Sunday, 22 March 2015

Joanne Grineage: Give It to Get It

Joanne Grineage: Give It to Get It: So often I hear people talking about this generation of teenagers and young adults in such a negative manner. Never really showing them resp...

Give It to Get It

So often I hear people talking about this generation of teenagers and young adults in such a negative manner. Never really showing them respect for who they are, or the choices they are making. Always assuming the worst before they even have a chance to show themselves better , and often just not giving them the benefit of the doubt. I get very frustrated by this because I feel that many of these teenagers would give respect if they were shown respect. It has been a method that has proven itself very true in our home. I have always shown respect  to my children, and expect it in return.
I had the privilege of spending this past weekend with my three oldest daughters who are 16, 18, and 20, and my 24 year old niece. We spent the weekend hanging out together in Toronto, and I was able to enjoy being around four very amazing, unique and intelligent young woman. I watched them, and listened to them, and felt very proud. I had to sit back sometimes and not engage in the conversation, but just listen and learn from them.
Sometimes as adults, and especially as parents, we just do not give our kids the time they need to be heard. It is so very important to communicate with our significant others and if not just to improve and strengthen our marriages and friendships, then to demonstrate the importance of communicating and let our children see that happening in a healthy relationship every day.
When you stop and listening to your teenagers, you soon learn that they are very smart. They know a lot, and they learn a lot from the things that are happening around them every day. We live in a very fast paced, tech filled, go go go, society, and things are advancing at a pace that is nearly impossible to keep up with. I am just blown away at how much this generation knows at such a young age when it comes to technology, but also how young they are learning about all aspects of adulthood.  I don't want to seem like I don't want this to happen...I don't really have a choice, but our children are forced to grow up so fast, and learn so much more then we ever dealt with growing up. It was simpler and slower, and I think easier for us. Our teenagers and young adults have to deal with so much more, and I must say, the four girls that I spent the weekend with are doing a great job dealing!!
We talked a little bit over lunch about raising kids, "bad" kids, and how they were disciplined growing up. As I listened, the girls explained how more than anything, they did not want to disappoint us as parents, and if they knew that my feelings were hurt, or that I was disappointed with them, then they would feel disappointed in their own behaviour, and change it. Ultimately, they would base their choices on feelings, mine and theirs. They wanted me to feel proud of them, or pleased with their accomplishment, but I think they were building character in themselves. Trust, respect, caring, responsibility.....all things that I saw in these girls this weekend.
What I wonder, is do we care that much about their feelings? Do we trust them, respect them, do we care enough and are we showing them responsibility as adults? If they see us being disrespectful to the elderly, or the cashier at the grocery store, or the slow driver in front of us, do they learn to then be disrespectful? If they see us being irresponsibly with our choices...drinking, smoking, swearing inappropriatly, do they then learn to then be irresponsible with these things? We all know that the answer to these questions, is yes. We all know that children model what they see, and they learn from the environment they grow up in. Disrespectful parenting breeds disrespectful children. It is on us.
So what I learned from hanging out with these amazing young woman this weekend, is that they deserve to be respected. Even though I have not always modelled the best behaviour as a mother, I have always shown them respect. Even from a very young age, I let them express their feelings, or explain why they were upset, or what they thought the best method of discipline would be. I let them do this, and I would take their feelings into account. It didn't mean that I would always do what they wanted, but they at least felt "heard" and understood. "I understand that you want to stay up later because you are older, but that is too late for you, and your body needs more rest then what you are suggesting." A respectful answer even after letting the child be heard. It works because everyone just wants to be heard.
Spend some time with your teenagers. Give them a chance. Talk to them in a respectful way without judging or assuming the very worst. And do this for all teenagers, not just your own children. Things are difficult enough for this generation these days. Let's support and build up and be positive about what they have to offer, and they will give back to us.

                     So blessed to have spent the weekend with these amazing young woman!!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Joanne Grineage: Update Status....Do You Really Care How I Feel?

Joanne Grineage: Update Status....Do You Really Care How I Feel?: There are times when I would totally like to unplug from all social media and just light some candles and sit around and talk with my family...

Update Status....Do You Really Care How I Feel?

There are times when I would totally like to unplug from all social media and just light some candles and sit around and talk with my family. Not just for an hour one Sunday night,but like...forever. I am beginning to get more and more irritated by some of the "tweets" and status updates that I read every day, and I admit to being just as irritating as the next guy. Who needs to see a picture of my breakfast? Who wants to know that I had a horrible day at work? And who really genuinely updates their status for any other reason  then for some small bit of self gradification?  I love to brag about my children, or let everyone know that I ran 15 kilometres that morning. It makes me feel accomplished and proud to know that others know these things about me. When you think about it, that is just wrong, on so many levels. And do others really care? I think for the most part, they think that I am bragging, or trying to make them feel insufficient or less fit, or less of a successful parent or athlete. That is not my intention, but I just kinda get that feeling. It's that thing when you read someone's status, and you think to yourself..."really...did I need to know that, or see that, or hear play by play of the last forty-five minutes of your life ?"
I seriously never intend to offend or upset people by my status updates, but I admit, I have. I have had people send me personal messages, thinking that I was speaking directly to them or about them regarding my opinion on an issue, and I had absolutely no idea I was being offensive to them or anyone else...but I was. I appreciated that whenever this happens, an usually,  I am able to clear things up, but I wonder how many times this has happened, and someone was really hurt, really offended by me, and just never let me know. I understand that I can't always worry about what other people think but we all have a certain responsibility to be accountable for offending people we associate with. It all just gets to be a little more than what I need to deal with in my day. If I have the time to post every move I make, every meal I eat, every corner I turn, then I am spending far to much time concerning myself with social media, and not nearly enough time living my life without that thought running through my head...."gotta put this on Facebook !!"
How often are you changing your "status"? Do you think about posting every time something interesting happens in your day? If your eating something delicious, or baking cookies, do you grab your camera to get that perfect pic to share with your friends? It almost seems like the first thing that comes to our minds now. We feel the need to share even the most intimate and personal moments in our lives on a social media site like Facebook or a picture on Instagram , and it begins to be a bit obnoxious at times. Do we not have people around us that we can share these things with? Can we not just eat our meal or bake our pie without grabbing the phone for a picture of it? Do we feel such an obligation to our social circle that we will go out of our way to post our feelings about the weather every time it changes. That happens a lot...the weather changes....and so do many of the status updates and posts. And it is equally as puzzling and maybe even annoying. Stormy then never know what your going to get from day to day.
And then there are these ridiculous poles and questionnaires to prove or support some idealistic myth or image about you. I don't think I have ever been more disappointed with the social scene as much as I was this week when all we could talk about was a stupid dress. Children are starving around the world. Wars are being fought, the educational system is struggling, families are splitting apart, and all we can concern ourselves with is the colour of a dress??? What kind of vegetable are you? What is your mermaid name, what precious gem are you? WHO CARES? I swear, it is starting to drive me crazy. I am not a mineral, I am a mother. I don't want to play Candy Crush, I have meals to plan, and I could care less the colour of that dress, let me take the time to care about the lights and darks while I'm sorting my laundry every day!!
I am writing this blog for myself. I am reminding myself of what is most important. I need to step back from constantly jumping on Facebook to see what is going on in other peoples lives, and just focus on living my own. I connect with people through Facebook, so I do like it for that reason. I also like to keep myself accountable  with regards to my fitness goals, and I find that social media helps, but I also think that needs to change. I don't need to be that annoying person that makes you roll your eyes and scroll past my daily updates. I want to encourage and support people and be helpful and creative and inspiring.
We are in the season of Lent, and during this time many of us give up chocolate, or chips, or alcohol for forty days, in the effort to symbolize sacrifice and self control. I challenge  us all, to not just give something up, but to take something, on that might demonstrate sacrifice and self control. We don't do this for self gratification, so it isn't necessary to post what you have done to change. The challenge is exactly that. This is the deal. Whenever you feel the urge to post something or change your status, first say it out loud. Then say it to someone else. Talk to someone around you about what you feel you need to share with the entire fb world. When your meal comes to you at the restaurant, leave your camera in your pocket, and thank the waiter or the chef for preparing such a beautiful dinner for you. And when your cookies are baked, go get your family or your neighbour, and share them with people around you, not just people in the social realm.
We need to reconnect. We need to refocus our energy and our thoughts on the things that matter most. I need to do this too. Because the colour of a dress is totally and completely irrelevant to all of our lives. It matters not, it changes nothing, it helps no one. I just want to get to the things that matter  most in all of our lives.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Joanne Grineage: This Is Why I Homeschool

Joanne Grineage: This Is Why I Homeschool: Follow this link to the 2015 Sex- Ed Curriculum blog. Answers lots of questions and concerns people have. Not agreeing o...

This Is Why I Homeschool
Follow this link to the 2015 Sex- Ed Curriculum blog. Answers lots of questions and concerns people have. Not agreeing or disagreeing. Just sharing a different perspective.

I have read and reread articles and talked about and heard  about this new curriculum that is going to be a part of the lessons that children will learn in their classrooms. I am glad that people are so passionate about what their children will be taught in their schools, and  it is interesting to me to hear such divided opinions from so many families about how they feel with regards to this topic.
I will be honest, I am surprised by how accepting some people are of the changes, and on the other hand, I am just as shocked at those who are against what is happening. More than anything, it shows me that we as parents recognize how important our children.... our future....really are.
I am not going to speak about how I feel with regards to this new curriculum, but what I want to do is share what I know about teaching my children.
We decided after sending the two oldest to JK and SK, that homeschooling was something that we wanted to try. At the time, my sister was homeschooling her family, and she invited me over to watch and see what it was all about. I knew immediately that it was exactly what I wanted for my family. I had four children at the time and one on the way, and I was trying to be in two places at once. I wanted to spend as much time with my children as possible, and just couldn't be at the school and take care of things at home. I let the girls finish out that year of public school, and then purchased our curriculum to start the next school year at home.
People ask me all the time how and why I do it. People ask if it is hard, and people always ask about the social aspect of raising kids in my own home without the regular interaction with their peers. My answers are usually quite consistent. Some days it is really hard. Some days I want to give up and just enroll the kids in school. And some days, I think about how it would be a little bit easier financially if I was working full time to help support our big family. But the positives of homeschooling ALWAYS  outweigh the negatives of sending my children to school.
Before anyone takes offence to this, please understand, that I am very aware that homeschooling is not for everyone. Everyone has their reasons for making the choices that they do with regards to their children, and I respect that. I am not trying to "sell" homeschooling, I am simply sharing why it works for us, and why I decided to teach my children at home. In light of the latest events with regards to the new curriculum, I feel so very fortunate that I have complete control over what I teach my children. Notice, I didn't say "what my kids learn", but what I teach them.
I, like many parents, am very aware of a some of the things that our children will be exposed to in our society. We do not live in a bubble, and I know that there are things that my children will see and hear that may not be age appropriate, but I can also us discretion with regards to what ages is best for each child to learn about specific topics, such as sexuality, religion, prejudice, etc...The homeschooling atmosphere that we have allows me to observe each of my children and recognize their personal teaching styles, level of readiness for each subject, and maturity. Not every child is ready at a specific age, to learn about certain topics....I can decide if my child is ready or not. Not every child can sit behind a desk for a certain block of time.....I can help find the best way to help my child learn. Not every child needs to be surrounded by other children their age to become a strong, independent, intelligent member of our community.....I have seven children who have proven this to me.
I tell my kids all the time that being homeschooled is a privilege. They are very fortunate that they get to stay home to learn. But what I realize when I see all of what is happening in the schools now, is that it is MY  privilege . Every day, I thank God that this is something that we can do. Believe me, there have been many sacrifices. Financially, we have had to give up things, but only to see the gain in our children. Emotionally, I have cried many tears of frustration, but many more tears of pride and joy.  I'll be honest, I hate Algebra, it's hard to switch from momma to teacher, and lots of tears fall on the textbooks at the Grineage school table. There are days when I just don't want the huge responsibility of making sure that my children are getting the education that they deserve because every child deserves to be educated with a curriculum that will propel them in the direction that they want to go. All of our children deserve that.
I posted a link at the beginning of the blog. I posted it because it shows some of what our next generation will learn in the public school system, and I just wonder if it is what our children deserve. Is it what they need to propel them in the direction that they need to go in life. Does it provide clarity or confusion? Is there more grey than black or white areas? Are we coming together as parents, or is there more division then ever.
This is why I homeschool.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Joanne Grineage: Fitness, Fatness and My Flippin' Scale

Joanne Grineage: Fitness, Fatness and My Flippin' Scale: It's has been the challenge of my life to be fit.  To be in good shape and to include fitness and healthy food choices  into my lifesty...

Fitness, Fatness and My Flippin' Scale

It's has been the challenge of my life to be fit.
 To be in good shape and to include fitness and healthy food choices  into my lifestyle, or to fit in? Isn't that the million dollar question of the century. I was thinking as I drove home from a local pizzeria last night with dinner in the back seat, how difficult my run was going to be this morning if I went home and ate pizza with my family. I like pizza and I have never been one to deprive myself of things that I like. But this is a place where I constantly struggle, like zillions of other woman that I know. I am about to be very real about just how frustrating this is for me, but in sharing I want to let people know that everyone struggles. maybe not to the same extreme, but everyone struggles.
I used to do some modelling before I got married and started a family. It was during that time when the pressure to have a certain body type became very real to me. When I went to my first photo shoot in Toronto, I was told to lose twenty pounds, and I seriously did not know how I was going to do that. Mainly because I didn't have twenty pounds to lose. It is all that they say. The pressure to be pencil thin in order to get work exists in that field, and it is unfortunately a message that has been sent to all of the girls fighting body image issues in this generation in all fields. It is just what is expected of us. It is not normal to be average. you must be fit, and thin and only order a salad or you will be judged for not taking good care of yourself.
I have learned  that maintaining a healthy weight provides health benefits. Loosing as little as ten pounds may help to lower your blood pressure, or prevent hypertension. Being at a healthy weight can also relieve the stress that comes along with the constant pressures we put on ourselves to fit between certain numbers on the scale. We are all very aware of the negative affects of stress on our bodies and minds. The pressure to loose weight can be overwhelming for some of us. But I also know that it is probably one of the most difficult things for a woman to maintain. And who decides what this "healthy" body weight is? I am a firm believer that everyone has a different body structure and it is completely ridiculous to think that we can all fit into a generic "perfect weight" for your height and age and gender.
So why is it such a struggle. I work really, REAALLY hard to try and stay at a healthy body weight. I have issues, not healthy issues when it comes to my weight. I am extreme sometimes when it comes to being fit. I am one of those people who look in the mirror and see fat everywhere. I drive my husband nuts, because I constantly ask him to tell me if he thinks I'm fat. If he says no, then of course he's lying to me. And God help him if he says yes. I have a hate, hate, HATE relationship with the scales. I had Barry take them away from me for a while, and was told not to get on the scale in order to try and heal some of these issues that I have, and I went out and bought a new scale and hid it from him. I'm telling you, this is not an easy path that I walk down. But I don't want sympathy, I don't need that. I need to continue to work on the why? Why is it so important to me.? Why do I need to see a certain number on the scale? Why am I so fixated on my body?
The more I look for answers to those questions, the more self absorbed and self focused I appear to be. Oh my goodness, I do not have time to be so self centred, and really, I am not. My family and friends, my job, and my home always come before me. I am a very giving person, and I love to motivate and encourage others to reach their fitness goals. So why this incredible amount of time spent on worrying about my weight? Why does it matter so much? You know what, I blame no one but myself. I could blame things from the past that might have given me body image issues, I can blame things from the present, like having seven children, and not having the same body I did before childbirth. I could blame the stresses of my busy lifestyle and all of the responsibilities that I have now, but that is useless. Being fit and healthy is not just a state of mind, but the state of your mind holds the biggest part of the equation. So take full responsibility for telling myself the lies. I have put the pressure on myself. There is no one harder on me than me. No one is asking me to look a certain way or weigh a certain amount. In fact no one is asking me for any of the things that I expect of myself. I am seriously my own worst critic.
I do need to take care of myself. I think it is very important to live a healthy lifestyle because I have seven children that I want to be here for. I want to be the best mother, wife and friend that I can be. I know that it is my charge in life to treat my body as a vessel that can be used to do good, and if I put garbage in then garbage will come out. I just need to do it in a healthy and safe manner. Fixating on the scales, and on what societies expectations of a six foot tall, forty three year old woman should be, is not healthy. It is counterproductive to all that I believe in and goes against all that I encourage in so many people I influence.
It would be wrong of me to suggest that you are fit if you are 100 pounds over weight, but happy and content with that. We all know that eating is necessary to survive, and making healthy eating choices is necessary to live a healthy lifestyle. We also know that it is important to be within a certain weight to live the best, most productive life you can live. The worst part about all of this, is that we all know it. We've known it for a long time, and it doesn't make any of it easier. We set goals, we buy better food, we eat clean, we run and and bike and swim our way around the world and back, but it is still a struggle much of the time. I just wanted to share that, yes, it is a struggle for me too!!
So what is it going to take to make this better? This is really about me making the changes that I need to in order to make all aspects of my life healthy. Extremes when it comes to food and fitness and weight, are not healthy. It's back to that whole "balance" thing. I have to find it even when it comes to the things like food, and fitness and living a healthier life. I have a way of taking even things that are good for me and making them a little more challenging. I love a challenge :)
I am hoping that everyone is up for the challenge of living a healthier life. It is so hard. I will be the first to admit , and I have shared, that I struggle with it every single day. But isn't it always easier to know that you are not struggling alone. That even someone who you might think has the whole"fitness" thing under their belt struggles too. We all can relate to each other and we all can help one another work out the kinks on our not-so-smooth  personal journey. Challenge yourself today, to work through the lies that society has fed you about your weight and your appearance. Be smart about how you eat, and what you weigh, and how often you exercise. It is important, but it cannot be all consuming...and neither can we.
I still struggle with the scale, but I had pizza for supper last night, and I went for a run this morning. There are so many more wonderful things about women that we need to celebrate, and my chubby bum can be one of them. I'm working on it every day....the balance thing. I'm a work in progress...yay!!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

I Turned Things Around

The weather the last few days has been very snowy, and beautiful and wintery to say the least. The roads have not been the safest to travel on because of all of the snow, and ironically, every time there has been risk of a big snowfall, I have been enroute to or from Toronto, or even just a short trip from home. Nevertheless, I am becoming quite comfortable with travelling in winter some degree. I was in Toronto this weekend celebrating a birthday when we had to head home early because of a pending snow storm, but fortunately I was travelling with the Jeep, and ONLY because I promised myself the LAST time I was coming home from Toronto in the middle of a snow storm in my little Kia, that I would NEVER risk that drive again without the Jeep.
It's a part of living in Canada, and in this part of Ontario, the weather is unpredictable at times, but really, we can't just staying home every time the snow falls and makes travel a little challenging. Just like with life, we can't just not do what might be a little out of our comfort zone because it isn't easy. It's a bit of a storm. But when do you decide that it is not wise. It isn't always the best choice to weather the storm or just keep driving on.
Tonight I was heading in to Dresden to teach my bootcamp class which was only a twelve to fifteen minute drive in good weather from my house. I had already made a trip on the road in my car from Bothwell to my home, which was about the same distance and I was feeling a bit uncomfortable about the fact that I committed to teaching class that night. It was snowing lightly all afternoon, but I really didn't want to have to miss the second class this week. I waited for Barry to get home with the Jeep, and thought that we would just take our time but get there safety. I said we, because I was travelling with four of the girls. One was joining me at class, two were heading to their theory class and one was off to her girls club.
As we headed down the road,  things were not looking the greatest. I said to the girls that the roads were not good and I was considering turning around. It wasn't slippery, but visibility was horrible. I couldn't see the line on the middle of the road, and I was very uncomfortable with that. The girls seemed nervous and were being very quiet, I think because they could feel how tense I was, so I let them know I was going to turn around when it was safe. I made the decision after I asked my sixteen year old what I should do. She just looked at me and said," it's up to you mom, your the one driving!"
I felt a sense of relief as soon as I turned the vehicle around and headed towards home, but I also felt horrible for knowing that I was letting down the people,that were expecting us to be were we said we would be. But overall, the feeling that I was making the best decision at that time, trumped any of the disappointment that others might have had in me.
It isn't always up to someone else to decide what storms we weather, and when we turn around and retreat back to safety. It isn't  wise to try and please others and not prepare,yourself for what is ahead. What is most important is what is best, wisest, and safest for you and those closest to you in that moment. I had to decide, and I knew that it was not worth the risk.
So how do we know. I probably could have made it safety to town, but what if  I didn't. What if I tried, and ended up in the ditch with the girls, or even worse. You never know, and that is why you trust your instincts and your surroundings, and follow your gut. I asked, and wanted confirmation to do what I knew was best all along, but that is our need to please people around us. Don't go with that. Especially when you are asking a group of young girls, none of which even drive.....what was I thinking?? Don't worry about how your decision might let others down, and don't turn off the voice of wisdom that says, turn around. Listen to the smartest, loudest, clearest voice. It is usually the one that could care less about pleasing people....listen to that.
There will always be storms. We will always have to make decisions. Like my situation tonight, life will bring you the same.  Sometimes it is going to be a very clear, smooth road to travel on, where visibility is 100%, and sometimes the road is going to be slippery, and messy with no clear view of where you are. Do what you need to do to stay safe. In my case, I had to turn around. Sometimes, you just need to pull over, take a break and keep going. Sometimes, you can call ahead and let people know it's just going to take you a little while longer. Whatever the case, make the right call. Do the right thing. Sometimes it really is ok to turn things around.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Joanne Grineage: The Big 2 Oh!!

Joanne Grineage: The Big 2 Oh!!: This week was the beginning of birthday season in our family. Ironically, Bailey, being the oldest, was born in the first month of the year,...

The Big 2 Oh!!

This week was the beginning of birthday season in our family. Ironically, Bailey, being the oldest, was born in the first month of the year, and this was a big birthday for her. This was a big birthday for her, but really, I think it was equally momentous for me. My baby girl turned TWENTY. I almost have to catch my breath every time I think about it. I seriously cannot believe that I have a twenty year old child.
Birthdays are always fun around here. We never were big on birthday parties per say, but when we are all here together, it's always a party. There is a birthday almost every month excluding February, July, August, and December, and usually we hold Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Mothers and Fathers Day celebrations here as well. So lots of family time and always a wonderful thing when birthday season starts. But this birthday was a little different.
Bailey wasn't here for her actual day, but I sent her a birthday text very early that morning. It was funny, because I also received a few texts from friends, and Barry, who all said "can you believe that you have a twenty year old"? I am shocked and stunned by that but also a little flattered. It is very nice when people say they can't believe I have a child that age. It makes this old momma smile a little.
It's hard for woman sometimes. I mean, that is probably the biggest understatement I could make, because hard doesn't even touch on all that it really is, but hard says a little. Raising girls in a world full of so much garbage and negative influence is not easy. Our kids are homeschooled, but we do not live in a bubble. All of my children have been exposed to many of the same societal influences that your children are around, but just not on a daily basis. Some are positive but many are not. Little Miss Bailey is actually the main reason why we decided to homeschool the kids. We had her in the public school system for junior and senior kindergarten, but she just excelled beyond what was expected of her at that age in that setting, so we took her out and have not looked back.
What made things tough, was knowing that she was the first. We had to do it right the first time because there were six more after her, and we really wanted her to be a great example for the rest to follow. I say it all the time, but I am really one blessed mother. Bailey is probably the best first child anyone could ask for. She has all the traits of a typical first child...she is bossy, and motherly, bossy and a little bossy. But she has always been a loving encourager to her siblings, and even if she has to get the first and last word in, she always gives of herself to her siblings in any way possible. So cute, she always talked a lot, and over all of her siblings. For a while, she was a bit of a stammerer because she always wanted to get the first word in. I always new she was going to do well in life, and she has.
But ultimately, on this birthday, I looked back over the past twenty years, and would not change a single thing about it. I might try to slow time a bit, but it has been such a joy to watch this little girl grow into a strong, independent, intelligent young woman. As I reflect, I think about how we really only get one chance, and it really doesn't last long, but it is so very important. I don't take motherhood lightly. I know just how important this job is. I have seven children that are counting on me as a mother to do this right. I don't always do it right, but I always do my best. I say it to the kids all the time, just do your best.
So, I went to Toronto this weekend to celebrate with Bailey and I still can't believe it. I can't believe that twenty years ago when I was just twenty three years young myself, I became a momma. We like to tell the kids their "birth" day story on their birthday, and I wanted to do that when I went down, but I'm getting old...and I totally forgot. The birth story never changes, and never gets old. Among the many situations that occurred during Baileys birth story, when the doctor took the cord from around her neck and we heard her little cry, I saw Bear cut the cord, but I swear the cord just grew stronger. I looked at her this weekend and just feel in love again. She is twenty but she is still my baby. She is away from home but there is still the connection that we share. I kissed her cheeks to say goodbye, and you know what, she's still my baby. I don't care if she lives on her own and is in the big city. It doesn't matter how much time has passed or all that she has accomplished. Always mommas first, always my biggest baby.
So I've been a mother for twenty years, and I'm giving myself a big 'ole pat on the back, but it is not a job I do alone. I couldn't do it without daddy's help and I couldn't do it if I didn't pray over my children every single day. Every day I doubt myself, and I wish I could do things better. Every day I get frustrated that I goofed up or was a bad mom. But every day I smile at some point because I have had the privilege to be the momma of these awesome children for twenty years!!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Joanne Grineage: A Bit of a Balancing Act

Joanne Grineage: A Bit of a Balancing Act: I am on my last day of a 21 day challenge that I was doing with my daughter , that suggested that we not eat "junk food" for three...

A Bit of a Balancing Act

I am on my last day of a 21 day challenge that I was doing with my daughter , that suggested that we not eat "junk food" for three weeks straight. I also gave this challenge to a few of my friends and everyone seems to be doing quite well. The specifics were really pretty obvious. If it wasn't a fruit, vegetable or healthy protein, don't eat it. No chocolate, no chips, no donuts, cookies, cake. No candy, no white bread, no pop, alcohol, or fast food. I went through withdrawals from the sugar the first two days, but then it really was not that difficult. It was the candy. I love chewy candy, and it took everything in me to not cheat, especially on my run days. Swedish fish are my fuel, so I tried to justify it in my mind, but I held up, and did not eat ANY candy for the entire three weeks.
Wait...that is not entirely true. Today, after my daughter that is doing the challenge with me, finished performing her repertoire for her grade 8 piano exam, we toasted with two Lindor truffles, on the drive home. We both smiled, and then complained at the same time, "it's too sweet"!!
I share this because I am not a big fan of "dieting". It is so frustrating to watch people starve themselves, or eat things that are so far from what they might normally enjoy. It is usually a quick fix.. I need to lose 10 pounds fast, but I have no intention on sticking with this for the rest of my life. Those are the diets that drive me nuts. I say to people all the time that it is a lifestyle change. It involves all areas of your life, and not just the food you eat. You can try to limit carbs or increase proteins. You can do the Paleo thing, or be a vegetarian, but I'm sorry, if you are not getting enough rest, or if you are stressed, if you aren't physically active, or work is driving you crazy, you will not see the results you might want to see. It all has to work together. it all has to be in balance. I so wish I had it all together.
I don't get enough sleep. I am up early every morning (just after five am), and I usually don't fall asleep before eleven at night. I never sleep sound, and I blame that on the fact that I listened for waking babies for so many years. That and my Bear, who snores every night. I rarely get 4-5 good hours of sleep and that is not nearly enough.
The stress part of it comes with the territory of having seven children, and just doing my best to keep on top of things. I think I deal with that fairly well, but yes, I do get stressed. Every once in a while, I send Barry a text saying, "I'm done". The kids aren't helping, the house is a mess, we need more money, I'm tired of I'm checking out.  It's hard somedays, and I feel the pressure of bills and meals and laundry and teenagers. So yup, stress is part of my day too.
I am always challenged at work, but that is a good thing. I work with children, and every day is an adventure. I never really know what I'm going to get to experience at any given moment. That's just the beauty of children. And I love my workouts, so I think this part of my lifestyle is where I want it to be. I have a passion for bootcamp, and running, I really enjoy working out on my elliptical. I just feel really great after I push through and sweaty training session. And the food part of it, well...this is part of the reason why I did the "junk food" restrictions for the 21 days. Everything in moderation....that is what I have to remind myself. I have lots of room for improvement.
So how can I talk about balance, and be so out of balance myself? It's similar to how a teacher teaches but doesn't  know everything, and should still always be willing to learn. I am always working towards a healthier lifestyle, and I want that for everyone that asks me questions, or looks to me for inspiration. But I want to be real with them and let them know, that I am always working on things just like they are. I'm not always on a diet, I'm not striving for perfection, I'm just doing my best to find my balance in all the areas of my life. My areas include family, work, church, fitness, sleep, stress, food, and probably five or ten million more things :) Figure out your areas, and lets try to find balance together.
So celebrate with me, not because I made it through the challenge without many cheats, but because I have seriously made some lifestyle changes because of the restrictions that I had during this time. I have lost many of the cravings that I might have had, and I don't have a bag of Swedish Fish in the pantry to gobble up after the challenge is over. I have found a balance when it comes to the junk that I might have considered a treat, and my body thanks me for fuelling it with more natural foods like dried fruit and organic honey. Cheers (with a Lindor truffle), to finding a bit of balance!!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Dead or Alive?

The best way for a forest to replenish itself, is to let the trees that have fallen to the ground stay where they are. What might appear to be just a dead lifeless piece of wood, will eventually be the life source for fungi, and insects, and even new tree sprouts that will then grow into another strong tree in that same forest.
Sometimes I feel like we do not give enough credit to the people and situations that have come into our lives, provided a great service and then fallen out of our lives, like the mighty tree in a forest. When a tree is standing firm, with its roots deep into the ground and its trunk strong and wide, and its branches reaching to the sky and providing beautiful shade and protection, it feels as if it is serving its greatest purpose. It gives us life
 oxygen, and it defines
 resilience as it develops from a tiny seed, surviving through harsh winters, appearing dead and lifeless, but then in spring coming back to life. But when a tree has fallen, it seems as though that is the end. Good isn't. The best part about it, is it can be a new beginning for many new things. I am always very excited for new things, especially new life.
So when a tree dies, if we drag it out of the forest, and out its natural surrounding, we are taking it out of its element. It might still be able to supply life to something else, if it was in a controlled setting, but it will do so much better where it fell. Things will start to crawl around, and live in the old tree, moss and mushrooms will start to get nutrients from the decaying wood and with moisture and sunlight, it becomes filled with new life. Life from death!!
I am so thankful for people that have been like trees in my life. People that have given so much and proven themselves so strong, and then although their role might have changed, they continue to give back. It might not be in the same way, when it seemed more important or useful, but they still continue to give back in different forms in my life. Think about how many people or even situations have affected you in that way. Wise friends and mentors that were once maybe very prominent people in your community, but have maybe fallen away, or even died. Think about how many people were able to learn and grow from that person. And how they still are benefitting from what they received from that person.
So this is what has been on my mind. Sometimes things have to die to create new life. Sometimes a really good thing that at one time was thriving and full of life, has to fall away and make room for something new. It doesn't mean that it is gone forever, it just might mean that it is time for new and exciting things to happen in the lives that I have helped. I don't always do well with change, but I am learning that change can be really good. What is more exciting than NEW?? A fresh start, a clean slate, a new adventure, those things are really exciting to me.
I am going through lots of different transitions and changes every day, and I want to be able to discern what needs to stand strong, and what needs to fall away. It isn't always  clear and I think more then anything, I just need to trust the process. I need to realize that even in a different form, I can be productive in other peoples lives. They can still take from me what they need, but I can sort :)
Taking me completely out of my element won't be the best way for me to help give back what I want to, so no worries people, Im not "going" anywhere. I'm just, as we say in "teachereeze"...transitioning. All these things are good. Change, transition, new growth, new life....very, very good things!!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Joanne Grineage: You Can Quote Me On That!!

Joanne Grineage: You Can Quote Me On That!!: If I had a choice to hide away in my bedroom today, I probably would have done that at about 10:30 this morning. I am not even really sure w...

Joanne Grineage: Release, Rely, Relax, Receive

Joanne Grineage: Release, Rely, Relax, Receive: So what is this thing about being patient that has me all tied up inside like a crazy woman? Why do I have to be patient, or maybe I should ...

Joanne Grineage: Party Time

Joanne Grineage: Party Time: So, I went to  a fondue party last night, and I had a wonderful time. I almost didn't make it to the party because the roads were not th...

Joanne Grineage: I"m Not Going To Blog Every Time I Cry!!

Joanne Grineage: I"m Not Going To Blog Every Time I Cry!!: So, I wasn't going to blog tonight, because I thought I would give my first entry a few days to settle in...and then my sister came over...

Joanne Grineage: I'm Every Woman!!

Joanne Grineage: I'm Every Woman!!: This has been a very long time coming my friends. I am so excited to begin this new journey for myself and my family. I have held off and pl...

Joanne Grineage: He Is An Amazing Man!!

Joanne Grineage: He Is An Amazing Man!!: It has always been my practice to try my best to educate my children about the importance of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr did for people o...

He Is An Amazing Man!!

It has always been my practice to try my best to educate my children about the importance of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr did for people of colour around the world. It has also been rather annoying that in Canada it is not recognized as a day of importance. I'm not so sure how many people actually take the time to acknowledge all that Dr King accomplished in his time fighting for the rights and freedoms of minorities, or if it is just another day off of work for those in the US, but at least it has not gone unnoticed there.
 I actually wonder how many of you reading this blog right now even knew that today was Dr Martin Luther King Jr Day. Maybe the ones who used Safari to search for something were prompted by the picture that was on the screen, or maybe I am not giving credit to some of you who actually did know this was a day set aside to remember Dr King.
It matters to me. It is very important to our family, and if you were like us, and were one of maybe five families that are a part of the visible minorities in this community, it would matter to you too. Our family stands out, because we have lots of children, because we homeschool, and because we are black. There are so many stereotypes that we have to fight through for all three of those things, but I think the most difficult is the latter. Although we all know that the discrimination that the people faced when Dr King was alive and fighting for our freedoms is not comparable to what we might deal with today, there are still far too many people who hold ill will against those who do not have white skin.
I don't want to make this a big political rant about why I think things should change in Canada with regards to this holiday, and what today means to all black families. What I do want to share is something my parents shared with me.
What is really hard to take in, is that even in the small communities that we live in, my own father sat in a restaurant for over an hour without getting served because of the colour of his skin. My parents grew up knowing what families they could associate with, and what families to stay away from. Snide comments from teachers, or subtle suggestions were things that my dad can share with me from  when he was growing up. That makes it all very real. When someone you know and love went through that type of blatant ignorance and obvious discrimination, it is a tough pill to swallow. I am so glad that my father never hardened his heart, and was able to forgive, and teach us how to love....everyone.
So today matters to me and my family because I need to show them how far we have come and the struggles and sacrifices that people before us made to allow for us to have the things that we have today. It's just that simple. I could go into all of the amazing words that were spoke in the I Have A Dream speech, but I don't need to do that. I just wanted to express how much it matters to me.
He was an amazing man. He spoke eloquently and he changed the face of the black communities all over the world. He spoke about peace and love and equality for everyone. It is something that should happen in all of our communities every day.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Turnaround

I haven't had a chance to blog about my running much, because frankly, I haven't had a chance to run much. It has been extremely cold for the last few weeks, and when it is -27 with the wind chill, I take that as a sign from God to train indoors. I know I'm Canadian, and any hardcore Canadian runner might be out there bundled up to face the frigid temperatures, but not this girl. Call me what you want, I run when the temps are not cold enough to make snotcicles on my face.
So this morning, as I set out for my run, it was a balmy -7 outside without wind chill, and funny as it may seem, that felt mild. Well, it did until I could feel that there was a slight wind blowing at my back. There is good reason why the saying "wind at your back" speaks volumes to some people. I have come to really love that saying, and I often wish that on my fellow runners whenever they are going into a race or doing a long run. The saying holds much more weight to it when the wind is blowing at -7 degrees making it feel closer to -15 during your run. So this is me, setting up the scenario for you as I headed out. It was a little cold:)
People ask me ALL the time why I run. I am not even going to scratch the surface on all of the reasons in one single blog, but I will touch on one reason today. Running is full of similes and metaphors...and I mean full of them. Today I want to share what I was feeling and how it relates to many moments that we all sometimes feel in our everyday lives.
I decided when I headed out this morning to do 10k. Sometimes people do timed runs, so they might say,"I am doing a 45 minute run today", and they set out and see how far they get in that time. You can also do sprints, or paced runs, which are great for training purposes, and distance runs, like I did today. I wasn't really pushing my pace, I just wanted to do a comfortable 10k. So when I headed out, the wind was at my back, and it felt like a good run was in store. I was on my usual pace, the roads were dry, and it seemed I had just the right amount of layers of clothing to keep warm, but not sweat too much. All these things matter , especially for winter runs. I had two pairs of socks on, and a neck warmer, the only thing that was really getting cold were my fingers. I have running mitts, but they are not the best. I should have doubled up.  I had a good playlist going today, one that I hadn't listened to for a while, and I was relaxed and feeling good. And then I started to think about the turn around.
See, when I do my long runs, I usually head out of town and run straight out down Jane Road, a nice long straight country road that is about 20km long to the end from my house and back. I train on this road often. I am very familiar with it...not too many dogs, no hills, and most people wave and pull around me as they drive by. I like that about this route.
Today, as I ran out with the wind behind my back, I started to think about how hard it was going to get at the 5k mark when I had to turn around. I seriously thought to myself,"I will just keep running with the wind, and then when I get to 10k, I will call Barry to come and get me!!" There is absolutely nothing wrong with that right? That is a good strong run in the freezing cold. Ten kilometres is a heck of a long way in this weather. He was awake when I left, so I knew he wouldn't mind coming to get me. I hadn't even turned around yet to face the wind, and I was already talking myself out of being able to finish my run.
Has anyone ever said to you, you have to conquer that"head-on". Well, this is probably what they were talking about. Running into the wind is hard. Running into the wind when it is freezing cold outside, is hell. Even though I had all the proper gear, and everything seemed to be in my corner, I knew what it was going to feel like, and I began to talk myself out of  what I was capable of. It hurts to run like that. I mean, it can hurt anyway. My legs can feel painfully tired, or my knees might ache a little, but when you run against the wind in sub-zero temperatures, it's a different kind of pain. My eyes get cold, and then they drip,(and no, thats not me crying!!), and then I can't really see properly. My chest tightens up and the pain from breathing in hurts my nose just as badly. The wind seems to cut my cheeks, and it is hard to stay upright because I think I slowly start bending my body into the fetal position as I feel like death is imminent . And so now you ask me why I feared the turn around.
You will be glad to know that I didn't call for a ride home. I hit the 5k mark, was still feeling good, and just turned myself around on Jane Road and headed home. It was colder, and I was not nearly as comfortable as I was with the wind at my back, but I kept going. I started to think about all the things that were at home waiting for me to make me hurry up, a hot bath, kleenex, food. I always do this. Lots of self talk when I am running to encourage my body to go forward. I met up with someone doing some yard work out in the country, and he yelled out,"Nice day for a run." I barely heard him over my music , but I managed to yell back,"it is indeed". I'm not so sure I meant it in that exact moment, but he was right. It was a very nice day for a run.
This is where I point out the obvious. When we are going along at a nice steady pace, and it feels good, life seems easy. It might not be perfect, but it is  a comfortable state of "good enough". When the wind is at our backs, we don't have to work quite as hard, and it is not really painful for us. But then we start thinking about the turn around. Before it even happens, we can talk ourselves out of what might not be so bad after all. We want someone to come and save us from something that we can conquer ourselves if we put our minds to it. I can't always promise that after the turn around, it will be easy, because for me, it got really hard. But the rewards are much sweeter when you realize you stuck to it and didn't talk yourself out of reaching the goal.
I'm not saying you can't ask for help. There are going to be times when you will need to be picked up off the side of your road. Even when you have all the right gear, and you've done all the right things, it still might be very hard...fetal position hard!! But don't talk yourself out of at least trying. You will find, like I did today, that it isn't always easy, but it is worth it. And there will be people along the road with an encouraging word. And even if you might feel the pain of the struggle "head-on", there is a hot bath and good food at the end of it. Think about what is at your finish line and do some positive self talk to get there.  My strong finish today was with frozen fingers and toes, and a tight chest, but I felt good. I didn't call Barry, I finished my run and I stayed on pace, even amidst the struggles I faced. Everyone can take on the turn around "head on". You can do it.

Here I am after my run this morning. There is a little smile there, if you look hard you can see it :)

Thursday, 15 January 2015

You Can Quote Me On That!!

If I had a choice to hide away in my bedroom today, I probably would have done that at about 10:30 this morning. I am not even really sure what exactly went wrong  to make me feel so incredibly irritable, but I am not feeling super positive at the moment. The littlest things can really chip away at me, and before I know it, I am ready to throw my hands up in the air. This is why I decided to create this blog. I want to be able to share and motivate and encourage, but I also wanted to be real about some of the things that make up my day, good,bad, or indifferent... however the chips may fall.
So let me start by saying that if I see one more meme, or read one more inspirational quote about  "make the rest of your day the best of your day", I"m gonna lose it. Don't get me wrong, I am as guilty as the next person for posting all of those amazing Pinterest posters that we save in our albums and then share all over Facebook. They really can be a marvellous boost for someone who needs to see something funny or read a powerful quote. Today, they are all just annoying the snot out of me, so I am scrolling over them really fast, because I just want to figure out on my own how to work out whatever this day is challenging me with. Im not really doing a great job at it, but I don't want some crazy chipmunk with its cheeks stuffed with nuts telling me to smile. Grrrr!!!
When I look back on the day, and even the week, what I can see happening is a good deal of effort on my part for certain things to move in a certain direction, with very little change. Not just big projects that I am working on, but a lot of little things too. Things that I deal with every day in my busy little house, things at work, things with my bootcamp class, things at church. It gets to me a little when I have to keep going back to the same issues, with no improvement. I often wonder how many times I will have to remind my kids of their daily responsibilities before they will actually just get up in the morning and follow through with what they know is expected of them to help our home run smoothly. I always point out to them that it benefits EVERYONE as a whole when we each do what we need to do as individuals. There are a lot of bodies in this house, with a lot of stuff, and it only takes an instant for it to get really crazy around here.
And then I wonder how much I can offer of myself, time, energy, advice, time...time....time...before I start to see that maybe I can't keep doing the same things and expecting there to be change. We all know what THAT defines. I love to help people, but sometimes people have to start to help themselves. I've been trying to put a few things into perspective with regards to my time spent on my family, my jobs, my goals, myself. The thing that has really been difficult, is I just get a little fed up. Yes, yes I do. I can't always think of what is for supper, or keep the floors clean. I can't always give someone the best advice about running, or hold their hand all the way to bootcamp. I can't always stay on top of my programming at work, or keep my car clean. And when all these responsibilities pile up, I start to feel like I do today.
I know that there are other people out there that can relate, but I also know that for me it is on a different level, just because of sheer numbers. More food, more laundry, more lovely children and all of their schoolwork and lessons and hormones. So for one momma, it can get a little overwhelming. I think more than anything, I just don't want to have to apologize for being a crab today. I sent Barry a text today that said "today sucks". I know that is not very mature, and my kids are not even allowed to say that work in that context, but that was how I felt. When he asked why, I replied'"because it just does". So now that your all thinking that I am just being a big baby, you know what, that's your prerogative. But I have had a very ugly, day. I am very blessed, I am not complaining about all of the wonderful things that I have, I am just crabby and tired and I'm hoping to be out of this funk tomorrow.
So maybe I can make up my own meme today; my own little quotable quote. Here goes...
When you have a life like mine, then you can tell me how I should feel. Until then zip it and let me whine today!!
Thank you...that felt good.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Release, Rely, Relax, Receive

So what is this thing about being patient that has me all tied up inside like a crazy woman? Why do I have to be patient, or maybe I should just have patience, or is there even a difference? To be something means I have to change who I am, but to have something means that I can acquire it. I'll tell you what...I think I am a very patient person, but I am a little tired of waiting. But doesn't that sound like a huge contradiction? And does having patience even mean to wait? I hate waiting. Hate is a strong word, and we couldn't even say it in my house growing up, but I'm older now, and there are few things that I really despise, and that is being late, and waiting!! I don't really think many of use enjoy waiting, because it takes away some of our control. We can't make things just happen faster because we want them to, or can we?
See this is exactly why it makes me so nuts.
When I look in my thesaurus, (and this is something that I love to do by the way), some of the words that share the same meaning as patient as an adjective are submissive, forbearing, unruffled, passive, persevering, calm. but THEN, patience, as a noun, there are words like forbearance, fortitude, composure, endurance, persistence. I think I want to pick noun. Being submissive , and forbearing, or passive, are not really things that I choose to be. But words like fortitude, and endurance and persistence I like!! Unfortunately, I don't really get to choose. I have to be both in order to reap the benefits of the idea of this word.
So now that you have all had a little taste of what goes on in my head somedays, and you have had a peek into my "teacher" side, let me try to break this post down. I am ready for things in my life to change. Im not complaining about the way things are, but I feel like there is a pull towards bigger and better things for me and my family, and I don't want to be in a tug of war against that pull. Life is like that sometimes.We are fighting against things instead of just letting things happen. I know that there are seasons in our lives when we do have to practice patience, and be passive and forbearing, but I also know that being a little aggressive, and persistent can really start to make things happen. I said I hate waiting and I feel like unless I take the bull by the horns, things are just going to stay the same. I have to decide...we always have to decide, whether to sink or swim. I don't feel like I am sinking, but I'm just kinda bobbing up and down in the water. Swimming is forward motion, towards a destination, with determination and drive. I liken it to the idea of being in a circular pool. We had a pool in my backyard growing up. If all of the people that were swimming started going in the same direction around the pool, initially it was a little tough to get things going but very quickly, that water would start to flow in the same direction with force, and almost push us in the direction that we wanted to go!!
Isn't that an exciting thought. That if I start to move my life in the direction that I want it to go, and I have the people along side me to help me get it going in the same direction, that soon we will all be going to that place together with much less effort and struggle. Patience applies, because it doesn't just happen right away. I can't just dive it and expect to go. I have to endure, and submit. I have to persist and forbear. I have to sometimes wait...grrr!!
Thank goodness for my level headed, reasonable, realistic husband. He is supportive, but he does his best to keep me grounded. I would take off with all cylinders fired up and then crash and burn many times if it were not for him. He brings me back to the "calm" part of the definition, as in "calm down". There is a longstanding saying, that tells us not to pray for patience, because then you will have it tested repeated until you have shown that you have attained the ability to be patient, so I stopped praying for it a long time ago. I have however, learned that there are substations for that saying,"be patient". Two of my favourites are "be still" and "cease striving".
Be still. Don't run ahead of what is suppose to happen in your life. Calm down and relax your mind. Listen and wait.
Can you just see why this is like slow torture for me. I run. That is what I do. It is my passion. So when you tell me not to run, I get a little anxious. Wait...seriously? One of the two things that I hate, and I have to do that too. And how do I calm down and relax? I have seven children and a husband and a house and a job and lessons and laundry and dust and dinner? So this can't be for me. This has to be for someone who can do all these things well. But then there is this awesome catch to this. I am given permission to wait expectantly!! So really, its not as hard to wait when you know that there is something worth waiting for.  And I like the word expectantly. Look it up!! You see words like HOPE, and ANTICIPATE. I like those words...a lot.
So I think I can be still, but how do I cease striving. That feels like I am whimping out. It sounds like "stop trying". But it is not those things at all. It is part of human nature to strive, especially when things get tough and we want them to change. It gets frustrating when we are working so hard to reach goal or work towards change, and then nothing seems to be going our way. this is what I learned. In Hebrew the expression "cease striving" means to "let your hands drop" or to "let go" or "relax". Relax is good. I could use a little relaxation in my life. I need to let go sometimes too. I can be a control freak, and taking a step back and letting go of a situation can be very freeing. So I think I can do this.
I feel like I am starting to convince myself that I can still have all the things that I want without all of the stress and pressure that might come along with it, but only if I make wise choices along the way, and keep my character in check. Here it is in a nutshell for you today...(but mostly for me:). Release. Rely. Relax. Receive. I won't dive into the thesaurus on these ones, but I think you see where I'm going with all of this.
Patience is complex. Being patient is difficult. I am working on it every day. I am going to hold on to those words like hope, and anticipate, and persist, because they keep my whirlpool moving in the right direction. I don't have to strive when the current is pushing me forward, I don't have to run ahead, I can just go with the flow. But I do have to work to keep things going. I can't just leave that up to everyone around me. I am committed to what I know is in store, and I and going to be patient, cease striving, and be still and let it happen.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Party Time

So, I went to  a fondue party last night, and I had a wonderful time. I almost didn't make it to the party because the roads were not the greatest, and there were some serious whiteouts on my drive, but I'm glad that I continued on. Anyone that knows me, knows that I am  a little bit of a home body.  I am not one for hanging out with girlfriends, sharing pleasantries, or chatting about my day. I like to be at home with my family. I have busy days, so when there is down time, I like to be at home, on my couch with Barry and the kids. I really love my girlfriend who was having the little get together , she is like family to me, and so I went to party...fondue style!!
It is always nice to be around other woman that I have not meant before. I like to observe, and learn from other woman. We have a lot of really neat things to offer each other. I met a "whole foodie" last night, who new a lot of very interesting things about the nutritional value of various foods that I have never even heard of. I started to feel just a bit unknowing when she began to share some of the things she understood about food. But it was very interesting and very informative, and it did help me to recognize that I probably should pay much closer attention to the what I use to fuel my body. We all should.
The best part of the night came when we gathered around the table to fellowship over the fondue. Funny, I don't even like cheese..or the dark chocolate that was served, but it was all still very delicious and presented beautifully. As we sat around the table, we began to talk amongst ourselves and share a little bit, and then someone mentioned that I have seven children.
We joke about this ALL the time as a family, because it always stops people in their tracks. Sometimes the reactions are typical and expected, and sometimes, I just shake my head and smile. People can really say some ridiculous, and almost offensive things. I have a pretty tough skin when it comes to this, because it has happened so often, but really people, we do know how this works. To imply that we are unaware of how babies are made, is just a bit ignorant, and frankly, I stopped responding to those comments a long time ago.
But last night was different. I was sitting beside a very lovely woman who looked straight in my eyes and said, "why?" She asked me in all sincerity,"why did you have so many kids?" And then she began to say,"that is a lot.' "that is a lot of responsibility, a lot of  time, a lot of money, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of being pregnant, and breast feeding, a lot of stress and sacrifice!!"
I appreciated her honesty so much, and by this time, most of the conversations turned in our direction and they all were interested in my response. I told her that I was glad she asked me that so honestly. I usually don't give people in passing much of an explanation, but I knew that she was sincere, and quite curious about why I chose to have a big family. My answer really is simple, but I was just impressed with her complete honesty...although she did look at me like I was from another planet. It is a question that many people ask, because having more than 2-3 children is almost unheard of anymore. The simple answers this. Yes, Barry and I know how to make babies, and we also know how to use birth control. We didn't always choose to get pregnant, however, we considered every pregnancy a blessing and in Gods time. WE did always want a big family, and I was very fortunate to be able to get pregnant quite quickly after I stopped nursing, which was usually for the first year. In fact, my grandma used to joke with me, and say, "All Barry has to do is hang his pants on the bedpost, and you get pregnant." Grandma was feisty!!
So we had the seven children in nine years. I was 22 when we got married, I was 23 when we had our first, and I was 32 when we had our last.(this is when you stop and read that again because it all happened so fast, I know). I was pregnant or nursing for 10 years straight, and I was a sickly pregnant momma, usually spending a portion of every pregnancy in hospital with kidney issues. I appreciated what my new friend had said, because she was right, it is a lot. it is a lot of time, and money, a lot of sleepless nights, and responsibility, a lot of stress and sacrifice, but it is so much more than that. At no point did Barry and I decide that we would have a big family, and then expect handouts and sympathy for the sacrifices that we have to make. We consider it a privilege to be able to raise these seven amazing children. They are not ours, they are gifts given to us, and we just do our vey best every day, to pour love and respect and guidance and nurturing into their lives.
So yes, it is all of those things, but it is also laughs, and hugs, and music and singing, and football games, and braiding hair, and snuggles and kisses multiplied over and over again. This house is busy, and I explained it to my new friend. there is always lots going on. It was very busy and very crazy when the kids were younger, and I would function on sometimes 3 hours of sleep. But I am coming into a different season in my life. As the kids grow, as we all grow, I am able to appreciate every moment. The tough sleepless nights, the quiet mornings, the arguments, the sharing, the laundry, the meals around our table. We have something very special, and I know that.
So after all of the questions, and there were lots, we got back to our fondue. She still couldn't believe that I had so many children, and sometimes, neither can I. Sometimes, I really don't feel like I can take on all that comes with raising seven children. Sometimes I doubt myself, and I wonder if I am doing the right things for my family, and sometimes, I don't feel like I deserve all that I have been given. But she left with a different look on her face. She encouraged me and she made me feel less like an alien and more like a really great mom.
On my drive home, I decided that I probably need to try and get out with other woman a little more. I can learn from them, and they can learn from me. We have so many wonderful things to offer one another, getting together is really good. My new plan, is to try and leave something and take something,(not actually, that would just be wrong:).I want to leave something with someone that they will remember and be able to apply to their life, and I want to take home something of the same. I know that I have a different respect, for the benefits of dark chocolate and whole grain crackers, but I also made a new friend and she gave be a boost, a little push to keep going as a mother, and to keep sacrificing and doing what I feel I do best. And I think she went home with a few things from me as well.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

I"m Not Going To Blog Every Time I Cry!!

So, I wasn't going to blog tonight, because I thought I would give my first entry a few days to settle in...and then my sister came over to say goodbye. She has been doing mission work in Bolivia  for the past nine years, and was able to come home for the past month, and spend time with us for the holidays.  This is the first Christmas in nine years,  that she was able to come and be with us, and it was time that I will treasure.
People always talk about the bond of sisters share something between them that is almost magical. I believe that there is truth to this, but I also believe that it might not always be the case. I will be honest, my sister and I have not always been super close. We are seven years apart and when I was growing up, we really didn't have much in common, although we did share the same bed. We laughed when she was home because I was a bed wetter, and she remembers quite clearly, those nights when she wished we weren't so "close"!! I apologized.:)She moved out to Alberta to go to school when I entered high school, and then was married and started her family when I went to college. It wasn't really until I started my family that we began to connect and share things that sisters share. And then it seemed like when we started to become the closest, she left. When she left, was when I felt like I needed her the most. I wanted to talk and share with her like a best friend, and I needed her advice, her help. And anyone who knows my sister, knows just how amazing she really is. She is one marvellous person.
So when she came to say goodbye tonight, I cried. I cried like a big 'ole baby. I cried in front of my kids, because they were there to say goodbye too. I felt a little selfish about feeling this upset, but I really didn't want her to go back. I know that Bolivia is now her home, but in my selfish way, I wanted her to consider me and my feelings in all of this. Even though her husband, and her adopted son are there waiting for her, I want her to stay. I need her. I want her to be here to talk to me when I am having bad days, or when I want to go shopping with my sister. I don't want to Skype, and have our conversations delayed by 12 seconds. So for about ten minutes, I cried, and I made it all about me.
 And then I started to appreciate the situation for what it really is. I am so blessed to have a sister. I am so proud of all that she is doing thousands of miles from home. I am so glad that my girls saw me cry, because I want them to appreciate their own sister relationships. I have six girls, so there are many bonds between the sisters in this house. you should just see some of the sister moments. Sometimes they share, sometimes they fight, sometimes they, laugh, cry, play, pout...the list goes on. Some of the girls seem really close, and there are times when I feel like they are not going to survive under the same roof. But then I think of how much I love my sister and it feels amazing. It feels amazing to know that I will be able to see these sister bonds get stronger and stronger between my daughters. I will share with them tonight, I will tell them not to take their sisters for granted, because they really are your best friends. And for those woman out there who do not have that blood connection, I know that along the way, you have found a sister... girls are cool that way. We will hook up with another soul and connect in a way that only a sister can understand.
"And I felt closer to you. Because you knew me so much better than I'd realized-and still loved me."Rosamund Lupton
And this is why I cried. Because she knows me. My sister knows my heart. She knows my good stuff, and my bad stuff. She's known it all along...even back when I would warm the bed for her in the middle of the night. and in spite of all of the things that I bring to the table, my sister still loves me. So I will miss her while she is gone. But we will see each other soon, God willing, and we will laugh and cry together just like sisters do.
                     This is me and my sister with her adopted son her!!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

I'm Every Woman!!

This has been a very long time coming my friends. I am so excited to begin this new journey for myself and my family. I have held off and planned and prayed for the right time in my life to take a really big step in a different direction, and now I'm diving in!!
"Although some people have the misconception that being humble means to put yourself down, it really is understanding yourself and being free and secure enough to recognize the things you do well and the things you don't do well. In essence, being humble is a true recognition of our strengths and our weaknesses." John C Maxwell
What does it mean to be "every woman"? What does it even mean to be a woman in this moment in our society? Has the definition become so clouded, that we've lost ourselves, and what is expected of us? Is being a woman simply the ability to fit into a socially constructed category rather than a biological one?
I am a  forty three year old woman. I am the mother of  seven amazing biological children,(six girls and one boy), and the wife to my adoring husband of  twenty one years. I have homeschooled my children for the past fifteen years. I work outside of my home as a Before and After School teacher. I teach bootcamp two nights a week. I participate in leading worship at my local church a few times a month as well as being an active member. I provide home daycare during the day to my darling niece while her parents work full time. I am a runner, having completed six full marathons and numerous half marathons in the past six years. I love fashion, and clothes and beauty. I did some modelling before I started my family, and I am ready to return to something I loved. I am thrifty...almost to the point of "hoarding" , especially when it comes to my wardrobe. I pride myself on being able to feed my family of nine on a very limited budget and keeping them happy and satisfied.
I love to inspire women. I want women to be the best that that can be. I want to give women a new voice. I want to be real and relatable with women. I want to provide an opportunity to talk and share with woman about many of my love experiences, but more importantly, to just share many of the things that women want to open up about.
Everyone says that no one wants to hear about the scary or nasty things that happen during childbirth, but we do!! Everyone thinks that homeschooling is just for families that wear long dresses and don't associate with the rest of society, that is just not true. Everyone thinks that it is impossible to be healthy and fit, and still be able to enjoy food....and life....but it is NOT impossible. Everyone thinks that going to church  means that you are a crazy religious freak trying to force your beliefs on everyone around you, but this is not the case. Everyone thinks that you have to spend hundreds of dollars to look amazing and measure up to what today's woman is suppose to be, but believe me, you do not.
I could go on forever about the things that I feel "every woman" could be. I am passionate about what I know is going to happen. I know that woman want an opportunity to be related to other woman around them who shove  dirty laundry in the closet when the doorbell rings, or who pee their pants a little bit when they jump around at exercise class. We all just want to be real. About the good things and the bad. About marriage, and children. About feeling empowered at work and in the community. About fitness and feeling fat, about fashion and  what looks ridiculous on us. Well, I am taking this opportunity to follow my heart and make some big strides to attain what might have seemed impossible in the past. This is going to be big...and I want YOUR support. I want you to respond. Ask questions. Share how you have been inspired or empowered by another woman in your life. I say we get rid of all these crazy "reality" television shows that sensationalize the ridiculous, and make room for reality. Normal is real. Frustrated, busy, tired, ugly, moody, messy, is REAL!!
People have said to me for many years, " you should write a book", or " you should have your own reality show...I would watch for sure!!"  Well my's about to happen. With your support of this blog, and personal messages and prayers, this is going to be the year it happens!!
"People don't follow people by accident. They follow individuals whose leadership they respect. Unlike charisma that will let you through the door, respect guarantees that the room will be full of your followers you have earned their respect by your talent, your successful work, and your loyalty to them. But mostly, they respect you because of your dedication to adding value and making a difference in their lives"..John C Maxwell

PLEASE share this blog today. I want to start a movement. A real woman, mother, daughter, sister, friend!!