Thursday, September 28, 2017

It is not fair!

“It’s not fair, though!”

Oof. When I hear those words, no fewer than 6 times before the first cup of coffee is finished, I know there are a lot of feelings in the house and some teaching needs to be done. Again.

Here’s a situation: 3 children sitting on a couch. The biggest at one end, book in hand, blanket over his lap. Middle cushion is occupied by the eldest girl, same blanket across her lap, 3 books in her lap ready to read more. The youngest on the other end, same blanket across her lap, a little closer to her sister, and another blanket folded over the arm of the sofa. Suddenly Girlie notices the other blanket, realizes it could be used for a pillow, and reaches across her sister to throw the blanket onto the floor while telling Monkey (not necessarily calmly) that sine she (Girlie) didn’t have a pillow then neither should Monkey. “Cuz it’s not fair.”

Full stop. Wait. Whoa. Monkey didn’t react (way out of character, she must still be partly asleep…) but this momma certainly did. This is something ongoing, something we talk about a lot.  No one gets to take something away from some one else just because not everyone has it. Just because one sibling has something another doesn’t it does not make it alright for a child to take it away. And despite protests of “But… but… but…” I hope the message wasn’t lost.

We don’t own a cat. Our neighbour has a cat. Can I take that pet away to make it “fair”? We don’t have a carpet cleaner. Friends down the road have a carpet cleaner. Am I able to take it away to make it “fair”? Does our lack of a cat affect the neighbour’s right to have a cat? Or a carpet cleaner? What about the trucks that line the street, when one is absent (for the present moment) from our home?

We have things. A roof over our heads, food in the fridge, clothes in the wash. There are many who do not have these things. Does that mean we need to get rid of our stuff in order to make it “fair” for those who have less? Or nothing?

What I hope to bring home to all these littles, not just Girlie who brought on this morning’s lecture, is a couple things. When you look at others and all you see is what they have that you don’t, you are going to be grumpy. When you look at yourself and all you see is what you have but others don’t, you’re going to be more than a little self absorbed and self righteous. When all your energy is spent looking at your ice cream bowl, deciding how unfair it is that the littler sister got a teensy bit more in her bowl and how is that fair because you are bigger and therefore deserve, if not at least the EXACT same amount, perhaps a smidgen more… Well, you’re going to have grumpy parents who are going to lecture a bit about grace, love, and how important it is to be happy you got any ice cream at all.

I am writing this as I am finishing that first cup of coffee still. Hubby left for work, I sat down with what was the bottom half of my first cup of coffee and that interaction happened within those first few minutes after he left. I’m used to that. I sometimes think about setting a timer from the time Hubby leaves, just to see exactly how quickly things get loud and angry. But, for as much as it frustrates me that these discussions happen again, and again, and again, I am glad that it isn’t only me having them. Hubby has his share with the littles too. And each time, I hope, a little more gets understood and maybe they will be able to grow up aware of the people around them, that they are blessed, and that they will find ways to share their blessing instead of hoarding them or feeling they need to supress others to maintain their state.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Tempus Fugit

As always, it's been pretty busy and I have a lot to catch up on. Next post after this will have pictures from Smarty's birthday, Girlie's birthday, and Hubby's home coming. As well as perhaps pictures from some summer fun.  Today is for reflection for me.

We now have a house full of people going to school. This morning there were 4 lunches made for taking to school, 4 backpacks packed, 4 classroom drop offs. It was a very quiet drive back home after the bell rang. I had no voice in the back asking about the day's plans, what we were going to do once we got home. I'll have no help making the muffins I will be putting together later today. I have no twirling to the music playing, or a chorus of singing along.

There will be no squabbles over nap time or who needs to listen to the rules of the game being played. There will likely be a lot of hugs and cuddles when everyone comes home at the end of the day as the processing of the day's events happens, likely some grumpiness as the transition takes a bit longer for some.

I haven't cried for a single first day of school drop off. And I can still say that I haven't cried while dropping off. However there may have been some dust in my eyes as I was going home, listening to the radio without the added commentary. And perhaps there was an eyelash that got caught in there when I opened the door to the house and started cleaning up, realizing that there wouldn't be a new mess to clean up again after lunch.

It is exciting that I now have child free time to devote to my own studies. And that juggling around a nap time every day doesn't have to happen (yes, I know how lucky we are that the youngest still sleeps most days).

But for now, I am indulging in a little funk. Grade 6! Smarty was excited/nervous starting this school year, planning out some of the extracurricular things  he is thinking he'll want to do. Sergeant is excited for being in the last grade in the school and starting archery in the spring. Girlie has decided already that she wants to join the choir and be an awesome help and guide for Monkey when she needs it.  Monkey was a little nervous this morning, saying she doesn't know all the math and that she isn't sure about this whole "writing" thing... But there was no fuss heading out the door. No tears or leg grabbing. There were quite a few hugs, lots of happy.

Transitions and moving ahead with this awesome family, and really excited to watch the learning and growing that will be happening. Watching our butterflies flutter and stretch :)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Two weeks. That’s how long school has been out. We left our home bright and early the day after it was over to make our way east to visit Hubby’s Dad and step-mom and it was a beautiful drive! The littles were all excited and relatively well behaved for the 12 hours it took to get us there and then we slowed right down.

Canada Day we had a lazy morning (well, I did since I was shooed back to bed with a migraine) and the afternoon was spent playing in bouncy castles and face painting and park playing with a jumbo freezie to top it off. We ran into Hubby’s cousin whom we hadn’t seen since Smarty was just learning to walk, and it was nice meeting her husband and children as well!

Lots of fishing, lots of walking, lots of water time. We spent some time, just the immediate 6 of us, at Clear Lake our last day there. We stopped at the Chocolate Fox for ice cream, we walked through interpretive centres, we talked with park staff. We stuck out feet in the water and leaned about invasive species like the rusty crayfish.

We drove to Medicine Hat to visit our wonderful friend that we don’t get together with near enough, and have now been home for a week. And it has certainly not been a boring week. At least not for me. My children may have a differing opinion 😉

After letting them indulge most of Monday in doing nearly nothing productive, we quickly learned (or relearned… I think this is something I have discovered and rediscovered a few times) that littles need structure and responsibility to be happy. So they did some dishes. And put away clothes. And cut rhubarb. And set and cleared tables. After the initial “I don’t wanna do anything and you can’t make me” passed they have been relatively pleasant! They really are wonderful children. But they are still children.

So every day, after the set “quiet time” that is always built into our days, whomever isn’t actively napping gets to do dishes. Today changing the laundry was added. Simply because I had other work that I needed to do for school and since I have able bodied helpers around to pick up what I would “get around to” I am definitely going to utilize them. I have really been pleased that the grumbling has mostly stopped.

But course work is moving along for me; I think I have got the balance so far for school and family. The children have succeeded in completing their respective grade levels and will move forward in the autumn, and it feels as though summer is already moving way too fast. We have had a week at home, Sunday afternoon we head out for a family camp at Camp Kuriakos, then we are home for a week before we hit the mid-summer mark. August will pass just as quickly, I am sure.

I have loved taking so many pictures while we were visiting in Manitoba, and I am looking forward to taking more at camp next week and into August with more family visiting. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Birthday Reflections

If anyone had told me 20 years ago where I would be today, and what I would be doing I would have laughed.  I suppose that is true of any 14-year-old, though.  I am not who I was then. I enjoy things now that I despised then. I am a far cry from who I was in that time of my life.

Tomorrow I turn 34. Definitely not a milestone birthday, certainly many others have passed that number. But I was reflecting on my past as I was cutting silverskin off our supper for tomorrow and prepping the rub for them to sit in overnight. I was thinking that I was enjoying looking at recipes for the ribs and savouring the scent as I was slathering it all over that meat.

14 -year-old me did not like to cook. Or bake.  Refused to try to learn. Begrudgingly made what was necessary at the insistence and fight with my mother. I would rather be reading. Or walking along the river. The June I turned 14, we had a dog that I loved walking along the dike. There was a park that edged along the North Thompson River right at our back yard and it was glorious to walk Shadow out there when I got the chance. Even better if I could go alone, without siblings. 

I recall one failed (maybe, I think it still tasted delicious) attempt at brownies for a youth church function. Mom set out the recipe and I followed it.  At the time, my mom bought (still does) a lot of her baking supplies in bulk. But the cocoa wasn’t labelled. I realized that I had made an error as the pan was in the oven and, instead of the smell of chocolate filling the house, there was the unmistakable scent of cinnamon. The treat was still at hit with the other youth, but I never forgot that. I always smell my cocoa before using it now. 

But 14-year-old me would have been shocked that my faith has grown and developed in the way that it has.  That I would be teaching my children a different way of living a life of faith than I was raised. She would be thrilled that I have lived across the country, I have put my toes in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. She would be overjoyed that I am married and still in love with my Co-director of Parenting. And that we have four amazing, wonderful, sometimes challenging children.

14-year-old me would be shocked to hear that I am running (voluntarily) a few times a week. Just to stay heart healthy. And that I am doing online coursework so that I can keep myself busy in a new way as the littles grow older.

But I feel that 14-year-old me would approve.  The happy that has been experienced and found along the way is something that outweighs all the darker patches she would see as well. The sad, the lonely, the confused, and the soul searching.  The growth experienced, and still (continually) happening, is exactly what 34-year-old me needs, and would make the me of decades past bust with pride.
Definitely not quite the direction 14-year-old me thought I would take, but I doubt that she really had a clear understanding or view of what she wanted as well.  She thought she did. I now know better.

People love people. Faith is a living, breathing thing. Forgiveness is possible. Talking does wonders. Don’t second guess a decision after it’s made. Experiment with flavours. Try something new. Love like tomorrow may not come. Be content. Make your own happy. Enjoy the outside. Stand in the rain. Hug all the people.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bike buddy

Bikes are awesome. Bikes with baskets are awesome. Bikes with training wheels are great. Bikes with a bike buddy is even more fun. This weekend we’ve put a lot of family time into the quality time bank account to discover these things.

I have not sat on a bicycle for a couple of decades. Stationary one, yes. Street bikes, no. So, this spring we decided that we would invest in this activity for everyone, especially since we only have one child still with training wheels on her bike. Sergeant needed a new bike, Monkey needed a new bike, and Momma and Daddy needed ones too. We got new bike handles for Girlie, made sure everyone had a helmet that fit, and we took off. There is absolute truth to the saying that you never forget how to ride a bicycle!

After church on Sunday we picked up the new bikes and helmets for Hubby and I. Then after lunch we went out. A little wobbly on the start off, but it was fun! We went and went, through the trails, Daddy in the front followed in birth order by the littles, with Mommy keeping an eye on Monkey. She had a tumble and scraped her knee, but she was a real trooper!

Later in the day, the three biggers went out again with daddy and a friend and two of his kids while Monkey stayed behind with me. We did a repeat on Monday afternoon, but with both families going, and the mommas and the youngests of the two families heading home earlier again with the older ones and the daddies going farther. Training wheels and little legs can only go so far! So, when a friend told me about someone she knew selling their gently used bike buddy, we jumped at it!

The girls and I picked it up while the boys finished up their piano lessons with Dad, then we attached it to Dad’s bike and they went for a test drive. The look on Monkey’s face when they came back up to the house was amazing! She was simply beaming!

Yesterday morning the three younger ones and I biked to the school for drop off and pick up, then after supper we did a longer family ride with the bike buddy. We were out for about 40 minutes, just using the trails and sidewalks around town. It was amusing seeing the smiles on peoples faces as they saw the tandem bike at the front, followed by three more children, then the mom going all over the place. As the person bringing up the rear, seeing the 4.5 bikes in front of me brought a lot of happy to my heart.

My heart was so full, seeing them power up hills, race to get in front of each other in spots on the path, and not complain about the distance we were putting on. Smarty wants to ride his bike to school sometime, so Hubby will time that out with him over a weekend and we will plan when that can happen. I am more than happy to keep riding to the elementary school with the younger ones. Definitely a fantastic investment we’ve made this weekend!