Thursday, 28 May 2015

million dollar family

Anyone with kids knows that people, even strangers, feel free to comment to you about your family in public.

When we go out shopping as a family, we get the usual comments: "You've got your hands full" and "Wow, you're busy" (though we get comments less now since Isaac will talk the ears off anyone willing to listen, strangers very much included). The comments are pretty much all friendly and well-intentioned so I don't mind.

However, the comment that we get probably the most often is, "Oh, a boy and a girl! How perfect!" or "How lucky!" Some people even make derisive remarks about their own families like, "I got stuck with two boys."

Yup. With our boy and our girl we have the perfect family. Our oldest, a son to carry on the family name, and then our little princess, even spaced two years apart. Some even call it the million dollar family.

Well, this perfect family is about to get even perfecter! We're having another baby!

Pretty soon, when this baby bump gets bigger, we won't get the "How perfect!" comment anymore. I'm not sure what comments we'll get, I only hope that they continue to be well-intentioned.

The details:

We're due in early December, which puts us at almost 13 weeks right now. I've been feeling tired and nauseous on and off, but, all in all, I'm not complaining because this has definitely been my easiest pregnancy so far. Isaac was very cutely excited when we told him, and he still gives a little gasp every night when we pray for baby, but, most of the time, he just forgets about it. Kateri, of course, has no idea what's going on, but she's still very much Mama's baby, and even gets jealous when Isaac sits on my lap. However, she loves babies and, hopefully, by then she'll have matured enough not to mind being usurped.

In other news:

It has been a long long time since I last posted. The kids have grown leaps and bounds since then, but I guess I'll have to summarize.

I think Kateri usually gets left to the end so I'll start with her this time. As she goes from baby to toddler we're slowly getting a sense of what it's going to be like having a girl. She loves wearing dresses. If she finds one in the laundry she'll bring it to me and whine until I put in on her. One Sunday when we were all dressed for Mass, she tugged on my skirt and whined indicating that she wanted to wear it. It was a feminine summer skirt and I guess she liked it better than the dress she was wearing. I'm still astounded at how feminine she is, considering she's got an older brother as an example and we still don't have very many "girly" toys.

She's always finding new things to climb and "no" and "mine" are two of her favourite words. She can get quite upset when thwarted, but she's not nearly as adamant about getting her own way as Isaac was (is). She can be quite the mimic, picking up words and gestures very quickly. Today she watched me eating cherries and spitting out the pits. She's a good eater now so I gave her one to see what she would do. She put the whole thing in her mouth...and then spit the whole thing out again. Most of the time she's just my little sweetheart, often wanting to be held and cuddled. Again, in this she's pretty much the opposite of Isaac, who always wanted down, down, down. While her cuddliness can be inconvenient sometimes (when I'm trying to make lunch) I'm able to appreciate it having experienced the other end of the spectrum.

Now for Isaac. Isaac's big news is that he is now a full-time glasses wearer. We brought both kids to the optometrist for a check-up. The last time I was in, they had told me it's a good idea to bring young kids, because they can fix some problems if they catch them early enough (they also told me it's free, which didn't hurt). We didn't have the least idea that anything was actually wrong, but it turns out that Isaac has an astigmatism. I was pretty shocked. Who knew that my perfect kid could have anything wrong with him, and at so young an age? But, as far as health issues go, wearing glasses is a pretty minor one, though he will probably need them for the rest of his life. The next question I had was how on earth are we going to get this boy to keep something on his face all day? The first few days involved a lot of tears, but by the end of a week he was pretty much resigned.

We've also been thinking a lot about homeschooling since Isaac is school-age in the fall. We've decided to keep him home, at least for the first year. It's a whole new world for me, since I wasn't homeschooled, and it's pretty overwhelming. But at least kindergarten is pretty low pressure and since he's still young (he won't be four until October) I might even wait awhile before officially starting. I'm already teaching him letters and numbers whenever he's interested in learning but I must say that the idea of trying to impose structure on Mr. Mind-of-his-own is intimidating. The other day I was showing him how to do simple mazes that we found in a colouring book. I had thought maybe he'd be too young to understand the concept, but he picked it up pretty much right away. After intently tracing his way for a few minutes he started jerkily going all over the page and saying, "I'm breaking the walls! I'm breaking the walls!" Hmmm. This boy will be interesting to homeschool.

The whole family has been enjoying the nice weather. Isaac is thrilled to have a two-wheel bike (with training wheels) and wants to bike to the park everyday. Kateri loves going for walks too and has discovered the joy of sandboxes, swings, and slides for the first time. Whenever she sees playground equipment she points urgently and says "wide wide wide" which can mean either "ride", "slide", or "swing." Sean has been planting in the garden and building a better fence for it, since the critters ate everything that grew last year. And I'm slowly finding the maternity clothes and feeling thankful that I'm not too sick. Life is good and we are getting very excited for December!

So excited!

Trip to the Butterfly Conservatory with Grandma.


Tire glasses! And Kateri has a gold tooth apparently.

First ponytail(s). Too soon? Too soon.

Family picture at Easter.

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

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!