Saturday, June 24, 2017

Seven Quick Takes: Boy hilarity and rays of hope

Joining Kelly and the quick takers again this week with the happenings around here.

ONE: 
Alberta's gorgeous flower in my backyard. 
True summer (the one with no school drop-offs and pickups) is approaching and we are basking in the fun of popsicles and sprinkler running and gardening. 
Part of me can't wait till my eldest is home all day so that we can deprogram him from the social norms of school life and get our fun-loving, dreamy, hilarious big boy back. 
I know it's cynical of me to look at it that way, but when kids the same age get together, they're so full of insecurity and the desire to impress the others that they are just not their authentic selves. I love my guys when they're free to just be themselves and have silly sayings and ideas and maybe actually enjoy playing with someone younger (or older) than they are. 

TWO:
Brothers who slide together...
 When you have two toddlers, the hilarity abounds:

Me: "Zachary, why did you take off his (Martin's) socks?"
Zachary: "So I can lick his feet."

Of course.

THREE:
These three <3 td="">
The study of boyhood is of course one of my daily tasks. They are each different in their personality and phases, but there is still something in them that will likely continue to puzzle me to the end of my days. The older two are 7 and 5, and sometimes say the most profound things. Since we're raising them in the richness of Catholicism, they're in the process of getting to know where they are in God's eyes. They're so genuine in their prayers: 

"Please help all the people who don't have mothers and fathers and grandparents to take care of them."'
"Thank you for air! Because we can breathe and live."
"Please send lots of bats to eat mosquitoes on our camping trip, thank you."
"We pray for our Mom, that she can have help to stop saying bad words." 
"And God, please bless our baby brother Martin. Help him to talk so we can understand what he wants."
"Please tell Mom and Dad to buy me a skateboard. Amen"
"I pray for all the people in the whole world who don't have good suppers like this, because hot dogs are the best."

Last week we took part in a beautiful procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi. While we were kneeling in the church to pray at its close, Carter whispered loudly "Mom, we beat Jesus here." Kind of not the point, my son... but I had to laugh.
Later I had a somewhat serious chat with them about reverence only to find out that they had run ahead of our priest and altar servers to get away from the smell of incense coming from the thuribles. 
These are the people who laugh at flatulence and will stand in the smell of burnt hair at cattle brandings. 

Boys.

FOUR:
This article about mothers who regret having children kind of irked me this week.  The New York Post is not what I'd call a highly discerning publication, so it's not surprising. Personally I've had a lot of offhanded anti-children comments slung at me as I go about life with my four guys and find this blatant rhetoric against the child truly ugly.  The sad thing to me is that this little article is not the first of its kind. Every few months since 2010 (and likely before, but I became someone with stake in the game in 2010) I've noticed some sort of news piece about how children ruin our lives. It comes down to selfishness really. 
The irony of that is that there are also all sorts of people who want children so badly that they're willing to go through rounds of hormones and drugs and literally torture themselves to have just one baby. There are people who are willing to buy babies. There are people who think that they have a "right" to have their own flesh and blood baby. 
Then there are people who are having babies and not properly caring for them. 
This is the world we live in.  Lord have Mercy.

FIVE:

A dash of hope!

That last take was horribly depressing. Also horribly depressing was last week when my son was having a tantrum in the grocery store, a lady who appeared to be in her mid-50s said to me, "That's why I only had one." 
I couldn't stop myself from saying, "Thanks for your insight. That is so helpful at the moment."
Then I felt awful for the rest of the day about the tantrum, the comment and my uncharitable response. 

Ok, but here's the hope:

I took my 2 little guys to Starbucks to pass an hour between kindergarten drop-off and the year-end school liturgy. 
We went in and sat at a table where I fed them overpriced popcorn and delicious oat bars while drinking a flat white. We had a conversation about how popcorn is so yummy and how fun it is to sit at cafes and drink coffee. Martin had a stick with him and was banging it on different surfaces, saying "Ah!" at different sounds.
Beside us was a lone middle-aged lady with a tablet. She glanced our way, and immediately I thought that we might be annoying her with our chatter and banging and my constant need to remind Zachary about inside voices. 
She got up to leave about 5 minutes after we sat down, but before she left, she turned around.
"Oh, here it comes," I thought to myself.
"You have beautiful boys." She said, placing a hand on my shoulder.
"Thank you!" I said, smiling, and since I have one of those faces that shows all my emotions, I'm sure I looked slightly taken aback.
"You're doing a wonderful job. Have a great day," she said, as she walked away.

Day. Made. Hope. Restored.

Z and Me. Martin is banging on a chair with a stick and therefore not in the photo.

SIX:

I'm currently sitting at a gorgeous patio table that Joseph and I touched up with some paint on my deck. We've done so much to this little home of ours to make it beautiful and livable and I'm just so thankful for him and all his hard work. 
Meanwhile, inside the house are nicks in the fairly new paint and scratches in the hardwood and dents in the drywall. We just can't seem to keep this house perfect everywhere.
But as I was lying on the playroom carpet under a pile of two toddlers this morning, tickling them and enjoying their laughter, I realized that the nicks and scratches are going to happen if we let our kids live here. There's going to be wrestling and hotwheels flying and Lego creations on window sills for such a short time, and eventually, all the holes will be patched and the paint perfected, and the floors won't be sticky, and I'll be able to write two sentences without hearing "Moooommmm!". And I'll be a little bit nostalgic for these little imperfections and smudges, won't I?

SEVEN:

After a hectic week, with another one coming up, I tend to need to unwind and relax and do something purely frivolous. Well guess what, writing down these little musings was it. I feel ready to take on the rest of Saturday, and maybe make some lunch for the non-verbal toddler who keeps biting me. If you've made it this far, thanks for reading all my little thoughts. I hope you have an excellent week!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Seven Quick Takes: Props to teachers, toddler shenanigans, thoughts on body image.

Joining Kelly for 7QT! Check it out!

ONE:

Half my babies are through Kindergarten and I was a blubbering mess about it. The cute Kindergarten graduation ceremony did not help my emotional state. I'm both happy and sad. Where did the time go?
Patrick went last year, and Carter this year. Their 20-month age difference made that kind of tricky. I held Patrick back a year longer than the technical eligibility, and Carter was just over the age of eligibility. It was really interesting to see how they did individually with the same teacher and the same kindergarten program. Given their different temperaments and strengths, I hesitate to compare them, but I come out definitely on the side of later-start rather than early start with some of the things I saw.  I don't think Patrick could have handled the demands of Grade 1 last year, that's for sure.
This brings me to my appreciation for their teachers (who will hear all this from me personally) but wow, somehow they get these kids through the year in one piece. We've been really blessed with teachers who have impacted our kids in a positive way, truly invested in seeing them improve and flourish.

TWO:

We've been biking to school in the beautiful weather.  My two oldest are on two-wheelers, and my two youngest are in a bike trailer behind me. So almost every day I strap 70 lbs of child into a 25 lb. trailer and pull that 95 lbs behind me as I keep up with my other two guys and constantly remind them about traffic and bike safety.  My heart-rate is definitely up by the time we reach school, I'll tell you that much! It feels good to build that movement into the day!

THREE:

As I've worked to get healthy post-fourth-pregnancy, I've come to renewed awareness of the pervasiveness of body-worship in our culture.  The obsession with "getting that body" is infuriating me just a little. Why? Because I don't think playing on people's insecurities about how they look is really encouraging true health and wellness. If you've got a "perfect" body, but you're constantly obsessing about what's in your smoothie, what caloric value your burger is, and people's perception of you, that's not health - that's a problem.  Let me just say, I've never been so secure with my body than I am now.  Looking at me, that might surprise the majority of people.  I am overweight. I have a belly. If you follow my insta-stories, you might've caught me ranting about how I get asked a lot if I'm pregnant (BTW, I don't think you should ever ask anybody that. There are lots of reasons why women don't have flat bellies, and pregnancy is only one of them).

I'm just done with the headache of obsession with certain diets, exercise programs and anything that is based on shame. In this body, I've been fat and I've been thin and I've been in-between, but most importantly, I've been me the entire time. I looked in the mirror one day last week, and I grabbed a large chunk of my belly fat - and I felt... nothing. I felt like the skin and fat that I held in my hand were just there ON my body, but that they were not actually part of my identity as a human being. Maybe in a year, with a good food and lots of movement, and regulation of my thyroid, that part of me will look a lot different. It will feel good not to be asked if I'm pregnant when I'm not - OR maybe I'll feel healthy enough that we'll actually BE pregnant, and I can say "Yes" and let people congratulate me. But who knows what could happen? I could die tomorrow. I could die next week! I just don't want to waste any more time being ashamed of my size or shape, or my enjoyment of certain foods. Discipline for my own well-being is certainly key. Moderation for obvious reasons is necessary. I'm not saying that the pursuit of mediocrity or stasis is at all what I'm desiring, but shame is not the way I need set and achieve goals.

FOUR:



Right now my four guys have popsicles (not in the picture, those are cookies) and are sitting outside enjoying the gorgeous day in our lovely back yard. They'll be such a sticky mess, but my plan is eat dinner outside too, then turn the sprinkler on them, strip them down at the door, and get them ready for bed.  This is the glory of summer!

FIVE:

Rejoicing. My toddler is old enough to be entertained for a short time by his brothers. I thought I'd never ever be here, sitting at my kitchen table, able to type five whole takes with nary an interruption with everyone awake. Until now, I've always had a toddler or a baby and kids not old enough to handle said toddler or baby for more than one minute. And this particular toddler... well, lets just say that before him, I never really had toddlers. I had kids who left me ill-equipped me for the kind of curiosity and sheer determination that this one has. We didn't have doors on our cupboards for all three of the older brothers, so you can forget child safety locks. I just put stuff back and said no. All it took was one or two times of scary "don't-take-shit-out-of-the-drawers" mommy, and those three were done! They did not test me any further on this front. This guy however, must attempt to empty at least one bottom drawer or cupboard per day. It's like it's fun to watch mom re-stack and sort all the plastic containers twice a week. I used to scoff at people who used child locks, because "all it takes is telling them no a couple times."  Lets just go back and slap that version of myself.  She's sorry. She didn't have real toddlers.

SIX:

It's Father's Day weekend, and this year the kids, because of school, are actually aware and excited about doing something to honour their Dad. It's super adorable, because they have actual gifts they made at school that they want to give him on Sunday morning. I told them that the best gift they could give Dad was a day of listening and enjoying each other as a family.  I was just informed however, that since that's impossible, "he'll probably be happy with a picture of us in a monster truck." That's 5-year-old logic for you.

SEVEN:


This little face and three others have come demanding food. It's exactly 5 p.m. and the bellies are evidently rumbling, so that's my cue! 

Have a lovely weekend, and spoil those Fathers!




Saturday, June 3, 2017

Seven Quick Takes: Convocation, education and silly indoor girl moments.

Joining Kelly and the other Quick takers once again.

ONE:

 

This is my "freshly convocated" younger (by 8 years) sister! 
I am just so incredibly proud of this woman! She's earned a BA in Music, which she has enjoyed working at, through a lot of tough courses, and hours of practicing and honing her skills.
My sister is a talented pianist. But her very essence is creativity and adding beauty to the world wherever she goes. She is also an incredibly deep, critical thinker* Since she could speak, I have marvelled at the way that she makes sense of the world. 
Nobody I know is as disciplined in making themselves better with each coming day. She is very much like my our late father in that regard, as well as in her quiet constancy, her enjoyment of beauty, and the way that she leaves you feeling unconditionally loved if you're one of the few who gets to know her well. 
Our Dad would be glowing with pride at all her achievements, and ecstatic that she pursued her passion for music, which they shared.

*An actual critical thinker, by definition (see next take).

TWO:

That said, while we were waiting for my sister to walk the stage, I had a lot of time to contemplate the value of education. 
One of the speeches touched on how their university education has taught the graduates critical thinking. I let my own thoughts spin off from this statement (as one does): "Can a university education really teach critical thinking?"
The thing I've observed is that what many people think is critical thinking is actually regurgitation and application of specific ideas they were taught at university (or read in books or online).
Frustratingly, it seems not many people pause to really analyze the world around them and truly think critically about anything. 
It takes more than just dissemination of ideas to inspire a person to do the work of critical thinking. I certainly had teachers in university who worked hard to make us question, but when it comes down to it, it's up to us to do the dirty work. 
It's a matter of letting the possibility that you could be wrong into your life and doing the work to find the answers. Does anyone actually do that? Do I? 
I'll leave it at that. 

THREE:

Lighter thoughts!
On the way to my in-laws last night, my eldest  took out his rosary that he made at school and began praying it on his own with his little guide. Now maybe this happens frequently with other 7-year-old boys - I don't really know!  But I was a bit surprised, given that we have never prayed more than a decade as a family, and certainly never on road trips with 4 boys under 7. It has not been widely discussed other times either given the loud protests on previous rosary occasions.
Our parish priest had been to the class to bless the kids' rosaries, and had told them that he liked to pray the rosary while driving. 
My husband and I looked at each other and back at our son, before joining his rosary.
"What kind of blessing did father put on those rosaries?!" I whispered,
"I don't know, but we should ask him for more of that!" said Joseph.

FOUR:

My boys like to take my phone and take selfies and other photos. This is some of their handiwork.

 
Silly guy. I love his face! 

 

I love the way kids write when they first learn how.

FIVE:

Biblical games:

Me: "Carter, why are our mini-hockey sticks all broken on the ends?"
Carter: "It was Zachary. He was using them as a donkey's jawbone."

SIX:

There's still those times where I'm not ready to be a grown-up:

In the spirit of having 4 boys and wanting to be less of an "indoor girl" as my husband affectionately calls me, I decided to try to spend more time outside. So here I was, outside, watering and weeding our little gardens (which I actually like, but I've been away from it while caring for babies) when I inadvertently angered a wasp. At least I think it was angry. I kept stepping away, and it kept coming back. 
"Wasp!" I whispered to my boys, who hate the prospect of being stung, and they ran away to the back yard. 
Then that silly wasp landed on my baby (well, 18-month-old).
"I guess I have to be the adult here," I thought. So I swatted it off him, picked up my baby and we ran inside to be laughed at by my big strong Joseph, who flicks wasps dead without batting an eyelash. 

SEVEN:

It's 6:39 a.m. on a Saturday. I got up at 6 to finish these Takes. Not because I'm so dedicated to blogging, but because curling up in a blanket for some alone-time on my in-laws couch was a great gift that I couldn't pass up. Plus, it's peaceful here with no city noise - just the tweeting of birds outside the windows.
We are about to enjoy a day of fun on the farm (and maybe I'll earn some outdoor credibility with my boys). Nobody is awake yet though, so I'm daring to crack open a book and bask in the quiet.

Have the loveliest of weekends!