Friday, April 29, 2011

Yay, it's Friday!

Last night everyone slept through the night here for the first time in weeks. It was so nice. I thought for sure someone would be up barfing, but it didn't happen. I'm not entirely sure whether we are past this thing or whether the rest of us are still going to get our turn. I am still being very cautious and I'm still quite nervous, but a stress-free night was so very helpful, and I'm very thankful.

This morning I took the boys outside and they rode bikes and we went for a short walk. Then we hopped in the van, complete with Radar, and went to the post office to get the mail. It was an adventure. We saw lots of pairs of Mallards, and we got to sit and watch a train go by very close, which the boys get a real thrill from. All in all, I really enjoyed my morning with them today, which I was also grateful for.

I am glad it's Friday, particularly because I am still not sure whether we are out of the woods for sickness, and it really helps to know Mike will be here all weekend to help me if I need it. Unfortunately, it looks like we are in for a blizzard tomorrow. Can you even believe this? We are supposed to get ten to twenty millimetres of snow, and high winds. I'm very irritated. Just when I started to put the winter stuff away, too. I guess I did that prematurely. This is Manitoba, after all, and just because it will be May on Sunday, it doesn't mean we can't get mountains of snow still before summer arrives to stay. I hope we won't though, as our sump pump is running almost every minute in the basement and we are still very much in the danger zone for flooding. Basement flooding, that is. Our yard will never flood. I guess I should never say never, but we are fairly high up here, so the water table would have to rise more than another five feet for our yard to be in trouble. I sincerely hope that will never happen.

My quiet time is coming to an end, as Micah is now awake. I will have to get him soon. I have not planned or prepared anything for supper due to paranoia about sickness, but for some reason I just had this memory of big meals at my grandma's house and her delicious mashed potatoes. I wish I could make a nice hot meal with potatoes and gravy, but it is too late for tonight now anyway. If we are not sick tomorrow, I will make something yummy for us then. The boys were very ripped off to be fed nothing but rice and toast last night, and I was awfully hungry too. So was Mike. Haha. We are probably too paranoid, but I think it's worth it to be careful and hopefully not end up feeling as bad later on.

I better sign off. Micah will only ask nicely for so long. Happy weekend everyone. May you stay warm and dry, and precipitation free.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Everybody's off.

I'd love to tell you I enjoyed my sleep in the living room last night. In truth, my "bed", though too short, was not bad for comfort. I also enjoyed the fresh air coming in the window all night. However, Micah did go hysterical on me for at least an hour between 10-11 p.m., which was stressful. I never did figure out what the problem was, and eventually I had to just leave him to cry. I did not get to bed until 11:30, and I was terribly exhausted, but sure enough, not ten minutes after I shut off the light, Jamie was out of bed, scared because the hall light was on. We have had to leave it on all night, every night for months now, due to fear issues from the boys, particularly Jamie. But last night I couldn't leave it on or I would have been kept awake all night. So I had to settle Jamie. Cody had a freak out in the middle of the night too, which woke me and Jamie, so I had to settle him, and then I had to get each of them water, one at a time, of course, because Jamie didn't ask me until after Cody was done with his. I had the shakes when I was woken up this morning, prior to 7 a.m. But I kind of expected as much.

Mike went to work today but came home after lunch, still not feeling right. Cody stayed home from school too, with a stomach ache. Late this afternoon, he almost threw up, but did not. We had a pot of rice for supper. I feel weird too, but I don't know whether it's from lack of sleep combined with stress, or whether I'm coming down with this bug too. I did have a nap this afternoon because Mike was home, and I am thankful I had the opportunity.

Amazingly, despite everything, I got a lot of cleaning done today, so I was very happy about that. I am washing all our bedding too, so I will not be too paranoid to sleep in my own bed tonight. I never heard any coyotes after I went to bed last night, which was kind of disappointing, but I guess I should be glad it was quiet. Once again, I have no idea what to expect tonight. Micah refused to nap today, so hopefully he will settle tonight without too much trouble. I'm not sure how much more of this sleep deprivation my weary body can handle. I just hope nobody is puking tonight. If we do get the stomach flu full force, it will be the third time in four months, which is just not okay.

There is not much else to report today. I did not work with Sasha due to this sickness, and threat of sickness. Tomorrow it will rain, so I probably still won't. I am feeling bad about that, but that's just the way it turned out. I guess that's just the way it goes sometimes. Hopefully I will have a better report tomorrow, but I am thankful things are not worse than they are. Bye for now.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Just me and the coyotes.

We are officially more than mid-way through the week, and things are not looking so good. Mike is down with the stomach flu, and a dark cloud has descended over our household. I find myself full of dread and fear. Anyone who knows me knows how terrified I am of the stomach flu, and as much as I am afraid for myself, I also fear for my kids. Jamie is particularly vulnerable to sickness, and when he gets a stomach bug he gets hit so severe. After last summer, when he was sick for three weeks and in the hospital three times, I get especially fearful of him dealing with stomach flu. We thought we were going to lose him. It was a terrible time.

But tonight, all my boys are sleeping soundly, and have been since 7:30 p.m. I put all three to bed early as it was a long day for me, without any help. Now I am in the living room waiting for my diaper laundry to finish so I can go to bed. In the living room. I think I will sleep better in here tonight. I have made a bed on the floor for myself, and the window is open to let some cool air in. For some reason I am very hot, and I think it may be from all the sun I got today. Outside, it is very still, and in the dusk a distant train rumbles on the track. A lone coyote's howl is echoing intermittently into the night.

I don't know what tomorrow holds. Cody has school, but I am feeling inclined to keep him home. It is not rational, but he had a stomach ache yesterday at school and now if Mike is sick, what if Cody has this bug too? I will see how we are all doing in the morning. I hope the boys all sleep through the night tonight. If they do, I will feel like I am living in my own apartment. My bed is small, made from the cushions of our couch and a bunch of extra blankets. I will sleep with the window open tonight, though the sudden chirping of a bird just now is causing me to rethink that strategy. I don't know how I'll feel at 5 a.m. if suddenly all the birds decide it is time to wake up. Do I close the blinds tonight? That is the beauty of living in the country. There are no lights out here. We basically have no neighbours, and we live in the bush anyway, so even headlights on our gravel road, which are rare anyway, are not seen except as a few brief twinkles through the trees in front of us. I don't think there is a moon tonight, so I might keep the blinds open. Maybe I will see stars as I lay down to sleep. That would be nice. Maybe that would help me to be at peace. Sickness has had a hold over our family since mid-March, and it is getting wearisome. Ah. Now I hear a small flock of geese as they fly overhead.

I kind of wish I had not done the diapers tonight. I'd like to just crawl into bed now and at least try to get some sleep. One or more boys have been up nearly every night in the last two weeks with nightmares. Tonight I am taking a risk and leaving the hall light off. I don't have much choice, seeing it would keep me awake all night if I left it on like I normally do. Oh how I hope they will sleep all night. Their obvious exhaustion and grouchiness this week makes me further paranoid about them getting sick.

Anyway, it's time for me to sign off for now. I sure do hope to have a good report tomorrow, but at this point I'm not sure what to expect. And now a chorus of coyotes has joined in the song. Somehow, the mournful sound is comforting to me. I hope they will sing me to sleep when I finally get to bed. Goodnight.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Back again!

I have been very absent over the last week. It was not a bad week, and for that I am thankful, but it was busy and we were still dealing with sickness issues with the boys, so that kind of put a damper on things. We don't seem to be entirely past that yet, as Jamie has been extremely grouchy all day and does not seem to have much of an appetite, which is never a good sign for him. Micah is doing much better though. He still seems to have a bit of a cold, but nothing severe, so hopefully he'll be completely past that soon.

I have been doing a lot of stuff with Sasha, so that has been good. Last week, as I had previously mentioned, my sister Andrea showed me some stuff and I worked with Sasha on Saturday under her supervision and then again on Sunday by myself and now I can't remember whether I did another day alone. I think so, but now I don't remember which one. Possibly Tuesday. Today, Andrea came again and I did quite a bit with Sasha. She responded very well and even followed me around like a puppy in the round pen. It was really good for me and for her. Last time Andrea was out, Sasha bucked many times in protest to the round pen work, like close to twenty, but today she only did about two bucks. There were a few times she had her ears pinned back, but not for long, and she did not give us much attitude. She is responding to commands much more quickly and she is really paying attention, where last year she was not willing to pay much attention at all. I was very nervous a week ago when we started all of this, but now I am starting to enjoy it. Already I see fruit in my bond with her, and that is really what I want. I'm not ready to get on her yet, but I'm fine with that. We will take it slow and hopefully she'll be awesome by the time I get on her back. Andrea worked Maybelline today too, and she was not bad either. She's really funny. She really is a cute horse.

I had all three boys outside today, and Micah was so thrilled. He loves it outside, and I don't take him out much because I have to just follow him around all the time to keep him safe. That's okay and everything, but really, until this week, the weather has not been very good around here and I had no desire to stand around outside freezing my butt off while he toddled around. Now I will have to make an effort to bring him outside every day. It's good for him, and he loves it. If he had his way, he'd be outside all day, every day.

So, even though we had a long weekend with two separate family gatherings, my Monday has gone fairly well. I was dreading it, as I often do after Mike has been home helping me for a while, but the day was mostly positive. I suppose that might be partly because Andrea was here and we got to play with the horses so much. I have "homework" to do, so I'll probably be out there most days in my free time. It's good for me though. I am kind of a non-outdoorsy person, despite my best intentions to be otherwise, so if this gets me out of the house daily for more than the ten minutes required to pitch hay to the horses, it will probably benefit me greatly. Bring on the vitamin D! And the exercise. It will probably help to boost my spirits, and maybe it will even boost my energy a little bit.

That's all for now. I'm going to enjoy some quiet time in my room. Well, as quiet as it can get when I can hear kids crying in the background. I am desperate to buy a new pair of headphones!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Horsing around

Monday is here and it has not brought any spring weather with it. It is only 1 degree and it has been snowing nearly all day, so I have opted to remain indoors. On Saturday my sister came over and we did some work with Sasha and Maybelline, my horse and my husband's horse, for anyone who does not know. It was nice to have some hands-on action with Sasha, as I have not done anything with her since she dumped me in August and broke my wrist and ankle. I don't know much about training horses. I have lots of riding experience, but I have never been extremely interested in doing the training part. Sasha is young though, just coming four years old. In fact, her birthday is a week from tomorrow. I'll have to get her a carrot cake. Anyway, with her being this young, she needs a lot more hours of training and riding before she will be a really good horse for me. Andrea showed me some stuff that I can do with Sasha to build our relationship and earn her trust and respect. As we worked with her, I found myself remembering that moment when I was on her back and she began bucking. I was so scared. I was alone and I really didn't know her very well, and I had never been bucked off a horse in my whole life. Of course when I landed I broke my right wrist and sprained the left one, and my right ankle also was broken, so the whole incident was very traumatic. Sasha bucked all the way down the hill and ran away to the road, out of my sight, leaving me laying alone on a hill, missing one shoe, in incredible pain, and as I learned later, in a giant patch of poison ivy.

In the days that followed, I remember looking out the window at my beautiful horse and having an altered perception of her. Gone was the romantic notion of the ideal horse that was quiet as anything and completely safe and trustworthy. For a while, I didn't like her at all anymore. I was sad and angry when I saw her out back. I felt like I had made a mistake in buying her, and in getting horses at all. I wondered how I would undo this error.

Over the winter, I did what I could to teach her some manners when I fed her, not accepting her pushiness and refusing to give her any grain until she put her ears up. She has improved in leaps and bounds. Recently I have started to really admire her out there, and to say thing to Mike like, "Look at my beautiful girl! Isn't she gorgeous?" Since the weather has started to turn from winter I have been anxious to get out there and work with her. I hope that if I take it slowly and steadily, we will have a much better foundation than we did last summer, and hopefully we will never have another disaster again. But on Saturday when I had that flashback, I realized I am still afraid. I don't know whether she will buck again. I don't trust her. I am afraid of her, to an extent, particularly to ride her. It doesn't help that for the last month or two I have watched her bucking and rearing in the pasture. She was just fooling around, of course, but what is to stop her from doing that while someone is on her back?

So Andrea gave me some homework and yesterday morning I went out and worked with Sasha again. I was only out there for about half an hour, and the stuff we did was not earth-shattering, but we made progress. Today I am choosing to stay indoors, as the weather is kind of crappy. I will try again tomorrow when it is supposed to be sunny and 5 degrees, a big improvement over the last few days. Hopefully Sasha and I will gain more respect and trust for each other and my confidence will be boosted once again.

Now I am in a quiet house, or I was until I typed that. Micah is napping but he just started to cry. He is not feeling well at all today, which is sad. Poor baby. All he wanted to do for the whole morning was sit on my lap under a blanket and cuddle. He has a slight fever as well. Jamie is outside, playing golf and who knows what else. He has been out for probably close to an hour. He is a true outdoor boy and prefers being outside whenever possible. So I am relaxed, or again, I was relaxed. Now I better check on my little guy and make sure he is okay. Oh dear. He is not happy, and Jamie just came in. Looks like my quiet has now come to an end. Oh well. I'm off for now.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's A New Day

Friday has arrived at last, and I am laying in my bed with my two kitties, very tired. I went on a road trip yesterday and visited some friends, and it was very nice. I left my older two boys with one of their aunties and Micah and I headed off for a three hour drive and a four and a half hour visit, and then we did our three hour return drive. It was really nice to just focus on Micah for once, as I don't get very much one-on-one time with him. The drive was quiet for the most part, and though I missed my older monkeys, the silence was so refreshing. Micah is still in that very sweet and innocent stage, so mostly he wandered around while I visited and also cuddled with me every few minutes. He doesn't like to stray too far from me when we're not home. Even at home he is that way, come to think of it.

Yesterday's blog post was sort of depressing and I feel like I need to apologize for it. It was honest, and written in a moment when I was, well, to quote Anne Shirley, "in the depths of despair". I can't even say whether I feel better today or not, but I am hoping to approach my day a little differently. I'm not sure what that is going to look like yet, as I am not really feeling well this morning, but maybe God will inspire me with some kind of brilliant idea to help me with the boys today.

Just to clarify, I do not think of my boys as "bad boys". I just think they are incredibly busy, and yes, they do a lot of stuff that they are not supposed to whenever we are not looking, and it really is frustrating. Maybe more like maddening and downright exasperating. But they are good boys and I love them all to pieces. I think the real problem here is that I am burnt out. I need to find a way to recharge.

Anyway, Micah is calling me now in the monitor, and I just finished having a little chat with the other two on my bed. I hope to have a positive day with them today. We'll see how it goes. So far, Jamie is already drinking chocolate syrup out of the fridge. Sigh. But it's Friday. I will do what is necessary to make it through the day without disaster. Hopefully that will be possible. I'm off for now.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Truth About Desperate Housewives

What does it truly mean to be a desperate housewife, or housemom? As shocking as this may be, I have never seen the show, nor do I have any desire to. I get the impression that the wives on that show are driven by their desperation into the arms of men other than their husbands. Just to be clear, I do not condone this behavior under any circumstances. I do, however, understand desperation. I have not dealt with that type of desperation, but think about it. Where does it come from? What is the inner desire that drives these women to do what they do? They want to be somebody. They want to be seen. They want to be seen as somebody of value.

Husbands with careers get caught up in their jobs. They come home from work tired, and perhaps in some cases they veg in front of the television or the computer for much of the evening. It is their way of resting their tired brains, or in many cases, of avoiding their families because they cannot cope with any stress beyond that of their jobs. The wives feel lonely and ignored. They feel devalued, taken for granted, or worse, invisible.

The desperation of a house-mom is no different. What do we do all day? I can tell you how I spend the majority of my day. I run from one room to the next, averting disasters, or picking up the pieces of disasters I failed to avert. I do mounds of laundry and dishes and other cleanup all day and then watch as moments later it is destroyed by human torpedoes. When I speak to my children, I am ignored, or worse, I am told exactly what they think of my rules as well as how they intend to disobey them. They do not get away with speaking to me like that, but it doesn’t matter. The fact is, regardless of consequences, they continue to treat me like a completely impotent and invisible nothing. This is the source of my desperation, as far as I can see.

Somehow, everybody finds ways to cope. It’s called survival. There is physical survival, and there is mental and emotional survival. Often I feel I am on the edge of a precipice in the latter two categories. I have taken comfort in the fact that while other mothers don’t seem to be struggling the way I am, they do not have my three boys, all born within three years. That’s right, I told myself I was special. My boys are crazy. Crazier than most. I have more crises than other mothers on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Somehow, knowing this helped me to hang on, if only by a thread.

Then a week ago, at the end of one of the worst days I have ever had with my boys, I vented to my husband about the non-stop craziness, disobedience, and literally horrifying incidents that I deal with all day, every day. I noticed he was not saying much or sympathizing, or confirming my struggles in any way. I asked him if he thought it was just me, or if our boys were over the top. He said flat out that it is just me, that they are completely normal and that I am overreacting. I was very upset by this and asked him if he really thought all the other mothers are dealing with the same thing and he said yes, but they don’t react like I do. Then I spoke to someone else about this situation yesterday and she agreed with him.

I am left in a dark place. It turns out, I have no excuse. My children are perfectly normal. Motherhood is just as hard for everyone else, only they don’t find it hard. They have clean houses. They do not have to hide in their bedrooms when their husbands get home because they cannot take another moment of the insanity. Where is the value of the house-mom who can’t keep up? Who sees her, beyond her failure?

Desperation is knowing that you are completely alone and invisible. Knowing that your unbearably hard day is only unbearable because you are somehow not as good as the other mothers, who let it roll off their backs. Desperation is having no validation for the feelings you feel because normal people don’t feel them. I don’t know where to go from here. It’s like I’m in a classroom full of peers and the teacher has just given these elaborate instructions and everyone else gets it but me. I can’t ask anyone for help because they think the answer is obvious so they just give some quick little explanation and it goes over my head. Drowning. I’m drowning and nobody sees because I’m only in three feet of water. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Flood Update

I was describing in my last post the incredible amounts of water down the road from us and mentioned that I'd like to get some pictures. Well yesterday morning after we dropped Cody off at school, we stopped with my camera and got some shots. I am not really a photographer, so these are not awesome, but they might show you just how much water is flowing in our little ditches, and in the farmers' fields.

 Above you can see how fast the water is pouring out of the culvert. It doesn't look that deep, though I suspect it might be deceiving. Either way, this is some powerful water. On the other side of the road, the water is well above the culvert and there is a whirlpool where it is being sucked down. You can see a chunk of snow above, but it is not there anymore. 
Here is another waterfall intersecting with the white water by the culvert. If you look down the road above, you can see the water is actually going right across the road.

Here is the view out my passenger window, driving along the edge of our gravel road. Looks more like a lake, doesn't it?

Again, a look out my passenger window. The water is right up to the edge of the road.

And further down the road, closer to our house, another lake. This is actually a farmer's field, where actual crops grow. It floods every year, but I have never seen as much water as we have this year.

Mike and I do not farm, and our land is on much higher ground, so we are very blessed to have barely even a puddle left in our yard. However, we basically live on top of an underground lake, so we may not be out of the woods yet. Last night we put all of our stuff in the basement as high up as we could, on top of plastic bins...etc, in preparation for possible flooding. The water right now is a mere fifteen inches below our basement, so if it rises that much more, we will have a problem. 

And speaking of flooding, Micah is currently trying to flood the living room with his tears. He is manipulating me, and I am upset about it, but I guess I'm going to have to sign off now. I have already cuddled him under a blanket for a whole hour this morning, but it seems he will not be happy today unless I cuddle him for the entire day. I love him, and I love cuddling him, but sometimes I have stuff to do. For some reason, he is really grouchy today. We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow, as we are supposed to be going in to the big city, a three hour drive. In truth, I don't know how I'm going to make it with these boys. I guess I'll have to keep you posted.

More on my mind, but I guess today will not be the day for sharing it. I have to go.

Monday, April 11, 2011

At last!

Finally, today we had a day that really felt like spring. We still have a lot of snow, but today we got up to 13 degrees (Celsius) and a lot of our snow melted. In fact, so much snow melted in the last twenty-four hours that the water levels in the ditches have risen severely overnight. About a mile and a half north down our road there is a beaver dam in the ditch. Every year I watch the beavers there, and there are often blue herons too. In fact I saw three of them yesterday afternoon, which was pretty cool. Anyway, the dam is smaller than it usually is because last year there was some human intervention and they destroyed part of the dam to help with the flooding issues. We were just noticing the dam yesterday afternoon, and the water on one side of it was lower than on the other side, so it was still functioning. Well today, the dam was not even in sight. The water has risen so high that not even a hint of the dam shows. Worse than that is the fact that the water has officially gone over the road down there. Not our road, but the one that intersects it. It is scary how much water there is, and if it is rising that much every day, our road may be underwater tomorrow. We are blessed to live this far south on the road because the ground here seems to be much higher. We never have water in our ditches at all, so the road here will be fine, but there is a chance we could get trapped between the two lower areas. There are only three roads that intersect ours, and the closest one is over a mile away, so it could get interesting.

This evening I went and spent a bit of time with Sasha, which was nice. She followed me around, which is a good sign, and I took some pictures, though I did not get any great ones. Maybe I'll post a few.

Here she is posing by a few small trees. I have been wanting to take a picture to show how pretty the colours in her face are right now. She will change as she sheds out some more, but I love all the browns and blacks in there right now. I can't wait to bath her! She's filthy.

As I mentioned, I could not get far enough away to get any good shots, so these will have to do. 

Here she is again, sniffing my hand. It was either that or wiping her nose on my camera lens!

Here is Maybelline soaking in the evening sun rays. Notice how long her whiskers and extra hair are under her jawline. Haha. That's Indy beside her.

Here's a shot of Maybelline's nose. I thought her whiskers were cute, plus her bottom lip was hanging down, which I always find amusing.

I was getting artistic here. Haha. I couldn't get a good shot of her whole head so I just wanted to catch the sunlight in her eye. She has pretty eyes.

And here's my artsy shot of Indy, with the same idea. He is not very photogenic right now, as his face is the hairiest, but I do like this shot.

Anyway, the boys spent a great deal of time outside today, so even though we had many moments of rebellion and fighting, it was far more bearable. They had some bubble stuff they played with, plus they rode their bikes, and Jamie even took his butterfly net out to catch "bumblebees" which were actually flies. He complained later that he couldn't catch them though because they were too fast. The sunshine that streamed in all my windows today infused me with some energy and cheer, and when Micah woke up from his afternoon nap I took the boys for a drive to get the mail and to look at all the rushing water in the ditches along our road. I might try to get some pictures tomorrow and put them in here. Here is a shot I got of Jamie on his bike earlier.

 And in the next shot, Cody, also riding his bike. You can see in the background that this part of our yard has hardly any snow left.

And seeing everyone else is in here, here is a picture of Micah modelling my favourite diaper of his. Hehe. It's a one size FuzziBunz pocket diaper, and I love it. It's hard to get good pictures of cloth diapers, but this one is decent. It is much cuter in person, but this shows how trim this style is. 

Anyway, not much else to say for today. Tomorrow is a big day. Cody has school and also is performing in some kind of music festival so the kids are getting bussed there for the afternoon. I plan to take Jamie and Micah, and possibly Mike's mom to watch Cody's class sing. Hopefully the boys will behave. I'm a bit nervous, but I suppose it is good for me to practice going out in public with my kids. I am a bit of a chicken in that regard, though for good reason, based on past experience. 

For now, I'm off to do some writing, or just plain relaxing. It has been a busy day. Oh, I forgot to mention that I did a major workout today for the first time since the end of February. I will probably be in pain tomorrow, but hopefully I will be able to work some kind of a schedule in for my workouts because I really do want to get in shape again. I especially want to build muscle for my upcoming horse-related activities, so I did weights today...hence the reason I anticipate pain tomorrow. Anyway, I was glad to have gotten that done. Hopefully I'll sleep well tonight as a result. I'm off for now.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Peer Pressure, Timeless and Ageless.

More often than not, when we hear the term “peer pressure” we think of school age kids, especially teenagers. Many times I have heard people express that peer pressure continues on throughout all the phases in life. I have experienced this to an extent. I do remember some incidents back at my work where a lot of drama was going down and there was a lot of pressure to choose sides. Then there was pressure from the union and pressure from the opposite side of that coin. Sure. That’s all part of life. I guess I never thought too much of it once I was out of school, university included, though the pressure I felt there was not true peer pressure. I was in with a crowd of good friends who shared my values so not once was I ever pressured to drink, smoke, do drugs or any of that stuff. I am thankful.

The reason this is on my mind now is a little bit silly, but here it is. My world now is largely that of stay-at-home mom. Obviously there is more to me than just that, but it is my primary role at this time in my life. You wouldn’t think there could be too much peer pressure on a stay-at-home mom, but that is untrue. Us Moms live in a competitive world. There is pressure to live up to certain standards. Us stay-at-home moms feel the pressure of needing to be good enough, or somehow having to explain ourselves to those who are helping bring in the dough. Then the working moms feel pressure from the stay-at-home crowd because (and yes, this happens, I’ve seen it) the stay-at-home moms tell them they are selfish to put their work/career above their children. I suppose some of it is good old-fashioned competition, like the need to have the smartest or the best-looking child, the most well-disciplined…etc. But there really is pressure from one mom to another to raise one’s child a certain way. A lot of people are not shy about saying what they think, and everybody has an opinion, especially about parenting.

So yes, there is peer pressure in every walk of life. But that is not really the side of it that I noticed recently. This is all very silly, but it will show you how some things don’t change outside of Junior High, and perhaps how some of it is just in our own heads.

Since Cody started attending Junior Kindergarten, I’ve noticed a few things about the other mothers. More accurately, I’ve noticed some things about myself. In the dead of winter, when I would drop Cody off, I had to walk him across the school grounds to get to the kindergarten door, so I made sure I was dressed for the weather. I wore my winter jacket, of course, but I did not stop at that. I wore a toque (a winter hat, for you non-Canadians out there), a hood, a scarf, mitts and my husband’s very large and clunky sorel-type boots. Attractive? No. Warm? Yes. That’s kind of what I was going for.

But when I looked at the other moms, I noticed none of them were dressed like me. They were all having good hair days. Wait, how come their hair was showing? Where were their hats? Then I saw one who was wearing a short bomber-style leather jacket and hip-rider jeans. She has at least an inch of bare torso showing. Have I mentioned this is Manitoba, and the weather was well into the -30s? (And we’re talking Celsius here.) That’s what made me think of peer pressure, and I was amazed to think a mom of young children would still find it uncool to cover her head in the freezing temperatures because it would mess up her hair. Me, I was secretly glad for the need to wear a toque so that no one could see just how disastrous my hair really was. The funny thing was, when I looked around, they were all like that. Makeup on, hair looking fabulous… I thought us stay-at-home moms had license to look a little, well, unfinished. My work uniform consists of pyjama bottoms and stained shirts. You know, the kind that it’s okay to get snot or spit-up on, or even just plain sticky jam or syrup. Even my bra is more of a courtesy bra. I only have two, you know, and the good one is saved for when I go out. So the one I wear at home is too big and does not really fulfill its job requirements, if you know what I’m saying.

I’m lucky if I even get a shower, as even a potty break that lasts less than three minutes usually results in one of my kids risking his own or one of his brothers’ lives, or else stealing food or destroying part of the house. I can’t trust any of them long enough to shower, let alone style my hair. I could in theory get up before they do and shower then, but have I mentioned that they get up by 6 a.m. at the latest? I am NOT getting up before 6 a.m. to shower just so I can look good when the only people I see during the day wear things like rubber boots with a pair of underwear and a hockey helmet.

Of course, that’s my at home uniform. When I go to drop off or pick up Cody, I change into my good pants. My yoga pants, that is. Okay, I guess I do have one pair of jeans now, but they are a touch too big as well and fall down, and when they do, they take my underwear with them so it is overall a very unpleasant experience to wear them. I don’t bother changing my shirt, as it remains covered by my jacket anyway. I do not normally  put on makeup for the occasion, though I did this morning, and I felt rather silly about it.

I’ve been thinking about this. The majority of the other moms in this particular group are very pretty and they always look nice. Hair done, makeup done, nice clothes…etc. I got to thinking, is there something wrong with me? Am I just very pathetic when it comes to fashion and style? Are the other moms shallow or vain because they make sure they look good when they go out? (I secretly suspect there are even some moms out there that look great at home.) Or is the problem more about how I see myself? Yes, I’m tired and don’t feel like putting much effort into my appearance, but perhaps it is partially due to feeling like I’m not worth it. I suppose I will have to explore this issue further in the future. I was a little embarrassed the day I showed up at the school with Cody and my head was uncovered, and his teacher looked at me and exclaimed, “Oh, is it nice out there?” That was when I realized she could gauge the weather entirely on my wardrobe, but nobody else’s. I also wondered whether the other moms thought I was something of a freak. If we were all in Junior High together, would some of them mock me for my lack of fashion sense? Probably. But that’s okay. The nice thing about being past Junior High is that even if everyone is thinking those things, there is a high probability that none of them would ever say anything.

I guess the bottom line is, peer pressure never goes away, but sometimes there is just as much pressure coming from within ourselves. Whether I stay as I am, or whether I become the fashion queen of this small town, I guess what matters most is that I am okay with myself. I will have to continue working on this.

It has been a rough week. I will end this post here, as it is already too long! Have a good weekend everyone.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Junior Kindergarten, take two.

Well, I got Cody off to his second attempt at a full day of junior kindergarten this morning. He did not express any anxiety at all, nor did he have a tummy ache today, so I am confident that he is going to make it through just fine. I could be wrong, of course, but it seemed he made his mind up that this time he was going to stay all day. Nobody peed their pants when it was time to leave today, and the van was not caked with four inches of ice, so we even made it there on time. In fact, he was the second student to arrive. I brought the other two home and fed the horses while they waited in the van. Morning chores done. Well, the outdoor ones anyway.

Yesterday was a write-off for me and I felt so much better this morning that I was looking forward to a full, productive day. But before I even got inside the house again, a migraine started up. For me, they always start with the "aura", which essentially means I can't really see. Reading is next to impossible, and everything else is all right but I only see peripherally. The best thing for me to do when this starts is to go straight to bed before the pain starts. This is not possible today. The pain is kicking in and though I can now see properly I am left wondering how in the world I will make it through this day with a migraine and a three year old and a 20 month old. I have no drugs that touch a migraine. Sleep is the only thing that works. I am thinking I better sign off and do the dishes really quick before this gets really bad. Maybe it won't get really awful. It is hard to say. Oh boy. I better get going and do as much as I can really fast.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

So much for a full day...

Okay, so Cody's first full day of Junior Kindergarten was a total flop. In the end, he went but I got a call around 10:15 a.m. that he was not feeling well and wanted me to come and get him. So I did. The whole thing was very stressful because I am 100% sure the real problem was that he was afraid. He was nervous about being there the whole day and gave himself a tummy ache as a result. I was totally torn about what to do. On the one hand, I told him if he ever felt sick he should tell the teacher and I could come and get him any time. I did not want to refuse to bring him home because I feel like he needs that security of knowing I am not going to abandon him when he needs me. On the other hand, I don't want him to think he can just say he feels sick and I will come running and take him out of school whenever he feels like it. In the end, I brought him home, but I could see the inner battle he was fighting. He really wanted to stay, but he wanted me to stay with him. Now I don't know whether it is best to forget the full days for now and try again later, or whether I should push him through one day. Usually with Cody, it takes pushing him through something once and after that he does great. I am a little discouraged about the situation.

Incidentally, all of my plans were shot because the day did not go the way it was supposed to. I did not do a workout, and today I feel pretty awful physically. I am waiting another thirteen minutes and then I am changing Micah's diaper, putting him to bed, putting the TV on for the boys and going to bed myself. I have a terrible headache today and I am just exhausted. This is one of those rare days when I will be using TV as a baby sitter. I have it programmed to show appropriate shows, so it is not like they will be watching just anything, and today I have little choice. I hope Micah sleeps. If he does not, I am up the creek.

So, I have to go as Jamie is hollering for help in the bathroom. I am counting down the minutes til I can crawl into my bed. Bye for now.

Monday, April 4, 2011

First Full Day of Kindergarten

I am home and breathing a huge sigh of relief after having taken Cody to school for his first full day. Jamie and Micah are just now eating their breakfast, even though it is already 9:22 a.m. I did get Cody to school, but I do not feel like a Supermom today. First of all, Cody got up nicely this morning and for once did not wake his brothers. I fed him breakfast of mini-wheats, which he barely ate before declaring he was full. This was not a good sign. Cody is hungry all the time, and I honestly did not know whether he'd make it through a whole day of kindergarten without eating a full breakfast. I eventually got it out of him that he had a stomach ache. Hm. I sent him to the bathroom, but he told me it did not help. So, here is my child who has been coughing violently since last Thursday and now he has a tummy ache too? I happen to know that this cold/cough virus that has been going around has in many cases included the runs, so I wondered whether this was the issue. Mike told me to keep Cody home for the morning and see how he is doing later. Cody himself said he thought he should "quit" school today. This is very out of character for him. I resigned myself to the idea that he was not going this morning after all, so I was not rushing around to get the other two ready. Then I had a talk with Cody and discovered that the stomach ache and the suspicious willingness to stay home from school was all related to his anxiety about having a full day there. After some coaxing, I got it out of him that his biggest worry was the bathroom. I kind of suspected as much. Cody has this fear of public bathrooms and it's all about a fear of loud flushing toilets.

Anyway, I gave him a little pep talk and even told him that I like loud flushes because they are funny. Then he laughed and said he liked that too. In the end, his stomach ache magically disappeared and he wanted to go to school after all. Then I didn't know what to do because he still does have a cough. I called Mike who said to just send him, seeing Cody is very conscientious about covering his mouth when he coughs (and he uses his sleeve, not his hand), so I started flying around again to get him ready. The problem was, we needed to leave right then. Jamie peed his pants in that moment. Actually, his pyjamas, which happened to be his sleeper, so it was a real mess. I had to shower him and then get him dressed and then get socks on Jamie while Cody put Micah's socks on for him. I got everyone out the door and into the van, but the windshield was buried under several inches of snow, and it was not light fluffy snow that could just be swept off. No. It was heavy, but worse it was packed on there and I had to chisel it off with the stupid windshield scraper. In the end, I got Cody to school but he was about fifteen minutes late. Way to go, mom.

So now here I am with a very pathetic and clingy Micah and his big brother Jamie who is already picking on him. I hope this is going to go all right. Even Maybelline was lecturing me this morning for being late with her breakfast. She is now eating happily with her buddies, so we're all okay. I even got to eat just now (it is now 10 a.m.) so that's fairly good. Of course, Micah was crying and grabbing my legs the whole time. Sigh.

On the agenda today? Well, my biggest goal is to get the boys fed an early lunch, like maybe 11:30-ish and then get Micah to bed for an early nap. Then I am going to attempt a workout. It has been about a month and a half since I have done one and I am feeling quite guilty. Once Cody started his kindergarten it got very difficult to work out because of how broken up my day was. But with him gone the whole day, I should be able to start a workout by 12:30 or so and still have time to shower at 1:30 and get the boys ready to go at about 2:30. It doesn't leave much room for writing, but I guess I'll have to tackle that in the evenings. Mike is all about the mudding and taping right now anyway, so if he does that in the basement I can work on my writing upstairs and that should work fairly well. I am very intimidated to do a workout today, but I just have to try. If nothing else, I would really like to build up my strength so I can be more prepared to ride, once this darn snow gets out of here.

This morning's goal is to get the kitchen back to its former state of spotlessness. It suffered a bit over spring break. It is still not too overwhelming, but it is not pretty and I have remained just slightly behind for the whole week. If I could get it completely spotless again, maybe I'll be able to keep up once again.

Micah is trying to climb my lap again, so I better give him a little cuddle and then get going on my cleaning. I'm off for now.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What Happened to Spring??

Today is the last day of spring break. I am significantly bummed about this fact, as I always am at the end of a "holiday" time. The source of my disappointment is multifaceted. I always look forward to school breaks with great anticipation, not because we ever go anywhere or do anything in particular, but for the mere sake of having Mike home for backup. This time, my backup has been otherwise engaged. Mike is working on the basement, specifically mudding and taping the drywall so we can prime and paint. This is one of those catch 22 situations. Yes, I desperately want the basement to be finished, but I also don't want to be without help up here for the whole week. Essentially, what I find hard as a mother is that while my husband (who is totally deserving and awesome, so don't get me wrong) gets an actual holiday from his job, I do not. Not now, not ever. I am still fighting to keep my kitchen clean. I am still chasing kids who are doing scary, crazy, annoying or just plain bad things. I did not get a chance to work on my writing stuff at all. I am not saying I did not get any breaks. It's just that I did not get the option of saying, "During my spring break, these are the things I would like to accomplish." (Fill in the blanks.) This is what I find hard to explain, particularly to Mike, because it is not that I don't appreciate his work downstairs. I do. He is doing a great job, and I want him to do it. We will all benefit from it. I think where I am struggling right now is with the concept that I never seem to have the freedom to do that. There is something about the job of "mom" that means "always on duty", or something to that effect. Sometimes I am okay with that, and other times I find myself wondering how I will endure one more moment of the madness.

Spring break was also spent enduring mass amounts of sickness on the part of our boys. I am extremely grateful to be able to say that neither Mike nor I have succumbed as of yet to this gross virus, or whatever it is, but all three boys have been hit really hard. As usual, Jamie has gotten it the worst, and as a result, his moods have been absolutely unparalleled in their wretchedness. I am fairly certain that at this very moment he is doing something he shouldn't be in the kitchen. I should probably go check. Okay, I was partly right. He went to bed and is basically asleep. This will royally mess up our evening, but at least I will have a quiet afternoon. Micah is also asleep and Mike has allowed Cody in where he is to observe. I was very sad that Cody was hit with this sickness at the fair, the day before his birthday. I had plans for his birthday, but they got cancelled. However, in true Cody style, he was very happy to just do stuff at home, even though he felt really sick. He has a thankful heart, which is so nice.

The final blow of spring break actually occurred overnight last night. We were hit with yet another snowstorm. It is hard to believe we continue to get more and more snow. I was just commenting yesterday about how much the level of the snow in our yard had dropped, and now I looked out the window this morning to see this:

Above is the view out our kitchen window this morning. It was still snowing pretty hard at that point. There was no snow visible on the ground yesterday in that area. All you could see was hay and poop. I suppose the snow is an improvement in that spot, at least. 

Above is the view down our driveway. Again, this portion of it was not snowy yesterday. There was a lot of water, mud and some ice in places too, but it was not a blanket of white like this. 

The shot above and the one below were both taken out my bedroom window this morning. I knew there was snow in the forecast, but I was not expecting this!

Note, there was no snow at all on our deck yesterday. We got several inches overnight. It was pretty, but annoying. This is December weather, not April. The highways are bad again and advising people to travel at their own risk. Of course, that is one of the joys of living in Manitoba. The weather is utterly unpredictable, and I have seen a massive blizzard in May before, so this is really nothing. It is just disappointing because it is fairly safe to say that most of us living around here are pretty sick of winter and anxiously awaiting the true arrival of spring. I was hoping to go out and groom Sasha a bit today, but clearly that will not be happening. She is sopping wet, and I will be too if I go out there.

Aside from my disappointments, it was still nice to have Mike home for the week, and to get to the fair even though it was very brief. We also had some nice sunny days that really cheered me up. I hope to see more of the sun in the near future. Tomorrow will be Cody's first full day of school, so perhaps I will have a report to give on that. Now I must sign off so I don't spend my entire quiet time in this blog! Bye for now.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lightning McQueen Cake

For better or worse, today is Cody's fifth birthday. Micah and Jamie are both still sick. Sadly, Cody came down with it yesterday too, at the fair. Yes, we did go to the fair. It was somewhat disastrous. Jamie was a basket case, and we lasted all of two and a half hours before we had to get him out of there. My parents were there so we left Cody with them and drove home. (A forty minute drive, by the way.) Then I turned around and drove back to get Cody and hopefully hang out at the fair for a while. I had barely left home to drive back to town when my mom called and said Cody was not feeling well and wanted to go home. To make a long story short, I arrived back at the fair at 5:15 p.m. and Cody decided to stick around for a while. We stayed until 7:30 p.m., which was all right, but we had to leave in the middle of the show jumping, which was hugely disappointing to me. Life is different with kids. It's just different. Mine are all so young it is hard for them to even appreciate stuff like that. In a few years, they will all have a lot more fun there, which in turn will make it more fun for us.

Anyway, Cody's birthday began at approximately 6 a.m. today. Among the sounds we heard were boys screaming and fighting, our bedroom door constantly opening and boys barging in, Jamie finding one of Cody's presents and ripping the wrapping paper off, Jamie throwing various tantrums for various and ridiculous reasons...etc. Once again, we found it difficult to wake up in a sunshiny mood. Jamie has been in that same state for the entire day so far, and it is all we can do to keep from putting a giant piece of duct tape across his mouth. All right, we'd never do that, but even Mike's sanity is hanging on by a thread and we're both ready to throttle someone...specifically Jamie.

Backing up a little, on Wednesday I did bake Cody a birthday cake, and yes, I did the Lightning McQueen one. I said I would post pictures in here, so now I will do that. Icing the cake was an endeavour of olympic caliber. I followed the instructions carefully, but never could I have anticipated the sheer volume of icing that I would be required to make for such a small cake. Really, I used a normal cake mix, but you have to shave off the top part so the cake is flat when you flip it out of the pan, and that was a significant amount of cake. I started making the icing at 8:30 p.m. That was my first mistake. I was forewarned by my sister that it would take a while to make the icing, but I couldn't have known how long. First I made the first batch, which took four cups of icing sugar. Four cups. Wow. Okay, I went ahead and made the whole batch. Did I mention it also took half a cup of butter and half a cup of "vegetable shortening", which I will affectionately refer to as lard. Yuck! There is lard in the icing. I had no idea. Once I had it all made and was perusing the instructions to see how much I needed in each colour, that was when I discovered I would need a second batch of icing. I could hardly believe it. In total, I used eight cups of icing sugar. Eight. A whole cup of butter. (Margarine, actually.) A whole cup of lard, and that does not include all the food colouring. I know, it sounds like nothing, but you can't just buy regular colouring for this kind of cake. I had to buy the specialty kind, and I literally used three quarters of the little jar for the red icing. I have never used so much food colouring in all my life. It was insane.

After I mixed and iced and mixed and iced, I found that I had way too much icing. Well, what a shocker! I think it is safe to say I probably could have saved almost half of what I made, but I guess they expected me to lay it on quite a bit thicker. The whole process, not including the actual baking of the cake, took three hours. It was almost midnight by the time I had cleaned up most of the mess and put the cake in a container to freeze until the big day. Here is a picture.

And now here is what the cake is supposed to look like.
(The picture shows the pan and then the finished cake.)

Yeah, mine looks better. Oh wait...maybe not. So it didn't turn out perfectly, but in my defense, I have never done this before. I see I forgot to put the white dots on the hood, and I also outlined the number 95 in black by accident, instead of red. I see I was also supposed to do orange around the back fender, but my instructions failed to mention that, so I did that part in red too. Well let me tell you, even with the fancy pan and all the instructions, this process was very difficult. And I'm an artist. Well, I've never worked with icing before, but still, it was really hard. Cody was thrilled though, so in the end it was worth it. I can't put a picture of him blowing out his candles right now because my camera battery died, so I'll have to do it another time. 

Now Micah is asleep and the other two are both playing with iPads in their rooms, so it is refreshingly, (if temporarily) quiet in here. Ah. I will sign off for now. Maybe I can enjoy the solitude for a while longer before Micah wakes up. Bye for now.