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)

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Happy birthday, mama

While we are not back to our regularly scheduled blog rhythm just yet, we most DEFINITELY did not want this day to go by without making a fuss over a very special lady in our lives…pretty much the most important one.

Without her, really, none of this would be here. None of us, none of our families. She, our matriarch, our head of household, our guiding star, is our Mama, and today is her BIRTHDAY!!!!!

So here’s to you, Mommy – happy, happy birthday! We hope you know how much you are loved, looked up to, and admired. You hold a special place in each of our hearts, lessons and love unique to each one of us. You’ve set incredible examples for us, helped whenever needed (even when we didn’t know we needed it) and loving us regardless and no matter what.

Mom

Mom

We love you and hope you have the most beautiful day, filled with so much love, light and laughter your heart stays full forever.

Love,

Your baby girls
~ Weather Vane Sisterhood

 

She’s 6

It’s been hard to find the words to express exactly what this year has meant for me and my oldest baby Sophie, the one with the looooooong legs and the fascinating brain and the crazy sense of humour and the incredible compassion for all living creatures, especially her tired, worn-out, crying mama (there’s nothing that brings a girl to her knees like a 5-year old rubbing your back and telling you it’s going to be okay). She’s turning 6 this week and I’m struggling to pinpoint exactly what made this year different from the year before.

Crazy tall kid. For our family, of course (she's still one of the shortest in her class.)

Crazy tall kid. For our family, of course (she’s still one of the shortest in her class.)

She’s in her second year of school, so that’s not new, but how she’s handling herself there is different since she is in the oldest grade (she’s a Senior Kindergartener now) and her teachers tell me she’s all about helping the younger kids, the Junior Kindergarteners, figure out the rules and talking to them when they’re crying for their parents. It’s such an oldest sister thing, such a me thing, to be a mother hen, that my heart at once is so proud and aches that her childhood is slipping away in the service of others. You give a bit of yourself away every time you reach out to someone, and it’s not a bad thing, but the fact that she’s starting so early makes me worry about whether or not she’ll have anything left for her when she gets older. It took me forever to find that balance – I hope her path is full of as much compassion for herself as it is for others.

“Don’t I look so adorable?” Yes, Sophie. Yes, you do.

She’s still a diva, a fashionista in training, who staunchly believes still that ‘flat pants’, or leggings, the pants that sit flat against her legs, are the only ones that make her look beautiful. She’s stunning. There is nothing that girl can’t put on with her hair and her ridiculous blue eyes and her tiny nose that doesn’t look pretty, but you can’t reason with her. Sophie is only pretty when she’s got her flat pants on. And if she can’t wear those, the tears and gnashing of teeth and stream of self-loathing that follows is irrational, heartbreaking and frustrating as all hell. There are only so many times you can say, “You are gorgeous no matter what you wear.” before it turns into you yelling, “You’re wearing the ugly jeans so just get dressed already!”

So pretty. But only in flat pants!

So pretty. But only in flat pants!

She’s trying so damn hard to recognize letters and print like a pro and read a book unaided. She’s not there yet, but this year the Valentine’s took waaay less time to print and the word recognition is coming faster and more furious, and the pages of her printed letters and numbers have littered our house to the point where I toss them out because there are SO MANY. She’s always bringing home a book she’s made, or showing me that she sees her name or wants to know if the random letters she’s printed say anything. She’s trying SO HARD. I can’t wait for the penny to drop for her, not only because things will get read a lot faster, but also the pride she feels in the tiny steps she’s been taking will turn into a full-blown mind explosion of excitement. I can’t wait.

This face times a MILLION when she finally reads in a stream without stopping.

This face times a MILLION when she finally reads in a stream without stopping.

She’s thoughtful. SO thoughtful. And not just in kindness, but in thinking through everything you say and connecting it to other stuff that has been said or that she’s seen. We’ve been watching Full House on Netflix as a family. Sophie is by far the most interested in it. We were listening to the radio the other day and the radio host was talking about how they have guest DJ’s every week. Sophie immediately stopped colouring and looked at me. “Did he just say D.J.? Like Full House?” And thus began a 10-minute conversation about the difference between Full-House DJ and a radio DJ. Tricky stuff.

Such good sisters...except when they're SCREAMING at each other.

Such good sisters…except when they’re SCREAMING at each other.

But again, none of these things are glaringly new or crazy insane. We’ve had a relatively quiet year here with Sophie. She’s gone to school, made new friends, is often at our neighbour’s house to play with another girl her age, and generally we just manage her fashion meltdowns and lippy-ness (her wit and smarts get her into trouble more often than not). And the more I think about it, about the year that was for her and me and us, I kind of feel like I cheated her. I’m so focused on Lillian and the war that we are waging right now and getting her ready for school and I am trying to keep Isaac from killing himself since we’ve firmly landed in the climb-everything-and-conquer-it stage, that I’m really not handling Sophie much at all. Really, the only things that Sophie and I do together are get up, read, get dropped off at school, get picked up from school, and then negotiate our way to dinner and then bedtime. It’s so…removed and hands-off. I don’t worry about her going pee or poop everywhere anymore. Generally when she climbs things it has zero impact (unless it’s a fire hydrant…then a nice, blood-spouting hole appears in her chin). And her temper tantrums are usually dramatic friendship woes (that are normally fabricated by her) or rages against the disgusting pants that flair on the way down and don’t hug her legs.

All grown up. *sob*

All grown up. *sob*

I was told when I had her, 6 years ago, that the time will fly quickly. That one day she won’t need me as much and I’ll miss the time when she does. And in truth, I can’t believe it’s been 6 years. I can’t believe she’ll be 6. But, I’m so busy being needed by Lillian and Isaac that I’ve missed missing her needing me as much. It makes me want to grab her and really relish in her independence and her sauciness and her laughter and her crazy thinking. And it makes me worry that maybe I’ve failed her. Maybe in not being there for her, even if she doesn’t need me, I’m making her feel unloved or like she’s drifting away from us.

Not too old to sit in a foam chair and watch a  movie with her siblings.

Not too old to sit in a foam chair wearing fairy wings to watch a movie with her siblings.

But then yesterday she curled up with me to watch DJ hang out with Kimmy Gibler, and I loved the feel of her weight and warmth and her hand and arm crooked through mine. And today, when we walked across the parking lot of a doctor’s office, she grabbed for my hand without me even asking, just as I was debating whether or not I should ask her since we’ve been walking independently across streets on the way to school now for months.

Wearing new birthday flat pants, shirt and purse. STYLIN'. She says she's "fancy." I can not argue.

Wearing new birthday flat pants, shirt and purse. STYLIN’. She says she’s “fancy.” I can not argue.

And then, just like that, all is right in the world again.

To my eldest, my tallest (for now), my sauciest – happy happy birthday, my love. 🙂 I’m excited to see what this year brings us and how far you’ll go, even if it is further away from me.

Love, Mama

~ Julia

Oh, thank GOD she’s FOUR

Lillian and I have been in a war for the past year. A war of the THREES. Any parent that I’ve talked to has agreed with me on this one point: Terrible Twos don’t exist. TERROR-FILLED THREES are what you have to worry about.

The calm before the storm...don't let the sleeping fool you. Look at the FORM. She's NUTS.

The calm before the storm…don’t let the sleeping fool you. Look at the FORM. She’s NUTS.

Lillian has been three for WAY. TOO. LONG. She’s saucy. She’s opinionated. She’s obstinate. She’s stubborn. She’s given me more grey/falling out hair than anyone. And she’s CRAZY.

All cute.  And innocent(-looking). She's a sneaky, sneaky terrorist.

All cute. And innocent(-looking). She’s a sneaky, sneaky terrorist.

She’s three was my mantra for the whole year. She’s three. She’s three. Don’t kill her. She’s three. Don’t toss her into a snow bank. She’s three. Don’t throw a temper tantrum back. She’s three.

She’s three.

Determination is her middle name. But her first name??? Spider-Man. And don't you forget it.

Determination is her middle name. But her first name??? Spider-Man. And don’t you forget it.

But today? TODAY?!

Today she is FOUR. And I can tell you that I’ve been looking forward to this day like children look forward to Christmas, like Ben looks forward to the first game of the NFL season, like Isaac looks forward to breakfast – with EVERYTHING I’VE GOT.

Because three? Three almost KILLED me. (No, I’m not being melodramatic.) (Seriously.)

Surprise! She's a loon!

Surprise! She’s a loon!

Three was when we started potty training with earnest. Three is when I cried about potty training practically daily. Three was the time where if I had a million dollars, I would have HIRED someone simply to potty train Lillian. Three made me wince when the pediatrician asked me if Isaac was ready to be potty trained (I’m not even THINKING about it at this point. I need a vacation, first. And a stiff drink. Followed by hibernation. Then, and only then, will I consider potty training a BOY.). Three and poopy underwear and puddles and bringing 7 changes of clothing only to have all 7 soiled halfway through our outing brought this mama to her knees.

Who me? YES YOU.

Who me? YES YOU.

Three was when Lillian started her stand-off life view. Where she decided she wasn’t handing over any control over anything to anyone, DAMMIT. Three was the time where Lillian said, “I’m not peeing anymore!” And she didn’t. For the whole day. Three is when Lillian would refuse to eat anything that she didn’t like the look of. “I don’t like it.” And that, folks, was the end of the meal. Three was when Lillian would say, “I don’t want to.” to going to the bathroom, to picking up Sophie from school, to getting dressed in the morning (she’s now the reigning queen of pyjama days because I refused to pick this battle), to cleaning up, to sitting down to eat, to wearing underwear, to wearing a pull-up diaper, to ANYTHING at ALL at ANY moment.

"I don't like breakfast, ANYMORE."

“I don’t like breakfast, ANYMORE.”

Three was when Lillian came into her own with her vocabulary. Which simply means, it’s the time where she could clearly articulate exactly what she didn’t like about what I was doing. Or not doing.

Strong. And shy. Until she knows you. Then watch out.

Strong. And shy. Until she knows you. Then watch out.

Three was when she fell in LOVE with Scooby-Doo on Netflix and Spider-Man in daily life (“No! My name is NOT Lillian! My name is SPIDER-MAN!”).

Her super hero identity

Her super hero identity

Three is when conversations like this happened EVERY morning:

Me: What would you like for breakfast?
Lillian: —
Me: Lillian. What would you like for breakfast?
Lillian: Toast.
Me: With what on it?
Lillian: Banana and peanut butter.
Me: Perfect!
Lillian: NO! I don’t want anything on my toast. I just want peanut butter. And banana.
Me: So nothing, but peanut butter and banana?
Lillian: NO! I don’t want anything on my toast! I just want peanut butter and banana. And honey. And apricot jam.
Me: Okay.
Lillian (after receiving said toast): I don’t WANT toast. I want CHEERIOS! (Cue sobbing because I’ve ruined her life).
Me: Kill me now.

Dirty. Happy. Nutty. Buttly.

Dirty. Happy. Nutty. Buttly.

Three was a war zone of wills, a battle to the death of the most basic of things, like socks and a coat and snow pants and mittens in -30 degrees Celsius weather. It was a knife fight, where I brought a soft plastic baby spoon and Lillian brought the weapons of mass destruction that Bush dreamed up in his sleep.

This is how she watches TV. No, really.

This is how she watches TV. No, really.

It was a painful, brutal, exhausting year, because my ferocious, energetic, stunningly smart, heart-breakingly strong baby, the one who ripped IV’s out of her arm and bounced back from implant surgery, the one who went from no hearing and no words to NEVER FINDING AN END TO THE CHATTER, the one who has been dealt a tough hand and has cleaned out the pot and all of the players, found her inner THREENAGER and OWNED it, like she’s OWNED everything ever in her life. She refused to be born. She refused to be knocked down by a hearing loss. She refused to use the BLEEPING potty. She refused to give in. EVER. She refused.

Sauce-pot to the max.

Sauce-pot to the max.

And yet?

She’s still the best hugger I know. She’s still the sweetest when I’m hurt or sick. She’s still the one that covers me with her special, Lillian-only blanket when I nap in the afternoons. She’s still the kid that wants to help all the time in the kitchen. She’s still the fiercest lover, fiercest runner, fiercest fighter ever. She’s still awesome and incredible and smart and tough and strong and crazy.

Chatting the ears off Grandpa...he never has any clue what she's saying or why she's saying it and she will never let up.

Chatting the ears off Grandpa…he never has any clue what she’s saying or why she’s saying it and she will never let up.

But ONLY when it’s her idea.

And today? Today, she is FOUR.

Isaac used to hate waiting for me to get the stroller inside after the walk home from school. Every time, Lillian would lie there with him, making him giggle, making me less likely to toss her out a window.

Isaac used to hate waiting for me to get the stroller inside after the walk home from school. Every time, Lillian would lie there with him, making him giggle, making me less likely to toss her out a window.

So, my dear second baby, my dear troubled middle child, my dear girl who puts the butt in buttliness, the girl who demands to be treated with the respect that Spider-Man deserves, happy happy day. Here’s to another year, where we will go to school, and tackle the world, and win all the battles all over again.

Being herself. Her awesome crazy brilliant tough self.

Being herself. Her awesome crazy brilliant tough self.

Because heaven help your teachers and your classmates if they get in your way. And Godspeed to them. They have no idea what’s coming for them, and there is simply no way to prepare them…except to hug them and thank them for taking you off my hands.

Oh, my heart.

Oh, my heart.

I love you, Lillian. With everything and through everything. Always.

My monkey-butt

My monkey-butt

Love, Mama

~ Julia

Birthday boy

We’re in a tricky spot, over here at my house. It’s tricky because March is BIRTHDAY-PACKED, but Ben has a huge deadline that’s due date is actually his birthday day. So what is a Laurentino, who LOVES celebrating, supposed to do when the guy you love to celebrate with, love to celebrate, love to love is too busy to be celebrated? WRITE A MUSHY BLOG POST!

He’s turning the big 3-6, so I thought I’d give you 36 reasons why Ben is awesome:

1. He’s the best father to our kids. They squeal when he comes home, they demand his attention, they curl up and snooze with him in the mornings, and he’s working SO damn hard for them right now.

Daddy the wild ride (counterclockwise from top left: Sophie, Lillian and Isaac)

Daddy, the wild ride (counterclockwise from top left: Sophie, Lillian and Isaac)

2. He’s committed. To our marriage, to our family, to his game developer dream, to his footie passion. He’s all in. Always.

3. He’s strong. From opening stubborn, slimy sippy cups, to carrying all the laundry from all the rooms down all the stairs, he’s a tough guy…and I appreciate it with both of my carpal tunneled hands.

4. He’s a softie. No, seriously. Is there a poignant moment in the movie or TV show you’re watching? Get ready…he’ll be teary. It’s adorable.

5. He’s THERE for you. Need something? Anything? Like moving your house for the 845793rd time, or needing some groceries dropped off, or a push out a giant snowbank? He’s your guy. In a heartbeat.

6. He appreciates a good laugh. And when you’re raising ALL the CRAZIES, it’s a good thing…otherwise we’d both be crying (see #4).

7. He’s not afraid of hard work. Manual labour, thinking labour, working until the wee hours of the morning, he’s in. And he’s committed (see #2).

8. He’s the king of goofing off. I’m a little nutty…and a lot Type A personality…and my go-go-go-go can quickly kill me. He’s a perfect balance to my nonsensical need to busy all. the. time. Without him, I’d be in a corner, rocking, with so many more grey hairs.

9. He’s a family man. In every sense of the word. He’s all about keeping family okay, and family includes our five, our one in heaven, his side, my side, and the life friends we’ve picked up along the way.

10. He’s tough. Different than strong, he can take a beating, both on the field and in life, and keep moving, keep fighting. I haven’t seen him give up yet…even when all the signs were yelling at him to quit.

11. He’s handsome. ‘Nuff said.

Right?!

Right?!

12. He can smell good. Note the ‘can’. He doesn’t always. But when he does…mmmm…he smells good. 

13. He gives the best hugs. They’re big and all-encompassing and warm and when I’m in them I feel small and protected and home. And the coolest part? He’s passed this genetic gift onto Lillian, who is an all-body hugger.

14. He’s funny. Sometimes. And sometimes not. He makes me laugh sometimes. But sometimes not. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

15. He’s smart. Smarter than me in so many ways. Smart bookwise and computerwise and lifewise and lovewise. He’s a smartie pants…and our kids will benefit from that greatly when they come home with trigacalculusometry homework.

16. He works hard to find the right gift. Research, listening to what you say out loud and what you say in not so many words, then searching and trying so hard to get it right.

17. He writes the best cards. Birthday, anniversary, Mother’s Day, just because…Ben’s notes are the sweetest, most thought out…and it’s ridiculous because I am a writer and he out-writes me!

18. He wants to hang out with our kids. I’m not sure you’re aware, but they’re crazy. And I would fully understand that after a long day at work he’d want to hide out and not see anyone. But he doesn’t. He’s on the floor, playing with them, laughing with them, then herding them up the stairs, hogtying them into their pyjamas and reading them all the stories even when the stories are nonsense.

19. He wants to hang out with me. I’m not sure you’re aware, but I’m crazy. And I would fully understand that after a long day at work and a long night of hanging out with our crazy loin fruit, he’d want to hide out and not see anyone…but he doesn’t. He wants to watch How I Met Your Mother together and spend time together. He’s a glutton for punishment.

20. He giggles. He says he chuckles, because it’s a more manly word (his words), but I swear it – this burly man giggles.

21. He remembers all the 21s. We started dating on November 21 and we got married on May 21, so 21 is kind of our number. Every month we make sure we say, Happy 21! to each other on the 21st. He remembers more often than me…and usually when we’re rushing around and I’m about ready to lose my mind, he reminds me: we had romantic moments and we have a great life. Happy 21!

22. He’s warm. As someone with zero ability to maintain any sort of normal body temperature, having someone warm sleep beside you, let you snuggle up to on the couch, or wrap you in a warming hug when you’ve just come back from a -20-something run, is GOLD. AND?! His babies are little heaters. 🙂 I WIN.

23. He likes to play. Football, board games, video games, in the sand, in the water, in the bath, in the snow, and in the sun – he likes to play and participate. It’s awesome. And lets me nap…

24. He supports napping. Ben does not believe in taking naps. He hates them. He feels like it’s a waste of time. I thrive on naps. I LOVE naps. If I could have two naps a day, I would. In a heartbeat. So the fact that Ben fully supports my love affair with naps, while himself hating them, is awesome. And so generous. Now, if he would just come home from work so I can have one…or two.

25. He believes and loves God. For non-believers or even agnostics, this might not seem like a big deal. But when you talk to God a lot, when you love God a lot, when you want to raise God-lovers and -believers, this is an incredible gift. We are a family of believers and it’s lovely.

26. He’s actively interested in stuff I’m not. This might seem like a bad thing, but it actually makes for great conversation that doesn’t get boring. I like watching football with Ben, but Ben LOVES football, so he can answer my more detailed questions about contracts, money, culture AND plays and stats. I enjoy the odd video game, but Ben can talk about the development piece, or the possible reasons a developer made the decisions they did. Not dull at all.

27. He believes in me. I want to be a writer, a crocheter, a card-maker, a baker, a runner, a good mom, a good wife, and Ben? He believes I can do all those things well, successfully, and he tells me as much. He’s my number 1 fan and I’m so lucky.

28. He’s my best friend. It wasn’t this way in the beginning. I had lots of best girl-friends. But now? He’s one of my best friends and it’s the best part of our relationship.

29. He’s a good man in a storm. I’m not too bad in a storm myself, but he’s better. And at the moment that I start to lose my shipshapeness, his kicks in to hyper drive. He helps me keep my head, and will do everything in his power to fix, stop, or make the storm palatable.

30. He trusts me. This could be a sign of insanity or poor judgement on his part, but he trusts me with our home and our babies, with their care and keeping. He trusts me to be a good mom. It’s a huge thing and I don’t take it lightly.

31. He’s trustworthy. I don’t worry about Ben. I know he’ll be there, he’ll do his best, that he’ll work hard, that he’ll take the right things seriously, and that together we’re stronger.

32. He takes pride in his athleticism. Which is an asset for me, who, although has found a love for fitness, still has a great affinity for her bed – it’s inspiring. And for our girls – because we both work out and exercise, they talk about exercising and working out. It’s keeping our family healthy.

33. He is system-oriented. He has a method for blowing his nose. A way to brush his teeth. A manner in which he makes bread. A routine for everything that can be regimented. It’s endearing…and sometimes enraging…but mostly nice and predictable. Our babies? Not predictable. He’s a nice change of pace.

34. He’s confidently Ben. He knows what he likes and what he doesn’t. And he’s not afraid to ask for these things, but in a timely and appropriate manner. He doesn’t like semi-sweet chocolate chips, but make him cookies with them and he’ll eat and appreciate them. He wears boxer-briefs and refuses to wear anything else. Buy him the wrong underwear, he will be returning it and exchanging it for the right kind. See? Appropriate responses. 😉

35. He tells me how he feels. I grew up in a family of girls, so talking about our feelings was a daily, almost hourly event. Ben…not so much. The fact that he will actually tell me how he feels is a gift I don’t take lightly. I appreciate that he shares just for me…even if it’s not the oversharing I’m used to.

36. He lets me celebrate him. Ben didn’t grow up with giant birthday displays, so the fact that he lets me gush on him, spoil him, and force him to participate in fantastic organized birthday events is awesome. I love birthday-ing the people that I love…and since he is THE love of my LIFE, it’s incredibly generous that he lets me birthday him the way see fit.

Happy happy happy birthday, Ben!! I love you!

~ Julia

A very merry unbirthday to you! TO YOU!

“Babe..?”

“Yes?”

“I’m 25…right?”

“Are you actually asking me this?”

“Yes – how old am I?”

“You are 26!”

“I lost a whole year…..?”

This is an actual conversation Cody and I had about three weeks ago.

It seems that as you get older for women, you start going backwards in age, but for men you just lose years. You stop counting all together.

Today Cody turns 27! I am marrying this handsome devil.

And although he is not a big fan of birthdays,(tonight’s festivities include Chinese food and a Sons Of Anarchy marathon), I am a huge fan of him!

Love you Cody! Happy birthday! I have a feeling this is going to be a great year!

~ Jacqui

Celebrating with a little country

I have a terrible time with timelines. Seriously, I do. I think that what happened a year ago actually happened a month or even a week ago, so reflecting on this past year? How do I do that? Was it even a year? Did anything even happen? Did we have Christmas yet? Where am I?

I took a trip down memory lane to try and help me out and I have to say, we really are a one-year old. We are on our feet now – it took a while for us to get our balance and to actually start standing on our own, but we are stumbling our way there. I like to think we have our legs beneath us.

My take away from blogging? It gives me a reason to write. I love writing so much so I am looking into creative writing courses. I suck at spelling and I like to add punctuation where it doesn’t belong??:,’; (because it makes sense and they are fancy!). It has also introduced me to new bloggers from which I draw inspiration. I love reading what other people are blogging about and the blogging community in general.

The biggest takeaway I get is connecting with my sisters. I know we all have our own voices, and that they are loud! Just ask my niece Sophie when there is more than two of us at the dinner table, as she shoves her fingers in her ears because we are…and I quote…”Way too loud!” She is one to talk, but she is right! We are loud and boisterous and I get to be a part of that EVERY week. Even If I don’t get to see them physically, I still get to read their blogs and get a piece of them for that day.

#WVSisterhood #Giveaway !!

#WVSisterhood #Giveaway !!

For my portion of the giveaway, I have decided that I want to give you a little piece of me. But because that is frowned upon, and might gross people out (after all we are trying to gather followers not push them away), I have decided to give away a home decor piece. These are my favorite pieces and I have a total of three in my house (so far, there will be more I am sure of it):

The rustic star! You see them on barns, sides of houses – they are the perfect bit of country!

One of my closest and dearest friends, Kim, runs a small garden and home decor store, Ayr Country Gardens. It is in the heart of our small downtown core, and it is one of my favorite places to visit. Other than the fact that I get a little Kim session while I am in there, they always have something new and exciting to look at. It is pretty dangerous to go in there because you are sure to leave with something EVERY time. It takes real strength to leave with the same amount of money you came in with.

So now my question to you is: what is your favorite piece of decor in your home? Is it family photos? A motivational sign? Maybe it’s a couch where you spend family time. Let me know what it is! Remember, every comment on our blog gets you an entry in the giveaway. Our mom is one of our avid commenters, so come on people! Get a-posting! Can’t wait to get a glimpse of your homes. You never know, if I get lucky enough to come to your house, maybe I’ll keep my eye out for those candlesticks you love so much!

~ Jacqui

A year of blogging

This week is BIG for us here at the Sisterhood. Big because it’s a birthday week (Toni’s on the 12th!). Big because it’s Valentine’s Day week (Hello, LOVERS!). And BIG because we have our first anniversary of blogging.

Last year, on February 10, 2014, we published our very first post and introduced our blog to the world (mostly our family and friends).

We wanted to dedicate our posts this week as odes to the blog, reflections on a year of blogging and then, of course, giving you, our readers (family and friends and THE WORLD), gifts for hanging out with us, reading us, supporting us, commenting on us, and letting us share our Sisterhood with you. To celebrate our very first anniversary we’re going to hold our very first GIVEAWAY.

#WVSisterhood #Giveaway !!

#WVSisterhood #Giveaway !!

OH YES.

We are OPRAH. And EVERYONE GETS CARS*. (*The word cars in this case represents small tokens of our affection and not actual cars or automobiles or vehicles of any kind. And the word everyone means select winners chosen at random, not every single person in the world. Please don’t sue us. We’re not actually Oprah.)

To enter our giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment. Every comment gets you one entry into that day’s giveaway. That’s right. I said THAT DAY’S GIVEAWAY! We’re doing FOUR giveaways and a GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY. Because we’re CRAZY in LOVE with you! Each regular blogging day this week, a sister will select and introduce a prize. Leave a comment on the blog post, answering the question the sister poses to you! Each comment you leave gives you one entry into the draw for that prize. You can leave one comment or you can leave 100 comments, just make sure you’re answering the question. All the comments from all the blog posts this week will be put into the draw for the grand prize giveaway. Only comments posted before 12:00 a.m. EST Saturday February 14, 2015 will be considered.

We’ll make the draws and announce the winners on Valentine’s Day because we’re CRAZY in LOVE, remember!? We love you. You love us (we hope). And because it’s our BLOG-BIRTHDAY!!!

Questions? Worries? Concerns? Let us know. Love notes? Wishes for our 2nd year of blogging? Hopes and dreams for our future together? Let us know.

And sincerely – THANK YOU – for reading with us, hanging out with us, and cheering for us. Thank you. ❤

Okay. Enough Oprah. It’s time for me to reveal what I am giving away!!

For me, this year of blogging has been a test of sorts. A test to see if I had it in me to stick with a writing project longer than five minutes here, four seconds there, an hour there…and then nothing for MONTHS. I’ve been fairly busy getting knocked up and having babies…which isn’t full of bon-bon eating and story-watching like it’s hyped up to be. It’s actually hard, mean, rewarding, tricky, exhausting, energy-sucking work. It takes a lot out of me every day…and that’s just getting out of bed. 😉 So to commit to a blog, even one with my sisters who are my most favourite people on earth (besides all of my other favourite people on earth…really gotta work on this list, otherwise my Oscar speech for Best Adapted Screenplay is going to SUCK), was a huge deal for me.

Will I get overwhelmed?

Will I suck at writing because my brain is mush and my babies are sucking me dry in all the ways?

Will I have interesting things to say besides I have babies, babies poop, babies, poop, babies, poop?

Will I hate it?

Will I resent it?

Will I be able to form coherent sentences every single week?

Apparently, no, not so much, not so much, no, no, and sort of! 😉

This blog has let me write about my life in ways I haven’t been able to commit to before. It’s helped me reawaken the part of my brain that is writerly, the part that speaks in narrative and sees everything as it would be described on a page. It has given me the chance to look through my crazy, zany, nutty, chaotic day and find the threads to write about.

It’s made me sit down and write for at least an hour every week. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but when your whole day is usually spent counting down the hours until you get to go back to bed every day, spending solid time, regularly, on writing is a giant gift.

So for me, this blogging year has been about writing again, putting words out there again, and reminding myself that this is the reason I went to the fancy school and got the fancy writing degree and want to be a writer when I grow up (Ha!).

When thinking about what I’d like to give to you, readers of all the words, I immediately thought about giving you MORE words (because I’m classy that way).

I’m giving away a short story collection from my author-hero, Alice Munro. She is so many things to me. She represents a strong, Canadian female author, something I’d like to be considered as. She is a mother of three children and yet still writes. She had her first story published in university and her first short story collection published when she was in her mid-30s. As someone in her mid-30s, this is very encouraging. And she won the freaking Nobel Prize in Literature. She’s incredible. And awesome. And I want to be her. And I love her stories.

The collection I’ve chosen is called Too Much Happiness, a beautiful book full of well-spun stories, and quotes, like, “Always remember that when a man goes out of the room, he leaves everything in it behind… When a woman goes out she carries everything that happened in the room along with her.”

Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro

Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro

I really love this collection. And I love what it represents for me as a writer, a mother, and a Canadian woman. I love all of the things. And I’d like to share it with you! All you have to do is answer this question: What is your favourite book? Or who is your favourite author? 

And thank you, again, for this year. It’s been awesome. ❤

~ Julia

The final lap

I realized yesterday that in a few short weeks, I will be entering into the very last year of my 20s.

I was sitting on Julia’s couch, gabbing about the accomplishment of partially teaching Isaac to say my name, my goal before my birthday, when it dawned on me that my deadline was now in terms of weeks, and much sooner than I thought. Julia was quick to point out that it was the last of the 20s, with a big grin.

The end of an era.

A milestone I have long looked forward to, truthfully.

People say that your thirties are totally different. But good different.

I’m pretty pumped about the whole thing. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I kinda do feel a bit like a fine wine, slowly getting better over time.

I feel like this back half of my 20s have felt very…vivid, is the only word I can come up with in attempt to describe it.

The highs and the lows have all felt very vivid.

The balance of life, if you will, but with the good majorly out weighing the bad, thank God.

Michael proposed and we faced some of the tougher challenges of life together in these years – I’m so grateful for our friendship, love and passion for one another because it meant we faced them together and grew even stronger as a team. Go us! Some of those challenges would have been so much harder to face alone, almost unbearable for me.

I’ve been able to take some very negative more recent experiences in my career life, and cling desperately to the feeling I have in my soul that it’s all for a very specific reason. When you’re not listening to the tiny whisper in your soul, life has this funny way of redirecting until we ‘get it’.

I got it.

Well, I haven’t yet. But I know I’m well on my way, and leaps and bounds closer than I was a month ago.

I’m getting it.

I said to a long lost friend the other day that I am not who I was a few years ago because something amazing has a chance of happening when you hit rock bottom and are severely wounded in the process by some of the people that you cared for the most.

I was lucky enough to look around when I hit that proverbial bottom and in doing so realized that I came out clean with the people who truly matter sticking by me through it all.

Now that is a blessing of a bounce if you ask me. To know who is on your team no matter what kind of shitty day you’ll have to face is pretty fabulous.

The part about getting older that I love the most though, is the odd realization of how precious time is.

This will help you make time for the people that are important, that you care about, and give you the reasoning for saying “no” to the ones who just aren’t. The double edge sword of this is coming to the slow realization of who made exactly that decision about us, and determined we just weren’t worth the spending of precious time.

But it’s part of life, of growth, of growing up.

Letting people go is something most people, myself included, have had to face by this stage of life – whether by choice, or even harder, death. It’s the ache of what’s left behind, what almost happened, the words you wish you’d said sooner, the forgiveness you wish you’d given faster, the moments you wished you would have paid more attention to. Some, you never quite get over.

As I stride towards 30, I’m fighting for that balance between a heart that loves as wildly as my beautiful nieces and nephews, as cautiously as my jaded nature needs me to and a soul that always stays a little bit tender with some hope, no matter what.

I’m hoping that my ever increasing love of yoga will help to keep me more mindful, present and most importantly help me to remember to keep breathing – something I’ve been known to have trouble with. I feel like part of my rebuilding process from this latest bump in the road has to largely be attributed to my involvement with my practice.

My favourite breakthrough I’ve had with yoga so far is that my intense desire to be still should be fed.

IMG_0441

Psalm 46:10

Being still allows you to see and hear things that God wants you to know, but are too busy rushing around with daily responsibilities to hear.

It connects you back to your heart, forces you to take a listen. Can often help you to see.

Recently it helped me confront a situation that has been giving me all sorts of heartache without the fear of not being in control of the outcome – my usually crippling downfall.

How completely liberating.

To be totally honest, brazen if you will, with someone and then let go enough to accept whatever may come, doesn’t come naturally to me by any means. But over the past 5 years, I have realized this practice is so important for survival.

Couple that with the understanding that everyone in your life has only a certain amount of love to give you – for some people that means heaps and heaps of love, and for some that means it may leave you struggling to understand why they treat you the way they do. The kicker here is figuring out that you have the opportunity to either accept that love, or walk away from it. You get to truly choose if the way someone shows you love, and how much they are capable of giving, is acceptable to you. I find peace in the knowing it doesn’t reflect on your heart by any means and that often times it has nothing to do with you at all.

Hardest. Lesson. Ever.

I’m feeling better and better about this old soul of mine as I prepare to take this next lap around the sun, the final of my 20s. I feel like I am so much closer to where I want to be spiritually, physically and mentally, as a person – the truly important milestones.

I really can’t wait to learn what’s next.

~ Toni

What I know

Close on the heels of my post about weaning depression, something I had no idea about, I thought I’d follow up with a post of things I do know for sure. And since it’s my 32nd birthday on Friday, I thought I’d give you 32 things I know for sure. Because I’m crazy that way.

1. Embrace coffee. Or green tea. Or something hot that kick starts you. I spent decades avoiding coffee and now, it’s one of my favourite things ever. Also, it makes me go.

Ryan-Gosling-Meme-Delivering-Coffee

2. Move. Go for a run. A swim. A dance. A walk. A yoga sequence. A gymnastics routine. Some parkour. Anything. Just get up and move. I didn’t understand as an indoor youngster, reading the books and eschewing gym class, but damn, it’s my new drug and I’m all for it.

3. Take care of you. No, seriously. Take a break. A rest. A timeout. A reading session. A napping session. A running session. A session that rejuvenates you. And when you need it, ask for help.

4. Say no. I’m working on this one, I really am. But say no to things. Your time is precious and sometimes no is the right answer and yes will just hurt.

No

5. Say yes. To new things. To happy things. To positivity. To light. To spirituality. To the future. To looking up and standing in the sun.

6. Family is everything. Blood family or life family, family is everything. It is what props you up, reminds you who you are, and helps you grow into who you will be. It’s everything. Don’t poo on it.

7. Make friends. Friends that get you. Friends that are fighting similar battles to you. Friends that will love you and your mess.

8. Be a truth-teller. Your truth. All of it. Every single messy piece of it. Even the parts that scare you. Tell the truth to yourself, to your family, to your friends, to strangers who will benefit from hearing it. Never stop telling it.

Mess

9. Eat your vegetables. And fruit. And whole foods. And things not purchased in a box or a package or are ready-made. I didn’t understand why our parents made us eat ‘real’ food when we were growing up, but I’m so glad they did.

Butter vs margarine

10. Eat a cookie. Or a brownie. Or some chips. Or that cheeseburger. Just don’t do it every day, all day. Your body deserves better. It does. But you also deserve a treat. Or two.

11. Have fun. No, seriously. Life is hard. Really hard. And it just keeps going and going, filling up your time and energy with hard things. So, cut loose a little. Giggle. Stay up too late. Play that game. Read that saucy book. Dance your own jig to your own tune. Enjoy your time here.

Daily Odd Compliment - sweat pants

12. Help. Your family. Your friends. Your neighbours. Strangers. People who are hurting in your town. People who are hurting across the ocean. People you walk in life with. People you will never meet. Where you can, when you can, help.

13. Be kind. In word and deed, be a nice person. You never know when you’ll meet someone again, or when you’ll need something from someone, or what they are battling. Be as kind as you need them to be to you. And then add some more. Because there just isn’t enough kindness in the world.

14. Learn to park. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to deal with a bad parking job. So, figure out your vehicle’s edges and length and depth and learn how to park. Countless people will be grateful.

15. Be polite. Please. Thank you. You’re welcome. I’m sorry. Excuse me. Pardon? Small words, big impact.

16. Babies are hard. Really hard. Like life. They suck everything out of you all the time. They ask for things all the time. They are a 24/7 commitment that you’ll never be ready for. They are really, really hard.

17. Babies are worth it. Every second. Every minute. Every hour. Every hug, squeeze, kiss, ‘I love you.’ All of it. Worth it.

18. Mental illness is as serious as a heart attack. It kills. It hurts. It destroys. It can be beaten. It can be stopped. It must be.

2013-11-21-Helpful%20Advice

19. Stop judging covers. That chubby girl? She can run. That run-over-looking person? Doing their best. That human race, full of people? All them, showing up, doing their best. Even you.

20. Money isn’t everything, but it sure helps. We were broke growing up. And now, I’m living a one-income life with three kids. Money isn’t everything…but damn, it helps.

21. Love is everything. For each other. For yourself. For God. It’s everything. If you walk in love, if you work in love, if you act in love, you’ll never go wrong. Period.

smallthingsgreatlove-768x1024

22. Put your damn cart away. No, really. I watched a woman who had to be in her 80s reorganize an entire cart caddy in a grocery store parking lot. She said, “If everyone would just put their cart away, we wouldn’t have this problem.” Never forgot it. Always put my cart away properly.

23. Listen. Not to respond, but to listen. To let someone else be heard. We all need to be heard. Make sure you’re doing your part.

Heard

24. Believe in the good. The bad will always be there, weighing you down, pulling you under. Believe in the light, in the good, in the hope. And look for it. Actively. Always.

25. Sit in silence. Turn off the news. Turn off the music. Turn off the internet. Turn off the chatter. Sit still. Breathe. Disconnect. Note that you didn’t die. Remember what it was like to be quiet? To not be plugged in? Take time to reacquaint yourself with it.

Silence

26. Sometimes it sucks. You’re asked/required/obligated to do something you don’t want to do. Sometimes you have to suck it up, grow up and do it. I feel like this one gets confused with number 3, Take care of you. Yes, you should take care of you, but you’re still a grown-up and you still have to do stuff you don’t wanna. Too bad. Get cracking.

27. Be creative. I had a boss that told me I wasn’t creative. He was an asshole and wrong. So wrong. I am creative, in the cards I make, the words I write, the mittens I crochet, and the songs I make up on the spot about going pee in the potty and wiping our bums and pulling up our pants because we’re soooo prettttyyyyyy. I’m creative, dammit. And it’s good for the body, mind and soul.

28. Don’t listen to assholes. You’ll notice them, quietly or loudly, obviously or passive aggressively shoving other people down so they feel bigger, better, smarter, faster, more successful. I’m not sure if they’ll ever ‘get theirs’, but I do know their opinion of you and your talent and your brain and your body doesn’t matter. Not one little bit. Don’t give them power. You have the power and you are awesome.

29. Make it better. Pick up litter. Rearrange some carts. Hold the door. Fix the mat so no one else trips. Pay for the person behind you. Don’t wait for a thank you. Don’t demand a thank you. Just leave this world better than when you got it.

30. Love with everything you’ve got. It’s going to hurt sometimes. And it’s going to be hard sometimes. And sometimes you’ll question your sanity. But, loving with everything I have has been one of the most rewarding things ever. I love Ben with everything, even though I want to kill him sometimes. I love my babies with everything I have, even though one of them lives in heaven and the others I want to run away from sometimes (at least once a day). And I get hurt. And bruised. And sometimes I don’t know if I’ll recover. But, I’m all in, baby. All. In.

Broken heart

31. Have dirty little secrets. Like the dirt you swept under the couch with your foot before your guests arrived. Like the smutty book you like to read. Like the so-bad-it’s-awesome television you can’t miss. Like the Oreos you can shove into your mouth without any children noticing. Any little thing that makes your life a little brighter, yet is probably not meant for public consumption? Keep on keepin’ on.

32. Celebrate your birthdays. I don’t get this “I don’t like my birthday” crap. I just don’t. And the whole, “I’m 29 again! Twelfth year in a row! WOO!”? No clue. You made it around the sun again. You are given a day that’s yours. There are people who want to celebrate you. You should celebrate you. Grab your cake and your glass and let’s toast the incredible things you did last year, like write potty songs and survive five-year-old fashion crises, and outlast the weaning engorgement, and all of the time spent loving and helping and creating and resting and just being.

Birthday hat

~ Julia