Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Worshipping the Graven Image Bathtub

Do you see that bad boy back there?
That has been my finish line of late.

It is my opinion that the ten commandments must needs include a disclaimer or two for motherhood.

So the 4th commandment could read:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth- unless you are in the lavender infused water in your own awesome bathtub after a brutally hard day. In which case, worship away.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pleasant Planning

  Monday mornings seem to stir up a need to write something, profound or not, so I shall.

 Will and I had a planning meeting last night and decided we should schedule in time for ourselves this week, both as a couple and time alone as individuals.  I officially have Tuesday evening to myself, somehow it feels impossible to believe this will work out long term though.  I have planned a walk so far and rejoice in the fact I am not on dish duty as well!
We have high hopes of a date night this friday, ideas for the date range from going out for dinner, buying jeans at bluenotes (home of my favourite jeans, that now have an enormous rip from crotch to upper thigh- another pant casualty due to squeezing in "skinny clothes" prematurely after having baby, and then stepping up into the van)
another idea: getting professional haircuts, since I am usually the hairdresser, this would be a fun change, and I am ready for some hair help. 
 Our children have been asking for a certain grade eight girl from school to babysit them.  Since I have yet to meet her, I decided to write a letter introducing ourselves to her and her parents.   I mentioned we could meet her parents beforehand so everyone feels comfortable.  After some discussion, Will and I settled on $10 an hour as the wage for her and I mention that in the letter as well.  We decided a babysitter will take the job more seriously and be inclined to return if she is paid well, even as a 14 year old.  We would love to have a regular date night and have "our" babysitter lined up, hopefully this works out.  I also suggested she bring a friend or sister to help her since our children are 8,6,4 and 10 months, I think it would be too much for one girl.
And the icing on the cake is that she lives quite close, so we won't have to drive accross the city to drive her home after our date. 

Just knowing that this week we have plans for fun, my load has lightened, considerably. 

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Lately - months, years - I've been finding it harder and harder to really feel anything. Numb, void of emotion, blah. I know I love my children, but I am struggling to feel the surges of complete love, fascination and adoration that used to flow so freely from within my soul. To live in the moment. To soak into myself the miracle of their very existence. I have been feeling shut down, exhausted, drained. I can recognize, discuss and analyze the malaise that I have been feeling, but helpless to find a "cure".

Last night I returned home from a few days away with only one of our children - albeit for a hockey tournament, not a luxurious spa weekend. I was exhausted physically from lack of sleep, a long drive and fighting a nasty cold. I had a hot bath and put my pajamas on, then sat and watched the kids as they played and talked. As I watched Emma playing and singing away on the piano I was overcome with a feeling of pride, adoration and love. Later as I cuddled up with Abbie I felt the old familiar tug at my heart and it struck me - relief and love all mixed together - that I still have it.

Then I thought about the importance of a little break. A time away to regain oneself. A change.
So simple. A little break from the stresses of everyday life: noise, crying, fighting, complaining, cooking, laundry, schedules, cleaning, expections, the phone, the demands. I have a beautiful life, but over the years all the little criticisms and hard moments have chipped away at my real self. My negative internal voice had all but taken over completely. It hasn't been often, but every time I take a little break, I can see more clearly, feel more deeply, love more fully when I return. I think this is probably true of most everyone, though some people seem more able to maintain a zesty joyful attitude throughout life. But I can recognize clearly that for me to thrive in my job and my life, I need to remember to take a break. Sometimes it seems impossible to do, but I think it is essential to being the kind of mother, spouse, person that I want to be.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Week in Pictures (Week 4)

History activity: The first farmers

The Euphrates and Tigris River. What a fertile crescent. We need to add some water.

Huh. Missing glove was found this week.

Jealous of my no-name peaches. They have traveled further than I.

My favourite part of the week was teaching my two oldest to play dutch blitz.

Also lovely was a date night with Mike (and Annalise)

This is what happens when you put your camera on the counter and press the shutter button with a wooden skewer. Just so you know.


More hyper.

Week Four in Pictures (Jane)

I was looking at the huge area rugs at Home Sense while in Sudbury and must have been feeling a little funky cause I really like this flowery one. It would not actually go with our furniture at this time, but it suits the room, it is huge! and I think it kind of suits me. I took pictures to show Jody and to think about it..... I also bought a smaller, safer cream-coloured one for my room or....

Isaac giving me his angry look. We actually had a terrific time together this weekend and he smiled most of the time.

We were graciously hosted by my sister Megan and her family this weekend. It was so comforting to go back to their home and have real food like homemade soup & pizza and relax with them after the being in cold arenas, the noisy hotel and greasy restaurants with the team. It felt like a warm hug.

Isaac was given the MVP for the first game they played in their tournament this weekend. He also scored the only goal today. I had so much fun watching him play. He is such a sweet boy and he is really getting to be a fast skater.

David and Abbie at the outdoor rink with their school. Abbie can skate, but David was helping her go faster.

We had a freezing rain day on Monday - no school! So I let each of the kids choose a room to clean and we got the Monday work done together, practiced music and played games. I had high hopes for a fun day together and it sure started out and ended well, but the middle was a bit of a struggle.

Freaky Deak

I've been "away" (mentally) and not at all in the "posting on a blog" zone. I don't know if it's the moon or the weather or just the month of January, but something has been up. The mini's have been HYPER. I felt I really needed to stayed tuned in and present with them this week.
So I did.
And I thought about stuff.

One thought:
I have always valued and been kinda jealous of Mike's ability to be patient, loving, gentle and happy, essentially most, if not all of the time. Where did this super-power come from? Why hasn't he trained me in the way of perma-calmness? (His answers are suspiciously unclear: "This is just the way I am" Wha?? )

Yet even with all his gifty gifts he cannot do this job of raising 4 kids without me. My skills as a momma and my unique personality are just what this family needs.

We watched a super lame movie last night and had a little discussion afterwards. Something Mike said stuck with me. "You could do my job (support the family financially) but I couldn't do your job (nurture, extreme multitasking)."  I wonder how true this is. I know he could do it, but it's a wonderful thing that we can divide and conquer according to our natures and gifts.
 Pair this rock star lady with that zen-like dude and you get a couple able to tackle the needs of this family. The craziness still throws us, but I believe if we both stay "signed in" to our parenthood account, we can do great things.
Or not.
But there's always the fact that I like to fold the laundry and he likes to put it away.
That will get us far.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Week in Pictures (Week 3)

A photo I found that one of the mini's took. Things from their perspective...

We had some snow.

Snowball fight.

Olive is a gleeful 2nd mom to this baby. Here she is changing her outfit.

This is something Mike ate this week. He put sauerkraut all over it. I thought the whole thing looked a little concerning.

Also concerning was this cat I found under the stove. (we don't have a cat)

Getting ready for our trip to Ottawa.

Pizza and the like with Mike's brother and family.

Reason for the trip- Eliza's baptism. Ezra gave the opening prayer and I gave a talk.

Ezra making an allowance chart.

We've had a lot of "potty talk" around this house. And super hyper kids.

Insanely tired momma trying to survive hours upon hours in the van. Eeek.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week Three in Pictures (Jane)

Abbie and I had a photoshoot after church today. She loved using the tripod and was quite professional - "ok now cross your eyes, make a face"...

This week I made a new dish duty chart for the family - thanks to inspiration from Megan's Blog. I think it will take a while for them to fully embrace their night, but here is Grace working away before she felt overcome and had to "go lie down"....

I finally got Isaac to clean his fish tank on Saturday too. While he waited for his home to be scrubbed and refilled, "Fishy" hung out in a crystal vase.

Emma got an Amaryllis plant for Christmas from her "Nan". It started blooming this week. I wish I had about 5 more. They look fantastic.

On Thursdays we go to Julie's for music lessons. David and Julie are working on a new song "Inisheer". Grace is learning to accompany David on the piano. Isaac asked to learn "Sourgrass and Granite" and has already gotten the first half figured out. Abbie refused to have her lesson today, but she usually plays the violin a little too. Emma was in the "recording studio" with Zach, Benoit and Vanessa working on their latest number. We are so lucky to have these guys in our lives!

Wednesday we went to celebrate the twins 6th birthday with them. They each had a candle on their own piece of cake (actually fantastic brownies with strawberries and whipped cream). They blew them out several times, then loaded each piece with candles and lit it ablaze. Gabriel loved watching the flame and waited as long as possible before blowing them out. Here they are making the flame "dance".

Also on Wednesday David and Abbie's classes went skating at the rink and Abbie's class went sliding at the school afterward.

Mealtimes have been fairly casual around here lately....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snow Day

Heidi has been waking up in the morning, running for the ipod and checking the morning's weather, all in hopes of a snow day.  She has been rewarded, this week we have had two snow days!

I love switching gears from the usual morning dialogue:

"what are you wearing today Elora?  Yes if you choose your outfit, I will help you put it on,
Micah, would you like eggs, cereal or toast?
Ok everyone we have 35 minutes we have until the bus pulls up!  Heidi grab your book review and put it in your backpack, Will your ride is here! Have a good day, do you need a ride home from work today?
Where are your mitts and hat Heidi, yes you need them, it's -25 with the wind chill."  

I also love hanging three empty clean lunch bags back on their hooks, knowing that today there will be no cleaning them after school, no soggy crusts, no smeared yogout, no dried orange peels, hooray!  Sometimes an interruption of the schedule is refreshing.

 We switched gears to a Saturday morning.  We have bread in the oven, laundry to fold, a sleeping baby and a tent set up in the living rooom to play winter camping in the mountains, where Heidi was just attacked by a grizzly.

Outside the landscape is magical.  Huge puffy snowbanks, everything blanketed in white, our yard has almost disappeared.  The trees are weighed down, with branches bowing under the weight of the pure white snow.  Each of the windows have screens heavily dusted with snow, leaving only an oval of clear glass to look out.

I remember as a child, after having such a snow fall, someone opening the front door to reveal not our usual view of the porch but darkness caused by snow almost the height of the door frame.

What are your memories of snow days?

The Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipe

A few years ago Katie called me and asked if I had a really good Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe, to which I had to reply that although I had several recipes, I wasn't truly thrilled with any of them.  I have several from cookbooks and websites that I have used over the years. But this year on allrecipes.com I have found the oatmeal raisin cookie recipe of my dreams. It is the perfect balance of chewy middle and crispy edges. It is buttery and a little spicy. I can now recommend a recipe to you and here it is:

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 or 2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. salt (I never add salt though)
3 cups oats
1 cup raisins (the good kind that are plump and moist, like Sunmaid)

You know what to do. Blend butter and sugars, add eggs & vanilla, add dry ingredients & raisins. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes (I use parchment lined jelly roll pans).

Yesterday I baked some cookies using a very similar recipe for Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, which basically omitted the spices and included chocolate chips (and raisins or nuts) but was the same ratio of butter/sugar/four/oats. They were really good too. I made some with just raisins for the two crazies in our family who don't like chocolate in baking, then loaded in the chocolate chips and raisins for the rest of us.

However, I think the secret to the most fantastic oatmeal cookies with just raisins is the cloves. So don't make them if you don't have cloves, nope, you need to have the cloves for the most dreamy cookies of all time. If you skip the cloves, they'll be good and all, but not the best in the world.

Happy Baking...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mom Clothes

It's not to the point of hiked up wedgie jeans and a fanny pack, but things are far from pretty over here.

Today it's white sports socks, jogging pant capris  and my husbands t-shirt.
This is definitely a low for me.

My defense:

My one pair of cute jeans (that fit) are in the wash, my feet are cold (and these offensive socks are the first ones I touched this morning) and my "doughy" (as my children affectionately call it) stomach appreciates a nice loose shirt.

So what's a girl to do?

It's time to exercise and take care of this bod- I know, I know. But I'm not quite there. In the mean time I need some sort-of stylin' mom clothes to get me through.

-comfortable (bonus if my hiney doesn't fall out of the pants when I bend over. A tall order, I realize)
-highly washable
-can be ordered online
-doesn't make me look 85.

Help me!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Our First Pet.

Today I took our cat Cookie to the vet. I felt like a fraud. I answered the receptionist's basic questions then sat consulting a pamphlet about cats and casting glances into the cat carrier on the floor. Cookie looked nervous, irritated really, her green eyes blazed at me when I asked her how she was holding up. In the office I asked the vet about hair balls. I told him that she had puked up an incredibly large wad of hair a couple of times. I did not tell him that the first time she did it I thought it was a tampon. Or a whole mouse. I had spent the past few weeks telling all of my friends and relatives the story of Cookie and the oddity of her spewing forth a mouse - whole. No one questioned my rationale, though we all thought it strange. It never occurred to me that something so huge and elongated could be a hair "ball" until Isaac's 10 year old friend Micheal stopped in shortly after the second puking episode and said "that looks like a hairball", very matter-of-factly. "Not a whole mouse?" I inquired. "Ahhh, that does make a lot more sense". So today I was able to speak with confidence about hair balls and not the likely-hood of her swallowing a mouse (or tampon) whole and the vet gave me some nice tuna flavoured vaseline type cream that should help. Then he gave Cookie a few vaccinations and worm pills while I recoiled inwardly and tried not to visibly gag. They also sent me home with a nice parting gift - a pet kit with a hairbrush, toothbrush, cat toy and flea powder - which feels like a present, but is really something that they picked out and we paid for. When we arrived home the kids were gushing with concern over her needles, they cuddled her and crooned to her. They all swore their undying love and devotion to her. Grace said "you know what Mom, I love that Cookie loves me and I love her right back". Right, right, that's why I'm doing this I reminded myself. She's a pain, she's destructive, she's sometimes stinky, she's getting expensive, but our kids all love her madly. And THAT'S why we have a cat.