Sunday, December 30, 2012

Only In Canada, Eh?

Matthew came home from hockey practice with the goalie equipment, which means it's his turn to play in net. His ever-accomodating little brother agreed to a little scrimmage, but there's so much snow outside, they suited up in the dining room.


I wish I could tell you that I was concerned about the furniture, but when moments like these present themselves, the only thing I cared about was getting a decent shot:

As the new year draws closer and brings some unexpected changes to our lives, it makes my heart happy to have these moments....preserved. Shared. Lived.

May 2013 bring you peace, love and awesome memories of your own.

Bellymonster and the Reds

Monday, December 24, 2012

On Christmas Eve, Dinky Cars and Traditions-in-the-Making

A few weeks ago, this happened:

Since then, we've spoken of my brother many times. My parents were here last week and we stayed up too late, reminiscing about our best Christmas Eve EVER, as a Schillings family of four. It involved a ton of eating, drinking and present-opening. And laughter. Oh God, how we laughed.

Having children of my own brings a certain magic to the season, as I'm sure it does for so many of you. But memories of Christmas, 1999 are the sweetest ones to savour because a decade later, Andrew is gone.

So, on this special day, as families begin to gather in celebration for all that was and all that will be, I will think of Andrew and hope that he is watching over my sons from someplace warm and cozy and remembering Christmas of '99, too.

In the meantime, Luke and I are heading out to rummage for some last minute groceries...and some balloons.

In what I hope will become a yearly tradition, on Christmas Day, we will  release some balloons from Andrew's Garden, with our love and (maybe some more dinky cars) attached to their strings.

I have a feeling that he's been waiting...

Andrew with Baby Matthew, Christmas 2008

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tomorrow's Promise

Mornings are often difficult here - too often, it seems, despite my best intentions and however much prep I do the night before, I find myself yelling at my children:

"Hurry up, hurry up! We're going to be late. Brush your teeth. Have you brushed your teeth? Do NOT sass me, Matthew! Luke, quit that - get your shoes on. Get your shoes on NOW!"

Sometimes I make them cry with my fury and my nagging and my impatience.

Some mornings, after I've kissed them goodbye and poured last-minute, guilt-laden love into their ears, I stand and watch them make their way into the schoolyard, watch as they're swallowed up by their friends and I think, "I do not deserve to be their mother."

And then I promise myself, promise them, in my heart, that tomorrow will  be different.

Tomorrow, I will be the mother they deserve: one who is gentler and kinder and one who does not yell. Tomorrow, I will be better and there will be no rushing and there will be more time for cuddles and I will let them eat cake instead of cereal and I will not care if we're late because tomorrow, it won't matter so much.

Tonight, reading the news of 20 children dead at the hands of a man gone mad, I am heartbroken and ashamed because TODAY, for dozens of other parents, it mattered.

Today was the last day that another little boy's mother had the chance to kiss his freckled face and hold his growing hand in hers.

Today was the last day for another mother to stand and watch her son disappear into the safety of his friends and teachers.

Today was the last day for another Matthew's mama to pour hurried words of love into his heart, to whisper into her Luke's ear that she doesn't care if he eats his mittens, as long as they keep his hands warm.

My sons. My darling sons. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Tonight, I will tumble you into your beds and I will sit and guard your sleep and thank God for one more day to be all that you deserve.

And tomorrow, I will thank Him again, and I will live up to your love, even as my heart breaks for another mother, someone else's father - whose last chance to do so....ended today.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What MY Little Boy is Made Of...

Luke eats stuff. Mostly his sleeves and the collars of his shirts. I have no idea why he does this and have pleaded, cajoled, hollered, begged and bribed....and still, he chews.

This week alone he has chewed the thumbs off his brand-new FINGERLESS gloves, the sleeve off a sweater knitted especially for him, the collars from two undershirts and the tip off his limited edition "Olympic" red mittens.

This morning, as I rummaged through the mitten box for yet another pair of mittens, I gave him a stern lecture:

"Luke, if you chew through these mittens, I won't buy you another pair and your fingers will freeze in the cold and then they'll fall off and then you won't be able to play video games or pet the dog we might get one day."

(I shall take my parenting award now, thank you.)

Tonight, I stood chatting with the sitter while Luke got himself dressed to come home. The boots were fine, his coat collar too and the sleeves of his sweater were fully intact.


And then I tugged Luke's hat/mask over his face - it's grey and covers his head, neck and ears, while his eyes, nose and mouth peek through a hole in the middle.

As it dropped past his nose, I let out a shriek: "LUKE! You ate your hat?!!"

Luke grinned through the newly-chewed "mouth-hole."

"I needed it to breath, Mummy."

"But Luuuukkkke," I wailed, "There's a BIG hole here, for your mouth. See?"

"I saw. But Mummy?"

"Oh Lord, love a duck! What, Luke? WHAT?"

"I didn't eat my mittens!"

I laughed until I cried.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I Have No Words

I have lost my voice. As of this moment, I have been entirely silent for close to three hours.

My husband may have referred to it as "The Christmas Miracle," but I'm sure he was kidding.

Me, I kind of dig it. In a "my throat is aching and feels weirdly full" kind of way.

I lost my voice in bits and pieces yesterday, but it came back this morning, just in time for me to holler at the Reds to get moving.

It grew softer again when I knelt down to hug them and offer apologies for yelling, something I'd promised (a million times, it seems) to try to stop doing.

I chatted easily, if a little huskily with my placement supervisor all day. Was surprised, though I shouldn't have been, at how much more I learned today, because I was quieter.

After then just after supper tonight, I yelled at Matthew for yelling at his brother, took a breath to yell at his brother....

and nothing came out.

I blinked. Tried for softer words.


Blinked again and peered at my astonished children, saw amazement and amusement spread across their freckled faces: Mummy. can't. speak.

They giggled with delight while I mimed clutching my throat and hollering, as tears of silent  laughter rolled down my cheeks. It felt...good.

At bedtime, I tucked them in without words, held them closer for longer than I usually do, because usually I toss my final "I love you"s over my shoulder as I close their door.

Grinned broadly to see their not-so-tiny hands making the sign for "I love you" in American Sign Language. I learned it just this week and taught them only yesterday. Signed it back with a happy sigh.

Photo courtesy of:

Came back down to a silent and empty kitchen. Contemplated the quiet.

Realized that the time has come, truly come, for me to listen. There is something that I need to hear. In order to actually hear the message meant for my heart, I needed to be SHUT UP.

That God.

He's so funny.

And you?
Anything you'd like to tell me?
I'm listening.
And I promise that I cannot won't interrupt.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Bellymonster Christmas Carol

** To the tune, "The Twelve Days of Christmas". No, it doesn't match up exactly, nor did I manage 12 days. Whatever. I survived this week, which frankly, is an early Christmas miracle...*

On the first day of last week, the universe gave to me
One flushed-cheek redhead and another looking far from health-y.

On the second day of last week, the universe gave to me
Two spikes of fever,
One flushed-cheek redhead and another looking far from health-y.

On the third day of last week,the universe gave to me
Three "He's sick" phone calls,
Two spikes of fever,
One flushed-cheek redhead and another looking far from health-y.

On the fourth day of last week, the universe gave to me
Four rounds of barfing,
Three "They're sick" phone calls,
Two spiking fevers
One flushed-cheek redhead and another looking close to death-ly.

On the fifth day of last week, the universe gave to me
Fiiiiiiiiiiive birthday cards (and a fever)
Four rounds of barfing,
Three "They're sick" phone calls,
Two spiking fevers
One flushed-cheek redhead and another looking close to death-ly.

On the sixth day of last week, the universe gave to me
Six fever-free minutes
Fiiiiiiiiiiive birthday cards (and a fever)
Four rounds of barfing,
Three "They're sick" phone calls,
Two spiking fevers
One flushed-cheek redhead and another looking close to death-ly.

On the seventh day of Hell week, the universe has given me
(A) 7-year-old who's better,
Six loads of laundry
(A) 5-year-old who's feisty
Four wishes for Baileys
Three cups of coffee
Two slices of bread left,

And a husband who is sick and whine-y.