Busy being a mother and a wife and taking on the biggest challenge yet, a permanent move across the world. Read here my random thoughts, feelings and stories about my life that is about to be turned upside down (literally).

Monday, January 31, 2011

Reaching Out

J went to a birthday party this past weekend, most of the kids from his JK class were there including their parents. I casually mingled with other mothers while J had a great time. There was one mother that I did not approach, and the regret that I didn't has been weighing on my shoulders more than I expected.

J had a great start to JK in September, he is a very sociable kid, he skipped on to that big yellow school bus without a look over his shoulder while I stood at the side of the road sobbing like a little girl.
 Within a couple weeks of starting school I noticed that he was speaking in another tone, he was mimicking the voice of another child, he also spoke highly of a new friend and I was encouraging of this relationship. Then J's behaviour got a bit more aggressive at home, he was talking back, shouting and being defiant, all in this new tone of voice. I attributed it to him picking up bad habits from other students at school. In October I began to volunteer in his classroom, my first experience in the class room was witnessing the very challenging behaviour of one student. He was being mouthy, disobedient, and rude, and to my surprise I realised that this was the friend that J had been raving about, and it was this boys voice I heard coming from J each night after school. It was in this first visit that the teacher took the opportunity to chat to me about her concerns that J was being easily influenced by this boys behavior and asked if I would like them to be separated from sharing the same table and kept in separate play groups when possible.
I immediately said yes and the plan was in place, within weeks J had settled down, stopped mimicking this boy and started raving about another young boy who was now his best friend. Mission accomplished!
Yet as I continued to volunteer in J's class room I saw so much more in the misbehaving boy, besides his loud distracting behaviour that often got him sent to the principals office, I caught moments of brilliance, and a child wise beyond his years. He was smart, really really smart, he could read, he used language that far surpassed the other 4 year olds. I wondered what his home life was like and how such a clever little boy could be exhibiting these very challenging behaviours. I was judgmental, I had heard that his mother was barely 20, with piercings in her face and and a new baby in her arms  I judged, I assumed that she didn't discipline him, that she was probably more concerned with her social life than raising her child.

So here I was this past weekend, casually chatting with the other mothers at the birthday party and from the corner of my eye I watched this young girl struggle with her son, he was being a bully, pushing and shoving, he was not listening and giving her a hard time. Yet she was trying really, really hard, she was trying to be calm with him, she was using tactical parenting skills that any of us would be in awe of, she was firm and followed through with her threats of a time out. I could tell that she was reaching the end of her rope yet I didn't talk to her, nobody talked to her, she was there alone, and not one other parent talked to her.
I am ashamed that I didn't reach out to her, even just a handshake and an introduction, it didn't matter what our children's relationship was, it mattered that she was a mother in need of a friend, and I didn't reach out.
For that I am ashamed.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What I like about ME- my yearly review

Thank you to Anjanette, a new Aussie twitter friend for sharing her blog post "How do I love me. Let me count the ways..." at   http://anjwritesabout.com/ which was inspired by a blog she follows.
In a pay it forward (to myself)kind of way I decided to write my own version of it, and maybe you should too. It might feel good.

This job called "Life"  is a tough one, with many rewards and many challenges. We make our way through the daily grind with little direction from anyone but ourselves. This job does not include a yearly evaluation, and we are often reminded of the "areas that need improvement",  but how often are we reminded of our great attributes. Even though I work for my family, my immediate supervisor is ME so here is my yearly review, in random order, the things I like about ME, without the "areas that need improvement".

I like that I tell my kids I love them more than just once a day.
I like that even though I am a worry wart I let my kids do extreme and crazy stunts because they love it.
I like that I am a positive person and I don't often dwell on the negative.
I like that I can see good in everyone, even if they are really not that good.
I like that I am empathetic and I always take a moment to walk in others shoes.
I like that I love seniors and have made it my profession to benefit them.
I like that I am sensitive even though it sometimes hurts my heart.
I like that I don't complain about my husband (very much) because even though he is slightly annoying he is way more awesome than not.
I like that I am a good driver.
I like that even though I am overwhelmingly terrified of flying, I've never let it stop me from traveling.
I like that I am Serbo-Croation and that English is my second language.
I like that I am good at learning new languages.
I like that I am a good baker.
I like that I am a good singer.
I like that I am neat and tidy and my house is always clean(ish).
I like that I am a good housewife.
I like that even though I sometimes tend to care about what people think of me, I've never cared about what people think of my parenting.
I like that I call my mother everyday.
I like that I am a thoughtful gift giver.
I like that I send my close friends happy anniversary cards.
I like that I don't swear.
I like that am trying new things like blogging, jewellery making and a healthier diet.
I like that I make my kids laugh.
I like that I am a good friend.
I like that I am brave enough to pack up and leave behind my good life here for the possibility of an even better life for my family.

In saying this, I am also always striving to make myself a better person, perhaps next years review of things I like about ME will grow double in size.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Remember

January 26th is Australia Day and in honour of this day I thought I would share a few of my favourite memories of Australia. My experience with Australia is far more than a vacation experience, it is a place I've called home and and will soon call home again.

I remember Australia:

The thrill and excitement of seeing the Opera House for the first time, the day we first landed in Sydney, the moment I realized "I'm really here".

The sound of a thousand birds singing outside my window, joyfully waking me early each morning.

The crunch under my feet from the bark of the Eucalyptus tree that littered the side walks.

The long and windy road on the drive to the coast, with a view of the ocean occasionally peeking through the trees. 

Spending long days on the river watching my husband wake board and water ski.

Learning to drive a stick shift for the first time and managing to do so on the "wrong" side of the road.

Climbing the Sydney Harbour bridge with my Mom on her first visit to Australia.

Camping at our favourite secluded beach, feeding Kangaroos and Rosellas and wrestling the occasional Goanna out of our tent.

Wearing a fancy hat to Melbourne cup and betting on the winning horse only to find out that my husband changed his mind at the betting window and choose a different horse.

Enjoying Sydney Harbour at sundown. 

Hearing gripping war stories from the wise men and women at the veterans home where I worked and finding a new found respect for all those who have served.

Becoming addicted to Australian Television: Home and Away, Kath and Kim, The Footy show, Rove Live and This is your Life.

Waking at sunrise and tiptoeing amongst the kangaroos while being led to the beach by my husband (to be) with a sparkly ring in his hand.

Having the most amazing wedding I could ever imagine, just 22 of us celebrating together for an entire week before the big day.

Honeymooning for 5 weeks, driving around half of Australia in our converted Landcruiser with sleeping quarters in the back.

Fossicking for gems in little towns called Emerald and Sapphire.

Four wheel driving on Fraser Island and wading down Eli creek.

Sailing for 3 nights in the Whitsundays on a 100 year old sailboat.

Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef

Waking up on the beach most mornings of our honeymoon.

Driving for hours in the Outback on endless stretches of road listening to Silverchair and Powderfinger.

Feeling at home no matter where I went.

I am lucky to be able to call two wonderful countries my home and am struggling with the emotions of leaving one for the other but in looking back on all the wonderful things I experienced I look ahead to all the wonderful things my husband, children and I will experience together as a family.

Happy Australia Day and we will see you soon!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Feels Like Home

I have only been tweeting for a short time, I started mainly to follow celebrities and by chance I came across another "commoner." A Mom like me who was tweeting just for the fun of it, so I followed her and then followed some of her followers who were also doing the same. Before I knew it I had a network of Moms in my life. Some had blogs, some had small businesses, but all in all we were the same. Just a bunch of Moms looking to connect, a way to escape our hectic, demanding and overwhelming lives. "Twittering" with Moms is like being at a giant playgroup without the kids constantly interrupting our conversation. We talk about our children, their feeding habits, washroom challenges, and developmental breakthroughs. We swap recipes, talk trash TV and complain about our husbands.
No matter what time of day or night, there is always someone on Twitter, people from all corners of the world, in my case mostly Canada and Australia.
I've grown quite attached to Twitter in a short period of time, my husband thinks I may have a problem but I need stability at this time in my life. I am giving up so many things to move to Australia to be with his family and friends. Don't get me wrong, they are wonderful and I am excited about our move but I need something to hold onto, something that will always feel like home. Although we are still getting to know each other, I am comforted to know that you, my Twitter friends, will be there with me throughout this crazy journey I am embarking on, and for that, I Thank You.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Love Me Some Muffins (recipe)

I recently started a dairy, wheat and egg free diet. Against my own will (kind of). I had been plagued with physical and emotional symptoms that my doctor couldn't get to the bottom of so I went to a naturopath. It took one prick of my finger, and a wait of 6 weeks to get test results informing me that I have many food intolerances. Dairy, wheat and eggs being the most predominant. Food intolerances are not to be confused with food allergies, allergies usually cause acute and sometimes severe reactions,  where intolerences can build up over years and cause many subtle symptoms such as weight gain, lethargy, moodiness and anxiety, all of which I suffered. So I had to do it, for the sake of my kids, my husband and most importantly ME.
Its been a tough 4 months, especially the giving up cheese part, although I am allowed goats cheese (Thank God) because I love it. I have found new favourites like Almond Milk, and a wheat-free bread from Stonemill Bakery that is the closest to real bread I could find. I am eating rice pasta, beans, lentils, and many fruits and veggies. So far it has been a success, I've lost about 15 lbs, I feel happier, more patient and more energetic. Its amazing how what we eat is so directly related to how we feel emotionally.
Here is the bad news, I can't have muffins, I LOVE muffins, for breakfast, a snack, dessert, anything. I am a mega baker of muffins, every weekend, every play-date, I was the muffin (wo)man. 
I know, I know, there are many wheat alternatives and I've read many recipes, but I'm a lazy baker, if I can't find the ingredients in my cupboard I don't make it. I've read some really yummy looking recipes  but couldn't even pronounce some ingredients let alone know where to find them. I plan to soon make more of an effort to stock my pantry but for now I'll experiment with what I have.
Here is a muffin recipe that is close to tasting of plenty dairy, wheat and egg yumminess. I managed to create this recipe using a few of my favourite "regular" recipes and I'm feeling like I finally got it right.

p.s I shop at No Frills and got 95% of my ingredients there

Oatmeal Fruit Muffins- Wheat, Dairy and Egg Free

I'm no food photographer but don't these look  Yummy!
note: not suitable for gluten free diets, only wheat free (if that makes sense) and I can't guarantee that some of the ingredients don't have a smidgen of wheat/dairy/eggs. I don't always read the fine print (told you I was lazy)

You'll need:
1 cup barley flour
1/2 cup oat flour (can easily be made by blending whole oats in a food processor)
1 cup quick oats  
2/3 cups golden sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup apple sauce (all I had was a Presidents Choice strawberry applesauce cup, so I used that) 
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup almond milk
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
1 apple peeled and grated (squeeze out excess juice)

-pre-heat oven to 400ºF
-mix together barely flour, oat flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until well blended
-In a separate bowl mash banana well and then stir in applesauce, oil, vanilla, milk and mix well
-blend above mixture into dry ingredients
-stir in blueberries and grated apple

Spoon into a greased 12 cup muffin tin and sprinkle a pinch of golden sugar on each
Bake for 20 -23 minutes

Makes 12 muffins

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In the Shape of a Heart

My sister is expecting her first baby so I've been reminiscing to her about the highs and lows I felt whilst pregnant with my first born, it was a smooth pregnancy, not many physical complaints, all the feelings of fear and wonder were normal (I suppose) and when it came time to give birth everything went perfectly (yes I said it, my labour and delivery were perfect)

The difficult part was the road to pregnancy.

My husband and I wanted to have children pretty much right after we married, I stopped taking the pill and we were "unofficially" trying. A year later we decided to try a little harder and still nothing so I saw my doctor who sent me to an Obstetrician/Gynecologist. She immediately put me on fertility drugs (Clomid) and sent me for blood tests and a Hysterosalpingogram, a procedure where they inject a dye into my uterine cavity and it flows through the fallopian tubes while my abdomen is being x-rayed. The results show whether ones fallopian tubes are blocked. The results came back normal, my fallopian tubes were clear, my bloodwork showed that I was ovulating so I was instructed to continue with the Clomid for 6 months.
After 6 months with still no results she referred me to an invitro-fertilization clinic in Toronto. My husband and I panicked a little, invitro meant having to pay for treatments that we could not afford. I was afraid that we may never have a baby.  From our first visit to the obstetrician, until this time it had been over a year of analyzing every change in my body, each month I was convinced I was pregnant and then utterly disappointed with the arrival of my period. It seemed like friends and co-workers were announcing their good news almost every week, it was bittersweet, I was truly happy for them and then went home and cried on my husbands shoulder, sometimes he would cry with me.
The visit to the invitro clinic was exciting, a new phase in our efforts, we decided we would make it work somehow, we'd sell our house and buy a smaller one, we'd borrow money from our parents, anything that would give us our dream of having a family. The doctor went over everything with us and invited us to attend an evening information session with other couples considering invitro. Also on the same day he scheduled another test similar to the Hysterosalpingogram called a sono-hysterosalpingogram or Saline Hysterogram. This time my uterine cavity would be filled with saline solution while an ultrasound was being performed. This would show my full uterine cavity as well as my fallopian tubes. I asked if the results would be any different from the previous test and he informed me that it was a possibility since I had also suffered from Endometriosis, (when the uterine lining or tissue grows outside of the uterus and can cause blocking of the fallopian tubes).  He then told us that if in fact it showed that both my fallopian tubes were blocked then we would be eligible for some financial assistance from the government for the invitro treatments. We arrived for the the tests and information session that day with the unusual hope that in fact both my tubes were be blocked, we really needed the financial help. As I laid in the dark room while the technician performed the ultrasound I remember imagining that I was at a prenatal ultrasound, and that I was growing a baby inside of me. My bubble was burst instantaneously when she commented that both tubes were clear,  I was devastated and I couldn't help but burst into tears.
The wait for the information session was sorrowful, I was sad, so disappointed that we hadn't been able to do this without medical intervention, something I had always dreamed of, bearing a child. Shortly before the session the doctor called us in to go over the results, I didn't expect to hear anything more than what the technician told us. He shut the door and said "I have good news for you", I wondered what good could he have found in those results, "You have a Subseptate Uterus" he said, "your uterus is in the shape of a heart".  I wondered how this was good news. He explained to us that a subseptate uterus is a congenital condition that I was born with, my uterus did not develop properly resulting in a "septum" a mass of tissue on the uterine wall.  Most likely I had been "getting pregnant" meaning my eggs were probably fertilizing and implanting in the uterus but the septum was taking all the blood supply from the eggs. In turn the eggs could not survive and more than likely were dislodging and being expelled during my periods. The good news was that this condition was easily corrected by a simple out patient surgery that was completely covered by OHIP. We couldn't believe it! We were told to skip the invitro information session and left the office giddy like school children with the name of a top Gynaecological surgeon in Toronto.

Image courtesy of gynaecology.spotmysite.com

Fast forward a few months,  I  went in for a Hysteroscopic Laparoscopy where the surgeons made three small incisions in my abdomen, one in my belly button, one on my pelvic line and one near my bikini line. In these small incisions they inserted their surgical instruments and carefully removed the septum. Surgery was a success and I was on my way home that same day.  Six weeks later I had a post-operative appointment and was told that everything healed well and to go home and make babies. So we did. Three months later I was staring at a positive pregnancy test with tears in my eyes, and in August of 2006 my beautiful boy was born, two years later along came beautiful boy number two. We feel so blessed to have two precious children in our life that we are talking about having another, although if you ask my husband he'd say  "then we have to do it more" and that is entirely another blog post in itself.

JWR 2006
HMR 2008

Monday, January 10, 2011

White Horse

We are selling our car.
We are going to be parting with a lot of things in preparation for our move and this by far might be the hardest thing I part with. This white 2003 Chevy Malibu, with way over a hundred thousand kilometers, a broken side mirror and a small burn in the upholstery is not just any car, it is my Dads car, and if I could I would keep it forever.

In January 2009 my husband hit a deer and wrote off his Jeep, my Dad said to us "use my car, I'm not using it right now, I'll get it back from you soon".
He wasn't using it because his body was ravaged by a painful cancer.
He could barely lift his hand to hold mine.
His days were spent lying in the rented hospital bed in his family room, an oxygen tank hissing by his side with my stepmother on leave from work taking care of his every need.
He wasn't using it because he was dying. 
How I hoped that it was just a temporary loan and that he'd soon be asking for it back.
That he would need it to choose the sunniest day to skip work and keep driving to show up at my doorstep for a surprise visit, as he often did.

Two months later he was gone.

I don't drive his car very often, but when I do I take a moment to be with my father, I smell the faint odour of cigarette smoke mixed with his cologne, I place my hands on the steering wheel where his gentle hands rested for his many long drives to work. I lay my head back on the headrest and close my eyes and think of him.
This was his white horse and he was my knight in shining armor.

He was my best friend.
He was the smartest, kindest, funniest and most generous man I knew.
He flew for over 30 hrs in excruciating pain from a herniated disc in his back so he could walk me down the aisle at my wedding.
He supported everything I did and always told me "If you are happy, I am happy".
He was the first relative to hold my first born son.
He was everything to me.

 The car, I know must go, so I'll hold on to the the other things, like how I see his mischievous smile in my eldest son every day. How I subconsciously twirl his wedding band that I wear on my right hand, paired with the wedding band of my grandmother,  his mother,  that he presented to me on my wedding day. I'll treasure the video I have of him teaching my eldest son to do a high five. I'll keep the image in my mind of seeing his eyes light up the first time he held my second son and I told him that his name will carry on with my son.
I'll close my eyes and replay his voice over and over again, telling me that he loves me, it will never grow faint and I can hear it right now.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Up in the Air

I was scrolling through our photos today and realized that we like to take pictures of my husband throwing our children in the air. I'm sure we all do it, and the pure joy (or terror) in our childrens face is priceless. My sons have inherited my husbands "extreme genes" and as far as they are concerned the higher the better.
I thought I would share some of my favourite kid toss photos.
(Now before you call Childrens Aid, please remember that these maneuvers were performed in a controlled environment and no children or parents were harmed in any way.)

First flight. I was crouched low on the ground while taking this photo and the result was the illusion of a much higher kid toss.

Darn kids always jumping on the furniture!

Water always makes for a safer landing.

My favourite so far, I'd photo-shop my husband out if I knew how.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to Reality

Tomorrow life goes back to normal, well My normal. Hubby goes back to long days at work which means I am once again completely responsible for the kidlets. I am lucky to have a very hands on husband but I admit sometimes I dread doing it alone. Reality also includes re-listing the house and crossing our fingers for a sale. Plan A didn’t quite pan out, if it had we would have sold the house, spent Christmas in Vancouver and now be in Australia sitting poolside in hubby’s parents backyard. Luckily we are able to go with the flow and are on to plan B. Sell by spring, take a trip across this beautiful country and then be on our way. But back to reality, the near impossible task of keeping the house spotless for showings (not easy with 2 kids under the age of 5). Trying to sell our 2 vehicles, most of our furniture and electronics all to be timed perfectly with our move. The reality of sorting through my broad range of feelings about our move: Excitement and joy about the prospect of a new adventurous life in a country I love, Guilt and sadness about leaving my mother behind, and a whole range of feelings that fall in between. This time I am going to tackle this a bit differently. This time I not going to put anything on hold, kids swimming lessons, break dancing lessons for J, Jewelry making course for me. All these I put off last fall in anticipation of our move. I feel like we’ve been living in limbo for months now. Not anymore, life is going to go on and what ever happens happens!
                                                 Aussie Family waiting by the pool for us

The Beginning

Do I have any idea what I am doing? No. Can I even concentrate on this when the kids are running around behind me screaming? No. Am I going to try anyway? Why not!
I’m looking forward to an outlet for the rollercoaster of emotions I feel about our big move to Australia. Not all posts will be about our move, I’m sure I’ll be known to post the most mundane of topics. I won’t try to be exciting or clever. I won’t pretend to be a great writer, comedian, philosophizer (yes thats a word, cause it came up on spell check) . I’ll just be me. Hope thats enough ;o)