Wednesday, November 17, 2010

...a nap.

I forgot all about "this" stage.

When I was pregnant with this babe I confessed to anyone that would listen that I wasn't really all that fond of babies. As I recalled from the first time around, six years earlier, the fun really started at about 2 years postpartum. Or maybe, as it turns out, I didn't really find my groove as a mom until that point. Don't get me wrong. I loved that baby with all my heart. She gave me what would be possibly the biggest adventure of my entire life. Becoming a mom completed me and all that cliche stuff. But quite frankly I found dealing with the demands of an infant quite tedious and my patience was taken to new edges...daily.

I could draw comparisons all day long, really. The "who I am v.s. who I was" factor, the differences in eating, playing, development, disposition and sleep patterns of my two babes, the only child v.s. the division of energy with the additional child, the stark difference in learning curve from the first to the second.....even the sheer lack of stimulation and organized activities for this second child is staggering. And maybe there is really not that much difference. The truth is I've discovered that I don't dislike babies at all. In fact, I fell completely in love with parenting this infant. She challenged me, fascinated me and mesmerized me in ways I did not recognize the first time. Or maybe I had just forgotten. Six years is a long time. Because, as it turns out I had forgotten "this" stage all together.

I know now why I waited so long in between babies. Until Meg reached the age of five it seemed like each stage became more difficult than the last. Just when I thought I had no time and no patience left to spare I was taken to a new edge. Left nostalgic and wistful about the stage we had just left. And yet when I had been fully immersed in that previous reality I could not appreciate it's gifts and apparent simplicity. And on and on it went.

"This" stage that I had forgotten is perhaps the part I struggled with last time. Perhaps this is what had me believing I didn't much care for babies. My Lola is an "easy" child. Amuses herself for hours in the day. Her defiance is short lived and easily redirected. Her determination is infuriating but admirable. She seems to understand the word "no" and doesn't always ignore it. Her ability to leave a trail of non-destructive chaos in her wake is charming. And yet it's all relative. Because she is my kid and I have only her to contend with I find that the "time-sucking" nature of parenting a toddler is....well.....frustrating.

Which brings me to today, right now, sitting in my car, outside my house. Laundry and dishes piled up to teetering heights. A diaper pail stinking to high heaven. A bathtub completely full of hand washing in various stages of completion. No plans for supper tonight (or any other night for that matter). A stack of paperwork to contend with and emails to answer. A trail of cereal boxes and granola bars strewn across the kitchen floor..... And here I sit. In the car. Listening to the deep and contented breathing of my sleeping toddler.

This busy toddler in the midst of a swirling whirlwind of change has had a lot of trouble with sleep the last couple of days. I have spent at least 17 hours over the last three days lying next to her, nursing her, comforting her, rocking her, singing to her, ignoring her, patting and rubbing her, all in an effort to get her to sleep. Both for her naps and at night.

So today I decided to forego all ideas of crossing something...anything off my list in favour of making sure that this child slept. I was out anyway and headed home around naptime. So I took a circuitous route past the bank and to the drive-thru at Second Cup. Driving until finally I heard the sweet sounds of sleep emanating from the back seat of the car. I drove leisurely towards home and pulled up in front of my house. Coffee, brownie and silence...... Now what.

I decided at this point that one could dedicate an entire blog to sharing helpful tips and suggestion for the busy mom of a car napping toddler. I started a list...

1. A directory of products and services that are available in drive-thru format.
2. Tips on how to fold laundry on your tailgate.
3. A comprehensive guide to the best places to tap into free wi-fi in your community.
4. A compilation of creative, gourmet and mess-free on the go lunches for hungry mamas.
5. The complete illustrated compendium of napping options for the front seat of your car.
6. A listing of the best radio shows available between the hours of 10:00 and 4:00.
7. A map of the best views of your city from quiet streets or parking lots.
8. Ideas for toning your thighs, buttocks and belly in a seated and upright position.
9. Directions for creating awe-inspiring crafts with old gas reciepts and slurpee straws.

And that is just a start...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

...this moment.

{this moment}
{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. I was inspired to do this by Soulemama. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.



Saturday, October 23, 2010

...this moment.

{this moment}

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. I was inspired to do this by Soulemama. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Friday, October 15, 2010

...this moment.

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

...giving thanks.

Life gets in the way of gratitude sometimes. Sad but true. But for this one solid weekend in October I feel like it courses through my veins and oozes out of every pore.  What I am thankful for right now is...

Karma.
I am immensely grateful that my father was the kind of guy that would drop everything and do whatever was needed to help a friend or family member. I was explaining this to Meg this morning and it went like this.
Me - "Grandpa was the kind of man that loved to help and give. Because of this.."
Meg - "He made a lot of friends."
Me - "Yes, Meg. He was loved. And more than that, Meg, now..."
Meg - "People want to help Nanny."
Me - "Yes, baby. That's karma. And it works best because when he helped people it was never with the intention of getting anything in return. It was just done with love in his heart."
And now with love in their hearts many people are creating a matrix of support that is making it possible for my mom to continue to live in the place they called home together for almost 40 years.
Youth.
As parents we are given the incredible gift of seeing life through the eyes of our children. When I really connect with my girls it's as if I am able to plug directly in to the joy, excitement, anticipation, grief, frustration, wonder and intensity of their experience in that moment. I find it most profound when they learn something new or finally achieve something they have been working towards. The sense of accomplishment actually feels like a physical swelling of the chest. And an even more surprising experience I had not anticipated before I was a parent is that I get to relive my childhood. Sharing my own experiences with Meg and remembering things long forgotten as I watch Meg go through them herself. Yesterday we approached the railway crossing less than a mile from my childhood home and the signal began to flash. We pulled up to a stop just as the train was approaching. Meg suggest we wave. I opened the windows and we enthusiatically waved as the engine slowly rolled past. To our incredible delight his window was also wide open and his nonchalant wave back had us grinning like fools and cheering at our success. Having lived my entire childhood
just down the road I had been stopped at that crossing thousands of times and waved at every engine and kaboose that went past. Always excited when the wave was returned. I wonder when I stopped waving. Ah, another great thing about youth is the chance to be uncool and foolish again.

Maturity.
At the same time that I delight in the spirit of youth, I also savour the comfort of my age. With that age comes wisdom, confidence and acceptance. Peace. Less inner turmoil, more clarity. You know, maybe youth and maturity are more akin than I thought. In one stage I was layering on my psyche-protecting veils, until perhaps one day it all just got too heavy, too clouded. And then as I matured I labouriously shed one layer at a time in a search for my authentic self. With each layer peeled away becoming more raw and feeling more alive. I'm grateful that this means it will only get better.

Community.
What does that mean? Friends that have become my soul sisters. Neighbours that shovel my walk and mow my lawn. Dozens of mothers to my children. The walking school bus we are a part of everday. The children my daughter calls friends. The facebook friends that laugh at and respond to my status updates. The people that read and comment on my blog. Even the guy at the hardware store that gives you that extra piece of advice. The woven fabric of my life is intertwined with the lives of all these people by the threads of our encounters. It's a colourful tapestry.
Where does one even end? Like I said, gratitude oozing from every pore. I'm thankful for my husband's love. My big girl's imagination. My baby's sweet, milky breath. My extended family (all of them, even the slightly crazy ones). Chocolate buttons and wine. Warm autumn light. Good health. The roof over my head and food in my fridge. Air travel, email, and long distance telephone plans. My iPhone. Kids that occasionally go to bed early and sleep in late. Knowing I am surrounded by people that really love me.

Clearly I need to do this more often. Perhaps then my list would be more manageable... Nah, not likely. My life is pretty sweet. Here's proof...

Friday, October 8, 2010

...this moment.

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Photo Credit - David Walker

Saturday, October 2, 2010

...this moment.

Well, I'm a day late this week. I had a busy Friday. I had so many photos to choose from just from last weekend alone. I really feel as though I lived in the last 7 days. It was one of those weeks when you really know you're alive. And then Thursday gave me this special moment. I feel compelled to explain that there is one very important element that you can't see in this photograph. Hidden by the angel of a woman in the white t-shirt is a minutes old babe being held in the arms of his warrior mama.


{this moment}
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Friday, September 24, 2010

...this moment.

{this moment}
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

...tetris.

You know that game? Who doesn't is more to the point, I guess.

It's my life.

Not "it's my life" as in I live for it. But actually, it's precisely what my life feels like. Like I am at the controls as tiny, huge, mundane, unexpected, challenging, time consuming, frustrating, creative, complex, joyful, productive, repetitive, tender, juicy, .....tasks filter down into my life. It's my job to effeciently slot them in. As a matter of fact, as a mom, it's my job to do this for my whole family. Most days I feel like a pro. Assessing the task and slotting it in. Sometimes spinning it around or flipping it to make it fit and other times just watching as it drifts down and lands perfectly in it's place. All of it, a very sophisticated series of well timed moves.

And then suddenly...I make a wrong move. I wager what the next piece will be and it is unexpectedly malformed to fit in my puzzle. Or I shift over just one square too far and it gets hung up and blocks the route for all subsequent pieces. Or someone comes along and distracts me for a split second at a crucial moment. From that point on things just seem to log jamb and I might as well throw my hands up in the air. At that point it all feels about as sophisticated as a bar brawl.

I'm not sure that everyone knows that moms are doing this all the time on some conscious or sub-conscious level. I think we can make it all look so effortless that people don't see what's going on behind the curtain. The only time that people are aware of the tetris juggling act is when we log jamb and things are going terribly wrong. All the finesse and grace of months, weeks or days of expertly played moves go entirely unnoticed.

It's kinda like when someone pulls that piece out of the Jenga tower that causes the whole thing to wobble dreadfully..... Wait a minute. Now I am mixing my geeky game metaphors. Let's stick with Tetris. September has been one big log jamb....There is only one cure for that. A clean slate.

Friday, September 17, 2010

...this moment.

I love the blog world.  It's soooo huge and oh so intertwined.  I kinda began following blogs with this one.  I think maybe the reason I decided to blog.  Then when she was in the final days of gestating her baby girl I began following her mom's blog to catch updates and hear of the news that the babe had arrived.  I got hooked on her mom too.  A couple of weeks ago her mom began this Friday ritual.  Inspired by Soule Mama.  And now I am going to give it a whirl

 {this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

...Peter Pan.

Thursday, July 29, 2010
Kirriemuir, Scotland

This week we stayed in Thrums cottage. Owned by the National Trust for Scotland and attached on one end to J.M. Barrie's Birthplace. It is magic. I will do my best to describe it but my sense is that I will never be able to.

J.M. Barrie's Birthplace is a museum that seems to ooze magic from it's very walls. A replics of a modest weavers cottage on the upper floor and what would have been the loom and yarn store on the ground level is now a showcase for his work. In one part of the upper floor they have created a children's fantasy room with a bed upon which nightgowns are laid out and a trunk at the foot of the bed is full of handmade costumes to act out your favourite scenes from Peter Pan. One area has been designed to give you the feeling of flying. A platform with a cushion on top for resting your belly on while you outstretch your arms and legs in flying position. Then a motion sensor sets off a fan that blows the "night wind" through your hair. Murals painted all around and a mirror positioned just so that when the "flyer" faces the wind he will see himself flying through the air and audio of Peter Pan giving flying lessons floats into the room. Fantastic. Magic really.

This room in the museum shares a wall with my bedroom in Thrums Cottage. In the back of the museum is a yard with a wash house. This wash house acted as Barrie's first theatre where, as a boy, he created and acted out scenes of great action for other children in the neighborhood and which ultimately served as the model for the house that the lost boys built for Wendy in Peter Pan. And next to that, across a small lane from our cottage, is a garden. Open to all and for one week it feels like ours. It has a gorgeous border of flowering perenials and a lovely wooden bench to sit a spell. In the middle of the garden is a massive hedge in the shape of a crocodile, hollow down the middle and tall enough for Meg to walk into and play inside. She has played in there for hours this week while we have prepared meals, washed dishes or folded laundry. The crowning glory, however, is the Peter Pan statue atop a carved stump that sits proudly in one corner of the garden. Spellbinding. Magic really.

That garden is what I look out to from all the windows at the rear of the cottage. The best view is from my bed. When I lay down to put Lola to sleep each night I can see the statue and the hedge at the bottom of the garden. Beyond that is another row of houses and beyond that a horse pasture and beyond that a cow pasture and beyond that hills and countryside. And as the sun dims, the twinkling lights of the town of Fofar become visible in the distance. And this week the full moon shone brightly in the clear night sky backlighting the Peter Pan statue and creating the perfect stage for the bats that danced outside the window. Enchanting. Magic really.

The best part of the view is the windows themselves. They are old, big, low (just a foot and a half off the floor), wooden framed, peeling paint, no screen.... The latch is swirl of painted wrought iron. They swing open like a door. You can easily see why ones imagination could create a world where you could just step out of those windows and if you just wiggled your toes and thought happy thoughts you could fly.

This place has cast a spell on me. I feel swept up in the simple magic of this row of weavers cottages on this quiet street in this cheerful town in the heart of rural Scotland. J.M. Barrie wrote most of his books with bits and pieces of this town and it's characters as backdrop and players. His mother featured as a character in most. As Wendy in Peter Pan in fact. The tale of a boy that never grew up...

And this week in this cottage my girls defied the magic of Peter Pan. They grew up...just a little. Lola finally, if reluctantly, allowed some food to pass her lips. It didn't go much beyond her mouth but it's something. And then sometime over night on Monday she finally cut a tooth she has been working on for months. On Tuesday she began to stand unsupported for fairly long periods of time. And on Thursday Meg lost her 8th tooth. The same one Lola cut earlier in the week. The tooth fairy will visit here in Scotland tonight. I wonder what magic she will bring.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

...sand in her nappies.

Sunday, July 25th
Today we found our holiday stride. A relaxing morning at our new cottage, which is in the centre of a town this time. A stroll around the streets. And even though it is Sunday and nearly everything is shut and very sleepy, there was an excellent coffee shop open and the smell wafting from through the chain curtain in the doorway was divine. It was one of the best lattes I have ever had. There was even a little latte art leaf in the foam of my to-go cup. There was a lid on the cup when they handed it to me. I never would have known if I hadn't been tempted to peek. That is a sign of a barista that loves his job. A Love Warrior Barista, if you will. Putting everything into that cup of Joe without any attachment to outcome. Knowing that I might never see that artful foam. And I could taste the love.

The blue sky was beginning to show itself as we left the supermarket with our rations for the day. We packed them in our cooler and headed out in search of sun, history and a place to use our bandy net. We have our faithful sidekick Villie in tow this weekend. Dave's friends have been joining us on weekends or when they can get a day off work. Things seem lighter on those days. More carefree. I think there are many reasons for that. But one of them simply comes down to the fact that with at least one adult always on duty with child minding there is never a time that we are completely free to engage in one another. I often find myself sitting in the car with a sleeping baby and my iPhone or knitting while Dave explores a standing stone with Meg. But with another adult along it allows for at least two grown-ups to participate in some stimulating, intellectual (or completely juvenille) exchange. Funny that...connecting as a family seems to work better with a welcome and companianable interloper. It does help that Villie is one of the most cheerful, easy going and engaging guys I know ( and he's single - goodness knows why).

We wound our way over the country roads towards the coast and the ruins of Red Castle (which is indeed rather red). After hiking up a steep trail through nettles, thistles and very spiky bushes, which Meg calls a briar patch, we reached the spectacular ruins of Red Castle. We were even more taken with the vast, clear, sandy beach below. So Dave and Villie went back to the car for our lunch and the bandy net and we headed for the beach. By the time we made our way down the path the sun was ablaze and we were sorry we hadn't selected a slightly different wardrobe this morning. Shoes were removed, jeans rolled up and the wading began. We chased after little fish with our net and marvelled at how warm the North Sea water felt where it was shallow enough for the sun to warm and the tide was not yet coming in. Meg began to sing and wander about without a thought to the rest of us. You always know she is happy when she is singing to herself. The sun was warm but the breeze kept us cool. Lola watched it all from my back. Proudly perched in the carrier. Legs swinging, squaking and laughing as she watched Meg run through the waves. Eventually Meg opted to remove her pants and prance through the waves in her knickers. Lola was put down on the sand to play. We enjoyed our very sandy picnic lunch. This was it. This is what I had been waiting for. It's not as though I hadn't been enjoying myself for the last two and a half weeks. I really have. I've seen loads of new things, seen old things with new eyes and spent precious time with my family. Today felt different. The sun was shining. Over the last few days as the sun has shone briefly here and there I have realized what a difference that makes. We can sit on the grass, eat our lunch outside the car, let our children play... It has been hard being cooped up all together so much. And this country really reveals it's incredible beauty in the summer sun.

As the tide slowly moved the shoreline closer to our picnic spot the sky began to darken with stormy clouds. The water lapping in from the sea was cold now. Not so inviting for wading and beachcombing. We had spent a surprisingly long time on that beach. I think we'd have stayed much longer if those clouds hadn't signalled the end of our time there. We packed up our stuff, dusted the sand off of our feet and reluctantly put them back in our shoes. On the hike back to the car Lola fell asleep on my back. We shifted her carefully from my back to her seat without waking her and the journey turned quiet. Peaceful.

We were stopped at Resteneth Priory when she finally woke. I took her out of the car for a stretch and opened the boot to change her bum. I laid the change pad out in the bottom of the boot and popped her down on it. When I pulled off the wee diaper pants and a small pile of sand was deposited on the change pad I knew we were in for a treat. The poor sweet dolly had a bum full of damp sand.

You know you've had a good day when you find sand in her nappies.

Friday, August 6, 2010

...wired.

We are finally home and getting settled. Thank goodness no one has to rush back to work. It feels so lovely to ease into our lives and our comfy home. Upon our return seeing our surroundings with new eyes and noticing things that we want to change and things we forgot we loved. The return is....so many things all at once. I need time to reflect on it. Let it soak in. In the meantime I will post some things I wrote while we were away and off the grid. And try and get some pictures that reflect our journey for posting. I also promised some blogs from the vault and then promptly fell off the electronic map. So this is a time to catch up... Let's see how well I do.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

...SEVEN

It's finally here. Seven. I have been a mother for seven years. We have been a family for seven years. And in that time we have stretched, ached, cried, rejoiced, explored, gone to new edges, grown apart, grown together...woven a new tapestry that is our lives. Meg taught us how to be parents, me how to be a mama. And over the last year I have shed the last of my maiden skin. I am mother.

Based on the theory of cell regeneration, humans replace every cell in their body on a seven year cycle. So gradually my body has shed those maiden cells to be replaced with new ones. Cells that only know the mother part of my life. And now together Meg and I will pass through a gate of complete renewal (give or take a few cells). We both stand on the precipice of a massive shift. Because while I am no longer a maiden, she is no longer a newborn baby. She no longer holds in her ??? Little body any of the cells that created her. All the splitting and multiplying and mysterious growth that happened in my mother womb is no longer part of her cellular structure. And I can see in her body, ego and spirit the struggle of this shift. The seven year change is massive...earth moving. And no wonder it's hard for parents to help their children through this shapeshifting transformation. We are in the middle of our own foundation shaking growth. Saying a final farewell to my maiden self and then with gut wrenching melancholy watching the child that created this shift move into her own renewal. Huge shit going down.

I have watched this shift occur with absolute fascination to many of sister/friends over the last year or so and I have seen and felt an incredible sense of comfort and ease surge into the lives of those mothers. Some of them having their second or third baby in conjunction with that seven year milestone. Thinking that mothering has become much more rich and manageable because of their "experience". And while i think this is also true I believe the bigger truth is that they are fully realized, full fledged, ready to soar, grown up, eagle mamas. Finally having wound their way out of that labrynth that they journeyed to in birth. Finally looking outward to see themselves reflected in their world and the life they have created. Finally having every last cell of their body oscilating at the same mama frequency.

It's kinda like having been in between to radio stations on the FM dial for the last seven years and gradually, over time and space...tuning in.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

...food, glorious food.

Why when we holiday does it seem to completely revolve around food?  From the minute I step foot in the departure lounge I am thinking about food. Why didn't I pack food?  When will they feed me on the plane?  Will it be icky? Should I have ordered the vegetarian meal? I often get one last overpriced beverage or snack before boarding. Not being in control of my food intake on an 8 hour flight drives me a bit mental. I eat when I'm not hungry just cause I don't know when my next meal will be and no matter how bad it is I like to eat it all cause it's included in the price of my flight and not much else is these days. On a transatlantic flight the meal times are all out of whack and your body gets a bit messed up (not to mention that i try to avoid using the loo)... And this all before I have landed in my holiday destination.

Straight out of the arrivals gate I am scanning for my next fix. Coffee? A sandwich? A foreign snack from the news agent?  Once on the road my eyes are on the lookout for bakeries, grocery stores and roadside chippers. We don't make it too far down the road before we stop at a grocery store and buy the most random array of edible delights. Cheese, crisps, yogurt, a packet of Angel Delight and a jar of Branston Pickle. None of which fills the void of our immediate food needs.  

Perhaps it's about living the experience to the fullest. We have to eat anyway so why not make that part of the adventure? Indulge in things we can't get at home and try things we never otherwise would eat. Or maybe it's as simple as harbouring a lifelong obsession with food.  Yep. I think that's it. I love food. And I hate my relationship with it. But when I am on holiday the gloves are off and it feels less.....guilt laden. 

And now that we travel with wee ones the food factor only multiplies. We strive to find balance in feeding Meg while she watches us shamelessly out of balance ourselves. Is it really ok that she has eaten crisps as an appetizer to most meals this week?  Including breakfast?  And might I add that breakfast is a bowl of Frosties or a plate of maple pancakes? If I hear "I'm hungry" or "I'm thirsty" one more time today I might just go batty. We have tried, without success to teach Meg that travel and urgency do not go well together. Eat and pee when you have the chance not when you HAVE to. *sigh* This is only the end of the first week. 

And the only person almost completely unaffected by the food frenzy is Lola. And although she appears unscathed by it, her food situation adds yet another layer to my stress. Still not eating. I have let a lot of things go in my journey to feed Lola. I started out with all the highest standards of food selection. Organic, homemade, fresh, raw, whole fruit.  Soon the cooking and pureeing began. Then the homemade rule was abolished. Next to fall was organic. And now??? It doesn't have to be fruit, vegetable or any combination of. I don't care if she shoves a macaroni pie in her mouth. I've offered her yogurt, ice cream, fish, pickles, oatmeal...I think she even had a chip (french fry) in her hand here one day, but nothing makes it past her lips.  

So the battle continues. Today was all about food again. We ate a weird array of breakfast foods at the cottage, a strange assortment of snacks, a late lunch at a terrible restaurant in Inverness (I kept expecting Gordon Ramsay to walk through the door or find out I was on candid camera), then we spent the good part of an hour like kids in a candy store at Marks & Spencers (I wish I could upload the photos), we followed this with another meal out to try and make up for the earlier disaster....and now we are eating crisps and drinking cider, beer and stout. And tomorrow we will do it all again. 

Eat, drink and be merry...I guess. But mostly eat!      

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

...the hidden blog vault.

In the course of sorting out my telecommunication and internet situation here in the UK I have been forced to rely heavily on my iPhone and the limited wifi in the cottage (only available in the bedrooms and only when the couple next door decide to leave the router on). So I have resorted to the blogging app on my phone. Today I was scrolling through all the entries I had made and found several nearly finished but unpublished posts. They are time sensitive because they were written to mark milestones. I was so busy that I just never got back to them and probably figured it was just too late. But I read them again and...I think they are perfectly formed and complete just as they are. Likely really just missing the photos I planned to put with them. So over the course of the next little while I will release these little gems from the vault.

In the meantime we are freezing here. I could have worn gloves and a scarf today. Wish I had packed wooly hats and sweaters for the girls. But the cottage is cozy and tonight we are settled in to do laundry, watch some trashy British telly and eat some beans and sausage. A true Scottish evening in.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

...a journey.

Well we are here. Back home. In the land of haggis and bagpipes (neither of which I have ever seen much of here). And it all feels very....mundane, domestic and, for lack of a better word, normal. I'm not sure why this is. It should feel exotic. It's been six years.

I don't feel that fluttery feeling in my chest at the sight of a castle or the incredible landscape. But I'm not here to connect with the history and beauty of this country. I don't even get the butterflies in my belly at the thought of seeing folks I haven't seen in years. It all feels very natural and as though no time at all has passed. But I'm not entirely here to reconnect with those people either.

I'm here to find my family. To settle in to a few solid weeks of soul nourishing adventure with the three people my life orbits around. To build a foundation of common experience that will soak into our bones and become part of who we are as a whole. It's unifying. To do things together that no one else will have in common with you. That is what I seek. That is what I am hungry for. And I felt it happening already as I arrived at the airport and was madly sending my last few texts before I was cut off for the next four weeks. I wasn't very engaged in the activity. My adventure had already begun and the pull to my family was much stronger than my tether to my life at home.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

...fairies, pirates and cupcakes.

In a week from today we will be in Aberdeen, Scotland.  Our feet on the soil of a country we haven't visited since Meg was the age that Lola is now.  6 years.  Our lives bearing almost no resemblance to the life we lives back then.  We have lost, we have multiplied, we have moved, we have grown.  I wonder what it will all look like through these new eyes. 

But today we were totally present to our lives here.  We spent the day celebrating 7.  Meg will turn seven while we are away so we planned a little party for this afternoon and gathered our friends to enjoy a day in the beautiful summer air.  I hatched a plan to turn all of the little girls into fairies for the day and all of the little lads into pirates.  I sewed 17 pairs of fairy wings in purple, pink, turquoise and teal.  And 6 black eyepatches.  There were not that many kids total but I had a suspicion some lads would opt for fairy wings and maybe even some lassies for eyepatches.  I was dead right about the wings.  Three of the four boys donned the gathered tulle wings and "fluttered" around the park.  It was a lovely day with a beautiful breeze to give lift to those wings on their backs.  We smiled and laughed and ate... watched the joyful play of more than a dozen incredible kids.  My gratitude as I soak up the last of this day runs deep.  Friends and family that love my children, our family and celebrate our lives every day with us.  Bliss. 

I'm pooped.  And I have much to do before we board that plan next week.  Here are some images from the day... I believe they tell the story better than I could with words.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

...a year.

June 20, 2009

And then in the blink of an eye she was here, and she had always been here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

...another day of mystery.

June 19, 2009

What can I say...this was the only picture that was taken that day.  I looked down and was still staring at this belly.  I had spent hours just staring at this belly... the rolling, stretching, sweeping movements of limbs, back and bum.  And as the sky darkened again on this day I realized that I would crawl into bed again with my babe comfortably on the inside.  I had managed to live timelessly all day...swaying, squatting, singing, laughing....but with the sun dropping low and the shadows turning into darkness I could no longer deny that another day had passed.  And I knew that as much as I was loving this sweet time of waiting and holding my life in this animated suspension, something would have to change soon...       

Friday, June 18, 2010

...a-n-t-i-c-i-p-a-t-i-o-n.

June 18, 2009
As I look around my house tonight I remember this warm evening sunlight pouring into my house that day.  My body, my belly and my heart filled with the imminence of each moment.  My bones and my cells easing into the memory of this dance...

...a belly full.

June 17, 2009


I was not to know that later that night the floodgates would burst open....

Saturday, May 29, 2010

...a sidewalk

Over the last two years I have walked hundreds of thousands of steps along a very special stretch of sidewalk. Laughter has resounded, tears have been shed, magical discoveries have been made and true friendships have been formed as we share that stretch of sidewalk with some other special people.

Over the last year alone I have walked about 800 kilometers on that strip of concrete. That is over 1 million steps. It's 1 kilometer each way and I do the walk twice daily on school days. At a brisk pace it takes 12 minutes from door to door. But most of the time it takes a great deal longer than that.

In the two years we have been making this trek to school and back there have only been a couple of mornings that we called the walk due to weather. I kid you not, it was about -50C with windchill and I still briefly considered braving the elements. Now those who know me well know that I am not an outdoor winter sports fanatic by any means. When I was a kid I was the first one to come in from the cold while my sisters continued tireless work on a snowfort or made an extra loop around the field on their snowshoes. But this commitment to my walk is different. It is soulfood.

On winter mornings we feel like arctic explorers. The only parts of our bodies you can see are our eyes. Peeking out over our thermal neck warmers. Our breath creates condensation on our eyelashes, which then freezes to stick our eyelids shut. We are captivated by the beauty of each sparkly snowflake as it falls to rest on our coat sleeve or the hood of the stroller. We were quite late for school one day because we stopped to admire the hoar frost on every branch we past. School could wait, we were in Mother Earth's classroom that day. Some days the ice mist over the river valley is so dense that the city skyline disappears completely and makes you feel as though your world has shrunk to the span of a few square blocks. On the way home we have more time for, climbing snow mountains, trekking through fairy forests, sitting on snow drifts to shoot the breeze, pulling each other in sleds, snow angels, collecting icicles and general tom foolery.

When the warm weather returns we feel the freedom of our unencumbering attire. The pace doesn't change much. Snow angels are replaced by cartwheels and climbing snow mountains shift to climbing trees. We are still almost late for school some days because the pace of our walk does not reflect the urgency to come in out of the cold.

Watching the trees and flowers blossom in spring has certainly been remarkable but it is even more remarkable to watch our children blossom, their relationships blossom, our admiration for them blossom and our sense of community and connections with our neighbours blossom. We share our walk regularly with three other families and a ragtag bunch of siblings, hitchhikers, dolls and pets. One mom calls it "the walking school bus". Some days there are as many as 10 kids and 6 adults. We have been known to block traffic and we attract a fair amount of honking and waving. This group of mom's have become a bit if a lifeline for me. I know that I can always count on them. The option is always there for them to walk Meg to school or bring her home for me...but I just can't stay away. Lola and I need that time as much as Meg does. We wake up to the world in those 30 minutes in the crisp morning air. Breathing in the peace of our block, breathing in the joy of our union with our comrades at "kids corner", breathing in the excitement and anticipation of a new day to learn and soak up the spirit of community. And at the end of each school day our children have a chance to slowly and gently transition back into our family routines. To shift and squirm their bodies in an effort to shed the weight of their day of independence and burrow themselves back into the bossom of their mamas.

This stretch of sidewalk has seen and heard some of our lives most revealing and authentic moments. I have knelt down on that pavement many times to offer comfort for a scraped knee, a bruised ego or a broken heart. I have thrown my head back and laughed into the canopy of our big old elm trees at the sheer delight of a crazy outfit or a knock knock joke. And I have grinned foolishly at the joy of it all.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

...definitely not 1984.

Everyday on my way to and from Meg's school I pass by Concordia College.  It is anchored by a beautiful old building and surrounded by incredible mature trees.  I went to school here almost 20 years ago.  I never walk by without being captivated by the youthful vitatlity that kind of oozes from the old bones of this historic building and the charming exuberance that is characterized by the students laughing, studying and cavorting on the front lawn. The other day on my way to pick Meg up from school I saw something that still amazes me...

Even 10 years ago this sight would not have been so mundane.  Hell, I still don't find it mundane.  I thought it remarkable enough that I couldn't stop thinking about it and asked if I could take her picture as I passed by on the way home. 

This tree has easily outlived the person that planted it many decades before.  It has massive, sprawling branches that have given shade to many a student on a hot, sunny day.  When I went to school here I sat with my back against that gnarled old tree trunk listening to Sonata No. 11 on my big, yellow, Sony Sports Walkman. 

My friend, Chris, is writing a musical called "St. Aggie's 84".  It's about an all girls private school and is set in 1984.  Around the time that Sony Sports Walkman was all the rage.  For the last few months he has been completely immersed in the 80s. As well as writing this musical he has also recorded an album for release in June that is about 50 percent 80s cover songs.  Needless to say this has led to a lot of refelction about how our world has evolved since then.  Or more specifically the contrast between what we thought the year 2010 would look like and what has actually come to pass.  We thought that the future was in artificial intelligence, robotics and space travel.  And to some extent all of those things have made advances but the dark horse of the technological race has been in telecommunications and wireless devices.  Making the above scene just part of the landscape.

My 6 year old thinks nothing of this sight.  For her "google" is a verb that has always been a part of her vocabulary.  She can't understand that there was ever a time when the world wasn't at our fingertips.  I find myself talking about encyclopedias and having to go to the library to study like my grandparents did about their horse and cart transport to school. 

Every day I wake up and the first thing I do after kissing my sleeping baby on the head is reach for my IPhone to check the days weather forecast.  I mentally prepare three outfits.  I can't resist checking my email and facebook while I am at it.  All this before I roll out of bed.  This is only the start of a day in which I am completely connected without tether to almost anything in the world.  And at night I often end the day as I am today.  My laptop perched on the bed, me under the covers crosslegged and cozy, tapping away at my keyboard.  And yet I am still jarred (and amazed) by the image of a young woman researching a term paper, composing an email or doing her online banking under the shade of a gnarled old tree. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

...the future Prime Minister of Canada

So today was my Wednesday coffee date with my my old BFF (aka blogger Maria Pace-Wynters).  I used to love hanging out with her.  She is funny & charming, soulful & authentic, talented & beautiful.  And she used to make me feel super cool just to be around her.  But that was until I met my new BFF, Justin Trudeau. 

Lola and I were just hanging out in Spinelli's (aka The Italian Centre Shop - a coffee shop attached to a great Italian market) with Maria and Scarlett like we do most Wednesdays.  We were having a lively discussion about dog poop and dental anesthesia over coffee and calzones.  It's the highlight of my week, if I'm honest.  Nothing can keep me from it and I mean nothing.  Like the fact that I hadn't showered or washed my hair in a few days. Or the fact that moments before I had to leave Lola had just fallen asleep and I had to wake her to get her coat on.  These days I don't always get it together before I leave the house.  Getting the two kids up, clothed, fed and out the door to walk Meg to school before 8:30 is usually about all I can muster.  I put on a hat and a smile and hope nobody stands close enough to smell me.  If I am lucky, when I get home from our walk to school Lola will have a nap and I will have a shower.  This morning I wasn't so lucky.  But as I told you that will not keep me away from my soul nourishing time spent with Maria..... So where was I?  Oh yah, dog poop and dental anesthesia.... and enter Justin Trudeau

Thanks to the excited and sweet Spinelli's employee we got the heads up that Justin Trudeau was on his way over for a cup of joe between speaking engagements.   We had pretty much finished our coffee by this time and Scarlett (3 years old) was finding every way possible to smear strawberry gelato all over her face and the table (she is a dynamic eater, that one). They had begun to move tables around.  Important looking people were filtering into the building.  We probably should have given up our table and cleared off but I was lingering, making excuses, nursing Lola a little more... And then suddenly he was there.  And we were completely starstruck.  After all the man is like Canada's JFK Jr. And there he was standing next to our table asking Lola what her name was.... Ok the man is not an idiot.  He knew she wouldn't answer but I think his words were, "and what is your name?"  He asked her age and talked about his daughter, Ella-Grace, who is 13 months old.  And then Lola began to wail.  And I mean full out, siren-decibel, ugly-faced crying. Did I mention that I had jarringly roused her from her morning nap in order to make my coffee date?  Thank god the man is a father of two small children.  He was so kind about it, chatted a little longer and then shook our hands and moved on.  Maria and I just looked at each other, grinned and pulled out our IPhones to send a few excited texts and try to take covert photos. 

After the initial excitement died down I went to the bathroom to change Lola and came back to gather up my things.  I popped Lola into the sling and was making a few adjustments when "he" walked past our table again.  He stopped to see if Lola had settled down from her previous wailing episode and noticed the sling.  At which point he became very animated about how great he and his wife thought baby wearing was and that babies in Africa don't have colic because they are carried all the time.  He even gave me a few tips on the hip carry for when she is a little bigger.  Was he for real? Smart, handsome and a bit of a hippie?  By now I figure we have a bit of rapport so I decide I might as well put it all on the line and ask to do something I have never done before.  "Would you mind terribly if we could have our photos taken with you?" 

After we left him we were like giggling teenagers.  In our fantasy world we had just had coffee with Justin Trudeau.  We wondered through the grocery aisles putting random things in our baskets.  We went to the check out in a daze and I put my roasted fava beans and spelt pasta on the conveyer.  It wasn't until I got to my car that I snapped out of it a bit and remembered that I was disguising unwashed hair under my funky corduroy hat.... that I had failed to apply deodorant before I left the house this morning... *sniff, sniff*... oh boy... had I even brushed my teeth?  Nope. 

I drove home to return to my glamourous life.  Dirty dishes piled high on the counter, diapers to rinse in my bathtub, papers piled up on the coffee table, something sticky on the floor in the kitchen.... 

Mr. Trudeau, if you are reading this please don't think any less of me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

...one year.

Happy Blogiversary to me, happy blogiversary to me, happy blogiversary dear I Spy With My Little Eye, happy blogiversary to meeeeee.

One year ago today I made a bit of a deal with myself.  I was going to attempt to write as often as I could or at least as often as the notion struck me.  Everyday, once a week, regularly, sporatically... I didn't know how it would unfold but I would write and I started with this. I surprised myself.  I wrote some stuff that felt genuine and creative.  I was excited to share it and increasingly delighted by the legacy I was creating for my children.  For them to one day read and witness me unfolding as a mother to them.  Today I gave myself a Blogiversary present.  I read my blog.  The whole years worth.  I cried a little, remembered nuances of the last year that I had forgotten, was honoured again as I read the comments that you have left for me... and most surprisingly I didn't cringe...not even a little.  I was actually hanging on every word.  Hungry for more.  Captivated by the honesty of the prose.  Huh?  Who knew?  I was even intrigued and surprised at how the body of work as a whole revealed the transformation of my life over the last year.   How wildly feminine and introspective my "gestational" posts were and how unaplogetically selfish they seemed over the summer.  How my subject matter and focus meandered from one aspect of my life to the next in the months to follow.

I have many more bits and pieces of writing started, in process or scribbled as ideas here and there.  Most of those will never make their way to this place to be read (and reread by me) but they are what keeps the fire stoked, feeds the hunger to create and ultimately nurtures the growth that I long for and realize through this process. 

To me... Yah me.

Friday, April 9, 2010

...stuff

I watched the video on this website while breastfeeding Lola.  Six minutes in I was angry and sobbing.  Watch it...you will see why.

http://www.storyofstuff.com/

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

...joy rising.

On Easter Sunday my entire family (and some extra loved ones) gathered at my mom's place for an Easter egg hunt and dinner.  In all it was 10 children under the age of ten and 16 adults.  It was to be a simple holiday.  No large baskets full of chocolate and candy.  Just a simple outdoor egg hunt, some good food and great company.  The only little extra we had all planned for was some kite flying.  A sure sign of spring.  A brand new kite tied onto a fresh spool of string.  The sound of rubber boots when you run... You know that sound?  Kind of hollow and flompy.  The dads would take the kids out in the field and let those kids run up and down the furrows until they tired or the kites were lifted skyward by the warm spring breeze.  Eventually the kids would give up and the dads would start running.... Or so this is how I saw it.  It was the scene of my childhood for many Easter Sunday afternoons. 

This Easter would be different...

The egg hunt was sublime.  How ten kids could be so perfectly delighted with a hunt for a bunch of plastic eggs is a beautiful and mysterious thing to me.  They all stood at the door, baskets in hand, like a bunch of wild horses at the gate.  And when the door opened they ran around the yard plucking the brightly coloured eggs from branches, under steps, inside planters, balanced in downspouts and laying in random clusters on the ground.  The sound and the sight of these kids was a joy to behold.  One might think that they would be rushing to fill their baskets.  Boastful to have the most eggs or have filled their baskets the fastest.  But this was not what I witnessed at all.  My 9 month old babe had a basket too.  She was watching it all from the comfort of her sling on my hip.  I sidled up to some Lola height eggs in the branches of the spruce trees so she could pluck her own but soon her basket was overflowing with the donations of all the other children.  Eggs were being picked up and plopped in whatever basket looked a little sparse.  Some of the older or more eager children would call to the little ones when they had found a cluster ideal for sharing.  There was this incredible civility about the whole activity and the adult observers were grinning from ear to ear.  Is this it?  Have we finally reached the pay off for all those years of hovering to manage the hurt feelings or misdirected energy of our spirited preschoolers?  Whatever it was no one was complaining... In fact no one said much, I think for fear of jinxing it. 

When the hunt was over we went inside for an incredibly civilized meal as well.  There seemed to be no major meltdowns about who would sit next to whom.  Or tears about gravy leaking out of the potato well and contaminating brussel sprouts.  Plates were cleaned and tummies were full.  The women folk began the pleasant chore of finding containers for the leftovers and loading the dishwasher.  Laughing and teasing while eating the crunchy bits of stuffing that get left on the inside of the serving dish.  This is when my perfect Easter Sunday was to manifest itself with the sight of half a dozen kites flying in the sky outside the kitchen window.... Not a chance.

Last year our changing family dynamics and a 20 year old car in need of some extensive repairs led us to buy a new(ish) car.  The 1990 Dodge Spirit that had been our trusty chariot for more than ten years was put out to pasture at my mom's.  It was a perplexing decision to retire the old dear.  She had never really failed us.  We had to remind ourselves that she had begun to use a lot of gas, the brakes locked when called upon to stop quickly, the trunk was no longer watertight and so therefore smelled... real bad.  But after more than a year of sitting on mom's lawn the old bucket needed nothing more than a bit of battery charging and she fired right up.  So while most of us puttered away in the kitchen my husband gathered up the two daredevil children and went out the Spirit for a bit of a spin around the yard.  Sam (7 years old) and Sydney (8) piled into the front seat with Uncle David, one on the passenger seat and the other on his lap.  He would operate the gas and brakes and they would "drive" the car.  Pretty soon the windows were lined with children and grownups alike watching the kids drive around the 3 acre yard.  Some of the other kids wanted to go outside but we wouldn't let them for fear they would be run over by a wreckless 8 year old driver.  But as Uncle David pulled up on the front lawn to trade drivers we would send one or two more of the older children out to climb in the back seat.  The little ones were begging to go out too and eventually we caved.  They could get in the car but they were NOT allowed to drive.  Soon there were nine children and one adult in that car.  Dave would let them make a couple of rounds and then pull up on the front lawn where all the doors would fling open and the musical chairs would begin.  On the longest straight stretch Dave would slow right down and then put his foot on the gas.  Causing fits of laughter, screaming and feet to go flying up in the air as they fell back into the well worn seats.  As they drove past the deck where most of us had gathered to watch they would all shout "Happy Easter" out the open windows.  I don't know when I have ever felt so awash with the unbridled joy of a group of kids.  Their grins were contagious and I wish I could have harnessed the energy.  It was joy rising.

In the end 8 of those nine kids took the wheel.  The youngest, pictured here, is three. 

We had planned to donate that car to a charity this spring.  Finally say goodbye to it and thank it for all those years of reliable service.  But on Sunday I could envision that in a few short years that same gaggle of giggling kids could pile into that car and head into town to get slurpees at 7-eleven.  Just as I had done, in a car ten years older than I was, testing the waters, spreading my wings....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

... interdependence.

Today Lola brushed my teeth.  I thought it was remarkable. 

A few days ago I started brushing her two little chompers with a silicone tooth scrubber you slide on to the end of your finger.  Although she has had those two teeth for three months now I never felt the desperate need to brush them because she still doesn't eat anything that doesn't come out of my breast.  But I figure part of the reason she doesn't eat is because she isn't conditioned to having anything else in her mouth... Like her mouth is sensitive.  She never puts anything in her mouth.  She doesn't gum her toys, eat paper, chew on her fingers.  Besides my breast the only thing she seems to put in there is her bottom lip.  Sucking on it perpetually, like a living and breathing cabbage patch doll.  So I decided that perhaps I should try brushing those little pearly whites and see how she reacted.  It wasn't easy getting that brush in there but when I did she giggled and squirmed. I have repeated the process a few times over the last couple of days and let her play with the brush when she wants. Today she sat on my lap while I tapped away on my keyboard ...suddenly this little silicone cloaked finger was waving away on my lips.  It took me a few moments to register that what she was doing was trying to brush my teeth.  I opened my mouth and let her get in at them.  I shook my head back and forth so her finger would run over my front teeth in a brushing motion and the laughter bubbled up and spilled out. 

We looked at each other with a little bit of mutual surprise and pride.  She's figuring it out... She has a part to play in this relationship that isn't based completely on dependence.  Today was a red letter day.  One day soon she will learn that she can propel herself without aid and won't need me to get her where she needs to go... but until then this little gesture seemed like a big assertion into that world.

On Saturday we celebrated the spring equinox and Lola's 9 months on the outside.  I took a few photos to mark the occasion and began to write a tribute to this milestone.  I will post that in the next few days with photos.  I wanted to leave you with a photo of that toothy grin but in most of the photos she had that bottom lip sucked in over her little chicklets.  So here you go... this is what 9 months looks like over here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

...a freeze frame.

Yesterday Meg said, "I don't want Lola to ever grow up".  I wish I didn't have an ounce of melancholy in me.  I wish I could say that I don't feel the same way.  Hell, I wish I could truly enjoy the unfreakin'believable bliss that is my life as a mom in this moment without the underlying sadness that it can not stay like this forever.  I honestly could pinch myself at the sheer joy of parenting my two girls right now.  Meg as a six year old is... where to start?  Clever, funny, charming, beautiful, generous, adaptable, kind-hearted, ethical, soulful, inspiring and the best damn big sister a girl could ask for.  She seems so at ease with herself and so intouch with her moral compass.  I am a proud mama.  And I ask myself "how did I get so lucky?"  Lola is an incredible baby.  Mothering her is delightful.  My patience seems to be limitless with her.  She and I seem to be in a lovely, flowing dance.  I can't fully explain it but it feels so very right.  And all the while I have a little trickle of that melancholic angst rippling through me.  Like I am so happy I could cry, but it's not really a happy cry.... It's a cry for the fear of losing this.  It is my daily practice to be present to my joy and allow that to flow as freely as the melancholy.  Perhaps one day the joy will wash the melancholy away in a raging current of love...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

...a sleeping beauty.

Tonight my big girl fell asleep on the couch before I could get her to bed.  I can count the number of times this has happened in her life on my fingers.  She was never the kid that fell asleep in her spaghetti or curled up in a nest of toys and blankets on the floor. I knew she was tired tonight.  She barely ate any supper and seemed very pleased to change into her pyjamas early and curl up under her blanket.   So I scooped her up off the couch and carried her up the stairs to her room.  As I brought my knee up to take each step up the stairs it would thump gently into her dangling legs.  Her feet swinging about, somewhere around mid-calf on me.  I cradled her head with one hand and held her up to my body with my other gently cupped under her bottom, just as I do with Lola.   How was it that she had grown so big?  Never needing to go anyplace that her own two legs can't take her?  Before this week I couldn't remember the last time I carried her anywhere.  But strangely this was the third time in as many days that I had her in my arms in that way.  What a stark contrast to the baby I hold in my arms for most of the hours of the day.  Sometimes I feel closer to the baby that Meg was now because I am reflecting on those months of her infancy as I go through the same things with Lola.  And then she says something so remarkable, pulling words into her vocabulary that sound years beyond her 6 year old self.  Or she accepts things with a grace and maturity that astound me.  Or I simply slow down and look at her. Her body moving with the sureness and agility of an athlete. Or I carry her up to bed... her feet coliding with my calf with each step.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

...a hungry wolf.

I need to admit to the world that I was completely and utterly obsessed with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. I would get home from dropping Meg off at school and turn on CTV Olympic morning and watch all day long. It was perfectly timed with our two weeks of sickness and I wasn't leaving the house anyway. When I did though I was worried the whole time that I would miss a gold medal performance. And I did, I missed plenty. I would invest an entire afternoon watching ski-cross and have to leave before the final heat to go get Meg from school. One day I watched Clara Hughes lay down a record breaking skate in the 5000 meter and had to leave when there were two pairs left to skate. My mom obliged and texted me the bronze medal outcome. One Wednesday evening I had to take Meg to gymnastics during the Canada vs. Russia hockey game and found a website on my iphone that gave me a streaming, text, play by play of the game. It was intense. Both my kids had colds and I had Olympic fever.

The 17 days ended with an overwhleming sense of Canadian pride. I felt awed by the depth of spirit of our young athletes. Joannie Rochette, skating a bronze medal performance after the sudden loss of her mom only four days earlier. Now that is what I call grit. The true Canadian soul of a character like Jon Montgomery. He decided he wanted to be in the Olympics one day and then chose a sport. Only a Canadian would decide on a sport akin to toboganning. And one of my favourite moments of the games was when Charles Hamelin won gold in short track speed skating while his sweetheart, double silver medalist, Marianne St. Gelais, cheered from the stands. She was then gallantly helped over the gaurd rail by an Olympic volunteer to launch herself into one of the most genuine embraces I have ever witnessed. JOY!

We are all going through a bit of Olympic withdrawal around here. Meg is still wearing her official Olympic hoodie and mitts everywhere we go.  Dave is once again reminded of how crap North American television is.  I have been so inspired that I have taken to the sloppy, late-winter streets in my running shoes.  And Lola wonders why that box in the corner of our family room has fallen silent.  She seriously got used to it's constant glow and the sounds of the familiar adverts.  One of them in particular would stop her in her tracks and get her bouncing with joy.  It was a montage of cheering Canadian fans with a Celtic riff in the background.  I am sad to report that it was advertising Coca-Cola.

On the last day of the games I watched an interview with Donald Sutherland. He was fabulous, real and genuinely thrilled with the games and what it meant for Canada. I forget the context of this exactly but he told a story that I had heard before.  I was so happy to hear it again. I needed to hear it again...

An elder Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me.. it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith."

"This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too", he added.

The Grandchildren thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied... "The one you feed."

Seems random, I know.  But it wasn't for me and my life right now.  It was as if Donald Sutherland was looking right at me out of my TV and saying "hey you, listen up".  Life is actually quite simple at the heart of things.  Just feed the right wolf...  What does this have to do with the Olympics?  Nothing.

Monday, February 22, 2010

...the other mother.

In the true spirit of "Not-Me-Monday"...
















...'nuff said.



...a pail full of diapers.

Who knew that I would find all the answers to my life, in this moment, in a pail full of dirty diapers. But as I opened the lid on the diapers today to add another to the pile I noticed it was almost full. Almost time to wash....again. And just before bed last night I had folded and put away the last batch. It is an endless circle. Never the smug satisfaction of having everything tidily finished and put away. It's like a finish line that keeps moving just out of reach. Even though I know that I will never get on top of everything I still feel this burning need to "feel" on top of most things. To have my surroundings tidy and uncluttered, to clear out the junk, check things off the list, put everything away in it's place. But this is just an illusion anyway. Arbitrary at best. Like those diapers in the pail, swishing in the washing machine, snugly wrapped around bum, folded on the shelf... they are all in the middle of a process. No start, no end. Surely I can live more of life in "process".

The only real finish line in life is death and I am certainly in no hurry to get there so I guess "unfinished" will always be my state of being...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

...8 months.



My snotty, coughy, poor wee thing is 8 months old today... She is the happiest wee sicky I have ever seen, but only when she is in my arms. Making it hard to type anything, especially a well thought out blog post. I have started 3 posts in the last two weeks so when I do get a chance to sit and type with two hands I will be prolific.

I truly treasure that I am able to hold my dear baby while she breaths raspily on my chest. She has just fallen asleep sitting up on my lap. Her face caked in snot, as it is perpetually these days. Gurgling each breath through her open mouth. Goobers will glue her eyelashes shut as she sleeps. Under her nose and her bum, red and raw. Must be awful to have fiery pain at both ends. My clothes are all covered in slobber and snot stains and I thank the goddesses for giving nursing mothers immunity of steal. I can feel the sickness creeping in a little but I hold it at bay so I can look after my girls.
Perhaps this sickness came at just the right time. I broke down in tears this week thinking about how these 8 months have passed by and I have spent so much of it bemoaning how I have so much to do and am unable to do it. Being haunted by my overwhelming list of tasks so long uncompleted. Obligations unmet.... In trying to chip away at my list I have often been distracted and ineffective at any of my many jobs. The list is still there. The obligations must be met. But this week I have seen that I can slow down, choose my task and bring my full attention to that task alone. It feels good. I am glad the task that caught my attention was this one of holding my babe and being present to her as she struggles through her first crummy sickness.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

...something that is 36.

Today is that last day of a long month of celebration for our family. Birthdays and anniversaries seem to fall one on top of the other. My parents would have been married for 45 years this month. We have been married for 16. 16 years... This isn't monkey business anymore. 16 years is serious stuff. We had known each other just a few months when we got hitched. And now... 16 years. Did I say that already? I'm amazed.

But the reason for today's celebrating is my baby sister. Today is the day that 36 years ago my mom became a mother to her fourth daughter. The baby. The last of her brood. This is the baby that she wanted to rock and cuddle and hold for hours. To soak up her last drink of mothering a baby. I don't actually believe that my baby sister was ever still for long enough to be held for any length of time. I should have been her last baby. I wanted nothing more than to be in my mothers arms. Still do.

All things being fair I should have blogged about my other sisters on their birthdays. But... well....life isn't always fair. And the reason that I was compelled to share this day is because it is close to my heart right now. I feel deeply akin to the woman that my mother was when she was basking in the joy of this, her last baby. My best guess is that Lola will be our last baby. And that means that she will be the baby of our family. Meg's baby sister. Just as Kathy is to me.

When Lola was born and I brought her up and into my arms I was immediately filled with a sense of peace. I know that I would have loved a son. That our lives would have been turned upside down by it, in a good way. But I have to admit that I cannot imagine a life without sisters.

Happy Birthday baby sister. And Happy "Birth" Day warrior mama to four pretty fantastic girls.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

...a sketchy past.

I was listening to CBC... I start a lot of stories that way these days. I am addicted to Radio One. I know I am not the only one! I am often in the car on Wednesdays. I have a regular coffee date with my dear friend and her daughter so I listen on the way there and the way home for sure. On the way there it is the Debaters and I often laugh out loud. And on the way home I catch the tail end of Writers and Company, my new favourite show. The authors are just so fascinating and the way they speak is so eloquent and lyrical. This week Eleanor was talking to Eva Hoffman. I caught such a short bit but it was so good (actually the end of her interviews are usually the best part). Her latest book is called Time. So they were talking about time in general. And she said "the present reconstructs the past". I know that I have always known this but the way that she spoke about this really brought it into focus for me. It is truly amazing how our stories change. In so many ways and for so many reasons. Perhaps they change purely due to the fact that our memories fail us but often it is so much more than that. Ultimately it is because that person we are as each day passes is new. We are seeing our history from a new assemblage point with each passing minute. So with the veil I wear today I will see my history differently than with the veil I will wear tomorrow. Fascinating isn't it? Our stories are not static. They are as full of life today as the day that they played out. Shifting and changing as we need them to in some cases.

This last week I have been getting the email updates of a friend that has just had her tonsils removed. I had mine removed at the age of 7 or 8. She is in her thirties. When I heard that she was going in for this day surgery it immediately took me back to my memory of my tonsillectomy. It was a defining time for me. I remember it very well. Back then it was a few days stay in the hospital and I had to be overnight in a strange place without my mom. Of course a lot of what I remember is not clear. The passage of time has taken its toll on many of the details but there are a few things that have stayed with me. I remember that there was a girl a little older than me staying in the same room that had just under gone back surgery. She had a rod in her back and was unable to move. The nurses would come in and rotate her from one side to the other every few hours (or maybe it was twice a day). I talked to her from across the room but I wasn't really supposed to get out of my bed. I also remember promises of ice cream and jello leading up to the surgery. I recall that going down a hallway lying flat on my back was dreadful and that hospital porters should respect that and slow down. 100, 99, 98, 9...... I remember feeling ripped off by those promises of ice cream when afterward ice cream was not even close to enough to soothe my raw throat. And I really remember this one incident over a bowl of oatmeal.


My mom had come in for a visit on one of the evenings following my surgery and she had asked the nurse about my meals. She was very excited to tell me that the next morning I would get porridge. This was one of my favourite things. I loved being in the kitchen with my mom when she made the quick oats in a sauce pan on the stove. It would bubble and burst while she stirred them down with the wooden spoon. I loved the little volcanic eruptions in the pan as the oatmeal spewed a little lava with each bubble bursting. The sound, the smell and the anticipation. It was often served on particularly cold mornings and I would alternate between watching the oatmeal boil and sitting on a heat register at my mother's feet. The promise of a meal like this while I was in the hospital held the comforts of home and I was tickled at the idea of it. That night I literally fell asleep with thoughts of oatmeal dancing in my head. I dreamt of the warm, soft oatmeal mixed with the cold milk and brown sugar. How I loved the hot/cold and salty/sweet perfection in a bowl porridge. In the morning I silently and eagerly awaited the sound of that food cart coming up the hall. It arrived without much fanfare on the hospital gray tray and I lifted the lid to find a cold, solid ball of oats. And if that wasn't enough of a disappointment... I can clearly remember the lump forming in my raw throat at the realization that there was not a spec of brown sugar in sight. So I sadly poured the icky 2% milk (not the skim I was used to) over this gooey, grey sludge and tried to gag it down. I think as I was trying to stomach it my mother arrived for a morning visit. I could feel her disappointment too. I think we cried together.

But of course this story holds a whole new tenderness for me. I am a mother now. I feel my mothers heartache as well as my own. I imagine her rushing to park her car and run up to my room to steal a few minutes with me before having to rush off to tend to the needs of her other three children at home. I see my disappointment, fear and frustration as if they were the emotional mine field of my own school age child. This memory is somehow closer to me now then it was a few years ago even though chronologically it is further away. Time... In poems, plays and books time has been written about as a character. Sometimes even given a human form. Father Time, for instance. We joke about time playing tricks on us. We struggle with not being able to reconcile details of our history in the stories we tell of it. But perhaps it is just this. Our history is more akin to folklore and the oral tradition than it is to a factual account. And we are just once again caught up in this crazy media driven culture that has a quest for knowledge, facts and numbers. The Wikipedia Age.

I say screw it. Let the details blur and melt together. See your history as a watercolour landscape. Let your story be as rich and alive as you are. Allow yourself a chance to examine your life anew every once in awhile. It gives us a chance to feel as if we have lived more than one lifetime. The path behind us as mysterious as the one that lies ahead. In a few years when I think back to that porridge again I wonder what I will see...

Thank you, Laurel for sacrificing your tonsils last week so that I might take this journey again. To see my mom in another new and tender way, to see my girls through the eyes of my childhood. And thank you Eva Hoffman for reminding me that is what I was doing.