One of those mornings

11 Feb

If you’re having one of those days, read this and I guarantee you’ll feel better.  

Or at the very least you’ll have a little chuckle.

When it was time for the kids to get ready for the school bus this morning, for once R2 was ready first.  Usually he’s the slow one that still needs to brush his teeth when R1 is ready to walk out the door.

R2 walked out the door and Jason was fiddling with the strap on R1’s snowpants strap.  One strap had gotten all twisted around and Jason was determined to make it right.  

I kept biting my tongue.  I wanted to say, “I don’t think it matters” or, “you’re running out of time” or, “the bus will be here soon,” but I thought if I said anything it would only exasperate my already irritated husband.  

I suppose I should have just grabbed R1’s coat and told Jason I would finish getting him ready, but I was kind of frozen in place.  I kept thinking that Jason would realize he was wasting time on the strap and just forget it. 

But it wasn’t until we heard R2 scream from outside that we all sort of snapped back to reality.  We could hear the bus coming so I told Jason to open the door so the bus driver could see that we were there and would be right out.  Jason said she would see R2 waiting and know she had to wait for R1.  

Except when I opened the door, it was clear that R2’s scream wasn’t actually because the bus was coming (which it was), it was because he was stuck in snow up to his chest.  No matter how many times we tell him not to get covered in snow before school starts, he can’t help it.  The first place he goes is the snow pile.  This morning he toppled off the pile and was crying for help from his poor pajama clad dad.

R1 somehow made it out the door as the bus pulled up, though he seemed to be moving in slow motion, and Jason was stomping around the entrance way, picking up mitts and boots and tripping over his feet and cursing a blue streak.  At this point I couldn’t have helped even if I wanted to.  Boots and mitts were flying all over the place.  

Jason somehow got his boots on and stepped into the deep front yard snow, then he jumped back out, his boots now full of snow, ripped the boots off, then jumped back into the snow towards R2.  He stomped through the yard, picked him up, carried him back to the steps, then out the gate and down the driveway toward the waiting bus.  I was watching it all from the front door, kind of in a detached sense of disbelief.

The bus drove off, Jason gathered up his discarded boots, stormed into the house, yelled something unintelligible, and jumped into (I’m assuming) a very hot shower.  R3 and I spent a few minutes staring at each other, then I giggled for awhile, and thankfully Jason was calmed down by the time he got out of the shower.

Jason said I could tell this story so long as I pointed out that I sat by and watched the whole scene play out but refused to help.  It’s true, I didn’t help.  I maintain that I was still half asleep from a pretty bad night and I was shocked into inaction by my disbelief at Jason’s obsession with a snowpants strap.

And now we’ve both learned a valuable lesson.  

R1 should have learned that he needs to say, “Don’t worry daddy, it’s just a dumb strap!” and R2 should have learned to stay out of the snow, but both of them have probably already forgotten this morning’s drama.  So the lessons fall to us.  

Jason has learned that if something takes longer than 30 seconds so close to bus time, it’s not worth it.  And I’ve learned that Jason isn’t going to ask for help when he’s frustrated so I should just tell him I’m taking over.

I’ve also learned that the image of my husband charging through the deep snow in his socks and pajamas is hilarious and it will undoubtedly be hilarious for a long, long time.

Before he left for work this morning, Jason said, “I bet you were standing at the door taking pictures of me for your blog, eh?”  

If only, Jason, if only.

Still a Boy

2 Feb

Anyone who has read this blog or visited the Facebook page knows that I absolutely abhor the practice of putting boys and girls into gendered boxes.  

If you’ve followed me long enough, you know that my husband and I encourage our sons to be true to themselves.  We continually combat societal norms by reiterating things such as, there’s no such thing as boy colours and girl colours; there’s no such thing as boy toys or girl toys.  And we hate common sayings like, “boys will be boys” and “he is such a boy!”

My friend Tara sent me a link about about a new social media campaign called “Still a Boy“, which was started by Martine Zoer.  Martine is a mom who was sick of ridiculously gendered children’s clothing, so she started her own clothing line that offers clothes in all colours to both boys and girls.  She later created the Instagram hashtag #StillaBoy after several closed-minded detractors accused her of robbing kids of their gender.  

I started using the hashtag #StillABoy as a way of saying, ‘Hey … a boy who wears pink is still a boy, just like a girl who wears blue is still a girl,'” Zoer told The Huffington Post. When she started noticing other parents tagging photos of their sons with #StillABoy, she decided to create an Instagram account to share the photos.  

When I see something like this, my first response is to feel exhilarated that I’m not alone in trying to raise my children without harmful gender stereotypes.  Jason and I are working against society and against all the peer influence that tells our sons they have to behave a certain way.  We won’t give up though because this is incredibly important.  

We have three sons now and they are all different and wonderful in their own way.  

Will one of them grow up to be gay?  Maybe!  But that won’t have anything to do with us letting him play with dolls.  

Will one of our boys grow up to be transgender or agender?  Maybe!  But again, who our children are on the inside has nothing to do with colour preferences and toy choices. 

And, it shouldn’t need to be said, but if one (or more) of our boys is gay or transgender, we will continue to offer our undying support and love.  Because that’s what parents do.

Behold, gaze upon the beauty of little boys at play and at rest!

(In completely random order)

 

He’s wearing a tiara….he’s still a boy

  

Cuddlin with a baby and a baby-doll…he’s still a boy

  

He is painting my nails…he’s still a boy.

  

Hanging out with the dolls…he’s still a boy.

  

Trying on jewelry…he’s still a boy.

  

On Wednesdays he wears pink…and he’s still a boy!

  

  

Pretty princesses….they’re still boys!

  

Washing the dishes…he’s still a boy

  

Excited about anti-bully day at school…he’s still a boy!

  

Castles and princesses…he’s still a boy!

  

a dollhouse and furniture for a present…he’s still a boy!

  

Pushing his baby carriage…he’s still a boy

  

Feeding his baby…he’s still a boy

  

Excited about costumes…he’s still a boy

  

Sleeping with a dolly…he’s still a boy

    

Shopping …he’s still a boy

Feeding his baby…he’s still a boy

  

Having fun with makeup…he’s still a boy

  

Loving his toy kitchen…he’s still a boy!

 
    
 

Baby Bedroom

27 Jan

Well, seeing as how the littlest cutie around these parts is now 8 months old, I figured it was time to get his bedroom in order.  It’s not that he didn’t have a place to sleep for the last 8 months, it’s that it was kind of messy and full of unnecessary junk.

I’ve been trying to organize things for months now but everybody was sick all fall and then last week I just decided to do it.  So I moved some furniture around and somehow aggravated my rib injury.  I suppose anybody should have seen that coming…  

So that was a mistake. Yeah.

But this morning I was feeling motivated (and my ribs are feeling a bit better every day) so I stuck baby in his crib with some toys and got to cleaning and tidying.  It’s looking good too!  

It doesn’t look like magazine spreads in parenting magazines, but it has character.  

True, it doesn’t have a door, but did I mention the character?

Shall we have a tour?

Into the basement we go… 

 
What’s behind the curtains?   Oh hello, baby!


 

old school desk with chrocheted blanket makes a great makeshift change table

  

a second-hand glider with a handmade quilt, a shelf full of my old stuffies, a blamket covering the water meter

  
 

big brother’s old crib, my old baby mobile, baby’s future big-boy matress (has to go somewhere)

 

second-hand dresser full of too big clothes, weird old wal-mart display shelf full of clothes


Thanks for stopping by! 

In the above picture, you can see a baby name bunting from Sew Whimsical by Katie, a collaborative ‘Animals in the Forest’ print from Janna Zachary Art and Kyle Lees, a little Rebel Alliance print from Merk, and a ‘Care Bears vs Godzilla’ print from Kyle Lees.

It’s not how much you can afford and how fancy you can make your baby nursery, it’s how much love you can give.  We’re not fancy people, but we’ve definitely got a house full of laughter and love!

 

Eight Months

26 Jan

Dear R3

Today you are eight months old.  

You’re adorable and smiley and curious!  

But I do have a small complaint: you’re a terrible napper!  

For months now you’ve been taking 20 minute cat-naps throughout the day.  This leads to more frequent naps because you get tired quicker.  You get more and more over tired as the day goes on, leading to worse and worse naps, which leads to more frequent wake-ups at night.  It’s quite a cycle.  And interestingly, you’re still very smiley and happy but it’s so frustrating  to spend the whole day in nap prep mode.  You fall asleep, I try to get something done, you wake up.  End result: I get nothing done.  I’m hoping we can solve these nap issues over the next month!

So you are having sleep issues, but you’ve been very busy learning this month.  You’ve gotten very good at sitting (you still fall over a lot, but your balance is getting good!), you finally popped out a tooth (front left, bottom, January 20), and you reached a whopping 17 pounds at your doctor appointment on the 15th.  You barely flinched when you got your (slightly delayed) six month vaccination.  

We still haven’t managed to get a rousing belly laugh out of you but we get non-stop smiles and a plenty of giggles.

You’re trying desperately to crawl and have succeeded in lifting yourself into a crawl position.  When on a smooth floor (as opposed to carpet), you’re really good at pushing yourself backwards and inching forward to grab toys.

Your favourite thing in the world is definitely watching your big brothers. When they enter a room it’s as if all others cease to exist.  

When I see your brothers doting on you and loving you and lavishing you with silly faces and voices, I just feel like our family is perfect.  I can’t begin to guess what the future will bring, but right now, despite the frustrations and chaos, our little family is just perfect.  

And it was you who made it that way!

   

   
  
  
As usual, the fabulous monthly sign was provided by Marie from Marie’s Digital Designs!

For Better or For Worse

22 Jan

Last night, in this bleak month of January, Jason and I had the opportunity to see Lynn Johnston give a talk at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.  The show is focusing on the comic art and career of Lynn Johnston and is being circulated across Canadian galleries by the Art Gallery of Subury. 

I swiped these photos from the Art Gallery Facebook page

    
   
LU Radio had the opportunity to interview Lynn on Wednesday and Jason got to meet her and talk to her then.  I had to stand in line to meet her like a regular peon (hah!) but she was so gracious and drew a little charicature in my book. 

 Just look at her!  She is a tireless work horse who signed books for over an hour after the talk she gave about her life and career.  She’s hilarious and gracious and kind.  We spoke for a few minutes and I thanked her for her work.  

In other words, I didn’t say everything I was thinking.  I know, I know, I know…

You’re thinking, Leah, YOU didn’t say everything you were thinking?!  I don’t believe that for a second!  

But people, it’s true!  I’d love to rave and gush to everyone whose work has been such a huge part of my life, but a meet and greet line up isn’t really the time or place.  Sometimes I am able to reign it in.

But in my mind, I was thinking…

Dear Lynn, thank you thank you thank you for being you!  

Thank you for being a creative and funny little child who grew up into a woman who laughed and made jokes through the tough times and for putting all that life experience into your art.  

Your For Better or for Worse comic strip has been a part of my life since I could read and it’s been there every since.  I started out identifying with the tiny kids in the comic and as I grew, they grew along with me.  Now I’m back to the beginning, identifying with the parents of the tiny kids.  I’ll be able to see my own kids grow up again alongside those comic strip kids.  Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be welcoming grandchildren, just like John and Elly did.  

You captured so many universal life experiences in a tiny rectangle of newsprint for years and I’m so lucky I can relive those moments over and over in your published books.  

Thank you for making me laugh and for making me cry.  Thank you for being there whenever I needed you; thank you for being an amazing kindred spirit and a perfect inspiration.

I’m so happy I was able to be there last nights hear Lynn talk.  Her words were exactly what Jason and I needed to hear during this tough time.  Things will get better for us!  It won’t always be this tough!  And always remember to keep laughing, whatever kind of shit life drops into your driveway (an actual quote from the Lynn’s talk)!

If you get a chance, you should stop by the art gallery to see the comic exhibit.  It’s brilliant and fascinating.

Annnnnnd, while you’re there, be sure to check out a little exhibit featuring five local artists!

Unconstrained!  Five emerging local comic artists: 

boy Roland

Merk

Kyle Lees

Callen Banning

Andrew Dorland (I’m sorry, I can’t find a Facebook page, please see the comments for information about Andrew)
 

Now, of course, our walls are already teeming with art from boy Roland, Merk, and Kyle Lees, but it was great to learn about Callen Banning and Andrew Dorland!

And if you go to the gallery, remember to check out the third exhibit, Garments of Everyday Life – handmade garments by First Nations artisans.
 

January Blahs

16 Jan

I heard, back in my university days, that the reason reading week is in February was because it is the bleakest and most stressful time in the life of a student.  They are all bogged down and hopeless and the highest number of university student suicides occurred in February.  Of course, I have no citations to back that up, but it did make sense to me.  I wasn’t usually bogged down in February though, it was moreso Mr. March that kicked my butt every year.

Now that university is long behind me, I find January to be the toughest month.  Or at least it’s been pretty tough this year.  

Not tough as in we are leaning on the brink of homelessness and despair, but tough as in mental and emotional exhaustion.

It seems like the harder my husband works in December (so he can enjoy Christmas with his family), the less effect his hard work will have counted come January.  It’s a new month and a new year, he was theoretically just recharged by having a few extra days off, but the stress is worse than ever.  The bleak outlook is compounded by the fact that he barely makes a living wage, his approximate 100 hour work-week, and nobody seems to appreciate or notice his hard work.  

Sure, he’s doing what he “loves” but at what cost to his health and personal relationships? It’s hard to see anything positive about the situation in the dreary days of January.

I’ve also been sick since before Christmas and I’m still sick now.  The doctor says it’s no longer contagious but I’ve been left with a hacking cough and aching ribs from the relentless hacking.  It’s difficult to heal a cracked rib when the coughing won’t stop. And every time I try to read a story to the kids or talk on the phone or go outside in the colder air, I’m besieged with new fits of coughing.  I know people have it much worse but I am getting a little weary of mind and body; a little discouraged.

And I can’t deny that the Eating Dirt house was kind of shaken by the recent string of celebrity deaths.  

First it was Lemmy of Motörhead, right after Christmas.  That was sad for Jason more so than me, though I do enjoy a fair bit of the Motörhead musical catalogue.  

It was quite upsetting for us both when we woke up January 10th to the news of David Bowie’s passing.  I know some people think it’s ridiculous to mourn a celebrity, but his music was a big part of mine and Jason’s life.  We are allowed to feel sadness.  

Then, a few days later, cancer claimed another of our favourites: Alan Rickman.  I can’t pretend that I didn’t love him because he played Snape in the Harry Potter movies, but he was so much more than that.  We loved him in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and Sweeny Todd; we loved him in Dogma, Die Hard, Galaxy Quest, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Sense and Sensibility, and many more. He was known to be a genuinely lovely person and he and his wife had a lengthy and lasting love story.   

   
It’s also the anniversary of Jason’s mother’s and grandmother’s deaths; emotions of sadness and regret surrounding those events are kind of permeating the household.  This year those feelings have leached into a new situation with one of my own family members.  

Jason has a weird relief/regret sense of loss about his mom.  Relief that she is longer suffering from addiction, depression, and no longer inflicting her illnesses on the people who loved her.  And regret that he couldn’t help her or make her get help.  

I’m dealing with something similar, though my family member hasn’t died.  

I have an aunt who has suffered many abuses and hardships in her life.  She is a now a bitter and lonely person dealing with paranoia, depression, anxiety, among many other things.  She can be the sweetest person and she has always been very generous in the past.  But that generosity comes with strings attached.  

I’ve suffered her emotional manipulation and extortion for 30+ years now and I’ve always just dealt with it and made accommodations to her and her whims.  But it has started to affect my husband and likely it would soon start to affect my children.  

After years of thinking and stressing and begging that she seek professional help, I’ve decided to reduce our level of contact to zero.  That may or may not be permanent, but for now I’m just done.  It somehow feels wrong to cut off someone who is obviously very mentally ill but when it started to affect my little family, I needed to put myself and my own mental health before hers.  

I have to accept that I can’t help her and she will never change.  I’ve done my best and I’ve played the role of devoted and caring niece to the best of my ability, but the situation is what it is and I have to move on.  

I wrote a long and detailed letter to my aunt as a way to get my thoughts down coherently and out of my head.  Some people said don’t mail it to her and others encouraged me to do so.  In the end I mailed it to her; to say it was NOT well received would be the understatement of the century.  But I have to be ok with that.  I said difficult truths that needed to be said and I ended with a plea for her to get help and make 2016 the year she sets herself free from the past.  

That’s all I can do.  Though I may need to change my phone number…

Aaaaanywaaaaay, that’s what’s going on over here with us dirt eaters.  The kids are adorable and frustrating, as usual, and we are all looking forward to February. 

R2 is very excited for his Rainbow Disco Dancy Birthday Party next month and that will definitely shine some multi-coloured light into our freezing Northwestern Ontario winter.

Peace and love to you all!

R1 and R2 say…

8 Jan

Let’s start the new year off wih a bit of humour!

Here’s a small compilation of some of the weird and wacky things my kids said: Fall 2015 edition!

First, R1 says:

R2: Daddy’s home…and I screamed at him!

R2: Well that’s good. You don’t want him to miss his daily scream.

*

Mom, you once told me that if you were ever going to play favourites, I would be your favourite
*

R1: What are the three different words for sofa?  Ummmm…couch? Sofa of course. What’s the third?

Me: Chesterfield?

R1: Really?

Me: Really.

R1: Chesterfield is a dog name.

Me: Like a dog’s name or a type of dog?

R1: A dog’s name. Ohhh, no…wait. I got confused. The dog I’m thinking of is named Odie.

*

It was so awesome, it was the real deal. The other thing was less awesome though so it was just the deal.

*

Now, R2 says:

Mom, you’re delicious!! But I’m not going to eat you because I don’t eat people. I would never eat a person. But I once saw a rabbit eat a beetle.

*

My heart is bigger than daddy’s. Because I love everybody! And if I don’t love them I just walk away.

*

I saw an octopus pee out of his mouth so I tried to pee out of my mouth. But it didn’t work

*

Mom, R3 has bigger boobs than me!

*

R2: Mason and Caleb followed me.

Me: Who are they?

R2: They’re both four, mom! So you don’t know their names!

*

Jason: How are your butt cheeks?

R2: They’re not called cheeks.

Jason: Then what are they called?

R2: Poop flaps!

*

Jason: How was school today?

R2: Not good, an invisible woman pooped on my head

*

Don’t come in my room! I’m getting in pajamas! My pants are off! Don’t worry, my penis is still on.

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