Friday, February 24, 2012

Time to Tip the Scale

This week flew by.  I've learned that time slips by even faster when you want to do more than just the usual getting through the day things.  When you start to require more of yourself that just getting to work, making dinner, cleaning the dishes, and bathing the kids. 

And I've been trying to step things up a notch... trying to dabble in some exercise and I'm antsy as I look around the house and realize the lack of effort I've put into making changes, keeping things fresh.  There hasn't been a new picture frame, a new throw pillow, or a new knick-knack purchased in a very l.o.n.g. time. 

Sometimes we let ourselves go, sometimes we let our home go.

But one thing our home always has... an endless supply of new art.  And my girls have been busy.  We've been experimenting with different mediums.  Paint on wooden birdhouses.  Hot glue on paper plates.  Watercolor on paper.

Work projects have been weighing down the life scale lately.  But I can feel life's other aspects fighting back.  Jockeying for position.  Family time and debeigifying my house are steadily gaining weight.  But so is a hair cut and a girls night out.  Only time will tell which one will be first to push the life scale closer to a balanced position.

And tonight, my eyes are heavy because last night I could not put this book down.  I wanted to finish it.  To see how the characters lives balanced out.  So now I think I will quietly tiptoe into my girl's room, scoop them up and lie their warm, little, jammied bodies next to mine.

 Work may have carried some weight during the day but I have a night full of snuggles and love to start tipping that scale...happy weekend  everyone.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Winter Cliche

Is it cliche for Canadian kids to play hockey outdoors on a frozen lake while the sun moves westward across the sky, casting its long shadows on the snow covered ice?

If it is, then I will embrace this Canadian stereotype.  Because it is fun and exhilarating.  We usually do this just a couple times each winter. Frozen lakes are on our doorstep, like beaches in Florida or mountains in British Columbia and we often have a tendency to overlook the vacation spots right in front of our eyes.

We are in full on winter here on our patch of the earth.  And we are having a stretch of mild temperatures  which makes it a lot easier to appreciate winter.  This time of the year can be a bit monotonous as we suit up in our same winter uniform that we've been wearing for nearly four months now. Callie in her green and purple jacket and Lexi in her practical one piece snowsuit.  Some days they shake things up and swap toques.

It's around this time of year that Canada's population drops by half.  Shorts and sandals are pulled out from the far back of people's closets.  Chartered flights are loaded with canucks, some already bronzed from tanning beds and others choosing to venture out au natural...aka pasty white.  All looking for a healthy dose of vitamin D to recharge their supply.  Enough to push them through the several months of winter that still lie ahead. 

As cliche as playing hockey on a frozen lake is, so is the Canadian "winter holiday".  Another cliche I will embrace because a week off from routine, from our winter uniform, from the decision between black pants or grey pants, scarf or no scarf, apple or orange... sounds absolutely divine.

We have been skiing.
We have been sliding.
We have been skating...inside and out.
We have been snowmobiling.
We have shoveled snow.
We have made snow angels.

Remember the first snow?  It's pretty much old hat now.

We have had hot chocolate in fancy cups, in plastic cups, in to-go cups, at the ski lodge, at the rink, at our kitchen table, at the coffee table, with marshmallows or without, sipped with straws, scooped with spoons...

I ordered sundresses and flip-flops for the girls.  I stocked up on sunscreen when it was on clearance last fall. 

We have passports. 

Why not one more winter cliche? 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I Heart My Family

This morning when I left the house and headed in the direction of the girls' daycare my brain was doing it's usual run-through, making it's mental to-do list for the day with little empty boxes in front of each task waiting to be checked.

I knew it was Valentine's Day.  Yesterday Callie distributed Lightening McQueen Valentines to her preschool friends.  I patiently sat with her while she scribed her name 30 times on the back of each card. Like an assembly line worker, she passed each card off to me to ad hear the red heart sucker to the card.  Today it was Smurf cards with chocolate hearts wrapped in shiny red foil for her daycare buddies.  Thursday she will wear red to her Kindergarten prep class. 

I added water to my beautiful bouquet of flowers. 

Valentine's Day duties.  Check.

When I left home this morning, I was prepared to let the rest of Valentine's Day slide easily into "inbetween day" status.  I had no steak and lobster dinner planned, no dinner reservations at a dimly lit, swanky restaurant, no couples massage, not even a shmooshy card for hubby or the girls.  And I was okay with this.  Because we've all heard that Valentine's Day is really just a "Hallmark" created day.  Love should be pronounced everyday.  Not just on a corporate manufactured holiday.

And so you know, I do feel loved every day. Love from friends.  Love from family.  Love from my girls.  And maybe that's why I was content to let Valentine's Day slip by.  To let the school teachers and the daycare providers acknowledge the day with Callie and Lexi. 

As my day went on and I continued to make check marks on my mental to-do list but my mind kept scrolling back to my first task.  Valentine's Day Duties.  Check. 

This task wasn't feeling complete.  I started thinking about being a parent and how I have the power to create experiences and memories for my children.  And with Callie on the cusp of starting school and her world opening up to so much more influence, I got to thinking about long will I have before the thrill of a Valentine's card from mom is not so thrilling. And I'm not worried that my girls memory bank will be void and empty if I don't make a big deal out of one Valentine's Day.  I'm not worried because I'm sitting next to a 14 foot cardboard pirate ship that has yet to be dismantled from our last celebration!

On my lunch break today I grabbed a few groceries and then popped into the Dollar Store.  Twenty dollars later, I had a plastic shopping bag with our family's Valentine's Day dinner party in one hand and four helium balloons in the other.  So what if it's just a Hallmark holiday.  So what if I wasn't really feeling it after last weeks birthweek parties. The effort, no matter how little, is always worth it.  Maybe even more so when it doesn't come so easy. 

And tomorrow...a real inbetween day.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Five.  It can't really have been that long since she joined our lives.  It can't be that long ago because I can remember every detail about the day she was born.  It was cold outside, just like today. We were prepared. We were ready.  It was a long night.  And finally at 10:38 am the doctor announced, "it's a girl!" 

It was love at first sight.

As promised, there was a lot of celebrating this week.  A lot of cake and cupcakes too.

Five is a big jump from four.  It's big because five is a whole new category.  Say good-bye to my preschooler and welcome to my school-aged girl.  When I was tucking her in tonight I whispered, "what's the best thing about being five?"

"I get to go to kindergarten, mom."

I am so proud of the little person that she is. Each and every little thing that makes her, her.  And each one of her favorite things, each of her characteristics and her abilities are like the colors of the rainbow...each beautiful in their own right but breathtaking and unique when swirled together into its arch in the sky.

More pirate ship adventures.
Callie is colorful. She knows what she likes. 

She likes Rice Krispies. 
Pancakes and waffles. 
Chicken noodle and mushroom soup.
Buzz Lightyear and Spiderman.

Her favorite color is green.
Favorite show is Care Bears.
Favorite thing to do... "anything, mom.  I like everything".

She loves her sister.
Takes care of her.
Worries about her. 
Wants her to go to school with her.

Rockin' new blocks.  Unique, just like Callie.
She wears graphic tees and elastic waist pants.
Dresses are only for important parties.
Leggings are too tight. 
Sweaters are too itchy.

She skates.  She skis. 
She likes soccer and swimming.
She wants to play hockey.

She crafts and draws and paints.
She is creative.
She is entertaining.

She prefers two hair ponies high up.
She prefers pirates over princesses.
Running over walking.
Loud over quiet.

Birthday cake and a cup of tea with Great-Grandma.
She is all the colors of the rainbow.
She is perfect.
She is five.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Aye, Aye, Matey

On my Friday morning drive to work my mind was spinning circles.  I was running through the day in my mind, planning my grocery list, making note of last minute details, reminding myself to get paint and paint brushes, packing tape, and treasure maps.  Because this weekend was the beginning of Callie's birthweek celebrations.

Amidst all the buzz of activity in my brain, right in front of my eyes was the most beautiful, frost-covered landscape and pinkalicious sky that a person ever did see.  It was absolutely Christmas card someone deliberately glitter glued each branch and twig on every last tree. It caused my racing brain to shut down and breathe deeply.  Taking it all in. 

It was so magical that I swear I could here the clippity-clop of a horse-drawn carriage off in the distance.  I reached for my camera but realized I didn't have it with me.  And I knew that pink sky wouldn't last until I got to work.  So when I got out to take the girls into daycare, I snapped this with my phone... a real life winter wonderland. 

Every so often, on days like this, and this, I let myself wish that I wasn't going to work and instead I would be putting the girls in a sled and pulling them through the forest.  We would make up stories about ice fairies and Jack Frost and how they do all this work while we are sleeping.

We've had a lot going on this past week.  Every spare moment has been put into getting ready for our big girl's Big Pirate Birthday Party.  Arrrr...

We had such fun with the little treasure maps that we had in the advent calendar for Christmas that it sparked the idea of a pirate party.  I pitched the idea to the birthday girl about a month ago and she jumped on board with the idea and began swabbing the deck and calling her sister, "me hearty!"

 If you ever google 'pirate party' the first thing you'll see is that every good pirate has a pirate ship.  And voila, born is the awesome idea to build a cardboard pirate ship for Callie's party.  A girl only turns 5 once, right?  So the first thing I do whenever I have these brainwave ideas is call my mom.  Because I may have some great ideas... but my mom and dad have the know how.

Party details: 1. Girl's shirts, 2. Party supplies, 3. Pirate ship.
There were no blog posts last week because my evenings were dedicated to cutting cardboard, designing, and painting Captain Callie's ship.  I was occupied with hanging jolly rogers, collecting booty and doubloons, and learning words like grog, landlubber and Davey Jones' Locker.

Shiver me timbers!  

I know that building 14 foot pirate ship and having to move half the furniture out of the living room to make room for it may seem a little extreme for a five year old birthday party.  And locating the perfect pirate shirts and having my mom sew tiny little pouches for the kids to hold their treasure seems a bit finicky. 

But I love the details. And I love pirate babies and a good game of "walk the plank".

 Ken Robinson talks about being in your element in his book "The Element". 

"The element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the element, they feel most themselves and most inspired and achieve at their highest levels." 

When I am creating memories and moments of excitement for my girls... I am in my element.  The pirate ship, the decorations, the details... those are for me as much as they are for the kids because creating and envisioning and anticipating the joy it gives to my girls is when I feel most inspired and I want to achieve my highest level.  Because if time wasn't an issue, that ship would have had a faux wood painted deck, a parrot, a crow's nest and a flag that could be raised and lowered!  Yo ho ho!

And having our friends come dressed in full pirate attire only adds fuel to my fire!

This party was the start of birthweek. 

There will be more cake to come.

And more adventures and sword fights in the pirate ship.

And more memories to make. 

Because pirate girl doesn't technically turn five until later in the week.
Good night for now, matey.