Tuesday, 10 March 2015


Last week I heard that the forecast was finally calling for some warmer weather and I realized that we didn't have any spring gear for Kateri.  On Saturday we went to Once Upon a Child and as I sorted through slush pants, jackets, and rubber boots I began to think about spring. I thought about taking the kids outside without searching for mittens and fighting to get snowpants on. I thought about the sidewalks actually being passable for our double stroller. I thought about my kids being able to get some of their energy out in a park instead of running in circles around and around our living room. I thought about snow melting and puddles to splash in. I thought about green things poking up out of the wet dirt. I thought about Lent ending and the Easter season beginning.

As I stood there in the store my eyes got a little misty and I actually started to tear up a little. So happy at the thought of spring, so happy to have a pair of rubber boots in my hands. 

Spring is coming. Easter is coming. Patience is all that is required. 

Awhile ago I was praying about my kids. The prayer, as usual, went something like this:

"I love them so much...but they can be so frustrating....but they can be so difficult...but it can be exhausting....but I can't seem to keep that edge out of my voice sometimes."

The response I got was "Love is patient and kind."

Patient. Kind. I had heard that verse so many times, seen it on so many decorative plaques, that the words had lost all meaning for me, but they suddenly hit home. 

Patient. Kind. 

I love my kids. I love them so much it hurts, so much that I would do anything for them, right?

Yet there I am snapping at my toddler for taking way too much toilet paper again and jerking the baby away from climbing on the potty again.

The Christian call is not an easy one. It requires that I love with God's love, that is, perfectly. It requires that I love my kids patiently and kindly every minute of every day. And it is hard. In fact, it is impossible without grace. 

I humbly ask, Lord, that you grant me patience and kindness, especially in these days of waiting for Easter and waiting for spring.  

To sustain us as we wait, here are some pictures from Easter morning two years ago:

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


It's official. I never know what the day is going to bring.

For example, today I did not expect to hear strange sounds coming from the bathroom while I was busy with Kateri.

I did not expect to find the bathroom a swimming pool, with my toddler standing on top of his little potty (to be "safe" from the water) gleefully squealing and holding the handle of the toilet down so that the water just kept coming. Add to this mental picture the fact that he was completely naked since we were getting dressed when he trotted off to use the potty. I'm trying to get him to dress himself these days and it takes about an hour.

I did not expect when I ran downstairs to get the mop to find that the water was already streaming through the ceiling and into the basement. He'd only been gone 3 minutes, tops! Isaac wanted to help clean up. No way! Some people use cleaning up as a punishment or "consequence" for making a mess. But since Isaac would thoroughly enjoy such a punishment I thought it better to send him to his room. Plus, I didn't want him playing in the toilet water. With Isaac sent to his room and Kateri thrown into her highchair with a few crackers I managed to clean up. 

I'm still not sure what happened. When I asked Isaac what he put in the toilet he said toilet paper, but unless he put reams and reams in (which is quite possible) it wouldn't have overflowed that much. When I asked him if he put anything else in he eventually said "bar", so I thought maybe he had put a bar of soap in, but when I went to check, the hand soap was still sitting innocently by the sink.

I get so angry sometimes, but I have to remind myself that Isaac still doesn't know what he's doing most of the time, He certainly didn't mean to overflow the toilet and maybe didn't even really realize it was a bad thing until I came and flipped out. What I find hard to comprehend, though, because I'm not the same, is how much he enjoys himself in these situations. Even when people are angry at him he enjoys the drama of it. After the initial mop up, when I came to ask him what happened, he told me how he flushed the toilet, and water came pouring out, and he had to climb up on his potty to get away from it. He got more and more excited as he told me the story and couldn't help but smile, even though he could tell that I wasn't pleased.

Now that I can think about it calmly, it's really pretty good that we've gone 3 and a half years without a toilet overflow. After all, it is a classic. And last night he found the haircutting scissors and took a couple snips off his hair (only a couple, thankfully). So I guess we're hitting some real milestones this week.

Lord, give me patience. Lord, help me understand and love these crazy children of mine. And Lord, please don't let Isaac learn how to open a child safety door knob for a long, long time. AMEN.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

wisdom teeth

Here I am! Finally sitting down to write an update! What has brought about this turn of events?

I got my wisdom teeth out on Friday. I've been laid up for a few days but am now starting to recover. I still have a sore mouth and puffy cheeks, and I'm still not quite up to taking care of the kids on my own (they're at Nana and Papa's house today), but I think I might have enough strength to crank out a blog post today.

I'll start off with things I've learned since having my wisdom teeth pulled:

1. Tylenol 3, though potent, is not worth that wooziness and nausea that accompany it for me. Ick.

2. Being on a liquid-only diet gives you strange thoughts about food. Never before had the thought of pureed bacon seemed so appealing. Yesterday, when I managed to down some grated cheese I was very, very happy.

3. I look silly as a chipmunk.

4. My husband is awesome. I mean, I knew this before, but he really outdid himself this weekend, taking care of me, and the kids, and the house. He was also operating on not much sleep since Kateri was very unhappy with being abruptly night-weaned.

5. I miss my kids! I've still been around them but I haven't really been able to be a mom to them. I can't run around with them, read them stories, laugh with them. Actually, it still hurts to smile, and being around my kids and not able to smile is just plain weird.

On that note--the kids--I suppose no one wants to hear about them? Just kidding, I know that's really what people come here for. Since I last wrote Isaac has turned 3 and Kateri has turned 1. Our little man is now a pre-schooler and our baby is now walking and talking.

We celebrated Isaac's birthday in October with a small party which included lots of balloons. One of which, when we were on our way to the park, blew away onto the street and was popped by a garbage truck. True story. And one which he will still tell you today even though it was three months ago. The incident, traumatic as it was at the time, has not turned him against garbage trucks. His love of trucks and trains, and pretty much anything that goes, continues to grow.

His imagination also continues to grow. One day he held up his pointer finger and said "I'm John." I knew he was pretending but I wasn't sure whether he was pointing at me, calling me John, or pointing at an imaginary person named John. Turns out, his finger is the one named John. His other pointer finger is named Gomie (don't ask me where he got that!) and the rest of his fingers are all their friends. My pointer fingers are the Mommy and Daddy and we all have some fun family time together occasionally.

Kateri started walking the week before her first birthday. True to form, she started with a few cautious steps at a time and gradually did more and more as she was ready. Right around Christmas she discovered her voice was so pleased to learn a few words that she hasn't stopped talking since. She points to our Christmas tree and says "ba" (ball, because there are lots of ball ornaments on it), she picks up her doll and says "bebe". She's also mastered hi, bye, mama and dada. I just taught her the sign language for "more". She picked it up right away and says "ma" while she does it.

I love the age she's at. She's learning so quickly and her personality is really emerging. She's our sweet little lady and as happy as can be (most of the time). I have to admit, I was dreading the toddler phase a little bit. Isaac was (is) a challenging toddler. His strong will, passionate responses, and outgoing personality can be so much fun and are part of what make him who he is, but they also make him difficult to discipline. I'm learning that Kateri is much gentler and more easy going by nature. She's a little shy and uncertain in new situations, which may occasionally be annoying, when she just wants to be held at family function for example, but it also makes her less likely to run away from us in the grocery store. She is certainly discovering that she has a mind of her own and is learning to grip her toys very tightly when Isaac approaches. Whatever Kateri's toddlerhood brings, at least this time I'm armed with a little more experience.

As always, there's so much more I could write. But, as always, if I don't get this published now it'll never get done.

A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

bummin' around

Well, I've been wanting to write an update for awhile and I know what you all really want to hear about and that is, of course, the kids. Kateri is now nine months old and has recently become mobile. Instead of crawling, like a conventional baby, she's worked out a method of scooting her way across the floor while sitting down. We call this "scooching" (which is, I guess, a word I made up?) or "bumming". She's still somewhat slow, but getting faster everyday, and every day realising the possibilities of where her scooching can take her. Today she followed Isaac around while he yelled "Don't!" and protectively hugged his toys. She also found a power cord, tried to get into the bathroom, and, of course, found a few (or maybe more than a few) tasty morsels on the floor to try and eat. Looks like it's time to start baby-proofing again, and time to really try and keep these floors a little cleaner.


Isaac is approaching his third birthday way too quickly. He is growing into a little boy with quite the imagination. Quite often when I go to look for Isaac I find he is gone and in his place is a little dog named Bernie. Bernie likes to help clean up by picking up toys in his mouth and putting them away. Occasionally, Bernie talks, usually asking for a treat, but quite often when I ask him a question all he'll say is "woof." Bernie was cute at first but sometimes I miss Isaac, the human child who can talk to me and who eats with cutlery.

Here's our sweet little Bernie.

Isaac is in one of his favourite doggy hangouts, and Kateri, not to be left behind, bummed her way after him.
 I've talked before about really enjoying having two kids, and it still holds true. The sibling love just keeps growing. Now that Kateri is mobile I know that I'll be playing referee more and, yes, Isaac does yell at her when she comes after his toys, but most of the time watching them together is just plain cute. Isaac still thinks it's funny when Kateri pulls his hair. Kateri still thinks it's awesome when Isaac tries to wrestle her. Isaac runs to get Kateri whenever he hears that she's woken up from a nap. Kateri laughs at Isaac's antics more than at anything else. And now watching her trying to go wherever he goes really reminds me of me being the younger sister tagging along after my older brother.


Bath buddies
Life has felt very peaceful lately. I don't know if Isaac's tantrums have mellowed out or if I've just learned to let them roll off me a little better. Finding time to pray everyday helps immensely. I've also been feeling pretty energetic and like I could handle taking on something else (what? who knows?). I've thought about a few different things I could do but I think for now I'll just keep trying to perfect what I've already got going. After all, it's not like the whole house is spotless and organized as it is. There's plenty for me to do around here, I just don't always feel like doing the mundane tasks that make up my daily lot.

Anyway, life is good, God is better, and we are, as always, very blessed.

Friday, 11 July 2014

a tantrum-free day

This weekend we're heading off to Pembroke to see a dear friend's ordination to the priesthood. While we wouldn't want to miss this event it also means preparing for another road trip with two little ones in this summer that has already been crazy busy. Just thinking about it makes me tired. 

Tiring? Yes. But cute? Double yes.
When my mother-in-law told me that they were going up to the same area a day earlier than us and offered to take Isaac with them and meet us there my first reaction was discomfort. Isaac has never been away from us, with the exception of the night after Kateri was born. He's certainly never been on a road trip without us. Then I began to see the idea in sort of a rose-coloured shimmery haze. I could pack for the trip without Isaac there flinging clothes around and trying to put on our deodorant. We would have a relatively peaceful car ride, with only Kateri who's guaranteed to sleep for at least a couple of hours of the trip. It would only be one night away with his beloved Nana and Papa, and Isaac is no clingy child. With lots of people around and lots to do he'd hardly miss us. I could have a tantrum-free day.

You see, lately Isaac's toddlerishness has really been getting to me. I always knew that toddlers had tantrums, the "terrible twos" and all that, but I think I had some vague idea that if you were a good parent and dealt with tantrums properly the phase wouldn't last all that long. 

Classic "cheese" face.
If anyone reading this hasn't had much contact with toddlers, my vague idea was wrong. Isaac has been a tantrum-thrower for about a year and a half now, and it seems that there's no end in sight. I'm pretty sure this is actually just normal. We don't reward his tantrums, give in to him, or bribe him (except when we're really desperate..hey, we're not perfect!) but the simple fact remains that he is not yet able to control his emotions. Sometimes his tantrums are him putting on a show trying to get what he wants, but most of the time he just genuinely loses it. For a long time I thought that this was just the age he was at, and it is, but part of it is that we've just got a very passionate little fellow on our hands. He screams when he's excited, he screams when he's upset, and he gets upset and excited often. "Exuberant" my mom calls him, and I would have to agree.

He is getting better at obeying, and better at self-control, but I find that as he learns more I expect more from him. He used to rarely obey me, he just didn't have the impulse control. It was frustrating sometimes, but understandable. Now when he doesn't obey me or follow rules but I know that he can it can really bother me. I don't like dealing with tantrums. I'm a non-confrontational person so a battle of wills with my toddler is just exhausting. The sheer noise grates on me on a physical level.

I wrote awhile ago about it not being personal with toddlers. I think lately I've started taking it personally again. And, really, it's all about pride: "No child of mine is going to be rough with his cousins. No child of mine is going to whine to watch more tv. No child of mine is going to refuse to eat his vegetables. No child of mine is going to continually snatch toys from his sister." Why not? Am I so much better than the parents who have gone before me and struggled with these same issues? And even if I were a perfect parent does it follow that my child is going to be calm and self-controlled at the age of two? No, no and no. Of course, these behaviors are problems and we are working on them, but they will take time. And in the meantime, if I stop taking it personally and worrying about my pride I can deal with them much more calmly and consistently. 

Anyway, you can see how the prospect of a tantrum-free day was appealing. Even so, last night and this morning I was all in a flutter packing Isaac's bag and wondering if my baby was going to be okay without me. Sean and I did not find it easy letting him go. We have more separation anxiety than he does. We even talked about cancelling last night, but couldn't think of any good reasons. Isaac was excited to go with Papa to see Eowyn (the dog) the chickens at Sarah and Jason's house and wasn't the least upset leaving today. We know he's in very good hands and will have lots to keep him occupied. 

So Isaac is off on his adventure with Nana and Papa. The house is strangely silent without him. I miss him, but am also enjoying a little break. A little break, a little perspective, a chance to miss that little man and remember how much light he brings to our lives. And a chance for some quality time with Kateri. Our little miss is growing! Now that she's 7 months it seems like her first birthday is just around the corner and soon she'll be walking and talking and tagging along after her older brother just like I used to do. She's sitting up by herself (only falling occasionally) and grabbing everything within reach and sticking it in her mouth. She loves food, but has lately been insisting on feeding herself. She grabs the spoon as it's heading towards her mouth and sticks it in. I'm not sure how much she actually eats since most of her food seems to end up on her face, hands and clothes. She's our happy girl. I look at her and say, "You'll never have tantrums, right?" And then I laugh...and cry...
Little Miss Bright Eyes!
(Photo cred in this post goes to Sarah and Jason Gould http://www.sandjphotos.com/)

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day to all women: those who are mothers, those who will become mothers and those whose motherhood is spiritual.

This Mother's Day I'm trying to think of it as a day to be grateful for my motherhood. I'm so blessed that God has entrusted me with this wonderful husband and these two miraculous little souls.

I don't need a day of the world revolving around me in order to feel loved. I don't need the slave labour of my family in order to feel blessed.

This Mother's Day I'm trying to remember that motherhood is a gift, that I have in no way earned. It is my life, and I love it. Yes, it is a challenging life of service, but so is the life of every Christian.

I'm trying to remember the sacrifices that my own mom made to raise me. I'm trying to remember all of the friends, aunts, and grandmothers who are helping me mother my own children. I have so much to learn from all these women in my life.

I'm trying to remember our Blessed Mother: the woman whose "yes" made the salvation of the world possible. The woman who is still teaching me to say "yes" to God everyday.

God has given so much, and I am so grateful.

Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

the second time around

I've been pondering the differences between having one child to look after and now having two, and I have to say that I think I like having two better. Obviously, I love both my kids and the thought of life without either of them is unimaginable. What I mean, though, is that personally I like the way that my day is filled better with two kids than I did with one.

I'll admit that I was terrified at the thought of having to look after a newborn as well as my never-sit-still-for-more-than-a-few-minutes toddler. I thought of what it was like when Isaac was a newborn: hours of nursing, then hours of trying to get him to nap when he got a little older. It seemed impossible that I could do that while also looking after an active toddler, who I still didn't feel was safe to leave alone for ten minutes while I took a shower (I shower in the evenings...I do shower, I promise). I tried not to worry too much because I knew that lots of people do it and that I would find a way to make it work when the time came.

And those first couple of weeks alone with the kiddos were tough. The postpartum hormones were still raging, I was still physically recovering and sleep deprived. It took me awhile to find a new rhythm and figure out how I could meet both their needs, and to realize that I didn't have to feel guilty for dividing my attention between them.

brand new baby sister
But now...I love it! It's still tiring and chaotic, as I think any life with little ones tends to be, but I love that my days are a little more full. There are more tasks that need immediate attention. This may not sound like a perk, but one of the difficulties that I found with just one child is that you have time, but it's difficult to use that time productively. It's hard to start any task that you can't wrap up quickly or leave for a few minutes if some meltdown or other "emergency" calls you. It's also difficult to do anything unless your toddler can somehow "help", unless you enjoy working with a crying child attached to your leg. So what do you do in those unusable moments? Instead of doing something that you actually want to do, you settle for taking a "scroll" on facebook or looking up symptoms online because those minuscule red dots on baby's cheeks could be something serious. Anyway, I find that in this case having less time is actually better.

Isaac makes sure she has lots of toys to play with.
I also find that when Kateri is fussy, it's not as frustrating to deal with (note: I'm not talking about a screaming baby, which is difficult to deal with in any circumstances). When Isaac was a baby and he needed to be held and bounced or walked around it was frustrating because there was nothing else I could do. I just had to stare at my messy house, shift that heavy child from one arm to another and wait for Sean to get home. Now, when Kateri is fussy I can at least keep Isaac out of trouble. I can talk to him and take part in his pretending. I've even stood beside him and read to him while comforting Kateri.

One of my favourite things about having two has to be watching the sibling love grow. When I get Kateri up from a nap Isaac will greet her: "It's Teri! She's 'wake!" and come over to give her a hug and otherwise maul her. He loves to put his finger in her little fist for her to hold, and now that she's actually starting to grab at him, he thinks it's pretty funny. Kateri smiles when Isaac approaches her (not sure why; there's risk of injury every time) and she gets all excited watching him jumping or running around. They are entertainment for each other. When you only have one, you, the parent, are their only source of amusement. When Kateri gets older, I know that I'm going to have to do a lot of refereeing between them, but at least they won't be hanging off my ankles all day.

We recently put away the bassinet and got out the crib. Isaac thinks it's a great place to play.
I know also that this time around I'm more confident as a mother. I'm enjoying the experience more now that I'm used to the sacrifices involved and less worried over every little thing. Becoming a parent is an overwhelming experience. Suddenly there is a little person in your life who needs you every minute of every day. There is no time off and no vacations (yes, you can take a vacation from your kids, but you're still their parent the whole time). Before Isaac was born I didn't have much experience with kids and I spent a lot of time when he was a baby researching everything from milestones to proper diet. While the information I found was useful it was also often confusing and stressful.

This time I've hardly done any research. We are gradually figuring out what kind of parenting works for us and how we want to raise our family, and I'm finding that no amount of research can substitute for the real life experience. I've learned that:

Every baby is different. some sleep better than others, some are naturally more content. They are all beautiful and lovable, but some are easier than other. Kateri sleeps better than Isaac did and I haven't done anything differently. Having an unhappy baby does not make you a bad parent and having an angel baby (like Kateri) does not make you a particularly good parent.

I've learned that even the most content baby will have his fussy hours, days, weeks. It does not necessarily mean that something's wrong or that there's something you should be doing differently. With Isaac I felt like I had to have the answer to every little cry (because a mother is supposed to know exactly what her baby's crying for every time...ya right!). This time I'm trying to be a little more relaxed about it.

I've learned that trying to put a baby on a schedule stresses me out. I'm not saying that schedules are bad for babies, I'm just saying that they don't work for me. Babies are constantly changing, going through growth spurts, teething, etc. so trying to factor all that into a schedule is not worth it for me. Also, most babies fall into, if not a schedule, at least a pattern when they're a few months old. I prefer watching for this pattern than trying to create one of my own.

I've learned that I'd rather endure quite a bit of sleep deprivation than do "cry it out" sleep training. Again, I'm not trying to judge. I know we're all just doing the best we can for our families, and I don't believe that that has to be the same for every family. But for me, the guilt of listening to those cries is not worth the few extra hours of sleep.

I've learned that in a family love doesn't just go from parent to child it goes in all directions. Now that Kateri is here I do have less time for Isaac. But he has a whole new person in his life to love and be loved by. I think it's well worth it.

The point is that now I know. Before Isaac was born these were things that I had read about, now they're things that I've experienced, and I'm finding that that is making my Baby #2  experience much less anxiety-filled. It also helps that Kateri is such an easy-going baby. Sometimes when she's fussy it's because I'm holding her when she'd rather be stretching out on the floor. How's that for low-maintenance? I'm not trying to brag because I take no credit for her sweetness. If I'd had her first and then Isaac, it might have been a bit of a shock. I probably would have wondered about him "What's wrong with this baby who won't sleep and needs so much attention?" I say this because I know that having two kids is not going to be more enjoyable than having one for everyone. These are definitely the types of things that can vary greatly from situation to situation and that is perfectly okay. I'm just sharing my experience and saying how wonderful it can be to have two.

The fact that every child is different is part of what makes having kids so exciting. Who knows who that little person will be? When I get frustrated with my kids I try to remind myself that these particular souls were entrusted to me at this particular time by God for a reason. Whatever the reason may be, it was God's decision and I guess He knows what He's doing.