I love that I can “go to work” in my pyjamas and not wear make up, I love that I can chat with friends on the phone while I watch the kids play outside, I certainly couldn’t do either if I was working outside the home. However, there are several drawbacks that come along with the choice to Mother-Full-Time.  For example, I don’t get a break from my children throughout the average day; which means I have company while I eat a meal, drink a cup of coffee, go to the bathroom, talk on the phone and every other little task that I attend to throughout the day. I have to be constantly “On”, I can’t let my mind wander while the kids are in the pool or while the little ones are even chewing their food! I am constantly aware that every word out of my mouth is being monitored (whether they appear to be paying attention or NOT), every grown up conversation I have on the phone, in the store or with the neighbour is peppered with interruptions from little voices wanting to have a snack or do a craft or play a game. Or voices that simply want to be heard for a minute and need me to drop what I am doing to watch them complete whatever feat they have been working on.

And don’t even get me started on what I teach my children on a daily basis; there is no daycare provider or ECE teaching my kids to count and tie their shoes, play nicely or share, helping them colour and paste pom poms on construction paper. I am the one who teaches them how to pump their legs on the swing and chew grapes properly so they don’t choke. I spend time daily pouring information into them about character and answering the million questions about the world around them. I believe that they are better for it, regardless of the fact that I may not always know the answer to every question.

My beef here is not with the fact that I am a SAHM or the fact that I have to do all these things, I LOVE my job, and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world (most days). My irritation comes from people who have made a different career choice, belittling me or insinuating that somehow I have taken the easy way out.

I dare say that Full-Time Mothering is anything but the easy way out, in fact I think that the next time someone gives me a hard time, I will just invite them to sell their big house and cottage and come live where I do, anyone can learn to sacrifice the finer things in life to spend time with the finest people in life and I’d be more than happy to share my secrets!  Now, where did I put those bon bons??

I Must Confess…

They say that confession is good for the soul. I don’t know who “they” are, and I am sure that is rooted in the scriptures that tell us to confess our sins to God. However in this post I am seeking to simply “confess” some trivial matters, perhaps you even find yourself doing the same things…then I won’t feel so silly!

I buy Sugarfree freezies…shhhhhh! Don’t tell the neighbourhood kids, most of them have no idea that what they eat at my house (and enjoy) are actually sugarless freezies…tee hee hee!

I dream that one day my home will have a main floor laundry room. I know it seems silly and I really don’t want it just to avoid the stairs (although that would be nice too) but the problem is actually that I forget to switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer, almost every time I do a load. So I confess, that sometimes I just add some soap and put the wash cycle through again. Of course, sometimes the clothes make it to the dryer but they don’t get pulled out and folded quick enough before getting wrinkled. So I will also confess that I will throw in a wet sock and dry them again, that usually gets rid of most of the wrinkles. I can’t stand ironing.

I add the last little bit of a nearly empty bottle of salad dressing to the next full bottle. Don’t worry though, we go through the ranch dressing like crazy so it doesn’t ever go bad, but I’m telling you I get tired of the bottles multiplying in the door of my fridge.

I still water down the juice my kids drink. And sometimes I even water down the juice I serve other kids in my home or elsewhere. There I said it. So sue me, I just think that the kids today have way too much sugar on a daily basis, and if they get a little bit more water in every glass, what’s the harm?

I use Jello No-Bake Cheesecake mix. Most people can’t tell the difference and I find that the no-bake mix tastes really nice and yet a little less heavy. Besides, the lighter it is, the more you can eat without feeling guilty!

I wonder sometimes if anyone else gets tired of finding tupperware containers in the back of the fridge with old leftovers? I can’t tell you how much I hate it when I just finish washing a load of dishes, only to find that my hubby has decided to de-clutter the fridge by dumping out all the leftovers and tossing the stinky dirty containers in the sink for me to wash. I confess, on my own, I often just leave the stuff in the fridge until I have the energy to wash them. I mean, at least in the fridge they won’t get yuckier, right?

I love taking the children to Canada’s Wonderland, Marineland, African Lion Safari or any other amusement park. I don’t know if it’s just the pure joy of watching how much the enjoy it, and sharing that experience with them or if deep down, I take them because I enjoy it. Either way the kids get to spend a fun day at the park and I love it, it’s a win-win! 

So one of my family’s favourite veggies is broccoli, especially with cheese sauce..mmmm. But I have to confess that I use cheese sauce mix from a package. My mom always made it from grated cheese and cream, but I never have much luck getting it to the same creamy consistency, and it takes a long time so I just use a mix. Well, as long as I’m at it, I might as well just admit that I use packaged gravy too.

Sometimes when the milk jug is almost done and I pick it up for a drink, I just drink it straight from the jug! I know, it’s so ghetto and unladylike, but the truth is, why should I have to wash another glass just to finish off the end of the bag of milk?

One of my favourite playdate activities with the children is to visit a local splashpad. I know, that’s not news to anyone who reads my blog, however I must confess the reason I love it so much. I love to let the kids play and run around where I can see them, but without me needing to chase around after  them. After years of holding their hands and helping them up and down on the slide etc. I love to be able to sit and chat with the other mom’s now that they can play unassisted. It’s true and if you still have little ones…don’t lose heart, your day is coming too!

I have something rather embarrassing to confess now, for anyone who has read some of my previous blog posts, this is especially difficult for me to admit. I have of late, found myself laughing at the Spongebob Squarepants television show. I know, it’s beyond hard to believe even for me. But the kids like it and I inevitably find myself in the room within earshot of the silliness, and on more than one occasion I have found myself laughing involuntarily. I am ashamed.

Random Observations

Sometimes things pop into my head at any given moment and I tell myself to remember that for later to put in a blog posting. Sometimes I actually remember those things and make note of them (whether or not they ever get fleshed out into a full blog post or not is another story) but more often then not I completely forget about them or realize that they are hardly worth writing about and less worth expecting people to take the time to read about. These various random thoughts are what I like to call my, “Random Observations” and I think that I will periodically compile them into a posting of that title. So here is the first installment of my Random Observations, feel free to chime in at any point to agree or disagree.

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Why is it when I walk in front of someone at the grocery store and say “excuse me”, do people say “sorry”? Despite the fact that many people have forgotten to interact with politeness and good manners, it is in fact proper to say “excuse me” when walking in front of someone or blocking their vision. Nowadays, people say “oh sorry” and jump back like you are aggressively reprimanding them….is it so foreign in our day to simply say “excuse me”??

On the flip-side, I often find when I am browsing in a store that other people will push their buggies up towards me without saying a word, as if indicating their desire to pass me. Why can’t THEY say excuse me, so I will understand that they would like me to move aside and let them pass? I’m not a mind reader you know. On that same note, I will often hear the gentle chiding of my hubby to move over because someone behind me wishes to walk past and I am in the way. Why can’t they say “excuse me” so I will know that they are there? Despite what my mother said to me as a child, Mother’s do NOT in fact have eyes on the back of their heads, if you want me to move, you’ll have to break out some form of “excuse me”.

Not sure which is more gross, the clump of hair in the drain (which is inevitably at least 50 percent mine) or the fact that my hubby pulls the gross clump or yucky wet hair out…and then leaves it on the side of the tub…? blech!!!

What is with the four-way stop? Why can’t people just follow the rules? There seems to be this desire for drivers to be either super aggressive or err on the side of too polite. Just follow the rules people! When you are the first to arrive at the intersection, you are the first to proceed, don’t try to out-manner me by letting me go first when I know for a fact that you have the right of way. Because, what happens? I hesitate because I know it’s your turn, then you generously wave me on, but I KNOW it’s your turn so I wait and then I realize what you are doing and I take my foot off the break to go through. Almost simultaneously, you decide that I have ungratiously rejected your benevolence and decide to claim your right of way and…..*SMACK*

I love Toaster Strudels…I mean all that warm creamy cheese and jam nestled inside the flaky pastry smothered in icing…mmm….nuff said.

My dog is neurotic…this point of course won’t matter to anyone else reading this, but it’s my blog and the posting is titled Random Observations, and this is random. So my dog has separation anxiety, he has to be in a cage when we leave the house and he has to be shut into someone’s room at night or he pees on the floor. He sleeps all day, get’s up off of one sofa, stretches, meanders over to the other sofa and flops on it as though the movement has sapped every ounce of his energy. But by far, the most annoying thing about my crazy dog is that he will NOT drink water inside the house. I mean he will walk past a perfectly good bowl of drinking water in the kitchen and bark at the back door until I fill the outside dish. Such a freak.

I find it interesting that people forget that they are modeling behaviour to their little ones every day. Some day we are going to reap the “benefits” of everything we have taught our children both actively and passively. Whether we are talking about speeding on the highway, lying on the phone, aggressive driving, copying DVD’s, dropping the “F’ bomb in conversation, gossiping about our friends or unhealthy eating habits. The truth is eventually we will be faced with a child’s behaviour we are forced to deal with and it will be no ones fault but our own, because we have taught our kids to them their noses at rules or encouraged bad habits that we thought were harmless. Interesting.

There should be a law about marketing adult movies to small children. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care about whatever next twisted movie concept that pops into Tim Burton or M.Night Shamalan’s head, I just don’t think movies should be marketed to children when their content is not appropriate for youngsters of the same age. Case in point, Transformers II (and Transformers I but to a lesser extent) why are they allowed to sell lunch boxes, pencil cases and fruit roll-ups advertising the movie, when the movie content consisted of swearing and gratuitous appearances of Megan Fox’s ta-ta’s. There should be a rule.

I wonder if anyone else finds their teeth MORE gross in the morning when they brushed their teeth before bed? Is it just me? I find that if I fall asleep and forget to brush my teeth, my mouth tastes a whole lot better the next day then wheen I scrub my pearly-whites the previous evening. I know random right?

A Few of My Favourite Things…

You may think that you know me pretty well already, but there are a few things that you maybe didn’t know…

1. I love Chocolate, plain uncomplicated chocolate. I will take a chocolate easter bunny or Aero Bar any day over truffles and bon bons. I prefer my chocolate without nuts, fruit, nougat, orange, cherry etc. mmm…Easter chocolate is out in stores now…hmmmm

2. I absolutely adore all the Barbie movies; Rapunzel, Princess and the Pauper, 12 Dancing Princesses, Mariposa etc… I don’t care about realistic body image or feminist complaints about the evils of Barbie. I love love love these movies and I don’t even need to pretend that the kids are watching them with me, I have no problem just sitting down and watching Barbie in Swan Lake or Barbie in the Nutcracker all by myself!

3. I love going to Canada’s Wonderland. Even more than the children. The truth is, every year we go as a family on Mother’s Day, purchase our Season’s passes and spend the day at Wonderland. Most Mother’s would rather do ANYTHING on Mother’s Day, but I get tremendous joy out of spending that time going on rides, eating funnel cake, and watching the shows with my children and hubby. (who is a reluctant participant…he doesn’t enjoy the rides at all),

4. I love movies. However, I have never seen some of the most popular movies of all time, much to the chagrin of my cinematic (cinema-fanatic) friends. Which movies you ask? Let me see…The Matrix, Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings trilogy, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Rosemary’s Baby, Monty Python, Kill Bill or The Exorcist. There are a lot of others that I have not seen, but these seem to be the ones that cause the most distress to movie buffs.

5. I really really love George Lopez and Lopez Tonight. I mean I could give up just about everything else on t.v just to keep George Lopez. I often wonder if maybe being married to a latino make the jokes funnier to me or if everyone laughs themselves silly while watching him.

6. I Love Tea and have given up Coffee. Well for the most part. I used to drink a pot and a half of coffee minimum every day. Then near the beginning of this year I contracted chicken pox. I was so sick to my stomach I couldn’t handle the tast of coffee, so I tried tea and now that’s all I drink. I think I have had a total of 8 cups of coffee since January! I think I’ve used my poor coffee maker only once! Apparently though, my addiction is to slow-sipping hot liquids as opposed to the coffee (as so many people assumed) because I drink the same amount of tea now as I did coffee before.

7. I love to chew ice. Not just when I am in labour but whenever. It’s probably not the best things for my teeth and once and a while I get a shot of sensitivity through my teeth and gums, reminding me that I am over 30 years old. But most of the time I find it an entertaining way to let the waitress know that perhaps it’s time for one of those free refills described in the menu.

8.  I love to sit and read cookbooks! For years my Gran, my mother and I have shared this quirky past time, sitting around together looking through the recipes and when we find one we like, we share it out loud. Now with the onset of the internet, I can peruse thousands of recipes including photos at my fingertips. I know, it’s weird.

9. I love my dog Bailey. He’s a pain, lazy, useless, stinky breathed mutt who likes to sleep on my bed with his head on the pillow. But he brings me great joy. Not just because he belonged to my Mother before she passed away, but because there is an unconditional love that dogs give. He is easy to please, gentle and forgiving, patient with my constant squeezing and snuggling. I love him, much to my husband’s constant irritation.

10. I love my children. For all the crazy stories that I share here in my blog; for all the anecdotes, and frustrations I pour out onto these pages, I have given birth to two of the most amazing, surprising, quirky, smart, hilarious, freaky, loving, cuddly, wondrous children ever born to a woman. I love them so much it actually hurts sometimes!

So I Didn’t Marry Superman…

Just over 11 years ago, I married Superman…well I thought I married Superman. It turns out that he couldn’t fly, or leap over tall buildings, he couldn’t see through my clothes with his x-ray vision (a fact for which I am eternally grateful) and he didn’t have superhuman strength. It turns out that instead of marrying Superman, I actually just married a plain old Super Man. He’s a fantastic father, a great friend and lover, a quality human being and about as dependable as you could ever ask for in another person. He’s Super, not like Sarah Palin Super… but actually super!

A couple of years ago, I was part of a woman’s bible study called “A Wife of Noble Character” and one part of the group study was a section that challenged us to make a list of all our husbands qualities that we appreciated. Not a list of things that we wish they would change, instead we were to focus on seeing the good in them and looking to articulate our gratitude for the things that we loved about them. I discovered that I actually married several men in one package. I thought that would share this list of husbands that I am married to, a sort of public recognition of all the wonderful qualities my hubby posesses and all the things I just appreciate so much about him.

1. The Spider-Slayer – He willingly kills all the bugs and spiders that cross my path, even if it means waking him up in the middle of the night to show him an ugly black spider on the ceiling right above my bed. He has trained me so that when he is at work, I can buckle down and kill a spider, but I still prefer him to do it when he’s here. I’m sure he’d feel less than manly if I did it when he was home…right?

2. The Music Man – He is a wonderfully gifted musician, I fell in love with him and his guitar and every time I hear him play, I get giddy with girlish glee. God has given him such a wonderful talent!

3. The Rock – I am the sensitive one in our partnership, he is the one I turn to when I am hurting or upset. My husband is very loving and gentle, however given that I am a marshmallow and easily offended, it is really good that he is so solid and strong. I need that, and God knew it. 

4. The Armadillo – There is nothing that anyone can say to hurt my hubby, he is so confident that he rarely feels slighted or gets his feelings hurt. He seems to be impervious to all forms of insult, sarcasm, manipulation and the other common things that other people find offensive. I greatly admire this quality, except of course when I am trying to goad him into an argument. 🙂

5. The Superhero – Each evening as my husband walks through the front door and I am overwhelmed by the screaming, jumping, shouting, and running that immediately occurs. They greet him like he is Spiderman swooping in on a hanging web or a conquering hero returning from defeating evil in all corners of the universe! As much as I get a tiny feeling of jealousy in the back of my heart because they never greet me like that, I actually love it. I think that children should believe that their father is superman; that he will protect them, care for them and fight of all the bad guys (and unworthy suitors). And the truth is, he really is a superhero trust me, I do the laundry. Who do you think washes his cape? 

6. The HandyMan – Some women complain that their husbands couldn’t fix a toilet or light with two hands, a manual and a home depot associate in their pocket. My husband on the other hand can fix anything, truly. He has a knack for problem solving and carefully examining a problem to see what is not working. He is methodical, diligent, incredibly patient and will relentlessly continue to try various solutions until he finds the most suitable one for the problem at hand. If you can’t figure it out, call my man, cause he’ll get the job done no matter how many hours it takes.

7. The Romantic. Although life often gets in the way, and he doesn’t always think of the most romantic things to do or give me. My man is in fact a romantic at heart (probably has to do with being a musician) he will often send me loving text messages, or leave me little notes to encourage me and remind me that he loves me. He is big on loving nick-names, and tries really hard to love me according to my love language, even though it is different than his own. Fortunately I have learned to recognize some of his strange expressions of love and I appreciate him so much for it.

8. The Neat-Freak – This personality has been forced to spend the last 11 years shackled to his messy and unorganized wife, so it has sustained some long-term damage. However my husband is very organized and prefers things to stay in order, he is good at picking up after himself and cleaning up proficiently. I often say that he is a better house-wife than I am! If only I could adopt some more of his neatness through osmosis…

9. The Worker Bee – Many people work hard and there are probably people who work even harder than my wonderful husband, but I don’t know any. He never shies away from a difficult task (unless it’s an explosive diaper) and he will willingly take on any job, large or small, dirty or difficult. He is driven to achieve his goals and is uncomfortable coasting or sitting back and letting others work hard. He’s the guy that you can be sure will show up, diligently get the job done, and clean up after.

10. The Perfect Husband– Perhaps not according to Hollywood Movie standards, but according to real life and God’s plan, my husband is the perfect husband for me. He compliments me, challenges me, protects me, lifts me up and makes me a better person in general. I am so grateful to the Lord for giving me the perfect partner…a Super-Partner if you will.

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