Lessons From My Toddler: The Missing Yellow Egg

A few days after Easter, Ethan, my toddler, was collecting all of his new easter eggs. There was a big and small one of blue, green, yellow and pink. With his two small arms and hands he would hold five of them at a time. The other three were full of candy in the cupboard as a treat when he has done something very good. On this particular morning, he could not find his yellow egg. Realising it was missing, he ran to me and cried for “mommy find it!” I have to mention here that over the past year I have become quite the expert on finding lost toys! He must have figured that I would certainly know where it was. However, I could not find the yellow one either. After a while I said to him, “be happy for what you have and we’ll find it later!” My response was not good enough. He insisted. He cried. He pulled on my leg. We continued to look. In all honesty my mind was preoccupied with other things I had to do and felt I was wasting time on a silly egg. At that moment I looked at Ethan who held all his other eggs and I watched him carefully place the eggs on the floor. He then picked them up again and looked around and as if he were calling out to it, said “yellow egg!”  This parable came to mind:

“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” -Luke 15:4

Eventually, we did find the yellow egg. And though it may be just a toddler who wanted all of his eggs, it was a good reminder to me of how I should feel about those who are lost. I should care. I should do. I should not give up. I should love.

I am grateful for the lessons my son teaches me. He is so innocent and pure in heart. x

Forgiving My Father

This may be the most personal blog post I’ve ever written. Many who have known me are familiar with the struggles I’ve had with my dad throughout my life. I am now 31 years old,  married and a mother of two little boys. I know why I felt as I did, but it’s time to let that go, own up to my mistakes, say I’m sorry and if he were still here today, I’d say to him, “It’s okay, I forgive you.”

I read somewhere a long time ago that forgiveness is the greatest gift a child can give his or her parents. For we are not perfect and we make mistakes along the way. I look into the faces of my children and I know I’m not a perfect mother, but I love them so very much. It would shatter my heart if they resented me and kept me out of their lives.

If my dad were still alive, I’d let him hold and love his grandchildren. I imagine his heart would have been filled with joy and gratitude, and I’d see it in his smile. Perhaps these tender feelings are easier felt because he is no longer here. But as I sit and think upon the choices I’ve made, I am inexcusable.

Several years ago I heard a man speak about how his family was moving away and he was consumed with regret for all the things he did not do yet. Because now it was too late. They were moving away. As I listened to his words and watched him cry, I cried too. How sad it must feel to know it is too late and your chance is gone?

Now I do know what that feels like. I only hope that when my dad and I see each other again on the other side, that we will be able to embrace each other as a loving father and daughter would.

For many years I allowed anger to frustrate my ability to see past the end of my own nose. I had a very bad attitude. I’ll never forget the day I went to speak to my home teacher. In our LDS faith, he is someone who checks in to make sure you are doing okay. He knew nothing of my past. Just that I had moved to London and was going to university there. I told him I had a hard time adjusting to things and felt alone. The rest of the time he spoke about forgiveness and how I needed to forgive my dad. I thought, how did he know that? Sadly, I brushed off his counsel.

I cannot recall the last time exactly I saw my dad. Maybe it was the time he met me in Canning Town? It’s been so long. If I had known that was the last time, maybe I would have been kinder to him. Or chosen my words more carefully. Years later we found out he had cancer. I should have gone to see him. I should have let him hold me. I should have said good bye. I should have told him that despite everything, that I loved him. The news came quickly and he passed sooner than the doctors thought. It was too late. He did not deserve to die without his family. As a parent, my eyes and heart have been opened to so much more understanding. It must have broken my mother’s heart to see so much feuding amongst those she loved the most.

Traditionally on tombstones there is often an acronym: RIP. Rest In Peace. I will let him rest in peace. I will silence all negative talk about him from my mouth. He did do good things when he was here. It will be those things that we should remember. My mother loved him dearly. We owe her the respect.

My dad was a really good cook. I’m still trying to figure out how he made this spinach and bacon crepe filling. It was delicious. I’ll keep experimenting.

The more I welcome good feelings into my heart towards him, my mind is remembering the good things.

Everyday I think, I want my kids to feel they have a happy life. I want my mom and dad to know that I loved my life growing up. I had a lot of fun! And I got to experience things a lot of other kids didn’t. I may not have appreciated it then, but I do now. I know there were challenges, but it built character. I know we had trials, but it gave us stories. I wish I could have told him that.

I hope that we can all learn forgiveness. It’s not easy when we feel we have been hurt or wronged, but it is required. I want peace in my life. Peace in my heart. I want to recognize the good in others, because I want them to see good in me. And not focus on my faults. That doesn’t feel fair.

Sometimes when I think about my dad I cry and don’t know why. Maybe I am feeling the sting of what could have been but wasn’t. Maybe I am just being a girl who longs for her dad and misses him. Maybe they’re not my tears, maybe they’re his because he wishes he could hug me but we have to wait. He always loved giving us hugs when we let him. Maybe like most parents, he too, felt we grew up too fast.

Me as a newborn baby.

Rest in peace dad. We’ll see you again one day, and I promise things will be different. They’ll be better. I love you.

Dear Diary, I Had A Normal Day!

Dear diary,

It’s been quiet around here for a while, but for good reason. I had nothing much to say! Sometimes life in general feels heavy and I hide in my cave until I feel ready to come out. Today, was a good day. One I am willing to remember. It wasn’t spectacular or overly significant. Just a day that represents life as a housewife pretty normal. Well, as normal as it gets for me.

I got woken up at exactly 5:14am. I always check the time so I know how tired I should feel. Axel was the first to wake. He got his milk and we had cuddles on the couch as we always do. He wasn’t falling back asleep so I put on Baby Beethoven and closed my eyes with him snug in my arms. An hour later, Ethan woke up and squeezed his way unto my lap too. Now I had to wake up. Now the non-stop test of patience begins. Now the demands will start rolling. However, today I was more prepared because last night the husband and I talked, read, prayed and recognised we simply need to do everything with love. Everything. Luckily he was in a good mood so our morning was pleasant. The best part was building a tower out of his legos. He gets so excited. Later he proudly showed daddy and I was glad I had been a part of it.

By 9am we were all dressed, breakfast eaten and laundry hung outside, so we went out for a walk. It’s easier to leave the house when you like your outfit and know you’ve done your hair. I straightened mine today. The sun was beaming and it’s warmth felt so good. We headed to the playground around the corner. We were the only ones there but Ethan did not like that it was all wet from yesterday’s rain. Oh, last night was weird and lovely. The sky was weird with a blend of bright blue sky, brilliant white clouds coupled with dark grey clouds, a rainbow, hail, and then some light rain. Rain gentle enough for me and Ethan to sit on the floor with the back door slightly open so we could stick our arms out and feel the rain drops on the palms of our hands. He kept saying, “rain, I feel it!”

Ethan did not mind walking all the way back home to get some towels to clean the slide. He talked about it the whole way and behaved very well. Back at the playground there was a family of 3 girls playing but no one going down the slides. I could have been a hero with my towels but instead I heard one of the girls whisper to her dad, “it’s still wet.” My first thought? Brat! So I missed a spot, sit on it! Ethan tried to make friends with them. He always tries to make friends with kids at the playground. But his pick up line was “spiderwebs!” as he pointed out a big one and those girls just did not seem interested. Not wanting his excited spirit crushed, I tried to be extra enthusiastic whenever he showed it to me.

In the far distance I saw dark clouds sneaking in and I immediately worried about my laundry. I am always the last of my neighbours to notice the rain and my laundry is wetter coming in than it was when it went out! But today I had eagle eyes and would not let it repeat! We went home, I began to unpeg my laundry but felt it was too early. The sun was still shining. I will just pay attention and be quick.

Axel had fallen asleep for his late morning nap and Ethan entertained himself on my iPhone. I thought about my career. Or lack of. My unused degrees packed in a box. I have always wanted to do something with writing. I love words. But to say I want to be writer, is it cocky? Like I think I have important things to say and people should actually read them? I have always believed that to write and be read is the same as being listened to and heard. Whether my voice is heard through someone’s ear or their mind, I want my words to touch their heart. Being heard makes a person feel alive. One’s existence acknowledged makes a world of difference to their world.  No one has ever stopped me from being a writer, no one but myself. I have insecurities and weaknesses as a writer. Sometimes I want to be perfect, but then I think, perfection would not be genuine because perfection is impossible. And who is to define what is perfect? If someone were labelled as a good writer, that label is just an opinion. And it is those opinions I fear. I shouldn’t, but I do.

Second load of laundry done! Wow, I felt so accomplished and it wasn’t even noon yet! I hurried to get the laundry hung, don’t waste the sunshine! I ran out of pegs. I love pegs. I have a lot of pegs. I happily went back inside to the hallway closet and got my peg holder. A uniquely made bag specifically for pegs! The first time I saw one, was the day I bought this one. I was about 6 months pregnant with Axel. It was only 50p at a charity shop in South Ockendon. I originally had gone to South Ockendon to get passport photos done for Ethan and I. Turns out the ones I had taken that day were all wrong and it would have felt like a wasted two-bus-trip had it not been for this lovely, beautiful and practical peg holder! What a find! It makes me happy!

I still had some time so I went online looking for date ideas. This Friday, the husband and I have a date. We are very excited because my sister has the whole day off and we can do whatever we want! So many choices, how will we choose? In the ten minutes I was online I found three possibilities for a trip into London: the London Philharmonic Orchestra or We Will Rock You plus dinner package or Wicked plus dinner package. I emailed the links to the hubs. At the time I thought the decision would be weighed upon mainly by which restaurant had the best menu for dinner. However, later the hubs and I spoke and we decided London is too far. Why waste all that precious time together on public trains surrounded by people? We just want to be alone. It’s so RARE!

Ethan returned my phone and decided to draw in his dinosaur book. It’s the kind where he can erase the marker and start over. Instead of the book, he drew all over the plastic high chair! He gave me a look as if to say, “that’s right. I did that. Now what you going to do?” A minute later he cried for his Easter basket candy! As if!

The rest of the afternoon happened so fast its a blur. I got to be honest with you diary, my memory is slowly packing its bags and leaving me. We went to Tesco. Axel fell asleep in the pram, that’s how exciting he thought grocery shopping was! Walked past a navy blue skirt that looked flirty and fun. It was soft. Then Costco. Saw some little girl dresses I thought I could copy. Teeshirt on top, a tulle skirt on bottom. Looks easy. Shaun was disappointed that both stores had no pink grapefruit. Only red. Something must be happening with the crops. Had a quick dinner. I did some housework while Shaun played with the kids- I love hearing them laugh and play together!

The navy blue skirt popped into my head again and again and again. Must be a sign I want it? Must have it? Outfits started forming in my head. But the skirt was navy blue. I don’t tend to wear that colour. Do I have anything to match? It’s all looking good in my head but might look stupid in real life. In my head, I’m slim. In real life, that’s a joke.

Now with all this written down, I hope to spend the rest of the evening with the husband, no wait. It’s 9:15. I got to go to bed. I never know what kind of night it is going to be and I need to get my sleep when I can! Thanks for listening, until next time, xox

Then and Now: Things I Want

I used to want a big bathroom with pretty wallpaper. Now I would just like to use the bathroom alone without interruption!

I used to want a closet full of cool clothes to flatter my figure and match my personality. Now I would just like any clothes to actually fit my ever changing figure!

I used to want at least eight full hours of sleep a night. Now I would just like any decent sleep at all!

I used to want to be a certain size or weight. Now I would just like a visible waistline!

I used to want my kids to think I was the best cook ever. Now I just want them to eat any food I make at all!

A lot of things have changed since becoming a mom. What an eye popping journey this continues to be! x

Hot Chocolate, Lollipops and Prayers Before Bed

Every Easter my mom would decorate the house with eggs, baby chicks, chocolates and my favourite: a wooden bunny that sat on the window sill holding lollipops. A sweet treat for when we were being good. All the girls also got a new Easter hat to match one of our Sunday dresses. The traditions made the season fun and anticipated.

In wintertime my mom would not let the snow or cold keep us indoors. We bundled up and would go on long walks nearly everyday. After we returned home, she’d warm us with a cup of Swiss Miss hot chocolate- with marshmallows! It always made me feel special to have marshmallows in my hot chocolate.

For as long as my memory serves me, we have always had family prayer before bed. As a kid there were the occasional giggles and poking each other during prayer but my mom knew one day we’d understand why. And I do.

The last few years I have been trying to think of how to combine traditions and create new ones. Reflecting back, I am realising much of what my mother did were acts of kindness between mother and child. Her loyalty to tradition has always made me feel loved.

Now that we are all grown up and long time since moved away from home, I see my mother continuing in her tradition of creating new traditions!

Like every Saturday she used to go to the market and buy fresh flowers for the dining room table. Charming!

Every Christmas she made everyone handmade ornaments.

I admire her ability to be so devoted.

And so I try to follow in those footsteps. My husband and I are ready for this Easter weekend! We’ll be colouring eggs, decorating cupcakes and having an Easter egg hunt. I am excited to begin the legacy of our own family traditions.

Thanks Mom, for all you did, for all you’ve taught us, and for showing me how to be a good mother. I love you xx

I Wish I Had Written Journal

This morning I was thinking about how years ago I was able to visit different places in the world. My memory proves hazy as I try to remember the plants, the smells, the sights, the people, the food, the sounds and how I felt about all of it. Why have I not kept a journal? Imagine the endless interesting stories I’d be able to tell from just the past eleven years living in Europe. Some places seemed so fairy tale-like in its nature and existence. Especially places I have seen in Sweden. Even if I were to go back, I doubt I would be able to find those places again. I wish I had taken more pictures! I wish I had the eyes I have now, back then.

I am not one who dwells on regrets. I normally will be the first to say I do not have any because life is what it is and we are who we are at that time and regretting past choices does not change anything.

But today it is nagging me.

I am slowly forgetting. If I were to try to recall those places and memories, it would be more fictional than fact. Memory is not always reliable.

As a writer, I love stories. Reading them, telling them, listening to them; it opens a different sphere to this world that I find exciting to visit before having to come back to reality.

Almost eleven years ago I was living with my grandmother in Sweden. That summer she had booked a trip for me and my cousin, Esther, to go to the north of Sweden. We travelled by bus from Jonkoping to Stockholm and from Stockholm we took a train north. I don’t recall exact times but it was about 24 hours of travelling. Once up north we met her sister and stayed with her a few days. We also travelled even farther to visit my mom’s cousin. We also went to the little village, there was a school, a kiosk and a post office, my grandmother grew up. Although it was in Sweden, they spoke mostly Finnish as it was very near the border. Her brother still lived in the small house where she grew up. We drank a lot of blueberry juice.

Being so far north was magical. The sun never set. Roads never ended. The horizon and sky felt close enough to touch, but obviously we couldn’t!

One of my grandmother’s friend’s house was a long drive out in a remote area. We passed countless of miles of forest and a few houses with peculiar handmade fences. Their gardens were immaculate and beautiful. When we got to the friend’s house, we walked uphill on a paved walkway of different shapes and it felt like I was walking through a massive garden of flowers. The interior of the house was very traditionally Swedish and everything seemed to be handmade. We drank a berry tea.

There are so many gaps I wish was filled with the writings of a journal or an album of photos. I am longing for more.

How important is it really? Why should I care so much? Because it is all family history. We are their future. She was my grandmother, our worlds so vastly different and yet her and I were very much alike.

Now I have two little boys and am experiencing all sorts as a mother. A journal needs kept because these are the moments I never want to fade out of my mind.

The memories and stories of my children are priceless beyond measure. I never want to regret not having one for them. No regrets, but lesson learned.