The Power of Music

The power of a song has always amazed me.  How are senses work individually to recreate a memory, emotion, feeling or take us back in time.

I have written before about the song You are My Sunshine and the connection I had to it with my son when he was in the NICU.  It was really the only song I could remember the lines to and it just stuck.  It became my song to sing to him as he grew, helping to calm and relax him.

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A scarf my sister made for me

But there was another song that held a lot of power and meaning for me at the time; and still does.

After spending four weeks in the NICU, my husband and I were told that our son was going to be coming home on December 31, 2011.  The night before he came home my husband and I went out to a local pub for a celebratory drink.  While there a local band was singing.  Towards the end of the night the lead female singer sang a song that will forever bring tears to my eyes.  She stood up and began singing Hallelujah.   At that point every emotion I had been holding in for close to eight weeks came out.  After the song I thanked her for singing something that really meant so much to me.

Last night I was fortunate enough to hear that song live again.  We were given tickets to see The Tenors as a Christmas present.  Four years ago we had tickets to see them around the same time, however because I was put on bed rest we had to pass the tickets on.

I really felt like everything came full circle.  Four years late we got to experience The Tenors and their wonderful voices.  When they came back on stage for their encore song I knew it could only be one song.

As tears rolled (and rolled) down my face I was taken back to every time I have heard the song Hallelujah and the beauty of its melody and power of its words.  And to the many memories it will always hold for me.

Today as we celebrate our son’s 4th birthday I am once again reminded how blessed I am.

Hallelujah.

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Enough of a teacher

Enough of a teacher

After 5 years away from teaching I have survived my first 2 weeks back.  And if I do say so myself I did amazing.  Really it feels like I never left.  Crazy, right?

I had so many fears going back: would I have time for marking/planning? How would I catch up on technology? Would I be able to coach/help with extra curriculars?

Surprisingly so far everything is a yes!

I’ve always been great at organizing and time management.  It is definitely one of my strongest skills.  Luckily I have courses I have taught and developed before, so my planning is limited.  Which leaves marking and so far I’m able to use my planning time and after school time.  We debated about putting the kids in after school care.  If they weren’t I’d be rushing out at the end of each day.  I’m so glad we decided to, because it gives me time after classes to mark and prep.  My goal is to have limited work brought home.

Technology was (still is) my biggest fear.  A student asked me on the first day if I’d be posting course notes online.  I told him not yet, but he could borrow my overheads #technologicallybehind Last time I taught I was in a portable and the only piece of equipment I used was an overhead projector.  Luckily students and staff have helped me pick things up fast.  I already have course notes posted, calendar dates set, and figured out drop boxes for assignments.  I don’t hide my ignorance and students are great to jump forward with help.  It really has reminded me how much I missed them.  Despite what the outside world says, teenagers can be pretty fantastic.

One of my favourite parts of teaching has always been coaching.  Dealing with students outside of the classroom creates such a better relationship and overall teaching experience.  However, my first year back I’m not willing to make the time commitment.  Luckily with a common lunch, some sports are done at lunch time.  Not only do I get to PLAY on an intramural basketball team, but I’ll coach a team at a basketball tournament with practices during lunch.

Of all my fears of being enough, I’m happy to say that I am more than enough of a teacher.

Our Last First Day of Kindergarten

imageToday my baby goes to school and I won’t be there.  It is tough after being home for so long and missing this moment.  As a 3-year-old going to kindergarten he seems so small and young.   I know he won’t know the difference, and most likely he will cry,  so I’m probably saving myself a lot of tears (mine).  But it still hurts.

So to his teacher I ask:

Please hug him when he is sad (he is so affectionate and a simple hug will truly help him)
Cheer him on for big and small accomplishments (pulling up his uniform pants is tough)
Hold his hand (he’s such a toucher; sorry if he rubs your leg during story time)
Help him make friends (he loves older kids)
Be prepared to run after him (he runs when he’s scared)
Remind him about privacy (I really have tried my best but sometimes boys will be boys)
Remind him to wash his hands
Help him open his snacks (he’s learning slowly)
Remind him to be safe (he will most likely find the least safe thing to climb)
Let him have quiet time (he is still so young)
Let him know his sister is just in the next room and he’ll see her at lunch and after school
And please let him know his mommy will be there at the end of every day.

Thank you to all teachers for caring for our children.

First Day of Kindergarten

I can’t believe this was a year ago. So many changes. Tomorrow morning I will have a daughter in SK and a son in JK #oneyear #letthetearsbegin

Wine & Whines

Twas the night before kindergarten….and I’m getting teary eyed.

imageWe met with my daughter’s JK teacher today and it wasn’t until we walked out of the school that it hit me.  After being at home with my daughter for the majority of her 4 years, tomorrow I begin to share her with someone else.

I am so very fortunate that after my son’s birth my husband and I decided that I would stay home and care for our children.  I have a job that allows me 3 years off (on top of my 2 maternity leaves) so I still have one more year at home with my son.

We enrolled my daughter in full-day summer camp for a week as a trial-run.  It was a great idea for all of us, as it really showed what the day would look like. It helped me figure out lunches, my husband understand…

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Being Enough

Being Enough

Pre-kids I never thought I would choose staying home over going to work.  But after having my second child I knew that home was where I wanted to be and my husband and I were fortunate that I was able to be off work.  However, five years later both kids will be in school full-time and my extended leaves have finally run out.

Which means it’s back to work.  Cue the tears.

There are so many fears with going back to work after being gone for so long. Will I be enough?

Enough of a mom.
Enough of a wife.
Enough of a teacher.
Enough of a friend.

I feel silly complaining or stressing about something that lots of my friends have been doing all along.  And I know that I will eventually fall into the same routine.  But the fears are there.

How do you find balance?

Changing it up

As I approach the next stage in my life (as pointed out by a friend) I also felt it was time to change my blog.  Obviously I’ve let it lax over the past year, but kids will do that to you.  With the upcoming “back to work” looming, I suddenly have high hopes of having time to write again.

Going from a Stay at Home Mom to a Working Mom is a big title change; thus the blog title change as well 🙂

“Mom on the Move” no longer describes me or my intentions with writing.  Instead of focusing on things to do with kids, I’ll continue to write from a more personal point of view; looking at the struggles of balancing work, kids, husband and self.  I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it… welcome to “Wine and Whines”

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PTSD and Prematurity

I’m not sure where the time goes, but days become weeks and weeks become months.  I started this blog as a way to share my experiences and adventures with my children.  It also became a way to share more personal thoughts and journeys, becoming therapeutic for me.

After 3 years I am finally at a place to share the biggest therapeutic benefit that writing has had for me. It has helped me deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a term I never thought applied to me.  But through my blog and in turn other media outlets and bloggers I have seen more and more moms dealing with the same after-effects of having a premature child.

It has been almost 3 years since my son was born 8 weeks early.  He is healthy and thriving, but I spent over 2 years dealing with flashbacks, anxiety and moments of extreme sadness when remembering various memories from my pregnancy leading up to his birth.   Although the moments are fewer and further between, there are still triggers that can bring tears to my eyes.

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To put it into words is difficult.  Most people’s response focuses on how well my son is doing, but strangely that’s not where the PTSD comes from.  The sadness comes from the memories of events, the times leading up to his birth and the subsequent hospital visits.  I can only recently drive to the hospital without crying.  Hearing the name of one hospital I stayed at I gave me flashbacks.  Different things triggered brief moments.

The main focus is on the premature baby, understandably, but somewhere along the way the mother gets lost and forgotten.  I can still remember early on in my hospital stay, when I was still pregnant,  I had an “ugly cry” moment.  Everything built up and I couldn’t stop crying.  I was angry, sad, confused, alone, frustrated, scared; every reason to cry.  The nurse responded by showing me the fetal monitor and told me that my crying wasn’t good for the baby.  So when was I allowed to cry?

Maternity wards, NICUs and their hospitals need to find ways to work more with parents, especially after they go home.  There needs to not be just aftercare for the baby, but also for those caring for them.

I talked to a friend recently about a support group she is going to that helps people deal with the after effects of major illnesses.  She said it’s hard to explain to people because she’s healthy, she made it through the hardest part.  How do you explain fear and sadness to someone when outside appearances show none of it?

Every day, week, month is better.  My biggest advice to people who know someone going through it is give them validation for their feelings.  Let them know it’s okay and completely understandable to feel how they do.  They suffered a trauma and that doesn’t just go away.

Parents as Athletes

I grew up with parents who played sports. I remember watching my mom’s weeknight basketball and was so impressed when she started touch football. I bonded with my dad at weekend football and slo-pitch tournaments.  Somehow while raising 4 kids they were able to keep involved in sports that they enjoyed.

My husband and I are now excited for our kids to see us as athletes.

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One of my guilty pleasures is reality TV.  Every season I look forward to watching The Biggest Loser.  This season has an “athlete theme”.  All of the contestants were former athletes who have lost that healthy athletic lifestyle and are now trying to get back to their former selves.  I think without effort it is so easy to lose parts of ourselves, especially with the reality of work and family.

There was a time I lost my identity. I wasn’t in a healthy relationship so in turn I became unhealthy. That’s when I re-found basketball.  I joined a co-ed league with a long time friend and began to feel good about myself again. It’s crazy how much that “athlete” is a part of your personality. Losing myself I lost that part, so finding myself meant finding that part of me.  It’s an identity of self-confidence and self-worth.

This past summer I joined my sister and played co-ed soccer.  Definitely not my sport of choice, but I had a great time.  I wasn’t very good, but I loved the atmosphere of team sport and the exercise.  As summer drew to an end I realized how much I would miss it.  I started looking into other leagues and found a women’s basketball league nearby.

After only one week I knew this is what I’ve been looking for; what I saw my parents a part of when I was growing up.  I can’t wait for my kids to be old enough that they can come watch me and cheer me on.  I want them to see that part of me and their dad.  The athlete, the competitor, and all that it stands for.

How do you stay healthy?

 

All-Inclusive Vacation…with Kids

This summer we went on our second all-inclusive trip with our kids.  We have been fortunate to have two destination family weddings in as many years and I have loved having a week away with family.  However, there are ups and downs when travelling to an all-inclusive resort with kids.

Upgrading our room was our best decision, and depending on financial ability, I would say this would be our number one recommendation.  With a suite, the kids could go to bed in one room while we stayed up in the other.  We were able to sit out on the balcony and have other people over.  This also gave my husband and I a separate room from the kids which really helps everyone sleep better.

Another piece of advice is change your idea of what “all-inclusive” means to you.  The days of lounging in the pool with frequent visits to the swim-up bar are long gone.  The only time I had a drink was when someone else happened to get me one.  When I was writing my trip advisor review my husband mentioned that if we had been drinking we would have been disappointed with the bartender service.  Funny how with kids that becomes our lowest priority.

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Going away with friends and family also means having lots of opportunities to go out at night with everyone.  But obviously this took some maneuvering.  I had a girls’ night out while my husband stayed back in the room with the kids and my dad.  He also had a night out while I stayed in (and got some much needed sleep!)  As it was our anniversary while we were there, my parents watched the kids one night so we could go off resort to Flying Fish for a fantastic dinner.  My mom even stayed with the kids for the second half of the wedding night so that my husband and I were able to go out together.  If we had been on our own with the kids, we would not have had nearly as many nights out.

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Being flexible with the kids schedule was really important too.  Restaurants don’t open for dinner until 6pm; my kids normally go to bed at 7pm.  So we did afternoon naps/quiet time later in the day, timing as soon as they got up with baths and going out for dinner.

Also, we really used technology.  The only way my daughter stayed up past 8:00 the night of the wedding was bringing the iPads to the beach.  The fact that the resort had wi-fi was a huge bonus.  The kids were able to watch movies on Netflix which extended the night.  We even brought tablets to dinner, which we would never normally do.  But it helped the kids stay seated and really made it that much more enjoyable for my husband and I.

Ipads on the beach
Ipads on the beach

Implementing consequences when you’re away are difficult.  We obviously let a lot more slide.  Luckily there was a kids’ area with water slides that we used as incentive throughout the day.  If the kids were good, then the last 1/2 hour of the day could be spent on the water slides.

Again, we were so fortunate to have another week away with our extended family.  But I can say that we’re both looking forward to no more All-Inclusive trips with the kids for a very very long time.

How do you vacation with kids?

 

Surviving Week One

I really thought that my daughter would be the one not to cry.  So on day 3 of kindergarten drop-off I was taken off-guard when the screams of “mommy come back!!” were coming out of her mouth.

Being a stay at home mom, my daughter hasn’t had a lot of time outside of my supervision.  She spent a few months at a home day care, but has otherwise been home with me.  As soon as she turned 3 I made sure that she was in lots of parent-free activities.  I even put her in a week of full day summer camp as a trial run.

But still on day 3 she cried the “ugly cry”.

What did I do wrong?

First, I really think the reason she first started to cry was because she thought that she was supposed to.  I could see her at the fence working her face up to make the tears start.  That’s when I should have left, never giving her the chance to  start.  But then her brother started crying, worried about his older sister.  Then she just wanted a hug, and then just wanted to me to watch her play, then another hug, but not through the fence this time.  By the time I found a teacher to take her, the screams had started.

As I quickly pushed the stroller away I could see other parents’ sad faces reflected in mine.  All of us ached for each other and felt the same guilt.

I can leave her crying, I know that’s a normal reaction.  But I can’t leave her standing at the fence crying by herself.  So the second day I didn’t give her the second hug, but stayed at the fence with her until I found a sympathetic, and free, teacher to come take her hand.

Pre-Tears
Pre-Tears

Luckily by day 5 the tears were done.  Partly because there was a waiting teacher to take her, prepped from the previous days.

My son goes to school next year and I’m already trying to think of what I can do to help my son, who won’t even be 4 yet.  I’m looking into daycare for twice a week for him and hoping the gym daycare is another way to separate from him slowly.

How do your kids deal with separation?