Sunday, March 25, 2012


God gave me a bit of insight today about His character.  He was revealing His fatherly heart towards me, His child, through my own parenting journey.

Today: Scene 1.
Silas has always loved going to the Church nursery.  There's a slide, there's cheerios, there's kids.  It's good.  It's good for him to go.  He rarely has had issues with being separated from us; but that was not the case today. Even before we went to Church he kept saying, "I no wanna go to Church."  When it was time for me to take him to the nursery, before I even took a step with him in my arms, he was crying.  Puffy eyed, red faced, clinging to me.  Every step I took closer he cried louder and louder.  I knew he would be fine.  I knew it was good for him but I was internally in agony having a nursery worker pry him off of me to go 'play.'  Now, was I calloused? Cold-hearted?  Not caring that my beautiful firstborn was so upset?  Why didn't I rescue him?  

Because it was good for him to go.  Yes, it was hard.  Why is it good for him?  Because he needs to know I'll come back to get him.  2 minutes later his face was dry, he was playing happily and loving the nursery, as I knew he would.

How do I know this?  Where was I? As any loving mother would do, I was watching.  My face was pressed up against the nursery window peeking at him.  Was he okay?  Would he be fine on his own?  I was near, I was hovering.

Scene 2:
Toby has been rebelling against sleep lately.  He just will not go down for a nap. He will be so tired and yet all he will do is cry and cry.  Well, we realized that he cries if we are holding him, he cries if he is left in the bassinet, well- he cries if we try and console him or not.  What he really needs is not us holding him, but he needs sleep.  And he cries to sleep whether we hold him or not!  We decided we needed to start 'letting him cry himself to sleep.'  Now, this is not what we'd planned.  We didn't do this with Silas, we hadn't planned to do it with Toby.  But we needed to try it.  Why?  Because it is good for him to learn how to sleep on his own.  So there I was today.  My cute, cuddly, bundle of life screaming, tears streaming, back arching in his bassinet.  "A few more minutes," I told myself, "he will be okay, he will sleep."  Funny enough, he did.  

But where was I?  From his perspective, I probably seemed far away, absent.  Maybe even from his vantage point he may have thought I was uncaring, or distant.  But I was just out of his view, ear pressed against the door, restraining myself from running in to rescue him.  I was near.  I cared.  So much in fact that it hurt to let him cry.  

Why did I do this? Because it is hard for him to learn how to sleep on his own, but it is good.  It's good for him.  

So here I am, contemplating these things on my walk and it hit me:  where do I think God is while I suffer in this life?  Is he far off?  Uncaring?  Absent?  The Bible talks about Him as a faithful father, the best father.  So me, in my wicked sinfulness, in my broken motherhood, if I am doing these hard good things for my children, because I love them, does God not do the same?  In my humanness, in my lack of understanding, I often question God.  I scream, I cry "where are you?"  I wonder about His plan and how He could possibly let me suffer at all.  But maybe, just maybe, it's for my good.  Maybe it's because He loves me.  Maybe it's because He knows what I don't: that some of the hardest stuff is the best.  For me.  

And I don't know if what I am doing for my kids is the best for them.  I don't.  But God does know what the very best is for us. The best.  So shouldn't I trust Him, my perfect Father?  And don't I know that He is near?  SO present for me in my trials?  

He is hovering, like I hover over my children.  Because He loves me.  Because the hard will bring forth the most beautiful things in me.  

So thankful for the things God is teaching me through my children.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Proof I'm not Superwoman

I admit it.  I'm not a superwoman.  I know, a HUGE shocker.  Thing is, I often convince myself I am.  I have been reminded that my humanity, my frailty, are friendly reminders that I am not invincible.  Case in point: my thyroid.  So here's the gist of it:  my metabolism is on hyper mode.  What does this feel like?  My heart races sometimes, I get super warm, I have difficulty sleeping, I have overwhelming anxiety and emotions sweep over me from time to time.  The scariest symptom to me: if I go up the stairs too fast or run around too much my legs all of a sudden feel like jell-o [this happens especially when I am carrying a baby, scary].  I get this wave of fatigue that runs over my body and I feel like a limp noodle and have to sit down or else I will fall down.  My body is alarming, yelling at me to go faster, do more because I feel jittery, frantic, spastic, energetic, HYPER.  But my body lies. I need rest.  If I have too much stress, too much activity, it makes my symptoms worse.  [That's funny].  


Wow.  For most people this word probably has happy connotations to it.  For me?  It strikes a bit of fear in me.  A bit of reservation and confusion.  Why do I struggle so much with resting?  And I don't mean just putting my feet up and sitting for a minute, I mean truly being at peace.  Resting in spirit, in heart, in mind, in body.  Jason and I have been trying to carve out sabbath time every weekend and this is a real step for me.  I need to learn how to rest or my body will not take the abuse I give it with the breakneck speeds at which I live.  Midday, when both children happen to be sleeping at the same time, I need to REST.  I need to stop my striving, stop my worrying, stop my plotting, planning and thinking and sit beside quiet waters.  On green pastures.  And let God restore my soul.  God has gotten my attention by sidelining me with blood clots, knee injuries, insomnia, and hyperthyroidism but somehow the lesson is still not hammered in deeply enough. [COME ON SHANNON!] 

I am not superwoman. I repeat:  I am NOT superwoman.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Things making me insane right now:
1. a busy, demanding toddler
2. a crying, inconsolable baby who is nursing every 1.5 hours and hardly sleeping
3. the construction zone right outside 3 walls of my home- including jack hammers, tractors, saws, digging, swearing, and yelling [they tore up my winter roses: the only plant I successfully grew and kept alive]
4. the muddy floors that the above leaves in my home
5. the cough that all 4 of my family members have 
6. having to continue with dairy free eating.  sigh.
7. laundry 

BUT in the midst of it all, I'm choosing joy (with gritted teeth and a sweating brow, but I'm choosing it anyways) because:
1. I have a beautiful little 2 year old who plays pretend library, sings 'happy and you know it stomp your feet' and is full of energy and laughter
2. I have a dimpled, cuddly, warm cheeked blue-eyed-boy who coos, laughs when I tickle him, and bounces himself in the jolly jumper ever so cutely
3. the fact that they are fixing our leaking crawl spaces in our specific townhouse unit is a good thing because that means it will be done and that it will be easier to sell our place (eventually)
4. the fact that our floors are muddy means that we get out of the house, have people to visit, things to do, and places to go!
5. despite our bad colds, we are all generally in good health- Praise God
6. soy icecream and 70% cocoa chocolate. [Dairy free isn't so bad afterall]
7. having laundry means I have clothes for all of us to wear which is, in itself, a blessing (oh, and the fact that I have a washer and dryer is a huge blessing)

Okay.  So I'll stop complaining.  I really actually have it made.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Picture Updates

Our recent trip to Ontario was full of noise, play, music, laughter, tears, board games, late nights, chatting, snacking, walks, adventures and family.  What a wonderful time we had!  It was fun watching Silas and Toby interact with their myriad of cousins.  So far there are 7 cousins and 1 in the making (all under the age of 6).  BUSY.  Here are some pictures from our time:
Eating at the 'kids' table- Silas, Kellon and Allie

Jacob too!

Uncle Chris, Tayte and Toby

Lovin' the Jolly Jumper

Silas with Levi and Jacob- all smooshed on the couch


Watchin' a video

At the museum of Civilization- Such a cool Children's Museum!

Silas- captain of the ship

juice boxes!!!!

Exersaucer madness

my beautiful blue eyed Toby

they all loved Toby- he always had an audience!

Allie and I- she's so precious!  Makes me want a girl badly!

ummmm. chaos.

Back at home!  Toby's almost 4 months already and (gulp) still not sleeping through the night.  But he is cute as a button.  He is generally a happy fella (except the last couple of days of course).  He LOVES being held, love sucking on his hands, is a big fan of the jolly jumper and is just discovering his laugh.  He sleeps on his tummy and giggles when I play peek-a-boo.  He has the cutest pouty lip cry when he is hungry and knows mommy's face well.  He's a cutie!  I'm enjoying this stage a lot more than I think I did with Silas. Maybe because he stays where I put him, is somewhat predictable in his needs, and doesn't talk back?  Isn't he cute?  As much as we thought he looked SO much like Silas at birth, he is becoming his own little person.  Even more than Silas- he looks like his daddy!  His eyes, his ears, his skin....a little Brink boy for sure!

Striped boys
Discovering Jell-O jigglers for the first time

Our place is a mess right now: jackhammering, digging, sawing, on our front porch, around the side of our home and behind our house.  We have to use the garage for an entrance!  I'm annoyed by the noise and the fact that they interrupt naps but Silas loves watching the tractors!!! [They are fixing the drainage in our complex]

Shaving cream painting.  SO. FUN!  Silas loved it and spent a good hour playing with it.  [He smelled very manly afterwards!]

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mysterious Toddler-Brains

So before I rant about how difficult and trying this stage is with a willful, defiant, obstinate toddler, I thought I would at least celebrate some of the things I've come to understand about my mysterious and illogical toddler's mind.  I am learning, slowly but surely how to stear and guide this pint-sized pandora of emotions, opinions and determination.

First lesson: It has to be his idea
Example: "Silas, it's time for bed.  You can pick a book, would you like this one?"
Silas: "NOOOOOO.  Don't WAAANT it." [Angry face]
Me: "Okay"
2 seconds later
Silas: "I want this one" (pointing to book that I suggested).

hmmmm.  I guess it has to be his idea?  I'm learning that I should suggest something, but not push it or force it, in fact the less I am attached to whatever the idea is, the better.  I was feeding him lunch and he wanted nothing to do with the meatballs in front of him.  Well, then I put one on his fork, walked in the other room and when I looked back, he was eating it.  Often the very thing I suggested is what he wants or will choose in the end, but I have to almost just let him have some time to come around to that idea.

Lesson 2: Timing is everything

Silas needs some warning about what's going to happen.  I often need to tell him "5 minutes until we're going to leave" or "1 more and then we are all done" to get him transitioned to whatever is next.  
Me: "Silas, time to get your Jammies on"
Silas: "Nooooooo!  I don't want to, noooooooo."  Limp noodle pose, floppy on floor.  Pulling, dragging upstairs, time outs, cajoling, hair pulling, nerve-wrecking 10 minutes.
Me: "Okay Silas, in 5 minutes we will go up and get your jammies on"
2 minutes later, he drops his toy
Silas: "All done.  Jammie time"

HOWEVER, it is a fine balance.  If I give him too much notice he cannot handle the anticipation.  
ex: We arrive at the airport.  At this point I think it's a good time to inform him that we will in fact be riding on an airplane soon.  Apparently this information was too soon.  We're not even to the self checkout with our bags yet and the crying ensues
"Airplane now....airplane NOWWWW."  Through security, to gate, through waiting, on and off his exclamations continue.  Oops.  Too much notice.  I often won't even tell him where we are going or what we are doing until the bags are packed, we're getting in the car or are 5 minutes away.  

Lesson 3: Choice
Silas emphatically states "I WANT JUICE."  
Me: "No Silas, you cannot have juice.  You can have water."
Silas: "ahhhhhhhh!" [insert: tears, loud cries, fist throwing]
Me: "Silas which colour cup would you like?" (I hold up the rainbow of ikea plastic cups we have for him)
Silas: "orange one"
I put water in, and hand it to him.  He, perfectly calm, drinks the water as though the last 2 minutes of crying over juice never happened.

If he is fighting me on something that is a requirement (like putting a jacket on etc), then I try to distract him with another area that he does have choice in (these shoes or these shoes?)

Lesson #4: Stay Calm. 
I have found the less emotional I get over disciplining Silas, the better.  Rather than me going: "Why can't you behave, why do you do this every time, I'm so frustrated right now, you are getting a time out," [insert: my tears, frustration, explaining, nagging, anger and impatience], I need to just simply say "you do not hit, you have a time out" and do not get emotional.  If I get emotional it elevates the situation and Silas himself gets more elevated.  This area is SO hard for me.  Especially when he's whining and crying and pushing all my buttons.

Lesson #5:  Consistency
If I have told Silas no, I NEED to follow through with it.  It is very tempting when he's having a fit and tantruming over something simple [like me telling him he cannot play with my phone], to just cave and give it to him.  BUT, if I said no (even if I shouldn't have and I'm regretting it) I need to stick with it.  OR, his whining gets worse and he learns he just has to push harder to get his way.

Lesson #6: Avoid Minefields
Certain things, I KNOW will cause a battle.  I have to be especially diligent around these areas.  I need to have snacks, distraction tactics, stored patience and creative ideas for those things that I know are going to be difficult.  Example: we cannot go anywhere NEAR a computer when he's awake.  If we do, we better expect that he'll want to see what we are doing, be watching a video or be whining for something on the computer.  I don't know when this started but he just expects we will show him something if we have the laptop out.  SO, if I want to avoid it, I need to do all my computer stuff when he's not around. It's just easier for all of us if we don't.

Lesson #7: Don't promise anything you cannot deliver
I've got Silas to get into the car by telling him we're going to "captain kids" play area (which he loves).
Me: "There will be the slide, and kids to play with, it's going to be so fun..." etc
we arrive only to find that 1. there are no kids (it's early), and 2. the slide is gone.  I mean GONE.  They took it away for 'maintenance?'  [Ahhh!]
After we arrived, Silas (who has an amazing memory for things I say) has his arms in the air and starts bawling "no slide!  no kids! where slide go???"  
oh man.  Bad mommy.  I try to say 'maybe' more these days.

Lesson #8: Motivation
There usually has to be something that I am using to motivate Silas to do what I want him to do.  I cannot just tell him to do something, I have to entice him, woo him, creatively inspire him.  Rather than "Time for bed" I have to say "let's go see who's in your bed?  Is teddy there?  Puppy?"  Rather than: "finish your food" I have to say "2 more bites and then you can get down and play with _____"  We constantly have to find a way to get him interested in something that we want him to do with games and lots of excitement in our voices.

So many other idiosyncrasies for this kid of ours that we're learning.  Any thoughts on the above toddler behavior?  I am finding that this stage requires me to be really diligent, energetic, consistent, firm, calm, creative, and well- I need God's help a lot!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Traveling Alone with an Infant

3 days, 
4 flights, 
18 hours at airports, 
10 hours flying, 
2 times through customs, 
and 24 hours spent traveling.  
Alone.  With an infant.  
Here are some high-lights and low-lights of the whole experience:

-Toby proved himself to be an incredibly easy and flexible travelor.  He slept in my infant carrier, was entertained in a carrier, slept on floors, benches and airplane seats.  He played on the floor, with bags, earphones, and napkins.  He slept through customs and security and stayed content while his mommy dragged baggage carts, luggage and ran around airports.
-3 of my 4 flights I had an empty seat beside me!  The one flight I didn't- I had a very understanding father of 2 boys beside me who helped me get things out of my backpack and zipped it up for me!
-Many people were helpful including a security person who bumped me to the head of a long line, the lady who took my suitcase off the belt, and the elderly lady who comforted me while I bawled my head off in the line up at air canada in Indianaplis (story to follow)
-I got to visit a good friend Andrea in Toronto who helped make the 7 hour layover in Toronto not so bad, and visited with family I rarely see at my Grandmother's memorial
-learning how to pee while holding Toby (it's a serious accomplishment) and while he was strapped to me and asleep.
-having some special one-on-one Toby and mommy time
-having people often tell me how great of a baby Toby is (and how cute!)
-thankfully being only on the fringes of the crazy tornado weather in Indianapolis
-having Toby sleep through most of my longest flight- I got to watch a movie even!
-having a very loud, screaming toddler sitting directly behind me for our longest flight- then I didn't feel bad at all whenever Toby cried because their child was Much. Louder!

Low lights:
-not being able to eat, for hours or pee, for hours.  or remove toby from my carrier.  for hours.
-flight delays due to snow in Ottawa
-taxiing forever while we waited for flights to take off in Toronto (spent longer taxiing than actually flying to Indiana)
-the steward who wanted me to hold Toby for the whole flight even though I had an empty seat beside me (seriously?!)
-having to strip down every time through security.  It's amazingly difficult to remove shoes and a belt with a child strapped to you.
-having to pick up my luggage, go through customs, get my bags re-tagged and go through security again both times I flew through Toronto.  So. Much. Work.
-sore shoulders and back from carrying Toby for days
-Toby isn't as good at falling asleep on his own anymore cause he's so used to being carried!
-sweating, dehydrated, hungry, sore from carrying....always feel so yucky after flying all day!
-and the worst experience of it all:  arrived in Indianapolis airport at the beginning of my long journey home and they said their air canada computers were not working.  So, they took forever to write me hand-written boarding cards and luggage tags.  I went to security, stood in another long line and then was told that they hadn't been informed of a computer malfunction and made me stand aside and wait for 'clearance' for my hand-written boarding card.  Stood there.  And stood there.  And stood there.  20 minutes later he said I had to go all the way back to the ticket agent and get another boarding card.  Stomped and stormed my way back there, stood in line again and was told there was nothing they could do.  (What?!)  Waited.  And waited.  Cried, fell apart, had a mini-meltdown thinking about being stuck in Indiana and with a 12 hour travel day ahead of me, little sleep behind me and all the emotions of my grandmother's memorial the day before clouding my mind.  It was a rough time.  Eventually they figured it out and 2 hours after this whole process began I was through security and waiting for my gate with a Starbucks in hand.  Yucky.

The best part:
Spending time with family, coming home to my wonderful husband and son, having the ability to travel to Indiana for the memorial at all, and learning that I can take care of a child by myself and travel [It's a lot of work but it is POSSIBLE].

I'm thinking: no travel for awhile.  Had such a great visit in Ontario and was glad to share in the memorial service for my Grandmother but I'm looking forward to having a routine and being at home again.
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