Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Just for fun

My eldest made a video... click here to see it (since I won't let him get a youtube account).

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Enough

I hate yelling at my kids. It makes me feel bad. It makes them feel bad. It's just a bad scene all around. And usually.

Usually?

Usually, I am able to hold my crap together and deal with things calmly.

But this morning, my self control was all used up.

I only have so much self control, and when it's used up just getting my kids out the door in the morning for school, I don't have any left for things like eating healthy, or getting my work done, or exercise, or cleaning my house.

This morning, I lost my self control about 5 minutes before it was time to go. And suddenly, I was telling everyone to just leave everyone else alone. And yelling at Finleigh to "JUST GET IN THE CAR."

"Enough. ENOUGH!" I yelled, more than I would have liked.

Enough.

I was about to go into a tirade about how I was just going to leave. Walk away from this life so I could be by myself. But, luckily, some self control seeped in and I stood outside the car for a minute or two, just breathing, and I stopped myself from saying those words that I wouldn't be able to take back. And, of course, I would never leave.

Ever.

My sons may not always feel safe at home because they never know what hard object is going to be lobbed at their heads by their adorable little sister. But, they MUST know that mom will always be there for them. And I suppose that threatening to leave would not help that cause.

So instead, I yelled at Finn to "GET IN YOUR SEAT!" as she rolled around on the seat beside her booster seat. Yelling, kicking off her boots and socks, flailing her arms at her brother.

And after I'd buckled her up and she kicked her backpack out of the car, I just yelled, "ENOUGH! E-NOUGH!!!!"

Not terribly productive, I know.

Then I turned on the radio. Loud. And as we pulled into the parking lot at the school, I apologized to my boys. Apologies accepted. And once Finleigh put her socks and boots back on (after I'd retrieved them from around the vehicle), she happily skipped into the school as if nothing had happened. And then I had to smile at people and have a happy conversation with Finleigh's teacher... she truly is such a sweetheart, how could I not?

And now I sit here. Trying to come down from that. Wishing I could just forget it and move on. But my heart hurts. I hate the chaos. I hate that my boys have to experience it. I hate that I have to experience it, morning after morning after morning. I was not made for this. I was made for peace, not a veritable war each day.

A surprise war. I never know when it will start, just that it will. And when it does, sometimes my defences are down, and it overtakes me and I lose. Like this morning.

Hopefully I'll be stronger tomorrow.

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Dad

Dad on his 65th birthday

There's this guy I know. I call him Dad. Sometimes Daddy. Sometimes Turtle. Often Grandpa. But mostly, just Dad.

My dad turned 65 this weekend. I can't quite get my head around it. My dad is a senior. I still remember when he turned 40 and how very old I thought he was then. Now I'm almost 40 and my dad is a senior.

In my head, he is still this guy…

The first time Dad fed me in the hospital
My parents in their 20's with me, their first born.

Young. Athletic. Handsome.

I would venture to say that he's still handsome.

I can remember sitting in the back seat of our orange Jeep, top town. Dad driving in cutoff jeans and no shirt. Wind whipping our hair as the sun blazed down.

I can remember Dad swooshing down the slopes in the winter each Saturday, when we went skiing. He looked so cool and sporty as I stood there at the bottom of the hill in my little skis and pompom toque. I wanted to be just like him.

I remember him with a cool beer in his hand on a sunny afternoon. Laughing with his friends. Barbecuing. Having fun.

One of my favourites… dad playing with me.

He was energetic and fun. He'd sing to us while giving us a bath. He'd play ball with us in the back yard.

He made up words like "todelemdo." He'd use funny sayings like, "Lord, love a duck." He called us all silly little nicknames.

He made the BEST toasted peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

He was even-keeled. Patient. Calm. Ready to laugh.

Man, did I adore my dad. I loved snuggling up to him. I loved being near him. I loved playing with him.

Mouth full of turtle cupcake… made especially for him. 

I remember him when I was 13 and his mom died. He was strong. I could see the sadness in his eyes. It didn't seem quite right to me that Grandma was gone. But I saw dad stay strong and comfort his Grandma as she buried her daughter. 

When I was in high school, he was my cheerleader. I knew that no matter what, he would be proud of me. Never once did I doubt that. Not once. He drove us to our varied activities. Sat in the car while we had lessons. Came to our recitals and sports events. 

He chose family over money. I always knew he was there for me. 

Always.

He good-naturedly took on the nickname of Turtle. A name that has stuck to this day. The theme of his birthday party this weekend. The theme of many gifts over the years, until mom had to put her foot down and announce a moratorium on turtle gifts.

I remember our many long talks. He would talk with me for hours about whatever was on my mind. He would often offer a different perspective. A larger perspective. Help me see things through other people's eyes.

He helped make me the person I am today.

He drove me 1600 kms to my first year of college. It happened to be in the same city where he spent many of his growing up years. The same city where he met my mom. We drove past his high school and some of his old haunts. I will cherish that weekend forever. I learned a lot about my dad that weekend. And then, like that, I had to say goodbye. He left me to start my own life. I cried. I did not want to say goodbye to my dad. 

And then a few years later, he walked me down the aisle.

And a few more years later, he became grandpa to my children. And how dad would dote over those babies. He is so good with babies. 

And then, when I would miss him because we lived far away, I would watch curling and it would remind me of him. So, I came to love curling because of my dad. 

Dad and Nate when he was a year old. Dad and Nate had a special relationship back then. Nate followed him around everywhere and would cry when dad went into another room for too long.

Dad gave me the inner confidence to be my own person. He and mom both did. But having the unwavering love of my Dad, I knew that I did not have to settle if I ever got married. I found a man who loves me for who I am - just like my dad did. Respects me, just like my dad did. Supports me, just like my dad did. Listens to me, just like my dad did.

My dad is a good soul. He tears up watching the Olympics. Or American Idol. Or anything, really, that shows people's triumph or happiness.

He can still challenge my brothers, who tower over him, in a wrestling match - using his skills from university, when he wrestled competitively.

If I need him, I know that all I have to do is pick up the phone and he'll be there.

He is happy to take the back seat and let the rest of us take all the attention, dominate the conversations, or choose the activities. Which is why it was so fun, this weekend, to watch him be the centre of attention.

And to see him happy. Genuinely happy. Even though things weren't perfect and people he loved were missing.

Dad's birthday party… letting Finn help in the festivities

There have been some bumps along the way. Life hasn't always been easy for my dad. But now, as he enters his golden years, I wish to see him as happy as he was on his birthday. To see his good health continue so he can enjoy his retirement - when he decides to retire. So he can travel with Mom. So he can watch his grandkids grow up. Do all the things he didn't have time for when he was so busy balancing family and work.

Thank you, Dad. Thank you for being who you are. And being my dad. And teaching me about life. And what love should look like. And for always being there.

I love you.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Braids



My four year old niece is staying with us right now as her parents get some much needed R&R. I'm so pleased to have another child in the house. I always did want four children.

I don't anymore mind you, but still. She's been a fun addition.

This morning I asked her if she wanted me to braid her hair. Sure, was her response. She was quite pleased about that. So, I had her dig through Finleigh's elastics to choose one that she wanted. And then I dug out Finleigh's barrettes that I had bought back in my optimistic days. I have them hiding because Finleigh either chews on them, uses them as keys to get into locked doors, or takes them out of her hair after 5 minutes and loses them.

We sat down, my niece and I, and I brushed her tangly hair. And she let me. The feeling I had was akin to the culture shock I experienced when I returned to North America after spending a summer in South-East Asia and I heard everyone around me speaking English again. She wasn't screaming. I didn't have to hold her down or wrap my legs around her. And when I asked her if it hurt, she said no and just sat there. Letting me brush her hair.

I wasn't sure what to do with myself. I was in mild shock.

So I braided her hair, put the sparkl, purple flower barrette in her hair, and she said thank you.

Then Finleigh came bounding in, saw all the fancy barrettes and proceeded to put 4 of them willy-nilly in her hair. She let me put one in her hair, but brushing it was out of the question. I barely avoided a meltdown after picking up the brush.

And now I sit here with just a little twinge of sadness. When her cousin who is three years younger than her shows more maturity than Finleigh or verbally expresses herself more effectively, I'm okay with it. I'm used to those deficits and I don't wonder "what if" anymore.

I mean, Finleigh is who she is and I love her. She makes us laugh. She helps us see the world in a whole different way and for all my wailing and complaining, I wouldn't trade her for the world. Even if I have to settle for giving her haircuts that I don't really like because keeping it like that is the only way to avoid fights every morning.

But the simple act of being able to comb long hair and put it in a cute little braid without engaging in a wresting match? Well, it was bittersweet for me today. I got to experience being the mom I would have been.

It was just… so easy. And I know… not all girls cooperate when getting their hair done. I know that.

But it was one of those things I had in my dreams for when I had a daughter. Us moms, we have hopes and dreams for our little girls when they're born. Inevitably they break out of our expectations to forge their own way - which is good. But when they're little, sometimes we're lucky enough to get to live those dreams for awhile. Mine was to have a daughter with pretty, long hair. Hair that I could comb. And braid. And curl.

I had forgotten about that dream until I had that special moment this morning with my niece. I'm sure it meant absolutely nothing to her, but to me, it was a reminder of just how different my life really is than what I had hoped.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Peace



SMASH

I was cleaning up the coffee that Finleigh had dumped over on the kitchen counter when I heard a smash behind me. My dear, sweet daughter had grabbed a glass off the counter and thrown it to the ground.

Glass shards everywhere.

"Don't move!" I all but yelled. I picked her up and sat her on the counter just beside the wet spot where the coffee had been moments ago. I grabbed a cloth and wiped off the remains of breakfast from her face, hands and clothes. The whole getting dressed before breakfast thing has been helpful to our mornings, but she could often use a change of clothes before we leave for school. Of course, we don't change her clothes, that would cause chaos. So she goes to school with wet spots where food (hopefully) once was or with the food still on the clothes, depending on how the morning went.

I grabbed her  and carried her under my arm as I gingerly stepped over the glass mess. I was thankful I'd decided to put my slippers on this morning, they would protect my feet.

We were leaving the house NOW. It was 5 minutes early, but I didn't care. We needed to get out of the house. The glass would be there when I got back.

It had been quite a morning. She got dressed on her own with only a bit of push back. Maybe 10 minutes or so. And I had already cleaned up dumped cereal twice. Once dry and once full of milk and all over her iPod. I had managed to stop her as she dove for the coffee cup the first time, but the second time, she waited until my back was turned.

My husband was supposed to be home this morning, but we drove over something yesterday, resulting in a flat tire, so he was downtown getting the tire fixed. He still is, actually. The glass is now all cleaned up. My house is quiet. My kids at school. Time limitations for the commitments I've made weighing heavily on my mind. But still, I decide to blog. Perhaps clear my head. Enjoy the peace.

Oh how I long for those mornings when I could wake up to silence or even just a quiet murmur. And get out of bed in my own time. Eat breakfast in peace… or at all. Get dressed. Have a shower! What a luxury, to have a shower in the morning before leaving the house. I didn't mind it so much when the kids were little. That's what you expect. Toddlers and young children need mom and dad's extensive attention. But we should be done with all that now. I should be able to have a shower without wondering what is being destroyed in my house while I do. After all, this morning, a glass was broken not two feet away from me. Just think what she would do if I hadn't been in the room.

And that is about all I have to say today. My wish for peace. Not just stolen moments of peace (which, of course, I savour and love and am deeply grateful for), but a life of peace. That life that I once had but will not have for a very long time to come.