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Savouring the moments

My son has been dealing with a rash for many months.  Teething and certain foods (dairy) have made it worse, although not so much the dairy anymore. I love babies’ smooth, soft skin; although, I always wonder if the baby is thinking, “My, what rough hands that lady has!” I’ve really missed that. However, in the last few months, my son’s rash has become a lot better and I’m loving his soft cheeks again. The poor boy is being smothered by kisses. In a few years, he won’t let me kiss his chubby little cheeks, so I’m getting in a lifetime of kisses now–thankful that presently he enjoys it too.DSC_0918

While my son’s rash was particularly bad, I had other moms wondering about it, all with their opinions on what caused it and what would help it, which lead me to think about just how varied people are because of their background, history, education and values. There are all sorts of mothers (and fathers) out there. Wear-your-baby types, cry-it-out types, attachment-style parenting types, “tiger moms”, and on and on and on.

When people find out I have four children (Not that I think that’s a lot of children), they often say, “You must be an expert at this!” Sure, I do have more experience than some people, but honestly I’m sometimes lost as to what to do, or totally disorganized, or completely overwhelmed. The truth is, I sort of wing it. I’m a “whatever works, do it” kind of mom, within the parameters of acceptability. Sometimes I wear my baby, sometimes I’m so organized life seems relatively easy, sometimes I co-sleep (every night with my youngest right now), sometimes I let my children cry because sometimes a good cry is all they need. If it’s not a big issue, I try not to pick a fight. And as long as our children are happy, healthy and learning how to interact well with others, it doesn’t matter if my way of parenting is everyone else’s.

This week, my three-year-old is visiting Grandma’s house. I’ve been busy, but I miss my little scoot. Of course, it always seems to work out that my baby fusses when I have a chance to get a ton of work done. Not only does he have two teeth coming through, but he’s also got a cold.

I’ve experienced life a little differently this week. Loneliness-missing my little girl. Guilt-watching as my son fell to the floor from the high chair, too far away to make a difference. Silence-the clock in the kitchen actually makes a ticking sound and I tend to fill the silence by talking to myself. Tiredness-fighting a cold, doing a lot of work and being woken up by a sick and teething baby. Laughter-my son is such a ham. He gets so worked up he starts to blow bubbles as he cries and then he stops crying and just blows bubbles instead. He breathes heavily through his nose because it sounds funny and makes me laugh. Thankfulness. On Sunday, a visitor talked about the verse: “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God for you.” Thankful when you’re in a rush to get out the door and you discover a dirty diaper. Thankful when you wake up to your daughter banging around in the kitchen at 7:00 (hehem, especially since she was putting away the dry dishes for you!). Thankful for a home, no matter how big or small, old or new. Thankful for your family, regardless of the trials you go through with them.

p.s. I wrote this a few months ago and have just gone through to edit it, but didn’t want to rewrite all of it to make sense for today being now. Hope that makes sense. :)

It’s just a number.

Perhaps it’s part of second-child syndrome or having a birthday in January, but most of my life I’ve spent trying to attain the next goal, to catch up to my elders, to get ahead.  Well, let me tell you, that feeling has successfully been stemmed.  I’ve spent this year feeling old.  I’m 29 and you all know what’ll happen next January.

When I was younger 30 was old (Okay, I’ll concede 30 isn’t old, but how did you feel when you turned 30?); not old-old like 70 80, but not young like 16.  Thirty marks the start of middle-agedness.  I have to confess I keep looking in the mirror and noticing the wrinkles (Is “creases” a better word?).  They don’t disappear after I smile, and perhaps therein lies my fear.

Will my “angry” creases be more prominent than my “happy” creases?  Not that I think life is all about sunshine and roses, but do I occupy myself with the negative far more than the positive?  Do I scold and discipline my children more than I enjoy them–smile and laugh with them?  Certainly some days it feels like it.  Will I turn into one of those old grumpy people (And from all I’ve heard of growing old, there are legitimate reasons for being grumpy.) or one of the kind, happy ones?  A mixture of both?

I’ve spent this year contemplatively.  Every new year, people make goals for themselves–resolutions to accomplish throughout the year.  Some publish these goals around for countability’s sake; some keep them private.  But how many look back at the end of October and acknowledge that they’ve reached their goals?  Or, are people like me and write the same ones every year?  It certainly makes new year’s resolutions easy!

That being said, all this contemplation hasn’t been entirely useless.  I’ve decided a few things.  For starters, by the time I actually reach 30, it’ll be no big deal because I’ve already spent my 30th year of life obsessing over it.  Also, instead of making obvious goals over and over again, I’m trying to fit the things I want to do into the spare minutes I have… unless I’m too tired and lazy.  In which case, January first might be littered with the same ol’ list.  I’ve managed at least one thing–if you’re reading this, I wrote and published a new post on my blog!

Thirty is merely a number after all.  I won’t suddenly feel ages older (That’s a gradual, subjective thing).  I’ll endure my day of teasing, silently planning payback for those younger than me and knowing that those older are, well, older.  Forty, fifty, sixty reaches them before it reaches me. ;)

p.s. Next time I’ll make it a little more interesting by adding a picture or two.

A teenaged boy asked where he could buy a sympathy card because he wanted to give one to Fraser (my newborn).  His reason: he only has one sister, but poor Fraser has three older sisters.  I suppose a sympathy card could be warranted at times when the girls fight over who gets to hold their little brother.  When they dress him up as a princess or make him their dolly, maybe I’ll give him a sympathy card myself.

Sitting with Daddy

Sitting with Daddy.

Needless to say, having a boy is still new to me.  While I was hoping for a boy (for the first time, I must say), I was still surprised to look down and discover we’d actually had one.  With a newborn, it certainly makes very little difference whether it’s a boy or girl, but as he gets older, I’m sure male tendencies will come out.

Baby's first bath

Four girls giving Fraser his first bath.

By the fourth child, I’ve gotten rather lax in some areas.   Outfits are worn for days at a time until there’s some obvious staining/smell attached to them.  Baby’s first bath happened in a blue Rubbermaid container.  Baby visited my grade 1er’s class to be poked and prodded by a bunch of germ-infested children.

And here are a few more “Bs” to add to the title.  Breastfeeding… constantly right now.  Baby brain… from lack of sleep.   Fraser is going through a growth spurt right now and I’m more than ready for it to end, as it’s left me rather exhausted.  He had just gotten into a pretty good night-time sleeping habit when he upped his eating (and pooping… sorry if that falls under the category “Too much information.”) and lowered his sleeping times.  Hopefully there’s a return to good sleeping soon.

I think Fraser has the most interesting stories associated with him so far.  Not only was he

Happy 1 week birthday!

John celebrated Fraser's one-week anniversary by buying a piece of carrot cake (the size of Fraser's head) from Safeway.

“delivered” by nurses in the maternity ward, but I also had to have my rings ground off because my finger swelled up rather rapidly in a few hours at night (presumably from not drinking enough water while breastfeeding??).  Since it was at night time, I waited until the morning to go to the walk-in-clinic at Brentwood Mall only to be told they didn’t have the equipment to remove rings so I was sent to the Walmart on Grandview only to be told it was Superstore that has the walk-in clinic (which isn’t far away, but I had a newborn and a 2 1/2 year-old with me).  Upon arriving at Superstore, I was told the walk-in-clinic didn’t open until 10, so I ended up driving back to one near my house and was given a two-hour wait time.  Because of the receptionist’s incompetence, I actually waited three hours before the doctor could help me.  By this time, I was just relieved to get the rings off and didn’t dwell on the fact that it was my engagement and wedding rings being wrecked.

The girls are developing their relationships with Fraser.  Victoria seems to have a good rapport with Fraser.  She snuggles him right up to her and he usually falls asleep or is at least content for her.  Bethany always loves to hold Fraser and give him a good morning snuggle and another one when she gets home from school.  She likes to “fetch” him when he wakes up as well.  Meghan alternates between wanting to hold the baby or touch the baby to wanting to (gently) kick at him and send him away.

All curled up with his blanket.

All curled up with his blanket.

Waiting…

It seems like I’ve spent a lot of time lately staring at the calendar counting down the days left until my due date.  And while I keep thinking it’s sooo far away, we’re down to eight days now.  Unfortunately, if the past is any indication, I’ll be starting a new countdown once I reach that: ten days until induction.

Although I can’t help feeling somewhat impatient, I’m busy enough that the time has been flying by.  I’ve fallen into a weekly routine with Meghan and Victoria: Mondays are for Strong Start; Tuesdays “we” do laundry” and Wednesdays “we” clean up; Thursdays we go to circle time at the library; and Fridays we go to the hospital for a check-up.  The girls sometimes ask if we can go to Strong Start extra times, but I prefer to keep it to once a week because we don’t get lunch until late and Meghan’s rather cranky and difficult while she gets her last premolar!  (On an aside, I’m so glad she’s getting it before Baby comes because I’ll be tired enough without any extra crankiness to deal with.)

I’ve been enjoying little moments with the girls, which would be easier to show you with pictures, but I don’t tend to take pictures of these things.  This week’s have included: Bethany reading to her two sisters, one on either side of her.  Meghan running up to Bethany after school, hugging her and saying, “I love you.”  Victoria sitting with Meghan in the bathroom with Meghan sitting on the toilet while Victoria “reads” to her.  Victoria, massive belly because she has twin bears under her nightie, getting checked out by “Dr. Bethany” and “Nurse Meghan”… then having a c-section and getting stitched up.

Spring is coming and each time I notice something to prove that, I’m happy.  We’ve seen some flowers on the way to school and the rhododendruns out front have a few pink petals showing.  Magnolia buds have appeared, and the girls like to feel how soft they are.  Today we saw birds flitting back and forth from a tree, probably making a nest.  I’m ready for sunshine and flowers and rain puddles without being cold and letting the kids play outside more often.

Now I’ve had this sitting here for a couple of days because I wanted to add some pictures so I don’t bore you with only my writing, but I’m no closer to getting pictures on than I was two days ago.  Maybe I’ll put up a few pictures on their own post if I ever get around to it. :)

My Monkey

Mischivous monkey glint.

My youngest daughter is a monkey: mischivous and full of energy, fun-loving and affectionate.  Careful though, when she’s angry, she bites.  Of course, that might have something to do with the pre-molars that–finally!–I can see coming through.

At least it was yellow this time!

Aftermath of a felt episode. At least it was yellow this time and not black!

Every time I turn around from doing a task, I see some bit of trouble that my monkey’s caused.  She loves drawing on herself (her skin, not her clothes) with markers and smothering herself with cream.  Today my monkey found the vaseline, took a handful and smeared it all over her face and hands.  I noticed only because of the sound of her trying to blow her nose to clear the vaseline out of her nostrils.  Also today, she jumped out of the tub and started playing with the water tap in the sink while I was away from the bathroom for a couple of minutes.  (Don’t worry, she was in there with her older sister.)  Let’s just say, I did an impromptu thorough cleaning of the bathroom.

You’re more likely to see my second daughter in the stroller than my youngest.  My youngest enjoys exploring on foot (at a snail’s pace sometimes, unfortunately for me) the entire way to school.  At this moment, there are approximately 40+ chestnuts in our house, most collected by little M.  When cooped up at home, however, this energy turns her into a small hurricane that goes through the play area and previously clean areas are thoroughly messed up within minutes.  Where does the energy come from?  Her regularly scheduled trips to the fridge to help herself to yogourt, cheesestrings, grapes, etc. might be key in answering that.

Another staircase. Picture 13/23.

Another staircase.

 

My monkey’s somewhat of an odd-ball though.  The other day, she decided to stop at every staircase on the way home from school, sitting down to pose for a picture.  (And yes, I’m too much of a mother to delete any of the pictures that turned out.)  She’ll spend 20 minutes playing with her sisters’ Leapsters, “aping” them (haha) by tapping at the screen with the stylus.  I’m not sure how much progress she actually makes.

Little M loves her family, especially Daddy.  She runs to him when he gets home from work, complies with him so readily and is happy to go out on errands with him.  She also likes to cheer up someone when he/she’s unhappy… like TT who’s grumpy because her feet are cold from snow coming in her boots, or Bessie who’s also moody from teething (first 6-year-old molar’s halfway through!).

When the day is done for my little monkey though, it’s done.  Be it in the middle of playing with toys, eating supper, or sitting in meeting, she collapses suddenly into sleep.  I have more than one or two pictures to prove it too! :)

Asleep at last.

Asleep at last.

 

A visit to the capital

Our Remembrance Day weekend was spent in Victoria with a bag of mixed weather and lots to do.

We parked the car at the Native parking lot five minutes out of Tsawwassen ferry terminal and arrived with less than ten minutes to spare to catch the ferry.  We enjoyed the breakfast buffet aboard the Coastal Celebration’s 10:00 sailing with lots of eggs, sausage, potatoes, French toast, fruit, yogourt and granola, toast, hot chocolate and so on!  With a window table, the girls were able to enjoy the seagulls soar beside the ferry, and John was able to watch the passing ferries.

Believe it or not, prior to the trip, the girls were most looking forward to riding on a double-decker bus (“upper-decker bus” as they most frequently call it).   So, we waited for two buses to leave before getting top front seats on the third bus.  The bus driver was very friendly and had the girls press the stop buttons and count the seats before leaving the terminal.  She also wanted a rendition of The Wheels On the Bus, but Bee wasn’t all that interested in accommodating her for more than a few lines.

"Upper-decker" bus!

"Upper-decker" bus!

Once we arrived in downtown Victoria, we had a small snack before heading to Miniature World.  The girls and a certain male enjoyed playing with the train in one of the first exhibits, where most of our time was spent.  After a “walk through history” miniature-style, we walked to our accommodations, The Admiral Inn, and dropped off our luggage.

Miniature World

WWII airplanes.

Some of us had pre-dinner naps before heading to the Spaghetti Factory, which is somewhat of a tradition for us (Eating at The Old Spaghetti Factory, not the naps).  After being filled with sourdough bread, soup and salad, spaghetti, lasagna, manicotti and spumoni ice cream, we headed back to our rooms to put the kids to bed.

In the morning, after continental breakfast (which the girls always love), we headed out to the Remembrance Day parade and ceremony in front of the parliament buildings.  It had started to rain a little bit and from what I could hear, there was a hold up while w

Queen Victoria statue in front of the legislature buildings.

Queen Victoria statue in front of the legislature buildings.

aiting for the Right Honourable Somebody-er-other.  The long moments of silence gave me a chance to think about two things–verses, actually, from the Bible–”Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,” and “…when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”  I always think about these verses on Remembrance Day because I can’t help thinking about Someone who was willing to die for His enemies while I’m thinking of those who gave their lives, or are willing to give their lives, for their “friends”.

Meghan ended up falling asleep and we left before the end of the ceremony to get some lunch and figure out where my folks were, as they were meeting us.  I heartily recommend avoiding the Royal BC Museum’s cafe.  The food was lame; the service was lame; the prices were lame.  We did, however, enjoy watching two IMAX films: one about beavers and one about orphaned elephants and orangutans.  After seeing how much the girls enjoyed the IMAX experience, I thought it would be fun to take them to the Omnimax.  Maybe someday I’ll actually be brave enough to do that. ;)  After telling you about the weather in the first sentence of this post, I’ll just add that it was incredibly windy yet sunny that afternoon.

Coho

Motivating factor for our walk? For one of us anyway!

The following day, the girls went off with my family to their hotel for a swim while John and I went for a walk.  The rain held off for the most part, so we enjoyed a walk out to and along the Ogden Point breakwater.  While on the breakwater, we met some tourists, who used me as a nature-expert and photographer much to John’s amusement.  We stopped for hot chocolates at a cafe at the start of the breakwater.  Unfortunately, the hot chocolates were only somewhat warm and overpriced.  I won’t complain though because they had whipped cream on top. :)

The rest of the day was taken up with menial things like meals and a ferry ride.  When I was childless, I enjoyed ferry rides, don’t get me wrong… Now they’re more of a torture sentence while I entertain or at least supervise three children in an enclosed space while enduring other people’s children.  Can you tell I never aspired to be a teacher or daycare worker?  I have to say, after an hour in the play area on the ferry, I started to fervently hope that my next baby isn’t a boy.

Pumpkins!

Waiting

I started the day carrying one backpack, but I slowly collected three before putting one back in the car.

The last few months have left me feeling tired and sick in the evenings—my time to write these blog posts.  I won’t be ambitious, trying to write all the posts I’ve started either on the computer or in my mind; I’ll stick to today!

This morning we loaded up the (station) wagon with people and headed to a pumpkin patch, where we met Bessie-Bee’s class for a field trip.  A neighbour and my sister-in-law and her son came along with us… And we had a bit of an adventure finding the place.  Next field trip, I’m google mapping the location as the teacher’s map left a lot to be desired.  Either that, or I should remember to put the Greater Vancouver mapbook back in the car as the maps of Kamloops and the interior don’t really help out too much in these situations.

Anyway, we arrived at the pumpkin patch on time and with time to spare since the busses were late.  I’m certain the children all had fun, although the younger ones were lagging by about 1 o’clock.  As an adult, I found we were being herded like sheep, rushed along and rarely stopped to take any pictures I would have

We love pumpkins!

We love pumpkins!

normally taken.  We also missed out on the corn maze, which I know my girls were looking forward to since I had told them about it beforehand. 

The children started out the day with lunch in giant tipis.  We sat outside on a bench since there wasn’t any room left in the tipi.  After lunch, we looked at the animals: an assortment of farm animals including emus, chickens, ducks, ponies, goats, donkeys, and rabbits.  About this time, it started to feel like a beautiful summer’s day, which was gorgeous, but a little warm for “fall wear”.  I won’t complain as I love warm autumn days.

Bunny

Big Bunny.Ride 'em cowgirls.

Next, the children were able to run around a small area with wooden animals that they could interact with. Cows to “milk”, tractors to “drive” and wooden cutouts to stand behind.  I couldn’t help thinking that this was a snap-happy zone more than anything, but perhaps I’m jaded by a society that’s more interested in taking a photo than enjoying the moment (I’m guilty of this too sometimes). Another cowgirl.

The woods were our penultimate stop (You can thank my father-in-law for that word).  A lot of work went into setting up different themed areas in the woods with wooden figures, gnomes, and pumpkins.  It reminded me of our visit to The Enchanted Forest in Revelstoke in a much smaller scale.  As we filed through the woods in somewhat of a “tour guide” fashion, the kids pointed out different animals and characters they recognized. 

As it was getting late, we had to skip the gold panning and corn maze and go straight to the pumpkin-picking!  For some reason, this is a favourite of the girls.  I was somewhat disappointed by the small state of all the pumpkins, but I’m sure the girls loved them more for being small.

We all had a good day, with no major mishaps and beautiful weather.  I would have enjoyed myself a little more if we were able to go at our own pace and spend more time at areas of greater interest.  Maybe someone with a type-A personality runs the farm. ;)  Now I just have to convince the girls to wait until Halloween to carve the pumpkins or they’ll be rotten long before it ever comes!

Can we get another one please??

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