People Hear Us Wherever We Go…

I usually never go anywhere with all three kids alone. Maybe I’m not brave enough or maybe I’m smart enough to know it usually won’t turn out well. Last night Natalie had piano lessons and since Nick is out of town, I had to take all three of them. In my head I imagined the short 30 minute lesson would pass quickly while Jack, Amelia and I sat quietly in the waiting area. There are toys there, and lots of things to look at. It should have been a piece of cake. However, as I’ve learned, if it seems like it should go well, it usually won’t. We arrived a bit early, and Natalie showed her brother and sister the toys to play with while they waited. When she started her lesson, things went downhill quickly. Jack almost toppled a fish tank, Millie had several screaming-fit outbursts and I spent the entire time thinking “people are looking at us. People are LOOKING AT US!!” By the end I carried Amelia out of there under one arm, while Natalie chased me down screaming “MOM!! You forgot your purse!!!” By the end of the 30 minutes I thought I might have a nervous breakdown in the drive thru of McDonald’s (because I wasn’t cooking, and there was NO WAY IN HELL I was going through another period of time with them free-range in a public place). I don’t know if it is because I anticipate bad behaviour, or if they do it because they know that I can’t possibly chase after all of them at once, but my kids always decide to behave in wild and crazy ways while out in public alone with me. I know my daycare provider happily carts around 6 or more kids at once, and therefore I should be able to as well, but honestly, it’s not an easy task. I don’t know how she does it. Maybe if they weren’t my own, they’d listen and behave like perfect angels, or maybe not. I won’t ever try to test that theory.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how other people perceive us. When I had Natalie, I was the easy to spot “first-time” mom with one sweet little baby in a carrier. Sometimes things would go haywire, and my baby would fuss. Back then I was absolutely terrified that I was interrupting other people’s lives with my screaming baby. Now, I know we are terrorizing the general population, and I don’t have time to care. I usually don’t even notice other kids screaming or throwing fits either because 1. I’m tending to my own kids who are doing the same or 2. I’m alone and blissfully unaware of any children (every mom needs to block out kids when she’s not with her own). But I digress… When I first had Natalie I used to get “awwww…your baby is so sweet” looks and comments. It filled me with pride, and made not sleeping through the night for over a year seem almost worth it. ALMOST.

When I had Jack, I went from one to two. Natalie wasn’t yet two, and Jack was a newborn. Again, I got: “awwww….cute kids.” When I go grocery shopping with Jack & Amelia after we drop Natalie off at school, I get comments like: “How perfect. You have a millionaire’s family.” I don’t dare burst their bubble by mentioning my third, who is at school. I can usually always handle Natalie alone, or Natalie and Amelia, or Jack and Amelia. Any combination of two really. However, when I go out with all three I actually get worried looks from strangers. I’ve had people say things like, “I wouldn’t want to be you” as I pushed a cart full of kids through the grocery store. Yes, they are all close in age, and still very young, so I get it. I don’t want to be me in the grocery store with them either!! But still… I know there are other insane people like us out there too. Do they get the same comments and looks? Am I the worst mom in the world because I actually dread grocery shopping with all three of my kids? Why do my kids turn into wild animals as soon as I undo their belt buckles? Will we ever be able to be in public without everyone within a 10 mile radius being able to hear us?

The last time I took all the kids shopping, the check-out lady said this to my son: “I bet I can guess what your name is. JACK! Your mom has been screaming it throughout the store for the past 30 minutes.” She said it with a smile and a laugh, so I was only HALF mortified. This was shortly after the “sticky Costco situation” in which Jack spilled a jug of agave syrup, and I thought we’d be escorted from the building. After that, everything seems much less embarrassing. 

The other day I was alone in a grocery store, shopping and enjoying my freedom. It was awesome. I hardly noticed the baby screaming its head off somewhere in the distance. I shrugged it off and thought to myself “THANK GOD THAT’S NOT ME FOR ONCE!!” I saw another woman around my age, feeding her kids snacks while she quietly tried to stop them from gouging each other’s eyes out. I could tell she was panicked and getting pretty irritated. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. We were leaving the store at the same time and I said to her: “I know exactly how you feel right now. My kids are at home and it’s a damn blessing.” She laughed and then one of her kids punched the other kid and all hell broke loose again. I loaded my groceries into the back of my car, with fruit snack wrappers and colouring books blowing out and all over the parking lot, and I thought to myself: “Maybe I won’t drive home right now. Maybe I’ll drive off to Mexico. Only to return when my kids are all potty trained and can walk through a grocery store without screaming, crying or causing a “clean-up on aisle 3″ page for the custodians.” 

One day I hope to be able to take my kids places without fear that we may be arrested for disturbing the peace. But I’m not going to hold my breath. I’m pretty sure we have a long road ahead. Until then, if you hear screaming, crying or “JAAAAACK!!!!” You can be sure we’re somewhere close. If it’s not us, know it’s some other poor mom with her kids, just trying to get through the day. Be nice to her.

How Eating Does More Than Just Fill Your Belly – Food & Family Traditions

Last night we had a little dinner for Amelia’s birthday. I kept with the lasagna tradition again this year, and it was great. My in-laws and family always comment on how much food I serve, and how it interferes with their diet regimes. It always makes me laugh. No matter how hard I try, I am unable to serve the correct amount of food for the number of people I’m serving. If I’m supposed to serve 19 people (like last night) I will undoubtedly make enough to feed 30. I can’t help myself. It made me start thinking about how important food is to me. It’s probably one of the things I’m most passionate about. I’m not talking about gorging on McDonald’s burgers, but filling myself and the people I love with great food. For me, food is the ultimate comfort. A great meal with all the fixings is how I show people I care for them, it’s also how I create memories. I love cooking for many reasons. I love it because it allows me to express my creativity and feel accomplishment. As a child we had many traditions that were based on food. Events were always celebrated with certain meals. My mother’s food was one thing that always made me happy. Although many of her recipes are very simple, they became the backbone of all of my childhood memories. These memories flood back to me when I make certain foods. For instance, my Grandmother always made a frozen yogurt pie in the summer with berries from my Aunt’s farm. It reminds me of the summer, of the cottage we had when I was a kid. It reminds me of my Grandma. Now, I make it for my kids. They love it because it tastes like heaven. I love it because it tastes like my childhood. One day, when they are old like me, they will make it and think of their childhood. I think that’s really important.

As my kids grow up, I want them to have the same love of food that I have. I want them to understand how important it is to celebrate life with great food and drink. I also want to teach them how to cook, instead of pouring instant pre-packaged food into a pot to be warmed. I believe in that. So many kids I know can’t cook for themselves. I find this really sad. I remember cooking with my Father and Mother from a very young age. My Dad always made everything from scratch. I don’t even remember a time when we had caesar salad dressing from a jar. It always came from the food processor. Many of the staples of our diet now come from recipes I watched my Father make. He never poured over a cookbook. He just made food. He went to his happy place, and poured himself into whatever he was making. I cannot remember my Father and I ever having any conversations about anything of importance. In fact, the only conversations we ever had were about food. As I left from the last meal he made for us, he and I discussed making soup. As I was walking out the door, he didn’t say goodbye or nice to see you, he said “make sure you roast the garlic first.” It made me laugh, because after all those years, I still had no understanding of him. Until now. He wasn’t emotionally available to us kids like he probably should have been. As I get older, I realize that he did the best he could, and on some level, I can appreciate that. He showed us he cared by fussing over our food. He poured his love into that food, and fed it to us. It’s the only way he knew how. I finally get it.

Now that I’m an adult, I see that I’ve inherited many of my father’s personality traits. I am hot-tempered, and extremely passionate about the things I believe in. I also love food. I will always be the girl who sings while she’s making salad, and raves about her own delicious achievements. Food is powerful stuff. I can’t imagine celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or random Sunday family dinner without massive amounts of love-filled food. I hope that one day my kids will be making the same bruschetta that my Dad taught me to make. That one day they will sit around a table with their own family, sharing the recipes that they watched me make throughout their childhood. Hopefully I’ll be around to join them. After all, someone will have to remind them that they have to grind salt into the garlic before they added it to the tomatoes. 🙂

 

Leftovers from last night: Arancini, bruschetta and my very first attempt at making my own bread. 

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Look Who’s Two!!

Amelia,

Your actual due date was March 10, 2012, but I was sure that you’d be born on March 12th just to spite me. However, on February 20th, I felt the tiny contractions that meant you were on the way (I had no idea, even the third time around). At the time I was making many pans of lasagna for the freezer. That night, we sat down and ate for the last time as a family of four. We had no idea. I sliced into the pan of lasagna and as I put it on the plate, I was delighted with how perfect it turned out. I’ve made many pans of lasagna, for many years, but that night, I got it absolutely bang on perfect. A foreshadowing of things to come maybe? At 11 p.m. I woke your dad up, unsure if it was labour or intense gas from the delicious lasagna. Turns out, it was you! The midwife came at midnight, and by 2:37 a.m. I was holding you. Not only did I make the perfect lasagna that day, but I also made a perfect baby. You were cute as a button, and the first thing the midwife said was, “this girl is the spitting image of her dad.” She was right. 

You were a very sweet baby. As the youngest, you learned early how to go with the flow. You didn’t keep me up all night with screaming or crying. You were never sick. You were perfect little Millie. As a two year old, you’re still cute as a button, sweet as can be, and smart as a whip. You make me laugh every day. Your brother and sister love you and are extremely protective of their “Mills.” You love Dora and The Bubble Guppies, playing dolls and letting Jack hide you in very small spaces in the house (like cupboards and drawers). 

To celebrate your birthday I think it is only fitting that I make you a perfect lasagna. I did this last year as well, although you probably won’t remember that. I will always make you lasagna for your birthday. No matter what. It reminds me of one of the best days of my life. It reminds me of the day you joined our family and made us complete. We love you Mills!

May you never know anything that can’t be cured by your mama’s lasagna!!

Love, 

Mom

I didn’t have a picture of you eating lasagna, so I added one of you and your favourite snack – POPCORN!!

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Happy Birthday Jack!

Dearest Jack,

I can’t believe how fast time flies by. In a few days you’ll be four years old. It seems impossible. Today I dropped you off at daycare and you were smiling at me with your floppy Yoda toque covering most of your bright blue eyes. You were playing in the snow, waving and laughing while I drove away.

Now that I have a minute, I think it’s time to write to you, my 3 year old Jack. After all, you’ll never be 3 again. It’s time to celebrate, even if I’m just a tad bit sad that you’re growing up so fast. 

Here goes…

The Basics:

Favourite food: Peanut Butter Sandwiches. Hands down. If you are given the choice, your answer is ALWAYS the same.

Favourite Animal: Penguins. You have a wide selection of stuffed ones that mean the world to you. You spent most of the past year with a very strong attachment to “baby penguin.” 

Favourite cartoon characters: Batman, Spiderman & Iron Man. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which you call inja inja turtles).

Favourite things to do: Play Lego Star Wars on the Xbox 360. Play with your friends. Torment your sisters. Ask a zillion questions about very random things.

Those small tidbits don’t even come close to describing how awesome you are at this age. You are the heart of our family. You are a very even-tempered, kind little boy. You are our “Happy Jack,” always smiling and laughing. You’re also the biggest talker in the family. Conversations with you are always interesting and filled with questions. You’ve also become very creative in the past year. You’re constantly building forts and re-creating stories you’ve seen or heard. I’m also shocked to notice how much you love singing and dancing, and boy, let me tell you, you’ve got moves!! 

Sometimes you can be shy and unsure of yourself, and that’s OK. You’re used to having your big sister lead the way. You’ll make your own way soon enough. Right now you depend on Natalie to take care of you. Even though she sometimes complains, that sister of yours needs you just as much as you need her. 

Your baby sister Amelia is turning two this month, and guess what Jack? She idolizes you. She thinks you’re the coolest thing since sliced bread. You’re always so careful to try to include Millie. You are always the first by her side when she’s hurt. Always the first to give her a kiss and make it better. I hope you two are always close.

What more can I say to my Baby Jack, Jackman, Jackie-B? Quite simply: I love you more than you will ever know. The other night I climbed into your bed with you to hug you goodnight. I said “you’re my number one boy, Jackie.” Your reply made me want to cry. You wrapped your little arms around me and said: “and you’re my number one girl, mom.”

Happy birthday to my favourite boy in the universe!

Love,

Mom

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