What Strengths Do You Bring?

Today I had a small conversation born out of my last post. She had related to the part where I said something about being afraid to speak up about my own experiences because they were positive, and everybody was talking about the negatives. And I wonder how many more of us out there feel the same way?

When we learned to write out our resumes for job applications, we were told to dedicate a section of it to our attributes and strengths in the workforce. I think we can all think of what we have written there. But how about as a parent? What strengths do you bring to your family? Are you easily able to relate to the every-changing emotions of your children? Perhaps you are always able to come up with creative things to do with your kids. Maybe you are a great cook and your family is happy to eat healthy, balanced meals.

For myself, I believe I am good at general home management. I know how long it takes to get everybody ready and out the door so we aren’t late; my laundry is kept on top of; everything in our home has a spot to live and is usually there.

When we talk about parenting, it is so easy to talk about all the things we are bad at. And yes, it is good to share our hard moments so we can have support when we need it. But why are we embarrassed to speak positively about ourselves? Let’s stop being embarassed. Let’s talk about things we are gifted in. Let’s be inspiring to those around us. Let’s tell our peers what we see that they are good at.

What strengths do you bring to parenting? What can you do that you have been afraid to speak of in the past?

I’m Not a Busy Mom

I hear it every time I’m in public. “You must be so busy!”

My answers and reactions vary, depending on who said it or if I want to have a real conversation. They vary from a smile in acknowledgment to a stranger at the grocery store to the truth with a multiple-sentence answer to somebody at church.

This is my truthful answer:

No, I’m not really busy at all. What am I supposed to be busy doing? We only have one scheduled thing during the week. Calvin’s not in preschool yet. We don’t go to any classes. We do things on our own time. See friends, go to the library, other (very seldom) entertainment type stuff, and grocery store trips. These can all be done at any time (well, any morning because afternoon nap time is precious!), and do not make me feel busy in the slightest.

And at home…that doesn’t feel busy either. I have, admittedly, a healthy amount of time to myself (afternoon naps, remember?) I make simple meals, keep play simple, and, my number one way to not feel busy at home, I keep our home uncluttered.

I don’t know why there is the assumption that all moms are busy. Sometimes, when I find myself in group conversations about this – conversations involving the phrases “reheating coffee”, “rerunning the laundry”, “hadn’t eaten until 3:00”, or “can’t find time to shower” – I notice I just nod in agreement, feeding the stereotype. I’m afraid to share my experience because I don’t want people to think I’m pretending to be the perfect mom or saying my life is better.

I know that every person lives and works differently so not everybody can, or even should, be like me. Some people need to get out of the house more than I do. Some people need to have a scheduled week. I am not a perfect mom who has perfected parenting. My home isn’t always peaceful or clean or ideally orderly. I just know what works for me and it happens to not be “normal”.

I am a mom with three young boys and I am not busy!

we mainly just jump on couches all day

we mainly just jump on couches all day

I can’t say what my life will be like when the kids are in school, but I do know it doesn’t have to be a hectic life.

A Fresh Hallway

Over two years of owning this house, and I finally painted another area! And it took about a month, but it’s done now, and it feel soooo good! It is so much lighter and brighter and I love it! Here are some before and afters for your enjoyment. Yes, we have mismatched doors.

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I took these befores so long ago that Victor was still crawling!

I took these befores so long ago that Victor was still crawling!

Painting trim is not the most fun, and if you  look at it closely, it could use one more coat, but I’m no perfectionist, so I’m not going to worry about it. I highly recommend not being a perfectionist. It makes life a lot easier.
DSC_0203I also did one wall in the living room. The one wall that was the same dark brown as all the trim. So glad to be gone with that brown!living room b&a 1Next to be painted will be the rest of the living room and finally will be the master bedroom, and then that yellow and brown will be completely gone! But who knows when that will happen.

A Winter-Ready Entry

This is our fourth winter here, in Edmonton. And this year is the latest winter has ever arrived for us. It (read: the snow) came on Monday, the 23rd of November! We have been spoiled. But it’s here now, so the back entry is once again my least favourite corner of the house.

We have a detached garage which means jackets and boots must be worn every time we leave the house, even if we won’t be leaving the vehicle. Then when we return, the boots come tromping back inside leaving behind muddy puddles of melted snow mixed with road gravel. The gloves and hats get discarded where it’s convenient. The jackets maybe get handed to me to get hung up. The result is a very messy and cluttered entry way. Especially when you’ve only got about 8 square feet, a closet and three doorways coming off of it.

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these photos were all taken on panorama, hence the wonkyness

IMG_2711It’s a big ol’ mess which doesn’t make it any easier to get out the door. One thing I am thankful for in this space are the few steps up into the kitchen. The boys can sit there in one spot while I get their boots and gloves and everything on.

So this afternoon I took 15 minutes and cleaned it up. Hopefully in a way that encourages keeping it tidy. The boys’ boots and gloves and hats in a place where they can easily reach to put them away. All out of season items on the top shelf or in a different closet. IMG_2714 And a little side-by-side, because who doesn’t like a good “before and after”?Image-1Side note: is there a chunk of the population who secretly hates scarves? I feel like everybody and their cat loves scarves, but I can’t stand them, and I can’t be the only one, right? One of those baskets on the top shelf is full of pretty scarves I never wear. They are stuffy and scratchy and make me sweaty. Hats are the same story. How on earth do people like them so much?!

If this were our forever home, I think I would do a little renovation back here. Because of the steps up into the kitchen, the ceiling is at least 10 feet tall, meaning there is a ton of unused space hiding in the top of this closet. I would open the whole thing up (take out the side lips where the door would go, and the wall above where the door would go), and build shelving all the way up to store out of season things and stuff. I just think this space could be used a little more wisely.

Rearranging the House

A handful of months ago, Tim was able to turn a hobby of his into a paying job. In short, he collects stats and writes articles for professional eSports, for the game League of Legends. Because of this, we have been able to stop being landlords and have reign over our entire house! This has had a domino effect on a number of rooms in our house.

First of all, our main motivation, the living space of the suite has become our playroom!

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pictured here, in its natural state

With three kids now, it is a huge blessing to be able to have this space, especially through the winter. And I am very happy that it was painted two summers ago. It’s a dark basement, but the light colours really help.

We have also gained a bedroom! The suite bedroom is almost 3 times the size of our old guest room, so we moved the guest room down there. Because of the space, we were able to upgrade the bed from a double to a queen. You’re welcome, guests!
IMG_2697 The bedroom even provided space for a piano! Our friends who are moving were looking to get rid of theirs, so voila! I have pulled out some of my old music and played a tiny bit. I just have to say that muscle memory is an amazing thing. I haven’t had a piano in 7.5 years, and most of the music just comes right back. My fingers just know where to go.IMG_2699 The next domino is the boys’ sleeping arrangements. Since the double bed was no longer a guest bed, I decided to tear down Victor’s crib and switch it, along with Calvin’s toddler bed, with the double mattress for them to share. It has been working okay. I mean, isn’t this the cutest?IMG_2484 IMG_2539It was actually the most helpful for a couple days after the time change. They woke up at 5:30, but I crawled into their bed and they lay back down and slept for another hour with me! The cuddles possible in a big, shared bed are wonderful.

But it has actually proven to be kind of a bad idea. It has almost wrecked nap time. We have had to now have Calvin nap in our bed because they would just not fall asleep when they are together, and they both still need naps. And we’ve had to experiment with bedtime too, in order to get them settled and relaxed enough. So, my idea turned out not to be as brilliant as I thought. We are now trying to decide if we should get them bunk beds (will the physical separation help with the distractions?), or put Calvin in the old guest room, and get each boy a new twin sized bed? Unfortunately, if we decide the latter, we can’t do it right away because it currently looks like this:IMG_2696 It contains the contents of our linen closet and entry closet because I am painting. And painting takes me a long time. Another factor in the decision is this guy:IMG_2654When he gets kicked out of our room, should he have his own space (if the boys continue to share a room), or should he share with Victor (if Calvin moves out)?

But the main question out of all of this is do we buy two single beds or a bunk bed?

I apologize for all the awful iPhone photos taken of dark rooms. 

Calvin Quips

It’s been quiet around here the past few months, but I have a few posts brewing in my mind. While I gather thoughts for those, here are some little things Calvin has said over the past year or so (some are obviously from a younger Calvin). He doesn’t often have witty remarks or clever observations, but sometimes he sure does make us laugh!IMG_2685-0

C “Let’s play go fish!”
Me “We just played go fish and you didn’t play it very well. You need to learn it better.”
C – takes cards in his hands a looks at them “learn learn learn. I learn-Ed now, mommy!”

Me “victor, say thank you to Calvin”
Victor signs thank you.
Me “Calvin, say you’re welcome”
C “I welcome, victor!”

“That not sense!” (That doesn’t make sense!)
“What you got for?” (What did you forget?)

“I am so hot. I need a book to warm me up!”
One of the things that make you think about how he thinks. Warm is cooler than hot, but “warm up” is the term he knows with warm. I had been cooling myself down by flapping a book in my face.

Playing with my hair.
“Hum hum hum. I’m just tangling your hair. Hum hum hum!”

C “Jesus put mud on his eyes!”
Me “Wow! So he could see?”
C “Yeah! Jesus help him. And Jesus help me!”
Me “What does Jesus help you with?”
C “He put mud on my eyes.”
Me “Why does he put mud on your eyes?”
C “Because, to make me look nice!”

C “Please feed Victor”
Me “I already did feed him”
C “Can I feed Victor?”
Me “How would you feed him?”
C “With my armpits!”

“Topart” is the opposite of together

Driving through Saskatchewan:
“I saw a tree!”

Talking with Aunty Michelle about chickens laying eggs.
C “If there are 5 chickens, they lay 5 eggs! If there are 5 dogs, they lay 5 eggs!”
M “Dogs don’t lay eggs!”
C “Dogs lay poop!”

“These are the rules” as he counts off on his fingers. “Don’t eat toilet paper, don’t eat poop, don’t eat pee. Those as the rules. And don’t eat kids.”

[fridge makes quick knocking sounds]
“What’s that mommy?”
“The fridge”
“I don’t see it”
“See what?”
“The freeze bubbler”

Sits on toilet.
“Pee delivery!”

“I love you mommy”
“I love you too! Do you love me as much as I love you?”
“Yeah! And daddy. And Amber.” (Grandpa’s dog)IMG_2686

Friendship

I’ve been thinking about friendship a lot lately. My friendships of the past, present and future. And I am attempting to get my thoughts down to create some sort of order to them. So here begins my rambling.

A few months ago I was thinking about the term “best friend”. Whenever I think of who mine are, I immediately think of my best friends of my youth. But I really can’t say that they are my best friends anymore. When did that happen? And who are my best friends now? My biggest insecurity is in my relationships with my friends, not feeling like they are as close to me as I want to be with them, or that we don’t have enough in common. Going through my history of friendships, I can see where that comes from.

My early friendships were with church friends, one in particular with whom our friendship ran in our blood, since our moms were friends in highschool. She became my best friend #1.

Best Friend #1

Best Friend #1

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In early elementary school, I went to a school that was not in my neighbourhood, but in grade 6 I changed schools to one close by. I knew only one girl in the entire school, besides my sister, and she was friends with the cool girls, so naturally I hung out with them. But they didn’t like me. So I went through that year with no good friend. Then in grade 7, a new girl started coming and I befriended her. She became my best friend #2.

Best Friend #2

Best Friend #2

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High school was pretty great, contrary to many people’s experiences. I was going to highschool with a bunch of my church friends (with the exception of the private school kids who were too cool for us; but we smartened up in grade 10 and became a big, happy bunch). In grade 11, another new girl came along. She became best friend #3.

Best Friend #3

Best Friend #3

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After graduation, all my friends went to school. I did not. They all started making new university friends and having shared university experiences, and I was feeling left out, even though nobody was leaving me out on purpose. I was able to support best friend #3 through a cancer diagnosis and treatment which made me feel solid in our friendship, but I felt distanced from the other two.

Why curly-heads should not have bangs.

Why curly-heads should not have bangs.

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With my move to Victoria when I was 21 came a refresh. This was my first ever move, and it felt daunting to make new friends. Looking back, this is when I started making new best friends, but never gave them that label. I guess in my mind that title was sacred, so my new good friends became Friends. The room mate of the girl I subletted from during my first summer in Victoria became Friend #4. But she is the kind of person who is friendly with a lot of people, so I questioned how much of a Friend she was, until she told me she wanted to live with me in my one-bedroom place.

Friend #4

Friend #4

#1 through #4 plus my sister (Rosie, sister-friends trump peer-friends, and I am glad to have you in my life :) )

#1 through #4 plus my sister (Rosie, sister-friends trump peer-friends, and I am glad to have you in my life :) )

The rest of my Victoria friends were all from the church I was attending. A bunch of them were childhood friends, and the remaining were university students, so again, I felt a little left out of some things, but it was okay since I never had a relationship with them before. At some point, I was invited to an exclusive Saturday morning breakfast club (that soon after turned into an open invitation thing) by one girl who eventually became Friend #5.

Friend #5

Friend #5

Friend #4 moved away and I became closer to Friend #5, only to be swept off to Alberta. In Alberta, once I found a church, I defaulted to being friends with the other moms, since I now had a child of my own. It’s hard to be the new person, when everybody else already has existing relationships. Adding to that, most other people have their own family in town and we don’t, so we have lots of free time where other people have family events and activities. But after we had been here for about a year, a new face showed up and joined our new small group. She became my Friend #6, and the rest of the small group were our better friends too.

Our small group, including Friend #6

Our small group, including Friend #6

That brings us to present day, when our small group has disbanded. One couple started getting more involved in a new church, another couple is moving out of province on Friday, and the last couple is moving out of town at the end of the year. I am losing my friends, and I am sad about that, which is why I have started thinking about all this so much.

I am thinking about my insecurities again. They manifest in a few ways: I hate being late for things (what if I miss something?), I don’t like it when people are late for my things (do they even care?), and I over share (I just want to be understood!), as demonstrated with this post. :)

Am I going to find another Friend here? Should I bother trying since we don’t want to be here for ever? I could try and convince myself that I don’t need a Friend, that the general community I have through our church is enough, but I don’t think that’s true. When we do eventually move back to BC, will I have my old friends back, or will I make new friends? How will I make new friends? There is something to be said for having a Friend that you share a history with. You just know everything, and that is a wonderful gift.

That’s another thing. It’s hard for me to make friends. I’m not outgoing. I’m better at communicating with my two thumbs than with my two lips. So thankful for emojis! feel like I am too different from most people to be good friends with them. But maybe that is what makes me a good friend.

So when did my best friends stop being my best friends? I think when I got new best friends. And who are my new best friends? I would classify them as the two people I text with on an almost daily basis. Yes, I define my levels of friendship on how much I text with them.

I don’t think I really accomplished anything with this post. I probably don’t really need to publish it, but I will anyway. I love all my friends of my past – the ones who can tell a crazy story about me for half a dozen years and not tell me it was made up until my wedding day, and present – the ones who will volunteer to watch my boys after a bad day, and am excited about the ones of my future.