Adulting As A Parent

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Spud getting his baby teeth pulled to make room for his first big adult tooth.

Andy and I have hit a new level of adulting – busy with kids’ activities level. Last year felt comfortably busy – nothing too stressful or demanding. This year? We leveled up. Unavoidably. This is a first for the level of busy-ness for our family, though I know others experience this a lot more than us.2016-11-03-14-58-22-edit

2016-11-03-14-59-51-edit2016-11-03-15-00-01-editWhen Andy and I play StarCraft (computer game) with our friend Fr. Darryl, the game checks our ability to play and based on how many wins we have, it levels us up against a harder challenge in the next game. The bonus of this is that we gain new skills when we play a harder opponent. Then, when we fail the game a couple of times, it levels us down again. It is a constant dance between playing (usually) too hard of an opponent and playing comfortably knowing that we’ll win when we’re at a lower level. 2016-11-03-15-09-47-edit

In real life, we don’t have to fail, necessarily, to level down. We can make a conscious choice to do so before it escalates to (completely) failing. However, the benefit to upping a level is that we can grow immensely from the experience, even though it might not look perfect. And there are seasons where upping the level might be unavoidable as well.

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Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program

This season is one of them – it is unavoidable. I started a children’s program that is two hours long, twice a week, Cassia started soccer and swim lessons, Spencer has Beavers and started Confirmation and First Communion preparation (a hybrid of sorts between two parishes), and Andy has his crazy schedule like always. Oh, and we are starting karate for Spencer twice a week next week. In and amidst all this is homeschool as well, which I’ve also started with Cassia this year. Though her little sister lost one of her workbooks a week ago and I haven’t yet found it.

There is a thrill to it – exciting endeavors and experimenting, opportunities for growth and lots of fun. But it is also tiring. Quite tiring. And we haven’t yet figured out how to recoup completely at this level of activity. This is where adulting gets a bad reputation. It’s hard to blame people. Though I’d still take this adulting over elementary or high school again.

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All saints day party – Michael the Archangel, St. Queen Elizabeth of Portugal, and (mostly hidden) Mary, the New Eve (she had a snake and apple with her costume).

And here’s hoping that it’s a season. Here’s hoping that we figure something out that makes it feel more rhythm than chaos. I’m not always sure that it will turn into rhythm, and if it doesn’t then we’ll have to take a good look at everything and see what might need adjusting so that we can achieve that normalcy we crave.

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Dig dig digging. And, yes, that is an air conditioner still in our window. Testing our luck, perhaps.

2016-11-03-15-07-40-editEveryone is busy. Few have the time to call or get together outside of regularly scheduled family activities. Busy is also lonesome business. Busy also means that the majority of my time is spent around my children and other too-busy moms. No one has it together, but no one wants to share the journey either. Too much to do. Too much to stress about. I don’t want to share your stressful journey either, thank-you-very-much. It is all too understandable. I understand. And I understand the lonely bit too.

Adulting – leveling up. It’s hard, it’s tiring, and at the same time I am looking forward to our adventures: who knows what great things may happen? Who knows what fun we might have or new things we might learn?  The lower level offers comfort and less stress; familiarity. It is definitely an inviting offer to level down, but I’m not there yet. I just wish it wasn’t so lonesome and easier to share the journey with others, and I’d be honoured to share in their journey too.

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At Spencer’s Confirmation & First Eucharist preparation.

I am unsure what this phase of our life will bring, but we will keep trucking. It’s vulnerable and uncomfortable often, but it’s where we are being called currently. Called to be vulnerable. I am called to be exposed to the elements a little. It’s not always pretty, but it is what it is, and there’s beauty in that. And beyond any of it, God is with us. Especially in our vulnerability.

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Birthday Interview: 4-Year-Old Session

birthday-interviewWithout further adieu, here is my birthday interview with the four-year-old Cassia.

(At the dinner table)

What is your favourite colour?

Red!

What is your favourite toy?

Green.

(long pause)

Greeeen toy. That – that crocodile-dragon toy is my favourite.

But you don’t play with it (it is on an unreachable shelf)

Yes! I! Do!

What is your favourite food?

(Glances down at plate) Maybe….some….nachos!

What kind of food do you not like?

Maybe some of these beans (points to refried beans from nachos)

What do you want to do when you grow up?

Maybe watch TV.

(explains idea of jobs)

Maybe be an animal doctor.

What do you like to do with Daddy?

Go to work with him!

What do you like to do with Mommy?

Umm…go to church

What does Daddy do?

He works at church and works here

What does Mommy do?

She works at church and here

What does Felicity do?

She just crawls…when she was one. And now she’s learning to walk

(Andy and I are stifling laughter…Felicity’s been walking for over a year…)

What does Spencer do?

He turns on the TV

What does Cassia do?

I can jump over lines and jump over ropes.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about being four?

I like to pick up Felicity. I can put some books away.

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7 Quick Takes Friday #7QT

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1.

I’ve given in and have hired a company to help clean my house.

And truly, I am so thrilled beyond belief that I will have a clean house. But not a whole house – our budget can just barely afford getting the kitchen and bathrooms clean. BUT if you’ve visited our house, you’ll know just how much work it will be to thoroughly clean these areas. As in at this point in my life it really is completely beyond me.

I’ve ordered a complete clean, so they will be taking out all the dishes and cleaning all the cupboards, moving the freezer, stove, fridge, and also cleaning the fridge (inside!) as well. I am so blown away at how casual she was as she was asking me about what I’d need. Oh, and if they have time, they’ll organise and clean the landing when you walk into the house (even though we have summer and winter everythings out because of the crazy early snow). She said with absolute certainty, “My girls are really good at their job. It won’t be a problem.” Talk about melting my heart with words.

2.

Cassia is officially four.

And she is sure to tell everyone who asks exactly how old she is and that it was just her birthday; she is still quite excited. 2016-10-04-07-51-43-edit-websiteCassia received a few My Little Ponies (MLP) which she absolutely adores. While visitng grandparents, she also received little Care Bears toys (with accompanying book) and a MLP soft throw and bag. This newly minted four-year-old love love loves everything and when I asked her what type of cake she would like for her birthday, she excitedly announced, “PINK!” which totally makes my life easy. She clarified later that it was a chocolate cake with pink icing that she would really like so I just said, ‘You bet’ like a pro cause I’ve totally lucked out.

3.

Felicity was not pleased.

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Watching her older sister receive her birthday dues.

While Cassia was having a super day her younger troublemaker-in-arms was definitely not pleased that it was her birthday. She was most upset when Cassia received gifts and she did not. She was quite grumpy when Cassia got to do things she did not. And while she did sing Happy Birthday, when Cassia later exclaimed how happy she was that it was her birthday, Felicity, while menacingly gripping her high chair and leaning dangerously towards Cassia, yelled in her most angry tone and voice, “IT’S NOT YOUR BIRTHDAY, IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!!”

She had had enough.

4.

The Birthday Interview

Will get its own post, maybe even later today. It definitely shines her sunny personality 🙂

5.

Ze Turkeyyy Dinnnnnnrrrr

We then trucked ourselves down to Regina for Thanksgiving, which was super duper tasty.

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Cassia in a too-tired grump.

Everyone had a great day, which included spending a great amount of time at the park close by. The older two and myself spent some good time running around trying to catch falling leaves in the gusty wind. We definitely gave ourselves a great workout.

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And we managed to snap this photo, which might be an all-time best for smiles and looking at the camera. Though ze boyyyzz have some horrible shag hair going…which soon after was rectified.

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Week-Ending

Andy is switching le fin-de-semaine as of tomorrow, which means he is home Friday-Saturday until this batch of sacramental preparation classes are done. I have a love-hate relationship with this: the Friday off means we can do many, many things together with less people around (total win), but it means we don’t get Sunday together, which is a big loss too. We’ve switched to doing Mass permanently on Saturday evenings (unless other opportunities arise) which helps with the stability, but let me tell you – no evening Mass is at a good time for young kids :(. They are either hungry or tired. There truly is no in-between, just variations on intensity.

6.

Day Off

Due to regularly scheduled days off that Andy and I give each other once a month, I get mine today! I am planning on visiting with a friend, hanging out with my laptop at a pub, and going to a Naturopathy doctor to help me look into this pork intolerance things I seem to have.

7.

Pork Intolerance

Within the last year, I have developed an intolerance to pork. My body just doesn’t like it and my intestines make sure to tell me just how much they despise it shortly after eating it. It is quite unpleasant (though the occasional bacon or sausage is worth the unpleasantness. At least at this point) and I don’t know if there’s anything that can be done about it. It’s probable that it’s genetic (my dad has this too), but I figured that a Naturopathy doctor would be the the choice to pursue if I want to explore alternate options than possible medication (which I don’t even know if it is an option). At any rate, my consult is tomorrow. Hoping that it helps at least shed some more light on this undesirable quandary.

Pray tell, what has your week been like?

Linking up with Kelly.

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Snow to the glow

Happy Feast day of St. Francis! and it’s the eve of our eldest daughter’s birthday as well. So much to celebrate!

As I sit here the prediction for snow has come true today. It’s sad and expected and because it’s mixed with rain, there is absolutely nothing pretty about it. The wind is out in gale forces and I have absolutely no desires to go outside at all today. Like, zip.

Last night was a bedtime doozy. I wrote a whole post about it before glancing over it and thinking, ‘that’s just so depressing’ and promptly deleted it. I’ll sum it up by saying that when I was younger, I never dreamed a goal in life would be to not threaten one of my offspring with sleeping in the spare room with the door closed tight. Hopes are high here, folks. Maybe too high.

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In Other News

We just came back from a quick weekend getaway to Edmonton. I had a moment when we were all buckled in and we were just driving off when I realised that being crazy is really just a hair over a line. My eldest daughter, by some unknown means of magic, turned into a little monster a block away from home on the *ahem* SIX hour trip. Like, wth. She was a decent human being before we were in the vehicle, but someone seemed to have given her a mask of monstrous proportions. Or a monster mask of proportions? Maybe just a monster mask that she wore well. Anyway. SO glad that’s done with for now. Anyone else have a child who turns into an unknown creature of whining when they go on trips? I’m all ears since we’re Thanksgiving ourselves into Regina this next weekend here.

Our purpose in Edmonton was to go see Jim Gaffigan’s live performance. And we succeeded, though we got there at 7:02 (the show technically started at 7:00). So I’m very glad they weren’t up to the German’s punctuality because the opener was really quite good. img_20161001_1901501-editIf you ever get a chance to see Mister Gaffigan live, he’s definitely worth the 6 hour drive 🙂 It was great and we had some fabulous laughs, and we had a great visit with our friends in Edmonton. I love spending time with them, and now they’re expecting a baby and I just want to move there so that I can love and kiss their little one and help with all the mundane and overwhelming tasks of everyday life. So excited for them!

And we are back for but a little while here, which means laundry, laundry, laundry. And cake, cause there’s a birthday.

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This Road

This past week has been all a-bustle with preparations for the opening of the Atrium at my parish next weekend. In truth, the bustling isn’t finished yet. There’s a lot more bustle waiting for me this week.

It’s a tough road when you’re running a program based on where the Spirit is leading…I definitely feel the paradox of trusting that God has this and yet doubting whether it will happen. It’s a stressful mystery because on one side, certain things need to happen (like police checks, enough volunteers, materials actually being ready to use) and there’s a hectic panic about these items when something doesn’t fall into place when it seems like it should. On the other hand, if God isn’t leading this program then what on earth am I doing here anyway? Haha, literally and symbolically, it would seem. I crack myself up sometimes. Anyway. This program wouldn’t be happening had it not been for some divine interventions, so clearly God has a desire to see this happen.

I’m feeling time is unsatisfactorily being stretched between trying to get this Atrium off the ground and making sure we also are doing our homeschool. They both seem like impossible goals right now. Add in the few writing gigs I’m doing and the thrill of playing StarCraft on the occasional evening with Andy & Fr. Darryl and it all adds up to … well … I’m not exactly sure what it adds up to. I’m sure it adds up to a lot. It does feels like it, at any rate. I mean, I’m tired all day, right?

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This road. It’s tiring. I’m so thankful for the Eucharist. And in my mind, I see that sentence and laugh, cause it in truth says, ‘I’m so thankful for the thanksgiving.’ Am I just that tired? It’s probable. But I am thankful. When I’m shouting at my kids for spending 15 minutes playing around in their room instead of getting changed for bed, the thankfulness feels much much less, though I ought to be remembering it more. When the repetitive babble babble babble babble of the 2 year old just won’t stop I ought to be remembering this thanksgiving more. Here’s the thing: I often don’t.

This thankfulness is a really hard thing to do in everyday life. I’m not thankful that my son just slapped me with his shirt in anger. I’m not thankful that the youngest thinks pulling out her sister’s hair from her head in handfuls is the bees knees. I am very thankful for these children, but definitely not all their choices.

So it’s tiring. There is joy in this journey (much, in fact), but it’s always amidst this ongoing tiredness. Tired of the fighting, tired of fighting, tired of hearing ‘But I don’t wanna…’ and tired of the whining. All. Day. Long.

I expect it to remain this way, perhaps in a different form, all through their youth. It’s not that I’m expecting anything out of the ordinary. I’m more just commenting on discovering how it just goes on and on, and how deep this tiredness can sometimes become. I’ve found a similarity between this tiredness in parenting and how my faith life seems to go. There is joy in it (much, in fact), but it’s not always roses and lilies. A lot of it is trudging on, much like we trudge on in parenting. Christ in the Eucharist gives me hope beyond my experiences, and I’m thankful I’ve expanded my time at Eucharist this year as I’ve been taking Spencer once a week (in addition to Sunday!) as a part of his preparation for Confirmation and First Eucharist (properly in that order!).

I really enjoy having just one child with me for Mass, it makes such a difference! I’d love to take each child by themselves on a different day, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I find it a treat to be able to listen to the readings (and even the homily), and I enjoy spending that time with Spencer. Eucharist brings me joy and hope, that’s much to be thankful for. Christ truly does give us all that he is, everything, present for us in the form of humble bread and wine. 2016-09-15-16-50-01-edit

This road. It’s a tiring one, but I’m thankful Christ is with me giving reason to hope. These little ones are causes for joy and sorrow; navigating through that path takes a lot of prayer and reliance on God. As a favourite saint used to say, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”

So here’s to praying and hoping that I don’t worry!

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The Cross and The One Ring

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Day 175…One Ring by bandita (2008) via Flickr, CC.

Today we celebrate a Feast of one of the most unlikely events in history. Perhaps not even an event in itself, but a symbol of the event: the Cross. Today is the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross. Isn’t it like glorifying the One Ring from the Lord of the Rings?

And yet, as Christians, we exult the cross. How weird. And even…grotesque?

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Sauron (The Lord Of The Rings) by Hersson Piratoba (2013) via Flickr, CC.

As a symbol of that which meant death – gruesome agonizing death – we take the symbol of the cross and mark it everywhere. We place it in churches, we wear it as jewelry, we take the holy name of our God in three persons and apply those names to our body in the shape of it (the sign of the cross). We anoint ourselves continually with this symbol of pain and agony.

All About Perspective

The twist is that it does not actually only symbolize death and agony, but victory over death and agony. Victory over that which is defeat. Just like the One Ring symbolized death and destruction to the world of Middle Earth, once the third age had passed it took on a new symbol – that of triumph over evil and separation from all that is good. As Christians we take that symbolism further – it means our eternal salvation.

Through the cross, Jesus became our sin and fell. To the people around him, he was a disappointment. A disgrace. For how could God’s anointed one die in such a shameful way? God could never stand for such shame. His followers were fools. We are fools. Who places such faith in humans? It is ridiculous.

Jesus died, fully and humanly on the cross. That is to say, he died scared, exploited, and vulnerable, as any of us would be hanging on that wood. He did not grasp at his divinity on the cross (Philippians 2: 6-11, today’s second reading) – he did not know how things would be worked out, but he trusted his God. He trusted that his faith was not misplaced and that God is faithful. This is how Jesus died: shamed, exploited and vulnerable, still trusting that God would be faithful.

And God did not disappoint. Jesus the Christ was raised from the dead by the power of God through the Holy Spirit on Easter morning.

Why We Celebrate

The cross should be shameful. It should be a disgrace. The strength of God’s love has added a new dimension to this – despite that which the symbol typically represents, God has given us hope and salvation through the cross. It no longer means just shame and failure, but hope, love, and that our faith is God is never misplaced.

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Jesus on a Cross, Plate 2 by Thomas Hawk (2009) via Flickr, CC.

When we place ourselves in vulnerability, when we, like a hobbit, feel insignificant in our tasks and too small to make a difference, when we accept humiliation on behalf of Christ, we are not weak, we are strong. We are strong because it is only God who can take immense weakness and completely change it. Only God who can take our shame and bring his glory out of it. Only God who can take the cross and bring eternal salvation out of it.

Today is the feast of the Exultation of the Cross. Today we celebrate our weakness made strong through Christ because Christ has truly risen. The One Ring has indeed been destroyed.

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The End of Gardening

Well, folks, tonight the forecast is for -2 Celsius, and for us who have gardens, it means the total and nearly complete end to the gardening of food for the season. I just spent an hour in my garden harvesting everything I possibly could so that the frost doesn’t damage the foods.

And I was pretty impressed with the final bounty.

2016-09-12-16-15-01-editAnd I also have some questions, like, what do you do with minuscule leeks? I forgot to get around to thinning them and then my mini-dahlia plant became a medium-sized one and I didn’t want to reach past it to thin them…

2016-09-12-16-16-11-edit Lots of tomatoes, mostly green at this point. Beans! Humongous amount of beans from my bush beans! The climbing beans did horribly this year and my peas didn’t produce at all, so those were quite disappointing, but these dingy bush beans (they have, like, 4-6 leaves and typically 10-20 beans per plant every week; so odd and efficient) more than made up for it.

And we had a lovely cherry pepper plant that produced some spicy peppers for us and a few cucumbers that will likely be used mostly for seeds.

2016-09-12-16-15-48-editTons of swiss chard (top left)! and some lettuce greens (top right) and a million leaves of sage. I’m not kidding on that. Anyone have some good sage recipes?

And finally, though it’s not producing any fruit right now, we also have this in our back corner, and it scares me…

2016-09-12-16-29-26-editSo that’s what the garden’s like in autumn. Gardening is mostly done done done. Over this next week we will be pulling out the rest of the frosted green things and composting them, then amending the soil in the beds so that they’re ready to go next year. What joy! Spencer saw the bags of manure and asked Andy, ‘Daddy, is that sheep poop?’ Why yes, son, it is sheep poop. Thanks for putting it in a way that makes it much worse.

Anyone else pulling up their garden?

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