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Paris – Day 2

We made our way to the Louvre on the morning of our second day. We wondered if maybe it wouldn’t be that busy since it was a Thursday in October but we were wrong. It’s the Louvre! I think that place must be busy 24/7.
I don’t know a more overwhelming museum than the Louvre. The building itself is basically a historical artifact and it is just room after room, floor after floor of history, artifacts, and artwork — and it totally reminds me of what a small speck I am in this thing called life.

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Mona Lisa had a new location since the last time I was here (as did the Venus de Milo) and people are just crazy about her as you can see in the above photo.

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We couldn’t sleep until 3am the night before (we are totally feeling the jet lag this trip) and after a few hours of walking the Louvre we both stole a teeny little nap on a chair in one of the galleries!

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Baby #4 is at 23 weeks in these pics, she has no idea where she even is in the world! And I just love seeing Napoleon’s apartments. It is so neat to think of what went on in these very rooms so many years ago.

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After touring the museum until late into the afternoon we grabbed a quick lunch in the Jardin des Tuileries.

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We walked across Pont des Arts, a bridge where many lovers go to attach a lock with their names on it to symbolize their forever love. Unfortunately for us, the bridge is so full of locks they are no longer accepting any more locks. Sure hope our love can survive without having placed a lock there!!

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We walked to Notre Dame but we were too late to go up the bell tower so we walked over to the Latin Quarter, home to a number of higher education establishments and named for the international learning language of the Middle Ages: Latin.

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Finally, we ended our day at a café near to our apartment called La Pierrot, for some creme brûlée.

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All of these photos are a bit out of order but it’s the best I can do, posting from my iPhone!

Paris Day 1


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We started in Calgary and flew to London Heathrow, then made a connection to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Everything was really uneventful with our flights, just the way we like them! I have so many memories of Heathrow, it was fun to be back again. It is always the gateway to something exciting for us! When we landed in Paris we dealt with “baggage” loss, which was just our huge umbrella, and then caught the RER B train to Denfert Rochereau, the 6 Metro to La Motte-Picquet Grenelle and then the 8 Metro one stop to Commerce.

I felt so bad because we were so late and our Air BNB host had been waiting for so long for us! She was so kind and helpful and walked us to the apartment to give us the tour and show us around. We had been looking on Google Street View at the neighborhood before we came so it was so fun to see it all in person, smell the smells and hear the sounds.

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Once we ditched our bags we grabbed supper (from Subway of all places! It was late, we were tired and starving, and it was closest) and walked to the Eiffel Tower to eat our sandwiches in the grass.

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We lost count of how many people try to sell us things while we were there: roses, bottles of wine, souvineers, and these glowing helicoptery type things you throw in the air. They would serious just come right up and shove roses in my face, trying to get us to buy them. Non, merci!

We walked back to the apartment and went to sleep, and we were exhausted after not getting much sleep on our overnight flight to London.

On the morning of our first full day, we woke at 9… A bit later than we wanted to but we obviously needed the rest, especially this 23 week pregnant lady here. My feet and ankles were so swollen from the flights and all the sitting and they sure were happy that I was getting a good night’s rest.

We got ready and walked just down the street to the Franprix grocery store and bought a bunch of food for breakfast, snacks and a supper. We came back and Peter made us a big brunch.

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Then we headed out again and explored some of the shops in our neighborhood as we made our way to Les Invalides where we toured the Army museum and saw Napoleon’s tomb. We got the 6 day museum pass so we could take our time and explore lots we had never seen before (like Les Invalides).

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I love walking the streets of Paris. The hustle and bustle of traffic, the click-clack of all the high heels, the sirens, the French language… Surrounded by beautiful architecture and parks.

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We made our way to Musée Rodin and took in many amazing sculptures and paintings, including a few Van Goghs.

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After that, we walked through more Parisian streets, across the Seine River to Place de la Concorde and down the Champs Élysées. We stopped on the Champs for a baguette sandwich and cafè au lait.

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We walked all the way to the Arc de Triomphe and since we had our museum pass we went right up to the top for the first time. Just 284 winding stairs, that’s all! I may have had to stop a few times.

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It started to rain so we came in after spending quite a while at the top of the Arc and then we took the Metro “home”. We decided we would make ourselves a pasta supper, and we really weren’t expecting much but it was so tasty! Peter also had olives & cheese and some red wine, none of which I could participate in because duh, wine & pregnancy don’t mix, but also you are supposed to be careful what soft cheeses you eat while pregnant and also, I don’t like olives! So we ate our candlelight supper by the window, listened to Yann Tiersen (Amelie Soundtrack) and the rain on the street. It was so nice!

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We are so happy we booked with Air BNB and get to live like Parisians while we are here. After supper we took a late night walk through the neighborhood, once it stopped raining. Perfect end to a lovely first day.

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(All iPhone images)

I’m 30 — My Amazing Birthday Week!

I turned 30 last Sunday and I had such an amazing birthday week!  I love birthdays, even though I’m technically old and grown up, I still think it’s wonderful to have a day of your very own to be appreciated and feel special.  It’s even better if you can stretch it out over a week of celebrating with different friends and family :)

This milestone birthday celebration started the Friday before my birthday when my lovely sister-in-law, Joylyn, took me out to the Keg for supper (and paid for it, what a sweetheart!).  My cousin-in-law, Bethany, came along for the festivities and we had such a nice girl’s night out.  MMmmm I had spinach salad and the filet classic (wrapped in applewood smoked bacon), double stuffed baked potato and veggies, and then they brought this huge mocha ice cream cake that was big enough for 3 to enjoy.  The waiter also guessed that I was 24, so that was pretty nice.  He also probably wanted a good tip!

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This is me on the day I was born, being held by my uncle.  My first photograph.

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The boys woke me up at 6am on my birthday but since it was a Sunday, Peter was already awake and told me to go back to bed.  I reset my alarm for 7:00 (which I slept through) and was woken up by my husband and 3 lovely children at 7:20 who came into the room singing Happy Birthday!  They had a homemade card for me and Peter had interviewed Eva and Ezra about me.  Inside the card was also tickets to go see So You Think You Can Dance Season 11 Tour in February!  We have been watching that show for years now and I am so excited to go see the Top Ten dancers live!  It’s on February 8, and my due date is February 2 so I’m expecting to either be going with a brand new babe in tow or else the dances better move me into labor because I’ll be overdue.

Peter had to leave for church set up and my 7.5 year old daughter Eva made me birthday pancakes all by her very self!  She was so pleased with herself and so was I!  She wants to make pancakes all the time now!

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I went to the Kick Off Sunday for Northern Hills Church and was expecting to be volunteering in class all morning but ended up being able to go to the worship service instead, which was really nice because my sister-in-law is new in town and new to our church and I wanted to sit with her and also my dear friend Dayna was visiting our church for the very first time and I wanted to be able to be with her as well!  Joylyn surprised me with an Oprah Chai Latte because she remembered that I mentioned on Friday at The Keg that I had never tried it before.

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After church was done I told the kids that I would take them to McDonalds.  I was expecting all the birthday festivities to be over but Peter told me that he would like us all to go to Boston Pizza as a family for a sit down lunch.  So the kids were disappointed but I was looking forward to lunch together as a family.  We waited for Peter to be done take-down of the church stuff and we walked over to Boston Pizza and I was greeted by a room of 23 people who were all there to celebrate with me!  Surprise!  I love surprises.  Please surprise me with gifts and celebrations anytime, people.  I felt so very special that all these people came to have lunch with us!  There were more people who showed up after this picture was taken.

 

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Me with my friend Dayna :)

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After lunch, some friends ran up to me with a can of Coke with my name on it!  And it was even spelled properly!  Apparently there was a Coke truck parked right outside the theatre where we have church and you can type the names you want into a computer and it prints it onto the can for you!  We got in line and had some made for the whole family!  I don’t drink Coke anymore (been over two years now!) but I still really appreciated the gesture!

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I’ve embraced turning 30 by having fun dressing up and trying out new makeup.  I had fun getting dressed up for this special occasion.  When I was a little girl I always dreamed of being a grown up and wearing heels but I have never felt comfortable wearing them before.  Now that I’m 30, I’m finally the woman in heels I’ve always wanted to be ;)

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Here’s baby #4.  I was one day away from being 20 weeks on my 30th birthday.  I spent the afternoon relaxing at home, assuming the celebrations were over!  I checked in on all my Facebook messages (thanks everyone!), opened some gifts and responded to texts.  I felt very loved!  I spent some time Face Timing my mother-in-law and then there was a ring of the doorbell and my sister-in-law was there apparently to babysit so Peter and I could go out on yet another date!IMG_4222.JPG

He took me downtown to a restaurant called Cibo on 17th Ave.  During supper Peter pulled out one more surprise, the mother of all surprises, four papers folded up.  I opened them up to discover 4 different travel itineraries — Los Angeles, Paris, Rome or Venice — for me to choose from.  The choice was to be all mine, and we were going to leave some time in October.  Peter had mentioned before the summer that we might go somewhere for our tenth anniversary but after buying a house and doing some renovations, I was very convinced that the trip was no longer going to happen!  So even though the possibility of a big trip had been mentioned before, I was still very surprised!  (Of course, I chose Paris and we are leaving on October 6!!!)

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On Friday the 19th I had my 18-20 week anatomical ultrasound.  I was 20 weeks and 5 days.  I waited so long because I wasn’t sure when Peter would be back from his hunting trip and also I wanted the baby to be as developed as possible so we could clearly see the gender.  I have no idea if its any more developed by 20 weeks than 18, but I did it anyway.  In Alberta they make you drink 1 litre of water 2 hours before the ultrasound and it’s very cruel.  Every bump in the road on the way there makes you feel like you are going to wet yourself.

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I took this photo before I knew the gender.  I feel like pretty much everyone knows how badly I’ve wanted a girl, and for how long.  Especially after having two boys, I definitely felt like it would be perfect to have this baby be a girl and really round our family out.  I was so anxious to find out the results!  The ultrasound felt really long, but it was so amazing.  It really is just so special to see your baby on the screen like that, moving around and waving.  It is so amazing that they can look so closely at their heart, kidneys, their brain, their limbs.  As far as I can tell from the ultrasound, everything is healthy with this sweet baby and the icing on the cake was at the end when she said “It’s a girl!”  I still get nervous to embrace that this is the truth because I wanted it so badly, but I took a detailed look at what she showed us on the screen.  I’ve seen boys on the screen the past two ultrasounds, and this looked nothing like that!

 

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It was the perfect gift to end my birthday week, I couldn’t stop smiling all day after my ultrasound, and my heart bursts over and over again as I remember that the baby is a girl.

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So I think it’s easy to see that this is easily the best birthday I have ever had.  I’m truly looking forward to my 30s.  I have so much more confidence than when I was 20, and the 20s held so many awesome things — I can’t wait to see what the 30s bring!  And baby, I can’t wait to meet you, but first lets go to Paris!

We are having a 4th baby!

IMG_1185So this has been official for quite a while but I’ve never posted anything about it on the blog!  Poor 4th baby doesn’t even get a blog post until I’m already 18 weeks.  That’s right, I’m 18 weeks now, which means I’m like, super duper close to being half way through this pregnancy already!  This feels crazy.

I find that people are really nosy about this sort of thing and I’m kinda an open book anyway, so without giving too much information I’ll just say we weren’t trying but we weren’t not trying.  And as for myself, this 4th baby was very much desired and wanted, but I was sure this baby was not meant to be since Peter was pretty ready to move on from the baby phase of life and move into the older kids phase.  I got a positive pregnancy test on May 31 and could hardly believe my eyes, only because I was so sure that I would never get to experience all of this again.  One thing that I have been loving about this pregnancy is that I know for sure that this is the last time, and I’m totally trying to savor every last first I experience.

I read this book a while ago called Great With Child which was a beautiful memoir of the author’s final pregnancy and I really wanted to write something like that for myself so that I could always remember all the details (and maybe someday Eva would like to read it when she is preparing to become a mother).  But I already have 3 kids, we are church planters and homeschoolers and we were also in the process of selling and buying a house, as well as hello I was pregnant and soooo tired and not feeling well.  It just didn’t happen.  That’s ok.

So I was doing a whole30 challenge when I found out I was pregnant and I was doing awesome at it and feeling great!  I was excited what a great, healthy start this baby was getting — until about 6 weeks into the pregnancy, the baby said “Hey I’m kinda tired of all these vegetables and meat you’re eating and I really just want you to eat bread, crackers and sugar for a while.”  I have never been very sick in my pregnancies, in the sense that I don’t throw up a lot.  But I do have a general nausea that is there all day, the smell of food repulses me, and I feel tired.  I only threw up once (well twice, but within 20 minutes of each other) but I felt sick almost all day long and even though I feel better now, my taste buds have not gone back to normal and certain foods that I used to love no longer turn my crank, although I could eat them if I had to.

There were times in the first trimester that I just felt completely exhausted.  I needed to have little naps in the afternoon, or big ones, if Peter was available to watch the others.  Sometimes I just grabbed cat naps on the couch while the kids played around me or watched movies.  A few times I even had more than one cat nap in a day which is totally odd for me.  If I wasn’t falling asleep, I felt completely draggy — just no energy to do anything, everything felt like a massive chore and took me so long to do because I just felt so tired!  At times I felt like this baby was trying to kill me.

Around 10 weeks I started to feel better, no more day-long nausea, and not needing a nap as much.  I just felt my general mom-of-3-kids-church-planting-wife tired like I normally do.

I think we made it Facebook official around 7-8 weeks with that picture of pickles and ice cream up there, but we told friends and family earlier than that.  We have always told early; this was actually the latest we’ve ever made it public knowledge.

At 10 weeks I had my first midwife appointment and was able to hear the baby’s heartbeat which is just always so amazing.  The moments of waiting and waiting for that unique whirring noise of a tiny baby’s even tinier heart, and then suddenly, there it is “whoosh-whoosh-whoosh”.  I was smiling for the rest of the day after that.  I recorded it with my iPhone and Isaac loved to listen to it over and over:  “Wan hear baby haht, mommy, baby in yo tummy!”  He also said it was “kinda keepy (creepy)” haha.

I felt such a relief when I passed the first trimester and was 14 weeks.  I have never miscarried but I feel I get a little more nervous with each pregnancy that not all will be well with the baby — surely I can’t luck out and have healthy babies this many times?  It just seems you hear so many sad stories, sometimes I feel like I’m waiting for my turn.  But now I am in the second trimester and the risk is way down, and that feels great.

I felt the baby move for the very first time when I was 15 weeks, I was laying in the middle of the stairwell (weird, I know, but I was escaping the children who were exasperating me) and suddenly I felt this fluttery little movement in my tummy.  I didn’t even recognize that it was the baby at first but my heart filled to the brim when I realized what it was!  The movements were few and far between at first, but now that I am 18 weeks, the baby is starting to move more and more and I just love the feeling.  It has always been my favorite, it is just so amazing to think of that little baby in there stretching and moving around.

My next midwife appointment is tomorrow, I go once a month at this point, and my ultrasound is in a few weeks.  Can’t wait to see the little bean on the screen!

As for having 4 kids, I’m completely terrified and elated at the same time.  Since I began dating Peter I have always dreamed of us having 4 kids, and this all honestly just feels so right to me.  That being said, I already have 3 kids and the struggle is real!!!  This Jim Gaffigan clip made me cry from laughing. It’s 7 minutes, but well worth your time especially if you have 3-4 kids of your own.

 

Stefi & Braden’s Wedding

Eva was a flower girl and the boys were ring bearers in Stefi and Braden’s AMAZING wedding at Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff this past weekend.  The kids hated me for it but I made them let me take some pictures of them in their adorable outfits.  I know they just had the hangries, they’re totally over it now.

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Books I’ve Been Reading Lately

I’ve been reading Sarah Bessey’s blog for quite a while now and am such a fan of the way she beautifully strings her words together to express the beautiful, the powerful, the messy.  But I admit, even I wasn’t sure what I would think of her book “Jesus Feminist” because lets face it, we all have an idea in our minds of what that word feminism means.  Even though I felt like I knew Sarah’s heart because of how long I’d been reading her blog, I still was scared this was going to be a big Girl Power! book with a Jesusy twist, and wrought with cynicism and anger about how women have been treated in the church.  I should’ve known better.  “Jesus Feminist” reads like a deeply respectful conversation about the Bible’s view of women, each word penned with nothing but love.  I felt strongly convicted to bring my relationship with God to a more intimate place.  I felt deeply loved by the God who created me in His own image and inspired to pursue the purposes that he has for me within his church.  I think that any woman who reads this book will feel the same way.  Learn more about it here.  Go pick up your copy now!

 

 

I always kind of stayed away from the blog The Nester because, hello, have you seen my house?  I don’t really have a decorating bone in my body.  And the last thing I needed was a book making me feel like a failure with all these ideas that I would never follow through on because I couldn’t afford it.  But then, as advertising does, I started to see many of the blog authors I follow posting about “The Nesting Place” and finally I couldn’t resist anymore and decided to give it a chance — and I’m very glad I did.  Turns out, the author Myquillin Smith, is a renter who fully embraces imperfections and thinks that the home is really about the heart: “a place to connect with others, foster rest, inspire, and be a welcoming place to come back to.”  Myquillin gives a ton of suggestions, but also permission to not use the suggestions and go with something that is uniquely you if that is what feels right.  I feel more confident to let go of my fear of “what if it doesn’t work out?” after reading this book.  Honestly, a big part of me has never wanted to put much into my home because we are renting and I don’t feel like investing much in a house that we aren’t going to stay in.  After reading this book though, I feel inspired to make whatever house I’m living in a place of peace, connection, inspiration and love — for myself, my family and my guests.  And never forget “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”

 

 

 

 

About a year ago, I watched a Soul Pancake video about Zach Sobiech, a 17-year-old young man who was dying of osteosarcoma but not letting that stop him from living his life to the fullest.  I was deeply touched and inspired by this young man and his family as I watched this documentary and learned all about the songs he wrote and the impact he had on the world before he moved on from it.  As soon as I realized that the book “Fly A Little Higher” was a memoir written by Zach’s mom, Laura, I knew I wanted to read it right away.  I think I read this book within a day or two, it was so captivating, compelling, and inspiring!  There were many times that I would have to choke back my tears, I just cannot even imagine going through something like this with my own children — or how proud I would be of my child if they were to face their trials with such bravery, faith and selflessness.   Stories like this always make me think about my life and challenge my perspective for the better.  I definitely think anyone would enjoy this book (as much as you can enjoy a book about someone who is dying) and be inspired.

 

 

 

 

Here is the original SoulPancake documentary:

And a new documentary that I just found today while preparing to write this review, and will have to watch soon:

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received “The Nesting Place” free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Accountable Kids – Review

A couple of months ago I decided our family needed some help in the kids’ chore department.  A friend of mine had been using these really cool looking chore charts for her kids and was seeing great success so I asked her how it worked and decided I’d give it a try.  First I asked her a bunch of questions, then I checked out their website, and then decided to place an order.

The Program:

Accountable Kids is a program that teaches both responsibility AND accountability — so that you don’t have to keep nagging your kids!

The Accoutable Kids program uses what they call a Progress Board.  It is a wooden board with 5 pegs for hanging their reminder cards, completed chores, tickets, special date card and extra chores.

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Here is how it works: the children have a set of chores for each part of the day: morning, afternoon and evening.  The chores are colour-coded so your child knows when they need to be completed, which is really helpful for little ones.  When they complete their basic chores (ones you are not willing to pay your children to do, but that they are expected to do as a contributing member of the family) on time, they get a ticket that they can use for activities and privileges.  Ticketed activities could include: television, movies, video games, computer, art projects, playing with friends, sleepovers, park trip, swimming, flying kites, trampoline time, etc.

For each day that they complete all of their chores (morning, afternoon and evening) they get a sticker on their special date card.  The date card is a way for them to earn a special date with mom and dad or a grandparent, and is a way to help them understand the process of working for delayed gratification.  If the child wants to do extra chores, like helping mom with laundry or washing floors, etc. then they can do so and receive a bonus buck.  You can choose the value of the bonus buck for whatever is appropriate for your child.

Our Experience:

Our daughter is 7 and so far is the only one we have on the Accountable Kids program.  I did purchase boards for my sons, 4 and 2, and will start my 4-year-old very soon.  I feel that my 2-year-old is too young at this point, but his board is ready for him as soon as he is able to participate.  Eva was so excited to get our Accountable Kids stuff because her friend had already been using the program and told her all about it.  She was so eager to get started and happily completed chores.  We have seen a great success with her and it has been so awesome to watch her completing the tasks on her own without reminders.  She carefully considers how she would like to spend her tickets and her time and realizes that if she doesn’t complete her tasks, she won’t get a ticket!  I love not having to keep reminding her to do chores, as well as the routine this program has created in our home.

The kit comes with everything you need to get started.  The progress board, all the cards, an entire book written on the program that answers any questions you might have, and a DVD with both a quick-start video and a more in-depth video.  The quick-start videos can be viewed here if you would like to take a better look.

In the end, I’m really happy with this program and give it 5 stars!


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The Morning of No iPad and Television

Alright, friends.  Story time.

Last week I had a couple of separate conversations with a couple of different people (a friend and my husband) on the topic of screen time.  Now if I’m being perfectly honest, my kids are staring at screens way more than I’d like.  Like… a lot.  And yes, I’ve read the studies and I’ve skimmed read the books.  I know they should be playing with a scrap of felt and having the best time of their life using their imagination and that basically if they watch too much television or play iPad too much then I’ve ruined them for life and I’m the worst.  Really, the studies said that.

And I can really tell you that no, I don’t want to be that mom, but the truth is… I am!  I just am.  My kid wakes me up every blessed day at 6 am and wants the iPad.  And I do not have the strength to argue him then.  And what am I supposed to say to the next child arises… no, you can’t have a turn?  Why don’t you read a book, or write a story or play with the million toys you have?  Here’s a piece of felt, let’s see what you can come up with?  Okay, I could probably say that but come on have some empathy here, it’s 6 am!

And then later, I’m trying to do some formal lessons with Eva and the boys are just fighting fighting fighting and all I want is some peace!  So sue me if they go watch a TV show or play iPad or computer some more… everything is suuuuuper educational these days because everyone knows that early learning experiences are suuuuuper important.

So anyway.  I admit it.  I let my kids watch too much TV and play too much iPad.  I don’t like it.  But at this point in my life, I am literally not strong enough to change it.  I would rather let them stare at a screen than have me scream at them because I’m literally about to pull the very hairs out of my very head.  Judge me if you want, but someday I hope you learn some empathy.20140504-001118.jpg

So the other day, after these conversations and after some googling about how to rid your kids of their screen addiction (for which I admit, I am responsible) I decided that’s it!  They are going to PLAY.  They are not getting screen time.  And it really was going pretty well.  I was feeling a bit sweaty as I tried to educate my daughter and the boys kept fighting and screaming and interrupting and I just kept trying my best and praying a lot and trying to stay calm and loving and help redirect the boys and I was just trying so hard to do everything “right” but everything just kept on escalating and before I knew it, I found myself ugly crying out on my covered deck in the pouring rain and wondering why I ever thought it was a good idea to become a mother because I literally cannot do it!

I stayed on my little time-out for a while and then I came back in, flipped on the television for the kids and guess what happened… they sat.  And they were quiet.  And I thought about how much I loved them.  And how I could do this.  I could do it.  I can do it, if they just sit still and keep quiet for a little while longer.

I started thinking about how I’m a Christian and I should be transformed, I should be a new person, I should be displaying some fruit of the spirit here — HELLO, like, where is my patience in times like this?  (Seriously, I’m wondering… could you tell me?)  I feel like the worst.  I’m probably the least patient mom I know, at least publicly, and let me tell you, I know I’m impatient and I’m not proud of it.

But then I remember this little gem, that one little verse about how God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.  Usually I think about all the perfect moms out there and how I think wow, they are so much more spiritual than me because they are so kind and gentle and obviously filled with the Spirit of God.  And naturally, their children are going to be perfect too and have a perfect relationship with God until BAM – I remember that little verse I just mentioned.  Oh yeah, I don’t have to be perfect and actually God’s power is made perfect in my weakness and yes I’m going to fail my kids but guess what, I’m actually doing them a service because now they aren’t ever gonna be perfect either and now God’s power can be made perfect in them too!  And so guess what because I screw up a lot, I’m doing some pretty spiritual work, even more spiritual-er than if I was doing everything perfect because if they end up too perfect God won’t even be able to work with them, they won’t even need him!  My crappy parenting is causing them to need Him even more — how great is that!?

So in the end, I feel pretty darn good about how much screen time my kids have.

 

(Disclaimer — most of this is sarcasm, and no I’m not proud of how much screen time my kids have but sometimes transformation is slow and I think God is really teaching me a lot of hands-on lessons in patience and I’m gonna get there someday, friends, I reallllllly am and I’m gonna be the most patient-est and be able to handle the world someday.  But for now, I’m in survival mode and just trying to make my kids feel loved and not yelled at allthetime… so please just give me some grace and help me along here.)

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there — whether you’re thriving or surviving!

 

May 9, 2014 - 9:40 am Ruth - So to make you feel better about screen time, I have just now turned off the cable for the Sumer. Rachel is five and it is hardest on her ( and me) because she is up early waking me up and I am no morning person. I also admired you homeschooling with two little ones. I know that isn't easy. Don't worry so much about studies and what the books say. I was a TV kid growing up and yet I still played, read, coloured and had a productive life so far. Sometimes it is about surviving those toddler years. Oh and I just heard this about patience and loved it " God doesn't give us patience when life is calm, it comes in the storms so we can make it through in order to see His blessings during that time." Glad you were able to see and learn what God is teaching too.

May 9, 2014 - 3:13 pm chelsey - Thanks, Ruth. I agree, I watched a lot of TV as a kid and had one in my room but still spent a ton of time playing and being creative as well. And we are totally still in survival mode. Someday we will be more in the thriving mode, but for now I am giving myself permission to not do it perfectly. I love my kids and they are going to be ok :)

Throwback Thursday Stories – #tbt

eva_ezra

 

I love Throwback Thursday, where many people go back through the archives and share an old image.  I love seeing all the pictures of babies who have grown too quickly, or my friends when they themselves were children.  I saw that Jessica Turner of The Mom Creative was hosting a link-up of Throwback Thursday Stories and I knew I had to jump on board too.

This was in 2010 and Ezra was just a few months old and Eva was 3.  Since the moment I took this picture, it has been one of my all-time favorites.  Ezra had recently begun rolling over from his tummy to his back and he kept doing it while I was trying to get a photo of them together.  I could tell he was going to roll and kept saying to Eva “Ohhhh, here he goessss!  He’s gonna roll!” and she just thought it was so funny.  Apparently, Ezra agreed because I managed to get a snap of them both smiling before he rolled over again.

 

tbt

 

May 8, 2014 - 7:54 am Susan - Great photo. Time does pass quickly. Enjoy!

May 8, 2014 - 8:27 am chelsey - Thank you, Susan!

May 8, 2014 - 8:57 am Paula - What a great picture!

May 8, 2014 - 9:17 am chelsey - Thanks, Paula!

Dolladrama

A couple weeks ago I had to run into Dollarama to buy some special dishes for a yummy breakfast I was planning to soon make myself.  I was walking quickly through the aisles to get what I needed and I could hear a mom hollering at her kids from somewhere out of sight.  I felt a little uncomfortable and I admit, I felt a little judgy (step 3) but I thought whatever, I’ve felt the same way, or acted the same way in my home… what’s the difference?  Who knows what this mom has had to deal with?  (step 5) I grabbed what I needed and found my place in line behind the mom and two other ladies.  The mom was paying for some candy that her daughter had taken a bite out of… something she wasn’t planning on paying for but now had to.

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a really fun moment a couple years ago when Ezra was in his insane fit-throwing stage.

The lady in line behind the mom decided that now was the time to let the mom know what a terrible job she was doing at motherhood, putting the mom down and shaming her for her children’s behaviour in the store.  The lady behind that lady soon joined in and they even went so far as to point at the mom’s oldest daughter and comment on how she was old enough to be behaving more properly.

Naturally, the mom was completely defensive and talking back to the lady and I found myself in such an awkward position.  Do I look around normally, as if nothing is happening?  Do I speak up and say something to the ladies in front of me and take a stand with this mom?  I am a people-pleaser and I hate confrontation, so I really didn’t want to get involved and potentially have these ladies turn on me too.  My knees felt weak as the mom and the lady kept arguing back and forth.  Ultimately, I said nothing and the mom gathered her things and her children and left the store.  The ladies in front of me continued to discuss the situation with the cashier, who appeared to be the manager (who handled it fairly professional, I might add, in case any Dollarama execs are reading my blog).  Meanwhile, I just stood there praying that I would get a chance to talk to the mom in the parking lot after I finally made my transaction.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, this mom was just two parking spaces away from me.  I was scared and honestly, I didn’t want to, but I came around to the side of the car where the mom was buckling her daughter in and I quietly said, “Excuse me… I was in the store just now… and I just wanted to let you know that I know that you are just doing the best job you can at being a mama, and –” I couldn’t even get the rest of the words out and this poor mom was flat-out ugly crying in front of me in the parking lot.  My heart just broke even more.  I didn’t know what to say or do and before I knew it, there I was hugging this stranger and saying “Being a mom is so hard, it’s so hard, we’re all just doing the best we can.”  I left her there with her daughters and told her that I hoped she knew that not everyone in that store thought she was doing a bad job and I hope that she had a better day from there on out.

It’s been more than two weeks and I still can’t really shake this experience — and I bet the mom can’t either.  I feel so badly for the ladies in the store as well, as I can’t help but feel they must have some real pain and insecurity in their own lives to publicly shame someone as they did that day, but in the end, my heart is naturally way softer for the yelling mom.

The thing is, we just don’t know what people are dealing with in their lives.  It’s so easy to point fingers and to judge.  I know what it’s like to have kids who throw unexpected, unpredictable and uncontrollable fits, even in public.  I know what it’s like to have kids who throw such fits despite any and every kind of discipline and gentle talking or not gentle talking you could ever do.  Our kids’ behavior can sometimes just be beyond our control, part of who they are, and is not always a reflection of who we are as parents.  And maybe that mom hasn’t had the best upbringing, or she has no support, or she’s just dealing with some really tough stuff, or maybe she has an awesome life but guess what, today is just a bad day.13

Sometimes I feel so alone as a young mom.  A people-pleaser like me just really wants to do things right and make everyone happy.  I look for the rules, for what I should do.  It’s such a cliche but there really is no manual for motherhood.  Our kids don’t come with an instruction booklet.  I didn’t live with my own mother for most of my childhood and I don’t have a mentor or a role model to come alongside me and show me how to do this whole motherhood thing.  And when I’m at my wits end, when I’m having a bad day, when my rope is frayed… it never does me any good to have someone telling me what a terrible job I’m doing.  The only thing that does is make me feel like giving up completely.

From my experience, when I’m reacting in a negative way to my kids, I already know in my head that I’m not doing my best in this moment.  I already regret the things I’m saying or my actions.  But I’m in such a desperate, raw, pull-my-hair-out moment that I don’t know what else to do… or I do know, but I just can’t.  If I knew and was able, I’d be doing it!  I don’t need someone to agree with my inner-voice that I’m a terrible mom.  When you feel like that, don’t you just wish someone would come alongside you and tell you how to do it, or do it for you, or simply just help you do it?  To crouch down with your kids and gently and lovingly remind them of proper behaviour?  To grab your groceries for you and help you carry them out to the car because one of your kids is running one way and the other one bit into some food you hadn’t paid for and you’re already late and you feel like you suck as a mother and just want to give up — but you can’t.  Because you are mom and you just have to keep going, no matter how messy the whole thing looks.

We need to build each other up and cheer one another on.  We need to give each other hope that we can make it.  I don’t know what was going on in that store before I walked in and maybe this mom was absolutely crazy and her kids were bonkers too and maybe they were totally ripping the store to shreds.  Maybe.  But even so, I have to believe that even in our most absolutely crazy moments, we really just need someone to tell us “You can do this.  It’s hard, I know, but you can do this.”

Because hope is sometimes all you need to keep moving forward.6

(Title credit goes to my friend Joanna who, after I texted her the entire story, responded with “Dolladrama!”)

May 7, 2014 - 9:05 am Jill Slywka - This is a beautiful story! And beautifully written! Thanks for sharing - but even more so, thanks for being brave enough to go up to that mom in the parking lot afterwards. We need more people like you, Chelsey, who are willing to say, 'I understand', and 'Me too', rather than just judging. Thanks for encouraging me in this today.

May 7, 2014 - 10:18 am Janelle - Oh my goodness! This is a great story and a great message, and how great of you to share it. Thank you for your words!

May 7, 2014 - 10:54 am Jenn - This is a beautiful story. On behalf of frazzled moms everywhere, thanks for taking the time to share a kind word. I have had trips to the store with my two young kids who are just having an off day and I just don't know what to do....we need milk! hahaha...I catch people staring with their nose up, or shaking their heads and I can only imagine what they must be thinking...I've thought the same before I became a parent. You are totally right, we just don't know what going on in the back ground. Have a blessed day!

May 7, 2014 - 2:23 pm chelsey - Thanks for reading, Jenn. It is just so hard and it only makes it worse when you are already frazzled and then feel like everyone is looking down on you!

May 7, 2014 - 2:24 pm chelsey - Thanks, Janelle :)

May 7, 2014 - 2:24 pm chelsey - Doesn't "me too" feel so good, Jill? What a relief when you find out you aren't alone. We need to take our guard down and hold each other up more!

May 7, 2014 - 2:37 pm L.A Blackwood - Thank you for sharing this. I was in a small town grocery store (I won't list because it's that small) I was picking up diapers and dinner. My good friend was standing with me in line. We had to do some errands before we hit the grocery store which was on our way back to my place. We had stopped for coffee and breakfast maybe 5 minutes down the road before we hit the grocery store. It was Jan and where I live it was ridiculously cold. My 21 month old was going through a stage where he refused to wear mitts and a hat or his hood. He was in a one piece snow suit with a blanket and everything. It was nap time and I literally lived in the 3rd house from the grocery store. So I have this screaming baby who wants to nap after a breakfast out. My hair is fire engine red and long apparently I look 17, I'm 27. While I was paying for my groceries which by the way consisted of diapers, chicken nuggets, baby food, baby cookies, and kid's cereal. Two elderly women decided to begin telling me what a horrible uncaring mother I was and how children my age should be in school. The cashier at the grocery store also jumped in. I thanked them for their concern and explained I needed to get my son home to have his nap and didn't have time for this. This was a horrible situation for me, I was crying for hours after. Hearing that even if they are afraid to step up other people don't look so horribly down on moms with screaming kids it helps.

May 7, 2014 - 2:59 pm Lauren MacDonald - I am so happy Kelli reffered this blog to me, it makes me realize that you're right, no one knows what an individual is going through and we need to help, not hinder.

May 7, 2014 - 3:33 pm chelsey - Thanks for reading, Lauren. You are right! We need to help each other out, we can't do it alone. I think we are all afraid and so we judge instead of saying "I'm not perfect either." In my experience, it is so much better to help someone out instead of judge them -- it changes both lives for the better!

May 7, 2014 - 3:35 pm chelsey - Oh, thank you for sharing, LA Blackwood. I'm in the same boat as you, people often think I'm a teen mother because I look much younger than I am. How terrible that you experienced this public shaming as well. It would help so much more if these women would pass on their wisdom rather than shaming us for not having it yet! {hugs} to you, mama! You are doing a good job.

May 7, 2014 - 11:10 pm Kati - Aw Chelsey! Your response reminded me of an event YEARS ago when our 3 daughters were hmm... 8, 6 and 1... eating in a restaurant outside of Langley BC on 'vacay'. The kids weren't being terrible, just... kids... spilled pop all over the table... crayons scattered everywhere, food everywhere. I was super stressed... I was always so self conscious of our kids' behaviour in public, because I, like you, am a 'pleaser' (still am, some things never change!) ... in the midst of all this, some random (random??) lady about the age I am now (gulp) walks up to our table and says, 'excuse me, i just wanted to let you know how impressed i am with how charming and well behaved your children are!' Whaaaa??? Really??! Are we talking about the same children?? It was so counter to what so often happens (ie the snotty behaviour you described from the women in the store or at the very least, dirty looks from surrounding tables) and so easy to make assumptions. But that one little positive encounter has stayed with me to this day (23 yrs later!) and buoyed me up on days when I doubted I had any parenting success whatsoever! I'll bet you dollars(store drama) to donuts that gal will remember your intervention years from now! Now THAT's listening to the Spirit :)

May 8, 2014 - 8:07 am Hope - Well -lived and well written! I'm now 58 but I had a child that was a challenge and one that was average and responded well to common parenting techniques. So often when my child had the full-blown tantrum or fell apart in public well into the elementary school years I felt judgement from family or strangers. Some offered less than helpful suggestions. I make a point now of giving verbal "gold stars" to parents who are working hard at their job whether or not their child is behaving perfectly. By the way....my child now 30 - started doing food elimination when she was 20 - and now feels like her brain is at peace. In her case no gluten, dairy and other grains.

May 8, 2014 - 8:28 am chelsey - That is awesome that you do that now, Hope. And isn't it amazing how some foods can affect us?

May 8, 2014 - 8:31 am chelsey - I hope my words stick with the mama more than the other woman's do, Kati! When you feel like you're drowning isn't it much better to have someone reach out their hand instead of saying "you should've learned to swim."? Thank you for sharing your experience!