When my kids asked me not to post their photos

I blog, clearly. I am also on InstagramFacebook and even on Twitter. I post photos almost daily. I share on some form of social media almost daily. Two years ago I wrote a post about not sharing my kids faces and personal stories on social media. You can read that post here.

My 13 year old and soon to be 12 year old don’t have any social media accounts. Shocking, I know. A lot of their friends do however. So when my son turned 13 I asked him if he wanted an account. We talked about it. He asked me about the kind of stuff I post, so I told him. As we were talking it come up that he knows a lot of kids who’s parents have posted about them for years, pictures and stories, including personal and embarrassing stories and photos. During the conversation my son thanked me. He explained how he was so thankful to not have his life put out there for everyone else to know before he could share it himself.

In the conversation I asked him how he would feel if I did start posting photos of him on social media. He thought about it, and ended up asking me not to. And I totally respect that and my childs decision.

So when you look at my photos and wondering why my kids aren’t in them, why their backs are turned or I full on cropped their heads out of the photos, you know why. Its a fine balance trying to share my stories, my life, my motherhood journey without actually sharing information and pictures of them. But out of respect for them and their wishes, I will continue to crop their heads out of pictures. At least just the pictures I post online. Not to worry I have plenty (thousands and thousands) of pictures of them. In realty I am basically my kids own personal paparazzi.

Like this photo: 

I really wish I could show the world how incredibly happy she was. The giant smile on her face as she jumped and splashed us all. But the picture I’m showing you, I had to crop out her head. But trust me when I say her smile was radiant and she was having a blast.

Until the day my kids decide to share their own photos and stories, I will crop their heads out or take double the amount of photos trying to stage them so you can’t see their faces.

~ Michelle

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Half a Lifetime in Motherhood

 

As I approach my 34th birthday I am reflecting a lot on my life, on what I have accomplished, what I still want to accomplish, my family, my kids, life in general. And that’s when it hit me; I have been a mother for half my life. Half my life.

For those doing the math, let me help you, when I was 16 I was living in Kenya, I was in grade 11, I met a guy, an older guy from another school, he was a senior. So of course it was super cool to be dating an ‘older guy’ from another school. Well one thing lead to another, and I ended up pregnant. Just after my 17th birthday I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy (ok, 1 of the 3 most beautiful boys, because all my boys were of course the most beautiful ever. I’m not bias at all!).
When I was 16 and pregnant I had to start making choices I never dreamed I would have to do at that age. As my belly grew, my responsibilities grew as well. I made the choice to give my son up for adoption. You can read about that here.

Since that day in a friends basement bathroom when the stick showed two lines, my life and my choices have always had to factor in someone else. Now I have to factor in 4 kids and a husband.

For half my life I have been a mother. For half my life my heart has been walking outside my body. For half my life my decisions have been about other people. For half my life someone else, and a growing number of someone else’s, have been put first ahead of myself.

And do you know what I have learned from all this motherhood-ing (that is totally a word), is that I don’t know a damn thing about motherhood. Just when I think I got a handle on it the kids go ahead and grow up and things change.

I’m still trying to figure out how anyone can really call themselves a “parenting expert”.

I have given birth to 4 incredible humans. Four drastically different humans. Four people that are constantly changing, growing and evolving. Four humans that constantly surprise me, challenge me, push me to be a better person, show me what unconditional love is, push my patience to its breaking point, make me laugh, make me cry (happy tears, sad tears, frustrated tears, a lot of sleep deprived tears), and make me the proudest mother ever.

I can’t imagine my life any other way. I can’t imagine not being a mother.

Half my life has been spent navigating motherhood, and I’m still trying to figure it out.

~ Michelle

Perspective

This week I don’t know if the planets have aligned just so, or the moon is in the perfect location or bigger forces are at work here. I am going to go with bigger forces are at work here. This week has been insane. This week has been all about putting my life and my situations into perspective.

We’ve all heard the sayings “You better eat your food, there are starving kids in this world you know” or “don’t be so upset, you know someone out there in the world has it worse than you”. I’ve heard those sayings so much, that honestly I am kind of desensitized to them. Of course there is always something going on in the world, there are what like 7 billion people. So of course the chances that at this very moment someone is finding out good news, finding out bad news, welcoming a new life, saying goodbye, having a great time, having a bad time, someone is laughing while someone else is crying and hurting. Just because someone else out there is having a worse time, or a better time, doesn’t under value what you are experiencing at this moment.

In saying all that, I do think that sometimes other experiences can help put your own into perspective. Not undermine them, but give you a chance to come to terms and deal with your emotions and to reevaluate and adjust you’re point of view.

This week I forgot to pay for school pizza lunch for my kids. Not that we couldn’t afford it, but I just forgot to pay for it. And my kids were super upset at first. And honestly I stepped back and looked at them. This was their biggest issue. Not getting pizza lunch at school. They still had a lunch to take, but it wasn’t a pizza lunch. And this is what my kids have to get upset about? Damn, my kids have it pretty good if this is their biggest problem right now. My kids don’t have to worry about their next meal, they don’t have to worry about being taken out of their home, about being hurt, or scared. They are safe and happy, and they know it, because lack of pizza lunch one time is their biggest problem.

Then I was doing the endless piles of laundry. Like seriously people have to be living here that I don’t know about for the endless supply of clothes I have to wash and fold every freakin week. And I was folding a pile of my daughters clothes and something hit me. I was overcome with emotions. I am actually sitting here complaining about this?! About clothes?! I was actually complaining about folding clothes for a child that my husband and I tried for for so many years. We fought with fertility issues for years. We miscarried. We had our hearts broken. And then we were blessed with our beautiful daughter after a high risk pregnancy, where we thought we would lose her multiple times. And here I am, after going through all that, complaining about her clothes?! Seems kind of ridiculous in comparison doesn’t it? Don’t get my wrong, I still hate doing laundry. But that laundry represents the tiny lives I fought to bring into this world, all my pregnancies were high risk. And as much as I hate it, I am so thankful for my kids, and the ability to be their mom, to be home during the day so I can do the laundry while listening to my own music and dancing around like an idiot.

Its all the mundane things around the house. All the things I complain about, the things I hate, all those things I get to do because I have 3 beautiful children that I have been blessed with and an amazing hard working husband, that makes all this possible. The mess, the endless laundry, the forever filled sink with dirty dishes, the mess of toys every where, the sleepless nights, the list goes on.

I have anxiety and depression, so it is super easy for me to get wrapped up in my head with my emotions. Sometimes they are very big, very scary emotions. So for all these things to come together this week to get me out of my head, its been pretty eye opening. It doesn’t mean I will stop complaining about the endless messes, the dirty dishes I find all over the house, it just means I know why those things are happening and I love and appreciate the tiny humans behind the messes. I’m grateful for them. I’m grateful for the chance to do all these mundane things. It’s all about perspective. Finding joy in the little things. Enjoying the moment.

~Michelle

In The Middle Of A Mess

Hello New Day.
Hello New Week.
Hello New Adventure.

HelloMonday

My living room is in the middle of a makeover. Its torn apart. Things are piled in the centre, a total mess. And right now all I can think is “holy crap, I can so relate to my living room right now”. I feel so scattered. So all over the place. So out of place. No rhyme or reason to my feelings and emotions. Not much is left in place. Struggling to keep it together.

As overwhelming and stressful as this little renovation /make over is causing, its nice to know that it will be put back together and be better than before. And I can relate to that too.

Things get crappy. Things get hard. Things get so completely overwhelming. But eventually, slowly, they get put back together and things get good again. And when that happens I get stronger. Even if its just a little bit and I don’t realize it, it happens. And that gives me hope. When things get dark, that things will get light again.

And yes I fully realize how ridiculous it sounds to be drawing a comparison to a living room makeover. But bare with me. Blame in on the fact that I have been a stay at home mom for nearly 12 years and I rarely ever leave the house, or that I have not slept all night in almost 4 years, and right now I’m sitting on my floor surrounded by a mess. A giant mess. A mess that is causing me to have a lot of anxiety and frustration. So I have to keep reminding myself that it will get better. That it will be put back together, and that when its done and over with it will be better than before. That makes me happy. That thought is what is getting me through this makeover.

That is what also gets me through the darkness, knowing that sooner or later it will be light again. And when the light comes it will be better than before, and I will be stronger than before.

All of this is just temporary, the makeover, the mess, the darkness, and yes even the light. But the good news, when it does get dark again (which it will) the light always comes back. Always. Sometimes slowly, sometimes fast. You never know when, but do know that it will.

~ Michelle

First Child vs Third Child

Having three kids is amazing and all sorts of special. It also all kinds of crazy. It takes parenting to a whole new level when the kids out number the parents.

One thing that amazes me is the difference between when my husband and I had our first child vs our third child. Granted they were born 7 years apart. So there is a bit of an age gap there. But I chalk up the differences to upping my parenting level and having been around the block already.


Our 1st: Nursery was fully decorated and set up by 24 weeks along. I’m talking full bedding, bumper pads, lamp, all it matching.
Our 3rd: After she was born I bought a crib and we painted her room pink. In my defence she had a pink blanket. Different shade, but still pink.

Our 1st: Sterilized EVERYTHING. Over and over again. Every day. Every bottle. Special bottle sterilizer. Boiled things, twice.
Our 3rd. Throw it in the dishwashers, its all good.

Our 1st: We had two baby registries. We had new everything. Spent WAY too long comparing things, useless things.
Our 3rd: Do you have any idea how awesome hand-me-downs are?! Do you have idea how fast a baby grows?!

Our 1st: Special baby laundry soap.
Our 3rd: Throw all the laundry in together, who has time to sort things?!

Our 1st: If the pacifier or bottle touched the ground or went within inches of the ground, that thing was getting sterilized.
Our 3rd: Sweet found a pacifier in the car, score.

Our 1st: Leaving your child with grandparents, you packed enough bags to last a week, even when it was only for a few hours, you had a list of phone numbers to give them, you called every 5 minutes to check.
Our 3rd: The grandparents know what they are doing, they are pros! Have fun! (But I still call to check, just not as often!)

Our 1st: Nice changing table. Wipes warmer. Some diaper thing that was supposed to stop the smell, it never did.
Our 3rd: Change where you are, floor, bed, it all works.

Our 1st: Falls down. Rush over, check him over 10 times, call husband at work tell him that he fell down – translation he fell over on a pillow while sitting up.
Our 3rd: Falls down. No blood, we are good to go.

Our 1st: Our child won’t eat fast food.
Our 3rd: Gives you directions to fast food.

Our 1st: Professional photos.
Our 3rd: I can take a pretty awesome picture on my cell phone.

Our 1st: My child won’t see a screen for years. Educational toys only.
Our 3rd: Knows how to use my phone better than I do.

Our 1st: New everything.
Our 3rd: Hello second-hand store, you beautiful thing you.

Our 1st: Take birthing classes, breastfeeding classes.
Our 3rd: We’re cool, we got this.

Our 1st: Send child to lessons. Its important.
Our 3rd: Impressive when did you learn that?!

Our 1st: Document everything, write it all down.
Our 3rd: Its all good, I will remember.

How many kids do you have? What differences have you noticed in raising your kids? I would love to hear!

~ Michelle

Bored Jar DIY

Summer is almost here, which means the kids are off school, which means parents will hear them say “I’m bored” about a 2847292843092849328202 times a day.

I decided to make a bored jar, that way when they complain I can send them to the jar and they can pick an activity. However they use it with caution, because I didn’t just put fun things in there to do. To keep it interesting I also added chores. If they want to tell me they are bored they run the risk of having to clean the toilet.

So here is what you need to make your own jar:

IMG_9911

– A Jar. (This can be a washed out pasta jar, pickle jar, whatever you have on hand.)
– Popsicle sticks
– Pens or markers
– Optional, tape to decorate the popsicle sticks.

Next write out ideas on the sticks, and put them in the jar. For added fun, you can cover up the jar with paper or tape so they can’t see what is inside.

Here is what I wrote down:

1. Write a story
2. Do the laundry
3. Make a treasure map
4. Play a card game
5. Build a card house
6. Nature walk
7. Play I SPY
8. Plant a flower
9. Play a board game
10. Play with Lego
11. Find and make a Pet Rock
12. Look at old family pictures
13. Play wii
14. 15 push ups and 15 sit ups
15. Research a topic that mom or dad picks
16. Bake cookies
17. One Chore – mom or dad picks
18. Explore on Google Earth
19. Play with Play Dough
20. Write a letter to a family member
21. Build a fort
22. Play Simon Says
23. Wash the dishes
24. Play marbles
25. Paint
26. Organize your clothes by colour
27. Bubble bath
28. Watch a movie
29. Clean your room
30. Write 5 things you love about yourself
31. Do a puzzle
32. Go to the library
33. Dance party
34. Make a craft
35. Photo scavenger hunt
36. Clean your bathroom
37. Read for 30 minutes
38. Write 5 things you love
39. Vacuum
40. Alphabetize your books
41. Draw
42. Go for a walk
43. Create a city
44. Play on your iPod
45. Make a family tree
46. Make and fly paper airplanes
47. Play catch
48. Geocaching
49. Write 5 things you love about our family
50. Journal
51. Read for 1 hour
52. Do Yoga for 30 minutes
53. Clean all the toilets
54. Mediate for 20 minutes
55. Do school work (Printed sheets from online)

Let the fun begin and put a stop to “I’m bored”.

~ Michelle

The Time I Turned Down A TV Show

I want to tell you about the time I got an interesting email, it was from a tv production company and they wanted me to be on their show. Um, say what?! I checked it out, it was legit, I had my husband check it out and it was still legit. So crazy. Someone had found my blog, loved my adoption story and my birth mom story and wanted me on their show. Crazy!

So when will you see me on TV? You won’t. I turned it down. I know what you are thinking… UM WHAT? CRAZY!


Yes, it was a once in a life time thing, probably, who really knows for sure! Yes it would have been an amazing experience. Yes it would have been great to be able to talk about adoption on such a large platform. But was it right for me and my family? No.

After much thought and many many conversations with my husband, who kept telling me to go, I decided it wasn’t right. As much as I would have loved it, as great as it would have been, as fun as it would have been, and scary and totally worth it, it wasn’t the right choice.

Saying yes to this would have meant time away from my family, as I would have had to go alone to the states. Is my husband capable of running the house on his own? Yes, of course he is. Would my boys been totally ok with me gone? Probably. Would my 3 year old have been ok? No. This happened right before my daughter was scheduled to have surgery a few months ago. She wasn’t in a good place her health and her sleeping.

It came down to, was it worth it the amount of stress this would cause on my then 2 year old before experiencing the added stress of surgery? Would this have been worth it for the added stress that would have caused on everyone else? No. Not right now.

I have to believe something better is coming. When one door closes, another opens. And any other cliche things you can think of.

Sometimes the hardest answer to give is the best answer. Sometimes a no is needed when you really want to say yes.

Now to look out for the next great opportunity.

~ Michelle