Sunday, May 27, 2012

Parks, Ice Cream & Growing Up

Our children are always growing.  It is the natural progression of the human existence. I like to watch the new growth on the trees in our yard this time of year.  I keep my eye on the buds on the branches, I take pictures of them, I look at them in the morning when I leave for work and then again when I get home,  somehow imagining that I will actually be present for that moment that they burst into a full blown leaf.  But like our children, the buds on those trees transform slowly and methodically until one day, out of seemingly nowhere, they are full grown leaves.  

I am aware that my girls have grown.  And I'm sure it happened gradually and slowly like the leaves but it feels like they just burst overnight.  When I woke up yesterday morning  I could hear Callie and Lexi whispering in the kitchen.  Something along the lines of surprising me with breakfast.  I sat in my bed listening to them, debating how long I would let them continue because for as cute as they were, I will admit, I had a slight concern about the kind of mess I would also be greeted with.  As I sat there and listened to my sweet girls working together in full cooperation after a goods night rest I thought, "When did this happen? When did it happen that I didn't have to jump out of bed to feed a baby, change a diaper, hurry to get a toddler to the potty, or worry about them falling down the stairs?" I got up after Callie had finished grinding the coffee beans and I found Lexi making peanut butter crackers and Callie asking where to put the coffee filter. 

They were so proud.  And so was I.

With spring finally winning the battle, we have spent a lot of time at the park.  There are several parks in the area but they always want to go to the one with the big blue slide.  And if we want to use the park as our measuring stick for growth... big girl can finally reach the monkey bars.  And she is determined to master them this summer.

And little sister may not be able to reach the monkey bars, but she's owning this park... climbing the ladders and riding the slide without mom's arms stretched out waiting to be the safety and security that she once needed.  And when its time to go home, she manoeuvres into her car seat and buckles up the five point harness refusing all help. 

With Callie's preschool days quickly coming to an end and as we talk about her going to kindergarten, making decisions about how and where she will be spending the next 13 years, part of me wants to hang on to her.  I'm not ready to let her go yet.  I want to start researching home-schooling and alternative education.    

But in the end, I know she will go on.  And as much as I want to keep her close, to protect her, to hang on... there is excitement in watching my little bud grow and ask questions about school and what she will do there and what she will learn and who she will meet.  She smiles when she talks about walking to school, "or maybe I'll ride the bus, mom."  

And I'm so glad that I still have a whole summer to sit with my mixed feelings.  We will have some lazy beach days and more trips to the park.  There is lots of ice cream and Mr. Freezies to be eaten.  Campfires and hot dogs to be had.  Holidays and late nights.  And when it is time to let her go, I will keep all weepy feelings behind closed doors and I will join in her excitement and enthusiasm...

...and she will soar.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Long Weekend Wrap-up

The RV storage lot just down the road from our house has been cleared out.  May long is the official start of camping season and on Friday the campers and boats formed a steady stream down the highway despite the freezing temperatures and cold winds.  I, myself have been known to have graced a camp-ground on May long weekend, in the very distant past, armed with parkas, toques and insulated gloves to protect my fingers from icy cold beverages. 

    That's my girl in the balaclava!  It was the only toque that felt right.

This year, I wore my parka, toque and mitts to the soccer field and Christine and I shivered next to each other on the bleachers to cheer on our girls.  We briefly reminisced about those May longs of the past...sleeping in tents with extension cords connected portable heaters and trips back home to get more blankets, all in the name of good times.  And in the next breathe we both say, nearly simultaneously,  "I don't miss that at all!"  Nearly two decades later, my friend and I are still rockin' May long in our winter gear only now instead of party pictures I have pictures of smiling girls in soccer jerseys that hang to their knees.

    I wonder if these two will graduate from cold May longs on the soccer field to May longs at the camp-ground?

We did manage to have our first morning coffee on the deck.  The air was cool but the sun felt nice and warm on the face.  A slight foreshadow to the things to come as summer to-do lists are already being written and anticipated.

The buds are ready to burst...

...and our house guest only got away on us once.

We dug out some sidewalk chalk... and we made a rule that we can't take the sled out anymore.

And we pretended we were at the beach...ahh, yes, dreaming of things to come.

Long weekends make the life scale feel more balanced.  Time for the work of home and yet still some time left for lunch and swimming with friends, trips to the park, and exploring some buses...

Now for a four day week and a little shout out to summer....
"We're ready and waiting!"

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Quicky

Jon brought the girls fabulous shirts home from his long trip.  Both the same because the last time he brought home two different things...well, it just didn't work out.  Little sister rocked her flashy Vegas shirt the first day, running her fingers over the texture of the rhinestones.  All shirts from Vegas have rhinestones right?  And big sister...she takes time to warm up to all things new, including new clothes.  She may wear it when all  her worn and worked in favorites are in the wash.  

The circus was in town this week.  And we hummed and haa'd whether we would take the girls or not.  The main deterrent was that the evening show was late and would likely result in a all but unpleasant next morning.  And even as I type that meagre argument it sounds like a very weak defence. Even an inexperienced five year old prosecution lawyer could see the many holes in it.

So we compromised and left at the intermission.  And was it worth it?

It's always worth it.

This was Lexi's first time seeing a clown.  And for some reason she called them mice.  She kept asking me, "where'd the mouse go, mom?"  I wonder if they reminded her of Mickey and Minnie.  We indulged in the full meal deal of cotton candy, popcorn and ridiculously over priced light-up batons while we watched a pretty spectacular performance of acrobats, trapeze artists, horseback trick riders and bike stunt riders.  We passed on the pony rides and getting our picture with a snake though.  

Callie was thrilled that we found our friends in the crowd and got to sit with them for the show.  And Lexi is still talking about how the circus kids jumped off the swing into the big net and how the bike jumped over top the clown sitting on the chair.  Making memories versus getting to bed on time.  The judge ruled in favor of the prosecution.  Case closed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Belated Mother's Day

For Mother's Day, my girls and I travelled with my parents to visit my grandparents.  And since my last visit, grandma has yet another new pad.  Her new apartment has all the same grandma things... horses in the window, beautiful handmade quilts on the bed, bread making bowl hanging in the storage room... but this apartment is just a little more roomy.  

What truly makes this apartment superior tograndma's last one is that this apartment comes blessed with it's own guardian angel.  An anonymous angel who leaves thoughtful notes and little trinkets for her.  This angel bestows small, random acts of kindness on my grandma who has devoted her life to the caring and nurturing of our large family.  I can not think of a more well suited person to have their very own angel friend than my grandma.

Our weekend had nothing on its agenda other than catching up and visiting and letting my girls get to know their great-grandparents simply by being in their presence, taking walks in their neighbourhood, offering the ultimate Mother's Day bouquets of dandelions, and indulging in great-grandma's cookies...even for breakfast.

These weekends are precious.  Because all that was learned.  All that was taught.  All that was absorbed about the importance of family can never truly be put into words.  The love and traditions from multiple generations simply flows into my girls by osmosis.  Getting everything they need just by being present.

Happy belated Mother's Day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I don't know what I'm going to write about today.  I will just type and see where my fingers take me.  I'm sitting  in my living room right now and the evening sun is pouring through our west facing picture windows.  Out of my kitchen window I can see the bare branches of the birch tree gently shaking in the light breeze.  There is the slightest hint on green on the tips of those branches just waiting for their d├ębut performance as shelter from the sun's rays.

I have two overly tired girls tucked into my bed.   And even after using my sternest sounding mother voice warning, "any fooling around or talking you'll both be in your own beds", I can hear them whispering and giggling.  It warms my heart...these private sister moments between them.  Jon is away on a long trip making room for two hot, sticky little bodies in my bed.  Long trip is the term we use for any adventure that take us out of town.

Yesterday was the first day I really felt alive.  It was our first day of spring.  The first day that I peeled off my socks and wore capri pants and open toed shoes.  I took the time in the morning to breathe in the exhilarating fresh spring air.  I made the girls do it to.  I asked, "what do you smell?"  They didn't know.  I told them that it was the smell of life.

If I was in charge of the calendar, I would make Spring the start of the new year.

The girls and I have plans while Jon is away.  Some of the plans are small.  Like having ice cream for supper tonight.  And some bigger plans for Mother's Day weekend.  My love came early again this year.  Beautiful flowers and Callie's treasures from preschool that she proudly presented me with earlier in the week.  The questions were the same as last year...and so were most of the answers.

We had our first Mother's Day celebration last weekend.  Jon worked his magic in the kitchen preparing brunch while I fussed with table clothes and charger plates and last minute folded tent cards for the kids.  I know I've talked before about Hallmark holidays. I don't know the history about how Mother's Day came to be and I'm not up to Googling it tonight.  But if it was created by Hallmark... I say thank goodness someone is looking out for us as a society and culture as a whole.  Some days it feels like we have so few meaningful rituals and traditions.  That a meal is something we just have to get through before swimming lessons or soccer. That someone says, "we don't have to do anything for my birthday this year" or "it's just our 39th Wedding Anniversary, we'll celebrate next year".

I organized an event for work a couple of weeks ago.  I didn't prepare a formal speech to give and decided to genuinely speak from the heart.  I found myself spouting out something like, "I so rarely get asked to talk about the positive and what is working, that I had to create my own event to celebrate our successes."


With Great-grandma giving us a little scare last week... I am jumping on the bandwagon.  We all have one wild and precious life.  What are you going to do with yours?  I'm going to insist on taking the time to breathe in the fresh spring air.  To pull out the fancy dishes from way back in the cupboard.  And when I fall off the wagon, when the little things get suffocated with schedules and chores and work, I promise to run like hell with my arms reaching up looking for someone to pull me back on.