Archive for the ‘Matters of the Heart’ Category

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 “Icky” Side of Parenting

There’s a show on t.v called “Dirty Jobs”, it’s a fascinating look into some of the ickiest, messies, stinkiest jobs that are performed on a daily basis by people all over the world. Not surprisingly, my husband and children find this show utterly fascinating. I find it interesting but some episodes are a little hard to stomach! The other day I saw the commercial and it got me to thinking that as parents we have a “Dirty Job” too, in fact I think that raising children can be one of the ickiest jobs around. Of course I wouldn’t switch careers for anything in the world, my benefit package is far too rewarding!

Noses– they are almost always snotty, runny, drippy, crusty or worse….being picked!

Bathroom Issues – this is an all-encompassing term that includes everything starting with meconium in-utero, followed by explosive newborn diapers, orange and green baby food tinted diapers, solid no-longer-baby-big-kid-poop diapers, potty training, accidents in the grocery store, peeing the bed, “I-can-wipe-myself-messes”…boy does it ever feel good to be past most of those issues now!

Owie’s – children will incur every manner of scrape, bump, cut, goose egg, broken bones and stitches. If you’re lucky the Dr. will do the stitches for you!

Illness – the most harrowing part of this childhood problem is the vomit, but there’s diarrhea, administering medicine and suppositories, applying cream, oral and rectal thermometers and of course, the terrible feeling of being helpless to put an end to their suffering, or even keep their vomit out of your bed.

Potty Humour – from 3 year old who likes to pee anywhere outside and in front of anyone who might be passing by, to the 5 year old who thinks “poop” is hilarious, to the 8 year old making “farting” sounds in church, to the 11 year old “belching” the alphabet, to the 17 year old making “farting” sounds in the grocery store, to the 20-35 year old who bursts out laughing everytime someone in the room passes gas! Children always seem to find the most embarrassing time to share their most disgusting bodily functions!

Lice – not much else to say.

Emotions – from the moment they are ripping us open from the inside out in the delivery room, to the day we watch them walk down the aisle, children will cause us to feel some of the most powerful, wonderful and often messy emotions within the realm of possibility. They will irritate us, infuriate us, bowl us over with their kindness and cuteness. Most of the time they will bring us indescribably joy but once in a while they will cause us indescribably pain and yet, we wouldn’t give them up for all the peaceful days in the world.

So I Didn’t Marry Superman…

I know that this is a repeat, but it’s one of my favourites. And somethings….just bear repeating…

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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.

Lovin’ On Your Wife

Married couples are often on different pages as far as expressing love. I believe that people speak different “Love Languages” as outline by Gary Chapman in his book and one of the keys to a happy marriage is to find what makes your spouse feel loved and do it for them. So as a little help for all my Mom friends (specifically stay-at-home mom friends) I have compiled a list for our husbands of the top 10 ways (according to my extensive research) to start Lovin’ On Your Wife!

10. Wash the dishes. Sometimes it’s nice to walk in the house after a late night at work or even out with the girls, and find the dishes done and ready for the next day. Maybe it’s not your job, maybe you don’t have to, maybe you shouldn’t feel obligated, but I’m telling you, if you wash the dishes for her, she will feel LOVED!

9. Plan a night out for dinner, movie or even coffee. But please make sure YOU arrange the babysitter! Nothing says I love you like, “Don’t worry, I already took care of the kids, let’s go!”

8. Offer to go get the groceries by yourself. Maybe she writes the list and you take it and do all the shopping yourself. Especially if your sweetheart usually does the weekly shopping with the children in tow. I love it when my hubby says, “Give me a list, I’ll go!”

7. Sit with her on the sofa and watch HER favourite t.v show or movie. Don’t just suffer through it or doze in a chair, but actually WATCH the show and pay attention. If she enjoys it, she will enjoy sharing it with you.

6. Foot Rub…’nuff said.

5. Dedicate your first 10 minutes home from work to her and her alone. I love it when hubby walks in the door, dishes out kisses to all the little ones and then sends them away so he can focus on me for a few minutes. It’s a great chance to share the good and bad from the day with each other and a chance to connect before the dinner hour and bedtime craziness takes over.

4. Random text messages to tell her you love her, or to tell her you miss her and can’t wait to see her later in the day. Be specific, “hey baby ‘sup?” is not the same.

3. Play with your children. I mean REALLY play with them, I’m talking about running in the backyard, tickling on the floor, imagination games, board games or making a fort. Nothing pleases a woman more than when her children get full out play time with Daddy, it tells us that all that painful labour we went through was worth it, b/c you love the kids as much as we do! Plus sometimes it’s nice not to have to be the one doing all the playing.

2. Buy your wife a gift. This is not the kind of gift that you purchase on valentines day or her birthday, but something random that you know she needs or wants, but hasn’t bought for herself. A book she’s waiting to read, the bra or underwear she needs but hasn’t made a priority (not the kind YOU like, but the kind that SHE likes!), a magazine she was eyeing in the supermarket, a plant she can put on the table to brighten up the kitchen. Something that says you noticed she would like it and you want her to have it.

1. Listen to her. Really listen to her. Ask her about her day and listen carefully to what she tells you, pay attention when she is talking about her job, schoolyard politics, playdate dramas or neighbourhood activities. If she is the mother of your children, especially a stay-at-home-mom, this is as important to her as your (perhaps boring) job is to you. She will feel loved if you are interested in what she does in a day, there is a good chance she has spent years listening to all the goings on of your workplace and sports teams, she would appreciate the same respect. Trust me, when your wife feels listened to, she feels loved. That’s just a good plan for both of you! Good Luck and Good Lovin’!!

10 Things I LOVE About My Kids!

10. I love that they both look very latino, brown hair, brown eyes and lovely tanned skin. They are both even browner than their father from whom they get the latin flavour! I find it exotic and simply lovely.

9. I love how they can spend all morning bickering and snarking at each other but when the car door opens to drop J off at school, he leans back in the car to give Princess G a kiss goodbye and she shouts “I love you J, have a good day” as the door closes behind him. So cute.

8. I love how well they share, with each other and with others. I get a huge surge of joy in my heart when he comes home from school with half a bag of popcorn b/c his baby sister missed popcorn day. Or when Princess G and I go to McDonalds and she voluntarily takes her happy meal girl toy back and asks the lady to give her a boy toy so she can give it to her brother. * sniff*

7. I love listening to them read. It makes me so happy to hear J reading and imagining the stories in his mind. She is just starting to sound words out and it is such an exciting time to observe them and so much fun to be a part of this huge developmental milestone, watching the world of words open up to them.

6. I love listening to the detailed explanations about their artwork. What appear to be splotches on a page or random scribbles in pencil, are actually exciting worlds they have created offering a sneak peak into their beautiful little minds.

5. I love their independence. I carried them for 9 months inside my body and then for about a year after they were born and now I revel in the fact that they can walk on their own! I also enjoy the fact that they can put on their own clothes, go to the washroom, eat a meal and climb up the ladder at the park, ALL on their own…

4. I love how cuddly they are. Everytime I’m at their school and I see one of them in the hall or the class, their face lights up and I get a full on hug! That’s the BEST feeling in the world! And every morning one by one they climb up on my lap for good morning snuggles!! Love it! I don’t care how old or big they get, I will never tire of the snuggles. Mmmmm snuggling’s my favourite!

3. I love how much they love their Dad. Even though sometimes it’s tough to share them with someone else, deep down I truly LOVE that they have such a great Dad and they know it. One of the funniest things in our house is the moment when Daddy comes home from work and the children run from wherever they are in the house screaming “Daddy Daddy Daddy” and swarm him, lavishing him with cuddles.

2. I love their quirks. I find it so entertaining that G like to have her armpits kissed, changes her outfit 8 times a day and consistantly wears shoes mismatched or on the wrong feet. He likes to carry his star wars figurines in his bedroom trash bin, puts framed family photos out of a box in the basement to set up all over his desk and likes to make a nest behind the armchair in the living room.

1. The #1 thing I love about my kids is that they are MINE. The Lord gave them to me to care for and love. He knew that they would bring tremendous blessing to my life and I am so grateful to have been gifted with the most amazing, intelligent, quirky, lovable munchkins in the world. And I love them more than I could say.

Opposites Attract

Ok so my hubby is sitting in his chair looking at me with that bewildered look that tells me he’s trying to figure out what I am thinking, doing, planning or why I am laughing. It’s one of those looks that I am used to now, it has appeared often in our 11 years together. Translation: What is wrong with you?

Why is he giving me this look of disdain you ask? Because I am sitting on my sofa, up on my knees, giggling like an 8 year old girl about the cast of the newest season of Survivor (Heroes vs. Villains) What can I say? I have loved the show since the first season and this year the island is packed with both my favourite good guys and bad guys! My hubby is forever a realist and can’t imagine being so “into” a television show, reality or otherwise. It’s not really the kind of past-time that attracts him, I guess it’s one of the many things that we do NOT have in common.

This momentary exchange makes me ponder how on earth we could have fallen in love and stayed so strong for all these years despite all the things that we don’t have in common.

He is very organized, I mean really organized. I am not organized at all. I mean, really not organized.

He is the worst channel surfer I have ever met. I like to watch one show at a time, maybe switch to one other show on the commercial, but generally I stick with the program I am watching. Not him, it’s constant channel changing the entire time he has custody of the remote. Surprisingly irritating.

I love animals, I was raised with dogs and cats and have a special place in my heart for most things furry. My hubby, not so much. He doesn’t really come from a world where dogs have shoes and special treats, sleep on the bed and get their teeth brushed. However, I have to say, after being married all these years, I think that he is coming around. He claims to not love our dog, but that’s just not true. I have proof, just ask Bailey.

My husband was not blessed with the gift of gab, I however, have been abundantly blessed. So blessed in fact that my saucer is full because my cup of chatter runneth over!

He doesn’t like Pumpkin Pie or Turkey Stuffing, not even a little bit. How on earth could I have fallen in love with someone who doesn’t like Pumpkin Pie and Stuffing??? Can you even imagine what Thanksgiving is like in our house..?

My wonderful husband has lots of things he likes to do for fun…reading is not one of them. I mean, he CAN read, he just doesn’t enjoy it. I on the other hand, love to read (to which I am sure I have made reference on any number of occasions in this very blog) My idea of a perfect vacation is a suitcase full of books and hours and hours of quiet time to read them all. Hubby not so much.

I love sitcoms and dressing up in costumes, he loves the discovery channel and backpacking. I love cheesecake and social networking, he loves playing guitar and Wii Tennis. I love to entertain guests and talk on the phone, he prefers falling asleep on the couch and never returns phone messages.

Truly I think the things that we DON’T have in common out number the things that we DO have in common. And yet according to beautiful and mysterious divine design, we have found each other and will celebrate 11 years of marriage next week. I am so grateful that the Lord has given me someone so different from me; someone to open my eyes to different things and unique ways of looking at life. I can’t imagine growing old with anyone else, even if it means having to fight for the remote and keep my dog off the bed!

Surprising Sources of Joy

  1. Sleep – As a mother of two it is incredible what a natural resource this is, who could have know that it would be so valuable? I definitely wish I had used the sleep hours of my youth more wisely. Perhaps someone will someday invent a way to save up all the hours young people spend out carousing instead of sleeping until they are older and in desperate need of good quality sleep.
  2. Bathroom time – more specifically, time alone in the bathroom! No matter how many times I ask if anyone needs to go on ahead of me before I go, I cannot even lock the door before someone will absolutely die if I don’t open the door!
  3. Hot coffee – I’m not addicted, I can live without it, but I truly enjoy a good cup of coffee. And as I rarely get to finish it while it’s hot, I take immense joy when it happens.
  4. Reading – Finishing a book for pleasure is as elusive as the fabled hot coffee. How I crave the hours I used to spend lost in the beautiful imagination of a great author. How I miss the freedom to stay up until 5am in the morning to finish a riveting book. But of course as a mom I cannot afford to lose that much sleep…for explanation please see number one on this list.
  5. Playing in the snow – I was never a cold and snow lover, but there is a pure, organic joy that comes from throwing snowballs and making snow angels with my kids. It’s so much more fun when they are around…plus I think it’s awkward to make snow angels by myself now.
  6. Waterslides – Really, there was nothing that would get me in a bathing suit before I had children, let alone plunging down the giant flushing bowl waterslide before my kids were born. And yet, it’s one of those really fun things I get to do as a mother even though I am all grown up.
  7. Snuggling – I think it’s safe to say that physical touch is my official Love Language, and I always knew that, based on my love of therapeutic massage, hand holding, neck rubs, hugging etc… But my children have given me a new sense of unparalleled joy from snuggling. I love to cuddle next to them at bedtime and breathe in the smell of their hair and baby breath as they relax and fall asleep. Snuggling is my favourite…without a doubt.
  8. My Dog – I was raised with dogs and have always loved them, but there is something different about Bailey. He brings me joy, whether I’m he is keeping my feet warm or insinuated himself on top of me when I am feeling sick. The times when I lay with my head on him and imagine him sitting on my Mom’s lap before she died, or the funny way he insists on sleeping on my hubby’s pillow. I’m not sure but there is something about that dog that brings me joy.
  9. Barbie – I have many a feminist friend, who would cringe at this one, but it’s true, I love Barbie. I am not ashamed to admit that despite the possible negative effects this doll and assorted paraphernalia has had on the social consciousness of young girls all over the world, I LOVE all things Barbie. I love to change their clothes and keep their hair pretty. I adore all the Barbie movies and music. And I especially love sitting with my little princess and share our love of pretty dolls in pretty clothes waiting in a tower to be rescued by a prince. I know I know, she is more than capable of rescuing herself without the help of a man! But still….it’s nice to be rescued sometimes…..
  10. Domesticity – Truth be told, I never envisioned myself as a mother at all, let alone a stay at home mother. I always pictured myself an independent woman with a career, perhaps a husband, but certainly not a soccer mom or anything even remotely this domesticated. But if I could go back in time, I would do it all exactly the same. I could never have imagined the utter joy that I derive from the perhaps mundane tasks of making meals, driving kids to school and gymnastics. The happiness I experience at school concerts and Tae kwon do testing, making pancakes and birthday parties. Everything in life is more fun as a wife and mother. Christmas morning, apple picking, making cookies, tobogganing, camping, eating pizza, playing the Wii, watching movies, eating ice cream, picking out a Christmas tree….the list is endless. Having a family, despite the fact that it rarely feels glamorous or sophisticated, truly brings me more joy than I believe any career or independent lifestyle could ever do. Huh…who knew!?!?
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