Letting go

I have been holding my breath for about 5 years.

Holding my breath since I peed on a stick, found out we were pregnant with our second, and praying that whatever our baby would show up with, full hearing or no hearing, that we would be prepared for it.

Holding my breath when the nurses exclaimed that our baby had the same ‘birth mark’ as her daddy. Trying desperately to tell Ben with my eyes and my heart while lying stuck and unable to move on the operating table that I loved him, that I loved our new daughter, that I loved everything and everyone and we would get through this.

White forelock, just like Daddy.

White forelock, just like Daddy.

Holding my breath when the first hearing test and every hearing test after told us what we already knew due to the white forelock just like her daddy – Lillian couldn’t hear. Nothing out of the right ear. A small amount out of her left ear.

I kept holding my breath, through her first hearing aid fittings at 4 months old, to her visits to Sick Kids for her cochlear implant, through the surgery and out again, through all the times she pulled off her ‘ears’ and popped them in her mouth.

Baby hearing aids for baby ears

Baby hearing aids for baby ears

I held my breath as we made the decision to keep me home as I couldn’t imagine anyone else having to deal with or wanting to deal with or being able to deal with Lillian’s ears like I could. I remember feeling gratified when I picked Lillian up from a babysitter to find her ears in her diaper bag because the woman just couldn’t do it. I remember holding my breath while we wrote up instruction sheets for every babysitter after, all family, never anyone but, until Lillian was old enough to help the babysitter put her ears back on because she was the expert.

Monkey Gear cap to stop her from eating her ears like candy...or toes

Monkey Gear cap to stop her from eating her ears like candy…or toes

I held my breath as we went through extensive speech therapy, starting at 4 months old with her first of a handful of speech therapists, until we met the one that would bring the words out of Lillian’s mouth, the one that would sit there and watch me cry, the one that would tell me over and over I was doing a good job. I was a good mom. I was working hard and so was Lillian and it would be okay. Dear Heather, the speech therapist who I said I would invite to Lillian’s high school graduation so she could hear Lillian’s valedictorian speech, we love you. And are so grateful.

Just after her cochlear implant surgery...rocking the hair and the bandage

Just after her cochlear implant surgery…rocking the hair and the bandage

I held my breath as this year kept looming closer, knowing this was the goal – getting Lillian ready for school. Working on all the language that naturally comes so easily to so many babies, including my own Sophie and Isaac, struggling with sounds and concepts and shapes, repeating phrases and words and sliding my voice up and down to indicate with sound as well as with language what I was trying to say to my tenacious, stubborn, awesome, beautiful Lillian. Hoping and praying that the delay between Lillian’s and her peer’s development would never rear its ugly head, would be held off as long as possible. Enjoying evaluation after evaluation that showed her either average or above her age in speech development, even though her hearing age was stunted by the 13 months she went without being implanted.

Playing the piano with her implant turned ON for the first time

Playing the piano with her implant turned ON for the first time

I held my breath as I watched my stunning, deep-loving daughter close up, clam up, shut down time after time after time in new situations, around new people, in any scenario remotely unfamiliar. I worried and fretted and talked to our social worker who had been with us since the beginning. I talked my head off to Heather, the woman who was on my team in this crazy, breathless trek to school. I was given oodles of advice. I was given oodles of support. I was given oodles of moments to breathe, yet still, I held that breath.

Lillian LOVING Isaac - after every walk from school, Isaac would flip out on the floor while I brought in the stroller. Lillian would hang out with him until I could pick him up. They'd lie there giggling and I'd fall in love all over again.

Lillian LOVING Isaac – after every walk from school, Isaac would flip out on the floor while I brought in the stroller. Lillian would hang out with him until I could pick him up. They’d lie there giggling and I’d fall in love all over again.

I held my breath as our home deaf teacher graduated us from the program because in a couple of months Lillian would be attending full-time, normal-kid school. I held my breath as she told me, dear Jaclyn, that Lillian was awesome, bright, funny, and would be fine. I didn’t believe her. I wanted to believe her. I held on.

Playing the piano with much longer hair...and more seasoned ears

Playing the piano with much longer hair…and more seasoned ears

I held my breath as I tried to explain school to Lillian, using all the vocabulary sheets we’d been given by Teacher Jaclyn, as Lillian called her, and Heather, My Heather, as she was fondly referred to, focusing on the fun! the excitement! the friends! we’d make. I took her back-to-school shopping with Sophie and tried to make it as fantastic as possible, finding her Spider-Man everything – backpack, shoes, boots, and lunch bag. We picked out a back-to-school outfit, although she has never been to school, and it didn’t have any Spider-Man on it, but damn it the skirt was red…like Spider-Man.

Her first ponytail! Which made her look older and showed off her ears that are normally hidden in her crazy hair.

Her first ponytail! Which made her look older and showed off her ears that are normally hidden in her crazy hair.

I felt like the breath was going to burst out of my eyes and ears and heart and mouth as we went to her personal, special meet-the-teachers and classroom tour a full week before her fellow students would arrive. I watched as she had her first pee accident and prayed, PRAYED, that this wouldn’t set the standard, that she would swing going pee and going poop and wiping her own butt and not melting down every. single. time. like she did with me at home. I felt like I was going to explode as she went from shutdown kid to open, playing kid with one of her teachers, while we explained her ears to her other two teachers. I didn’t cry. But deep down, I wanted to bawl like a baby. Because this was the moment.

Spider-Man cape for a hill-climbing Spider-Man

Spider-Man cape for a hill-climbing Spider-Man

And then, the breath got too big for me, so big for me, as we walked her up the hills to her very first full day without us. As Aunt Toni held her hands, and I watched trying to keep it together, as she wore her too-big-for-her backpack and looked determined in her Lillian way. I tried not to hold her too long or not long enough in our good-bye hug, breathing in her hair and smell and warmth one last time before I started sharing her every day with other people.

Day 1 before the walk to school. Sophie had a full day and Lillian was only going for a half an hour.

Day 1 before the walk to school. Sophie had a full day and Lillian was only going for a half an hour.

And as she walked into the school, the breath held on, dripping out only in a few tears in my eyes, as she waved and smiled and chatted with her dear friend Isaac, who we had asked to be in the class with her so she would have one person she knew.

First full day walk to school, holding onto Aunt Toni's hand and looking so damn small and big and determined and worried.

First full day walk to school, holding onto Aunt Toni’s hand and looking so damn small and big and determined and worried.

The breath didn’t let go or calm down or reduce in pressure until we went to pick her up and noticed her on the monkey bars, swinging like the monkey she is, playing, wearing the same pants that we had sent her in, indicating no accidents, and then the bell rang and she came running, smiling, and hugging us when she was released by her teacher from her line, which she voluntarily got in, waited in, and fell in with. And then I felt lighter than light when she told us her favourite part of the day was the cheese in her lunch, that she loved her lunch, that she wanted the exact same lunch the next day.

In line with her BFF...no looking back, no tears, no more breath.

In line with her BFF…no looking back, no tears, no more breath.

And the breath was gone, just like that, because we had made it. And we’ve been doing it now for almost two weeks. And the breath is still gone. And the successes keep pouring in. And my dear, sweet, Lillian, I couldn’t be prouder.

~ Julia

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Days like these

If you had asked me when I was younger what my life would look like in my 30s, as a mother, as a wife, I would never have been able to guess it would be this.

That my house would be a complete disaster every single day, unless company was coming over, and then it was a minor disaster to be put on hold for a small number of hours.

All the dishes. All the time.

All the dishes. All the time. (That dishwasher is there purely for aesthetic.)

That I would go to bed thinking about all the laundry I need to fold, wash, put away…yet never ever get to.

How many loads of clean laundry can I hide behind my couch?

How many loads of clean laundry can I hide behind my couch? (That chair is tipped over because Isaac likes to climb).

That I would be a stay-at-home mom, walking babies to school, cooking all the meals, in charge of all the cleaning, and watching my hard-earned degree gather dust on our wall.

Have you tried cooking dinner with acrobatics happening at your feet?

Have you tried cooking dinner with acrobatics happening at your feet?

That I would be forced to negotiate with the most unreasonable creatures on the planet just to put on their shoes so we could go to the park FOR THEM, or eat their food because they were the ones sobbing at my feet hungry, or to go to bed and sleep because all of the hysterics that they are currently stuck in are because they are tired.

Waiting for snack time...weirdly patiently.

Waiting for snack time…weirdly patiently.

That I would not get a hair cut in over a year simply because I would need to orchestrate a child-care/salon hours/extra time formula that only works once every 15 months or so.

Can you see my kitchen table? I haven't either.

Have you see my kitchen table? I haven’t either.

That I would donate all of my dress pants, skirts, blouses because I don’t need them anymore – my uniform consists of durable material, wash-and-wear ensembles with denim being the star.

Dress pants are no match for a breakfast thrown by Isaac.

Dress pants are no match for a breakfast thrown by Isaac. And the random dirty sock.

That we would not go to church in months simply because we are too sick/too exhausted/too worn-out to get to one more place on time.

That sitting on the couch and zoning out for an hour, followed by an early bedtime is my idea of the perfect night.

That eating hot food is an anomaly so rare that I regularly burn my mouth whenever the opportunity does present itself.

That I would drink and seek out and need coffee to fuel my day, every day.

Sweet nectar that makes all of my efforts in futility possible.

Sweet nectar that makes all of my efforts in futility possible.

That the feeling of not having a body on me or near me or touching me would be more alien than having three children piled on and around me.

That sleep would be the most precious and most scarce commodity in my life, so much so that on days where the babies are overnight somewhere, sleep is all I can think about.

That when planning our 10-year anniversary trip, that it’s a legitimate toss-up between Europe and an all-inclusive tropical resort because all I want to do is SLEEP.

That I would be fulfilled by the feeling of a smooth, not sticky counter, kitchen table, coffee table, floor.

That I would find pleasure in finding miracle cleaning products that worked instead of just made me work.

That I would write more, clean more, cook more, and walk more with babies hanging off of me, screaming at me, crying on me or asking a million things of me, than not.

He's not really a fan of this blog post.

He’s not really a fan of this blog post.

That I would love my babies more fiercely than anything ever. That I would do all of the above and more for them because it’s ingrained in my DNA that they are mine and I must fight for them.

That I would get up and repeat over and over and over again, regardless of the fact I make no money, have no sick days, and no vacation time.

If you had asked me then, I wouldn’t believe you. And yet, it’s the most natural thing today.

~ Julia

Help wanted

Dear readers, fellow parents, and strong-willed-children-turned-upstanding-citizens,

I need HELP. I need massive amounts of advice and ideas and guidance. And I need some reassurances.

Lillian has turned FOUR and I thought that meant her reign of TERROR and INSANITY and TORTURE TACTICS were over. But, I was wrong.

I love that she LOVES Spider-Man...I don't love how she tries to shoot me with webs when I ask her to put on pants.

I love that she LOVES Spider-Man…I don’t love how she tries to shoot me with webs when I ask her to put on pants.

She’s still a force to be reckoned with. She’s still a whirlwind of demand and stubbornness. She still won’t do whatever it is you want her to unless SHE wants to, and even then, she probably won’t because it wasn’t her idea.

It’s enough to make me weep with impatience and exhaustion and I-wanna-quit.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE HER FIERCELY. I DO.

I especially love her like this...

I especially love her like this…

But, I feel like all of our interactions of late have been a battle of wits and a war of wills, that every time I open my mouth to ask her to put her shoes on so we can go to her school, or go pee so we can go play, or get her coat on so we can go fetch her sister, I’m met with this horrible noise and a temper tantrum for the ages and a lava-filled “I don’t want to!”

I’m getting close to breaking. And I’m afraid I will break her spirit and her happiness and some days, SOME DAYS, I feel like I might physically lose it and break her and me and our family.

It’s awful. And scary.

So, I’m posing this question to you, dear readers, what would you suggest? How would you handle a ball of fury that will be awesome in the future, that will lead to a crazy incredible adult human being, but right now is slowly killing my will to be a stay-at-home-parent? How would you discipline? How would you negotiate without actually losing ground? How do you compromise without giving in?

She is one of Isaac's favourite people...mostly because she's INSANE and he thinks it's AWESOME.

She is one of Isaac’s favourite people…mostly because she’s INSANE and he thinks it’s AWESOME.

If you have any ideas at all, I’m all ears.

Because I love my baby, my troubled middle child, the one who tests me and pushes me and ultimately wows me every single day.

But I’m afraid for us, for our future, for our path. I want her to grow up as strong as she is, but kind and able to navigate this tricky world of ours. I want her to thrive and succeed and become the best she can become without being hindered by a childhood laced with anger and yelling and being in constant trouble. And I want us to still love each other when we both grow up…and not the obligatory love you hand out to the relatives you have to see and hug and chat with on the big holidays.

I adore that Sophie and Lillian are sisters...and I pray that they can have that sister bond the Sisterhood is blessed with.

I adore that Sophie and Lillian are sisters…and I pray that they can have that sister bond the Sisterhood is blessed with.

When (if) she has babies, I want to love on her and them. I want to be part of their lives. When she wins all the awards, I want to be in the front row or at the front table, leading the standing ovation, embarrassing her with my display of love, not making her resentful because it’s for show. And when she falls, as every person in the world does, I want to at least be considered on her list of people to call to help her stand back up again and make sure she knows she’s worth standing back up for.

She's growing up so fast...I don't want to ruin any of it.

She’s growing up so fast…I don’t want to ruin any of it.

I want all the things. How do I get them?

~ Julia

Momfessions: Part 2

It’s that time again. The moment where I drag out my worst moments, my not-so-proud talents, my dirty, dirty secrets. The time where I say all the things I hope and pray other moms/dads/parents/humans are feeling because I can’t be the ONLY one that does/feels/thinks these things. RIGHT?!

It's TRUE.

It’s TRUE.

And today I feel it’s even more important to talk about the nitty gritty, the behind-the-scenes that will send non-parents RUNNING, because there are some incredibly brave, new, raw parents in my life, ones that are probably sinking under a hundred ‘flaws’ that are actually ingenious survival tactics and I want them to know that they are NOT alone, it DOES get better, and one day (I SWEAR/HOPE) we’ll look back and remember this time of war with fondness. AND that it is NOT today.

My house is always a disaster. No, really. Seriously. There are always Cheerios and crackers and other random dried food on my floors. I can sweep once, I can sweep a hundred times, I can not sweep for a week and the result is ALWAYS the same. It’s depressing. And my socks and my children’s socks (if they’re wearing socks) and Ben’s socks and all of my guests’ socks are ALWAYS crusted with something horrible. And I feel bad. But then I sweep and within seconds it looks as if I don’t give a rat’s ass about my floors. And in truth? Right now? I don’t. On the one hand, it’s too hard to care about something that NO ONE ELSE EVER CARES ABOUT. And on the other hand I’m providing my children with important immunity-boosting licking opportunities. The more dirt they eat, the stronger their bodies will be at fighting off the plague, right? Right. Because science.

I feel bad when I go to other people’s houses. Because my house is SUCH A TREAT to be in (i.e. you can find a treat on the floor regardless of the room you’re in…) that when I go to other people’s houses I can not see the flaws. All I see are all the things that they’re doing better than me…like the sweeping, or the dishes being all clean, or the fact that clear counter space exists, or that the bathroom doesn’t look like a frat house bathroom, or the grown-up furniture that looks like it belongs in the room, versus the what-we-had-given-to-us-or-found-on-the-side-of-the-road decorating aesthetic we’re currently obsessed (read: stuck) with. I try to tell myself that I don’t know the whole story. That I don’t know what they’ve sacrificed to get it done. I don’t know what kind of woodland creatures they have employed. I have no idea what’s hiding behind the doors or in the drawers I’m not privy to. But every time…EVERY TIME…I feel like everyone else has a grown-up house and I’m living a dorm life with three kids and that somehow this is a failure.

I hate when my babies are sick. And not because I feel bad for them or I wish I could take it away from them. But because they SUCK at being sick. They don’t want to watch TV all day. They don’t want to lie on the couch and sleep. They just want to whine and cry and be hugged and cuddled, but not that way, this way, no you’re doing it wrong, why do you SUCK, why did you put me DOWN, pick me UP. AND. They like cuddling while they puke. They don’t know how to blow their noses to remove the snot so they stop coughing. They still want to DO something even though they have no patience or capacity for it. I love my babies. But sick versions of them SUCK.

I love hunting boogers. Some people love popping pimples. Others adore digging out blackheads. Some people are vomiting just reading this. BUT. I take great pleasure in stealing my children’s boogers. Especially Isaac’s. He gets so grumpy and his boogers are so satisfying and big and…I kind of love it. I even like going after the ones that Lillian and Sophie have missed. It’s disgusting, but it’s the one pleasure I get from my kids being sick, so I’m going to take it.

My kids don’t do chores. I know I’m supposed to assign chores to my kids, but I just haven’t. I’m too tired and there is too much to do. And teaching my kids to do the things they could be responsible for is exhausting and takes more work than me just doing it. I know it’s a future investment thing, that if I spend the 9384737 minutes and 382473984 kJ of energy, it will pay off big in the future. But, I just don’t want to. I don’t want to do the dishes, but more than that? I don’t want to teach someone how to do the dishes. I have, however, just won the jackpot. Remember Adam Sandler in Big Daddy, where the kid tells him he wants to go to school and he’s so impressed with his parenting strategy because by letting the child choose his own path he ultimately picks the right thing to do? That is happening in my house RIGHT NOW. Sophie and Lillian have magically started clearing their plates after dinner and take turns sweeping and have even cleaned up their playroom spontaneously a bunch of times. It works! Adam Sandler is a GENIUS. Wait…

I hate bedtime. I have a friend (Hi, Heather!) who is basically in charge of all the bedtimes all the time. And I have no idea how her children are still alive and her marriage is intact and her hair is not snow-white. Seriously. Bedtime is not the cozy, cuddly, dreamy place that TV/movies/ads/bookstores sell it as. It is not filled with sweet children who are cutely snuggled in their pyjamas, waiting patiently and quietly while their parents read them stories filled with wonder. It is a cluster-f#*@ of nonsense, where everyone is tired (me) and hyped up (them) and no one is doing what they’re supposed to (Lillian) and there are a thousand questions and demands (Sophie) and people chucking their favourite blankets and pillows out of their bed (Isaac) and someone is sobbing in the corner (me). It’s a lot of asking them to sit still so we can read the damn story and praying that it will be over soon because if I don’t have fifteen seconds of time to myself before I have to go to bed to wake up to DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I might just kill someone. I hate it. Almost as much as doing dishes. At least they don’t bounce around and change their minds over what story they want read while screaming about putting on their pyjamas. So, actually, I hate it MORE than dishes. (It’s serious, yo’).

Welcome to the underground.

Welcome to the underground.

Okay. I’ve confessed my sins, my dirty secrets, and the things I probably shouldn’t have said out loud. Now it’s your turn: what are YOUR confessions? Momfessions? Dadfessions? Humanfessions? SPILL. Then I won’t feel so naked.

~ Julia

One day

One day I’ll go to the bathroom without Sophie running to say she has to pee too, or hearing fighting from the other room the moment I sit down, or having someone sit on the floor to ‘wait’ for me, or someone wanting to ‘help’ me with toilet paper and then have a tantrum if I don’t let them help the right way, or even…and this one is RADICAL…with the door CLOSED.

Mom bathroom

One day I’ll walk out the door at the time I absolutely have to leave with just my purse and keys and I’ll drive away without a fifteen minute process to get out the door and into the van.

One day I won’t have to do the mom math on when the last feed was, when the last pee was, when the last meal was, when the last snack was, when we gave Sophie, the puker, Gravol, how long it’s been since they had naps.

One day I won’t be well-versed in the delicate negotiation tactics required for getting shoes on feet (never mind the right feet), pants on bottoms, and appropriate wear on little bodies who will complain if they are too hot or too cold, but will make sure it’s the end of the world to get them to wear the correct number of layers for the current weather.

One day it will be quiet in our house, with no one screaming for food, or crying because they pooped themselves, or singing at the top of their lungs, or growling incessantly for NO DAMN GOOD REASON, or squealing because they can, or squabbling.

One day I’ll wear my hair in a style other than Messy-Mom-Bun.

One day I’ll stay clean for longer than five seconds because people who are eating with me won’t demand to cuddle, be on my lap, ask to go pee five times, or suck on my knee while eating a banana.

One day I won’t be asked to put shoes back on, look behind me, or retrieve various items from the van floor WHILE I’M DRIVING.

One day I’ll be the sole backseat driver in our family and I’ll treat the position with the respect it deserves, unlike the five-year old who asks, “Mom, are you sure this is the place?” every time we go somewhere new.

One day I’ll sleep in.

One day I’ll be able to drink my coffee hot, from first sip to last drop, in one go, no microwaving.

One day I’ll be able to watch whatever I want whenever I want on TV (apparently Orange is the New Black is not suitable for children, go figure).

OITNB

Pornstache is completely G-rated

One day songs from incredibly awful children’s shows won’t be playing on a loop in my head…at 3 a.m.

One day I won’t have to worry about my necklace or my earrings or my bracelets or my watch getting stolen/broken/tugged at/yanked off/eaten.

One day I won’t have to calculate the mess-factor of foods before we take them on a picnic or eat them in the van or eat them in the living room vs. the kitchen table.

One day I won’t get yelled at for stopping someone from running into the street, or for making someone poop in the toilet instead of their pants, or asking them not to rock in their chair, or for stealing their boogers, or for telling someone that we have no plans for the day, or for reminding someone that no, Grammie or Nana or Daddy or any of the Aunts can’t come play because they have to work.

One day my shirt/pants/arms/legs/neck/face won’t be used as a booger catcher.

One day “This is disgusting. I’m not eating this. I hate this family.” won’t be the first reaction to the dinner I made.

One day carrying a baby on my hip while hauling a giant basket of laundry up the stairs won’t be the norm.

One day I won’t get bitten or pinched or head-butted or collar-bone slammed or smacked or have my hair pulled WHILE HOLDING SOMEONE WHO WANTED TO BE HELD.

One day my hands won’t go to sleep because I’ve been carrying a baby around the house.

One day the quietest moment in my day won’t be the time I spend walking around the van to my seat while all the babies are locked inside.

One day I’ll never have to potty train again…EVER.

One day I won’t be asked to push people on the swing only to have them yell at me, THEY CAN DO IT.

stuart

One day I won’t have to be super stealthy at night, dodging creaking floorboards, refusing to flush toilets that share a wall with a bedroom, and not breathing while checking on sleeping babies.

One day I won’t wonder where the day went because nothing has been accomplished and I’ve failed at housekeeping again.

One day I won’t wonder when the day will end because nothing has been accomplished and I’ve failed at housekeeping again.

One day I will miss little hands grabbing my pant legs to pull themselves up while I stand still as a statue and make dinner.

One day I won’t be the first line of defense against the owies or the bad days or the bullies or the crappiness that is life for my babies.

One day I won’t feel the tightest hugs, the biggest love, the most hero-worship of my babies every day.

One day I’ll have to call them or text them or email them or Facebook them to find out how their day was, how they are, if they’re eating vegetables, if they’re sharing nicely, if they’re okay, if they’re happy.

One day the trip to bed won’t include retucking and reblanketing and kissing and listening for breathing of my babies.

One day I won’t be given dandelions on every walk, pictures made just for me after every craft time, and birthday cakes made out of Lego and random toys just because.

One day our morning won’t begin with everyone snuggled in our bed until it becomes too chaotic and we’re forced to get up.

One day I’ll miss all of these days and wonder where the time went.

One day.

~ Julia

Makes my brain bleed

I love television. Much like Jacqui, I love nothing more than to turn on something silly, something insanesomething yummy, something interesting, something crazy, something nostalgic, something intriguing and stop moving for a little while. Because my day is a little nutty. And sometimes, you just want to sit.

What they don’t tell you, is when you have children you lose control over the screens in your house. You lose the ability to watch whatever you want whenever you want. Apparently, there are certain things that are inappropriate for children to watch. WHO KNEW?

This of course means that you get to watch awesome children’s programming…and by awesome, I mean “awesome”.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are some absolute wonders, like the Pixar movies, or my childhood favourite that is still running today, Sesame Street, but there are others that MAKE MY BRAIN BLEED. No, seriously.

Here are some of my least favourites that my girls LOVE (so far Isaac doesn’t have an opinion…THANK GOODNESS):

Caillou

MAKE IT STOP.

MAKE IT STOP.

I don’t know which is worse – Caillou’s whiny voice, or his parents’ ridiculousness. Sure, Caillou is four and sure, he’s got a rough time of it with parents who never change their clothes and are creepily nice and sweet all the time, and sure, his sister Rosie can be a bit of a pain, but please. For the love of goodness. PLEASE. Stop whining. Just…stop. I seriously think a voice actor change would make all the difference in the world.

Mike the Knight

Save the people!

Save the people!

This show is nonsense. Not to say that other shows are grounded in solid reality (Oh, hi Octonauts, weird sea creatures that aren’t to scale!), but this show kind of takes the cake. There’s this royal family, with an absent dad (he’s on a crusade…you know, the super kid-friendly kind?), a neglectful mother (she’s NEVER paying attention to her kids…EVER), a boy-knight who terrorizes the town with his dragons and arrogance, and a sister-witch-in-training who is mega smart and deserves her own show. If it weren’t annoying, it would still drive me batty. Poor people of Glendragon.

Bratz

'Nuf said.

‘Nuf said.

If we can get past the ridiculous bodies and make up and name, it might not be such a bad idea to have a strong girl group hanging out together…except, they aren’t. They’re catty and vapid and rude and ignorant and…dumb. And the whole show is a big fight between themselves and another group of girls. It’s girl-on-girl crime, which is just awful. There’s enough female-competition in the world. We don’t need to teach it to our daughters at a young age. This show is actually not allowed in my house anymore. It’s pretty much the only one I really put my foot down about.

Max and Ruby

Mom? Dad?

Mom? Dad?

It’s easy to hate on this show. There is the nagging, Type-A older sister Ruby who won’t let her little brother have any fun. There is the weirdly one-word-at-a-time 3-year old Max, who just keeps repeating the same word over and over and over and over (get a sentence!). And there is the famous mystery: where the heck are their parents? Max and Ruby are a favourite for Lillian…but for me, I wish they’d go back to the bunny hole. Pronto.

And my absolute least favourite of ALL TIME:

Toopy and Binoo

*sob*

*sob*

Toopy is a dimwitted mouse who is full of himself. Binoo is a mute sidekick that is inevitably smarter than Toopy. Patchy-Patch is Binoo’s lovie. And that’s it. That’s the show. Then there’s annoying friends, like the wailing dragon princess whose cries sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the unending adulation Toopy has for himself, and Binoo’s lack of backbone (at this point, I’m grateful for lack of voice). But…

…the girls love them. LOVE them. I don’t know why. The songs are ridiculous. The premise is ridiculous. The education value is nil at best. The annoyance level is high. And yet…they love it.

So this weekend when we were invited to a birthday party where THE voice of Toopy and Binoo, Frank Meschkuleit, would perform a Toopy and Binoo puppet show LIVE…we knew the girls would explode with happiness. And we were right. Frank was awesome, the show was brilliant (he called out every child’s name and made jokes for the adults in the audience, including a fart joke about Ben…no, seriously…), and Sophie and Lillian LOVED it. Sophie thought it was hilarious and awesome and Lillian kept looking back at us to make sure we were seeing what she was seeing. I’m fairly sure her brain exploded a few times.

Lillian and Sophie getting their photo taken with Toopy and Binoo!

Lillian and Sophie getting their photo taken with Toopy and Binoo!

I’m just grateful that Isaac was more excited about the diaper bag strap than Toopy and Binoo. I can still get away with watching The Social while he’s cruising around the floor.

Just hanging out...oblivious to his fangirling sisters.

Just hanging out…oblivious to his fangirling sisters.

~ Julia

#momoftheyear

You’ve heard it.

I’ve said it.

You’ve probably said it yourself, if you’re a mom.

“Mom of the year, right here.”

It’s never said with pride or with seriousness. It’s never said with the intent to brag about some success or parenting win. And if it IS said that way, it’s because we’ve acquired THE toy of the season, or our child’s dream, or we’ve made the meal they LOVE, or we’ve planned the birthday party that will blow their mind and your pocketbook, but probably won’t be remembered by the birthday child.

We’re not saying it to focus on the positive. We’re not saying it to remind ourselves that parenthood is a hard climb, one not for the faint of heart, and yet we’re doing okay. We’re definitely not saying it to actually win an award. Because it is said sardonically, to underline, underscore, draw attention to our perceived failures.

“Forgot the bake sale at school today. Mom of the year!”

 

momfail - dinner

 

“Spilled water all over the 34786th drawing Sophie gave me this morning. #momfail”

 

momfail - underwear

 

“Mom of the Year moment: Cut the baby’s nails too short. Who knew they bled that much?”

 

momfail - wrong age

 

 

“Yelled about the 5th accident today. Feel like a jerk. Serious mom fail.”

 

momfail - shoes

 

“Had a great day with my kids…then bunged up bedtime. I SUCK.”

 

momfail - poop on pants

 

I think we do this for a couple of reasons.

There’s definitely a social market for failure stories. People love them. They get a lot of likes on Facebook. They get people laughing. And they really demonstrate that some days are hard to believe: This is REALLY my life?! REALLY?!

And if we make light of the failures, no matter how small or inconsequential, then maybe no one else will call us out on how we’re clearly not succeeding. How we’re big failures. How maybe we’re the absolute wrong person for this job. How this is all just a big mistake.

I am pro being real. I am all for talking about how hard the parenting gig is, how frustrating it can be, how much we can hate it (yes, HATE it, like this article so eloquently explains), and how some days you wonder just what you’ve done to your life.

But, should we keep being mean to ourselves? Should we put ourselves down every time we make a mistake, let something slide, drop a ball? Should we point out our rather small, not so memorable failures, just so no one else will notice them or realize that we are impostors? Mothers who shouldn’t be. Parents who really have no clue what they’re doing?

Finding humor in our seemingly insane, unreal, nonsensical days makes sense. It’s the old adage – if we’re not laughing, we’d be crying. But, when the #momfail stops being funny and starts being what we actually believe, what we tell ourselves, the inner track that berates us for forgetting one thing on our list of dozens of things we actually remembered, that’s where it gets tricky.

My sister-in-law posted on Facebook that her son, my shy, not-so-adventurous nephew, had a banner day for trying new things…and then she included she forgot her camera, so she failed. #momoftheyear failed. Even though, considering all of the hurdles my nephew has had to overcome, the fact that she’s a single mom right now since my brother-in-law is away for business, the fact that she’s a rock star mom to a sweet, awesome kid…she found the failure, the moment where she wish it could have been different, even though THAT moment really made no difference. But, it’s what she is dwelling on. What she is remembering.

I think that hashtagging moments where we didn’t quite make the play, didn’t quite make the ball connect with the bat, didn’t quite do the job we wanted to do, is fine. #momoftheyear and #momfail moments are going to happen. Period. But let’s not let them take over. Let’s not let them be the only things we remember.

Forgot the bake sale? That’s okay. There will be another. And your kid probably didn’t even really notice. He was too busy sharing his friends’ treats.

Dropped a toy on the baby’s head and made her scream? Is she all right? Then, that’s okay. It happens. It won’t be the last time. Does she need medical attention? Did you get it for her? Then, good job. You are surviving the hospital system with your baby. That’s tough stuff and you’re doing it. Rock star.

Feel guilty about missing a dance class? Not sending your kid to school with the right colour shirt? Not doing the laundry so that their favourite dress would be clean for that particular Thursday that looks like every other Thursday? Fine. Feel guilty. For a minute. Then let it go. They have. They won’t remember unless you miss all the dance classes, never show up, never try, don’t love them, and let them go to school naked.

You’re human. A human parent to a crazy tiny human. Or lots of crazy tiny humans. And that is tough. You’re doing okay. Don’t live in the fail. Move on to the success, the happy, the joy, because as a kid, that’s where they live every day. And all they want is for you to live with them there. Promise.

 

Need inspiration? Visit Finding Joy, a blog by a mom of SEVEN. I want to be her when I grow up.

Need inspiration? Visit Finding Joy, a blog by a mom of SEVEN. I want to be her when I grow up. You know, without the seven kids.

~ Julia

Jitters no more

This week is Sophie’s last week of her first year of school. It’s ‘only’ junior kindergarten, but it’s so momentous…especially because she’s our first baby. Our first baby went to her first school. And she not only survived, she THRIVED. Thank goodness.

At the beginning of the school year I had a bunch of worries for a bunch of reasons. 1. I’m a worrier. Period. The end. It’s something that has always been part of my psyche and something I’m working on stamping out…or at least, getting under control. 2. My first day of school was filled with tears. Horrible, awful, ugly-cry tears. My mom put me on the bus to go to kindergarten and I was bawling. The old, curmudgeonly bus driver rasped, “Leave her. She’ll be fine.” The bus doors closed, my mom disappeared and I ended up sitting in the wrong seat (there was a boy side and a girl side and it was organized by grade – I sat on the boy side in an older grade’s row) crying all the way to school. 3. I’m a worrier. So yeah.

On this last Monday of this school year, I thought I’d recount some of the worries I’d had at the beginning of the year…and they all turned out okay in the end.

I was due with Isaac three weeks after Sophie started school. There was a lot of worry around how I would do it all. How I would make Sophie feel special and loved and supported with a newborn in the house. How I would waddle around post-C-section and be Mom of the Year without losing my mind. How I would keep track of three kids AND a school schedule. How I would have a newborn without the dreamy, sleepy, slow days that newborns had kick started for our family in the past. My C-section was scheduled Friday September 13. Sophie started school the week before. It was tight. It was dicey. I felt like I could totally do it. HA. Isaac showed up four weeks early on his own IGNORING ALL SCHEDULES. So I had a giant, new incision on the first days of school. And a newborn. And Sophie felt loved and cared for. And our dear friends, Heather and Adam, folded Sophie into their morning routine with their children and walked her to school for us for 6 weeks. And it was okay.

Sophie and her BFF Elora

Sophie and her BFF Elora

Would her teacher be nice? It’s a TERRIFYING thing, sending your child into a building you’ve never been in, to do things you have no control over, with adults you’ve never met before, for large expanses of time over and over and over again. TERRIFYING. They don’t tell you this. I didn’t realize this. Sophie wasn’t terrified, but I was SO WORRIED and SCARED for her. What if her teacher was mean? What if her teacher was awful? What if they didn’t understand her? What if they didn’t let her go pee? What if they made her take off her crown? What if what if what if? There was a horrible, no-good, yelling teacher, Mrs. Miller, at my elementary school that my sisters had…and she was HORRENDOUS. What if Sophie got her Mrs. Miller? Nerves, nerves, nerves. But in truth, Sophie didn’t get that teacher. She got AMAZING teachers. Ones that loved her. Ones that she loved. Ones that called her Princess Sophie. Ones that were excited with her. Ones that put all fears about teachers aside. I’m not naive enough to think that she’ll never have a teacher that she doesn’t get along with, or one that isn’t the best, but this year, she had three teachers that were awesome. And to Mrs. Service, Ms. G, and Miss Bunghardt – THANK YOU. Thank you thank you thank you for making her love school. And for making it okay.

What do you mean we have to walk to school EVERY day? That’s nuts. That’s crazy. That’s not possible. Have you seen how short her legs are? Do you know how many children I have? Do you have any idea how hard it is to have any sort of schedule or organization with a newborn and a two-now-three-year old and a non-stop chatting junior kindergartener? Do you know what it’s like in the winter in our town? What happens when there’s so much snow on the ground we can barely walk? What happens when it’s so cold we’d normally not go outside if you paid us? What THEN?? I was ALWAYS a sheltered bus student growing up. The bus came to my driveway. The bus picked me up. The bus kept me safe. The bus dropped me off at school. The bus picked me up at school. The bus kept me safe. The bus dropped me off at my driveway. No walking. No unknown. No weather that I had to deal with directly. But you know? Walking to school every day wasn’t so bad. And when it got SO BAD, my amazing friends Adam and Heather and my incredibly generous sister Toni stepped in to help. And when it got SO MUCH BETTER walking to school every day was awesome – it was fresh air, it was outside, it was time for Lillian to run and Isaac to see the sun and me to get fresh air and for us to meet other walking families with kids our kids’ ages and…it was okay.

What if she gets bullied? It’s all you hear about. Kids getting bullied. Bullies running wild with no repercussions. Children not telling teachers. Teachers not responding. All of the horror stories of school becoming a torturous place. But after healing and walking to and from school with Sophie and meeting her friends (she made FRIENDS!!) and asking her about her day and listening to what problems she was having (“I don’t like it when no one listens to me.”), I calmed down. She wasn’t being bullied. And again, I’m not naive enough to think she’ll never meet a bully (I met my fair share) or get bullied, but this year wasn’t the year. It was okay.

She can’t write any letters. She doesn’t know how to read. She’s going to fail. Again, calm yourself, Julia. CHILL OUT. You know – they teach kids at school. And if, while a hundred years pregnant with a toddler AND a preschooler at home you didn’t get around to teaching your kid everything they’re going to learn at school, it will be okay. You know what else is okay? Getting to school late sometimes. And missing school because of a bad night’s sleep. Or dealing with head lice. Or dealing with croup. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it’s hard. But overall…it’ll be okay. Seriously. Calm. Down.

Saucy...and too smart for me

Saucy…and too smart for me

After dealing with all of these worries…I only have one left. How on earth am I going to be as exciting as school this summer? I don’t have a curriculum. She’s going to be SO BORED. !!!! 

Julia

Happy Father’s Day, Pai

Our handsome daddy

Our handsome daddy

Daddy – in honor of Father’s Day, we took a little stroll down memory lane and found some of our favourite photos from days and moments spent with you. What we found were so many laughs, so many adventures, so many full, full bellies and so many memories made.

Dad, we love you and can’t wait to come spend the day with you to celebrate a day in honor of who you are to us – all while making new memories with you.

Happy Father’s Day, Pai ❤

Love, your girls ~ Julia, Toni, Jacqueline and Andreah

The story is Jacqui punched Andreah... Right?

The story is Jacqui punched Andreah… Right?

Avô

Avô

Fishing with dad

Fishing with dad

Summer trips

Summer trips

Graduation ceremonies

Graduation ceremonies

LONG ass road trips... To B.C.!

LONG ass road trips… To B.C.!

Hikes and adventures

Hikes and adventures

Birthdays

Birthdays

Always surrounded by women...

Always surrounded by women…

Stroll on the beach days

Stroll on the beach days

More celebrations

More graduation celebrations

Finally gaining some balance with the male/female ratio

Finally gaining some balance with the male/female ratio

Still loves his time with his girls though

Still loves his time with his girls though

First visit at the new house

 

Dadventures!

Father’s Day is right around the corner.

When we sisters decided to do Father’s Day posts, I truly had no idea what to write about exactly. After reading the sisters’ posts, I was moved and awed.

I thought for longer than I should have, and one thing kept popping into my mind over and over again: there is really only one thing I can say about fathers, and to do it I am going to tell you all a story.

One day, I was about 12 or 13 years old, and I was home alone with our dad. It was a Saturday and spring time. I was sitting on the couch and he came out from his office. Stretched his arms into the air, looked out the window and then turned to me.

“Wanna go get some ice cream?”

“Sure Dad, I’ll get my shoes on.”

I was thinking we were going to walk downtown to the amazing local ice cream store. So I put on my socks and running shoes and was all ready outside waiting for him.

He walked out the door and hopped into the vehicle (I believe at that time he had the Jimmy).

I was really confused – Dad likes to walk – but not thinking anything of it I got in and put on my seat belt.

Then he started driving away from town. In fact, we were going somewhere new…and I didn’t have a freaking clue where it was.

For the first time that I could remember, I had our dad all to myself. We talked the entire way there (wherever there was).

After driving for about 40 to 45 minutes, I finally asked, “Dad, where are we going?”

“To get ice cream.”

“… But, where?”

“It’s an adventure Kid; you will see.”

That was the only thing I really remember from the entire drive. That for the first time ever I got to go on an adventure.

We ended up going to Port Dover and getting ice cream on the beach and then walking around for a couple hours, just hanging out and talking. I don’t even remember half of what we said that day on the way there or back.

I do however remember I got bubble gum ice cream that was bright blue and stained my lips and tongue, and that I came home with Dad, happy and sun burnt.

I have never forgotten my first adventure.

My dad and I have not always had the best relationship (everyone has their bumps), but he gave me the greatest thing I could have asked for in my life – my love for adventures, and to just do something, even if it seems silly.

“All you can do is try, Kid.”

I carry it with me, Dad, and thank you for the best part of my life.

Andreah and Dad - Graduation Day (Another Adventure)

Me and Dad on graduation day (another adventure)

To me, being a dad is about letting your kids see possibilities. It’s about letting them have adventures and being there supporting them if they fail or if they triumph. I know Joe is going to be an awesome dad, and I know that one day, when we do embark on that brand new adventure, it is going to be everything that an adventure should be: exciting, scary, happy, sad, and a whole other range of emotions no one can even begin to describe. Dad taught me a lot throughout my life, but one thing that really stuck is the adventures.

Here’s to all the adventures, Dad!

~ Andreah