Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Letter writing

Last week was report cards at school. Austin did very well -- and his teacher's only comment was that he needs to continue working on his writing.

So I've taken that comment seriously (not that I would take it any other way) and started to encourage him to work on his writing. But I quickly realized that to a five-year-old boy, sitting down and 'writing' isn't all that much fun.

So, on the fly, I came up with a game to make it more interesting. And it's working. It might take him a while to write something but at least he's doing it.

What's he doing? He's writing letters. Practice I guess for that letter to Santa we should really write soon. Last week, when I suggested he write a letter to someone, he immediately decided he would write a letter to Grandpa.

And so he did. He wrote: To Grandpa, I do not have school tomorrow. Love Austin.

(It was a PA day the day after he wrote it.)

And we mailed it to grandpa -- who was thrilled to get a letter from his grandson.

He's working on another letter right now, this time telling another family member that he baked cookies today. The process of writing just those few words takes him about 30 minutes -- but the point is is that he's doing it.

So all you family members out there who read my blog. Keep checking your mailbox -- you never know when you'll get a letter from Austin.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I am so lucky

We had a house full of people this past weekend. The first set of visitors -- my sister-in-law and her fiance -- were visitors we had been counting on. Visitors that we had made plans with weeks in advance.
But late Thursday afternoon, our friend who lives in Berlin called and asked if he could stay with us -- for about four days starting the next day. You see, he lives in Germany with his wife and son, but he's from here so he has some family in the area (two sisters). And he had a family emergency.

A horrible one.

His sister had had a baby early in the week. From what I understand, she had a healthy pregnancy and everything was fine. But when she went into labour, something went horribly wrong and the baby was deprived of oxygen for too long.

He died two days later.

I felt sick when my friend told me this on the phone from Germany. I feel sick just writing it down now. I feel sick just thinking about it and I feel pain for this woman I don't even know. I've never met my friend's sister and I know very little about her but I can't help but think about her.

This baby was her first. Here she was preparing to be a mother for the first time. The hopes, the fears, the getting-a-nursery ready, the baby showers and feeling those little kicks inside you.

And instead, she's left with an emptiness I cannot even begin to understand yet one that makes me feel sick just thinking about.

My friend says his sister is doing well...considering. But all I can do is hug my baby, who's 3 and a half now, and then hug my first baby, who's almost 6, and think: I am so lucky. I am so blessed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Me time

Ever since I've been home as a full-time mom, I've sort of 'scheduled' me time into my every day. And that me time is first thing in the morning.

Yes, I still need a few minutes to myself to get things done or ignore the world during the day, but that time to myself first thing in the morning is very important to me.

Since before Austin started JK last year, many mornings I would set my alarm so that I'd be up before the kids. Before we had a school day routine, I used to get up, make some coffee and then enjoy drinking my first cup of coffee in peace and quiet. Some days I do so while folding the laundry (I actually don't mind folding laundry, it's mindless), other times I'd read the paper, other times I'd surf Facebook or blog and other times I'd just tackle some small tidy up project that there's never enough time to do in a day (you know, like tidy up the never-ending junk pile on the dining room table). Since my kids are rarely up before 7 -- back in those days, I could get up at 6:30 or so and get anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half to myself.

By the time Austin started school, I turned that several times a week habit into an every morning habit. And so many people I say this to think I'm crazy for getting up even a minute earlier than I have to.

But I love it.

Now, I set my alarm every morning for 6:15 a.m. I get up; I make coffee; I take a shower; then I get dressed and put on a bit of makeup while I drink my coffee. It's quiet and it's peaceful. No one is yelling, no one is demanding my attention.

It's just me and my coffee. And let's face it, I'm a much nicer person to the kids after I've had a cup of coffee.If there's still time when I'm all ready and backpacks are packed with snacks, I'll fold laundry (again, sounds weird, but it's a mindless activity that I don't mind), surf Facebook, read blogs or tackle some small tidy up project. And at 7:10 a.m, if no one is up yet, I'll start waking the kids and making breakfast.

It's my routine. It's my me time. And when that me time gets disrupted, it messes with my day.

The last few days -- ever since we changed the clocks back -- one or both of the kids have been waking up before 7. Often well before I've even managed to pour my coffee. And when I hear them step out of their room before 7 I just groan. I'm not ready for anyone yet. Even if it's only 15 minutes of me time lost, it's still 15 minutes that was mine. And now it's not.

So here's hoping the kids go back to having to be woken up in the morning. Because although I've gotten used to waking up early, I'd rather not wake up any earlier just to get more me time.

Monday, November 07, 2011

My business-savvy son

At five years old, Austin has figured out that he wants money. Because having money means being able to buy things. And he wants to buy things. But he's smart enough to understand that I'm not just going to give him money.

So, Ryan and I recently started giving him an allowance. If both he and Alex do their list of chores every week -- on Saturdays, we give them one dollar each. It's not a lot of money, but their list of chores is quite short too. Every evening, they have to put the recycling out and they have to make sure their rooms are tidy. For the record, since we started this routine two weeks ago, we have to remind them to do their jobs -- and for the recycling, we have to unlock and open the back door for them -- but the point is, they do it.

Having the kids do a 'job' was, in a round about way, Austin's idea. A few weeks ago, as we were walking home from school, he pointed out that there sure was a lot of garbage on the ground. And there was -- not to stereotype, but we live near a high school and the students there don't always care to put their garbage in the pail (which is only a few feet away from where it gets strewn on the ground). And so, Austin decided to clean up a bit.

At first, I cringed. But then, we lay down the rules of what he can and cannot touch (no cigarettes, no broken bottles and no napkins or Kleenex) and he went to town.

And again the next day. And the next.

But now that he has discovered that he makes money by doing chores at home, he wants to make money elsewhere. No, he's not asking me to pay him to clean up the garbage near the high school.

Instead, he's hunting for beer cans.

Yup. Beer cans. You see, his grandpa told him that he picks up beer cans whenever he sees one on the ground and in return, he gets 10 cents a can from the store. Well Austin thought that was a great idea!

And now, whenever we're walking to the park; going for a bike ride; walking home from school; or even playing at the park -- he's on the lookout for beer cans. But, since he can't really read yet, he picks up an awful lot of Coke and Sprite cans.

But he did find one! One whole beer can hiding in the brush behind the playground. We were with his grandpa and grandpa had just found one on the edge of the brush. This was unacceptable to Austin so he actually went walking through the brush until he found one. And he did.

And he was so excited that he was going to get 10 whole cents!

When we got home from the park, I took the beer can from him, added it to our empties and gave him a dime -- which he proudly put in his piggy bank.

Of course, now that he's found one, he's always on the hunt for more. Maybe if we're lucky, by the time he goes to university, he'll have collected enough cans to pay for it. Then again, in another 9 cans, maybe I'll just take him to the dollar store.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Rocking the Mo for Movemeber

Two years ago, Ryan grew a beard. Sorry hon, but I'll tell the truth -- he sort of did it by accident. It was Christmas holidays and he was on vacation for about a week and a half. The beard grew out of laziness -- he didn't feel like shaving. But after 9 or 10 days, he admitted that he kind of liked it, if he, you know, cleaned it up a little. And I admitted that I kind of liked it too.

And so, the beard was born.
As I said, that was only two years ago so until that point he was always clean-shaven. And yet, I got used to it. And I really like it.

But yesterday -- November 1 -- he shaved it all off. And so, (since I didn't see him in the morning), he came home from work yesterday afternoon and I saw him clean shaven for the first time in two years.
But it's all for a good cause. He's growing a mo for Movember. What's Movember, some of you may ask.

It's the month where guys grow mustaches to raise money and awareness for men's health -- but specifically for prostate cancer. And not only do they raise money, but the sometimes funny-looking mustaches they sprout spark a conversation or two or ten about the importance of men's health. Because let's be honest here -- most men I know (my mustache-growing hubby included) don't always have their health at the top of their priority list. It's not that he doesn't care about his health -- he eats well, exercises, etc. -- but going to the doctor just for check up...now there's something that doesn't often happen without a wife's subtle and not-so-subtle reminders.

So I support the growing of the Mo. There are countless women's health campaigns out there -- but something that supports men's health and prompts men to talk and take action is a rarity. It's literally an in-your-face campaign. So support Ryan's Movember campaign -- he'll be posting pictures on his official fundraising page throughout the month -- or support someone else you may know (because I know many of my readers don't actually 'know' me or Ryan) and their Movember campaign.

After all, who doesn't love a guy who's rocking the mo?