Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday Ramblings

I had a date tonight with the doctors from Seattle Grace Hospital.  In my continued effort to fit in all in... TV usually carries very little weight. (I will clarify... grown-up shows carry very little weight.) And watching live TV as opposed to something pvr'd is like helium, lighter than air.  Except for Thursday nights.  Callie asked if she could stay up late to have some quiet time and watch my doctor show with me.  But I declined her request, preferring to have McDreamy, McSteamy and Gunther all to myself....

Moving on.

Today was an inbetween day.  A day where I serve Lexi Mini Wheats for breakfast but she leans towards me with her mouth open saying, "peassss" and she ends up eating half of my Fibre One instead.

We had deep from the belly laughs over little sister's hair

We've started a new morning routine during the week.  It goes like this. Clothes. Breakfast. TV until mom is ready.  Can you believe that I had been doing it the reverse order?  Ya I know, crazy, but I had good reason.  Getting Callie to get dressed is the most challenging task in the morning so I would put it off as long as I could.  She has a serious case of "it doesn't feel rightitis".  And if something doesn't feel just quite right, our world comes crashing down.  Maybe I could get her in to see Dr. Shepard. I'm sure him and Meredith could start a clinical trial to find a cure for this very serious disease that inflicts four year olds. 

I've been encouraging Callie to pick out her own clothes.  And she makes some great matches. Comfort always tops her list and green is her favorite color. Whenever she comes to present her choices to me  I say things like, "You have great style today" or "You're so creative, I never would have thought to put that shirt with those shorts.  High five, sista!"

Our fall weather has been intoxicating so we have been making an extra effort to stop by the park on our way home after our day or to go exploring, aka - go for a walk.  I had read this book and heard the authors speak a few years ago and I believe what they say about taking the time to reconnect with your children after you've been apart all day.  And some days it takes all I have to not head straight home so that I can get supper ready and start checking off the tasks of the nightly to-do list.  But the days that we take our time are soooo worth it.

And now I'm done rambling.  I am too tired to make the words flow together today.   The girls have been wrestling with head colds this week, their first of the season, so our sleep has been interrupted more than usual.  We are looking forward to our at home days on the weekend.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jam Packed

The thing with writing this blog is that it forces me to stop and look at how we've been spending our days.  And although I have no deadlines, no blogger boss waiting for me to get my submissions in, or pressures, other than my own, to write and take internal clock tells me its time to solidify our doings, to make them permanent memories before the moment passes and gets swallowed up into the past to be forgotten. 

   A day like this could not be forgotten...

The funny thing is that it always feels like I just hit publish post yesterday but in all reality time creeps by and before I know it the days have joined hands and called themselves a week.  And with no direct supervisor watching over my blog addictions I suffer no substantial consequence for weekly posts as opposed to daily posts except for the fact that words are constantly stringing themselves together in my mind and if I don't stream them into the keyboard they get lost.

I have started some of the decluttering that I've been wanting to do. Some days it feels like our house is going to burst.  Too much incoming, not enough out going.  And my decluttering and organizing mission was very similar to what happens when you Give a Mouse a Cookie...

If you pack up summer clothes, you need to carry them downstairs to the closet.  When you open the closet door, boxes and bags topple out all over.  While the rubble lays on the floor, you notice the bar in the closet has broke off the wall leaving no good home for vintage high school grad coats and years worth of bridesmaid dress wrapped in plastic. And while you're restoring order to the closet, your children tear apart every other room in the house.  So you decide to take out the trash and realize that it is a beautiful day.  You get sidetracked from your chores and head to the park. And while you're at the park you will want to take pictures.  And of course when you take pictures you're going to want to blog about them.  While you're blogging about your weekend you recall the boxes of summer clothes that you had packed up.  And when you remember the have to carry them downstairs to the closet.

Our weekend was jam packed just like the downstairs closet but we managed to sift through the clutter and find the time to celebrate with Papa, explore in the forest, roll down the hill with Nana, play soccer in the backyard, and have suppers on the deck while we watched the trees' golden leaves sparkle in the evening sunshine. (toys on the floor and laundy...still haven't gained enough weight to tip the scale.)

 Now for a glass of milk.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Balancing Act

A week ago we said our farewells to the beach.   

For us, a beach day in September is rare.  Usually because the sun just doesn't have the oomph it had during the summer months but mostly it's because our minds have made already made the psychological shift that summer is over once we've crossed that finish line

September has been serving up some sunshine, even on the weekends, so we resumed our usual summer position at the beach for one last hurrah.  As we were packing up to leave, me lugging my beach chair, sand toys, boogie board, cooler bag, wet towels and flip flops, I finally felt ready to say good bye to summer.  No long, drawn out emotional good byes, just a quick see ya next year.   As Lexi stood on the front seat of the truck, I  peeled off her wet bathing suit. Then her swim diaper unloaded half the beach's sand onto the seat of the truck...I just thought, "yep, we're done."

Summer has been removed from the back of the truck...beach toys, life jackets, sunscreen...all settled in for hibernation.  Literally overnight summer turned into fall.  And our morning coffee on the deck looks a little different...

...we use a thermos cup, we wear sweaters over our jammies, and our "morning" coffee is getting a little closer to "lunch" coffee as we wait for the sun to rise up above the tree line.

September is busy with back-to-school, the start of activities, volunteer requirements, chocolate bar sales, scoop-a-lot fundraising... and we can't forget  the new healthy eating/exercise plans to shed those extra summer beach-snack, campfire hot dog, and ice cream cone pounds.

The home vs. work balance was the lunchroom conversation today.  How do we fit it all in?

I don't think this scale will ever balance.  And I think I will give up trying.  I've realized that some days work will come out on top.  Other days, home will be victorious.  Some days crafting and baking and playing with the girls will carry all the weight.  Other days laundry and dirty dishes will tip the scale.  There is no perfect balance. 

The other day, a walk in the park was the winner...

And Papa's birthday was another winner... 

So the answer to how do you find the time to...( fill in the blank)  is simple. It's whatever carries the most weight.  Today I blog, edit pictures, strap on my runners, read stories, and snuggle Lexi good night.  And it's all good because I know that the toys on the floor are steadily gaining weight, and so are work projects, and grocery shopping...and eventually they too will tip the scale in their direction and come out on top.

There are only so many hours in a day.  And the things that need to get done will get done when they have enough weight.

 Another winner, the sun settting on the lake...

And now, sleep has built up enough to tip the scale in its favour. 
Good night.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Toast

My earliest memory of Uncle Terry is of his kisses.  When I was a little girl, Uncle Terry would stop in at our house overnight on his way to my grandparents house.  He always got in late and I would wait up.  In came this guy with  big Afro hair.  He would never wait for me to warm up to him as you often have to do with kids.  He would chase me, pick me up, and give me the biggest uncle kiss - always kinda wet and sloppy and tickly from his mustache.  It was a kiss that said, "OK now we're friends.  I'm only here for a short time. I can't wait for you to warm up!"  I was just a little Bubas back then, and Uncle Terry was one of the few people to still call me by my childhood nickname.

I loved Uncle Terry, like I do all my uncles and aunts, quietly from the background of our large family gatherings.  This past August long weekend, I watched my uncle serving up blender drinks from his homemade Margaritaville!  I watched at how he made a point to speak to every person - right from the bald little babies to the grey-haired little grannies.  And he knew how to make them laugh.  I admired this quality from a distance and wished I was more like that.  You always felt good about yourself after talking to Uncle Terry.

On August long weekend we celebrated grandma and grandpa's 60th anniversary.  I had this feeling that things in our family were changing.  I wasn't sure how many more of these get togethers would be taking place in grandma and grandpa's retirement town.  I felt strongly that we couldn't just let this weekend be a regular family gathering so when Karen called to suggest we up the ante a bit I quickly jumped on board. At the end of the phone call we had a to do list, some jobs to delegate, and I volunteered to make a toast to grandma and grandpa at the anniversary dinner. 

Shortly after I gave that toast to my grandparents on their 60th anniversary, Uncle Terry came to me and said, "That was awesome, Bubas," then he gave me a hug.  I laughed and replied, "oh maybe I'll toast you on your 50th birthday next year."  We laughed and hugged some more and moved along in the supper buffet line.  That may have been my last conversation with Uncle Terry.

One of my favorite memories was the first time Jon and I came to visit Terry and Karen at their new house.  Many of you will remember this weekend too.  We arrived at their house just as Terry was carrying in this huge, monster, big screen TV.  Kaleigh said, "Mom is going to kill you!" and he replied something like, "oh, she won't even notice it downstairs." We had the best time that trip.  Terry had hockey tickets for us all. Karen had her usual home cooked meals - roasted ham, creamy dill potatoes and always fresh blueberry muffins for breakfast.  We rocked all night - the adults downstairs next to the big screen and the kids in Uncle's immaculate garage competing for the Stanley Cup.  I have always felt welcome at Terry and Karen's home.  They have admirable family values and my three cousins are the proof. 

I will always remember Uncle Terry for the corny jokes he would tell me as a kid and for the racier ones he would email me as an adult. On Tuesday evening when I was preparing to leave home to join the rest of our family in saying our final goodbyes to Uncle Terry, I was looking at my pictures from August long weekend.  I was looking to see if I had one of Uncle.  I did.  As I was looking at it, Callie crawled on my lap and we looked at the picture together.  I asked her if she knew who that was.  She did.  Then she said, "Remember he taught me that trick." She proceeds to hold her hand out and says,

"Give me five.
Up high.
Down low.
Too slow."

I guess all of us kids have our favorite uncle memory.

I wrote these words a year ago on stationary from the Franklin Hotel after attending Uncle Terry's funeral service.  I did not get the chance to toast him on his 50th birthday. 
To my family who have been struggling today, this week, this past year: I love you all sooo much.  Wherever you are, get your family together.  I don't know if it ever gets any easier but we are stronger together than we are a part.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Special Friend

I can not sleep tonight until I get out all the emotions that I experienced yesterday.  And I don't know how I can put this emotional wave into words so that I could possibly do it justice. So I will just type... 

I was a little caught off guard yesterday because I didn't know what to expect.  I had never been involved in or even attended a fundraising event for Cancer before so when I asked if I could join in to help support a special young girl that I know...I was completely overwhelmed.

I met this girl about a year ago...

She came into my life when her diagnosis was just weeks old.  Shock and denial, disbelief, fear of the upcoming,  rhabdomyo...what?, what do we do? how do we cope?  These were just a few of the many thoughts that raced through my mind as I took deep breathes to remain calm as her mom explained all the events that had occurred since the last time I saw them at the beach just two weeks earlier.  The eye infection she was telling me about that day...  didn't end up being an eye infection.

Jump ahead one year...

This past weekend our community hosted Relay for Life.  An event where teams of people walked all night to raise money for Cancer research.  People walked to support their loved ones who have fought their battles and won and in honor of the loved ones who will always be in our memories. 

Why all night?  "Simply because Cancer never sleeps."

The event began with a courageous victory lap involving all the many Cancer survivors.  I watched this special girl walk proudly, smiling brightly, because this event is truly a celebration for her.  Treatments are done.  Scans are clear.  And then it hits me.  The wave.  Tears start streaming from my eyes.  And Callie asks, "why are you crying mom?" 

I didn't know how to answer her.  I was thinking about how I was to help this special young girl this past year but in all honesty she taught me more than I ever could have offered her.  I learned medical terms and the names of the best nurses and the best doctors.  I learned about fear and frustration and anger at the world.  I learned about wanting to be normal.  I learned how to draw peace signs and hearts and rainbows and how to throw an awesome spa birthday party.  I learned about Selena Gomez, Sing it, and all the words to Firework. 

I learned to never take a moment of our precious lives for granted.

I watched her lead the sea of yellow shirts around the victory lap and I looked at the faces of these people.  People I know, people I pass on the street, people I see in the grocery store.  Most people I know.  Some I don't.  Parents and grandparents. Young and old.  All with one thing in common. 

They are survivors.

I have decided that there are not any words to describe the feeling of love and camaraderie that took place as people walked around that track. Like Helen Keller so wisely put it... "it must be felt with the heart."

As Callie and I walked, hand in hand around the track, she erupted with questions as only a four year old can.  Questions about Cancer and why people have no hair.  Questions about why some people can fight the bug and some people can't.  Questions about the little white bags with candles in them and what they were for. 

I struggled to answer these tough questions in  a way that she would understand.  So I told her about Papa's brothers.  She asked what Papa's brother's names were so I told her...Dale and Garry.  Then I told her about Nana and Papa.  And I tried so hard not to scare her or worry her as I fumbled trying to find the right words. 

And then I said, "We are going to light two candles tonight.  One for Dale and Garry because their body's couldn't fight off the bug and now they are in heaven.  And one for Nana and Papa because their body's did fight off the bug.  They are survivors.  Just like mommy's special young friend."

Friday, September 9, 2011


I changed my mind. 

I am going to cry because it's over. 

This past week had to have been the hottest temperatures we've had all summer.  And where was I?  At work freezing because of extreme air conditioning.  There is an adjustment period whenever I return to work, whether it has been two months, two weeks, or two days. And I like to think it's just the girls who are adjusting to new routines...but it's me too.

I need to juggle new schedules, organize day care drop offs and pick ups, make preschool runs, meet work commitments...I need to keep the balls in the air.  And after completely letting go for the past two months, I need time, like the girls, to adjust physically (when's nap time, oh right, no scheduled naps at work) and emotionally...

Battling the ongoing debate in my mind about finding the perfect home-work balance can be exhausting. The reality of dropping my girls off in the morning, bright eyed and ready to conquer the day... basically dropping them off at their best and picking them up after a day of constant turn taking, sharing, and navigating early friendships... basically at their worst, definitely requires an adjustment period.

We celebrated back to school with a brand new box of 64... first casualty - orchid.
 If I didn't have such a love affair with my work, the scale that measures the home-work balance would easily be in favour of the home side.  Work can seduce a woman away from her family because of the way he makes her feel... confident, assured, important, in-touch, inspired, creative...independent.

And I think it often sounds like our life is a magic carpet ride where we slide down rainbows and ride unicorns.  When I write about all the bests, and the love, love, LOVES, and the joy of making memories...these are real emotions and experiences.  But like most people our lives drive more like roller coasters, with its ups and downs and the occasional loop, than the smooth sailing of magic carpet rides.  And the reality is that when I sit down to decide which small sliver of our week that I want to write about I automatically zone in on the positive.  There are plenty of places to read and hear and watch about the annoyances of life or complaints about having to work.  And it's not that I don't have complaints or annoyances, bad days and struggles,  I just choose to leave them out because when I look back on my life...what is it that I truly want to remember.

The smiles.
The joy.
The successes.
The inbetween days.
The tiny moments.
And the big ones.

Dear Dr. Seuss... I will cry because it is over, but I will also smile because it happened.