Friday, 19 April 2013

Lessons ...

I'm learning more from my kids on how to stop sweating the small stuff than I ever did from a self help book.  I'm learning that some help is better than none, even if I have to go back and do it again afterwards because "helping wash dishes is so awesome Mum". 

I'm learning that it's physically impossible for a 13 year old boy to keep his room clean. I'm learning while that 13 year old boys can be frustrating, they can also be awesome.  I'm learning that sometimes the best gift I can give my boys is an ear - whether it's for the newest song one loves, or the " 'poooooky 'tory " the other one needs to tell me for the 444th time. 

I'm learning that sperm whales are really big, porcupines have sharp quills that stick in your finger, and caterpillars make cookoo's to become beautiful butterflies.  Yes I said cookoo ... not cocoon.  I'm also learning that (as a good friend told me) while some kids are sponges, but mine is a Sham Wow with information and needs to share it.

I'm learning that it's ok if words aren't pronounced properly, because too soon the days come when everything is said properly and I will long for the days of halipopters and hopsitals... and of packpack's and kazzurt.

I'm learning that bad dreams and bad colds produce the best cuddles.  I'm learning that if baby goes to sleep on his own one day, but the next needs to be cuddled/rocked/bounced/wrapped to go to sleep - that's ok.  I'm learning that I can trust my own gut when it comes to my kids, and that I'm a really good mom.  I'm learning to get over the fact that I couldn't breastfeed my kids, but making my own formula is the next best thing - and makes me feel much better about what is going into my baby's belly.

I'm learning that bulldozers are an integral part of any puzzle process and you just don't question it.  I'm also learning that sometimes doing a puzzle IS the most important thing I could accomplish in my day.  I'm learning that couch cushion forts are not a mess, they are fun.

I'm learning that the new normal is busy, and will not settle down any time soon.  At the same time, I'm also learning that I do have limits, and it's ok to say no.

I'm learning that when my 3 year old tells me he talks to my mom on his Fisher Price phone, I need to just listen to what he has to say and not be so quick to dismiss it as silly.  Because when a small boy tells you that your mom misses you and wishes she were here, even though she's been dead and gone for over 12 years, that is a gift. 

I'm learning new and re-learning old things every single day, and I don't want to forget any of it.  So, I'm learning to use my video camera more, and my cell phone less.  I'm learning that being busy isn't as important as being present.  I'm learning that I am the luckiest mom in the world, and I hope every mom feels the same way.

Happy Friday :)

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Dear 20 Something Me ...

Looking back over my life I often think about how different things may have been if I'd known then what I know now.  Have you ever done that?  I'm pretty sure we all have at some point or another.

However, I find myself wanting to SHOVE what I know now down the throats of those who are still in their 20's.  Mostly in an effort to try and save them from the lessons I had to learn the hard way, but of course I just come off looking like a really bossy weirdo who needs her bangs trimmed and smells like poutine.

So I decided to try and assauge my sometimes-self-loathing for not knowing better before I possibly could have, and I've composed this lovely list.  I feel I could have saved myself some heartache, and maybe a few dollars, had I known some of this stuff then.  But then again, I wouldn't have listenened to me anyways.  Still, I like lists ... so here goes.

Dear 20-Something Me:

  1. Curves rock ... quit worrying about the fact that you are not skinny.  Skinny is great for skinny people ... but chances are lots of them wish they had a juicy butt and big rack like you do. 
  2. Having said that, when your friends want you to try poutine when you're 28, don't do it.  It probably becomes the reason you never get back down to a size 8.  Bitches. 
  3. Buy a video camera.  Due to circumstances beyond your control, you will not remember most of the first 2 years of your oldest son's life, and photos do not capture enough.  You've gone into debt for worse ... and you will always wish you'd done it.
  4. Ask questions about credit, learn how to budget, get life insurance, and start saving for retirement.
  5. Don't drink hard liquor.  You're a bad drunk when you do.
  6. Don't be so quick to put your own dreams on hold for someone else's.  Your dreams matter too, and they are worthy of being pursued. 
  7. Don't be a doormat.  You will figure this out at 30, but I would have much preferred you figured this out earlier.  If you don't want to do it, DON'T.  If you do, then DO.  You're not a bad person for not putting yourself first once in a while.
  8. Don't smoke, it's gross. 
  9. Your mother's death was in no way your fault.  You cannot begin to understand what kind of personal hell she was in.  You did everything you knew how, and looking back 13 years later there is nothing you would/could/or should change.  Save yourself years of worry and doubt and just know that you were a good daughter, but her time had come and she was done fighting.
  10. Your son will save your life ... make sure he knows that when he's old enough to understand.
  11. Keep your rottweiler.
  12. Trust in the fact that people come into your life for a reason, and you can learn lessons from each and every one of them whether they stay or not.  And it's okay if they don't stay.
  13. A few good friends is better than lots of mediocre ones.
  14. If you buy a house, buy it as if you had lots of teenagers.  You have no idea how much you will wish you had more space one day.
  15. Speak your mind.  Unless you're just being a cow.  
  16. Being a sister/mom is hard.  Try to be the first, more so than the latter.  Either way, your sister will turn out fine and you guys will be good buddies one day, if you can learn to let go and stop being such a controlling, perfectionist hag.
  17. Your mom was right about a lot of stuff.  You won't realize this for a few more years, but it's true.  Oh, and you will use math.  Sorry.
  18. The man of your dreams is out there, he's just waiting for you to send him a text message.  You will have a long and amazing life together.  Remember that list you made when you were 12?  Yeah ... he checks off every box plus a few more you didn't even know you wanted checked.
  19. Life is awesome, even when it sucks.  Always look for the lesson and the silver lining.  It's there even when you don't want to see it.  You're an optimist, and that's ok.  It will help you get through a lot of shit through the years.
  20. Your oldest son will come to you one day and tell you he loves his life and is grateful for the fact that, because you and his dad divorced, he now has 4 amazing parents.  On that day, you will know you are raising him right and don't need to feel guilty anymore. 

Like the spirit of my long gone mother recently told me - "you are right where you should be, and you have missed nothing.  There is serendipity to life, quit worrying and just enjoy where you are."

Thanks Mom.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

I Want My Mom ...

I've always considered myself pretty good when it comes to a crisis.  Put me in front of  a car accident, or anywhere that someone is hurt and needs help and I'll know what to do.  I know that I'm not afraid of blood, and because I'm one of those 'get it done' types I will jump in and take the lead if need be and do what needs to be done to straighten things out.  I'm proud of times when I've been able to help someone in a scary circumstance, or even a not so scary one, because I'm good at organizing things and people, and I'm not afraid to get dirty or bloody.

I'm capable of sympathizing and empathizing and giving people all the mushy stuff they need when they need it.  But if I don't think they need it?  Well then I'm one of those "suck it up" and move on types.  If you're not bleeding out your eyeballs or throwing up small internal organs, you can probably manage to go to school, work, etc.  My mom was a hard ass when it came to that kind of thing, and I've apparently inherited that trait from her.

But then I caught a really bad cold this week ... and apparently all my organizing and 'get it done'-ness, and 'suck it up'-ness FLEW out the window and all I want is my mom.  Even though she probably wouldn't have believed me anyways.  My house is a mess, I'm behind on laundry, and there is barely enough food in the cupboards to get thru the next 3 days.

But let me be REALLY clear here ... this is a REALLY bad cold.  Like EPIC.  Like I've gone through 3 boxes of kleenex in 3 days kind of cold.  If I was a commercial I'd be asking Pam to call my mom kind of cold.  Sneezes that involve all 4 limbs and scaring the crap out of the baby kind of cold.  And if I came across that chick in the Advil Cold commercial who pops a pill and goes for a run in the rain, I'd probably punch her in the throat...if I had the strength.  I look, and feel, like a sack of shit.  Just take a moment and really think about that ... that's pretty bad isn't it?  Sacks of shit are nasty.

I pushed out a 10+lb baby in 5 minutes, I've broken 2 feet and an arm and got right back on the horse/mechanical bull/party wagon, and I've had major surgery that involved removing over 4 pounds of ME before, and I was totally fine with it .... but I am SUCH a wimp when I'm sick.  I want hugs, and sympathy, and Lipton chicken noodle soup.  I want someone to bake me cookies, and make me tea and cinnamon toast like my grandma used to do when I was a kid.  Doesn't the world know how rotten I feel?  WHY ISN'T ANYONE RUBBING MY FEET?!

However, all this time I've been battling my EPIC cold, my two young sons have also been sick.  Middle Child (he's 3) brought the lovely germs home and he's battling a cough that makes me cringe and wonder if TB is making a comeback in 2013.  Last Child (he's 3 months) sounds not unlike a very tiny baby seal coughing and barking and squealing and blowing snot bubbles at me.  So I've channelled all the 'suck it up' I can and tried to pretend I'm sick so I can snuggle and console and bounce and rock and wipe noses and suck snot out with the little rubber bulb thingy.  (Which is super gross but kind of fun too)

Funny thing is, I actually feel better when I'm keeping busy taking care of them.  I haven't had too much time to feel sorry for myself.  Enough to keep the self-pity fires burning low, but I'm managing.  I know there are people out there who are fighting real problems, big ones, and doing alright.  They couldn't possibly feel as awful as my EPIC cold, but I'm sure to them they feel like really big deals. 

And I may not have my momma here to make me soup, or Grandma to make me tea and toast, but I've got my big hurly burly husband who comes home every day after work, gives me big hugs, takes the baby and feeds and cuddles him, plays with the middle child, and washes the dishes ... and that's a pretty close second.  Now if I could only get him to rub my feet ....

Have a happy day.  :)  *sniff*sniff*cough*ACHOO!*

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Resolutions for a New Year

This is a bit late ... but whatever. 

I LOVE the new year.  I love having a brand new frame of time to try out new things or start a change.

This year, my resolutions are different though.  Sort of.  I still swear this is the year I will not be embarrassed to wear a bikini, blah blah blah.  I have some newer ones though.

  1. This year I will focus on the people that bring happiness and only good things to my life.  No more breaking my back trying to grow friendships that are obviously one-sided.  No more stressing about approval from people whose approval I do not need.  I will nurture those relationships with the people who are always there for me, who reciprocate my friendship and caring, and who have like minded goals.  Nuts to the rest.  Well not nuts, but no more of my energy either.  There's only so much of me to go around, so I think it's only smart to spread it out to the good peeps.
  2. I will be confident in myself and stop second guessing my abilities and my value.  As a mother, as an employee, as a friend, and as an athlete.  I'm good at all of those things, and I am NOT going to let petty people undermine my trust in myself any more.
  3. Listen to my husband.  Not in a biblical submission kind of way (sorry Jay) but in the sense that more often than not, listening to him would have saved me from having to make resolutions like #1,and #2.  He's much smarter than he gives himself credit for.
  4. I will beat my 2011 sprint triathlon time.  By at least 15 minutes.  Raar.  I'm a fkn triathlete  bitches ... EVEN if I only ever do Sprint distances.  So there.
  5. I will shop and eat in a kinder way.  I won't label myself a vegan or vegetarian, but there are parts of those lifestyles that I very much admire and want to emulate for myself.  The commercial food industry and the way it treats animals is disgusting.  I will do everything I can to not contribute to it.  This leads me to #6...
  6. I will grow my own food ... as much as I can.  Enter container gardens and backyard chickens.  That's right, I'm growing my own fkn chickens baby!  Can't WAIT.  Bok Bok Bok.
I'm going to stop at 6 ... otherwise this busy brain will forget them.  I've shared them so I can be accountable ... to myself.

Have a wonderful year, resolutions or no, it doesn't matter 'cause you're awesome and you deserve it.

Tara :)

Cloth Diapering and Projects I Will Probably Not Finish

So I decided to cloth diaper (or CD for the cloth diapering peeps out there) third boy.  Got a slammin' deal on a dozen or so diapers to get me started and figured I'd be all good until he was potty trained. 

Then I joined a CD swap group.  That shit is bananas.  I can't believe how many things people buy and how big their "stashes" are! I remember hearing "oh it's addictive!" from other friends that CD their kids, and I would think "what ... shit holders are addictive?!".  They were right ... it is. 

I love the fact that I'm cloth diapering for a few reasons: 

1. The money I'll save (if I don't go bananas).  My first dozen cost me $100 - disposables cost me an average of $40-$50/m for 3+ years if you count Pull Ups for potty training.  That's $1,400-$1,800 JUST TO HOLD POOP.  No thank you.
2. The environmental impact.  I part time CD'd my oldest 13 years ago, but was still bothered by how many disposables we went through and put in the landfill.  Yes I'm doing more laundry, but I can't see more water & soap being NEAR as harmful as piles of disposables.
3. I love laundry.  I know, it's weird.  However, I find the washing, drying, sorting, stuffing etc. to be extremely cathartic.  Who couldn't use a bit more catharticism in their day?  Wait ... isn't that Catholic school?  Whatever, you get my gist.
4. They are so cute.  There is something about third boy's rump in a fuzzy cloth diaper, or woolly cover that is just so so cute. 

Right now I'm using one size pocket diapers mainly.  They adjust to fit babies from 10-35 lbs.  They have lots of snaps, waterproof exteriors, and you put inserts of a material of your choosing inside to soak up the pee.  They are very user friendly and an easy way to break into the CD world.

I just discovered wool though ... even after being warned of it's addictive qualities.  A properly lanolized woollen cover (or 'soaker') over a cloth diaper WILL NOT LEAK.  So crazy.  My little guy can sleep ALL night after a big drink, and will wake up in dry jammies.  I love it.  BUT ... wool is very expensive.

Enter the next project my busy-ass brain has come up with that I will likely not finish but I'm going to try anyways:  Up cycled Wool Diaper Soaker(s).  Me and 2nd & 3rd boys are going to bundle up and head up the street to the 2 nearby thrift stores to find me some old wool sweaters so I can make my own cover.  Going to maybe try this pattern from Born to Love and possibly play around with my own.  There are tons of pictures on line to copy or get my inspiration from.

After that I thought I'd paint the kitchen and research veganism some more.  'cause that's just what busy brains do.

Happy Tuesday.

PS:  May I just cover my ass here and add that while I love cloth diapering, I do no judge those who do not.  The CD community can sometimes appear to be a snobbish lot, turning up noses at people who do not exclusively CD their kids .... yes really.  I however, have done both and both have their pros and cons.  So do what you want and don't hate on me for lovin' what I'm doin'.  Cool?  Cool.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Confessions and Restarts

I have a confession to make.  I haven't been very clever lately ... and I feel like a fraud.

Once upon a time I was a nightmare with money.  Then I got smarter, and was much much better.  I even went so far as to help some friends, and start a blog.  Then I got pregnant, got sick, got lazy, quit doing what I knew I needed to do to stay on track, and made a mess again.  Not a big giant mess, but messy enough to put me back in that stressed-out money place I said I'd never go to ever ever again.

So here I am, feeling all sheepish and like a fraud since I used to get asked for money help ... and I did manage to help a few people.  Unfortunately, it turns out I'm not perfect and I fell off my budget wagon. 

BUT ... instead of being all down about it, I'm going to have a restart.  The timing couldn't be more perfect either.  The new year is only a few short weeks away, and while I'm not going to wait until the new year to start I am excited to start the new year off on the right foot.  I'm going back to basics and shedding the heavy, stressed out, and overwhelmed feelings that can take over at this time of year with all the pressure to BUY BUY BUY!

Here's how I'm going to do it:

  1. Reviewing my budget:  I've looked and the cash coming in, and what needs to go out/go here/go there and I've made sure it is balanced.  I'm allocating what I need to pay off debt (ugh), save a little, and keep all the lights on and bellies full.  Being as I'm on maternity leave, there isn't much left over at the end, but everything is taken care of ... IF I can stick to the budget ... and I know I can. 
  2. Cash is King:  I always do better at sticking to my budget when I use cash for the day-to-day things like groceries, personal care stuff, entertainment, etc.  I will withdraw what amount I need for the week each payday, and when it's gone it's gone!
  3. Meal Planning:  This one is HUGE.  We budget $800/month for groceries for our family of 5, but that can easily spiral to $1,000+ if I don't plan our meals and shop accordingly each week.  Sometimes it's the last thing I want to do, but I always feel better when it's done.  There are lots of ways to do it, I've found that planning around what's on sale in the flyers saves even more.
  4. Coupons:  This one is such a no-brainer.  Companies send me money off of their products in my newspaper or my inbox ... why would I NOT use them?!  $5 off dog food?  Yes please.  $0.50 off of the soup I always buy?  FINE.
  5. Relax.  I'm bad for getting myself all worked up when the sky really isn't falling.  So I'm going to trust that I can do this, with the involvement and support of my husband, and that the debt will be paid off and we will be taken care of in the meantime.  Life is too short to spend it all worked up and feeling bad. 
I love New Year's resolutions and restarts ... in addition to taking back control of my finances, I plan to train and compete in my 2nd Sprint Triathlon in May, blog at least once each week, sew some shit, and finish a family story book about my Grandpa that I've been working on for far too long.  I'm famous for the restarts, not so much for the finishes ... so I'm going to work on the finishes for 2013.

What are some of your resolutions?  Do you make them?  Do you hate them?  The Big Mulligan is only 3 weeks away and I'd love to hear what's on your list!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Being Grateful and Making it Work

I'm one of those people who is always trying to find ways to make things better.  I like to streamline processes, organize things, make lists, and improve on things.  Some people see this way of being as my being unsatisfied with what I have, as if it wasn't good enough.  And if I'm being totally honest, sometimes that is what it is.

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the thinking that what you have ISN'T good enough and that you have to have more, bigger, better, newer.  It happens to me every once in a while and it's exhausting and stressful and I hate it.

My husband and I live in a smaller 3 bedroom house, with my 12 year old son from my first marriage and our 2 1/2 year old boy.  #3 is on it's way and we started thinking that we really were facing the time when we should sell and upgrade.  Our house isn't laid our very well and it's quite cramped at times, but it has an amazingly big back yard and awesomely huge patio.   It seems like we start to get major cabin fever every year as winter nears it's end and we can hardly stand the crampiness of our house.  This year we made up our mind to do a few reno's and list.

I really want is a laundry room and a rumpus room for the kids.  Not much to ask right?  So we start painting, fixing, patching and rushing to get our house ready to put on the market before the big spring rush of listings. 

Then it gets nice out.  I started having second thoughts about leaving.  My yard is so awesome and things are starting to grow!  Then my husband speaks up and says he doesn't want to sell either.  We start to really do the math and weigh it out.

We only pay about $1,100/m on our place, including property taxes and city services.   We have a very nice manageable mortgage on the house, one that we could realistically pay off in 15 years.  To buy, we'd be looking at spending a minimum of $150,000 more to get what we 'need'.  That pretty much doubles our monthly housing costs, and the time until we're mortgage free.  Ouch.

We both talked about how our families were raised in small houses, with kids sharing bedrooms, and how our parents turned out ok.  We talk about how we have such a great yard and how we've managed with this place for almost 10 years. 

We decided that what we have is enough and that we were grateful for that and how  we can manage it fine and fix it up as we can afford in the years to come.  We talk about how, if we REALLY wanted to, for less than $100,000 we could add a kitchen, 4th bedroom, rec room, AND laundry room.  And keep our kick ass yard.

Feels good to feel grateful, and it feels even better to have that big weight lifted off our shoulders of how we were going to fit a huge mortgage payment into our budget and all the stress that goes along with selling & buying.

Sometimes smaller and simpler is better, even if you have to move over to let the other person pass in the hallway.

Have a great day,