Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ahhhhh, Christmas

Wow, how is it already the 22nd of December? This month has flown by.

In just 2 more sleeps (when you are the parent of small kids, you measure everything by number of sleeps!) my family will arrive for our Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve.  I'm so excited to be hosting this year. There will be 8 adults and 3 children and who knows how many dogs here on Saturday.

The groceries for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day brunch are bought, cookies are made (although most have mysteriously disappeared....) and most of the presents are wrapped.

I'm pretty much ready. And getting those excitement fueled butterflies. I'm so excited to see my kids enjoying and starting to understand the meaning behind our Christmas celebrations.

After we open the gifts that Santa has left on Christmas Day, we'll enjoy a leisurely brunch with my parents and then make our way to Ponoka where all of Chris' family will gather.

Everyone will be there this year- from Ottawa, Regina, Edmonton, Crossfield and Ponoka. We will all be together. Its going to be great!

I love Christmas.

What are your Christmas plans?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Questions

I read this on my friend Tasha's blog and thought it would be fun, so here goes:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper. I love wrapping!

2. Real tree or Artificial? We have both. I have a "fancy" tree in our formal living room that is artificial. Our family tree is real. I love the smell of a real tree even though the needles all over the house drive me nuts. Growing up we always had an artificial tree but my grandparents (on my dad's side) always had real so the smell reminds me of those wonderful Christmas memories at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually not until after my birthday on December 1. This year I did it a few days earlier because I knew we wouldn't have much weekend time this December.

4. When do you take the tree down?  Usually a couple of days after Christmas. I try to make it til New Year's but find that the Christmas clutter drives me insane. I love how clean and uncluttered my house seems when the trees and decorations are put away.

5. Do you like eggnog? I like it in coffee or in chai but on its own I'm not a big fan. The boys love it though.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Hmmm....that's a tough one. Probably my discman from my grandparents one year. It was what I really wanted.  That ages me....

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, It is beautiful and my parents bought me the pieces over a series of birthdays and Christmas'. It is a Willow Tree set. I don't have it up this year though. I usually put it on top of my piano but had a different idea for the piano this Christmas.
8. Hardest person to buy for? Chris or my dad

9. Easiest person to buy for? My boys

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Snail mail. I love receiving cards in the mail, so I definitely send them that way too. I love the personal tough of snail mail. I have a friend and her and I frequently mail things to each other. It always makes my day when I get something in the mail that isn't bills or junk mail!

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I honestly don't remember...

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Love Actually or the classic Rudolph claymation

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Super early. Throughout the year if I see something that I know someone would love. The bulk of my shopping is done between September and November. I watch fliers and shop sales. I make lists of ideas for people and keep my eyes out for those items. Crowds drive me crazy and I hate how rude people can get in the hustle and bustle of Christmas crowds.

14. Ever recycled a Christmas present? Maybe... ;)

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Chocolate covered cherries. Its a family tradition to have them around and they always remind me of my Grandpa.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I have white on my "fancy" tree- it is red, white and silver themed. Our family tree has multi-colored lights and homemade ornaments or those with meaning.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Josh Groban's Little Drummer Boy
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? It varies. This year we will be home for Christmas morning and then travel to Ponoka later in the day. Last year we spend 4 days in Radium with my family.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Nope. Not even going to try.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star on the fancy tree and angel on our family tree

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We usually celebrate Christmas with my family on Christmas Eve so there are gifts that are opened Christmas Eve, but the majority of gifts are on Christmas Day.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? CROWDS!

23. Favorite ornament, theme, or color? I don't have a favorite. I love my red/ white/ silver tree and I love our family tree with ornaments that the kids have made.

24. What do you want for Christmas this year? My family, safe, healthy and happy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kid Funnies

Sometimes my kids make me laugh so hard. Levi is at an age where everything is very literal to him. Luca is starting to get creative and use his imagination a bit.

Here are some recent conversations at our house:

  • Levi called me to come to the bathroom to wipe his bum (he's 3, I still do this task for him). When I got there, the light was off.

Me: "Levi, did you poop in the dark?"
Levi: (said incredulously) "No, I pooped in the toilet!"

  • We were discussing going to the dentist with Luca (he had a chipped molar). Luca said his friend told him that it was scary. I assured him that our dentist, whose name is Dr. Alberta was very gentle.  After thinking for a moment, Luca decided then that his friend must see a different dentist and wanted to know if his dentist was named Dr. Canada.  LOL!
(side note: Luca went to the dentist yesterday and was a total rock star! The dentist was so gentle he doesn't even know he got a needle for freezing! He didn't even flinch. As a reward, the dentist handed him $5 after his tooth was fixed!  She just laughed when I asked why she never pays me to come....)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Update on Ava

Just a quick update that little Ava was released from the hospital yesterday and is home resting! The doctors were very happy with how her body responded to the medication and surgery.

Thanks for all your prayers and thoughts. Please continue to keep them in your hearts as she is not completely healed from the infection just yet.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers

  • I have been so behind in blogging lately but its in part due to the 3 babies that made their entrance in 10 days! It was a busy week and a half and each birth was very different, but each welcomed a beautiful, healthy baby girl! I had manily boys born this summer so it was nice to see some girls!  So, apart from actually attending the births, I had photos to edit, birth notes to type up and home visits to do. There's lots of time put in to doing stuff after the baby is born as well. My job doesn't end when the baby is born.

  • I've also (as usual) taken on (perhaps too many) gifts that I am making. I love to make gifts for people that I have put lots of thought, time and effort into. I think they are so special. But without fail, at this time in December each year, I find myself rushing trying to finish everything. Last night I finished the 2 that I was most concerned about because part of the gift requires factoring in shipping time to arrive before Christmas. Now I have some smaller gifts to make, but they aren't too time consuming, I just need to sit down and do them. Then I get to wrap- one of my favorite parts!

  • We're having Christmas eve with my family here this year. We'll have dinner and gifts and if it is nice, maybe go tobogganing on the hill right behind our house. In Crossfield on Christmas eve, Santa is driven around by members of the fire department and he visits each house and gives the kids a candy cane. The boys think it is great! (Until they get older and begin to wonder why Santa's not out delivering toys!). My mom and dad are staying the night and will have Christmas morning with us and after brunch, we will head to Ponoka to spend a few days with Chris' family.

  • I am totally addicted to pinterest. I avoided it for quite a while after I had friends tell me about it but then one day decided to check it out. I haven't stopped since. There are so many fabulous ideas on there! I've made some recipes from there and for the most part they are winners. Its nice to get ideas from somewhere without having to sit and actually search them out. Especially if you don't know what you are looking for!

  • My 30th birthday was last week. On the weekend I celebrated with friends and my sisters. We went for manicures and pedicures, lunch then shopping. The plan was to go into Calgary to go to the dueling piano bar, but we were hit with a winter storm that made the roads a bit tricky. We opted not to chance the trip and to just stay at the mall instead. We shopped more and then had supper and drinks. It was a really nice day with some of my favorite people.  My sisters also gave me a cool gift- actually, 30 gifts. They were all homemade (which as you know, I love) and many ideas from pinterest (haha). They also each wrote me a letter that had "30 things I love about my sister". I think that was my favorite part. Totally made me teary and I will treasure it. It was a very sweet idea and obviously took lots of time and thought. I have some pretty cool sisters.

  • We have an Elf on the Shelf and we are loving it. I know there are some people that think its a ridiculous idea, but our family thinks it is cute and fun. I'm excited about the new tradition that we have started. The idea is that Santa sends an elf to be his helper. Once you name your elf, he has magical powers (Luca named our elf Happy). Happy watches over our family all day and then when everyone is sleeping, he flies back to the North Pole and reports to Santa. Then he returns in a different spot each morning. Our boys love to seek him out- its a little treasure hunt each day.  Some people make him get into all sorts of mischeif each day and I can see how that would get old (for the parents that have to set it up each night) but so far, the boys have been excited to just find out where he is each day. I will do some more exciting and a few mischevious things, but mostly he's just hanging out in various places of our house. Here he is on the first day he arrived, riding one of my decoration reindeer on top of the piano:

  •  Lastly, if you pray, please keep my cousin's 2 year old daughter Ava in your prayers. I don't have a lot of detail, but this week she was admitted to the stollery Children's Hospital with an infection that went into her bloodstream and wasn't responding to antibiotics. She was placed in isolation and they were treating her for a "superbug". Last I heard, she was going to be having surgery (last night, I think) where they would try to drain the area that the infection started (I believe. I could be wrong on this). If you don't pray, please keep them in your thoughts and send positive thoughts their way. My cousin and his wife also have a 3 year old son and are expecting another baby in the Spring. So, please send prayers and thoughts for the entire family as this is obviously a very tough time for them all.  For more information and updates, feel free to head over to my Aunt's (Ava's grandmother) blog where she is posting as she is able.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

I mentioned in a post a while ago that the boys and I were doing show boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We did them at the end of November, but I just haven't gotten around to posting about it.

We watched the Veggie Tales video, talked about kids that don't have lots of toys or clothes or snacks, etc (vocabulary they can understand- snacks are a big deal around here!). Then we went shopping. Luca "got it" and really put some thought into what a boy his age in another country might like to have. Levi had to be reminded often that we weren't shopping for him, that we were choosing things to send away on an airplane to another 3 year old boy.  There were a few minor tantrums when he was reminded that what we were buying would not be his to play with when we got home.

The boys were very excited when it came time to pack the shoeboxes though. Luca really liked the challenge of trying to fit everything in the box- like a puzzle. Levi shoved everything in haphazardly and then was frustrated that the lid wouldn't close. LOL.

We included photos of the boys and of our family as well as a short note to the recipient of the box. The boys were excited that they could send a picture of themselves to children they had never met.

I sincerely hope that as Christmas Day gets closer and the boys will undoubtedly get more stuff than they need or could wish for, that we can keep thoughts and wishes for families that are not as fortunate as us.

I saw this on someone's facebook status this week and it really rang true for me:

"I was complaining the other day about how much my grocery order was..then I least I can afford to complain about it."

Here are a few pictures of they boys packing their shoeboxes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A new decade

Today is the last day of my 20s. Tomorrow I will wake up and be 30.  I'm actually not freaked out about being 30 like some people get. (Although when I was a kid, 30 was OLD!)

I was, however, thinking about my 20s.  Looking back, it was a pretty amazing decade in my life: I got married, had 2 wonderful babies, started a career as a teacher, took a leap and started a new career as a doula, travelled to places I had only ever seen in photos, and have to date witnessed 22 babies (besides my own) come into this world.

30s- you've got some big shoes to fill. That's some pretty awesome stuff to follow.

Bring. It. On.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wild and Wacky Weather

Yesterday gave us some strange and, at times, scary weather.

We woke up to a lovely 11 degrees above zero and some winds from the West. This isn't uncommon since we live in an area that often gets chinooks blown in from the mountains.

But by noon, there were shingles flying, our trampoline dancing in the wind and our windows rattling.

  At about 1pm, the radio and tv were interrupted with an emergency broadcast due to the severe winds.  Calgary's downtown core was shut down to all pedestrian and vehicle traffic because windows were being blown out of high rises and debris was flying everywhere. Wind speeds in the downtown were recorded at 149km/hr- Category 1 Hurricane Force winds!

Trees were uprooted in Crossfield, store fronts ripped off, siding torn away and many shingle-less houses were left to then deal with the hail and then snow that came through later in the evening.

As far as we have been able to tell, our house is ok, with minimal or no damage to our shingles and siding. It was a scary afternoon though. If it had been a summer month, you can bet I would have been hiding out in the basement!

In this picture you can see the shingles of one of our neighbours' house being ripped off. They suffered quite a bit of damage, with the yard and field behind us being dotted with shingles from their house.
The tall house at the top of the picture is ours- no damage is visible. :)

 These houses are about a block down the street from us to the South.

When we arrived at school this morning, this was what we saw:
(notice that the photos from yesterday there was no snow- we got this snow overnight, before anyone had time to fix their roofs)

You can watch a news clip of some other damage around the Crossfield area here

Thankfully we didn't suffer any major damage and more importantly, we are all safe!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Playground for A new School

A dear friend is the principal of this school and they are trying to get money to build a playground on the property of this brand new school in Olds, Alberta. Please take a moment and vote for them to win the donation.

 P.S. For doing so, you get a coupon for Buy One Get One Joey's famous fish and chips! ;)

Please vote and share this with your friends!

Voting closes November 30th.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Musings

I have been neglecting my blog lately. For my readers (in the single digits, anyway!), I apologize. Life has gotten busy.

Last week I subbed in Luca's class for 3 days while his teacher was away with her husband at a conference.  I was there Monday- Wednesday. On Wednesday morning, Luca got up, came into my room and said "Is Mrs. Chicilo back yet or do you have to be my teacher again?"  Feelings a little hurt, I told him I would be there for one more day. His response? "Oh, okay. But she'll be back tomorrow? I miss Mrs. Chicilo."  At least I know he loves his teacher and is secure andcomfortable with her.  I am supposed to be going in tomorrow to be a volunteer mom so I'm curious to see how it will be from the other side of the desk.

I got a call this morning at about 6 that one of my mamas is in early labour. So, I'm sitting sipping a caramel macchiato and waiting for the call that she is in active labour. She is also a doula, so she'll know best when to call. I'm a little nervous "doula-ing" for a doula, but she chose me, so she must be confident in my abilities to comfort and guide her through labour.  She has chosen to have a  birth with midwives at a birth centre. This will be my first experience at an out of hospital birth, so I'm excited and nervous about the unknown. (For those of you that are queasy about not being in the hospital, don't worry, it is literally only a few blocks from the Foothills and the hospital is aware that there is a birth going on and will be prepared to send an ambulance if needed. And midwives are highly trained medical professionals that ONLY do this, so their experience and expertise are similar to that of an OB).

I am FINISHED Christmas shopping for everyone except Chris. NO idea what to get him and he's no help. His reply? "Nothing." What do I do with that??  Anyway, I start shopping in September, watch for sales and buy a few things at a time. Some things I have ordered, some I have gone and picked up from the store. I write a list and make sure that I have ideas for everyone before I go with their gift in mind.  I have 3 gifts that I am making- one is nearly done and the other two are a work in progress.  I'm excited to start wrapping, which is almost my favorite part! I do love trying to come up with thoughtful, unique and meaningful gifts for people though.  I try to stay away from gift cards because, while I really don't mind getting them, I feel like I've not put any thought into the gift I'm giving. I love to see people's reactions when the realize that I've thought about something just for them or listened and took note of something they've mentioned they want or need.  Christmas is about giving and I really do love to give! (Gift giving is one of my love languages. If you haven't read the book, you should! I have the children's one on my bedside table but haven't read it yet.)

Speaking of giving, the boys and I are going to be putting together shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  I remember doing this many years as a kid and I loved shopping for the items that other kids might like to get. Last Thursday at MOPS, we had a few ladies speak about their experiences actually going with Samaritan's Purse and handing the boxes out to children in need in Costa Rica. The photos they shared and the stories they told just made my heart ache for those families that have nothing compared to us. I want my children to know now, at a young age, that they are beyond lucky to be so comfortable. To have food whenever they want it. To have a roof over their heads, a warm bed and a flushing toilet. To have more toys than any little boys need.  I want them to put some thought into sending items to other children that would otherwise get nothing.

OCC has a Veggie Tales video geared for kids to explain the campaign and the need. I'll be showing it to my boys this week and then we'll be going to buy items for the boxes. I'll try to remember to take pictures of them with their items and boxes and post them!

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers

  • I had my CT Scan on Monday. It wasn't a terrible procedure but it was time consuming. I had to arrive 90 minutes before my appointment time to go through a questionairre, then drink 32 oz of fluid with a contrast dye solution. It didn't taste terrible but it wasn't great either. It sort of tasted like "puddle water"- water that tasted "earthy" or like it had dirt in it. Then I had to have an IV so that dye could be injected into my veins during the scan.  They warned me that the dye was warm and I might feel really hot when it was injected (I didn't) and that I would have the sensation of peeing myself because of the warmth. I totally got this feeling and it was terrible. I really did feel like I was peeing and had to check afterwards just to be sure that it was just the sensation of the dye! Other than that, the procedure was quick and uneventful. I layed in a donut looking machine and it whirred to life, took a few pictures and that was it.

  • My doctor called me on Tuesday with the results- everything looked just fine.  They couldn't see anything that might be causing me the pelvic pain or bowel disfunction. We did, however talk aboot the possibility of there being adhesions on my bowel, which can cause pain and affect function. This does not show up on a CT scan.  Basically, adhesions are bands of tissue that are formed after surgery, sort of like scar tissue. They are not as soft and flexible than "normal" tissue so can restrict movement of organs and can actually pull organs into the wrong position or cause them to twist a bit. So, depending on where the adhesions are, they can be causing my bowel to be a bit sluggish.  Since I have had abdominal surgery AND have had a large amount of blood pooled in my abdomen (from an emergency surgery in 2005), it is likely that adhesions have formed.  The unfortunate part about just guessing that this is the cause of my issues is that it can't be confirmed without a surgeon physically going in and checking, but this would lead to more adhesions from the new surgery. It sort of becomes a vicious circle- if they become very problematic, surgery can break them apart, but then new ones will probably form. So in the meantime, stool softeners have now become part of my daily diet in the hopes that it will make the job of my bowel a bit easier.  A long way to say that I don't have any conclusive answers.

  • Halloween is only a few days away and Luca is beside himself with excitement. They have been doing Halloween activities at school this week so he is definitely in the Halloween mood. He can't wait for Monday when he gets to dress up in his costume (Captain America) for school.

  • Speaking of Halloween activities, I had volunteered to go into Luca's class to help with pumpkin carving yesterday. At 5:45am, I got a call that one of my mama's was in labour. So, Chris got delegated to go to kindergarten. I think he was scared. But, duty called so I had to throw him to the wolves. It turns out that he actually had a good time with the kids- he just had Luca and Adelynn in his group- they estimated the size and weight of their pumpkin and then carved it together.  I think he actually quite enjoyed himself and Luca was pretty impressed that his dad got to be a helper that day.

  • Tomorrow is our annual town pumpkin hunt. They number pumpkins and hide them in the "forrest" behind our house. Each kid is assigned a number and has to search for their pumpkin. Once they have found it, we all head to the community hall and carve them. There are also other activities for the kids to do as well as a treat bag for each child. Its a fun, community wide family activity. And we'll have Donny with us to take part. The boys are so excited to have their cousin stay wtih us for the weekend and come to the pumpkin hunt.

  • The weather is definitely starting to feel like fall. Touques and mitts are required for walking to and from school as the wind is quite chilly. But, when we are able, which is most days, we are walking the 5 or 6 blocks to and from school. Before we know it, winter will be here and walking won't be so much fun- especially when its the mom that HATES the cold and snow!

  • The boys are registered for a gymnastics class starting November 15th for 8 weeks. We have a small gymnastics studio here in town and it is a good opportunity to get the boys involved in something while still supporting our town businesses.

  • Happy Halloween weekend! What are your kids dressing up as? Do you dress up?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers

  • I got a sweet surprise in the mail this week from my friend Tasha. Molasses candies! Everyone hated them growing up, except me. You know, those dark brown chewy candies that came in the orange wrapper with witches and stuff on them? Yummy! Except that I didn't ration them very well and the handful of candies that I got were gone far too quickly. I need to hunt some down!

  • I'm on call again now and am expecting 5 babies that are due between now and the end of November! Its going to be a busy month! But I'm thrilled to be so busy!

  • I saw my regular doctor about all my tummy issues last week. She is concerned and wanted me to go for an urgent CT Scan. She said she would like to have me in within the week. Imagine my surprise when I got a phone call saying my "urgent" scan was booked...for November 18th! I was mildly annoyed, to say the least. But then this morning, I got a call saying that they have had a cancellation for this Monday and I could have that spot. So, yay! I get my scan in just a few days rather than a few weeks! Hopefully this will provide some answers to the pain that I've been having. Let's just hope it doesn't involve surgery- I don't have time for surgery right now with all my babies coming!

  • We had a bit of snow mixed with rain yesterday evening. Ugh. Nothing that stuck around- it melted as soon as it hit the ground but it was a miserable reminder that winter is just around the corner. Today the sky is low and grey. It looks like snow is just hovering, ready to fall. Blah.

  • I'm an early Christmas shopper. I usually start in September. I am nearly finished shopping for the boys except for some stocking stuffers. I've got a few other gifts either in mind or started on if not ready to be wrapped for other people on my list. I love not having to rush around in December trying to navigate the crowds of grumpy people!  I haven't got any ideas for my dear husband, though..... why are men so hard to buy for?

  • Part of the kindergarten program here is to do Home Reading. Each day Luca comes home with a beginner book that is mainly sight words and has a predictable pattern to them. He loves to read them and Levi has started reading them as well. He is so eager to be just like his big brother. We may have 2 boys learning to read at the same time!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Food for Thought

It seems like lately my blog has been more on the "serious" side- sort of my outlet for getting my thoughts on parenting issues out. I guess its reflective of what has been going on in my head recently.

I read this wonderful post on my friend Tasha's blog this morning and I thought it was great food for thought to start my day.

All too often I find myself reacting too quickly out of anger or frustration. And its true- my mood and attitude reflects what happens in our house on any given day. If I'm crabby- my reactions will be more severe. If I'm feeling rested, calm and patient, my reactions will reflect that.

I've been trying to make an effort to take a few deep breaths or count to 10 before responding- to allow myself to calm down a bit before I respond to something in anger.

I also recently heard about the 10-10-10 rule (I think that is what it is). Ask yourself: Will this matter in 10 minutes? 10 months? 10 years? And react accordingly.

No one is perfect and especially no parent is perfect. There is no perfect way to do things. We all make mistakes and will regret the way that we've handled a situation.

I saw this the other day and thought it was a good reminder, and I think, appropriate for this (and Tasha's ) post.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hanging on to Innocence

I've had a few conversations lately about sheltering kids from things and I'm beginning to think that Chris and I are on the far end of the spectrum- keeping our kids very sheltered.

I don't remember Chris and I ever sitting down and outlining the things we thought would be ok to expose our kids to, but we're definitely on the same page and have the same ideas.

Luca is only 5 and Levi 3. To me, that's still so young. Their minds are very impressionable and their reasoning skills are not fully developed- meaning they can't always distinguish reality from fiction or situationally appropriate comments from those that are socially unacceptable. (I'm sure all of us parents have had the mortifying experience of our child asking all too loudly why someone is fat, or a different color or strange looking).

Chris and I have always been careful about our conversations in front of the kids. There are some things that children just don't need to hear- we don't want to color their views on someone or a situation just because they have heard one of us express our opinion.  On a few occasions, when having a conversation with someone, I've been surprised at how uncensored they are when their children are listening.  I just feel that some conversations are for adult ears only (and I mean just some topics in general). We never know what our kids are hearing and internalizing and thinking about.

And actually, I experienced the effects of this first hand one day last Spring. We live in a small town- everyone knows everyone. I substitute teach in the school here. I overheard one child talking to a friend (another child) about me, but it was obvious that what was said came from the parent- probably overheard while the parent was speaking to another adult. I just don't think that this is appropriate. I would be so upset if the situation had been reversed and my child repeated gossip that was overheard.

Chris and I are also pretty strict about what our kids watch.  We're "those" parents that don't let our kids watch much. Just this past weekend, we allowed the boys to watch Spiderman (the live action one with Tobey Maguire). Luca loved it, Levi was interested on and off. I think that Luca is at the age where he can watch things like that and be able to seperate what is happening as fiction. Levi is still a bit young and his interest only holds during the exciting parts. He doesn't care much for the story.

Luca is desperate to watch Pirates of the Caribbean, especially after our trip to Disneyland. Chris and I go back and forth on whether we are ready for him to watch it. There are some scary parts and I worry that he will have nightmares. I also worry a bit about the content. I do know that even when we allow him to watch the first one, that the next 3 won't be on our list for a while. The content, scenes and language get a bit more mature with each film. Pirates is one that he will have to watch with us after Levi is in bed because I am fairly certain that it is not appropriate for Levi.

We have cable tv, but not in a central location. Our tv is not on for long periods of time. The boys have dvds that they are allowed to watch but they don't often get to watch tv programming except for when we turn it on for them for short periods of time.  And because the option for cable tv isn't where we spend the majority of our time, its not a temptation to always have it on.

Luca loves to play on the computer. About 6 months ago, I introduced him to the computer after subbing in kindergarten. It was nearly the end of the school year and the students still needed so much guidance to log on and get to the program that I thought I would start showing Luca now so he was one less child to need to help once he got to school. Well, let me tell you- that kid is almost better at the computer than I am! 

Computers (and technology as a whole) are a big part of life now and will just become more prominent as Luca grows. Using a computer will just be second nature to him. We do allow him to use the computer on a daily basis but Chris has set up our computer so Luca has his own profile that he logs on to and we have chosen the sites that he has access to. He has quick links to the appropriate sites that have Disney games or learning games.  He's thrilled. He has about 5 different links that he can choose and that's more than enough for him.

I truly don't think that our children feel deprived by what we are limiting.  My boys are only going to be little and innocent for such a short amount of time. I want to keep them that way while it is still possible. It won't be long before they are being influenced by many things beyond what Chris and I can control.

Every family has their own ways of doing things and their own thoughts on what is appropriate for their own children. I'm not criticizing or judging anyone else's decisions. You have to do what works best for your family. I'm just starting to feel that Chris and I are on the very protective side of the spectrum and am wondering where everyone else falls.

What are your thoughts on conversations/ tv/ movies/ computer content that your kids are exposed to? Are you conscious of it? Was it a decision that you consciously made?  How do you decide what is appropriate?

I'm really curious to hear your thoughts on this.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A good reminder

Ghastly Gluten?

As I mentioned in this post,  I've been having some digestive/ tummy issues and it was suggested that I try to go wheat free.

I managed to stick to it for a week but finding things that are wheat and gluten free is quite difficult, not to mention expensive. Supper times were ok- we just got our carbs from potatoes and rice rather than wheat based foods. But breakfasts, lunches and snacks were tough. I was getting so frustrated and feeling pretty bad for myself- I wanted toast, or cereal or a sandwich but I couldn't. I did make some gluten free bread using rice flour but in all honesty, I didn't care for the taste and the $7 for 1kg of flour was awfully steep.

I began to wonder how I would make this lifestyle change work. To change the whole family's diet to wheat/ gluten free would be drastic, hard and expensive.  The boys love toast, cereal, sandwiches and pasta.  Yes, I can buy these things that would fit into the diet change, but our grocery bill would increase exponentially for less variety of foods.

Then came the other issues I was having and it all became too much. I decided to go back to my "usual" diet while I was waiting for the bowel blockage to get under control.  So, while I was on a couple times daily cocktail of medication to offer relief from the pain and blockage, I allowed myself to eat as I normally would. I realized that I didn't actually consume wheat products that often, but denying myself them just made me want it more and its all I thought about.

Sure, I like to have a bagel or bun or crackers, but not as frequently as it felt when I was feeling left out of the carbohydrate party.

I don't believe that I have a wheat or gluten allergy or intollerance. After doing some research and reading, I think that I (like many other North Americans and Europeans) simply consume too much.

I found this article that was written in plain terms and explained the effects of a diet high in gluten and wheat on our bodies, moods and energy levels.

Here are a few of the main points: (ok, actually I included most of the article because it is all good).

Even if you aren’t diagnosed with celiac’s disease, it’s a good idea to cut down on your gluten intake. I diet high in gluten causes weight gain, digestive issues, as well as many other disorders including nutrient deficiencies.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a gooey protein found in the seeds or grains of wheat, barley, oats, rye, and other grains. It’s estimated that nearly 50 percent of the population is gluten sensitive, and close to 70 percent carries a gene that makes a person vulnerable to developing gluten sensitivity.

Those with gluten sensitivity issues complain of abdominal and bowel problems, fatigue, depression, muscle pain, joint aches, and many other unexplained symptoms. Those with more severe cases can suffer from Celiac’s disease, and gluten has also been linked behavioral and mental disorders.

Gliadin, a glycoprotein found in gluten, could attack the small intestine and cause some serious damage to the villi that absorb nutrients.

This causes an inability to take in vitamins and minerals, and often autoimmune disorders results from lack of nutrients. Celiac’s disease and other forms of gluten intolerance cause headaches, migraines, frequent illness, skin rashes, and bowel symptoms.

Why Shouldn’t We Eat Too Much Gluten?

For millions of years, humans dined on wild game, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds. It wasn’t until the Neolithic period that we began cultivating wheat.

That might seem like eons ago, but it terms of evolution its only a blink of an eye. If you count for the amount of time that our food sources have been pumped with gluten-rich wheat, well it’s even less than a blink.

Our guts did not evolve as fast as our love for wheat-based products and they simply cannot digest and break down gluten into individual amino acids.

It’s estimated that 30 to 50 percent of the US population has a gluten sensitivity. However, if you aren’t diagnosed with gluten intolerance, this doesn’t mean you should grab the nearest box of crackers and chow down.

In the past 3 decades, the number of people with celiac’s disease has quadrupled and environmental toxins as well as our food supply only increase the risk of developing gluten intolerances.

Can Gluten Make Me Gain Weight?

Many people are “addicted” to processed carbohydrates. They flood their systems with high-gluten foods such as donuts, bagels, cookies, cakes, fruit juices, and other high sugar foods that leave them wanting more after their sugar crash.

Gluten results in the production of a substance known as “gluten exorphins”, which works in the body much like a narcotic. The effects of the gluten exorphin on your brain tell you to keep eating high-gluten products, which can contribute to appetite disturbances.

This unexplained craving for gluten-rich foods causes eating to spiral out of control. Many people continue catering to these cravings while treating underlying symptoms caused by gluten intolerances. But they never actually understand the reason for cravings and symptoms. In turn, they end of suffering for years.

The end result is often excessive weight gain along with a host of digestive issues.

Is Going Gluten-Free the Answer?

Switching to a gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily the cure. The market is flooded with “gluten-free” snacks and products that are no better for you than a plain box of cookies. If you aren’t diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, then it isn’t necessary to give up all forms of gluten in your diet.

The key to improving your health is to eat a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables, and nourishing whole foods.

Gluten-Free Products

Your grocer shelves are flooded with gluten-free products, and some function as great alternatives to grain-based products. Just remember that it is still processed food.

Eating gluten-free waffles, cookies, and other packaged snack doesn’t make it any healthier. So choose wisely when it comes to reducing gluten in your diet. Gluten-free breads are a great alternative, but try to stay out of the snack isle.

If you are concerned about gluten sensitivity, consult with your doctor prior to changing your diet and lifestyle.

****The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only.

So, while I do at times display some of the symptoms, I don't believe that they are severe enough to warrant a diagnosis of a sensitivity or allergy. I believe that the solution is moderation.

That is generally my theory on food in general- everything in moderation. I already know this about myself- If I deny myself a specific food, its all I think about and crave. Chocolate, sweets, wheat. It doesn't matter. If I can't have it, I want it that much more.

As a whole, I think I do a fairly good job of feeding my family well. We try to eat balanced meals and choose fruits and veggies and healthy snacks for most of our snacks- with one "sugary" snack allowed per day (fruit snacks, etc). I don't deny myself the licorice or candies that I love, I try to eat just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth and then walk away.

Of course I binge on certain foods sometimes, at certain times of the day or month. We all do. I will be guilty of carb overloading in the future, just as I have in the past.

However, I feel that too many people jump on bandwagons without fully grasping the reasons for and side effects of that decision. I think that my week without wheat allowed my digestive system some time to "detox" from the excess gluten and now I can eat it in small quantities, making sure that I am aware of the amount I am consuming.

I'm not a doctor or even a medical professional. I am simply writing this from my own perspective as it relates to the day to day lives of my family and myself.

Going gluten free is not something that I am eager to do and will avoid unless it becomes necessary. I do believe that way too many foods that we consume have additives (including added gluten) that are only necessary to increase the shelf life of those foods- not for nutritional value and can actually be detrimental to our health in large quantities over time.
After a few weeks of feeling really rotten for various reasons (which all seem to be connected to my bowel), I'm feeling pretty good. And eating a diet that includes wheat.

Its all about choices and making decisions that work for you.


Friday, October 07, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers

  • My wonderful, dear friend Tasha and her lovely family are coming for the weekend. I get to watch their girls tonight while they go to the wedding of a friend and then tomorrow will be filled with visiting, laughing, playing and eating a turkey dinner.  I've been looking forward to this weekend for weeks and am so excited it is here!

  • In honor of the Tompkins family visiting, I finally got around to cleaning my house!  I just needed some motivation! I do love a clean house, I just don't like cleaning it!

  • Remember my bout with food poisining in Edmonton? Ya, well......  Tuesday afternoon I started getting pretty bad pains in the lower right area of my abdomen. By supper time it was pretty bad, so Chris took me to the hospital (the walk in clinic was only open for another hour and it wasn't likely we'd be seen and have to go to Didsbury to the hospital anyway). By the time we got there, I was in tears and when the doctor examined me and pressed on my stomach I wanted to punch him in the face. Right away the nurse started an IV and gave me morphine for the pain. (Side note: I really don't get how people can be addicted to that stuff and like how it makes them feel- I felt horrible! So sleepy and out of it and just blah.)  They also did bloodwork right away.  Then they sent me for an x-ray. My bloodwork showed that my white blood cell count was not elevated at all, which means I wasn't fighting an infection, so it probably wasn't my appendix like we all thought. The x-ray showed that I had a blockage in my bowel. Yep, that's right. Super embarrassing to go to the hospital thinking your appendix is raging when I'm really just full of crap. Literally.  Anyhoo.... the doc figures that I didn't have food poisoning but that I was in so much pain and sick from the issues with my bowel. On one hand, good news that it wasn't food poisoning from Olive Garden (which I love), bad news that it made me so ill and then in so much pain a few days later.  And before you ask- yes, I had been going to the bathroom, but clearly not enough. And no, I didn't/ don't feel all "backed up".  Sorry if this was TMI, but hey, I already wrote about how deathly ill I was on the weekend, so thought a followup was due. ;)

  • Funniest thing ever. Enough said.
Luca brought this home from school yesterday. I texted his teacher and asked if she laughed when she had to write that for him. She replied that she nearly died and then told him that his mom and dad were going to laugh so much when they read that. And, yes, we did.
  • I love the smell of bleach. Things just don't feel clean to me  unless they are "bleachy" clean. I tried using Norwex products but my bathrooms just didn't feel clean unless they were cleaned with a bleach product.   I do love Norwex for other things, just not bathrooms. And floors. I like to add a bit of bleach when I mop my floors. Someone stopped by my house today and said "it smells like a swimming pool in here". I love that smell!

  • Speaking of cleaning bathrooms, why is it that boys can pee just about anywhere BUT the toilet bowl??  I'd have been happy if my boys never learned to pee standing up, but they did and now our bathrooms perpetually smell like pee. Unless they smell like bleach.

  • Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


I love harvest time. The colors, the smells, the gold/ brown/ orange themed...everything. Its so beautiful.  It does remind me that winter is just around the corner after an all too short summer, but I try to just enjoy the beauty of this short season in Alberta.

I love the colors of the leaves as they change from healthy green to vibrant reds and oranges. Levi said to me just this morning when he was looking out our window "Mom, the bushes started growing red leaves now!"

We live on the edge of our little town (for now, until it is developed) and this has been our view for the past few weeks:

The boys love to watch the swather, combine and baler out in the field, each taking its turn to do its job.  I love the stripes of the crop drying and later the polka dots of bales waiting to be rounded up and hauled away.

I did my own little harvest a week ago. My humble little garden went from this:

To this:

To this:

My beets didn't fare so well- they were more bite size than anything but Chris and the boys still ate and enjoyed them (I'm not a fan). I got quite a few carrots and potatoes and an ample supply of onions. My tomatoes were slow to develop into anything other than small, hard green balls but I did get a few early and tasty ones (Chris and Luca tell me- I'm also not a fan of fresh tomatoes) and now have lost count at 25 that have ripened.

I think it is safe to say that this year's garden experiment was a success! Horray for raised beds and imported soil!

I know next year to plant less lettuce and spinach and more carrots and potatoes. I may try to find a spot for peas next year as well.

Do you garden? What do you like to grow?

Monday, October 03, 2011

Weekend at West Edmonton Mall

Chris took Friday off and we headed to Edmonton after Luca was done school at noon. The boys were so excited to stay in a "skyscraper" and go to the waterpark at West Ed.  We packed them a little lunch in their lunch boxes to eat on the drive up and after dropping Loki off at the kennel, we were off!

Levi managed to stay away until about Lacombe (almost an hour and a half). Luca watched a movie, made funny faces in a sticker book I bought for the trip and played with the little halloween toys I packed for the drive.  He asked if we were almost there about a hundred times- he was obviously excited!

When we got to Edmonton, we headed straight North for NAIT to meet our beautiful sister in law Carrie. She is an instructor at NAIT and had some coupons for us to use at West Ed.

Chris was excited to return to his alma mater and check out the new Instrumentation wing that has been built since he graduated. (Wow, very nice! I joked that had it been that nice when he was there, perhaps he would have spent more time at the school! But, we WERE newlyweds and both students at that time, so neither of us wanted to spend more time than we had to at school!)
Luca in Auntie Carrie's office at NAIT

After exploring the new area of NAIT and going to Carrie's office, we headed to our hotel on the edge of downtown with an incredible view of the river valley. We checked in and headed to the 27th floor. The boys were thrilled!  They were eager to go on the balcony but once out there, were a bit tentative and stayed away from the edge. For a while anyway! It didn't take long for "no fear Levi" to get as close to the edge as possible.

After exploring the hotel a bit, we headed out for some supper at Chris' and my favorite Edmonton restaurant- Tokyo Express. It is a bit strange that me, the no seafood eater, would love a sushi resturant but they have THE BEST teriyaki chicken and rice bowls there. Whenever we are in Edmonton, we stop there for a meal. Unfortunately, these restaurants are only in Edmonton, not Calgary and we rarely make it to Edmonton.

Anyway, Chris and I had chicken and rice bowls and we ordered a bento box of assorted things for the boys to share. They had veggies, tempura fried sweet potatoes, broccoli and shrimp, chicken dumplings, chicken and rice and a small bowl of fruit. They loved it! Luca gobbled up the tempura shrimp right away (seriously, that kid loves everything!) and the dumplings. He loved the sauces that came with it too. Levi was a bit more slow to try things, he mainly stuck to the chicken and rice.
This one is just funny. This is what happens when I ask little boys to pose for a picture.

A bit better but still goofy!

After supper we headed to West Ed to explore and show the boys where were were going to swim. They were fascinated with the size of the waterpark and all the slides!  We walked towards the "pirate ship" (an exact replica of the Santa Maria) and were excited to see that they were allowing people on board to check it out! I have never seen the public be able to go on before, it must be a new attractions they have allowed. So, for $1 each, we went on the ship. They boys thought it was great and Chris and I were curious to get an up close look at the ship that we are so used to seeing from a distance.

My dad tells me that my grandpa got to go on the ship when the mall opened 30 years ago and the ship was unveiled. Neat.

We had been telling the boys about the dragon that breathes fire at the IMAX in West Ed so we headed there to check it out. As luck would have it, it was not operating due to maintenance. Oh well, I think they would have been scared anyway. It'll give us something else to do next time we get to Edmonton.

Since the mall wasn't busy and we weren't in any rish to get back to the hotel, we decided to take the boys to see Galaxyland. We decided to let them go on a few rides in case we didn't make it back on Saturday.

After a few rides, it was back to the hotel to get ready for bed. The boys were thrilled to get to sleep in what was dubbed the "transformer bed" - a sofa bed. Luca thought that a couch that turned into a bed was pretty awesome! We had some awfully excited boys who didn't go to sleep til well after 10:30 that night!

After a short night's sleep, we got ready to head back to the mall to swim. We arrived just as the mall opened at 10 and went in where we met up with my sister Sarah and her boyfriend Mike.  We all got changed and hit the pool! The boys we into it right away and had a great time at the kids' park and the small pool. Luca loved the waves in the wave pool and he is getting so much braver in the water. This time last year he wouldn't go very deep and clung to one of us in any water. This time I had to remind him to stop and stay close to me. He also has no fear of putting his face and head under the water. Levi, however, was afraid of the waves and preferred to just splash around in the little pool.

Sarah and I took Luca on the tube ride, which he quickly stated that he was "not doing that again!". Levi on the other hand absolutely loved it and went on it numerous times in a row.

We spent about 3.5 hours at the water park before deciding to head out for some lunch.

We went to the Olive Garden and had a great lunch of soup, breadsticks and pasta.  After lunch, we decided to go back to the mall and get the boys wrist bands for Galaxyland.

They went on more rides and were so excited to get to do more! On Friday night we had just bought enough tickets for them to each do 2 rides. The wristbands allowed them unlimited rides.  They spent at least an hour in the play park and came out looking absolutely wiped! It had been a busy day!

Bumper Cars!

We headed back to the hotel with 2 very tired but happy boys.  When we got into the car, Auntie Sarah and Uncle Mike (who isn't yet an "official" uncle but we hope will be soon!) gave the boys police hats which they proudly wore and made wonderful siren sound effects while we were driving!

Sunday was full of plans to ride the LRT - the boys remembered the "electric train" from last summer when we went to Edmonton for Tom and Lisa's wedding- and go visit Uncle Shawn and Auntie Carrie.

Unfortunately, these plans were ruined when I awoke at about midnight in the worst pain I have ever experienced.  Soon after I started vomiting and didn't stop until about 7 am.  We are assuming that I had food poisoning as it came on so quickly and was so violently ill, but I hate to think that the source was the Olive Garden!

(Side note: I've been having stomach/ digestive issues for quite some time and it was suggested that I lay off wheat so I had been eating a wheat free diet for a week and then had breadstciks and a large bowl of pasta so I'm also wondering if it was my body staging a revolt against the wheat? I see my Nathropathic doctor again in a few weeks and will be discussing this with her.  I will be so sad if the answer is going to be to give up wheat permanently but I also don't want to risk going through that misery again either just to eat some bread and pasta!)

I have never had food poisoning and certainly don't want to relive that night ever again. By about 5:30am or so, I was crying that I would rather be in labour than the pain I was in. My stomach hurt so bad and the heaving was taking every ounce of energy I had. Every time I took a sip of water, up it came. It was absolutely horrendous.  At around 6:30am, Chris went in search of Gravol in the hopes that I could keep it down and get some rest.

I did manage to keep some down and had a bit of a sleep while Chris took the boys to ride the LRT. When they got back, he packed up and we got ready to go. We all loaded into the truck and Chris made a quick stop at Wal Mart to get me a pail and a pillow and the boys something to eat since we were heading home right at lunch time.  I took another Gravol and thankfully slept most of the way home, with just a few bouts of nausea on the way.

We got home and I headed straight to bed where I napped off and on all afteroon and evening. Finally around 6pm I was able to eat a few crackers and drink some tea. I went back to sleep and woke up this morning feeling better but like I had been run over by a truck. What an awful experience.

Even though our Sunday was cut a bit short, we still had a fantastic little get away in Edmonton. I hope it helped to make up for all the summer weekends that I was on call and we were unable to do much for travelling and get aways.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers

  • I have such respect for moms that work full time! I worked part time this week (and will be for the next week or 2) and I'm wiped! I'm only working from 9-11:30 Monday to Thursday mornings but its been so busy! My day starts at 6:45 when I get up, shower and get ready. Somewhere in there the boys get up and need to be fed and dressed. Then we fight to get out the door (why is it always a fight to put shoes and coats on?!?) where we drop Levi off at Dee's and I pick up Adelynn and Houston for school.  We get to school and wait for the bell to ring at 8:40 so they can go in, then I rush out to the colony and make it just before 9.  My morning working with the little boy is busy and goes by so quickly. Then at 11:30, I rush back to town to be at the school for 11:40 to pick the kids up. We drop off Adelynn and Houston and I pick up Levi and we head home for lunch (unless Dee has graciously already prepared lunch for the boys).  Try as I might in the afternoons, I don't get much done. Then evenings seem to be busy with client meetings, library board meetings, etc. I was really looking forward to having today off to catch up on laundry and housework, but here I sit, on the computer! ;)

  • The weather has been pretty great but this weekend is going to be our "clean up" weekend. I'm going to harvest my little garden, put flower pots away, yard furniture away, etc. Chris is going to winterize the trailer and take it to Ponoka to be stored for the winter.

  • Next weekend we are going on a little family holiday to Edmonton. We're going to stay in a hotel downtown (the boys are excited to stay in a "skyscraper"- we live in a small town where the tallest building is 3 floors! LOL) I managed to book us into a room on the 27th floor, so that will be fun for them. We're also going to go to West Ed and the Waterpark. The boys love swimming and have recently begun to love waterslides, so this is the motherlode!  Since we didn't get much camping or holidaying in this summer, this is going to be our little getaway. I've only got a few more weeks until I am on call again so we are definitely taking advantage of the free time!

  • Yesterday I thoroughly enjoyed a spontaneous, hour long phone call with a dear friend. We typically "talk" a few times a week via Blackberry Messenger and rarely talk on the phone. It was so nice to just chat, laugh and enjoy each other. I don't know why we don't have phone dates more often. I think we should.  Makes the fact that she is 3 hours away seem not so far.  I think we're going to try to Skype so the kids can see each other too!  What would we do without technology?!

  • Being in school/ dayhome means passing bugs from kid to kid. Levi woke up this morning with a horrible cough and he is MISERABLE.  I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later but it certainly doesn't make it any easier to deal with!  Surprisingly, so far Luca doesn't even have a sign of the sniffles.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday's Thoughts

  • Luca is loving school. He's always so excited to go, which is great! BUT, he comes home so tired and is a bear all afternoon!  I know that if we can make it through the afternoon, bedtime will be smooth sailing because he is so tired. That's the silver lining right there.

  • I subbed in Luca's class today. He was really excited leading up to today knowing I was going to be the teacher but then at school he barely paid any attention to me. He paid attention when it counted, but didn't seem to give a hoot if I was there or not. Even though my feelings were a bit hurt, I guess that means he's confident enough that he doesn't need to hang off me.

  • There are currently 25 children in Luca's class and 25 in the other kindergarten class. HOPEFULLY the classes will be split soon to make a 3rd class. All the parents are anxiously waiting to see if this will happen (it is dependant on funding for another part time teacher).  Let me tell you- after being the teacher in there today will all those kids and about 6 of whom are a handful, I think that if they don't split the classes Carla (Luca's teacher) will go insane by Thanksgiving!

  • Last Friday I got a random call from the school board. It was the lady in charge of the staffing for Teaching Assistants. They were in a bind and were wondering if I would be interested in working as an EA (Educational Assistant) on a temporary basis until a permanent EA could be found.  The reason I was asked  even though I am overqualified as a certified teacher, is that the job is on a Hutterite Colony and few people are willing to work out there. On my Sub form, I stated that I was happy to sub there and have in the past, so I was asked to take this support position for a little while. I'm working with an absolutely adorable little guy for two and a half hours a day, in the mornings. I'll be there for 2-3 weeks depending on how quickly a permanent aide can be found.  So far I am absolutely loving it. I'll write a post about how awesome the members of the colony are later.

  • Last weekend we headed out to Wilderness Village near Rocky Mountain House for our last camping weekend of the season. Friends of ours have a site out there and it is fantastic. They invited us out and we had a great time visiting, playing and even venturing into the outdoor pool!  The boys are already asking if we can go back in the summer. I'm sure that we will take advantage of their hospitality next year!

  • While we were out camping, Luca was tripped by Loki's leash and did a faceplant in the gravel resulting in some pretty awesome scrapes, scabs and bruises on his forehead. Of course, today would be "picture day" at school.....I'm fairly certain we will be getting retakes done on retake day!

This picture actually doesn't do it justice. The scabs are quite dark and there is more bruising than you can see in the picture. Ah, life with boys!
  • Last week I spoke at a prenatal class again with a fellow doula and friend of mine. We put quite a bit of effort into making our presentation very concise and covering a range of topics related to doula care, modern birthing choices and options for birth. I think it went very well. Last spring when we spoke at the same class (different participants), both Shannon and I benefited by getting clients from the class. I'm not expecting that to happen this time as there were only 4 couples there and 1 of the couples hired me months ago to be their doula! Oh well, I'm hoping we will be invited back to their next session. At the very least, I hope we gave those couples some very valuable information.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Some events remain clear in our minds no matter how many years have passed.

I can remember the events of 10 years ago like it was just yesterday.

I was 19 years old, in college.

On the Tuesday morning, I was driving to school in my Ford Probe, heading for a 9am Religious Studies class.  Just before I got out of my car, I heard on the radio that a plane had hit the World Trade Centre.  I remember thinking "wow, that's insane". But, thinking it was one of those strange, freak things, I got out of my car and walked to class.

I got to class and sat in my usual spot. My classmates started trickling in, everyone asking if we had heard about the plane that crashed into a building.  Soon it was 9:05, then 9:10, then 9:15.... we started wondering if our prof, Jack W. was coming to class. None of us knew at this point that a second plane had hit the second tower. This was before the time of Blackberries and iPhones, before news was at our fingertips 24/7.

After waiting the obligatory 20 minutes, we all started to trickle out. It would seem that our normally punctual Prof wasn't coming. Maybe he was sick and had forgotten to get someone to post a note on the door of the classroom.  (At our next class, on the Thursday, we found out that he was glued to his tv, like the rest of us were later that day).

Since I didn't have another class until later that afternoon, I headed back to my car and went back to my apartment.  I don't remember hearing anything on the radio on the short drive home but remember walking in the door of the apartment to find my roommate sitting on the sofa, glued to the tv.

She was supposed to be in class as well. When I asked what she was doing home, she just pointed at the tv. I came further into the apartment to better see the tv and saw what she was watching in horror. Footage of a second plane slamming into the second tower kept replaying on every station.

Neither of us went to class at all that day. We sat, transfixed in horror as we watched people jump from terrifying heights to their death, then sat, numb, when the towers collapsed.

While we couldn't quite grasp the enormity of how this one event would help to shape many aspects of the rest of our lives, we knew without a doubt that the world as we knew it had changed.  Before I was 20, my ignorant, safe, naive little world was split wide open and I truly became aware of the terror and horrendous nature of some people.

There was fear, disbelief, shock, grief...... 

Images from that day are still sharp as photographs in my mind.  Ten years later, I remember with an ache in my heart and sadness for all those that lost their lives, those that lost family members, and those that sacrificed their safety and time to search for survivors and later, bodies. 

While I am not an American, I do mourn and remember this pivotal day in history.

To our neighbours to the South- we remember with you.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers (on Saturday!)

  • Wednesday was not only Luca's first day of school, but our 9th wedding anniversary. My mom was here to watch Levi in the morning and she stayed so Chris and I could go out for supper. We went to The Keg for steak and the Marble Slab for dessert. Yum!  It was great to just get out together and enjoy conversation without being interrupted by kids.  I reflected a lot on the last 9 years and what makes our marriage work, but that's a whole other post for another day!
  • Thursday was the first day back at MOPS for the year and the boys were so excited to go. Luca won't usually get to go because he will be in school but he got to attend this week and enjoyed seeing his friends.
  • This week has been HOT! The high 20s / close to 30 degrees every day! We're really enjoying this extended summer weather. Here's to hoping it holds up for another week as we are heading out for one more camping trip next weekend.
  • I've got the itch to travel. Somewhere. Anywhere. I just want to experience somewhere new. We were really hoping to get away for a few days while I am not on call for babies but we couldn't make it work with our parents schedules to watch the boys for a few days.  Chris and I are going away in the Spring though to celebrate our 10th anniversary (a little early). Guess we'll probably have to wait until then to get away.

Friday, September 09, 2011


Luca had his much anticipated first day of kindergarten on Wednesday morning.  The school here does staggered entry for kindergarten, so on Wednesday only have of the class went until 10am (they normally will go til 11:30) and they did an orientation. 

We started our day with Luca excited to wear his new school clothes. Before I let him get dressed though, he needed to eat. I was sure that if he ate after getting dressed he would spill and then a major meltdown would ensue. (sometimes us moms have foresight!)

My mom arrived just in time to have breakfast of fried eggs and toast. She was coming to stay with Levi while I took Luca to his first day.  The boys were both so excited to see her so early in the morning and Luca was smiling from ear to ear when he told her that he was going to school that day.

We got dressed and began the short walk to school (about 6 blocks or so).  About half way to school, we stopped at Adelynn's house to walk with them as well. Luca and Adelynn posed for some first day of school photos and then we were off, full of excitement.

We arrived at the school and headed down to the classroom to "meet" the teacher. Of course, we already know her, so Luca just said a quick hello and then went off exploring.  After spending a few minutes exploring the classroom with our children, the parents then went next door to the library to have an informational meeting with the principal.  It didn't faze Luca in the least when I told him I was going to be leaving to go to the meeting. He was thrilled to have found some toys, costumes and familiar faces.

I thought I was totally prepared for him to go to school and was excited for him, so I was a bit surprised at the teary eyes and lump in my throat that appeared when we were exploring the classroom.  I AM excited for him, I think it was just the emotional aspect of my biggest baby growing up.

After the meeting, the parents snuck back into the classroom to see all the children sitting on the carpet listening to a story.  When the story was done, Luca was eager to show me the poem with his handprint on it that he made as well as his "I survived the first day of kindergarten" badge he was proudly wearing!

He was disappointed to find out that not only were we leaving but that he wouldn't be returning the next day.

As part of the staggered entry process, their first few days are spaced out. Luca was in group 'A', so his group went on Wednesday morning, with group 'B' going Thursday morning. On Monday, group 'A' will go again but this time until 11:30, and group 'B' on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, the entire class (both groups) will go and that is their "official" first day. From then on, he will go Monday to Thursday, every morning and alternating Friday mornings.

I've already been asked to sub in Luca's class on September 20th. I will try it once and see how it goes. I don't want it to be weird for either Luca or myself and I don't want to interfere in any way with his kindergarten experience.  So, we'll see how that goes....

For now, I'm wearing my "mom" hat and being equally excited and sad for this big milestone in our lives.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Smattering of Stuff

Ok, I know it has been over a month since I last posted but I've been super busy!

I changed the page on the calendar this morning and had to just stop for a moment. Wait, what? Its SEPTEMBER???

Summer flew by. For the most part we had great weather and enjoyed lots of time in the yard or at the splash park.  We had a pretty good routine of getting up, having breakfast and heading out to the back yard. They boys would play on the trampoline or in the sand box while I sat on the deck with a book and coffee. Sometimes we had friends over to play, sometimes we just enjoyed the day quietly, just the 3 of us.

When we went to the splash park, we usually met friends there. We would pack a lunch, take a blanket or sun tent and the boys would spend hours going between the splash park and the playground while the mommies visited and kept eyes on all the children.

We managed to get out camping for an extended weekend this August. The boys and I went out on Wednesday (Chris took the trailer out Tuesday to Red Lodge near Bowden).  Chris came out Wednesday after work for supper and helped get the kids to bed, then headed back home for the night and came out after work Thursday for the weekend. We had great weather and had a fun time camping.  Next summer I plan to take one of the summer months off so that we can enjoy camping without trying to plan around babies.  Babies can be so unpredictable sometimes... ;)

Sunny, lazy, fun days of summer.

Not every day was so lazy and laid back though. Between the first weekend in June and August 31, I attended 9 births and welcomed 10 babies to the world. Some were fast and went smoothly, others were long and had ups and downs of emotion and intervention.  In each one, Mommy and Baby were perfect and healthy and I left each experience humbled and honored to be a part of such an incredible event in each of those family's lives. 

I'm looking forward to a bit of a break for about 6 weeks (I'll still be meeting with clients and speaking at a prenatal class) and will be ready adn recharged for the 5 more births I have between the end of October and the beginning of December. I chose not to take any clients between now and the end of October so I could truly be present and enjoy this change in our lives. Next Wednesday, my big boy goes to his first day of kindergarten.

I have so many mixed feelings about what next week will bring. A milestone. In my mind, a HUGE milestone. It feels bigger than it did when he started preschool.  Kindergarten is the first step of "real" school. He will be attending in the public school in Crossfield with the bigger kids. This will be his school for the next 6 years.  Next Wednesday will be the first day of 13 years of school.

It seems like not long ago I was holding my first child in my arms for the very first time. Now I will be sending him off to school. He's 5. He's independent. He's strong willed at times. He's shy and cuddly. He's growing up. But he's still my baby.

On the other hand, I am ready for the routine that school brings. The early bed times, the schedule that we all can settle into. Spending mornings with Levi- just him and me. 

Luca's teacher is a friend of mine, she lives down the street and we have spent some time with her and her family this summer. She is kind and warm and I know that Luca will be comfortable in her classroom. I also know that she is a wonderful, careful and thoughtful teacher. I know this because I have been her substitute teacher for 2 years now and have seen the inner workings of her classrooms.  I have no anxiety whatsoever about the person that Luca will be spending every morning with. That makes me happy.

Luca is so excited to start school. We have a new backpack, lunch kit, indoor shoes and clothes all purchased and ready.  School supplies have been ordered and delivered to the school (our school does a direct purchasing program- we just go online and choose the class our child is in, pay a very reasonable price and exactly what the teacher requested is then packaged and sent directly to the school and placed in the classroom labeled with the students' names.)

Levi and I start MOPS next Thursday.  Levi calls MOPS "his school". He loves going and feels so grown up, like his brother.  I'm looking forward to another year of getting to know some more moms, enjoying the guest speakers and activities MOPS provides and of course, the amazingly delicious snacks we get each week!

I'm planning to sub again this year when I can between births. Now that I'm getting busier wtih doula clients, it may become a bit more difficult to sub on a regular basis. We'll see what this year brings.

Next Wednesday, September 7th is not only Luca's first day of school, but is our 9th wedding anniversary.  I don't know if I'm just feeling nostalgic because I'm reflecting on how quickly Luca has gone from an infant to a school aged child, but I'm also reminiscing about our wedding day. That too, feels like it happened only yesterday. I guess the years go by quickly when you are busy with a young family and genuinely enjoy the company of your spouse.  I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful partner in life. Here's to 9 years and many, many more. I love you babe!