Mom, I have a moral dilemma….

A fun mom day today.  Two calls from one of my boys.  He needed some motherly advice.  As always, I am thrilled to hear from my boys anytime and especially happy to know they still consider it worthwhile to check in with mom.

It went something like this:

Son: Hey mom, I am at Walmart, trying on work shoes, and the smaller size is too small but the bigger size is slipping in the heel.  But I am not wearing any socks, so which size should I buy?

Me: The bigger size, you can always buy a half-sole insert if they still are too big with46629038_s.jpg socks

Son:  Is it ethically wrong for me to rip open a bag of socks and try them on with a pair of socks?

Me: Not if you are going to buy the socks.

Son:  Oh, I am not buying the socks!

Me:  Then that would be wrong

Son:  Mom, it’s Walmart… anything goes here..

Me:  No it doesn’t.  I raised you better than that!

He bought the bigger shoes without trying on with socks

 

3 hours later:

Son:  Mom, I have a moral dilemma; I just went on a date with a girl who is really cool and I want to see her again

Me:  That’s great!  What’s her name?  And what’s the moral dilemma (like I didn’t know)

13283713_s.jpgSon:  I have a date tonight with another girl I don’t really care that much about but…

Me:  If you like the morning girl, don’t go out with the other girl…it’s just sex.

Son:  You’re right Mom (will never tire of hearing those words).  Thanks Mom for keeping me on the moral path today

Me:  Love you baby.

Son:  Love you too mom, phone’s ringing and I have to get it, bye.

Another girl perhaps??  Will there be another moral dilemma, another call?  I live for this – I really do.

Love,

Mom xo

 

 

The best Mother’s Day!

I will soon have 27 Mother’s Days under my belt (as a mother) and can honestly say most of them have been very nice.  For years, we would go out for brunch with our four little boys, my mother in law and her mother in law… not the most fun considering we had to keep four little ones under control, but usually the rest of the day was spent relaxing at the cottage while my (ex)husband took care of the mundane tasks of changing diapers, feeding little ones and the evening bath.  You see all I wanted for Mother’s Day was to NOT.  Not change, feed, fight, clean, cook, bathe…basically not do what I did every single day.  Other than that, I was good with spending the day with my babies.

The boys at Ambleside beach in North Vancouver 1996

But one year stands out as very special.  We were living in Vancouver, far away from family.  Their dad had gone back to Ontario on business and was staying for the weekend to see his mom.. understandable, I guess…  So, I was alone with my four boys, ages 7, 4 ½ and twins aged 16 months.  The night before, my oldest, Clayton, comes to me and looks upset.  “Mom, tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  I want to bring you breakfast in bed, but Dad’s not here to help me…and I can’t make eggs and toast on my own and look after my brothers” The look on his face was absolute loss… he had no idea what to do…or how to do it.

I had baked that weekend so we had boller (a Norwegian sweet bun) in the house as well as fruit, so I told him I really didn’t want eggs anyway, but would love a bowl of strawberries, a bolle and a glass of orange juice.  Omg, the look of relief on his face almost made me cry.  Then he asked when I wanted breakfast knowing full well his brothers, and himself, would, as usual, be up at 6 am.  I asked that I be allowed to stay in bed alone until 7 am.

Of course, I heard them all for the hour before, but Clayton did such a fantastic job of keeping the boys busy and away from me.  Have no idea what he did to keep the twins away, don’t want to know 😉

At 7 am the noise outside my bedroom door made it clear my breakfast was arriving.  And I got exactly what I wanted.  Juice, a bolle, and strawberries, plus adorable cards and big hugs from 4 smiling boys.  We had a quiet day together, just us.  It was nice to not have to pay attention to anyone else that day…  And at the end of the day, I could honestly tell Clayton when he asked how my day was – that I had had the very best Mother’s Day ever!

Thank you, Clayton, Eric, Jackson and Thomas.  Love you all so much.

Gratitude

Do you practice daily gratitude?  Do you take the time daily, or most days anyway, to remind yourself of all the things in your life that you are grateful for?

I do.  This daily practice started when I was going through my divorce almost 10 years ago.  My life was in shambles, especially emotionally, and I knew I had to bring something positive into my day.  It was a conscious effort.  Every morning as I sat up in bed from another mostly sleepless night, I reminded myself that I was so grateful and fortunate to have my health, my four beautiful boys, dear friends who were supporting me and another day to live.  And it worked!  As someone who my whole life have rolled out of bed with a happy, optimistic view on what the day may bring, it was difficult to wake up and have my first thought go to the woman my ex-husband was having an affair with, or wondering what other sh.. was coming my way that day.  This daily gratitude practice lifted my spirits and helped me focus on what I had instead of what I had lost.

Recently I have found myself wondering what life has in store for me as I enter the dreaded “middle age”.  You may have read about my “mid-life” crisis…approximately 20 or so of you did…  Are there more great experiences ahead of me?  What if I want to live a bigger life?  Or have I peaked and life has given me it’s best?  I really hope not.  I want more.  I do not feel done with growing as a person, expanding my knowledge, giving more, loving bigger.  And of course this growth does not have to stop, nor should it.  Life and love should be experienced fully in the biggest way possible with little or no regrets.

woman-writing

But herein lies the conflict;  If we are truly grateful for what we have, doesn’t that stop us from reaching for more?  Does being grateful make us settle?   Feeling discontent when I should feel the opposite.  Wanting more, despite that I have so much.

When we open our heart and mind to new experiences we can get a glimpse of “more”, or something else that lights a fire in us.  It can hit you like a ton of bricks and make you wonder why you stopped asking for that in the first place.  That’s ok.  That’s the universe letting you know you are ALIVE.

My answer has been to include both in my self-care plan.  Practice daily gratitude and make sure to notice and be thankful for what you have, or what’s the point of any of this if we don’t enjoy it.  But never stop growing as a person.   Continue to educate yourself.  Share your whole heart with those that matter and make them feel safe to love you back.

Love,

Elisabeth

Am I having a Midlife Crisis?

I think I am…. But do women have those?  I googled it and yes, apparently we can and do.  Traditionally this is something we associate with men and in fact it’s often not taken seriously at all, but rather laughed about when you hear of a guy in his 40’s or 50’s buying a new expensive car, or in a worst case scenario having an affair with a younger woman.  Cliche you say… but true none the less.

Anne Devlin, a clinical psychologist in Sydney, Australia, writes; “We call it a midlife crisis, but actually it can happen at any age, to any gender”.  She goes on to say that this midlife crisis or transition stage is often triggered by divorce, a serious illness, redundancy, an empty nest or the loss of a parent. Or it can just occur out of the blue….great…

If you have read any of my previous posts here you will probably agree with me when I say my trigger has likely been my empty nest.  It really started a few years ago, the nest thing I mean, and it has been a slow descent since then for me emotionally.

What I am finding the most difficult is this general feeling of discontent, with almost woman-contemplating-lifeeverything.  My nature is to be a very positive and happy person.  I wake up happy every day, grateful for my new day and the people in it.  And it’s not that I am waking up unhappy…I just find the day has so many disappointments now, frustrations that were never there before, and so much wondering…and for the first time in my life I think I might be feeling regret.  I have no idea how to deal with that.  Regret is stupid.  Why look back?  We can’t change the past.  We can only learn from it and move forward.  Words I have lived by all my life and taught my children.  Words I believe.

But I feel old for the first time in my life.  Like time is running out at least for some things.  How much longer will I have my health?  Will I ever be able to travel like I have always wanted?  Is there still time to make my business a success?  Will I ever feel like I have a secure future?

Turning 30 was nothing for me.  My life was full, I was pregnant with twins and happy.  40 came and went and in fact, my 40’s were liberating and wonderful.  I was stronger and fitter than I had ever been.  I shed a bad husband and married a wonderful man.  50 came and went with a trip to Montreal with my very dearest girlfriends.  I felt blessed.  But here I sit at 51 and still feel blessed, but also so unsettled and wondering if this is really all, and if so, is that enough?  Is this all I am able to achieve in my work, with my business, in my life?  Will I ever achieve the things I am so passionate about?  I hope so…

Haven’t entirely decided what to do about this “crisis”, but for now, am recommitting to writing because that always makes me feel better.  I am reading more. Trying not to turn my sweet, wonderful husband against me and leaning on some good friends who are getting an extended visit from me because I need to get away.   I might even speak to a professional…

I would love to hear your story or thoughts.  Please let me know that I am not alone.  Man or woman, this is not easy.  To finish, I will take comfort in what Devlin said; “we may find our passion and live happier, more fulfilling and less materialistic lives. It may not feel like it at the time, but a midlife crisis can be an unexpected gift.”

Embracing this day along with you,

Much love, Elisabeth

PS: The article I referred to: http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/mind-body/wellbeing/female-midlife-crisis/news-story/a5f991ed0a8b947745d3541e59de0bcc

5 Tips for surviving stress of blended and “other” families during the Holiday Season

Ok, hand up if you do NOT have a family event or gathering coming up that includes some complications, tension, stress…?  People you find it difficult to be with but have to…?  No hands… that’s what I thought.

Christmas is all about getting together with family and friends.

Christmas holiday stress
So many people and things to consider..

Spending time together under the happy, grateful “glow” of the season.  Spending time with friends is the easy part – we choose those.  It’s the family that can be challenging.   And to make things more complicated, many of us are trying to coordinate things with her/his family, blended families, in-laws, etc.  Some choose to get on a plane and skip it all while sipping colourful beverages on a beach.  I have definitely considered it…  Being a divorced, mother of 4, remarried, stepmom to 3, I have a lot of people with different expectations to keep happy.  Let me share some things I have learned about juggling it all and somehow still loving my family…and them loving me…for the most part anyway 😉

1.  Stick with the plan!   And the key word here is plan.  Talk to your close family. Get a sense of what works for everyone.  Make a plan for when/where you will all get together to celebrate.  And then stick with it.  Someone is going to complain, whine and/or accuse you of not being considerate.  Calmly explain that this is what works best for most people.  Everyone was considered.

2.  Don’t make it all about Christmas Day – Make new Traditions.  Traditionally, if we didn’t have divorces and our children were young without spouses and everything was “perfect & easy”, Christmas Day

Introducing new traditions to Stacey.  Not sure she likes it... ;)
Introducing new traditions to Stacey. Not sure she likes it… 😉

is when one gets together.  That is Christmas after all.  However, if are a lot of different elements pulling on those that are the most important to you, maybe pick a different night, day or morning and do it then.  Make a new tradition where everyone comes to your house on Boxing Day for a family brunch, fun in the snow and a casual dinner.  You are much more likely to have everyone come and you will make your children so happy one day when they don’t have to juggle you with their in-laws all on Christmas Day.  It is about being together after all.

3.  Include in preparations.  If you know that there is a child for example who is struggling with a new family scenario and new img_5689traditions or someone who feels they are giving something up by not having it at their house, then include them in the planning.  They can help you decorate, determine place settings at the table and bring their favorite traditional foods.  We always use place settings at family functions now after one fateful Thanksgiving that ended in disaster.

4.  Sometimes you can’t win – Accept it (wine helps)!  Despite all efforts and trying the strategies above, accept that you will never make everyone happy.  Sometimes you can do everything you think possible and still be accused of being selfish, hijacking all the traditions and ruining Christmas because the ketchup is in the cupboard instead of the fridge.

5.  Focus on the good things 🙂  I am a big believer in being mindful of the good things we have in our lives.  I practice daily gratitude.  And if things get tough during the holidays, I smile, sip my wine and remember how fortunate I am.  And if you are really losing it (it does happen), then take a time out.  Go for a walk, meditate… I drink more wine…

fullsizeoutput_3902
The kids xoxo

Last year, my husband and I and our combined 7 children plus his parents, and my son’s girlfriend spent Christmas Eve together at our house, celebrating a traditional Norwegian Juleaften.  We had a lovely evening and the kids had fun together – YAY!  I was slightly drunk and all was merry – for 24 hours anyway 😉

 

I wish you and all of yours the very very best Christmas.  Be grateful for the ones you love and enjoy your time together.

Elisabeth xo

Oh, and hug your mom this Christmas.  She tried really hard.

 

Keeping the romance alive during the holiday season

romance-during-the-holidaysThe Christmas/Holiday Season is a hectic one.  Despite that it is about family and kids, we often get so caught up in the things we need to do that we don’t actually spend a lot of time with our families, kids or spouses.  Especially during the time leading up to Christmas.

Let’s bring some magic back to this very special time of year.  Because let’s be honest; we all love those cheesy, romantic Christmas movies and would love a little of that in our lives too.  So
make it happen!!  Here are some ideas for you and your significant other.

Go for a snowy walk and hold hands

What could be more romantic than a nice quiet walk with snow crunching under your boots.  Even if it’s just a short 20-30-minute walk.  Talk about your day, share a funny story or memory from when you were a kid.  Hcouple-walking-in-the-snowold hands.  Simply enjoy each other’s company.  Have the neighbour’s kid come in and watch the kids for 30 minutes.  Well worth the $10. Just do it!

Sit in front of the tree

Yes, just sit there.  Put the kids to bed and sit down for a few minutes together with a cup of tea, glass of wine or whatever.  Sit close to each other, touching.  Just enjoy being close and together.  No talk about busy stuff.  Be present and grateful for what that day has brought you and share with each other.

Plan a couple’s day

Take a day off work, or leave kids with sitter/grandparents on a weekend and plan a day together.  Many couples go Christmas shopping, which can be fun.  Add a lunch date to that and you have a fun day together.  Make a point of holding hands as much as possible.  Sit next to each other at the restaurant.  Take a moment to feel how nice it is to be just the two of you.

Do something Christmassy with the kids together;

For example; read a Christmas story at bedtime.  Let your kids see you sitting together.  His arm around you.  Kids love seeing their parents happy together.  Bake Christmas cookies together and make a heart shaped cookie with your initials in it.  Again, the kids will love seeing you two in love.

Kiss under the mistletoe

Be silly and add some humour relief during a stressful day.  Go stand there until he gets it and gives you a kiss.  mistletoeYou will likely get one from all your kids too, but that just makes it more fun.  And if you don’t have a mistletoe hanging – get it up today!

 

These are just a few ideas.  Please add in the comments which one is your favorite or if you have any other great romantic ideas.

When you focus on the ones you love in a way that makes it simple then all the other stress of the season will slip into second place where it should be.

Love and all the best to you and yours during this magical season,

Elisabeth xo

I Love Christmas!!

Anyone who knows me knows I absolutely love everything to do with Christmas.  I am a suck for sappy, bad Christmas movies; I love Christmas music (don’t tell anyone, but I have a Christmas channel programmed in and have been listening already…), and I can’t wait to decorate.  In fact, I have to make myself wait until December 1st.  Though this year I think I can make a really good case for decorating on November 27th!  First of all, it is the 1st Sunday of Advent, so I have to dig out the advent candles anyway…  Also, since it is a Sunday I have time 🙂  I will be waaaay too busy on December 1st.

My four boys have all grown up into adults now, but I remember how

My four boys, Christmas Eve, when we lived in Chicago, 2002
My four boys, Christmas Eve, when we lived in Chicago, 2002

magical young kids make Christmas.  It’s all those little moments when we would read special Xmas stories; make sugar cookies together or when the Toys’r Us catalogue came in the mail.  BIG DAY around our house!  And lots more of course.  None of that happens anymore, but I am still just as excited.

I will bake the boys’ favourite Xmas cookies as always.  I will wait for Thomas to come home from University so we can watch Miracle on 34th St

My four handsome boys Christmas Eve 2013 :)
My four handsome boys Christmas Eve 2013 🙂

together.  And for the second year now, I will practice making the perfect manhattan to have with them before dinner on Christmas Eve.  Some traditions are the same, some have changed, and new ones are being made. No one wants to help me bake anymore,  but whether they are 2 years old or 20, this mom can’t wait for Christmas and to spend time with my boys in front of the Christmas tree, celebrating, eating good food and sipping our Manhattans.

Who else is excited?? I know I am not alone…. Post below so I know you are with me 🙂

Elisabeth : ) xo

It’s my Birthday

Today I am so grateful for the time I get with the people in my life bday-girl_balloonsthat I love the most. Because it is my Birthday today I have planned to spend time with good friends and close family, and it makes me realize that the most important thing in life is just that – time with those you love. Not things, but time.

Now as I am off to start my day, I ask you for a few minutes of your time please to share my thoughts.  And then perhaps you can let me know how you like to best give your time. I would love to know! 🙂

READ MORE…

Love,

Elisabeth

Another fun day in Stepmomville

Yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of having my oldest step daughter freak out on me (again).  But this was the best one yet!  In fact, with each one she gets a little more viscous and yesterday was top-notch in that regard.

“I hate you, hate you living here and everything you have done in this house, I hate everything about it and I wish I didn’t have to live here, I hate it I hate it I hate it!”

In the past I have been able to receive her venom and let it bounce off me with some success.  Though it gets a little harder each time.  This time she left me shaking.  It all escalated so fast and was such an excessive and inappropriate reaction.

I am not going to bore you with all the she said, and I said that came before and after.  As with anything it all started as another stupid fight.  It’s the underlying emotions that really get me.  Regardless of what the fight is about or who started or whatever, when she fights with me she always ends up in this place where I have ruined her life.

The thing is, I believe she spoke the truth yesterday.  Her truth.  And that hurts.

I have no idea what to do about it that hasn’t already been tried.  I am at my wit’s end.  And I am tired.  Emotionally exhausted.  So, so tired of walking around pretending that everything is ok just because she apologizes.  I am not ok.  I was shaking for hours after.  So much tension is created between her dad and I because of this, and that I have a really hard time forgiving her for.  When she was a child I ignored, forgave and moved on.  But she is not a child.  She knows what she is doing.  She knows how damaging her words are.

steplove“I am sorry” – what does that mean?  Sorry you didn’t stop yourself from saying those words?  Sorry your dad got angry with you for it?  Sorry that you spoke the truth out loud?  In my books, saying you are sorry means that you are truly sorry you did or said whatever and that you will not do that again.  If you keep doing it and keep apologizing the apology runs a little flat after a while.

Every time I try to tell myself: it’s not you me is attacking, I’m just the target – a punching bag; she would rather lash out at me, her step mom, than her mom or dad; it’s loyalty towards her mother, and any number of other self-boosting, calming and forgiveness inducing thoughts.  Over time I stop being angry and hurt and pretending gets a little easier until it becomes the way once again.  How long will it take this time?  Longer.  Much longer.

ForgivenessI know the power of forgiveness and I know how important it is to forgive so I can have peace, grow and be unencumbered by resentment, anger and negative thoughts.  I learned all this when I divorced my first husband.  It is so self-empowering to forgive.   But first I am going to have to figure out how that looks this time.  How do I forgive her for hurting me again?  How do I forgive myself for letting her?

I will let you know if and when I figure this out.  In the meantime, if you have any tips, help or good advice, I would love to hear from you!

Elisabeth

Surviving the Holiday Season

#24DaysOfChristmas_2

 

 

 

 

I love Christmas.  I have wonderful memories of how we celebrated Xmas when I was a child, and always tried to do what I could to make it truly magical for my 4 boys.  And this is where things can get a little nutty.  I remember one year travelling to a far away Toys R’Us to try to secure a Buzz Lightyear and Woody doll for two of my boys, just to discover they had no Woody dolls left!!!  I was panicked!  Christmas was going to be ruined for my oldest (a little over-dramatic I know).  This was all he wanted, it was on the top of his Xmas-list with three starts next to it.  The stars were a code system letting Santa know that this was really important… What was I to do?  I grabbed the two last Buzz dolls and figured they would have to get the same thing.  At least they were both from the same story/movie.  Standing roughly 40th in line I happened to notice up at the front that someone was exchanging or returning a Woody doll.  I turned to my line mate (a complete stranger) “hold my spot please!”; ran up to the front and yelling “I’ll take the Woody!!”  The woman, also a mother obviously, looked at me smiling, knowing she had just saved me from probable disgrace and handed me the Woody telling me that her husband had already purchased one unknown to her.  I was so relieved.  within seconds another mother busy-mom-christmascame running up – “do you still need two Buzz Lightyear figures?”  No, I didn’t.  It felt good to make another mom as happy as I now was.

It was not lost on me how crazy this was, but this is what we do as parents, as mothers.  

I can manage this stress.  It is the other stuff that puts the holidays at a feverish pitch.  And mostly it’s the expectations we put on ourselves to be the perfect hostess throwing lavish holiday parties, wanting to prepare the perfect Xmas dinner without any help from anyone; aspiring to have the very best baked good for the (not so) friendly cookie exchange.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  I really don’t know, so I stopped.  I do not participate in cookie exchanges.  I don’t want 10 dozen cookies in the house any more than I want to make 10 dozen cookies.  I throw parties, but I buy the appetizers and let people to bring one if they offer.  I clean after the party, not before.  I sit down and read with my boys and take time to enjoy the season and the excitement with them.  This somehow makes everything worthwhile.  Watching Miracle on 34th street and Rudolph are some of my favourite things to do.  

So I re-prioritized something that is especially important now that I have 3 step kids as well!  I make time for the little things first.  I make time for me as well.  My workouts may be a little shorter but i still do them.  We eat nutritious meals the whole month and follow the Norwegian tradition (where I am from) of not having any cookies until Dec. 23rd.  That night we get one of each of the 3 kinds that I make, just one.  The rest is for our big celebration on Christmas Eve.  And I make lists, endless lists and check them off one at a time.  And the end result?  I am calmer, happier, and enjoy the season.  AND I don’t get sick on Boxing day anymore.  Yay!

Make this the year you focus on the little, but important stuff like you, your spouse and your kids and let all the rest happen as it may, but without too much attention or fuss.

In an effort to help you with this I have created the #24DaysOfChristmas program.  It is my way of saying:

“I know, I have been there”

So, this year let us take care of you and help you have the best season ever.

Elisabeth xo

 

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