Why are we doing this?


We moved last week, the realization of 3 years of planning and strategic decision-making. In 2010, when I announced that I was expecting twins to a friend (and fellow twin mama) she exclaimed: “This is wonderful! This will really focus you on your family!” I remember being a little taken-aback. We had 6 children, why did she think we were not family-focused already? I should have known better than to question the wisdom of a mother of 10. Of course she was right. After welcoming the twins in 2011, the futility of our lifestyle really hit us like a ton of brick. My husband was working himself to an early grave for the sake of keeping us ensconced in our busy and abundant lifestyle. We decided to sell our house, pay-off our debts, offload a lot of our stuff and live a life that was more coherent with our beliefs and principles. We bought a piece of land in the country where we eventually built a house. A house designed with the needs and requirements of a large homeschooling family in mind, where square-footage is not a thing in and of itself.
Our little piece of Canadian shield sits about an hour’s drive away from the east end of Ottawa where our children were born and raised. It is a radical move from a suburban lifestyle to a rural lifestyle, from school to homeschool, and it leaves no one indifferent.

Decisions based on convictions rarely leave people indifferent. Returning to school full time to get a Master’s degree didn’t leave people indifferent. Selling our house to pay off our debts and move into a rental house didn’t leave people indifferent. Having another child didn’t leave people indifferent. Building a house in the country didn’t leave people indifferent. Homeschooling didn’t leave people indifferent. We always elicit a reaction. We are either living the dream or delusional.

Last week, we moved 9 children away from the community they have known since birth. Four of those 9 children are teenagers. Rightfully, people are asking: “What are the children thinking about this move?” Uprooting teenagers is a bold move, especially in the absence of a non-negotiable driver such as a job posting. But if anyone thinks that we’re delusional to move teenagers on purpose, let me assure you that this move, at this time, is intentional. We are under no illusion that the move will be seamless or even easy for our teenagers but we are doing it because we believe it’s the right thing to do for our family.

We are committed to make it work for our teenagers and we are often asking for their input on ways to facilitate the transition. Don’t get me wrong, the teenagers never held the power to stop the move. But there is a difference between asking for input and veto power. Our teenagers know that we have an ear for well thought-through plans. They do not like to plan much — neither do their friends – preferring to pick-up as they go. We believe — and this is how this decision was intentional — that the cream of friendships will rise to the top. This happens to most of us through the post-secondary years. Our move has only provoked a natural progression of high school dalliances and connections. We see this as a positive aspect of the move, not a negative one. Our society sees the teenage years as an end in itself, a last grab at the freedom of childhood. We see the teenage years as a transition into adulthood. Our vision for our family is to raise adults, not big children. It’s very difficult to cast this approach as essentially affirmative when the children grow-up in a cultural environment where this formation is seen as essentially restrictive. I love the analogy of arrows in the hand of the warrior: to launch arrows, you need tension. If you make everything easy for your teenagers to avoid tension, the arrow will fall flatly to the ground. Too much tension and the bow breaks, not enough tension and the arrow doesn’t launch. Moving teenagers is causing some tension, I will not lie. However, we see tension as an essential component of growth, maturation and individualization.

Our decision to move to the country was also a decision to slow right down. We wanted to move away from the tyranny of activities and the pressure of wanting to keep-up with everyone else. We were tired of fighting our environment to instill the values we wanted to instill in our children. Here, in the country the rhythms are different, the expectations are different. For instance, our new church’s children’s choir rehearsal takes place right after Mass while the families are still around. No need to book another evening off for choir practice. All the children are welcome, regardless of age, because everybody needs to make the most out of their country mileage. This is just an example of the many ways in which country folks are more practical. This is how we want our family to start thinking and living.

You may read this in complete agreement or recoil in horror, your reaction is rooted in your own values and priorities. I believe that the proof will be in the fruit. I will tend my garden and let the fruit ripen.

Day trip (Or why good baby carriers and large families rock)


As you may have noticed, the move and consecutive adaptation-reorganization have punched a significant hole in my ability to blog. Not only time is at a premium but I am mentally and physically exhausted and  unable to string two coherent ideas together. I have posts started on attachment parenting twins, the twins’ 9 month update, the twins’ birth story, an update on the running diaries about setbacks (ha!) but I’m unable to finish them. So until my brain returns, here is another lazy picture post.

3 carriers: Ergo, BabyHawk Mei Tai and Boba 3G

This month we are experimenting with different infant/child carriers. With 3 under 3 at home during the day (and with me to run errands), I am definitely short a few hands. Pushing a bulky double stroller just adds to my misery and I started carrying the twins in two baby carriers, one at the front and one at the back. We went on a countryside stroll this Father’s Day and left the stroller in the van. In this picture (above), Clara is carrying Lucas in an Ergo baby carrier, Eloise is carrying Eve in a BabyHawk Mai Tei and I have Sarah in a Boba 3G.

Boba up and down

The Boba 3G was a loaner from a local breastfeeding and babywearing store. Go give Milkface some love: they are awesome. The carrier goes on and off easily and is the best I found for carrying a squirmy preschooler. My daughter is 35 lbs and fits in the Boba like a dream thanks to a high back, wide body and handy foot stirrups.

Carrying a 35 lbs preschooler in a back carrier may seem like overkill…

… but bear with me: it makes my life a lot easier. She is near me, under control, and will stay in the carrier a lot longer than the stroller. When it’s time to walk, she goes up and down easily. I thought it would also be a good workout but the excellent design and weight distribution in the Boba 3G makes it feel like a whimpy daypack…

BabyHawk Mei Tai: best for my petite 12-year-old. She comfortably carried her 18 lbs sister for 30 minutes before she got too heavy.

The children love carrying their baby siblings in carriers. And I love the help!

Adventurers in the pine forest
For younger babies in a back carry, I prefer the smaller-bodied Ergo.

Everyone agrees with me yet that big families and good carriers rock?

Fathers Day shot: that’s some heavy lifting!
We had lunch in the beautiful village of Almonte
And topped it all off with ice cream