Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Season of Birthdays

Birthdays!  Sometimes it seems as though all our boys want to talk about is their birthday.  Typically they begin planning their next birthday party about a month after their birthday.  Here I am just recuperating from the past few months of birthdays and parties, and they're already talking about the next one!  So we have a standing rule established that starts in January: no birthday talk until Dylan's birthday.  In August!

Sometimes the mundane of daily existence can outshine moments.  Special moments need to be embraced.  It is in the stopping, the experiencing of those moments where we catch the true essence of what matters.

Although birthday talk is banished for a great part of the year, we try our best to make each birthday special.  Family traditions have evolved over the past almost nine years to become a family dinner consisting of the birthday boys' favourite, cake and, of course, presents on the actual day.  We try not to overdo.  Dinner is simple and homemade.  Gifts are small, consisting of useful items and candy.  Weekday birthdays usually mean the cake will be cupcakes with icing.  Nothing fancy.

We want our boys to appreciate simple,  We want them to understand the things that truly matter are made up of moments, not money.  It is about being with people they truly enjoy and love, not a place.  It is about embracing what is happening around and for them, not what they get.

September is Nicholas's birthday month.  He turned the most wonderful age of 5!  He's still at that magical stage of being excited about all things in life.  He's also at the age in our family where he could have a small birthday party with a few friends.  This means now there are two events surrounding each boys birthday, the family meal AND a kid party.  But in a family our size, it's nice to be able to celebrate them as individuals more than once to make them feel really special.

It's also a chance for us to do a fancy decorated cake (I use the word 'fancy' loosely here, by the way).  It's taken us a few years of practice, but I'd say this cake is our best yet.  It had candy and a monster truck on a ramp, Nicholas was thrilled!

There isn't a boys in our house who isn't excited by a gift of candy in any form.  I hope my boys will always appreciate the simple gift of a chocolate bar.  Not because of what it is, but because it was a gift given to them.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Not {Quite} Ready...Yet

Early Tuesday morning the big yellow bus stopped at the end of our lane where four excited boys climbed up the stairs and were whisked off to begin another school year.

The night before backpacks hung ready with labelled indoor shoes and pencil cases.  Lunches were packed with the ease of repetition.  The excitement of returning to friends and loved teachers hung heavy mixed with the trepidation of change and new and different.  But even as school routine fell into place as easily as slipping on a favorite cozy sweater, I don't feel ready.

A couple of days into the week still finds me not quite ready for summer to be over and the busyness of school to begin once more.  I'm not ready to say good-bye to four of my boys for so many hours each day.  I'm not ready to give up the slower routine of summertime that is forgiving of stolen moments of play or exploration that drift into stolen hours.

Life this summer looked a little differently for us as we are now baby-free and more easily mobile.  Being able to go out the door in a relatively short time opens up so many more opportunities of doing and going.  I want to hold these moments a little longer and cherish the days while they are still my little boys playing, climbing, jumping and imagining.  I know in a time that is no longer far enough away they will not all be littles anymore.  I still love having littles.  I'm also thoroughly enjoying all the flexibility that boys, not babies and toddlers, provide.

Even as I savoured the lazier days of summer, I used the slower pace to begin implementing new routines to help shift our home form a house of littles and chaos and piles to a home with some semblance of order.  Sometimes we had a few slower days in a row when we could do a really workable routine that included chores, meal planning, and a smooth bedtime.  It gave me a little taste of what our back-to-school routine would look like.  It felt good.  It felt doable.  It felt calm.

But really, for the majority of summer the days of going left routine behind.  And often, those days were even better.  

Mother Nature was so accommodating in providing hot summer days right up to the very last day of summer vacation.  And in true McLaughlin fashion, we kept the days full and busy with a little relaxing time sprinkled in - picnics, visiting with friends, sleepovers with grandparents, playing in the pool, browsing at the market, swimming at the falls, crafting, Lego, WII, the garden and preparing for the local Fair.

 And of course, the beach!

It's all good.  It's all been good.  I'm just not quite ready to let it all go,  Not yet.  Even as we slipped so easily into the routine of preparing for school once again after a lovely two month break, I am going to hold tight to my resistance in giving up summer for just a little longer.  There are still hours after school when we can pretend school routine hasn't caught up with us just yet.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Spilled Milk and Coffee Grounds

I really admire people who are graceful and poised.  I, unfortunately, am not.  Instead, I am clumsy, lack balance and am prone to tripping over my own feet if I'm not paying enough attention to my movements.  It's not unusual for me to drop things I'm holding without reason. And, I'm forever knocking things over because they are near me.  I believe I spill more cups at the table than all the boys put together.

However, today seems to be an exceptionally clumsy day for me.  It all started when I got out of bed today.  Yep, that's all it took.  And it doesn't seem to be getting any better.

I began by multi-tasking at breakfast when I was cooking Cream of Wheat while boiling water for coffee.  Seems rather straightforward, run-of-the-mill sort of stuff, wouldn't you think?  Well, so did I.  At least until I began scooping the coffee grounds into the pot with the Cream of Wheat instead of into the coffee press sitting right next to it!  And my initial thought was, "why are the coffee grounds spreading around like that?  Usually they just sit in a pile until the water is added."  [insert shaking my head here].  It didn't even register that I had done such a silly thing.

Thankfully nothing else has gone quite that badly yet again today.  But I have managed to knock over the olive jar as I tried to put the lid back on.  I also sat the milk down half on top of something so that it spilled.  And when I was putting the fresh-picked carrots in cold water for supper, I dumped the dish on my foot instead.

Seriously, I'm considering heading back to bed and starting over soon!  In the meantime I'm just going to blame today's clumsy maneuvers on this persistent headache I have.  And to keep myself and everyone around me safe and not sticky with spilled something-or-other all over them, I decided to sit on the deck with my feet up and a cup of tea to wait for my lavender headache massage oil to start doing it's thing.

Here's hoping your day is going more smoothly than mine.