October 15, 2014

WHAT HELPED ME GRIEVE

(Gabriel's footprint on a pendant) 

I tried to write a helpful post of things one should never say to someone who has suffered a loss, accompanied with my reasons why. My responses ended up sounds bitter, like I was yelling so I won't be post that today. I do not want to give a negative vibe and I am trying really hard to be helpful because I know that everyone who says those things do so because they truly mean well.Today I want to focus on the things that I did to help myself during the grieving process. Before I do that though, I want to stress the fact that there is no right way to grieve and that what I have done might not be helpful to you. This is only my experience and my story.

We named him Gabriel Aaron Smith, yes after the angel. Aaron picked the name out before we had lost him, but after we knew we were going to lose him. I have heard stories of women who lost their babies before they knew the sex, some parents gave unisex names like Jamie or Lee, some gave nicknames like Button or Bean, and some of them felt so strongly that their baby was a boy or a girl  that they pick a masculine or feminine name. It's never too late to name your baby if you want to. For us it helped because we have something to call him, our family has something to call him and it instills that he was and always will be our little boy.

Car rides were the worst for me, long stretch of time where there was absolutely nothing to do so I immerse myself in thought. Especially that first week I thought of him constantly, every minute of every day was me thinking of him or occupying myself so that I didn't burst into tears. I was in a dark dark place. A few days after losing Gabriel, while we were still at the cottage, I stopped in at a Walmart and picked up a journal. I had started writing to him while I was in the hospital, but it was on the back of pregnancy loss pamphlets the nurses brought in. I wanted a book where Aaron and I can go and write to him and get our feelings and thoughts out on paper. Perhaps this helped me because I find such a joy in writing but it was helpful. At first I wrote every day but now I write when I feel the need or desire to. Sometimes I will go back and just read all the things we wrote.

We were able to have him cremated and the day we picked up his ashes were as close as bringing a baby home from the hospital that I would get with him. I felt such relief. Because of his gestational age, we were warned that we might not get any ashes so we prepared for that but thankfully we were able to get some. In our bedroom we have his spot set up. We got him a snow globe with a cherub inside holding a heart and it plays this beautifully sweat song and sometimes I will play  the music when I miss him. At a trading post gift shop we saw another cherub carved in wood and painted white, the angel was sleeping and this reminded me of him so we picked that up too. I also bought a shadow box and put all of his ultrasound pictures inside and hung it on the wall over the shelf that houses all of his things and his urn. If you were unable to have your baby cremated you can still create a memory spot of things that remind you of your baby.

My husband has been incredibly supportive, after all he grieves too but in ways different than me. Sometimes we will be talking about something, maybe reminiscing about the boys as babies and then Aaron will get real quiet and look off to the side and let our a deep sigh. I know what hes thinking. Having him to lean on and share my dark times with has been extremely important for me. If you are not married or you don't have the father of your baby in your life, reach out to a friend or family member and if they don't understand there is a network of women on miscarriage and stillborn message boards that will understand. The last thing that really helped me was to help others, to share my story and to be there to listen and offer advice to others going through what I went through.

Today is infant and pregnancy loss awareness day and this post was to honour that.


October 8, 2014

BEFORE DINNER

Do you eat appetizers before dinner at home? Our family never did, not unless I was holding a dinner party or something relatively formal. Whilst plowing the shopping cart through the isles of the supermarket we stopped along the way to pick up things and sample appetizers. I notice the smoked salmon was on sale so we picked it up, along with some cream cheese and french bread. I parked the cart nearest the antipasto bar and Joshua requested some olives so I obliged.

When we got home I insisted that we have appetizers before dinner and Aaron agreed so I cut up the bread, smeared on some cream cheese and topped the slices with either salmon or green olives. I find that the green ones paired better with the cream cheese than the kalamata.

We sat around the coffee table and nibbled on these before dinner. 

October 4, 2014

POETRY READING: LAST NIGHT



Poetry has been an important part of my life, ever since I began to creatively write as a child I was always writing poetry. I do so to express thoughts and feelings, it is very cathartic for me. I haven't written anything in a very long time, years I would say. I wonder why that is? I thought I would start a series on poems that I enjoy. I start off with a piece I found on Poets.Org. I also wanted to showcase a new voice as opposed to the obvious classics for the first highlight. 

Last Night

I dreamt of making sense,
parts of speech caught up in sheets
and blankets, long strips of fabric
wrapped loosely around shoulders,
goblets, urns, cups with unmatched saucers.

You were there, and the past seemed important,
what was said, what was done,
feelings felt but maybe not expressed,
signs randomly connected
yet vital to what comes next,
to a coming season,
next year’s trip to Nauset Beach.

I woke up wanting to read a poem by that name,
and I found one with a lifeguard’s chair,
a broken shell, gulls watching egrets,
home an ocean away.


What do you think?

October 2, 2014

YOUTUBE WORKOUT VIDEO REVIEW

 

Who loves to work-out? Raise your hands!...*crickets*...Hmm, I feel you. I can think of a few things that I would rather do than to submit myself to that kind of abuse but alas, I have a few pounds to shed so workout I must! For a while I was doing Jillian Michael's 30 day shred but I was in the mood for a change. Aaron suggested that I peruse the videos on YouTube for some quality videos, so I did. I follow Popsugar/Fitsugar on bloglovin' so when I found this video I was ready to give it a shot.

After starting a new video, I find that it takes days for me to become stronger in the workout, however with this video I noticed an increase in strength on the very first day! It is rather challenging because it focuses on one area of your body really intensely, but when you switch sides you feel so much relief that the movements becomes easier.

The fitness host Lisa Corsello is charming while avoiding the stereo typical workout instructor pep. I like her to say the least! I also love the interaction with her and the other ladies, the back and forth is entertaining. I did this for about two weeks starting around September 15th. On September 28th I switched back to the 30 Day Shred just for variety and found the Jillian Michaels DVD to be so much easier than I remembered. I must have built my strength and endurance! I work out 6 days a week and placed myself on a 1200 calorie diet. So far I've lost four pounds!

September 30, 2014

COMMUNITY DAY AT THE ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTRE

 
 
 
This past Sunday was Community Day at Science Centre in celebration of it's 45th birthday! It was a great chance for us to get out and participate in educational play with the boys. They love to learn and explore and the Science Centre is a great place for them to be hands on while discovering something new at the same time. A combination of the beautiful week we hand coupled with our time at the centre made for a great weekend!

September 14, 2014

ONE WEEK OF SCHOOL LUNCHES

 
 
 

Packing lunches, rather, thinking of different things to pack for your children, can become a chore. Oddly enough, this is one thing I really enjoy. Since we  live in Toronto, Ontario, everything is nut free therefore I have to be extra careful about what I pack for the boys. Thankfully just about everything that is nut-free will have a label on the packages, this eliminates the guess work for you, your child and your child's teacher. When packing cold lunches it can be difficult to come up with ideas other than the same old sandwiches so I tried to think of different way to put one together. Since I don't send the boys with milk to school, it is important that I send them with some substantial form of calcium, hence the yogurt just about everyday! I hope this give you some helpful ideas! Please feel free to share the lunches your kids enjoy as well!

Fruit salad (kiwi, grapes, peaches and plums), ham and cheese roll up, yogurt and penguin crackers.

Tomato, carrots, cucumbers and a tuna fish sandwich.

Cheese, crackers, tomatoes, 1/2 ham, yogurt, penguin crackers, raisins and cheese roll up.

Plums, grapes, turkey sandwich, granola bar, fruit snacks and yogurt

Yogurt, Baby bell cheese, mango slices, mini bagel sandwiches, granola bar and a cheese stick.

September 7, 2014

TORONTO FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE

This past Friday my business unit and I were treated to an afternoon aboard the one of the Mariposa yachts, the Rosemary. It was a great experience, not only because we had the boat completely to ourselves but also because I had the chance to view different parts of the city that I haven't had the chance to before. There is a beautiful gem right off the lakeside coast known as Toronto Island, which is a cluster of small islands on Lake Ontario. I have been to Center Island a few times with Joshua when he was little, however I've never seen all the other parts of Toronto Island. It was a beautiful sunny day, probably the last really hot day of the year, so we all soaked it in on the front deck as we watched sailors, kite surfers and fantasized at the 65 million dollar yacht was saw sailing by...yes we googled it! If you are in Toronto or thinking about visiting, I highly suggest a city cruise around the islands!

September 2, 2014

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL


Today was the first day of school for our boys!  In true Smith fashion we arrive literally two minutes before the entry bell rang. It was a good thing Aaron called in late to work because he was busy finding Joshua's teacher while I took Lucas to Junior Kindergarten. FYI in Canada we have two years of  Kindergarten which starts at 4 years old followed by Senior Kindergarten at 5 years old. I got to walk him to his class and help him hang up is backpack on the hook right underneath his name written in a blue star.


He looks like he's in pain but I assure you, he's actually happy.

At around 1:30pm, I was sitting at my desk when I receive a call from the school, Joshua had a rash on his back. I assured them that it was more than likely a heat rash however to be sure I decide to swing by just to check since the school is just down the street. From there I decided to take him to the doctors just to be safe.  So Joshua and I fly off to the walk in clinic nearby and Doc checks him out. As I thought, everything was fine. I drop him back off at school and head back to work. Talk about working mom chaos! Other than the quick lunch time dash to the doctors everything was great. The boy loved their first day!


Again, he's not in pain!

September 1, 2014

BACK TO SCHOOL LUNCH TIPS


Tomorrow is the first day of school for us as I am sure it is also the first day for many others. It is no secret that I love to pack lunches for my boys, so I thought I would share some tips and tricks that I have learned along the way!

Pack lunch the night before
Rather than waking up before the sun, pack lunch the night before! This way you get to take all the time you need without having to rush to get things done in the morning. 

Create a lunch meal plan
Grocery shopping usually gets done on Friday after work or Saturday afternoon, thus I plan what I'll be making for dinner and lunch prior to my trip to the store. I make my plans for the week ahead and then I can create a shopping list based on that. I found that I save so much time and money at the store when I have a meal plan.

Try not to pack the same thing every single day
"Mom," Joshua calls as he descends the staircase every morning. "What are you packing for lunch?"
"A sandwich and-"
"Ugh!" He groans. "Again!?"

Yeah, I try to not hear this every morning so I try and mix it up when I can. The less I repeat lunches, the more of his lunch he will eat! You can take a look at some lunches I created for Joshua last year. HERE

Purchase a thermal container
I absolutely love my Thermos container! The one we have is similar to this. It keeps hot things hot for up to 5 hours and cold things cold for 7 hours. This allows me to pack left overs for Joshua's lunch. After a really good dinner he will say "Can I bring this for lunch tomorrow?" So I'll set some aside for him. In the morning I will pop it in the microwave then transfer the warm meal into his container. Here are some hot lunches ideas. HERE

Label everything
No explanation needed. Label your lunch bag and the containers (the bowl and lid). Kids toss their stuff all around, having everything labeled will make your kids life a whole lot easier when they are trying to find the lid for their containers! 

August 31, 2014

WEEKEND CURRENTLY


Looking like
See the picture above. I am slightly embarrassed at the amount of cleavage, I even lifted my shirt a little and tried to capture a less risque photo but that didn't work. I'm sure you can handle.

Drinking
Green tea. I would have preferred to fix myself a large mug of coffee, however the Smiths ran out of milk after a Nesquik frenzy happened this morning. I tried black, and while it wasn't bad, I still prefer my coffee with milk. The first few sips were fine however towards the end there was this sweet sour taste. I'm not sure what that means so i'm sticking with tea for now.

Anticipating
I am getting a little antsy for the beginning of school. I love shopping for back to school supplies, however Aaron and I never go "all out." We are pretty practical and this year we only purchased the necessities: a backpack, pencils, scissors, erasers, pencil case, water bottle, lunch bag, lunch containers and hand sanitizer. Once we receive The List, from their teachers we will pick up whatever it is we do not already have.

If you want a funny, lighthearted read, check out this blog where the author compares the back to school shopping of today verses the 70s. READ 

Accomplishing
I complete my Human Resources class as of midnight tonight! Then I get a whole week off until I start my other set of classes. Going to school, though online, is still a lot of work but I have learned a great deal at the same time. Hopefully this time next year I will be walking across a stage to pick up my degree!  

Blog stalking
There is a blog that I just started following last week. It's one of those community type blogs that have a few different writers. I find the content to be so entertaining. It is both informative and fun all at the same time. Yummy Mummy 

Hope you have a happy Labor Day!

August 28, 2014

BEING READY

Canadian weather, what a fickle thing. We never really had much of a summer with the constant fluctuation between sunny and warm to cold and rainy. It mostly resembled late spring but after the debacle that was winter I was up for anything that wasn’t deep freeze, snow and ice. I am ready to transition into fall and welcome warm sweaters, leather boots and the start of school!


This year I am looking forward to sending both of my boys with backpacks attached and lunch bags in hand. Lucas is particularly excited to be starting Junior Kindergarten, boasting his “big boy” status to anyone and everyone that will listen. He’s no longer “Little”, once upon a time he had accepted being called “medium” by his older brother, but now he’s “big” and he’s owning it like he should. Parts of me want to grab him and squeeze him and nuzzle him and snuggle him until he begs me to stop but he is growing up.
 

Joshua? That a whole other bag of craziness! I’m expecting more of him these days. He helps me in the kitchen on the weekends and he helps me with his laundry because one day I will expect him to do it all by himself. He ditched “baby” cartoons and now opts for My Babysitter’s a Vampire and other kid shows that feature teenagers in live action. He will start second grade! There is a benefit to being the first born; I have no desire to baby him for the rest of his life. I welcome his increased independence with a bring it on attitude. After all I have a much smaller human who fills that void for the time being. I wonder if that’s why the oldest child is supposedly “natural leaders” because we as parents are able to let them go with more easy and we are perfectly fine to watch them evolve as we clinging on to our designated baby.
 
Whether I choose to be ready, whether I ‘m not, it doesn’t matter because it isn’t about me anyways. It’s about them. And if I’m being honest with myself then I would just admit it, they are ready.

August 23, 2014

WEEKEND CURRENTLY

*from our Ottawa trip two weeks ago*


Drinking

For the longest while, I had pinned this recipe for Moscow Mules. I had never had one before but the ingredients were simple enough (vodka, ginger beer and lime) so it couldn't hurt to give it a try. I love this drink! It's incredibly refreshing and since it only requires three things, its very quick and simple to make. I'm not the biggest fan of ginger beer, I find it to have too much of a bit, however it really blends well with the lime and vodka. If you find the drink to be too powerful, add less ginger beer. The vodka and lime do a great job at cutting the bitterness.

Watching
I feel sort of stalker-ish, but I've been watching a whole bunch of these vlogs today! I love beautiful vlogs and Alycia's are highly entertaining and helpful.

Catching up on
Cleaning! Aaron and I both work full time which means we reserve most of our around-the-house duties for the weekends. With the start of every season I like to do a big clean of the entire house which consists of Aaron and I going through everything and clear out what we no longer need. It gives us a fresh start. Since I consider the first day of school as the commencement of Fall, we will get a head start on our Fall cleaning. Last week we started with cleaned out the front closed, donating old coats and shoes. Next I will be going through the Tupperware draw and getting ride of containers with missing lids, lids with missing containers, chewed up and melted container. 

Enjoying
I am enjoying doing absolutely nothing! This summer was fill with busy weekends. I cannot tell you the last weekend the smith family spent it entirely at home!

Reading
Last year, as part of my college writing class, I was assigned Barbara Kingsolver's High Tide in Tuscon and I absolutely loved it. It a compilation book of a bunch of her essays. The are reflective and interesting to say the least. It's a great read especially if you do not have time to invest in a typical novel. Its one of those books that you can pick up, flip to any essay and just read.

August 18, 2014

GABRIEL: A STORY OF LOSS

March 31, 2014

HOT SCHOOL LUNCHES

A few months after the start of school, Joshua and I were in a Target when we spotted this container:

According to the label it keeps hot things hot for up to 5 hours and cold things cold for up to 7 hours. At only $13.99, this made for an amazing addition to our lunch container collection. With this I was able to send Joshua to school with a multitude of meal options. Last week I sent him with two hot lunches:



1. Turkey Chili with Cheese Cubes

2. Penne with Sausage and Strawberries.

Once dinner is over, I place left overs in a separate container. When I wake up in the morning, I quickly warm it up in the microwave, then transfer it into his thermal container. Joshua loves this thing and is constantly asking me to use it. I suggest everyone getting something like this if you pack lunch for your little ones.

March 27, 2014

GUILT FREE


I suppose if I stopped to drown myself deep in thought I could find a measurable about a guilt for spending my children's young years immersed in work and school. At some point I will throw myself a life line and reel me back to shore. I'm a mother and I work full time out of the home and I'm a student. Somehow during the circus act of packing school lunches, making dinner and taking a ten minute break in order to get down on the ground and play with my boys,  I manage to squeeze out some time for text books and cuddle time with my husband. The circus seems to be pleasing the crowd, my juggling act is secure and I walk that fine tightrope line of doing a lot, getting a lot done while not doing too much.

It's all about perception. To some daycare is the dreaded "day-orphanage" as one blogger put it, but to me it's just a part of the village that helps me with these beautiful boy. Daycare raising my children? I suppose if you want to minimalize the job that parents take on and pigeon hole that into story time, arts and crafts and singing song then go ahead, my husband and I however view parenting as so much more than that. Being a stay at home parent is A LOT of work, I've been there for an accumulative 3+ years and I have see myself at both ends of the spectrum. It takes the right kind of person to do it and do it right. I am a great mother but when I stayed at home I found that I spent less quality time with my kids than I do now. I suppose I took the time I spent with them for granted, they were always around me, no need to rush to play with them. I would work through a list of thing that needed to get done, some thing didn't need to get done (like watching daytime television) but when I had the time, I would get to playing with the boys. I did get to them and I did love playing with them but not like I do now. That made me feel guilty. Now when I get home from work, I am quick to start dinner and while thats cooking I find my boys and I spend every moment loving them.

I think about the qualities that I want my children to posses. I realized that none of those were contingent on my staying at home. All that mattered was that my husband and I created a safe, loving and happy home for our boys. They are loved and cared for and not one day goes by that I don't make them feel how special they are to me. If for a minute I thought my kids needed me to be home, I would and I would do it with as much grace as I could muster, but I dont see that happening.


Right now, I focus on my boys and my husband. I focus on all that I am doing for them. I am guilt free and I write this hoping that others in my situation or similar will give themselves a break and be guilt free too. For those who are stay at home parents, Im sure there is guilt with that as well...give yourself a break! Don't let anyone tell you, that you're "wasting your life" by taking care of your family, because you're not. Your job is valuable in more ways that I can ever say! We are all doing the best we can and what is best for our family.

March 24, 2014

HOME INSPIRATION: LIVINGROOM


If you read my last Home Inspiration post you will know that I love cozy, comfy, country home decor. I have two boys who love to wrestle around, knock into things and be little kids, therefore anything that I bring into my home has to be something we can live in! At the end of the day I want to drop my body onto the couch, put my feet up and relax. I don't want to have to worry about ruining or staining anything.

These Pinterest pin really express what I'm looking for when I think about decorating my own living room. I love the red, yellow and blue color pallet! There are so many ways you can play with those colors.

What is your home style?



March 23, 2014

UNFORGETTABLE LOVE

My relationship with God is interesting. Much like the relationship I have with anyone else, I find myself learning more and more about him as time goes on. Sometimes I question his intent, his love, his divinity and his purpose for humanity. It is not uncommon for me to say "God, I don't get this? I don't get you! How can this be? Why?" and each time I question him I feel his patience and understanding and honestly I feel his appreciation for my list of questions.

Sometimes, I hate to say it but I "forget" him. He can turn into the father that you used to call a few times a week to touch base with. Maybe not multiple times a week but at least every Sunday, just to check in a say "hey!" Well church and this family have become distant relatives, the ones you only see on special occasions. My nightly prayers have turned into weekly, if that. Just like when I don't call my parents for a while, I feel like God is saying, "so...you couldn't spare two minutes to speak with me this week?" And I'll say something to the effect of, "you know I still love you right?" Actions speak louder than words.


Though I have "forgotten" him, he always shows me that I am not forgotten. Recently I went thrifting for some vinyl records (how hipster of me!). To my delight I found two Elvis Presley albums, one was his Christmas album and the other was a compilation of a few of his love songs. At $4 a piece who could say no! I ran home with them and decided to play his love songs first. To my surprise I heard a country version of "There is Power in the Blood." Someone at the store must have switched out the record with a christian hymnal album. Elvis was priced higher than the other $1.99 albums so whichever cheapskate did this, wanted to save a whole $2. That, or whoever donated it, mixed them up.

"What the...?!" I uttered as the hymnal played throughout the living room. I knew I had a look of disgust on my face, which I feel dreadful for now.

I didn't want it! I wanted to listen to Elvis. In my silence I spoke to him, saying I know I know, it's bad but Lord, I've been looking for Elvis albums everywhere! You know how much I wanted one like this. I'm just disappointed thats all.

Then I plopped down on the sofa, letting my grumpiness fade away as I listened to the song reluctantly. Soon reluctance turned into desire and my grump turned into a faint smile. I'll listen to this every sunday morning I though to myself. Just as I grew up with the sound of country gosple singers in the background of my childhood, I wanted that for my boys too. God remembered me. He knew what I needed. He knew how to reach me. I'm sure some people will say it's a silly coincidence but I tend to not believe in those.


As a christian, there are things I want to remember. I must take something more from all of this other than playing gospel on Sunday. I believe that life is a big lesson and in this lesson God was such a role model. 

He wasn't forceful
He wasn't using fear
He didn't tell me I was going to "hell"
He didn't make me feel bad
He didn't punish me
He didn't mock me
He didn't have his follower gather in circles and talk bad about me
He wasn't rude
He wasn't mean

He was love.

He simply reminded me that he was there. He showed me that I mattered.

He is love and nothing less than that.

March 20, 2014

AWKWARD SIZED FRAMES

A few months ago I had purchased these 20" x 20" Ribba frames from Ikea. When I purchased them, I failed to realize how difficult it would be to find a phot processing center that would print off square portaits (11.5" x 11.5" with the matting). I thought about printing a much larger poster size image and crop them on my own at home, however, I was too cheap to spend $28 to print four posters not to mention, I didn't know how they would look after making the adjustments. What if it didn't work? What if the pictures didn't look the way i had hoped after cutting them up? Suddenly, as if a light bulb illuminated over my head, I had an idea! Calenders were just the right size and to put the cherry on top, it was February so they would be on sale. I went to my local book store and purchased a vintage New York calender for $3. I chose this perticular calender because it was vintage New York and that happens to be my favourite city. Also it was black and white, making it look more clean, crisp and not like i spend $3 on them. I cut out the pictures out, then placed them in my fames and there you have it folks!