• I Started Doing Dishes*

    I’ve been trying something new this week.

    I have a confession: over the past few months, we sort of got in the habit of not doing our dishes after dinner. We’d put the food away and load the dishwasher, but inevitably we’d be tired or the kids would need us for something and we’d get pulled from the kitchen….

    …and then just not go back to do them until the next morning.

    I never loved it, but sometimes facing the messy kitchen at the end of an already long day was just not something either of us were terribly interested in. We chose to relax instead, and for a while it was what we needed.

    Lately though I haven’t loved waking up to a sink full of dishes. Now that I’m running and doing yoga in the morning, it just added one more thing to my to-do list.

    For the past week, I decided to actively focus on going to bed with a clean kitchen every night. It seems like such a basic thing, but our kids have an early-ish bed time so it’s sometimes hard to juggle everything–family activities, going for walks, bath, stories, etc in the short window between dinner and bed.

    …and by the time we actually herded them INTO bed we weren’t super motivated to go clean the kitchen.

    That being said, it has been reeeeeally nice to wake up to a sparkly kitchen. I’ve made a point of changing some of my habits to ensure most of the kitchen is clean right after dinner, then we go back and finish after the kids are in bed if need be. I don’t always want to do it, but I get it done and I forgot how much I enjoyed not having to think about it in the morning.

    So. Look at me being all adulty cleaning the kitchen when you’re actually supposed to.

    Miss S has also been on a cleaning spree.

    Her room has long been a point of contention between us as it’s typically a bit of a disaster. She usually likes it in a state of chaos where she can see EVERYTHING, and most of it is all over the floor. Despite my aversion to doing dinner dishes, I can’t stand when there are things all over the floor. It drives me bonkers.

    She and I have been working hard on some strategies to help keep her room a little tidier, and I have noticed a big improvement. It usually takes some prompting from M or I (read: nagging) but she is cleaning up more often.

    Today, she did it spontaneously WITHOUT BEING ASKED.

    I came upstairs and found her room like this and I wanted to weep tears of joy.

    Instead, I gently pulled her aside, wrapped my arms around her and told her how much I loved her. I told her this was the best gift I’ve received in a while and that it was such a big help to me. I gave her a big ol’ kiss on the cheek and she was absolutely beaming.

    So look at that. Miss S and I are both turning over new leaves this week.

    I like it.

  • No Nintendo Day*

    I woke up in an empty bed.

    M had gotten up some time before me, and had quietly gone downstairs. I stretched out luxuriously, and heard the kids doors open one by one. I waited for them to come into my room, but they went straight downstairs instead. Suddenly it was very quiet, and I was very alone.

    THIS NEVER HAPPENS.

    It was SO peaceful. I half dozed for a while, then I opened the blinds, got back into bed and read. Meggie is just about to go on holiday in The Thorn Birds, and if you’ve read the book then… YOU KNOW.

    I eventually went down and found the rest of my family together in the basement playing Nintendo. I squeezed in on the couch, and P immediately climbed on top for a snug. I sat and watched as M and the kids played Minecraft first, then switched over to some new Pokemon game he found. It was great fun in the beginning, but by the end all three had gotten mad about losing battles and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    I declared then and there that it was to be a No Nintendo Day.

    Usually the kids have their “Nintendo Time” before dinner. They have to tidy all the toys in the basement and living room before they can play or watch a show on the ipad, then I get a break to make dinner in peace. It’s so lovely.

    That being said, I’ve noticed lately that they have been starting to ask for Nintendo Time earlier and earlier each day. Miss S in particular was struggling to find things to do that weren’t on a screen, and that does not sit well with me.

    She was not impressed when I explained that our No Nintendo Day included ALL small screens–including the tablets. After an initial pout, she seemed to make peace with it and we actually had SUCH a good day. Knowing that screens weren’t even an option, they dug into their imaginations and played really well all day.

    Miss S decided to clean and organize her entire room on her own. Without fighting me. It was MAGICAL. She also spent time playing with her kinetic sand and dove into “Barbie World” for a long time. She and H got the Legos out tonight and spent over an hour building this elaborate stage tonight, complete with a band performing on it.

    H has started making his own perler bead creations. He takes an action figure to the table, and then uses that as a guide to help him work. His little super heroes are so cute!! Today he worked on Green Goblin and Batman, and he also made a sweet Green Lantern symbol. I’m not kidding–he spent HOURS beading today.

    P dumped out his dinosaurs and had some kind of Jurassic Park thing going on in the living room. There were a lot of dino sounds and screaming so it sounds like whoever it was didn’t make it.

    All three went outside to play without an argument, and despite some bickering off and on throughout the day, they actually played really well together. I loved the day so much I actually told them that tomorrow will be a No Nintendo Day too.

    (They weren’t as enthused about that as I was.)

    It felt so good to have to pry them away from Legos and action figures instead of screens tonight. After they all got in their jammies, I went into the boys room and found this:

    All three kids playing super hero action figures with their Dad. They were ALL in on the game, and it was the cutest thing to see them all playing together…

    …and not fighting. Really, that’s key.

    Having three kids isn’t always easy… but days like today make me feel like maybe we’re doing an okay job at this parent thing.

  • High Expectations*

    I am still REALLY overwhelmed by all the Septemberish talk, so we aren’t going to talk about that tonight. There’s a whole lot of NOPE happening there in my heart right now.

    So we’re going to talk about something exciting. We’re going to talk about PLANTS. Stay with me here.

    I was never a plant person until last year. I was never ever able to keep them alive–it’s actually a miracle my children are thriving given my plant record. I had some plants given to me last year, and I turned over a new leaf, if you will.

    (See what I did there? ha.)

    Long story short, I went from very disinterested in plants to loving them. They are my green babies and I have them all over my living room now.

    I also suddenly found myself curious about plants I find outside.

    Particularly the plants growing in my neighbours garden.

    I have a confession to make: sometimes I spy on my back neighbours. I mean I don’t actually “spy” on them… except that I kind of do. I live in a subdivision with smaller backyard lots that share a common fence. From my bedroom window, I can see into the backyards of the neighbours behind me, the neighbours next to me, and the neighbours behind them.

    I honestly don’t pay them all that much attention unless there’s a lot of noise or yelling happening, then I might take a peek and see what’s happening.

    On my word, I’ve become Rachel Lynde.

    Anyway.

    One beautiful day last summer, I happened to look out my back window and I noticed that my neighbours had some new plants. This was in the early days of my plant awakening, and I didn’t recognize what they were. They were sort of separate from their vegetable garden and were very different from anything I had seen before.

    I sat and looked for a minute, then I squinted and looked a little harder. I thought to myself, “that looks like weed!” I started giggling because I’m FIVE and googled marijuana plants to confirm.

    YUP. My neighbours were growing pot.

    And yes, I needed to Google because I’ve never seen one up close. Because I’ve never tried it!! (Or cigarettes. Or alcohol. I promise I’m not weird!)

    (Well, I promise that I’m not REALLY weird.)

    Over the summer I noticed how they lovingly cared for the plants, then harvested(?) the leaves and did whatever it is that comes next.

    I told you, the new me is seriously plant curious.

    It was actually really interesting to see the process as it was very foreign to me… and we had recently watched Justified which is now one of my ALL-TIME favourite shows. SO GOOD.

    I don’t think I had really paid any attention to my neighbour’s yard at all this year until a week or so ago. I was looking out the window at something on the street, then my eyes focused a little…

    …lemme just say, that garden is THRIVING this year. Pretty sure they have “high expectations” for their crop.

  • Looking for the Good Things*

    I am so completely overwhelmed right now.

    Our province announced their plan for school in September, and honestly it’s not at all what I was hoping for.

    Mostly because I don’t really even know what I was hoping for. There isn’t any one solution that will work for every family situation. Now that the plan is in place, we basically have two weeks to decide what to do. Trying to weigh out how I feel about this for my 8 years old vs. my 4 year old who is supposed to start JK this year all feels very heavy. Today was… a lot.

    So, I’m not going to think about it anymore tonight. I’m closed.

    Instead, I’m going to focus on all the good things that happened today. For example:

    I got to do yoga AND shower before P woke up. Which never, ever happens. It was a really good start to my day.

    There was no humidity today. It was SO beautiful out and for the first time in WEEKS it felt nice to be outside.

    I spent the morning at the beach with the kids. We walked down with our pails and buckets, and I got to sit on the sand and read while they built sandcastles and collected rocks.

    I had french fries for lunch. WIN.

    One of my favourite songs came on the radio as I was driving home from picking up said french fries.

    As I was trying to process all the news this afternoon, the kids all played quietly on their own without even being asked. For two hours, no one fought, they played independently and it just gave me a much needed minute to breathe.

    No one complained about dinner tonight, and EVERYONE ate it (including P).

    I had a really nice snuggle with P after dinner.

    And now, I’m sitting in my quiet (clean!) kitchen with a cup of hot chocolate. As overwhelming as all of this feels right now, I also know that somehow this will work out. We will find the solution that is best for our family and we’ll move forward.

    Just before I sat down to write I decided to listen to the song my mom sent me a few days ago. I loved it then, but as I’m currently wading through a new storm in my heart the lyrics of Slow Down took on new meaning today:

    “In the midst of my confusion,
    In the time of desperate need.
    When I am thinking not to clearly,
    A gentle voice does intercede. […]
    In the time of tribulation,
    When I’m feeling so unsure,
    When things are pressing in about me,
    Comes a gentle voice so still, so pure.
    Slow down, slow down. Be still.
    Be still and wait on the Spirit of the Lord.
    Slow down and hear His voice,
    And know that he is God.”

    I am definitely confused and feeling so unsure right now… but listening to this brought me a bit of peace. Somehow we will figure this out.

    Just not tonight.

  • Baby Mine*

    Every night around 7:30 or so, we start herding the kids upstairs for bed.

    It’s a bit of chaos as we cycle the kids through the bathroom for their “peep and teeth”, then get each one into their jammies. S & H can both do this independently now, they just require the usual 2348294 reminders to get it done in a sort of timely fashion. P basically needs someone by his side to keep him focused, otherwise he flits back and forth between playing with toys and doing anything possible to annoy his brother.

    Then it’s time for stories. They each choose their own book and M & I divide and conquer to read them. He’s usually the more popular choice, but tonight I got to read with both boys. H chose a Ninja Turtle story, and P wanted to read a book about the origins of Batman. It was definitely WAY too long so I may or may not have ended the book at a convenient point in the middle when he wasn’t watching closely. S chose a Star Trek graphic novel to read with M… I love that her interests are so varied.

    After stories it’s time for bed. The boys climb into their bunks while I go through the room routine: turn off the lights, close the curtains, turn on their noise machine and switch on their moon lamps. They both also have little lanterns in their bed that they sleep with… it just makes them feel safe.

    Then it’s time for songs.

    I have been singing the same songs to each boy for years. I’ve offered to change it up more than once, but we always end up back in the same place. First H snuggles under his covers and holds his hand out in his top bunk. I slip my hand through the rail and quietly sing You Are My Sunshine while he closes his eyes to listen. Only then is he ready to roll over and go to sleep.

    For P, it has always been Baby Mine… and I have to sing it twice. Usually he’s still bopping around the room or thrashing around in bed, but often once I start singing he quiets down, pulls my hand to his cheek and just smiles and listens.

    I have loved that song since childhood, and while I’ve sang it off and on to all my children over the years, it’s definitely P’s song.

    I have this vivid memory from last year, a few days after my miscarriage. I was still having a lot of trouble moving around after my tailbone injury, but I was so determined to be part of the bedtime routine. Everything felt so upside down and I was just desperate for a small piece of normal.

    On this particular night I eased myself down to the floor next to his toddler bed, and we read stories and turned off the light. In the darkness, he asked me to sing Baby Mine to him, as I had done every night before we lost the baby.

    I began to sing:

    Baby mine, don’t you cry
    Baby mine, dry your eyes
    Rest your head close to my heart
    Never to part, baby of mine
    .

    I barely made it through the first few words before I fell apart. I did my best to mask it, but little P knew something was wrong and just quietly wrapped his arms around me while I cried.

    I couldn’t sing that song for a while after that.

    Tonight, as he lay in his “big boy bed” on the bottom bunk, I held his hand and sang his song. Something about the way he held my hand to his cheek brought me back to that night. I felt a wave of emotion wash over me, and for a second it felt as fresh as it did that night last year.

    This time I kept singing and felt it ebb.

    I looked into the eyes of my not-so-little boy and just felt a quiet gratitude. I’m grateful that in the depth of that loss, I didn’t lose our song forever. I took that back. It’s not always easy, but even on the hard days I find there are always small moments to remind me:

    Life is good. ❤️

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