Tuesday, 25 August 2015

A bit of perspective at the lake

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It sometimes takes just a moment to put everything back into perspective. Just a moment to calm you. Just a moment to help you to realize what you want out of life. Just a moment to make you realize that your problems are so so small compared to the big picture. Just a moment to make you realize what is actually important. Just a moment to breathe. 

I snuck outside each morning that we were at the cottage to watch the sun come up. I passed the baby over to Terry and tiptoed out to the dock before the two other little people saw me. Alone. Quiet. Peaceful.   

I stood there in awe of the beauty right in front of me. The calm water that surrounded me that seemed to go on forever. The way that the sun moved so slowly, creeping up from the horizon, rising into the clouds. 

The way that the clouds changed from one beautiful scene to the next, in only a matter of moments. So if you looked away for even a second, the whole sky could change.

And if you sat so still, looking out onto this beautiful scene, you could hear the soft crashing of the waves on shore and the cries of birds flying over the lake.

There's something magical about mornings at a cottage and I didn't want to miss it. So I left each morning on my own and took myself to the edge of the dock and just breathed, by myself--something that motherhood doesn't allow much time for. 

I loved watching the clouds especially. Because as I stood there watching those clouds change from one stunning scene to another in such a short period of time it was breathtaking. Literally the entire sky completely changed in a matter of minutes...which I realized, as I stood there, is so similar to the seasons that we go through in life. The hard times...the trying times. If we just wait a bit--just be patient, ride it out, breathe, stay calm in the midst of the chaos or hardships that sneak into our days, it will pass. The sky will change. The clouds will part. The sun will rise. A new day will break. A fresh start will be given to us. 

The sky can teach us so much about living our best life. And I needed a reminder. 

Because sometimes some days can just be plain hard.

I still remember when Sophia was about 4-6 weeks old and I started feeling feelings that I had never experienced before with either of my other babies. Was this the baby blues that I had always heard of? I'm still not sure. But thankfully it has passed. I remember I just felt overwhelmed, exhausted, like I couldn't keep up with life, couldn't keep up with friendships, couldn't keep up with myself, couldn't keep up with my expectations of myself as a mom, as a wife....as a human being. 

My expectations, now in perspective, were just plain unrealistic. I still remember putting together Terry's birthday with a newborn in my arms and a 2 and 4yr old at my feet--because I should be able to do this...so I thought. 

So balloons were hung, hand made signs were made, presents were bought and wrapped, groceries were bought, and a big, beautiful dinner was to be put on the table--complete with a homemade birthday cake (along with a mass amount of homemade treats, chocolate dipped Oreos and cookies that I made for him to bring into his work to share with his co-workers for his birthday, of course)...because I can do it all. Right.

Well, not exactly.

Because the balloons were waiting, signs were ready to greet him when he got home from work that day--and burnt cookies sat on the counter, burnt potatoes and steak were on the bbq outside, the cake was half baked and I stood there not even showered, trying to clean up toddler pee off my floor while nursing a crying baby and trying to get a snack for my hungry girl who just got home from school. 

Because a baby's cry, toddler accidents and 4yr olds needs come before pulling cookies out of the oven on time. 

I tried. I told him. 
Tears in my eyes. 
My mom was standing there beside me with store bought cookies in her arms to save the day--because when the ship is going down, moms are usually the best ones to call. 

You have a NEWBORN baby, Erica. You have three kids now. She said. You can't expect that you can do it all. Cut yourself some slack. 

And Terry nodded and hugged me. 

Cut yourself some slack. 

The hard days won't last forever. Those challenging seasons of life will not always be there. The sky will change. The clouds will part. The sun will rise. Just breathe, be still and wait. And enjoy the good stuff that always flies around right in the midst of the storm. Because no matter what, the sky will always change.

So I started each day at the cottage with good perspective on life. The clouds and sky reminded me. The waves crashing on the shore calmed me. My unrealistic expectations were put into check.

The happy kids playing for hours in the sand and water made me smile.

And this sweet little girl was my constant reminder of how much love you can have for such a tiny human being. 

So Grandma and Terry braved the wavy water with the kids on the windy days...

and I marveled at the beauty of the calm water just the very next morning and how quickly it could change from rough to calm water in just one night. 

Thanks Judy and Fred for such a magical, wonderful time at your cottage. If we all just had a beach, water and a dock to wake up to each morning, I think our world would be a better place.

Thanks for the good perspective.

Erica xo

Friday, 21 August 2015

When the Soother Fairy comes

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The Soother Fairy came the other night.

A little fairy who searches the trees for soothers from big boys who don't need them anymore. She swoops in late at night, flying through the trees while everyone is sleeping, snatches the little bag full off all of those wonderful soothers and carries them off to the crying babies who desperately need them. 

That Soother Fairy is something special. Yes she certainly is. 

She is magical. Sneaky. And very generous. 

Because the great part about giving up all of those wonderful soothers is that she will leave you a little thank you present--a little something to show her gratitude to all of the big boys and girls who are willingly giving up their beloved soothers to the babies who need them so much.  

Because everyone has their limits...and our limit is 2yrs old. If you're 2 in our house, soothers are still okay at bedtime--but as that year comes to an end, the Soother Fairy is called and she gets down to business. Whether that 2yr old is ready or not.

So we spent some time pumping up how great this would be.

"You're so lucky Carter! The Soother Fairy told us that she is coming to OUR house, because she heard that you're a big boy now and she knows a lot of sad sad babies who really need your soothers. I heard too that she'll even leave you a little present as a thank you. Isn't this SO exciting?!"

"And do you know what Mya? The Soother Fairy told us that anyone who helps to encourage Carter to give up his soothers will also get a little present" (because, just like potty training...everyone gets a treat when the potty trainer is finally peeing on that potty--because everyone needs to feel included in the process and learn to encourage others to do good things).

So we had two other little cousins and one big sister helping our big boy run around the house finding all of the soothers that afternoon. They got placed one by one in that special soother bag... 

and we all headed outside to find the perfect spot on one of our trees to hang that bag for the Soother Fairy to find.

But, you see...it's all fun and games until that last soother has to be dropped into that bag. 

So with a lot of encouragement, a little distraction and a lot of cheering, it took this little boy a good 15 minutes to finally take it out of his mouth and put it down. 

And he wasn't happy about it. But he did it.

And Jeff hung that little bag of soothers up as high as he could get it.

Because the Soother Fairy only flies high up in the trees to find those soothers---and little boys then can't grab them back when no one is looking.

So we all fell asleep that night and awaited her arrival (and spent a lot of extra time putting a boy to bed that night who wanted his beloved soother).

So as the morning came, four excited cousins ran outside to check to see if the Soother Fairy had actually come. 

And she had.

With a little letter left hanging on the tree for a little boy who was desperately missing his soothers.

So they all ran inside, those little cousins, and Carter found that sparkly bag in the closet from that sneaky little fairy.

And the treats from the Soother Fairy were passed out one by one.

So we made it. The soothers are gone. Those beloved little soothers that he used to help him sleep at night and at nap time are gone. And we're all adjusting to it, because this two year old is NOT happy about it.

Habits are hard to break. But necessary.

So we're surviving these HARD few days with a cranky little boy. A frustrated little boy. A mad little boy at nap time who cries for his soothers. Because breaking old habits takes a few days for everyone to adjust to. But 2yrs old is our limit, so he snuggles his blanket now at bedtime and we're all trying to be patient...because patience is a practice, and we're practicing daily. *insert exhausted, ragged mother symbol here*

So in the meantime, he's distracting himself with some other new activities...like teaching his cousin how to breast feed.

Seems appropriate.

Because you learn what you live...and apparently he's an expert from watching me feed his sister ALL the time. 

Lookin' like a natural, Carter. 

Love you my big boy. Even when you're not a happy camper about this whole soother situation. Love you to the moon.

Love, Mom

Friday, 7 August 2015

Checking off the bucket list

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I just want to hold onto summer with all of my might and not let it slip out of my hands yet. 

I walked through the grocery store the other day and tried to avoid the bright, bold 'back to school' aisles that sit there tempting us, teasing us, reminding us that summer is coming to an end soon. So I look away, and pretend that it's not real. I'll remain in my little summer bubble and deal with school sneaking up on us when I'm literally forced to. So in the mean time, we're ticking off our summer bucket list and trying to squeeze in as much fun and chaos as possible while we still can. 

Sometimes being home with little people all day long can start to feel like one day just blends into the next. So getting the opportunity to sneak out of our normal routine and pack up, take off and spend a few days away was welcomed with open arms. So we took everything but the kitchen sink from our house, stuffed it into our van, strapped everyone in and followed the caravan of the rest of our family to London--and spent a few wonderful days sleeping on hotel sheets, swimming in hotel pools, venturing out on day trips and ordering a table for 11 please at every restaurant that we went to.  

It's these moments that I want to hold onto and never forget. Because this little mini vacation was great. Great because with five little people to care for, there were actually very few meltdowns (win!), lots of laughs, lots of happy kids and everyone slept (minus the littlest one of course--but that's just a given). But the best part, as Terry said himself, is that we learned that we actually CAN take our two year old to a restaurant (something that we have avoided like the plague...for obvious two year old reasons, of course)--he sat, he ate, we took him for walks around the restaurant, we brought out our restaurant survival kit bag (full of things to keep him entertained while sitting) and he did great. *I can feel the cheers from other parents with two year olds out there...because you know what this takes

So with day trips planned, we packed up the crew and started off with a trip to Story Book Gardens where the day was packed with rides on elephants that went round and round...

Ridiculously huge slides that gave me a heart attack...

And ridiculously high ferris wheels where I watched from below with Sophia and had other multiple heart attacks as I watched my littlest boy fly round and round in circles with his dad, thrilled, --while all I kept thinking was this is RIDICULOUSLY HIGH. HOLD ONTO HIM TERRY!!!! 

I think I discovered on this trip that I clearly have a fear of heights ever since becoming a mom--not for myself...but seeing my babies way up in the sky is not where I want them to be. Feet on the ground please  (*insert Terry here telling me to RELAX they'll be fine!).  He's probably right--but I still had about a million heart attacks on this trip.

And by the way, is it really necessary to have ropes for kids to climb and balance on (the lowest one about 7 feet off the ground??) REALLY??

She had a ball. She would tell you YES.

But with a visit to an amazing kids museum the next day, we kept the happy train rolling and the kids had a blast finding dinosaur fossils...

and playing in mini houses..

pretending to hand out Big Mac's at a mini McDonald's...

and grocery shopping with their very own little shopping carts.

They travelled into space...

travelled back in time and made their own butter,

then went to the one room school house where they all had questions for the teacher.

Then finished off their little school experience by painting with 'feathers'...just like they used to.

This place could have kept them entertained for days.

So here is to summer continuing on--please don't fly by too fast. Our bucket list isn't finished yet.

Happy weekend everyone.

Next stop--cottage country. The packing and unpacking never ends.

Erica   xox
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