Friday, July 29, 2011

Three reasons why I am a proud Mama today

This vacation time is killing me.  Not because I have been working a lot from home and doing office runs for the last two weeks and techincally haven't had a true vacation from my workplace. No, I can handle that. It's the overwhelming love I have for E when I get to spend every waking and non-waking hour with him for two weeks straight and the constant feeling inside that this should be the way it is everyday. I wish I could spend my days with him - baking muffins, exploring the city, playing in the park. This is where I feel I belong and it hurts. It hurts because my vacation time is almost over and I just don't want to go back.

As I'm writing this, tears are forming in my eyes. I feel a lump in my throat. I don't know why it's making me so emotional. I'm just so freaking proud of E and the little man he has become so far. I know I'm not missing THAT much, but I can't help but think of the little things I am missing while I am away at work five days a week.

I've had a few eye opening events with E this week that have reminded me just how big he is getting.  It's so true that they grow up too fast. I had already forgotten many of his little milestones until I stepped back this week in amazement and realized just how far he has come.

It seems like yesterday that I was spoon feeding him and watching his eyes light up with delight when something sweet like pureed fruits hit his lips.  He would bop up and down in his high chair, clap his hands and squeal with excitement.  I wished I knew what he was thinking and sometimes I imagined what he was saying.  These sounds were music to my ears. Sounds that assured me that he was happy and what else does a Mother want in life?

This week I made mini-muffins (carrot and zucchini - yum!) while E was napping. When he awoke from the couch, he wasn't his usual grumpy self.  He ran over to the kitchen and asked, "Whatcha makin', Mommy?" He proceeded to grab a chair from the dining room and push it up to the kitchen counter.  He watched in amazement as I removed them from the tins and placed them on the cooling racks.  He hovered his hands over them and felt their warmth and started chanting, "Muffins! Muffins! Muffins!".  Then he talked. And he didn't stop talking. "Mmm muffins, Mommy. I loooove muffins, Mommy.  Thanks, Mommy. Thanks a makin' muffins.  I want to eat them. I want to eat three."  When he starts talking like this I know he is happy.  He gets so excited he chats and chats and chats and I just sit back and listen to him spill out the words.  He ended up having three and then ran back and stole a fourth.  He told me that they tasted "sooooo good". He was so very happy that I made muffins and could express his feelings of joy. There was still squealing and bopping up and down, but the words, oh the words that come with his actions just melt my heart.  Now I know what he's thinking and feeling and I never want him to stop telling me.

And the manners. His manners amaze me.  I swear I'm not that strict with manners, but he almost never forgets his.  An elderly man approached us at Subway last week with a cookie in hand just purchased especially for E. He had been watching us from across the restaurant he said.  E was a very good little boy he said.  E smiled and genuinely said, "Thanks!" and made me so proud.  Unfortunately, E couldn't eat the cookie (allergies), but I tucked it in my purse and swapped it for some fresh market berries when we got home.  And yes, I enjoyed that chocolate chip cookie. It seems like just yesterday that I was thanking people for E. Now he is the first to say, "Thanks so much" to the waitress that places his plate of breakfast in front of him.  Such a polite little boy.

Then there was the cell phone call from his Dad who was working late the other night. This is a ritual in our house. Hubby usually always calls and talks to E on the phone if he won't be home before he goes to bed.  The crazy thing now is that the two of them can have a conversation and I don't need to intervene or tell Hubby about E's expressions. I don't need to put the call on speak phone so I can fill in the blanks.  E tells Daddy all about his day and tells him he loves him.  Amazing.

He is not a perfect little angel everyday, all day. But he is one special little boy. And I am one proud and happy Mama these days.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A hike at Mud Lake

Ever since I read this post about Krista's Adventures at Mud Lake I've wanted to take E there. I added it to my Summer of Awesome list of must-do activities to make sure I make it there someday soon.  It is a less than 10 minute drive from our house, after all. 

While I am on vacation (kinda, ugh) this week, I decided this morning would be a perfect sunny day for a hike. We put our running shoes on (it's been dry lately so I knew we wouldn't get too muddy) and packed up a back pack with drinks and snacks (and extra underwear and shorts for my toilet training boy) and set out for the trails. I don't think we could have picked a better day to enjoy the scenery.

Entering Mud Lake trails

We saw turtles, ducks and frogs and different coloured flowers, berries, and leaves. E wanted to dive right in the lake to catch the creatures and would have if I let him.  We also saw some really neat looking birds and even caught the eye of an older gentlemen who was bird watching.  He was pleasantly surprised that we too we admiring the birds and showed us some amazing pictures he took of an eagle minutes earlier on his really heavy-duty-super duper-long-lensed camera.  E was fascinated with his camera and asked him to put the strap over his head. What a kid.

Wow, look at the bird!

We stopped at every single lookout point and tried to sit quietly to see and not scare any living creatures. And once we got near the end of the trail E's legs finally got a little heavy and needed a piggy back the rest of the way.  What a beautiful way to spend the morning with my energetic son while getting lots of exercise myself and relaxing and taking in the beautiful sights! I think we will make this a more regular place to visit since it's so close.

I have to go pee, Mommy!

P.S. We had to stop and squat for E to relieve some trickles of pee a few times. Surely, that can't be too damaging to the natural habitat can it?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Summer of Awesome

Summer of Awesome, hosted by Turtlehead

I'm a little late getting to this, but there was no way I was not going to join in this fun! Lynn over at Turtlehead started a Summer of Awesome project and it is just what I need to motivate me to check off some of my bucket list items for this summer.  I just (kinda) started a 2 week vacation so I'm hoping to get started on a number of these things.  My Summer of Awesome list will be acting more like a bucket list - all the things I really want to do, but I know some will have to wait until next summer or so on. I have high hopes, but having a toddler makes me so excited to experience these things with.  I will post updates as we check things off our list.

Animals & Zoos
Will it be the Toronto Zoo, Granby Zoo, or Ray's Reptile Zoo? Maybe the Montreal Biodome. Who knows, but we hope to hit atleast one up this summer!

Education & Sight Seeing
I'm not sure if E is quite old enough for this place yet, but maybe Storyland.  I've been dying to go to the Canadian Museum of Nature. I'm sure he would love the Children's Museum. He loves looking a pictures and colours so I can't wait to take him to the National Art Gallery and of course to see Maman. The Wakefield Steam Train sounds really cool and perhaps this AAAAAAAAALL ABOARD! event at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum on July 24.

Sports & Activities
Blue Jays or Fat Cats game
Waterpark - Calypso or Mont Cascades
Lots of splash pad visits
Go mini-putting again (we went on Father's Day and had a blast!)
Saunders Farm

Outdoors & Wilderness
Camping (even if it's in my parents yard on the farm).
Hike and picnic in Gatineau Hills
Go to a friend's cottage
Brittania Beach - we went today!
Petrie Island
Mud Lake
Big Sandy Bay - already went once this year!
Mer Bleue wetlands
Public outdoor swimming - across the street!

Berry picking and lots of baking
Carp farmers market
Sunday's at Landsdowne and Parkdale markets

These are just a few (HA!) of the things on my family friendly list. What are your plans for this summer?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Do we need wake-up calls to live healthily?

I can't exactly pinpoint when my wake-up call was, but I know I have had many aha! moments that have attributed to my mindful and healthy living habits. 

When I was pregnant with E, I became much more aware of household products that were toxic in our house. The cleaner I used on my floor, dish soap, laundry detergent, air fresheners, bathtub cleaner - these are all things my baby was going to have direct contact with - why hadn't I thought about these things earlier? All along Hubby and I purchased these products and hadn't thought about the impact they could have on our health. Instead we were tricked about how effective their scrubbing bubbles and scent would make our lives easier.  I had much higher standards for my sweet unborn child. I wish I could say I immediately removed them all, but instead I gradually phased these items out of our house and I'm still working on it all the time. It really is a huge eye opener the more you read labels and become mindful of what you are allowing into your house and body. These days I am a vinegar, washing soda, borax, natural cleaning product machine and I feel so much better about these choices.

My next aha! moment was when we came to the conclusion that E had a sensitivity to dairy (in his first few months while I was nursing him).  Something I was ingesting was making him ill and it was up to me and my self control to prevent this.  It was tough in the beginning, growing up on a dairy farm and only knowing dairy as a major food group, but we have come a long way to a dairy-free house.  Since after college (because college should never count when your talking healthy), I have maintained a very healthy diet consisting of wholesome foods and limiting overly processed and pre-made foods.  I had to take it to an extreme level and remove almost all processed foods because almost everything has an dairy and/or soy additive in it.  It was shocking, but awesome at the same time. The best excuse to eat healthy all the time ever.

I've read many articles and studies about hormones, genetic modifications and pesticides in foods and allergies (just to name a few). It's shocking how much information is out there, yet how little people attention to it.  Unfortunately, in today's fast-paced world everything is marketed towards convenience.  It explains the obesity epidemic, the pollution, the rise in allergies and the many, many more attributing health issues that are out there today. I'm no expert or saint - but it only takes a quick google search to realize how much you are putting yourself and your family at risk by purchasing many of today's brand name products.

People often ask me how I do it. How I eat healthy and prepare wholesome meals for my family.  For me it just seems so easy and common sense.  I often think about what our grandparents or my parents ate, or even what I ate growing up on the farm.  It's really not that hard to eat REAL food.  I am not perfect by any means and I could do much better and yes, I cheat, but I am trying to do what I can as much as possible. 

I'm not sure how serious or passionate I would be about healthy living if I wasn't faced with these life changes.  It did take some aha! moments for me and I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason.  I've met many parents that are reluctant to read articles or try anything new.  Their mentality is that they grew up with these products or items and they turned out just fine, so why should they go green or eat organic?  It's nearly impossible to approach the topic of healthy and mindful living with them and I rarely try. I wonder if they  are just waiting for their wake-up call?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

E's language at 26 months

E is 26 months now and his language has really blossomed over the last few months.  In talking with a dear friend whose daughter is almost exactly a year younger than E, I realized how far he has come in such a short while.  While her daughter's speech path seems to very similar to E's so far I am excited to tell her all about how much better it keeps getting. 

These days, simply telling me what he wants or how he feels isn't quite enough for my little motor mouth. 

He warns me.
While we are in the kitchen and he pulls a chair up to the countertop to "help" me.
"Don't touch the toaster, Mommy. It's working. Don't touch it. Don't touch the light. It burns. It will burn your finger. Be careful. It dangerous. Don't touch it okay, Mommy?"

He corrects me.
As we turn onto the street on the way to my baseball game and E is getting restless after a long drive in traffic, I excitedly announce that we are almost at Mommy's soccer game (Oops, wrong day, wrong sport).

"No, we not going to Mommy's soccer game, we go to Mommy's baseball game!

He humours me.
When I fix his dinner plate and he takes his first bite.

"Mmm taste good, Mommy. Rice? I love rice! Mmm taste soooo good.

He has preferences and loves the power of choice.
When I ask him what he wants for dinner.
"I like bbqs. I wanna steak.  You turn on Daddy's bbq, please Mommy?"

He plays tricks on me.
When he comes in from the yard, he rings the doorbell repeatedly.

"Who is it, Mommy? Who's here?
And when I ask the question back he says, " It's me!" and giggles as if he had me fooled the whole time.

He has come so far from pointing and reciting words like he was one year ago.  This parenting gig really just keeps getting better. I am having a blast watching and hearing him learn his language.

Monday, July 11, 2011


It takes him some time to get used to the water temperature. He's not one to just dive in or throw himself into the sprinkler. It doesn't matter how hot the day is. The cold water shocks him so he starts off really slow.

Sometimes he let's the water trickle down my onto his feet or maybe even onto his back until it completely soaks him.

Or sometimes he stands in the pool until he 's ready to take a seat.

Or sometimes he lets the waves crash against his toes until he gets brave enough to chase them.

But once he gets wet, there's no holding him back!

I'm joining Capital Mom today by blogging about a moment from my life based on a theme she has provided. This week’s Monday Moment theme is Water.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Where did June go?

For the 10+ years Hubby and I have been hanging around each other, we have always had a calendar to keep track of our monthly activities.  It kept us in line, kept each other in the know, and helped us plan ahead. I've kept every single calendar since we've got married. Is that weird? It's something my Mom always did and then she would go back and date pictures or record milestones in baby books that she didn't have time to get to. The calendar was the all-in-one tell-all and record-all centre on the kitchen wall.  I've fostered the same system in my house and since we had E it has been extremely important for us to stand by our calendar.  This year I picked up a calendar called "Mom Rocks" for cheap at a mall booth once the new year sales started.  It came with wicked awesome quotes and cute little stickers and lines for each family member and I was proud to keep track of everything and look so organized.

This past month, June 2011, was blank. Completely blank. I wish I could say it was because we didn't have any plans, but the truth is that June was so completely insane that I didn't even have time to write anything down on our calendar. If that isn't a sign to slow down, I don't know what is. It's July 9th and our calendar is still stuck on June and I'm wondering where June even went? Summer is here and flying by!

I'm supposed to be on vacation for two weeks at the end of the month and fear I won't be able to relax with so much on my plate right now.  Please, let me get through this next week so I can slow down and start getting back to the basics - like keeping a calendar!

Friday, July 8, 2011

I'm passionate, so shoot me

“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” - Mitch Albom

I am passionate about certain things - this you know and can tell about how I write about them.  Although my interests have shifted throughout my life, I have always found things that fuel me. Something I have always struggled with is SHARING my passion. I forget that my passions may not at all interest a friend. I struggle with too much information sharing or blabbing about these passions and later I think to myself, "God, they must think I'm nuts! Why did I blab about that stuff so much. Alicia, know when to shut up - they don't care!". I've gone over conversations in my head and dwelled on them and hated myself for being so annoying.

"Anyone can dabble, but once you've made that commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it, and it's very hard for people to stop you." - Bill Cosby

You know what is awesome? When you find others that share your passion. Or when others embrace your passion and support it. When you feel like you belong.  THAT is awesome. Blogging is where it's at for me.

"Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you." - Oprah Winfrey

I can sometimes tell when I talk to someone who maybe hasn't found their passion yet or is unhappy or confused about their path or purpose. They don't share your enthusiasm, engage in the conversation by asking questions, lock eyes with you and smile as you blab.  This is what I try to do when I listen to someone who is clearly passionate about something. Because I respect that. I get it.

“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music." - Angela Monet

I've finally come to realize something. I'm not nuts. This is healthy. I'm just a freakin' passionate person.  Don't be a hater. If you don't have a passion - why not? Go find your passion and then you'll understand. Everyone needs a little passion in their life.

“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion." - Hebbel