Wednesday, 28 December 2011


Am I the only one breathing a sigh of relief that it's over? That there's nary a hint of Christmas in our home? Not a sno-globe or candy cane in sight? Yesterday Shaune and I scrubbed it away, swore if we never heard another jingle bell it would be too soon.

Although there's a lot to do like build an addition on our house to accomodate the stockpile of new toys the kids received from their overly generous relatives, I've decided to sit down, watch the snow finally fall. There's been a lot of visiting and I don't know about you, but I take mine with plenty of breaks in between.

And while I don't like to focus on the material gifts received during the season, I can't help but tell you about the ones that touched me most. Like the toy vacuum cleaner Santa left for Naveen. Only during phases of sleep has he been without it. He walks around all day, holding it lovingly, chanting its name va-koooom.

There's also this drawing from Shaune's sister Katie of our little Naveen. Such a beautiful likeness of our Hoover-lover. She used one of the pictures in this set as her model.

Here's my winter mantle. The plate in the frame belonged to Matthew, just one of his everyday dinner plates. There wasn't much to take, very few memento-like things in the pile of his things in my parents' basement.

I've enjoyed looking at it, thinking about him.

And I'm itching to rearrange furniture, change up the curtains, get a new look. It happens every year around this time, when the rooms look suddenly emptier, cleaner. I see the possibilities again. I bought this beautiful vintage oval mirror (below) for $5 at a garage sale last summer.

And here's the drawing of Deaglan on the other side of the window. Sorry about the blurred photo. Katie did this one three years ago. That lady knows the way to my heart.

See the brass lamp below? I found two of them on the side of the road last year. Yup, garbage-picking. Only, Shaune didn't roll his eyes this time. He kind of liked them. Hello??? What's not to like - they were free! I'm just dying to spray paint them. Maybe the same blue as the dinner plate. What do you think?

Friday, 23 December 2011

You were born just after midnight

Dear Deaglan,

One morning, a few weeks ago, as you were heading downstairs with your Dad and Brother so I could get ready for work, you turned back toward the bed where I sat, looked at me.

“Kiss?” you asked tilting your head. And then you blew me one.

“Can I have a real one?” I asked, closing my fingers around the imaginary. You ran to me, hugged my neck and kissed me. I was smart enough to see my life as it really was in that moment. Even though I'd been up through the night with Naveen, even though I was dead tired and dreading the day ahead.

I saw real for one moment.

I saw that I was truly loved,
and I felt complete.
I saw that I was needed,
and I felt purpose.
I saw that we were raising you right,
and I felt accomplished.
And I thought about how you, one little person, only here four years, could define me this way.

I remember when you were born; the doctor announced that I had given birth to a toddler. “Welcome Magnus,” she joked. You were a big boy, refusing to come out even ten days past your due. And when they brought you to me, I was incredulous.

“This is you?” I asked. “You are the one?” And you let out a cry, as if to respond. “Yes, mama, this is me. I’m the one you’ve been waiting for.”

It was the day that changed everything, the day I no longer felt the loneliness that had plagued my orphan-self. You smoothed dull the pain of having lost so much so young.

And I reacted as a lioness might, growling when anyone came near you. I was possessive because I couldn’t figure out how it had happened. How someone so breathtaking could belong to me. My life had never promised such gifts. I’d wandered around empty and resigned myself to this fate. But you were glorious and perfect, things I’d never equated with myself.

You heralded the re-birth of me.

And so on this day can we celebrate you and me? You for bringing me joy and hope, for allowing me to re-live childish wonder, for teaching me who I really am, for letting me watch you unfold. For being proof that God does beautiful work.

And me, for embracing motherhood in all its splendor, for wanting more for you than I ever had, for realizing my love for you is never-ending, for striving to be my best self. For knowing how blessed I really am.

Happy birthday then. 

To you and me, my big boy.

Love Mom.

You and me over the years .

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Internal dialogue

I’ve been trying to get my Christmas stuff done in the evenings. It’s taken its toll on our nightly routine. Usually I read to both kids each night, but for the last week or so, I’ve scurried them to bed with just a kiss and cuddle. It’s done me no good because even though I’ve been able to check off my to-do list, the guilt has left me feeling unaccomplished.

My mind has conjured up all sorts of images to provoke me:
Scenario one: My teenage kids in remedial classes because they haven’t caught onto reading
Scenario two: Deaglan and Naveen - members of an illiterate delinquent gang.

Whipping myself this way mentally is so easy and effective. But this time I fought back. I started in the basement:

It’s not like I’m shooting heroin, I reasoned. Imagine the repercussions of that.

But my mind would have no part of this, Oh give me a break, you’ve never even smoked pot, that’s a ridiculous argument.

Okay, I countered, it’s not like I’m leaving them each evening to hang out at the casino, gambling the mortgage away.

Listen lightweight, my mind reproved, you wouldn’t know your way around a blackjack table even with a guided tour; just admit that you’re a failure as a mother, you’re selfish and put your own needs before your kids’.

I changed tactics then.

No, you listen to me, I demanded, I am doing the best I can with the time I have. Stop bullying me.

You have gray hair and a flabby stomach and-----




Shaune took 183 pictures of the kids for our Christmas card. Most of them turned out like this. In an effort to get the kids to cooperate, I'm ashamed to admit I was spitting out things like:

Deaglan smile and look at Daddy and you can have chocolate!

Deaglan! Look at Daddy and stand beside your brother, or you'll get a time out!

Deaglan, stay there, we're not finished yet, stop making that face! Okay that's it, I'm gonna let Santa know to skip our house!!

There were only three usable photos. We went with this one. And yes, that's a medicine dropper Naveen's got in his mouth.
You have to pick your battles.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Keeping my ego in check

We had Deaglan’s birthday party at our local children’s museum last week. It was the first time we invited friends; up until now we’d celebrated his big day with family only. And I didn’t want to have ten kids and their parents over to the house.

We picked the Super Science package where TJ – a teenager working for the museum performed a few basic science experiments, with the birthday boy as his assistant. Because the audience was four year-olds, the highlight was definitely the rocket ship built out of an empty film canister, Alka-Seltzer and water. At one point when the TJ blew up a balloon with baking soda and vinegar, the kids sat unimpressed waiting for the climax.

“Should I do the rocket again?” he asked seeing that the chemical result of mixing baking soda and vinegar was lost on these young thrill seekers. He regained his magician status when he showed this tough crowd how to make slime from corn starch, food colouring and water.

There was pizza and cake and lots of spilling. I was reassured that expensive though the party was, I wouldn’t be spending half my day cleaning.

And also? Most importantly, I learned that I need to stay out of Shaune’s sightline when he’s got the camera. Because it’s not doing me any good to look at some of the shots he got of me.

 I just realized they spelled his name wrong. Still the cake got a good deal of oohhing and ahhhing.
 So this picture isn't too bad. I guess I need to outline the rules of catching me in a shot to Shaune. Rule number one: I must be photographed with a cute baby well placed on my body. Does he need this reminder every time??
 Is anyone benefitting seeing me from this angle? I'd say no.
 Shaune, you couldn't have aimed the camera a little more to the right? Awww C'mon!!
I will say that looking at these pictures keeps me grounded and humble. There's no chance I'm feeling smug or better than you!

Monday, 5 December 2011

My lame DIY Christmas projects

This season is blurring by don't you think? I haven't done my Christmas cards, or tiptoed into the neighbours yard with the scissors yet. We decorated  the house but lord help me if anyone decides to drop by. I'd have to come up with an elaborate story about how our house was ransacked by wild thieves while we were out.

Naveen's gone ahead and turned into a toddler without my consent. I'm chasing him around like a desperate fool, begging for  kisses, or even a chance to nibble his neck. But he's got no time for me, busy getting into the cat's affairs, or grating on Deaglan's last nerve,  and falling head over heels for his Dad. At daycare he only associates with other 18 month olds, he's so over infants!

And because he's everywhere, I've done most of my decorating out of reach. As you'll notice there's a bulb-y theme. I've gone to town with bulbs and hot glue.

 See the tiny tree up there? While Deaglan was finger-painting a couple of days ago, I asked him if I could guide his hands on my canvas to make a Christmas tree. The bulbs were Naveen's little fingers.

 Do you mind squinting when you look at this red bulb wreath? Or at least not judge me because there are tiny ribbons of hot glue criss-crossing over the surface? Do you know the strategy it takes to use the glue gun while Ole Reachy-Fingers is around?

 And here's my Christmas mantle. I collected all that milk glass garage sale-ing.

 I saw this old window at the Grand Bend Flea Market back in May. Shaune rolled his eyes when I paid two dollars for it.
I'll bet he's counting his lucky stars he has a wife who has such vision! Actually, I got the idea from Pinterest, my heart flip-flopped when I saw this. I'm still not sure where the best place to showcase my version is. I've noticed some of my neighbours walk right on by without a glance. Can you imagine?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Dangerously close to unhappy

I read somewhere that parents with children under the age of five are some of the unhappiest people in a population. This is one of those stats that can go either way for me. Tonight it teetered close to truth. Because I don’t know what I was thinking signing Deaglan up for skating lessons on a week night at 5:30 PM.

Picture this.

Me still in work clothes and heels, a bag stuffed with skates, helmet, and two happy meals slung over one shoulder, the camera over the other. A snotty faced Naveen squirming in my arms while I struggle to grip Deaglan’s hand as we bob and weave through an unlit, busy arena parking lot. When we get into the building it’s complete mayhem. There are families everywhere, the early-birds lucky enough to be lacing skates on kids who are sitting on the coveted benches, while latecomers like me stoop over a patch of floor, attempting to do the same and corral a runaway baby.

By this point I’m grouchy and overheated, irritated that Deaglan’s only focus is the happy meal toy. Naveen goes between running wild through the arena and demanding that I pick him up. When Shaune shows up, I’m overwhelmed with relief and the need to share my misery.

For the next forty-five minutes I cringe, recoil as my almost four year old with the help of a skating coach struggles to rise to his feet, on the ice for the first time, slipping down each time. I feel every fall, every thump. And when I don’t think I can watch anymore, convinced that in the next minute he will begin sobbing, beg to be taken to his parents, he starts getting the hang of it.

I watch as he takes tiny skatey steps, gets up without the help of the coach. And my mind changes. This isn’t so bad, I think. Maybe next week, since Shaune won't be able to come,  I’ll try to find a sitter for Naveen.

 Slipping and falling aside, you've never seen such adorable tiny skates and helmet.

This is the kind of shenanigans we're dealing with everyday since the tree went up.