Monday, January 28, 2013

Patience on a Monday Morning

Monday morning slapped me upside the head today.  My bitter enemies were waiting at my door [fatigue, grogginess and a lack of planning].  It's rainy and dreary outside.  The chore list is long, Silas is grumpy and all I want to do is curl up in a blanket and eat chocolate and drink wine.  

But I can't.  Because it's Monday and Monday means that Jason is back to work and I'm stuck with no plans but to survive the indoors with foul smelling laundry, sick kids, and a pile of dishes.

It becomes quickly apparent that I woke up without any patience.  Does this ever happen to you?  I want to know who is barging into my emotional tank and emptying it of patience before I even wake up?  That's just downright unfair.

Repetitive toddler questions rip at at my stretched thin limits and the slightest whine feels like an ice ax against my brittle endurance.  I feel like I'm staring at the Mount Everest of motherhood and expected to conquer all the elements on my ascent.  Patience is the prize at the top and I'm hardly two feet up and already deprived of oxygen.

I can't seem to maintain any semblance of self control as an emotional eruption starts working its way from my heart to my face and then to my voice...


Stop self, just stop.  I'm worse than my 3 year old.  I'm obviously not coping today and I need help.

So I'm making a list.  I need a 'go to list' of things to do to get me out of my emotional toddlerhood and rise above Monday circumstances.  So help me God I'm gonna get me some patience.

My patience resurrection list:

1. Get outside
Fresh air cures most things for me. Unfortunately it also means that we have to do the 'getting' part of going outside which is usually a very big hurdle of frustration before we get to the joy of being outdoors.

2. Put on some praise music and thank God.
I find it awfully hard to sing praises and be impatient and frustrated at the same time.

3. Sit down for a moment, eat something, go pee, or drink some water. 
It's amazing to me how so many of these little forms of self care get neglected and feed my lack of emotional energy.

4. Enjoy small things.
Stop and look at things like Toby's sweet cheeks, the way a rain drop slides down the window, the way the wind moves the trees, the silence of no kitchen renovations...and marvel a little bit.  Appreciate, and therefore be inspired.  Or even, God forbid, let Silas walk slowly and try to enjoy dawdling. {Not sure if this is physically possible for me}

5. Call someone.
Moms- we gotta stick together.  Sometimes, actually a lot of the time, my social need dictates my emotional capacity.  When I have friends or family around I am restored, revived, and energized in more than ways than I can count.  10 minutes of adult time will take me many more miles on my own.

6. Write.
An outlet, a way for me to reflect on myself, a way to cope.

7. Dora the Explorer.
Bless her heart, I'd adopt her if I could.  She wins Silas' attention and wins me some precious moments to sit and get my head on straight.

8. Pray. Read the Bible.
I find this hard because unless the kids are asleep or in quiet time, I don't have the focus I would like to have in reading or praying.  However, when they go to bed, this should be my first go to for strength and energy.

9. Go somewhere, ANYWHERE.
I just need to get out.  Every day.  Sometimes the walls of my home trap me and if I just get out I feel a lot more sane.

10. Go to bed.
Everyone.  When all else fails, all persons in my home just need to go to their beds and we all just need to press the restart button.

And if nothing works, hold on tight and wait until tomorrow.  Praise God for the mercies awaiting me on Tuesday.

What are your go-to's for restoring lost patience on a Monday morning?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Legoooooooooo Party

Before you think it, I know: this party was a bit over the top.  I've become that Mom who goes nuts for her kids' birthday.  Hmmm.  What my wise friend Michelle told me, "once you have a theme for your party, it's downhill from there." It's totally true. I've been dreaming, and thinking, pinning and planning in lego colours for weeks now.

I didn't want to go over the top, but I also have never been a half-way kind of person.  It was just too much fun making all kinds of fun details for the party.  I especially loved involving Silas in every part of the prep.  He loves baking and crafting and all of the prep made his anticipation grow and grow.  It's been a fun couple of weeks.

Why Lego?  Silas LOVES Lego.  He has quite the imagination and since it's his mainstay quiet-time toy it seemed obvious to make his 3rd birthday a Lego-theme.  Every day he makes zoos and bridges and all kinds of interesting creations.  I love this stuff!

First and foremost, before I share the details of his third birthday: a big shout out to all of our great family and friends.  We are richly blessed.  I know that Silas felt special and loved because of your presence there at his birthday and in his life.
Details, details
Goody bags:

  • hand-me-down squishy legos with each kids' name written on them
  • lego candy (a must have)
  • lego erasers
  • chocolate legos!  Silas and I molded these the other day and we had quite the fun time running back and forth between the stove and freezer.

I had a bit too much fun with the decor.  I borrowed some friends' extra duplo and cut, pasted, taped, and tucked.

  • Silas helped me paint signs for the front of our community room which we rented (in our townhouse complex)

Table centerpieces
Silas helped me make his Lego name.  He insisted on having 'eyes' in his 'I'
Streamer wall in the background =)

Table decor!  Vase + lego.  
I also made confetti with cardstock paper and a hole punch.

Kleenex boxes + baby food jar lids + wrapping paper

Cutlery holder?  Silas made this for me

For our game we needed lego cars so they were on the mantle until we used them.
Silas called our present his 'cake present'

Free play!  I cleaned up our summertime sand/water table and hauled our kid-friendly tables from home and had a homemade playdoh station (with legos to play with it of course), a lego station, and our tent filled with balls and balloons.  The kids loved it all!  It was fun making lego shapes with play-doh and building towers.

Silas loved helping me make the play-doh

We also did some games:
Pin the 'dot' on the lego: [each child had their name on a matching lego dot, they were blindfolded and spun and then had to put the dot on the lego piece]
Lego car-race:
Each child had a lego car and were told to build it, and then we sent them down the ramp to see who could make it the furthest.  Even the adults wanted a round at it:
Lego Colouring:
I made some 'lego pieces' on the computer for every child to colour.  Then we stuck them on the wall to collaboratively build.  It ended up being a tower.  [Shocked?]
I got some lego story-books from the library and got Silas' favourite book out: The Pout Pout Fish.
I also had some 'adult' coffee table lego books from the library.  They were fun to look at:
Tried to keep it cheap and simple.  Chips and Salsa, pizza, fruits, veggies, etc.
My favourite though?  The lego chocolates and lego juice boxes.  Too fun.

And the cake.  Not professional looking, but it looked like Lego!  I used 1/2 marshmallows which I froze to help me decorate them.  [They were a pain]  And of course, we forgot to take a  close up picture of it.  Oh well. 
And some pictures of the action.  More than 30 people including 15 kids and a ton of fun.  I especially loved how they really got into the car making and the present opening cluster of kids.  Hilarious.  

Keeping it cheap?
Had the party in our community room in our townhouse complex
Made a lot of the decor
Borrowed a lot of things
Used what we had!  [Balloons, balls, tent, air mattress, lego, vases, paper, hole punch, etc]
Made the food
One of Silas' christmas presents became his birthday present, we bought him something from craigslist for 7 bucks and only bought him one new toy which was 15 bucks =)
Only expensive party was the goody bags but who doesn't love goody bags?!

Now Silas and daddy are figuring out his new remote-controlled car.  Love.
Until next time... [phew, off the hook for birthday planning until next November!]

Friday, January 25, 2013

Boy oh Boys

A usual day in the Brink home:
I know nothing about raising girls, as is obvious, but 12 things I've learned recently about raising brothers:

1. Always, always take them outside at least once a day.  Always.
2. Bleeding lips are common.
3. They will knock each other over, a lot.  If you gasp, or reach out, or cry out, they will cry too.  But if you just sit back and watch, they will get up, shake it off, giggle, and ram at each other again.
4. If they can hold it, they can throw it!
4. b.  They can always throw harder than you think.
5.They will get mad at each other, take toys from each other, push each other over, but they still always want to be where the other one is.
6. When all else fails, use the furniture as a playground.  (I know, it sets a bad precedent but when it's the furniture or your sanity, the choice is obvious).
7. When one is loud the other will be loud-er.
8. There is never only one running.
9. Sugar is your enemy.
10. The youngest always thinks he can do what the oldest can do.  
11. It may seem nice at the time to have them nap or watch a show but you will always pay for it later with energy left un-spent and they will be bouncing off the walls (literally).
12. Mess.  What one cleans up the other undoes.  Is there any point in cleaning midday at all?

Tips to raising a brood of boys?
p.s I don't know what scares me more- the thought of having another boy or having a girl. 3 boys sounds chaotic but then having a girl is foreign territory.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Developing a Food Ideology

Dairy-free.  Low sugar.  Vegetarian.  Affordable.  Ethical.  Local.  Family-friendly.

What is a mom to feed her family these days?  

Rewind a year ago, and I don't think I could have imagined thinking too hard or long on any of the above topics surrounding food.  Sure, we ate what I would have considered healthy, but I had no reason to change any food habits we had.

Enter: Toby.  With his apparent dairy allergies I had to go 100% dairy free if we wanted him to last 10 minutes without coughing and choking on mucous.  It wasn't such a hard switch in some ways because it was necessary.  I didn't really have a choice.  If I wanted to nurse him, I had to give up my cream cheeses and buttery muffins, and everything yummy (or so it seemed). I had a pinterest board dedicated to all the things I wished I could eat but I wasn't too phased.

Then I weaned Toby.  Now I could have dairy.  Yessss!  But then, I started to wonder...

I've been without it for a year, I've established new eating habits, Toby's still having problems with dairy and I refuse to make multiple meals for our family, so if I'm ever going to continue with not eating it - it's now.  Christmas day brought dairy back into my gut but then a gory battle of intestines vs. host ensued.  Hmmm.  

With an added benefit, the scales had been rather forgiving with my removal of dairy and I haven't been too surprised to see the numbers start to climb with the addition of pizzas and baked goods.

So the dilemma.  One of my goals this year (although I haven't quite been able to articulate it) is to allow myself to have my eyes opened.  I've closed my eyes for a long time about the health and ethical reasons to go dairy or animal-product free, but I think it's time for some education.

That's where change begins right?  I'm reading some books, watching some documentaries, and accepting opinions and ideas.  Where does everyone stand on their 'food ideologies?'  I realize that it's rather personal and everyone's bodies might be different, but has there been any great reads or great inputs that have really cemented in your mind your food choices?

Low glycemic index?  Local?  Organic? Raw?  Paleo? Thoughts?

p.s. So far I think we're leaning towards going mostly vegetarian, with little dairy, and as is my habit, make as much stuff from scratch as I have the time or interest to be able to do.

Recent food endeavors:
My new favourite salad: grapefruit, avocado and orange.  YUM.

Homemade blueberry fruit snacks.  I loved them, Toby loved them, Silas cried because he didn't want to finish his piece and hated it that win some, you lose some.

Cheese-free quiche (with soy and eggs)

Jason's birthday cheesecake (which I couldn't eat any of).   We saved 1/2 in the freezer for the day I could eat dairy and pulled it out the other night... it tasted like freezer.  So. Sad.  and SO gross.  Ugh.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

3 Is Where it's At

Don't get me wrong, I've loved every stage of Silas' short life.  I loved when he was learning to scoot on his bum, when he took his first steps, and when he started to use words in hilarious ways.  I loved his two-tooth grin and his energetic hyper giggles. 

But 3?  That's something altogether lovely.
3 means...
He can put on his boots.
He can brush his own teeth.
He can say words like 'enormous' and 'beautiful' correctly.
He can do jumping jacks.
He can tell me that "I need a snuggle" when something is bothering him.
He prays for "people that don't have eyes" and "for our whole family." (*tear)
He can imagine playing a violin in the bathtub, tasting the colour blue, and jumping into a pool full of chocolate. (Love this kid's imagination).
He loves being read to and can recite the whole hungry caterpillar book.
He helps me get kleenex for Toby and 'checks on him to see if he's getting into trouble."
He plays with Toby and expresses affection "I love my little warm Toby"
He is occupied longer than 10 minutes on one thing (love!)
He can play hide-n-seek.
He uses the potty all the time on his own.  Praise the Lord!
He paints, uses glue, loves play-doh and helps me bake (in lieu of having a girl to do these with, this is pretty much my dream come true)
He can spell his name.
He tells me he loves me and gives kisses and hugs "this is a squeeeezy hug"
He rides his strider bike like a kamakazee, jumps higher than I do, does cartwheels, and is learning to hike. 

3 Rocks.
Toddler-hood be gone, little boy-hood I welcome you.

Happy birthday (yesterday) to the coolest 3 year old I know.  I am so excited for this new season.

Friday, January 11, 2013

In 2012 Did I...?

A New Year!  [Surprised?]  

Where did I think I would be in 2013?  I remember writing '9's in the year spot not that long ago and now here we are.  10 years post-high school graduation, 8 years married, 6 years post-nursing degree, a 3 year old, a 1 year old and I still can't touch my toes.

But, I can make goals?  Right?

This is the first time that I've had concrete goals that I have had to be accountable to because I wrote them here.  I made New Years' resolutions this time last year and it's been a good thing for me to review them often and see if I'm achieving them.

If I was tech-savvy enough I would make progress bars on these. Here's some self-assessment for you on my 2012 goals:

1. Pray more.  
  •  I studied prayer, we led our small group on the topic of prayer and it still wasn't sinking in. Then life happened.  We renovated our kitchen.  I found myself jobless. I was running into real discipline issues with Silas.  My heart was aching at going back to work.  I am now beginning a job that has me pretty scared and humbled. Reminder duly noted: Oh yeah, I need you God, every day. The longing is greater, my desire to hear His voice is greater, so I think I do pray more.  But circumstances shouldn't dictate this so much.
  • This year marked a monumental change in our home though.  We finally have made it a regular part of our routine to have a Sabbath day of rest in our schedule.  We crave it, we long for it, we run to it now.  I used to think "how in the world will we fit a day of 'rest' and connection with God into our hectic lives?" and now I think "how will I get through this week if I don't have it?"  We're still learning about rest and what Sabbath looks like.  But it lends to more prayer and meditation.
2. Learn to be content. 
  • Hmmm.  Maybe this relates to #6 below.  I think if I limit my time on the internet, or limit my exposure to certain things, maybe that will help contribute to greater success in this area?
  • I will say that I've been working on thankfulness and that might be a better marker for contentment [or a better goal than contentment].
3. Find a mentor and mentor someone else.  
4. Let go of having a perfect home. 
  • It helps now that I'm back to work- only so much can be done in a day!  Still working on finding some better ways to organize and simplify so that I can relax into some workable systems rather than flinging things far and wide and then stressing about it.  Maybe I can implement some new systems this year?     
5. Get creative.  
  •  A big way I've been able to be more creative has been spending more time blogging. I have really enjoyed the thinking, writing and photographing that goes into this space.  I plan on continuing this writing journey this year.  Just figuring out how to make it look better, have a more clear theme, and be better organized.
6. Limit my internet/screen time per day. 
  • I have definitely cut back on how much TV I've watched in the past year.  I have tried to be better about what I'm doing on the internet but I do still think I need more clear boundaries.  Maybe only check my e-mail once a day?  Facebook once a day?  Need some better limits like leaving my phone at home when out for a walk with the kids, or not checking the computer/phone while on Sabbath rest etc.  I want to be more present where I am so that I can see and do for others instead of constantly checking technology incessantly. 
7. Learn how to be more fashionable. 
  • This isn't off the list because it's achieved, but I do feel like it's really not all that important to me right now.  I have noticed that when I get up, shower, and get dressed  in 'big people' clothes, then I feel more confident.  In fact, I feel a lot better about myself in general when I pay a bit of attention to how I look.  If only that were possible every day (sometimes 5 minutes more of sleep is just more appealing).
8. Shop better.  
  • Gulp.  Haven't even assessed this yet.  But one step in the right direction is that Jason is in charge of finances now!  Yay! 
9. Give more. 
  • This is in the works.
10. Get informed 
  • Yes and no. I feel like the desire to become more aware and intentionally open my eyes to what is going on around me is there.  I just need to start doing, which means I need some more achievable goals. (More to come on this years' goals).
That would be the overarching theme of my assessment: make these years' goals more 'achievable' or 'measurable.'  Duh.

If this were a class, I think I failed.  But since it's all about growth, about learning and developing, I think I am closer to who I want to be now than I was a year ago.  [In few, small ways].  But that's better than further right?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Back to work has meant a lot of adjustments.  For everyone.

Currently, I hold 4 occupations with an extra 5th on the side.
Surgical Nurse 
Nursing instructor
Medical Nurse (different floor in the hospital than surgical nurse)

Women's Event Leader

Oh yes, it's been an adjustment. There's the childcare organizing, meal planning, errand running, transportation navigating, lunch making, bag packing, lesson planning, orientation attending and all those expected parts.

The unexpected?  Snow storms, closed bridges, 3 hour commutes, sick children, potty training toddler, un-expected mandatory meetings, etc etc.

What I am still trying to wrap my head around is the transitioning between all the hats I wear.  There is no down-time between these jobs.  I exit one door and enter the next.  I take off one hat and pick up the next.  Meanwhile, my brain and emotions are left behind- or worse, paralyzed.  I fly through the snow and beat through the traffic, exhausted from a 12 hour running around work shift and enter the doors of my home (that needs to be re-organized, cleaned and arranged).  The kids finally get to bed and I have to summon the energy to attend to the pressing demands of my upcoming teaching gig.  Each area requires a different language, a different way of thinking, a different role.

I didn't really plan on the needed transition time mentally or physically.  I feel disoriented most days.  Where am I?  Who am I?  How do I talk in this environment?  Are you my peer, or are you my child?  Are you my patient or are you my student?  Am I the authority here or am I just one of the masses?

I'm not complaining. Many of these roles can be very fulfilling and energizing.  I'm more so trying to explain the cloud I live in.  So if you talk to me and I don't know what's going on, how fast I'm supposed to be walking, or what day of the week it is- be gracious and remind me where I am!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Potty Training and Food Update

With the advice of dear experienced parents, some very difficult days, and some unorthodox tactics, Silas is a free-wheeling, fully potty trained, 3 year old.  Watch out world!  [I never thought this would happen]. We've learned a lot about Silas through this potty training process.

1. He has a strong will.  Sometimes you can entice him to obedience through tricks and treats, but sometimes discipline is in order.  This time around, discipline was in order.  We knew that he could go to the bathroom himself but he was just choosing not to.  How did we know?  Our first day of potty training he 100% did the potty himself.  The next day?  Back to "I don't want to, I want to be a baby."  We'd ask him if he had to go and he'd say no, only to go 2 seconds later.  

2. Rewards don't always work for him, neither do long term consequences.  The candies were a nice treat for his independence, but they weren't enough.  He needed us to have some backbone and act like his parents.

3. It gets a lot harder before it gets better.  For some things we just have to go through the fire with him, slog through some tough tough behavioral days, stick to our guns, and just ride him out.  Consistency and firmness are key.

4. It has to be his idea.  We still ask him all the time "do you need to go potty" and he will say "no," then a few seconds later he'll say "I have to go potty!!"  [No kidding!]

5. As much as possible we have to let him figure certain things out on his own.  Ie: pulling up his pants.  This can be a struggle for him  if he's tired or otherwise lazy.  He'll want us to help and whine and cry and say he can't.  [When he can.]  Sometimes we just have to encourage him and let him go through the struggle.  

p.s. we had a lot of rough days, long-winded prayers, and a few cries and clenched teeth through this process.  It was not easy.  But now, he does the WHOLE THING himself from start to finish.  Yesssss!

At the same time that we had to be extra firm, extra determined, and had to 'break his will' with potty training, with food- we had to take the complete opposite stance.

We were having full on 2 hour battles at the dinner table every night.  He would enter the meal having seemed to already determined that he was not going to eat.  He wouldn't even try the food.  The whole meal he'd say he's hungry but not eat.  He would say "I don't want to."  What was going on?!  Another battle of control and wills.

This time, we decided we didn't want to make food a battle like we had.  We think it's more important he learns certain manners at the table- to sit properly, to converse politely, and not to get down until we're all ready to get down.  If he doesn't want to eat?  Fine!  He doesn't have to finish what's on his plate.

But.  Then he can't eat anything else until the next meal.  This kid loves snacks so he just won't get any.  If he says he's hungry a few hours after his non-eaten meal, then we give him his meal back and he has to finish it before having snacks. 

Can't believe it, but it's worked phenomenally.

This way I know that he's getting the nutrients he needs (cause I'm controlling his meals) and he knows he has a choice and that his choice determines the consequences.  I also try to be really conscious of the amount I put on his plate to begin with.

This has seemed to work wonders with him- removing some of that pressure.  Meals are much much better for all of us now.

Not sure how this will work when going to other peoples' houses for dinner.  We never want to teach him impoliteness of not even trying someone's food, but miraculously, with this new tactic he's started eating again  and eating well.


Phew. Seems like whatever tornado season we were in with him has settled down.  Praise. The. Lord.  

Anyone else in the middle of a 'tornado-behavior' season?

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