Friday, October 26, 2012

a Hurricane Needs to be Held

Like a little hurricane, Silas rages and fits around the house.  He becomes destructive, wreckless, distraught, emotional, and angry.

Then, mid-tantrum, in the eye of the storm there will be this innocent stillness about him.  A moment of recognizing un-met need.  

Silas will stop and whimper:

"Mommy, I need a snuggle."

What looked like fury, was actually fear. Even when all my ugliness is evident, am I loved?  Accepted?  Can I still return to safe arms?  

Would you believe, that at 28 years of age, I'm still a 2 year old?  

My emotions rage, my quick temper flares, my anger bashes against others, and my frustrations blow others away.  

But, If I stop and just look at what is really wrong, if I am just honest with myself I would see that: I just need a snuggle. An internal one.

Unconditional reassurance, love, and acceptance.

To be able to sigh deeply, as Silas does, and rest in bigger arms.

Good thing there is some One who is able to hold this hurricane and calm the storm raging in me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Snot, and Other Amazing Childhood Mysteries

Okay, I'm a nurse.  So people come to me all the time asking questions that I should know the answer to, cause I should know every random fact related to health, right?  But I don't.

Take for example these many 'health' mysteries that I have pondered since being a parent, like:

1. How does the body produce so much snot?  I mean, where does it all come from?  I am pretty sure Toby  should be bone dry by now, skin parched, joints fused, cells dehydrated, but no.  His nose keeps liquefying all over every surface of our house. Shouldn't his head be concave for lack of all the fluid it's lost?  Nope.  His noggin remains firm. Huh?  

2. How does childhood sleep math work?  I mean, is there some formula somewhere?  A child is overtired, but is less likely to sleep.  Then if they sleep more, they sleep better for longer.  What?  Shouldn't this be basic addition and subtraction?  They lose sleep, they should make up for it the next time right?  RIGHT?  

3. Where do teeth come from?  I mean, they are lying dormant under the gums and then they just erupt, from where?  What?  Am I missing something here?  Does bone just appear?

4. Vomit.  To anyone who hasn't witnessed this, you probably think that us parents are lying.  But it's true: how in the world does a child of such small stature, projectile puke so far?  I know I was never good at physics, but it seems somehow improbable that children can cover such distant lands in such numerous quantities of putrid stench, without taking a running leap at the same time.  So. Weird.

5.  There are periods of time when it seems like Silas survives off of air and fishy crackers.  Yet, by some miracle, he still produces an enormous amount of poop.  Huh?  I figured quantity in = quantity out.  But no.  He is an overachiever.  He is above his class, advanced you might say, in his ability to ingest nothing and empty his entire intestines.  It's really remarkable.  And disgusting.  (Mostly disgusting- even for a nurse).

I'm sure many of these mysteries could be solved with a query to my faithful friend Google  but where is the fun if there are no mysteries left unsolved?  Instead, I will just ponder and wonder at the miracle of growing humans and their miraculous body fluids and such.

Any mysteries of child-science that you marvel at?

Monday, October 22, 2012

On Being an Adult

Ever get those moments when you just cannot believe that you, yes you, are now an adult?  Maybe that sounds dumb, coming from an almost 30 year old.  But somehow I feel like asking, "when did this happen?"  Two little 'uns to be responsible for?  Bills to pay?  The fridge to fill, the meals to make, the shampoo to buy, the birthdays to plan for...this is my house?  These are my kids?  

I was driving along tonight, by myself (which is somewhat miraculous) and I had this moment of feeling like a teenager again.  Music loud, speed accelerating, late at night, like I didn't have a curfew (cause you know, the kids get up at 6 so I really should go to bed early)... a song from my high school years came on and I got sentimental.  Sentimental?  About high-school?  


All of a sudden having all possibility before me and no real responsibilities underneath me sounds pretty, okay REALLY, good.  Not that I feel trapped or don't like my life, but it just occurred to me that I cannot believe that this is what life looks like on this side of the fence.  Wasn't I just on the other side?  Was that not just a moment ago?  A breath?  A blink?  Oh wait, it's been 10 years.  And everything, I mean EVERYTHING is different.  I'm not just heading off to college, meeting the man of my dreams, beginning a career and having international adventures (and sleeping in on weekends), I'm in fact married, with a house, with children, with a career...  But I think the same!  I act the same!  I've hardly changed, or so I think.  I even own the same sweatpants with 'field hockey' written on the butt.  If I'm really 10 years older, why don't I feel 10 years older?  Should I have accomplished more?  What do I mean by more?

I hear my internal thoughts and sometimes cannot believe I'm the one thinking them, "she's wearing that to school?  That 'kid' is old enough to do_____?  I mean, really?"  "She was born after the year 2000?"  

I got a phone call the other day too and it sounded like this:
"Hi, ummm, are you Silas' Mom?"
"Are you Silas' Mom? I'm calling from the community centre.... blah blah blah"
[pause, this is so weird]

I am no longer 'Shannon' I am Mrs. Brink and Silas' Mom.

Anyone else have weird moments of not believing it's really you that's an adult?  Isn't it weird that you choose to go to bed early?  That you need to have coffee in the morning?  That you enjoy just sitting and talking to other adults?  That sleeping in is no longer an option?  Is anyone else experiencing this?  Why did I think I would be a young adult forever?  Shouldn't I have appreciated sleeping more?  Or staying up late?  Or going wherever I wanted to go, whenever I wanted to go there- more?

Note to younger self: enjoy more, play more, relax more, be here NOW and don't try and be somewhere else and someone older.  There is more than enough time for that.

(It's clearly 2 weeks until my birthday because I'm already needing to psych myself up to being another year older).  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

From 1 kid to two- What's the Difference?

A few friends have had babies recently and it's been good medicine for me.  I've gotten to the '6 month magic mark' where Toby had me thinking that having babies is easy and gosh, they're just so darn cute, I should have another- right?  Having friends with newborns (you know who you are) reminds me that it's not all fun and games;  especially the first time around.  I had a super hard time adjusting to new mom-hood for various reasons including (but not limited to): staying at home isolated all day, didn't feel confident in what I was doing, felt easily insecure when asking for advice, it was physically hard on my body, I hated adjusting to no sleep, unexpected health issues postpartum, having a baby I couldn't figure out etc etc. 

Nonetheless, for all you moms of one (or dads) wondering what the difference is between 1 and 2 kids, here's the lowdown.  Now, most of this is humorous and just me reflecting on my parenting habits, but there's definitely some degree of truth in it.  So here goes:

with one child [1:]
with two children [2:]
[1:] "Honey, let's swap off for awhile. Could you just take him so I can have an hour to myself?"      
[2:] "Okay you get #1 and I'll get #2." [Both hands on deck].

[1:] "I can't believe he only slept for 2 hours, I barely got anything done!"        
[2:] "They're both asleep?  At the same time?  For 30 minutes? Praise God- it's a miracle! I'm gonna sit here and stare at the wall and do nothing."

[1:] "Oh, this shirt is a bit too small [0.5 cm too small], let's pull some new stuff out!  Yay!"   
[2:] "Arg, this doesn't fit anymore?! Oh well, I don't want to dig the boxes out yet.  It will do."

[1:] "I should weigh him again, it's been two days"             
[2:] "I should weigh him again, it's been 3 months"

[1:] "Let's see, he's 4 months old so I have a few months to research about introducing solids.  I'll make a bunch of pureed, homemade solids ahead of time, introduce them one at a time, wait three days to make sure he has no allergies, I'll be really careful...I can't wait to start, it will be so fun!"
[2:] "Crap!  He's 7 months and I haven't even thought about introducing solids!  What a pain!  Here's a bit of what we're eating.  Whatever, he'll be fine.  Better yet, here's a whole banana.  I can't believe I have to clean up this ridiculous mess 5 times a day, nursing is so much easier.  Think I could wait a month...?"

[1:] "I can't believe he's not even rolling yet!  He's so behind! Look at all the other kids, they're crawling already..." 
[2:]  "What?!  He's rolling?  Stop him! STOP HIM!  He's walking? That's so unfair!  At 9 months?!"

[1:] "It's so boring sitting here nursing all day."
[2:] "So nice to sit still and nurse.  I can just relax for a minute."

[1:] "Oops, you got a teeny, tiny drop of food on your shirt!  Better change you!"
[2:] "There's a spot he hasn't yet dirtied on his shirt.  Good to go until next week."

[1:] "I wish he had someone to play with, he always needs me!"  
[2:] "Why can't they just leave each other alone?!"

[1:] "He's never going to be a year.  This year is soooo long." 
[2:]  "He's almost a year?!  What happened? Where did my little newborn go?"

[1:] "I will never ____________ [insert anything here]" 
[2:] "I will do whatever, and I mean WHATEVER works"

[1:] "I don't want to start a bad habit..."
[2:] "We can break that habit later."

[1:] [Looking at people with more than one kid]: "How do they do it? It's impossible, I can't imagine ever doing this again."
[2:] You just do it.  Somehow.

[1:] "What did we do with all our time before having a kid?"
[2:]  "What did we do with all our time when we only had one kid?"

[1:] "At least if I have a second child I'll know what I'm doing."
[2:] "What did we do last time?  I can't remember anything..."

[1:] "I hate the baby stage. I'm pretty sure I'll like all the other ones better.  I'm just not a baby person."
[2:] "I love the baby stage.  They are soooo easy.  Toddlers are haaaard." 

How have your parenting thoughts changed from 1 to multiple kids?  [Those with twins, well, you are in a whole other league].  This post is not to make those with 1 feel like what you're enduring is not hard.  Cause it is.  Really really really hard.  Somehow with the second it's not that it gets easier but you get wiser, certain things fall to the wayside, you know that this truly truly will be only a season, and you just get through it (again).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Financial Formula

I wrote a post recently about being intentional and my mind has been buzzing around thinking of ways to be more thought-out, more researched, more intentional about my choices and decisions.  One area that needs a serious over-haul is the way that I spend money.  We have made some wise choices along the way and wouldn't consider ourselves excessive spenders by any means, but there is definitely fine tuning that needs to happen.  I am not good at waiting.  I hate researching.  I am a compulsive buyer. I don't like price comparing.  I don't like going from store to store to find the best deal.  However, with us thinking about how I could work less, and with hubs being in ministry, pennies need to be a little more pinched. 

So I've been thinking of a formula of sorts to help me process expenditures.  Not only do I want to consider how to save money, but I want to be more creative about how I go about buying things that our family needs.  I'm not saying I'll apply this formula every time (because I am an efficiency person and thinking for longer than 10 seconds about a decision is rarely sustainable for me).  But I'll try.  For awhile.  And tell you how it goes.

I'm going to ask myself these questions before I race off to buy something, or pick it off the shelf, or even look at all:
1. Is this really something we need? (I know, obvious, but still a good question).
2. Is there something else we already own that could work for this purpose? [Our TV shelf became our dining room 'hutch' with some re-purposing]. 
3. Could I make it?[Been thinking about making this to save money]    
4. Could I buy this used or borrow it? [I was at Scoop & Save today, an amazing cake decorating store and found out that you can rent cake pans for 2 bucks a day!  Genius!  This inspired my 'borrow it' point.  You just never know what you can borrow!]
5. If I can't avoid buying it and can't find it used, where could I buy it locally?  Or even better, from more ethical places?  [I went to Ten Thousand Villages today and was floored by the incredible amount of interesting, unique, and fair trade gifts there.  If I'm gonna buy someone a gift, why not from there?]

What are your great money saving tips?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

7 years of wedded bliss

It's been a ride hasn't it?  Cannot believe that 7 brief years ago I was walking down the aisle to your handsome face beaming at me with those bright blue eyes.  We were a bit naive to the things we'd endure over these years, but I wouldn't change them.  You're my best friend still and I don't know how it is that I can continue falling deeper in love with you- but I am.

So here's a little tribute:
Married for 7 years

 (our Costa Rican honeymoon.  P.S. babe- you still have the same swimsuit.  Think it's time for a new one?)
White flesh on a motorbike.  Good times.
Explored, served, learned, and adventured for 6 months in West Africa 

We've moved 5 times 
[Fort Langley, New West, Surrey, Burkina, Surrey, Walnut Grove!]
we traveled around 4 European countries 
[Switzerland, France, Spain and Italy]
You've helped me through 3 major surgeries, helping, holding, comforting, caring, bringing, are a better nurse than me I think.

We've had 2 beautiful sons we are so blessed and I am SO blessed to have such a caring, loving, supportive father of my children. Two thumbs up for living in a house full of blonde headed boys.
You are 1 fine man Jason Brink, 
[my 1 true love]

O, the times we've had.  Lots of laughing, crying, sleepless nights, prayers prayed, camping trips, long car rides, exploring cities, Bible schooling, making new friends, hosting, hiking, biking trips, crazy flights, learning together, making a home, renovating a home, trips to zoos, fancy restaurants and to Ontario... ministering together, meetings, leading and feeding others.  The list could go on...

Here's to many more adventurous years together: living, learning, leaning on each other

Thursday, October 4, 2012

'Tis the Season

Went to the pumpkin/apple tree farm today.  It was fun for the most part.  The drive was long, but I think the boys had a great time!  Wagon rides, playgrounds, animal petting zoo, apple picking, apple-cider-slushie drink, sunshine, dirt, pumpkins- how could they not like it?  I wonder sometimes though, if it's illegal to text while drive, how is it also not illegal to dangerously toss toys, food scraps, and other things back at your children in car-seats in order to avoid the inevitable energy crash that ensues on a long drive?  Yikes.  I was swerving along trying to placate escalating children with snacks and distractions on the way home.  Worked up a sweat, but we made it.


At the end of this random adventure I get to update my open shelves with some cutey pie pumpkins in honour of our upcoming 7th year wedding anniversary (they were part of our table decor).  Oh.  And we picked and ate apples. Yum.

 What am I supposed to do with those things?!
 The goats were eager to make friends but Toby wasn't game

Toby LOVED the wagon ride! 

White pumpkins: thanks for filling in my open shelf decor!
 Like.  A lot.
 Reminds me of our wedding day.  Sigh.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Being Intentional

I'm approaching 28 [insert 'eeeek' here] and, I've had a few 'aha' moments along the way.  One more recent life lesson is about balancing commitments, time management, rest, goal setting, and family.  What is it?  

Few things in life happen by accident.  

I don't mean things that happen to us, cause in that department I believe in a higher power and His sovereignty.  I mean related to personal accomplishments, disciplines, habits, growth and relationships. Maybe it's obvious to some, but for me, I didn't realize how many things need to be so very intentional.  

I can't just stumble into good health and eating habits.  
I can't just relax every evening and kick back and expect to accomplish lofty goals.  
I can't just expect relationships to develop or heal if there is no time or energy or commitment made to them. 
Rest time?  Doesn't happen unless we schedule it.  
Time together as a couple?  Won't take place spontaneously- needs to be carved out.  

All of these things take time and if I don't make time for them, extra time doesn't just come around.

So.  To be 'intentional' Jason and I have started some strategies since early 2012 that are really paying off:

1. Weekly Meetings
This will sound geeky, and it kinda is.  But every Sunday night Jason and I convene over hot drinks, snacks and our computers.  We chat about what's ahead for the week and plan our weekday evenings now that the kids are both in bed at 8.  What nights does one of us want to get some exercise?  What night should we plan a social activity   What are our commitments?   We love this time and keep 'business items' on our weekly agenda list so that when things come up during the week that we don't get time to discuss in full detail, we bring them up at our meeting.  Helps us stay on the same page and more organized.

2.  Rest Day
Things push in on us all the time.  We constantly have to say no to opportunities that we want to take because things always take up more time than we think they will.  That being said, we try try try to keep one day a week that we can rest.  What does this mean for us?  Jason takes the kids for part of the morning so that I can go away and do what I want to do, then we swap.  When kids are napping we get to have a nice lunch together and hang out, then we spend the rest of the day (often) with just the kids and us.  No, this doesn't always happen.  No, we sometimes have this time infringed on.  But, we keep carving this time back out again and are always very glad we made room for rest.

3. Monthly Themes
This is a new one.  We always have areas that we want to grow in, research more about, learn more about, and progress in.  However, it's hard to just carve out an evening here or there when so many other things are also demanding our time.  

For example: finances.  The way we budget and spend needs constant tweeking, analyzing, and evaluating.  Or organization- how we run our home and our responsibilities- things could always be better organized.  Or schooling: how can we plan for Silas' schooling, what could we already be teaching him etc.  

We've decided to have monthly themes for the next little while.  We want to have a month where we focus on finances, on schooling for Silas (and us), a month where we think about ways that we could make things run better in our home (ie. find a good grocery shopping app!), and a month where we research better places to buy local meats, veggies and learn more about how we could adjust our nutrition.  I'm super excited about our monthly themes and hope that it will help us focus, and set goals in each of these areas for the rest of the year.

4. Devotions
This is a tough one.  We are not great at carving out time to do devotions as a family (nor individually).  But we are working on it.  One thing we started to do that is inspired by Jason's Mom and Dad, is to start the habit of reading a Bible story after dinner.  We're impressed (and scared) by how much Silas pays attention and retains things we tell him or experiences we have together as a family.  This has pushed us to really be intentional about speaking scripture with Silas and sharing stories from the Bible.  We're excited to see how this has already changed our mealtimes.  We love having those few extra moments to really hear from Silas and share with him about some important God-lessons.

5. Reflection
This is one for me in particular.  There are a lot of areas I need to grow in personally.  I feel like I'm hitting some kind of mid-life time where I need to really deal with some baggage I'm carrying from the past and press on towards some emotional and spiritual maturity.  Not sure yet what this will look like but I am seriously considering taking some time away for counseling, having a retreat day once a year and have pursued mentorship where I can focus on personal growth.  I also want to be more intentional about choosing good books to read, asking myself some hard questions and being more ready to hear from God about things I need to change.  I'm taking a class at our women's group about wholeness (spiritually, emotionally, physically) and am very excited about some of the things I'm learning there.  Stay posted on this one...

6.  Using what I have
I realize that some of the things I spend money on are quite silly and really, I have the means to do more at home than I realize.  Case in point: I have an espresso machine.  It was generously given to me at my birthday a number of years back (organized by my lovely husband) but I was rarely using it.  Coffee out was starting to add up and I realize I need to cut back.  SO two helpful friends helped show me how to use some of the functions and I'm now really excited about making coffee at home more often!  There are many things like this in my life...I often choose the easy or convenient way when I need to just find a way to make things work that I already have.  We'll see what other ways I find to cut back on spending and do more from home.

Who knew being intentional could be so rewarding and exciting!  I read a book recently too that helped me think more practically about these kinds of things: "the Happiness Project."  Worthwhile read.  I don't agree with some of her basis for things, nor do I agree that her formula will truly satisfy a person but there are a lot of good tips she has on this topic of being more intentional.  

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