On Empathizing With Others

I'm sure mostly everyone has seen the quote:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle"
- John Watson

I think it's a good reminder that we should ALWAYS BE KIND. We don't know someone's circumstances. We don't even know exactly how someone's day went. So be kind. Everyone is going through something, big or small. Life changing or just day changing. Yourself included. So be kind. Which leads me to this...

About a week ago, my friend share a blog post on facebook about the hardness of being a stay at home parent, along with her own words on it being what she needed to hear right now. Most of the comments back to her were very encouraging. But there is always that one. It started with, "a little perspective for you..." Now we all need a dose of perspective from time to time. But it generally is not helpful or will be well received when we are feeling a bit down in the dumps. I'm pretty sure we all know it's not nice to kick someone when they are down and I am pretty sure a dose of perspective counts as a kick.

There will always be someone out there worse off than us. I am pretty sure we all know this. But even knowing that doesn't make our circumstances any easier. When you've been punched in the face by your toddler throwing a tantrum in public, being reminded that there are so many women out there that wish for a child doesn't make the humiliation and frustration any easier. When you receive a bad report from the doctor, being reminded that someone else is losing their loved one to an even worse illness doesn't make your diagnosis any less scary. All that to say, when someone is baring their soul, don't use it as a time to give them some perspective. Perspective isn't always needed and if it is, gently give it to someone another time, not in the heat of the moment, so as to not kick them when they are down.

In the bible, Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). He didn't say "come to me only those I deem burdened" and he didn't say "come to me only the worst of the worst". He said, "Come to me, ALL..." All. That is the key word. Every single last one of us who are weary, He wants to give rest.

So the next time someone bares their soul to you, be it in real life or social media, instead of offering a little perspective, try offering a hug an and encouraging word. Kindness is never wrong, in any situation. And kindness ALWAYS HELPS.

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The Joy of Bathing

For kids, that is. I'm not sure I get a particular joy out of bathing. Well, maybe when I am big and pregnant and soaking my aching body in a bath, but that's about it.

I came across these pictures of Connor the other day. It really is because of the ease of looking back at such mundane memories that I love blogging so much. But that's not what this is about. It's about bath time.

When Connor and Isla were little, bath time was literally my saving grace. I can remember letting the kids stay in the tub up to an hour playing, just so I could rest. I would literally sit on the toilet..not pooping, with the lid closed ;)...and stare. It was a much needed break in a long, exhausting day. The bath was a time they loved. And it contained them. The best of both worlds.

When we moved, we only have showers upstairs and a bath tub downstairs. Prior to moving, Isla wasn't what I would call a willing participant in showers. In fact, when we were in Hawaii mere weeks before we moved, the condo only had showers and it was drama every single time we bathed Isla there. So, I didn't have high hopes for the shower situation at our new house.

Low and behold, everyone loves it. Especially Callum! He doesn't mind the water hitting his face. And he loves smacking his hands on the floor of the shower. Even Isla quickly came around. And, I have to admit, for this season of our life, I am loving the quickness of showers. Three kids in (especially older kids when many things going on), I apparently don't have as much time to just sit and stare in the evenings!

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Isla's Birthday Celebration

^^ The fairy gardens the girls "planted"…really the moms did most the work! 

^^ Getting all embarrassed, yet loving it, while everyone sung her happy birthday. 

^^ The very last blow of the candles may have covered the cupcakes with a fine dusting of the birthday girl's spit, but none of the kids seemed to mind

^^ Present time at kids parties always cracks me up. Everyone gets so excited. It becomes one big ball of chaos as presents are being ripped open, toys are going everywhere and everyone is talking loudly. 

^^ Post party, playing with her loot

Isla finally got to celebrate her birthday with her friends this past weekend. Even though she was celebrated numerous times in numerous ways, this is the one that really mattered to her. She wanted a fairy garden party. And though I knew it would be hard to get anywhere near the caliber of the one she attended, it was still fun and all the little girls had a good time…and all the moms "enjoyed" all the chaos. Seriously, kids birthday parties get so loud so fast! 

I had the table all set for the girls. Each girl got a skirt, a set of wings and the stuff to make a fairy wand. I will say, seven girls wearing fairy wings starts making for quite the cramped room. Then the girls enjoyed planting their fairy gardens. Which really, the moms helped a lot with that. After, we brought all the boys in and sang happy birthday to Isla. Then everyone enjoyed cupcakes. Isla opened her presents. Then, arguably the most relaxing and fun part of the party happened, the kids ran around destroying playing in my house and the moms all sat around chatting. 

Birthday parties always seem like such hard work and unnecessary stress. Then I watch my kids get so excited and enjoy themselves so much and it makes all of it worth it. 

In case you missed it, you can read all about Isla at five (including a little interview) here

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A Rearrange

One of my favorite things to do is rearrange. I am always trying to making a room, or a part of my house, flow better/work better for us. About a month or so ago, I shared our living room in our new house. I liked how it was set up. Then one morning, the wheels started turning…it started with the corner in the room. It had a coat rack in it. But I thought it would look good with a chair. A chair that could sort of operate as a place for people to put on shoes or throw their purses and coats on when they come visit. So, I rearranged. And lived with it for two days before I went at it again and this is what I ended up with.

I have yet to move the pictures over the couch because I wanted to make sure I liked this arrangement first. But, a week in, I still really like it and need to get on moving those pictures. I love how open the room feels and I love how cozy the fireplace looks with chairs on either side.

Eventually I would like to put a larger chair in the corner where the wood desk chair is. And also hang a thing or two on the wall there. Also, the bookshelf in the other corner will probably get switched out for a standing desk for Ian at some point. Oh, and I need to find a fireplace screen so we can actually have fires this winter…which I am really excited about. And if we are really talking down the road, I would eventually like to do something with the tv console area. But I have no clue what direction I want to go with that yet.

Now to keep working on organizing other things…like all upstairs. I decided to put Connor and Isla in a room together and move Callum into his own room. Now mine and Ian's room practically looks empty. And I still need to finish the swap of all the kids stuff. But, so far, this arrangement is working out quite well. So well, in fact, that I kind of wish I had done it a lot sooner.

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Connor: He is getting so grown up. But he still needs to cuddle with his mom or dad from time to time. 

Isla: Finally got to celebrate her birthday with her friends. She was literally on the countdown to her party. She really enjoyed herself. 

Callum: He may not be able to crawl, but that doesn't stop his sense of adventure and wonder. 

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016." 

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On Connecting with Your Spouse

^^ We don't get out much and when we do, I always have to document it with a little couple selfie

I was blown away at how many people so quickly read my post death to the weekly date night myth. Then again, I probably shouldn't have been. There is so much pressure on us these days to do ALL THE THINGS and do them right. And sometimes, lets be honest, most of the time, we just can't live up to that "pinterest standard". Anyway, that post was shared several times on facebook and I was able to view the comments on all the shares. The one that stood out to me, and gave me a good laugh, was from a guy who admitted he is currently childless. But, he informed everyone that his marriage will always come before his children…and I may or may not have gotten a huge kick out of all the mama's that told him to come talk after him and his wife had a couple kids.  

First, I would like to state that I never said that Ian does not come before our children…hypothetically. Because, let's be honest here for a moment. In the real now, my children really need us. I nurse a baby. I wipe bums. I make several meals and snacks a day. I change beds that were wet in. I do laundry. I do bath time. And guess what, all of this are things that HAVE TO GET DONE. And they are things that have to get done even if I wanted to just spend some alone time with Ian. So physically, yes my children come first in our house. Emotionally, my husband is my rock, not my children. 

Really, what I want to talk about is there are so many ways to connect with your spouse outside of date nights. I think so often in the hustle and bustle of life with small children, we feel so worn out and feel like we have so little to offer our spouse. But, for me, a cup of coffee and 20 minutes spent chatting with each other without distraction is like gold and totally fills me up. Also, eating dinner just the two of us from time to time really is nice. This can happen after the kids or in bed, or on a Friday night by letting the kids eat dinner in front of a movie while we eat in the dining room. 

When our kids are infants, I always find that the hardest time to connect. And really that is because infants (especially breastfed ones) need their mama's all the time. It was actually because of that, that I did 12 date of Christmas for Ian. Yes, many of the dates were at home, but doing intentional things, just the two of us, really was fun. And I will never forget us riding the go karts in the freezing cold, the only people out on the track, acting like a couple of loonies, having the time of our lives. 

All this to say that small moments mater. Small gestures matter. Making sure your spouse knows you think about them and love them matters. Even if you feel like you have nothing left to give, write your hubby a note during nap time and mail it to him at work. It will surely put a smile on his face. 

Also, once upon a time, I shared 50 date night ideas and many of them were at home date ideas that can totally be done after the kids go to bed. Plus, it's always good to have date ideas because when those date nights do come around, chances are my brain cells have all been used up during the day and I can't think of ideas for things to do right then!  

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Sensory Play

Who needs those fancy sensory play boxes from pinterest when you've got a newspaper around?! I mean seriously, who has time for that? I have some very dear friends that are all over that type of thing. And I am over here, scratching my head, wondering why I would spend the money, then have to store all that crap when my kid is just as happy throwing around a newspaper and wiping pureed food all over his high chair tray. I honestly do throw Callum a section of the newspaper to play with when I want to get some things done. It entertains him so long. And it makes him so excited. And he doesn't put that much in his mouth…I think.

All these sensory play things make me think about how much pressure is on parents today to make sure our children have the perfect childhoods. Because they won't make it through college if they aren't exposed to enough sensory play as youngins ;) I'm pretty granola and simple about parenting. I way limit screen time. I am super into reading together. I love us all building legos together. And I absolutely love it when the kids get immersed in imaginative play for hours. Though sensory play boxes seem right up my alley, I also don't like to over think (or over spend) it too much.

So there you have it, my simple thoughts on sensory play and keeping it simple.

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Connor: He got a hole in one at mini golf. That's not an easy thing to do even for a grown up! He also got to bring home Mikey the monkey from school for the weekend because he is star student. 

Isla: She turned five and was celebrated many a times…and she hasn't even had her party yet! But, she got to go out twice, with each set of grandparents, have a class party and celebrate with us on her actual birthday. 

Callum: He really has vamped up his appetite for table food. He also is sleeping in 45 minute cycles at night…which leaves me exhausted in the morning and somehow leaves him full of smiles.

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016." 

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Isla {5 years}

Five years. It feels like a big one. In fact, one of the many things Isla told someone on her birthday is, "I'm five. I'm starting kindergarten soon." That one caught me off guard. Sure, we have like ten months before that happens, but it is weird to think of my second side kick going off to school five days a week. That's when they just become so grown up and things start becoming legit. Never the less, Isla is five. 

One of the best ways to get a glimpse into Isla at five is probably by this interview I did with her. 

What's your full name? Isla
How old are you? 5
How tall are you? 4 years 5
What color are your eyes? blue
What color is your hair? brown
What day of the week is it? Friday. Sunday. Monday. (it was Wednesday)

What is your favorite:
    color - purple
    food - oreos
    drink - apple juice
    ice cream - chocolate chip
    toy - puppy in my pocket
    book - shopkins (she does't even have a shopkins book)
    song - jump into the light
    tv show - My Little Pony
    movie - Ninjago (really it's another tv show)
    thing to do - play
    game - basketball (she's never played it)
    sport - What's a sport?
    animal - kitty

Who is your best friend? Alexis
What is your favorite thing about yourself? I'm great and I'm peaceful. 

Three things that make you special:
    1. I love my life
    2. It's so nice to be nice
    3. It's so nice to be a girl

Humble is obviously Isla's middle name! My inlaws took Isla out for her birthday the other night and she said to them, "Don't you wish you were me?" Oh, that girl. 

Isla requested mint oreos for her school party this year. She had never even had them until we were on vacation this summer. And she only eats the middle part. But I obliged and that's what everyone had. After never really liking milk, she developed a love of milk a few months ago. She also really likes tomatoes, really any fruit, and cream cheese. She always scrapes the cream cheese off a bagel and licks it off her finger. 

Isla is great, no amazing, at independent play. She plays with all sorts of toys and also loves coloring and drawing. Some of her current favorite toys are shopkins and my little pony. She also still plays with legos a lot. And her books get used on a daily basis. She isn't too picky about her books and seems to like all of them. She has also gotten really into makeup lately, which totally scares me. She actually carried an Ulta ad with her everywhere she went for several days in a row. And I have totally heard her talking to other girls about makeup. She obviously didn't get that from me, so it must be something ingrained in her! 

Isla really is a fun one to have around. No one has ever accused her of having a lack of personality…or energy, for that matter!!! I love this little girl so much and am glad she is a part of our family. 

^^ I just love the genuine look of joy on her face. 

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Callum {10 months}

Weight: 19 pounds, 4 ounces
Length: 28 inches

Likes: all food, making loud noises…with his mouth and banging things together, going for walks in his stroller, watching his brother and sister, especially if they are being crazy, paper
Dislikes: night time sleep, missing his nap, not being given food when he wants it

This kid, I tell ya, he really does win the award for easiest kid during waking hours. Obviously, there would have to be such an award. But I may make one, just for him. He really is just so happy and content. Sure he likes playing with his toys, but he also likes watching life go by around him. And he especially likes it if I throw some food in front of him when he is sitting there. 

Speaking of sitting, the kid still isn't crawling. He can scoot around sitting up on our hardwood floors. But, he doesn't even get into the crawling position. In fact, on his belly, he seems to enjoy imitating a beached whale. He puts his arms and legs in the air and moves them around as fast as possible. I noticed him starting to try to stand when he can grab onto things that are low enough to help. 

Food wise, he eats pretty much anything and likes it all. When he is eating and wants more, he starts waving his hands in the air. I find it rather entertaining. New this month, he has tried steak, bacon and a doughnut. I am sure there is more that I am forgetting. I pretty much just give him some of what we are eating and let him go to town. He has also mastered sucking out the contents of those baby food pouches. He doesn't get them that often, but it is quite convenient that he can now just suck on them. I don't even have to dirty a spoon ;)

Callum is still taking two stellar naps a day, as long as they aren't insanely messed up by the other kids schedules! He really is an amazing napper though. After a pretty bad rough patch, he is getting better at night sleep again. But, I have to admit, I found myself completely smitten at 5:25 on Saturday morning when he woke up oh-so-smiley. It was just me and him, smiling away at each other. Of course, the adorable moment only lasted a couple minutes before I made him go back to bed. But it really was a sweet moment, just the two of us. 

Size wise, Callum has moved into size 4 diapers. This has really helped me not have to get up and change him at night. So, awesome for that. He has grown out of much of his 6-12 month clothing and is wearing a lot of 12-18 month. Though I have noticed the jump in pant length is a couple inches, so they are a decent amount long on him, but I am sure he will grow into them…and back out of them…before I know it. There is this adorable knit sweater that is 6-12 months that I started putting on him at like three months. I just rolled up the sleeves and all was good. It is getting snug on him and I am a little sad because I really liked it and he has been able to wear it for so long. But, I would much rather him growing than not! 

Callum really enjoys showers. He gets quite excited banging around at the water and will even turn his face up and let the water hit it. He also likes chilling in the cozy coupe car when I am making dinner. He really likes gnawing on books too. But I am guessing that is a side effect of teething. And anything he can bang together is alright in his book too. 

In a modern day parenting fail, I apparently did not write a 10 month update for Connor. Here's Isla's. From the sound of things, her drama (or "spice" as I now like to call it) started early. Maybe that means contentment will be one of Callum's personality traits. A mom can hope!

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