Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Finally, EASTER SUNDAY

 Seriously cute, right?  Look at all those ties...


Bookends.  Special buddies.  Wouldn't you love a good looking, sweet natured older brother like this one?  Me, too.

Learning the ropes...

In our house, the easter bunny visits while we are at church.  Which means that one of us has to run and scoop the dog poo out of the yard and secretly hide the eggs, while the other one of us has to stall the kids by asking obtuse questions about the easter story and keeping a tight reign on Matthew

Either I lost control, or the bunny finished his work...

Serious blogger issues with turning my photos and not allowing me to turn them back...




The table groaned.  I heard it myself.  And the turkey was the best turkey I have EVER EATEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!  Which Brent attributed to my having sworn off meat for lent, but I attributed to his good cooking skills.  I knew I married him for all the right reasons; foremost, obviously, being GOOD TURKEY



LEST YOU THINK we are naturally a photographic family, some outtakes....














Monday, April 23, 2012

ADOPTED!

Remember our dog problems?  Or should I say our loving problem dog?  He was successfully adopted this weekend, to a family in Vernon with one teenage daughter, two other dogs, and no toddlers.  WOOT!  We had exhausted a ton of avenues, and wouldn't you know it?  My mom put a poster up in the cafeteria at her work, and it was the key to finding Simon the perfect home. 


We drove up to Vernon just so this family could meet Simon and see if he might be a good fit.  We were fully prepared for it not to work out, but the cost of the trip was worth the small chance that they might take him.  I think they had made up their minds to adopt him before they even met him, barring any obvious incompatibilities: within 2 minutes, Simon was very comfortable with them (after an initial barking and fur lifting session~Simon's new owner promptly sat down and held his hand out, effectively winning Simon over and calming him down instantly).  After a few minutes they let their dogs out of their vehicle to meet him, and they meshed within minutes.  Match made in heaven!  They took him, his dishes, leash, toys, and food, loaded them in the car, and waved goodbye.  They expressed several times that they felt so bad taking our family dog away from us (particularly our boys, who obviously love him), but man oh man were we so grateful to find him a better fit and a toddlerless yet loving home!  We reassured them that this was the right choice.  The boys lined up on their tailgate and yelled "BYE SIMON!  BYE! BYE SIMON!!" and I cried a bit.  He really is a sweet dog and the whole situation makes me feel teary and guilty. 

Simon's new family offered that we could email them whenever we are in town, and come by and visit Simon if we like.  What better situation could we ask for, seriously?  The backyard seems a bit empty and I'm sad to see him go. 

But this afternoon I opened the back door and let Amarys roam in the yard, and felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders, knowing I didn't have to worry about the dog and her.  It was a relief to know she is safe.  And so is he!  And well loved.

Thank you for your support, and kind words, and prayers.  A happy ending!  Hurrah!  xo

Thursday, April 19, 2012

On Staying At Home Revisited, Also...

I am sorry I have been quiet the past few days; my wrists are sre from carpal tunnel syndrome and it makes it difficult to type.  But I typed up a response to the comments on my previous post and wanted to let you all know, if you are interested in this discussion, that there is more in the comments section of my previous post and I would LOVE if you all discussed it further.  It is totally a topic Im passionate about and I find everyone's thoughts on it so interesting!  =)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

On Staying At Home, Revisited

Right now I'm reading Half the Sky for the second time, for book club.  I read it before, two years ago, and found it incredibly compelling.  It is an in depth look at the plight of women around the world, focusing on sex trafficking and modern slavery, gender based violence, and maternal mortality.

"In the nineteenth century, the central moral challenge was slavery.  In the twentieth century, it was the battle against totalitarianism.  We believe that in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality around the world (intro, xvii)."

I love this book with my mind, heart, and soul.  It is devastating and overwhelming in scope, but ultimately shows the power and strength of women when they are educated, determined, and equipped to participate in all realms of society.  There are so many devastating problems out there and there is so much work to be done, but there is also so much hope.  Women are talented and strong and courageous and of course lucky and unlucky, good and evil, strong and weak, just like everyone else on earth (all the males, I guess, since there are just the two of us around here.  Generally speaking).

I was raised by strong women.  I just did a silent head count and yes, every single woman in my extended family worked outside the home.  Both grandmothers, all my aunts on both sides, and my mother (one aunt on my mom's side took several years off when her kids were little).  This next generation so far is following suit.  Save for me.

My paternal grandmother was a secretary.
My maternal grandmother taught English at community college.
My aunts are a mixture of teachers, social workers, an office assistant, an early childhood education adviser and former Montessori teacher, a university professor, and a children's liason for the BC justice system.
My mom is a nurse.

My cousins are teachers and students.
My sister is a nurse.

I am nothing.
Except that I'm a mom with four kids, a small (small) business owner, an artist, a retired paramedic, and a women's advocate.  I do occasional doula-ing for my friends.  But there's not really a paid profession for which I can answer I am________ when people ask me the inevitable "What do you do?"

I don't really mind much, because the actual functioning of my life now that I have subtracted work outside the home from it is so much calmer and easier to manage.  I like my kids and find them fun to be with, and although I don't find parenting all that intellectually stimulating, I manage to get that need filled with advocacy work and art, and talking with other adults in my life about issues I am passionate about.  And educating myself on things various and interesting.  And reading.  Oh my gosh, I love reading.  If there were a profession like "Lifeguard" for book nerds, I'd be all over that like a waterbaby is on lifeguarding.  Anyways, I like the balance that leaving BC Ambulance behind has given me, particularly now that I have a handful of kids.

When asked by the school psychologist during testing what his parents do, Matthew started with me:
"She used to be a paramedic but now she has too many children."

As a parent herself the psychologist knew I would appreciate that one.  =)  SO HILARIOUS.

But you know, I'm not generally a fan of staying at home as a theoretical concept.  If women want to (and I do) I think it is awesome that, if they are privileged enough to be able to afford it, women CAN stay home and contribute to society by raising their kids.  I think this is becoming a profession in and of itself that is gaining more recognition and respect in society generally speaking, although there are certainly lots of assumptions and stereotypes out there still that irk me (and you, I'm sure) about SAHMs.  But I think that the world misses out something essential when its women stay at home.  Especially in large numbers.  I don't want that for Amarys.  She's fiesty!  She's miraculous!  She's smart!  I want her to change the world!  I don't want it for me, either.  I'm fiesty and miraculous, too!  I want to change the world, too!  I want to be more than just a stay at home parent.  (Don't we all).  I actually have this secret dream to work for the United Nations as some sort of advocate or translator or speech writer or researcher or breastfeeding expert or champion of women's rights.  Do you think "Stayed home with my kids for five years" will look good on my resume for the U.N?  =P  Actually the answer to that is probably yes.  My point is there is so much in the world that is changing and needs attention or focus, and so much to advocate for, and I want to be right in the middle of all of it.  I wish I could live a million lives, because there isn't time in one life to do all the things I would love to do.

There's been some rumbling lately about "Mommy wars" and mudslinging and partisan rhetoric between democrat and republican in the U.S. and I guess it nudged me to write this all out: that and Half the Sky, because the book opens with the story of a girl kidnapped from her Cambodian village and trafficked in Malaysia and Thailand, who eventually escaped and is now married, has a baby, and runs her own successful business that supports her nuclear family and some extended family, and I just think GOOD FOR YOU YOU AMAZING, TALENTED WOMAN!!  And the whole concept of her potentially staying at home sequestered in her house just because she has a child just seems asshat to me.  She's earning a living.  (So is her husband, he's not a leech).  She loves her kid.  She makes it work.  Period.

Now, I want to share with you a story that changed my life about 8 years ago.  We went to a wedding in Santa Barbara (so gorgeous, and SO FUN).  The woman who was getting married (we were friends with both her and the groom) has a pastor for a dad, so he married them, and in his sermon he talked about his family and how wonderful they were, and how they were his calling in life.  He described how God had driven home to him that as a man he was called into ministry as a dad.  For a pastor to say that is pretty rare, and it shook me and changed my world.  I started to see that for all of us, our family is our primary calling in life and that nurturing them is the best, most honorable, most important work we could ever do.  If at the end of my life my children know I love them, my life's work will be done.  I will be fulfilled.  It will all be worthwhile.  Period.  This is true for men, too.

This story emphasized for me that one's work is always secondary to one's family, no matter who you are and whether you sport a penis or a vagina.  But it also emphasized that one can work and value family, simultaneously.  No one ever said a dad cannot do attachment based parenting and work: so why the hell can't a woman?  How much does the world miss of our talent and spark and unique gifts when we encourage each other to stay at home exclusively?  How much does it devalue that woman in Cambodia who is likely overwhelmingly empowered and happy to find herself a small business owner with a husband and a child after years of abuse as a slave in a brothel?  If she can do it, why can't we?

"Women hold up half the sky" ~chinese proverb

"What would men be without women?  Scarce, sir, mighty scarce" ~Mark Twain

Some other people's thoughts on this topic:
 The Bloggess
PhD in Parenting
Confessions of a High Heel Wearing Hippie Mommy

(can I just second The Bloggess in stating that unless you came out of my vagina (or my heart, adopted love), my name is not "Mommy" and you may not call me that as such??  I go to GREAT lengths to refer to women as women rather than mothers as often as I can on mothers of change, and to refer to my doula clients by their names rather than diminuitively referencing them as "mommies."  This is so important to me, because it drives me crazy to be referred to as "Mom" by people who are not my children).

One Year

I would just like to celebrate something small that I realized recently.  Amarys turned one, which means that I am officially past the 12 month postpartum mark, without any postpartum depression or anxiety.  Woot!  Wow, that was cool.  And in retrospect I had depression during my pregnancy with Ayden, anxiety afterwards, anxiety after adopting Matthew, and anxiety and postpartum OCD after Riley.  And with treatment and prevention strategies, after Amarys was born, I avoided it ALL. 

Celebratory dance.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter Saturday

Easter weekend here was sunny and hot!  It was so gorgeous, and an amazing conclusion to lent for me (I still haven't had my bacon cheeseburger, but the turkey dinner on Sunday was the best turkey EVER because of all the anticipation and fasting beforehand!), and for all of us.  This year was great.  The only thing missing on Friday/Saturday was Brent.  Minor.  =P

We had such a gorgeous weekend that I wanted to share it with you, and in order, which is why it has taken me a week to get around to posting these.  Man, it was the perfect weekend.  Sunny.  Warm.  Fun outings.  Good loooooong backyard hours of fun.  Family times.  Candy.  Prayer.  Joy.  Celebration.  Love.  Minimal yelling.  Maximum cute.

Saturday we started off at church for a young families easter breakfast, complete with easter egg hunt.  It took Amarys 1/234336565893rd of a nanosecond to figure out that there was CANDY in the eggs and that it was GOOD


How could anyone EVER say no to this face?

How to protect your candy from small sisters

Seriously, who gave this kid a voice enhancing toy?  Ayden had had enough of Matthew's amplified voice in his ear at this point, so he plugged the hole with a piece of candy

This particular car NEVER gets old; my nine year old still plays with it...and everyone below him, too


We had a sunny picnic on the back deck

Man, this toy never gets old, either.  Add a sprinkler: double your fun


Matthew's face says joie de vive


Ayden figured nana would like this one (she was a gymnast, too)   


She started the day fully dressed, I swear.  Well you saw it!  The easter breakfast was this same day!!  I'm so glad she can finally get some real vitamin D (not from a bottle) and clear up her chest once and for all




Vitamin D is good for me, too

Can't resist those cheeks

I spent some time weeding the garden and of course had a plethora of 'helpers'



Muddy face

Too... much... fun....

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Flour on My Countertop


This was fun!  Nobody guessed exactly right; some of you had the flour part, but everyone thought it was on food like brownies or something.  I'll have to do that again.  Fun times!  Maybe next time I'll give away a prize for a winner.... =P

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good Friday

Every year on Good Friday our church joins with five others to walk the stations of the cross in Fort Langley.  This year was so beautiful! Last year we had good weather, too, but it was cool and windy and overcrowded, so I couldn't hear a word of what was being said.  I remember thinking it had potential, but that I didn't get anything out of it.

This year was so much better!  We had programs, so everyone could follow along even if they couldn't catch every word, and although I had all four kids there by myself, I really managed to participate and relish (if you can call it that, it is a pretty sad Christian season) the Good Friday service.  Before we went I talked to the kids about the stations of the cross and the ultimate reason Jesus came to earth and the culmination of His ministry.


It is interesting to have kids at different developmental stages and discuss something like this with them; I think mainly that we don't need to talk down to children or even have special services for them as is popular in the protestant churches we have attended.  If you simply speak to them about what you believe, they will glean what they can understand and leave the rest.  Ayden of course understands the most, and Matthew next.  When asked why Good Friday is important yesterday, Matthew replied, "Because Jesus died on the cross for our sins."  The previous year he may have said that Jesus died, or that Jesus loves us, but this year he has started to put together what happened on the first Easter Friday, and also why, which is cool.  I don't want my kids to miss the central point of the entire Christian gospel, and that is that everything God has done for us is for love.  Some parts of the Bible and the gospel story can be frightening or violent, and without a context of overarching love, I think it can be mystifying and scary.  It can also be frightening to grapple with emerging moral development without a framework for some kind of sanctifying.  I know that when I was a kid I was very sensitive to feelings of guilt or separation from God and appreciated the matrix of grace that was woven throughout the Bible as it was taught to me.
Riley is enamored with candy and knows this holiday has something to do with Jesus dying.  Amarys is on the rampage for everyone else's candy, so far.  (We had an easter egg hunt this morning at church).

I often feel like as a parent of young kidlets, I get my religion on the fly.  Tidbits here and there.  Fragments of prayers tossed up in the rampage of the day and little chance to sink my teeth into the things that really matter to me, that I want to remember and celebrate and mark as the seasons pass by.  I can't focus on worship fully because I've got one eye on the toddler, some weeks I cannot listen to the message or sermon at all because I'm with said toddler in the foyer as she refuses the nursery, I never have time to download and listen to it during the week, and Christmas and easter are often flurries of food and prayer and church services with no Sunday School so that my focus is on helping my small people cope with it all rather than on the grace or meaning of the season.  I'm okay with this, it is just a life season.  But I miss sinking my mind entirely into a worship service or a sermon, you know?  Or just deep in prayer.  I miss that the most.  Someday soon I will have more than enough hours to pray~I will be an old woman with grown kids and hours in my day to pray.  Or even having all the kids old enough to be reasonably self sufficient and/or in school during the day will help in this regard.  Anyways, all this to say that Easter is my favorite holiday, my favorite Christian season, and the anniversary for me of when I really claimed my religion as my own at sixteen.  It is also wrapped up in springtime, my favorite season and one which is symbolic for me of hope, healing, peace, joy, and achieving balance as someone who lives with a mental illness.  Easter is awesome.  I appreciated being able to savor it a bit this year, despite the many things my mind has to pay attention to as the parent of four small kids.

From my garden


Here are some pictures.  =)

I brought the wagon so I could accomodate both little kidlets~my stroller only fits one



Ayden participated in about half the service before he got bored and distracted


What, Matthew in the wagon again?

Random chicken (anyone read the Bloggess? You'll get the reference)

Planting chestnuts

These two are peas in a pod; M is showing A all about chestnuts