Friday, May 27, 2011

Altered DNA

Jon and I often toss out the question...What did we do with our time before we had children?  I know I was busy or at least I thought I was busy but I have a difficult time actually verbalizing what I was busy doing without sounding ridiculously type Aish or extremely high maintenance (like rotating the photos in my collage frame or searching for the perfect pair of shoes).

And although it has only been four short years since we became feels like a lifetime ago.  I still feel like the same person.  The kind of person who likes a beautifully set table with charger plates and napkin rings, the kind of person who enjoys a good book, a good Bon Jovi song, and a good night out with friends. But I know it's not possible to be the same person.  It's not possible because, even if you skip over the whole part of the miracle of human life growing inside you,  being a parent pushes you into unimaginable circumstances and overcoming each challenge somehow changes your DNA.

When creating your resume, where does parenting fit in?  Under work experience? or volunteer work? maybe under interests and hobbies?  For as much as I feel like I am the same person I was before my girls were born, I am not.  I have been pushed.  Pushed to sharpen my problem solving skills with a baby who cried day and night for months.  Pushed to exercise the highest levels of self-control when being sassed by a four year old.  Pushed to pull out more patience when you are absolutely sure you have none left. 

And pushed to love more deeply than ever before. 

What would I have done today if I didn't have children?  The one thing I know for sure is I would have slept in!  Because after a long week of work I would have felt entitled to some extra zzz's on the weekend.  But instead, I had the joy of seeing the 6 am sunshine.  I have come to accept that Lexi is an early riser and our morning  rendez-vous continues.  She showers me with kisses and pokes her little fingers in my ears and nose as she flips and flops getting comfortable.  All the while, I keep my eyes shut tight pretending to be asleep and I hold back my smiles and laughter because I know if I engage her the game is over and we have to get out of bed.  More times than not, Lexi falls back asleep and I struggle to breathe as she is sprawled across my chest but I would gasp for air before I moved her because as a parent we all make sacrifices, big or small, for our children.

I also know for sure that if I didn't have children, I likely wouldn't have been out at a soccer pitch in the blowing wind snapping pictures and cheering on my big girl who didn't want to go home even after the opposition quit at half time because they were too cold. 

Tonight Callie is having a just because sleep-over at Grandma and Papa's house. And our house is just a little too quiet.  Lexi was looking for her big sister when she got up from her nap.  And even with just one less child, hands can get idle and there is a sense of unbalance and not knowing what to do with oneself.  My hands didn't sit idle for long as I accomplished a healthy purge of clothes from my closet tonight. 

Yes, my DNA has definitely been altered.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I am tired today.

Every so often I have a tired day where coworkers will catch me in mid-yawn.  Tired beyond the point of wanting to think.  Too tired to reflect on the day and write anything inspiring. 

And mostly my exhausted state is from my own doing.  Simply put...I stayed up too late last night.  I was reading this blog and I kept saying to myself , "I'll just read one more post then go to bed."

I was fortunate to have been able to meet the blog's author and attend one of her workshops.  Her work with children, and girls in particular,  interests and motivates me.  When I attended her workshop, my own children were far from conception. Now that I am the mother of girls...her work intrigues me even more. 

Did I say that I'm tired today?

I Stayed up too late last night and on top of that poor choice Lexi decided to rise with the sun at 5am today.  I do think she will make a great farmer some day...always up at the crack of dawn.

Sleep has never been a priority for Lexi.  And although I say I'm tired today it in no way compares to the exhaustion I felt pretty much her entire first year of life.  You know that kind of sleep deprivation where you start hallucinating and when you get up in the night to nurse your baby and you go to sit in the chair and the next thing you know you and baby are crashing to the floor...because the chair is not there.  Ya.  I'm not quite that tired today.

And I'm sending all the empathy I have to my faraway girlfriend who is at home with her new baby boy.  She is rocking and bouncing and sleep deprived and hallucinating and counting down the days till hubby gets home.  Hang in there sister.  If its any consolation...I survived and you shall too.

Tonight I sit in complete silence.  I can hear the clock ticking in the kitchen and my fingers tapping on the keyboard. Jon is working late.  Lexi is sleeping.  Callie is sleeping...finally.  She only had about six excuses tonight. Because you know if you Give a Four Year Old  a glass of milk...she's going to have to go pee.  And while she's doing that it reminds her to brush her teeth...

And so I'm going to bed now.  And I will leave you with the whitest, most sparkling four year old smile...

My very own Cheshire Cat.

Monday, May 23, 2011

May Long

Decisions.  Clean out my closet or fold laundry or wipe the spill that I can see trickling down the living room wall.  Or write a blog post.  And the winner is...

May long weekend is the unofficial kick off to summer in the north.  Campground gates are unlocked, fishing season begins, greenhouses are open for business... and we did none of these things!  Never-the-less, we still had a great weekend at home. 

The unusually warm, summer-like weather we were privileged to have this weekend allowed for this first of the season...

...morning coffee on the deck, in my jammies.  And coffee on the deck led to breakfast on the deck.  French toast and sausages cooked outside on the BBQ.  The smell of breakfast cooking outside, coffee in my hand, sun shining, girls playing... it felt like we were camping just without the lingering smell of the campfire. 

A few unexpected guests for our first breakfast on the deck.

Speaking of smells, the girls were lubed up with Coppertone Water Babies sunscreen and that scent alone screams "It's beach time, sista's!"  Well, maybe not quite beach time yet as the ice that has covered the lakes for the last six months has only succumb to the sun's heat in the last week.  Maybe not beach time yet... but we know it's coming. 

There were many firsts for this first weekend of summer.  Lexi has gotten her first skinned knees, her first try on the big girl swing and her first attempt at how long she can last past her regular nap time... just as a  little experiment to see how we can spend our upcoming lazy summer days since coming home for an afternoon nap may cut into our beach time.

We didn't go to the beach this weekend but that didn't stop sandcastles from being built in the sandbox...

And it didn't stop us from pretending we were at the lake...

These pictures were taken at a large puddle in the parking lot across the road...not an actual lake shore.
Summer is coming.  And with summer comes late nights and unstructured days.  Sunburns and mosquito bites.  Campfires and hot dogs.  Parks and ice cream cones.  BBQ's and slushy drinks.  Family and friends.  Vacation.  The anticipation is killing me!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I've spent the last couple of nights soaking up the love from my girls, making up for the three days I missed  while I was in the city.  Lexi got two nights of rocking until she was sound asleep and Callie got to stay up late to have some quiet time.  Time where she gets out of bed and sits on my lap and promises not to say a word. 

But tonight, everything is back on track.  The girls are tucked in bed, the Canucks are on the tv, and I need a another weekend after my weekend away to tackle the never ending story of laundry, grocery shopping, and restoring some order to the house. 

Despite the chores that need to be done, I feel rejuvenated.  I filled the part of the bucket that can sometimes get neglected when you are going through the motions of life.  When you get caught up in routine it's easy to let the time-for-yourself part of the bucket slide.  Just like the know which parts you can let slide and things will still be okay.

I got the  two for one deal... a weekend in the city visiting and shopping with friends and attending a conference for work which was inspiring and got  me fired up to do more and try some new things.

Yes, my bucket is full.

Especially since someone flipped the switch and turned summer on.  Literally overnight we are scrambling, looking for shorts and tank tops and flip flops.  Good thing Mama did some serious shopping in the city.


I am watching the the buds on the tree outside our kitchen window just waiting for them to burst into a luscious blanket of green.

And our evenings have been spent outside...slurping Mr. Freezies and filling the pirate ship with water.  And its okay to splash and get wet because the sun is warm and beaming at maximum capacity.

And so you know, I do comb Callie's hair every morning before we head out the door.  But by the time she gets back home...

My bucket is overflowing as we coast closer to the weekend.  A long weekend at home.  It's good to be home.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In the City

I am in the city.  An eight hour drive or an hour flight south of home.  Home...where my girls are enjoying the first real summer-like weekend with their dad.  And Jon is keeping me posted of their daily activities.  Texts and photos of my girls eating their Rice Krispies, of Callie's first soccer game of the season, their visit to the park, their pancake supper on the BBQ...

The grass is green and the leaves have burst on the tree branches in the city.
 Up until this point I've been filling up every moment of my time in the city.  Keeping myself occupied as I don't know what to do with my hands when there is no stroller to push, hands to hold, and little mouths to feed.  And the best filler of time when in the city is... shopping.  Shopping with great friends who are also on hiatus from their families.  Three women carrying armloads of clothing into change rooms, modeling, laughing, vetoing and sending the overeager sales clerk back for different sizes, colors, and "I want the ones she has!"  We are on a mission...for we are shopping without our children.

I took my shoes off so my toes could feel the earth.

Being here in the city, on my own, shopping with friends and dining at restaurants that have low lighting, music pumping and short-skirt-wearing-waitresses brings flashbacks to the days before mommyhood.  And this feeling is exhilarating for the moment but it fades quickly.  And I know it is good and healthy to have time to yourself.

But I miss my family.

I enjoyed tagging along with my friend as she visited with her daughter.  I eavesdropped in on their conversations as they caught up on each others lives.  And I admired their closeness and their respect for each other.  Her daughter, a young woman herself, wanting to spend every free moment with her mom while she is in the city.  And of course I can't help but imagine what my own girls will be like when they are grown and no longer need me to mother them but to support them in pursuing their dreams.

Tomorrow, the actual reason I'm in the city, I will be attending a conference for work.  And I will be surrounded by great people who do great things.  I will learn and be inspired to do better. 

And after that...

...home to kiss my babies good night.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Favorite Things

I have a secret confession...I can sing all the words to the Favorite Things song that Julie Andrews belts out in The Sound of Music.

"Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes..."

I love that movie.  I have all 4 hours and 4 minutes of it pvr'd from when it was on CBC at Christmas time.  I only allow myself to watch it during the holidays because I want to keep the feeling it brings sacred.  But the Favorite Things song takes over my thoughts every once in a while.  We all have our favorites.  Some favorites come and go but others stick around for a lifetime. 

Some of our favorite things right now.

The aroma from my Mother's Day flowers is absolutely intoxicating.  I breathe deeply every time I walk by. 

My new bling.  A little present to myself.  Love, love, love it!

Lexi's new, handmade, crocheted, flowered  hats.  Knit with love by my friend's mother-in-law who claims she doesn't have talent!  Handmade things are high in my favorites.  No two are ever exactly the same.  And yes, I love when the Von Trapp children all where those matching shorts that Maria sews from the curtains.  I think I like that scene because it reminds me of pictures I've seen of my mom and her siblings when they were young.  My amazingly talented and crafty grandmother would sew matching outfits for her children.   I also have a bit of the dressing my girls the same addiction. 

Lexi wants to add Hullabaloo to the favorites list.  As I type this, the Hullabaloo game pads are dispersed around the living room.  And I usually pick them up every night and put them back in the box only to have Lexi seek it out first thing in the morning and it's game on!  Tonight, those pads are going to stay littered all over the floor.  I'm waving the white flag.  Cleaning this game up, only for the hours everyone is asleep, is pointless.  I have dreams of a man's voice saying..."get on a purple cranium pad to start." Scary.

Callie's crazy cooking show.  Very similar to her dad's favorite show.

I have no idea where Lexi would have picked up her little cell phone habit but everybody's favorite baby, Jake, is along for the ride in the trunk.  Of all the baby dolls in this house, Jake is the most loved by both girls.  Some days there are arguments over who gets to have this boy, who wears pink like it's nobody's business. 

Favorite toys this week...princess ball and magnet blocks.

And Jon's favorite things... the Canucks made it to the next round for the Stanley Cup and... afternoon nap.

"Brown paper packages tied up with strings. These are a few of our favorite things."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Fox and the For Real Tea Party

This morning we woke up to this in the backyard...

A mangy looking fox with a gibbled hind leg chomping down on an old dog bone.  But it wasn't the fox that bothered me this was the snow.  Enough already Mother Nature.  We know you are in charge.  But on your own weekend?  The one that shares your first name.  Callie says, "Mom, the trees have icing on them just like the cupcakes."  Yes, I guess they do.

So when Mother Nature dishes out some snow for Mother's Day weekend what's a girl to do?
Make a snowman, of course.

Well, we tried to make a snowman.  Despite the snow being heavy and saturated with moisture, it was not the right recipe for snowman building.  Callie rolled the necessary parts but and when it came time to assemble Frosty, the body parts crumbled to pieces leaving nothing but a frustrated four year old.  Even Frosty knows that May is not supposed to be seeing snowmen.

Since Frosty didn't work out we headed indoors to get ready for our party.

Today we had a tea party.  I like tea parties.  Of all the pretend play activities that a mom must partake in, I think tea parties are one of my faves.  So when I was thinking about what to do to ensure that Mother's Day didn't fall into the category of  "inbetween day" I thought why not a real... for real tea party with real people, real snacks, and real tea? 

I had this very inspiring professor when I was in university.  The continuing theme in her teaching was...when you don't know where to start...start with a story.  So I took her advice and went to the library and found Fancy Nancy Tea Parties.  Callie and I read all of Nancy's tips and ideas for hosting the bestest tea party ever.  We basically came up with three things we needed.  Tea.  Snacks.  People. 

 I didn't really need a book to tell me this but it was a fun read and it had some great ideas if you're ever in a tea party contest and had to throw one heck of a tea party. 

I had mentioned to a colleague at work that I was having Nana and Grandma B over for a Mother's Day tea party and in the conversation I said that maybe I will buy some tea cups for the event.  Because a for real tea party should have for real tea cups.  I don't own any tea cups.  When I drink tea, I just use a coffee mug...probably because I don't have a tea cup. 

So this colleague of mine turns around and hands me a box of the most beautiful tea cups and saucers.  Each one different and unique.  Each one with its own story I'm sure.  She just happened to have them on hand from the recent royal wedding celebrations that had been happening. 

I like pretty things.  And these cups and saucers made the bestest tea party... even better.

We had a very delightful afternoon of tea and cupcakes and lemon square and little sandwiches that Callie helped me cut with a flower shaped cookie cutter.  And I will say, there is something special about drinking tea from a for real tea cup and then hearing the satisfying clink of placing it back on its saucer.  Callie served herself and her cousin some juice from her own little breakable tea set.  I remember loving using my play dishes for real when I was little.

I think it's important to celebrate.  It's important to celebrate the small things and the big things.  And I think being a mom falls into the big things category.  Mother's Day is the time to make formal all the love and appreciation and gratitude we have for the women in our life.  To honor the mom's before me who have raised their children often with little outside help.  In the time before dads were hands on and entitled to paternity leave.  Before support groups and playgroups and instant messaging.  And to my moms and grandmas...I am humbled by the fact that even though you've long ago earned your mom badges of honor you continue to be here to help and love and care for Jon, me and our girls.

(ps.  missed you at the tea party, mom.  see you when you get back home:)

 Happy Mother's Day. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mother's Day Love

Seek the wisdom of the ages, but look at the world through the eyes of a child....Ron Wild.

I received my Mother's Day treasures from Callie a little early this year.  When I picked her up from preschool her arms were loaded down with the projects that they had "secretly" been making for the past month.  My many gifts included a marigold that they grew from seed. She told me about how it needed water and sunlight to grow big.  And this bloom is held in a one-of-a-kind decoupaged plastic vase created by my little artist.  My delicate bloom will eventually find a home outside in the flower bed when the risk of frost has passed and where it will have room to stretch its roots and bask in the summer light.

My other cherished gift was a card that has the perfect combination of glue and glitter and two little traced hand prints that act as the leaves of the flower on the front.  And when you open the card it has Callie's responses to a list of questions about her mom.  The blanks are filled in by a preschool teacher who must get such a kick out of recording the insightful words of a four year old.

For some of the questions her comments are pretty bang on.  She was able to tell the teacher my first name and replied that my favorite drink is coffee...a reasonable choice.  And her response to the question "What does mom do around the house?"  was simply, "She cleans up".  I can agree with that, I've been known to pick up a thing or two.

On the other hand, some of her answers made me stop and ponder.  Because this is how she sees her mama.  I'll start with my favorite food to eat.  Callie thinks that broccoli is my favorite food. I find this very interesting because I don't mind eating broccoli, it is a fine vegetable,  but I'm almost positive Callie has never seen me eat any because it hasn't been on the menu at home forever... because nobody but me will eat it!  And let's talk about my favorite tv  I do like to cheer on Jon's team during the Stanley Cup...mostly because I'm excited for him to win any bets or hockey drafts he's in...but I wouldn't choose to watch it if he wasn't home.

And then their are the answers that warm my heart. What's the best thing mom does with you?  "My mom makes puzzles with me and I really love it when my mom takes me swimming."  Does she know that I love doing puzzles with her too?  And that I love reading her stories and coloring pictures and going exploring in the back yard.  The list of loves are endless and I feel so lucky to get to be her mom.

 And tonight Callie asked me...When is Sister's Day because I want to make things for Lexi.  We love our baby, right mom?

You've got that right sista!