Monthly Archives: July 2010

3 years old.

Happy Birthday #4!

Today you turn 3 years old.

3!  I can’t believe it.  I remember when we found out you were growing in my belly and Daddy thought that “for sure” you were a boy.  We decided on not finding out whether you were a girl or a boy and be surprised for the first time.  In fact, I found out from the ultrasound technician that you were our 4th little girl and just kept it a secret from your Dad playing along like I didn’t know.  Good times.

Daddy calls you my mini-me.  We are alike in so many ways:

  • We both are NOT morning people.  You need to cuddle with me and slowly wake up.  This wake-up ritual consists of staying in bed for 20 minutes after your eyes open and no one talking to you.  God help the sibling who comes and tries to say “Good Morning” to you during this block of time.
  • We both have to be in charge.
  • We both don’t take ‘no’ very well.
  • We both are night owls….especially when we get a good nap during the day.  We thrive at night – we’re easier to talk to, hang out with, and are overall happier when the sun sets.
  • We both love our flip flops.  Both last summer and this summer she has lived in her flip flops.  Where #2 needs to wear her converse (even in the heat) and #3 loves ballet flats (of course!), #4 looks to wear her flip flops first.
  • We both love smoothies for breakfast.  The other 3 girls love smoothies but are always wary when it’s green or there are “specks” floating in it.  #4 does not care.  Spinach? Good.  Kale? Good.  Unknown floating dots of healthiness? It’s all good.
  • When we are in a good mood, we can really ham it up:

Focus your attention on the top right corner.

As you can see from the picture, my main goal was to take a picture of #1 stretching before her workout.  And of course, someone realized I had the camera out and decided to try to get in the pic.  A half an hour before she was whining and writhing on the floor in an awful mood because she was hot and apparently ‘dying’ of thirst.  I gave her water, stripped her down, and she perked right up.  And notice she’s still in diapers?  This brings me to another similarity…

  • We are both stubborn.  Toilet-training is taking a little longer than I thought.
  • We both have really bad tempers.  None of my older girls had any bad temper tantrums.  But #4 can really turn up the heat.  We were sitting at my mom’s house and my cousin was staring at #4.  Big mistake.  #4 stared back and said, “Hey you!  Wanna fight?”  And lately, I have heard her scream at her sisters in anger, “Off with your head!”
  • We both love watching sports.  She sat through the entire NBA Playoffs this year.  After we put them all to bed, Ever-Patient and I would turn on the game and she would wander downstairs, sit between us, and ask, “Who’s playing Daddy?  Big Baby?”  Ever-Patient would respond, “Yup.  And Kobe.” And #4 would nod knowingly, “Oh.  I miss LeBron.”
  • We both are very particular about what and who we like.  We were at a restaurant and she turned to me and said, “I don’t like her.”  Her was our waitress.  She spotted another one at another table, pointed at her and said, “And I don’t like her.”  Another waitress passed by and she said, “I like that one.”  She often says the same about her sisters.

We love you wild thing.

Happy Birthday.

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10 years…ago.

About a month ago, Ever-Patient and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.

Here’s what we looked like 10 years ago:

Let’s take a brief walk down memory lane, shall we?

I remember that on June 28th, 2000, we wed on a beach on Paradise Island in the Bahamas (back when destination weddings were more like the exception than the rule).

I remember Ever-Patient and I discussing the idea of having a wedding here. Having lived together and raising a child who was about to turn 2, we felt that it was a bit bizarre to have a grand event.  It was my mother who came up with the fabulous idea for us to get married abroad.

I remember living in student housing at the university and Ever-Patient working night shifts.   We were barely making ends meet so a wedding on a shoestring budget was our reality at the time.  We made our invites, CDs of our favourite songs to give away, centrepieces, and table numbers.  In the end, my parents helped out a lot and we were grateful for their support in our decision to not have a huge wedding.

I remember my mom doing most of the liaising with the wedding coordinator.  My mom would ask me, “Do you want white or cream linens for the tablecloths?” And I would say, “White?”  And she would say, “Really?  You think?”  And then I would say, “Um, cream?” And then she would say, “Perfect choice!”

I remember shopping for my wedding dress.  At first, I began shopping with my mother who insisted on having me try on all the traditional looking wedding dresses.  I refused all the white dresses, having a moment similar to Miranda shopping for a wedding dress on an episode of Sex and the City:

I remember the day I found my dress.  I was with a bridesmaid and we decided on a whim to go into a cheesy bridal shop and basically make fun of the dresses.  I found a bridesmaid dress in an awful colour but in the most simplest style.  It was only $150 and it came in cream!  Problem solved.  Wedding dress purchased.

I remember that the tag on our CD giveaways contained the following message:

Once upon a time two people fell in love, were blessed with an angel, promised forever in Paradise, and lived happily ever after.

I remember a week long vacation with friends and family…and then we happened to get married on the Wednesday.

I remember that #1 was our flower girl who began to walk down the steps to the beach as planned until she decided to veer off to the side and picking up shells.  We left her there until my father and I got to her and he picked her up and the three of us walked down together to meet Ever-patient.  It was completely unplanned but completely perfect.

I remember my brother Mark who was 5 and 1/2 eating a whole can of Cheetos right before the ceremony and having orange grease stains all over his shirt much to my mother’s chagrin.

I remember never feeling nervous or having cold feet because that day I wasn’t thinking about “forever in love” or “lifetime commitment.”  I was thinking, “Today I will promise my best friend that I will be there beside him for him to lean on and for me to lean on him.”  That’s it.

I remember how we wrote our own vows and how Ever-Patient forgot his during the ceremony and I cared for a split second.  (After a few anxious seconds on his part, he remembered.)

I don’t remember much at the reception since my family likes to kick things off with lemon drops before dinner.

I remember saying personal and public thank you’s to all 40 of our guests.

I remember my grandmother and feeling so grateful she was there to share that day with me.

I remember, as clear as day, how Ever-Patient looked against the bluest of skies as he slipped that ring on my finger.  I specifically told myself to hold on to the moment, to be there and nowhere else.

I remember tears and toasts on the beach with violins and bubbles in the background.

I remember wading into the water to watch the sunset with Ever-Patient after the ceremony and not caring if my dress got wet because it cost only $150.

I remember that my younger brother Matt who was almost 10 at the time read the following passage:

On Marriage
Kahlil Gibran

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Fast forward 10 years.

The above passage completely reflects our marriage over the last 10 years.  Space in our togetherness.  Filling each other’s cup but not drinking from one cup.  Not completing each other but walking side by side as we travel on our own journeys.  There were times when we were quite a distance apart as we traveled while other times we were at arm’s length or hand in hand.

In the beginning, I had a hard time believing in “happily ever after.”  My parents were divorced and I’ve seen families torn apart by failed marriages.  I knew there was a possibility that it wouldn’t last.  I didn’t believe in fairy tales only custody battles and trial separations.  Every bump we had those first few years, I assumed we should be contacting lawyers.  Ever-Patient was what he always was: Patient.  Each time we disagreed, he assured me in the least sarcastic way that you could still love someone and want to tear a strip into them.  He told me that ups and downs were normal and we would find our way.

Through every difficulty, he stuck around.  Through every breakdown, he stuck around.  Through every argument, he stuck around.  Through every challenge, he stuck around.  After awhile I realized and trusted that he truly wasn’t going anywhere.

Soon after, our sharp peaks and deep valleys became more like the gentle ebbs and flows of low tide.  We had major life events during the last 10 years including 4 more babies, 3 house moves, and multiple career changes.  But still, we ebb and flow.

There are times when we are so busy our heads are spinning and the most we may say to each other is “hey” or simply rhyme off a list of to-dos and schedules.  There are other times when we deliberately schedule “us” time even if it means having a newborn sharing that time.  We will sit for hours and talk even if it means that the next day we will have to get by with just 2 hours of sleep.  We ebb and flow.

There are times we teeter back and forth through a spectrum of emotions towards one another – maybe ambivalent one day and absolute euphoric the next.  Total irritation one minute and disgustingly affectionate the next.  Sometimes we sit next to each other and hold hands as we watch the kids.  Other times we are at opposite ends of the room surfing the net on our respective laptops.  We ebb and flow.

We have learned to read each other.  We are scathingly honest because we feel safe with one another.  We love each other not in spite of our differences but because of them.  We are strong individuals that do not acquiesce easily yet we have a profound respect for one another’s opinions.  We LIKE each other.  We actually like to spend time hanging out together in silence or in conversation depending on our moods.  We are outnumbered which means we must remain a united stand as partners in our family.  We are a reflection of what the other one is striving to acquire and we serve as constant reminders and systems of encouragement for each other.  (For example, I am working on being more patient and Ever-Patient is working on being more organized.)  Only we can empathize with what each other experiences day to day.  (There aren’t many out there with families like ours.)  We laugh.  We laugh A LOT.  We have many deliriously tired nights when all we can do is alternate between breathing and laughing.

I agree to an extent when people say marriage takes work.  It does but not in the sense of putting effort into “fixing” a relationship.  Marriage isn’t a linear path – you don’t go from Point A to Point B.  It’s an organic entity that keeps morphing as circumstances change, individuals grow, and as learning takes place.  But when you work on yourself through accepting yourself, loving yourself, and finding what your passionate about, your marriage can only benefit.

***

Dear Ever-Patient,

Thank you for getting me.  Really getting me…particularly because I am definitely a tough one to get.  The last 10 have flown by.  It was a decade of “doing” – moving, changing, having babies, starting new careers.  We may have changed our taste in clothes and may have learned to live healthier but I love that we still talk as if it was that first phone call when we spoke for hours.

Thank you for understanding the way I seem to ebb and flow.  Thank you for respecting my need for solitude and my aversion to public displays of affection (I know that one’s hard for you!).  Thank you for not ever wanting to change a single thing about me and being a sometimes vocal and a sometimes silent supporter in the background.  Thank you for knowing when to carry me and when to encourage me to stand on my own two feet.  Thank you for always always being in my corner even when I don’t deserve it.  Thank you for pointing out in the most gentle way when I could have been better and for applauding when I was better. Thank you for being the rock when I can’t.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to stay home especially since I know that you would trade places with me in an instant.  Thank you for making me feel safe: safe to voice my opinions, safe to vent, safe to let go, safe to ask for help, safe to make mistakes, safe to forgive, safe to live the life I’ve always wanted to live.  Thank you most of all for teaching me patience and enduring love.

I am so excited for the rest of our life together.

about #3.

Sparkles is 5 and does not waste an opportunity to scream it to the world.  She informs the grocery clerk, strangers walking their dogs on sidewalks, and bank tellers.  Where #2 wanted a small, intimate gathering of her closest friends at the museum, #3 also wanted a gathering of her closest friends…her 18 closest friends in her class (which is each member of her class).  We ended up at our local park with my eldest and her friends running games, face painting stations, and other fun activities for the wee ones.  I sat back and chilled out with the parents.

Miss Perma-Smile.

Here are some fun facts about #3:

#3 and her guitar is like Phoebe Buffay and her guitar.  Some of #3’s original songs include the following titles:

I love orange” (she repeats this line over and over)

I love green” (again, repeating the one line)

I love pink”  (yes, you guessed it, another one-line wonder)

Will you be my valentine’s today?” (this one is interactive as she always waits for your response)

I don’t know why”  (my personal favourite…the lyrics are below in italics)

i don’t know why if it’s short or long

oh yeah

you don’t know if I’m at the groceries or if i’m at home or if i’m with my friends

oh yeah

but you should know

Plain and simple:  she loves to move.  When she hears music, she can’t help but start to sway, shrug her shoulders rhythmically, and shake her groove thang.

She has started asking a ton of questions about how the world works:

“In the world, did they make the streets first?”  “What about the trees? Who planted them all on our street?”  “What is the farthest country?”  “Do all people live on Earth or somewhere else?”

Sparkles is a word-maker-upper.  She tends to come up with words where there are no words for a situation or when she completely forgets what something is called.  The sensation of a body part “falling asleep” is typically referred to as “pins and needles.”  Instead, #3 says, “My feet feel scrunchy.”  And another time she referred to this sensation again and said, “Mom, my feet feel like, you know, when the TV is all black and white and shhhhhh [she made this sound with arms waving in the air]…you know, when it’s full of spots.”   She sat beside me one day and said, “I’d like to see my scropeback.”  I said, “Pardon me? What is that?”  She said, “You know, that thing you work on with the photos and the pretty paper?”  The light bulb finally went off and I said, “Oh, you’re scrapbook!”  And she said, “That’s what I said.”

On the seesaw with a "new" friend at the beach.

She is in the midst of her first soccer season.  I love watching her play.  She has no fear but at the same time does not exhibit one malicious bone in her body.  At soccer, she runs after the ball with a smile, taking elbows from the over-aggressive kids who have over-aggressive parents.  Her smile never fades for one minute in the entire game.

She is a resilient little ball of sunshine.  But she does have her thunderous moments.  She has mood swings when she is sleep-deficient.  She will break into hysterics asking for “mama” when I’m not around but 15 minutes later she will perk up when her favourite song is played.

She also loves to tell people our business.  During the school year, we would go to the grocery store.  Only #3, #4, and #5 would be with me and strangers would comment of the 3 kids and how busy I must be with 3 young children.  I like to keep the chit-chat to a minimum so I tend to just smile and keep moving.  But #3 ALWAYS chimes in and says, “Oh!  But there’s 2 more.  One’s in Grade 6 and the other is in Grade 1.  And I’m 4 and three-quarters because my birthday is on June 5th.  And she’s 2 and he’s only a baby still…”  And then she would proceed to tell people her birthday plans and what we did as a family the weekend before.

When we spend one-on-one time together, she normally cuts it short because she misses her sisters.  She wants to always ride her bike to Starbucks for a ginger molasses cookie and play at the playground for a little while where she always ends up making a friend.  Ah yes, everywhere she goes, she makes a friend or two.

Ever-Patient coaches her soccer team and he said to her after a game:

Ever-Patient:  “Do you know what I love most about you when you play the game?”

#3:  “What?”

Ever-Patient:  “I love how when you fall, you always get back up.”

She smiled and gave him the biggest hug.  The next morning, she was sitting eating breakfast and said to me with a chest swelled with tremendous pride:

#3:  “Guess what Mama.  Dada says I am really good at getting back up.  I am always going to get back up.”

And now every time I ask her what her favourite part of the game was she always says, “The time I got back up even though I fell down.”

And I said:

“Not just that you got back up, but you got back up with the HUGEST smile ever!”

Keep smiling kid.  You make our worlds that much brighter.

As I am writing this, #3 tells me write one more thing so here it is:

“She also loves nature.”

#2: connecting the dots.

That is what #2 does.  And now she is 7.

Some random thoughts about my second-born…a late birthday post:

My #2 is a “connector-of-dots.”  She is always finding relationships where none seem to exist.  She has light bulb and “aha” moments constantly.  It has been exciting to watch her this year.  We were at one of her favourite shops and she picked up this book:

It is full of photographs of plant life sprouting up in the most unlikely places – sidewalks, concrete alleys, cracks in buildings, etc.  No words, just photos.  She spent a good 5 minutes looking through it.  She would flip through the photos and then look at the cover every so often.  I was pretending not to pay attention to her as she kept looking at this book.  She put it down and started to walk away with a confused look on her face.  Then she stopped, spun around, grabbed it and flipped through it one last time.  She ran to me and said, “I get it!  The flowers and plants shouldn’t grow in these places but somehow they manage to!  It seems impossible but they still grow.  Just like that little engine.  No one thought he’d make it up the hill.  But he did.  Mama, can you buy this book for my birthday?”  And I did.  I will never forget the look on her face in that instant that she made the connection.

Opening gifts and spending her day with just mom and dad...and #5.

#2 is a visual person. She can figure out what has been moved in her vignette of found nature objects after she comes home from school.  When I misplace items, she can tell me exactly where I put them and when I did it.  While driving home at dusk, while everyone is falling asleep, she will ask me if there is a name for the colour of the sky because it’s the most beautiful colour she has ever seen.  She loves beautiful things.  She loves making stuff – a mini computer, a home for her pet dog, binoculars, pockets, finger knits, felt food, mini notebooks, cards, origami, scrapbook layouts (yay!), puppets, posters, signs, and more.  She sits for hours at the dining room table, completely absorbed in the act of creating.

Her reading has completely taken off this year.  I cannot describe my delight when I hear her reading this to herself in her bed.  Through reading, she has been able to explore the topics that she is passionate about: space, rocks, and photography.  (“Mama, I’m reading about dark matter.  I don’t understand what it is.  Can you explain it to me?”  My brain started to hurt at that point.  I have to say that I’ve learned more about supernovas and dwarf planets this year than I really wanted to.)

Her accomplishments this year include performing in class plays without expressing any type of anxiety beforehand, and making solid friends for the first time.  Watching her speak her lines with a muted confidence was one of my proudest moments this year.

She invited a couple friends to the museum (one of her favourite haunts) and I created a scavenger hunt game for them.  #2 helped me make small notebooks for each of them with clues inside and when they found the object, they had to draw it in their notebook.

One of her favourite movies currently is Life/Planet Earth Collection.

Our “mommy-#2 time” always involves a creative endeavour.  The most recent activity was here .  We sat in silence and painted.  She was deep in concentration painting and I was deep in concentration watching her paint.  It was then that I began to notice how deliberate she is with her actions and her words.  She doesn’t say much but when she does, it’s usually an impossible-to-answer question like “Did the baby tadpoles come first or the mama frog?” or a decisive expression like “I like that colour on you, mama.”  She never rushes and moves with purpose.

A year ago, she loved pink and sparkly headbands.  Now she refuses to wear dresses and is embracing her inner tomboy.  She still worships her older sister and still has bunkbed nighttime talks with #3 although their relationship has changed since she started full day school.  She has lost 6 teeth.  When she has her time alone with Daddy, she just wants to go and buy mama a special gift.  We talk about making stuff and making stuff from that stuff.  She has an extensive collection of rocks.  Although they all look the same to an outsider, they are very unique to her.  She can tell you exactly where and when she found each one and can tell if one is missing.  She still loves solitude and butter tarts.

(She wanted pics in front of the graffiti.)

She is 7 and I don’t just think she can, I know she can.

rewind.

Dear Blog:

I’m sorry for neglecting you and I have missed you dearly.

Needless to say, time is a limited resource for me and you’ve paid the highest price.  I had devoted time to you during the small daily breaks that I have had to myself either in the early morning, nap time, or late at night.  But alas, I’ve been cheating on you.  There is another and his name is “Exercise.”  I made the choice to abandon you in order to fit into a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans.  How shallow of me?  I know.

But would you believe me when I say that I did it for your own good?

You see, Exercise has allowed me to have more energy.  It has lightened my mood and enhanced my creative spirit.  I no longer spend countless thoughts on a wardrobe I couldn’t touch or dreading a summer spent in maternity clothes (although the baby is 9 months old).  I am kinder to myself when it comes to the food I eat and the time I spend with my good friend, Exercise (with whom I have had a love-hate relationship).

I have come to terms with the reality of my life:  I must constantly choose how best to spend my time.

There are mornings and nights that I have tried to spend quality time with you after Exercise but it’s never worked out.  There have been hugs I’ve needed to give, a rolling baby I’ve needed to find, an impromptu concert I’ve needed to applaud, and my one true love needing my immediate attention – a Red Velvet Cupcake (just kidding, Ever-Patient).

I have about a dozen posts you’ve held onto patiently, waiting in the wings in the “Saved Drafts Folder.”  It’s time for my return to you – a love that I never knew I had until it ceased to exist in my life.

So let’s rewind and start anew.  We have a lot to catch up on.

Sincerely,

Rozanne