Yay! A Great First Year!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sofia's last day of kindergarten is two days away! A whole year of school almost done! I am relieved that school went as well as I hoped that it would for her.

My biggest hope for her was that she would enjoy school. Yes, it's good that she made friends, steadily learned the lessons, paid attention, was respectful to the teacher and others...But I think that all of that comes easiest when your child can look forward to school. When the weekend comes around and I say, "It's Friday, no school tomorrow!" and she responds with an, "Ohhhhhhh...."

(Funny side story: during Sofia's first week of school, we'd try to rush Sofia off to bed so she could be rested for the next day of school, and we'd say, "Sofia! Go to bed, you have to go to school tomorrow!" She was surprised and said, "AGAIN?!" ...Now, she doesn't want to stop going.)

She received her report card today and it is incredible how much they were able to teach her. (It's funny and amazing how many lessons included a song that would help them remember concepts.) The report painted a picture of what a rich experience she has had this year. And it's "just" kindergarten!

Sofia had an incredible team of teachers. I don't know about you, but when I went to kindergarten, I had one main teacher and then an assistant. Sofia comes home and tells me about Mrs. So-and-So, and Mrs. This-and-That, and her and him and the teacher at the library and ... I'm terribly confused, but if it takes that many caring adults to make Sofia so excited to go back to school day after day, awesome! I am so grateful to them that they can engage a classroom of 37 junior and senior kindergarten students in one room. It takes special people to not completely lose their minds. THANK YOU!

On the night of Sofia's last day of school, I want to do something with the family that will celebrate the occasion! I was thinking and thinking...what can we do that will be just totally about her? (Even birthdays and stuff, I always make dinner menus that make me and the adults happy, and the kids have to oblige.) And the only thing that comes to mind is...McDonalds! So, I think that it's going to be McDonalds for Sofia's dinner party! And then maybe Centre Island on Friday for a full day of fun!

Got any ideas better than McDonalds? ('cause I kinda would rather not!) Leave your suggestions in the comments! :)

Little Sister to Mommy

Monday, June 25, 2012

Today marks my sister's due date. As I write this, there is 41 minutes left to today – so, likely Monday, June 25, 2012 will not be my soon to be niece (or nephew's) birthday.

I cannot tell you how excited I am!

My sister walked closely with me through my two pregnancies. She even knows what kind of "personality" my children demonstrated while in the womb!

However, I drew a line. She almost made into the delivery room for my first. She was there when the contractions were starting; we were in Oshawa at my in-laws'. We started driving back to Toronto, to head to my hospital, and she was taking notes as to what to pack in my bag... since I didn't get a chance to do that. (Sofia came 16 days early!) She was there at the hospital as I got wheeled into my labour room. But as my contractions got worse and worse, I managed a sliver of foresight: A woman should never have to witness the labour pains and delivery before her time comes to do that herself! And I am smart because here she is today about to deliver her own child. If I had not kicked her out of that labour room, she may have been too traumatized to ever want children of her own!

I'm looking forward to being there when this baby arrives. To welcome her/ him into the world, and into our family! These days are more precious than I can even wrap my head around even though I have already had two. And so many things are going to change for Christine and Josiah. Gonzo and I are looking forward to helping in anyway we can to ease the challenges of the days and long, long nights of newborns so that they can enjoy the transition into being parents. My own parents, sisters, parents-in-law, sisters-in-law, friends and more family were an amazing support during those early days – cooking for us, presents and phone calls and well-wishing. I am looking forward to passing on what blessing I received!

(Photo credit: the very awesome Blake Morrow)

Summer traffic

Friday, June 22, 2012

I used to love all seasons the same but since I became a parent, summer has become my absolute favourite. No more couped up kids. No more thousands of layers of clothing. More hours of daylight. More options to enjoy in the city!

The one thing that is awful about summer in Toronto, however, is that the traffic is brutal. And with everyone wanting to enjoy the wonderful weather, everyone is out on the road. It's one downside that makes summer feel panicky--'cause you're always trying to beat the traffic everywhere you go.

But still!
Long live summer!

The Weekend Starts Now!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's the weekend!
Yes, I know, it's only Thursday...
I know I have been raised better than this, but I'm gonna brag a little here...I have a three day weekend, EVERY WEEKEND!

One of the best decisions I have made as a mother was that after I finished up my maternity leave when I had Sofia, my first, I asked my employer to reduce my work week to a four-day instead of returning to my full time schedule.

Sure, I had to take a pay cut, but it has really helped build breathing room into my routine. I can't imagine finishing a heavy work week, running straight into the weekend. With Friday off, I can decompress from my week, get a few chores done and then really enjoy my weekend with the kids. My husband works every other weekend, and when he does, he has Fridays and Mondays off, so it also helps also that we can get at least one day together those weekends.

I can't stand the idea that I've given all my best hours of my day to work (even though I work at a fantastic place) and all I have left for my kids are fumes. It's another way to strike balance in an ever increasingly busy life...by intentionally making it UN-BUSY. Even at a financial cost.

They are only young once...I want to do all that I can to make the most of this time. Even if it's just some extra time for them to drive me nuts!

Wallpaper // Show your dreams

While I think that you should be careful with whom you share your dreams, I do think that you should share them. Go ahead. Maybe they can help you bring 'em alive...

For you. Enjoy!

Oh, the Possibilities

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Through a series of unfortunate events at my husband's current employment, he was injured at work, applied for compensation – visiting doctors, filling out and faxing forms – only to be declined. We are extremely disappointed, but this disappointment is just another blow to add to the collection of dissatisfactions that have been growing over my husband's nine years there.

I came to a point today where I felt kinda sick to my stomach and knew that I can always turn to God. So, I asked Him what should we do? Somehow I already knew the answer because it's something that He has been saying to us for quite sometime: FIND NEW WORK. Unfortunately, we have been disobedient for too long -- putting it off because of the small perks that have been earned due to tenure (despite the great distain that has been growing) of four weeks of holidays and decent pay. 

But he hates it. 
The job isn't invigorating. Completely drains all of his best energy. 
It's definitely time for a change. 

However, this is not the point of this post. This is just presenting the context for what I really want to say. 

The other thing I felt God say when I asked Him what I should do was to tell others to stand by us through prayer. This is completely not like me. I tend to be independent. I love to appear to have it together. I used to be much worse, but I tend to feel that appearing vulnerable is a little embarrassing. Reading this back to myself, it's obvious that this is a problem of pride. 

So, I emailed a handful of friends, letting them in on what we were going through. I expected a few people to write back and say, "Sure, we'll pray." But I was extremely surprised, and touched, to have people call me within minutes just letting me know that what I was going through "SUCKED", people thanked me for the update on our lives, we had people tell us that they had gone through even worse and can testify that God is faithful (double layoff), others telling us about job opportunities that they are going to watch out for... we felt the support deep and strong. 

Even though nothing about our situation has changed, over the course of day we felt strengthened, excited and optimistic about the possibility of what my husband could transition to. We even managed to apply for job as a calltaker/dispatcher for medical emergencies (A.K.A. 911). It was exciting to write a KICK BUTT cover letter. 

This is the Church. You won't see the point of Church unless you give up your independence. I know that because of the prayers of my family and friends, something has shifted in our outlook. To be honest, we have been a little fearful and doubtful of what Gonz could apply for. He has been at this one job for so long you start thinking that there is nothing else he capable of doing. And because of this doubt, he has been locked into a job that has made him increasingly miserable. We are now kind of grateful for this injury and what has transpired to wake us up to make a change. What an awful waste of life if he were to continue for another nine years in the same job. 

A weird scripture unless you've experienced it, then it makes sense:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
 - James 1:2-4
No one likes going through anything hard, but for the Christian, because we know the God has us in His hands, we can be confident we can make it through anything. Even have the freedom to be joyful. Hopeful. Excited.

Afternoon reading

The kids are enjoying the books they got from the library and their afternoon snack. I'm working right now but I need to put this into practice in my own routine. I'm learning that a lot of things they enjoy would be healthy to include for myself. Here: regular times of reading...for enjoyment!

Becoming the kind of mom I want to be

I have been a mother for a few years. Since December 2007, to be exact. And I used to think that putting myself last was a virtue. It's being selfless, isn't it? Making sure that my children eat first even if I'm starving. Making sure that I'm the first to wake and last to sleep. Making sure that I slave morning 'til night ensuring that my family is well served. Enriched minds. Clean house. Great meals. Organized days. 

Aren't these the things that make me a great mother? 
But, this was killing me. 

The thing was it wasn't so bad when I only had one. But when my second baby was born, the juggling act upped a few thousand notches. Life became extremely demanding, which only got a bunch worse when I returned to work. (Many parents would agree that going to work is actually a break – but I work at home half the time, WHICH IS A RECIPE FOR INSANITY some days!). Life became extremely unsustainable, which in turn made me temperamental and unpredictably moody at times. 

It had to stop. 
And I fortunately remembered a simple truth: 
in order to give, you have to have something to give. 

Parenting young children is physically demanding. Interrupted sleep is the biggest culprit. And out of all my weaknesses, discipline with sleep has always been the worst. I have always wanted to be that person who wakes and is productive at 5:30 am, but every member of my family is a night owl. So the worst is when I have stayed up too late, and then my children take turns at waking us in the middle of the night. My energy was completely zapped. I became the walking dead. 

What has helped? My husband and I started exercising. This has made more of a difference than I could have imagined. It really lifts my mood (so, especially when I am tired, I have to kick my own butt to get out and go to the gym and I instantly feel better after the activity). And I feel I have more endurance during the day. 

I have changed my eating habits. I have way less sugar (although I still love my desserts) which helps a lot as well. Having your sugar crash simultaneously occur with your children's meltdown is not the best scenario for award winning parenting. So, getting rid of the candy and chocolate bars and soft drinks have made a significant impact. Plus, that stuff is crap anyway. 

Since the spiritual tends to be invisible... it seems to always be the thing that goes to the back burner. God is my ultimate source of strength, wisdom, guidance... If I'm not connected to Him, aware of Him, spent time with Him – it's like living in a desert. It is death. Everything in life feels harder, and I keep forgetting why. I need to live my life more aware of this truth. 

How does this look? For the last couple of days I have started listening to the podcast of a pastor that I really admire, Tim Keller. He has a gift of unpacking scripture in a simple but really profound way which is really making me excited about the Bible again. You should check him out on iTunes (Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church). 

I'm reading more. For me, if I can learn something, it inspires me. Whether it's a fitness book where I learn something new about the human body, or an philosophy of art book where I can think about the purpose of art in life, or the Bible, which serves anyone well to read it (honestly, dump the preconceived ideas and read it for yourself). I'm remembering how it feels to live inspired. The funny thing is that it makes me feel young again (ack....feeling old at 33 is depressing). 

This is just the start of making sure that I'm healthier. This goes beyond "me" time. Going to the spa to unwind, or retail therapy while may have some short term gain, leaves me with nothing more to give to my children than before. I need to continue to grow myself, so that when my children need me (which is a lot – especially in these young years), I have something to give them. 

I don't want to be a stressed, grumpy mom. But becoming the opposite requires intention and discipline. I let a lot of unimportant things slide now. So what if I'm behind on laundry? Oh well, some toys are still not put away. More importantly, if I can continue to include things in my life that keep me growing and inspired, I will become the kind of mother I want to be. 

Heavy lifter

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sofia was super-stoked about the fact that she could lift Joaquin. The rest of the day was filled with instances where she kept trying to lift other heavy objects. I put a stop to it once she started to try to lift the fridge.