REPEATER: BEAUTIFUL GATHERING

 Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving arrived on such a beautiful weekend; it was impossible to stay inside. 

There was no escaping the sunny sky, warm breeze and crunchy leaves.

Delicious meals were served on tables cluttered with grown ups, while children had their fun in other rooms (!). Older cousins looked out for younger ones. Everyone was self-sufficient. 

There were uninterrupted glasses of wine and steaming mugs of coffee.

After 10-plus years of triaging babies and toddlers at dining room tables, it felt like I had finally arrived to the party. And goodness, it was great.

We were able to celebrate with both sides of our family this year and that's the very best.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, too.

Here is another gathering that feels like magic. I hope you enjoy The Heavy Blinkers as much as I did when my friend Kate Inglis first shared this clip. It's Canadian talent at its finest. 

 

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don't let her fool you

Spiritisland{Spirit Island, Meligne Lake, Jasper National Park}

We've just landed back at home after a wonderful family vacation in Alberta.

Mountains, aqua-coloured lakes, wild animals.

It was eight days of visual candy. And we ate it all up.

My iphone did, too—just ask my Instagram feed. 

All said, the kids did very, very well. There were minimal blips in behaviour, and we made it through eight breakfasts, eight lunches, and eight dinners electronics-free. I had quietly set a goal that we be able to maintain our at-home rule for being without screens and gadgets during meals, but I wasn't confident we could pull it off. 

I worried about the effects of time changes, routine shake-ups, and long restaurant waits. But I didn't have to. There was always a lot to talk about—like our plans for the day or our favourite parts of the days we had already left behind. 

They were so good about rolling with the punches: the unexpected rainfall, the lack of movie time in the cabin without cable, the long car rides. They enjoyed each other's company, and were thrilled to have our undistracted and undivided attention. They also had the added gift of travelling with a grandparent, and new bonds were created along the way.

 

Airplaneleah

But don't let my words, or the above photo, fool you into thinking it was all easy. It's always challenging to put your family outside their comfort zone, and it can be downright intimidating when you're doing it in front of an audience. 

And travelling with a rowdy, exuberant, stubborn, fearless three-year-old just ups the ante/sweat/tears for everyone. Based on her performance on a flight just over a year ago, we had reason to fear the four hour journey there and back. And although she redeemed herself on the flight to Alberta, there was a good foot-stomping, arm flailing, screeching episode that came just as another row of screeching toddlers had quieted. 

I scooped her out of her seat beside JB, who looked at me like he wanted to throw me up against the emergency exit and kiss me passionately with gratitude, and ran for the cargo space at the back of the plane. We sat on the floor in the dark, as the flight attendants quietly walked around us, and we talked about how hard it was to sit for so long. We named all of our beloved stuffies at home, and talked about how excited they would be to see her. We sighed with contented delight at the thought of being reunited with our favourite pillows. We got excited about seeing her favourite cousin when we got home. 

The sobs eventually subsided and she put her arms around my neck and whispered into my hair, You are my best Mommy.

And I knew we would be okay.

We headed back to her seat, where JB greeted us with a lollipop, and big sister offered her the pink headphones. A new episode of Toopy and Binoo popped up on the screen, and all was quiet again. I thought about returning to my book, but I realized there was only an hour of vacation left, so I put my own headphones on, and we laughed at Toopy together. 

Undistracted and undivided. 

 

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homecoming

When I went into labour with our first-born, my in-laws were in town celebrating a birthday. Normally, they would have been three hours away.

I remember JB calling his parents to let them know the baby was on its way, and yes, for sure, because my water had broken.

When his mom answered, he said, Happy Birthday, Mom. The baby is coming today.

I remember how sweet it sounded. 

My family is very IN-EACH-OTHERS-BUSINESS, so it's not surprising they swooped in as soon as the call came. They spent the day with us at home, where I did a lot of the labouring.

I don't know how my sister got out of work, but I remember we played card games from our childhood. 

I moved upstairs after lunch, because it was too upsetting for my parents (dad especially) to see me in that kind of pain.

I remember thinking about how he always towel dried our hair when we were little, so we wouldn't go to bed and catch a cold. He must have wanted to make that pain go away.

We eventually made the move to the hospital, with my mom coaching me through contractions in the car and wishing (out loud) we had left sooner.

I remember being glad she was there. 

In the labour and delivery wing, we were met by JB's parents.

They spotted me as I was clinging to the wall during a brutal contraction.

I remember his dad saying, I hardly recognize you!

I remember his mom smiling at me with her eyes. 

It wasn't long before our families completely took over the waiting room.

JB's brother and my sister's husband came, too. 

Poised with cameras and tons of enthusiasm, they were all there to welcome our newest family member (first grandchild) into the world. 

Apparently it got quite rowdy—and legend has it, they scared other families away. 

I remember being sure it wouldn't be long.

I was almost fully dilated by the time we arrived, after all. 

*************

Then our baby entered my birth canal facing the wrong way.

The labour stalled, the pain intensified, the waiting room got restless.

I remember feeling bad that my family were watching and waiting and I wasn't delivering.

They would pop into the room to see how things were coming along (and to sneak pillows out), and I would swing between apologizing and screaming my face off (sorry, Mom). 

*************

The past several weeks of build-up around Kate Middleton's delivery has brought up all those forgotten thoughts.

It isn't easy giving birth in front of a crowd, whether they're down the hall or filling the streets outside. 

But just like millions of dedicated Royal-watchers, our family stuck it out—sleeping on waiting room couches and the floor. They only complained a little bit, and they only bring it up once or twice a year (for the past 11 years, but who's counting?).

I hardly remember the moments surrounding her actual birth (by an uplanned c-section) because I was delerious with exhaustion after 26 hours of labour and the surgery.

When my sister and brother-in-law came into the recovery room, with bed head and morning breath, I thought You're STILL here?!?

When my in-laws descended on my room, right after I had been given a shot of gravol for post-anaestheia nausea and dry heaves, I thought I just want to go to sleep.

When my other sister and brother-in-law walked into the room the next day, as I was attemping to latch a screaming newborn on to a pair of aching breasts, I thought Oh my god, how embarassing!!

*************

Of course, I couldn't have known then that I'd never have that experience again.

By the time our second child was born, we welcomed him on our own. 

The labour was very quick. 

JB's parents were three hours away. 

My parents didn't make it, either.

My sister and her husband, who had their own newborn by then, stepped in to care for our two-year-old.

We didn't have time to let anyone else know. 

*************

It wasn't until several years later that the gift of our rowdy family's presence at our first birth really hit me. We were watching video footage of our nephew's first year, and a clip of our first daughter came up on the screen.

We didn't know my brother-in-law had filmed her while I was in the recovery room. She was less than 10 minutes old.  

I watched amazed as she stretched and cried in the isolette.

And I listened with a swollen heart as they oohed and ahhed over the little person they waited for all night on a hospital room floor. 

*************

Our departure from the hospital wasn't nearly as glamourous as Will and Kate's, but I can tell you with certainty that it was just as anticipated and celebrated by our own loyal followers. 

Royalhomecoming

My parents took this photo after following us home.

JB's sister had a little sign waiting for us on the front lawn.

I have no idea why it looks like I'm still having contractions, but no one thought to tell me to stand up and smile. It didn't matter how I looked. 

*************

Royalbabyone

Kate, you seem to have taken all the attention about the baby/your belly/the carseat in stride. You seemed genuniely moved by the excitment waiting for you outside those hospital doors. 

Because every baby is worthy of a royal welcome, aren't they?

And the birth of your little prince has reminded me how grateful I am that we had ours.  

Jonprincewilliam
{JB is often told he's a brunette Prince William look-a-like}


 

 

 

 

 

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enough for everyone

I was always really popular when I returned to my dorm or off-campus house, after a weekend at home with my parents. 

There was never a trip home without a pit stop at the new warehouse-style store in our neighbourhood. I would push the cart through the aisles, and my parents would fill it with student-friendly staples—to keep us fed, to give us energy for studying, to remind us of home.

Always enough for me, and always enough for anyone who shared my space. 

My friends and roomates knew it was a help yourself policy, when it came to those treats. 

And my parents justly earned the nicknames Mom and Dad for their generosity. 

Costco
This morning, I met them at the warehouse-style store in our neighbourhood. We arrange an outing every couple of months, so I can stock up on environmentally-friendly, bulk-sized detergent and soap with their membership card. 

My mom and I walked ahead, while my dad and the little one checked out the scenery and samples. 

It felt like everything and yet nothing had changed. 

When my mom snuck some kids books into the cart, I was reminded that it hadn't. 

As much as we tease my parents for sticking to their rituals and routines, I wouldn't want it to be different. 

Today's simple trip was one of many ways that show me they feel the same. 

 

Screen shot 2013-06-11 at 3.00.10 PM


 

 

 

 

 

 

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