Posted by: Maureen | June 11, 2013 | 1 Comment
As a mom, I worry. I worry that I’m doing it wrong, that I’ve missed something important, that I have hugged too little, scolded too much, that I will scar them for life. Most of all, I worry that I am shaping four young lives and I still question things I have done with my own life.
I have debt, my house is untidy, I sometimes forget to take a kid to a lesson or sport. I allow them to skip lessons/sports sometimes. I don’t check homework as often as I should, I let them eat bacon/candy/white bread/oreo cookies/insert any number of things I probably shouldn’t let them eat.
Strangers and friends (who don’t have children) often tell me I am a good mom and comment on how well behaved my children are at parties and in public places. Even my mother-in-law mentioned it once when she met up with us at the mall.
What they don’t know is, every time we leave the house to go somewhere in public, I read my kids the riot act and threaten to take away all digital devices if anyone acts inappropriately.
Once, when going to get Santa Claus pictures done, I even told them good behaviour would be rewarded with McDonald’s French fries. That was the same year that I bought them all Santa Claus hats to cover their disheveled hair… Not exactly Mom of the Year material.
The compliment of well-behaved children was one that was probably not often given to my own mother. Does that make her a bad mom? If so, I don’t want to be a good mom.
My mother is probably the most patient and caring person I have ever met. She has never turned away a person in need, nor a child in trouble. Growing up we often had one person or another living at our house. Anyone who happened to be at our house at meal times was fed and taken care of.
Despite working crazy hours, family was my mom’s life. She never missed a soccer game, and often took time off work to drive me (and my siblings) to various sporting events, and now she doesn’t miss anything her grandkids do, from theatre performances to hockey tournaments. If I have to work late, she will also be there to take my kids to their sports/lessons. You can’t tell me she isn’t the best mom in the universe because I just won’t listen to you.
My mom never yelled, never lost her patience, always supported us, and gave us very few rules. So whose method of parenting is “good”?
When I take the time to think about this, as I am doing right now, I think maybe there is no good and bad. I mean, sure, there are extremes that no-one can deny. I’m not talking about the junkies who forget to feed their babies and leave them at home by themselves to go out drinking. That’s a bad mom. I’m talking about all of us average moms who make lunches everyday (mine never include any fun shapes or love notes), who drive kids to school, drop off all the things they left at home, make healthy dinners (most nights), help with home work, cheer them on at sports (even when I have my iPhone in my hand), and tuck them in with hugs and kisses every night. I’m talking about me and you.
Who is to say that my way of parenting is right or that your way of parenting is wrong. Who gets to make that call? Until you live in my house, take care of the four little personalities I have living in my house, pay my bills, work my job, and co-exist with my husband (you’ll like him, he’s charming If not slightly inappropriate). Until then, you don’t get to judge me.
I know, I know, I was the one judging myself right from the start here. The strangers said I was a good mom! What I am trying to say is it takes all kinds, and I think I worry so much because of the pressures given to us by society to have well behaved children, and to appear as though making a family of 6 (or any other size) work is easy. It’ s not!
I would give my right arm for my children most days, but there are others when I would sell them to you for a buck.
Posted by: Maureen | June 1, 2013 | No Comments
About 6 months ago, my body started giving me some serious signs that I needed to make some changes to my lifestyle. Not only was I constantly tired and forgetting things (important things), but I had canker sores in my mouth that WOULD NOT GO AWAY! Add to these factors that I was (still am) over weight, and it was pretty upsetting.
I started my lifestyle change with a couple of small things:
I joined a gym called Circafit where I do circuit training. I have found this type of workout, where I have a trainer and I am in a class that starts and ends at specific times, has been beneficial because I have someone to assist me with form and I also have someone watching to make sure I don’t quit.
I also made some changes to my diet. I cut down on the amount of dairy I consume by not drinking milk or eating yogurt (I still eat cheese), and I cut down on drinking tea. Without milk, it was pretty simple to let go of tea. I am amazed at how much better I feel without caffeine. Previously, when I tried to cut out caffeine, I failed because I would get horrible headaches. This time, when I wanted tea, I would drink water; hardly any headaches.
I made other changes to my diet including having a smoothie for breakfast every day. Because I don’t drink milk or eat yogurt, I use almond or flax milk and I use coconut cream instead of yogurt. To get the coconut cream, I buy a can of coconut milk and let it sit overnight in the fridge. Then, when the can is opened, all of the cream has risen to the top and you can scoop it out. I put about 2 Tbs in my smoothies and I add in any fruit I have on hand. I have found that I really like spinach in my smoothies, I know, weird.
Tom and I used to sit on the couch after the kids went to bed and watch tv and eat snacks, I knew that had to change, so I started cutting back on that. I won’t say it has stopped, but we only snack once in a while now.
Immediately, I felt better, but not good enough. Despite my change in diet, I still had canker sores. It was then that I saw something in my Facebook feed that caught my eye. The picture was of a canker sore and the article was about celiac disease. I read it with interest and decided to start cutting down on my gluten intake. I saw immediate results. I guess I should get my doctor to test me for celiac, but no matter what the results of that test are, I know gluten is an issue for me now.
I haven’t completely cut out gluten, but I have cut back, and I can tell you this has been the hardest of the changes to make. I love bread and cake and pasta… not good, but I have also been able to find some great recipes that mean I can continue to eat these things. Thanks Pinterest!
One of my favourite gluten-free breads is coconut milk bread. Try it with peanut butter and banana.. yum! And something I have found that is a perfect thing to grab when I’m running out to the gym or even when I want something sweet is homemade energy bars. They are so easy to make! I don’t have a food processor, so I use my magic bullet. If you have a food processor, they will be even easier.
What you will need:
1 ½ C pitted dates
½ C dried cherries
1 C raw cashews
2 Tbs natural peanut butter
Put all ingredients in your food processor and blend, or put each ingredient in your magic bullet separately and blend. Then knead together with your hands and press into a bread pan lined with wax paper. Cut into bars and eat.
The great thing is you can substitute the ingredients for things you prefer. Don’t like dried cherries (not sure how that is possible, but okay) substitute with raisins or dried blueberries. Don’t like cashews? Use almonds or hazelnuts. And you can use any type of nut butter that tickles your fancy too.
In the six months that I have been trying my new lifestyle, I have noticed a huge improvement in my energy level, and I have lost 15 pounds. This is despite not always sticking to my plan and with sometimes only making it to the gym once a week.
My latest change has been to join a soccer team. It has been a long time since I put on my cleats and took to the pitch, but I am loving every (painful) minute of it.
Posted by: Maureen | May 26, 2013 | 1 Comment
For a long time, when I spoke about our kids, I felt the need to explain that two of them were step-children. It wasn’t because I didn’t want people to think they were mine, or that I didn’t want to be their mom. I just felt weird claiming someone else’s children as my own, as though I was taking away from who their mother is.
Eventually, I realized that I didn’t need to explain myself, or my children, to anyone. I allowed myself to say things like “I have four children” and I started introducing my step-children as MY children.
They didn’t correct me, and I think they were relieved not to have to listen to the explanations any more too.
Recently, I brought Eleanor to a track meet where I watched her place first in the 1500m. It was a chilly day, and by the end of the race I felt numb. There were a couple of hours between her races, so I went home to do some work. As I was thawing out from my morning, I thought about how cold Eleanor must be out at the field, and I decided to grab some hot chocolates for Eleanor and her friends on my way back to the meet.
The girls were extremely thankful for the warm beverages, and they told me I was the best mom ever. While that was flattering, what happened next made my day. Eleanor and her friends went up to sit on the bleachers and someone yelled “Hey, Eleanor, where did you get the hot chocolate?”
Her response? “My mom”
Posted by: Maureen | May 17, 2013 | No Comments
We have a bit of a hierarchy when it comes to chores. The oldest has more responsibility, so she gets paid more, and so on and so forth through the ranks.
Last week (because our youngest is now 3), we decided to move everyone up the ladder one step.
Previously, Eleanor (13) was responsible for unloading the dishwasher, Ethan (10) was responsible for recycling and garbage during the week and putting it to the curb on garbage day, Rebecca (8) was responsible for keeping the bathrooms (we have 4) and kitchen supplied with toilet paper/paper towels.
Eleanor has now taken on the responsibility of doing the kids laundry. She has to do 3-4 loads a week, or she will not got paid her $8 allowance. We are giving her on the job training – which may or may not have resulted in one load of pinks, but I think Tom likes pink boxers anyway. I may also have ended up at a party wearing jeans that smelled a little musty, but we still hold out hope… and we made the very smart decision to only make her responsible for kids’ clothes.
She puts a laundry basket out in the hall with a note that says what colour she is doing, and each kid is responsible for getting their own clothes in to the basket to get washed. If they don’t do it, they don’t have clean laundry… not sure Ethan cares, but we will see.
So, now Ethan steps up to $6 a week for unloading the dishwasher. He, too, will get on the job training… from Eleanor. That’s right! For the next three weeks, they are not only responsible for their new chore, but they also have to train the new person on their job.
Shockingly, Ethan has been up bright and early every morning happily putting away dishes. The first load resulted in several items being put in the wrong place. That just told us his supervisor wasn’t doing her job, so we reinforced the training policy and let Eleanor know she would be held responsible if things weren’t put away properly.
Ethan has also been happily training his younger sister on garbage. This was Ethan’s chore for a few years, so I think he was happy to get taken off of it. He is also an excellent teacher.
With Rebecca learning the ropes of garbage duty, that meant Siobhan has started her very first chore of stocking paper products. She loves it, although, I am sure that Rebecca’s training period will run longer than the other kids since Siobhan is so young.
Do your kids do chores?
Posted by: Maureen | February 23, 2013 | No Comments
In my house, I am the dreamer and my husband is the practical one, I am the shopper, he is the bill payer, I am the social co-coordinator, he is the IT guy.
If we were to win $50,000, I know full well that it would go toward our mortgage or education savings for our four kids, BUT that doesn’t mean a girl can’t dream. If I were to win $50,000 that had to be spent on luxury items, I would start by packing our suitcases!
I am so tired of the winter weather. Six tickets to Costa Rica, please! Have my pina colada waiting by the lounge chair. After a couple weeks of sun and sand, I would be ready to face reality, but not entirely.
I would hire a personal chef to cook for us for a month. Each member of the family would have a day of the week where the chef would prepare all their favourite meals. On my day, we would have Eggs Benedict for breakfast, Butternut Squash soup for lunch, Roast leg of lamb with root vegetables for dinner, and crème brulee for dessert.
That should make up for all the poutine I see my children ordering.
Finally, I would send the guys off to a hockey game while the girls and I went to the spa… and the mall.
I know, I know, I should get my head out of the clouds. Like I said, I’m a dreamer, BUT did you know Royale is going to make one lucky person’s dream come true? That’s right! For their 50th Anniversary, Royale is going to give away $50,000 in their Royale #GoldenKitten Ticket promotion.
There are 440 Golden Tickets hidden inside special marked packs of Royale bathroom tissue, facial tissue, paper towel and dinner napkins, or you can look for 60 tickets available online through royale.ca or Royale Kittens/Chatons Facebook.
There will be 500 instant win prizes of Samsung TVs, tablets, BluRay players etc, and one GRAND PRIZE of $50,000.
I know you’ve thought about it already, so what would you splurge on? Or are you more practical, like my husband?
Disclosure – I am participating in the Golden Kittens Blog Tour by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Royale. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.
Posted by: Maureen | February 21, 2013 | No Comments
From the very moment I saw that grainy image of a tiny human forming inside my body, and I heard that small pulsating heart, motherhood changed me. I was no longer just me, but we.
As my belly grew, so too did the feeling of we. With each flutter in my tummy and every sleepless night spent wondering who my baby would be, I became increasingly aware of the changes to come. I became preoccupied with the well -being of someone other than myself, and yet somehow more in tune with myself as well.
I wished for both, my due date to arrive and more time to prepare. I questioned whether I was ready, whether I could handle what was about to become my life, and whether I would be a good mom.
There were so many expectations to live up to, so many people to who had gone before me, and so many people who would judge me. The thought was paralyzing.
I doubted myself.
Finally, the day arrived, and I was both terrified and excited to give birth. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain. I worried that my baby wouldn’t be able to handle the pain. I worried that something would go wrong. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to breast feed. I worried there would be something wrong with my baby.
Then, she was here… perfect and beautiful.
I realized that I had never truly worried in my life. Now there was so much to worry about.
Suddenly, we was my reality, and I would have to care for and nurture this small child, but how? How would I know what was right? How would I be able to keep this baby safe? How does someone with no experience take on such a tremendous job?
With all those questions floating around in my head, I was released from the hospital to try to figure it all out.
I sat staring at my baby, asleep in her car seat. Every so often I would check to make sure she was still breathing. She slept a lot those first few days. She slept, and ate, and pooped. Then she slept and ate and pooped some more.
We developed a routine, and I developed some confidence. I began to realize that no-one knew my baby the way I did, that no-one could make better decisions for her than I could. I understood that she was teaching me to be a good mom every day, and we were going to be okay.
It was then that I realized; mothers don’t make babies, babies make mothers.
Posted by: Maureen | November 12, 2012 | No Comments
I like to post this every year as a reminder to parents of blended families. It’s best to get this discussion started early to avoid friction when the holidays are looming; they are stress full enough as it is!
The holidays are fast approaching. I know, you don’t want to hear that, but it’s true. This isn’t your typical holiday post though. It’s not about shopping, or decorating, or even holiday traditions, but it is about something close to my heart.
You see, I have a blended family. We have kids that are his, mine and ours. This time of year, I start thinking about how lucky we are that we get along with our exes. How difficult it could be if we fought over who got what kids when. I know there are people out there having that argument right now.
As I said, we are lucky; we have the kids right up until Christmas morning. That said, they are gone after that, but we do get to open presents together. I don’t know how difficult it was for Tom and Lesley to come to this agreement because it was in place when Tom and I got together. For Keith and I, it just made sense.
Christmas morning is a big deal for my family, and Christmas dinner is a big deal for his. Yes, Christmas dinner is important to my family too, but you can’t have everything in this situation, and you have to compromise.
So, I guess the reason I am writing this post is to encourage all the people who are having the holiday kid time argument to, please, get into the spirit of the season. Be kind to one another, and split the time fairly. Christmas is for kids, and they are the ones you hurt when you fight about these things.
If, for whatever reason, you don’t get to see your kids over Christmas, remember that December 25th isn’t what is special about Christmas. You can celebrate another day, so long as you’re together, it will be special.
I have been known to tell the kids that I made special arrangements with the Easter bunny so that he would come a different day. So make a call to Santa, he’s a good guy, I’m sure he will accommodate you.
Posted by: Maureen | October 27, 2012 | 1 Comment
My daughter, Siobhan, is the youngest of 4 children, and I am quickly learning that she will develop at her own pace, and comparing her to my other children is futile… I still do it though.
Siobhan is a great sleeper, her vocabulary (at 2) is phenomenal, she walked early, she is creative and funny, but she will take her time learning to pee on the potty, and she will not be forced to eat or drink anything she doesn’t like.
With her older sister, Rebecca, I fought her at every naptime, bedtime was like battle royale, and she didn’t sleep through the night until she was 3 years old… maybe later. Siobhan, on the other hand, slept through the night at 3 months, she continues to nap 2-3 hours a day, and goes to sleep without a fuss.
Rebecca brought her potty to me when she had just turned one, and told me she had to go poo. She never looked back from there, and she was fully potty trained by one and a half. Siobhan had no interest in the potty until about a month ago, and we are finally making some strides in that area.
Rebecca was always a good eater, loving everything from veggies to fruit to meat and, her favourite, dairy. Siobhan likes fruit and the occasional bread or pasta product. She will eat yogurt… sometimes, and she does love juice. I worry that she is not getting all the nutrients she needs, especially iron and protein since she won’t eat meat either.
I took her for her two-year check up a couple of weeks ago (a little late since she is almost 2 and a half, but you know how these things go).
At this stage, Rebecca was in the 98th percentile as far as weight and height, and she was growing like a weed… still is, as a matter of fact.
The doctor told me that Siobhan is just below the 50th percentile for her age. She’s a petite little thing, a big difference from her sister.
The doctor then told me that Siobhan needed to drink more whole milk, for it’s fat content. Uh oh! Please note the part in paragraph two where I state that Siobhan will not drink anything that she doesn’t like. I didn’t know what I was going to do.
Then I learned about Natrel Baboo. Baboo is recommended for children 12-24 months, and is generally used to help transition from breast milk/formula to regular milk, but I thought it would be good for Siobhan because it has 4% fat content, contains Omega-3 DHA, and it’s made with whey protein.
I was skeptical when I got the Baboo, but I put it out on the table, and when Siobhan came in she noticed it immediately and asked what it was. I told her it was a drinking box just for her.
Her interest was piqued.
We opened the package, pulled off the straw, and inserted it in the top. I may have held my breath as she took that first sip, but she took another, and another, and then declared “I really love this” – that’s her new favourite thing to say when she likes something.
Now, she and Rebecca have something in common, they both like milk.
If you are interested in trying Natrel Baboo, visit their Facebook page and you can try it for free: https://www.facebook.com/natrelbaboo
Disclosure – I am participating in the Baboo Blog Tour by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Natrel. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own
Posted by: Maureen | October 18, 2012 | No Comments
The dinner table is such an intimate setting for conversation. I love sitting down with my family and learning about their day. As you know, kids don’t often offer up a great deal about their day. The question “What did you do today?” is often met with the reply “Nothing.”
So, my husband and I have adopted a tradition from my brother-in-law. Once dinner is on the table, and we are all settled in our seats, we go around the table and each person tells us their best and their worst thing that happened during the day.
We have found that this practice opens up a much bigger conversation, and choosing one detail of their day often leads to remembering more things that happened. We have learned about new boyfriends, fights at school, birthday invitations, bad grades. All is revealed at the dinner table.
I used to be the one who initiated these conversations, but now it’s the kids who want to tell us about their day. I didn’t realize how much they enjoyed this practice until we went away for a weekend this summer to Muskoka Woods. We were camping with several other moms and kids, and our three older kids were at a table with other kids while I sat with a few moms.
Halfway through dinner, Rebecca came over and said “You should introduce your friends to best and worst, we just did at our table.”
So, I did. I explained to the other moms that we had this conversation starter and that my kids would like me to share it with them, and then we went around the table and each shared what we enjoyed most about our trip and what we didn’t enjoy at all. Most of us answered sleeping in bunk beds as our worst, I wonder how many kids said that as their best?
I also wonder how many moms from camp have adopted this ritual now too. It really does make the dinner table a place to come together and to learn about one another. Do you have any conversation starters that get your kids talking?
Photo courtesy: Equus Imago Photography
Posted by: Maureen | October 17, 2012 | No Comments
You’ve seen us, we’re everywhere; minivan drivers. I know what you’re thinking… where are they going in such a hurry? Why do all minivan drivers drive so fast?
It doesn’t matter where we are going, wherever it is, we’re going fast. Wanna know why?
When you have this many kids, you are always late! I have to drive fast to get where ever it is I’m going on time.
Mystery solved. I’d tell ya more about it, but I gotta go; I’m running late.keep looking »