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Good Advice


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Sunday, January 25. 2009

L's hockey team has a great time together despite that not being reflected in the game results. In talking with another parent last night, he stated that they had won their first game and then lost the next three. He also stated that "they weren't a very good team." He went on to say that "the team we are playing tonight isn't very good either so if we don't win its going to be bad." I wasn't quite sure how to take his comments as I thought we were all there for fun and I couldn't help wondering what he or the team would do if they didn't win, if they would hate the goalie as I looked down the ice at L very excitedly in goal barely able to move with all of her gear. She has been wanting to play goalie and although I cannot understand the lure, I fully encourage and support her. She made some saves but was no match for "shots above the stick" (as she called the high ones) and the final score was 6-3 for their opponents. I waited patiently for her outside the dressing room but as time passed I started to wonder what happened to her. Perhaps she was upset so I decided to go and check. She and 4 others were laughing and having a great time. Several others had already left. There in the corner was the Dad that I had talked with and his son who was visibly upset about the loss (just as the younger brother had been in the stands earlier). The boy was barely able to hold back the tears. He is a strong player and had a few shots on the net that didn't result in goals. The team played well together but didn't have the same understanding of the ice, positions and icing that the other team did. Often the puck would be out front and all players would be on the opposite side. They are learning and for the most part it seemed like they were having fun. The image of this boy and his father though just wouldn't' leave my mind. I wondered if the kids had been upset with L in goal or if she had noticed the kids that were mad that they hadn't won despite the fact that several seemed to just be enjoying the experience and each other which is truly what it is all about. I asked her how it went. "Great! I like being in goal!" In one of my likely not so great parenting moments, I asked her "Were some of the kids upset that your team didn't' win?" She replied "Well...yes.". I then asked if anyone had been upset with her. She went on to explain that kids had been mad at J and two other kids when they were in net (at this point I am wondering why on earth she would have wanted to play in goal so much!) but no one had said anything to her and then she responded "A good team player does not get mad at the goalie when the team doesn't win." She went on to explain that Coach G told them that and that they were a team together and together they win and lose. I am again reminded that parenting is a two way street and that while we try to teach our children, they also are teaching us. I am so grateful that she has this experience and that she is taking what she is learning and implementing it in her life likely in more areas than just playing hockey. I realize that this lesson will take her throughout life and that hopefully she will find as much joy in the future as she shares in losses with team members as she did last night. My thoughts then return to the very upset and frustrated little boy in the locker room.......may he too find a way to celebrate the game last night.

Getting dressed.








Mother's Day in January


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Saturday, January 24. 2009

Each January, I find myself struggling a bit. Its not because of the "let down" after the holidays. I find myself very busy with hockey, swim meets and getting back into the routine of school and work. Its not because of the long cold winter days....I actually enjoy winter activities. L's birthday is in January and we celebrate with great joy. January usually signals the beginning of our family ski Sundays which are a lot of hard work but great enjoyment and family time. Each year though, despite all the fun and activities, I find myself feeling lonely, having a large void in my life and really missing my mother this time of year. The first few years after her death, it took me a while to see the coincidence between that event and my emotions but now, after 31 years, I seem to just expect it, almost wait for and just left the grief wash over as it needs to and carry on.

I really miss the fact that my mother missed so many "firsts" (and second, thirds and fourths as well) in my life and that even after 31 years that emptiness is still there. That grief is still there and that loneliness still persists. Yes I have had role models/mother figures come in and out of my life. Some have been nurturing, some have not and all have helped to shape me into the woman, wife, mother, friend, sister, co-worker and person that I am today yet I still wonder how things might be different if my mom were still alive. Her loss has significantly impacted my relationships with others, especially women. I didn't have her guidance, teaching and modeling and I often wonder if things may have been different had she been a part of my life longer. There is still an emptiness left by my mother's passing.

I often wonder what my mother would think of what I have accomplished, tried and failed in the past 31 years. I wonder if she would have been cheering me on from the sidelines if she were still physically here. She has shaped and guided my life through the values she instilled at an early age and I often see little things in the world around me that remind me of her and that she is still with me in spirit but I often wonder how she would be part of my life now if she were still alive. Most of the sadness comes when I think of L, AJ, A-girl and LJ and how much she would have loved to be a part of their lives and I wonder what/how that role would look. I don't have grandiose, fairy tail illusions of what that might look like. I realize that age, health, resources, distance and other factors may have prevented us from being very close and/or spending lots of time together but despite that, I wonder what our lives (my kids included) would look like if she could have shared in them.

I have 2 motherly figures in my life right now that I love deeply and who provide me with so much comfort, direction, guidance and love. I am so incredibly grateful to them and also to their families for sharing them with me. I am so indebted to them and treasure their many gifts including love and friendship. These relationships have limits though that create a sense of loss and cause tension. For one, there seems to be a "line" or "wall" that although never stated is clearly there that says "you are not mine." For the other, that wall/line comes from their family and clearly states that I am not a sibling (and rightly so as I am not) and unfortunately a closeness that I had there has been lost over the years for many various reasons. I have made mistakes coming from woundedness and unfortunately at times reacting from the "space" of a scared 12 year old where some emotions have stayed locked despite many years of work to change has impacted and affected relationships in my life. Not having a consistent female role model has impacted the way I think, act/interact/react and at times has left me feeling very lonely. Despite the tough spots, I have also drawn many strengths from having my mother's influence in my life. I am very passionate about family, children, education, music, nature and reading.

At the kids' sporting events when parents and grandparents line the sidelines and cheer for their beloved family member, I feel sad for my kids as they have no family nearby and miss out on that aspect of extended family. At AJ's hockey game today, a grandmother had made fleece balaclavas for her three grandchildren playing on the opposite team and she seemed to really have an active role in their lives. I have managed without that (three of my 4 grandparents had died before I was born) but I really wish my kids could experience that. Grandmothers (or grandparents) sharing life experiences, celebrating holidays, babysitting, helping clean house, watching kids for long periods of time are a bond that my kids will not really have and having my mother share those things with myself and my children is something that I won't have. Recently when talking with another mother at a nature center class for our kids, she talked about calling her mother and getting advice on various parenting challenges and out of the blue I was struck with this deep sadness that I have never had a conversation like that with my mother. I am so grateful to have been given 12 wonderful years with my mother though. Years that have taught me many things and shaped the person I am today. To say I don't miss her though would be a lie.

To add to the rough spots of January, my mother-in-law also passed away in January and her funeral was the day that marked the 27th year of my mother's passing. Another mother figure gone. Another grandmother figure gone from the lives of my children. L and AJ have fond memories of playing with their Grandma J and of visits with her. A-girl was just a baby when she died and LJ wasn't even a thought. More experiences and memories lost at what feels to be too early an age yet we know that we were blessed to have any at all and appreciate those we had.

We celebrate their lives with such love. Sure we miss them, but we are so grateful and full of praise for all the experiences, joy and years we had.

We love you both. As we think of you and reflect on all you have been and are to us, Happy Mother's Day in January!

More AJ logic


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Thursday, January 22. 2009

"Dinner is a bigger meal than brunch because it contains more "n"s in it!"

Vocabulary


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Wednesday, January 21. 2009

LJ's vocabulary never ceases to amaze me. Each day he sues new and different words that I had no clue he even understood little lone could use appropriately. This morning as he was laying on the couch, he picked up a toy phone, put it on his eyes and announced "goggles"



They certainly appear to be.......although hard to see though.

Celebrating LJ


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Wednesday, January 21. 2009

Sunday was a definite "LJ DAY", including most of his favorites. His brother and sisters had planned quite the day and while we couldn't make everything happen as they thought he would like, we managed to fit a lot into his day. He went skiing and then sledding, had his favorite dinner and then a cake decorated like a train. He got some pieces for the train track set we have and a book and was quite excited to play trains later in the evening. He seemed torn between an evening skate and playing trains but in the end the train play won out.






Yes, this is a very blurry photo, however it is the camera I have and unfortunately this is the type of photos I get.









Where were you two years ago?


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Sunday, January 18. 2009

It is so hard for me to believe that two years ago tonight, well technically this morning, I was in labor with LJ. It seems like a long time ago, yet it doesn't seem that long ago that he was a newborn (I will not use the word tiny as he did not qualify as a tiny newborn at 10 pounds 23 inches long going home from the hospital in 3-6 month clothes!) all of us meeting him and starting our new relationship, our changed definition of family with him. He is such a light in our lives. The past year has been full of so many accomplishments and new experiences for our little guy. He has learned to walk and talk. He now strings several words together to express his ideas. He told AJ this morning "sled...hill....down.... fast" when they were talking about something. Tonight he requested a book for Daddy to read by name "Mack" for "Miss Mary Mack" which is a favorite that A-girl reads (from memory) to him on a regular basis. He has started singing recently and constantly keeps us laughing and on the go with his words and his antics.

Two years ago I was in discomfort at this time yet early this morning I am baking his cake (yes I likely should have done it earlier today,. however there just wasn't any time) and reflecting on LJ. What an incredible boy!

We hope your birthday is extra special buddy!


1-18-07


1-18-07





Hugging his baby.












HAPPY BIRTHDAY LJ!!!!

College


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Wednesday, January 14. 2009

As I was getting breakfast for the kids, AJ announced "I don't want to be home schooled for college." I told him I thought that was a great plan and then I asked him what college was as we had not really talked about that previously. He replied "It's where you get to pick a sport to be in and then have a huge bunch of fans watching you. Then when you get out you are a parent." A-girl thought that would be an excellent thing to do as well. I had visions of college having some book learning and career associated with it, like picking that rather than a sport....perhaps for AJ things will be different.

LJ our song writer


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Tuesday, January 13. 2009

Last evening, I had taken the younger two kids to a meeting with me for girl scouts. By the time we left, it was quite late and past their bedtime. LJ all of a sudden started singing "apples....apples.....apples.....cereal. apples.....apples......apples.....cereal" (same tune) and then continued with the same tune obviously adding the next verse "cereal.....cereal.....cereal......potatoes' It was at that point I started laughing so loud I missed the next line of his wonderfully joyful song!

Catching the acting bug


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Tuesday, January 13. 2009

L used to participate in a theatre group (Top Hat Theatre) and participated in two productions, some skits and absolutely loved the experience. When dance classes switched to Saturday she made the hard choice to participate in dance and not Top Hat productions but continued with their skit productions (a one evening commitment once or twice a year) and enjoyed it. The love of acting and performing though has not been met. She has watched some friends perform in an acting group during the past many months (two productions) and has wanted to participate but our schedules and her willingness to "give something up" haven't made it work out. The theater group is starting up practice for their next performance of Annie. I talked to her about participating, however she needed to audition and she wasn't interested in doing that. The day of the auditions, she was with several of the girls going to the auditions at our girls scout meeting and they convinced her to audition. She wasn't prepared (and neither was I for that matter!) but went from the meeting to the auditions. She learned a dance combination and then went alone for her song/lines audition. She didn't know the songs and instead of singing one she does know, froze but still managed to get a spot on the chorus line (it is my understanding that everyone that auditions gets a part in the play) and is very excited. The chorus line sounds like a great option for us as it doesn't meet every week!! She has been singing and dancing around the house all week! She goes Wednesday to a full read and then finds out her schedule. She has caught the acting bug!

The first week (or so) in pictures


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Wednesday, January 7. 2009

1-01 Celebrating Christmas and New Year's with T and M.



1-02 Tale of Despereaux Movie. A-girl got scared near the ending and was still visibly upset as we were leaving......she fell asleep in the van on the way home.



1-03 Celebrating AJ and LJ's birthday early with their aunt and cousin.



1-04 First Ski of the season



1-05 AJ's hockey night





1-06 L's hockey night



1-07 Nature Center class


LJ and L

Learning about tracks.

AJ in the red coat and A-girl in the purple one.

1-08

Playing on the rink for over 4 hours and unhappy when told they have to come in.


Dancing bride. "I have to stand on here so you can see my shoes in the picture!!!"


1-09

Sisters


1-10

LJ's mess. He seems to create these at every turn but this one was especially sticky. He managed to explode a 32 ounce plastic jar of BBQ sauce all over (even inside the doors of the cupboard!) when helping (????) get out the ingredients for making cookies.


Baking cookies.


1-11

Early morning playdough.


Lots of equipment for a family of six.


"More! More! Up fast!"



L

AJ


A-girl on a rope.




1-12

Lots of snow fell today and the kids had to shovel it off before being able to skate after we hosted our home school Coop this afternoon. Despite the cold and snow, the skating for 2 hours was the highlight of the class.






1-13

Nature's design on my front porch door.


I had no idea he could match colors!

An AJ Quote


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Wednesday, January 7. 2009

"Your breath smells like sweaty hockey equipment!"

Back


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Tuesday, January 6. 2009

I feel as though I have taken a break from blogging but life just seemed to take over. Without ready access to my computer during the past few weeks and the many activities surrounding the holidays I never seemed to get my thoughts to my blog.

Sunday was the return to our regular schedule as we ventured off on our first ski of the season.






Despite the cold temperatures we had a great time. Yesterday was the return to work for S and I and the kids were back to their regular activities.

With all the talk of New Year's resolutions, I find myself yet again wondering what I would like to change/do and finding goals that are achievable and realistic. Several of the blogs I follow are talking about the 365 project ( a picture a day for the year) in various forms that it can take and I have been drawn to this project....likely because I take so many photos that I likely could do this without even trying. It will just be putting it into some type of viewable format (slide show or scrapbook) that will be the issue. I started a project in December of a photo a day for the month of December and have everything ready to put together in a small slip in album I picked up but it awaits.

Of course there is always my goal to be organized and that is one that I seem to continually strive for and never really reach. A friend (another homeschooling mom with one child) came over today to drop off her boy for a play time with AJ and we got to talking about organization of home school materials/books etc and trying to keep your living room looking decent when it is the main school area of your house. As we talked, she offered to sort through various workbooks and other materials that I wasn't sure I needed to keep for documentation. Her time today was such an amazing gift and I can't begin to express my gratitude for her assistance, non judgment and friendship. I still have a lot to sort through in terms of home school things and then there is the always overwhelming task of organizing the rest of the house but J gave me a much needed boost and I feel progress has been made in the right direction.

The day after Christmas, S built the kids a skating rink. I have been the silent partner in the project helping out where I can but he has been the one with the inspiration and the vision and the dedication to building the rink. Our nightly ritual of pushing the hose out the laundry room window to flood the rink, flooding it and then working as a team to haul it back in has resulted in a nice base of ice that the kids and the neighbors have enjoyed daily since New Year's Eve. This afternoon AJ skated for 5 hours with various friends and neighbors and at one point we had 6 kids having a ball. Certainly makes all the effort worthwhile.







Someone forgot to tell LJ that he isn't yet two years old and shouldn't be on skates!


Having a great conversation about the moon.


AJ is in the white helmet.





L is in the pink striped sweater and AJ the white helmet.

Chaos or Full of Life


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Monday, January 5. 2009

Our home is rarely quiet, tidy, spotlessly clean or empty. The noise level and activity level in our home is often very very high. Many, when they hear we have 4 kids the ages they are comment on how busy, hectic and chaotic our life must be. For us, it is just the way our life is and we really couldn't imagine it any other way. There is lots of activity, lots of joy, lots of fun and yes there is also lots of high emotion and energy of all sorts (positive and negative). Many see it as chaotic and hectic and others see it as full and lively.

Yesterday, while we were at the ski hill enjoying our first ski of the season, I was talking with a woman of a young girl almost the same age as LJ. LJ was sporting his snowsuit and ski boots having just completed his first runs of the season. He absolutely loved it and kept saying "more!" "more!" until the cold temperatures got to him and he decided he as "all done." He then took to running in the chalet and playing with the empty locker doors with his new friend.

Anyway, she was asking me questions about skiing with young kids and how I did it and we ended up having a great conversation. She kept commenting on how she couldn't believe we were out there skiing with four kids as just getting there with one was so much work. S and I had been commenting as we drove out to the ski hill that getting there definitely was a lot of work and not always a lot of fun but that the time spent together enjoying a sport that we will hopefully enjoy together many years into the future was definitely worth it.

Many times we have been told we are "nuts", do too many things and unfortunately I have come to expect that most people will think our family a bit odd not only in terms of size but also activities that we do. When she asked how we keep active outdoors in all seasons, I ended my explanation with "its pretty chaotic" (as that unfortunately is how many see us and I answered with that rather than how it truly feels to me). She paused momentarily and then said "Or full of life! Your home and family seem to be filled with a love of life and a lot of joy and happiness." She is so right. That is exactly how we feel. As we begin this new year, I am once again reminded of how blessed we are. How much joy. love, happiness and learning my family provides for me each and every day.



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