Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Last night we carved pumpkins after dinner. Really Tony and I carve pumpkins and the kids keep busy doing thier own thing because it's not as if we can hand each of them a knife and say go at it. So Tony and I carved pumpkins. Nana joined us and helped Tag with his little pumpkin - cutting out the top and scooping out the guts. Reagan watched as Tony carved hers and then kept busy with collecting all the seeds out of the guts for roasting. Cooper and Hudson wanted to carve their own but realized it's harder than it looks so left it to us and went off to read comics.


In the end, fun was had by all and the pumpkins looked great.

Of course my mind was whirling with all I still needed to do to get everyone out of the house this morning. But we did it and it was a lot easier than I thought. They were all so excited and they looked great. Coop's hobo costume turned out way better than I thought thanks to Tony spending an hour on the driveway last night grinding all the clothes into shreds.


We all walked to school this morning on time and happy. The snacks were all wrapped up and ready to go. They have a costume parade at school so Tag and I stayed to watch. It's a big school and it took a long time for all the kids to file by and Tag was so patient. I think he was pretty fascinated with all the crazy costumes.
So now I am feeling a hundred times better than last night. Big sigh of relief when all those costumes finally came together in the end. And it's really so worth it as you watch the excitement in their little faces.

Now I just need to put together a chicken stew for dinner and wait until tonight when we head out to trick-or-treat. I am trying to prep Tag for what tonight holds for him and he is excited but I really don't think he has any idea. As the two of us walked home from school today he asked me "Where is Halloween?" Like it is a place that we are going to go.

So cute but so clued-out.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Costumes and soccer

We are knee deep in Halloween preparations. Or should I say, I am knee deep. I do this every year. I think I have so much time to get their costumes ready and then the last day I am scrambling.


Halloween is really not my favorite time of year. I don't like all the ghoulish things that go along with it but of course we do it - because the kids love it.


Today I managed to get Reagan's and Hudson's costumes done (Minnie Mouse and Frankenstein) and they turned out really well. Taggart is going to be a lion, the one from the Wizard of Oz specifically, because that is his very favorite movie right now. Thankfully that costume was lent to us and I had to do nothing.


Cooper, on the other hand, is another story. He wanted to be an 'army man'. Has wanted to for months now. When I said okay to that I wasn't really thinking about the fact that army men carry guns. (I think this costume thing might have been a plan all along for me to finally buy him a play gun). I have always said that I will not buy a gun. So I guess lately we have sort of been avoiding the whole issue of the gun.


Tony says "He can't be an army guy without one."


So I say "So, what then, should I buy him one?"


He says "I never would have agreed to him dressing up as an army guy"


I say "Thanks for your help." (as if you wouldn't have)


So I basically caved to him having a gun. Yet, after scouring endless dollar stores, Cooper could not find the gun he wanted. Oh, darn.


Yesterday, a kind friend of his (now my favorite) suggested he be a hobo.


A hobo - no weapons. Yay!


Tomorrow I am off to Value Village for hobo clothes.

Tomorrow...

Tomorrow I have to bring snack for Tag's whole preschool class (a fact which escaped me until 8:30 this evening).

Tomorrow I have to bake witch finger and eyeball cookies for 3 class Halloween parties.


Tomorrow I have to buy a pumpkin for our carving planned for after dinner because some lovely teenagers decided to steal one off our porch and smash it on the road.


Tomorrow might be a pizza night.



Switching gears now to soccer - which seems to be taking over our lives lately.

Reagan had her big wind-up tonight. She has really enjoyed soccer this season (her first) and she has also done really well. Unfortunately, Tony and I feel very 'soccered out'. It's too bad that all the administrative red tape and things that have nothing to do with the kids enjoying the game has sort of taken over this year.

But tonight watching her and the happiness on her face when she received her little trophy and stuff makes me remember why we do it and why Tony puts so much time into volunteering.

Still, a little relieved that her season is over. This means we are now down to only two games every Saturday and that's plenty.

Can't wait until all four of them are playing.

Saturday has definitely turned into Soccerday and will stay that way for some time I think.

Off to bed. Tomorrow is a big day.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In a jam

I left Hudson, Reagan and Tag downstairs (Tony and Cooper went to soccer) to go have my shower Saturday morning. As a came out of the bathroom only 15 minutes later this is what I saw.

"Mom, I ate some jam" I think I just stood there and stared at him for a minute, trying, in my head, to imagine what I might find as I go down the stairs and into the kitchen.

This jar was almost full before he got to it. He had quite a feast. And there were little trails of it everywhere. I should mention that Reagan and Hudson were there the whole time - but the TV was on - enough said.

Of course I got annoyed with him and told him he was very naughty, but I also went for my camera. And I thought later how scrapbooking is so much more than a hobby for me but a way of life. I have heard other scrapbookers talk about it this way, and to those who don't "get it" I'm sure it sounds so over the top. But if I wasn't a scrapbooker, so interested in capturing our everyday, would I have stopped to take photos? Probably not and then I wouldn't have given myself those moments to see the silliness in the situation. Maybe I would have gotten mad, mad at him and mad at the mess I now needed to deal with. So thankful for what this hobby has done for me and how it has let me grow as a person and as a Mom.

As I sat him on the table to get the photos of his little jammy self, Reagan and Hudson finally noticed that something was going on. "What did he do?" asked Reagan. "He ate some jam" I answered. Taggart: "It was sooooo good."

The trail of evidence.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Crazy life

Today I did what I have often joked about doing, even feared I would do but never have - before today that is.

Let me try to describe the chaos that usually takes place on the school ground when we are there at 3:00 to pick up Hudson and Cooper.

Kids everywhere!
Me just trying to keep track of mine.
The boys trying to arrange playdates (always!!)
Reagan at the playground with strict instructions to come back to me when she hears the bell.
Rounding up Taggart from who knows where to get him back into the stroller.
Taggart fighting me to get back into the stroller.
The boys still trying to arrange playdates.

Today was no different (except for the fact that the weather was on my side so I wasn't trying to balance an umbrella while I fought with Tag to get back into the stroller).

Playdates are arranged (I'm bringing two extra home today), Taggart is succesfully buckled in and we are heading for home. Keep in mind that I walk with my dear friend and neigbour Stephanie who at any given time may have up to 7 kids walking with her (today whe had them all). We often comment that our parent to kid ratio is far too low (or is it too high?). Anyways, there were a lot of kids.

With this many kids we had to have had them all...right?? Wrong!! For whatever reason I decided to take a quick inventory as we headed down the hill away from the school.

"Where's Reagan?"

It took me a few seconds to register that she actually wasn't with us. Where could she be? Stephanie looks at me. "She's still on the payground!" I say, a little panic in my voice.

Quick thinking tells me to send Cooper to go fetch her. He runs off in a mad dash, but not before yelling "YOU LEFT HER AT THE PLAYGROUND!?!!??!?" Thanks Cooper, as the other Moms responsibly walking ALL their children home get a good look at the one who forgot to do a head count.

So Tag and I wait and a few minutes later see Cooper and Reagan running down the hill toward us. "I almost left you at school Reagan. Didn't you hear the bell?"

"You did? No, I didn't hear the bell." As she happily skips all the way home.

All she was thinking is that she got an extra long time to play today. Lucky her.

So, today I forgot one of my kids. Completely forgot. I will still joke about doing this and probably fear doing it again. But now the joke will change slightly. I am no longer laughing at the possibility, but rather the crazy ease in which it can happen.

This is a crazy life - but it is mine - and I like it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Friends


This taken only minutes after Tag hit Reagan in the face with a plastic hammer, causing blood to literally stream from her nose. She forgave him much quicker than I could. I still had blood to clean up off the carpet, her clothes, my clothes and the kitchen floor. She never holds a grudge and is always quick to forgive. He is blessed.

Some Sunday fun:

Lots of Disney Yahtzee and Memory with Dad

Computer games (Tag in his usual perch)


Video games and neighborhood friends (only 4 of those are mine)

Cup of tea with a new scrapbook magazine (perfect)
Some time at my table
A perfect Sunday.





Also spent some time with Hudson today. I had to go get a couple groceries so I took him with me. We stopped off at Tim's for a donut. He has been such an awesome little guy lately. So helpful with his chores, such a good attitude, and so kind to his brothers and sister. I really felt that it needed to be recognized with more than a pat on the back. He looked so pleased eating his donut, little colored sprinkles all over his face, when I told him why I took him out. He is my sensitive one, which means that sometimes he cries too much, but I see him growing up into such a kind and thoughtful little man. So proud of him.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cathedrals

This is for any mothers out there who sometimes feel un-appreciated. This is meant to encourage. It did so for me when I read it even with a few tears.

I'm invisible.
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.
Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?"
I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?"
I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going ... she's going ... she's gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just returned from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean.
My unwashed hair was pulled up in a clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."
It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
(1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

(2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. (3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
(4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees." I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.
God Bless You as you build your Cathedrals!
-Author Unknown

Monday, October 15, 2007

"On"

Today, I was the kind of mom I want to be almost all day long.



Wish all days were like that.



But some days I'm "on" and some days I'm "off".



Started the day with getting up when my alarm went off instead of hitting 'snooze' 3 or 4 times first. This results in me being pretty much ready when the kids get up and therefore I'm there to help them so we can all get out of the house on time - which we did.



Even ahd time to throw in a load of laundry before we left.



Had plans to head to Walmart with Tag after I walked the kids to school. Jackie (my lovely neighbor) invited Tag to go to the family center with her and Deja (lovely neighbor's daughter) so I was off to Walmart on my own.



Stopped at Starbucks for a Caramel Macchiato.



Got all my shopping done and stopped to return a movie we had rented. I had tried to return this movie 2 weeks prior just to discover that the DVD was still in our player at home and I was returning an empty case. Today I tried again and realized for a second time that the DVD still wasn't in the case. I guess the kids figured if I wasn't going to return the movie they might as well watch it again. Thank goodness for 'no late charges'.



Came home with enough time to switch the laundry before walking back up to school to pick up Reagan and Kira (neighbor's other daughter) from kindergarten. We walked home in the rain while the two of them sang kindergarten songs. Very cute.



Kira and Deja ended up having lunch with us and playing with Tag and Reagan while I spent some time making up a 'chore chart' for the kids. Talked a lot this weekend about having more responsibilites around here so Mom doesn't have to do everything and can spend more quality time with them.



They seemed receptive to the idea so I am devising a chart to hang up so they can see what they need to do. Couldn't finish it because I ran out of velcro so this means another trip to Walmart tomorrow.



Walked up to school again at 2:30 to pick up Hudson and Cooper. Cooper brought home a friend and Hudson went to a friends.



Made a yummy Shepherds Pie for dinner that everyone enjoyed except Tony who had to work late.



Found Cooper trying to pick something out of the pocket of his jeans. Silly Putty that had now gone through the wash. So I asked him to go change his pants and I spent 10 or 15 minutes picking it out. I told him it needed to be put back into its container.



Found him later reading on the couch with the silly putty laying beside him (not in a container). Told him again to put it away - didn't want to pick it out of the furniture.



Found him again minutes later with it still laying around and I told him if I saw it again it would be in the garbage.



The kids spent the rest of the evening reading and playing happily.



Tony got home around 7:30, just in time for bedtime.



Walked in on Cooper in his room with the Silly Putty hanging off the front of his shirt (he didn't know it was there).



What's that? I said



Busted.



That's it, I said, it goes in the garbage.



Now, I know that I shouldn't threaten with things that I will have a hard time following through on. So there were tears as I knew there would be. He loves his Silly Putty. I had to take it because that was my threat.



I didn't throw it in the garbage, but he thinks I did and I guess that's enough. One day when he is being particularily lovely I will probably give it back. I'm not sure that is the right thing to do, but I know myself well enough to know that is what I will do.



Sometimes it is really hard being the Mom that I want to be.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Happy Friday

It's Friday night and my week with Tony away went surprisingly fast. I'm glad it's just about over though and I'm really looking forward to seeing him tomorrow. The kids have really missed him too. I'm very thankful that he doesn't have a job that requires him to do this more often. It's not for me.

Today was a good day.

I got a little time to recharge this morning. Taggart ended up playing at the neighbor's (Jackie's) for most of the day, Reagan went to a friends house after school and so I had up until 2:00 in the house by myself. Loooooovely.

I sat down at me scrap table and the time just flew. I kept thinking, I should go clean the kitchen, I should go put a load of laundry in, but I didn't. And I'm glad I didn't because when I went to collect all my kids at 2:30 I felt ready for the afternoon and evening. I felt re-energized. My plan was to take them all to the park and then out to McDonalds for dinner. Cooper got a call from a friend and he and Hudson ran over to play. Reagan found Kira outside and she was gone again too. Taggart couldn't seem to wake up from his nap so I was beginning to think my grand plans were not going to happen. I was so enjoying my time alone in the morning and then when I wanted to spend time with them they all seemed to have other plans.

Nana asked us if she could take us out for dinner so our plans were back on, even if they had changed slightly. We left around 5:00 and still had time to play at the park before our dinner at White Spot. The kids burned off some more energy for about an hour and we were all famished by the time we got there. Cooper had decided that he is now too old to still be ordering a Pirate Pak so he got a regular meal. He was quite pleased with himself when he got a big glass of pop while the other three got little paper cups. But the tables sure turned when he remembered that Pirate Paks come with ice cream for dessert. Lucky for him the waitress was nice enough to bring him a scoop too.

We ended off the night with a phone call from Daddy and bedtime stories from Nana.

Playground photos:


Today was a good day.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

'Thanks' weekend

We started our Thanksgiving long weekend with a little sleep-in on Saturday morning. The kids are now going downstairs on their own and switching on the TV when they wake up. Even Tag is following them, when just a few weeks ago he would first climb into bed with me for a while before heading down. Thanks kiddies.


Usually our Saturday is filled with soccer but we had this one off due to the holiday. I was looking forward to it all week - a Saturday with nothing to do. Thanks Abbotsford Soccer. It sounds so blissful and realxing until about 4:00 when everyone starts to get crabby and whiny because they haven't been outside all day.


So what do you do on a rainy fall day when the kids need to get out? Why, go to Walmart, of course. Tony needed a few things for his trip to Toronto (he left this morning) so off we went. Well, no trip to Walmart is complete with a trip into the toy department where, inevitably each will find something they "have always wanted". This one always gets me. How can you have always wanted something when you didn't even know it existed 5 minutes earlier. Thanks Walmart.


Anyways, Cooper came home with some little Pirates of the Carribean Lego guys, Hudson came home with nothing (except a lot of tears) because he didn't have enough money for anything he wanted. Taggart and Reagan came home with these:

video


"What was I thinking?" you ask? Sometimes I seem to lose my sense of logic when I see something that I really know my kids will enjoy. You may remember the inflatable hammer incident on the day we went to the PNE.

It was really quite entertaining and pretty cute as they performed for us on Saturday night. Thanks little rock stars.




But since then I might have been heard saying "if you have to play that thing could you please do it upstairs".


Saturday night ended with me doing some scrapbooking at my friend Janie's house. Working on our Karen Russell projects from last weekend. Very fun mini album that I spent most of this morning collecting my photos for so that her and I can finish it next weekend. Thanks Janie.



Sunday morning Tony will tell you that he made breakfast sandwiches for us (our version of the egg mcmuffin), when really all he did was fry the bacon (outside on the BBQ in the rain) because I really, really hate the smell of bacon in my house. Thanks Tony. :)

The boys played video games all morning while Tag and Reagan toddled around doing not much of anything.


Then around 1:00 they all started pacing at the front window anticipating the arrival of Aunty Mary. We had hoped to go to the Apple Barn with them like last year but the weather didn't co-operate. So instead we sat around, ate snacks, played Sudoku while we waited for turkey dinner. Thanks Mum.



Sunday was another lazy morning while I made waffles for breakfast. After enjoying those, the kids sent yet another few hours doing who knows what before we finally kicked them all outside to get some much needed fresh air. The sun finally came out. Thanks Mr. Golden Sun.



We ended the weekend with another great turkey dinner at Pat and Henry's. Mom and Dad were missing as they had gone to Edmonton to spend the weekend with Willi and Brenda but most of the rest of us were there, with a few exceptions. A nice evening of great food and some nice conversation with my family that I see far too little of. I always realize it after I've spent time with all of them how much I enjoy it. Thanks family.



The highlight for Taggart was being able to go the chicken coop at Uncle Henry's and collect one lovely brown egg and the later Uncle Henry gave us some more eggs to bring home. Thanks chickens.






















This weekend I was also made aware of something missing from my blog lately - Hudson. Apparently he hasn't showed up here for a long time. This was definitly not intentional and I will be adding some sort of Hudson-news as soon as it happens. Thanks, my faithful blog readers.

Friday, October 5, 2007

About doing better...

Some days are not good days. Some days I feel as though all I've done is nag my kids. Some days it feels as if I haven't enjoyed them at all and now the day is over and I can't get it back. Some days I've sent my kids to bed without telling them properly that I love them. Wednesday was one of those days. Kids being kids and me with not nearly enough patience so at the end of the day I feel exhausted and awful. But what is encouraging is that I am not doing this alone. It seems that on those days when I have very little patience, Tony has enough for both of us and I think that the opposite also applies. Some encouraging words from him on Wednesday evening as we settled down to watch a little TV were helpful in knowing that tomorrow would be a new day and a new opportunity to do better. That is something he often says "Tomorrow I want to do better with the kids", even if I think he did pretty good that day he always seem room for improvement.

So on Thursday morning I came downstairs and saw this note on the counter. I read it and smiled. (Tony, I hope you don't mind that I'm posting this - but I want to remember this). These few words changed the way I looked at the day and the day went well. I laughed with the kids, we acted silly and eventhough I didn't actually have 5 minutes individually with each child I approached the day with a better attitude. Today I will try again for the '5 minute' thing (you wouldn't think that would be so hard). Five minutes of quality time to connect. Thanks Tony for thinking about me and the quality of my day with the kids., and for giving me such a simple, but effective way to make me feel better at the end of my day.
On a different note, for anyone who noticed, Tony is actually a very good speller. :)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Daily inspiration

I love quotes. I have been collecting my favorites in a book for a few years now. I love reading something written by someone that captures my feelings exactly but wouldn't be able to ever get into words so eloquently. Therefore, I have added a spot on my blog in the column to the right for those quotes that I am currently finding inspiring. I really love this first one I have added - I really need to read it every day - such an important reminder. A great place for finding quotes is this website.
Playing with my camera and experimenting with different settings while Reagan and I played a game of Dora Candy Land. She was starting to get annoyed that my focus had drifted from the game.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Pumpkins, races, and rain




Despite the rain and the wind and the cold, Taggart had a great time at the Apple Barn field trip this morning. The hay ride pulled by the tractor was a definite highlight and he picked a great pumpkin which has now been added to our front porch fall display.

Cooper ran another great race - his last one of the season. The course was much longer than last week and he came in 25th again. He was a little disappointed that he didn't come top 20 and get a ribbon. He's decided that he will be more successful in track and field. Cooper - the participator.

Very inspired on the weekend as Janie, Leslie, and I took a scrapbook workshop in Maple Ridge. The first half of the day was a photography class where I learned lots of stuff I really wanted to know, but was slightly discouraged because now I really want a better camera. The second half of the day is when we got to play and be creative. The instructor, Karen Russell, talked a lot about only scrapbooking those photos that really 'speak' to you. In the past I've always felt that I needed to make a page with every photo I take but I have since changed my philsophy. This hobby is for my enjoyment and nothing else. I will no longer sit and struggle to create layouts on photos that 'bore' me - I will slide them into photo album pages and they will be there to look at. I am excited at the prospect of looking through my photos again to find those that jump out of the pile and beg to be created with. This hobby changes for me all the time and that's what I love about it. Here are the two layouts I created on Saturday:


It has gotten me into a creative spirit - need to make time to sit at my table this week.