• A Small Bit of Closure*

    I’m going back to work on Monday.

    Part of me is nervous that physically, I’m not ready yet. I think I am. I hope I am. My iron levels and blood pressure are still really low, but I can finally move around and walk without pain. I can also be on my feet for decent chunks of time without feeling woozy, and I can almost move from sitting to standing in a fluid motion. I still need my special tailbone pillow, and it might be the fluid motion of an 80 year old with arthritis, but I can stand up without too much pain. That’s a win.

    The bigger part of me just really, really needs the normalcy of regular life and routine of our weekly chaos. It’s insanely busy and exhausting, but I love my job. I also love my hilarious, kind and often slightly inappropriate coworkers who keep me laughing on a daily basis. I also want to reassure my students that I’m not dying– my lovely friend who was in covering my classes for me told me that my students had hypothesized that I must have some type of terrible disease like Malaria to need to be away for so long.

    In preparation for going back, I finally did the thing I’ve been dreading and putting off for days: I put my maternity clothes away. They’ve been there staring at me from my open-concept closet and shelves for days, and I just couldn’t look at them anymore. So, while I waited for P to settle for his nap today (which, for the record, never happened) I started making piles on my bed. I usually love this chore–putting my maternity clothes away usually signals that I’ve lost my baby weight and I get to pull out and see the clothes I haven’t seen in months and months.

    Today I put them away not because I’ve lost the weight, but because I lost our baby.

    I slowly pulled out all my “regular” clothes I had just put away a few weeks ago. I’m sure that almost none of them will fit yet, but I don’t care. It’s better than staring at my shirts meant to cover a growing belly that I no longer have.

    While my heart was heavy packing them away, it helped somehow. Folding them all and tucking them carefully away in my tote provided me with a small sense of closure. I know that probably sounds silly, but the idea of packing those clothes away was like this small mountain I couldn’t bear to face before today. Now that it’s finally done I feel a little lighter. It’s good.

    So, I may have to wear the same two pairs of pants for a while, but it’s better than the alternative. Thankfully it’s almost skirt and dress weather so I’ll sort it out somehow.

    I promise I won’t talk about this forever… I feel a bit like I’ve been in hiding and I’m looking forward to inching back into the world a bit.

    And when I say inching, I promise I mean inching. My doctor and family have been (lovingly) watching me like a hawk, so if I can’t handle work (yet) physically, I won’t be an idiot about it.

    But I do want to try.

    So, that’s sort of where I’m at. I also ate three microwave s’mores today which helped with the clothing sadness immensely. It’s not going to help my old clothes fit any better, but in the words of Scarlett O’Hara:

    “I’ll think about that tomorrow. “

  • Sometimes, I Miss it*

    Do you remember what your life was like before Facebook?

    I can’t explain exactly why, but I’ve been thinking about this for almost a week and I can’t stop. I think my generation (or even more specifically, my age group) is kind of unique in that we’ve lived half our lives in one world (before social media), and the other half in another.

    Social media wasn’t really a “thing” until the tail end of my high school career, and I had already been married a year before a few friends told me I needed to join this new site called “Facebook”. Back then it was exclusively for college and university students, and you even needed an active post secondary school email to sign up. Even then it was really just a profile with your basic details and nothing more.

    Before that, it was MSN and ICQ. Myspace was around, but no one I knew ever really got into it. Everyone had a “page”, but the real social networks were the chat sites… where you would anxiously await the sound of the ICQ “Oh-oh” as someone logged in and sent you a message, or the ding of an MSN message coming through. It was nothing to have 10 chat windows open at once, shifting tabs back and forth like a pro as you had real time conversations with all your friends.

    Before that it was super cool to have a sweet Hotmail email address (or three) that you used to send emails back and forth. A few friends and I also had “anonymous” online journals where we would detail our hopes, dreams, crushes and heartaches.

    Somehow, it all felt so much more… interactive. In reality, with how social media is now, we are technically more “connected” to people than we ever have been before.

    …but at the same time it feels like it’s at an arm’s length. We are “connected”, but are we really “connecting”? Beyond a Facebook or Instagram “like”, are we actually interacting?

    I’ve pondered this before, but somehow it’s been rolling around in my head for a few days and I can’t stop thinking about it.

    I mean, do you remember what your life was like before social media? I know it was less convenient to get a hold of someone, but I also feel like the connections were more authentic. To know what was going on in someone’s life, you actually had to, you know, ask them about it. Have a conversation. Write an intentional letter. Make a connection.

    I don’t think I was less happy before Facebook, Instagram or any of the other social media networks out there, and I don’t think that I was lonelier either. If I’m being perfectly honest, I think social media can actually make people feel more lonely if they are constantly scrolling past happy pictures of friends or family together and they aren’t a part of it.

    I often wonder about the time I’d get back if I didn’t have social media– I find Facebook so addictive. I’ve been quite open about my struggles there, and lately I just keep asking myself why I’m even on it. It’s so mindless… I enjoy seeing the photos and updates, but it’s all littered between advertisements, youtube videos, articles and a host of other things.

    I just keep thinking back to the days of handwritten notes passed between friends (I still have a full binder from high school), long email updates to catch up with a friend, and spending hours on the phone reconnecting with someone you hadn’t heard from in a while.

    Mostly, the idea of letting go of the fear that I’m “missing” something if I haven’t checked Facebook in a while just sounds so appealing. I know it has made finding friends and connecting with people so much easier than ever before… but I also feel like it’s changed the way we interact with people.

    Sometimes I dream about just shutting it all down and going dark. I have a few friends who don’t use any social media and they seem really happy with their choice. I find it interesting. Intriguing. I don’t know if I could ever walk away completely–it has been very helpful for me at times–but I think about it sometimes.

    Anyway. These are my big thoughts for tonight.

  • I didn’t write last night.

    For the first time since September 2nd, I didn’t write.

    It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, it was on my list of things to do and I’d even thought out what I was going to say. I was going to tell you all about what a lovely day I had at work… I went to a school that I haven’t been to in years, where I didn’t have many connections. I was sort of dreading it as I was nervous it would be another long day of feeling awkward in a department where I was the odd man out.

    …except that it wasn’t. Everyone I met was so lovely. SO lovely. It was one of the most fun departments I’ve been in in ages. The kids I taught were wonderful, the staff I met was friendly and welcoming and it was such a great day.

    But I still felt like I was catching up on missed sleep from two nights before. It’s such a whirlwind coming home after work with the kids. It’s a non-stop ride of picking them up, unpacking from school, getting snacks, getting them settled so that I can make dinner. It’s go go go go go until almost bedtime.

    We’ve also had a friend of ours coming almost every evening to work on the drywall in our basement, and another friend popped in right around 5pm while I was getting dinner started. All of these things are good things.. this week just took the stuffing right out of me.

    By the time we got through dinner, it was almost 6:30. I called my mom as I hadn’t talked to her in several days, and I completely ignored the dishes and had a lovely 40 minute chat with her. After that it was time to clean up the toys, get jammies on the kids and get them to bed. It was some time after 8pm when we finally had them settled.

    After we leave the kids’ room, M and I will often go and collapse on our bed for 20 minutes or so and just… be. We talk about our day, read the news, sometimes watch a bit of a hockey game and generally just have a minute to breathe after the madness of the day.

    We are also close at hand to bring P back into bed for the many, may times he tries to escape and wander before finally falling asleep.

    I must still have been tired last night… I had been laying on the bed talking with M, then he went downstairs to do something. I remember thinking, “I’ll just lay here for 5 more minutes…”

    …and I woke up at 12:30.

    I shuffled to the bathroom, tried to take off some of my makeup, changed into my jammies and shuffled back into bed. I slept until 6:30am this morning and feel so much better.

    So, I didn’t write last night. I also didn’t do the dishes, tidy the living room, finish editing our Christmas letter or move the Elves. (Oops! Luckily H had had a big time-out last night and I explained they hadn’t moved because of that. Thankfully they bought it and have been on good behaviour all morning. haha) My body just shut down and I slept, and I think I needed it. I reached the point of exhaustion where eve my brain shut off and I didn’t think about any of the things I “needed” to do last night… I just slept.

    And it was glorious.

    Part of me hates that I broke my streak, but another part is immensely proud that I wrote 95 days in a row.

    The dishes got done this morning, I finished the letter, the Elves are still in place and I found time to write this morning. I’m still learning that sometimes you’ve just got to press pause and let it all go. The “stuff” can wait.

    Sleep is good.

  • I Just Can’t Even*

    My day began at 4:30am today.

    I heard P stirring on the monitor, and as he started crying I slipped out of bed and dashed down the hall to comfort him so he wouldn’t wake H & S. I was in with him for a few minutes, then I crept back down the hall and into bed.

    Of course, that’s when my head started spinning with all the many, many things I have on my to-do list this week and I couldn’t fall back asleep. After a half hour or so, I managed to quiet my mind and started to drift off..

    …just as I heard the door to the kids’ room click open. Thinking it might be P again, I rolled out and tip toed into the hallway. I found H creeping down the stairs. When I stopped him and asked him what he was doing, he said that he wanted to go play toys or the Nintendo DS. As it was only 5:20am, I kiboshed that idea and herded him back into bed. I knew he was still tired and would cry if I left, so I crawled into bed with him thinking he would fall back asleep in a few minutes.

    I was wrong.

    He squirmed and wiggled, sang the ABCs quietly, flipped and flopped and sighed great sighs. After an hour, I finally just told him to go down and play quietly and I trudged back to my own bed, hoping for 15 minutes of sleep before I had to begin the day.

    M took care of breakfast for me so that I could try and wake up a bit and shower, and then we traded off as he left for work and I started school prep for H & S. We have our morning routine down to a science, and there are really very few variations. They know the drills and usually play quietly until it’s time to go. Occasionally there is a squabble or two, but generally they are pretty good.

    And then today happened. Today was an abomination.

    S & H were bickering non-stop all. morning. long. They fought over toys, they fought over space, they fought over different interpretations of my instructions, they fought over who started what and who didn’t do what. P threw himself into the mix now and again by throwing toys at H or tackling S. All of this of course upsets my very sensitive H who cries very easily.

    Except this morning he wasn’t crying. It was like he knew the fights were so lame that they couldn’t produce a real cry, so he was trying to fake it. And the noise that was coming out of him was this awful, low moaning sound, like, “Uuuunnnnoooooaaaaaaauuuuggggghhhhhhh.”

    I’d hear S say something, then, “Uuuunnnnoooooaaaaaaauuuuggggghhhhhhh.”

    Then he’d say something back, followed by another, “Uuuunnnnoooooaaaaaaauuuuggggghhhhhhh.”

    By the time it was time to put coats and shoes on, Mama had had enough. I lost my cool. I yelled the great yell and put my angry face on. I threatened the end of their advent calendars. I threatened the loss of toys. I was about ready cancel Christmas when they finally realized that I was serious.

    Somehow we all made it to school in one piece. We were running into the yard as the bell was ringing, but we made it. It was only 9am, but I was already ready to throw in the towel and end the day.

    I didn’t, but I wanted to. I ran a zillion errands and cleaned my house all day instead. (WHY do I do this instead of napping? I’m losing it.)

    I did want to let the kids know that their behaviour this morning was unacceptable though. So, when I got home from my hours-long errand expedition with P, I hid the elves. I can’t remember if I mentioned it before, but I now have two elves, not one. I went and bought one Elf on the Shelf at Dollarama after S asked me about it a couple of weeks ago, but then as we were decorating the tree on Sunday, guess what I found in our tote? ANOTHER Elf on the Shelf. (When will I learn to check the totes first!?) Apparently I knew this would happen last year and bought and Elf in advance. So, when the kids found it there was much shock and awe… which I explained away with “this elf has been hiding and sleeping as he didn’t have a name yet!”

    They bought it, hook line and sinker.

    Moral of the story: We now have two elves.

    So, every evening M & I have been moving the elves into different spots around the house. I have to admit, we’ve having way more fun with it than I thought we would. We’re not doing anything crazy, basically just playing hide and seek with the kids. And they LOVE it. S races down the stairs every morning to look for them, with H hot on her tails.

    After the fiasco that was this morning, I took the elves down from their perch this morning and put them away. I knew the kids would come check to see if they were still there as soon as they walked in the house, and I needed them to understand that this morning was not okay. When they came home I explained that the elves had been missing as soon as I got back from school. That they had heard all the fighting and had left, and that I wasn’t sure if they were coming back.

    S was sad, but logically proposed a solution: maybe if everyone was kind to each other, didn’t fight and helped Mom and Dad then the elves might come back. She seemed to take it to heart, and our evening was worlds better than the morning. There was much less bickering, less moaning (“Uuuunnnnoooooaaaaaaauuuuggggghhhhhhh”) and less talking back.

    I put “Candy Cane” and “Frosty” back out, and I’m hoping that S and H will be able to decipher their message to the kids.

    More love, less fighting.

    I’m so tired. Time for bed.

  • Surviving Solo Santa Pictures*

    My blog is fixed!!!

    I need to do a small husband brag for a minute here… he spent a chunk of time last night looking into what the issue might be, and he worked on it again tonight after a long day where he was on solo parent duty for dinner and bedtime while I was at choir. I told him to go and relax and he helped me instead. He is so clever and handsome and I like him the best. I don’t know how he fixed it, but I’m finally back and it feels soooo good.

    I feel like I haven’t really been able to write in the way I’ve wanted to the past few days as a) I’ve been so busy / tired, and b) writing on Facebook just doesn’t have the same homey feel as my blog does. I want to back up a few days to Thursday so that I can share our Santa story with you.

    Confession: I’m often afraid to take all three kids place by myself. P is still sometimes unpredictable, and I can be an anxious person in situations that I can’t control. So, I tend to stick to what I know–the park, church, grocery stores, friends’ houses and the library. I know I’m lame, but everybody is happier when I’m not in crazy stress mode. M and I have been trying to figure out when we could both go to take the kids to see Santa and get their yearly photo done, but it seriously already feels like this entire month is already booked up. I didn’t want to get stuck in a crazy lineup with a three-day wait, so I knew it was best to go early and in the day time… which meant going on my own.

    (With the three kids, if that wasn’t abundantly clear.)

    I decided to be brave and just do it. I ended up not getting a call to work on Thursday, so I secretly booked the kids off school and told them we were going to skip and go see Santa that morning after breakfast. They were beyond excited. The wait between our 7:30am breakfast and the mall opening at 10 was excruciating. By 8:30am H had asked me if it was time to go yet so many times that I threatened to cancel the trip if he asked again.

    ..which he did 5 minutes later.

    (I didn’t cancel the trip. I did go and hide in the bathroom for a few minutes to escape the barrage of questions.)

    I wanted to be there just as the mall opened to try and avoid a long line-up, so I made sure we were ready early and walking in just before 10. Most stores were just rolling up their gates and opening the doors as my Santa loving entourage rolled through. I was armed with a bag full of snacks, toys and a charged phone with Netflix at the ready. We walked toward Santa’s castle, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I saw the back of the line was empty. We walked in, and realized that we were the only ones there. We walked straight to the doors of the castle and were greeted by a cheery Mrs. Claus, who ushered us right in to see Santa.

    S ran right over to see him, and H was completely awestruck. He quietly went and sat next to him, but was almost overwhelmed by the fact that he was sitting next to Santa. His eyes were like saucers just trying to take it all in. P was happy to give Santa a fist bump, but when I moved to bring him to the chair for the photo, he wasn’t having any of it. He started to cry and clung to me for dear life. I started to prep for either a photo with me in it, or another one with him crying (like last year’s).

    But instead of hurrying us, Santa started speaking to him in a soft, gentle voice. He asked me if I was in a hurry, and when I replied that I wasn’t, he told me that neither was he. He spent a few minutes going through the magazine S brought, letting her describe the Barbie house she has her heart set on for Christmas. He then turned to H, who was still sitting in quiet awe, and talked to him about the Robin Motorcycle and Blue Batcave he is hoping to find under the tree.

    (…while I sat on the floor and wondered where on earth we would find a BLUE Batcave in the next few weeks.)

    As P watched Santa quietly interact with his siblings, he began to venture over a little closer. First he gave Santa a high five, then showed him his toy, and finally crawled up on his knee while Santa helped him open a candy cane. No one rushed us, no one made us feel like they just wanted our money and it was honestly the best Santa experience I’ve ever had. This man was magical with my kids. He was so gentle and kind and seemed to respond to each of my kids’ different personalities. He spent almost 15 minutes with my children, and we got a beautiful photo and hugs from Santa. No one was traumatized and all three were so happy.

    Honestly, it was… perfect. I was so nervous to take all three on my own, but the staff was amazing, the kids were such champs, and because we went when we did, there were no line-ups. After we left with our crowns and candy canes, I browsed around the mall with all the kids for the first time ever. We went in a few stores, found a little play place where they could run and stretch their legs, went and bought some new tea (!!!) and rode the glass elevator a few times.

    It sounds so silly as I write it, but it was such a confidence boost for me. I took all three out to a mall and we all survived. Better than that, it reaffirmed to me how amazing my kids are. Sure, they’re a handful sometimes, but they can also listen to instructions, respect boundaries, be kind to one another and wait patiently. It was such a great morning that I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again… and small as that may seems, it feels like a big accomplishment to me.

    We made a stop for some french fries on our way home, then spent the afternoon watching Christmas movies. I’m so glad that I’m able to do this with my kids… I love my job, but I also love having the flexibility to be able to take a spur of the moment “home day” to go do something fun.

    So, thank you Santa… you not only brought magic into my children’s lives, but you gave me a little something too. And for that, I am really so grateful. <3

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