Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When We Grow Up, We Forget To Think Like Kids

Every year since Macboy started school, we have had a family decoration to work on for the Christmas fair.  There are pictures of gingerbreadmen, wreaths or trees that your child brings home and you decorate together.  

Every year, this has been a big project for us. A HUGE undertaking. It has taken planning and teamwork and frustration and patience, to create the ideal picture that reflects our whole family. We've had all kinds of decorations to put on them. Added garland, sparkles, stickers, mini ornaments.... you name it.

A few years back we had a spectacular creation, I'm sad to say I don't have any pictures of it or I would share. We spent hours on it. Carefully tracing each family member's hand and cutting out many of each on green construction paper.  We (mostly me) spent hours curling the fingers up and gluing them to the tree design. By the end of this work, we were able to actually hang small ornaments and garland, and decorate it as though it was a real tree.  The curled fingers made the greatest little branches. We had attached a great shiny star at the top as well. It was a work of art.

Today, we sat down to work on our tree. The boys had an idea of what they wanted to do so I just handed them markers and sat back and watched. They even gave Angel Baby a few markers and let her decorate her own section of the tree. I helped with a little bit of background coloring when their hands needed a break, but beyond that it is entirely their creation. And it is quite likely the best little tree we have ever made for the school as a family.  

They did it their way. They did it together, actually working side by side instead of taking turns. They didn't argue, in fact they barely spoke. And yet the design is consistent all the way through. All three colored their sections in the same style.

As I sat there watching them and enjoying this rare glimpse of my kids, I had some really unpleasant thoughts float through my mind. I'm so grateful for the things I have learned over the last year that kept me from opening my mouth and saying any of those things. 

For Example:

Orange is NOT a christmas color!

There is so much more we could do with that part...

Wonder how I can make the star bright?

But the new side of me saw the potential. I Love that there is plenty of orange. We didn't need more, we needed a tree that showed our true colors. And it is colorful indeed!

As I was battling with the star ideas, Art asked me to color in the star.  I asked him what color I should make it.

"Green. I think Green would be great."

Oh... that perfection monster was seething right about then, but I kept pushing it down, pushing as hard as I could. Couldn't the star at least be a normal color? He handed me the darkest green we have, I think, and smiled so big I couldn't resist.  It's a dark green, the color a tree would normally be.  

They asked if I would cut it out when they were done. I carefully finished the background on Angel Baby's section with the color they had given me. I was very careful not to cover over her designs. Then I cut around all the edges and freed the little tree.

It's beautiful. It's colorful. It's all of us. It isn't flashy. It's not 'spectacular' like a 12 hour design. It is real. It is not the product of a mother who wants the best of the best. It's the product of a family who sat down and worked together. It's the product of two boys' imagination and patience with their baby sister who would inevitably scribble somewhere on their artwork. They encouraged her instead of hiding the markers.  

The superb tree of family handprints was me. My obsession. My perfection. My need to just do MORE. Yes, it was very cool. And it did reflect our entire family. I will keep it until it falls apart (which it already has started doing) because those are the handprints of my whole family. But it was not made with love by the family together.

This little tree had a great lesson. We are not a flashy family. We are not expensive. We are not fake. We are real, colorful people.

Here's to you, dear readers... I'm wishing you a holiday season that is merry, and as bright as our family tree!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Try, Try Again

And so begins a new winter season of staying warm inside my home. That is opposed to the usual standing on the front step freezing my A$$ off to have that cigarette.  The trucker decided a few weeks ago that December 2nd was going to be our last day of being stinky smokers. I could have been offended or angry that he would make such a decision without my input, but it wouldn't have been worth the argument. Fact is, we both need to quit. We are both tired of the money we waste, especially since we had such a good long stretch of freedom.

Saturday morning we got up and gave the boys the opportunity to destroy whatever remaining cigarettes there were in the house. They were very excited to do so. Sadly, the job should have been given to Angel Baby. The boys squished up the packages, but didn't actually wreck the smokes inside. We had to show them how to do it. Angel Baby has successfully destroyed TONS of cigarettes in her time. She would have made short work of it!  My boys were so proud to be the beginning of the end of smoking around here. 

I look forward to the end of the Truckers nasty, neighbor waking snore. It was such a blessing when that went away last time, I really hope it works that way again. I look forward to money in the bank between paydays. I look forward to energy and clean breathing. Clothes that don't smell.  I look forward to being outside when I feel like playing, not trying to get through one more smoke before bed. I look forward to the morning cough disappearing for both of us. I won't missing the hack of the trucker at 4 am when I'm trying to sleep and he's getting ready for work. 

This is a different start for us, last year I had a couple days head start. This time, we are in it together from day 1. He is strong, he has just stopped cold turkey. I have an assortment of nicorette items around that will get me through his super cranky quit days, then I will reduce and eliminate the nicorette too.

The number one thing I missed after we started smoking again?  My time. Particularly in the winter. 5-7 minutes of smoking, plus having to get the kids settled into something where they wouldn't miss me for those minutes, plus the activity of getting bundled up and unbundled so I don't freeze entirely.

Do YOU need to quit with me too?  Dare you! Join me over on Facebook or hook up on Twitter. We can get through this together! I know it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Can You See It My Way?

I'm definitely one who will 'make do' with whatever I have at hand. I have been working on refining my home office space for quite a long time. Now having the luxury of more space to use instead of just a corner of a multi purpose room, I have been able to be creative and build the space that I want. 

I've spent months... likely a year or more working on this space. I get something the way I want it and then it just doesn't work how I think it will. So, I try again. I sort and organize, move furniture, I've switched desks and tables and shelves around.  I had an idea of what I wanted from the beginning. Finances didn't make it possible though, so I just kept playing around. Working on the 'next best thing' as I went along my way.  I wanted the Expedit shelving from Ikea, I got a hand me down desk, old kitchen table and cheap bookcase. I then took the doors from the bookcase and turned them sideways to make extended shelving.

Throughout it all, I was explaining my ideal space to the trucker over and over, in different ways. He just couldn't see what I did. My brother has an office that is quite close to what I want, though my space is not quite as big as his, and also, he needed an office that would accommodate two people working at the same time if needed.  

But I just needed to keep working and eventually I had a functional workspace. I tend to take up a lot of space when I'm working. The table was absolutely necessary in addition to the desk as the desk doesn't have a huge working surface. The table converted easily into writing space, sewing space, crafting with kids space. And it also housed our PC, the only computer the kids are allowed to use.  I had options. I could put the laptop on the table and use the desk for paper, or vice versa. I had TONS of room.

Over the weekend, The trucker and I bought a new entertainment stand for downstairs. We ended up completely changing the living room area. I love it. We moved the PC off my table and no longer had a need for such a big surface near my desk. Angel Baby's dollhouse was in the way, still in the living room, so I caved in and agreed to take apart my table. The doll house fits great there, she can easily access all four sides of it.  

Now, after all this time... The trucker understands what I wanted from the beginning. He can see my vision for this space, or at least a lot closer to it. I have to have my work space, but I also need room for Angel Baby as she is home with me all day when I'm trying to work. Now that he can see it, he can understand it, he has promised that we will buy the pieces that I want and build this space up right.  I'm very excited about changing this up. I know that I have put a lot of time into making this space of mine work right for me and I will have to essentially start over again, but I'm loving the idea of having a nice space. With furniture that matches!

The downside for the moment is that Angel Baby is loving the basement. She has been playing downstairs all day today. The boys spent much more time down here this weekend also. The dollhouse by my desk is giving my little munchkin space to play nicely right beside me while I'm working. LOVELY! She is being so cooperative today because she is so close to me and well occupied. 

What? OH, yeah, the downside... I don't have enough space to work!! My make shift shelf is full of things. My table is gone. I'm limited to my little desk for work surface, and it's just too small! The drawers underneath mean it is only possible to sit on the right side. If I'm sitting here typing, the laptop is on the right side of the desk, I have space on the left for papers. But I'm right handed and need my papers on the right of the computer so I can write notes easily.  My legs are just in the way!  I need to move these drawers or something!  I need my space back!  I'm really wishing I had a small folding table or something that I could pop up beside me!

I've had to get up and stretch a lot more often today. My flow is interrupted. It requires moving the laptop more when I need to write something down. I don't have space to leave my calendar open as I normally would.  
I surely hope that I can get this new furniture bought SOON!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where Are You?

This little tiny voice is trying to scream out "I'm Here!!" But sometimes it is just so hard to hear it. That tiny voice is mine. It gets lost and buried in the recesses of my mind because I feel for everyone else first.  The last weeks have been excruciating. Not my own personal grief over losing a loved one to a terrible disease, cancer, my energy has been given to all those around me. My outer voice says "Are you okay?" but the inner parts of me can feel your pain. I know the answers before you speak. If you are able to speak.

I feel your confusion, I feel your frustration. I feel your anger. I feel your sorrow. I shed your tears for you when you are not looking. I lose a night of sleep to my father's heartbreak. I lose another to my siblings. I lose many to my children. It is almost as though if I could just cry enough, you would never have to. But you do need to.  Later, I feel like it has been so much wasted effort. I have shed tears that you will shed also. I am not easing your pain, I am simply feeling it instead of mine. The most difficult moments, as I have mentioned before, were the minutes of telling my kids "Grandma is gone."  The days following were just a roller coaster of emotions, from one person to the next.

I cried in my own way, at my own time. But it was long after I'd shed all your tears. And I'm certain I'm not finished yet.

I'm still recovering from my own depression. Feeling your pain first is what led me into darkness. I forgot to ever feel my own. I am strong enough to realize this now, thankfully, but it is not something I can find any control over. I can not stop feeling for you, before me.  It just happens.

Yesterday was a long day. Yesterday I fought the quiet inner workings of my regular state of mind. I went searching for that tiny voice saying "I'm Here!"  I took the day off. I did not visit with family. I did not work. I kept the kids home with me. I ate ice cream in my pjs with the kids at 2 pm on a Tuesday. 


And I felt my own feelings. It was almost frightening in it's intensity. Such rage came out, such frustration. Such sadness and sympathy. So much relief that the suffering is over for someone I cared so much for. And guilt. Always guilt. Did I do things right? Was I there enough? Should I feel better than this? Or worse?  

Such a slippery slope this can be.

This morning I woke up beyond exhausted. Emotionally taxed beyond my limits, now feeling my own way as well as yours.  And I was mean. I was angry. I was rude and didn't want to listen to anyone. My poor trucker always receives the worst of me.  And this time all it took was milk. I knew last night I needed to get it. I wanted him to just go buy some. He was careful to leave enough in the fridge so I could have my coffee this morning. He could have finished it easily.  The boys were both set on cereal for breakfast, which really doesn't happen often. I barely had enough but I divided it between them so they could eat. I got them off to school and then the evil monster inside me leapt out of my chest and tore such an ugly strip of that trucker of mine. The poor man called me at the wrong time.

And I was perfectly justified! He should have just gotten the stupid milk. He was dressed. I wasn't. He drank it. He should have left it if he wasn't willing to go buy more.

That anger stayed all morning. Every single thing I did or said was tinged with the hurt that I was feeling. 
Over milk.

Thankful as always for the things I have learned, over the last few months especially, I was able to calm myself down. I was able to draw out that tiny voice screaming on the inside.  I did three things right away.

1) I apologized to the Trucker. It wasn't his fault, he just happened to trip the fault line and get the full rush of everything I felt for several days. He had no way of knowing the kids would need the milk, they don't often have cereal on school days anymore and almost never both on the same day. He had to leave for work so early, he had gone directly to bed after that glass of milk. I was simply refusing to get dressed to go to the store (and I have been known to go in my pj's anyway). Neither of us had cash to send Macboy instead. It was just a silly situation all around. It was not his attempt to ruin my day by any standard.

2) I got moving. I got out of the house and bought milk! Along with anything else that was being avoided on my to-do list. I also got some productive work done.

3) I reached out. I asked for help. I requested a nudge (or swift kick if deemed necessary) from my boss. "Please keep me busy and reach out if I seem to be distant. I do not want to slip away."  I messaged a few friends who know me well. (Except for one, she always seems to just know and call anyway) I asked for reminders to eat right, keep exercising and more. I also asked them to reach out if they don't hear from me. 

I'm worried about me. Really. I do not want to go backwards after so many forward strides. It seems like it should take a lot to pull me back that far, but it doesn't. It takes such a short time to slip but a long time to crawl back up. So I'm making sure that my supports are on alert. They are ready. They will not catch me when I fall, they will hold me up as I keep going forward so that I don't have to fall again.

So many people may think I exaggerate how I can 'relate' to others. It goes so far beyond relating or sympathizing, I sincerely feel your hurt. Another blog that makes me feel entirely 'normal' talks about this sense of feeling the pain of others. I've finally found a place where I belong. Where my thoughts are not outrageous, but other people have them too. I don't make things up, I don't pretend, I don't exaggerate.

After completing the steps above, I picked up my kids from school. We came home and all four of us played in the snow in the back yard. I even shoveled the patio out back, which we don't usually do. I got active. I played and laughed and exerted energy. Yep, exercise! The trucker cooked us dinner (at the drive thru hehehe) and I had a nice cup of tea to wind down.

I feel better. I feel stronger. I know I will be okay and there are people in line to keep me moving if I get lost along the way.  

If my Stepmom was never defeated by the cancer that finally took her from us, I will not be defeated by it either!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Patience Is A Hard Thing

But I certainly appreciate the patience of those of you who read my blogs. I have been way off course with writing lately.

I have monthly goals ready for November, they were good ones! But they sit on paper still. A family member who has been fighting cancer for the last three years, is no longer in pain. I love my kids for putting this into perspective for me. I had never had to deal with this. I have never had to tell them someone special had died. This has been a very difficult week and my busy house has really slowed down. After I spoke with Macboy, I asked how he felt. He said he was happy that she doesn't have cancer anymore.  You know what? That kid is brilliant. 

There has been a roller coaster of emotions around here as each of us processed this news in our own ways, and at our own times. There will be more to this ride before life settles back down. This coming week will be much the same I'm sure.

So I do apologize for not being around much, but I know each and every one of you who reads anything here will completely understand.  There are so many thoughts in my head, many things I could share here but I do not want to write without full consideration of my words. I do not want to post something that I have not fully processed with a clear mind. I can write quite personal information here sometimes, but it is always my own life. It is not someone else's story.

For now, I'm just not sure what else of this story I would want to make public.

I have not slipped back into my dark places, I am well. And I will be back to writing more very soon.

Thanks for your patience!  I am so happy you are here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I Lost A Whole Day!

I'm a busy mom. With working at home, trying to get to the gym, trying to find time to write around the Trucker's crazy hours and three busy kids, sometimes I'm amazed I have time to shower!  Every now and then, I find that one thing that demands so much of my mind and my energy that all other things fall to the wayside. 

I'm a huge reader. I love to read. All kinds of books, just not the gushy romance novels my mother and grandmother read all the time. I read a strange assortment of books. Much like my really odd selection of music. I like a bit of everything.  Most of the time it's a struggle to get time in to read a full novel. A few minutes here and a few minutes there. Sometimes I read a little while I'm waiting for the kids at the school, or sitting in the living room until the kids are quiet enough that I actually believe they are going to sleep at night. 

Occasionally, I find a book that I just can't put down. I tend to devour Kay Hooper novels, which are kind of freaky and sometimes gory. They fascinate me and I can't stop reading until they are done. I got sucked in to the Da Vinci Code the same way. Then I got interested in the storyline for The Help. Finally caved in and bought the book, and had it finished the next night.

My sister bought the Hunger Games books last week. She's been reading a library copy and decided to order the set to keep reading. I borrowed the first one and started reading Wednesday. Thursday night I finished it. Friday she dropped off the second and third for me, since I'm reading faster than she is. Saturday morning I finished Catching Fire and Saturday night around 11 I finished the Mockingjay.  Those are the kind of books I can't put down. That is the way I wish I could write. I was hooked from the beginning and just HAD TO read the rest. The break between the second and third novels was about.... 5 minutes.  Maybe long enough to hit the bathroom and grab a drink before I settled back into it.

Seriously, I did nothing but read yesterday.  I think it drives the Trucker crazy when I go so deep into a book. Life just sort of happens around me. I'm holding the book in one hand cooking dinner with the other. Propping the book open while I do other tasks that have to get done. Carrying it everywhere I go.  Until I'm done.

Sometimes when I'm done it feels hard to get back into the real world. For the hours while I am reading, I am in a totally different world. My heart and soul are lost in the writers words and I just blend into their reality.  It's almost like the low you get after you spent a long time planning an event and then suddenly it's over.  Suddenly I'm back in the much less exciting real world and I don't know what to do with myself.

I guess I'm like this with everything. There is no half way. I'm in or I'm not. I do it all and do it right or I just don't do it.  For the writers of the world, if you don't have me hooked in the first chapter, I might read the second, but if I'm not totally engrossed by the end of the second chapter I probably won't finish the book.  Is it the perfectionist in me?  Am I a lot more OCD than I suspect?  

If I don't fold my laundry as it comes out of the dryer, it sits in a basket for a week. If I don't do the dishes right after dinner, they'll sit until .... well, whenever I get the energy to tackle them the next day.  I procrastinate like no other. But once I start something I go extreme until it's finished. Wiping the counter can turn into a two hour kitchen scrub down. Putting clothes away can turn into a huge closet purge.  Picking up papers in the office turns into a complete revamp of the entire room.

Now, my sister is laughing at me for getting so caught up in these books and I'm not allowed to talk about them until she's caught up. Darn. Hurry up will ya?  What's your problem?  hehehe oh yeah, I had your books.  And I have no life!

Does this happen to you?  What hooks your attention?  Have you gotten so lost in a book that time stopped, or at least seemed to?

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Little Princess

She's such a delight, this Angel Baby of mine.  She picks everything sparkly and pink to wear. She adores getting her nails painted, and this is one of the few times she actually stops moving for more than 2 seconds.  She loves to have her hair pinned up or pulled back, even if she hates the brushing part.

Yes, she sure looks like a princess most of the time.

Hidden under this sparkling pink facade... is nothing near a princess. She is as much a boy as her brothers. As I type this she is playing with a little blue robot the boys left out.  She likes to get right into the mud. She loves to do everything that her brothers are doing.

She is the one I will have to watch as a teenager.

She is amazing, in fact, I believe that all three of my kids are amazing. I have been one to let fear and worry rule my world. As a kid, I was afraid of getting hurt. I was worried about what others thought of me. I was always trying too hard to be what I thought others wanted me to be. I didn't take risks. I didn't even like riding my bike too fast. I still don't take a lot of risks, but I'm learning to stop guessing what others think of me and start forming opinions of my own.

My kids are so strong and confident. Art is maybe too confident, thinking he's unbreakable sometimes when he really shouldn't. They do what they want, they follow their hearts.  There are no rules or stereotypes that interfere with their choices.  There is no 'boy toy' or 'girl toy' rules here. They play together and share with each other. I love this.

I am not sure how someone like me, who is so aware of everyone around me, so obsessed with other peoples needs and opinions could have raised such self sufficient kids. How can I teach them lessons that I can't follow myself?  I guess I can model why you shouldn't worry so much...

Angel Baby spends more time with the least likely of toy choices. Every day she carries something different to the school when it's time to pick the boys up.  Imagine a pretty little pink purse, filled with dirt, cars, you name it! 
Let me tell you, every day here is an adventure with this one.
Can you see?  Just under the vanity table, the doll has been moved to the floor. The bassinet for babies is filled with more important things at the moment.
Her husband of the future may want to be careful when asking what's for dinner. Well, he might be okay, she does sometimes like to cook with me.

Now, this last one?  He's developing a bit of a history with us.  Bought as a prank to get my boys, but adopted by my little princess.  Seriously, the rubber has almost a fleshy feel to it, the inside is not solid, but some sort of squishy beany something, kind of like a bean bag but ... not quite.  We have a black partner too.  Art kept getting revenge pranks from Grandma, she kept finding the mice all over the house and thinking he was planting them. Little did she know it was the Angel Baby, not planting them but carrying them all over all the time and dropping them or setting them down in random places.

She loves these things.  Crazy kid. A few days a go, I found it on my chair in the dining room when I sat down to dinner. I've found it tucked by the leg of my desk, hiding behind chairs and under stools.  Even in a cupboard or two. But the other day was the worst yet.  Angel Baby had a rash happening, so I had been giving her the regular dose of vaseline smear.  She apparently decided that this little mouse needed some too. No, honey, the pink of his ears and tail are not from a rash!  

You haven't lived until you have tried to clean grease of a squishy, stretchy, ugly little mouse!  What can I say?  At least she didn't put it in her hair this time.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Two Birds With One Stone? No.

Wrong.  Lately here it's two stones for one bird.  Stones being dinner and Birds being my family. What can I say... my family is comfortable with the food they eat. And ultimately, I know that they eat pretty well. There's room for improvement, but I'm not about to make drastic changes to their diet just to accommodate what I want. Interestingly enough, the less I bug them to try the things I'm eating the more they want to try it.

I guess I trained them well when I didn't want to share my chocolate stash. Now they think if I don't offer, it must be really good.  It's kind of a pain, I've been working on learning how to cook the meals we love all this time, and know that I can comfortably cook just about everything they all like, I'm changing it again.  

I've always enjoyed whole grain bread.  I don't know why I didn't choose to buy it before. It lasts longer because I'm pretty much the only one who eats it. I also don't know why I didn't really think about the fact that the cream cheese I love could possibly be sold in a low fat version. DUH.  

Spaghetti squash is not only good for you, and a good pasta replacement... but it's actually pretty fun to cook.  Like Halloween pumpkins, but without the sticky part. Just plain fun.  The kids didn't want to try eating it, but they definitely got into shredding it up.

I've also learned that there is an unexplainable trend in my food tracking.  The more I write down what I eat, the better I want to eat. Admitting to myself that I just scarfed down two donuts in the Timmies parking lot is not a big deal, but writing down (or logging on sparkpeople) means facing the food. Owning my choices. Sometimes, it is easier to just avoid the junk food or take out than it is to admit to myself that I stuffed that crap in my mouth.

I'm trying to eat better. Eating only the vegetables and not the great desserts can get a bit monotonous. I can't eat the same things over and over. Because I really didn't care much before, I didn't try to push the envelope too far. I would make a new dish and it would instantly get the pass or fail from the family. Many of the meals I LOVED were not a big hit with the kids and the trucker.  It really is easier for me to make two dinners right now.  I'm a different person. I know that forcing the kids to eat different things is really just a crap-shoot anyway.  Most of the things I hated growing up are things I cook for myself now. And it's really not about what mom did right, it's simply that my tastes have changed. Many of the things I loved growing up, I just can't tolerate anymore.  

If the family was living on fast food, I'd put my foot down. But they aren't. They just have a smaller selection of things they like. I would rather they eat their whole healthy dinner than have them pick at something they don't enjoy and not eat enough of the right foods.  Right?

What about you?  Do you think I'm crazy?  Would you make two meals? Have you ever been in this position?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Have You Ever Been In Need?

I don't mean in need of a pedicure or a hair cut.  I don't mean that you sit at home weekends because you are stretching your paycheque for the next two weeks. I mean really IN NEED.  I've toyed with this post in my head for a while, but after reading Do What You Can Do, I was reminded of the reason to share this message. These are some of the words that should  be shared. Thoughts that many avoid, but we all should face.
I've lived in extreme circumstances and feel thoroughly blessed at this time in my life. Yes, I'm in debt. True, I have nothing saved for a rainy day and barely even for an emergency. I don't agree with credit cards and thus don't have the visa safety net either.  However, I have a roof over my head, a good job, assets that I could liquidate if I really had to and a warm comfy bed to sleep in every night.

I have been in rough places. I've slept on air mattresses in the basements of friends or family. I've gotten my weekly groceries from a food bank. I've had to walk or ride a bike to get anywhere because I had no vehicle and even the cost of public transportation was too much.  I've worn layers of sweaters because I broke the zipper in my winter jacket and couldn't afford to replace it. I've 'made do' with the same shoes for many years, shoes I got second hand and wore until they simply fell apart.  I've even lived in the stinky small apartment, furnished with next to nothing, in the seediest part of the city, because the rent was like a quarter of any decent place.

We had help.  We had friends or family who could give us the space in their basement. We always got by. We never had much, but we always found what we needed. I'm truly blessed.

That's why I'm humbled with the efforts of a young boy, who at 12 years old (just a bit older than my Macboy) felt the pull on his heart to reach out and help the homeless in his city.  He enlisted his mom and for 5 years filled and delivered backpacks full of basic necessities to the homeless. He developed sponsors and media friendships and grew his little dream each year.
Jesse can be a role model for my kids.  Now focusing on school work to graduate grade 12 with honors, he had to make the rough decision to let go. Not knowing if anyone would step up and carry on his private passion.

In steps Bubbleup Marketing, a local company searching for a way to give back to it's own community. It was a miracle of timing, Jesse reaching out and Jason searching for just that message in the same moments.  BubbleUP Marketing will continue to spread the hope inspired by this young man through the Bag Of Hope campaign. There are good causes out there, there are good people who just want to help for the sake of helping. Not for gratitude or financial gain, just to share a little bit of hope to others.

I pray that my children will never have to live through dire circumstances, but rest easier knowing that there are still good people and good organizations that can support them and provide the hope they may need to take just one more step.

I believe that NO ONE is ever homeless by CHOICE. Perhaps there is an illness or addiction involved. I have seen my own fair share of struggles and have handled extreme mental illness and serious addictions in my family.  I am eternally grateful to each and every person who has helped those that I love.  But who helps those who have no family?  Who reminds them that there is a reason to hope?  Who can step up and say to them, "There is a way out. It will be hard, but it can happen for you too."?

Inspiring hope, building your own community, restoring faith... that's what organizations like this are for. So much more than a toothbrush or a warm pair of gloves.  Sure there are starving children in Africa, but you know what?  There are children, families, adults in the same position everywhere.  In tough economic times (I'm reluctant to believe that recovery is happening) there are people in need in every city, possibly just down your street.  I would bet that there is an organization in your town, your city, doing something to help it's own citizens.

I urge you to step out of your comfort zone. Step up and show someone you care.  You have no idea how inconceivably small the effort can be for you, compared to the impact it can have on the recipient.  And in due course, it has an impact on your neighborhood, your city, your country.  Teach your children to be giving, by being an example.

Give when you are blessed with extra, in hopes that you never need the favor returned.

I believe it can be a simple short slip in life that could send any one of us into despair.
Never take for granted what you have today.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Too Much Reflection Gives Me A Headache

Some days, actually many days, I feel like I'm just spinning in circles.  I can see what I want and where I want to be, but it feels like my efforts are taking me no where. It is easy to get frustrated when some changes take a long time.  Weight changes are slow, but there are rewards along the way. Simply the feeling that I get from exercising more or eating better make the days bearable when the scale doesn't change.

Kids are learning new ways to drive one crazy every day. Trying to keep up seems painful sometimes. As soon as I manage to change one behavior and new (and often harder) one appears.  Three kids can be extremely overwhelming. It seems my kids got faster each time. The 'phases' my first one went through at 5, hit the second at 4 and the Angel Baby is only 3. Ugh.  And this time of year, I have allergy season in progress. Though we don't have any definite allergies 'proven' or 'diagnosed' we still have signs and symptoms that cause troubles.  Kids waking up during the night with stuffy noses or dry coughs, not necessarily connected to a cold.  And there is a lot more SEE-food going on at the dinner table, because it is hard to eat when your nose is plugged.
It is also hard to eat when you sit across from the one with the stuffed up nose.

And work?  I'm having a hard time figuring it out. I am motivated and happy one day, I can see my direction, but the next I'm lost and wondering if it's time to make a change.  Is work the problem, or, am I the one standing in my own way, preventing the enjoyment I had before?

I suppose it's hardest because I sincerely think I was born in the wrong generation.  I am that mom who wants to be home with the kids. I'd be happy to get up early and make breakfast for my trucker but the demands of the rest of the day mean that I just can't entertain that thought. If I don't sleep at night, I just don't sleep.

This month has been mostly successful. I've been keeping up to my goals, but as it gets closer to the end of September I feel like I'm losing steam. I'm losing track of my reasons for the goals, my motivation.  I created a vision in my mind of where I want to be. I sat down and wrote out where I want to see myself. The big picture, long term goal. Maybe it will take 5 years or 15 years, and maybe it won't ALL happen the way I want to see it. But having written it all out, I was able to see what was important to me. The first things I think of when I think of the future are a higher priority than the little things that follow. Those first thoughts are the ones that I want to strive for.

Sadly, those first thoughts do not fit with my life as it is. Whether financially or due to time demands, many of the 'important things' are just not feasible unless I were to give up something like sleep.

Before I run myself back down again, thinking about how I will never actually get to that vision, I will remind myself that one step at a time I am building back up. I know that it takes time and effort to get ahead. I know that my goals and vision will evolve over time. I am grateful that my weak days are getting farther apart, and my smile comes more freely.
After losing touch, dropping out, slowing down for a full day, my Trucker kicked me out! Not in a bad way, he just knew the day had worn on me and suggested I go to the gym for awhile.  (I'm really loving this gym membership stuff.) So, I didn't even finish typing this!  I headed out right away and came back recharged. The last few days since I started writing this have been much better. Tonight when I felt like I was losing steam, I jumped up and went for a walk with Art. We laughed and raced and had leaf fights. Came home with rosy cheeks and full hearts.

My vision, it seems, has two faces.  The other face is here and now, being the mother and wife to my family that I want to be. The hugs and smiles, stories and giggles. The LIVELY conversations at the dinner table. Sure, I might see a lot more food when my kids are eating, but everyone is talking. I think the Trucker knows more about the kids school days this year already, than he did over the last few years.

I considered deleting the beginning of the post, but felt it relevant to keep it. I am simply human. Maybe next time I'm having a rough day I will remember to look back here and see that I recovered. How easy it can be.  If I could go back a few days and tell myself anything it would be simply to stop looking so far forward.

A dream is a dream because it hasn't happened yet. It's okay to dream big. It's okay to chase small parts of it at any time. Do not think 'all or nothing' just think.  Just move. And if all else fails, hit the gym and sweat it out!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hey, Check It Out! I'm On A Roll

I'm really quite pleased with myself. I saw my weight creeping higher and higher and I got mad. I was angry with myself and angry with life and well, I was sick too. I was too depressed to see that there was anything that I could actually do to fight it. In my distorted mind, I think I believed I was already trying hard enough.

But I reached the 9 of this group of 10 pounds and refused to roll into the next set of 10.  You know, it's like money that way, 39.99 is better than 40. 129 is better than 130 and hitting 130 would mean that 139 was a quick slip.

Not that I am devastated by weighing 129... I could only wish that!  I will not divulge the weight I am now on here. Perhaps when I reach my goal and share how much I've lost, you can do the math and figure it out. But right now... no deal.


I started to walk a little more.  I started to eat a little better. I stopped allowing the trucker to bring home his munchies. He was helpful, but that could be due to not having to share anymore. No chips in the house. I stopped buying the candies and crap that I would munch on while working at night.  Then at the end of August, I signed up at a local gym. I've been going a minimum of three times a week since I signed up in addition to the changes I've been making at home. 

Believe it or not, I've been able to cut down the coffee I drink because I don't feel dead tired all day. I've replaced it with water (that I wasn't drinking enough of before).

I also started tracking my choices and efforts on Spark People. I'm not a big full active member there, but it gives me a good way to track my food and fitness and it has a good app for my phone so it is working well. I'm not planning my meals or anything like that, but I am paying attention and that is a huge part of it. I might change my decisions for dinner if I've blown my limits at lunch, you know? 


I'm happy and proud to say that since that day I got mad, I'm back down 7 pounds. I'm already feeling better and starting to fit my clothes a bit better.  I'm getting more done with my day too, which is odd because I'm spending more time out of the house without kids in tow... I feel good. The trucker is behind me 110% and he's been really helpful with getting time to go since Angel Baby hates the daycare facility there still. I'm working on that.

Wish me luck, I've got to repeat that 7 a few times (at least). But I know I can do this, and I know there are a lot of people out there who will cheer me on.  Hey, maybe, I'll feel stronger and be able to quit this smoking habit again too....

If you are a Spark People member, give me a quick shout and maybe we can link up there too. iamabusymama (at) gmail (dot) com

Monday, September 12, 2011

Try Something New - Lunch Time

This year (pleeeeease let me stick with it this time), I have sat down with the boys at the beginning of the week and made a lunch list for the week. Art stays at school because he likes to have more time to play with his friends but Macboy thoroughly enjoys any break from the day that he can get, so he comes home. 

History has taught us that if we don't discuss it much, my kids will eat the same bologna sandwich every day for months without complaining, then one day it will just stop. You know that moment where it's like "if I ever see another piece of bologna again...." It's not that I force feed them the same thing every day. I don't. I ask them every morning what they want, and they tell me. I'm not awake enough in the morning to even think that it's the same thing they've eaten for the last 476 days straight.  They are not allowed peanut butter, and are picky eaters, so I'm kind of screwed for ideas.

Oh, wait.... I should have said grilled cheese. Or anything else. My kids still willingly eat bologna everyday even if it's not in a sandwich. I've gone through at least a package every week for the last .... oh.... 6 years. haha
(wish I was kidding)

I talked to them about the importance of variety, getting a good assortment of foods in and absorbing different nutrients and blah, blah, blah....

We started with a general list of 'acceptable' ideas, which I have kept and will add to as we find more variety, then we listed the days of the week and chose their lunch picks for the week.  When we got to Friday, I added a 'Surprise Lunch'  The big surprise is that I don't have a clue what the surprise is either.... I haven't decided yet. It depends on the amount left in the paycheck after the bills clear!

Art has asked to come home for lunch on Fridays, I agreed on the basis of Surprise Lunch days, but not necessarily every Friday. We would discuss in advance as the year goes on.  I know he likes to come home, but it all depends on the day. If he had a super morning recess he wants to continue it at lunch, if it wasn't so great, he wants to come home.  For a few weeks last year, he figured I could come into the school to check with him.  Ummmm..... No. I don't go there to pick up Macboy, so I would have to go out of my way to see IF he was having fun or not.  I finally put my foot down and made him come home everyday.  And of course, because Art will argue with everything just for the sake of practicing his english, both of those months, he wanted to stay almost every day.

I don't want to get into a rut for food, and I need to expand Macboys cooking skills a bit. Lunch is a great time for this. Most of the time it is just him and I and the Angel Baby, so I've been teaching him how to make more of his own food.  There will be a time not too far from now that he will need to make his own lunches everyday. 

I couldn't eat the same thing every single day.... I'd go nuts! So, I'm working on making sure they don't repeat their meals too much either. Plus it saves me time every day, I don't have to guess, I know I have what I need. They get more time with mom because I'm ready. Win, Win, Win.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Motivation - I Don't Feel Like Finding It

Some days are hard to get started. Days like today where I woke up 15 minutes later than normal with a headache.  These are the days when I don't walk the kids into the school, I just drop them off and watch them go in.  The days where I stay as close to PJ's as I can, for as long as I can.

These are also the days where I have a 10 mile long to-do list.

I've got to prioritize my day. I need to get a grip on what really has to be done and what can wait. But I don't even feel like looking at the full list. Jump online to check emails and delay myself even more by reading articles that I wouldn't normally, check things like Facebook or Twitter, read my work emails, personal emails, catch up to comments on the blogs.  A ten minute job that can drag out for an hour.

Sometimes I get a kick start. The phone rings and something new to take care of takes precedence over everything else. But then once that is finished I am back to square one. I have too many things I should be doing but none that I want to do.

Thankfully, days like this are getting farther apart. Beating down depression means pushing myself through these times. Just picking one thing at a time, even if it is not the highest priority of the day means that I can still find my sense of accomplishment.  Beating down the guilt that plagues me from not focusing properly will be there tomorrow. 

This day, this long slow day, can be exactly what leads to a downward spiral again. I will not let that happen. This time, I have forced my way through a few things that were important, and snuck in a few things that could wait if I wanted. I've left the dishes sitting, but I started the laundry. I've glanced at my work tasks and determined some top priorities.

The important thing here is that even though I don't want to do anything, I don't feel like starting, I have started. I have moved. I have got a few things done. This is not one of those days where I have chosen to hyperfocus on some meaningless task to avoid what really needs to be done. I have stuck to that actual list (that isn't written yet) and done what should be done today.  The things that can wait have already been waiting. I'm still recovering from laundry that collected while camping last weekend and it's Thursday.

I'm going to spend the next half hour, until Macboy gets home for lunch, taking 5. No, not just relaxing, but I'm going to take 5 minutes to focus on each part of my day so that after lunch, I will have a better view of where I really am. 5 minutes isn't much, but it can mean a lot. 5 minutes will not strain my eyes or neck and will not worsen this headache I'm fighting. 

5 for work - plan my tasks
5 for Angel Baby - change clothes for the day, she's in PJ's too
5 for switching laundry
5 for planning home tasks
5 for getting lunch going for Macboy

And most importantly,
5 for a cup of coffee to savour the last half hour of getting something done.

How do you get yourself motivated on days like this?  What is one thing that you can do anytime to kickstart your day?

Take 5.  Take care.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Whine, Whine, Grumble, Complain, Cry, Argue

I work very hard to maintain a positive personality. I know that I fail sometimes but I think I do pretty well over all. There are way too many people in this world who never speak a kind word. Those who must always be better or worse than you are. Those who see world in a dark way and are determined to spread it.

I admit that often my mind gets filled with dark clouds. There are mean and selfish thoughts and pages of complaints. The difference is that I do not feel the need to share them all. So I keep it in my head, where it doesn't damage the ones that I love.

Why did you walk to the school? We want a ride home.
Why did you bring the van? It's so hot in here.

There are so many wonderful and loving ways to share yourself with others. Why let them see this side?  Who wants to be around a compulsive complainer?

I caught myself this afternoon, saying that Art is just tired with school having just started. First three days ended with at least half an hour of whine and complain, even on Friday when we were going away for the weekend. He could have been excited, but he wasn't. He could have used his time to get his toys and games that he wanted together, but he didn't. And then he had perfect opportunity more than once to complain while we were out camping, because he was bored.  

I really want to believe that this is just part of the adjustment of getting back to school. But really? It's been months. It's far enough that I want to just scream when it starts. If you try to change the subject to something happier, he finds a way to make that bad too.  I certainly hope that he's not acting like this at school. I'll hear from the teacher for sure!

It usually wears me down fast. I have no tolerance for meaningless complaints. If you have eaten pizza 9004 times, chances are good that you like it. So don't tell me you never did.  Just tell me you don't feel like eating it today. There's a good chance I'll make you eat it anyway, but at least you didn't just complain. Next time, I won't serve you pizza and you'll complain that you want some. Even though you don't like it!

This is about exactly where my parenting patience stops.  Mean what you say and say what you mean.  Or just don't say it. This has been going on for what feels like eternity. My calm mothering side wants to sit down and find out what the real problem is (lack of sleep) find a reasonable solution (like eat more veggies and go to bed earlier) and MOVE ON.
But the side of me that shows up first now, is not that side. It is the side that wants to scream "For the love of all that is good and holy in this earth will you PLEASE. SHUT. UP!!!!"

I don't say it. But I will never say I don't think it.  Usually I just bite my tongue and ignore what I can. Eventually he shifts back into real life. (The other day it was a morning complain session. Did you know that one side of the sidewalk is warmer than the other?  Yes, sidewalk, not the other side of the street. I was walking on the WARM side of the SIDEWALK and needed to move because he was cold.)  I think Macboy went through  this. Well, he complained more at school than at home I think. I'm sure Angel Baby, when she's a NOT-Angel Pre-Teen instead will complain like this too. She'll probably figure out how to slam doors and scream with that super high pitch.

Everyone, everywhere should just make a point to say one nice thing every day.  Making the effort to say something good even when you don't feel like it, makes you feel better. And when you feel better, it gets easier.  

So go say something nice to someone. Tell me about it. I'll share it with him when he's feeling whiny. 

Cheer us all up!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Too Busy To Write

Yep. You heard me. It's my birthday and I'm too busy being spoiled rotten to write anything big.  I'm telling you, birthdays don't get much better than this one though.

1) Fresh coffee served to me in bed.

2) The Trucker took all the kids out for the morning. I had absolutely nothing to do!  I had my coffee while it was hot. No one calling me, walking in on me or fighting outside the door while I had a long hot shower.

3) Great gifts! Thoughtful ones, things I actually would have bought myself (if I ever spent money on me.)

4) An afternoon trip out of the house BY MYSELF.

5) Barbeque dinner (Mmmm...T-Bones) with friends and family.

Most importantly, I've done nothing today. No cleaning, no cooking, no dishes, no work, no ANYTHING.

I could not have asked for a better day!

Be back soon, when I come back (if I ever do) from this euphoria I'm living in.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How Do You Say I Love You?

In case you haven't noticed (hehe) I'm often inspired by The Hands Free Mama. Her writing is almost always a message I need to hear, just at the right time. Well, she's done it again. But what I didn't expect was the response that this little thing would bring.

She wrote about A Sign Of Love, how to share your feelings with your family when you are not there and how this should not be just when you are going away. It is important to tell your loved ones that they are loved.

My boys have a Super Mario fascination. Well, it's pretty darn close to obsession. They have been building a large collection of plush figures with their own money. It's pretty impressive.

A few days ago, Art asked me to repair Luigi's overalls. The strap came unstitched. A few swipes with a needle would have him back to normal.  I was exhausted, I asked him to bring it to me in the morning. Just before bed, Macboy came with the same request.  I asked him to remind me in the morning, as I already knew but just couldn't do it right now.

Macboy, who knows I'm forgetful, wrote it on the fridge. We have a magnetic dry erase board for grocery lists and important messages. He wrote "Fix Luigi" at the bottom of the board.  The next morning, I came upstairs and saw the note. I got the coffee pot running and called Macboy to bring me Luigi, I would fix it first thing so it wouldn't get missed.

He says "Thanks mom, I did it already."  I was so proud I was bursting! I taught him basic sewing quite awhile ago. I believe that is a skill everyone should have. Being able to replace a button or fix a seam is important. More so for short people like me, pants just do not come this short!  A little later he was at his friends house and it struck me how he took the initiative and tried. He may not have been able to get it and could have had help, but he tried anyway. And he did it.

So I changed the note on the fridge to read:

I am very proud of you for fixing Luigi by yourself. I think it's great that you can sew like that. Good Job!
Love Mom

He got home just before dinner and I could see in his face that he'd read the note. No one said anything, it didn't need any further words. We all felt good.

While I was cooking, knowing that he'd seen his note and not wanting leave anyone out, I wrote to Art.

I'm really proud of you for going out of your way to play with your sister today. It was a big help for me. Thanks! Love you!

It didn't take long for him to be walking around all puffed up. He was pleased with himself as he should be. I even got extra hugs that night at bedtime. It's always nice to be thanked for doing the things we do everyday.

After we had dinner, which turned out great, I headed into the kitchen to start the dishes.  I looked at the note on the fridge, feeling good because I had made my kids feel good.  I never expected to find this:

This may very well be the closest thing to a love letter I've gotten in years. But it was powerful. The Trucker wrote to me. For everyone to see.  I was touched so deeply, especially at a time when I am battling my way out of depression and negativity.

This wasn't the end either.  I took a picture of it, not to share here originally, but to have it close to me when I need to hear those words that aren't said often. Then I washed the board down and wrote "I have the best family EVER!"

I headed to bed that night knowing that there was a lot of love flowing through the house.  I told the Trucker how proud I am of him. He went from having no license when I met him to being a class 1 driver for a living. He's proof that people can change their life path. He never stops amazing me.

When I woke up, there was yet another note. This time from my mom. She passed on the good feeling that she got just from seeing these things. "I'm so lucky to live with my big family. We are all here for each other even when we're not getting along. I love you all"

It all started with one little gesture. A short note, long overdue for all of us.

Make sure you embrace the good moments, no matter how big or small. It will do wonders for everyone. No one should ever have to guess how we feel.

Go. Show someone close to you that you are thinking of them.
I dare you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's All Just A Balancing Act

I read an article recently that stated that women who believe that it is possible to maintain a proper work/life balance with families are MORE likely to suffer from depression than those who don't think it is possible.  I found this pretty interesting and started looking through my history to see how this applied.

A few years ago, I was working full time outside of my home. I didn't strive for perfect balance, I barely managed sometimes. I lived on an "as-needed" basis most days. I wasn't stressed about what was or wasn't getting done because I simply knew that it was a crap-shoot. Can't win them all, so just do what you can.

Then I had a great maternity leave after my last baby. I was afforded the luxury of being at home for a year. I learned all kinds of neat things about managing my home and life as well as raising my kids. I was also home at a time that became difficult with my oldest meeting with several doctors and psychiatrists where we finally reached a diagnosis. I was not a crazy mom, something about that boy WAS special.

I had a spotless, organized home. My days just flowed. I had a few hours every afternoon where I could sew or read or relax. Every day.  Then finances got tight. The trucker was laid off just before Christmas and I had just barely begun working again. I was struggling to manage the home, family, special needs and schools, support the trucker until he got working again, and work from home.

Working from home is an illusion. It doesn't make anything in life easier, it makes it more complicated. It is easy to get sidetracked from work to laundry and the other way, from relaxing family time to checking emails and such.  I couldn't figure out why it was all so hard to do.
I fell into a depression that just seemed never-ending.

Why?  Because I still believed I could do it all. I still believed as I had before when working away from home that I could get everything looked after. I failed to remember that I didn't do it all before. I let it all slide. Life was simple and that worked.  When I started working at home, I had the mindset that I could balance perfectly. I had a few hours every day that were free before, so I could fill them with work and nothing had to change.

I certainly agree with that article. (You can read it here) When I believed I could balance, I suffered. When I didn't think it was possible and didn't try so desperately, I survived. Interesting perspective.

When I had my most recent meltdown, I revealed that I've spent much of my summer trying to please everyone else first. Because I filled my free time with work, I forgot to replace the free time for myself somewhere else.

So, I'm readjusting my schedule. I'm changing my priorities and because I have blasted all of the truth out of my head, my family (mother and trucker) is on my side. There will be less pressure. I am signing on at a gym for some ME time.  I will not compromise my breaks for others needs. Work is important and will be a priority, but not at the expense of my family. Others in the house need to pick up some responsibility too. And those things that just can't get done, will simply wait.

No one died from having dishes sit overnight. No one ended up in the hospital because there were toys on the floor. Well, wait. Maybe, if they like tripped on Lego or slipped down the stairs on a hot wheels car (can you tell I've got boys?)...  My pain in the a** portable dishwasher is going to get some exercise. I don't use it often because it is just annoying to move around. But I will.

I was definitely happier when I didn't think it was possible to do it all.  So I'm going to stop trying and just do what feels right.  Starting now, I have to listen to all my own advice! I need to really pay attention to the positive messages I am sending. And I need to share more of the positives with the people here, in my house, not just for readers online. I appreciate the small moments. Those are the moments that pull me through.

The balance will shift back and forth from time to time. That's okay too. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be done. Right?

Wish me luck!  And kick me every now and then when I sound like I'm forgetting this!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mom-Somnia Strikes Again

I've got two weeks exactly until the boys are back to school. I'm kind of looking forward to it. I'm not saying my kids drive me nuts (though they do sometimes...) but I have absolutely no sense of rhythm left in me right now. We don't wake up at the same times everyday, our bedtimes are out the window. I've had more sleepless nights this summer than I had in the last year.

Art is a fighter. Not an aggressive kid, not that way.  He's always questioning things and sadly, it is hard to battle your 7 year old when he makes so much damn sense. He's a negotiator and more. I like to allow chances for him to state his opinions and I do give them opportunities to practice negotiating. But I also impose limits and there are things that are just not going to change no matter what argument he has or how good it sounds.

He fights and delays everything he can. He was the biggest baby of my three. He left my ribs bruised from the last month of pregnancy. He was my longest labor.  He will take an hour to eat dinner. He will spend 30 minutes getting ready for the bath before the water even gets turned on. And bedtime... Oh Em Gee.  Bedtimes suck.  He was the only one of my kids to climb out of the crib. I had to move him into a big bed early.  I had a baby gate in the door. He figured out how to get over it. When I raised it, he got good at squeezing under it. When I moved it to the stairs instead, he figured out how to go through his closet and climb through the space in the stairs on the other side of the gate. Ugh...

I resigned myself quickly to just sitting in his room. Every night. I tried all those tricks that say move a bit closer to the door every day, and then eventually stay outside the room.  Yeah. Not this kid. If I was too far away, he just would not stop talking. And it doesn't matter if I talk back or not. Even on the nights he was in there completely alone, he was still talking.  It is hard to tell when he has gone to sleep too, he talks in his sleep. A Lot.  (I have family who thought I exaggerated this, but having had him overnight since they KNOW this is the truth.)

Macboy lost the mommy snuggles at bedtime very suddenly. I used to go and lie down with him for 5 minutes every night just before bed. We'd chat about the day, I'd tell him I love him and he'd just stay there for the rest of the night. Never a fight.  With Art out of the crib, I'd try to get my time with Macboy, but I could NOT leave him alone.  I couldn't put Macboy to bed first, it just didn't work.  And Art fought so long every night that Macboy would be sleeping by time I could finally go see him.

I spent about 6 months talking to Art about how I would not stay in his room anymore. Once Angel Baby was out of her crib, things would be different.  He needed to go to sleep by himself.  I tried everything. Soothing music. Quiet reading time. Floppy Sleep Game. Visualization tips. Relaxation tips. I even tried letting natural consequence take over. I let him stay up as late as he wanted and woke him up early for a few days. I'm not doing that again, he just wakes up and keeps moving, but he is extremely miserable and whiny. (Then still fights bedtime!!)
It does not matter. When he's finally gotten everything out of his system, it takes less than five minutes for sleep to take over. But getting him to stop talking or moving?  Well that's why I started going grey early!! 

Angel Baby broke her crib. Literally. It is garbage now.  The decision to make the switch to the big bed was immediate. No time for considering options, just "Crack!" and that was that.  She moved in to her bed.  I have the baby gate in the door way. She just stays in her bed. She might look at a book for a few minutes or play with a dolly. But 99% of the time, she's asleep within minutes of bedtime. She doesn't try to break out. She doesn't even try in the morning. She just wakes up and sits on her bed until I go get her. Macboy, 11 now, just goes to sleep. He has some nights that are hard, but he just stays in bed and rests until the sleep arrives.

I have taken a stand. Instead of losing an hour every night in Art's room just sitting there getting madder and madder, I informed him that I won't do it anymore. That was about a year ago, I think. Ever since, I have had a two to three hour fight at night instead. When I was hoping he'd get better at staying there and going to sleep, he ended up getting better at sneaking around the house without getting caught. It's starting to seem like it is just better to go back to sitting in his room.  

He doesn't need toys or books or TV to stay awake. He pushes bedtime back by talking to himself. Making up stories, pretending his pillow is a person. Once, he put on just about every single pair of underwear he owns. All at once. Looked like a sumo wrestlers butt on a bean pole. Funny, yes, but timing was terrible.  My point is, I don't think it's possible to just take everything entertaining away so that his room will just be for sleep.

The worst part of this whole deal comes when the insomnia starts creeping up on me. The worst was years ago, before I had kids. I had about six weeks where the longest stretch of sleep I got was three hours. I would maybe doze off for 15 minutes here or there, but it was awful. The last week, before medication brought me back to the real world where sleep is necessary, I had less than three hours of sleep for the whole week. Since kids, I go through phases. I just can not lie down and fall asleep. I have mom-paranoia. I hear every noise. I have a boy with growing pains (yes, doctors, if you can't name it and it's pain only in his legs only at night time... I'm going to call it growing pains.) He's got me up at least twice a week. Angel Baby wakes up about twice a week, sometimes playing sometimes crying. (Sometimes screaming like a horror movie!)  The trucker goes to work anywhere between 2 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. It changes every day. A year ago, I never heard him leave. This summer I've heard him every single day. I don't hear his alarm, I hear him moving.

Monday night, I was wide awake until almost 5. I had to drive hubs to his truck at 6:30. I rested from 5 til 6. Drove him and came home. At 7 am, I was still awake. I stayed in bed until about 10 but it wasn't much sleep. More staring at the walls than anything. I have a prescription in the cupboard for times like this, but it has to be taken at the same time every day. And since I don't have any way of knowing when Art will go to sleep, I can't do it.  I can't go to bed if he's awake, when I have tried, he has stayed up as late as 3 am.

I have a small window around 11 pm that I can fall asleep easily in. With Art keeping me up until nearly midnight, I pass the window almost every day.  With a babysitter or a sleep over, I can crawl in bed when I am tired and get to sleep quickly. Without?  Lets say he falls asleep at 11:45, I can crawl in bed and toss and turn like clockwork until 2. Part of the reason I just started doing more work during the night, part of the reason I blog most around midnight.  I figure if I have to be up, I'm gonna make use of the time.  I am not supposed to stay in bed when I can't sleep. If it takes more than 20 minutes, I'm supposed to get up and do something. I can't keep jumping up and bugging the trucker, either.

I'm hopeful that school will put us back in order. I know he's not going to magically start falling asleep earlier, but I will be forced to get him up earlier in the morning.  He will be forced to go to bed at bedtime and maybe if I send him at 8, he'll be asleep by 10. Still an improvement.  If I can be in bed by 11, I can get up well rested.

Who am I kidding?  I won't. I've always functioned best at night.  But at least I won't have anyone to blame but me. I won't be furious about someone else making me stay up. I won't be fighting for those hours. If I want to go to sleep at 11, I'll be able to. That's all. I'm tired of this battle of wills, I'm just tired.

Friday, August 12, 2011

What Lies Beneath.... Art's Bed

Sometimes late at night, when the house is deathly silent, I can hear it calling. It starts out slow and soft, then grows steadily into a pain-filled howl.  The sound echoes through the house and chills me to the bone.

I can't count how many times I've tried to find it. Just as the stories say, light can't touch it. Perhaps, it is only children that can see it at all.

After years of trying and failing miserably, I was lucky enough to find the location of the sound once.  The creak in the stairs is usually quick to give me away and the thing goes quiet. Having years of practice creeping around my home in the wee hours has allowed me to perfect the pattern finally.  Though I still got hung up by the squeaky floor board in the hall. I lost the element of surprise, but I definitely traced the source to Art's room. It echoed slowly out from under his bed.
Art must know about it.  I think he just might like it there, hidden away. It seems sometimes that he doesn't want me to find it.  Maybe that painful moan translates itself into a lullaby of sorts while he's dreaming. Like a soft love song whispered in his ear that soothes away the daily woes.

Or maybe it's completely opposite. Not soothing at all, but disturbing his rest. Perhaps it is not pain in his legs that sends him racing to my bedside at three a.m.  
I can't be sure exactly... 
He swears he's never seen it.

It's been a full week of this. The sound used to come and go, but this week is different. Seven nights it has woken me in sweats with that instant mom panic that grips you when you hear your child cry at night.  

Today, I declared war.

I tip-toed into Art's room, in the full light of day, hoping the beast would be sleeping since it's awake through every night. One by one, I slipped the toys out. Cars and trucks moved. Army men returned to their troops in the toy box. A few stray socks and a lost t-shirts given renewed life in the hamper.  

And there it was! I could see the face of this sleeping monster. I sped up my work. Quickly and carefully I uncovered the beast.  Stunned and silent, I fell backwards. I couldn't tear myself away. This thing, it wasn't horrendous, it was marvelous!  A true beauty of nature, right there under Art's bed.

It was light brown and fuzzy, incredibly soft. I stayed there a few minutes more taking in the moment, running my fingers through it's soft shag.  I closed my eyes, thankful for this glorious gift I had been given and I think I heard that beautiful creature say

"Thank you.  I've waited so long to be free!"

I've always believed it was just a myth, something that people just made up to scare their kids. But I'm telling you, I know the truth. It is real. It does exist. I've seen it with my own eyes.

I bet, if you are willing to try hard enough, you can find it in your kids room too. Start slow, just move one thing at a time. 

Be patient, 
And you too
can find

The Floor.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kitchen Helpers - I May Regret This Later

On the weekend, we had some guests over for a backyard wiener roast. The weather was cooperative for the most part, the clouds started moving in just as we were ready to cook, so we were indoors before the rain fell.  It was a busy day, but a relaxing day. I tackled laundry and made my potato salad to go with dinner. 

I didn't overcook my potatoes this time.  I had plenty of time and this salad turned out quite well. Through the preparation process, Angel Baby was very curious. She has the uncanny ability to find and grab just about anything that I don't want her to have, when my hands are the most full and I can't get it away from her. It's like the same magnetism that draws the truck to the Tim Hortons Drive Thru.  She can sniff out an untended knife, or cup of coffee, or a market left low... from the opposite end of the house. 

She stole the lid for the pickle jar. While I was finding that, she put the Mayo in the livingroom. When I was getting that back, she was using a butter knife to eat pieces of the potato out of the bowl. Just one thing after another. 

Then she went for the eggs. 

I finally decided that this was the activity least likely to destroy my kitchen or hurt my baby, as these were hard boiled already, so I showed her how to crack them and peel them. 

She was so happy to help! She cracked the eggs and tried to peel the shell away. It was working well until the first bits of shell started sticking to her fingers. She chose not to peel any more but was happy to keep cracking them for me to peel. She enjoyed squishing the yolks up and dumping them in the bowl. 

After the eggs were done, she helped scooping all my other ingredients into the bowl after they were cut up. She had a great time, I had fun too, and the salad was great. It took probably twice as long as normal, because she was getting close to my knife while I was chopping so I had to slow down and watch closely, then let her clear the cutting board before continuing.
Later in the evening I had the sudden realization that this may have been a bad idea.  It's great to let her help, but my little monkey likes to HELP. Often without me knowing. (Like soaking the couch with windex because she didn't understand that I use that on the coffee table, or washing the floor with her juice and a sock).

I have now officially warned everyone in the house who cooks with eggs that she may want to help. She may not understand that the eggs are not cooked.  She just might try to help crack them.  I am just waiting for the first smashed egg on the counter.... I know it's coming!
If I'm lucky, it won't be me trying to cook eggs and I will get to just sit back and laugh.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Insert Vegetables Here

I need a sign, point it at my mouth. And the kids too.  I don't eat enough of those greens and I know it.  I'm trying to be more commited to my food choices and perhaps - No... definitely - exercise more. I've had it with this extra weight.  I found a like minded community of mommies and friends who all have the same goals in mind. I am hopeful that this extra support will help me stay accountable and get back into the nice clothes I own!

I've been pretty much lost all summer. I dread school days and structure just as much as my kids do. It's partly a control issue as the school days and hours are beyond my control. But it's largely a lack of will power to stick to any real routines during the summer. I'm up til three am one day, then in bed at 9 the next. I have been working on shifting the kids bedtimes back to normal so the first days of school won't be so hard. But man, it's summer. And where I live, Summer doesn't last very long at all.  

I can make some really awesome plans. I had great dreams of how my summer would go. The kids sleep late, so I could get myself up at the regular time and get most of my work done before they woke up.  But because I am constantly running behind, I stay up too late. Then when I do go to bed early it's because the kids have actually gone to sleep earlier. Which means they wake up earlier. UGH... Just can't win.

To be honest, I am not a morning person. There is just no way around it.  I can think about whatever I want before bed, but there is just nothing that will get me moving. My half brain in the morning convinces me quite well that I have just 5 more minutes.

On the bright side, I may be swimming in a sea of laundry, but I have kept the main floor of the house clean all week. I've had my dishes done every night. I've been cracking the kids up with my crazy "mom" dancing while I'm cleaning up. I need to get the extra exercise into my days somehow!  Angel Baby rocks out with me, but the boys think I've lost my marbles.

I've made some new connections with some other INFJ personalities lately. It's funny how we think the SAME things, the SAME ways. Almost creepy! Anything I've read that these people have written could have come from my own mouth.  I've always known I was kind of unique, I didn't know that I really was that different!  INFJ's are the most rare of all personality types. It's a blessing and a curse sometimes, so I can't say if I'm happy about this or not.  Reading a report from a personality quiz was one thing, starting to find like-minded individuals really drives it home. And the best part is that I wasn't looking for these people. I just had the opportunities open up, because I am opening up.  I love this, and I'm happy they found me!

Hmmm... guess there really wasn't much of a topic today. No one thing consuming my thoughts that I had to just spill. But that will come. Life will settle sooner or later.  Whoever convinced me to work on potty training, while working at home, with all kids out of school, and mom on a super clean house rampage... among many other things, needs a swift kick. NOW. Oh, wait, this was all my own doing wasn't it?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gotta Get Away

What a FABULOUS weekend!  It was relaxed and unplugged. I shut my cellphone off as soon as we hit our campsite and didn't turn it on again until we were heading home. 

We arrived early Friday afternoon and returned home Monday afternoon. We had everything we needed while we were away, so there were no necessary trips to town or anywhere else for that matter.  Everyone pitched in, there was no complaining about the boys helping with their sister, the only arguments about cleaning up dishes were from my sister saying "No, I can do that, you go sit!"  

There was no hum of a laptop fan. There were no extra voices streaming from a TV. There were no text messages, emails, video games.

We were a family. We were outdoors. We worked together and had a blast.  When the weather was a bit yucky, we did allow the kids to play on DSI's which we had brought for the truck ride out and back. For whatever foolish reason you can find, our board game collection was not in the trailer as usual.  We made small concessions, but still tried to limit the video game time as much as we could.

My kids, rode their bikes, played in the playground, got muddy.  They played outside in the rain, and in the sun. We took a short trip down to the lake and played in the water for a while. There were watergun fights. There were games of horse shoes.  Even bike races, with the adults on the kids bikes.

It was just all relaxed.  There was no schedule to follow, just do what we felt like when the mood struck.

I had brought my e-reader so I would have a selection of books, but when the opportunities to read presented itself I didn't want to. I sat and watched the fire, I looked up at stars, and mostly I watched my children play.  I was thoroughly selfish this weekend. I ate up every moment I could. 

I was not an active participant playing with my kids, leading my daughter through the park or showing my kids new tricks. I did somethings, but mostly I just watched. I let their imaginations run their days. I soaked up every second of it.

There was no "Mom, look at me! Mom, come see this! Mom, check this out!" because I was already watching. They felt my attention in ways that I normally can't give them.  By doing LESS, I showed them MORE.  By stepping back from teaching moments, I was able to learn from them.

We will be returning to our Wednesdays Without Electronics. We all clearly need the detox more often.  Not just the kids, but all of us. 

There were plenty of 'learning moments' for me on this trip, even if it was a short trip.  I need to keep my eyes OPEN. I have got to keep up my fight against distraction. No one can live my life for me. I don't want to miss anymore of it.