my year in review

Wow what a year!!

Last year this time I was scrambling to get the last minute things done in preparation for my wedding Dec 30 and get Christmas done and it’s the busiest time of year for me at work … must be why this year feels so calm and organized 🙂

I know I say it a lot but it is so true … being married to Paul is the easiest thing I have ever done 🙂 … I had no idea marriage could be easy 🙂 He compliments me so very well. He is great with the girls and where we have struggled we communicate and work it out.. no major fighting, no flying objects, no name calling … it’s wonderful! I don’t think we are on a “honeymoon” stage…being married with teenage girls would pop any unreal fairyland expectations one might have had! we certainly went into the marriage with our eyes wide open.. me knowing what I had on my plate and him being willing to take it all on, the good the bad the ugly! and now when we are home alone for the weekend it is him who is first to say ” I miss the girls, it’s so boring without all their noise and drama” … and it’s true, although this stage of parenting is full of challenges I wouldn’t have my life any other way.

family pic 1

 

This was the year of trips! from our Honeymoon in San Diego

paul and i honeymoon paul and i honeymoon 2

 

to the trip I won to Maui

maui paul and i maui 1

 

and in the summer I took the girls plus my friends 3 kids to the Oregon Coast for the 3rd summer in a row, and this year one of my new sister in laws and niece in laws and 2 little great nephews in law came with us! I unfortunately was sick most of the time so I didn’t get to enjoy it like I normally did but it was so great to spend time with my new family who I love so very much!

oregon camping 1 oregon camping 2

 

In the summer I had my busiest time for work to date .. it was crazy like cra cra crazy and on top of it all we gained and quickly lost a son. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and what he could have been but knowing he is in heaven and perfect ( he had trisomy 22) I know that he is in the best place imaginable and I will see him again!

In the fall we were off for another trip 🙂 this time we drove over 2,000 miles there and back and a little mini road trip in the middle to go visit Paul’s family and friends in California

sorry for the blurry photo

california 1 jpg california

 

and then not too long after our return Paul and I headed to Mexico with my parents and  3 sisters and 2 brother in laws … what a great trip! besides getting sick and lots of rain… being all together was amazing and we made some great memories

mexico family in mexico

 

So you can see why this was the year of trips!! And we are finishing the year with a little weekend away to the San Juan Islands for our 1 year Anniversary.

We are blessed. We have had our struggles with typical teenage girl drama, loss of a very wanted baby and all that comes with life but we make a great team and I know that whatever 2014 brings us, we can handle it, together!

family pic 2

Posted in Family, Pictures, Travel | Leave a comment

Christmas Memories

As Christmas quickly approaches and I battle the over filled parking lots with other shoppers who’s anxiety all seems to be tangible and you can feel the “holiday stress” dripping in the air ….. as I buy gifts, contemplate on what to get everyone, try to watch my budget, wait in the line ups and remind myself to NOT wear a jacket cuz I just end up sweating buckets 🙂 … I remember Christmas’s of the past.

I loved Christmas as a child… I loved having my extended family over and the tables that went from one side of the house to the other… I loved playing with my cousins and then loved my baby nephews and niece coming over ( I became an aunty when I was 8 years old! ) I loved seeing my grandparents and having cuddle time with them … I loved all the food and the way the house was heavy with the mouth watering tastes/smells of turkey and all the goodies that come with Christmas dinner… and of course I loved the presents… I loved shaking the boxes and trying to guess what may lay inside 🙂

We were never taught to believe in Santa ….. we were not allowed to go sit on his knee in the malls … we had stockings but we knew that the presents were from our mom and dad …. one time my sister and I went and snuck and sat on santa’s knee where we firmly declared him a fraud and may have even pulled at his beard …. I remember that memory with a kind of sick dread in my belly … we didn’t know any better but today I am embarrassed at that behaviour. When it was my turn to be the parent on Christmas I didn’t go big on the Santa thing … I took them to see him and they got their picture taken but they definitely knew that mom and dad bought the presents and Christmas was about Jesus not Santa … somewhere inside me I felt that I had missed the magic of Christmas in all its commercial glory… that may sound dumb to some but this is just me keeping it real…. I felt that somehow I missed some of the childhood magic that comes from believing in something so outrageous …. some may say believing that Jesus is the Son of God who was born of a virgin died on a cross and then rose again is hard to believe … we call it FAITH! ok I am not comparing believing in Santa to believing the Bible is literal here but I am saying its not such a stretch to believe in things we don’t always have tangible proof of.

My youngest daughter believed in Santa with everything inside of her. None of my other girls really did… it was a whole new experience for me and I have to admit I really enjoyed it. I got to experience some of that magic and wonder that I watched kids in the movies seem to enjoy. She even wanted to sleep on the couch so she could see him…. I don’t remember the year her sisters spilled the beans but I was kind of sad the charade was over. Now I see this Elf on a shelf business and am so thankful that wasn’t around when my kids were small…what a lot of work and frankly I don’t really get the whole thing!

In recent years Christmas has been redefined as I went from married to single and this year is my first Christmas being married to Paul. My last Christmas married to the girls father was horrid.. as things unraveled rapidly the stress and anxiety was high and I don’t remember having any Christmas warm and fuzzies … just a lot of stress…. the first Christmas being single I was stressed out but for different reasons…. I had very little money and was working long hours and doing it all by myself was just a stressful place to stand. I had no idea that my oldest daughter who was 16 at the time had taken it upon herself to make sure her momma bear  aka me, would not be forgotten on Christmas Morning.

I don’t remember spending a lot of time thinking about how I was going to feel Christmas morning and how traditions that we had kept up for over 15 years would be played out …. I bought the girls their stockings and bought breakfast stuff like I usually did. I bought them all their presents and wrapped them up Christmas Eve by myself in a house by myself….it was quiet it was strange and it was peaceful yet I was very aware of being alone. In the morning when the girls all jumped on my bed and brought me my coffee, 15 years of tradition, and they brought all their stockings to me, again tradition, my oldest brought me one as well… I felt the weirdness of “something is missing” .. there were fleeting feelings of loneliness and just a feeling of this is all so surreal… I quickly rejoined the girls in full Christmas spirit and I was so shocked by the stocking my daughter put together for me… probably the best stocking I had ever received to date… she thought about me and not wanting me to be left out and spoiled me beyond belief!! Basically she blessed the socks off me and chased the lonely feelings away.

She didn’t stop with the stocking … the tree was packed with presents for me and her sisters… not wanting any of us to feel like something might be missing. At 16 years old my daughter gave me a beautiful gift for Christmas… she gave me her thoughtfulness and generosity and made what could have been a very very hard day for me full of Joy. Not because of the gifts..but just because she did it all in the first place.

This year we are looking to make some new traditions while keeping some old ones …. and as we move forward in our lives and have all different experiences and memories I have a solid belief that my girls get what Christmas is about … it’s about giving from the heart, living out the example of the ultimate gift, it’s about family and being together, remembering how important family really is, it’s about a magic time when we can believe in something that seems bigger then life.

From my family to yours have a very Merry Christmas

Image

Posted in Family, Pictures, ramblings | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

girls girls girls

annie

 

After having all my children … 4 girls … I could kind of relate to Miss Hannigan’s character on one of my favourite movies Annie .. ok minus the gin bathtub, desperate for a man, side of her character 🙂 but the completely surrounded by so many little girls side! I often sang some of the song she sings about all the “little girls” !!! again not the men part just the being feeling of drowning in little girls 🙂

I say all this with tongue in cheek but the simple fact is 4 daughters is a lot of Estrogen!! There are times when dealing with the teenage girl drama is pretty all consuming… I lose sleep, I worry, I stress and then I get upset and feel at a loss of how I can best help. But out? push in? let go? hold tight? sometimes it’s hard to know what the right actions are.

One of the hardest parts with the girls is watching their relationships with each other. I soooo want them to hold on tight to each other. Being on this side of teenage-hood and having 3 older sisters and no brothers I get how it is to be raised in a house full of Estrogen!! trust me I get it! they of course think I don’t know ANYTHING and things were different way way back then … and they are not me and I am not them and yadda yadda yadda … I know what they still have to learn … that sisters are everything! that they will outlast all their “important” friendships that they are so willing to do anything for right now. That their sisters will be there their entire lives…their friends will come and go … it’s hard to watch.

I hurt when my girls hurt. I hate watching them in situations that I know are going to cause them pain and yet I know that really there is little I can do but watch … and pray of course but watching, it is hard .. not rushing in and scooping them up in my arms and putting band aids on every little hurt is hard not to do… they don’t want me to do that any more .. they want me to give them space and not meddle cuz according to them it only makes matters worse. It’s hard to not meddle being perfectly honest here!

It bothers me when I watch certain daughters lay aside their feelings for others so readily … I worry about the stuffing that is happening and am positive one day it will surely BLOW … the friends won’t know what hit them! me being me is wanting the blow to happen .. I want her to be true to her feelings and stand up for herself…. it’s so hard. So I encourage, I keep speaking truths to them, keep reinforcing what I know, I admit I meddle too, I get angry sometimes, I guess I should be quiet when I am not… and at the end of the day I have to stand back and watch and be here for them when they hurt and finally come to me.

I think some of their friends involved in the latest drama are surprised I am so vocal about things and so protective of the girls … I don’t get that! but nonetheless I will protect my girls over the friends no matter what! even when the girls do wrong, I am on their side…not condoning what they did that was wrong but I got their back 100%. We were watching Meet the Goldbergs the other day … ok I LOVE that show!! anyone growing up in the 80’s will totally appreciate it! and the mom had on her ” mom goggles ” in her eyes her kids could do no wrong and everything they did was amazing .. I mean not everything but when other people thought they had no talent she did .. she said “while they are under my roof it is my job to make sure they are told they are wonderful and they can do anything cuz when they are no longer under my roof the world is full of people who are going to tell them they can’t” … I get that! now while I don’t want to have blinders on I think it is our job to encourage and build them up while they are home .. teaching them how to fail safely, teaching them that when they fall they can pick themselves back up!

I am surrounded by girls girls girls … I love it but man sometimes it is so very very hard!

 

Posted in Family, Life Lessons, parenting, Pictures | Leave a comment

How I come home

I have been wanting to sit and blab away here for over a week and I have had so many distractions and then when I have sat down my mind went blank… I know I was shocked too! 🙂 I have been wanting to blog about my weight loss and about my girls and about what I want (see last post) and then yesterday I attended a funeral and attending funerals for someone who we feel has left the world too soon.. 55 is SOOOO young!! … it shifts your perspective .. at least it did mine and so many of the things I felt I needed to say I am not so sure are so important any more.

Today is the last day of my “rapid” weight loss program that I have been on … in the end I can honestly say it was a bit of a dud for me in many ways… I am feeling discouraged and I get this is a first world problem, while most of the world is trying to not starve to death I am “starving” myself so I can loose weight (ok not starving but definitely eating very tiny portions) …. I get the irony and yet here I am living where I do, working with food for a living and I didn’t have the rapid weight loss that I wanted or was told was possible… I didn’t even have “typical” results! The Dr actually said to me this morning …. “you are unique (ok duh we all already know that), you are obviously very very very sensitive to hormones” … ummmm yah … it wasn’t all for nothing but a very difficult way to only lose 10 pounds on the program! with the 5 I lost in Mexico that is a total of 15 pounds in 1 month .. NOW I know that is nothing to sneeze at but it wasn’t “rapid weight loss”!!!! I actually did lose more but for whatever reason over the last 2 days I put 3 pounds back on! soooo frustrating … so I decided I am done with the very limited diet cuz at this point if I never eat another grilled chicken breast and cucumber slices it will be too soon. She agreed and so I am going on the maintenance part with eating NO carbs and NO sugar for the next 3 weeks (totally eating Christmas Dinner though!) and I bought myself a Zumba game for my Xbox 360 and my Em and me are going to try to work out 3-4 times a week .. in the privacy of our living room which is way more my speed! On the positive side I do feel the weight loss I have had.. I can fit back into my size 10 jeans although they are a little tight but my other jeans are very loose now! so it wasn’t a complete bust,  I was just so hoping to break the 170 pound range and get down another 10 pounds! but I will keep working on it because of 1 main fact …. I WANT TO BE HEALTHY! and I want to live a long life and be here for my kids! which leads me back to the funeral I attended yesterday ….

I listen to a lot of funerals! my family’s business has a catering contract with a local funeral home and so I have had the honour of serving a lot of grieving families. I like to listen to the services as I prep downstairs for the reception …. it’s interesting to me to hear about different peoples lives and how they are remembered! Yesterday the funeral was without exception the most beautiful service I have ever heard/been present at. This man was loved…. he loved huge and he was loved huge back! the principle of what you give you get was firmly evident in his life. I had the privilege of knowing him a little as I went to the same church as they did 13 years ago… their youngest son and my 3rd daughter are the same age and so we sat in the nursery together. I didn’t know him well (I am friends with his wife) but I knew him enough to understand all the amazing things that were said about him at the service.

It probably was the clearest message of WHY I believe in my God that I have ever heard. Our God is the ONLY God in all the gods that are out there for seekers to find that actually ENTERED IN to our humanness … He wanted to feel what we feel, to walk where we walked … why? cuz He is love… He loves us, He knows no other way! I don’t think I can repeat the elegant way the Pastor described the story of Jesus at Lazarus’ funeral and how Keith, the man we were celebrating, lived a life to the fullest and full of example of loving on others … it was so beautiful.

The uh huh moment that I had at the funeral was when the letters from his loved ones were being read and the one from his youngest son read this ” I knew my dad loved me by the way he came home” … I gasped.. it hit me so hard … this young man of 13 years old said something so profound and moving … his dad came home every day SOOO excited to see his family … he loved his wife and his sons … there was NO question of his love. I couldn’t but immediately think of my girls and my relationship with them and I know that they know I love them but do I show it in what may be considered simple ways? I wondered “how do I come home?” … mostly tired from my day wanting to unwind in a desperate way and almost always nagging at the lack of what I feel is respect for the way the house is kept … I am living in the thick of teenage girl grossness … and in fact my hubby and I have had lots of discussions over the lack of cleaning up after themselves that they do … however I was challenged by MY attitude in it all.. does the mess really rule my emotions and my reactions? does my first thing I need to say when I walk in the door be “WHY DIDN’T YOU DO WHAT I ASKED?” not said very nicely!! does it need to be grunts and moans and utterings under my breath about what slobs they are? Not that they don’t need to clean up after themselves but should that be the first thing? I don’t think so or I wouldn’t have been so strongly convicted of it yesterday! I am not saying I will not have them clean up or talk to them about that … but I feel so strongly that HOW I come home is so much more important then the nagging about their teenageness.

This man died at 55 years young.. I cater funerals a LOT… I get how short life is and how some are cut even shorter… at the end of the day at my funeral will my kids say ” I knew my mom loved me because …..” ? will people remark on what a tidy house I kept ( ok that will NEVER happen but I am trying to make a point!) will they say man she lost a lot of weight or man she was overweight? …… I hope people will say I lived my life to the fullest, that I loved hard and was loved in return. At the end of the day that’s what it’s all about … it’s what God is about and I am going to make it more present in the forefront of my conscience to live out.

Posted in Family, health, Life Lessons, parenting | Leave a comment

what I want … what I really really want

A situation arose this week that was quite hurtful and the end result was me asking myself “what do I want” … the fact is .. I don’t know!

I mean I want a lot of things… who doesn’t?! but when the question was put forth to me what do you want, not what you think you should want or what others want you to want but what is it that you really really want with your life …

again .. I don’t know!

I mean I know I want my kids to be well and happy and smart and wise and make good lifelong healthy choices … I want the same for my husband … I want that for myself!

but the details.. what do I want job wise, life wise… what will I allow and what will I not .. besides the common sense things.. I am still at the I don’t know mark.

So I am going to do a little exercise tonight to lay out what I don’t want ..maybe that will help me to narrow down what I do want… make your requests known to God… you have not because you ask not … all the things that I have been taught and know … going into the New Year I want to know what I want … what I really really want.

How do you figure out what you want? and I am not talking just material things although that is all part of it maybe.

 

Posted in Life Lessons, ramblings | Leave a comment

addressing the kid in me

Last week was a bit of a nutso week .. for many reasons! I had an experience on top of it all that made me feel like the little girl that I think we all carry inside of us women. I am talking about the scared little insecure girl that wants everyone to like her and be happy with her.

I grew up the youngest in a large family FULL of females, it seemed we had a revolving door of people that stayed with us long and short term. Our house was busy to say the least. Add to that a dad who when I was very little worked out of town and was gone a lot and left my mom to hold the fort on her own. I was an observer and a poop disturber all rolled into one! I learned you had to be loud to be heard, and I like being heard, you had to bang on the ONE bathroom door persistently to get in, which I did even if I didn’t have to GO to the toilet but I wanted desperately to be IN there and be a part of whatever was going on. If a room was off limits it became even more desirable to enter… no-no foods were sneaked and coveted.. do not touch meant touch as often as you can possibly get away with. I wanted to be where the action was and to my older teenage sisters a HUGE pain in the buttocks. I even decorated our Christmas tree one year with their female products right before their friends came over and dangled the tampons from my ears for good measure.. I was noticed all right!!

There is a part of me and I honestly think it’s less a part of me more and more as I continue to “grow up” that hates confrontation .. especially if I feel like I have disappointed someone or let someone down. It makes me literally cower and have anxiety. This happened last week. Instantly I felt sick. I couldn’t make myself take the situation head on like a real grown up. I was that little girl again afraid that my disappointing them would have the power to make them not like me any more. A fact, considering who I felt I had disappointed, would never feel or at least if it did.. she would tell me and work it out with me. I knew that in my head but my reactions were not lining up with fact. I agonized over it for 3 days!! And when I knew I couldn’t hide from it any longer, I contacted her, and instantly was met with NO PROBLEM, no anger at me, no resentment shown and a calm ” you could never do anything to make me that mad at you“.. all things I should have known and did under all the crap I was feeling. It didn’t help with the other things going.. sometimes a little anxiety can make other things even seem BIGGER then they are!

I kind of chuckled at my chicken self.. and I thought about my instant reaction and the insecurities it brought up and why at 39, can I still feel that way? I know we are all in process, there are many layers to life and our journeys are not over until we are 6 feet in the ground! and even then our life will have impact that will carry on, at least one hopes. I berated myself momentarily and wondered at the little girl that is still inside me. Thinking about the little girl who was full of mischief and the most stubborn strong willed behaviour my mom had endured from her 4 daughters! 🙂 the little girl who forced and pushed herself into groups whether they wanted me or not!… mostly not! 🙂 and that same little girl who just so wanted to belong, all the time, every where. The little girl who gave presents to a teacher I knew did not like me at all and tried so hard to win her over… that little girl she is still in me and every now and then I have to address her/that feeling and walk her through being a grown up!

 

SIDE NOTE RE WEIGHT LOSS: I weighed myself this morning… I actually broke down and bought a scale.. one of the girls said she couldn’t believe it.. from boycotting scales her whole life I actually purchased one and brought it home. The reason, I wanted to know if I was having plateaus… so I could keep this momentum going and reach my goal… one of my girls stood on it and started to cry.. THAT is a reason I hate scales! I don’t believe in the number being a reflection of what “normal” is .. cuz we are all so different and my girls have a mom and a dad who have dense bones and the scale is not a true reflection of what is healthy for us to other peoples standards. I hated that she cried. It broke my heart. I am on a mission to help her get healthy without “dieting” as she is still growing and I think that is so unhealthy mind spirit and body at her age! For me when I stepped on it this morning and saw that in less than 2 weeks I have lost 10 pounds I felt excited .. mostly cuz the lack of flavour I am eating and missing some foods is actually paying off.  So now my big challenge is how to turn this around for my daughter and be an example of health and nothing more.. no I am fat talk, no I hate my body talk, just a simple it’s time to get and stay healthy kind of talk. If I can do that and help her then I don’t mind keeping the scale .. otherwise as soon as this weight loss challenge I am on is over.. the scale will be in the garbage can!!

Posted in Family, health, Life Lessons, ramblings | Leave a comment

I used to….I am

Lately on Facebook there has been this list of what you might not know about me going around … I played along but had to really think cuz once again my open book syndrome kind of blabs all all the time! …. just side bar have to say this is one thing my hubby loves about me, he does however think I give away too much info to strangers! he said one time you just gave enough info to that stranger so he can figure out where we live, what if he is a psycho??!! … so I am trying to reign in certain details of my blabbing abilities!

My niece in law did one and one of the items she listed was this ” I used to want to be Amish” I totally giggled at that and knowing her, wasn’t totally surprised but it has left me thinking a lot about my own childhood and the things that I wanted to be. When we are little, at least me anyway, it seemed that the world was HUGE and the possibilities were endless!

I used to watch Little House on the Prairie and think how fun that life would be .. until I was older and had a reality check of how much I love modern appliances 🙂

I used to want to be a teacher… I even had my dad, cuz he could be talked into buying me pretty much anything :), take me to the “teacher store” where I had him buy me all sorts of teaching supplies and I set up a classroom in my basement and taught my teddies and dolls the ABC’s … until I was in high school and realized my study habits were not so great, memorization was off the charts but I didn’t have a clue how to study and the idea of at least 4 years of University was daunting to me.

I used to want to be a nurse… until I realized that I don’t like gore and I realized a nurse spends a lot of time wiping bums.. no thank you!

I used to want to be on Broadway .. I love singing.. I sing in the shower a lot… I sang in choirs at school and even the special coveted “Gospel Choir” at the private school I went to.. I also played the clarinet haha I don’t think today I could even get a squawk out of one even though I played for 3 years and placed in our private school competitions… oh I also used to play in our church band Sunday mornings! I also love acting… I actually think it’s one of the things that I am good at .. probably even better then singing. I have been in a couple of plays.. ok they were put on by our church but it was in front of hundreds of people!! and I helped with the make up as well.. I enjoyed that to. I would watch musicals… my absolute favourite kind of movie … and sigh and think … I could do that… until I realized the odds were definitely not in my favour and as much as I can sing I get that I am not Broadway good. I have from time to time mulled the thought of auditioning for our local theatre but I talk myself out of it pretty quickly… I don’t know why… chicken? insecure? time restraints?

I used to want to be a missionary… I went to Africa when I was 17 with YWAM, I went to Ireland with my church 6 months after getting home from Africa … I know I have a heart for the motherless and my favourite part of being in Africa was building relationships with the young girls that lived around. Today my house is usually full of kids … my girls bring their friends home and many call me mum ..or momma L … I have been told that in 1 of their friends case I am the only kindness in his life.. my door is always open.. my heart is always open… I love all the kids being around… I don’t love them eating all my expensive school snacks 🙂 but I do love feeding them dinner!

I knew I wanted to be a mom … I used to want 6 kids until I birthed my first daughter and my eyes were very open to the reality that childbirth kind of  sucks!!  I didn’t have great deliveries or easy pregnancies and if you know me or read my blog I also have struggled to stay pregnant with a high amount of miscarriages … but I fought past what Dr’s told me was possible.. past when a lot of others give up … I didn’t give up… I love being a mom to my 4 girls.

This week as I was thinking of all the things that I wanted to be I realized that in many ways I have achieved all of them… I am crafty and resourceful like they had to be on Little House.. I can make meals stretch, I can sew clothing out of curtains, I can can foods, I can crochet and I can pretty much put together any box from IKEA 🙂 …. I am a teacher to my kids and to staff that I oversee, I have trained many a worker and I am good at adapting lessons to different individuals, I have been a Sunday School teacher and a youth worker….. I am a nurse .. I have wiped MANY BUMS FOR MANY YEARS!… I have sat with sick babies/girls through the night, applied band aids and know when to call the Dr!…. I may not have a career on Broadway but my life is never dull and is full of drama 🙂 my girls all have quite the sense of humour as well and so when we are out and about we kind of draw a certain amount of attention!! we laugh a lot! I am a missionary .. my house is full of kids that I speak into, I am a good neighbour I think!, and I try to walk my walk with integrity and reverence…. I am a mom … I love my girls with everything in me … ok sometimes I do not like them very much but I love them for all their different personalities.

My life may not have turned out exactly how I dreamed when I was a little girl and I certainly still have dreams, to travel  more, to have a house on property 🙂  etc.. I have had more heart ache then I could have wrapped my head around. I have lost loved ones, babies and an entire family in a sense and have gained a whole new even bigger family in return. I can look and testify to the Scripture in Ecclesiastes about to every Season there is a time..

I have experienced many seasons and many different kind of times… and being only 39 I know there are a lot more yet to come!!

 

Posted in Family, Life Lessons, ramblings | Leave a comment