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Really, Lainie, Let Yourself Off the Hook

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One of those photos where you realize, oh man.  I’m a Mom!  (photo credit: E. Holmes)

 

You spend five days a week with three kids under three years of age (by yourself).  Each day you pack them up and take them somewhere they’ll enjoy.  The beach. The big park with too many toys.  To the sandbox.  To the farmer’s market.  To the Rainbow Tunnel.  To… Each day is planned around them.

You lie on the floor with them and play with trucks and cars.  You bake with them.  You make homemade popsicles with them. You paint with them.  You crawl around on all fours as they ride on you like a horse.  You watch for crafts and activities to do with them.   You took three small children to story hour at the library last week (people asked, Are they all yours!?!)

And you teach an online course.  You are creating an online quilting course with and for your mom.  You are trying to do things you enjoy.  You’ve taken a pottery class.  You’ve taken classes through Skillshare.  You took that Brene Brown course you’ve been meaning to do.  You are getting back to reading fiction again.  You’re reading another non-fiction book to do some reflecting about yourself – you want to be better for the kids. You volunteer with the local community group.  You write a blog series for them called, Humans of Danforth East.  You’ve been sewing for the kids.  You’ve been sewing for others.  You’ve been catching up with friends.

You are also getting migraines again.  Every day you beat yourself up for not doing or being enough for the kids.  I should be playing with them now instead of trying to send an email or posting to Instagram.  Where are your priorities?!  I should be playing  with Tate instead of letting him watch TV.  I should be spending quality time with Eric instead of being on the computer.  I shouldn’t feel frustrated when the kids wake up from their naps (because I want more alone time).  I should put my phone away when they are awake.  I don’t want them growing up with a mom behind her phone or on her computer.

I just can’t seem to keep myself under control.  I want to do more and more and more. Why is that?  I’ve never had so much time to do what I want (ah, the irony).  I could do anything I want and I want to do everything.  But in wanting to do everything and be everything, I’m totally not in alignment with what matters.  Being the best mom I can be. This is what I care about most.

As someone whose family members once called her a career woman who would never have kids, I am now a stay-at-home mom to three small children and I’m happier than I ever was in my career.  Exhausted and often without clean clothes, but happy.  I’ve actually just extended my maternity leave for another year to be home with the kids. And yet I feel like I’m doing things that don’t align with what I truly care about.

If I truly put them first, I wouldn’t have a million projects on the go.  I would be excited when I hear them wake up after napping.  I would play whenever they asked and would be totally present.  But I think I also need to be a bit gracious and kind with myself.

I am a human who has little people wanting her attention from the moment she gets up in the morning to when they go to bed at night (and still feedings in the night for Charlie).  I can’t just get up and go where I want, when I want.  My days are filled with changing diapers, finding snacks, prepping meals, play, play, play, going on adventures, books before bed, trying to find our house again beneath couch cushion forts and the toys strewn the entire length of our main floor…

I am doing the best that I can for right now.  I have a creative mind that loves ideas.  I love to think and make things.  It’s just trying to manage my own expectations. I am enough.  I am doing enough.  I always think that things could be better.  I am a perfectionist.  And perfectionism and being a mom do not go well together.  I am learning this the hard way.  I’m constantly in battle with myself over my decisions and what I’m doing and not doing.

My kids will be fine despite me (I hope).  I need to tell myself, let yourself off the hook, Lainie Beth.  Just be the mom you are.

 

I love this book by Nick Bland.  My mom had it up at the cabin this summer.  It was a message I needed to hear (thanks, Mom!)  We are all different and have our quirks. That’s what makes our kids lucky to have us.

 

The Lainie List

 

  1. What!?! I’ve never heard of this before. Poor baby bunnies.
  2. A look inside a designer treehouse
  3. A free online course I just took
  4. Why Your Kids Just Need You
  5. My Gram, the meaning behind my Writing Acts of Kindness: 30 Day Challenge
  6. Sweetery: Canada’s Largest Sweets Festival in Toronto
  7. The Dough
  8. My anaconda don’t…
  9. Yay! A friend just opened her new ice cream shop.
  10. I need to stop eating this. So good.
  11. Take the Quiz.  Which one are you?
  12. Cook this Page: Parchment Recipes.  Those sneaky Nordic geniuses at Ikea.  
  13. Raspberry Sangria Recipe
  14. Figuring out my word for this year

 

Hope you’re having a great weekend!  If you’d like to see more of my everyday life, follow me on Instagram.

The Lainie List


 

This week I came across a blog I loved. Like, I have a girl crush on this woman. She is

super creative, real and funny. Check out Tracy at www.shutterbean.com

 

Each week, she posts a list of what she’s been reading, watching, and checking out online.

I was inspired to give it a try.  It’s weird to share without any context, but a bit liberating

at the same time.  I’m a wild woman.

Temptation of the Night

Each day I say
I won’t do it
I won’t get suckered in again
And as the night begins to creep
Hello again my friend

The house is beautifully calm
No chaos or screaming to be
The soft glow of the lamp
My notebook
and just me

Writing is a joy
Something just for me
So as they all sleep soundly
I’m happy as can be

Eventually I start to fade
The night approaching morn
I try to sneak into our bed
To avoid a bit of scorn

So although I say
I won’t do it
We all know it’s true
Staying up waaay too late
Is something I’ll likely do.

~Poem written my a mom with three busy little ones, who loves her late night quiet time.

Recipe Cards as Thoughtful Gifts

It was a way to see familiar faces and a bit of home when I was 19 hours away.
When I left home for university, my Mom gave me a set of recipe cards she had made.  Each had a photo of family members or friends, along with a favourite recipe from my childhood.  It was a way to see familiar faces and a bit of home when I was 19 hours away.
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Bottom left to right: my Grandma Lainie on her four-wheeler, my grandma and I at my high school graduation party, Halloween with our cousins, my brother playing in a mud puddle, and me holding little awards from grade 1.

Recipes are nostalgic.  They remind us of family dinners or special occasions.  I think that’s why they make great gifts.
Maybe there’s someone you know who would love a set of their own.  It’s a nice opportunity for you to do a  Writing Act of Kindness for someone you care about!

5 Signs You Have Two Toddlers in the House

Your curtains are tied up each morning so the curtain rod isn’t pulled out of the wall.

Your bathtub is basically a glorified toy box, complete with a pair of water wings.

 

You’ve become that house with kiddie crafts EVERYWHERE.

The reading selection on your nightstand has changed dramatically.

 

 

A daily morning routine is unplugging your lamp and putting it up as high as possible so it doesn’t get broken.

 

It’s funny how your house changes once you have kids. The more mobile they get, the more table tops become bare and the breakables move higher. It’s like going minimalist but with a ridiculous number of toys and books everywhere and Cheerios all over the floor.

But I take these photos because I want to remember it.

I want to remember that our son was so excited when he got his first pair of water wings that he wore them most of the afternoon and into the tub that night. Or the reason why we had to tie the curtains up was because the boys loved playing peekaboo a little too much and almost took down the curtains one day.

When you come into our house, there’s no question that toddlers live here.

I just want to remember the fun.

People Don’t Write Letters Anymore

You likely have a few letters or cards tucked away at home from someone special in your life.  You might even have an old diary you kept as a kid or the first love letter you got. We just can’t seem to throw these things out, and we shouldn’t.

There’s something personal and intimate about the act of putting pen to paper.  Someone taking the time to sit down and share their thoughts.  They were thinking of you.

I wish we did it more.

But people don’t really write letters anymore.

Text messages on the go.  A quick email update.  It’s like conversations happen and then are lost and forgotten.

But with writing, we have it forever.  Their voice, their words.  It’s them.  We see the curves of their handwriting on paper.  We value it, yet seem to do it less and less.

So after about a year of writing on my blog, I think I’ve decided what I want to write more about.  I think that I’m going to start using my blog as a place to help others write and to share great stories.

I’m really excited and have tons of ideas swirling around…

I’d like to share ideas for how you might write to your children

How you could capture the stories of someone significant in your life

Ways that writing can be used to create thoughtful gifts

And touching stories from friends and family about something written.

I might put together little writing challenges and encourage others to join me – writing something small each week for different people in our lives.

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Scribbled thoughts in my notebook

For some reason, not many of us see ourselves as writers.  That somehow it’s a skill reserved for those who write books or publish in magazines.  But I think we’re all writers and our words have the ability to bring us closer to others.

I hope that you’ll join me…

Birds on the Brain: Spring Activities for Toddlers

I’m not a fan of birds and yet here I am…building nests, watching YouTube videos of eggs hatching, and looking for robins outside.  I’ve become the Martha Stewart of bird crafts and activities.  The things we do for our kids.

Below are a few photos of things we’ve been trying…

Our oldest was SO excited by this YouTube video: Baby Bird Hatching. He was so surprised when the baby broke out of its’ shell. The smile on his face was priceless. This was a win.
I was on my own in my excitement with this one. Mom fail. His little brother is a fan though. He yells out, “Buuuah!” while pointing at the magnets and scrambling over to grab them off the wall. Our oldest now refers to the magnets by their names, “Mama, where cardinal?” “Here, wren!” So it seems like he took something away from it.
We made bird nest cookies. The kids’ idea of ‘baking’ is eating the ingredients while I quickly put everything together. They prefer to be passive observers who continually request “mo-chocolate, peeze mama”.
He was very excited to make a bird feeder. Paper towel roll, peanut butter, and bird seed. “Sprinkle food, mama.” As I carried the feeder towards the front door, he ran back and forth around me yelling out, “Food birdies!!” He stood at our front picture window for the longest time repeating, “eat birdies. Come eat food, birdies.” It’s been hours and we haven’t seen one yet. Here’s to hoping.

I look forward to the little activities and crafts I have planned for them each day. I’m curious to see how they’ll react and whether they’ll find it interesting.

I started planning them as something fun to do with our oldest (while his brother and sister nap in the mornings). I’ve noticed he’s been looking for more attention lately, so it was something special we could do, just the two of us.

Some days he’s really into it. “Craft! Craft!” Other days we’ll be in the middle of watching a YouTube video of birds hatching and he’ll request videos of trucks or trains. Shiny object! Squirrel! I don’t push it. It’s supposed to be fun, not forced.

I have a few more ideas of things that we could do but I think it’s time to try something different. The kid loves puddles. Slapping his hand in the dirtiest of them all, jumping in them, stomping…I think we’ll start doing a few things with puddles. Plus, it’s supposed to rain all week so there will be lots of opportunities to explore.

I’m very lucky to have met some amazing early years educators. Their voices are the reminders I need when the kids don’t seem interested in what we’re doing. It’s not about planning structured, themed activities that children must do despite their interest levels. It’s about seeing children as the naturally curious creatures they are and letting them lead the way.

I need to observe my boys, watch to see what interests them, and then go there. I have much to learn but I’m having a lot of fun.

Writer’s Note: Who Inspired Me and How I Got Started

A few weeks ago, I took my boys to a free story time program at a nearby arts studio. The lady who facilitated it was phenomenal.

She grabbed a picture book and had the children following her around the room like Mother Goose. They skipped, danced, and quickly came in close as she drew them in with the next portion of the book. Then off they’d go again!

She carefully held a wind chime and quietly called each child up by name to touch it and listen to its’ sound. She made a simple wind chime from a dollar store seem like a magical object. I even found myself thinking it was pretty cool (I told you she was phenomenal).

The kids tilted rain sticks, danced around the room pulling coloured scarves through the air, and stomped their feet to mimic thunder. Needless to say, I was not only impressed but inspired. I should be doing things like this for my boys. I started my planning that night.

I opened up a Google doc and began brainstorming some possible themes for spring…

Rain
Puddles
Birds
Flowers
Seeds
Frogs

With each, I listed ideas for different learning experiences, crafts, and activities. Flowers and seeds…I’ll wait until we plant our flower beds and garden. Rain and puddles, I’m sure there will be a lot of that in April. Let’s start with birds because soon we’ll put our bird feeders out.

A few days later, I snuck out of the house at 8 p.m. and left our newborn with my hubby. I went to the library …I am a wild woman these days! I scoured the shelves looking for books that could fit in with any of the themes — snapping photos of ones I might borrow later so I could easily find them. I came home with two great books…

I thought we could read this book and then look at YouTube videos of birds in nests, birds hatching, etc. This book is beautifully illustrated and short and sweet. Our oldest loved it. He’s almost 2 1/2.
“Some birds soar high, while some birds just walk. Some birds waddle, some birds hop…” I thought we could move around and dance like the lady in the storytime program. Although we weren’t as graceful, we had fun stretching our arms and moving around the kitchen like soaring birds. It’s official — I have now reached a whole new level of silly.

I’m so glad that we went to the storytime program that day. Sometimes we need someone to show us what’s possible and to give us the inspiration we need to get started. I hope that maybe this post has done the same for you — given you a little idea that you might want to try with little ones too.

Two Questions You Need to Ask a Stranger

There are two questions that will get total strangers laughing and sharing stories.  I experienced it first hand at a conference a couple years ago.

There were hundreds of us in the room.   Some knew each other and most did not.  The facilitators asked us to divide into groups based on the decade in which we were born. 

If you were born in the 70s, move to the back corner…the 80s, over here at the side…

We were asked to talk about these two questions:

1. What do you remember wearing as a teenager?
2.
Do you remember the first record, 8 track, cassette, CD, or download you bought?

I met a lady who grew up in the Ukraine.  As a teenager, the first cassette she bought was AC/DC.  She even put an AC/DC patch on her bag that she carried around school.  Funny thing was, she had no idea who they were.  Everyone talked about them so she played along.  Secretly, she loved classical music and went on to study it.

It took a while for the facilitators in the room to bring us back together.  Yes!!! I remember that… Oh my god, I did that too…

You might be wondering if it’s a good idea or not to divide people by age.  I found that it was actually a lot of fun because it brought people together around some similar experiences. We also had choice with which group to join.  Depending on your workplace and group dynamics, you’ll know whether it’s an icebreaker to try or not.

I decided to bring this icebreaker into an online course I was teaching.

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Sharing what we wore and laughing about our bad fashion sense brings us together.  It makes us more than a name on the screen, but rather another person who also made mixed tapes from the radio or used wwaaaaaay too much hairspray back in the day.  It creates connections.

It encourages us to open up to strangers and share a little bit of ourselves.  Which in turn, makes it more likely for us to comment on each other’s work, ask questions, or reach out with an email.

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Me rocking  a loon sweatshirt, turtleneck, and bangs (I can’t even explain) – back in the early 90s

So if you also wore a Northern Reflections sweatshirt or loved a good bodysuit (not the ones for swimming folks), share a comment to this blog!  What did you wear as a teen?  What album did you first buy?

We don’t need to be strangers anymore…

Confessions from My Grade 8 Diary

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My diary from grade 8.  I bought it from a Scholastic Book Fair at my school.

 

After watching the documentary Mortified Nation on Netflix, I had to go find my grade 8 diary.

“Part documentary, part concert film, Mortified Nation captures adults sharing their most embarrassing childhood writings on stage and chronicles how the simple act of exposing one’s private past can inspire an entire nation to “share the shame.”

Instead of reading diary entries on stage for an audience of total strangers, why not write a blog post with them!

 


 

Wednesday, March 3, 1993

At school it wasn’t that bad (for once).  Went to the gym at noon with Daniel and the girls trying to line dance for the next assembly.  It was funny.  Wore red eraser today.  Everyone liked it.  Ski trip to Biwabic tomorrow.  I have everything packed from candy to clothes.  I am wearing my sunglasses, headband, red eraser, red turtleneck, Dad’s blue sweatpants, and Mom’s pullover jacket.  My buddy is Brooke for skiing.  Tiffany leaves for Arizona on Saturday.

Since when was it a thing to wear your parents clothes?!  Does anyone else remember this?  I need to Google “Red Eraser”…

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Now I remember what Red Eraser was!  But really, Red Eraser and 1991 described as “vintage,” come on…

 


Thursday, April 22, 1993

NEWSFLASH!  Dumped!  Heather was by Jeremy after 1 hr they went out.  Tori dumped Ronnie.  BIG mistake!  We got our class pictures back and all I can say is “O Lord.”  There are boxes and boxes of stuff for our garage sale.  Me and Jennifer biked to school.  Played baseball. FUN! Sat. is going to be fun! Car wash, B.B.Q. garage sale, penny table, selling time capsule envelopes just for raising money for our Winnipeg trip.

Oh, the heartache…breaking up after a whole hour!  It really makes a person wonder what could have happened in that 60 minutes to end the relationship.  And for someone who didn’t have a boyfriend in elementary school, I sure knew what was happening in the love lives of others.



Monday, May 10, 1993

Today was Uncle Kelly’s birthday…I hope he got my card.  Today was in the 60’s (not too bad).  School was quite normal other words boring.  We signed up for the Track Meet.  I’m in discus maybe shot put.  I wore my tie today everyone liked it.  William mowed the lawn tonight so he gets $20.  I’d rather watch T.V.  Good exercise but not on my back and in 90 C weather.  Jennifer is paying Shawn to be nice.  God she’s going to be broke in high school.

Oh man, I remember wearing ties.  Not good.  This would be why I didn’t have a boyfriend in elementary school.


Tuesday, May 25, 1993

This morning the weather was so warm & sunny…this afternoon a rainstorm.  Baseball was almost cancelled we lost vs Expos 1-5. (Luck!)  The dance Friday is cancelled not enough people are going.  But we are having the photo booth Friday at recess.  I think I’m liking…oh no…another to the list…

Another to add to the list!  Why did I keep a list of boys I liked?  This is mortifying.  What purpose would a list serve?

diary entry

To decipher the code above, I drew a picture of a baseball diamond.  (I played a lot of baseball at school and was in a rec. league.)  In my drawing, I was showing that I liked the boy who played first base.  Since I have no idea who that was, my coding system did indeed keep my secrets!

Also, the eight ball?  I don’t even know what that is.  I think it has something to do with a clothing brand.  Maybe he wore it?



Thursday, June 3, 1993 (Last day of my grade 8 grad trip to Winnipeg)

Today we woke up at 6:00 and swam till 7:30 a.m.  We left early and checked out.  We had breakfast in McDonald’s.  I had a danish.  We went shopping in Polo Park.  I bought a white Club Monaco, a black Club Monaco, purple Bongo jeans.  We had a nice lunch on the river rouge cruise for about 3 hours.  Then we went shopping in St. Vital.  I bought a striped E.N.U.F. shirt and shorts, blue button fly jeans, earrings.  We had a big supper in Red Lobster.  We got home at 12:30 a.m.

Club Monaco sweatshirts and coloured jeans, maybe I did have some fashion sense after all! There was hope for me.


 

You’ll notice that fashion was a very important thing to me back in the day, and apparently I was boy obsessed (which is quite embarrassing).  I do have to say, I did very well in the end.  My husband is incredible.

I loved shopping for clothes.  Growing up in a small town, the closest mall to us was a 3 ½ hour drive to Winnipeg, Manitoba.  So when my family made a trip into the city for a weekend, I was ready to shop!

Mondetta sweatshirts, white Guess jeans with a triangle on the back pocket, Body Shop anything, Ked shoes, Northern Reflection sweatshirts, Cotton Ginny…

I would save my money for these shopping sprees.  I had started my first job in grade 8, working after school at the public library in town.  It was pretty exciting to be 13 and to get regular paychecks.  I was proud to be able to pay for my clothes myself, which is probably why I wrote about clothes so much in my diary entries.

Anyways, if you kept a diary, go dig it out!  Get to know who you used to be and what mattered to you. It might surprise you.

And if you haven’t seen Mortified Nation, I’d recommend it.  It’s like watching a stand-up comedy show that will remind you of your own awkward teen years.  Enjoy!