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Perspective

Have you ever had one of those “bad-mommy” days?   I’ve had my fair share… quite frankly it sometimes feels like I’m having a “bad-mommy” week.

Guilt. Right or wrong, it comes part and parcel with being a parent.

I am currently attempting to quiet my mommy-guilt as I sit here composing this post. This is bigger than the standard “I yelled at my daughter” guilt, or “I forgot to pack my son’s lunch” guilt.

I am guilty of seeing things from one perspective… my own.

Lady S, my darling daughter, has always been an intelligent, adventurous, entertaining and strong-willed little girl. She is also very vocal when she perceives an injustice… which seems to occur every 30 minutes… no joke.

We labelled her as dramatic and emotional. (To be truthful, we also called her CRANKY) Yes, I know it’s wrong to label your children, but when you face crying, whining and yelling constantly it starts to erode your patience. I exhausted my arsenal of parenting tools to no avail. I hugged her, I spoke to her gently, I asked about her feelings, I gave her choices and I yelled (Hey, I don’t claim to be a saint)… nothing seemed to reach her.

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One day, Lady S started complaining about pains. To be quite honest, I don’t know exactly when it started because the complaints were sporadic. She could go days without an ache, and then I’d notice a limp (often times the pains coincided with an activity that she wasn’t keen on performing… like cleaning a mess or taking a bath).

When the complaints became more regular, we took her to the doctor only to discover that she had joint problems. Long story short, she underwent a battery of tests by various medical specialists in a short period of time. The experience was understandably terrifying for her because of the constant barrage of new faces and tests. I did my best to keep her informed about each appointment, but it couldn’t ebb her fear of her arch nemesis… needles.

She was brave to endure it all.

And I did my best to hold myself together as I watched her struggle.

Finally, she underwent a procedure to alleviate the inflammation and…

I was presented with a brand new child. Within 24 hours Lady S was notably happier, more active and more even tempered. She was swinging from the monkey bars at the park and jumping off every tall structure she could find… these are things I haven’t seen her do in a while.

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Which brings me back to guilt and perspective.

Her moodiness stemmed from her discomfort level. As an (almost) 5 year old, she wasn’t able to verbalize or adequately give her pain a name. She was not even aware that the pain was not “normal”.

(Enter guilt, stage right.)

I have been wracked with guilt for the past two months. Why didn’t I know? Why couldn’t I read between the lines? Could I have done something sooner?

The only way to ebb my feelings of guilt, is to learn from the experience… and not let history repeat itself. I know I cannot be a mind reader, but I can try to broaden my perspective. I feel like I’m a pretty good mom… I spend lots of quality time with the kids, I love them to the ends of the earth, I try to keep them safe, I attempt to raise them with manners and to appreciate everything in life.

This has been a learning experience for me… my perspective isn’t the only one to consider. It’s easy to get caught up in my own life and frustrations, but the kids are also trying to navigate the big world too… only it may be a more daunting task for them since they are unable to comprehend or explain many situations.

So despite our hectic life, the numerous distractions, and the million things that are constantly on my mind, it is my goal to ensure that all members of my family… big and small… have their voice heard.

…Now… what to do about my 3 year old son who is complaining about leg pains…

(**sigh**)

 

 

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Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful, lovely, hardworking, caring ladies out there.  I hope you are enjoying your day thus far.

Despite promising myself that I’d be more diligent in posting regular blogs, it appears that I have yet again fallen off the wagon.  But here I am, once again, settling back in the saddle, digging deep for some inspiration, and hopefully finding something fun to write about.

 

I might as well start with a story from the present… Mother’s Day 2014.

This is my 4th year as a full fledged mom.  Every year, Dear Husband asks if I’d like to have a day to myself to relax at a spa or just bask in the glorious silence that ensues when the kids leave the house.  Every year I tell him “I’d rather spend the day with all of you.  Mother’s Day is about being a mom, and the kids are the reason I’m a mom.”

 

My tune has changed this year.

 

Given the fact that I co-habitate with a couple of siblings that are the epitome of the term “sibling rivalry”, I now crave a few hours of silence.  I won’t go so far as asking for an entire day kid-free, but a few hours to re-energize is definitely a welcomed event.  Yes, I said “event” because it is truly an event when they are not acting as my ever-present shadows… correction:  my ever-present NOISY shadows.  They love to talk… and talk… and yell… and talk.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my kids.  They bring me the greatest joys in life… and some of life’s biggest laughs… but they are also the root cause of some of my headaches… pounding headaches that feel like I’m sitting in the backseat of my high school friend’s Honda Civic, with dance music blaring, and the base cranked.  (Oh the memories)

 

So can I tell you about Mother’s Day 2014?

My little alarm clocks crawled into bed bright and early, whispering sweet nothings in my ear:

“Momma, can we watch TV??”

Despite being told “no”, they each positioned themselves on either side of me and settled in for a nice little cuddle.  Both excitedly chattered about the surprises that awaited me, and that they were going to make a special breakfast with daddy.  Eventually, daddy found the energy to wrangle them downstairs while I continued to “rest”.  I use the term “rest” lightly, because this is what I heard downstairs:

Daddy:  “What are you doing??? Don’t touch that!  Stop pushing!  We’re going to make something nice for mommy.”

Lady S:  “I want to bring the balloons up to mommy.”

Bam-Bam: “NO!  I wanna do it!”

Lady S:  “DADDY!  I’m going to bring them to her.”

Bam-Bam:  “No fair!”

Daddy:  “QUIET!  MOMMY IS TRYING TO SLEEP!!!”

(I had to stifle a laugh here)

After a few more minutes of this, daddy finally admitted defeat and turned on the television, and all went silent downstairs… until I heard:

Lady S:  “Daddy, aren’t you finished making breakfast yet?!?!?!”

Poor hubby.  He definitely gets an A+ for effort even if the actual execution didn’t go exactly as planned.  (I should’ve warned him not to set lofty goals, especially when his sous chefs are a 5 year old daughter who is “allergic to mornings”, and a 3 year old son who is full of beans.)

They eventually made their way upstairs, armed with multiple gifts of love… toast, dates, brownies, mangoes and coffee for breakfast, balloons, flowers, homemade cards (always my favourite), gift cards, a Superman t-shirt, and a bottle of champagne.

Champagne for breakfast??? YES PLEASE!

Champagne for breakfast??? YES PLEASE!

Wow.  This was above and beyond the hugs and kisses that typically feed my soul.  Oh and coffee… the coffee was a must.

The kids jumped into bed beside me, and fed me mangoes while they quickly shoved all the brownies into their own eagerly awaiting mouths.  Then the sugar kicked in.

Bam-Bam proceeded to abuse my “Happy Mother’s Day” balloons, he smashed a rose into a hundred pieces, shredded all the gift wrapping, and ran around the room with all the noise and vigour of a T-Rex… but he managed to pause every few moments to feed me another slice of mango.

Lady S wailed as she watched her little brother destroy the rose, demanded that we turn on my computer so we could watch a movie, and asked incessantly “what are we going to do today?”… but she managed a hug and a smile when daddy asked her to take a Mommy’s Day photo.

Thankfully today is a lovely spring day, so I wrestled the kids into their clothes and brought them outside to play.  They seem less noisy when they are outside, and they play nicer with each other since they have more space to run.

(Side Note: I’ve come to realize that we are a solar powered family.  After this year’s horribly long and cold Toronto winter, we are exceedingly excited that warmer weather is FINALLY making an appearance.)

It is currently late morning, and I sit here typing with only the sounds of chirping birds filling my ears.  Daddy has taken the little ones to the neighbourhood park to burn off some energy, and will bring them to visit their great-gramma afterwards.

I embrace the quiet.  Not because I don’t love my children, or because I want to escape from them, but because it allows me to recharge and become an energized, present mom when they return.

It also allows me to sit and enjoy the sweetness of my mangoes in peace 🙂

Sweet Mangoes

Note:  As I complete this blog, who should walk through the door and begin gobbling up all my mango??

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Random Thought…

I can ask my child to do something 5 times, and they never hear me.

Yet, if I open a cellophane wrapper 100 yards away as they ‘sleep’, their ears suddenly perk up.

Just sayin’.  🙂

 

Let’s begin this post with an email from my brother regarding my family trip to Florida:

"that's just funny
for all the travel you have done in 3rd world countries
Places that are more dangerous like Jamaica & south america
Italy which is notorious for robbing tourists
You go to Disney to get robbed"

Yup, that succinctly describes the start to our 2-week vacation in Florida… well, we were actually in Hollywood, FL at the time, not Disney, but aside from that point, the rest of his message was pretty accurate. pic

Our day started off wonderfully.  The kids (4 & 2.5 years old) were excited to be heading to Florida to see cousins — they were still blissfully unaware that we were going to Disney World afterwards.  Even after an excruciatingly long customs line and a 4-hour flight, the kids were still good natured when we arrived at Ft. Lauderdale Airport.

Then we got to the car rental location… and waited 1.5 hours for our car.  Yup.  One and a half hours.  Marvellous.  No SUV’s were available (which we had requested), so they tried to convince us that a sedan was an “upgrade” and would suit our needs.  Um, excuse me… there are 4 people, 2 car seats, and massive double stroller, 2 large suitcases and carry on bags… let’s see you try to cram it all into the trunk of a car!  overload

(Photo credit: http://www.cartter.net/?p=1599)

Finally they scrounged up an SUV and gave us the key.  We were happy to be on our way, but when we turned the car on we realized:  “No gas“.  Perfect.

To add salt to the wound, the rental company’s gas pump was out of order… their reserve tank of gas was empty… and I had pre-paid for gas (which they subsequently reversed).

Needless to say, I shall NEVER rent from FOX RENTAL again!  (I have more things to say about them, but I will bite my tongue for now)

We kept our chins up, and were excited when we finally managed to pull out of the parking lot.  Let our family vacation begin!!!

After a quick drive to Hollywood FL we found our quiet little hotel/motel by the beach.  The kids had fallen asleep in the car, so I went into the hotel office to check in.  It was a quaint little unassuming place… nothing fancy, but it perfectly suited our needs.  With the room key in hand, I returned to the car and we gathered up the kids.  We went through a gate, walked the 15 paces it took to get to our room, put the kids in the bed, took a quick glance around, and used the restroom.

It took less than 5 minutes.

Daddy went outside to grab the luggage & within 15 seconds he was back in the room with the look of panic on his face.  The car door was ajar and all the luggage and cameras were gone.  Everything.1186173_10151563822500872_1656494248_n

(Good-bye luggage)

Panic.

While he stayed with the kids I sprinted outside and ran around the block in my socks.  No luggage… no people dragging luggage… no suspicious looking cars.  Nothing.

We had 10 minutes of anger and disbelief… then the kids whimpered… and our world went from chaos to calm immediately.

Honestly.  What did we lose?  Clothes, cameras, toiletries, Disney surprises I bought for the kids… material things… replaceable things.

What did we still have?  Thankfully I had my handbag with all passports, wallets and keys.  We had our monster sized stroller.  And even more importantly, we were safe.

Look for the silver lining.

Don’t freak out the kids.

When my 4-year old asked me “Why did they take the luggage?” I said: “Maybe they needed it more than us.”  Her response was “Oh.  OK.  But they should’ve asked us first.”  Clever girl.

We filed a report with the police, and the kids were giddy with excitement as they chatted with a real live policeman.

The officer guessed we were either followed, someone passed by and saw an opportunity, or it could’ve been an inside job — all car doors were locked except for one… and I will bet my life that we didn’t leave it unlocked.

With all the formalities done, we dusted ourselves off, jumped in the car and did what mommy does best:  shopping.  1236136_10151563822960872_1329020435_n

(Amid all the emergency shopping, the kids pause for some fun)

All in all, I’d say it wasn’t the best way to start a 2-week trip, but it could’ve been far worse.  For a few moments, my husband and I played the “what if” game — y’know… “What if we had walked outside 2 minutes earlier”, or “What if we had rented from a different company”.

But we quickly realized that “what if” doesn’t change “what is”.

That’s the risk of travel.  Heck, that’s the risk of walking out of your front door!  It can happen anywhere, to anyone.  The most you can do is be careful when you travel… be aware…  be vigilant.  Then you deal with the cards you are dealt.

We aren’t thrilled with the experience, but I have to admit that it makes our Disney vacation stories that much more interesting 😉


									

Disney: Lessons Learned

If you follow my blog, you may already know that I spent many months planning our family trip to Disney World.  My research, scheduling, and booking occurred more than 6 months in advance… And now our magical trip has come and gone… and I have a few lessons that I learned:

  1. Orlando + August = HOT!  Seek relief in one of the many shops, pavilions or rides that blast air conditioning (there are lots of locations to escape the unforgiving sun)20130827_101245
  2. FastPass is your best friend.  I’m surprised that there are still people that don’t use the Fast Pass service… especially since it is free & can dramatically reduce your wait time for some of the most popular rides.  While people were standing in line for upwards of 120 minutes (yes, you read that correctly), we were finding ourselves in line for less than 15 minutes.  Fast Pass is a no-brainer.
  3. FastPass+ is even better.  The “+” means that you can book multiple FastPasses in advance of your trip.  With the old system you could only have one FastPass issued at a given time, but with FastPass+ we were able to book 4 on any given day… some even overlapped.  Note:  FastPass+ is in its test phase, so only certain Disney Resorts provide this service.
  4. If you can bear the heat, the end of August means back to school for Florida kids… this translates into smaller crowds and shorter lines.
  5. 6 days of Disney parks = insane.  We were trying to pack in as much fun as possible, since it will be a few years before we return again.  However, if I had it to do all over again, I would’ve booked 1 or 2 days to just relax by the pool.
  6. Arrive early.  Lines are shortest when the park first opens.  While we were leaving parks at 2pm for naps, people were just arriving… only to find longer lines.
  7. Map out your route.  The parks are huge so be prepared to walk the distance of a 1/2 marathon.  It’s best to go in with a plan so that you don’t end up wandering aimlessly & miss the “must do” rides.  I took a photo of my daily itinerary so I’d have easy access on my phone… I. Am. A. Nerd.
  8. Even the best laid plan will go astray.  Despite planning out the wa-zoo, I could not anticipate lines that were longer (or shorter) than expected, being drawn off-course due to excitement… typically when we spotted beloved characters, or epic meltdowns.  My advice is:  Plan, plan, plan… then go with the flow.
  9. Not always “The happiest place in the world”.  Considering the fact that you are surrounded by junk food, heat, over-stimulation, and toys at every turn you are bound to encounter a few (or LOTS) of parents still saying things like “Don’t test me!”, “I’m warning you!”, or “Disney still has a naughty corner!!!”
  10. Kids will go on a hunger strike.  I have a 4 year old & 2.5 year old.  I thought that character dining would provide a nice distraction as we shovelled food into the their mouth.  However, the excitement of seeing the characters totally negated their need to eat.20130828_121716
  11. Rules go out the door.  This is a magical place for kids and adults alike.  I’m a fairly strict parent, but this trip was a time to loosen the reigns.  Some order was necessary to keep everyone happy & well rested, but we did indulge more than normal… dessert, toys, TV, late bedtimes, cotton candy, rides, shopping.  It wasn’t smooth sailing 100% of the time, but when we talk about our trip we only recall the happy memories  🙂  SAM_0191

(Disney’s newest princess)

It’s been one of THOSE weeks.  You know the ones I’m talking about:  When every little thing seems to go wrong.  When the little events that don’t usually ruffle your feathers, suddenly seem to feel like crushing blows to your head.  When you feel like mom-zilla!

Thankfully, I don’t experience bad weeks very often.  Typically I may have a bad day or two, but rarely a bad WEEK.  This week has brought to mind a story I loved as a kid “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”…

 

Here is my rendition  (**Note:  All events in the story have occurred at some point in time… although, thankfully, not all this week):

 

I went to sleep with two peaceful children lying in their beds, and now there are two screaming children greeting me this morning.  I stepped on a lego block hidden in the rug and my toddler missed the toilet this morning. 

I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

 

At breakfast the kids begged me to make pancakes and sausages, so I took out all the ingredients and made them a breakfast of champions.  When I put their plates in front of them, they turned up their noses and said “Yucky.  I want cereal instead.”

I think I’ll move to Australia.

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As we scrambled to get out of the house, I couldn’t find Lucas’ left shoe, my car keys were missing (later to be found hidden in Savanna’s backpack) and I had forgotten to brush my hair… again.

I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

 

In the car, one kid wanted the windows down while the other screamed to put the windows up.  One kid wanted the music loud while the other said it was too noisy.  And I think I could smell the sippy cup that went missing a week ago.

I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

 

I could tell because Lucas said “I no like you momma” and Savanna gave me cut eye.  “I’ll put you on the naughty stairs”, I said to them both.  “No ice-cream for dessert.”

I packed snacks for the kids… 2 apples, 2 cookies, 2 drinks… guess who I forgot to pack a snack for?  I was starving!

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

That’s what it was because after grocery shopping I rushed the kids home to take a nap.  I plopped them into bed, but no one slept.

Next week, I said, I’m going to Australia.

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As I walked down the stairs, I slipped on a puddle of pee, and as I waited for daddy to come home from work I glared at the messy house. 

When I finally finished tidying the house, the kids ran screaming down the stairs and threw their toys back on the floor. 

I am having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day I told everybody.  No one even answered.  They just said “we want TV”. 

 

So then I ushered everyone outside and we walked to the park.  When we got three doors down from our house, Lucas said “Too tired.  My feet hurt!”  When we got to the park Savanna said “I don’t like the sandy park!”  I also had to listen to them say “mommy, mommy, mommy” about 1,000 times in succession.

I wonder if there are any children in Australia.

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I cooked food for dinner.  My kids hate food (apparently).

There was fighting all evening.  I hate fighting.

The kids bath was “too hot”, they didn’t want water on their face, they left a dirt ring around the tub, and they ran around naked for an hour because they didn’t want to wear pajamas. 

When they went to bed they didn’t want daddy to read them a story, so I had to do it.  They wanted to keep their lights on, then complained it was too bright to sleep. 

It’s 10 o’clock at night, and I can still hear them chattering upstairs. 

It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. 

Some days are like that.

Then my dear husband comes in and gives me a shoulder massage and a glass of wine….

I’m glad he doesn’t live in Australia 🙂

I consider myself a Disney World Newbie… Granted, I’ve visited the parks before in the past, but I didn’t do any pre-Disney planning beforehand.  My first visit was when I was 14 — and my parents didn’t even bring me to Magic Kingdom because they thought I was too old!!! GASP!!!  On my 2nd visit I was in my early 20’s and basically arrived at the park without a game plan in mind.

Our upcoming trip to Disney World has been planned out the ying yang.  I’m talking about: multiple spreadsheets that are cross referenced and linked to external websites, cell phones loaded up with Apps, printed copies of restaurant locations & menus, and daily park “family itineraries”.  My computers “Disney” bookmark list is so extensive it looks like a google search page.

However, as we approach the final countdown to our family vacation, I have come to realize that there is one detail that has eluded me… Disney Pin Trading.

Why have I not heard of this before???  A friend in my neighbourhood just introduced me to the concept a few days ago as we chatted at the park. She said it was a great way for the kids to have a little fun while waiting in lines, and they are nice little keepsakes.  She suggested I get some inexpensive pins, and the kids can “trade up” when they get to the park.  The fun thing is that they can choose what kinds of pins they want to get in return.   I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and predict that Lady S will want everything Princess.  As for Bam-Bam… I think he’ll just be too shy to approach strangers to trade (2.5 years old and still loves to hide behind my legs)… either that or he will be too possessive to actually part with his pins.

So now my new mission is to track down some tradable pins so the kids can try their hand at bartering.  Hopefully we can find some reasonably priced pins before we fly down.  Considering the cost of flight/hotel/park tickets, I don’t think I could stomach spending an additional arm & a leg just so the kids can have “something to do” while they are in between rides… but the reality is, I will do it if it makes this experience for the kids AMAZING!

🙂