No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it. 1st Corinthians 10:13

Nov. 27, 2007

The Difference a Year Makes.....

I was thinking this morning about time; one hour is 60 minutes all the time, yet some hours seem to fly by while others take their time. When I was younger I often heard my elders speak of how quickly time passed; I didn't get I understand.

We had some pictures taken last year around this time; my thought at the time was that I'd use them as Christmas presents for my family....send some out in the mail. I never did it. On Sunday I picked up some photo cards thinking I'd use the pictures from last year and this year do what I had planned on doing last year. Then I looked at the picture.

Meagan, 19 at the time is holding Rhys, who is just over a year. This was the first full year Meg did not live at home; she went to school in Peterborough and worked at Elmhirst`s Resort over the summer. In September we put her on a plane bound for the Czech Republic where she is doing her 3rd year of University. When she returns in May she`ll be 21, back to work, looking forward to her final year of undergrad. Meg is ours.....always missed, always welcome, but a visitor here.

For most of her 12 years Carleigh was Meg's little sister; the two girls share a close relationship despite the age difference. Carleigh just celebrated her 13th birthday and is now a teenager. She is moving into the position her sister held for a long time and now Carleigh has stepped into those shoes for her younger siblings. She is in her 3rd year of dance, her 2nd of hip hop and has also taken on voice lessons. She is no longer the new kid in her french immersion class; in fact her average in almost every class is above the class. Quite an accomplishment. She is enjoying her final year of elementary school before she`ll take on grade 9 next September.

When this picture was taken, Benjamin (holding Declan) was 17 and in his last year of high school, the "big fish in a small pond" enjoying all of the benefits that come with that. He graduated an Ontario Scholar with top marks in Biology and English. He was single though looking; ALWAYS looking! This year has brought changes for Ben who is working hard in his first year of a pre-med program at Ottawa U; the "small fish in a big pond". For years Ben was involved in Air Cadets and wore his hair short. Now his hair is longer and curly; on his 18th birthday he got his first tattoo and shortly thereafter had his ears pierced. He is no longer single but involved in a relationship with a girl he met through cadets and has known for several years. Ben sleeps at home and commutes daily to the southern limit of the bus system. He is transitioning out which I have to remind myself of every once in a while......

The difference a year makes.

Noah aka the "Smiling One" finally (after 10 months) got his learner's permit. He still is his easy-going self, comfortable in his own skin. This year he is the one enjoying his senior year at the local public high school. Noah cut his hair this year and for a short period of time sported a bald head. He is working part time at the Subway in town and has the same girl friend. Life for Noah is largely the same; kind of like the "calm before the storm" because next year he too will head off to University because the program he wants is not offered locally.

Cam has had many changes. This picture was taken just shortly after his football season was completed; anybody who has read my posts before knows that he had to lose some fairly significant weight and in this picture he is about 6'3" and probably weighs in between 185 and 190. A year later Cam is 6' 5" and weighs 280 - out came the weights last winter and gone were the weight limits! At 15 Cam is living pretty independently in Ogdensburg, NY where he played his first season of US Varsity football. He is enjoying life as a football player; he is greeted in the halls by kids he doesnt know but who know him simply because of what he does. Football is a HUGE deal in the States and the plan is to get one of those lovely american scholarships. He had a 90% average on his first report card and that combined with his size and ability gives him a great opportunity. At $50,000 - 60,000/year I don't know how anybody affords to get an education otherwise.

Then there are our little men.....Declan and Rhys, who are now 3.5 and 2 respectively. Dec and Rhys are buddies - they spend their days together and play well. Rhys is now a "terrible two", testing the boundaries all the time. Declan is a pretty typical older brother, more sedate and serious than his younger counterpart. Neither of them are trained, much to their mother's dismay and this year we learned that Rhys would come to enjoy being a "big brother"; though this one came as more of a surprise than the others, baby #8 is due February 4. Every good book must have an end and THIS will be it! I had come to that decision just weeks before learning that we were expecting again and though a surprise, this one is definately wanted. Children are indeed a gift and a blessing.

Ah, the difference a year makes.

This Christmas will be different for us. It is the first year in 8 that Brad and the boys will not be involved in the Men`s Choir at church on Christmas Eve. With the exception of the year when we moved from Yellowknife to Ottawa and spent Christmas at my mom and dad`s, this is the first time we will not spend Christmas in our home....well, that`s not quite true. We will spend it in a home that we own, but it will be in Ogdensburg, NY; our first Christmas morning spent in the US. I`d have never thought I`d ever see the day! These are pretty minor changes compared to those others will face but all too often it isn`t the big things that are difficult, but the little things that add up to cause a problem. At this point in our lives, I`m happy to think that we`ll all be together.....we have no guaranty of anything else.

These are just some of the changes our kids have experienced but of course each of their changes effects us as their parents and us as a family. If I chose to spend my time longing for what was, what enjoyment would I get from today or tomorrow? It is in the learning to adapt, to accept challenges and move forward that we can appreciate the past for what it has given us.....great memories, some difficult circumstances and hard lessons perhaps. I want to continue learn to live like that; to appreciate my past (the good, the bad AND the ugly!) and move forward to what lies ahead; to press on and remember to enjoy each day and the making of new memories and experiencing new challenges. THAT is life and THAT is living it.

Nov. 6, 2007

Terrible 2's and Finding Forgiveness

I just caught my youngest hanging from the edge of the crib. Rhys turned two on October 17 and his ventures into ensuring that boundaries still do exist know no bounds. His father has said that he is more of a handful than the other 4 boys put together. When I gave him a swat on his diapered backside, he actually looked…..offended. Hurt and offended. What a boy! I tell him it's a good thing he's cute.....

Heavy sigh.

I have had several times over the past month when I thought that I needed to sit down at the computer to write something; however, I know how this works and what starts out as something simple becomes much larger as I write. A week ago this past Saturday was one such time.

Brad and I had loaded up our two youngest late Friday afternoon to head over to Ogdensburg where we would spend the night and then watch Campbell’s playoff game the following day in Peru, New York. Peru is about a 2.5 hour drive from Ogdensburg. We had been awakened in the night by Rhys and though he didn’t take too long to settle, my sleep had been interrupted enough and I was awake for a while. The weather the following morning was rainy as promised and though the temperature didn’t dip below 13 degree Celcius, it’s tough to feel warm when you’re wet. By half time the boys were soaked from the middle down with the exception of their rubber-booted feet and I was wet through my waterproof jacket. Back at the truck I stripped them down and changed them both. We stayed put until the game was over around 4:30 and then we headed back to Ogdensburg. Stopping for dinner was not an option; the team bus that Cam was travelling on would not stop and we didn’t want to leave him stranded at the school in the rain. The boys were good travellers and though they napped and I had brought snacks for the drive, they were both tired and hungry when we arrived back in Ogdensburg. I figured I’d feed them while Brad waited Cam out and then get them back to their own beds for the night.
It was a good plan I thought. I gave them their choice of two meals (which was perhaps a mistake but not my biggest one of the evening) and then got it ready. When they came to the table they both turned up their noses before even tasting anything, which didn’t leave me feeling warm and fuzzy. After a threat or two made with a raised voice, I tried shoving the food into Rhys’ mouth……which didn’t go over well. I was still damp from the game, hadn’t eaten yet myself and could feel my own temperature rising. Have you ever been in that position? You know the trains a comin (much like a deer caught in the headlights) yet despite the warning lights going off, you really don’t care enough to make the necessary adjustments and get out of the flippin’ way! Well that was me on this night. I could see what was happening but instead of heading the warning signals I gave into the emotion of the moment. I hauled them both out of their seats, gave them each a good spank and sent them into separate bedrooms….I couldn’t even tell you what I said, but it was loud and I’m sure their fear of me at that moment was much more the reason for their sobs then any spanking I’d delivered.

I turned around and quite literally felt my way to the chair; I sat myself down and gave way to the floodgate of tears.

It wasn’t the first time I’d lost control; there have been other times. One was during a parent-teacher interview in Yellowknife; a very embarrassing moment for me but more particularly for my dear husband. We had an issue with this teacher – our boy`s marks had surprised us especially considering this was a very small Christian school and I would have expected to hear prior to report card time that work hadn`t been completed. I’d told my man before we left home that I didn’t want him to lose it with her…..only it wasn’t him I needed to worry about. Further information was provided during the course of the interview – our angel had indeed completed his work however the teacher had lost it. Well, I lost it and left the room after railing at her (again, no memory of what it was I said) in tears. Another time we were in a meeting; things were said that hurt me and I launched up from where I sat, walked across the room to where my friend was and gave him a smack. Again, a very embarrassing moment; one for which I had to apologize and one I felt terrible about for a long time…..and people think I`m so calm, so cool.

But here I was with just my two boys and no witnesses….and I knew I`d crossed that line and lost control. I looked up to see that Rhys had come out of the bedroom where he’d been sent, he was watching me rather tentatively to make sure it was okay for him to be there and when I gestured to him to come, he came. He climbed up on my knee and he gave me a full on body hug, which just made me cry all the harder. I croaked for Declan to come and there we sat, just the three of us. I apologized to my boys and Rhys took my face in his little hands and gave me “tisses” on the mouth and as quickly as that train had come, it was gone. I was forgiven and as far as my boys were concerned, all was forgotten. I made them a grill cheese which they ate with relish and we watched a veggie tales movie.

It was after that I got to thinking about how quickly a child forgives and how with age we learn to hold on to the things that hurt us even when they`re things that we`ve done to hurt ourselves. Jesus told us that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to children and unless we become like them, we won’t enter. I have learned much not just from being a mother, but from my kids; forgiveness is one area in which I need to continue to take lessons from, to learn from my `terrible-two-year-old`.