After a night dealing with a puking baby who also has a hacking cough that sounds like it could only belong to an 80 year old man, dealing with a bleeding nose and phlegmy coughs from my toddler this morning and an overall nasty disposition towards life in general, I am running around the house trying to tidy up for a morning playdate. My neighbour who has two young girls has a coughing toddler too and doesn’t mind if they just cough in each other’s faces the entire time. We needed adult conversation after being cooped up in our homes with sick children. As I finish vacuuming the basement, I hear, “Mom, I threw up!!! And the baby is crying!!!” I take a deep breath and go upstairs. #3 is sitting on the couch covered in the tomato soup that she just ate for breakfast (don’t ask). #4 is sitting by the window on the other side of the sofa with her head down on the sill coughing up a lung. And as I approach them, I don’t hear the baby crying. I get closer to where the baby is lying down and all I see is his mouth open, tears streaming down his face, but no sound coming out because he has lost his voice.
I definitely need a grateful list this morning.
- I am grateful first and foremost for great neighbours. As I try to figure out who to attend to first, I decide to call my neighbour to postpone the playdate. She tells me that her sister is visiting and can look after her kids while she (my neighbour) can come over and look after #4 and #5 while I clean up #3. I hesitate to accept her offer because I don’t want to pass what look’s like a stomach flu germ to her and possibly to her own kids but she insists. I retired my martyr persona a long time ago so I admit that I need help and she rushes over. As I whisk #3 away to the bath, wipe the floors and scrub the couch, my Wonderful Neighbour (which is how she will be named henceforth) rocks #5 in her arms and makes small talk with #4 telling her how her own daughter doesn’t feel so hot too. After #3 is all cleaned up, I thank Wonderful Neighbour profusely and she lets me know that I can give her a call any time today even if I just need 10 minutes to regroup. I may take her up on that before the day is over…
- I am grateful that #1 and #2 are better. They both had a mild fever and nasty cough earlier in the week but with a lot of sleep and time at home to just relax, and a humidifier, they are feeling almost 100%.
- I am grateful for the endless cuddles #4 gives me when she is sick. She never wants to get out of bed and is open to napping when she is under the weather. Her only condition is that she has to have my bare arm to squeeze and fall asleep on. I can live with that.
- I am grateful for the snowfall today. I leave the kids in the basement on the couch cuddled together, #5 lying on a blanket playing on the floor, I steal a moment to myself and boil water in the kitchen for a tea which I will probably forget to drink and look out the window. The quiet that accompanies a snowfall reminds me to find peace whenever and wherever I can.
- I am grateful that I cleaned the kitchen last night. With the chaos from this morning, having clean counter tops gave me a small sense of relief that I desperately needed.
- I am grateful for our meatless month. This month turned out better than we could have expected. Some highlights: #1 had the roughest time – it was a more of a mental challenge for her. The other little ones embraced the endeavour with a sense of adventure, telling everyone we met that they were vegetarians because they wanted to be “nice to animals and not eat them.” At the beginning of the month, we had to “gently” encourage the kids to eat the vegetables in front of them. This was made easier when we involved the kids in the meal prep and they were able to touch, smell, taste the veggie in its raw form and watch it transform into a completely other food when it’s cooked. The way they looked at food changed and I pinpointed that exact moment during the “Swiss Chard Incident.” I found a great hearty soup recipe that used beans, swiss chard, kamut pasta, and some parmesan. I left the swiss chard on the dining room table and the kids thought it was for a winter bouquet I was going to assemble in a vase for display. They couldn’t believe that they were actually going to eat it. Like scientists discovering a new lifeform, they passed it around the table, marveling at its intricate veins, “wavy leaves,” and deep colour. They tried it raw and weren’t impressed and expressed their dismay that this was part of their dinner. When we cooked it in the soup, the leaves wilted and the kids were amazed that the swiss chard didn’t taste bitter anymore: “It just tastes like the soup Mom!” After that, the kids were open to trying anything including eggplant, rutabaga, squash, parsnip, rapini, portobello mushrooms, lentils and every bean we could think of. They also were more willing to revisit their old friends: broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, peas, sweet potato, and carrots. Just last night we had broccoli out on the table and the kids all automatically reached out and grabbed a few florets for their plates. Ever-patient and I didn’t need to encourage or remind anymore. We are still calculating our food expenses this month to see if we saved money but we do know that we ate out only twice – ordered cheese and veggie pizza on a couple of occasions. My biggest anxiety was if the kids were getting enough protein so hummus was always on the table and I even added chick peas to their chocolate chip cookies using the recipe from this book. In the end, we’ve decided to go back to eating meat in March but definitely lessen the amount of meat we eat and eat mostly plants. The best story of the month: #3 was watching the movie “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” on my laptop when #4 screamed at her, “Noooooooo! No watch that! We vegetarian!”
- I am grateful for the Olympics. The kids have been fascinated by the Olympics and the various sports that they aren’t normally exposed to. For example, ask #3 what her new favourite sport is and she’ll say definitively, “Curling and the fast skating.” You ask her why and she says, “I love curling because I love it when they slide on their bellies because I want to slide on my belly too and I love the fast skating because Canada skates the fastest!” #2 learned about the concept of time as she watched how different sports were timed – she had a better idea of what 30 seconds, 1 minute, 10 minutes meant in relation to each other. The kids loved to see the different flags and country names. #1 appreciated the dedication and hard work from the female athletes in particular. She could relate to them on some level. For example, at a recent elementary school volleyball game, her team was told by the teacher-coaches to not do their best so they wouldn’t run up the score and make the other team feel bad. (By the way, this is not her club team that is coached by Ever-Patient who would never tell her anything ridiculous like that.) Then she watched how the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team outscored an opponent by a huge amount and were unapologetic about it, saying that it would be a disservice to themselves and the spirit of sport if they held back – they trained hard and were never going to compromise themselves. The Olympics gave us as parents metaphors for life and illustrated dichotomies that the kids could understand: success/failure, win/loss, relief/disappointment, resilience/frailty, individual/team, person/country.
- I am grateful for smoothies. Ever-Patient makes smoothies for the kids every morning – he puts spinach, flax seed, and a variety of fruits in them. There was a leftover pitcher of it in the fridge and it has been the only thing I’ve had time to consume today.
- I am grateful for concerned friends. In particular, one who homeschools her two young daughters who made us a pot of mushroom soup this week to help me as I have been surrounded by sick children and another friend who gave me a call to check up on the kids and we ended up having a great discussion on school, life, etc.. They are both definitely inspirations and making me re-evaluate and analyze my beliefs and assumptions about school.
- I am grateful that it’s Friday.
In case you were wondering, I’ve been typing this post while holding a sleeping baby and while the other 2 are cozy on the couch watching the
Olympics (curling is on so #3 is riveted and #4 is just too weak from coughing to argue).
Have a healthy weekend!
(By the way, when there is a lull in posts, it is because there is more than one sick child in the house…guaranteed.)