Saturday, December 28, 2013

KISS it and grab a hug this season.

KISS it and grab a hug this season...
well, because; it's true.

I was doing dishes for the third time when I gazed outside at my 4 year old son and neice playing.  Running around in the nearly melted snow.  Not seeming to notice the green patches that lay among the piles of white, not caring about the fact that there wasn't enough snow to go toboganning, and that it was so wet their snow pants looked more like splash pants.  And then at random intervals between rolling on the ground, swinging on the tire swing and shovelling or "digging for treasure" (not sure how many dog bombs they uncovered), they would break into a hug.  Both arms wrapping eachother tight, falling over, and then ...back to playing.

It started me thinking about this holiday season.
Enter KISS and hug ;)
Kiss is actually an acronym for "Keep it Simple Stupid", or as a mother of 6 would say, "Keep it Simple Silly".

We do the hustle and bustle around during the Christmas season, trying to knock off all the gifts on our wish list, trying to incorporate everyone into the season.
We have things to do, places to go, and people to see. 

I have spent the last week with family, having dinners, eating too much, and not getting enough sleep.
But I think the things I have enjoyed the most were the laughs, the good times, traditions shared, and the memories made.  We have watched the movie "Elf" and "Rudolph" and the "Grinch" every year, and yet; it never gets old.
Now it's a little annoying that my children can almost recite every line; and yet when they get excited that a certain part is coming up; it makes me laugh at how they can get excited every year when Will Farrell jumps into a "no it's not" argument with the store manager.

The point is; when I have asked my kids what their favourite part of the holiday has been so far; they haven't said their gifts, they haven't said the food, and they haven't said that it's that they have missed their bed times by hours.
It's that they got to go skating outside with their Dad, that they played games with us till 9p.m., and that they have seen their cousins.
Well; if I had known how easy it was to KISS it; I would never have bought the gifts...
and simply told them to KISS it and give me a hug!

So with that; enjoy the second week of your holiday season.
Our family wishes you all a happy and healthy New Year...
and when you ring in 2014...just KISS it, because chances are; it will make you happier, and it will be more appreciated.

Friday, December 20, 2013


I came down the stairs after putting laundry away to my 4 year old greeting me at the bottom of the stairs;
"I don't want to play with that anymore Mommy."
"What?...", and then I saw it.
My 550 piece puzzle which was almost complete, strewn all over the kitchen floor.
After a gasp, I asked him why he would do that, to which he replied, "I don't like it anymore."
I put him on the stool for 4 minutes time out, and while he cried, I gathered.
I gathered the pieces among crumbs, a 1 year old crawling, and tears.

Whenever I have a spare 2 minutes as a Mother, which isn't that often, I would walk by and just put in 2 pieces.  That's all I had time for.  My other children sometimes helping me when they came home from school, we'd talk as we sat around the island and worked on this puzzle.  Even when I was feeling tired or stressed, one more piece added was one less to place later.
This puzzle had been in the works for a week; and now it lay thrown all over my kitchen.
Tears perhaps not necessary, but it's what the puzzle had stood gatherings, chats, stress release, and now it was gone...broken, in pieces.
Like my life lately.

My life feels it's in pieces, and it seems that every time I put a piece in the puzzle, an event or someone like 4 year old comes and pulls it all apart.
Broken; that's life isn't it?  We try to match up colours and shapes, hoping they will fit effortlessly together in no time flat, but what we end up doing is looking at a table full of pieces that look similar, and yet, only one will fit where we want it.
And so we try to force pieces together, and force things to work, but become angry and discouraged at the futility of it all, because one day, it's broken, laying on the floor.
And really, who doesn't feel like my son?  Who doesn't at some point want to say, "I don't want to play with this anymore?"
We become tired and beaten, worn and feel defeated.

Broken, and lying on the floor.  Many days I relate to this puzzle.
I feel the harder I try, the more frustrated I become.  The things that should fit seamlessly together, do not fit at all, and I can't see the whole picture, because all I see are these pieces lying in front of me.
When I walk close to my faith, and do the things I believe that the Lord requires of me, I wonder how it can be that all these pieces do not just fit nicely.  Why do I have to search, and wonder, struggle and seek?
But that's just it isn't it?  God doesn't promise an easy task.  He doesn't even promise that I'll see the picture.  But what he does promise is that if I finish the race that I will receive the crown of glory.  Finish the race.  That means I may never see the reward here and now.  But I go on.  So why don't I just give up?  Why not just pack up the pieces back in the box, and accept the fact that I may never finish this puzzle the way it's intended to be finished?

I go on, because I know that He knows what the picture is, and that it's beautiful.  All the pieces as confusing as they are to me, and mismatched as they look, do indeed, fit perfectly.  And so I pick myself and these pieces off the floor and carry on, starting over again even after my 4 year old has broken it apart.  For I know that the true reward is when I finish the puzzle.  And what keeps me going?  Well, the simple fact that I want to see the picture. 
Because I know that when it actually fits all will be beautiful.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gone but never forgotten

The white lights glisten off the branches of the Christmas tree that sits in the corner of our kitchen.
I've always treasured the different ornaments on the tree.
Each one a story to tell, woven in between the more traditional coloured balls that hang suspended by various branches.
"Baby's first Christmas" is a common phrase seen tucked away amid tinsel, and lights.  Six of them, to be precise.
But then there is that angel.  The little blonde boy, with wings stretching out, and a smile upon his face.  The bottom of this ornament simply says, "Michael, 2011".
The year I lost a son, the year Michael was born asleep.
December 13th marked the day that two years ago we lost our little boy.
His story only spanned 3 days, but his life touched our lives forever.

December 13, 2011 I awoke, and didn't feel well, and thought something was "amiss". I told my husband that I would be calling the doctor, because I just didn't feel well, and was cramping a little. My husband went to work, and I told him that I would call if I needed him.
Looking back, I think that I was probably trying to convince myself that if I could make it  seem not a big deal, then it wouldn't be.  Plus, I'm of dutch decent; so really, we are a touch stubborn.  Or maybe it was the power of suggestion in my head that all was ok...we all do it I suppose.

But the little flutters of my boy's movement had ceased.  I lay still waiting for him to let me know that he was ok, but the little kicks wouldn't come.  The "feeling" that something was not right, was more a reality in my heart than my head..  At 19 weeks gestation  I walked through my doctor's office door, and laid on the table, only to hear the one thing I dreaded...

My doctor moved the dopler to the right, then the left, all the while constantly apologizing.  I kept saying, "it's ok.", when really what I wanted to shout was, "find the heart beat please.  Just try harder!".  But I knew.

He assured me that perhaps it was nothing.  Perhaps my baby had just turned and tucked in such a way as to hide.  Yes, ok, that was it.  It had to be.  But a mother knows; even today, I never underestimate the power of a mother's intuition.  I knew that my doctor was trying hard to keep me calm.
The irony of it all, was that I was calm.  God had me, He carried me, planting the knowledge in my heart that my son was already dancing in heaven.

Awaiting an emergency ultrasound booked for 1pm, I went to my van, and called my husband.  I tried to keep it light, telling him that although there was no heart beat heard, that it didn't mean anything.
Did I want him to come with me to the ultrasound? "No", I said.  I knew he wouldn't be able to get there on time anyway, but the truth is, that if he came, I knew I would fall apart.

I had a miscarriage before at 13 weeks, and that was hard, but how could I face a loss after I had felt the kicks, the flutters and the hiccups?  Surely this was not God's plan for my life??  Surely I would not have to go down this path He set before me.
But when I lay on the table and the nurse went to work with the ultrasound machine, I looked at her face, and I knew.
Back at my doctor's office, I was told.  "I'm sorry Eleanor."   I responded with "It's ok."
"But you knew already didn't you?", he asked.
"Yes.  I knew"
It was a boy, he was gone, I needed to see the OBGYN, I had to deliver because of his size, that was it.
Our lives changed, just like that.

And so, I smile at this angel, who changed our lives forever. I smile at that change.
He taught us so much in such a short time.  Patience, love, peace, growth. 
The rest of his story I will share on his birthday, December 16th.
I carried Michael for 3 days after I found out his heart had stopped beating.
Some wonder how I was able to do that.  Would it not have been easier to be induced, and deliver him the day his heart stopped beating?  No.
But that's a story for another time.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I wanted normal...

You know how it goes right?
You grow up, boy meets girl, girl and boy start dating; she's 16, he's 18, high school sweet hearts, post-secondary education; but who really cares, because she's 19 and engaged now! Young couple get married, she's not even legally able to drink on her honeymoon because she's 20! They want a family, and so she becomes pregnant at a mere 21, and finally the life she's always dreamed of having begins...
Or not.

I wanted normal.  I wanted to be a wife, a Mom, and I wanted to have that glow about me.  Everyone told me as the youngest of 6 girls in a home that I'd be a great Mom.  I was an Aunt already at age 12; and loved nothing more than babysitting, coddling, and caring for my nephews and nieces.
Ok; so I gave my 9 month old nephew coke in a bottle ONCE, but my brother was babysitting with me, and he thought it was a better idea than I did.
Oh, and there was the time my nephew locked me out of my sister and brother in law's apartment..and maybe that time I thought my niece could sit, and I put her down and she fell over, but other than minor set backs, it seemed to everyone I was destined to be a great Mom.

Looking back now;
The fact that my first labour and delivery only lasted 5 hours from start to finish, and the fact that when they placed that little baby girl on my chest I wanted to run for the hills, I should have seen the warning signs.
But I wanted to be normal.

"Normal"; definition - "the usual, average, or typical state or condition".  But who's to say what's the average or typical state when you have your first child?
Elation? Joy? Fatigue? Amazement?  I don't know what normal was, but I felt none of it.
I honestly could not figure out why my mother was so ecstatic.  Why my husband was grinning from ear to ear?  And WHY on earth was everyone saying she was so beautiful, when all I saw were stork bites, bruising on the forehead, and a human that looked completely foreign to me.
What was normal for me was looking at this child and feeling so un-natural, wondering if this indeed was what my child should look like.  Normal for me was wanting a shower more than a cuddle.  Normal was being afraid to be left alone in charge of raising this little bundle.

It's a scary thing to go through what many call the most joyful experience in you life, and find it not all that joyful.  I struggled to be a Mom for most of my daughters first year of life.  I even cried in my sister's living room telling her something was wrong when my daughter was 3 months old.  She told me it was just the blues; bless her heart really...the 5 girls above me went through mother-hood swimmingly..never expecting that the youngest would struggle.

And when I became pregnant with my second child a mere 13 months after my daughter was born, what was brewing inside of me was a storm that would become how I refer to as the "pit year".
My son was 4 months old by the time I finally received the proper medical help I needed. And even when I received the medication, it took me 8 days to actually swallow a pill, all for the sake of wanting to be "normal". 

But you know what; I finally realized that my normal was medication.  When I was pregnant with my third child, I was on meds 2 weeks before my due date, so that when she was born, it would already be in my system...and I honestly believe that that was the first birth where I was "normal".  I finally knew what it meant to love being a Mom.

It seems so easy you say?  No, it wasn't.  And if you struggle, you may be wondering how and when or if you will ever be the same again...

and so, if you have questions on coping, or ways to keep your mind busy, or need a prayer, please let me know.
In the mean time if you or someone you know may be suffering, please check out this link below, to see if they may need help.