Saturday, 19 August 2017

Fall.....



I love fall. Always have, always will.

For some reason, fall always means a fresh start to me. I know that January is supposed too, but January feels like the halfway mark to me all the time. I've realized that in myself, I sigh a sigh of relief once August hits. August to December is the time of year that I love, and thrive. 

As a young Mom I canned, I preserved, I made jam, I froze produce, all in anticipation of the cozy winter months to come. Apples were chopped, grated, dried, and stored. Pies were made, berries were picked. Rhubarb was chopped. Pickles were made. All winter long we had muffins, pies, crisps, jam, and home canned fruit. Oh, and did I mention cinnamon? Mmmmm.... 

When the boys were little, it would mean breaking out the light toques, fleece coats and coveralls, warmer socks, and rubber boots. We would seek out pumpkin patches, wagon rides, fall festivals, and anything to supplement our own little pumpkin patch that we planted each year. 







As the boys grew up, the pumpkin patch still became a fun memory, but was different of sorts. Fall became more about cross country running, chunky sweaters, boots, family photos, and the busyness of school starting up. We used pumpkins and apples as a fundraiser for their school, and fruit runs to Davison Orchards became a big event!






What do I want for this fall? For time to slow down a bit. For the busyness that is our new life to just pause. I want to sniff the crisp air, take some long walks to enjoy the changing colours. To sit by an outdoor fire, wrapped in a blanket. 

I'm still doing some storing up for winter. I'm still loving hauling out the boots, sweaters, toques, and fleece. But it changes. There are no more runny noses to wipe.  There are no more rosy cheeks to kiss until they're warm. There are no more kids making a disaster of my leaf pile. Just big strapping boys who can chop and haul wood for hours. MENN who burst in the door asking what's for supper. Warm coffee, hot tea, apple cider, and hearty soups. The requests are for homemade buns and chowders or stews. 

Life marches on. We adjust to the new normal, but I'm still in love with fall. Still love the crisp air. Still inhale and exhale the beauty of colour..... And can I let you in on a secret? I may actually be starting to look forward to when Jody and I are empty nesters and can take off to the East Coast for the ultimate Autumn showdown.... 😏








Saturday, 12 August 2017

Getting Back At It...

Wondering this morning if I'll ever figure this out. This happy medium between being authentic to who I am, and not caring what others think.

I censor. A lot. More then most can imagine. I hide, I clam up, I swallow my opinions. Most people don't get to see the real me, and I think I'm OK with that. I've been burned to many times. However, shouldn't we be able to just be? Respectfully? Hmmmm....

Social media is such a blessing and also such a joy killer. I'm wondering how many of us would enter an auditorium with all of our posts strapped to a billboard on our chest and still feel good about them.

There has to be a balance between being authentic, vulnerable, private, and true.

With families expanding, growing, changing, and moving so far apart, that poses a whole new set of challenges. We are related, we love, but other then blood, what are the common strands that make us family?

We all have family members that we've never met, and yet we'd expect to get along famously if we were all thrown into a big room together. We tend to want to forget that there are always political, moral, cultural, and faith differences amongst us. Building friendships is similar. It can all be going fine and dandy until something gets uncomfortable. How does a person truly just cover it in grace and love?

Which brings me back to my original thought. How do I stay authentic to who I am, blog from my heart, while finding the balance between vulnerability and too much?

Thoughts for today....




Blessings... 💝

Monday, 27 June 2016

It's All Part Of The Journey





I haven't been able to blog for years. I've been too raw. Every time I'd start to type, I'd cry. I'm not totally prepared to bare it all on the internet yet, but let's just say, it's been quite the journey. A very hard, semi-private one. I need to get back to blogging. My soul craves it.

This past weekend was part of my healing. It was about giving myself permission to love life again and be OK with asking for what I need or even would like. It was about a safe place to celebrate me, and the unconditional love of my valuable friendships. I failed. My heart was hurting and confused, and I didn't "Roar" quite loud enough, or soon enough. I didn't allow myself too. I shut down and internalized. I thought I had communicated well, but I hadn't. It's hard to believe that a 6 hour glitch can taint 81 hours of amazingness, but it did for me. It weighed me down. I can't allow it too. I will learn from it, grow from it, speak about it, and "Let It Go!"

I can still hear the laughter from some absolutely CRAZY fun times. I can still feel the deep emotions of the conversations around the table. I can still see the determined, and adventurous facial expressions of our "Fit & Forty" team, as we worked (and laughed!) together to get us down the river. 









The extreme awesomeness, that was this weekend, will live on in my memory bank like it was, one of the best weekends of my life, full of many laughs until the tears leaked down our legs! 


Heather. 






Where do I even start? I don't know what I ever did to deserve you, but I know God smiled the day He created you, and I like to think He planned us for each other. You've lived my crazy with me since we were 7, and loved me regardless. We've seen more life together then two young girls should've had to. Whenever I felt unlovable, you always fought for our friendship. When I was insecure, you were my normal. When I was rough, you were my gentle. When I was raw, you were the cool cloth. When I struggled to find my laugh, you were my laughter. When I lost my sparkle, you helped me find it. When I falter, you raise the bar and hold me accountable. I mean it. You've been a rock for me. The fact that you came all the way out for this weekend was so special, it still makes me tear up. I tell my MENN all the time that I wished everyone was able to have a Heather, and yet I hate when I have to share mine... :) 

Amanda.



 
We've lived A LOT of life side by side! From two very opposite teenage girls, to two very opposite women, I would hate to ever be required to have to do life without you. Who would I have had to help me under my wedding dress? Or wear a bikini in front of for the first time? Or open my first package of.... Oh, never mind.  Many years ago you described us as bread and butter, and to this day I treasure that. Opposites, yet inseparable and perfect together. When we moved to Alberta, I told Jody that I needed to be within an hour of you. You were strength and comfort to me. You were home. You've helped me come out of my shell, and pushed me out of my very tiny comfort zones. You broke through extremely thick barriers of mine and encouraged me to love myself. You've given me the ability to embrace my incredible need for adventure. You shoot from the hip, and love me like a sister. You are family. You're an awesome Aunt to my MENN, a crazy sister to my husband, and one of the best friends a girl could ever ask for. You bring out my wild, and accept me when I'm quiet. You have this amazing ability to light up any room you walk in to, and I can't help but smile when you do. As I continue to learn to find my voice, there is no question in my heart that I know you will always have my back, and I can't think of anyone I trust more with it. You are a blessing. 


Kristie.




God SO knew we needed each other, and I know our friendship has been a life line for us both. You made me feel normal. When I needed unconditional love, you were there to shower it on me and love me despite my quirks and culture. When I felt like a fish out of water, you kept splashing me until I found the courage to jump back into my ocean. When I finally stopped trying to "fit in", you were there to hug me, wipe my tears, and tell me that I "belonged" with you. You have tough loved me, and cried with me. You've laughed hysterically with me, and napped with me. You've sent me to bed and scrubbed my toilet. You brought my son pants. You've loved my softer side, but helped me toughen up.  My favourite trait of us is that we cover each others butts. No explanation needed. I call, you're there. You call, my hubby busts down the bathroom door. I couldn't wish for a better friend to guard my heart, cover my butt, and enjoy my morbid sense of humour with. We've been mistaken as partners, we've been looked at like sister wives. Let them wonder. That's half the fun.... :) 

Tanya.




My sister from another Mother. The East to my West. The salmon Lulu to my purple Lulu. The flower Bogs to my paisley Bogs. You are the epitome of that sister/friend that God had to place in another family, as He knew our Mothers couldn't handle us both! Could you even imagine?!? I am so sorry that God had to move you all the way across the country because I was praying for a much needed friend. One who could plunk down on my couch, ask me what was for supper, stay for hours, and live life with me side by side. One who could understand the loneliness of moving away from all that was familiar and secure. To not have the network of family. To figure out life in a different culture with. One who filled my heart with the familiar. You know my MENN like no there friend does. You know (and laugh!) at all our Ethanisms, you took the time to know our precious introvert Nathan, you allowed Nolan to be the "big brother" to your kids, and you helped shape Morgan into the amazing young man he is today. The day you moved, I cried myself dry.  Thank you for allowing me into your life. Thank you for being an answer to my prayers.  Thank you for staying with me through the valley and celebrating with me on the other side. You are 1 in a million!

This is what I will remember from the "Fit & Forty" Birthday Bash. A group of friends from different walks of life, corners of the country, and types of relationships, coming together to love me, to celebrate me, and to honour me. A group of friends so close to my heart that I could burst with gratitude. 

Thank you girls! You are all loved more then you could ever know! Peace out... :)








    

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Finding Joy Amongst The Busy

So, yesterday I posted this to my Facebook wall;




And I took some flack via a private message. I guess it was interpreted as I was saying busyness was bad. Sigh.... That's not what I meant.

For me, a busy schedule can lead to a grumpy heart. Insert Facebook status from June 13th;

Last night at our PAC meeting, someone asked a question about something... I answered;
"I'm unable to commit to anything more until after July 15th."
Morgan (student council rep) pipes up and says;
"Yeah, she's grumpy enough as it is!"
Then, as I was visiting with someone after the meeting, my son comes up to me and says....
"Mom, bedtime!"

Just a few minutes ago Jody comes up to me and says;
"Watchya got on the go for today?"
Me: "I need to get caught up on a bunch of stuff and try to re-claim the dinning room."
Jody: "Why don't you go have a nap?"
Me: "That's not fair..." (Knowing he's a bit run down but unable to slow down today.)
Jody: "What? It's not fair that I don't want a tired, grumpy wife?"

Oh, dear....there seems to be a theme here! Hahaha... Gosh, I love these guys! 



This happens more then I care to admit. Sigh... So, when I start to feel a bit over-whelmed, I have to take a second, start a load of towels or jeans (I know, weird, but it's what helps!), cancel a few things off the calendar, and focus more on the joy, rather then the busy.


When I'm running out the door, supper or breakfast dishes still on the table, and baskets of laundry needing to be folded;





Bathrooms needing to be scrubbed, (no photo necessary!)


Timber sitting there staring at me with his ball,


       



I can feel a bit over-whelmed. I know I won't have time to deal with it all properly until later, so I CAN (and should!) choose to shut my front door, and focus on the moment.

I get to go watch my MENN enJOY life.











Taking JOY in knowing;

Dirty dishes means I was able to feed my boys a healthy meal.

Baskets of laundry mean we have clean clothes (albeit a bit wrinkled!) for the morning.

The ring around the tub, and wet towels not hung up, says we have water to wash off the fun of the day. 

And regardless, my dog still loves me unconditionally, despite my lack of time to throw a ball for him.


So for me, the two (Busy and Joy) don't have to be mutually exclusive. It's finding the balance. It's choosing joy DESPITE the busy. That is what I meant. I didn't mean busy was bad, I just meant busy CAN rob you of joy, and this is something I personally can struggle with. I don't want my husband to come home to a stressed out, grumpy wife. I don't want my MENN to remember their Mom as being too busy and grumpy for them and their moments. I want to intentionally choose to have time and joy for them in life.




If I don't, that means I have failed in what is utmost important to ME.

I want to CHOOSE joy, while living with the busy.

THAT is what I meant...



Thursday, 3 April 2014

Growing Up In a Mini Van

My MENN have grown up in our 2004 Toyota Sienna. When Jody brought it home for me as an early Mother's Day present in 2003, I was 6 months pregnant with Nathan, and we had totally outgrown our Mazda MPV.

Morgan was 5, Ethan was 3, and Nolan was 17 months. Our van felt as amazing as a space ship! It had been re-designed, and set the stage for every future Mini Van to be built. It's true! This van was the beginning of the modern body style, flip and fold seats, cup holders everywhere, and an engine that could out-perform most other vehicles on the road. WHILE maintaining amazing gas mileage! I know, I know, I sound like a commercial... :) Even though it was the spring of 2003, our van was a 2004 and fresh off the line. Our vehicle payment was bigger then our mortgage payment, but we knew we could handle it, and we were all pretty darn excited! For years I had my boys convinced this was me.... :)

http://youtu.be/zprbbo5eWCc


11 years later I still love driving my Sienna, but have really been thinking lately about life after the mini van. It almost makes me teary. It's like the end of an era. In my opinion, the Mini Van is designed to be the ultimate Mom mobil. You can pack all your little kids safely into their car seats, and still jam $250.00 worth of groceries, a stroller, your "clean up" and snack bin, and a diaper bag in there. THEN...you graduate to back packs, sports bags, school projects, coolers full of food, extra kids, maybe a bike, and STILL get $500.00 worth of groceries in there! My van has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of my family! It's been thrown up in, bled in, peed in, eaten in, climbed in, treated like a jungle gym, driven me to the hospital while in labor, driven kids to the ER, and has gotten us there safely every, single, time. It has sheltered us in hurricane force winds, torrential rains, blizzards and white outs, hail, massive thunder and lightning storms, and one weird, small, tornado-y like thing. It has handled like a dream and gotten us home safely in every weather scenario you can think of. It has also helped me avoid a Black Bear, a few Elk, and several Deer. Now, I do recognize it was all God, but I sure felt safe in my van while he was busy protecting me and the boys. It has also heard us yell, cry, sing, laugh, pray, tell secrets, fight, laugh some more, and talk through life. As I am currently now adding close to 1000 kilometres a week onto our wonderful mini van, it has got me really to thinking about what to do next. I just clicked over 250,000 km, and I still need my van for 4 more years...

As I enter a new stage of life, my needs have changed, and so have the needs of my family. With having 2 boys driving now, no car seats, tons of kilometres to travel, and not always the option to stay home if weather dictates, it was time to explore some options. Could I really justify a CAR?

OK...I need to back up a bit. When I was 16, I bought a 1985 Hyundai Pony for $300.00. What I really wanted?? This bad boy!




Yep! I was just that cool! A 1992 Subaru Outback. When all my friends wanted a Mazda Miata, I wanted this baby. All wheel drive, could throw a kayak on top, my German Shepherd in the back, and still have plenty of room for backpacks and friends!

Then, in the late 90's, I graduated to wanting this!



The Subaru Outback, L.L. Bean Edition. Sigh..... Yep.

However, I also wanted 4 kids. Enter my Mini Van instead.... :)

OK, thanks for joining me down memory lane, I'll get back to business here!

So...what to do now? Well, let me see. I don't always have all 4 kids with me. However, I do need to be able to pack bikes, skis, bags, back packs, groceries, a German Shepherd, and long legged boys into my vehicle. I need to be able to get to the mountains, over the mountains, all over Alberta and B.C., and know I can do it with phenomenal gas mileage and safety. I need to know that if my boys get caught in a freak storm, they are safe. I need the assurance of performance and safety. So guess what??

 http://youtu.be/N26WJvdajXw


Yep, back to the Subaru Outback my mind goes.

I still need my van. I still need to be able to seat 6 - 8 people. However, I only need to be able to do that about once per week. So, this is the new member of Clan Koskela... Cypress!






21 years later, I now get to drive a Green Subaru Outback. My van can get some TLC and rest, and I don't have to compromise safety, comfort, or (let's be honest!) style. I am spoiled. I am blessed. I don't deserve my wonderful husband who is indulging my 16 year old inner Ellerie.


Now, if you'll excuse me, there is a highway with my name on it.... :)









Monday, 18 November 2013

Mom's Not Working Together....

*SPOILER ALERT* Please do not read any further if you are a bit sensitive today. I'm going to state some of my opinions, and some days, I know I can't handle other peoples opinions as graciously as I would like, so please be advised!

OK... One of my pet peeves right now is the debate about vaccinations. It's frustrating me because I feel like it's turning into a blame game. I personally vaccinate for some things, but I choose not to for others. I feel I have some good, solid, reasons, and I have done my best to educate and research out the information I THINK is correct.

I know the hot topic ones right now are MMR and HPV. Also, the Flu shot and a few years ago the H1N1. Now, I'm not going to write this and then not tell what I've done because I don't think that's right. I feel that if I'm going to open the can of worms here, I need to be honest. I vaccinated for MMR, DTPT, and Hep B. Also, some of the boys have had the Meningococcal C. That one leaves me feeling a bit uneasy, but we did choose to do it. It was important to me for the boys to be vaccinated against Polio, out of respect for Sylvia, a special woman in our lives who is a quadriplegic due to the Polio outbreak of the early 50's.




The MMR left me uneasy, but when I started my Motherhood journey, it was before the internet age, and so information was limited. I don't regret it, but I sure don't love it.

I have not, and won't, vaccinate for Chicken Pox, Flu, HPV, or H1N1. Which leads me to rabbit trail #1.

Did you know that the virus that leads to HPV basically doesn't exist within the Jewish race? They have linked the lack of the virus to circumcision. Another hot topic item, I know. On a side note, they have also discovered that in African countries where male circumcision is done, there is a lower rate of AIDS. Granted, this could also be due to a higher rate of monogamy, but what are the odds it has been linked twice. Now, before the debate starts about circumcision, please respect mine and Jody's decision to go that route, and before you tell me it's mean and it hurts, let me respond by saying...

"I have spent more time in my parenting journey watching my boys experience pain from self-inflicted injuries, vaccination needles, blood tests, and IV's, then it took for them to be circumcised. In fact, I have had to pin their little legs and arms longer for vaccinations, and their was no general anesthetic. All four of my boys have cried during vaccinations, only two cried during circumcision."

Now, as for Chicken Pox, Flu, and H1N1, well, we chose not to. I know there are children out there with compromised immune systems that benefit greatly from these, and although I had a child with a compromised immune system for 5 years, we still chose not to partake. Which leads me to rabbit trail #2!

Nolan was diagnosed with Colitis at 2 1/2, but we were told he would grow out of it. I am very thankful that he has! When Nolan would have a bout of Colitis, his immune system would bottom out, and if he was around anyone with a bad cold or flu, his would turn into Pneumonia. He was hospitalized quite a few times for this the first year, and twice ended up with Pleurisy.




He still has scar tissue on his lungs. (The little spiderman tattoo and bandaid you see on his left side in the photo, is where his scar tissue is. I would know we were getting into trouble when he would come and ask for a bandaid.. ) Again, the Flu shot was pretty new then, and I just couldn't do it. Instead, I chose to focus on building his immune system and stressing personal hygiene within our home. I researched, talked to, did more research, and decided on a natural way to help him. He is now my healthiest child... :) You know what frustrated me the most through it all though? Parents would judge me for not giving him the Flu shot, then send their child to school hacking, coughing, and snotting all over my healthy child with the low immune system. When I knew he was bottoming out, I kept him home. In a society where a parent practically gets court martialed for not sending a pre-packaged "peanut free" snack to school, why are we not also supporting the parents of children with compromised immune systems by keeping our sick children home until they are better? It makes no sense to me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about the single working Moms, trying their best to make ends meet, who can't afford to take a day off. For them? I say, shame on us stay at home Moms! We all know how to look after a sick kid without getting sick ourselves, so why aren't we supporting them? Why aren't we pledging to be their child's "sick Mom" for the day. Why aren't we heading over to their homes where we can tuck their precious pumpkins onto couches, throw on a load of laundry, and take a Lysol wipe to their bathroom for them? All we need to do is practice some serious hygiene habits, and spend the day lovin' on their child for them. We all know they'd rather be home anyway! So, yes. Please don't misinterpret my complaint here. We should be working together way more then we are.

As for H1N1? Well, I wasn't going to do that one either, but even if I had, we couldn't have got the vaccine before we all ended up with it anyway. Yes, our household got hit with H1N1. It was a rough one, but we did alright. Unless I had been a line jumper, we couldn't get it in time anyway.

Rabbit trail #3? Parents being insensitive to other families beliefs. You know what? It's funny how we can get our panties in a knot about what's passionate to us, and completely offend people with stuff that is passionate to them. I personally am allergic to cigarette smoke. So is Ethan. Our throat tightens up and we struggle to breath within minutes of being exposed. Yet, people still smoke. Ethan and I both know it is up to us to avoid it. I have a close friend whose daughter is deathly allergic to peanuts. Her motto?

"The world is not, and never will be, peanut free. She needs to learn to be self aware, and be responsible for what she eats."

This being said, when they have been here for a meal or a birthday party, I am extremely sensitive to her needs! (Although, Ethan spent a few years eating his lunch in a different room at school when he had a peanut butter sandwich, and was taught to wash up very carefully afterwards! This I had spoke to my friend about, and she was totally fine with it.) I have had homemade snacks sent home because they may not be "Peanut Free", when I know darn well that it is. Am I supposed to load my boys up on pre-packaged baking because that's safer?? Well, that goes against some of my parenting thoughts. (Again, that doesn't mean they don't get them! It just means I try my best to make most of those types of food at home. But let's be honest here, you just can't beat a Mr. Christie Oreo Cookie, and I'm not willing to try to make them!)

I guess I'm just asking people to respect the differences. We all have our own opinions, and our own reasons for our opinions. It seems unnecessary to attack each other over health issues, when we ALL have differing priorities. How about instead of making fellow Mother's feel bad over our parenting choices, we choose to embrace the differences and rely on each other's experiences.

OK, one more rabbit trail! I was blessed to begin my parenting journey on a small Island. Once the ferry was gone, you had no way to the Hospital and so I felt the need to learn. I learned how to deal with croup. I learned how to deal with letting a fever kill the virus, rather then killing the fever and prolonging the virus. I learned the benefits of eating local foods and hormone and chemical free meats. I learned that Acetaminophen is better for fever, and Ibuprofen is better for pain. I learned that eating only your local honey can help prevent allergies. I learned to deal with Mastitis without antibiotics. We had chicken pox parties for heaven's sake!




I learned the benefits of green tea and honey for my 2 year old. I learned the benefits of working together to support a family financially and emotionally, during times of stress. I love how this shaped and helped me. I loved that my sons could play with the unvaccinated child. It was those parents that stressed and taught me about the benefits of the Green Tea and Honey that kept Nolan going some days. That was their way.

So, to end the opinionated post here, I just want to ask for grace and tolerance amongst us Moms. We are so overloaded with information nowadays, that it's hard to wade through it all. Every Mother I know, is just doing her best to protect her own family, and we need to embrace the diversity instead of causing division.

Now, I'm off to hurry through my chores of laundry and dealing with the last of my Okanagan apples, so I can research more on the benefits of Vitamin D!