Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Starting the new season, and a recipe!

The school year is well underway and I haven't done a single post in here since before the summer holidays began. This year is different for me than any previous year. I have only one child home with me every day, and that is Lauren, my only girl. She turned three this summer, and she is amazing. Strong, both in body and spirit, and just a delight to have around. I have told more than one person recently that I feel like a bit of a fraud. Desperate house-mom? Not so much anymore. Yes, I am still staying home with my kids, but now there's only one here full time, and it feels so...dare I say it...easy. 

That is not to minimize in any way the challenges of being a stay-at-home mom. When I was home with just Cody, it was very hard, but he was much younger (under one), and much higher maintenance. Lauren is independent, and she doesn't get into trouble the way her brothers used to. People used to tell me, "It will get easier!", and it felt like the day would never come, but here I am. I feel strong now, once again, perhaps for the first time in ten years, since before I was pregnant with Cody. Lauren is now okay with a baby sitter, and that has opened a whole new world of opportunities for me. Not that I'm running all over the place now. In fact, I'm still home all day, most days. But tomorrow, for example, I have a baby sitter lined up and I'm going riding. Horseback riding, that is, for anyone who doesn't know me. 

Micah is in grade one this year, which means he is in school full time, every day. I worried about this transition for him, but he is handling it better than Jamie did last year. I'm thankful for that, because he is my most cuddly and clingy kid. 

And now the hockey season has begun, so we are now in for a whirlwind of a winter. All three of our boys are playing, on three different teams, in two different towns, so we will basically eat, sleep and breathe hockey for the next four or five months. I will be on a team too this year again, so that will be fun. 

And now it's ten o'clock at night and I just realized I don't have sufficient snacks for my boys' lunch kits tomorrow, so I have to rush to the kitchen and make some. Just for fun, here is my very simple, very fast recipe for what my kids now affectionately call "Healthy Drops". 

1/2 cup nut or seed butter of your choice (I love almond butter, but use peanut butter when we are out)
1/2 cup honey
1 cup oats
1/2 cup dried fruit (I use craisins)
* 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use these. Non-negotiable.)
* I also add 2-3 tablespoons of ground flax seeds, but that's not in the original recipe.

Melt nut butter and honey in a pot, stirring constantly. Add the chocolate chips next if you are using them, to melt them in. Then add the oats, the dried fruit, and the flaxseed. Once it's all mixed, drop by the spoonful onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. It should divide into 12 drops. Then pop the pan into the freezer for about 15 minutes to harden them enough to eat. I keep these frozen in a ziplock bag and they make a great snack mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Filling and satisfying! 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Introducing Tucker

I think it has been long enough now that I can do this post. Radar died on April 18th of this year. It was very hard on all of us, but especially Mike and I. Maybe it seems callous or insensitive, but I started searching for dogs and puppies in rescue online almost right away. It helped me to have something to focus on other than my own sadness. A couple of weeks after he died, we went to the local humane society intending to meet two specific puppies. One was in foster care, so we went to the shelter first. There, we met the female puppy we had been interested in. Only we just didn't connect with her. She was cute, but really bouncy, and neither of us (Mike and I, that is) really wanted her.

There were several puppies there, and a couple of them jumped all over the kids the whole time, but there was one we noticed that was a little older, and a lot quieter. Mike and I both got a feeling about him, but I tried to ignore it. He was six months old, and I thought the kids would be more excited about a younger puppy. Besides, we still had to go to the foster home to meet the other puppy we were interested in. So we took an application with us and headed to the foster home. There, we met a truly adorable little puppy.

There he is. Seriously, look at that face. He was very cute and was good with the kids. His foster "mom" said he was her favourite puppy she has ever fostered, and she has had a lot. He was already mostly potty trained, even though he was only 12 weeks old. (He is younger in this picture.) So the kids fell in love with him. All except for Micah. He wanted the quiet, older puppy from the shelter.

So we headed back to the shelter, and I was a basket case. Mike knew what puppy we should get, and it wasn't this little angel pictured above. Cody, Jamie and Lauren all wanted this one. Micah wanted the other, and I wanted them both. I was tortured. How could we leave this little guy behind when there was absolutely nothing wrong with him? I didn't want to admit it to Mike, but I felt the same thing he did about the other one. I knew he was right for us, and I knew God himself was directing us towards him. That may sound dramatic, but sometimes God's voice is very clear, and this was one of those times. 

I was sad because I knew this might be the last dog we would ever get, and for sure it would be the last one we would get when our kids were little and lived at home. I wanted them to have a little puppy. I wanted me to have a little puppy. Radar was four months old when we got him, and not at that cute, fuzzy puppy stage. I knew it would be a pain with potty training, but I wanted the cute stage. 

In the end, we chose the one from the shelter, though several of us still wanted both puppies. Agreeing on a name between six people was a long and drawn out process and it took at least a week. But we settled on Tucker. Here is a picture of our new family member.

He was terrified when we got him home, and he bonded with me immediately. It turns out, he's really scared of men. He wouldn't let Mike touch him, and it took weeks before he was comfortable with Mike. We were discouraged at first, but eventually it became something of a joke around here. It was like the movie 50 First Dates. Every morning, he would bark and growl when Mike got up, (and again when Mike got home from work) and by bedtime, he was friends with him again. Every day, we repeated the same process. We have had him two and a half months now, and he still barks and sometimes growls at Mike when he gets home, but we just laugh at him. We call him Captain Woof, which is the name Cody wanted to give him. 

Now that he's here, it's clear he is the perfect dog for our family. He is great with the kids, and he is super playful. He fetches, which Cody really wanted, and he doesn't run away, so we can now have him loose on our property with no worries. He is also a water dog, as it turns out, and finds water wherever he can to swim in, or just lay in. Our yard was flooded shortly after we got him, so he had a lot of fun with that. Here's another picture of our boy.

We don't know what kind of dog he is. Lab for sure, most likely shepherd too, and then...? He has brindle on his face and legs, and his tail curls over his back like a husky, so he could have any number of breeds in him. His fur is extremely soft, and he's a big cuddle bug. Also a chicken. He is afraid of everything, but we are working with him on that. He also steals food off the counters...especially butter. He ate half a pound of butter not long after we got him, which induced a terrible thirst. He woke me up at 4 a.m. in his desperation for water. 

He has settled in nicely now, and we couldn't be more happy with him. I have many stories I could tell about him, but this is getting long and I'm late feeding my crew lunch. Just wanted to give this update, seeing it is way overdue.

Monday, June 29, 2015

School's Out For the Summer!

It's official. My two oldest boys arrived home an hour ago from their last day of school this year. Of course they are already in party mode, begging for screen time "because it's the last day of school". I'm kind of a mean mom, so I have said no to anything of the sort until all the rooms in this house are cleaned. Don't worry, I know a lot of the cleaning is my job. I'm talking about the toys, papers, clothes and random dishes that have been left all over the house. Seriously, I went downstairs to get meat out of the freezer for supper and I was tripping over water bottles and tupperware cups. Yikes.

Mike has one more day of work on his countdown, which means I do too, because it means I have a whole day with all four kids at home and no Mike. Again. Hopefully they will be as excited as I am to get this place whipped into shape so we can enjoy our summer holidays. And two seconds ago, Cody said, "I'm bored, I don't know what to do." Guess it's going to be a long summer!

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Final Countdown

Today is the last day of classes for all three of my boys. Jamie and Cody will be going on a field trip on Monday, and Micah is completely done after today. There has been a countdown going here for quiet a while. For the boys, and for Mike, it has mainly been about how many days of school are left. My countdown is slightly different, and I suspect many moms may relate to this one.

For me, the countdown has been about how many school lunches I had left to pack. I don't know why, but packing school lunches is one of my worst tasks that I have to do almost daily. Mike has been laughing at me a bit as I have proclaimed daily how many lunches were left to pack this year. This morning, I packed my last three lunches. Yes, my two older boys have school on Monday, but being a field trip, they are going out for pizza and as far as I know, I don't even have to pack snacks. In fact, I might even get really rebellious and not even send water bottles, as I do every day.

Getting kids ready for school each morning is a short, but frenzied affair. For me, it starts at 6:50 a.m., when I not only have to be out of bed myself, but I also have to wake up two or three boys, depending on the day. Winters are the worst, because on top of making sure everybody is awake, fed, has used the bathroom, and making sure all backpacks are packed and ready to go, I also have to get them dressed in their winter gear, which takes extra time. But this would all be much easier if I wasn't busy packing three different lunches and three bottles of ice water at the same time. The process doesn't sound that difficult, except inevitably, at least one water bottle is missing, and at least one lunch kit is missing, and sometimes even a backpack is missing.

And speaking of packing lunches every day, I found out yesterday that my lunches are something of a running joke at school, at least in Cody's class. Apparently EVERYBODY knows that I pack the exact same boring lunch for him every single day. Even his teacher knows. Yesterday I threw in a surprise cookie and a surprise bag of chips; both items that rarely (or never, in the case of the chips) make it into their lunch bags. Cody gasped in surprise when he opened his lunch, and jaws were dropping all over the room. His teacher asked him what the deal was. He said to her, "You know how my mom packs the same boring lunch every single day?" And her response was, "Yes." Yes. She does know. Everybody knows. Should I cringe in embarrassment? No. I am a mom. Am I boring? Maybe. But if boring gets the job done, then I'm doing my job. Every mom knows, when you find food your kid is willing to eat, you stock up on that food and send it to school every day because that way you know your kid is actually eating, and not just giving their lunch away or throwing it in the garbage. Boring? Sure. Do I care? No. I have made it through another school year, this time packing an average of twelve to thirteen lunches a week, and none of my kids starved.

And now I'm done! For the next ten glorious weeks, I will not pack a single school lunch. My celebration is irrational, of course, because having all four of them home all day every day for ten and a half weeks will be far more difficult, but I'm not going to let that put a damper on my festive mood. Farewell school lunches. Farewell forty minutes of stress and craziness every weekday morning. Bring on the summer holidays!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Radar

Yes, I'm still here, and still doing desperate house-mom things. I know I have been gone a long time, and I wanted to post in here sooner, but in April, our beloved dog died, and I took an extensive break from writing anything at all. I knew I couldn't post in here without reporting our loss, and I just didn't want to cry anymore.

Radar was only nine years old, and he was the best dog ever. His death was sudden, and though we knew it was coming, we thought we had at least another year or two. We just weren't ready to say good-bye.

I have many things to report in here. Obviously after a few months off, I have accumulated a few stories. But today, I just wanted to explain about Radar. I'm not going to give details about his death. I just wanted to post a few pictures and say an official good bye on here.

Radar was a Humane Society dog. We went there looking for specific puppies, but when we met him, we kind of fell in love. He was very strange looking, because his ears were gigantic. He was four months old when we brought him home, the same age as Cody was. Here he is below, looking hilarious with his crazy ears.

As it turned out, Radar grew into his ears, though some might debate that. To me, he grew into the most beautiful dog, and was the closest thing to a purebred German Shepherd I could have asked for. Obviously he wasn't purebred, but we never saw anything else in him. I wanted a German Shepherd my whole life, and he was my birthday present from Mike. I remember walking him down our road feeling overwhelmed at how beautiful he was, and how blessed I was to have my dream dog. 

He was smart, and so gentle. He was amazing with our kids. He never did anything bad...or at least, hardly ever. His only real flaw was that he barked a lot. He barked at everything outside. It was annoying at times, but he also kept the yard clear of wildlife. And he was smart about it too. When coyotes howled, he would trot in a large circle around the house, with his hair standing on end, but he never went after them. Often he would carry a stick or some other item in his mouth, as if saying to them, "Look. I have a stick. Don't mess with me." We found it hilarious. Mike always did Radar's voice and talked for him. We laughed a lot.

His tail was huge too, and everywhere he went, we would hear the rhythmic sound of it slapping against things. It made us smile every time. 

I could go on and on. I loved him so much, and even now I'm tearing up yet again, even though it has been almost ten weeks since he died. I will never forget him, and I will always miss him. We all will. Except for possibly Lauren. She doesn't really get it. She just asks, "Where's Radar? Is he at Jesus?" and I try not to cry. And I fail. Radar was my first dog. He changed us. Somebody told me pets leave paw prints on our hearts. Radar did just that. Good bye, sweet puppy. I will love you forever.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Day 7: The Stalker

I made it through today. I had two boys in school, and two kids at home. I am definitely sick, though so far it is bearable. Lauren had a relapse today and seems much sicker again. She is crying periodically from her bed now. Just to add to the fun, the cat also seems to be sick, in such a way that she is locked in the bathroom for the night. Maybe this will spare the carpets and the furniture, but she could also howl all night. Lauren is crying even now, but there is nothing I can do for her. It's a horrible, helpless feeling. I have heard some mothers swear by putting Vick's Vapo rub on the bottom of their kids' feet and then putting socks on over them, for the night. They say it works. I have no idea how that's possible, but hey, what have I got to lose? Only Lauren wouldn't let me. The mere suggestion had her in tears and very upset, so I had to leave it. I wonder if her throat hurts, like mine does. Having sick kids is the worst.

The good news is, Mike is on his way home. I have been cyber-stalking him for hours now, starting at about 3 p.m. when he was boarding his flight. I watched the airport's website for updates on departure times, and then switched to his destination airport to stalk the landing. Now that he is safely on the ground, he has been on the road for nearly three hours now. I have been stalking his iPhone. Seriously, Find iPhone might be the greatest app ever. I know I'm like a psycho wife doing this, but in all fairness, I did warn him to make sure he had his battery fully charged, and I was very up front with my intention to stalk him until he arrived home safely.

However, it will be likely over an hour before he gets here yet, maybe even longer. That will be midnight or later, and given my extreme level of fatigue, I am thinking I will sign off for now. I made it through seven days of single motherhood, but wow. I hope I never have to do it again. Goodnight, all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Day 5 and Day 6: Winter rears her ugly head.

Let me start by saying, winter is not ugly. Not physically, anyway. But yesterday, we got a lot of snow, and a lot of wind, and long story short, I got my wish and we didn't go to hockey practice. The practice was still on, but it was optional. I probably could have made it there, because I drive a very large truck with four wheel drive (words I NEVER thought I would ever say), but the roads were heavy with snow, and frankly, it just wasn't worth it.

I went to bed last night, half hoping today they would cancel school. This is Manitoba. While we do get some snow days throughout our brutal winters, we also go about our normal lives in some ridiculous conditions. I didn't think a snow day was realistic. After all, the highways would likely be cleared overnight.

As it turned out, the back roads were terrible this morning, and as a result, the buses couldn't run. In our school division, if the buses don't run, school is off. Sounds crazy if you live in the city, but out here, most kids come from out of town, so the school would be pretty empty if the buses didn't come.

When the bus driver called me to tell me, my first feeling was great relief. It was 6:50 a.m. and I was just preparing to go make breakfasts and lunches for all three boys. Now I didn't have to. Not only that, but I didn't have to crack the whip over them to get them all in their winter gear so we could plow through the snow on the driveway to get them to the bus by 7:30. That small 40 minutes of relief wasn't worth it. This has been the worst of our six days so far, and I am the biggest ogre imaginable. It would probably be best if someone came over with a straight jacket and some sedatives and put me out of my misery. I hope we make it to day seven.