Oh Your Gosh

This past week has been less than spectacular.

Both kids have been sick so I’ve spent the majority of my time wiping noses, running baths, administering Tylenol and snuggling muchkins on the couch.  We’ve watched Frozen and Cars, read countless books, and played sleepover in the big bed.

It’s The Cold That Would Never End.

Ellie is finally starting to feel better but Topher is feverish again, and Nathan took yesterday off work because now he is sick.  I’ve managed to escape illness apart from a sore throat, but moms don’t get sick days anyway, so I won’t complain.

Weeks like this, it’s easy to get tired.  It’s easy to feel frustrated and grumpy and overwhelmed by my needy little dictators.   It’s easy to dismiss the entire week as a write-off:  Everyone was sick, I didn’t get anything done, my house is a mess, I’m up against the deadline for an important writing project that I have no idea when I’ll be able to finish –

But instead of being stressed (which is SO the norm for me!) I’m trying something different.  I’m looking back at the past week and picking out some of my favourite moments to remember.

  • Ellie hates to be alone when she’s not feeling well.  She wants all snuggles, all the time – to the extent that she will wrap her arm around mine and hold on so tightly that there is absolutely no way I can put her down.  When the going gets tough – hold on tighter.  
  • Topher started skating lessons last Saturday.  He was so proud of himself after his first lesson – not because he did anything particularly amazing, but because he went with his class all by himself.  (We’ve been having issues with drop off at Sunday School and preschool …)  We bought him a cookie at Cookies By George as a reward for being brave, and now he expects a treat of some sort whenever he does something good.  He had two good days at preschool this week – and requested ice cream sundaes at the end of both.  It’s a good thing he’s so active!  “I was SO good, Mommy!” he told me when I picked him up on Thursday.  “My teacher didn’t say I was good, but I was!”
  • We celebrated Ellie’s half birthday with a half cake.  She was sick so barely ate any, but she seemed to enjoy what she did have.
  • Topher has started saying “OHMYGOSH!”  Ellie had a runny nose and Topher was watching as Nathan wiped all the yucky off.  “Oh my gosh!”  he exclaimed.  Then Nathan pulled Ellie’s soother out.  “Oh YOUR gosh too!”
  • And one more laugh:  Topher was watching Cars and less than halfway through asked me to put Frozen in instead.  “Mommy, do you know why I like Frozen so much?”  “No, why?”  “Because there’s more girls than cars.”
  • We let Chloe sleep on our bed for a few nights earlier this week.  One night she had an accident on our bed, scared herself, ran into the wall, and fell off the bed.  It was 2:30 in the morning, Nathan and I were exhausted – but we had a good laugh as we changed the sheets.  I’ve never seen a dog look so embarrassed!  Needless to say, now she sleeps in her kennel.
  • And Ellie came up with a new use for all of the empty Kleenex boxes lying around the house:

Ellie’s new shoes

 

The past week wasn’t a write-off:  I spent time with my family.  Our house isn’t messy, it’s lived in.   And writing will happen when writing happens, as it always does.   You can’t rush brilliance anyway, right?  That’s what I’m going to keep telling myself …

Link Roundup

Here are some of my favourite posts from the past month or so:

The quote Lesley shared in her post, You, You Work, stopped me in my tracks.  “When something you make doesn’t work, it didn’t work, not you. You, you work. You keep trying.” – Zach Klein

I love just about everything Ashlee writes, but a recent favourite? On Making Room.  I still haven’t gotten around to decorating Ellie’s half of the kids’ room …

I really relate to Kerri’s post, Gold Stars in Motherhood.  Some days I want to make myself a sticker chart and post it on the refrigerator!

Hilary shared A Story About Learning.  We don’t need to be afraid to re-learn.

Shauna Niequist is working on a new book:  Present Over Perfect – I can’t wait to read it!  “This is life, this is family, this is the great beautiful brave spectacular adventure that is plain old everyday life, and it promises to remind you over and over that perfect is a myth, and that perfect breaks our backs and breaks our hearts.”

Kathleen shared her struggle with Contentment – something I constantly find myself dealing with.  How do you fight for contentment?

I’m a big fan of Coffee + Crumbs, and I loved Clare’s post, Toast In Her Hair.  Nathan’s mom loves to tell me how easy Nathan was as a child so I feel  like a complete failure whenever I have a difficult day with Topher.   I’m not perfect, but I’m learning to cope.  And I’m looking forward.

What are some of your favourite posts of late?  Suggest something for me to read when the kids are asleep! 

Frozen

Tonight  Nathan and I watched Frozen with the kids.   It was the perfect ending to a chaotic day.  Topher was snuggled in on my left, Ellie on my right, each with their pile of blankets and babies.  As I pulled them both closer, I found myself thinking that if my world was frozen in any one season, whether for a few days or a few months or even longer – I would want it to be this one.

This season of life.

In the days before Topher heads off to school for the first time.   When he’s still a little boy who bravely climbs to the top of the jungle gym, yet still reaches for my hand when we start the walk home.  He loves to hug and refuses to go to bed until I’ve squeezed him as tightly as I can possibly squeeze him.  He has an adventurous spirit and can be convinced to go on any errand as long as I tell him it’s a mission.  “What’s our adventure today, Mommy?” he asks when he wakes up.  He loves to run, he loves to play, and he thinks the fact that his feet smell horrible is just about the greatest thing ever.  “Smell my feet, Ellie!” he tells his sister, and then falls over laughing when she actually does.

In the days when Topher boldly shares his faith with his friends while jumping in a bouncy castle at a birthday party.  “Do you want to hear the story of Jesus?” He asked between jumps.  I hope and pray differently but I’ve worked with youth enough to know that there may come a day in the not too distant future when the story of Jesus just doesn’t seem “cool” enough.

And in the days when Topher is still innocent.  We spent the afternoon at a memorial service for one of our youth.  Topher knew that somebody Nathan and I loved had died but we deflected his questions when he asked how.  Someday all too soon his eyes will be opened to the fact that sometimes people kill other people – but for now, Topher can fall asleep knowing that he’s safe.   He knows nothing about a twenty-year-old murder suspect awaiting his first court appearance on Thursday.

I’ve always loved September.  The crispness, the newness.  The excuse to purge my house, organize my schedule, and purchase school supplies.   

But this year I’m fighting it.

I don’t want life to change.  I don’t want Topher to change.

I’m not ready for my little man to grow up.

Summer Photo Dump

Yesterday’s post was pretty heavy, so I figured it was time for something lighter:  a photo dump!  Here are some of my favourite pictures from this summer.  Enjoy!

summer1

RAWR! Topher the dinosaur!

summer2

Ellie and the dandelions

summer3

Topher learning to ride his big boy bike

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It was the summer of smoothies …

summer4

The kids on Canada Day

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Ellie and her cucumber

summer7

Good times in Calgary

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This is always how I find the kids after my shower …

summer9

Ellie is made of awesome!

summer10

First rollerblades

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Ellie loves the indoor playground!

summer12

I signed him up for skating lessons. He thought he was drafted by the Oilers.

Date Night

datenight

It was Tuesday.

Date night.

Earlier in the day I had been looking forward to it, but now?

Now I was tired.

Both kids had been up multiple times the night before and neither had napped during the day.  I was scrambling to bath the kids, tidy the house, and make dinner before my mother-in-law arrived to babysit.

Six years ago I would have spent hours getting ready – picking out a new outfit, doing my hair and make-up, painting my nails – but now I budget approximately fifteen minutes for self-beautification.

I glanced at my watch.  Nathan was due home any minute, so it was probably time to start getting ready.  I parked the kids in front of the TV with some cheerios and disappeared into my room.  The dinner theatre was “business casual”.  I knew what I wanted to wear, the question was whether or not it would fit.

Or whether or not it was clean.

It wasn’t.

It had been almost two years since I had worn that particular outfit, back in my pre-Ellie days, and it was covered in more dust than a quick spot clean could get rid of.  I sighed.  Now what?    I finally settled on a skirt and top and plugged in my flat iron to do my hair.  I heard wailing from the living room.

“TOPHER!  What did you do to Ellie?”

“Nothing, Mommy!” was his response.

“Then why is she crying?”

“Oh. Well.  I accidentally punched her in the head.”

Accidentally is Topher’s new favourite word.  I don’t think he quite understands what it means …

I snuggled Ellie for a few minutes until she was calm and I was  reasonably sure she didn’t have a concussion, then let her empty the bathroom cabinet while I finished my hair and make-up.

Nathan arrived home.  “DADDY!  DADDY!” the kids yelled, racing to the front door for hugs and wrestling and tickles.

I stirred dinner, which I had completely forgotten about while I was getting ready, and which was by then completely stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Oops.

The doorbell rang.  “GRANDMA’S HERE!”  I scurried around, grabbing whatever random out of place items I could find and throwing them in our room, which has essentially become a storage room for anything that doesn’t really have another home.  We keep the door closed whenever we have company so people think we’re super tidy even though we’re really not.

We said our goodbyes to two sobbing kids (Seriously.  We need to get out more!)  – and we were off.

We had an hour before the theatre opened and we could pick up our tickets, so we sat in the lobby and talked.

About the kids.

Once we were inside, we found our table, then filled our plates at the buffet.

I filled mine with things that would be easy to share with the kids before I remembered that I didn’t have to.  I didn’t have to take spaghetti and meatballs or chicken fingers and fries – but I took those things anyway.

Nathan took extra cookies to bring home to Topher.

While we ate, we talked.

We laughed about the  lame jokes we were sure Topher was telling Grandma.  “What kind of socks does a bear wear?”  “I don’t know, what kind?”  “A bear doesn’t wear socks, silly!  He has BEAR FEET!”

A former co-worker of Nathan’s passed our table and stopped to chat.  Nathan pulled out his iPhone to show him pictures of (what else?) the kids.

The lights dimmed and the show started.  We both enjoyed it, but when the lights went up for intermission we both checked the time:  Nine o’ clock.  Bedtime.

We’re old.

We debated whether or not to stay for the rest of the show.

“It’s date night!” Nathan finally declared.  “I’m on a hot date with my wife and we’re going to stay for the whole thing!”

So we filled our plates with more dessert to sustain us through the rest of the show, making sure to take extra for the kids.

The evening ended at eleven o’clock.  We both crawled into bed, exhausted.

“That was a good date,” Nathan mumbled, drifting off to sleep.

“Mmmhmm,” I agreed, snuggling under the warm covers.

Then I heard the door open.

“Mommy?”

I’m sure I groaned then, but looking back, it was the perfect ending to a perfect date night.

Life looks a little different now that we have kids, marriage looks a little different now that we have kids, and date night looks a little different now that we have kids – but I wouldn’t change any of it.

Well, except maybe the spaghetti and chicken fingers.  That herb crusted prime rib looked awfully good …

Compassionate Hearts

cocone

This week was exhausting.

Our dog, Chloe, has been sick.

It’s nothing serious, she just had an abscess on her tail, but taking care of her has required a lot of time and a lot of energy.

See, Chloe isn’t the best patient.  She’s needy, to put it mildly.  Once she had the abscess – on her tail – expressed, she decided she couldn’t walk.  Then she decided she couldn’t lie down – she could only sit on a pillow, or a warm washcloth, or a pile of blankets.  She wouldn’t eat her regular food, so we bought her canned dog food – and after three days she decided that wasn’t good enough and now she will only eat sliced ham.  She only drinks fresh water from a bowl held under her noise and she spends a good part of each day lying in her bed, crying.  I made her a nest in our walk-in closet so she can get away from the kids and she’ll stay in there for six minutes or so, then she’ll run out and do a quick lap of the kitchen, banging her cone into everything she can find to run into, just to remind me how miserable she is, before going back to rest.

So yeah.

I’m tired.

And whiny.

And I’ve been complaining.

I’ve spent a lot of time this week being frustrated with Chloe.  Even the vet said she’s being dramatic!

But there have been bright moments.

Moments when I’ve been able to watch my kids with their dog, and see expressions of their compassionate hearts.

Like when we left Chloe home alone while we visited with friends at the spray park.  The poor dog was beside herself – “You’re leaving me?   Alone?  In my state?” – and Topher was worried about her.  He told me he wanted to give Chloe one of his babies to snuggle with.  I tried to discourage the idea – everyone knows how attached he is to his babies, and Chloe has a tendency to shred things! – but he said something that stopped me in my tracks.  “I love my babies,” he said.  “But I love Chloe more.”  And he put Boo down beside her.

Yesterday Chloe was lying on her blankets in the living room and Ellie laid down right beside her.  Ellie loves Chloe – she’s always chasing her around the house, yelling “GOG!”, trying to feed her a piece of kibble or shoving a ball in her face.  But yesterday, she didn’t touch Chloe.  She just laid there, letting Chloe know she was there.

Every time I try to convince Chloe to eat so she can have her medicine, Topher stands right beside me, scolding Chloe.  “You have to eat or you’ll die,” he tells her.  “And you’re not allowed to ever die because I love you!”

I’ve always believed it, but in my tired state, I think I forgot:

Pets are part of the family, too.  

Life Lessons From a Four-Year-Old

www.lindsayhoodphotography.com

Topher used to think he knew everything.  “Me and God and Jesus?  We know everything!” he would say.

Nathan and I would shake our heads and laugh, thinking that all too soon he would realize just how big the world really is and just how little he really knows.

This summer he started to learn how to read.  At, Bat, Cat, Hat, Sat, Pat, Am, Sam, Bam, and Ham are his current achievements – but all of a sudden it was as if the floodgates had been opened, and the questions are never ending.

“But I thought you already know everything!” I tease him.

“Well, not everything, Mommy!” he says seriously.  “Just almost everything.”

When I get exasperated with the constant barrage of questions, he looks up at me with his big blue eyes and says – usually with that adorably quivering lip – “But Mommy, I just want to know as much as you do!”

So I apologize, and I answer his 479th question of the day.

I’m pretty confident that I know more than my four-year-old, but some days I can’t get over all of the things that he has taught me.

* * *

There is beauty in everything if you just look for it.  Topher could probably spend hours lying on his stomach on the front step watching the ants scurry back and forth. “They’re beautiful, Mommy!” he says. It’s not how I would typically describe an ant, but Topher is completely convinced.

Take time to smell the flowers.  Literally.  Every single time we go to the grocery store, Topher asks if he can sniff the flowers.  It doesn’t matter how much of a hurry we’re in or where we’re going after the grocery store – he wants to sniff every single plant and boquet at least once before leaving the store.

Dance like no one is watching.  Topher and I regularly have dance parties in the safety of our own home. He also loves to dance at church – me? Not so much. Yesterday Topher was rocking out while Nathan and the rest of the band were practicing. I was sitting in my chair, just watching, when he decided that I needed to join in too. He danced over to me, grabbed my hands, and said “Dance with me, Mommy! Please, come dance with me!” I tried to tell him “No, Mommy’s tired!” – but of course he wouldn’t take no for an answer.  I felt like a total goob, but who cares?  I’ll do just about anything to get one of Topher’s belly laughs!

Running gives you energy.   Topher has an endless supply of energy and whenever I ask him how he has so much when I’m completely exhausted, his answer is the same:  “Running gives you energy!”  Oddly enough, I’ve found that it’s true!  When I’m starting to fall asleep at my desk, if I get up and take the dog (or the Topher!) for a run, it’s amazing how much better – and how much more awake! – I feel.

Some things in life are scary, but friends make them doable anyway.   Topher was afraid to stay at day camp without me and nothing I said could convince him to stay, so I let him come home with me.  We were halfway there when I heard his little voice from the backseat:  “Tristan will probably miss me, won’t he, Mommy?”  “Probably,” I answered.  Silence.  Then “I don’t want my friend to be sad, Mommy.   Let’s go back!”

More than anything else, though, Topher has taught me about the heart of God, and how God loves me even more than I love Topher.

No matter how many questions I ask.      

Weekends Are For …

wedding

  • Beautiful country weddings
  • Catching up with friends
  • Planning Pinterest parties
  • Hot dates
  • Long walks with the dog
  • Testing new recipes
  • Tickle fights with Topher
  • Folding piles of laundry that tower over my head
  • Late bedtimes
  • Lots and lots of writing time!

What were you up to this weekend?  

Link Roundup

It’s time for another link roundup post!  I haven’t been reading as many blogs lately because I just don’t have the time – so this list will be short and sweet!

* I printed off this list of  17 Hard Things You Have to Do to Be a Great Leader (shared by Lesley Myrick) and taped it on the wall above the computer so I can look at it all the time.

*  Kathleen’s Houston Project has inspired me to start my own Edmonton Project!  I’ve lived in this city for nine years but only know my way around the west end (more or less) and the area within a two block radius of the office where I worked downtown.  There’s so much more to explore and experience!

*  Elise shared her thoughts on Time Spent Consuming vs Creating.

* I could really relate to this post: I Used to Be Fun by  Anna Quinlan.  I used to be fun loving, adventurous, heck – even spontaneous! – but adulthood, responsibility, and motherhood have made me forget that part of myself.   I want to remember.

* I applauded after I finished reading Kerri’s post on Being Almost Thirty.  “Thirty just feels like a big deal, in the best way possible—like a beginning and ending all rolled into one.”

* I loved The First Month of Gratitude by newlywed Hilary.  The pages of my journal were filled with anything but gratitude in the months following our wedding.  I had a hard time adjusting to life as a married woman.  I wish I had been as wise about the discipline of writing down the gratitudes.

* I also adored  What I’ve Learned After a Decade of Loving Him by Ashlee.  So many of my friends who have gotten married since Nathan and I did have already gotten divorced.  Loving the same person for a decade – or seven years, in our case! – is such a beautiful thing.

Recommend a post for me to read :)