Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Day it all began

Today was a special day. Not only was it the 12th birthday of our beautiful daughter and first born, but it marked the day that changed everything for us: the day we became parents.

The birthday of every child is important and I faithfully spend the evening before and the day of each of my kids' birthdays remembering and remarking on the miracle of their birth. I dig out the pictures, tell the story once again to anyone willing to listen (and even to those who've heard it a million times), I hug and kiss them a little more than usual and send a heartfelt thanks to God for the gift of that baby.

But 12 years ago yesterday, we had no idea what we were in for. It was a special time, a time when Steven and I went from a newly married couple to nervous, expectant parents. We were young, totally unprepared and had the odds stacked against us. But we knew two things for sure: we loved each other, and we loved our new baby. 12 years ago today, we went from the two of us against the world to the three of us against the world.

And my how far we have come! Morgan brought us an immeasurable amount of joy right from the beginning. I don't want to say that parenting came naturally to us, but she made it easy. She became the centre of our worlds and changed every fibre of our beings. Morgan made us a family, she bound us together in a way noone else could and we will forever be grateful to her for that.

12 years later I look at her and am awed by the person she has become. She is beautiful, confident, kind and giving....and a wonderful role model and positive influence on her younger brother and sister. Sometimes I look at the family we have produced and I all of a sudden wonder where they came from! At times it feels like we went from two crazy in love teenagers trying to figure out the world to two deeply in love adults with three children, completely overnight. But when I take the time to really sit and think - to remember - all the cherished memories, the first steps, the tiny giggles, the scraped knees, the highs and lows both, I become humbled at the blessings we've been given.

Its a good life, with great people to live it with. And to think it all started 12 years ago today...

Happy birthday Morgan, you'll never know how much you mean to us xoxo

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Its my party and I'll cry if I want to

So another year is here and in our house that means one very important thing: birthday season is in full force. Rhian starts our family's celebrations on December 18, then we run headlong into Christmas and all that that holidays brings. By New Years I have to be planning Morgan's party, as her big day is January 11, and invitations generally go out the Monday they return to school. Steven's birthday is 3 days later on the 14th, then its mine in February (shortly after Valentines Day) and finally, Owen's on March 3rd. Add several grandparents, cousins and uncles birthdays in between all those and it makes for a busy but exciting few months. This year, however, it seems its not so exciting for at least one of us.

This year Morgan and I are having a "disagreement" over her party preparations, and I am not sure if this is the pre-teen rearing its ugly head or the case of the spoiled child who all of a sudden realizes that growing up means changes she may not be ready for. When the kids were little we always went all out to make their day special; we would have a party, invite family over and make them their choice of a birthday meal. We always said at some point we would tone it down, shorten the guest list and make the party side of it more low key. For Morgan, this time has come and she's not having any of it.

I shouldn't paint the picture that she is being ungrateful and mouthy about it, thats not fair and not Morgan at all. That would almost be better, in a way. Instead she is sullen, has lost interest in planning her party and dragging her heals about telling me who she wants to invite, what food she wants and what they may want to do. When we first started talking about her party, she began naming off all these grand ideas: a boy/girl outdoor snow party, a Rock Band Party (also boy/girl, of course), a day a the spa for her and her girlfriends, etc, etc. I immediately nipped that in the bud and told her it would be a sleepover - with no more than 5 girls - a movie, some pizza and a cake. More than I had when I was 12, I tell you that! But this is a girl who has never had a restriction on her guests, has always had her choice of venue and has enjoyed many long talked about parties in her day. She even had a kick-ass Halloween party with 10 girls overnight right after arriving here. Now I see I have done her a disservice.

There were tears when I broke the news to her, and talk about not wanting to get older. I believe I even heard the words, " its not fair." Of course I gave her the lecture about being 6 years older than her little sister (who just had a big party), reminded her of her 6th birthday party when she had 14 little girls over for a tea party, complete with princess costumes - when I had a 3 week old baby no less. I talked about how there are both pros and cons about getting older and didn't she enjoy the perks of being the oldest with her very own laptop, her cell phone, her later bedtime and the babysitting money she makes?? All very good points, which of course she conceded to in the end. So how come I didn't feel any better when she dried her tears and walked away with her head hanging down?

I know in my heart its time to tone it down in the birthday party department. I know if I keep up this pace it will get away on me very quickly and we will never be able to pull it back. I know that I just don't have it in me to pull off a gigantic party right now, after the busy holidays while Daddy is away, my mother - who is not used to a house full of preteens - is here and I am beginning a serious job hunt. This time of year money is tight, time is short and nerves are frayed. But none of those things are her fault and I hope I am not simply making her suffer for it all.

Over all, I don't feel like our kids are spoiled. They know there are people worse off than us, but there are many that are better off. They understand that we both have to work to pay for the house we live in and the cars we drive, they know money doesn't grow on trees and that with three of them they can't possibly participate in every activity out there, so they choose one. But then I look around the house we live in and see the multitude of electronics, the 5 tv's versus the 1 we grew up with, the piles of toys, the 4 computers, the inground pool...and I wonder if we're setting them up for believing life is easier than it really is. We always want our kids to have a better life than we grew up with, but our lives were pretty great growing up so have we taken that too far?

For now I feel like we're doing the right thing in cutting down her party, its not like we told her she couldn't have one at all. Something tells me, however, that when it comes to teenage tears and disappointing the kids...this is only the beginning.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Time flies when you're having fun!

Can it really be 3 months since I last wrote?

I am going to use the oldest excuse in the book and blame it on our overloaded schedule, our busy household, the hectic holidays...and it'll all be true. I had the best of intentions to write a very touching, heartfelt post about the magic of Christmas and the joy of family and friends over the holiday season, but said family and friends kept me distracted all December long!

In actual fact, I did write that blog - and many more. The truth is that I blog each and every day...in my head. I have come to realize that I don't think like most other people; I think in article form. Every time I see a character on tv with the power to read people's minds I tell myself they would give up on me as soon as they realized I don't think in sentences but rather full paragraphs! As I go about my day I compose my thoughts in essay form, correcting as I go, and sometimes scrapping an incomplete thought and starting all over again. Strange? Probably, but the point is that once I've "written" it all out in my head, it never makes it to paper. Or computer, as it were. The same happens when I get all fired up about something - my first thought is to blog it all out, much like I used to journal all my emotions when I was young. But then I rant and rave to my hubby - or the nearest unlucky individual who happens to call or be present - and I lose all interest in hashing it out again in print.

This blog, however, was all about stretching my writing muscles and having a little "me space" in this crazy life, so I am finding myself missing it. Apparently I am not alone either - I have had several people ask me just this past couple of weeks when I am going to post something else. I can't tell you how that warms my heart. I thought it would be enough to just write out all my thoughts and fears and send them out to the universe, but it turns out I love the feedback and knowing that I am actually speaking to real people out there.

There is one subject I would like to vent - I mean, talk - about, and this is family. After a wonderful, loving holiday you may think I am talking about how important family is or how much I am missing them...but you'd be wrong. I am talking about family issues.

You may or may not know this, but I have a sister. I say that because when I mentioned last month to many of the people in my everyday life that we were going to visit my sister in Toronto, the resounding response was, "you don't have a sister." Sadly, it took me much of the Fall to convince Rhian I had one as well. She of course knew her name and had spoken to her on the phone from Nanny and Grampie's, but had never seen her or heard me speak of her. The fact is, we are not close. If we go way back, you know why. If we don't, trust me the story is far too long to get in to. Suffice it to say, its been a while. Morgan remembers her well though, and Owen has been curious about her for years so since we are only a few hours away we decided to pay her a visit. All in all, I would say it was a very successful trip. The kids had a great time and were spoiled rotten, there was no tension to speak of and if you were an outsider looking in you would swear we were all one big, happy family. I think we'll stick to one night trips all the time!

Now my mother is coming to visit. I am looking forward to it, frankly. Its no secret that my mother and I are quick to play on one another's nerves but I love her dearly and she is missing the kids terribly. It will be company as well, as Steven is now gone for his much overdue course in Borden. There is some comfort in knowing he is only 5-ish hours away in case he is needed, but with the winter roads and his heavy course load, we likely won't see him until late February. In one fell swoop he will miss Morgan's birthday, his birthday, my birthday and Valentines Day. It is very typical, however, for him to be away this time of year, so we'll muddle through :)

This coming year promises to be an exciting one. Our big changes came in 2010, but 2011 is going to bring about some big changes for close friends of ours - and bring them closer to us! You may recall my heartbreak over our friend who left for Afghanistan in June, about how he, his wife and son are like family to us. Well fast forward 7 months and he is coming home in a matter of weeks....and moving the family to Ottawa this summer! Obviously, we are over the moon. To have them a mere hour and a half away is like a dream come true. Now we just have to get our friends in Edmonton here in a few years and we'll be all set!

In the meantime we are still plugging away, still very much enjoying our new home and this new town. The kids are finally all doing well in school and fitting in beautifully. We have been fortunate to have played host to many friends and family members throughout the Fall, and look forward to all the people who are planning to head our way this summer. When I look back on last New Years - which I rang in at work in the emergency room - I find myself happy to be where I am.

My wish for you all is that you all follow your hearts this year. Take a chance, make a change, fulfill a dream....live your life to the fullest. HAPPY NEW YEAR and much love xo