Saturday, 29 June 2013

I Should Have Walked

I got quite the workout just standing there. I took my inquisitive toddler and two antsy dogs to the river. All three of them greatly needed to expend some pent-up energy. And I didn't have the stamina, or the patience, to walk the group down the street. What a bad dog owner I'm turning out to be when I'm the one who wanted the second dog.

I intended to drive a distance so we would be a little secluded. But the water was very high so we ended up just by the road. It was a great test for my newer dog. He is learning well but tends to swiftly bolt after movement. He loves the anticipation of any possible play date. We were actually at the very spot that he went missing overnight the first week that we had him.

I was on high alert. Maybe a walk around the block would have been easier. Other dog owners came by with the same idea. Bikes passed with chit chatting riders that seemed to summon my dog to run. And he whimpered at the idea of staying with our boring lot. Maybe if he would help me in my mothering duties he would be kept occupied.

I kept telling my daughter not to walk too far into the water with its uneven terrain. Telling her to leave the pieces of garbage that intrigued her. Telling her, again and again, not to use me as a canvass for her dirt paint. Sure, there wasn't really anything else for her to paint, but I just wasn't into getting muddy with swampy smelling dirt. What a party pooper!

Then there was my continuous, "Put that down!" to my older dog. She loves having things in her mouth and will try to get the largest rock. She has always wanted to do this, even to the point of submerging her head under the water. The vet has warned me that her teeth are healthy now and only being filed down but if she were to ever break one there would be a problem. Sometimes it's like taking a drug from an addict. She doesn't want to relinquish a dear, sweet rock. Especially if she painstakingly dug it from the depths of the water. I will reprimand her and as soon as she walks away from that one she'll find another. One time she carried a rock for a few kilometers on a jog. Probably more than once, actually.

So watching my daughter and trying to keep the water out of her boots (which I failed at), trying to save my older dog's teeth, and trying to keep my younger dog from chasing after bikes and animals, I was quite busy. This was no relaxing sit by the water. The view was beautiful. The mountain scene reflected gracefully on the smooth water surface. The long, rich green grass which emitted fluttering moths.

But my male canine's obedience made it worthwhile. When he would start to walk away to go see someone else I would call him and when he listened (wow!) he would run at me (with his leapingly long stride) with the joyous realization that he was doing what I wanted him to do! Finally, we are getting somewhere! He has discovered the satisfaction of getting an enthusiastic good boy!

Just when my daughter has discovered the pleasure in doing the opposite of what she is told. Yes, she has always done things like throw when I ask her to refrain. But now begins the giggle and run. Fear is always a motivation for obedience and so she'll consistently listen if there is hot or the warning of car. But when no danger looms is it much funner to run. And it's hard to keep a serious face when the peels of laughter are so cute.

Rambunctious toddlers who want to explore keep you on your toes. Learning dogs who act on fun-seeking instinct keep you on your toes. Geriatric dogs with addictions keep you on your toes. Add in a husband and... Well, we don't need to go there.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Word Of Mouth

Once upon a time, as the women toiled over cooking the meals or sewing the clothes, they told lengthy tales of how their family came to be and the eventful history of trials and triumphs that was their heritage. The births, the marriages, the deaths. As men sat in fellowship at meals they regaled tales of victories of their own lives and the lives before them, and the lives before them. Each day was full not only of work and preparation, but of passing down stories. Endless stories.

We've come along way. Information. Equality. Medical advancements. But I can't help but wonder what it would be like to have the only method of passing knowledge to be verbal communication. Not watching television together. Not staring at phones together. Not shunning together in the first place to concentrate solely on selfish, or time wasting, activities. But pouring out our hearts knowing that it was the only way to keep history. To keep honor. To keep vitality. To keep talents. The beautiful path of mouth to ear to memory to mouth.

Sure, some stories won't have the same flare. I didn't have to valiantly fight anyone for this meat on the table. I just sat on my bottom and relaxed the last time I travelled 500 kilometers. Many days just blend together in a monotonous cycle of cook and clean and sleep. But there are stories. There are lessoned learned. There are little ears, curious sponges, who are waiting to be told.

I know some people who still communicate ardently like the printing press wasn't developed. Like they share the path of royalty and hold secrets sought by the tabloids. Like their dinner hour is a limitless affair and no one has to retreat to anywhere anytime soon. A friend's father who could tell the tales of his childhood and immigration over and over.

That's the way they would have had to do it way back when. Over and over. By the time you left home there would be no need to ever ask to clarify a piece of your family history. Because you heard it again and again, until you could faithfully recite the narration as you repeatedly listened.

How much of your history do you know? Do you really know?

There are things I keep forgetting. Because my brain knows I could always ask and it therefore only files the information irresolutely, with no commitment to its possible importance. Like, is it Scottish or Irish on my grandfather's side? And why can I not remember birthdays? Our brains have become inefficient storage vessels.

We check maps for places we've been before. We forget names like they are unimportant (Oh, this fills me with such frustration!). We love a joke but can't retell it. We have no idea what occupation takes the time of our blood line of cousins and aunts and uncles.

I would love to sit around and talk about the things overcome. The revelations encountered. The people that enriched my life. But who would listen? Who has time for unnecessary history?

We go to the museum but we briefly glance at the antique artifacts that don't apply to our current activities. We don't take the time to admire the determination, the perseverance, the heartache of those who went before us. Those who made our lives possible. Our freedom.

The elderly person in your life--what do you know about them? What was their talent? How did they venture out on their own? What changes did they have to adapt to? What strengths were they known for? What pain have they experienced? I always find it intriguing to discover a frail frame who used to be a ballerina. A quiet soul who used to order a large home. A fragile woman who used to tend an amazing garden. A powerful elder who has had heart surgery. I can't imagine what they feel to let go of their lives. To come to the realization that they can't do it anymore. But I bet they would love to reminisce about it.

Or would they? We don't have to tell. So, as a result, many wont. They figure no one is interested. They suppose they don't matter. They see how busy everyone is around them. They see the blatant selfishness and the obtuse disinterest. And so, their memoir sadly dies. As technology advances and stories are easier to tell, easier to share, they are also easier to ignore, easier to forget.

Our words are few in a vast ocean of opinions and declarations and instructions, crashing around us and drowning out our water logged voice.

But every unpretentious moment together is an opportunity to pull from each other the words of life. The anecdotes and tragedies of experience. The chronicles of true communion.

Monday, 24 June 2013

I Did It

Well, I did it. I conquered Tough Mudder. I endured 19 grueling kilometers and 20 challenging obstacles. An experience of a lifetime. Something that fills me with great pride, both for myself and each amazing fellow team member. We all pushed through in our intense training and at the exhausting event.

I did it. I didn't over stress. I didn't make myself sick. The girl who, as a teen, went to the hospital with severe vomiting when the Ambassador Program finally ended and my stage debut was done. The girl who puked all over a street in Tijuana with a stress headache when I co-led a group of teens on a missions trip. The girl who ended up leaving her first day at a hard working job 10 minutes before end of shift with an intense migraine that again required hospital. The girl who only did first year, with a dropped course due to headaches, when attempting to venture out for post secondary education. The girl who didn't get her driver's license until 27 years old and ached for days from the tension. The girl who only started getting healthy in her late twenties. I did it.

I did it. Without hesitating, I submerged my whole body in freezing cold water. It takes your breath away. And even though it really took away the breath of some other team members as well, to the point of wanting to quit, we all did it.

I did it. I walked through mud, mud, and more mud. I felt like a jubilant kid! It brought back memories of taking the garden hose to the dirt and making an enormous (well, enormous to a child!) mud pit. When we get a yard I will have to designate a spot for future mud pit use. My daughter will love getting in there. Hopefully. She seemed disgusted with her first experience at the beach. She didn't want her bare feet in the wet sand. I remember as a child I liked to be clean but I didn't mind getting real dirty if I could wash up after. Mom would strip us down and spray us with the hose.

I did it. I crawled through trenches even though I was scared my hernia would pop out. I knew it would. Thankfully when it did there was no water to be submerged in and I was only blocking one person. I rolled over on to my back to relax and push it back in. Two weeks earlier I'd had an ultrasound and no tearing was visible. The hernia had only popped out twice in the last few months so I was hopeful that my condition wouldn't worsen. But it became a problem only just over half way through the course. I ran, jumped from 15 feet into water, climbed, carried a log, did monkey bars, went through another tunnel, and scaled walls after my hernia was irritated. I am grateful for my team who helped me. When the Boa Constrictor tunnel was angled and slippery I could not use my core to crawl out. One team member pushed my feet while another pulled my arms to get me up. I am also grateful for helpful strangers. They pulled me up when I could not get myself onto the top of the quarter pipe. I couldn't have done it without the helping hands. I couldn't have continued in my fear after getting the pain in my abdomen in the snowy trench without the push and encouragement from my team.

I did it. I jumped 15 feet into cold water (when I was already shivering and my hands beyond cold). When I was a child I attempted the high diving board. Unsuccessfully. I landed flat on my front. I knocked the wind out of myself and could not breath. That is a terrifying feeling when trying to swim to the side of a deep pool. So for my Mudder plunge I aimed to hit straight as an arrow. I succeeded. But it sent me much deeper than I intended. And I was so spent. By the time I popped up I was gasping so much that the guard asked if I needed a life jacket thrown to me to help me swim in. I made it to the edge and all was good. Other than missing a piece of my costume.

I did it. I made it almost halfway across the wet, inclined monkey bars. Which is farther than I thought I could, even without the abdominal pain, and resulted in blue streaks in my ice cold hands. I ran through electricity with only a feeling that I was going to bite my tongue. I managed to keep trudging through the kilometers when my knee reached its limit and I had to favor my left leg.

Next year I will train with longer runs. I will try pulling myself up more in my preparation-- maybe after a long workout when I am already exhausted. Next year I may dress warmer. Next year I hope to participate with my husband. I know he could do, and enjoy, each obstacle. I know he doesn't fear closed spaces, water, heights, or electricity. He would make a great team member.

They all made great team members. With their laughter and perseverance and encouragement.

We did it.

Monday, 17 June 2013

"Tent, Mommy!!"

On Friday we will be camping outdoors while we attend my Tough Mudder event (it is finally here!). It is the cheapest option in such a tourist driven ski town. I wont be contributing to the tourist dollar coming in that weekend. Tonight I made an impromptu decision to do a test run in our back yard. My husband gladly complied. In so many ways I am glad we did.

As we set up the bed in the tent our daughter became so excited, exclaiming, "Sleep! Sleep!" When we went in the house to clean up she was upset and repeated over and over and over (and over-- you're not quite imagining the extent of it), "Ready, ready, ready!" I wanted to bathe her but she was adamant about going to the tent and tried to get her point across louder and louder. Nothing else was happening!!

I wasn't quite ready so dad took her first and read her some books. (Well, actually only one. She is stuck on a Christmas book about the birth of Jesus and wants that one repeatedly. "Again! Again!" At least it's a story, unlike her last fixation which was an I SPY book which I had to jazz up with a few songs that went with the images.) In her elation at finally being out there she kept asking for mom until they finally came in and fetched me.

Even though all she wanted was night night and sleep, it wasn't on her mind once we were in the tent. She became full of delightful adrenaline and wanted to jump and climb and tickle. When she started to tire she stared in awe at the sound of the rain drops. Her gorgeous eyes were open so wide. We sang her rain song a few times.
If all the rain drops were lemon drops and gum drops
Oh what a rain it would be
Standing outside with our mouths open wide
Going, "Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah" (her favourite part)
If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops
Oh what a rain it would be

It was a perfect night for a test run. Pouring rain. Flashing lightning. Rumbling thunder. Her eyes remained staring until ten o'clock at night. Now we are prepared for any whether come Friday night. I found the sound quite soothing. It reminds me of the time we hiked four hours up to camp on a mountain top and there was a storm.

Friday I will most definitely need an adequate sleep. The next day I'll be running ten miles with climbing and jumping and crawling and hiking and who knows what else. Hopefully my mind won't be too excited to sleep, just like my daughter's tonight. To ensure my optimal rest I need my daughter who will be next to me to have a good sleep. I would be the one awake with her, as her dad fell asleep before she did. But he even said, he gets his best sleeps camping.

Quarter after ten there is finally not a sound in our little cozy bed. Just the rain drops spattering the canvas. I almost don't want to go to sleep. It is so serene. I brought a book. But silly me forgot a flashlight. (Ha ha! I'll be more prepared for the weekend, won't I?) I might just close my eyes and pray and think until I drift off. Give thanks for opportunities, health, my family, fresh air. And that annoying drip that has developed from the corner of the house.

Good Girl. Cookie?

I've worked very hard on housework and so I deserve some rich chocolate... I was exceptionally patient with my daughter today so I should get my husband to bring home a scrumptious treat... We made leaps and bounds in our to do list so we should go out for pizza... I'm having a horrible day so I need a piece of decadent cake... I royally screwed up and a box of sweet cookies will remedy my sorrow... I am quite moody so I require some smooth ice cream..

Our relationship with food is extremely emotional based. Yes, we eat to nourish ourselves. Yes, we eat to savor the flavor. Yes, we eat because we have to. But more often than not we eat, and choose what to eat, based on our mental and emotional state. We may be completely aware of this or it may be a subconscious action, pulling on us as we try different foods and feel no satisfaction until we get the right treat.

Personally, my journey with food has been quite a detrimental roller coaster. I believe that many ailments I had by the time I was a teenager were related to a lacking diet. This improper choice of provisions was really out of ignorance. I had bread (and not good bread) with every single meal, and often with snacks. I consumed canned and boxed meals daily and plenty of processed items like soda crackers. My diet was the cause of my troubles but also exacerbated the problem. I couldn't handle any fiber, like in a raw vegetable, and many healthy items, like garlic or tomatoes or chocolate (yes, it's healthy when not mixed with all the sugar) were absolutely off limits.

In my frustration with food, mixed with the other stresses of life, I became anorexic. I would go all day without eating and then the little I would have would not be very healthy, like a package of instant noodles. I didn't think I had a problem. When I was asked I would claim I was not hungry, and I would not be lying. I no longer knew how to identify my body's messages. My stomach ached continuously, as well as my head. When I was 15 I suffered a gaping wound to my eyebrow when after consuming some alcohol after a whole day with no nourishment, I passed out. As they prepared me for stitches the hospital checked my blood sugar and confirmed it was very low.

As I got older I started to learn about the benefits of healthy eating. I realized that starving myself was detrimental and no longer used that route when I worried about my appearance. My obsession with weight continued, as it often does with a history of anorexia, and I tried many other healthier methods. Or so I thought. I would obsess over different exercises. I would try fad diets. One year I didn't eat a bite of fruit because I thought it had too much sugar. I look back now and know I was depriving myself of consuming many essential nutrients.

At about 20, with some healthy changes and a new found involvement in church that helped some of my stress, my health improved enough to eat more foods. A whole new world opened up. Unfortunately, because of the unhealthy relationship I had with food, I did not handle my new freedom responsibly. I gained a whopping fifty pounds quite quickly and started eating many things that I shouldn't. My battle continued until the weight suddenly dropped again with the diagnoses of cancer. My shock into really learning to take care of myself.

I have read a few times now about how our relationship with food develops at a very young age. My subconscious reaction to temptation and choices has been slowly worked on in a never ending growing process. Gone are the days of eating a whole box of crackers for dinner. But I still have to tell myself that yes, I deserve something, but it is not junky food. I deserve something more beneficial. Like a favourite wholesome meal, a relaxing massage, a good book, or money toward a new necklace.

Now it is time for me to help my daughter have a healthy outlook on her eating. Of course I will teach her that food is to gain the nutrients to feed all the systems in her body for maximum functioning and growth. Of course she will see that food is fun to enjoy when socializing. But I must also make an effort to keep food as a fundamental part of life and not a prize or a solution to unrelated problems.

The biggest way I can do that is to never congratulate her efforts with a treat or console her sorrows with a dessert. And when I think about it, that would actually be an easy way out. True relationships take patience and commitment. A donut or candy passed over is much less time involvement than going somewhere together. A piece of cake is much less uncomfortable than being vulnerable and having a heart to heart. Yes, the heart to heart may come easier with the ice breaker of good food on the palate. But it shouldn't be necessary. Because it will teach that it is always necessary.

I have noticed that many people try to strengthen a relationship with a child through sweets. They sneak them in so they are favored. They pile it on so they are loved. But wouldn't the relationship be more genuine if it was based on finding common ground? On getting in touch with each others emotions and having a good laugh? On building amazing memories?

Judge me if you will, but using the surmise that you spoil in this area because of your love is acting in ignorance. If I love someone I don't just want what they will enjoy now. I want them to grow into a healthy, happy, flourishing human being. And that will happen to a greater extent when they learn to eat well. You can argue someone is fine with their poor diet. They may be fine. But they could be finer. Who wouldn't want the best for the ones they love?

This required knowing what best means. My mom thought that Cheerios verses Fruit Loops was best. Sure, it's better, but not by far. There are a lot of things that we didn't used to know about food. But we know the processed cake from the store is not good. We know MacDonald's is not good. We start with what we know and remain willing to learn.

Sure, there are the moments that you lower standards (I'm not talking lowered to MacDonald's). The really busy days. The birthday parties. The trips in the car (there you have to be careful again because if you associate trips with junk and then one day travel frequently it will be difficult to make responsible choices). I think these occasions could be done right, but right just doesn't always happen. But my wrong moments aren't going to be because my daughter deserves it. I want her to deserve a sticker or a trip to the park instead.

I encourage you, it is worth it. My battle has progressed. I can eat a variety of foods without getting ill. I have almost lost the idea of food as a treat or a comfort. Almost. Still a work in process. But the treats are much less frequent and much smaller. My palate has changed. The girl who once could coat a double chocolate cookie in chocolate sauce now finds that chocolate sauce unbearable. The girl who used to eat a whole box of cookies only really likes home made ones once in a while and feels sick after eating too many. A girl who used to think a day wasn't complete without a few servings (or more) of chocolate a day can get by with one (none is only possible if I strictly fast from it).

We just finished some home made lasagna and raw carrots. We won't be having dessert. Not because she had a temper tantrum in the store. Not because she just hurt the dog. But just because.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Pleeeease :)

My daughter finally gets please. And she sounds so sweet when it leaves her lips! I think it actually acquires her more. I intended to enforce my declaration of this is the last one. But her polite request successfully got her another. It seems that she has caught on to its power quite quickly.

But even though the magic word was my goal, and I invested plenty of time, I still don't get it. Really, I reminded her over and over simply because that is what is expected of us. I am expected to teach the use of please, and she is expected to use it. We are expected to just because everyone else does. Which, unfortunately, is a good enough reason for me. There are many expectations we will fall short on but this one is achievable.

You could argue that it isn't just because. Yes, it is easier to get her to ask with a polite tone when there is please attached. It takes away the demanding premiss. She has to stop her incessant chant of more, more, more. But I know that would be possible without asking her, "What do you say?" Manners can be taught in the realm of kindness, patience, respect, and showing appreciation.

But before she was old enough to learn these aspects of being a polite member of society and not a Neanderthal, she was basically brainwashed to say please and thank you. These words were expected before the comprehension of numbers. Before letters. Before identifying red, yellow, or blue. They were made to be part of her foundation.

I tried to look up the history of this word. I saw more writings about it dying out. People feel too entitled to use it. Or, if these common courtesies are being used they have no attached sincerity. I could agree with that observation. Many people say it automatically, probably just because their mom and dad told them to, but they aren't attaching any meaning behind it. It falls in the same category as, "How are you?" Who is really listening to the answer? Who really wants to know?

There are theories on the source of the use of please. Most likely it was used to bring civility to the dinner table. I imagine the dining rituals used to be quite brute and needed some structure to follow in order to become more urbane. Children start absurdly messy and if they aren't taught some guidelines as time progresses I can't imagine the resulting atmosphere.

My household can have some pretty crazy moments at the table. Food flying. Dishes falling. Drinks being speculatively mixed with solids in a nice concoction that sometimes gets consumed but often just gets dumped onto the high chair tray. It doesn't seem as brutal to experience her experimenting toddler stage until we happen to eat at someone else's house. Then, as the mess progresses, I wish I pushed the table manners a little more. Really, I do try to stop the throwing.

And I ask her to say please. And when she does I beam with pride. Because everyone will compliment her manners. Because she's not a primitive being. Because she is on the way to learning to respect. Because she's growing up.

Please, don't grow so fast.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

What Are You Talking About?

This morning I was musing about what the "old" me would think of my blog. I would critique it. Red circle the incomplete sentences and the ones ending in prepositions. I would shake my head at the simple phrases and the words that could be replaced with something more significant, eloquent or intelligent. I would cringe at any repeated idea or any contradiction. And why am I not taking the time to add photos anymore? I think it would result in a failing grade.

What it comes down to is I would remind myself that if I don't have time to do something exceptionally well I shouldn't do it at all. Hogwash! How many ventures did I start just to quit? Like learning to play guitar. Or training to work in a chemistry lab? (I paid for that schooling for a while, convincing myself it wasn't for nothing, as I learned to actually study in contrast to my efforts in high school.) How many drawings and paintings have I scrapped? How many hours of writing have I done just to change my mind?

Sometimes I don't like my topics. But the "old" me would like them less. I'm sure I would not appreciate the openness. Who's business is that? I remember when my step daughter was first on chat and I thought, "Why would you share that?" Now I've progressed to telling about my daughter's poop on Facebook.

I would be very upset with my talk about being angry or impatient. Because I am not. Right? I really didn't think I was. Even the time I threw a watch at a friend. Or the time I broke my expensive wedding tiara. I was in denial. And if I ever realised I did have a problem (and couldn't place the blame) the last thing I would want to do is admit that. Even now as I write this I think I really don't have a problem. I don't scream or hit or call names. Everyone has their moments of weakness. But for the sake of their reputation they should probably keep it a secret.

Really? People become aware they can change by seeing others change. They need to be able to ask, without fear of judgement, "How did you do that?" Someone suffering can feel relief in knowing they are not the only one. I used to think other wives didn't struggle with their big to-do lists. Why did I wonder this? Because they tried to hold it together in secret.

People are able to walk in forgiveness when they see everyone is human. Not when they are surrounded by concrete human beings who have it all together. We are all a work in progress. Our past mistakes aren't what matters. Our efforts to grow is what is important.

I've been to years of counselling. I've attended AA. I've given myself a regretful reputation. I've made bad choices. I've been overweight, anorexic, panic stricken. But I've come along way.

And the "old" me can just suck-it-up if she doesn't like that I told you.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Ten Days

Only 10 days left until tough Mudder. I can run farther than ever before. I can do exercises that used to make me feel like I would puke. I can do real push-ups in sets of 20 instead of sets of three (seriously). I have surpassed my expectations.

Yet still I feel like I should have trained smarter and harder.

This is the commanding feeling that accompanies most of my undertakings.

I am more productive than I have ever been in my life. But I still feel like I waste a tremendous amount of time and need some lessons in productivity.

One of my favorite things to do is sing. But I still don't make time to seriously practice or to learn songs. I just live day to day planning to one day make more of an effort.

I enjoy drawing. My daughter successfully identified almost all the animals I sketched for her yesterday. The cat, the dog, the monkey, the rooster, the mouse... Yet she thought the horse was a zebra. Forgivable, as they are the same shape. Even with my doodling abilities I still feel like I could be so much better if I had taken the time to sharpen my skills even a little.

I can cook. But not proficiently enough for my husband to love my cooking. I can write. But not well enough to pursue a career. My faith is stronger than ever. But I still battle the idea that God has a lot in store for me.

In the past I could definitely say that my self-critical attitude would unfortunately lead to giving up or sabotaging my progress. Allowing myself to get distracted from what really matters. Losing my focus.

Hmmm. Maybe I still do that. I work hard at something in devoted spurts but never consistently. I am quite an amateur when it comes to consistency. And my daughter is an additional easy decoy when I feel like rerouting my attention. Who wouldn't want to make a cutie laugh or snuggle a sweetheart or watch a little munchkin learn, even when there are other things that need to be done? Not that she is to blame. Before her I would drop what I was doing to go for a hike with the dog. For me, procrastination is an easy task.

With a big goal like Tough Mudder it has been easier to keep my sight on the prize. I don't want to hurt myself on the 10 miles of obstacles, so I keep running and stretching and strength training. In 11 days from now, though, will I be able to keep it up? Will I be able to motivate myself with only the goal of health and strength? I absolutely guarantee it will be harder than it has been. Solid goals are great at enabling focus.

I need some deadlines. Some incentives. Like regular planned dinner company to ensure I don't slack on necessary housework (When did I last clean dining room floor?). Or I don't slack on cooking (Dinner tomorrow? How about scrambled eggs?). I need to progress from a spur-of-the-moment blog that 5 or 6 people may read to something that will require more commitment and research and editing. I need to study the word of God so I can walk into all that he has for my life.

My sponge-brained daughter should be enough motivation. I want to expose her to people and culture. I want her to witness hard work and taking responsibility for ones future. I want her to learn to cook and take care of herself. I want her to have a positive relationship with God. And just telling her about all these things will mean nothing. I must do.

Do when I am scared. Do when I am discouraged. Do when I am tired (Why am I still up?). Do when I am frustrated. Do when I simply don't want to.

And when I don't meet my hopes of what I want to produce (as I most certainly will fall short), I need to forgive myself and move on. I can't undo time lost with any amount of regret. Regret will just continue to suck away the present. But I can learn and move forward.

Because I want to work toward the things that span a lifetime and eternity. Not just the things that are 10 days away.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Keep in Touch

I could stare at my daughter forever. She amazes and inspires me every day. Every day that jumps to the next at such a shockingly alarming rate. I will miss so much about her when she gains her independence. I'll miss rubbing her soft belly (will she let me when she is a teen?). I'll miss her sleeping in my arms. I'll miss singing the ABCs with her.

But I know that's the way parenting evolves. With every development that I have to release there will come a new task, a new challenge, a new moment to bond. As she stops cozily sleeping on me her conversations with me will expand. As she learns to tie her own shoes I will start to help her with homework. As she steps out to face the big world I will help her learn to cook, clean, and prioritize. I will enjoy every bit of mom-and-daughter connecting we have. And I will pray, and work hard to ensure, that through thick and thin that connection will always remain strong.

Now that I am a mother I see how close the bond develops. I realize how much work there is to teach and feed and clean up after. I don't know where life will take my daughter. But I would never want to lose this investment. I recall how hard it was to watch my step daughter grow up and I had only met her when she was 15. I know that tears will be shed as my younger daughter eventually leaves the nest. Tears of sadness but also of immense pride and joy.

Unfortunately, I look around at the people in my life and I see a lot of deep pain. Mother hurtfully disowned by son. Uncommunicative brothers who no longer talk. Sisters who aren't close and have just lost touch. Father who has sorrowfully let his child go. Grown children pridefully holding grudges about their childhood. Parents who have selfishly walked away from their children because of a choice that they made. Walls put up over a single incident or misunderstanding. Family cut off because of irreconcilable differences. As if we are all supposed to be identical representations popped out of a mold.

They all have their valid reasons. Their painful excuses. Their busy lives that make it okay. Their earthly priorities that leave no time for the old or lost or weak. Their freedom that comes from breaking that burdensome tie. But someone is hurting.

Maybe they don't want the controlling relationship or the guilt-ridden communication. But they still think of their blood relative. They still wish for that kinship. They still long for a hello, a thinking of you, or an I'm okay. To think, how often do both sides believe the other doesn't want them? They ache for more but each thinks the other is mad or irreconcilably judging them.

I can't imagine the pain (well, I can somewhat as there are those I miss). I wouldn't want to feel cut off from my own daughter. Becoming a mother has shown me the depth of true love. I sincerely believe that forgiveness breaks down walls. It doesn't mean saying that it is okay to hurt someone. It doesn't mean pain wasn't caused. It doesn't mean putting yourself in dangerous situations. It just means moving forward and choosing people over pride.

I'll be honest with you. I could be bitter about my childhood. There were bad choices made. There were things I did not understand. There were long suffering hurts. There was healing I had to walk through. But my daughter still has grandparents who love her. I may get moments of worry based on my own insecurities. But I talk through them. I pray about them. I address my concerns. I try not to put up a wall.

I am very grateful for all the relatives that are currently invested in my daughter's life. And I hope those who aren't would push past their own issues to develop a healthy attachment with her. I also hope that I will be able to take responsibility for creating the opportunities for her to meet her aunts, uncles, and cousins. This requires prioritizing travel for visits. Making the time for phone calls. Sending little messages. Talking to her about the family and showing her pictures. (As you know, it wouldn't be an inconvenient task to for me to open and share a photo album!)

I never want my daughter to say that I kept her from knowing anyone in the family. I want to create the room for her to develop her family ties. And it will ultimately be her choice who she stays in touch with.

And whether or not she thinks we deserve it, I pray she chooses to always keep mommy and daddy in her heart, and in her life.

Who do you need to call?

Friday, 7 June 2013

Pooches and Princess

Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking.Perhaps more than sometimes. For instance, why did I get a second big dog when we don't even have a fenced yard? I think I enthusiastically intended to walk them twice a day. With my toddler. But it's a bigger feat than I anticipated. Often I just take them somewhere to run behind the vehicle instead. The other day when I did a walk they were so excited to go that, with baby in arms, they rambunctiously knocked me flat on my bottom. By the end of that walk I was so frazzled that when we came upon another barking dog I probably didn't come across as very pleased. I almost wanted to find the people on Facebook and tell them I was sorry if I was grumpy.

But they are improving (the dogs, not the people on Facebook). Today at the end of a long walk the two dogs walked on leash at a snail's pace as my daughter slowly pushed the running stroller. They were probably good because they were tired as we'd ran about 7km, but I was so proud of them. Until one caught a scent and shoved between the poor girl and the stroller to get there. Come on pooches, she says "excuse me" to you. Can't you obediently return the manners?

Even with their pushiness, my daughter is in love with her canine companions. She fastidiously feeds them and gives them cookies. She affectionately hugs them and sits with them and talks to them. She gleefully chases them around with her toys. She fondly greets them first thing in the morning. She often calls out for them when we are away from home and sometimes thinks she sees them from afar.

This week has been busy so I got behind on sweeping the floor-- a never ending daily requirement. My daughter dropped her muffin (more like threw her muffin) and picked it up, like she often does. This time, though, it was coated in a nice surprise. One that wasn't too pleasant to eat. She showed me her hair covered muffin with disgust as she tried to spit the offending fur out of her mouth. I told her she should stop throwing food on the floor. Maybe if I sweep less she'll learn to use her table...

Yesterday she spilled a whole glass of smoothie on the floor. The dogs had startled her when they suddenly barked at someone at the door. This sent her little table flying. I couldn't help clean up right away because I was peeling raw shrimp. The guest at the door picked her up and thought she had horrible bug bites all over. I told him, no, it was strawberry smoothie splatters. He put her down and she proceeded to dutifully clean up the pink glob of liquid on the floor with one of her white blouses. Thanks for cleaning up, kid. I then soaked the stained blouse.

The dogs have gotten pretty good at letting her eat, and spill, without taking from her or cleaning up after her. She tries to feed them sometimes. She finds it intriguing how quickly they zoom in on a tossed piece of food. She would share one bite for you and one for me if I would let her. If she only was aware of what these dogs ate and touched with their mouths. Dogs can be gross.

Which is another reason I sometimes wonder what I was thinking. I hate germs. And here I have two big butt sniffing, garbage eating, swamp swimming, dirt tracking mutts. Double the dog and it seemed to quadruple the mess. The newest addition gets food everywhere when he eats (yet daddy still leaves his shoes out so they can be filled). He sheds little puppies and puts them in the corners. I've seen him pee on his leg. And he pulls the stuffing out of the dogs' teddy bears. One way that he is cleaner than the other is that he won't go in water. Which means he graciously avoids puddles, even at a 35km/h run. Which means he doesn't get as mucky.

But he sure gets my older dog mucky. He constantly slobbers all over her head when they play. They make such a mess! I think it was one of God's ways of helping me to be more realistic. I could be OCD if it matched my lifestyle. They gross me out but I love my dogs and want my daughter to experience growing up with them as well. Downsized a little from when I was young. No cuddling on the couch. No dogs on the bed. No sharing food (I never did but I witnessed it happen). We'll see if I can get my daughter to agree with my ideals in the pet department. Poor daddy misses out and loves the dogs on the bed when we go camping. Hmmm, with a toddler I might change that one as well.

Speaking of pets, I wonder what they are doing. A storm woke my daughter so now I am in her room with her sleeping on me as she wasn't quite done her nap. I am a little trapped (and sweaty even though i am under the fan on high) and of course can't yell. I don't know if the sounds I am hearing are sounds of the storm outside or my dog getting into something...

Monday, 3 June 2013

Busy, Busy

This time of year is always the busiest for me. It seems everything falls in the spring season. I tend to get a little more stressed than any other time of year. But this year I have really overdone it.

I have my regular yearly commitments. And then not only do I have an inquisitive toddler but I have a one year old puppy to train. Fortunately, the dog now listens to heal, sit, lie down, and stay. Now that I have those necessary basics it is easier. Everything goes out the door if he catches sight of another dog, though. Especially if he has the pleasure of coming across one that agrees to play. Then the next few encounters get him so excited. Training him I have discovered that my nine year old dog isn't as well behaved as I thought she was. She barks too much. She doesn't heal well. She requires a lot of coaxing to sit. So here I am begrudgingly training her, too.

Also adding to the hectic schedule is Tough Mudder. At this point I make sure I work out 6 days a week. Having the event as a goal has really helped me prioritize adding in a run or a set of strength exercises even when I am busy. I have woken early. I have trained late. I have done it in the dark next to her bed as she struggled to sleep.

Tough Mudder is now less than three weeks away. Yikes! Here is when I should be training hard. Unfortunately though, I have been having pains in my side. I have developed a hernia. Most exercises are fine but I have had to cut out the monkey bars. And some everyday things have become difficult, like bathing my daughter. Bending over is really a problem. I am getting a little worried about the event. I have an ultrasound and a follow up with the doctor. I guess if I don't go, at least I discovered what I am capable of doing, developed new relationships, and became even more aware of health. It'll be fine though. I will kick some butt.

Come July, most of my commitments will be done. I'll concentrate on family and the pets. We'll go to the beach. I'll start potty training (the baby, not me. Hopefully not too many more poop on the floor incidents). I'll maybe wash my dirty windows. We'll clean up the yard. We'll take it easy and have fun.

But for now I need to pick up my pace. I am more productive than I have ever been in my life but I still feel lazy and unorganised. I definitely have a larger capacity but I still struggle to get done what I need to do. Productivity is not a life long experience for me. I am a little hard on myself when it comes to learning how to be more productive.

I used to look at the lives of others and be amazed by what they are capable of doing. But growth has taught me that just because someone is accomplishing something doesn't mean that it is easy. Just because they are facing all their motherly duties doesn't mean they aren't tired or stressed. Everyone has moments when they wish they could be doing something else. Everyone has days when they don't feel they can handle their life. Everyone has times they didn't use their minutes too wisely.

When I am off track I need to forgive myself and refocus. Like right now. I have to be somewhere in an hour and a half and my daughter and I need to walk the dogs and eat breakfast. I had intended to workout already and shower but that will have to be later. My little princess just woke up so we better get going...

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Soon to be Seven

Just two short months away from my seventh anniversary. Crazy. It just feels like yesterday and simultaneously feels like an eternity has passed. Each year I am grateful for something that is rare and that I didn't think I would have. We have celebrated on the top of a gorgeous mountain and on the salty sea shore. We have enjoyed our anniversary with nature back packing, driving miles of adventurous road, and splurging in a fancy hotel.

We still suffer through some of the same frustrations as at the start yet we have overcome so much. We still love each other like when we fell in love, within a week of meeting, and in many ways our love has broadened, here eight years later.

I love to look back and endearingly remember why I married my husband. (And sometimes I need to look back.) His strength, energy, and generosity. How he loved to add an aspect of fun, even if I didn't always think it was safe. His solid relationship with his first daughter. His love for children. His amazing singing voice. And most of all his unconditional love. It never mattered what I did wrong. His love always remained strong.

There are things I didn't really appreciate about my husband when we first married. But discovering who he really is and why he does what he does I have learned that some strengths can only exists if other areas are allowed to take the back seat. It isn't always about him getting better. It is about us working together.

Sometimes we work together very well. We work creatively together to make things for events. We sometimes parent together very well. But we are both pretty smitten with our little girl. This morning we all sat in the living room and looked through her collection of new books from yesterday's garage sale.

Other times we don't operate very smoothly. It takes a conscious effort to step back from our individual to-do lists and our internal distractions and look at each others needs. I can be too selfish. He can be too focused on outside things. Life is a busy place. And sometimes our ideas on how to spend those busy days do not mesh well with each other.

Another clash that can occur is releasing stress at home. My husband is a loving, generous, serving, people pleaser. Sometimes he has to let out some stress that he holds. Even though it is never too big, sometimes even just a vague attitude, I don't take it well since he hid all his frustrations so thoroughly at first. I actually believed nothing ever bothered him and his mind was at peace. But a smile doesn't mean everything is okay. It just means you want to make it look like everything is okay. So I try to appreciate his honesty and let him open up.

And try to stop opening up myself. I am good at releasing stress through words. I can complain way too much. I am so very thankful that he has been patient with me in this area. I think too much, as you may have already surmised. I need to be careful before I speak my thoughts. Because often they can distract from what really matters. Too many words clutter out what is really important.

Our communication with each other still has a ways to go. But it has advanced from the beginning with a man who keeps it all in and a woman who probably should. Communication is a very important part of a marriage. We heard that advice from so many people right from the beginning.

And a relationship with God helps too. I don't know how people do it without Him. I can turn to Him when I want to give up. He helps me change my focus, reset my priorities, and most importantly, to forgive.

Sometimes I irritably feel like there is too much to forgive. But then I am reminded that there is also way too much to be thankful for in our exciting lives together. It needs work. But we have love I never could have imagined. We have many wonderful memories. It never gets boring! So many discoveries together in life and travel. So much laughter. We have dreams we share. And we have a beautiful daughter.