Archive for the ‘Motherhood’ Category

The First Day

September 2, 2012

This week brought a special milestone to our house – Tristan had his first day at “big boy school.”

I set my alarm for 6:00, wanting everything to be ready for the first big day and not wanting to be rushed.

I rose to a dark room. The darkness felt heavy, solemn.

I cried in the shower. I cried blow drying my hair. I stood there staring in the mirror, internally asking myself some difficult questions.

Have I done enough in the time he’s been home? 

Did we play enough? Read enough? Snuggle enough?

Have I prepared him well enough to go off to school on his own?

Of course I know the answer is yes, but in the silent darkness of that first day, logic was nowhere to be found. Emotions ruled.

We shared a special french toast breakfast and did the regular fanfare of first-day-of-school-pictures, where I had to use all my strength to hold it together.

I kissed his palm and placed a heart-shaped sticker in the centre of it, ready to feed him love from home at any time. (In “The Kissing Hand,” the mama raccoon kisses her little one’s hand before he heads off to school. Whenever he missed his mama, all he had to do was press his hand to his cheek and feel his mother’s love.)

Tristan and his “kissing hand”

I continued to fight the tears on the short drive to school, stopping talking mid-sentence occasionally to avoid having Tristan hear the strain in my voice.

And then we were there and his commencing of school happened somewhat like ripping off a bandaid. It all happened very quickly. We arrived and within minutes the doors were open and a nice teacher asked him his name and in he went. I knelt down to hug and kiss him, and wish him a wonderful day.

As he walked away into the school, he pressed his palm to his cheek.

And that’s when I lost it. With Tristan’s eyes no longer on me, I managed to squeak out, “Luc! I need a hug!” before the sobs started and my shoulders began to shake. It was a short lasting cry but one that had been building and needed to get out.

My little boy was off on a new adventure without me and I had to let him go.

I picked him up from his first bus ride after school, and as he peeked around the first row of seats on his way to the steps, his eyes lit up when he saw his mama waiting for him. I clicked a quick picture and enveloped him in my arms.

“Hey buddy! How was your first day of school?!”

“…a little bit fun…” was his reply.

…. a mostly positive response. I’ll take it! I know we both just need a little time to adjust! 🙂

A New Chapter

August 28, 2012

Dear Tristan,

I can’t believe tomorrow has arrived so soon! In the morning you are going to head off to big-boy school! I know you’re ready for the challenge and the excitement, but I know I am going to miss all the time we had together. For four and a half years I’ve had you as an almost constant side-kick. It is strange to think that we won’t be having daily discussions anymore about where we should go or what we should get up to.

Tomorrow when I drop you off at school, I know I will cry. Oh, I won’t let you see me. But after you’ve gone through those big metal doors, blindly trusting your new teacher, I know I will shed a few tears. I won’t be able to help it.

It won’t be that I’m sad per se, though I know I will miss you. I will cry cause I’m just so darn proud of the little boy that you are. I’m proud of your intelligence and you’re innocence. I’m proud of how kind you are and how you will approach any child and ask them to play. I am just proud of you. Period.

Where has the time gone? I know that I am helping you to grow wings and this is just your first little flight into a world where I know you can, and will succeed. I know this is the first step in one of many. But that doesn’t make it any easier to watch you go!

We’re all ready… Your backpack is packed and waiting by the door. Your lunch is made (watch out for the secret “I love you” note hidden inside!) and we read “The Kissing Hand” at bedtime.

Nothing to do now but head off on your next adventure.

Have fun my love! I love you!

Love, Mommy

Dino party

August 23, 2012

Back in the spring after attending a “strawberry shortcake tea party,” Tristan declared that he wanted to have a “dino party.”

I kept the thought in the back of my mind and with the first day of school quickly approaching (ACK!), I decided it was time to put the random thoughts floating around in my head into action.

I’ve always been inspired by the awesome children’s parties that Kelle Hampton throws. “One day…” I always thought as I drooled over her pictures. It’s the last week of summer holidays – and this dino party was just screaming to be awesome.

And awesome it was. At least I hope the kids thought so!

Several days of prep work, lots of which the kids were able to join in on, and hours scouring Pinterest for ideas and the party came together for ten of the boys’ little friends.

We had a great time in advance creating “rocks” with dinosaurs hidden inside that the kids would later crack open, and I spent an evening cutting out green foam dino feet.

The last night before the party I was debating carving a watermelon into this really cool dinosaur. I’d been single parenting all week (with Luc away on business) and was getting really tired. At 9:00 pm was I really up for a carving project? I finally decided to bite the bullet and plopped the melon down on my cutting board. Not the most spatially advanced person ever to live, I was unsure if I’d actually be able to complete the darn thing. I was picturing being so frustrated after hours of cutting and gallons of watermelon juice on the floor, that I’d end up just having to chop the thing up into pieces anyways.

Well it turns out I was not so bad at the melon carving after all. I’d come so far with the party, it kind of started to take on a life of it’s own. Can’t stop at the watermelon. Now, it was a challenge. A dare even.

Alright melon….I see your nostrils and eyebrows….

And I raise you some back spikes….

I did still end up with gallons of watermelon juice on the floor (and let’s be honest, it is a far cry from the original inspiration!) but I thought the finished project looked pretty great anyways!

The kids had a blast scouring the yard for hidden dinosaurs and smashing open “rocks” and “frozen eggs” to find the dinos nestled inside.

The “decorate-your-own-dino-feet”  craft was a huge hit. How often do you see 10 toddlers and preschoolers sitting quietly and engaged for a full thirty minutes?! Yeah- they thought it was that good.

And what kind of party would it be without food? All dino themed of course!

Hmmmm…. I wonder what kind of party we should throw next? 😉

Backyard Science

June 28, 2012

A new take on an old fourth grade science experiment:

We made volcanoes/ witches brew in the backyard! The kids thought it was great and everything we needed was already in our kitchen!

The boys spooned the baking soda into containers (we tried muffin tins which worked but we found the volcanoes had more “power” with shot glasses.)

They added a few drops of food colouring to each one.

Lastly, they poured in the vinegar and loved to see the bubbling brew burst over the rim!

We repeated over and over (and over!) until we actually ran out of vinegar. It’s a good way to kill a whole hour!

Give it a try! 🙂


June 25, 2012

It’s been an eventful week around here.

Tristan graduated from preschool!

His face, as he walked down the aisle sporting his paper graduation cap, was beaming with pride. He waved to us with a huge grin plastered across his face, proud of himself for reaching this milestone and so happy to have his family all there to witness.

It was a special morning. I will even admit to shedding a few tears as he marched down the aisle with his classmates to the melodies of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Yeah, I know. It’s just preschool. It’s just that to me this graduation was so symbolic. He started out a 2.5 year old toddler, not yet able to fully express himself in a voice that still very much carried notes of babyhood. He’s now an energetic 4 year old with his own thoughts and ideas and dreams of becoming a pilot and a lambscaper (er… that’s landscaper.)

It’s an event like this that propels my mind forward. I imagine all the accomplishments and graduations that await us. I think about the kind, conscientious boy I am trying to raise, knowing that one day he will be a father, a husband.  And most close to home, I think about the first day of kindergarten, sneaking up on us oh so quickly.

This morning I had to stop for a school bus as a little girl was getting on, and I imagined Tristan on his first morning of school, walking up those steps, wearing his new little backpack, bravely looking back to wave, and I know I’ll feel it welling up inside.

I’ll hold it in, myself bravely smiling and waving back, but as soon as the doors close and the bus drives away, I know they will come.

The tears. I know they will come.

Tears of pride that my big boy is  going off to school and starting a new adventure.

Tears of sadness that our days won’t be spent together anymore.

Like any mother, I have some worries. I wish that I could just protect him from the world forever. But I know that that’s not the way it is. I know that my job is to prepare him to go off and be strong and kind and friendly and generous and fun loving and adventurous…

Yet I worry about not being there when he falls down on the playground and scrapes himself. I know someone will give him a band-aid and send him back on his way. But I won’t be there to kiss his knee.

I worry about the first time he feels the sting of someone not being kind to him on the playground.

I love my boy so much. Why wouldn’t everyone want to be kind to him and be his friend? But I know that’s not the way the world works and kids can be mean.

All I can do is love him and teach him that he is kind and capable and deserving… and the rest shall fall into place.

The Magic of Christmas

January 3, 2012

Sometimes having children causes you to experience life as a child all over again.

We excitedly stop and stare and point at fields full of grazing geese. We “ooh!” and “aahh!” at every airplane and bird passing overhead. And there is something tremendously exciting about squishing play dough in your hands or splashing in a tub full of bubbles.

Everyone’s heard the saying that sometimes the box is more fun that what’s inside? It’s definitely true at our house!

It’s because of this unbridled childhood excitement for all things that Christmas truly delivered.

Tristan especially, at three and a half, is at an amazing age to really experience the magic of Christmas. He truly believes and it takes such little effort to elicit amazing displays of joy and excitement.

Every activity we did turned out to be “one of the greatest things ever!” which makes this mama only want to find better, even more exciting activities to keep us busy every day. It’s so rewarding to see such delight spread on the faces of my children, and it makes the activities fun for me as well to get to share these precious first experiences.

Exhibit # 1: Our mitten Advent Calendar. Each day throughout the month, a note, a treat or a small gift awaited Tristan. The kid never missed a beat (often reminding me to stuff that day’s mitten!)

Then of course there is writing a letter to Santa….

… and the excitement that follows when he actually sends you video in return!

Top all that off with baking a seemingly endless supply of Christmas cookies, making crafts and homemade gifts, and sprinkling sparkling reindeer food on the front lawn, and it was a  pretty busy month (leading to poor Tristan being fast asleep by 5:00 Christmas Day!)

But oh we had fun! It was a great holiday filled with joy and time spent with family. I hope your Christmas delivered as much as ours did. 🙂

The Spirit of Giving

December 8, 2011

My children lead blessed lives.

Just by the simple occurrence of being born in Canada, they are probably a kajillion times were more fortunate than most other children in the world.

Safety. Freedom. Health care. Education.

Add to that being born into a loving family with educated parents who are able to provide plentiful healthy food, toys, trips…. the list goes on.

They are fortunate little souls. We all are.

I want my boys to grow up thankful. To understand that while we have, there are many more others who have not. I want for  them to want to reach out and help others. To help the bullied child on the playground. To be a good friend. And to share some of what we have with some others who are not as fortunate.

At three and half, I feel like this Christmas Tristan is old enough to understand a little more about what it means to help others. In the Christmas spirit, and to hopefully light a spark of generosity and kindness, we’ve had a few little projects on the go.

Firstly, I took Tristan on a shopping spree to purchase toys for Operation Christmas Child. We easily (over!)filled two shoeboxes for little boys Tristan’s age with goodies they may not have received otherwise. I explained to Tristan that we would be going shopping and that we may find things that we would really like for ourselves… but that this shopping trip was not about us – we already have lots of toys at our house. I explained that the toys we bought would be for children who didn’t have many toys to play with.

I was a little nervous that he would go crazy when he saw things like his fave dino toys, or some really cool stickers, demanding that he just had to have them. But Tristan amazed me yet again. He happily filled our cart with toys for two unknown strangers, exclaiming, “Oh mom! The friends we don’t know are going to love these!”

Be still my heart.

Making wrapping paper for our gifts

We’ve also been talking about how some “friends” wake up in the morning and have nothing to eat for breakfast. When we get up, we go downstairs and make our toast and pour our cereal so that our tummies aren’t hungry. I explained that some children go to school with hungry tummies, because they just don’t have enough “snacks” (as Tristan refers to most food products!) at their house. We wanted to share some of our “snacks” with other children, and Tristan happily handed off a couple of grocery bags full to our local OC Transpo food drive.

I can only hope that I am instilling a sense of gratitude and lessons on giving that Tristan (and eventually Logan) will carry with them as they grow. I want them to understand that even the smallest of acts can make a difference in the lives of others.

There was a poem I heard as a child that communicates this same wisdom, and it still resonates with me today.

The Starfish Poem (From the works of Loren Eisly)

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference to that one!”


Real Food

December 6, 2011

When I was pregnant with Logan, a friend lent me the book “Real Food for Mother and Baby” by Nina Planck. In it she presents an interesting notion about how and what to introduce for a baby’s first foods.

At the most basic level, Planck suggests giving baby real, whole foods. Nothing packaged, nothing pureed.  She suggests that the best place to obtain real nutrients is from real food – ie) we get iron from meat, not cereal.

I was quickly on board with most of her ideas: Give baby whole foods,( a pear for example,) and let them chew away. Babies have hard gums – they do not need teeth to chew. She suggests that good first foods are proteins (meat and yogurt) and good fats (avocado and olive oil). She sees no need for purees and spoons.

Having been down the puree road with Tristan, I was interested and intrigued to try this new approach with Logan. There was just one thing that I thought Ms. Planck went a little far with. She told a story of her little baby happily chewing  away on a meat bone.

“Seriously?!” I thought. “I can see myself working with a lot of these ideas… but I don’t think I’ll be handing Logan over a T-bone anytime soon…”

Fast forward to around Logan’s six month birthday. He was sooo interested in food and it was evident that he was telling us he’d had enough of a purely liquid diet.  Not quite ready to give in entirely to the “whole food” notion, I had decided I would try a little of the puree, and a little of the whole food, such as whole smooshed blueberries.

He put up with the purees for a whole two days. Mouth clamped shut, he wanted nothing to do with the spoon coming toward his mouth. Whole peas on his plate? Yes please! Green mashed up goo on a spoon? Not a chance.

I’m so glad that I read this book and had these other options at the forefront of my mind. I may have thought he wasn’t interested in food, when what he was really telling me was that he wasn’t interested in mush.

Around the six and a half month mark, we BBQ’d some  steaks for Luc’s birthday…

… and Logan had one of the most satisfying meals of his short life.

Never say never, right?

Whole asparagus spears and steak quickly became one of Logan’s favourite meals! Not a tooth in sight, and Logan would eagerly plow through six asparagus in a single meal. Along with the t-bone of course. 🙂

After 6.5 months, Logan never had to endure another spoonful of puree. I fed him real foods. He happily gobbled up small pieces of chicken, cooked carrots, baked apples, steamed broccoli.

Fast forward to eight months when we learned that Logan had been struggling with reflux. In hindsight, it’s no wonder he resisted the purees so intensely. Whole food (besides being so much more appetizing!) probably felt a lot more comfortable in his tummy and were much easier to keep down than liquid!

Logan continues to enjoy eating real, whole food!


If you’re interested in finding out more about her theories, you can find a quick summary of Nina Planck’s ideas here.

Back at it

November 27, 2011

Wow. A whopping four months since my last post. I’m hoping this quick “I’m still here and I hope you are too!” post will be the first of many more to come! I’ve enjoyed blogging and love all the feedback I get from you out there who like to check in every once in a while!

I’ve had several posts started in the last several months, but I haven’t seemed to be able to concentrate on anything for very long. I blame the darkness. It’s been an long uphill battle, always feeling like I’m going two steps forward, one step back. Or, on a really bad day, five steps back!  After months of therapy, extensive medical testing, and enough supplements to choke a horse, I am finally starting to feel like myself again (*touch wood!*)  But that’s a whole post all in itself.

I’ve started back at the breastfeeding drop in clinic one afternoon a week, and am really enjoying my time there with the mommies and babies. I know enough now that my mentor actually trusts me working with the mommies on my own (still under supervision of course!) but I love the feeling of realizing that I know enough to help a lot of these wonderful women.

Today marked the last Sunday in November. It was another lazy day filled with a leisurely french toast breakfast and playing with the boys in the living room, all while still cozily nestled into our pj’s. I’m usually a “Christmas-decor-and-music-does-not-come-out-until-Dec-1” kind of girl, but today felt like a good day to bring it all out.

Tristan and I started to get the place looking festive, Christmas tunes making the soundtrack to our afternoon. Some good quality time with my boy and feeling the spirit and excitement of Christmas – now that’s as good as any therapist. 🙂

Who I Am

July 21, 2011

Have you ever had an experience so powerful that it defines you? Has it literally shaped who you’ve become? Where a person, place or event has become engrained into your very soul?

During a heart to heart with my friend Sarah this weekend, it became incredibly clear just what one of my most defining moments is.

In July 2003 I traveled with World Vision’s Destination Life Change program to Romania, where I spent one month caring for abandoned infants in an orphanage.

This was at once the most difficult and the most rewarding thing I have ever done.

An excerpt from my travelblog on

This task is so much harder than I had ever anticipated. Logically, I knew it would be difficult, but there was no way I could have known what it would do to my heart. The most difficult part of being here in seeing the daily life of these babies. To the caregivers, working there is just that – a job. The babies are often treated as objects, there are few soft, gentle touches, just quick, task oriented ones. Diapers are changed twice a day, so consequently most are wet for most of the day. It is not that the children are mistreated per se – they are physically very well taken care of for the most part. Emotionally and psychologically however, it is a different story.

The babies are in their cribs all day, and they belong to no one. If they are one of the lucky chosen ones, they will spend an hour in the play room in the morning. If not, it is 24 hours a day of seeing the world through the metal bars of a crib. No child has any possession of his own and each is known only by the piece of masking tape on the end of each bed, displaying the name of the child. The children do not get to go outside, nor do they get a breath of fresh air from an open window. The reason being that the Romanians believe that they will get a “draft” and get sick. Babies cry from their cribs with nothing to comfort them. No soft toys are allowed in the bedrooms because they cannot be washed should they fall on the floor. A few may be given rattles to play with, but it is pretty hard to snuggle plastic.

I have really broken down sobbing a few times, hurting so badly for these perfect, tiny little people. I’ve had to really start concentrating on the little things that will make a difference in each child’s day. Each hug I give, each smile I receive, and each laugh that I evoke are moments that would not have occurred had I not been there. I, along with the other two volunteers, have gone out and bought stacks of diapers so we now change them regularly. At least now they can be a little more comfortable! It is so hard when all I want to do is save them all!

…. (After returning home I wrote:) The babies in the orphanage have left imprints on my heart that I know will never fade. I have cried so many tears since I’ve returned, relaying my tales of daily life for the tiny, innocent people who exist and experience life through the metal bars of a crib. I’ve cried for the lack of attention and stimulation. I’ve cried because some of them don’t even have names. I’ve cried because it is so rare that loving arms hold them. I’ve cried because I remember them reaching out to me. And I’ve cried because I love each of them so much.

10 Months Old

(To read the full blog, click here)


Phew. I am crying again reliving those memories.

I truly loved those sixty babies who rarely let out a sound because they knew no one was listening.  And when they did cry, it didn’t matter anyway.  This was the ultimate ‘cry it out.’

And this is why I can’t let my children cry.

Because even though my heart burst with love for those babies, even though I made it my mission every day to be sure that I snuggled each and every one…. I couldn’t save them. I came home with a wounded heart and empty hands.

So every night now my baby is rocked to sleep. And at bedtime my boys are sung  to and told that “I love them to the moon and back.” Because I couldn’t save those Romanian babies, but God help me, I am going to save my own in every way I know how.

I just want my children to know with every thread of their being, that they are cherished and loved.. to the the moon and back.

Just another piece of who I am.