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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

the journey continues








I wrote this about two weeks ago, before we got the news of my sister Sarah getting very sick (more on that soon). I wasn't sure if I would post this, but after some thought, I decided that it is still important and relevant to me.
I've been doing some work lately. The kind of work that asks you to roll up your sleeves, get a little bit dirty, and dig deep into those dark corners that you often would rather ignore. This isn't the physical kind of work you might think, like house work, but personal self work.
Somewhere along the line of being a mom for the last 9 years, I lost touch with myself. Perhaps it was that newborn/infant fog or the crazy relentless non-stop busyness of chasing toddlers ... but somewhere deep in those ever evolving years, I seem to have lost touch with me.
So lately I've been taking some steps towards uncovering and getting to know myself once again. I've been asking myself some hard questions. I've been taking breaks from social media (which is HUGE for me). I've been working at slowing down my racing mind. I've given myself permission to set boundaries.
I've taken steps towards a healthier me. Walks. Vitamins. Mindfulness. Going alcohol free.
I'm not following any program. I'm not following any rules. I'm just making the changes and adjustments as I go. As I see fit.
I've decided that it's been long enough that I haven't shown myself some love. It's been long enough that I've stuffed my feelings, way down, to avoid hurt and shame. I've decided that I owe it to myself to listen to, acknowledge, nurture and love myself.
It's not always pretty. It can actually feel pretty horrible sometimes, being brutally honest with myself, but I've decided I don't like the alternative. I share this here, because it is part of my journey. My New Years word this year is journey, and it's becoming very clear to me, that yes indeed, I am on a very important journey towards a happier me.
As I wrap up this post, I wonder what exactly has caused me to feel at times so anxious, insecure, out of touch with myself. Is it motherhood, as I stated? Does it stem from my own upbringing - the dysfunction and lies? I'm not entirely sure... but I want to dig deeper and figure it out.



Saturday, April 14, 2018

end of an era

I didn't anticipate that I'd feel these many complicated emotions, when I decided that I would stop breastfeeding. It was a decision that I had been talking about for a long time, and I knew it was time. When Wes and I would lay down for a nap or bedtime, it was habit that he would ask for "nummy nas". I would give it to him, and know that he would settle down, and eventually fall asleep.
But over the last month or so, I began to have a real aversion to nursing him. When he would nurse,  I'd suddenly cringe and would want to crawl out of my skin - a sure sign that I was done with this part of our relationship. The problem, is that he was not done with it, and given the chance, would happily continue if he could.
I slowly started cutting out nursing demands. If he'd ask, I'd distract him, and only allow it for naps and bedtime. I admit, I had a feeling he'd cut out naps if I stopped nursing - so that was one reason that I kept on going - it's soften the only chance I have in the day to have some alone time. 
Then finally, a few days ago, I decided this was it. I strongly held my ground and said no to him when he asked, and man it was hard. Tears, sobbing, pleas. I felt so horrible and conflicted. I wanted to soothe him the way he wanted me to, but I knew it wasn't serving me well anymore. 
So here we are, about 5 days in and I feel like we turned a corner. He sometimes asks for it out of habit, but quickly realizes it's not going to happen. We cuddle a lot. We cozy up with Noah's old yellow blanket, that Wes has now adopted as his own. We hold onto his panda stuffy. 
For me, I really didn't anticipate these conflicted feelings. It feels so final. I feels like a chapter has closed, for Wes and I, but also for me personally. As a mother, combined, I nursed my kids for almost 5 years, and now it's all done. Ending this chapter is a reminder that I will never hold a newborn again (that is mine), I'll never feed a baby from my body, ... that I'm getting older. 
The other night, I had a crazy dream. I was with my friend Jenn, who just had a baby. I asked to hold him (as I usually do), and then suddenly I found myself driving away with him. I was stealing her baby! When he started to cry, I debated nursing him- but even in my dream, I knew that was wrong, so I found my way back to my friend. Yikes. If that doesn't scream personal turmoil, I'm not sure what does. 
So here's to that beautiful, tough, hard, painful, exhausting, emotional,  amazing, indescribable time of my life. I will miss it, but I know it is time. 


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

slow down

It's not uncommon to find one, if not more kids in my bed at night time. This is not just an occasional thing. I always, and I mean always, have a kid in my bed.
It's no secret that we are co-sleepers in this house. Not your jam? No problem. I get it. Half the time, I fantasize about having our bed all to ourselves too, the other half of the time, I pause and wish with all my might that I will always remember what this feels like.
The kids are growing up. It happens. And I know,  I'm not the only parent to feel this - but oh, how it kind of hurts, to realize that time is not slowing down.
I look at Noah somedays, and take in his face. It's changing. He's taller.
He's asking more complex questions. He's able to go to over night camps - like its no big deal. But he also comes back to me for comfort and refuge- and I'm holding onto those moments. I'm making them count.
Katia is my sweet little six year old. Still in the stage of make believe and play. But I look to her older brother, and know that this time is short- and she won't be here much longer. I remind myself to slow down and take her all in. I tell myself to take my time when I brush or wash her hair. I listen at her door, when I can hear her playing by herself with her toy animals - making up stories and names and voices.  Take it in, I tell myself. Enjoy this now.
And Wes, still my baby, still asking for "nummy nas and bubbas" (nursing and his blanket)...yes, he's still my baby, and always will be- but he is growing and changing so fast too. In January, we were worried about his speech - or there lack of. Now there is no slowing him down. A lady at church commented on his vocabulary. He just can't stop with his questions and observations.
Recently the province of Nova Scotia, announced that they will begin a pre-kindergarten program in our town. Wesley will begin school, one year earlier than we initially thought.
While this may seem like a hard pill to swallow, I am also ready for this. It means we have one more year together, to build those foundations, to go to storytimes, to go on nature walks, to cuddle at nap time. I will make that year count.
From a mama that is standing on the cusp of a new stage of motherhood, I'm here to say this.  It's exciting, but it's also bittersweet. The day to day reality of having my kids get older, is that it is getting easier. The hard part, is that when you slow down enough, you can see that it really does go fast. My advice?  Take it all in. The good, the bad, the hard, the tiring bits ... all of it. And slow down. Learn to enjoy play doh and stickers - one day they won't care for it any more. Read to them as much as you can - one day they won't be interested in those books. Help them wash their hair, and brush their teeth. Enjoy the privilege of being a parent, it's a greatest gift there is.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

life lately .. challenges, family, health


















Full disclaimer since my last post, I did not succeed at my internet cleanse. I didn't even make it through a day. I'm not sure what to say ... for now, I am giving it a "get out of jail free" card. Things I am doing: cutting back on Facebook. Listening to more podcasts. Working on tasks around the house. I also found a show to watch (which I found very difficult to do for this unfocussed mama).  I hope that as the weather improves, I will be spending more and more time outside, and less inside. For me, the biggest thing is mindless wandering on social media. I want and need to be more mindful and purposeful with my time. 

Speaking of time outdoors, we are taking up the March challenge of being intentional with spending time outdoors (the challenge is from The Slow Home Podcast). After recently listening to their podcast about this outdoor challenge, I just knew that this is something that we have being missing in a great way, from our lives. 
I'm not sure how, why or when I let this priority go to the bottom of the list, but I know that our bodies, minds and souls are missing the benefits of being outdoors. Perhaps it was the busyness of after school activities, or just pure laziness, it reall
I have plans to find some new hikes and trails - things can get monotonous when we do the same trail over and over again. I'm looking at ways of getting the kids outdoors - fairy houses, parks, picnics. 
If you are interested in this challenge, I highly recommend listening to the Slow Home Podcast. It really is a lovely little show- regardless of whether you want to follow the challenge or not.
y doesn't matter. The point is that I let this priority go, but I am taking the steps to get us back outdoors.

And onto another challenge, Winslow and I have made a pact to start eating clean. We looked around at all the diets out there, and there are many. Vegan, vegetarian, keto, paleo .... and for us, we know what will and won't work. For years (10plus), I was vegetarian, and as much as I tried to get my protein intake-it wreaked havoc on my body and depleted me of nutrients that I know I best get from a diet with animal protein. So while I love the idea of being vegetarian for so many reasons, it just doesn't work well for me. 
I feel that for the most part, we eat well and healthy, but we do have our weaknesses, and unfortunately, we've let these weaknesses take over. For me, it's sugar sugar sugar. It's baked goods, muffins, treats. For hubby- although it's not exactly mine to share- he loves white carbs, and lot's of them. So there it is. Our weaknesses are out on the line. 
For us, clean eating is the most realistic and attainable diet out there. Instead of denying ourselves of things that we love, we are just choosing the most natural and clean version of it. I'll keep you posted on how it goes, and how I hope to get my kids off processed foods too.

Recently we made a last minute trip to Ottawa, to say farewell to Winslow's Grandmother- Lola. 
It was so important and nice for us to be there, so that we could pay our respects and honour her. Lola will always be remembered as being someone who cared deeply for her family. She was a woman of great faith, and I have no doubt, that she has moved on to a very peaceful place, with her loved ones that had gone before her. We will always miss and love you Lola. 


(Inang holding baby Katia, Lola on the right)


Thursday, January 25, 2018

midwinter
















It's a quiet time of year right now. We have no upcoming travel plans, and we are doing our best to tighten our spending. Meal planning is in full force, and we are trying to just get through the winter days, as best we can. Many days at home, often lead me to thinking ahead. This time of year, often has me dreaming of warmer and sunnier days, and so I begin to make my summer plans.
I am so blessed to be able to stay home with the kids. Yes, there are the downfalls of not having the extra income (no big trips, no disposable income - thrift shopping is where it's at!, camping instead of cottages), but for us, the rewards outweigh the consequences, and we are generally, very happy with our lifestyle. Because I stay home with the kids, we have a very flexible schedule and we often take off for day trips, or we can sneak away mid week when Winslow has time off.
While I have moved away from using the term "Bucket List", when it comes to Christmas and other times of year, I still do like to make a "Summer Wish List", because I worry that we might miss something important, and there's only really 8 or 9 weeks of summer vacation. For me, summer is a time to squeeze every last drop, to seize the day.
So, for the sake of day dreaming at the end of  January, here are just a few things on my "Summer Wish List" ...

~ Canoe camping with the whole family at Keji NP.
~ Camping in Cape Breton. It captured our hearts last year, and we're going back for more this year with the cousins!
~ my long anticipated attendance at Land and See. Oh my heart is almost hurting, I'm so excited. I'm so ready to fill my creative cup with fresh ideas, inspiration and knowledge. Also, 3 days to myself (kid free) will be absolutely refreshing.
~ a garden with Spring bulbs, veggies and sunflowers. 

...

And then back to the present. The long days of January, where school is often cancelled and we find ourselves at home, together. It's lovely and challenging all at once. After so many days of painting, building forts, making crafts and baking, I feel like I am running out of creativity in the home and in my parenting ways, not to mention artistically as well. 

Today I found myself really itching to get out of the house with Wesley. I decided that we'd do some errands. Just as we were almost at our turn off to go shopping, I realized that we had time to make it to the babytime at the Wolfville library. We hadn't been there in months, and I wasn't sure how Wesley would react to it (he always takes time to warm up to certain settings). So we found a chair and sat back from the group, but participated from the sidelines. In the end, he enjoyed the songs and stories (and the play kitchen afterwards), and I enjoyed bumping into my mom friends. I really see and feel the need to connect at this time of year. I'm thinking that I need to make this happen more. 

Lately I have been thinking about setting better parameters around our screen use, here in the household. Where I used to be very strict about the amount of screen time that the children got, somewhere along the way, I let go of some of my rules, and I fear that we have gotten to used to relying on them. 

The other day, after too much fighting, some rude behviour and not enough playing, I decided to "ground" the older 2 from screentime for 3 days. Believe it or not, they like the term "grounded", because friends of their had been grounded too. Maybe they like that I am enforcing rules? Maybe it's the fact that they know and like having boundaries? 

So there they were, screen free for 3 days, and right away, I could see that they were connecting better with each other and me. Once their 3 days were up, we had a conversation about how we would put some new limits on how much screen time they get throughout the week, and it made me think, perhaps I need to set limits for myself too.

I have decided to take an internet break for a few days, only allowing myself access to emails (for my photography business), texting (my line to the outside world) and the occasional movie on Netflix (we have no TV). This means, I will not be checking Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest for a set amount of time. Instagram will be the hardest.  I'm gonna put away my phone. I'm  going to pick up my camera, pick up my paint brushes, pick up the phone (to talk on- not to browse). I'm gonna go for walks, have friends over for playdates and coffee, go to the library. 

So wish me luck. I anticipate it being hard. That's ok. I need this.





Tuesday, January 2, 2018

journey







In November, I was out for a walk when my mind started moving ahead to the New Year. I thought about how my previous word of the year had come to me in that forest, and I wondered what my word for 2018 would be.
While walking along, I was struck with how 2017 was such a year of growth for me. A year, where I finally learned to become my own friend, and be the person I needed to be.
2017 was a year where I learned to accept that I had anxiety and needed help with it. I learned that I needed to face on my fears, sadness, disappointments and that I could carry on and let them go. It was liberating.
2017 was also a year for deciding that enough was enough, when I found myself surrounded by toxic friendships. Quite frankly, I was able to gain some clarity and walk away from some very negative and abusive relationships. It wasn't easy. I had told myself that I needed such "friendships", it's easy to be vulnerable when you move quite often and need to start over again. Once I had come to terms with this, it seems so much balanced out for me, and the friends that I really needed were right there in front of me.
2017 was a year for learning to say no when I need to. Finding my voice, being assertive, and making big decisions for myself , doesn't come easy for me. Somewhere along the line this year, I decided that I needed to be an adult when it comes to making decisions in my life, and that at the end of the day, it is my life - I need to do what is best for me. Saying no sometimes means disappointing people who I love. It sometimes means boundaries are made. It means putting my needs first. It's not easy. It's scary. But it feels so good to be that person who I need to be.
So when I took account of all this growth, the word journey kept coming to me. Journey felt so appropriate. Things are not perfect. I am learning and growing, but something has really shifted in me over the last year. Confidence? Maturing? Probably a bit of both. But I am happy, and feel that I am just beginning on this journey of being a happy and healthy individual.

...

We are just a few days after New Years. I love this time of year. It's when I best feel ready to read new books, try new ideas, instil new goals.
I also love the fact that with the cold dark months, we are given permission to slow down, hibernate and be cozy together. This week we are preparing for our first winter storm of the year. Already we are expecting a "snow day"- no school. The cold winds, make us retreat inside- crafts, cooking, books, games become our focus. I like that our days are centered around togetherness. It's very hyggeligt.

So happy New Year friends. Wishing you all nothing but the best.
xox



Thursday, December 28, 2017

to tuck away



























I sit here, a few days after Christmas, with gratitude and an incredible amount of peace and fulfillment in my heart. We have just spent over a week, being surrounded by our family and friends, and having our cups filled up with lovey memories to last us into the New Year.
Last Christmas I found myself, so deep in sadness and I now know, anxiety. I look back now, to what was a very lonely and hard Christmas, and that gives me all the more gratitude for this year.
Is it different because we came here to Ottawa and were surrounded by our support- our people?
Is it different, because we had Winslow home, and I had my partner there to share in the highs, lows and work of the season? Is it different, because I have grown and have learned how to prioritize myself and my needs? I think it's a little bit of all of these things that have made this Christmas a gift for us.
Our time in Ottawa has been a balanced amount of fun, relaxation and adventure. We've tried our best to visit with friends and family, but also make time for naps, walks and the freedom of no schedule.
I've made time to see friends, one on one. To have coffees and walks, to prioritize the people and things that matter to me. When we leave on Friday, I will leave with a full and happy heart.

Some memories that I want to tuck away and remember....

~ Our big family-friend walk at Mer Bleue Bog. I knew that I wanted to see all of my friends and their little ones, but wanted to think of a way that would be easy and very little work. We decided to host a walk around the conservation area, feed the chickadees (out of our hands!), have some hot chocolate and snacks, and to also have a candy cane hunt! It was the best morning ever! We all got out for some much needed exercise and we were free to be as loud as we wanted. And the best part for me, was to see all of my friends and their little ones.

~ Christmas Eve dinner at my sister's house. She is an amazing cook, and we got to be together for a lovely afternoon and evening. Being with family is such a gift.

~ Visits with old friends. The safe and familiar feeling of sharing time with someone you've known a long time. Going for coffee. Late night walks. Trips to the Art Gallery. An afternoon full of coffee, snacks and reminiscing about our university days.

~ Cousins playing. Drawing and colouring. Skating. Games of hide and go seek.

~ Witnessing our family make memories, nurture our relationships and connect. Cousins. Aunts. Great Grandmas. Grandparents.

Some pictures to cap off our time here.
xox