Find What they Like to Read

My kids have to read a minimum of 30 minutes a day. They can’t touch any devices until their reading is done (actually they can’t touch devices until all chores, reading and supper is done) and they have to read more to get more “play” time.

Elijah doesn’t seem to realize how much he likes stories, especially adventure/fantasy kinds. He is always the most involved in the book I read them at night, and the one asking for “just one more chapter”. Gracie is a bookworm and breezes through, Eve is more of a comic book kind of girl, and Kaleb we have FINALLY found what he is interested in….graphic novels (much like comic books).

I have always been a reader. From a very young age I had Green Eggs and Ham memorized, and performed it to anyone that would listen. I think it is because of this skill that I was able to find a lot of things easier in school. I can remember in grade 6 my teacher had me make my own spelling word list because the ones she made for the class were too easy for me (I would pick words like, triskaidekaphobia for the challenge) ; projects and presentations were my jam; english was one of my favorite subjects; and overall, I just did pretty good in school. I usually have two books on the go, and tend to have to monitor my reading time or else I will forget about doing anything else, even sleeping!

I was baffled when reading didn’t come so naturally to three of my kids, that they weren’t that interested in it. I even found it difficult to try and help them learn to read. But through lots of arguments and trial and error, we are finding our groove.

I don’t know about you, but as a mom, I am always worrying about my kids and if I am doing enough for them. I worry that I am missing something important that they should learn and could benefit them later in life. My partner also shares these thoughts and is often trying to teach them new words and meanings. When life isn’t so crazy, I give the kids 5 words each week to learn the spelling and meaning, and these aren’t every day words! If you don’t think reading and learning vocabulary is important, look below:

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I think it is SO important for kids to read, and to read daily. This is going to help them so much more in life then whether they are the best at mindcraft or fortnight. Take them to a bookstore and let them get excited looking at all of the different books. Let them browse as long as they want and find a couple books of interest so when they are done the first, they are excited to come back and get another.

Kaleb hasn’t stopped talking about book two and three of the series he picked, and asking me to make sure that if there are more I will be able to get them. As soon as he got home, he sat down and started to read, and this morning he put it in his bag to bring to school so he could read more.

In an age where digital and quick rewards is the normal, sometimes getting back to paper and hours of enjoyment is just the way to go.

Bathroom Discussion

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When there are five of you sharing one bathroom, many conversations and arguments are geared around the toilet.  These are the things I hear on a regular basis:

“Can I pee in the tub because I can’t hold it anymore!?!”

“Kaleb, did you pee on the seat?”

“Moooommmmmmm tell him to hurry up!”

“Mooooommmmmmmmmmmmmm tell him he can’t use his tablet while he’s pooping”

“Why do you have to poop when I’m trying to brush my teeth?”

“Mom tell him he can’t poop while I’m in the bath”

“Mom, is this poop on the seat?”

“WHO POOPED ON THE SEAT!?!?” (Nobody ever answers this question)

“Mom tell her she can’t straighten her hair when I’m pooping”

“Mom, tell her I can get in the bath with her”

“Tell her to unlock the door I have to brush my teeth!”

“I didn’t do that”

I miss having my own bathroom, a lot. I enjoy being able to lock the door and get in the bath and relax after a day of work and kids. I miss being able to get in the shower without someone flushing the toilet and the water going cold.

I swear my children will wait. The bathroom can be free for hours, nobody using it, and then as soon as I walk in, it’s like they all get a notification to their brains to say “mom just walked in the bathroom, time to go take a poop”. It never fails, I hardly ever get anytime in there by myself. I have become accustomed to sitting and feeling the lovely feel of pee on the back of my legs. I don’t even flinch anymore. It is what it is.

One day I will have my bathroom that is just mine. That I can lock and use all by myself. And although I know I will miss the closeness we share in this little house, I will be more then ok to shower without smelling my child’s poop, or getting to sit on a dry seat!

Another Chapter

I wanted to capture my children and I in the chapter we are in right now. Because I know we wont be here long, but that this was a very big step for us. As a single mom of four, I didnt know how I was going to do it. But when I watch this video, I think to myself, “you’ve got this”.
Anyone else out there that is rewriting their book…..you’ve got this. Keep pushing. Keep going. Trust me, it will all be worth it in the end. There are much greater and better things awaiting you! Promise.

We Chose Memories over Presents

It had been a very long time since travelling by plane with my children on holiday. But I am determined in my new life, to make more memories, and buy less stuff. So a week long trip was decided, instead of Christmas presents that they really didn’t need. I have to say, I was a little bit worried how I was going to travel with my four kids. Yes they are older now, but I still only have two hands, and anyone that has gone on a trip knows, two hands is not enough. (My lovely partner did come with us, but met us at the airport, and knows that I do not accept help and insist on doing it on my own when it comes to the kids).

1:00 am came very fast. It felt like I had just got the children to quiet down and go to sleep, and then I was waking them again. As they groggily got into the vehicle, I tucked them in and checked seatbelts. I sat behind the steering wheel and waited for myself to wake up and become more alert. It was probably the quietest my car has ever been with all of us in it. It was strange, and made me uncomfortable. I did one more check of suitcases, passports and tickets. I was very aware of the feeling of alone. I didn’t have another in the passenger seat (or driver seat) that shared my responsibility to get these children to our destination safely. I didn’t have another to keep me awake as I drove, or recheck my check list. I didn’t have another to share my excitement and anxious feeling as I set out for the airport. Just me, and my sleeping children.

And I smiled, as I set out. Just me, and my sleeping children. I did it, all on my own.

My children were instructed they were in charge of their own carry ons and luggage and I would not be carrying them. When we got to the airport, their tiredness was helpful, as they silently stood there while I checked in and got our seats. We even got through security with nothing more then a: “yes, you have to put everything in this bucket, don’t ask, just do it”. I was proud watching my children hold their passports and follow directions. I thought, “way to go mom, you are teaching them!”

Then, they woke up! For the next two hours it was a record on repeat:

“Mom, I’m hungry, can I eat one of my snacks yet?” – You do what you want, you have to ration them because that is all you get. (I had packed them each a ziplock bag full of granola bars, treats, and a big bag of chips).

“Mom, he’s touching me. Tell him to stop touching me.” – Stop touching him/her

“Mom, it’s my turn to sit beside you. Tell her/him to move.” – It’s his/her turn, move.

“Mom, who is sitting beside you first on the plane?” – Whoever behaves the best.

“Is it time yet? I’m hungry. I think I have to pee. Should I pee now or when I’m on the plane?” – Almost. Too bad. Go now.

Loop.

When we boarded and everyone settled in, somehow I fell asleep. I don’t know if it was the stress of travel and getting there on time, but I was exhausted. And while I slept, my children practiced spanish with my partner, or did their crosswords. Hardly any complaints. Hardly any refereeing needed. I swear by the big bag of snacks. Don’t ever travel without them if you have kids! I also packed them each an empty water bottle to fill at the fountain after security.

We landed, went through the airport without a hitch, got our luggage and climbed on the bus. Once again, because I had prepared them with a carry on full of snacks and activities, I quietly sat and read my book. Only having to stop one or two domestics between them. They were quite entertained by their private bus tour my partner gave them, as he has visited Cuba many times.

The rest of the week was filled with buffet, pop, pool, UNO, pop, icecream, buffet, pop, beach, pop, icecream, shower, buffet, pop, whined down, sleep and repeat. It was perfect. My kids weren’t perfect. They had to be reminded repeatedly that other people were also trying to relax around the pool and didn’t need to hear them screaming “marco, polo” at the top of their lungs. They had to be reminded that holding their sibling under the water was not acceptable. They had to be reminded that five icecreams and 8 pops before lunch should probably be the limit. They had to be reminded not to throw sand in each others faces. But, it was still perfect.

I watched the man that was crazy enough to want to come on a holiday with four kids that aren’t his, show them such patience. He took the time to sit and explain things to them, to teach them how to ask for things in spanish. He stood on “shark duty” as they swam in the ocean. He took three with him so I could spend one on one time with each of my children. He was the kid launcher in the pool, and shell hunter on the beach. And I can not explain how happy it made me feel, when I heard someone else besides just me say under their breath “one….two….three….four” as they did the endless headcount of the day.

My children are still talking about their trip. We have an album full of photos, and videos to watch on repeat. They are at the age that they will remember this trip much longer then the presents that were under the tree this year. I am blessed that I was able to do this with them. I am blessed that my new life is allowing me to build memories that I would not have been able to build in my last. That my kids are getting to see what I look like with a smile on my face, because I am surrounded by love. Love from those I now have in my life, and love from myself.

I am so glad they chose memories over presents.

Surviving Divorce: Red Flags

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Red flags are something that can be taken serious, or ignored. When in a relationship, and they are ignored, it can lead down a path of heartache, abuse, depression, and much more. People tend to ignore red flags, because they are somewhat happy with the other things, or because they just don’t value themselves enough. I think for me, I was so young and naive, and trying to follow in my family’s footsteps – getting married young, having a house and children young – that when I did start to notice them, I thought it was too late.

How wrong I was. It is never too late. When those flags start flying, no matter how much time you’ve put into your relationship, you can get out. This is something near to my heart, as I really did ignore so many and have had a few really crushing years trying to pick up the pieces and move on. The choices I made, the ignoring I did, has caused trauma and a lot of healing steps to take.

I thought that maybe if you are reading this and have been ignoring your own red flags, maybe you won’t anymore. Maybe you will face them, and take the steps needed to live more authentically. Maybe reading this will save you from seventeen years with someone that controls, abuses, lies, cheats, and smothers your growth. Maybe reading this will give you the courage to walk away and start again. Maybe you will find comfort in knowing that you are not the only one out there suffering.

Although I have a very long list I could put out there, I will try to stick to some of the bigger ones, for the sake of keeping your interest. I apologize for the long post, but I feel it is important. If you can relate to any of these, I urge you to take a longer look at your life and where it is headed. I urge you to consider taking these red flags serious and finding the help that is out there for you to change your path. Maybe you will see yourself in some of my red flags.

I was young when I met my ex, just sixteen. Still a baby. Sometimes I wish someone had pulled me aside and warned me. But then I remember, that the path I walked with him was supposed to happen. It gave me my four beautiful children that have shown me purpose and meaning. So I walked the path I was supposed to walk with him, and when it became apparent that he did not want me to grow in any way, I knew our path ended, and it was time for me to go left, and him to go right. And in this new path, I have been able to look back and realize the red flags I ignored.

If the person you are dating openly tells you that they used their last girlfriend for “rides and blowjobs”….red flag. If you start ignoring your friends and spend all of your time with that person and they don’t encourage you to keep your friends and have a life outside of them….red flag. If he is jealous of you having guy friends…red flag. If he swerves to hit animals (like raccoons) on the road…red flag. When he comes from a ‘Christian’ family that sits around and gossips about everyone…red flag. If your sister has to bring you and your first born home from the hospital because he decides to go to work…red flag (especially if he is his own boss). When you are the one that does everything to keep the house running and kids taken care of, and he is always making sure to tell everyone that he is the breadwinner and you just ‘play’…RED FLAG. When he doesn’t allow you any access to the finances, and you have to ask to borrow grocery money…red flag. When  you have heart surgery, and he decides to go hunting for a week during this time…RED FLAG. (I had to phone him to let him know I made it out, then check out after 24 hours to go home and take care of four babies, while he finished his week of hunting). If money and having shiny things is one of the most important things to him…red flag. If you are offered no support or help from him or his family when something tragic happens (my mom died)…red flag. If his family treats you lower than dirt and excludes you and your children from all of the family functions because a princess in the family has decided she doesn’t like you, and he tells you to just turn the other cheek….red flag. If your other half does not stand up for you when you are treated poorly by family members, this is something you should not ignore. The abuse I suffered from his immediate family was devastating, but the relief I now feel from not having to be near any of them is tremendous.

If you go to marriage counseling for almost five years, he tells the therapist what she wants to hear yet changes nothing…red flag. If he sexually abuses you and his excuse is, you’re a sexual sleeper or you’re my wife so I can do what I want….RED FLAG. RED FLAG. RED FLAG. If every time you try to address your issues and his response is always, why can’t you just appreciate everything I give you…red flag. If he is drinking every night and his excuse is he has to because he’s not happy with you…red flag. If he spends many evenings at the neighbors house while you are home with the kids, and always comes home drunk at 3am…red flag. If he is caught with a female doing things a husband shouldn’t be doing, and then blames everything on her…RED FLAG. If he is abusive to you in any way…red flag.

If you feel empty, or suffocated and you start to wonder what you are doing with this person…red flag. If they try to blame everything on you and take no accountability for anything…red flag. If they make big purchases without talking to you because it is ‘their money’…red flag. If you have been with somebody for seventeen years and you can count on one hand how many evenings were spent cuddling on the couch talking and enjoying each other…red flag.

Now, there is another part to this. If you are dating someone that is divorced, there are red flags you should also take notice of. I know I am above cautious with this now, since I ignored so many before. Women, pay attention to how he treats his ex, because if he is telling everyone she is ‘crazy and stealing all of his money’, that’s a big RED FLAG. Remember, how he treats her is how he will one day treat you. When a man goes on about how horrible and crazy his ex was, look a little deeper. Especially if she was the one that filed for divorce, not him. If she was so crazy and nasty and just out for his money, then why didn’t he divorce her? Especially if he is the one that has the domestic charge against him and can’t come a certain distance from his ex.

If he tries to say he isn’t working so he can get out of child support payments…RED FLAG. A man that doesn’t want to take care of his children when he has the means to, is a deadbeat. If you are introduced to his children as the girlfriend by getting into his truck for the family trip…RED FLAG. If he doesn’t think about how this will affect his children, or frankly doesn’t care, you should be weary. And if you are the one telling the children that they really should tell their mom ‘you and your dad are dating because it isn’t a secret’…red flag. Children should not be the messenger in this case, their dad should be. If the guy you are dating kicks down his ex’s door because she told him to stop ransacking the house of it’s belongings before the divorce was settled…RED FLAG. If he then tries to say he was just angry and broke the door…RED FLAG. A man that has enough anger, that breaks down a door to get at a woman standing behind it, is a dangerous man. If the man you are dating won’t pay his part of his kids medical expenses…red flag. If the man you are dating won’t sign the papers so his kids can receive counselling to help them through the divorce…red flag. If you are dating a man in his late thirties that has kids and lives with his parents (when he can afford a place of his own) so his mom can take care of the kids, and you sleep over on his daughters floor, like a dog…RED FLAG. A man/family that lies to look like they uphold a Christian lifestyle is a red flag all on it’s own.

If he makes an instagram account under a name such as Yogaqueen87 to try and sneak onto his ex’s account…red flag. If he then changes it back to his name and starts following you even though he doesn’t actually use his account to post photos…red flag. If you delete guys that were your friends from your facebook and instagram account after he starts following you…red flag. If his children are afraid to stand up for themselves because of how he or grandma will treat them…red flag. If he drives a 20 hour drive without his children buckled because there are too many people in the vehicle for seatbelts…red flag.  If he takes his children’s birthday and Christmas money that is given to them and tells them he will decide what he’s going to spend it on…red flag.

Ignore these red flags, and you will be in my shoes, trying to decide to continue on this path or take a left. For the most part, people don’t change. They are who they are. They treat you the same as they treat others. If you are dating someone and things just don’t feel right, or those close to you are trying to get you to see the red flags, listen to your gut and to those around you. If you are dating a man that treats the mother of his children like dirt – that goes to church on sundays and bible study on mondays but tells her he will do whatever necessary to get out of support payments after he already lied so much about finances in the divorce – realize that one day he will treat you the same way.

I didn’t see a lot of red flags until I turned left. Even then I didn’t see them all. It wasn’t until my close friends started pointing things out, starting telling me they never understood what I saw in him, that I started to look deeper. It wasn’t until I started dating someone that was the exact opposite that I realized how much I ignored. And the worst part about it? I tried to find red flags because I was scared to make the same mistakes. But if being with someone that honks the horn at squirrels to get them off the road; that dotes on you with hand and head massages; that brings you your favorite treat from the little bakery by his work; that you can sit and talk with for hours and hours; that talks to your kids in funny accents to make them laugh; that worries about your kids emotional wellbeing and took a full year just being a friend and letting the kids get to know him first so they could slowly adjust; that takes an afternoon off work when you are sick to come and bring you soup, clean and vacuum your house and bring you groceries; that absolutely refuses to raise his voice to you and will not discuss things until emotions are level so nothing is said out of anger; who’s main goal in life is balance and happiness; that is proud that you are artistic and a photographer and constantly tells you how talented you are and brags about you to others….if these are red flags, then I guess I missed them again.

My point is, if you are ignoring these red flags because you think this is the best you can have, I’m here to tell you that’s not true. Coming from someone that ignored the signs for so long because I thought there was no other option….well there is. Get out. Run. You are far better off without this person causing you pain and sorrow. It won’t be easy. It will be absolutely exhausting and draining. But keep going. Take a left. Find the path without the red flags, it will be worth it, I promise.

Happy 11th

Somehow it has been eleven years since that terrifying day. I can close my eyes and remember that hospital room, the smells the noises and the fear I felt. I was put on bed rest and told I would be there for the next two weeks, but the pain in my stomach told me you two had other plans. I can remember sitting there alone, wondering if I was ready for this. I didn’t know what to expect.

I had so many doctors come and look at me that day, as you two were a rarity. But half way through the day, the nurse checking me removed her hand from my stomach and said, “are those contractions you are having?” I simply shook my head yes as she ran out of the room.

Four doctors and eight nurses, with more on standby welcomed you into this world. You were tiny, but you came out screaming. My heart almost gave out in the process, as an underlying issue I had ignored half my life decided to make it’s appearance at the worst possible time. You two were shipped away from me, and all I could think was, how do I break out of the CCU to get to you. It only took me 24 hours to convince the cardiologist that I would be singing myself out, and I was finally there beside you.

gracie.eve 124It was a rough month, the first week was infections and not eating properly and difficulty breathing. I worried I might not be bringing you home…

But eleven years later, and you two are beautiful, strong, stubborn girls. Your giggles are contagious, especially when you set each other off and can’t stop. Gracie my mother hen, Eve my firecracker. You picked your outfits and did your hair for this session, and you bossed me around the entire shoot with the type of poses you wanted to do.

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One likes to read, the other rides a skateboard.

One loves to cook, the other likes to clean.

One likes dresses, the other ripped jeans.

One  enjoys language, the other math.

One enjoys sports, the other knitting.

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I see so much of me in you, it both scares and excites me. I hope I can be the mom you need to push you to your fullest potential, catch you when you fall and nudge you back up when you forget for a brief moment how spectacular you are.

Happy Birthday my darlings. I hope you feel the love today. I hope you feel special and one of a kind.

Love, Mom

 

 

Only You Can Free Yourself

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I was born the baby, third girl to a dad that was hoping for a boy. The way I see it, this played out in my favor. I was cutting grass and driving stick shift by the time I was twelve. He made me wood guns and swords and gave me rope to repel out of trees with. I dreamed of bad guys and warriors and how to save myself from anyone that tried to capture me.

I had a stubborn strength that would both irritate my parents but also make them smile. My mom was sure I would be impossible to tame.

I had forgotten those summers spent escaping my captors…until I realized the only person I need to escape is myself and the thoughts that hold me back. Escaping my old life and the people that treated me the way they did was only the part of the process where I stood up and brushed the dust off. Letting go of the thoughts that hold me back and realizing that I get to choose where my life goes, is where the escape really happens.

Only you can free yourself. It’s your choice, to live in darkness or color.

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