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Tuesday, 01 November 2011 20:54

Happy Halloween!

Okay, so I'm a day late... I just couldn't get over how awesome our costumes were this year so I had to share them.

 

It's not the greatest picture, but if you take a look at Robert Munch's 'The Paper Bag Princess', I think you'll agree these costumes are pretty epic.  We started with the dragon costume (store bought, but we had to start somewhere) and then did some brainstorming for some costumes that we could wear that went along with hers... this idea came from one of my piano students actually, so I can't really take credit for that but I think I did a pretty good job pulling it off.  And most of it was done the day of - have I mentioned I'm awesome? Obviously I'm pretty proud of myself...

I was a bit disappointed by how many people had no idea who I was (people who are either too old for or simply not fans of Robert Munch...).  I did have one drive-by recognition when a girl stuck her head out of her window and yelled 'Hey! The Paper Bag Princess!!!'. 

As a Christian, I struggle with Halloween - particularly when it is used to promote some really ghoulish and demonic stuff.  I also, however, enjoy dressing up and I love everything involved in creating a great costume and Halloween seems to be the only chance I get to have a really great time with 'costuming'.  So, as long as my children are still young enough to allow me to trick-or-treat with them, I will dress up with them and enjoy that part of it also. 

Published in Blog
Sunday, 23 October 2011 22:20

A Night Out!

Sometimes I feel like I'm married to a woman... Brian can be SOOO complicated :)

On Thursday night, Brian and I made a 'date' for Friday evening to do some updates on this blog.  Since he is the one who built the template, and everything, any changes I want to make I have to tell him about... the plus side here is that I have unlimited options, but that's not what I was going to get at here...

Anyway, we made this date and when I was talking to a friend of mine she offered to come in and babysit Celia while we went out to do this.  I hadn't really thought about the logistics of this - I figured we could take our laptops to a nearby coffee shop and make changes as we discussed and had coffee! Any excuse for coffee...

Sooo... on Friday I mentioned to Brian that my friend was going to come and watch Celia so we could go out.  This is kind of how the conversation went:

Me: K* is going to come watch Celia tonight so we can go for coffee and have our blog meeting.

Brian: Oh. (sounding disappointed)

Me: What?

Brian: I can't really work on your blog on my laptop... my desk at home has three monitors, and I can't really work with only one... (have I mentioned he's a computer geek?)

Me: Oh. Ok.

Brian: No, it's ok - we can just go out for coffee. (Not sounding overly excited)

Me: Don't sound so excited...

Brian: I was sort of looking forward to doing this blog thing.  I was geared up for it.  But we can go for coffee anyway...

Anyway, I ended up texting my friend and telling her she didn't need to babysit after all because Brian just wanted to stay home.  She said she would see me the next day, and that she was tired anyway.  I should probably mention that this friend lives an hour and a half away, but comes often on weekends and stays at her parents home which is only about fifteen minutes away.  She often comes out right after work on Fridays but doesn't get in until kind of late.  So, after cancelling our babysitter, I had this conversation with Brian later in the day after he got home from work:

Me: So K* isn't coming tonight after all, so we can just stay here to do blog stuff.

Brian: Oh (sounding disappointed)

Me: What???

Brian: Well, I had sort of gotten used to the idea of going out for coffee with you so I was really looking forward to that...

Me: Seriously? I'm so glad you 'got used' to the idea...

Brian: I had to switch gears! But I was excited about coffee... I thought we'd find some cool place we've never been to before.

Nerd.

Anyway, so I (this is kind of embarrassing) texted my friend again and said something to the effect of 'So Brian was apparently now looking forward to coffee, so for future reference, we will take you up on that babysitting offer'.  I realize this probably wasn't as subtle as I wanted it to be, but the point was to hint that I would really like for her to come and babysit after all, but to not ACTUALLY ask... because I felt dumb about changing our minds all the time...

K*: I'll be there in an hour.

Winner of the 2011 Most Awesome Friend Award.

And as if she wasn't awesome enough, when Brian and I got home that evening (after an awesome date during which we didn't mention blogs once), K* had cleaned up our kitchen and done our dishes. 

I was so humbled, I almost cried.  It's so incredible to have such great friends.

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 18 October 2011 10:09

Ignorant Skinny B!@#$s

I am probably not the best person to rant about this, because although I have PCOS which makes it much more difficult for me to lose weight and keep it off than the average person, I am lazy and I could weigh a lot less if I made it a priority to do so...

However, I have a couple of friends who have this difficulty as well - one with PCOS and one with Hypothyroidism who are overweight by all definitions, but at absolutely NO fault of their own.   One of these women is actively involved in a number of different sports, works in an extremely physical job and also either bikes or walks a couple of kilometers to work each day.  The other friend is a mom of two who despite her busy schedule at home, regularly goes to the gym, and is extremely careful about the kinds of food she and her family eats at home.  I probably deserve to be overweight, but these women don't.

The second of these friends told me the other day about a situation where she ended up at the dentist with her three year old daughter who is starting to get cavities.  I understand the dilemma of having bad dental genes, which she was telling me was also in her family, and knowing how she feeds her children I completely believe that this little girl's cavities are not caused by too much sugar!

The presumptuous dental assistant, however, made the snap judgement that obviously this overweight Mama must be feeding her children junk.  She commented that my friend's daughter was eating too much sugar.  When my friend protested that actually her daughter ate almost no sugar - aside from what is found naturally in fruits and vegetables, the assistant tried to educate her on the amount of sugar that is found in all kinds of other junk food like chips and fast food.   This friend had just confided in me that earlier that day she had indulged in fast-food with her family, but that it had been the first time in over a year, and that they simply did not eat junk food at home.  I wish I could say the same for my husband and I - I admire the habits of my friend, and would like to strive to emulate these habits at home.   I doubt that even this perfect-looking dental assistant has such healthy habits. 

Anyway, to everyone out there who is blessed with a speedy metabolism and no thyroid or blood-sugar related health issues - be glad that you are blessed with this, and don't take it for granted.  Also, understand that although there are many people out there who work hard at looking healthy and slim - for some people, no amount of work is enough to fit into a pair of size 4 jeans.  My friend voiced her frustration at constantly being judged, and wished she could wear a t-shirt that said 'I have hypothyroidism - that's why I'm so fat!' - which I thought was funny, but I understand her frustration.  There are lazy people out there (like myself) who are overweight because they don't put enough effort into their physical body - but you can't tell who these people are by looking at them, because many of these lazy people are also perfectly skinny.

Rant over.

Published in Blog
Monday, 10 October 2011 11:29

Thanksgiving

Brian and I are blessed with having almost all of our Grandparents still living, with the exception of only one - Brian's maternal Grandpa, who passed away only a couple of years ago.

I want to preface this by saying that I love the fact that our daughter has so many people to adore her, as I had a wonderful relationship with my Great Grandmother as a child, and I love that she will also have relationships with hers. 

However... being the oldest in our families with so many (relatively) young Grandparents has its frustrations when it comes to the holidays.  First, I'll outline what our family looks like... Brian's paternal Grandparents had three sons, of whom only one had children - Brian and his younger brother.  His maternal Grandma has a large family who rarely are able to get together for gatherings due to their number and how spread out they are.  My family is slightly more complicated... when I was a baby, my biological parents split up, and I was left with my Dad whose parents had a large hand in raising me until he remarried when I was 8.  So I have three sets of Grandparents - my bio-mother's parents, my step-mom's (who I will always refer to as 'Mom') parents, and my paternal Grandparents who are probably closer to me than Grandparents often are due to the fact that they were so much like parents to me when I was a child.

It has always been our tradition as I was growing up, to spend a half-day at home with my parents and younger brother, then juggle the other three Grandparent gatherings into the 24th, 25th and 26th of December.  Brian's family had a similar tradition. Needless to say, trying to juggle all five Grandparents plus two parents gatherings into three days is a bit of a challenge for us.

In three of these families, Celia is the first Great Grandchild.  Luckily for us, all of our maternal Grandparent families (coincidentally) are larger and have already become accustomed to the concept of spreading out the gathering or moving it to a less busy time in order to accommodate everyone.  That leaves us with two sets of Grandparents, each of our parents as well as spending our own time at home with Celia.    The most difficult part of this for me, is that one of these Brian's paternal Grandparents are completely unwilling to negotiate on the day and time of their gathering, and are offended when we can't attend whatever they have planned.  My paternal Grandparents on the other hand, are completely understanding of our difficulty and are far from offended if we are unable to attend their gathering.  This is difficult for me, since theirs is the one Grandparent gathering I would like to never miss, considering my close relationship to them - although it seems unfair to prioritize them since it isn't Brian's Grandparents fault that my mother chose to leave me (which is why our relationship is so close - my paternal Grandmother being the only mother I knew until I was 7).

Aaargh!

Anyway, I would love to bring up our daughter to enjoy holidays and the busyness of family gatherings, but I fear that our stress of trying to accommodate and appease everyone will be too evident.  Brian particularly hates these times of year - especially now that he gets to fend off all of the 'have you found a job yet?' inquiries. 

I guess it comes to down to us defining our own priorities and whether they are correct or not - or make anyone else happy or not - do what we can to make these times enjoyable for us and for our children. 

 

Published in Blog
Thursday, 06 October 2011 10:16

The Future is Uncertain

Brian had a frustrating experience earlier this year when his internship was about to end, and his employer gave him the distinct impression that they were going to be creating a job for him to continue working there.  His direct supervisor even told him not to worry about 'cleaning up' his projects, because she was working under the assumption that he would be there indefinitely. 

So, when his internship ended, he had not lined up another position and it wasn't until he had sat at home for almost two weeks - sending many emails and inquiries - that they informed him that they were not going to be opening this position up after all.   Feeling incredibly stupid and a little bit taken advantage of, Brian was forced to jump back into job hunting, but weeks behind schedule and with no source of income for the upcoming month.

Sigh.

As my maternity leave was coming to an end, and I was deliberating over whether or not to return to the work force - after I had lost my spot at the daycare my daughter was going to be attending, but that's another story - I had decided to risk the loss in income and not return to work.  I had been teaching piano at home for four years, and decided to advertise a bit more and increase my student load to try to make up the difference.  So far God seems to have blessed this decision, because after having 10 students on average each year, I had 15 registered by September, and have had a few more added since and a number of interested emails floating in also. 

As my husband's joblessness continues, however, I have begun to second guess my decision to stay home and wonder if I should, in fact, be job hunting myself. 

I have to trust that God has a plan for us, and maybe there is an even better job waiting for Brian than the one he left over a month ago.   I remember a time when I left a job that I loved for no other reason than because I was certain God was asking me to - I know, it sound's crazy, huh? - but there it is.  I loved my boss, the job was challenging and I was getting raises by leaps and bounds based on the work I was doing.  I had a number of great friends in my department, and I was over all, probably as satisfied as I've ever been in a job.  And then I quit.  I took a job that I hated and ended up dropping shortly afterward also, and eventually landed in a job that was completely not challenging and paid dismally.  I found myself frustratingly asking God 'Why?', until I found out what had happened in the job I left.  My boss ended up leaving, and after a significant amount of unrest, there were firings and layoffs and a lot of management shifts that evidently made the department an extremely stressful place to be.  I could not have known this - but God did.

The one downside of my old job - the job I loved - was that the management was extremely strict about productivity to the point where they didn't really care about your personal life.  As in, leaving the office for a family emergency might just get you fired.  Another thing God knew that I didn't was that I was going to be getting pregnant.  And my Dad was going to be experiencing a number of brain bleeds that would have him in and out of the hospital for months.  My new and dismally paying job was absolutely beautiful to me in this respect.  They were totally wonderful and understanding - they gave me all kinds of paid family time off to be with my Dad in the hospital, and there was no question of letting me go when I was calling in sick from pregnancy issues on more days than I was actually coming in to work.  So although some aspects of this job were less than I would have wanted - it was exactly what I needed.

Now when I casually look at job ads, I still get the distinct impression that God wants me to stay home with my daughter, and I give up the search.  As He has before, I need to trust that God will take care of us, and that He has a plan that is much greater than we could have planned for ourselves.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?        Luke 12:22-26

Published in Blog
Saturday, 01 October 2011 23:35

This is How I Roll...

As a new Mom, I have limited to zero experience with many parenting problems that can and will come up as a child grows up.   I have learned, however, that this is how all Mom's begin, and we all embark upon a journey to learn how to parent our children and continue to learn as we go.

One comment that I heard repeatedly (annoyingly) was that I was reading too much in reference to parenting my infant daughter.  I did notice the excessive use of the words 'I was reading about...' or 'I just read that...' escaping my lips, which had me considering whether or not I was capable of forming my own opinions.   The comments regarding my superfluous reading were suggesting that by reading about potential health problems and growth delays, I was worrying myself about things I might have been better off not knowing about.  I respectfully disagree.  Although this may be the case in some instances, I can look at countless times throughout my pregnancy when I experienced some sort of pain or symptom that panicked me - only to look it up online to find that many other women had experienced the same, perfectly normal, phenomenon.  I have also come to realize that I read by nature - it is my primary learning style.  I am unlikely to ask my mother or grandmother, or even my best friends what they think I should do in a specific situation because I recognize that my parenting (and life) priorities may differ greatly from theirs and might feel uncomfortable obligations by asking for their opinions.  What I do appreciate, however, are factual and unbiased accounts of how they did things and how that turned out.

That being said, I think there are many different learning styles that depend on our personalities, as well as our communities.  It is much easier to ask the advice of a close living relative or friend, than to ask the advice of parents still living in their country of origin when you have moved halfway across the world and now reside in a much different environment.

As I have already said, I am a reader, and a researcher.  I will read different accounts written by different people and accept the method that makes sense to me and my world view.   Some people learn by observation - in the case of parenting - they may see how children around them behave and respond in certain circumstances and take mental notes about what their parents are doing.  Some people ask for the opinion of a trusted friend, family member or medical professional, and follow the advice they are given.  Some parents may even trust their own instincts completely.  If I were to give my completely unqualified advice, I would suggest some sort of balance of all of these methods.

I would like this site to branch all of these while assuming the position that although there are certainly 'wrong' ways to parent, most choices in regards to parent come down to parenting styles and learning methods - as well as personality types and world views.  I will seek to encourage and support all legitimate styles of parenting, only questioning methods if some form of abuse is suspected.  I encourage any and all readers to do the same - if you disagree with another parents views or methods, choose not to criticize or argue and to understand that there are many different accepted ways to do things - yours are not the only correct options.

Published in Blog
Saturday, 01 October 2011 23:32

Meet Me and My Pet Worms...

I spent a glorious couple of hours today wandering around the city doing casual errands while my husband watched my baby girl at home.  I don't get many moments like these, and although I love my daughter immensely, it was nice to have some time alone.

Part of my errand running included stopping by a local store that focuses on naturally made products with minimal packaging that encourages buyers to live as eco-friendly as possible, including organic cotton clothing, natural and locally made body and health products, toys and books made from recycled everything, etc. It is what my husband calls a 'hippy store' - as though that's a bad thing.

Growing up, my Mom had encouraged me to seek out these kinds of things.   When my parents were building their cabin at a so-far undeveloped and nearly deserted lake property, we spent much of our summer holidays with no electricity or running water.  For the first year or two we didn't even have an outhouse, which meant setting up a roll of toilet paper on a nearby tree.  As a city girl, living this way was foreign and a little scary but I came to enjoy it.  As a teenager I appreciated the lack of pressure to keep my hair clean and my makeup done.  Life was purely about function and clothing was about comfort.

As I wandered through this shop wearing my long flowing skirt, and a reusable shopping bag slung over my shoulder I thought about my husband at home who is striving to get a good paying job so that someday we can buy a big house, new BMW vehicles and enable ourselves and our children to wear expensive clothes and have ample extra for entertainment.  Not that these dreams don't appeal to me also, but I seem conflicted on what my priorities actually are.  It's funny how being married and having children can turn you into different people than you ever expected.

The purpose of my shopping trip today was mainly to research an indoor worm-composting bin that the store carries, which I had been interested in purchasing for awhile.  I looked at the bin again today and realized that it would be too small for our needs, and decided to take a friend's advice and build my own out of a Rubbermaid bin.  If it didn't work, I would only be out the $10 cost of the bin and worms.

And so, I left the store empty handed and wandered through a few more shops thinking about who I was and who I had become as an adult.  Is this really who I am?  Can a person like me still be compatible with someone like my husband? I laughed to myself as I pictured myself someday gardening in our backyard with my children all in bandanas and up to our elbows in dirt, with my husband coming home in his BMW SUV carrying a leather briefcase and wearing a $2000 suit.  It's funny how sometimes completely different people can feel so much at home together.  Maybe I'm not that committed to myself, but I see no benefit in trying to change my husband - particularly since he sees no need to change me.  He is completely supportive of living an eco-friendly home life, and has been talking lately about teaching our children about delayed gratification - such as gardening or film photography.  He also loves to cook and is completely into the idea of eating as natural and healthy as we can - as long as he gets his occasional Pepsi.

So this is who I am, right now.  I am a 'hippy'.  I am a suburban wife.  I am a cloth-diapering, soon-to-be homeschooling and overprotective mother.  I am a child of God. I am a worrier.  I am an artist, a writer, an honest friend - honest to a fault at times. I am a cook, and housekeeper - although not a very good one most times, an occasional philanthropist.

For now.

Published in Blog
Sunday, 28 August 2011 21:58

Homeschooling

After a recent Facebook post by a friend and homeschooling mom about a comment she had heard recently stating that home-schooled children are ‘weird’, I felt the need to voice my own uneducated opinion.

Although I’ll admit that I have had my share of experiences with ‘weird’ home-schooled kids, particularly in rural areas where it is easier for children to remain isolated from other people, I have also had an abundance of contact with ‘weird’ public schooled kids, and just as many home-schooled kids who had no defining characteristics that set them apart from their public schooled peers.   From my observations, it was less the method of schooling that affected the child’s ability to socialize and more the amount of time each child spends cooped up in their rooms or basements away from other people aside from the time they spend schooling.

In response to my friend’s post, another friend suggested that home-schooled kids are ‘weird’ because they do not have the same pressure to conform that publicly schooled children have (in the ways of social behaviors this may be considered a necessary skill, while in the area of a child’s talents and interests it creates the possibility of repression).   As a girl who was publicly schooled as a child, I recognize that my views and interests were shaped a lot by my peers in school.  There were things that were considered ‘cool’ when it came to clothing, activities and even who you were friends with, and there were things that were ‘uncool’.  To allow yourself to be labelled with something ‘uncool’ is opening yourself up to be ostracized and ridiculed, and maybe even to lose your friends.  This is a scary thing for a child, and most will bend to this pressure to fit in.  I admit that in a lot of ways, I altered who I was and what I might rather be doing out of fear.  I wonder to this day what sort of person I might be, what I might be interested in and even what type of clothing I might buy, if I had not been brainwashed to care about what the general public would think of me.   This is a curse that many home-schooled kids seem to be able to avoid.

I recently read the Wikipedia article on Homeschooling, and skimmed through some of the comments made in reference to research that has been done on home-schooled children recently.  It basically stated that recently, home-schooled students had been found to perform better on standardized tests than their public-schooled peers.  Another interesting point made was that the gaps between minorities and genders were much less prevalent in home-schooled students.

Might I suggest that a child’s ‘strangeness’ has nothing to do with how they are schooled, but rather how they are parented? These studies might also suggest that academic achievement also is not affected by the method of learning, but rather more to do with how invested a parent is in their child’s learning.  For example, a parent who is wanting to teach their child at home is likely going to be more involved in their child’s learning and development.  It stands to reason that a child who has invested parents is more likely to succeed than a child who is left alone.  Any child who spends the majority of their days in their bedroom in front of a computer monitor is more likely to be socially awkward than a child who spends much of their free time outdoors playing with other children – regardless of whether their ‘at school’ time is spent in or out of the home.

One advantage of home-schooling is that it typically takes less time in a day than public-schooled children spend in school, and so they have more time available for ‘playing’, which seems to be something we are sadly getting increasingly too busy for.

Published in Blog
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