Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's been a while ....

I'm getting back in the (blogging) saddle. How pathetic that my last post was in JULY! Four kids and a busy summer, blah blah blah, excuses, excuses, etc., etc., etc.

I thought I'd start with a cute and funny story. Who doesn't like cute and funny?????

Last week we were in the car and littlest boy was not happy to be in his carseat. Our two oldest took up the challenge of comforting him and broke into song. Here, I am happy to present to you the lyrics of this delightful ditty.

Hush little baby
don't you cry
Daddy's gonna buy you a pumpkin pie
and if that pumpkin pie gets eaten
Daddy's gonna buy you a dog named Bif

I don't know how they came up with it, it seemed to be completely spontaneous. Much laughter ensued. It has now entered the family lexicon.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Echinacea is good for you

Our living situation is very good. We are blessed with a huge house in a wonderful location. There are big windows that catch delightful sea breezes on warm summer days, and the floors are original tongue-and-groove hardwoods, circa 1830. So the kitchen (added on mid-century last) isn't very efficient, and the bathrooms (all 5 of them!) wouldn't be featured on HGTV, but everything works, so it's a small price to pay.

One of my favourite things about where we live is the courtyard. It's off the kitchen, paved with brick and on the small side. But slowly, in the last few months, we've worked to make it a place we like to just "be". There's a small garden (which my wonderful next-door neighbour helped clear out; she's a horticulturalist and architect, which I find very impressive), and right now, mid-summer, it's filled with lavender, black-eyed susans, bee bombs, and echinacea. And bees, so many bees.

We have tubs of tomatoes and cucumbers and capsicums in various stages of development. I also have a pot of strawberries I'm watching closely for signs of fruit. 

I go out there every day just to drink it in, and sometimes, in the midst of clean-up duty, I'll raise the screen on the kitchen window and stick my head out just to look at my little patch of nature. I don't know about it's supposed immune boosting properties, but echinacea certainly is a mood booster for me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Remembering ....

There was a thread on one of my online haunts today (the mysteriously named "Bargain Board") with posters sharing photographs of their newborns in the first moments of life. So I went through my digital photo library and took a little trip down memory lane.

Those moments were amazing, breathtaking, exhilarating and terrifying. There were particular romantic details attached to each of their births. 

With our firstborn there were minor complications at the end of my pregnancy and the doctor predicted the baby would be born within 48 hours. My husband was at sea and I called to let him know, he caught the next helo in and the following morning we were admitted to the hospital in early labour. It was an unusual situation; it's very rare in the Navy to be able to come home from sea for any reason, even the birth of your child.

The next one came along after almost four years of struggle with infertility and loss. She was born three weeks shy of a year after I delivered her stillborn baby brother. It was exactly two hours before the New Year and snowflakes were falling softly outside. When her father announced "it's a girl!", he tells me I sat bolt upright and exclaimed "What????!!!!" I was almost sure the baby would be a boy. I lay awake all that first night, watching her, hardly believing she was real.

Number 3 was stressful. My birth partner (read: husband) was back on a ship and their underway schedule was not predictable. My mother-in-law came out to stay to help me and watch the older kids while I was in labour. Nothing was happening and we were down to three days before I'd be totally on my own, so the doctor agreed to induce. 17 and a half hours of hard, unmedicated labour, with my birth partner rubbing the small of my back for at least half that time (at one point he even put on an elbow brace!), culminated in the entrance of our younger daughter. I don't know how happy she was being induced. This is her the next day:

And our youngest. I was determined to have a natural birth experience. I wanted to go into labour on my own, to experience the natural progression of things. And I did that. It was fast and furious and I was totally "in the moment" the whole time. It hurt intensely and was absolutely empowering.

So now we are finished with that part of our lives. I remind myself that eventually, and with luck, I'll be able to experience the joy of childbirth again when my children have babies. And then I'll be able to go home and sleep all night.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Everyone loves a parade

Right? I don't usually. Parades are not my favourite thing. But this one was okay. It helped that we only had to walk 5 minutes to get to the very start of the route, crowds were pretty thin at our vantage point, and only one woman stood right next to my children's stroller smoking a cigarette. I think she got a flyer from the "Jesus saves" guy, so it's all good. 

Oh, and this woman. So she can simultaneously ride a unicycle (very smoothly) and play Yankee Doodle Dandy on the flute. I'm all for multitasking, but what I want to know is, can she talk on the phone, referee a dispute between siblings, feed the baby, get out the crayons, mop up a spill, cook a meal and write a blog post all at the same time? Now if I could just learn to ride a unicycle .... 

Monday, June 2, 2008

I'm not a doctor ....

But I do watch House. I've been feeling unwell for a little while and today all my seemingly unrelated symptoms have conveniently converged. I figured out what's wrong with me. I used the differential diagnosis method. Oh, and Google. 

I was able to ransack my house looking for drugs, mold and/or other environmental pollutants. I questioned my family members. I ruled out Lupus and Sarcoidosis, also bacterial infection (no fever), and Munchausen's by Proxy. I briefly considered Hypochondria, but thought I'd be much sicker if that were the case. 

Here's the white board.

I have diagnosed myself with Fifth Disease. There's not much that can be done; it's a generally mild viral illness that just needs to run its course. Fluids and rest are recommended, and for adults suffering the arthritis symptoms, ibuprofen. "Have adults with joint pain and swelling rest and limit their activities".

Rest. LOL! I would rest, but my husband has gallivanted off to a fancy pants black tie affair tonight, while I was at the elementary school spelling bee. It was very relaxing. Oh wait, I meant not at all relaxing.

Oh well. That'll teach me to not get the antibodies of common childhood diseases.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Rookie

It's his first year of Little League. He ended up on a team with several kids who have played together since they were old enough to play and they are really good. It's not easy being the new kid. Especially when your skills could use some polishing. But he's out there facing the pitches, swinging the bat, chasing the outfield hits.

His mother sits in the bleachers and has been known to glare at teammates who disparage him within her earshot. She buys him a 1lb bag of "Double Bubble" to share with the other boys, hoping to buy him some goodwill with the official gum of the Major League.

It's almost the end of the regular season and he's only had one hit, an RBI single. He's drawn a few walks, been hit several times by pitches, and struck out too many times to count. He usually only plays half the innings, sharing a spot with another of the team's non-star players. But every game day he dons the uniform with such excitement, buzzing with the anticipation of potential base hits, home runs, diving catches.

He's one of the Boys of Summer, in his rookie season.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Here we go again

So it seems like my identity crisis is on a slow simmer just beneath the surface of my everyday life. 

There are days when I feel so happy to just be the me I am right now; the mother and wife, chief cook and bottle washer. This is the me who looks with satisfaction at the gleam of freshly steam-cleaned floors, smells the turkey lasagna baking, and smiles at the laughter of her raucous children. This is the me who wakes to the whimpering of a hungry baby at 3am and happily, if groggily, nurses him in the quiet of deep night; the me whose heart still skips a beat when that chubby little hand reaches up and touches my face.

Sounds like I'm little Suzy Homemaker, right? I am pretty good at it, most of the time. There's another me, though, lurking where the dust bunnies hide behind the furniture. She comes out and makes me question what I do. Words pop up, words like accomplishment, career, intellect, ambition, contribution

And worse .... 


Recently I made contact with several friends from my old life, the life I had before I met and married and moved halfway across the world. They are women I went to university with, who now have careers like the one I might have had myself. It's sort of tough to hear about. It makes me wonder if I missed my opportunity. I always thought I would be successful, professionally speaking. 

I'm not a good "professional mom". I don't go to all the PTA meetings, or get on committees. I'm not able to volunteer in the classroom or chaperone field trips (babies and toddlers tend to disrupt the class), although I do my best to provide the supplies the teacher needs. Maybe I'll get better at it as my younger children reach school age. 

But I like to think I'm good at the more important stuff. In my eight and a half years of parenting, my "am-I-doing-this-right" barometer has always been bedtime. If the kids go to bed happy I know I've been successful that day.

And when I'm deep in my identity angst, I think about my grandmother. My Nana was a woman who was married for 51 years, raised three children and worked at a department store. She was a storybook grandmother: one who cooked amazing meals; picked perfect gifts; wrote letters and cards in her beautiful handwriting; and loved wholeheartedly her 18 grandchildren. She was always, always there for me. She didn't have a high-powered career, she wasn't rich or famous,  but when she died her family was around her. There were scores of people at her memorial service, friends and family whose lives she made better. And we still use her recipes and tell the stories that keep her alive in our hearts. 

That's a legacy I think I could live with.