Remember that time we used to blog?

WOW.

We literally took forever off.

Okay, well not literally. But it sure feels that way. Our last post is dated October 8 2015. Last year. Almost 8 months. That sounds ludicrous as I type it, but it almost seems further away than that somehow.

Tonight, I can’t sleep. Sometimes when I can’t sleep I try meditation, or I read, or attempt to wake up one of three of my pups to tell them I can’t sleep, or I stare into the abyss until I drive myself absolutely mad and can’t stay in bed any more.

So tonight I can’t sleep and this is where the not being able to stay in bed any more part kicks in and I found myself here in front my keyboard wanting to write, but not wanting to work at one o’clock in the morning.

We’ve been talking about our blog, our baby, a little bit here and there in passing, and a lot more lately in focus. We get the odd message too now and then from some of our loving readers (Hi mom!) that say they miss our posts. I figured, what better way to try to write my insomnia away than by writing a post committing us to it again?

We have had the most CRAZY, INSANE, OVER THE TOP break though. SO much has happened in the past seven-ish months.

I know each of the sisters would prefer if I not spoil their pool of blog post ideas as they are probably the most full they’ve been since we started; also I know that each piece of these past months will require and deserve their own posts.

So YES, we’re back!

However, each of our lifestyles have shifted in new ways, presenting new challenges – it is time for a change for us as a Sisterhood with this baby of ours. (Side note and just because I am a proud sister and AUNTIE again – there were literally babies during our break!!! We will for sure see posts from Jacqui and Kim regarding said babies – promise)

We’ve figured out a way that we can try to do it all – we do love our little community of readers and miss writing about our lives, and our thoughts and our ‘things’ that we deal with by sharing. We loved how connected it made us feel to each other too.

sisters

While we’re not quite set on a ‘schedule’ just yet, writing will happen! Keep an eye out for our posts – check out our Facebook page too if you’d like! Hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other.

There – I think I can sleep now.

Hope you all have the best Friday! I will for SURE need the most coffee ever.

~ Toni

 

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Holy shoot! He’s TWO!

We’ve been a family of five now for two years. Two years of juggling three babies, two years of figuring out what the heck to do with a penis, two years of breaking all over again and pulling myself back together again.

TWO YEARS.

Things I’ve learned in two years of Isaac:

  • Boys think penises are HILARIOUS and pull-able. I don’t know about you and your penis experience, but from what I knew before Isaac, penises weren’t meant for extreme tugging. Somehow, though, Isaac thinks his can super-stretch. I will leave him to be the expert…it is HIS penis, after all.

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  • Boys LOVE bodily functions. And so do girls. All of our children have a respect (I’m not sure if it’s healthy or not) and certain glee surrounding farting, burping, pooping, boogers, and being disgusting in general. Seriously. Isaac will stop babbling in the mornings to note Ben’s butt trumpeting. If you’re feeling self-conscious or have a low fart self-esteem, hang out with Isaac. He’ll make you proud of every duck that escapes your tush.
  • Boys LOVE construction vehicles. And big trucks. And cars. And tractors. And lawnmowers. In fact, Isaac has a standing date with the landscaping crew that comes to cut our grass every Tuesday morning. They look for him, he stands at our front door and waves and waves, and they smile and wave back. On the walk to and from school, Isaac will yell out the different trucks and vehicles he sees coming up and down the hill.
In heaven.

In heaven.

  • Isaac is a butt. Oh my, he’s super buttly. He loves climbing all the things he shouldn’t, loves getting into the toilet and the bum cream and the pens and the pencils and the groceries you just brought home and the phone you left on the couch while you grabbed him from jumping off the table. Seriously. He’s a jerk. He sees a vulnerability and he will exploit it. Faster than fast. He sucks.
  • Isaac is FREAKING cute. I know all mothers think their children are adorable, but Isaac with his chubby feet and his small bum and his fat thighs, and his irresistible giggle…KILL me. And he knows it. This is why he is still alive. This is why I have not killed him yet for all the buttly things he does.

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  • Loving Nana Jam knows no gender or age. All of our babies have mastered and graduated from the Nana-Jam Suck-Off, whereby they take a piece of toast, smothered in peanut butter and the jam that my mother-in-law, Dianne (a.k.a. Nana), makes, and they suck off all the jam and peanut butter and leave a soggy, sad piece of bread behind.
Nana Jam and chocolate...mmmmm

Nana Jam and chocolate…mmmmm

  • Boys love hard and boisterously. Isaac is the KING of running up to me, smashing his head into my leg, and then going into a full body spasm of excitement, complete with gritted teeth and animal noises. This is how he hugs me. He can give regular, boring hugs, as well, but this one is his trademarked, insane hug that sometimes knocks me off balance if I’m not paying enough attention.
He's coming in!

He’s coming in!

  • Animated films aimed at children can be dissected at a collegiate level. Isaac LOVES Cars. Not just the things that drive around in real life, but the Disney film featuring the voice talents of Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, and, the most beloved by Isaac, Larry the Cable Guy who lends his brand of fun to Mater, Isaac’s FAVOURITE character. Ben and I have watched the movie so many times now that we have in-depth discussions about the landscape, racing as a business, the merits of different racing/sponsor styles, etc. It’s ridiculous. We now preface conversations with, “I know you don’t want to hear it, but…” and then launch into a description of a facet of the movie we hadn’t noticed before. It usually ends with me freaking out, demanding we stop wasting time talking about the plot holes or inconsistencies at length.
  • Three kids is hard. So hard. Harder than two. And when one of them is a outright butt (see above), and when one of them can be more stubborn than any being on the earth, it gets even harder. We knew having kids this close together would be dicey…tricky, even. But knowing now just how hard it is…well, I think we’d still make the same decision. But DAMN. It’s hard.
The first day of school...it was kind of like herding cats.

The first day of school…it was kind of like herding cats.

  • Three kids is worth it. So worth it. Having an oldest, middle, and youngest…having the three babies we do…having them close together and crazy-like? All worth it. The other night I was lying on the couch with all three on me. It didn’t last long (fighting for space started, and then Ben sat down on the other couch, opening up a whole expanse of unused lap), but while they were all piled on me, it was heaven. And then it was hot and whiny. BUT. It was heaven for at least a minute or two.
  • Our family is complete. When Lillian was born, in the first few weeks afterwards, the hell weeks, as I fondly refer to them, I felt like it wasn’t enough. I felt like we were still missing someone. I don’t feel that way anymore. People are popping up pregnant all around me, and I’m still happy in the knowledge that I’m done having babies. That the factory is closed and that this family is the one we’ll walk the rest of our lives with. I’m so content here. I’m so thankful there are no regrets. I think if we had stopped at Lillian, I would have been filled with regret over the third baby that never was.
Love this face!

Love this face!

  • Isaac is awesome. He’s the sweetest little dude and I can’t wait to see the big boy and the man he’ll grow into. We were walking towards the school and he was strutting along in his way, and I turned to Ben and said, “One day, he’ll come home and tell us he wants to ask someone to marry him.” It’s a mind-blowing thought that this baby will one day become a man in his own right…but from what I’ve seen so far (penis-yanking aside), I know he’ll be awesome.
Happy birthday, dude!

Happy birthday, dude!

Happy happy 2nd birthday, Isaac! I love you SO much!!

~ Mama (a.k.a. Julia)

Celebrations… without libations

Last week Cody and I announced our amazing news that we are expecting our first baby bean!

It was the day of my girlfriend Kim’s baby shower – the entire day I had felt so sick, tired and dizzy. I went to her shower with my other love, Ashley, by my side, smiled and cooed at all the adorable blankets and stuffies, all the while thinking about the day she would get to hold her baby boy in her arms. She would make an amazing mother, and all these women where there surrounding her and supporting her.

I excused myself early. I was ready for my bed, but had cleaning to do and dinner to make.

As I was preparing dinner, I thought and calculated as to why I would be feeling so crappy…and suddenly it came to my mind…it wasn’t a tumor…It was a little bundle of something growing in my belly slowly exhausting me.

I had planned before how I would tell Cody and suddenly it all melted away, I screamed, cried and jumped up and down, then ran outside to tell Cody the news.

Best. Feeling. Ever.

Cody has always told me he wanted to be a daddy. I remember a conversation when we first moved into our house 5 years earlier about how he could see us having a baby sooner rather than later. I wanted to wait, I wanted to be married and get into the groove of owning a house – but that conversation always stuck in the back of my mind.

To be able to tell him that he was going to be a daddy, and see the excitement flood his eyes will be a memory I forever hold dear.

Now, I am a researcher and I google EVERYTHING – and from previous searches I know that people, doctors, and other baby professionals tell you that you should wait until your 12th week to announce to the world that you are expecting – which I don’t understand.

Well, we didn’t wait. I called my mom and told her to come over. Cody called his dad and told him and then called his mom and told her. We wanted to share our news – and I am so happy we did! My mom has done this before. This will be her 5th pregnancy announcement coming from one of her daughters, but the hug I got was one of the tightest I have ever had. Cody’s mom screamed for joy and still has not stopped telling me how happy she is. I told my sisters right away, because that was one reaction I was BEYOND excited to experience. In our group of friends, we are one of the…actually, we are the last couple to have a baby (2015 will forever be known as the year of love with all the weddings and babies), so we immediately announced to our friends too.

We told our family, and our friends and then when we hit 12 weeks, we announced it to the Facebook world.

The thought behind holding off until the 12th week is because a miscarriage is more common during the first trimester, but for me, I thought if something happens, and this feeling of love and joy (which is also known as nausea) goes away, then I am going to need support. I am going to want to talk about it, I am going to want to try to get through it, and work through it.

Why was I waiting 12 weeks for something bad to happen instead of celebrating something good? The something good right now! I am pregnant! I GOT PREGNANT! Suddenly every neurologist who told me that there was a high chance that this could not happen, it happened. All the doctors appointments and the wishing and waiting – it happened.

This week we announced to Facebook AND I celebrate two years seizure free. I am counting my blessings, and holding my belly tight.

Cody and I are beyond excited to start the next chapter of our life, and we and can’t wait to share our journey with you all!

~ Jacqui and Baby Bean ❤

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!

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

The perfect storm

I’ve been a parent for 6 years now, so I should have known better than to think that the weekend of my half-marathon, which I had been planning for and training for for months, would go anything but smoothly. The moment you add children into anything that you do, everything is up in the air, a smorgasbord of possibilities, and the one that will land will never be the one you foolishly planned on.

Let’s, of course, back up to the point where the perfect storm of schedule nightmares really began.

My dear Sophie, my sauce-pot of a 6-year old, has never been able to breathe properly through her nose. Ever. If she has a cold, she can’t breathe. If she doesn’t have a cold, she can’t breathe. And when she talks, it sounds like she’s holding her nose. It’s awful. And perpetually boogery. Add in the super attractive snoring and gasping at night, and I figured I should ask our family doctor about it.

The first step was allergy testing, which made complete sense to me. I am allergic to everything with fur, feathers, pollen and dust (yay, me!), and I got my oodles of allergies from my mother’s handful of allergies, so I figured I had given Sophie an infinite number of itchy, sneezy, unhappy genetic gifts. Like the dutiful mother that I am, I took her to the same allergist that did my allergy testing waaaaaay back when I was about Sophie’s age, and discovered that Sophie had ZERO allergies. She was allergic to NOTHING. Which I immediately didn’t believe, because the kid is stuffed up, and itchy if we eat too much dairy, and breaks out into hives if a dog licks her.

The next step on the Sophie’s Nose Exploration was to consult an ENT. The lovely Dr. Zhang listened to Sophie talk for a few moments, asked me questions about Sophie’s sleep habits, her cold history, and agreed that she sounded stuffed up. She said that before she did anything she wanted to send us to a sleep study, since I had mentioned the super awesome jackhammer snoring and the gasping for air.

Have you ever done a sleep study? As an adult? It’s not fun. It’s this insane set-up with a bagillion wires connected to your head, your chest and your legs, and you’re forced to sleep in a bed that’s not yours with the hum of a variety of interesting machines, and then you’re woken up at 5:30 a.m. so you can be out of there by 6 a.m. It’s a couple steps short of torture.

You know what’s WORSE than having a sleep study done to you? Being the parent that gets to sleep beside the KID who’s getting a sleep study. First, you have to hype up this ‘super cool’ sleepover you’re going to. And then you have to get them to agree to sit still while they’re covered with a million wires (I can’t even IMAGINE Lillian having this done…Sophie is so pliable and amenable. Lillian would be like, F%&# YOU!).

My little Frankenstein

My little Frankenstein

And then you get to sleep in the same bed as them while they try to sleep with the crazy wires and noises and unfamiliar bed. And in Sophie’s case, she was sleeping flat, which she never does because of the boogers. She always sleeps propped up on a couple of pillows, but here we tried her lying on just one. Which of course caused her nose to try to kill her and stop her from breathing and she would thrash and cry and try to rip off the wires.

Finally the night end, I’ve not slept more than 1 hour in a row, and Sophie says to me, “That was FUN! Can we sleep here again?!” To which I say, “I hope we never have to do this again.”

At the beginning of April we got the results from our February sleep study, where the nice respirologist (the sleep doctor) explained that Sophie stopped breathing 70 times in a 7-hour period. Then he proceeded to tell me that the average kid stops breathing about once an hour…not 10 times an hour. He said she had moderate to severe sleep apnea, which means it wasn’t emergent, but it wasn’t awesome. It needed to be corrected.

Fast forward a few weeks to the Monday before the half-marathon weekend and Sophie and I were in the ENT’s office again, where she said she needed to stick a camera up Sophie’s nose to see if it was indeed her adenoids or if it was a neurological problem causing her to not breathe properly. Again I can’t imagine doing this with Lillian – first Sophie got a tissue shrinking solution shot up her nostrils, and then she got a camera, attached to a tube the size of really fat spaghetti, shoved up her nose. It was only for a few seconds and Sophie did squirm, but in the end Dr. Zhang got what she needed and declared that Sophie’s adenoids were completely blocking her nasal airway and needed to come out. Then, she was explaining the procedure, the risks, and the fact that with the sleep apnea she would be staying overnight for what is typically a day-sugery so they could monitor her oxygen levels. I found myself listening, nodding, and signing papers for pre-registration, which didn’t seem odd to me until we were at the receptionist’s desk getting an appointment for surgery THAT FRIDAY. As in FOUR days from then. As in TWO days before my half-marathon. As in NOT WEEKS AWAY.

The rest of that day is a blur – I signed Sophie out from school for an extended absence, I notified the parents of the little girl I walk to and from school that we wouldn’t be able to help out the following week, I told the mothers and Ben and anyone else I could think of. I rescheduled Lillian’s deaf school appointments and her speech therapy, and I tried to think of all the things I was probably forgetting, all with the pall of the half-marathon and the 21 km I was scheduled to complete hanging over me. Where I was supposed to be out of town. With an overnight stay. Two days after Sophie’s surgery. I didn’t think I could do both – be a parent at the bedside of my baby AND be a runner completing the longest distance I had ever run. It felt impossible.

Until I talked to Ben that night who said that he felt I should still run the race. That even though he and the kids wouldn’t be there to cheer me on in person, there was no reason why I shouldn’t still go. That unless there was an emergency or some kind of major complication in the surgery, I should go be a runner after I had been the bedside parent.

So I did it.

I hung out with my giant baby, with her long arms and legs, talking her gently through the pre-op process, helping her pick out a new stuffie from the hospital staff, explaining that she would be awake and not asleep for the IV process, telling her she was brave and awesome and that we loved her as she chased bubbles into the operating room, then waiting patiently while she was being put to sleep and cut open, then sitting and waiting patiently in her room while Ben sat with her in recovery (he was to be there when she woke up, I was to sleep overnight with her), then hanging out with a sleepy, sore, incredibly brave Sophie while she asked for a hot dog, her new Fire HD tablet we had got her for her birthday and popsicles, then helping her fall asleep knowing that she would have an accident because she was so worn out and the IV was pumping her full of fluids while she slept, helping her get comfortable and changed after said accident, then helping her eat her hospital breakfast, where the novelty of it outweighed the sad state of it, and finally bringing her home with her Nana to see her family and begin the healing process and week-long vacation from school.

My girl, brave and strong, sleeping after her surgery.

My girl, brave and strong, sleeping after her surgery.

And then, I needed to turn my eyes toward the 21 km prize, because Sophie was a champ and was recovering awesomely. There was nothing for me to stick around and do that Ben could not do on his own. So, I went ahead as planned, with my running buddies Bethany, Andrea, and Toni.

We slept overnight in Mississauga, the city that we were running in, which is about an hour away from our house. This way, we could get up and go to the start line for 7:30 without having to wake up at 3 something and get all of our babies ready and our husbands ready and our cargo ready. We could just wake up, drive 20 minutes, and be there.

The first leg of our race was to get on the shuttle from the parking lot to the starting line. It was cool, but not freezing, meaning it was a good 20 degrees warmer than most of our training runs.

Our fellow runners waiting for the bus

Our fellow runners waiting for the bus. The guy in the ball cap said that it was below zero last year…you know, the last time he ran it.

Andrea looking fresh and excited

Andrea, looking fresh and excited

A pre-running selfie, trying not to freak out too much or feel like the worst mother in the world for abandoning her babies too much.

A pre-running selfie, trying not to freak out too much or feel like the worst mother in the world for abandoning her babies too much.

Bethany doing Toni's hair since it wasn't cooperating. This would be time 1 of 2 that Bethany did her hair.

Bethany doing Toni’s hair since it wasn’t cooperating. This would be time 1 of 2 that Bethany did her hair that morning.

After we got shuttled (and Toni got her hair done again), we caught up with the thousands of other runners who were waiting to complete relays, the half-marathon with us, and the full-marathon like the crazies that they are.

Before the agony of 21 km

Before the agony of 21 km

It was intense standing in the crowd of people, listening to the psych-up music and the announcements from Hurricane Hazel and the organizers of the race. The energy was one of camaraderie (so many runners wished us luck on our first half-marathon, helped us take group pictures, and chatted with us) and endorphins. It was crazy-awesome and, besides the water stations, it was the missing element in our training runs. That energy definitely helped propel us through the race.

Andrea took this picture...if I tried to take an 'in the crowd' picture, it would look like a bunch of t-shirts, no sky and no start-line.

Andrea took this picture…if I tried to take an ‘in the crowd’ picture, it would look like a bunch of t-shirts, no sky and no start-line.

We got to run through some of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in Mississauga. Most streets were tree-lined and crazy giant mansion-lined. It was also spectator-lined, with people shouting encouragement, playing music (both live and speakered), and waving super funny signs, like “This is the worst parade EVER” and “I wouldn’t DRIVE 42.2 km on a Sunday!” I was also passed quite efficiently by an older man whose shirt said, “Running Grandpa 80 81 82 83 84 years young”, who was running the full marathon. I caught up with him in the last few kilometers of my half-marathon. He KICKED MY ASS.

The first 16 km were good – I was strong, it was the distance I had run twice before, and I felt fresh and energized. And then I realized that I still had a 5K to run. Another 40 minutes or so. That’s a hard pill to swallow after 16 km. I dug deep and used the awesome volunteers who cheered and the super nice spectators who were yelling support to get me through the next couple of kilometers. Around the 19 km mark, I really started to feel tired. My feet hurt. My legs were lead. I wanted to lie down and sleep. But I was still so far (SO CLOSE) away. There were a lot of walk breaks in those last kilometers, but as I was passed by an elite marathoner with his bicycle entourage, he said, “Good job” as he essentially sprinted past me. I managed to say it back before he disappeared from earshot and it gave me the oomph to get to the end.

No one from my immediate family was there to cheer me on – Ben and the babies were home with Sophie, waiting for me to get back. I was trying not to think about it as I got near the finish line. And then I didn’t have to think about it any more because Toni was there, SCREAMING her head off for me, and my name was announced as I crossed the finish line with the Boston Marathon qualifiers, and then I saw Bethany and then Andrea, and I was almost weeping – with relief and gratitude and empowerment. Finishing that race was SO hard. The week before it was SO hard. The training leading up to it was COLD and hard. And going from someone who never exercised, who quit gym class in grade 10 because it was no longer ‘required,’ to someone who could run 21 km was AWESOME. I would do it again, now that my feet have stopped throbbing and my legs are almost recovered, and I haven’t run in a week. To feel that again? It would be worth it.

All of us medaled at the end.

All of us medaled at the end.

I might even do the full marathon next time. All 42 km of it. I just have to convince my running buddies they’re as crazy as me…

~ 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

Writing…with children

I want to be a novelist. I want to see my books on the shelves of bookstores. I want to talk to people about the stories that are in my head. And I want to do that as my job. That is the dream. It’s a lofty dream. And it’s all the more complicated because I am a writer…with children.

Kids make everything messier.

Leaving the house is infinitely harder and requires complex terrorist negotiations.

Eating a meal is fraught with flying food and temper tantrums about broccoli touching potatoes.

Going to sleep is a perilous activity that can be interrupted at any time by puking, screaming, or banal updates, such as, “I woke up.”

Even simply moving around your house is now an obstacle course with hard plastic or pointy wooden toys ready to stab you at any moment.

Kids make everything messier.

Me trying to be a writer is no different. Writing my book has taken me almost 5 years so far. And while great novels often take a heap of time, mine is taking so long because of children. Children being born. Children not sleeping. Children not stopping. All the children all the time.

If I could sit down and write my novel in larger chunks of consistent time, I feel like it would be more cohesive (I’m dreading reading it all at once…all in a row…oh, the horror) and that it would probably be DONE by now. Or at the very least, in a third or fourth draft phase.

My book is being written, though, and I feel it’s because I’ve come to accept that writing with children comes with its own set of rules. Here they are (as I know them):

1. Be prepared to write at any time. 

I write at night after the babies go to bed. I write first thing in the morning when I can convince myself that writing is more important, more dear, than a couple more hours of sleep. I write in the morning, when Isaac and Lillian are still getting along. I write during nap time under Lillian while she watches a movie during her quiet time, until I ultimately fall asleep because I’ve stopped moving. One piece of advice that is given to writers is to set up a routine, to write at the same time every day, but when you’re writing with children that golden writing time is a moving target…and you’ve got to hit it when you can and nap when you can’t.

In the morning, when everyone is still in pyjamas.

In the morning, when everyone is still in pyjamas.

2. Be prepared to be joined. 

There is nothing my babies love more than to join me in writing. When I pull out my computer, they also want to pull out their toy laptops. When I’m writing by hand in my fancy journal to plot out my book, they also must have fancy journals. And when I’m editing my paper copy of my written words in my binder, they also want to write and print and colour in a binder as well. I make sure that whichever way I’m writing at the time, they also can join me…otherwise, they might try to join me in other ways…

Isaac...helping...

Isaac…helping…

Lillian sharing her writing with me.

Lillian sharing her writing with me.

Sophie and her masterpiece.

Sophie and her masterpiece.

3. Be prepared to be interrupted. 

Life doesn’t stop just because you need to finish a thought, follow through an idea, or wrap up a section. Children don’t look at you and see you sitting and quiet and pensive and decide, “I’m not going to bug her. She looks busy.” They think the opposite, in fact. They see you there, with your super exciting looking pens and paper, with your coffee that might still be hot, with your eyes closed, maybe, so you can drown out the outside stimulation and focus on the voices in your head, and they say, “This is our moment. This is the time to sit on her, lick her, ask her to help me with my craft, my game, the voices in my head.”

Isaac helping me write this blog post...on my lap...with his blanket.

Isaac helping me write this blog post…on my lap…with his blanket.

4. Be prepared for your solo writing to be a compilation. 

When I was in my writing class, we were tasked with providing critiques of the other writers’ work. I would often have to hand back copies of their stories with Sophie’s scrawls all over them, because she wanted to help. Everyone was lovely and said it made the critiques more charming…but in truth, I wonder how many authors would put up with that kind of nonsense. In my fancy novel-planning journal, you will find crayon, marker, pen, pencil and stickers, all from each of my children. And I like to think of it anthropologically, that when my biographer goes through my notes, or when my planning goes viral, like Ms. Rowling’s, they’ll see that I was writing with children. And that that is not for the faint of heart.

Stickers from Sophie...to help make my book look beautiful. Success.

Stickers from Sophie…to help make my book look beautiful. Success.

5. Be prepared for all the rules to get tossed out the window. 

If there’s one thing I know about child-raising, it’s that the rules change, sometimes moment to moment. I’ve had to come to terms with this in my own writing life, and it’s been a hard pill to swallow. I have all of these ideas and all of these words and the characters are screaming and want to be let out, but they can’t because I am a full-time mom, both in work and at home. It’s what I do. And that means that sometimes I’ll get to write on consecutive days. And other times I won’t be able to write for weeks, or even months. That sometimes I’ll nail writing in my scriptorium that Ben built for me in our laundry room and others I’ll be at the dining room table. That some days I’ll have energy and creative fire, and others I’ll want to nap with my free time. It’s the way of parenting, it’s the way of life with children, and it’s the way of writing. Sometimes things go exactly as planned. And others are so far from any plan you wonder if you’ll ever get back on track. At the end of the day, though, I’m a writer. And whether it takes me 5 years or 10 years to finish my book, I will. Because how else will I ever shut the voices in my head up?

~ Julia

For Cassidy Megan

It has been a year a half since my last seizure – and I am still scared shitless.

Every time that someone tells me that I am out of the woods, after all it has been a year and a half there is nothing to worry about, I secretly want to kick them and yell “DON’T JINX IT!” or “HOW DO YOU KNOW? DO YOU HAVE A CRYSTAL BALL?” and if they do have a crystal ball, why the hell haven’t I used it before!? I am so scared that it will happen again. Every time that I get sick with a flu or cold, the first sign of the sniffles, I panic. When my heart goes wonky because of stress, I immediately call my mom to take me to the emergency room. Every time I decide to have a libation after a rough day at work, I sip it gingerly in hopes of not triggering the sleeping monster. Because after all, that is what it is, a sleeping monster. A monster who lies waiting for me to be living my life, and then BAM!

This past episode of Grey’s Anatomy hurt my heart. A woman got into a car accident (well, the car drove through their house and hit her and her husband). She was pregnant and talking and fine and then all of a sudden she had a seizure and she was gone. She was gone and they delivered the baby. She was gone and the baby lived on while the father had some intense surgery. I fell apart while Cody slept soundly beside me. I messaged Julia who is my Grey’s Buddy…and she talked me off the ledge. It’s not just Grey’s though – every time that a character has a seizure on any TV show I hold my breath and then burst into tears because IT’S SCARY! My mind starts racing! Is this what my family watched? Did they hold their breath?

I am scared we won’t be able to have babies. Like, really scared. I am scared I won’t be able to, or that I will hurt them. A woman once thought it was a good idea to tell me that a friend of hers had a bath with her two year old, and while they were bathing she had a seizure and drowned her baby. I can’t get that out of my head. My mind keeps racing. What if I do that? What if some HORRIBLE accident happened and then I would lose my baby and Cody and my family and it just snow balls. Seriously – my brain, if it’s not seizing, it’s freaking out thinking of all the horrible things.

I have a coping mechanism – I make fun of my seizures to make it easier for me. I laugh about it, and joke about it and make it seem like it’s okay, but it’s scary. I will talk about them with anyone. I will answer anyone’s questions. I am not scared to do that. I am scared that it will happen again.

I am scared. 

Today is Purple Day, which is celebrated around the world. It is a day to raise awareness about epilepsy. My co-workers at my office are going to be holding a fundraiser tomorrow for it which is AWESOME! There are no other words for it other than AWESOME!  Purple Day was created by Cassidy Megan, a young Canadian girl, in 2008. She was motivated by her own struggles with complex partial seizures. She wanted people to know more about it and dispel myths. Purple Day didn’t become international until 2009.

I am going to be wearing purple, and putting my own selfish fears aside to support those who are going through worse than me. For those who suffer every day, multiple times a day. For you, I hope you find the treatment that works, find your trigger and live a life free of seizures! I wear purple for you, and know that you are always in my thoughts and prayers!

Purple Day

Purple Day 2014

~ Jacqui

You don’t want kids!? But…

Every time I say, “I don’t think I want to have children”, I tend to brace myself for the response and reaction I’m going to get. The responses are more times than not less than desirable. The statement is usually met with negativity, judgement, or the instinctive reaction of trying to convince me differently.

Over the course of my long-term relationship with Michael, I have compiled a list of the most common responses I hear – we call them ‘but-responses’ – and they generally sound something like this:

1. But, having children makes your life fulfilling!

Firstly, saying something like this makes it seem as though a woman who chooses not to reproduce leads a life that is lacking something…well, really, that’s exactly what you’re saying. Yes, the choice is non-traditional; however, it should be accepted that it is a choice and not a requirement to create life – something I think should be explained to more women. I do not need to give birth to know that I have an incredible life and on top of that, I am going to experience so many different opportunities that some who choose children as their adventure might never get to experience.

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2. But, you’ll change your mind one day, trust me.

Well, trust me then. I’ve felt this way for the better part of my adulthood and for as long as I can remember to be honest. I have never had the burning desire to make mini-me versions of Toni and I feel more strongly about this choice now, with where I am as a person, the life I forsee myself living, than I ever have. It seems to get stronger the more birthdays I see, the more Michael and I grow together as a team, and our blended-family grows more in love. It’s not necessarily my mind that I’ve made up, so much as listening to the silent pull in my heart.

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3. But, what will you do when you’re older?

This one irks me a bit…and then makes me wonder if that is really a reason people have children – as a retirement/old age plan. I have a hard time with this one usually, and I have to really force my filter to stay in place and be kinder than I would like to be. I usually point out that there is no guarantee that your children will be there for you in your old age as it is all in how you get along and treat each other that matters – not just that you’re family.

4. But, you would make such a great mom!

Thank you! And not to toot my own horn, but that’s what makes me such a kick ass step-mama and auntie. I’m a mama bear for anyone I love, and it seems to come pretty naturally. I also love being an influential person to the children in my life, but not having it rest completely on my shoulders. You know, that whole “it takes a village” mentality? I’m one of the villagers that will always be there as a support for my babies from other mamas. I love being that person for my sister’s babies, my step-babies, and my friends’ babies – the person who shows up for them all the time as a teacher, mentor, guide and friend.

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5. But, it’s what’s natural!

So is nudity, but it’s illegal. In all seriousness though, just stop judging what you don’t know. Statistics prove that even if I did want kids, there are still a ton of chances that I might not be able to conceive, carry to term, survive the birth, and have a fully healthy baby, etc. etc. the list can go on and on. Determining what is right for my body and my life is what is natural to me. Let’s all remember too: at the end of the day, I’m the only person who has to live with and answer for my choices.

I know many women who are choosing not to have children of their own, each armed with their own reasoning, each reason as personal as the next. Please try to remember to support each other in our right to choose our own path for this life – what is right for you is not what us right for everyone. So next time you hear a woman express her choice not to have children of her own,  instead of one of the above cringeworthy but-responses, celebrate her choice, thank her for being true to herself and maybe ask “why?” without judgement – the answer just might surprise you.

~ Toni