Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Slowing Down

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     Slowing down. That's what we've been doing around here lately.

     I don't like to sit still for too long. I don't like to rest much. I like to be productive. I like to fill our days with fun activities, visits with friends, play dates, events, trips to the park, walks, errands (well, not really..but they're always unfortunately necessary) and play time.

     I've learned through some pretty unfortunate life experiences that life is fragile. Life isn't guaranteed to us. So in the back of my mind, each morning I wake up and think "What if this is my last day on Earth, my last day with my kids and Terry...what should we do today?". I never want to waste a day. Ever.

     So I live for experiences. I live for connections with people. I live for the little moments that make me laugh. Make me smile. Make me feel like I'm LIVING. Simply going through the motions each day is my nightmare and what I try to avoid with every ounce of my being. So I purposely try to create experiences each day for myself and my family, and I seek out people who make me happy, while avoiding those who make me feel anxious, uncomfortable or unhappy.

     "Surround yourself with successful people and you will become successful" my dad always says. Success though, does not merely mean financial success. It means surrounding myself with people who I strive to be like. Who are good. Who I want my kids to be like one day. So I seek out experiences that I know will make for some good memories, and I seek out people who I look up to and who make me happy.

     In creating these experiences, we've made some great memories outside of our home and had a lot of fun doing it. However, I've switched gears over these past couple of weeks. We've stayed home a lot and found a type of rich life inside our home instead.

Terry said to me the other morning,

"So, what are you guys going to do today?".

I looked at him, shrugged my shoulders, and replied "I don't know. We'll see where the day takes us. I have no plans".

He laughed. "Really?"

I'm sure that he did a double-take to make sure that he was actually still talking to his wife.


     So regardless of the fact that our laundry room filled up with sewage this week (later discovering that it was roots growing through the pipes from our massive tree on our front lawn), and our boy has a terrible cold (which means that we've been up ALL night long with him every day this week)...they end up just being minor details in the great scheme of things. It's still been a great week.

We've been baking a lot, on a whim, because we've had all the time in the world with no agenda.

Sugar cookie bars, packed with more tasty treats than the recipe called for of course, didn't last long.

 Painting with chocolate pudding has now become one of her favourite things to do...

I also learned this week that a can of $1 shaving cream from the dollar store and a bathtub can create endless amounts of fun and will keep an active 2yr old busy for a VERY long time.

Carter happily watched from outside of the bathtub...

...(next year buddy, next year).

Bathing her babies in the kitchen sink has now become a regular morning routine...

(I swear she does wear clothes...sometimes).

And this is what I found after leaving the room to put her brother down for a nap. All of her clothes off, her diaper pulled at and her bed pulled apart as she tried to snuggle under the covers with her bear.

She was SO happy about it. This kid cracks me up.
And to top it off, our little Carter just got baptized...

...along with our little friend Abby, just a couple of months older than him.

Here's to a great rest of the week.  Enjoy every minute!

p.s. If anyone else has any other fun activities to do with little ones at home, please pass them along to me! I'm always looking for new ideas.


Friday, 18 January 2013

Family Command Centre Board

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     It's Friday. Hallelujah. This has been a LONG week. One of those weeks where I kept thinking that it was Wednesday when it was only Monday and that it was Friday when it was only Thursday. But it's Friday. We made it through.  We're all still alive. Sleep deprivation won't kill you. At least that's what I tell myself. Two year old meltdowns at the grocery store, with a cart full of groceries and a crying baby in a car seat, don't last forever. At least that's what I tell myself.
     I was determined though this week. Determined to not let the week get the best of me. You want to throw us a hard week? I'll show you what I got.

      I finally got our family command centre board done--(details to follow below)...and rather than let the week eat me up alive, I purposely decided to actively do some other things to make it better...

    When my exhaustion got the best of me, we went swimming in our bathtub in the middle of the day.

A bathing suit in the bathtub? She thought it was just hilarious.

    I scurried around when she was napping and she consequently woke up to a fort already made for her in our basement, complete with her favourite books, crayons and colouring books, a snack, pillows and her toys to play with. This was a BIG hit, and all it took was one fitted bed sheet and some flipped up couch cushions.

The moment that Terry walked in the door from work she excitedly pulled him to the basement to show him what she woke up to that day.

 We played with playdoh...fed her baby...

and had a couple visits from friends this week, who snuggled our boy and made me feel like the week was getting better.

     And through all of this, I missed a weigh in at the doctors office for Carter. I hate it when that kind of thing happens. Absolutely hate it.

     It made me realize though that I desperately needed to figure out a system now to keep up on all of the appointments, dates and events in our life, especially now that we have turned into a family of four. So I decided that I needed to have one space in our house where I could go to for everything.

    Solution? Our new command center board. Now I have everything in one place, a whiteboard to keep track of dinner ideas, note pad for Terry and I to leave notes to each other and a calendar to keep us organized. I'd like to think that it's virtually impossible for me to miss another appointment since I pass by this board a million times a day.

Ahh....I can breathe. Love it.

Here is how I made it:
1) We don't have a huge kitchen, so I didn't have many options for where to put this board. So when I was looking for frames, I had to be very specific in terms of size. I measured out the space, then headed out to Michaels craft store to find the correct size of frame. I also bought some textured black scrapbook paper to dress up the board a bit.

2) Take the glass out of the frame (and throw it out) and glue some cork board to the back of the frame (cork boards bought at Dollarama--2 for $2, and cut to size). I used my hot glue gun and glued the cork board down.

3) Wrap the cork board with the fabric of your choice (got mine at Fabric Land), pulling it tightly and wrapping it like a present around the cork board. Use a glue gun or tuck tape (yes, tuck tape!--my new favourite thing, courtesy of my dad) to keep it stuck to the back of the frame.

4) I bought a 4-pack of note pads from Dollarama for $1 and glued one of them onto the board with a glue stick. And went onto this website to create a calendar for myself.

5)  I bought those cute little flowers from Michaels too and glued them on to add a bit more detail.

6) Since my dad is in the sign business, he was able to make me my white board meal planner day labels. And I just went to Dollarama and bought a small white board, cut it to size, then just glued it down on my board with my glue gun. Easy as pie.

Here's to a tough week, a fun week and a fresh new week just around the corner.

Have a great weekend!

Erica xox

Thursday, 10 January 2013

What I've learned since having kids

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     It's always amazing to me that we, as humans, are able to have children so freely. I mean,'s the biggest responsibility in the world, the most important job you'll ever have and the hardest thing to do {parenting}, and people are shockingly expected to just pop babies out and go for it.

     In the hospital, our babies are handed over to us as casually as someone handing us a cup of coffee and telling us a few things about not spilling it, or watching that it's the right temperature before drinking it. No one tells you what to do with your cup when it's empty. No one tells you what to do if your cup rips. No one tells you what to do if you feel sick after drinking that coffee. No one tells you much of anything--and there are A LOT of things to have to know.

*cute hat courtesy of the amazing Maja H. Thank you!

     I'm learning each and every day about how to care for babies, young children, myself and Terry through this wild ride of parenthood. I don't know much, but I do know I want to give it my all. I have this vision of the mom and wife that I want to be, and I consequently purposely try to live it out so that it's not just a fantasy in my mind. I've failed a bunch of times. I've felt mommy guilt. I've felt frustrated when I knew I should have had more patience. I have felt overwhelmed. I have felt exhausted. And all in the same breath, I have felt more joy and happiness in my life than I ever have before.

     With a 3 month old and 2yr old at home with me every day, I'm still trying to figure it all out. But there are a couple of things that I now know for sure. Here are just a few:

1) Take care of Terry.

      Before I gave birth to Mya, my mom's wonderful friend gave me some excellent advice. She told me that having kids can be all-consuming and your husband (and marriage) can get lost in the mix very easily. Take care of him, she said. Make sure he knows that he is still important, loved and cared for. And he needs to do the same for you. It's the best thing that you can do for your children.

     I agree.

     So I say thank you a lot. And he does the same. I tell him how much I appreciate that he packs my diaper bag for me the night before or how he gets up super early with Mya every morning. I pay attention to his stress levels or his feelings of being overwhelmed and I try to fix it. Hence, his Day O' Terry days that I provide for him here and there throughout the year. Before we even had kids I started creating these days for him, where the whole day was all about him. I'd plan something special for him that I knew he loved to do, buy him his favourite treats, give him complete power over the remote control (which, honestly, doesn't happen very often in this house), make him his favourite meal and just make sure that he felt like the entire day was based around him and his happiness.

     He got his 1st Day O'Terry of the year this past Sunday. I decided this time though, I'd give him a day off of all parental responsibilities, or having to schedule events around nap times or diaper changes. I decided I'd give him a day completely to himself.

     After planning to steal the kids away for the day and secretly setting up with Jeff that he'd take Terry off to see a movie that afternoon, he woke up to a basket of goodies and strict instructions to do absolutely no housework while the kids and I were away (which, he didn't exactly adhere to unfortunately...but I tried).

     I told him to play all the video games he wanted, watch hours of his favourite TV shows, eat his favourite snacks and enjoy the silence that neither of us ever really get these days. So I packed the kids up, brought them to church for the morning, then spent the rest of the day at my parents place as he enjoyed a day all to himself.

     Taking care of Terry. Check.

2) Swaddle bags are the greatest things ever. Period. Wish I knew this when Mya was a baby.

3) Your toddler, who once slept through the night consistently, will (possibly) start waking up several times a night once you bring the new baby home.

     How did we not know this vital information ahead of time??? Those first couple of months were exhausting and we found out later that we weren't alone--hearing of many other 1st children doing the same throughout that adjustment period of having a new sibling.

4) Two lessons from the NICU nurses:

      #1) Don't feed your baby then put him in the bath--he'll throw up.

#2) If you let your baby sleep all day long, he'll probably be up all night long. (True story).

5) Kids will wreck some of our stuff.

      I've learned not to spend a fortune on anything, so I'm not worried or upset if (or, when) it does get little hand prints on it. I also live by the theory that the marks, dents, stains and scratches from our kids growing up in our house will all just one day be memories for us to look back on and remind us of when we had our little ones in our home.

     If I was worried, these two wouldn't have had the fun that they did splashing about "washing" dishes together the other day.

My poor chairs.

*note to self:  Put the tea towel on the 1yr old's chair next time. 

6) Every hard thing about parenting is just a phase and will eventually come to an end.

     I remind myself of this all the time, from feeling like I might never sleep through the night again to calming two-yr old temper tantrums. Everything is just a phase.

7) All of the wonderful parts of parenting can pass us by quickly. Enjoy every minute.

p.s. Thank you Amanda and your wonderful mom and step-dad for our beautiful new swing! 

8) The trick to keeping Mya's curious little fingers out of Carter's crib while he's sleeping during the day? These wonderful little door knob locks. We just snapped them onto his bedroom door and all of a sudden he was able to have nice long uninterrupted naps. Hallelujah.

9) Water cures the grumps. Sometimes we have baths in the middle of the day at our house since I fully believe the saying "When kids are grumpy, put them in water". Works like a charm every time. And if a bath isn't an option, a bucket of water with some toys or a kitchen sink full of dishes and soap is a surefire way to break out the smiles again. Heck, even a spray bottle works.

10) It takes a village to raise our kids. If people offer to help, take it.

     I'm still working on this one, as I completely know it to be true--but tend to feel guilty letting others help when I need a break. It's important though, so I do it. And consequently, it encourages the idea of surrounding our kids with as many people to love them as possible, which is my ultimate goal.  
Alright, that's it for now. I hope to have a much longer list by the time I'm 80.

Happy Thursday!

Erica xox

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