31 August 2010

The cooler fall weather allowed to me having a tea party with my kids today.

No, not because it's too hot to drink tea in the summer or because we're too busy at the playground to be bothered with such indoorsy silliness. It's way less direct than that.

In the summer, we sleep in the basement. It's lovely. It's cool and dark and way more welcoming than the stuffy upstairs bedrooms. The downside, unfortunately, is that the open layout of our house makes it so that any noises on the main floor (like children shrieking during a sock war for example) are also quite loud in the basement. It also meant that Angel the wild kitten was able to go downstairs at the slightest hint of a sleeping body in order to "snuggle" (AKA "Purr as loudly as possible until the sleeping thing wakes up")

Olivia usually naps twice a day. These naps usually look something like this:

The smoochy snuggly sleeper is truly delicious like nothing else. But she's getting big. I know, calling my skinny baby big is rather amusing, but she used to look a lot more like this:
(Please note the bad wrapping job. See what you learn in a year of wrapping?)

Anyhow back to the tea party. Well, almost. So yeah, this baby of mine couldn't sleep in the noisy basement all summer. And she was getting bigger and bigger which made it harder to get things done during her wrap-naps. Sometimes I did manage to get her transferred up onto my back once she'd nursed to sleep:
(This one is a good wrapping job, despite her wonky head. Promise! She had neck support right up her whole neck. Plus if I tried to lay her head down flat and tuck it under the wrap she got angry.)

Anyhow yeah. So the tea party. So since it's cool enough that we have the beds back upstairs into actual bedrooms with actual doors, I can now put the sleeping baby up in bed during her naps. It's quiet, the cat can't jump on her face, and I can actually move around at a normal person's speed, not the speed of someone trying not to crang her sleeping baby's head on a wall while mopping.

During this morning's nap I got a whole pile of cleaning done which meant that during this afternoon's nap when Lily asked if we could have a tea party I was able to say "Yes! Let's get some water boiling!" rather than "I really wish I could but the table is covered in crap and the dishes are all dirty and I don't have the time for that right now." (Do I sound like one of those Ikea commercials yet?)

So my afternoon looked a whole bunch like this:

And this:

And this:

It was really really great. Nick and Lily so often have to wait for things or just plain not do things because of Olivia and it was really special to just sit with them and drink tea and visit. There's a part of my heart that is sad that Olivia's napping in bed rather than in the wrap, but it's balanced out in knowing that she was more than ready and I now have these new opportunities to be alone with the big kids. And judging by the looks on their faces as they doctored up their cups of tea, the party was just as big a hit with them as it was with me.

30 August 2010

As I wrote yesterday, I've joined in a Game On challenge for the next four weeks. Today was my first day and while I promise I won't do recaps of my day each day I wanted to take a look back at my first day.

My first impression is that the drinking 3L of water isn't quite as difficult as I thought it might be. I have a tumbler that's 591 mL so I've been keeping tally so that I drink 5 tumblers worth of water. It's currently 10 PM and I've got about 1/3 of my last tumbler to go, so polishing it off will be pretty easy. The one lesson I learned was to not chug back a full tumbler of water just before putting Olivia to bed since by the time she'd finally finished nursing I was in serious fear of my bladder exploding. Ka-pow!

The biggest area of effort was predictably my foods. In keeping with the requirements I ate 5 small meals which were:
1) Oatmeal with honey and kefir and a nectarine
2) Two yellow peppers filled with last night's spaghetti sauce leftovers
3) A spinach salad with tuna, strawberries, sunflower seeds, and balsamic vinegar
4) Chicken breast, rice, asparagus, zucchini, carrot sticks
5) A nectarine, some grapes, a piece of cheese

I had a hard time between meals one and two because I got hungry. I thought the kefir combined with the oatmeal would be enough protein to keep me going, but my stomach was growling and I was pissy when I got morning snacks for the kids. It's frustrating enough to feel like I'm spending my day preparing foods and feeding everyone else on days when I eat frequently, but when I'm still handling all this food and not getting much myself it's rather annoying.

I did pull out some celery part way through the day (I can eat as much celery and cucumber as I want but I'd rather go hungry than eat cucumber) and all I can say is: there's a reason why you can eat as much of it as you want. Poor celery. I'd like you if you didn't taste so bad. Or feel so bad. By the end of this month I'm either going to love you or never speak to you again.

On the exercise front, I grabbed my iPod and the doggy and went for a 20 minute walk when Liam was home. It was nice to walk at an adult speed. Anyone who has walked with toddlers or flighty-brained kids on bikes knows what I'm talking about.

I took my vitamins this morning to get my good habit points, and on such a cold gloomy day it seemed especially wise to be popping some B complex and vitamin D. I still need to get my flower essence blend made up tonight.

Overall, I'm really glad to be doing the challenge. I think that it's just enough pressure to keep me on track and to see some nice results on the scale, but flexible enough that it's not going to put me into a crash and burn by day three. I've got a kind of love-hate relationship going on with the whole Game On thing today, so here's hoping that as the days go on I spend more time on the love side of things than on the hate side!

29 August 2010

It's that time of year when the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder, and the apples on the trees are turning nice and red. Summer isn't exactly over as we can easily get a few nice days in the early part of September, but those long hot days and endless opportunities for lazy afternoons at the park are drawing to a close.

Part of me is always sad to see the summer end, especially knowing how long and cold the winters here are. There's another part of me that really loves fall, though. During 19 of my 30 years September has ushered in a fresh new school year and it's hard not to feel like the month brings me a fresh slate with so many exciting opportunities.

I bought a binder and notebook today to use for our FlyLady-inspired control journal (a place to keep written routines and other things related to running the house). I'm going to get us set into a regular morning routine and I'll set out our major household tasks around our weekly classes and outings.

As part of my Game On challenge, I'll be making up a dosage bottle of flower essences for myself and I'm looking forward to adding in some blackberry for a kick of inspiration as well as some walnut to help make the transition into new fall routines.

For now, I'm off to bed to see how it feels to get the minimum of 7 hours of sleep I need to score my Game On points rather than the 5 or 6 hours I've been working on most days. G'night!

28 August 2010

A friend of mine invited me to join in a challenge based on a book called The Game On Diet. The background of the book is that the authors are friends who came up with the game outlined in the book in order to help the female author to lose her pregnancy weight.

What I'll be participating in is a 4 week challenge from August 30 - September 19 with a group of people. We'll be divided up into teams of four, each person will kick $50 into the pot, and at the end the winning team will divvy up the money.

Personally, I'm joining in for the fun of the challenge and the kick in the pants I need in the motivation department. The weight-loss roll I was on tapered out in the spring and I've gone from a plateau to picking up 5 lbs, and since I'm still at least 40 lbs from my goal weight I need to get going again.

So what exactly is this game? The objective is to score as many points as possible. Each day you can score points by eating 5 meals consisting of approved foods, by exercising at least 20 minutes, by drinking 3 liters of water, by sleeping at least 7 hours, by picking up one good habit, by dropping one bad habit, and by keeping in touch with a team member and an opposing team member. There are also bonus points for things like losing 1% of your starting weight if your overall goal is weight loss or for meeting your fitness goal if your overall goal is improved fitness. There's also some wiggle room in taking breaks, so you can take a day off from each aspect either together or spread out over the week (i.e. one day I can ignore getting 5 hours of sleep and the next I can skip exercising).

I'm both totally excited and totally intimidated by this challenge. I'm looking forward to trying a new approach to smart weight loss and I know that being accountable for my choices is going to be a huge motivator. I'm also slightly panicky at the thought of being accountable to my teammates and being tied in to a "diet" ("lifestyle"?) for four weeks.

I think that my first hurdle is going to be making the time to plan out my eating while getting used to what falls into and approved meal (a meal needs to include a portion of carbs or fruits, of protein, and of fats and two of them have to include two servings of veggies). The other area where I might struggle is in my tendency to an all-or-nothing attitude. I'll need to remind myself that making a poor choice once during the day doesn't mean I need to make other poor choices after that.

I'm still trying to figure out what I should chose as my healthy habit to build and my unhealthy habit to quit. I might make taking my vitamins daily my healthy habit to keep things simple since building in 20 minutes of exercise 6 days a week is already going to take a bit of dedication for a Mom who rarely gets any personal time at all.

So anyhow, that's what's rattling around in my brain tonight. I've got one more day til things kick off and I'm really excited to see where it takes me. I'll make sure that I update along the way!

26 August 2010

(First off: Boo to missing my first day in the Summer Blogging Challenge yesterday!! In my defense, I did blog from my BlackBerry in bed bitching about being in bed with the baby because the kitten kept waking her, but my battery died before I could publish it. And then I fell asleep. And nobody really wanted to read that anyhow.)

Anyhow, here's the real fun for the evening. I came across some old photos of Lily and I was shocked by how much my girls really do look alike. With that as my inspiration, I bring you the game! Can you identify which one is Olivia and which one is Lily?

#1 Looking out the window and something interesting

#2 Sitting pretty in the chair!

#3 Such a pretty hat and a beeeeautiful dress!

#4 There's that hat again!

#5 Messy cake baby!

#6 Pinky babe with the nifty lighting

There you have it! Post your guesses. The winner gets Awesome Points. And not those measly little Awesome Points that Liam is giving out for the blog challenge, but really big juicy Kim Awesome Points. If you collect enough of them you earn a stretchy wrap. Or something. I need to sleep now so I'll stop typing.

24 August 2010

This is the fourth entry I've written for tonight. I've started three and deleted them all. Maybe this one will stick around?

I spent an evening working with some clients and my brain is all a-buzzy. I've got all these enormous ideas swirling around inside my head about the deep acts of service of mothers, the role of female support people in a woman's life, and the pull of motherhood versus career. But all these ideas are too far out there right now, too flighty and unfinished to let me pin them down in letters and punctuation.

So what do I write about instead? I can write about the moon. It's full and beautiful and smiled down on me tonight when I was driving home to my family. I can write about the visit I had with a friend today and how its happiness lingered throughout my afternoon. Or I could write about the way that my children were so affectionate with one another today and my heart melted every time they squeezed each other with hugs. I could also write about the peace and spiritual space that filled my home today and the mental quiet that they brought me.

And there you have it. I've told you about them all already!

23 August 2010

So, as a means of totally avoiding having to come up with a blog topic for today, I've randomly uploaded a bunch of photos from the computer and I'll comment on them. You can hardly wait, can you?

Hey! Here's a picture from one of last year's babywearing walks. I had Olivia (who was I'm guessing 6 or so weeks at the time?) on my front in my mei tai and Lily on my back in a woven wrap. I think this was my first time ever doing a ruck (they type of back carry Lily is in) as you can tell by the way the shoulders weren't done properly and my arms were pinned to me. But the kids were happy and my legs worked so we walked!
This is CeeJay. He's my friend's nephew. All the cups on the table tell me that this was when we were decorating Easter eggs this year. My friend brought her son and her nephew over and I think we dyed 7 dozen eggs. So fun!

This is me, looking cool and shaking a glass jar. The kids and I were making butter. Well, Olivia wasn't. She was sleeping. Hello sleeping Olivia!

This is a dude with a lizard. Where the heck were we? Telus World of Science? I think that's where it was. Anyhow, dude had a bunch of animals and at the end of the act the kids got to feed the turtle lettuce. He was super cute.

It's an Olivia! She's lying on a blanket Nick had as a baby and she's wearing a prefold we dyed at the Anderson Acres campout last summer.

That is me and my Olivia belly. It must have been early in the pregnancy because I'm not as big as a house in this photo.

It's another Olivia! This is what she looked like when we were done shoveling snow one day last winter. She was on my back in a wrap under my babywearing coat. Her nose got a little chilly but she was a happy baby!
Here's my friend Raelynn and Liam and I at the end of a 5 Peaks trail race we ran in September 2008. Raelynn had just ran 8k while being something like 14 weeks pregnant and Liam and I had done the 16k route. It was really really fantastic day.

And somehow I've ended up with another photo of the same race even though I didn't pick two photos from any one folder. So odd. Anyhow, here we are running! I'm on the left side of the photo in the blue hat.
Folk Fest!! Holy crap my kids were small!! And Lily looks pissed.

Ah, the playroom. This is photographic proof that I have on several occasions gutted the room and made it look pretty like this. It typically lasts 13.7 seconds before looking like three small-sized tornadoes have flown through it.

Lily!! Judging by the candle in her hand I'm guessing this is a shot from her third birthday party. Her fifth birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, which doesn't seem like it should be possible.

It's the McKenzie's donkey! I have no idea what his name is. But he's so cute!

Eeee! It's a tiny gooey-eyed blurry Olivia! I loved that hat on her.
And another Olivia. Jeez. I think I take a lot of Olivia pictures. This is her in the swing in the back yard. She looks to be very deep in thought, possibly chanting "Ohm".

That was fun. I should do this kind of post again sometime.

22 August 2010

Here is the long-awaited post about the new island! Isle Johnstone? Johnstonia? Whatever you want to call it, this is a piece of furniture that makes my inner domestic goddess sing.

As you can see in the following picture, it is beeeeautiful. And the Learning Tower for the kids fits in right next to it so they never have to miss a moment of foody goodness.

Here's the overview of the kitchen from the hallway. The back side of the island has room for some stools. Olivia's high chair tucks in underneath it nicely so I think that two stools will be enough for now.
And now for a peek inside! One little drawer is still empty. One holds the rolling pin and small measuring cups. The next one has random kitchen gadgets such as Liam's brand new manual egg beater, and the last drawer has things to spoon, scoop and mash with.

The next row down has two large drawers. One drawer has mixing bowls, the large measuring cups, and some Corningware. I'm still working on which pieces will stay in there. The other drawer has dry goods (three kinds of oats, spelt flour, and baking soda for now). I'm not happy with this drawer yet as I really wanted some big bulk bins. The problem is that they need to be low and wide in order to fit in the drawer and the only containers I've seen like that are plastic tubs and I really would like glass instead. Or maybe a metal tin? I'm not sure yet.

The bottom two drawers hold the cat. OK, not normally. But he climbed in behind the drawers once and wouldn't come out. Other than the cat, I've got cookie sheets, cooling racks, and colanders in one drawer and then I'll be transferring over all my glass containers into the other for putting leftovers and the likes into. We're moving away from plastic storage containers in the house and I've got to say that glass containers are so much more satisfying on some level.

Here's us having lunch today! We took the leaf out of the table so it's tiny and pushed against the wall now. It feels like we're eating in a cafe. So fancy! You can kind of see the spider plant I picked up the other day. I'm going to split it between three pots and have plants all over to brighten things up. Nick's palm plant is there too, but it's sad and I think it might die soon. Poor palm!

And so there you have the introduction to our new kitchen layout! I've been spending time drooling over the kitchens on the Ikea website so maybe someday soon I'll get to show the continued kitchen reno's!

21 August 2010

Six years ago today, Liam and I were married at Our Lady of Perpetual Help church out in Sherwood Park. The ceremony was beautiful and so many people came out to help us celebrate. It was exactly the kind of joyous and laid-back event that we'd hoped for. Everything from seeing all of our relatives to having Nick fall asleep in Liam's arms on the dance floor that night was heartwarming and memorable.

In the six years that have passed, our lives have grown so much. We moved from our condo to a beautiful house. We added a couple of girl babies, a dog, and a cat to our family. Liam's grown his career to a self-directed and fulfilling place. I've taken on various new paid and volunteer jobs which have brought me great satisfaction.

And in the midst of it all, this marriage of ours has grown right along with us. The Kim and Liam who went to Lethbridge for their honeymoon were dizzingly in love, filled with awe and excitement that they were finally married.

These days, my heart glows with contentment. The countless moments of tenderness and joy and companionship that have filled the last six years fill my heart everyday. The mad passion that encompassed us in the early days has been balanced by depth and strength.

For all the ways in which our marriage has been exactly what I'd hoped and all the ways in which it is so much better than I could have dreamed, I am grateful. Liam is a man kinder, deeper, and more generous than anyone I have ever met and I am honored to be his wife.

Happy anniversary Liam! I love you so much!!

20 August 2010

I know that as a stay at home mom, and as an unschooling mom on top of that, weekends aren't really quite the same as they are for the majority of the population but I love it when Friday night rolls around. Nope, it's not because I go out on Friday nights (ever) or because I get a couple of days away from dirty dishes and laundry. It's because that guy who spends his weekdays in front of a screen downtown comes home for an evening and two days straight. Woo!

James has talked in a few entries about how huge a deal it is to know when that other parent is going to walk through the door and offer backup and it's so very true. But where 5:45 on a weeknight is like drinking a cup of super awesome coffee, the weekend is more like eating the centers from cinnamon roles for supper.

There are twice the number of parents! All day long! If I need to pee, I can actually go in to the room alone and close the door. And have time to do my pants up before I come out again! If I'm nursing the baby down for a nap and the kids start fighting, Liam steps in and gets it sorted out. I don't have to stick my head out the door and yell about what a horrible mother I'll end up being if the bleeping baby doesn't get a bleeping chance to have her bleeping nap. And! If the kids are starving to death but I can't manage to throw a sandwich together because I'm too busy cleaning pee off the floor while simultaneously keeping the baby from launching herself off the recliner repeatedly, Liam the Sandwich Superhero can step in!

And in case you think my excitement about Liam's time at home is all about his mad parenting skills, I assure you that my wifey self is happy to see his husbandy self too. I like Liam. Like, really really like him. He engages me in some pretty great conversations and (don't tell him I'm admitting this) he's pretty funny too. After all these years together I really can't ever get enough hanging out with Liam time. He makes me happy and when he's wearing shorts his legs make me really happy.

And so, with that, I'm off to sit back beside Mr. I'm A Hot Commodity On The Weekends. We have some important TV to watch before I fall asleep half way through the show. Not that I ever do that.

19 August 2010

In a few short weeks the new school year starts up. This year Nick is registered in grade 5, which is totally baffling to me because there's no way he should possibly be that old yet. Isn't he only 6 or 7, not closing in on 10?!

Anyhow, the 2010-2011 year will be our family's third year of homeschooling and I'm really excited to see where it takes us. Since leaving public schooling after two years of some nice times and some hugely frustrating moments, I've been thrilled to see that homeschooling not only met but has gone miles beyond our original expectations.

We started out our homeschooling journey with plans to be relaxed eclectic, meaning we'd have a fairly laid-back approach to formal learning, drawing on various resources and methods as our needs dictated. A few months into the deal, I came to the realization that, at heart, we were unschoolers and I just had to stop being scared of the label.

I've written before a bit about what unschooling is, but a brief explanation would be that we live our belief that learning happens at its deepest level when it is delight-driven and that children are naturally curious and drawn to learn everything they need. I act as a facilitator rather than a teacher, offering resources, helping out, and answering questions.

This approach to learning is for us a natural extension of our parenting style. I remember the year when Nick was in grade 1 feeling a gnawing sense of discord. It wasn't for us. It wasn't authentic. It didn't fit with the view I held of our family. I actually didn't really realize how huge a stress it was until we finished off the school year and we stepped out of the school system. I had my boy back and we could live our lives for us again.

Don't get me wrong, we've had our ups and downs and when you spend as much time together as we do the downs can be quite intense. But the good is so good and our family is living our truth.

Homeschooling has allowed deep relationships to grow between our children as they spend their days together. Nick and Lily have all sorts of pretend games that they play together, Nick dotes on Olivia, and Lily loves to hug and smooch Olivia up any moment she can get.

Homeschooling has allowed us to pursue interests to a depth that only long periods of unstructured time can allow. Nick can whip together at least a dozen origami forms at the drop of a hat. He can spew out facts from the stacks of books he's been devouring. Lily could probably put together a decent meal as long as someone helped her to reach things and she can do a wicked headstand and whistle better than I can. And Olivia...well, she can sign bird, puppy, kitty, milk, more, drink, eat, cheese, coffee, outside, hot, airplane, and sleep.

The most powerful gift that homeschooling has brought into our lives, though, is the opportunity to live in a way that is respectful of our children as individuals. We all have days where we're driven to do many great things and then we all have days where we really need to stay in our pj's til 3 in the afternoon reading books. Energy levels fluctuate, interests work their way in and out, and developmental milestones jump in throughout the year. Having a relaxed schedule allows us to do what's most fitting for most of the family members, whether that means cancelling plans to go out or having impromptu dance parties in the kitchen.

I'm glad I chose to take a leap of faith three years ago. Stepping away from the beaten path was scary but it has brought us to a whole new world of family living and I haven't regretted it for a moment.

18 August 2010

It's another night of me wanting to writing something insightful and/or inspiring without actually having any insightful and/or inspiring thoughts coming to mind. And I've come to the conclusion that the nights I can barely scrape together two brain cells seem to mysteriously follow the nights of really crappy sleep.

I remember in my pre-parenting years (holy crap those were a long time ago) if I woke up once or twice during the night or got less than 7 hours of sleep I thought that I'd had a rough night. These days, 7 hours with only one interruption would feel divine.

Last night, for example, I spent about 6 hours in bed. It was at least a half hour before I got to sleep because just as I started to drift off Olivia woke to nurse and took a bit to settle back down. Then a couple of hours later she had an uncharacteristic nighttime pee and soaked through her non-nighttime diaper (Mama is behind on laundry) so Liam got a diaper and I got her changed and settled again. A little while later Lily woke up and complained that she wanted to be between Olivia and I (she's obsessed with sleeping between warm bodies but I can't for the life of me figure out how to nurse a baby who's on the other side of someone). And then a little while later she woke again and I finally told her to hop beds and snuggle with Liam, who had long since fled the bed of flailing limbs. I'm not sure if Olivia woke to nurse again after that, but I do know that her internal alarm clock of 6:30 was set and she was ready for the exciting day she had planned.

Not all nights are like this. Some are really great. Some are worse than this. And some are pretty much just like this only the complaints and the times are different.

I used to get really obsessed with trying to decipher Nick's sleep pattern disturbances. Was it teeth? Did his schedule need tweaking? Was he too hungry? Too full? Was nighttime breastfeeding causing him to wake?

Almost ten years and a couple of kids later, I've stopped getting so worked up about it. Sometimes Olivia gets into good sleeping grooves. Sometimes she goes through rough nights. Sometimes I can piece it together (such as this week's massive leap in her walking/talking/signing skills leading to the typical sleep disruptions) but I've kind of learned not to care too much because it'll all just work itself out in the end.

And so here I am, sleepy and muggy-brained for another night, knowing that if I'd gone to bed a few hours ago with the kids I'd already have some sleep under my belt but knowing full well that my few hours of solitude were worth the price of sleep.

Maybe tonight will be a good night. Good night!

17 August 2010

Anyone who knows me well knows my love (verging on addiction) to babywearing - using soft carriers to carry babies and children for anyone not familiar with the term. I've been using baby carriers since Nick was a baby and my interest really took off once I entered the world of woven wraps.

I took some training and I now help parents learn how to use baby carriers as part of my business. I'm really drawn to combining my background in holistic health with babywearing. The workings of chakra systems and subtle energy are hugely important with babies and young children, in my opinion, and I spend chunks of time mulling over things like the implication of babywearing and a child's energy.

The following piece is one that I first jotted down back in March. I'm not sure if it's done yet, but it will eventually make its way over onto my business blog once I figure that out. There's a part of me that has this far-fetched dream that it could someday be a piece of something much bigger, but here's what it is for now:

We are more than our bodies, more than the steps of our feet or the smiles on our faces. We are ideas, dreams, thoughts, and feelings. We are the energy that swirls around inside of our minds, pours out of our mouthes, and reaches into the world around us.

As a baby begins his growth in this world, he is a tiny speck from a physical perspective. But from an energetic viewpoint he starts out with such a large energy that it takes many months to settle into his body and become separate from the world around him. While growing inside his mother, he lives within his mother's energy as well as within his own. At birth, the baby makes the transition out of her body but he still has an intense need for her. He needs the sound of her voice, the taste of her skin, the feel of her energy, the love from her heart. He depends on his mother's familiarity for comfort and reassurance, a safe and secure place from where he can meet the world.

Wearing her baby in a carrier allows the mother to keep her baby close during everyday life. On her chest, the baby rests in his mother's heart chakra, the center of love, where he can feel surrounded by the swirlings of maternal warmth. Looking out from a place of unconditional love, the world is an interesting and wonderful place. She sends him unspoken messages throughout their day: “This is our life, our world.”, “You are precious to me and I keep you close.”, “I invite you into this experience.”. The baby is too young yet to understand words, but her messages are sent clearly though her touch, her movements, and her energy.

The small baby has no barriers. He doesn't know where he begins and his mother ends. His cheek, her breast, his contentment, her unconditional love. They move and mingle without barriers or restriction. In much the same way, the baby has no sense of separation from the world around him. The sound of a car horn, the smell of freshly cut grass, the swell of emotion in a crowd listening to beautiful music. All of these sensations wash over the baby. On his own, these experiences can overwhelm and confuse him. Within his mother's energy, though, he is sheltered. Sensations are filtered, refuge is offered. He can sample and experience the snippets that are intriguing, leaning into the comfort of his mother's chest and drifting off into sleep when he is done.

16 August 2010

First off, here are a couple of progress pictures of the island.

Liam, getting the drawers together:

The space where the got-together drawers will go:

This blog entry, though, is about the following picture:

These are a couple of glass jars. The jars themselves are from Ikea. The jar on the left is a jar of Kefir that I started this morning. The one on the right is applesauce I made this evening.

Two things stand out to me from this photo.

First, food that has significance is immensely pleasing. My kefir was started from the kefir grains we brought back from Saskatoon. Kyle and Erron had some extras and packaged them up for us so we could make our own yumminess at home. The milk is raw milk from our cow share and was delivered to us by my friend who boards and milks the cows. The applesauce was made from apples the kids and I picked tonight. Our neighbor invited us over to pick some of her apples and as I filled the bag (and all three kids filled their faces) my neighbor and I had a nice visit. They honey I used to sweeten the applesauce comes from one of our Scout leaders who keeps bees locally.

Each time I use these foods, prepare these foods, eat these foods, and serve these foods, these are the stories that fill my heart. These foods with stories bring love into our home and they feed so much more than just our bellies.

Secondly, I'm struck by how food prep in our home has evolved. It used to be that I pulled ingredients together to make a meal and that was that. Sometimes we had leftovers so we would eat the meal a second or third time, but it was a stand-alone deal. These days it seems like there's always something starting or waiting. I'm starting kefir, soaking flour, scooping things into the slowcooker for a meal 9 hours away. The applesauce and kefir of tonight will dip their toes into many meals and recipes in days to come. I'm feeling more and more drawn to this slow food thing, this moving away from opening a jar or can when I could get something ready myself ahead of time.

The food we eat as a family is meaningful. It gives us fuel for our days and a reason to sit around the table a few times a day. I love that I can bring to our table foods that I'm excited to have my kids involved in making and eating with me.

15 August 2010

Last week we made a trip to Ikea to pick up a bookshelf/room divider for the kids' room and while we were there we made a spur of the moment decision to buy a kitchen island. (Well, I call it spur of the moment but in reality I'd almost bought it a few months ago when I was there last.) Liam and I were both drooling over it in the store and the $149 price tag marked down from $500ish from when it was a current model convinced us to make the leap.

We were going to leave it as an empty tabletop for the time being and pick out the "guts" (drawers and/or cabinets) later on but we discovered this morning that you can't actually assemble the island without the inner framework. Personally, I think it would have been nice if the Ikea lady we talked to had pointed that out when we discussed our plans with her but oh wel...

Anyhow, we went back out today and I got to choose what I wanted to put in the island. I ended up with four small drawers in the top row and then two layers of deep drawers, leaving me with four small and four large drawers all together. We picked out some white drawer fronts and some stainless steel hardware.

The choice in drawer fronts is a bit of another leap in faith because our current kitchen cabinets are woodgrain, so I'm working on the assumption that we'll be able to change them out at some point. It's an upgrade that is really worthwhile since our current cabinets are old and gummy and two panels are missing while one door is totally mismatched.

It always seems that one upgrade leads right into another, but I'm more than ok with making some changes in our kitchen. We really haven't put much money into updating our house in the 4 years we've lived here and either we'll stay and enjoy the fruit of our work or we'll be making worthwhile changes for sale potential if we make the move out into the country.

And on that note, off I go back to help Liam who's still chugging along in the island assembly!

14 August 2010

The big kids are home!

After heading out on Tuesday afternoon to go camping at Miquelon with my Mom, the kids are back home tonight. We ended up picking them up on our way out to weed and mound some potatoes we have planted at a friend's farm so our day together consisted of an afternoon at the farm and a late supper while watching America's Funniest Videos.

This week has been like a fantastic mini vacation for me as I tend to spend very little time away from the kiddos. I've cleaned, I've spent some one-on-one time with Olivia, I've had date nights with Liam (and Olivia of course), and I've had all sorts of quiet space to air out my mind.

But man, if it doesn't feel good to have Nick and Lily back home. The quiet turned to emptiness at times without their incessant happy chatter and I found myself frequently looking forward to being able to tell or show them things when they got back. They were thrilled tonight to see how beautiful I'd made their room. Lily jumped up and down with her huge surprised face and both she and Nick spent most of their time in the house playing up there. I got to show Nick the special places I'd put his wool felting supplies and his Transformers collection. Lily was thrilled to meet a couple of new stuffed animals we'd picked up for her from Ikea.

I just went and tucked a sleeping Olivia into bed a few minutes ago and I couldn't help but steal a few moments of snuggle time with my sleeping kids. Lily was mumbling and flopping around in her sleep. Nick had the blankets pulled up right under his chin so his brow was sweaty under my kisses.

The time apart from them has helped remind me what a joy it is to share my home and heart. These kids of mine are beautiful and inspiring and I'm so very blessed to be their mother.

13 August 2010

One day, we were hanging out in the playroom and I grabbed a pad of paper and some felts and crayons and I drew the picture on the left. The kids watched as I was drawing it and asked some questions about what I was drawing and why. Shortly after I finished, Lily pulled the pad of paper over to herself and carefully picked out the same felts and crayons as I had. Looking back and forth between my paper and hers, she drew the picture on the right. She was very pleased with herself and pointed out to me all the ways that our pictures were the same.

This photo, right here, represents my approach to parenting. I wanted to do something (drawing an abstract picture for the fun of it) so I did it. My kids observed and imitated. There was no lesson, no expectation, no token reward at the end. There was simply the normal imitation of adult behavior in a child who is a social being and the shared pleasure in a moment of closeness.

My kids' eyes and ears follow me throughout our daily lives. No amount of lecturing, praising, cajoling or punishing makes a bigger impact than how I live my life. I make an effort to act in ways that I want to model to my children, whether it's speaking kindly, expressing frustrations, enjoying music or making healthy food choices. Sometimes my words and my actions are not the best and I try to make amends and discuss it with the kids after.

Those moments when I see myself played out in my children fill me with a sense of joy and sometimes with a sense of enormous responsibility. These days, this life, these moments are going to form the images of their childhoods and will serve as a platform from which they build their adult lives. Trying to grasp the enormity of it is inspiring and sobering and I hope that I set the best example that I can.


As an add-on, if anyone is interested in reading more about children being social creatures who are naturally geared towards wanting to please and fit in, the book The Continuum Concept is a good read, and the book Why Love Matters has a lot of solid research backing its ideas about how love and affection are so very important in laying the adult brain's foundation in the early years.

12 August 2010

I've no idea
What to write
And it's already
After midnight.

I could tell you
About my day
And how I cleaned
So much dirty away

Or the pudding I baked,
Such a total flop
Not even Liam
Would eat that slop.

But I have few words
On a day like today
My thoughts turn in
And I have little to say.


11 August 2010

Last night's ponderings followed me into today and I've decided that it's the official Kim's Decluttering Week Extravaganza. The big kids being gone camping for the week with Grandma make the timing all out perfect. I've got a bit more physical space and a whole lot more mental space with only one little person underfoot!

My big goal for the week was to get the kids' bedroom cleaned and organized. Nick and Lily currently share a bedroom upstairs, though we're all sleeping in the basement for the summer as a way to avoid the heat. I spent a good period of time yesterday and pretty much all of today clearing off the floor, organizing toys, going through all the clothing, washing walls, dusting, and moving everything around.

I really wish I'd taken some before photos to show what a change there is so far. I hadn't cleaned the room properly since somewhere early in my pregnancy with Olivia and virtually every last inch of floorspace was covered with Lego pieces and clothing. It looks fantastic right now, and once we get the new shelving unit in (we got this one from Ikea!) the room is going to thrill the kids to bits.

I continued the clearing and decluttering by deleting all my e-mails off my BlackBerry and by sending off an e-mail that helped me to let go of a frustrating situation. I've also been thinking of some ways to make better use of my volunteer hours and I think I've come up with some solutions that should leave me better meeting my responsibilities and feeling better about my work.

I feel like tonight I have more space inside my brain. Whether it's from the physical decluttering, the emotional decluttering, or just the fact of not having been with the two big chatty kids since yesterday morning I'm not sure, but I'm feeling more centered inside of myself which is never a bad thing.

I'm excited to see what I can accomplish tomorrow!

10 August 2010

For as long as I can remember, I've always liked to cram as much stuff into my life as possible. As a kid, I took part in Brownies/Guides/Pathfinders, baseball, soccer, pottery, gymnastics, choir, and then the world of horses. I always wanted more time for more friends and more activities and more fun.

As I've grown up (relatively speaking, of course) I don't think I've changed much. I always seem to want to do 50 things at the same time and have 40 good friends who I spend time with regularly.

I want to be a good homemaker, cook mind-blowing foods from scratch, offer my kids an incredible homeschooling life, be the supportive and attentive wife Liam deserves, help moms through vast amounts of LLL volunteer work, spend time growing our Attachment Parenting of Edmonton Society, and impact many families through My Nature Baby.

I want to keep in touch with all of my friends. I have my friends who I grew up with, my crunchy mama friends, my friends I've met through Liam, my friends I've met through college, my homeschooling friends, and all the other friends I've nabbed along the way.

I struggle with the desire to take more and more into my life. I'm passionate about things and I feel like I want to commit time to all the things I'm passionate about. But there come the moments of imbalance where it becomes obvious that I'm stretched in too many directions and not filling any role properly.

Today I'm reflecting. I'm reflecting on the things and the people and the activities that bring me (and my family) true joy, the things that bring more positive energy back into my life. I'm pondering how to recognize and cut loose the things that don't serve me on a deep level. Ho hum. Heavy thoughts for a Tuesday night.

09 August 2010

Today was our first day back to normal in our house. We've had a weekend in Saskatoon, a week of sick crabby baby, and then the weekend of Folk Fest all of which have meant that cleaning and cooking have been totally haphazard and at a bare minimum.

We had an awesome food day in our house today, which is always super satisfying. A breakfast of steel cut oats and a lunch of warmed up leftover spaghetti were alright, but supper was totally amazing if I do say so myself (which I do, because I spent the better part of my afternoon getting it made).

The main course of the meal was pizza that we made from scratch. I bought a piece of Pampered Chef stoneware a while back and it came with a really super pizza dough recipe that lends itself really well to spelt flour.

I had my two little helpers who were more than eager to roll the dough out with me. I'm not too sure why there were little finger-shaped holes in the bottom corner of the pizza.

To add to the oomph of the meal, I made the pizza sauce from a can of tomato paste and some random herbs from my herb garden. Mmm, herbs...

And since I'm doing things in non-chronological order, here's a shot of the finished product. (We were all so hungry that I forgot to get a shot of it before chopping it up.)

On the side, we also had a Caesar salad. Most of the lettuce was from the garden but I also supplemented it with some lettuce my uncle had gifted us from his garden. I don't have a picture of the salad, but here's my pretty lettuce. It's so happy looking.

The kids, oddly, went totally nuts over the salad. While they didn't manage to quite finish their pizza they polished off their portions of Caesar and were rather put out that there wasn't enough for seconds.

And finally, to top off the meal (and to make up for the fact that the only fresh fruit we have in the house today are these really sad brown bananas) we made a fruit crisp. We threw in a huge pile of blueberries from the freezer as well as some rhubarb from the garden. Olivia was my tiny helper who may have swiped a few frozen berries.

To make the crisp super special, we made the butter that we put in it. We pulled some of the cream out of our fresh raw milk and gave it a whirl in the food processor until it looked something like this:

The kids found the whole food processor thing to be quite fun. Lily would turn it on, Olivia would randomly crank the speed up and down, and Nick would yell and jump up and down. They made lots of noise and we all laughed our butts off.

We strained the butter in a colander, pressed it, rinsed it, and cooled it in the fridge. (Although in retrospect why did I cool it if I was just going to toss it into a hot oven? Hmm.)

I stirred some local raw honey into the berry/rhubarb combo to sweeten things up a bit. Olivia got to lick the spoon after, which was apparently a blissful moment.

I also took a bit more cream (we've got almost 4 gallons of milk in the fridge today!) to make some fresh whipped cream to go on top of the crisp. The end result looked something like this:

And there you have our supper of awesome food! You don't even want to know what my kitchen looks like, but we all had an enormous amount of fun and it all tasted better than I could have hoped.

Copyright 2010 In desperate need of entertainment.

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