Oliver

Almost thirteen years ago I somehow talked nick into looking at a puppy. “We’ll just look!” I said. This being the beginning of what nick learned to be, we don’t just LOOK, we BUY. We drove to the outskirts of Aylmer to a farm where a million adorable yorkie/Maltese puppies lived, we played and cuddled and chose our favourite. Without skipping a beat Nick told the woman we would take him and we drove into town to the bank to get our deposit. Swoon!

Weeks later we picked up our little three-pound ball of furry cuteness and drove home pondering names. We chose Oliver because he looked like a cute little old man puppy, he snuggled right in on my lap and even though he puked and pooped on me on the drive home…I was in love!

The years to follow, Oliver was our baby, my mom made him little coats, we took him everywhere, he slept with us on our heads or across our chest. Oli was loved by all and always jumping on laps of all visitors’ for some extra lovin.

In 2011 we welcomed our twins, life was busy and Oli wasn’t sure of this new venture we were partaking in. Four kids, another pup named Charlie and a new house in the country and Oli turned into a grumpy old man dog. Still the best cuddler, just more of a fan of alone time then screaming kids pulling his hair and trying to ride him.

Five years ago Oliver was diagnosed with diabetes. We were so scared taking him to the vet but the diagnoses of two needles a day seemed much better then the ideas we had thought up in our heads as to what may be going on. Oli still thrived and still got the occasional under the table scraps from the boys but he was doing fine. He went blind a year ago but could navigate like a trooper, still healthy as an ox.

This past week Oli seemed to get worse by the day. It’s something we knew was coming but never really prepared for, mentally. Thirteen is a good long life, I know this. But you can’t help but think about the last couple years, the years since kids when our beloved pup took the backburner to kids and life. The years since he went blind and accidently tripped us and we’d get upset, knowing it wasn’t his fault.

Telling the boys of our decision to send Oli to Rainbow Bridge was the hardest we had to do. They were devastated and so upset. Phoenix told us that on his birthday God would choose Oliver to be reborn as another animal or possibly a human and that we should watch for new animals/humans in our life around that time because it could be Oliver. (I’m not crying! You’re crying!) Declan turned to face the couch and cried, begging not to talk about it any longer (he is my child to a T) But eventually they all got up, hugged Oli and told him they loved him. I even overheard Mason explain to Nixon that after tomorrow he would not see Oliver anymore because he was going to heaven. (I am constantly overwhelmed by the love and knowledge my kids have in the Lord. All thanks to my amazing Grandmother who makes sure they learn and believe in this higher power)

I gave Oli a bath and cuddled him up in a towel, telling him all the things you say when a loved one is leaving you. The boys said their good byes and we cuddled up together to watch a movie in my bed. Nick dug a hole to bring Oli home to. The most perfect spot that looks like it could be the steps to heaven, it only seemed fitting that he be with us, here, forever.

I may have thought the years of having kids and “not having time” for pets has jaded my emotions towards dogs, I will reiterate a commonly used phrase, It is one of the hardest things you will do. Oli was our first pet, first fur baby, a start of our family almost thirteen years ago. I know he is better off, I know he is in a better place …but….it doesn’t make it any easier.

Rest in Peace my pup, you were loved for so long, and loved so long after you are gone as well. You will always be in our hearts.

 

*I wrote this before it happened. I have never in my life been so unprepared. The last sigh, the last breath is an unmistakable sadness. My heart broke into a million pieces and all the words of “you’re doing the right thing” seemed like a lie. Could we have done more, should we have done more? My heart feels heavy, my eyes hurt and all I want to do is sleep so I don’t see his water dish, his spot where he slept or the envelope that contains his paw prints. Charlie is wondering the house, sniffing my clothes, wondering where his buddy is and I dread the moment the kids come home to realize Oli is actually gone. Nick took him out back, to his perfect resting place and as soon as he left the skies opened up and it rained, seemed fitting considering the way we are feeling right now.

Rest in peace sweet Oliver

My Decluttering epiphany!

Guys! I had a moment of clarity, a moment of realization and a burst of energy! A regular feeling of doom and gloom about my ever-expanding clutter was replaced by a feeling of “Let’s do this!” I surprised myself to say the least …

It all started a couple of weeks ago… I was talking about my many many boxes and totes of clothes from the last 8 years of children and the stuff accumulated from 17 years of not living with my parents. I even wrote a blog post about the possibility of me being a hoarder cleverly named  Hoarder? Am I a hoarder?  A friend of mine offered to help and I reluctantly agreed it was the only way I was getting anything done. With a date set to do a complete overhaul on my cluttered chaos I also decided to check out some decluttering podcasts (my guilty pleasure as of lately and especially when I drive myself to work) So i searched and found a few but one stuck out right away, maybe the title was just so relatable… A Slob Comes Clean by Dana White. So away I went on the hour-long trek to work listening to my decluttering podcast.

To say I was inspired would be an understatement. I had only listened to two episodes and I wanted to turn around and come home to declutter! I told everyone about it at work and could not wait to get in the car and listen to more! Now I have had bright ideas and endless motivation before but it never fails that this feeling is fleeting and I go home with the wind gone from my sails. Today was different. I was so inspired, so excited and even called my mom to tell her I would be throwing away things that she had purchased but I could not hang onto them any longer out of guilt! She of course understood my inspiration and determination and agreed, laughing at my enthusiasm, Get rid of it! (I am always afraid to get rid of things people have bought myself or my kids, I never want to offend any one, or have them ask where it is next time they’re over…this of course is my own crazy guilt and people probably don’t think twice after something is gifted)

So I’m on the road, planning my strategy, excited to get home! I bust threw the doors, guns a blazin’, full of coffee and inspiration! That weekend I do my kitchen, all the hot spots, above the fridge, top of the cupboards, that corner of the counter that collects everything! I throw out three bags of garbage and a box for donations! I was so proud of myself! I didn’t have anxiety about it, I just did it and it felt great!

The following weekend, after a week of listening to Dana White tell me everything I needed to know and hear about what I was and wasn’t doing I was ready. It was time for the big guns. The toy room. It took my 6 hours, 4 bags of garbage and 4 boxes for donation but man does it look good! I never felt so determined in my life! At 8:00pm we put the kids to bed and I went to bed as well. It was a big day and I wanted to relax..or so I thought. I had accidentally cut a phone line while on my decluttering adventure and the internet was out…no tv for this momma. So as I was falling asleep I decided to make myself a double caffeinated coffee and get to work! Never had inspiration and motivation lasted so long in one day and I needed to take full advantage! I did our bedroom closet and my bedside table, 5 bags of clothes came out of that small closet! 5 bags! As 2am loomed I decided it was bedtime, tomorrow was another day and I had decluttered more in one day then I had my entire life…until Sunday….

The bain of my existence, the things I could never think about parting with are (were) my kids clothes. The thought put me into full panic mode and the idea would be quickly dismissed. Bright and early Sunday morning I asked nick to bring me up some totes…maybe just a couple. After one tote went entirely into a donation bag I knew I was still in the zone! Keep ’em coming babe! I have a tote saved for each kid of clothes I loved them in, or memories that were made in them. Nick and I each have one tote and I have a tote for clothes for Nixon for the next couple years and the other three for this summer. I have a stack of empty totes (so much money invested in hiding my clutter) and a slightly empty basement…I also have 24 garbage bags full of clothes to donate in my front entry. 24! 2-4! I feel a weight has been lifted, I feel relieved and revived and just generally amazing! Who knew all that clutter and emotional attachment could just go away like that…essentially by stumbling upon a podcast.

As I write this, the weekend of decluttering and organizing still fresh in my head, I realize that before, when people laughed or rolled their eyes at my emotional attachment or anxiety driven reaction to getting rid of my kids stuff, before now…I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t do it but now I can. Wrinkly old clothes in a cheap tote in my musty basement do not keep my memories in it and the memories and feelings don’t go away when those clothes go out the door. I have pictures (that’s a whole other project…baby steps…) and memories and the actual living breathing kids to remind me of the last eight years!

It may sound silly, but I am so grateful to have found that podcast and to have really listened to the things I have been told for years but just couldn’t hear, like really hear. Do it when you’re ready, not when your husband is cranky about ever-growing tote city in the basement or when your friends without kids can’t understand why you hang on to stained articles of baby clothing that no one will wear again. Do it on your time, when you’re ready, ‘Cause damn does it feel good!

 

*Full disclosure, I could probably go through and declutter all this again, but its one heck of a change to start!

It takes a village

I have always heard the saying “it takes a village” after the first year of having twins and living away from everyone we knew, I never really got it. When we moved ‘home’ I got it…ten fold.

Parents, grandparents and great grandparents hold some amazing places in our children’s lives. Yes babysitting is always an amazing help but it’s the little things, the random pick ups for quality time, Sunday morning church time, stopping in with a little treat from the dollar store, every little thing that they do that they don’t have to, but want to. Nothing makes me happier when they actually ask to visit Granny or Gramma, and I think they feel the same. These roles are so important and maybe never get enough credit but these are unbreakable bonds and memories the boys will have forever.

But then there is the family that does not share the blood but have become so important in the kids’ lives. I had no idea when embarking on this journey that my kids would be so loved by so many people. That there would be people out there that, not out of obligation, would want to spend time with them and love them and want the best for them. My heart bursts for myself and for them to have these connections to people. To help guide them through life…or even just to talk out a problem they may be having. I’m not superwoman and I don’t have all the answers, but I am confident that the boys will always have someone to go to with any problem that arises in life.

What started as a before and after school “babysitter” for Phoenix, Declan and Mason has quickly turned into one of their favourite places to be. I use the term “babysitter” very loosely because we think of them much like family. Erin, who literally changed my own life with her knowledge and power of working out and self-love, is everything I’d hope for for my boys, she is just the right amount of sarcasm, stern, loving and cool that they need. She is the first person they see off the bus and usually gets the earful of drama from the days events. She knows what to do, what to say and I love that they are so comfortable with her to tell her. I am forever thankful for her and her family for opening their doors to my family in all senses of the word.

Mason has Cindy. By has her, I mean he has her wrapped around his baby finger, but in the best way possible! The dynamic between those two is perfection! They are like an old married couple at times and always best friends. This all started as a “babysitting” gig as well, but when Mason started school it just didn’t end. Cindy is family, through marriage, but mostly through love. She spoils him rotten and loves him endlessly and you can’t ask for more than that!

Nixon. We were told about this amazing caregiver in town by friends of ours and just had to get her for Nixon for when I went back to work. As you know, finding good people to watch you kids is hard to find (Although I think we really lucked out) So when Sheila said yes we were thrilled! Little did we know, Nixon and Sheila would form an amazing bond right from the start! I see it in his eyes and hers too that they love each other so much. She is an amazing person and there isn’t a day that goes by that I drop him off or pick him up that I don’t feel complete and utter joy to see how happy they make each other.

Maybe there is some days when I am jealous of these bonds my kids have with others. But in all reality, IT TAKES A VILLAGE, and my village is awesome and loving and perfect! I am so thankful for the positive people in my life and my boys’ lives. Without them I really don’t think I could do it. I am their Mom and I will love them forever and a day but I don’t have all the answers and some days I can’t see the forest for the trees…but I know my kids are loved and are always being guided in the right direction…and that my friends, is worth the world!

 

Hoarder? Am I a hoarder?

My husband says I’m a hoarder. I believe I am just a keeper of the things! All the things!

I distinctly remember as a child not wanting to get rid of any stuffs because what if they knew I got rid if them? that I just gave them away! That’s probably a deep-rooted problem to talk to a professional about now that I think about it…anyway… back to present day…. we have a garage attached to our house. It’s made for a car but no car has ever been inside of it. It’s full of boxes and totes from years of ‘saving’ important things…like most my kids clothes, art work (term used lightly in some cases) toys, books and furniture that we aren’t using anymore or will use later on. Every once in a while we pack up some of their toys from the toy room and hide it in the garage to make some room. Nick would like the garage emptied, even has work out equipment to use in the space…however I have an irrational fear that I will throw something away and they will ask for it months down the road and I will then become the awful mother that threw out their precious bird made from a plastic cup and some beads. I also have an irrational attachment to their clothes. I can make the argument that we have all boys so we can reuse these clothes as hand me downs! But in all honestly if I look at an outfit and I remember one of the boys wearing it on an occasion…im keeping it!

Tell me I’m not alone?

I have been hearing about this Netflix show with Marie Kondo called Tidying up. I hesitate to watch it for fear I end up throwing out my entire collection of materialistic memories…which I realize is my husbands dream come true but the anxiety of the aftermath could be devastating!

The summer stumble

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This what years of collecting bathing suits looks like. One piece, two piece, maternity, pre baby and post baby. All the suits for the many ways my body has changed in the past fifteen years or so.

When it’s March break and you think it’s a great idea to take your kids to a water park and you pack up their bathing suits from last year, that still fit, then remember that you too will need one…the struggle begins. I went down to our deep dark dungeon of an unfinished basement full of totes, christmas decorations and a few decaying mice to dig through to find these colourful body shaming articles of polyester, nylon and spandex. I have a lot so I was bound to find a suitable match for our day trip to the water park….right? I carry them all up, lay them out on the bed and begin to try them on. One after another i flung them off …too big, too small, not nearly enough coverage for my Mom bod. I found one that was decent. One that covered my sagging csection belly courtesy of 4 children, one that held up my gravity induced breasts, courtesy of 4 breast-fed children, one that I didn’t completely hate my self in and even that ONE didn’t make me feel comfortable. As I write this I know there are people saying that I worked hard, that I’ve come along away. Be proud of the body you are in because you carried 4 beautiful amazing healthy babes inside of it…BUT no one can say a thing to make you feel better when you can’t get past how your body has changed in what seems like a short period of time. I am in the best shape of my life right now, I have a ways to go but I have never felt better. So why can’t I look at my not so tight tummy and think “yeah! 4 babies and I look damn good!” because that’s not how it works. We are told everyday in life and social media to empower women, to embrace the curves, embrace the stretch marks and saggy boobs. Easier said than done, I say! There has to be away around it, to get out of your own head and see the positives. To not be afraid if what others with think. Do they know I had babies? thats why I have this belly you know… Why are we all struggling to make sure others are content with our bodies when in reality all that matters is your own happiness.

Maybe it depends on the day…Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow and hope that my confidence levels and zero care attitude are at an all time high, maybe tomorrow is the day I am happy in the skin I’m in! …and if not, we’ll try again the next day.

Procrastinator extrodinaire!

I have literally always been a procrastinator. Always. I can remember when I was younger cramming for a test the night before until the wee hours of the morning, or throwing together a book report before I had even finished the book. I was lucky, very lucky but my grades reflected my mediocre efforts with mediocre marks.

As you can imagine there is always things to do here in our house and with my multitude of my own extra curricular’s my plate is always heaping!

Here is my process of procrastination that I’m sure some of you can relate to ….

Put off everything,

make a mental list of the things you have to do,

put it off some more,

choose relaxation or basically anything else over that,

make actual list because it’s been so long you are starting to forget what you need to do

run out of time and have no choice but to do it

stress, get bitchy and bang out all items of procrastination in one night

sleep well and forget the fact that all of this could be avoided if you just did it weeks ago…

I always say I work well under pressure, and I really do believe that, but I always think how awesome I could really be at something if I worked on it for a couple of weeks or even days instead of being an absolute nut job for one day and try to get all the things done in a very short window of time. I feel like not procrastinating should be a new years resolution, something I should be working on in life, but it’s not. Can it be categorized as a sickness? is it something that will go aways? At what point do you try to change your procrastinating ways? And do you have to change if your method essentially works and things get done?

Cherish the good ones

I was thinking about life long friendships, I was thinking it was rare but when I stopped to really think about i remembered some of the amazing people in my life that were there because my parents were life long friends with them.

The importance of these people is immeasurable. These people have been there through thick and thin and are like family to my sister and I, because of their friendship with my parents.

One person sticks out in my mind almost instantly. Val. My Dad was best friends with her and when my Mom moved to town they quickly became the best of friends as well. They were always together from a young age, through dating and marriage and kids. Enter me (and Crysti, Derek and Danielle) We grew up thinking we were really related and created these amazing bonds together. We joked for years that Val was my rightful mom because of our sarcasm and sailor mouth and that Danielle was my mom’s daughter because of her craftiness and organization. The truth is I loved Val like a mother, like the crazy Aunt you run to when the door opens. She told it like it was, never sugar-coated a thing, gave the best advice and made the best snack trays you can imagine! I admired her and her straight forward and raw attitude.

As I got older I didn’t see Val as much, I was a typical twenty something partying and not realizing the importance of maintaining these life long friendships. When she got sick I thought she’d get better. She was never going to leave everything would be fine. I saw more of her, checked in on her, emailed her with my silly dreams about her and prayed for her. She called me one night, talked for almost two hours. She was telling me about the importance of spending time with your kids. She said three kids was good but any more and I would have less time individually. (because of this I am so aware of my quality time with each of my boys)  She never changed to us, she never faltered, never told us she wasn’t feeling well or was tired or complained about anything! Danielle organized a paint class for a few of us, Val was in the hospital but got a pass to come for a couple of hours. We brought the biggest spread of amazing snacks (in true Val fashion) we painted…we laughed, tried not to cry and talked. Yes we knew, we didn’t forget and no we didn’t talk about it.

When it was time to leave I hugged her, the biggest hug i could. I smelled her and felt her. We pulled back and she said “See you soon Jul” I smiled and said goodbye.

I think of her often, I watch for her signs and I believe that she is always watching.

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My love of a good six pack and hatred of people

I recently ventured to the movie theatre for a movie I knew nothing about, for my Mom’s birthday. A movie we picked solely based on the main character gallivanting around shirtless and muscle-bound. Within the first 5 minutes I realized this was a DC Comic film and having four boys I knew this wasn’t my usual chosen movie. It was action packed and definitely a comic based movie, however, I wasn’t mad about Jason Momoa shirtless with his giant stature, flowing locks and muscles for days! Surprise Mom cameo by Nicole Kidman and a plethora of weird sea creature human things…oh and of course the random sexual tension highlights between the two main characters, who in the end of course finally kiss! Pretty good movie, pretty great muscles and comedic relief from Jason Momoa. I’m not going to watch it again….but I am interested in what other movies this 6’4″ Hawaiian Adonis plays in!

Now here is the part that I didn’t like, nothing to do with the movie, rather the other people viewing the movie. I haven’t been to the theatre in years, I live in a house of android boxes and Netflix. At home in the comfort of my own room with people I don’t mind cuddling up to! The same is not true of strangers… The theatre that we went to has great big beautiful loungers to sit in, lots of room to stretch out and put your feet up. So why was the woman beside me practically on my lap? Why was her purse on my chair, her elbow on my armrest and her stupid comments about everything in my ears. I missed a big chunk of the movie because I was trying to figure out if I was on a date or not. I was squeezed all the way over to one side of my chair for fear that she would just leap right over and snuggle up with me! You might say I am over dramatic but people need to respect the bubble! “this is my dance space, this is your dance space” Unless we are best friends, I’m married to you, or I gave birth to you, there is no reason to touch my chair or share my air.

I think I’ll stay at home. The public is too much for me and my bubble.

Christmas Traditions

I will not lie when I tell you Christmas is not my favourite time of year.

The stress of getting a giant shopping list done in my already busy life, choosing the right gifts, the incessant need to play Christmas music on every radio station starting december 1st and the hundreds of dollars doled out in a small span of time (because I’m a procrastinator.)

Now, there are two things that put me in the mood…

  1. Christmas Eve – Everything is wrapped, kids are in bed, the cookies and milk are set out and the lights on the tree are just a little brighter than the day before. The excitement is at peak level and in a few short hours my boys are going to come bounding down the steps at Granny and Poppa’s eyes wide and giggling!
  2. Family fun day – I’ll never tell her (she will definitely read this) but my Mom plans a family fun day every year to choose her Christmas tree and it’s always a great day. Minus the fact that it is always so cold, she makes sure everyone has so much fun.

    We meet at the tree farm, she makes us wear ridiculous Santa and elf hats, even the men oblige and wear the Christmas garb! We take a million pictures…like a million….the tree choosing, the tree cutting, all the kids trying to use the saw, the families, couples and kids! This year we went to the most amazing place. Sloan’s Tree farm has a million things for the kids to do; a maze, zip lines, train rides, climbers and so much more. My favourite part was the campfires. There is an area blocked off by trees that has a bunch of individual campfires in it. We gathered as a family and cooked hot dogs and marshmallows and tried to keep warm together! It was so awesome and my Mom mom never gets enough credit for her great ideas to bring our family together!

Traditions are important. I know this but I am not always the one to execute them. Thankfully my Momma is allll about the traditions and keeping them alive!

Thanks Momma, we appreciate all that you do…even if you get a little eye roll with it!

Will you play with me…

There is nothing more heartwarming than pictures of moms and dads playing with their kids. Dad helping to build a Lego tower, mom roaring like a dinosaur. This is not the scene in my house.

I credit the fact that we had twins right off the hop that we never really had to entertain our kiddos. Phoenix and Declan always had each other and even as babies we would put them in their high chairs or car seats and face them towards each other so they could ooo and ahh at each other. Sure we played with them but they never really needed us to. When mason came along 21 months later the boys were happy to entertain him. We supervised but Mason loved watching his older brothers dance around him and act silly.

The phrase “Mommy will you play with me?” is still common and yes, every once in a while I will sit down for a minute or two to oblige the likes of my boys. But usually after a good five minutes they have moved on, or my butt falls asleep or duty calls.

Do I feel bad about this? Should I be shamed for not “leaving the dishes till later”? Heck no! If I sat down and played with toys all day who would do the laundry, who would make supper? Who in the heck would do any of the adult work needed to sustain a working household? I tell my kids, this is why we had so many of you, you will always have someone to play with!

But I will tell you one thing, family trips to laser tag, a trampoline park or any actually activity not involving dinky cars or video games and I’m in! Take me away from the list of chores that is never-ending in my head and I’ll play for hours! I don’t apologize for not choosing to be the only girl character in their wildly imaginative games. They know I love them, even if it does take them a week to talk me into a quick game of Minecraft! (Which they usually kick me out of anyway because I am the absolute worst video gamer, the controllers are impossible!)