Another year

As 2015 draws to a close, I have become more aware than ever of how quickly time is moving.  I realize that I’ve been an absentee blogger for much of this year.  In fact, as I sat down to write this, I noticed that my last post was more than two months ago.  How did that happen?

I guess I sort of know the answer to that.  Or the answers (plural).  First, of course, I went back to work after a year-long maternity leave.  Being a working mom of two young boys has challenged me more than I could have known.  They are such good boys, but just managing the regular day-to-day tasks like daycare pick ups, making dinner, baths, laundry, packing lunch, etc. is enough to drain me.

Then there’s work itself.  I was promoted to manager while I was on mat leave and inherited an employee who I had never met before.  This employee is challenging in many ways and it has made the transition tougher than it should have been.  I was promoted again a couple of months ago and I now have five employees and a new area of responsibility.  This is a good thing but doesn’t leave me with any extra time.

And, as is to be expected, we enjoyed a few weeks of illness in our house, culminating in a miserable sinus infection for me right before the holidays.

So here we are now.  Christmas is over and it’s New Year’s Eve.  We’re at the farm with my family and the littles are napping.  The others are outside playing in the (tiny bit of) snow.  It’s too much for me to reflect on the whole of 2015, other than to say that it had its ups and downs.  It was a tough year for me in many ways, but a good year overall.  My boys are growing and developing and doing amazing things everyday.  We’re all healthy.  That’s all I really need.

I know I need to take some time to really think about this blog and whether or not there is a future for me here.  I did not intend to just drop off the face of the earth – I often wonder and worry about others when that happens – and I truly thought I could keep going.  But now I wonder if I really do have anything more to say.  And, more importantly, the time and desire to say it.

In the meantime, I’m still here in the background, following your celebrations and struggles, your losses and joys.  I’m still here reading about your kids and families, your recipes and fashion finds, your ups and your downs.  I don’t comment very often (I usually sneak in a quick read at the bus stop or on the elevator) but I am here.

Happy New Year… 2016 here we come!

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Thankful

It’s Canadian Thanksgiving today and I have lots to be thankful for. Family, friends, home, work and the farm, among many other things. Of course, more than anything, I’m thankful for my two amazing boys!  

   
I’m one lucky gal. Happy Thanksgiving!

Go Jays Go!

We’re all pretty excited around here with the Blue Jays in the playoffs for the first time in more than 20 years. Today, on the way to school, Littleman announced, “it’s Blue Jays day for the whole world!” I didn’t bother explaining to him that his statement wasn’t entirely true. Because it was Blue Jays day in his whole world and that’s the only world that really matters to him.   

Game 1 was a bit of a bust for the Jays, but that didn’t stop us from cheering them on. I want to share the experience of watching our team with the boys. 

I have great memories of watching the Blue Jays with my parents when I was a kid. I was a teenager when the Jays won back-to-back World Series and it was so much fun.   Tomorrow D and I are going to Game 2 and I can’t wait to cheer on the Jays in person. Go Jays Go!

Proud mama

As my kids get older, I’m realizing that there’s a lot more to this whole parenting thing than meets the eye. Sure, parenting babies is tough. Sleepless nights, feeding issues, gross diapers, teething misery…all legitimate challenges. But making sure my children turn into good people with the kind of qualities I like to see in a human being? Man, that’s tough.

My husband and I do our best to instill in our children good manners and the importance of being well-behaved. We (attempt to!) discipline when appropriate without constantly nagging. It’s a fine balance.  Sometimes I feel like I’m always saying “no” or “don’t” so I’ve started trying harder to think about whether or not it’s really necessary before I tell my kids to stop doing something.

All that being said, we got a really nice compliment from one of Littleman’s daycare teachers the other day. Littleman is currently one of the oldest kids at the daycare and will be leaving to start kindergarten in September. At the beginning of the month, several new children joined his class. Apparently, he took one of the new kids, “Jack”, under his wing and has been helping him get adjusted to his new classroom. He’s been showing Jack where things are and sitting with him during activities. He even helped Jack cut his food at lunch when he was struggling one day.

The teacher was very complimentary about how kind and helpful Littleman has been. I’m not gonna lie, I was very proud. As parents, it often feels like our kids don’t listen to anything we say and we rarely get a chance to witness how they act when we aren’t there with them. It was so nice to hear that our child took it upon himself to help another person.

I hope as he grows, he continues to be the kind and loving person that he is today. Because, so far, I’m one proud mama! 

   

I’m still here…

I know, I know.  I did that thing where I got so far behind in writing that I just didn’t know how to start again.  I think the last time I really meant to write was when Bo turned 15 months.  And now he’s more than 16 months…

So, I’m here.  I’m ok.  We’re taking some vacation time this week and hanging out at the farm so I’m hoping to get a bit of alone time (haha, ya right!) to catch up on some writing.  But for now, here is brief status update:

  • Bo is finally walking!  He took his first real steps a couple of weeks ago and just this week, he’s finally realized that walking is faster/better than crawling.  Good timing, because it’s damn hot here and I couldn’t put him in shorts when he was crawling because his poor knees were getting all butchered.
  • Summer is so much better than winter.  We are spending tons of time outside and, when I’m on my own with the kids, we’re all so much happier when we aren’t stuck indoors.
  • We bought a bouncy castle.  It’s just a small basic one but the boys love it.  Money well spent!
  • Work has been a bit rough lately.  I have a challenging employee (who was hired for me when I was on maternity leave).  I’ve been trying so hard to be open-minded but it’s getting really hard.

I’m feeling like our vacation couldn’t have come at a better time.  I know I’ve only been back at work for four months, but I was definitely starting to burn out.  I’m hoping a nice break, with time spent out of the city with my guys, will help refresh me.  Now I’m going to crack open my eReader and enjoy a few moments of silence by the pool before the baby awakes and the other boys return from their work in the field.  The only company I have right now are these girls – and I’m pretty sure they’re too busy chomping on the grass to bother with me! 

   

Life lessons: sun protection

As I slathered on my SPF 60 yesterday before heading outside for some time at the pool, I realized that I’ve finally accepted that my skin is pale.  

Growing up, sun care was not the same as it is today. My sister and I are pretty fair-skinned (thanks to our Irish-Canadian mother who’s genes managed to dominate over those of our Italian dad). I remember my mom cracking out the SPF 8 “sun tan lotion” and sometimes, if we were getting really red, we’d have to use 15. Can you even buy 8 anymore?  Does it actually help?

Anyway, as I got older, I knew I needed to take better care of my skin – and I new how painful sunburns could be. But I still loved the feeling of being in the sun and felt so much better about myself when I had a great tan. 

Now that I’m a mom, I’ve finally accepted that it just isn’t worth it. Already, I can see the damage that’s been done to my skin – the fine lines and freckles. I hope that my kids will grow up knowing that their skin is beautiful just the way it is. I hope that they understand how important it is that they protect themselves from the harmful effects of the sun. 

 Just yesterday, Littleman looked outside and spotted my dad on the tractor, cutting the lawn with no shirt on. He announced to my mom, “Nana! Nonno is outside with none shirt and none sunscreen!”

I think he’s getting the message. 

Jealous of what I already have?

More and more often these days, I find myself thinking about having another baby. Wouldn’t it be amazing?, I think. Then I remember how little our house is. And how often I’m alone with my kids while my husband works nights or weekends. And, the real kicker, how expensive childcare is.

I know you’re probably thinking, you’ve said this all before. What’s changed?

On the one hand, nothing has changed. If we could afford a bigger house in our neighbourhood and childcare expenses, then, yes, we may be more seriously considering a third child.

On the other hand, I’m so super lucky to have what I always wanted: two amazing kids.

I just found out that one my friends (who is also my next door neighbour) is pregnant with her second baby. Her first is just a few weeks older than Bo. When she first told me (last night, by text) I felt the familiar kick-in-the-gut stab of jealousy. What?  Why do I feel this way?  She’s getting exactly what I already have and, yet, I’m feeling jealous of her?

I saw a girl at work yesterday who is due to give birth to her first baby later this month. She is huge and feels uncomfortable. And I was jealous.

My husband showed me a picture of his buddy’s brand new daughter last night. She was still a little bloody, and naked, and perfect. And I was jealous.

After a semi-decent night’s sleep and a chance to reflect on all of yesterday’s baby-related revelations (we won’t even discuss Kim and Kanye), I’m starting to wonder if what I’m really jealous of is the fact that these people are just starting their family building journeys. They still have all the craziness and unknowns and excitement of pregnancy/childbirth/life with a newborn ahead of them.  Is that it?  Perhaps.

I have to remind myself that I hated trying to get pregnant and I didn’t really enjoy pregnancy. But seeing two pink lines on that test (ok, who am kidding, those 20 tests!) is so freaking amazing.

And actual labour and childbirth was not my favourite (nor was recovery) but those sweet new babies are the best.

Plus, there is that wonderful year of maternity leave.  There was nothing better than having a year at home to focus on my family and spending time with my sweet baby.  But that also means returning to work, which has been significantly harder the second time around and I imagine would bet even tougher if I had to do it again.

I know that it’s time for me to start focusing on the next stage of life – helping my babies grow into successful people.  It appears that it just may take me a while to come to terms with the fact that our family is complete.  In the meantime, I will do my best to smile and wish my friends well as they continue to grow their own families.

Stretched thin

A colleague of mine (single female with no children, I must point out) asked me why women are so bad at staying in touch with their girlfriends once they have kids. I realize she was making a generalization based on the fact that she was frustrated with one friend who hadn’t returned her calls, but I still felt the need to defend the friend a bit. 

As I thought about my own life and my relationships with my girlfriends since becoming a mom, I realized how tough it can be. 

Right now, I’m still trying to get settled into some sort of a routine as a working mom of two. In doing so, I’ve come to realize how many roles I have and how many different (and sometimes conflicting) expectations people have of me and, quite frankly, that I have of myself.  When I examine those roles and expectations, I discover that I’m doing a whole lot of things, but not really doing any of them terribly well. 

I’m trying the best I can to be a good mom to my kids, but often I feel like I’m rushing around and getting impatient with them. I’m trying to be a good employee and manager, but it feels like I’m always playing catch-up as my to-do list grows. I’m trying to be a good wife, but it feels like my husband and I barely get to say hello to each other, let alone have a real conversation or spend any meaningful time together. 

So, where does that leave girlfriends?  My two closest girlfriends are my best friend from high school and my roommate from university. They are both single. On the one hand, their schedules are a little more flexible and they are always willing to come to me for a visit. But I’m sure they’d prefer to spend time with me in a non-kid setting (and I would like that too!)

And then there are all the other people in my life that I wish I had more time for: extended family, family friends, work friends…

I feel like I’m being pulled in all different directions and getting stretched out of shape.  In an attempt to do everything, I feel like I manage to do nothing. 

I know the advice I would give someone else in my shoes: “go easy on yourself.”  “It will get better.” And, “you are doing a much better job than you think.”  So I’m trying to remind myself of that. 

Monday is a holiday here in Canada and I’m taking tomorrow off work to give myself an extra-long weekend. I know this will cause me some extra stress on the work front, but some family time is something I really need right now. Then, maybe, I can tackle the girlfriends!

Dirt and grime: it’s outside time!

I live in a neighborhood that is filled with young families. On our block alone, there are five kids born in Littleman’s year (2011) and five born in Bo’s year (2014). Not included in those counts are four sets of twins and tons of other kids of various ages. Just this week, another baby was born. 

Now that the weather is nicer and we can be outside, I’m really starting to appreciate how awesome it is to have so many people close by whose families are similar to ours. There is nothing better than hanging out in the backyard, chatting with neighbours and drinking wine while watching the kids play together. 

With all this outdoor time, however, comes dirt. Lots and lots of dirt. For Littleman, who is four, the biggest offender is grass. Every pair of jeans he owns sports lovely green grass stains on both knees. Bo, on the other hand, favours soil. He’s not walking yet but hates being confined to a stroller or wagon for very long, so we’ve given up on cleanliness and just let him crawl. Unfortunately, he tends to go straight for the gardens, where he sits happily and throws handfuls of dirt all over himself. He ends up looking like Pigpen when we’re finished playing. 

I’m learning to get over the dirtiness. I suspect this is going to be part of my life for quite some time, being the mom of two boys. Stained clothes, dirty fingernails and sweaty little heads are well worth it when I see how happy they are to just be outside. 

And, let’s face it, I’m pretty happy to be outside too. Especially if I have a glass of wine in my hand and some adult company! 

   

Briefly…

It appears that I actually have a brief moment to myself today.  I had a meeting away from the office and it didn’t make sense to head back into the downtown core afterwards so I came directly home.  D is at work and the boys are at daycare so I AM ALONE!

Before I go and do something productive like prep for dinner or put some laundry away, I decided that it’s only fair that I take a moment to write.  I miss it here!

Life is chugging along (or, more accurately, zooming along).  Spring seems to be finally arriving and the boys are enjoying spending more time outside again.  Littleman started t-ball recently, which is cute/chaotic.  I’m still struggling to figure out how to balance work with the children’s activities and keeping the house in order (somewhat).  So far, we’re managing ok but I find we’re all pretty burned out by the end of the week.

Poor Bo is in that awkward stage where he still can’t walk but doesn’t want to be held or strapped in all the time.  He’s a super-speedy crawler and heads straight for the stairs or other dangerous obstacles whenever we put him down.  He gets frustrated when we stop him from approaching said obstacles, so he ends up whining a lot.  We’re told he’s eating well at daycare, which is a good thing because he’s usually pretty tired/grumpy at dinner time and doesn’t end up eating much (unless it’s dipped in or spread with baba ganoush – go figure.)

Speaking of awkward stages, I’m in one myself right now.  I’m still breastfeeding Bo first thing in the morning and right before bed.  My body has adjusted to the two-feeds-a-day schedule quite nicely but I’m in a tough spot when it comes to bras these days.  I’m still wearing my nursing bras (which fit well by the end of the day when I’m getting fuller but are pretty loose and gapey right after the morning feed.)  I was kind of hoping that we could wean completely sometime soon but Bo still seems to really enjoy it and there’s no real reason for us to stop.

Littleman is the one who is really thriving these days.  All of a sudden, he seems really mature.  He looks like such a big kid and is really great at helping make sure his little brother doesn’t get into too much trouble.  I’m so proud of the cool kid he’s becoming.

Anyway, my alone time will be coming to and end soon and duty calls.  Happy Friday, everyone!