Saturday, October 1, 2016

Finding 40 to be Fabulous

Earlier this year I reached a life-changing milestone when I celebrated my 40th birthday.  My years of being a 30-something are now behind me and it feels oh-so-right.  I am at a really good place in my life just now.  I'm content with who I am and the life I've lived that has shaped me into being who that is.

In the weeks leading up to my 40th birthday, I spent time reflecting on what being a 30-something meant to me.  My 30's included giving birth to, and raising five amazing boys that challenge me, amuse me, and fill my heart to bursting.  They were years filled with being stretched to new proportions in love, patience and flexibility {both mentally and physically}.  More often than not, my time, my physical body, and my needs were not my own.  They are days I treasure beyond measure but they are also days I am content I am no longer living in the midst of anymore.  It didn't take me long to realize that approaching 40 was something to be embraced because all I have lived is imprinted in who I am now.

It was that final nudge I needed to strip away my concerns over what others might be thinking of me so that I can instead more fully embrace what has taught me, shaped me, and informed the person I am.  I am married to the love of my life. I am learning to discover and pursue my passions. I have sailed through many happy times, waded through struggles, suffered loss, dealt with sickness, known rejection, met people who have inspired me, felt the sting of loneliness, and learned that I need friends.  I know how to laugh at what tickles me, and how to cry when it hurts.  I've learned that there are times I should speak up more boldly and that sometimes it's okay to be silent.  I am a person who craves time alone, likes routine, could waste all day reading, is challenged by learning new things, and likes to talk {a lot}.  I struggle with self-esteem and self-confidence.  I am quite content to remain home for days on end.  I am very pleased that I am evolving from night owl to morning person.

Although it's been a slow process, I am learning to like who I am and change the things that don't make sense anymore.  I am a work in progress that has taken 40 years to get here but I finally feel I have something to offer the world {or at least the people close to me}.  I wouldn't want to give up any of the days of learning I've lived that have brought me here right now.  And for that reason alone, I embrace this new phase of life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Did You Know... September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?

I didn't.

And that saddens me because my nephew, Jake, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma at the age of 4 and received multiple treatments over a 7 year period before he lost his battle at age 11.  Neuroblastoma is a childhood cancer.  Throughout those seven years I learned A LOT about cancer, chemotherapy, blood counts, medications, and just how amazing pediatric cancer nurses and doctors are among so many other things cancer-related.  I even learned that a gold ribbon symbolizes support for pediatric cancer and I have one I can pin on my shirt.  But I was never made aware that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

simplebounty.blogspot.caI know that April is Daffodil month, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month with a pink ribbon symbol, and November finds mustaches sprouting everywhere changing the face of men's health. I've walked the track and lit candles at a Relay For Life and cheered on those shaving their locks at Cops for Cancer. Each of these events and awareness campaigns make a huge impact and mean a lot to me personally because people I love have been impacted by cancer.  So how did I miss September's campaign about something so close to my heart?

I'm not even sure how I became aware that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month actually.  I believe it may have popped up somewhere in one of my social media feeds at some point along the way.  So now I am informing myself more about it and want to make others aware of it as well.

Did you know...

 - pediatric cancers are unique from adult cancers

- pediatric cancers are most often found in the blood, brain or bones

- pediatric cancer is the leading cause of disease related death in children (
- in Canada only 3% of all cancer research funding is directed toward childhood cancer research

- there are 10,000 children in Canada living with cancer

- 1,500 children will be diagnosed with a pediatric cancer this year

- 1 in 5 children will not survive

 - survival rates for childhood cancer patients is now over 82%! 

 - 2 out of 3 survivors live with long term side effects (

To get started finding out more information and ways to donate you can check out the following websites and videos:

Childhood Cancer Canada Whiteboard Video
SickKids - Childhood Cancer


Maybe you can help me spread the word by sharing posts on social media to make others aware.  The children fighting these diseases and their families need all the support we can give them.

I know.  I was part of the family team that helped care for Jake when he was home from the hospital. All the prayers and love that were directed toward Jake and his family through a really tough time has never been forgotten.  Jake will never be forgotten.  He was one of a kind.

1., Childhood Cancer Statistics, 2016 [Sept 21, 2016]
2., 2016 [Sept 19, 2016]

Monday, August 29, 2016

When Your Baby Is No Longer A Baby

Simple Bounty
Things are slowly beginning to take on a new and different shape around our home.  The cupboard no longer has a shelf designated for just sippy cups.  Smaller bowls with cartoon designs have been replaced by a stack of small fruit nappies.  There is no longer a diaper bag just inside the door ready to be grabbed as we slip out the door.  And there are no booster seats or high chairs pulled up to the table.

Even the toys are taking on a different form.  Each room has its own collection of Lego, stacks of books and various forms of building toys and trucks.  Gone are the Mega Bloks.  There isn't a Little People bus to be found.

Although the shapes of things have changed and roles are beginning to alter as each of the boys grow older, there are some fundamental parts of our family that will always remain the same. The twins will always be the oldest, or 'the big boys' as I call them. Sweet Evan will always be our very middle boy. Nicholas, our most determined boy. And Dylan is our baby.
Simple Bounty

A few weeks ago our baby turned 4.  Just like all parents we asked ourselves how so much time had passed so quickly.  He's so clearly not a baby any longer but there is still just enough little in him to help take the sting of his growing up away.  We celebrated with his choice of birthday supper - spaghetti and meatballs.  His brothers gave him our traditional simple birthday gifts - chocolate bars.  He was a happy little boy.

My sweet boy, Dylan, is quick to smile, spreads his love around freely with hugs for people when he greets them, and he is always excited to head out to do something.  He tells me he loves me at least 15 times a day.  He loves big.  He expects everyone loves him in return.  He plays hard.  His biggest fear is squirrels.

Simple Bounty
And each night when it's time to be tucked into bed, I stand just outside his bedroom door with his little arms wrapped around my neck.  He calls out good-night to everyone in turn and waits for the response he clearly anticipates. He almost always includes his beloved pets Kacy the dog, Minnie the cat and Red Bandit the guinea pig. Then his little head snuggles in to my shoulder, his thumb pops into his mouth and he tells me one last time he loves me as I carry him into his bed. 

Even though the number of years say he might not be a baby any longer, he will always be my baby.  

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Stolen Moment

Sweet Dylan, my baby.

Big blue eyes with the longest eyelashes that brush his soft cheek.  Soft blond hair that once hung long in wispy curls now cut to reflect the boy he is becoming.  Rosy full lips smile sweet and plant warm kisses.  Lanky in leg and arm, he stands tall.

He is a boy who deeply loves all within his world.  Each day he tells me how he loves me, often he folds me in a close hug while telling me so.  He fully expects we return the love and basks in being doted on by his patient older brothers.  And they do.  And we all do.  Because he is our Dylan.

But please do NOT try to make him do what he has set his mind against.  Then you will meet the stubborn Dylan that hides beneath a blanket or sits sullenly showing you only his back.  A boy who feels love so deeply also feels hopes shattered just as deeply.

Recently a busy morning began with Dylan visiting a JK class in preparation for school days in the fall.  Attending his brothers' doctor's appointment followed where we sat waiting an hour.  The early afternoon was spent helping Daddy in his workshop.  A boy, still only three, full of life, sometimes needs a rest on a day so filled with busyness.

Eyelids drooping, thumb found its way into his mouth.  Sleepy Dylan refusing to lie down or sit to read a story.  Resistance beginning to waiver, allowing me to snuggle him close against my chest while standing and swaying a rocking rhythm perfected from many days practice.  My off-key rendition of 'Hush Little Baby' sung as a mantra echoing many nights gone by.  It is a version of the lullaby only my children appreciate.

A Stolen MomentArms trembling with the holding of him.  Legs cramping from the swaying.  Back aching from the weight of him.  Voice cracking with the singing on repeat.  Until his lovely eyes flutter closed to rest in slumber.  Until his frowning face relaxes into sweetness.  Until his body softens into mine.

I stay holding him close and remember him daily sleeping in my arms: the snuggles and cuddles, the nursing, the days when I was his world.  Sweet, sweet memories cherished in every mother's heart.

Some days mommy knows best and has to push hard to meet her little ones' needs.  This day it was to
help him fall asleep.  And in the toiling through the refusing and crying and complaining and pushing of it all, mommy got the best reward - a moment stolen from the past.  A stolen moment of rocking her sleeping baby.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Keeping Too Much Stuff Makes Clutter

Simple BountyI have a tendency to keep...well, everything.  It is probably one of the things I struggle with most.  I am a huge saver of things that may be used, or may be needed, or may be of use to someone.  Rather than fill our space and home only with items that are of use to us now or have a specific purpose of use, I have filled it with things that may be useful.  Some day.  By someone.  It. Just. Doesn't. Make. Sense.

If I had some noble reason for saving it maybe it wouldn't feel like quite such a burden weighing on me.  But I don't.  It is simply an inability to part with stuff.  Not because I want the items or think they are particularly useful.  Not even because it makes sense to keep it for any reason really.  Being a saver of 'stuff' has become a millstone.  

The trouble with all this stuff I save for use at some indefinable time is how much it hinders us from being able to enjoy our space in comfort and ease.  There is clutter and piles making some areas difficult to organize because they are overrun with too much.  The result is unrest for all.  Things cannot be found easily or quickly.  Mess is left because putting it away is not simple. 

As the accumulation has happened, in a way, I felt somewhat of a spectator watching it grow.  There have been some very legitimate reasons why I haven't tackled the problem head on over the years (we had five babies in 5 1/2 years) as well as some lame excuses (I just don't know how to deal with it).  Although I have turned a blind eye to it at times, the need to do something has never been far from the surface of my mind and I have spent vast quantities of time thinking about my problem even though I have never quite tackled the problem itself. 

I know there are two root reasons why I keep stuff.  The first is my list of "What if's..."  What if we need it someday?  What if the boys want to play with it again?  What if someone else could use it?

The second reason is emotional attachment.  If any of us have used the object or my children made it, played with it, touched it, I feel I must keep it.  Even mysterious tiny bits and pieces must be kept in case something we've used needs that part to fix it.  Or, what if one of the boys find a need for it in one of their projects.

Rationally I know none of it really makes sense or is a good reason to hold on to an object.  But that is the thing, it's not something that is rational.  It is something that is emotional.  Something that is an ingrained part of me that is not easy to change because it cannot be thought through.  It is felt.

Most of the time I am able to assess the items I see as excess and acknowledge they are unnecessary for our home, yet I keep them anyway.  Again, in my time spent thinking about it rather than doing anything about it, I believe my emotional attachment to things stems from two things: 1.  learned behavior and 2.  Decision Fatigue.

With the first, learned behavior, I watched my mom make do with little for much of the time.  As a result, she saved as much as she could so she could offer things to help her children.  She doesn't want us to have to live as she did for so long.

The second, Decision Fatigue, is the direct result of being mostly responsible for making many decisions on an ongoing basis for many little people and being sleep deprived a great deal of the time.  As decision-making has never been a strong skill for me, the overload and overburden with so many littles caused my ability to make decisions about anything not pertaining to daily living to shut down.

But the biggest thing I've learned through all my soul-searching about my inability to part with stuff is simple.  My action, or rather my inaction, is impacting my children in many negative ways.  They are learning by my bad example.  And ready or not, I need to start making some serious changes in my behaviors so I can set a much healthier example for my children.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Best Place To Be {Is Spending Time Together}

 The weather was predicted to be -20 Celsius with large accumulations of lake effect snow flurries piling up on us that day.  The permission form had been signed and returned granting permission for Evan to join his class in a day of outdoor activities including bird watching and snowshoeing.  Arrangements had been made for the youngest, not yet in school, to spend the day with my mom, freeing me up to join Evan on his class trip.

After enduring the previous week of sick in our house, I had ended up with a really nasty sinus cold.  I felt miserable!  There was no way I really wanted to participate in anything so...cold and uncomfortable.  Winter and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship.  I love its beauty.  I love how the world is covered in a beautiful blanket of white concealing the brown and bare beneath it.  I love that winter is a time of slow down and stay home all warm and cozy.  On the other hand, I am not a fan of being cold.  Nor am I a fan of driving on winter slippery roads. 

With careful consideration I made sure Evan wasn't aware of my lack of enthusiasm for joining him on the outing.  After all, I was looking forward to spending the time with my Evan, it was the cold itinerary and nasty sinus cold that had me bemoaning the fact I had so readily agreed to accompany him.  Since snowshoeing is a winter activity I enjoy, I knew it would be alright.  Still I just did not want to.

Checking the forecast for a final time the night before, Evan and I laid out extra layers of clothes to wear beneath our snow clothes, packed a hearty lunch and had our backpacks filled with only what we would need to carry.  I pulled my warmest snowmobiling suit out of the back of the closet and found myself a cozy toque to pull over my ears that would meet my soft scarf.  I was not going to be any colder than necessary.  I carefully planned the limited time I would have in the morning and went to bed a little earlier than usual.  All the while I was still apprehensive about the following day predicted to be one of the coldest we had yet experienced this winter.

Although the morning held a few challenges that started the day offtrack, the day turned out to be nothing like I had envisioned.  The sky was a beautiful clear blue and the sun was shining brightly.  There wasn't a snowflake to mar the brilliance.  Oh, it was definitely cold!  But we were in an area sheltered by trees for most of our outdoor time.  It was only when the strong, cold wind blew at us that our cheeks smarted and we burrowed a little deeper in our snow gear.  Spending part of our time indoors making bird feeders and learning about different types of birds before heading out to find them also helped keep us warm enough.

Throughout the day Evan leaned close to me, beaming all his happiness in my direction with his sweet gapped-tooth smile.  We held hands both while we walked and wore our snowshoes, even though it was awkward and hard.  Our chairs were pulled close whenever we sat doing crafts or eating our lunches.  Evan was not letting a single moment of our time together be wasted.  We'll always have our memories of our day in the snow to share together.

It was so worth spending every moment of the day trudging through snow and shivering with cold!  Even though it felt like the last place I wanted to be, it turned out to be the best place to be.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Some Weeks Are Hard

Weeks of sick are hard.  Days blur.  Bodies filled with limitless energy, lie still.  Growing boys, changing day by day, reflect their younger selves as they lay with stillness.  Loud boy voices subdued with no energy left to squander.  Each boy has his turn with tears and moans and pleas to make it stop.  Night time rest disrupted to tend to ailments suffered.

Hours disappear in the busyness of tending each need in the makeshift sickroom that was once our living room.  Favourite blankets line the couches and chairs making cozy where little bodies nestle.  The television plays movies and shows chosen to whisk sick boys from the misery they feel to worlds where all is right.  Tired eyes heavy with weariness watch the screen
 without reaction.  Sleep claims still bodies.

Mommy moves between them: rubbing backs, touching hollow cheeks, kissing hot foreheads.  Sippy cups with straws are pulled from the back of the cupboard, refilled as soon as it's empty, encouraging parched lips to receive another sip.  Light foods are offered to empty tummies refusing any nourishment.

Some days one or two children venture to school.  The bus rolls up for just so few feet to wearily climb its stairs.  The tired boys returns at the close of the school day, exhausted from energy burned before bodies are fully restored to that of the days before the sickness started.  Back to the days when life was normal.  Normal seems so long ago.

Slowly, day-by-day,  boys become more active.  Tummies stop rebelling.  Throbbing heads clear.  All boys sleep the night through, feeling as they should and resting deeply.

Until finally, a week after it all began, the living room is again filled with log houses and trucks, not blankets covering still bodies.  Boys yelling and playing drown out thoughts, not the television.  Fights break out as they work out different ideas, not cries from feeling awful.  Life is back to normal.