Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Coco!

Our little coconut turns 4 today. You are quick, persistent and lovable. Your little brother wants to be just like you and your little sister loves your hugs. I hope your wish to go into space comes true. Enjoy your day and eat as much cake as you want. We love you very much! Happy birthday!

More Room

I am beginning to slowly comprehend what it means to be pregnant with child #4. Yes you are reading correctly. I am 3 months pregnant. The way I looked with amazement at the stick is the same way you are looking at your screen right now. Here is a brief list of the comments I have received:
-Have you ever heard of birth control? (my mother?!)
-Whose is it? (My husband)
-Don't you know how to keep your legs closed? (almost stranger)
-There won't be enough toys. Two babies are enough. (My eldest)
-Pregnant silence (many)
I always said I wanted at least 4 children and I do feel blessed that God heard me. But after number 3 I was on the fence about having another child. With all that is going on in our family right now I just couldn't see how it would work. It was a complete and utter surprise that I would be blessed with the opportunity to carry another child. It took me a while to get over the negative comments and lack of joy this news brought. Some reactions were hurtful and stung but I have moved on.
Because I am a mother of 3 my day becomes busy pretty quickly. I am overwhelmed by the responsibility of shaping the hearts and minds of my children and the practical details of their life at times. I found that a whole day could go by and I would not have given any thought to the life that is slowly growing inside of me. At times I didn't feel pregnant and at other times when the nausea railroaded my body it is all I could think about. Now as a lay in bed at night I touch that small soft spot on my stomach and try to think about this new life. I pray for health for the baby. I try to give this new life a few moments of my day. Pray for our family as we make room for this new life. There is a lot going on in our lives right now and this may seem like such a whirl wind of a time to have a baby. I know that God has a plan for our lives and all I can do is trust him. Wish us blessings, we need them.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Student Teacher

My son ran up to one of the teachers in his new school with happiness and anticipation in each leap. He asked if she was his kindergarten teacher. Smiling she said that his teacher was down the hall. Knowing the rules I quickly checked with the office and they told me to have a look down the hallway.
As a teacher I always had eager students walk into my class during the summer months to check out their new classroom and teacher. I didn't mind and thought their excitement was both cute and contagious. However, as I am beginning to learn, things are very different in my parent shoes.
As we checked out the classrooms looking for my son's new teacher we spotted a group of friendly enough looking teachers having a chat. My son asked again if his teacher was around. A young dark haired teacher smiled sympathetically while another more "experienced" teacher looked sternly at me and asked me if I had checked in with the office and if we knew that teachers would not see families until next week. All this was said without smiles or cheerfulness. I could tell by her tone that she felt responsible for her other colleagues well being and couldn't possibly have this 3 going on 4 year old child get the impression that school was a flexible, come as you are, delight in us, expect us to expect you kind of place. She looked at me with restrained displeasure and I looked at her as if my son and I had traded places.
At the first meeting I attended at my son's school way back in the summer I was met with this type of reception. We were told to attend a meeting to give us information on the school and the kindergarten program. I brought all 3 of my children because I couldn't find care for them. Many others brought their children as well. A friend of mine told me that the school might have childcare for the children that came with the parents. Nonetheless I was keen on having my children with me. As I sat down I spotted parents with children seated beside them or on their laps. We were intensely drinking every word that was fed to us about the school and the program. Half-way through the meeting the same "experienced" teacher I spoke of before informed parents that if they have a child sitting in one of the chairs they need to ask the child to get up because this is after all a "parent meeting". I smiled because my children were not seated in any of the chairs and then my smiled opened up into shock as I realized what I had just witnessed.
As I walked out of the school I realized that things would be very different in "this" school environment. I recognized the insincere tones and concealed meanings behind words and gestures. The appearance of politeness laced with arrogance. It seems like we forget that parents know the script. They know what is really being said when we give advice and make unnecessary comments. As much as schools are supposed to be the hub of the community, the centre of our miniature universe, they can seem worlds away from what is familiar and welcoming. I felt both sad and disappointment for the school my son was so eager to be a part of and for the world I had left behind. I wondered if I had used those tones and gestures and if the parents I met had felt so dismissed and foreign.

I have decided not to tell my son's teacher that I am a teacher. I want to experience what most parents endure as the accompany their children on this life long journey.

Wish us blessings!

Note: This post was not about "teacher bashing". Some of my closest friends, Missy & Q are amongst the best teachers in the world.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

By Our Love

It took 2 hours of cleaning, listening to Newsboys and thinking quietly to myself to come to terms with something I have always found difficult. How do you let "it" go? I am known for white knuckling it. I hold for dear life to every word, relationship and decision. So when I heard that one of my son's soccer coaches didn't like him, the journey to letting go stretched out for miles in front of me.

Peanut, my sister from another mother, told me this would be hard. I remember her telling me how much it bothered her to hear negative remarks about her son from his teacher. I would tell her that her son's success and failures are not tied in to her identity. She remarked, you'll see when your son starts school. He starts school in September and I can already see the light. The bright spotlight on my son which reveals my weaknesses. September will be back to school for the both of us.

After I found out that one of my son's coach didn't like him I became angry. I made comments and created thoughts that came naturally to me. Here is a brief list:
1. The feeling is mutual
2. How unprofessional of him to share this with other parents
3. I knew there was something about him I didn't like
4. I am going to give him a piece of my mind

This is my natural reaction when I feel attacked or criticized. I remind myself that it is not I who is being criticized it is my son. Yet it stings. The fears of nonacceptance and disapproval from adults that I had as a child surfaces as if time hasn't passed at all. The more I think about the words the angrier I get. I make up fake conversations with the coach in my head. I know that is one area I can do more damage than most- my words. I think of all the witty and mean things I could say back. I start to criticize his son and his family. All the while I continue to feel angrier and angrier.

Eight hours later I find myself cleaning my kitchen form top to bottom and mopping my ground level floors. As I try to cling to my "cleanie" life 7 words pop into my mind. "They will know us by our love." I ask myself how can I love someone that I feel no connection to and I actually dislike. Yet I begin to think about tomorrow when my son gives one of his coaches a gift. I feel compelled to give a gift to this coach as well. There is no sentimental thoughts about it. I just know that love is an action and that is a way I can demonstrate love. By the time I have cleaned my kitchen, family room, dinning room, front room and guest bathroom I have figured out that through love I can let "it" go.

Wish me blessings tomorrow!

Galatians 5:22 (The Message)
22-23But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The 12 Steps for Messies- Well Actually 5

The "Messie" View from Here

Last night I decided to listen to my favourite radio show "Focus on the Family" while I cleaned the kitchen. To some of you this may come as a shock. I do clean my kitchen and I have been for the last little while. See I have been inspired by my friend and my mother to "get it together". I am known for not vacuuming daily, leaving dishes in the sink overnight, and being generally untidy. I have managed to stay organized most of my life. However, since getting married and having children (and oh yeah a dog) my secret messiness has surfaced. My friends can be found closing cabinets, sweeping my floor and loading my dishwasher. My mother lives with me and often folds my laundry that has been sitting in the dryer for days.

In the beginning of my marriage I frequently blamed my husband because he was domestically challenged. Then we hired someone to clean the house. Every Friday I would come home and find shiny floors, hairless bathroom floors, and cleared kitchen counters. It was the best thing money could buy. Then children came and the budget wouldn't hold a cleaner on a smaller income. Children have a lot of stuff. So naturally we moved to a bigger house. It didn't occur to me that a bigger house meant more time cleaning and organizing. But it became very clear that I was in trouble.

So back to last night. The radio show featured a self proclaimed Messie, Mrs.
Sandra Felton
. She talked about her years as a "Messie" and how she became a "Cleanie". She created these terms. I was shocked to hear that she didn't think it was funny or quirky to be messy. Being messy was a problem. This turned out to be a good show for me because for the past week I had been making a sincere effort to keep a clean house. I was tired of apologizing the minute someone came to my door unannounced, and I wanted to feel confident as the manager of my home.

Listening to Mrs. Felton's interview made me feel confident that I could tackle this problem. The way she described Messies reminded me of the way you describe someone who has an illness or addiction. You had to work on it daily. So I made up these 5 steps as a reminder of where I heading. ( I just check the website (
) and discovered that there are 12 steps for Messies! Here are mine. Hope you enjoy them.)

1 : We admitted that our lives had become unmanageable.
You know things are unmanageable when:

- there are no matching socks in your child's dresser draw

- you have laundry to put away that would take you 2 hours

-you can't remember what your child's swimming shorts look like because it has been that long since you have done laundry

-on occasion you forget the colour of your kitchen tile

-you can't find the vacuum cleaner, dust pan, or gloves

-you hate when people ask for tour of your home!!!

2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Three words: Thank you Jesus!

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
FYI: Being a Messie is a defect. Contrary to popular belief it doesn't mean you are misunderstood, creative, or interesting.

Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
My Children: Sorry I kept blaming you for loosing your hat, gloves, soccer stuff, sun glasses, water bottles, shoes, backpack etc.... It was my fault. I truly understand the meaning of the phrase, "a place for everything".
My Mother: The countless piles of clothes on the floor, a bedroom door that always had to stay shut, and a bathroom with more products on the counter than in the cabinet. One word- sorry.
My Husband: Apologizing would mean that you are not part of the problem. I think you are a secret Messie. It is time to come out. It is okay, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Hi my name is__________ and I'm a Messie. Okay I will say sorry for (...thinking..hmmmm.....) I can't do it.
My Friends: I apologize for covering your black socks in dog hair, running late all the time because I had such a mess to clean up before I had to meet you, and making you feel like you have to clean my kitchen (P. you know who you are)

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to Messies, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Today is day 5 of leaving my Messie world behind.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Minding the Wheel

The very thought of a challenge usually excites me. I like that initial rush of ideas that come flooding through my thoughts. The adrenaline supplies me with creative solutions and multiple options. Then once I have isolated all that needs to be done terror strikes.

This happens to me when I plan one of my themed parties for my husband, mother, children or friends. I call it "party planning magic". The ideas come together quickly and easily. I love getting a theme and planning a menu around it. I even have a party planning notebook. It was a gift. Really. When I have put together my guest list I start to think about what each guest will say, wear, drink etc... when they arrive. I methodically put together my itinerary that starts 2 days before the party. Then as the party approaches I get stricken with fear and ridiculous questions. What if no one shows up? What if I ruin those cinnamon buns I have made a thousand times? What if I don't have enough time to clean the house? (This would never happen to Pam!) What if I don't have time to comb the kids hair, my hair or shower before the door bell rings? One of my closest friends would interject now and say: "That's why I don't do those things. (giggle) "

But I do do those things. This leads me to my next venture. Minding my own business. As a teacher I have come accustomed to a curriculum I must follow, a class list, protection from unreasonable people, and a pay cheque. These conveniences have come at a cost. I have 3 young children who don't always get the best of me. I missed spending those slow times with them. I missed waking up with them and starting the morning with them. I missed not being able to dance with them after breakfast and before dinner. I missed taking them to school and praying with them before they left. I missed them.

For 9 months I prayed that God would show me what else I could do to fulfill the need I had as mother and also help my husband provide for our family. One sunny spring day the answer came to one of my friends who then handed it to me. I took the suggestion and did my usual "party planning magic" routine. I had the whole venture figured out on the ride home. As I sat down that evening to work out the details I thought why stop there why not make this really big? Then my "party planning magic" really took over and I set out to do a website, facebook page, advertising and business cards. The details (most of them) were ironed out in a couple of months.

Now there are only 2 months before I start this new venture. I am deciding how I am going to advertise this new business. Terror strikes again. What if someone steals this great idea? What if I waste all this money on advertising and I don't get a response? What if I get too many clients? What if I can't handle the financial aspect of running my own business? In the midst of this "party pooper" moment my friend calls. (This is the one that says "That's why I don't do those things". I call her Honey Bee. ) She tells me about Michael J. Fox and his book about being optimistic. And the phrase I need to hear comes rolling out of her mouth. "Let Jesus take the wheel."
Hmmm. (I don't know if I mentioned that I have control issues. Tiny really. But that's why:
1. No one is allowed in the kitchen when I am in it.
2. I make my eldest son wear his hat with the cap forward. Not back. Definitely not to the side!
3. Must bake/cook most things from scratch.
4. Make my husband change the outfit he chooses for our daughter. Leggings are for outdoors. PJ bottoms are for sleep. No matter how cute. )
So letting "Jesus take the wheel", hmmm that's hard.
Then I realize it is also freeing. I can let Jesus take the blame if it doesn't work out. Right? It reminds me of the usual reasons my christian boyfriends gave when they broke up me. "It wasn't God's will." As funny and painful as those moments were, they were right.

I'm getting out of the driver's seat as we speak. Jesus just make sure you signal those lane changes well in advance.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Player of the Game

He would still be clutching the ribbon in his hand. My husband had to pry it from him. He is so proud of that ribbon. A simple dark blue ribbon with the words "Player of the Game" written on it. He was so excited as he ran up to me at the end of his soccer game last night. "I got it! I got it! I got player of the game." His little 3 1/2 year old voice squealed with excitement. I picked him up and swung him up in the air giving him a million little kisses. I was so proud. All the fighting and arguing, the I will not go to my room, share the toys, play nicely with my friends, get dress, eat nicely vanished. All I saw was pure joy- childhood joy.

Later it dawned on me that I can easily forget that that 3 second lift in the air is all he really wants from me. That feeling of being swept up into the sunny air with secure hands holding him up. Some days it seems like we are far from that moment. He is just like me stubborn, argumentative, secure in his position, and outwardly unashamed of it. Hence our tug of war.

Today I got something too. I was "Cohen's mother" for a brief moment. Not child minder, or scheduler, or maid, or peace keeper. I was just a happy mom swinging her happy child a little closer to the sun.

Thanks Coach Peter!