productivity tally

13 02 2010

Well, it’s been a typical Saturday.  Reasonably productive – in fact, madly busy (save for the 3-hour nap that everyone in our house indulged in!).  So what is gnawing at me?  I have accomplished virtually NOTHING that was on my original list for today!  Here’s is the tally for today’s activities:

Original To-Do List

  • organize closets (some things are getting out of hand and with the boys getting more into puzzles, cutting, gluing, and colouring, the craft materials and puzzles need a more accessible location)
  • work on presentation – I am giving an OT talk to the Mom’s Group at church this week on posture and upper extremity injuries/pain related to baby care and household activities
  • read a book — I have three magazines, Setting Limits With your Strong-Willed Child, and Lauren Conrad’s new book, Sweet Little Lies, sitting in the cue
  • work on pendants – have to add bails to a custom order I have just completed (www.deirdrespeak.etsy.com) and would love to get started on a new set
  • clean the bathroom (3-year-old little boy – enough said!)
  • tackle boys’ laundry
  • complete my personal binder project – thank you so much for the inspiration from My Favourite Everything; I put together my own little project organizer and I love it!  It just needed a couple of extra touches.

Actual Got-Done List

  • change freshie #1
  • make coffee
  • supervise kitchen sink play (the boys’ new “IT” activity)
  • check emails, Facebook, Cafe World
  • make Original To-Do list
  • empty dishwasher
  • Bible readings for yesterday (oops!) and today (from Exodus, instructions for the building of the Temple)
  • clean up kitchen sink play
  • serve breakfast
  • finished my binder project – it’s very lovely with its personalized cover, dividers and tabs, and the bonus item: a pink plaid binder clip!
  • change freshie #2
  • take inventory of jewelry making materials
  • 3 puzzles with C1
  • supervise cutting and gluing; help to make a Chinese lantern (destroyed by C2 within about 10 minutes)
  • discuss tomorrow’s Sunday School craft with J — but, *phew* she volunteers to handle it and I’m off the hook!
  • bathe 2 boys (and not too much on myself)
  • 4 loads of laundry interspersed throughout the afternoon, including all of the boys’ clothes (woo hoo! and they’re all in the closets, too!)
  • serve lunch
  • sort laundry (P & C1 are passed out on the couch; C2 flops around in the pile of clothes)
  • get bedding back on bed
  • NAPTIME! for all
  • car ride with family to SBux, car wash, and bottle return
  • resume laundry and sortation
  • errr… did not make dinner – P served cereal and fruit to boys
  • pajama boys
  • BEDTIME for boys
  • attempting to organize thoughts for presentation – so much to talk about and I don’t want to overload
  • write a blog to justify the day’s activities
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birthday

6 02 2010

YAY!  It’s February 6… my day!  Naturally, I have to give all of my appreciation to my mom – who lovingly claims that she experiences labour pains each year on our birthdays.  I know that she’s sad that I haven’t been home for my birthday in 11 years.

I share my birthday with Ronald Regan, Rick Astley, Tom Brokaw, Natalie Cole, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Bob Marley, and my cousin Curtis… and I just discovered my friend, Janet!

In Alberta, where I grew up, the cut-off date for going to school was March 1… therefore, I was always one of the youngest kids in my class… only Lynn was younger by a week!

Winter birthdays are a bit tough… I’m not a winter-lover, so winter activities are not exactly on the list of top things I want to do on my birthday… but, it’s a great excuse to head to SBux for a nice latte (which, is apparently gratis on my birthday!) or have friends over for steak and creme brule.

Most memorable birthday – well, most of them are memorable in some way – but, I will never forget my 9th birthday in Grade 4 when my mom brought cupcakes to my class… Mrs. Coreljie’s!  (Darren, Julie, not sure if you remember that?).

Other birthday memories – scuba diving with giant manta rays in Australia on my 30th,  a birthday party with new friends in Halifax on my 25th, many birthday dinners with Kelly & Joan in TO,  skating at the Devonian Gardens in Calgary on my 7th(?), and several birthdays that included Edmonton Oiler hockey games.

This week had wonderful chocolate fondue evening with some of my best girls… we were celebrating the pending arrival of Becky’s second daughter; Paul surprised last nite, having our special friends, Jacquie & Keith over for steak and baked potatoes (and Corey got up for the party); and tomorrow is SuperBowl Sunday… not exactly marked on my calendar, but excited to be gathering with good friends for a party atmosphere.

And today… well, I likely won’t “kick back”… real life continues in spite of this being “my” day – and a Saturday! – both boys have colds, C1 threw up (but, seems fine now), Paul went to an early men’s meeting at the church, there are markers and snippets of paper all over the dining room floor… and very soon there will be a river running through my kitchen because the boys are playing in the sink.  And, I probably won’t be baking a cake… for some reason, I can’t bake or decorate cakes or cupcakes to save my life!  I will defer that to some of my other very talented cake-decorating friends… you know who you are!

Happy Birthday to me and those of you celebrating today!  What joy!  How wonderful!  🙂





who am i?

1 02 2010

I attended a ladies’ Bible study last year in my neighbourhood – what a fabulous group of women; we had a great discussion on the book of Romans throughout the year.  At the first meeting, during the obligatory introductions, I was struck by an intense realization.  My identity – at least the one I used to have – had vanished. “Hi, I’m Deirdre.  I’m an Occupational Therapist, and I’m working on my Master in Rehabilitation Science (completed last year before C2’s arrival).  I’m originally from Alberta and have been living in Toronto for almost 10 years.  I love canoe tripping, playing ultimate frisbee, taking adult ballet classes at the National Ballet School, trail racing, and I’ve completed two 1/2 marathons.  I used to weigh over 200 lbs and lost 60 lbs.  I’m a gym rat – you’ll find me lifting weights or on the treadmill at least 4 times a week.  I will always be an Edmonton Oilers fan.  I’m active in the 20-Something group at Rexdale Alliance Church.”  WHOA.  Wait a minute.  That’s not me.  Who am I?

When each of the women in the Bible study group introduced themselves, they listed how many and how old their children were and the names of their spouses.  It was only through getting to know them better over the course of the year that I discovered that among them were a lawyer, an engineer, a Yale graduate and PhD, and a theologian.  Ack!  Those are amazing achievements!!  But, what happens when the achievements and interests of our previous lives, if you will, are consumed by motherhood and buried in the domestic responsibilities of being the homemaker (in particular, those of us who have elected to stay home with our young children)?

Perhaps this isn’t true for everyone – but, for me the impact of losing and subsequently re-inventing my identity have really been at the forefront for the last three years and has represented a perpetual internal struggle, sometimes positive and sometimes not so positive.  It’s part of what makes the shift to motherhood – days that can be filled with mundane tasks, (seemingly) lacking in measurable productivity, loss of personal interests (not because of depression, but re-structured time), and altered and diminished friendships (in some instances, this has been the worst thing) – seem like it’s the toughest place I have ever found myself at in my life.

It began to affect me to the extent that I felt resentful and wistful.  I love my husband and children very much and am so unspeakably proud to be wife and mother in this family.  But, seriously… who am I now?  My identity seems to be wrapped up in who I am in direct relation to three other individuals … and not myself at all.

I believe what has made this shift manageable is the discovery of re-inventing myself.  My creativity is stretched to the maximum — I think that’s just the richest part of all of this.  What a tremendous opportunity and it couldn’t be more timely!

So, today I am 34 (for 6 more days!), a Christ-follower, a stay-at-home mom, super-wife (lol!), OT Reg(Ont.) but not working for pay, MRSc (I have always wanted that title), a huge fan of my oldest son’s artwork, a speech coach, policewoman (in my own home), super-shopper, super-saver, blogger, Wii-er, family photographer, jewelry-maker, librarian, head chef (does that make me a sous?), lead creative director, head janitor, chauffeur, personal assistant to 3 amazing men, treater of booboos, finder of toys, researcher of how to set limits with my strong-willed son (another blog post to stay tuned for)… limitless is who I am… and excited to find out more about who God intends me to be.

To encourage you Moms who may have felt the same way and wrestled with any resentment around your shift in roles… I am right there with you — and we can embrace this re-inventing of ourselves together!

And, speaking of getting creative… check out my shop on Esty: DeirdreSpeak:ArtWorks. It’s cool and I am donating 25% of all sales to relief efforts in Haiti!





i resolve

2 01 2010

We happily celebrated the conclusion of 2009 and the anticipation of 2010 with a houseful of guests… 52 to be exact – adults and children, including our own.  What a blessing to conclude a year in the company of extraordinary friends and family!  Each time the doorbell rang – although we were quite certain who was attending – it was sheer joy to greet each face as though we were completely surprised!  We look forward to continue connecting with all of the special friends who support and encourage us throughout the year!

On a personal note, for 2010 my plans include:

  • reading through the Bible chronologically using the One Year Bible Online
  • reading each day to the boys from the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
  • do a few self-studies on biblical topics such as marriage, finances, parenting
  • increase involvement in church ministry, writing for RACreporter and hopefully starting a womens’ running group in the spring
  • grow my hair out
  • play Wii everyday to get some exercise (even if it’s minimal, it’s better than nothing!)
  • start photojournalling
  • model enthusiasm and a positive attitude for the boys
  • continue adventures in cooking!




december baking tally

29 12 2009

*yikes*  For someone who was planning on making two Christmas treats only this year… there seemed to be a lot of activity around my kitchen during the past few weeks.  I was honoured and thrilled a few weeks ago when a friend asked me to assist her with baking desserts for a Christmas Banquet for a community which our church supports by hosting weekend breakfasts, sewing classes, family hair day… and numerous other activities and practical giftings – located in a lower income area of the city, consisting of many single-parent families… it was truly a treat, so to speak, to participate and serve this community through the yumminess of goodies.  And, so….. the baking began!  After that — well, I was kind of on a roll and there were a few other Christmas events on deck.  Not all baking successes, mind you — there were a fair number of mishaps, crispy bottoms, and complete failures.  So, for my records, here is a tally of Christmas Baking 2009:

4 batches Cranberry Bliss Bars = ~128 bars

2 batches Pecan Cranberry Squares = ~60 bars

6 Pumpkin Pies

2 Cranberry Cherry Buckle cakes

1 Best Banana Bread loaf

1 dozen Raspberry Bran muffins

2 pans Red & Green Rice Krispie Squares (cut into star and candy cane shapes)

6 1/2 dozen Oatmeal Chocolate Chew cookies from the Nutfree Gourmet cookie dough

2 dozen Oatmeal Raisin cookies

2 dozen Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk cookies

2 batches Christmas Granola

3 batches Parmesan Biscotti

2 batches Honey Spiced Nuts

a LOT of Chocolate-dipped pretzels

Skiers French Toast for Christmas Day breakfast

No wonder I’m exhausted!





give meaning

10 12 2009

I wanted to follow up on a guest blog that I posted on Lovable Labels’ blog: Label Me Crazy! Taking a reduce-reuse perspective, I commented on a few tips to minimize the traditional holiday paper pile-up…. from holiday postcards to recycling kids’ art as gift wrap… making fabric gift bags to buying alternative Christmas gifts – gifts that don’t need flashy gift wrap.  I have really settled in to contemplating alternative gift giving.  My boys are still very young and our nuclear family is still in its infancy so it’s a perfect time to start traditions.  At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the priceless gift of salvation that he gave us.  Santa Claus (and I’m referring to the iconic jolly man in the red suit) is incidental.  To me, he’s kind of like Mickey Mouse – cartoonish, fun, you can get your picture taken with him and we might pretend that he gave you a present, but he’s just a character in a story that, coincidentally, is told at the same time as when we celebrate the coming of God to earth.  I just don’t want them to grow up anticipating presents, presents, presents under the tree.  I want them to learn early on that at Christmas we give – and we are intentional about being creative and giving to those who have more need than we do.

So, here are a few great ideas for alternative gift giving:

Buy Nothing Christmas – I think this initiative has had the greatest impact on me so far.  “Buy Nothing Christmas is a national initiative started by Canadian Mennonites but open to everyone with a thirst for change and a desire for action.  Buy Nothing Christmas is a stress-reliever, and more people need to hear about it… The point is to get people thinking. It’s an idea whose time has come, so get out there and make a difference!”  These guys have hit the proverbial nail on the head (and I’m not partial because I have a Mennonite heritage!).  If you go to their website and click on “alternatives” you will discover over 50 special gifts you can give that require little or no spending.  I have one of my own which I’m keeping under “wraps” … if you will pardon the pun!

TOMS Shoes – I think this is really cool.  “TOMS Shoes was founded on a simple premise: With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One. Using the purchasing power of individuals to benefit the greater good is what we’re all about.”  When Blake Mycoskie, Founder of TOMS shoes was in Argentina in 2006, he realized that he wanted to help children who wore no shoes to protect their feet.  Today, when you purchase a pair of TOMS shoes, another pair will be given to a child who has no shoes.

World Vision – “Canada’s Most Meaningful Gifts.”  For $30 you can give 3 soccer balls to children in an underdeveloped country or for $100 you can gift immunizations to a community.  It costs roughly $15,000 to drill a well that will provide up to 11,000 litres of clean water a day.  You can purchase a share in a well project for $2500.  We have friends who are raising money for this special gift by selling bottled water for $10 a piece… something you could bring to a party as a hostess gift.  How awesome to have a global impact and demonstrate ways our children can connect with children overseas.

My challenge to you: come up with one way this year to simply change your perspective on gift giving and re-orient to the meaning of Christmas.  Engage your creative side!





front and centre

5 11 2009

IMG_2420Three things have been front & centre on my mind over the past week – and I just want to air them from least distressing to most distressing.  As always, I welcome all comments and even a drawn out discussion!

H1N1 hype vs. hope

Media makes me crazy!  So unreliable, so untrustworthy.  The primary objective of the media seems to be to mobilize social chaos.  Is that how we want to live our lives?  In some elevated state of irrational fear based on speculation and hype?  Not I.  With no reasonable evidence in the media – or on the mommy blogs – of an expert or professional opinion on the efficacy and safety of the H1N1 vaccine, I was thankful for two insights that surfaced last week – one from my cousin’s wife who is a paediatric emerg doc at the U of A hospital in Edmonton, who encouraged us to vaccinate our children (whose boys sadly caught the virus just before they could get the vaccine).  And, two – through a Facebook thread where I realized that the only thing that mattered is that we relinquish control (once again) over our children placing the whole thing in God’s hands, who gifted them to us in the first place.  By succumbing to the fear mongering and becoming paralyzed by that fear, no matter which decision we made for our families, we were essentially saying that we did not believe that our God is Able.  He may not spare us from suffering, but he promises a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11)… it just may be a different future than our human imaginations can render.

motherhood

I just want to take a moment to encourage my mom friends… actually, I want to sincerely congratulate all of you!  You all look fabulous when we meet up, you are all perky and positive, you are still clever and witty, you are interesting and talented – and I know that you are all on significantly reduced sleep; you have babies who cry a lot; you have toddlers who are defying your “authority” (and I use that term loosely) at every step; you have pre-schoolers who are exerting their independence and testing the limits; they are teething; they are ill; they are bonking their heads; they are thwarting your best laid plans.  But, motherhood looks so good on you — your children make you glow with pride and gush with adoration.  Glowing and gushing trumps stress and anxiety.

On another note, I have pretty much decided that I will write a parenting book for moms with boys, because I’m convinced that most of them were written by mothers of little girls.  More about that later.  🙂

marriage

This is huge.  It’s material for 50 or more blogs.  But, this has been the most distressing thing on my mind for the past several days.  It has recently come to my attention that the marriages of many of my friends and acquaintances are already fractured or in trouble.  I am not aware of the circumstances in most cases… I have no intention of judging, it’s not my place.  But, I am so sad.  I know that there have been unspeakable hurts.  Actually, I don’t want to get into it at all… at least not today – just to say that it’s been very distracting and has been the subject of a lot of my prayers this week.  I hope you will join me in asking God to protect our families and to position Himself as the central figure in our marriage relationships – and in all of our relationships for that matter.