Guest Post – Stay-at-home moms, I salute you!

Because she loves us SO much, Julia’s mother-in-law and the Sisterhood’s second mother, Dianne, joins us AGAIN as a guest blogger. WE LOVE YOU TOO! 

As you may know, I am Nana to 7 amazing grandchildren. They range in age from 6 to 2, or almost 2. I gave birth to and raised 4 wonderful children. During that time, I was a working woman.

This kind of working woman…

African American Woman

…not this kind…

Grandma hooker

I recently had the privilege of spending a day in the life of Julia. With Julia comes her accessories, Sophie, Lillian and Isaac. These are numbers 1, 2 and 6 in the line-up of grandbabies, and they are aged 6, 4 and 2 (okay, almost 2).

Unlike Julia, my day started at a leisurely 6:45. We had planned to spend the day together, but hadn’t worked out the finer details. A text from Julia and I was on my way to their house to bring Nana-Jam, have breakfast and coffee, and swap vehicles with Ben. I arrived at 7:30. By this time things are hopping at the Mills’ household. Everyone but Lillian is up having breakfast, Ben is dressed and ready for work while getting toast for Isaac; Julia is trying to manage 13 things at once, including launching that day’s blog post; and Sophie is being the sauciest six-year-old granddaughter anyone could have –  I wouldn’t have her any other way. Lillian emerges from deep sleep before Ben sprints out the house.

I tell Julia “Sit still, have a coffee and just relax.” HA! DOUBLE HA!

We chat about the things we want to accomplish that day: go to St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market to get fresh strawberries to make more Nana-Jam, a visit to the dollar store, make Nana-Jam, a drop-in kindergarten boot camp for Lillian at the library, a quick run to Costco, lunch at some time, nap for Isaac and down-time for both Sophie and Lillian, supper together and bed time before Ben arrives home after footie practice. That is a fully-packed day for adults, never mind dragging along 3 children.

I am so naïve; I think I can handle this day. I forget what it’s like to be kept in line by the terrorists. They have needs and demands. Lunch is not something that can happen whenever, snacking is a necessity and a nap for Isaac is a must. There are the required bathroom breaks; no, Lillian cannot hold it any longer – either stop and pee in the bushes behind the van at market, or you risk having an accident. And that accident, that one is your fault for not recognizing that children have a bladder the size of a walnut.

Undaunted, we start our day. Because not everyone moves at the same pace, we don’t get onto the road until almost 10.  It’s a Thursday – going to market at 10 am should not pose a problem. But, it’s the Thursday after Canada Day, which means it’s a virtual long weekend. Every man and his dog is at market. We had to park in an area I didn’t even know existed!

FlagThere are so many good things about market. Does it get any better than shopping in the sunshine, smelling the produce, sampling local food? Fortunately, the snacks are plentiful. Bananas and mangoes are the snack of choice. Disaster averted.

It was busier when we were there!

It was busier when we were there!

After the market, we should be thinking about the drop-in kindergarten boot camp. Nope, it was off the list before we got to market.

Okay, let’s visit Aunt Toni. Her office is 2 minutes away from the market. Easy. We don’t get lost, we find Aunt Toni. I am grateful that our visit is in the parking lot; my feet are sore, my knees ache and I really need Tylenol. We get to help make Aunt Toni’s day. The visit has elevated everyone’s spirits.

Next stop, let’s visit Grammie at her work and go for lunch!  Before we arrive to pick up Grammie, Isaac has succumbed to sleep.  No worries – some fuel and he will be good to go until we reach my house for a proper nap.

While Isaac is napping, Julia curls up on the couch. The cool of the rec room, the lull of the TV playing in the background, the calm of the afternoon and she is out too! It’s at this point that I realize she has worked for this nap, and she really deserves it. Me, my feet are sore, my ankle hurts and I’m tired, but I can do this! Besides, it’s hard to nap when grandbabies are talking to you and expect an intelligent response.

It is now just after 4 pm. Isaac is scheduled to wake up. We haven’t started supper yet, there has been no afternoon snack, strawberries are not cleaned let alone made into Nana-Jam. There are so many casualties to the list we so industriously made this morning. I suggest to Julia that we get some grapes for snack while I make supper. Nope, there is that Costco run yet. So, snack then Costco. Easy! HA! TRIPLE HA! I AM SO NAÏVE!

Costco without children is a challenge; Costco with 3 children is insane. But, I can do this. In case you missed it, I didn’t mention that we haven’t unloaded any of Julia’s purchases from market yet. We have only been to my house to unload my purchases.  But, let’s go to Costco to buy more! More necessities, more toilet paper in giant packages, more family-sized boxes of cereal, more over-sized bags of chips, more gallons of yogurt, more cases of diapers and all things family-sized.  And, just to add to the mayhem, let’s pick up these things for other members of the family too!

The hunger is starting to overtake the children. Sophie sees sample tables and begs for a taste, Lillian and Isaac are not far behind. By the time we are done at Costco it is close to 6 pm. We have managed to stuff the van with everyone’s purchases in such a manner that we can actually distinguish my groceries. This will be handy since we are off to my place for dinner. I like this idea as I won’t have to unload groceries by myself later that night.

Julia, an expert at squeezing everything she can into a day suggests that we venture to the dollar store. I implore her, we can’t fit another thing into the van. Off to Nana’s house for a quick supper, thank goodness.

If you refuel children, they get their second wind. Dinner is over at 7:15, Sophie and Lillian are looking to sneak downstairs where all the “good” toys are. No can do, bed time is in 15 minutes and we won’t make it home before then. Did I mention that my feet are killing me, my ankle has started to balloon, my knee aches like a son-of-a-gun and there isn’t enough Tylenol to satisfy me? But, I can do this! I have to do this, Ben still has my car.

After dinner is cleared, it’s time to pack up and head for Ben and Julia’s. Julia drives and I am so grateful. I am yawning like crazy. We make it all the way to bed time for the children. I love them so much and I love them even more when they are tucked in.

We unload the van of the day’s purchases. By ‘we’ I mean Julia unloads the van and walks everything to the door of the house, I just need to place things in the kitchen or in an area for pick up by others. I am so tired.

Oh, did I mention that Julia was going to do some freelance writing that evening, after our monotonous day? Just sneak in an hour or two, that’s all. Nothing to it if you haven’t spent every ounce of your energy running after children. I get set up to watch some TV while waiting for Ben, Julia is busy writing. Mercifully, Ben is not late – he arrives shortly before 9 pm.

I’m exhausted. Julia looks relaxed as she easily jokes with Ben. He has a small gift for her. A while ago, Julia ran a half-marathon with three of her best buds. Ben presents her with a commemorative mug – it has a picture of the victorious ladies. Just another day in the life of.

This day has been long and it has shown me that being a stay-at-home mom is not a life filled with bon-bon eating and watching TV. My ordinary day consists of sitting behind a desk to crunch numbers; I’m a whiz with a calculator and a computer. Saturday and Sunday I’m a regular weekend warrior – I cut the grass, clean the floors and do laundry. I don’t try to manage a plethora of duties including child care, household management, first aid, sanitation for the nation, logistics and supplies procurement. I take my hat off to all the stay-at-home-moms. Their job is the hardest anyone will ever do, but it is the most rewarding. It is the job that will determine the direction our nation will take. These domestic engineers mold our future doctors, teachers, politicians, ditch-diggers, farmers and car mechanics. We should never take them for granted.

~ Dianne (a.k.a. Nana)

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

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A working mom with a twist

In keeping with last week’s theme of friends named Krista, Julia’s friend from high school and university, Krista Pelton, joins us a guest blogger. It’s her first time with the Sisterhood and we’re so glad she’s here! 

I am a working mom.

I went back to work when my son was 14-months old, part-time, and it slowly progressed to full-time. I worked when my husband was not working, mostly, and friends and family watched my son.

Then, it became hard when my son turned 3 and no longer napped. I could no longer work from home in the afternoons. My little bubble burst.

So, our solution? It was not full-time daycare. It was Daddy-took-a-leave-of-absence-from-work. One that extended until junior kindergarten starts this fall.

Aleksandr Ryzhov/Shutterstock

Aleksandr Ryzhov/Shutterstock

When junior kindergarten starts this fall, my husband will have been away from his job for 22 months. So I could pursue my career without any barriers. He had a job and I had a career. There is a huge difference. The pursuit of my career path far outweighed the job.

After almost 22 months it is still the best decision we have made. Besides getting married and having our son. I wake up and go. I worry about myself and no one else every morning. I don’t feel guilty or stressed out. I get to be 100% present working and when I come home I can be 100% present.

I leave the rest to my husband who has picked up the duty of stay-at-home dad like a pro. He is the one that potty-trained him in two days. Even through the night. True story.

Sure, eventually he is going back to work but until our son settles into school it won’t happen. These last 22 months have been extremely rewarding to see my son and husband become so close. Their routine and bond is something only a father/son can understand and I am thankful I had my 22 months and my husband had his 22 months fair and square.

I can’t speak much to being a working mother because I have the fortunate backing of a stay-at-home dad. I don’t have crazy daycare challenges, rushing around and worrying about who’s getting our son every night, or worrying about how much time I get to see him in a day. He wakes up when he is ready, has a great day with his dad and dog and then I come home to a smiling, happy boy.

It was an unconventional decision, although it’s becoming more common in today’s society.

We simply don’t like chaos. We didn’t even like the thought of being stressed out. We did it because it made sense to us at the time and it still rings true today. It’s only money after all, but being 3 and 4? Money can’t buy that.

~ Krista Pelton

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Guest Post – Pursuit of Passion

Toni’s friend from college and fellow marketing grad, Krista joins us today for her first blog post with the Sisterhood!

So I have been laid off from work for over five months now. Yeah…still hard to say it.

Your work becomes part of your identity. People meet you and they say “so, what do you do?” or “where do you work?”. For some reason having to say you have been laid off can feel like a failure. I got down on myself, spent a number of days having a Netflix binge and seeing 5 pm roll around feeling so unproductive. Another failure.

I wasn’t fully happy at my old job. I wasn’t used to my full potential and felt where I did excel, they didn’t need me. Don’t get me wrong, having a job is great. You get to talk to people, finish something, work on projects, have that team atmosphere, get paid…all that good stuff. But what I have failed to realize is how important passion is. Passion drives all of us and unfortunately I had put mine in the back seat.

Slowly, I have been trying to work at discovering what I am passionate about. Finding tasks, projects, or events (or parts of them) that really light that fire inside of me. Get that inspiration going that makes you feel on top of the world. So I started keeping tabs on what makes me feel that way:

I know I love helping and doing random acts of kindness

To me I find helping people so selfish. I get this high from doing it that I have never experienced anywhere else. I have always been like that. Whether it be sending gifts at Christmas to families that can’t afford toys for their kids, buying coffee for strangers and having a conversation with them, always being there for my friends (any time, any place), complimenting people, holding doors, waiting for CAA to arrive to help a stranger who locked their keys. I never expect anything in return and it is shocking how many people are surprised. What I do know is that one act of kindness has a ripple effect. Not just for the other person but for myself too. I knew I needed to volunteer more to experience this more often. I am organizing the kids area at this year’s Waterloo Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk. This is a whole new world for me, but I have already met some amazing people and couldn’t be more excited to see how it all turns out. I also volunteer with Victim Services of Waterloo Region as a Crisis Responder. I offered to come into the office to help to get some extra hours in on top of the shifts I take every month. Both these organizations I am passionate about. I am a Type-1 Juvenile Diabetic and have been a victim of robbery at gunpoint. I know why both these organization exist and it gives me so much satisfaction being able to help in areas that I am really passionate about.

I know I love being creative

I have always been that person, trying new art projects, taking classes or just randomly grabbing a paint brush and hitting the canvas. I started being more creative. I got out my old jewelry making supplies and made some necklaces, I painted a few pictures, I started colouring, and taking photos. I realized that I love creating something that has no guidelines. Something purely personal that probably only I will ever see. I know I could never make a living with it but I know now that I need to keep the creativity in my life. It is something that lights that fire of passion inside me.

creative

Garden creativity at its best!

I know I love connecting with myself

I took a yoga class. Yoga is an activity that gets me back to the present. It keeps me focused on the here and now. Not what was or what could be. I realized in my funk of being laid off that I was focusing too much on the past and the future. What good is that going to do me? I guess it was something to think about while zoning out on another One Tree Hill episode. That cycle had to stop. I know that wherever life leads me that I need something to keep me grounded and focused in the present. I could spent a lot of wasted energy in the past or the future while my present becomes the past….something I can’t change.

I know I love animals

Spending so much time with our dog Wallabee has been AMAZING – do I ever love that guy! When they say petting a dog reduces stress, they were not kidding. There is something about that wet nose on your lap and that wagging tail that makes me so happy. Wallabee and I were close before but being home all day with him as made our bond so much closer. He got sick the other night and when he came back to bed he wanted to cuddle up right next to me (and not my boyfriend which I think made him mildly jealous lol). Melted my heart. I need animals in my life – it lights that fire, plain and simple. That unconditional love you receive is like nothing else.

Wallabeeeeeeeee ♥

Wallabeeeeeeeee ♥

I know I love baking

I started making pies, cookies, cupcakes, and cakes. There is something therapeutic to me about mixing things together and out come these delicious treats. That not only taste good, but you can make them look good. I get to be creative and make treats! The fact that I get so excited about it leads me to believe I have some serious passion for it. It makes me so happy to see how much people love my baking. I sent some cookies off to my boyfriend’s work and someone asked for the recipe. I was so proud and then realized that I really improvised the recipe….now to try and recall what I did…uh-oh. But I knew that feeling of passion is inside when I have the oven on and the house smells delicious.

Yeah, I did that :)

Yeah, I did this 🙂

Finding a life full of passion is more than a job. I am looking at this lay off as an opportunity to figure out what I need in my life to feel fulfilled on all levels. It is unlikely I will find a job that incorporates all of the above. What I do know is that it has to have passion. I need to keep checking in on myself and ask “what do I need?”. I need to ensure that no matter what job I end up at that I remember what is important and it is not the pay cheque. I am truly lucky to have a really supportive and loving boyfriend who wants me to get the right job, not just any job (did I mention I am passionate about him? I totally am). When I have days full of all the things I am passionate about I notice an immense difference of what comes my way. The positivity from people is almost overwhelming. I want that feeling every day of my life.

I am a 29 year old woman on the pursuit of passion and I wouldn’t have had this chance if I wasn’t laid off.

~ Krista

 If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

1997

Julia’s mother-in-law and the Sisterhood’s second mother, Dianne, joins us again as a guest blogger. We are in awe of her strength in surviving her abusive marriage and we are inspired by her bravery in sharing her story out loud. 

Story will inspire

This is a story that has lived within me for several years, actually for almost two decades. This is a story that few have ever told, but if you know it, the story must be told. It’s a true story, one meant to inspire others, not one meant to elicit pity. Pity is not what I needed; strength and inspiration – that’s what I was looking for.

It started a long time ago, when I was a young girl. I met my sweetheart. We were very young, 14 or 15. Circumstances would lead us to marry others, but circumstances would also bring us back together. It’s at that point that the real tale begins.

I believed, like so many young women, that the man I would marry would hold me dear in his heart. He would cherish me, guard me, and protect me. Never would he harm me. I believed that whatever faults I saw, things would be okay because of the underlying truth: he loved me. This was at a time when I believed that people would change for the better, or I could help them change.

My childhood sweetheart was raised in a Christian home, believing in God. His parents were blue-collar hard-workers. I remember his dad in particular. He worked shift work at the tire factory in Kitchener. He landed his job during a time when an education was not necessary to maintain a steady paycheque. At the end of a long day, he would come home to deal with a busy household comprising of five children and a sickly wife. His reward was a cigarette and a beer.

My husband grew up and followed in his dad’s footsteps. He was uneducated. Times had changed and as a result, my husband had difficulty holding down a job. As it turned out, the love of my life was plagued by demons. He believed that he was not worthy of any of life’s treasurers, certainly not love. Because of this, one beer became two, became six. Soon the motto was: “24 beers, 24 hours in a day, not a coincidence.”

I was a master at justifying anything. “He drinks because he worked hard, he drinks because life is so busy, he drinks because…” There were a thousand good reasons to drink, and there were no good reasons to drink. He drank copious amounts, but beer was his drink of choice. I discovered that if he drank spirits, he was more difficult to handle once he was drunk.

Now when I say, “more difficult to handle,” what I really mean is he became violent, physically abusive. As it turned out, he was more violent with spirits, but that didn’t stop his temper when he was drinking just beer. Remember, I was good at justifying anything. I would say things like, “He only drinks on the weekend “(lie), or, “If he drinks beer, he doesn’t get too violent” (another lie). I would console myself by saying, “He doesn’t hit the children,” something that eventually became another lie. I even tried telling myself that others didn’t know. Others knew. They knew and didn’t know what to do.

Friends and family would watch in horror as I sported new bruises. There were so many battles fought over the course of 12 years. So many times I wondered what I had gotten into, how could I change things, could I ever learn the rules of living with him? I knew this was a dangerous situation, ready to go off at any minute. If I said the wrong thing, said something with the wrong tone, served something for supper that wasn’t up to his liking, there would be hell to pay.

After one particularity disastrous birthday and Father’s Day, I went to church with bruises on my face, neck, arms and upper torso. Not cleverly-disguised bruises – these were big, purple, angry bruises. The next day at work, someone asked me what happened. I told them I ran into a door. Looking at me, you knew I would have to run into the door repeatedly to get these bruises. Bravely, I told the lie.

I remember this weekend clearly – it’s the weekend my babies watched as I was choked and beaten. All I could think of was getting away with my babies. I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have money; I just needed to get away. It was also the weekend I made up my mind that things would change.

I started dreaming of schemes, trying to figure out how we could leave the home without bringing on another beating. I didn’t care about the things in the house, they were just things and I could earn money to get more things. I envisioned so many scenarios. Maybe he would go away for the weekend and come home to an empty house. Maybe he would be involved in an accident and I could become a grieving widow…problem solved.

One thing I wanted to keep sacred was my relationships – they were few and far between. I didn’t want other people burdened with the mess I had gotten myself into. I wouldn’t ask for help. I had been virtually cut off from family, so I couldn’t ask them. This is very typical of an abusive relationship, isolate the victim.

It was almost two years to the day before I finally had enough. With no plan in mind, with little cash resources, we left. We left and made a stand…NO MORE! I didn’t care if he kept everything in the house, he would never touch any of us again. Never again would we live in fear. There would be no more angry voices in my home.

It was the scariest day of my life…EVER. But, it was like being born, a new day with new hope. It was refreshing to get up in the morning and know that I was in control of all that was before me. If something went wrong, I would be responsible for making it right. I also knew that I wouldn’t depend on someone else; there would be no more disappointments.

If you are a victim, you will know when you’ve had enough. It takes a lot of courage to leave; it takes a lot of courage to stay. Make plans, but be prepared to move at a moment’s notice.

Your friends are watching you, they want to help but don’t know how. They can’t believe that you would stay where you are, but don’t know what it’s like to walk in your shoes.

If you know a victim, be their support. Don’t judge someone for remaining, you never know what you would do yourself. Be an ear. Protect the children; give them a reprieve in the chaos. Have a moving truck and plenty of strong, young men on standby.

Remember to protect yourself. Once you are free, never look back. You will second-guess yourself for a long time. Your memory will play tricks on you. You will think, “Was it really all that bad?” I have a crack in my jaw that hurts sometimes; this reminds me that yes, it was that bad.

The bible doesn’t say “reconcile and forget,” it simply says “forgive and forget.” Forgiveness does not mean the renewal of the relationship; it is the power to let go. Reconciliation is forgiveness with the expectation of a continued relationship. Don’t kid yourself – there is no expectation of a continued relationship.

Your ex-partner will be angry. They will plead. They will promise to never hurt you again. They will try to convince you that it never happened. Stay strong. Find your friends again. Cry, laugh and cry again. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Be reborn. Rejoice in the day.

I’ve survived. My children have survived. It was 1997, so long ago, but only yesterday. Scars will heal. We will be okay.

~ Dianne

If you are someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is hope and there is help. You are stronger than your story, braver than you know, and a survivor through and through.

In Ontario, call 1-866-863-0511 24/7.

In Ontario, call 1-866-863-0511 24/7.

Call 1-800-799-7233 in the US 24/7.

Call 1-800-799-7233 in the US 24/7.

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Guest post – How many pins could a pinner nail if a pinner could nail Pinterest?

Julia’s sister-in-law and the Sisterhood’s honourary fifth sister, Kim, is back again with another guest post, this time tackling Pinterest! 

Pinterest is a bully.

It’s that snotty kid in third grade that had better clothes, better accessories and better hair and made sure that everyone knew about it. It shows you cute and easy things to add to your ever growing list of things life already demands and says, just one more finishing touch and this will be perfect. You will be perfect. It makes stay-at-home moms look bad for not doing these cutesy crafts with their kids every second of the day and it fuels the anxiety-ridden masses to push harder and set the bars unrealistically high.

Plus, it’s a liar.

How many times have you tried to replicate something you’ve seen and fallen short of the desired outcome? Often times this can be because of user error, failure to read the instructions, failure to include instructions or the fact that we just aren’t meant to build a 3D paper model of the Eiffel tower. Actually, it looks super easy as long as you have the right tools…

With Halloween right around the corner and a skeptic heart, I decided to try some popular decorating ideas and see what happens. Oh my, indeed.

First up: Frankenstein pudding cups.

They look pretty standard so I didn’t even bother to pull up the photo for reference. Whoops! Had I done that, I may have realized I needed an Oreo cookie topping or that even a chocolate cake crumb topping would have sufficed.

So I gathered my supplies and set to work.

Pinterest - Frankenstein set up

Instructions:

  1. Draw faces on the cups with permanent markers
  2. Follow the pudding instructions and add green food colouring
  3. Put the pudding into the cups and sprinkle on your topping

My first thought was that these would be awesome for a classroom party or even as an office treat. What I didn’t realize was that one box of pudding only makes 4 – ½-cup servings. So either parents everywhere are going to stock up on pudding and cause a global shortage OR parents are going to be sending in tiny pudding shots to their children’s classroom parties. It’s rather fussy, so just eat your damn pudding the normal way!

As a side note, if you are going to make these, make sure your cups are plain and don’t have any designs on them like mine do.

Pinterest - Frankenstein finished

Next up: Jell-O worms.

Despite the fact that these worms actually look like worms (gross!) I was picturing mine to be more like a gummy worm and opted for green Jell-O.

Pinterest - Worms set up

Instructions:

  1. Follow the Jell-O instructions
  2. Secure straws with a rubber band
  3. Pour Jell-O into the straws
  4. Once set they should slide right out.

Being cocky got me into some trouble as I didn’t read the instructions, and although I couldn’t figure out how the Jell-O would stay in the straws I continued anyways.

Fingers crossed!

Fingers crossed!

Then this happened.

Pinterest - Worms finished product

It turns out that after making the Jell-O as per usual, you need to add whipping cream and you MUST use bendy straws or it won’t work. Oh well, just boring regular Jell-O for now. I can see this one being a pain in the ass so I’ll just stick to buying my gummy worms from the Bulk Barn.

And finally, I thought I would try the melted crayon pumpkin.

Instructions:

  1. Lay down a garbage bag or newspaper to place your pumpkin on
  2. Peel off the papers on the crayons
  3. Glue crayons around the base of the stem
  4. Use a hairdryer on low to melt the crayons

Pinterest - Pumpkin set up

There are a few things I’d like to say about this one. I was going to use the crazy glue to stick the crayons on, but after fighting with a sewing needle to pierce the opening and then the pliers to free the sewing needle, I discovered that the entire tube was dry.

So I thought I would just melt the crayons enough with the hairdryer to make them stick to the pumpkin that way. I now have third-degree burns on my fingers.  *Tip: Use a glue gun instead. I have 2!*

Also, it said to only use half a crayon, but I thought it looked a little sparse so I used the whole thing. Wow, crayon overload. And it does say specifically to use the hairdryer on low, but I became impatient and turned it on high. It goes so much faster, but it also makes the hot crayon spray in random directions. Needless to say I involuntarily waxed my legs in a few spots.

Pinterest - Pumpkin final product

I wasn’t overly impressed with the end result, because in the end I’m going to have to carve it and clean it anyways, so this one was kind of a waste too.

In conclusion, I spent my entire evening trying to complete these crafts for the Halloween season and, to be honest, I hate this holiday.

Also, Emma needs more crayons.

~ Kim

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Guest Post – Never ever

Julia’s sister-in-law and the Sisterhood’s honourary fifth sister, Kim, is here for her second guest post! Her first, about a steamy Leo DiCaprio dream, can be found here.  

Something wonderful happens when you become a parent. Your world changes for the better and your heart becomes bigger and filled with love beyond any capacity that you even knew was humanly impossible. You would do anything, be anything, for your small bundle of joy and often times you do.

iStock_Happy-Family-Large-size

You become that parent that sings goofy songs to distract your child from their most recent bruise; you do ridiculous dances to entertain them while their meal is cooking and partly because you’re bored and full of caffeine. You start judging other parents and the choices they make because they are different from yours and you become a hypocrite of your own words only a few months into parenthood, because you had no idea what you were talking about then.

Yes, becoming parent changes things. It changes you. Sometimes it’s messy and silly and hard and emotional. So to help you remember that it’s worth it and that even if today is rough, tomorrow will be a new day, I’ve made a drinking game just for parents! Because hey – who couldn’t use a little break to relax after you’ve spent all day wiping the same nose, butt and face!?

201102-omag-makeover-morning-600x411

busy-mommy

Introducing…

Never Ever: The Parenting Edition

Rules: Gather your favourite friends with shorties and have a sip/shot/gulp for every sentence that is true. Feel free to add your own statements too!

Never ever have I washed toys that were once in the toilet.

Never ever have I served my kid hot dogs or macaroni and cheese for three or more meals within the same week.

Never ever have I retrieved an object from my child’s orifice that wasn’t their mouth.

Never ever have I expanded the 10-second rule beyond one minute.

Never ever have I let my kid wear the same outfit more than three days in a row.

Never ever have I told my kid to be careful when climbing bookshelves, dressers or counters.

Never ever have I skipped every other page during stories.

Never ever have I broken into my kid’s candy stash from Easter/Halloween/Christmas.

Never ever have I blamed my kid for my own lateness.

Never ever have I questioned if a substance was poop or chocolate/pee or water.

Never ever have I let my kid eat snacks found in their car seat, couch cushions or underneath the furniture.

Never ever have I seen my kid hanging from a chandelier and thought to myself, “I’ve seen them do worse.”

Never ever have I thought, “Unless there’s blood, I’m not breaking up their fight.”

Never ever have I seen my kid doing something dangerous and thought about how it would make for an awesome extreme sport.

Never ever have I had to fish poop out of the bath, shower or sink.

Never ever have I used the same threats on my kids that my parents did with me.

Never ever have I taken my kid out in a Halloween costume and it wasn’t even October.

Never ever have I saved getting out dessert for when my kids are in bed.

Never ever have I pretended I didn’t know my kid when they had a temper tantrum in public.

~~~

Please drink responsibly and think about saving this game for a night when the sitter can sleep over! 😉

~ Kim

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Guest post – To Sophie, my mother’s namesake

Julia’s mother-in-law and the Sisterhood’s second mother, Dianne, joins us again as a guest blogger. Check out her first post here

I miss my mom, some days more than others. It sneaks up on me when I least expect it. In the summer I think of her more than in the winter, her birthday was August 12.

I remember as a child listening to my mom. She was number five of 22. The reason that my grandparents stopped at 21? My Uncle Bernard was just a baby when my grandfather passed away. My mom was part of the first baby boomer generation; she was born in 1918, just after WWI. She was made of stuff you just don’t see these days. Her childhood was harsh, her life as an adult was no easier. She was beyond tenacious; she was stubborn. Sophie may have inherited this gene.

Mom talked about when my grandma gave birth to her twin boys. Born in the field, they were premature and too young to survive past a few days. They were kept warm in baking pans on the door of the wood stove. My mom talked about my Uncle Romeo and how he and my Aunt Yvonne had tied up all their siblings one Saturday morning while my grandparents went to market. Life in northern Ontario was an adventure, to say the least.

These were the easy stories to tell. She didn’t speak often about her relationship with her parents. My mom was outspoken; my sister inherited that gene. I guess Mom voiced her opinion one too many times for the liking of my grandmother and they parted ways. I didn’t see much of my aunts, uncles, cousins or grandmother growing up.

Following Malvina`s funeral, the Labine daughters

My mother and aunts after my grandmother’s funeral. Mom is third from the right. 1967

 

My uncles after my grandmother’s funeral. 1967

My uncles after my grandmother’s funeral. 1967

When my grandmother passed away I was 10 years old, the last of nine children for my mother. Through a series of circumstances, Mom was not allowed to raise her first five children. She was a divorced woman at a time when that was not popular. There was no Social Services safety net at the time. Mom had a Grade 6 education, not quite enough to financially support her brood. The bias of the time dictated that she was unfit. This judgement caused her to lose custody of her children.

After Mom married Dad, they had us four. I like to think Mom kept having children until she achieved perfection. Both my parents were married twice, but I couldn’t tell you much about my father and his first family as my parents separated when I was two.

What I do know for certain is that WWII was over, I was a baby boomer like my mom, the family birth rate had dropped by over 50% and we had become urban dwellers. We were sophisticated! Milk came in glass bottles and Aunt May’s Bakery delivered bread in a plastic bag right to your door.

Christmas 1961. I’m the cute one with the baby.

Christmas 1961. I’m the cute one with the baby.

My mom was the sergeant major in our army. She taught my sister and I that we didn’t really need to work hard in school, some day we would fall in love with a man and he would take care of us for the rest of our lives. RIGHT, because that worked so well for her.

She also taught us girls how to sew, cook and put away preserves. Today, I am thankful to know how to do these things. It has helped me leave my mark here. Everyone I know appreciates NanaJam.

Mom had old, outdated standards, as far as I was concerned. My brothers didn’t need to help in the garden, or to learn how to vacuum; that was women’s work. They joined air cadets, went to summer camp and skipped painting the house.

She fought hard for us and taught us a work ethic that carried us through our adult years. I remember my oldest brother was followed home by some rough kids. Mom met them in the back yard and hopped the fence to where they were. Angry words were exchanged, the police were called and the other kids left. We were a tight family.

Through time, we grew up and moved away. We found our careers, married and raised children. We have watched each other grow older. Mom passed away in 2005. She was 86 years old. If you look closely, you will find parts of my mother in each one of us.

Each of us is given a set of tools, things that will help us through life. We gather these tools when we are young, hone the blades as adults and use them throughout our lives. I look at the toolbox I have and compare it to my mom’s. Ben once said that my mom only had a flat screwdriver and a hammer in her toolbox, and that someone had broken the handle on her screwdriver.

I look at all she accomplished in her life and tried to imagine the battles she had fought. It’s true she was not educated, never owned property and died as poor as a church mouse. She used to say “It’s not a sin to be poor, just inconvenient all the time.” When asked what kind of car she drove she used to say she was the Lone Ranger without a horse. She never expected anyone to carry her, she only asked for fair treatment from a system that was learning compassion. She led by example and never expected anyone to do something she wasn’t willing to do herself.

One of the greatest things mom taught me was that family was first. Work is a means to an end. It is the way we support ourselves. Mom would say things like “You can love money all you want, but it will never love you back.” Friends are great, but in the end it is family that will see you through.

As I preside over my mini-dynasty, I hope that I have learned enough from my mom to be worthy of this position. It is with great joy when I look at my grandchildren and know that they will grow up with weird uncles, crazy aunts, goofy cousins and a Nana.

Mom was a storyteller. My sister says I have inherited that gene. When we gather as family for a BBQ or a birthday, to celebrate each other or just because, let’s remember to tell the stories that keep the past alive and help us remember where we came from.

~ Dianne

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Guest post – The importance of moms

Ben, Julia’s husband and knight-in-shining armor, is our guest blogger today! He’s kicking off our Mother’s Day Week by writing about the mothers in his life. Watch for more posts about motherhood all next week in honour of mothers and their day, Sunday May 11, 2014. 

~~~

Mom: What day is it?

Me: Second Sunday in May.

This is a conversation I had frequently with my Mom. It usually followed my asking her for something. Can I go out to my friend’s house? Can you proofread my essay? Can I borrow the van (there’s no way I drove it as much as you did, right?)?

It was her unique way of saying “Yes, but make sure you appreciate this.”

This is to say nothing of the things that she provided even when I didn’t directly ask for them: a home, food (I ate A LOT), clothes. Things that are easy to overlook, until you have to provide them yourself.

Moms give.

Moms teach.

She had other, less subtle ways of reminding me of the importance of Mom (though I don’t recall her referring to herself in the 3rd person). I remember her driving to and from Confirmation classes, during which she would ask us to recite the Commandments and Articles of Our Faith, our memory homework. She would call out one of them and “volunteer” one of us to recite it. Of course her favourite has always been the fourth commandment (I’m sure she asked for this one more than any of the others). She could still ask for it today, and I would be able to tell her (here it is as I remember it):

Source: The Ten Commandments

Source: The Ten Commandments

“Hounor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

What does this mean?

We shall fear and love God that we do not despise nor vex our parents or superiors. But rather love, honour, obey, serve and esteem them.”

Moms drive.

Moms teach (because we have so much to learn).

I have no difficulty saying that my Mom has been one of the greatest influences in my life. But as I grew and experienced more, other Moms came into the picture of my life, with a similarly profound impact.

When I was dating my future wife (you may know her as Julia), I was warned by a mutual friend, not to upset the “Mama Bear.” She was fiercely protective of her girls. I’m happy to say, I made it through the courtship without being mauled. Our relationship started off slowly, tentatively, but it grew until she became my Other Mom. It is a title she has earned. I refuse to call her mother-in-law, or any of the other less savoury names.

Moms protect.

Moms accept.

One of the great parts of becoming a parent was watching Julia grow into a Mom. Even before we were married, she was a mother and champion to those around her. Throughout her journey with and battle against PPD, she has become a champion of the cause and made a number of new friends. She used her own experience to empathize with and inspire others.

When we were deciding how to handle Lillian’s unique situation, with the doctor appointments in Toronto, weekly speech therapy and complicated hearing equipment, Julia stepped up – instinctively – and became the stay-at-home mom. In the end, it was a decision that we made considering all the facts, although her initial reaction speaks to the Mom she is.

Moms help.

Moms nurture.

Moms work relentlessly work at a job that no one in their right mind would willingly accept.

 

What day is it? The second Sunday in May. Now what are you going to do about it?

~ Ben

 

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Guest post – Surviving the empty nest

Julia’s mother-in-law and the Sisterhood’s second mother, Dianne, joins us today as our guest blogger. She’s awesome, so show her some love! ❤

~~~

When do we realize we have changed? It’s not the subtle changes we notice individually, but one day, after an enormous number of microscopic changes, we wake up and realize we are no longer “that person”…whoever that person was. For me, ‘cuz I can only speak for me, that person was someone else’s someone. I spent 55 years being someone else’s someone…a daughter, a little sister, the prize wife, the do-everything-be-everything mom.

Then IT happened, the empty nest happened. How, just tell me, how did this happen? Why did this happen, and especially to me? Empty nest is the quintessential double-edge sword. If it happens then you did a good job, you have successfully launched your offspring into their own lives. If it doesn’t happen then you are a failure, something went wrong and it is most likely your fault! The empty nest affirms that parenting is truly a two-person activity, because the end result is not a wonderful experience alone.

As much as having a child changes your life, no longer having one changes it. At one point in your children’s lives, you were everything to them. Slowly, they have extracted themselves from your scope of influence. If you blink, you will miss that instant when they stand alone, apart from you. You won’t realize it has happened until you discover that the grocery bill has dropped. Now you shop for groceries for special occasions, when the children and grandchildren come for dinner. Otherwise, always keep freezer bags on hand so you can separate the meat into one-person portions.

The question here is how to survive, pick up and press on.

When my mom passed away nine years ago, I baked. I baked everything I knew how and learned some new tricks along the way. I baked for six months. My daughter-in-law took baking back to her mom’s; I supplied the church socials with muffins, cakes and whatever else would fit into a 9×12 pan. That was how I survived that loss. If I couldn’t be thin, then God could make everyone else fat, and I was just doing my share.

When the last one leaves, you celebrate. For me, it was the last wedding, my freedom 55! When the dust settled, the party had ended and all the extended family had gone home, the house became quiet, too quiet.

Now I needed new coping skills. I saw two therapists. The first one decided I had so many issues that he would need to see me twice a week for 18–24 months. We would spend our time digging up all my past issues I had so cleverly buried. The cost would rival my mortgage payments for the period in question. One session with him and I was instantly cured of any repressed issues.

The second therapist lasted longer. She decided on cognitive therapy; let’s talk about what is happening right now, this will help us work on acquiring new skills to cope with being abandoned. She made me think about personal current events, my beliefs regarding those events, and how I might modify my reactions and strengthen the ME I wanted to be.

When I decided to write this blog, I came across one of my homework assignments. I was to make flash cards for myself. Each flash card had 3 positive declarations. Even if I didn’t believe them, I was supposed to write them down. Each day, I was to read these statements without judgement. It’s the power of positive thinking at work.

I stopped reading these cards some time ago. It has been almost two years since the party ended. My journey has not been without trials. Lots of people envy my life. I can sleep late without guilt, I eat cereal for supper because it is easy to prepare, I use the dishwasher once a week so that the parts don’t seize. People forget that at the end of the day, if I haven’t made a conscience effort to see family, no one will touch me, no one will hug me and no one, absolutely no one, will tell me that they love me.

Today, I still am someone’s someone. I am Nana to seven beautiful grandchildren. As they learn to talk, they tell me that they love me, they reach for a hug and a kiss. They continue to need me, even if their parents don’t. What I plan on doing after they grow up, who knows. Let this be a warning to my family: I may unexpectedly drop by, looking for nothing more than a glass of water and an excuse to tell you that I love you.

~ Dianne

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Guest post – Blessed

To celebrate our 50th post, we asked our mom to write a guest blog. Thank you so much for reading with us this far! We can’t wait for the next 50. And to our Mommita – we LOVE you!

As I anxiously await each new submission to the blog, I realized something: I crave connection with my babies every day. Even as they live their lives, I still want and need to be a part of their lives. After all, I am a mom and will always be. Oh, I have added a few titles to my repertoire, Grammie being my most favorite of new additions next to girlfriend. Before this blog there were days when I had no connection with them either by phone, chat, email, text or Facebook updates. Those days I felt almost empty; something was missing. You see, my greatest accomplishment and joy are my four babies. Just thinking about them makes me cry with joy and pride. When my girls asked me to write for the blog, I responded, “You know I am going to cry,” to which Julia and Toni immediately responded, “I know,” and, true to form, I did.

I love being their mom and always have. I never doubted that I would be proud of each of them, that I would be there for them, that I would do whatever was needed to help them, guide them or rescue them. As I see what lives in their hearts, I see the girls I know, love and adore. I am blessed!

The ladies, back in the day

The ladies, back in the day (L to R: Toni, Mom, Andreah, Jacqui, Julia)

My girls, each in their own way, were my strength as I ventured to take the most challenging of steps in my life to be me again, a woman, a single woman. They were my cheering section, along with their men and the many friends, Dianne and Paula to just name a few, and family. With each step I took, from renovating the house in preparation to sell, to moving to a new town, they were there. It was hard for me to find the courage I needed. I was scared – let’s face it, I had been a part of a couple for 28 years. I had never done this before, be just me. But I am absolutely sure that it was even harder for my girls to see me venture out, dating (we call it shopping for shoes), harder for them to start a new life without the two parents they loved not be in one place.

Oh, what had I done? How have I failed them? What kind of example am I to end my marriage? This was all I could think as I watched each of them struggle to find the balance in all this. It broke my heart to see the impact on each. When I expressed this to Julia so many moons ago, she said something to me that has stuck: you have shown us that it is okay to say enough, it is okay to say this is not good for me and move on. I hear my OH so wise daughter each time I make a change in my life.

Don’t get me wrong – if I had to do it all over again I would not change a thing about our life as a family. I loved my life, loved being his wife, rallied in the title that will be mine forever- Mommy, Mom, Mommita – joyful in what was “our family” no matter how flawed it was, it was ours. Through all the trials and joys, that is where we grew, where the bond as women began. Without all those experiences we would not be who we are today – strong, independent and dependent, loving, giving and, yes, emotional women.

A wise man once said to me that if you put God in your life and seek His favour first, all things are possible. He was right. Through many prayers, I found an amazing man who I loved and lost. I was lead to an amazing job that I did not apply for but got that I love and still have today. The many of the lessons in my life have shown me that it is okay to be just me, that no matter what society says I should have done, I did my very best. I am not perfect, but that is okay too. Over time and putting God first in my morning prayers and pleadings through the tough moments, I have found a new love that makes me joyful and filled with laughter. With that love comes new joy and even more family to love. I wake up every morning in love with my man, in love with our families, so happy to be me. I am blessed as only God can bless me, with a life that is worth living with no regrets!

~ Christine (a.k.a. Mom)

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!