Saturday, December 17, 2011

And back again!

And you know what? We did get back on track! My insubordinate little toddler has become an angel again. Sure, he has his moments, but mostly he just makes my heart swell with pride and love and joy. I am truly blessed.

And at this time of night, a week before Christmas with much still to do, that's all I'm going to say on the subject! Now back to on-line Christmas shopping...

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Other Side

This is about the other side of parenting. The side that makes me want to pull my hair out. The side that leads me to dislike myself. To ask, how can someone I love and adore so deeply leave me so frustrated? So unsure? So certain I'm doing it wrong but without any idea how to get it right.
Our son is 3. Almost 40 months, to be more precise. At this point, he rarely listens to me without multiple requests, threats, and/or promises.
I don't want to use threats or promises (i.e. bribes). I want him to be motivated, to be disciplined, to be cooperative. I don't want him to be browbeaten. I don't even want him, in the long run, to be subordinate, which may be part of my problem. He has mastered insubordinate.
Basically, I want him to do what I want him to do, without being forced to do so. That is so not happening, except for the rare occasions when what I want happens to coincide with what he wants.
I try to motivate him to want what I want, but really, at three, is he likely to want to brush his teeth? I don't even want to brush my teeth. I do, usually, because I understand the consequences of not brushing my teeth. So I inform him of the consequences of not brushing his teeth, I try to make it fun and enjoyable, I give him as much latitude as possible to do it himself without being completely ineffective, and I praise him whenever reasonably possible.
And yet we struggle over tooth-brushing and countless other opportunities for resistance.
I threaten time-outs, and I impose them when the threat (or warning, I suppose) doesn't produce the desired result.
I don't want my three-year-old to walk all over me, but I don't want to crush his spirit either. I seem to be skidding back and forth across this parenting highway.
I know that there are methods and rules that I could be following, but I'm reluctant to make J behave for all the wrong reasons. I'm afraid that he'll end up like his mom -- aiming to please, afraid to say no, lacking confidence, and seeking reassurance.
I remind myself that parenting didn't seem like such a struggle just a few short weeks ago. And the past few weeks I have been heavily occupied with other things. We also spent three nights last week bunking at my in-laws' place, which probably didn't do much for my parenting authority, among other things. In that light, he's probably craving good times with me as much as I am craving good times with him.
We can get back on track.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

J's latest

Our little boy is growing in leaps and bounds.
His legs grew this summer and all his 2T pants were "suddenly" too short this fall. Shoes and skates too.
More excitingly, his mind is having a growth spurt.
Suddenly he can do all sorts of things he's been working on for the past year or so.
He can count! He's been working on counting to ten, with help and many mistakes, for about a year I think. Suddenly he's consistently and accurately counting to ten and beyond.
He can count objects on a page accurately. For a long time he threw in an extra object. Now he's got it. Last night he missed his place counting seven skinny chilly peppers, recognized it, accounted for it, and resumed counting accurately.
We are working on taking away -- if I have four left and I eat one then I have one left.
He recognizes his "hockey number" (that's seven) everywhere. Seven is J's hockey number because, "it looks like a hockey stick." (God help us if seven is taken when J starts to play organized sports.)
We are working on recognizing more number symbols.
J now knows that when we get ready for bed his hockey number is on the clock, and when the hockey number is gone it's past his bed time. I think this is helping him learn to understand clock time. We also talk about the fact that sometimes seven appears in the last digit, representing minutes, and that the number of minutes increases until the next hour, when the minutes start over.
J now sings the alphabet accurately.
None of this may be impressive for a boy his age (he's 39 months old). I stopped reading the What to Expect series some time before his first birthday so I lost track of the milestones a long time ago. His same-age friend reportedly sang the alphabet in french and English a long, long time ago. But I'm excited that J can sing the alphabet accurately now because he's been working on it for a long time and now he can do it all the way to the end.
He knows that his parents' names start with K and his name starts with J. He learned to recognize G and O around his second birthday, when we still read Goodnight Moon every single evening. We eventually dropped Goodnight Moon from the nightly selection, and stopped paying attention to G and O too, but now we're working on all the letters. I should go back to G and O and see if he still knows those ones. Probably.
He's progressing in other areas too.
Last night he ate an entire piece of fish using a fork and knife. He cut it all up for himself, with help just once. At one point a piece of fish went shooting across the table, and he didn't get upset about it.
He's a perfectionist, and that's a challenge for him, but I'm  reassuring him that it's okay, and that the important thing is that he keeps trying.
Yesterday evening he pulled out a big puzzle that we haven't looked at in months. He received this around his second birthday and we did it together at that time. Suddenly, he understands edges. I helped him a little bit at the beginning, coaxing him to try spinning it around, or, "how about over here?" Suddenly he was on a roll and he completed the second half of the puzzle independently. He was  totally engaged and having fun as he considered and fit each piece into place.
He had his first skating lesson and it was a complete success. He enjoyed it. Right there, it was a success in my books. He also did well. Not the very best in the class -- one boy skated to the boards hands-free, coached by his figure-skating mom -- but he did very well. Getting up, getting down, pushing a pylon, skating holding his dad's hand, and smiling. I'm so happy for him and grateful for his teacher and his father, my husband.
Suddenly he is drawing intentional and recognizable objects. A whole series of pumpkins, with stems, which he cut out very carefully and methodically. He has such high standards. A whale in chalk on the patio.
J's manners are really coming along. Lots of please, thank you, and you're welcome. We are working on, "I forgive you," but he tends to say both parts: "I'm sorry mom; I forgive you." Or, "I forgive you too, Mom," which is kind of sweet.
He calls me variously Mom, Mum, My mother (I'm not a fan of that one), Mumma, and Momma (Mama). Daddy is of course Daddy and sometimes Dad. Nana, Papa, and Grandpa or "Grampa".
He refers frequently to our late cat Riley, but that's a whole other post. He knows that Riley and Oma are in heaven. Twice he has asked, and this is heartbreaking, "When does Heaven close?" In other words, when are they coming home from Heaven?


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Rainbow Connection

Can't sleep. And can't resist a link to the always-engaging and often inspiring Mrs. Hall and the fabulous audiovisual clip she has posted here. Thank you Mrs. Hall, Mr. Henson, Ms. Harry, and Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher who wrote the song. I'm going to listen to Debbie and Kermit sing it one more time and then I think I'll be able to sleep.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Yet more gratitude

How long can I write daily gratitude lists? And why? I already know I'm grateful for the little moments. I write these lists as fast as I can, so they're totally bare bones. But here goes.
  1. My friend suggested that we take our kids to a farm, and we did. I would have just suggested that we meet at the playground, but the farm was perfect. It was a fabulous hot, sunny fall day. The kids were delighted and delightful. We patted bunnies and lambs. We climbed a hay-bale pyramid, twice. We got lost in a corn maze. We ate ice cream, then discovered it was 4:59 p.m., and went back for chicken fingers. Yes, just after the ice cream. J ate more than ever. It was a good day. It was a good day for friendship. 
  2. Interesting bloggers. I read some interesting posts by honest writers The Kitchen MagpieAngry Mother, and Mrs. Hall. I should have been doing something more productive, I think. There are lots of things I should have been doing. But this was interesting. They are interesting. Honest writing is thought-provoking and restorative. 
  3. My cousin L, who keeps reaching out to me and telling it like it is. I have never known anyone to say so much in so few words.

Friday, September 30, 2011

More gratitude

1. Gorgeous fall colours!
2. A breakthrough moment in my Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class.
3. J asked a grown-up for a diaper change in the midst of playing in the playground. His willingness to voluntarily stop playing for a diaper change gives me hope he'll eventually be willing to stop playing for potty breaks too. Yes, my three-year-old is not yet toilet-trained. Sometimes I'll be watching him play and he will suddenly throw his arms up in the air as boys do and his shirt will rise up and expose an inch of diaper around his little belly and it is so jarring. He is at that age where he is becoming such a big boy and yet he's still my baby too. Occasionally I call him, "Baby," and he says, "I'm not a baby," and I say, "No, you're not a baby anymore, you're a big boy, but you'll always be mommy's little baby too." He seems to be okay with this. Still, I'm glad we're making a little progress on the diaper front.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another day's gratitude

1. More gorgeous early fall weather.
2. Our city and its park planners and donors for building the children's garden.
3. I took the initiative and got us out into the park for a picnic on one of the last evenings of summery weather. J and K embraced it. We all enjoyed our picnic, watching the fluffy squirrels race around the hummocks, looking for acorns in the oak leaves, and walking across the fallen tree. I loved spending the evening with my two favourite guys, in their matching NHL team shirts.
4. Yoga.
5. My husband's hockey knowledge. When we got home he got J to try on last year's skates, and determined that they're too small. So adorable to see our little boy standing in skates! They're going to buy a bigger pair tonight.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daily gratitude

Today I'm grateful for:
  1. My husband. I started a drawing class today. It feels crazy to sit and enjoy an art class, which he paid for since he's the one working, while he works so very hard! I love my husband. I am so fortunate. I am grateful for my husband every single today, but this particular day I'm grateful to him for enabling and even encouraging me to take this art class. I was absolutely focused and immersed throughout the class. Thank you honey.
  2. The art teacher, for not being overly critical and for even finding room for praise in my absolute beginner drawings. 
  3. An incredibly beautiful fall day. Sunny, breezy, hot, and shades of green and orange. Geese everywhere. Ducks coming in for landing, like little winged torpedoes. Amazing. (J and I went to the marsh at 4:30.)
  4. Our son J. Again, I'm grateful for J every single day. Today, in particular, I'm grateful to him for letting me backpedal on McDonald's! He requested it; I had nothing planned for supper: I acquiesced. An hour later, driving home from the marsh, I persuaded him that we should just go home and have fish for supper instead. He said, "Okay mom"! I am grateful to him for being such a good boy. And for eating all his fish, most of his quinoa, most of the carrot he really did not want to eat, and all his red pepper pieces. And for deciding after a few minutes that he actually didn't like the blue lollipop that the barber had given him, and throwing it in the garbage.  
  5. Two good parking spots in two nearly full lots. (I'm not, however, grateful for the exorbitant cost of parking. Or the two hour max on paid street parking anywhere in this town.)
  6. Our dog Charley for a relatively peaceful walk all the way to the strip mall. J for getting into the swing of things and holding my hand when cars passed, and for stopping at intersections. And the pure joy of running with a three-year-old and a Spaniel -- Charley and I running up from behind J, raising the leash high over J's head, and passing J on either side; then letting J pass us; and doing it again and again and again, with laughter and smiles all around. 
  7. Two dads, four boys, goalie pads, a pair of nets: driveway hockey.
  8. Constructions workers who don't get weird when we sit in the car and watch them work. J loves to watch construction. This morning, it was a concrete driveway pour, with a sky-high pump truck.
  9. A great drop-off at J's daycare. Mid-hug he started mumbling something. To my surprise, it was, "I want to play trains with J.B." Well, okay! J.B. was happy to share and they got busy right away. 
  10. Another J moment: He picked up a footstool in the interpretive centre at the marsh and carried the footstool over to a display he recalled passing earlier, so he could get a better look. 
  11. Happiness.
  12. So sad, but so moving: "When does heaven close?" J continues to grieve for our cat Riley, and, less immediately, for my mother. He has asked this twice now, still hoping that Riley will come home when heaven closes, still grappling with the fact that Riley is not coming home. Who else is in heaven? The stick insects, who died at daycare. Riley passed away last December. My mother two years ago. The stick insects, this month. I suppose I'm not really grateful for this moment, but I don't want to forget it. It seems to say so much about J. 
Sweet dreams all. I miss you mom. I love you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Who wrote these wise words?

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." 
As someone who finds it hard to change directions, this quote resonates with me. 
Today, it soothes me. 
It also mystifies me, because I haven't been able to discover its source. I believed that E.M. Forster wrote these words, but others suggest that Joseph Campbell did. If anyone can point me to the text I'll be very grateful. I'm hoping that it's an E.M. Forster novel, in which case I will promptly read it. 


P.S. After more digging I'm satisfied that E.M. Forster wrote these words. I just can't figure out when or where. It does not appear to have been in a novel. I will have to read more Forster!



Friday, August 26, 2011

A shift in perspective

My husband and I are facing a difficult decision, made more difficult by the fact that the ultimate outcome is largely beyond our control. How to make a weighty decision with many unknowns?

I was feeling pretty raw after a late night grappling with this issue, when J pointed out a painting of his which has been displayed on our fridge for the past few weeks. I suggested we paint again, and he wanted to do so immediately. After breakfast we got out his paints.

I sat down beside him with my own piece of paper, applied paint to brush, and tried to let my creativity flow. As my brush moved, I considered that there are many potential paths in life, that we cannot take them all. I suddenly realized that there might not be a wrong decision. That regardless of the direction we choose, our lives will almost certainly be full and joyous. It was a revelation for me.

J and I stopped painting and we baked a cake together. Later, we covered the chocolate frosting with multi-coloured sprinkles. I forgot to take a picture, but it's easy to visualize. So pretty.

It was kind of a perfect morning.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Odd Life of Timothy Green: Creepiest movie ever?

Last night I went to see a movie with a friend. We settled in with our popcorn, chatted while the theatre filled, and turned our attention to the screen when the lights dimmed. I suddenly found myself confronted by a trailer for an infertility film. Really, I thought? An infertility film? I suppose so. It's reality for far too many of us today; it was only a matter of time before someone made a movie about it. Call it the Kramer v. Kramer of the, um, what do you call this decade anyway?
But wait -- it gets worse...
A loving couple, told that they will never conceive, bury their parenting dreams with their own spontaneous parenting wake. They drink red wine. They fantasize about their would-be child. They take notes. They put the notes in a box. Okay. Fair enough. Infertility is agony and grieving is healthy.
But then...
They bury the box. In the backyard of their little house. Their Gothic-revival farmhouse.
It is a stormy night. There is a weird light. And in their house they discovery a dirt-covered boy in a box! So creepy! Not even a baby -- no, a boy. A walking, talking, perhaps-eight-year-old boy. He greets them as Mom and Dad. Seriously. I am nauseous just thinking about it.
And then it gets weirder still because it's a Disney movie! It is not a horror movie. It is a movie-of-the-week movie. With a dark and twisted and creepy soul. There are hot dogs and soccer games and curious events in the yard of the Gothic-revival farmhouse. I shudder to imagine what happens next. In fact, I'm going to try hard not to imagine what happens next in this movie.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green is scheduled to open next summer, but it's already being promoted.
Creepiest movie premise ever or what?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

An ambassador for gentleness, forgiveness and spiritual awareness

This post was inspired by a post and follow-up comment by Tanja Hoagland, the Minimalist Packrat.
Tanja's moving post is a reminder to pause and breathe. At the end of her post, she describes a shark-sighting during her morning walk, and shares some shark symbolism from Avia Venefica's website. As if spotting a shark before breakfast wasn't striking enough, the shark symbolism is intriguing. 
Tanja's post and the shark symbolism got me thinking about how much I love natural surprises. Like a woodpecker feeding her young. Crickets in the city. Especially, deer.
Where I live, we don't see sharks, but we are lucky to see deer from time to time.
No matter how rushed I feel or how busy my thoughts, whenever I spot a deer I slow down spontaneously.
If I'm driving, I slow or stop my car of course.
More importantly, my body slows. My breath gets deeper, my mind stops racing, and my heart follows suit.
One deer-sighting was particularly unforgettable. Shortly after my mother's death, I was driving to work one morning when I was stopped by the sight of a deer at the edge of the road. She wasn't just any deer. She was massive and majestic. While it didn't seem cool enough to see one's breath, the deer's exhalations froze in expansive clouds, drifting over the road. I was filled with the certain belief that I was being visited by my mother's soul. I felt comforted and loved. 
Since that day I've seen many deer, and mostly I am moved by their beauty and grateful for their presence. Always, I am inspired to go a little slower, breathe a little deeper, and appreciate the important things in life.
So after reading Tanja Hoagland's post this morning I took her lead and looked up some symbolism at Avia Venefica's website
"When we encounter the deer in the wild," Avia writes, "our breath catches - we are transfixed by their graceful features and delicate movements." Sure enough. 
"The Celts also believed that deer were associated with the fairie realm," she writes, "and would lead troops of fairies - hundreds of them trailing behind them as the stag cut a path through the forest." Gives new meaning to the term 'stag party'!
On her blog, Avia adds that a female deer, "is an ambassador for gentleness, forgiveness and spiritual awareness." Indeed.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer-speed

Haven't posted for a while, so I'm giving myself ten minutes to write my fastest post ever. What's happened in the last few weeks?
Ashtanga yoga class was suspended for the summer, without notice.
Signed up for boot camp on the spur of the moment.
Started doing boot camp, so I dropped my run/walks.
Boot camp was gruelling but an incredible mood-booster.
Consulted a fertility specialist who told me to drop boot camp (and take up whole milk!).
Dropped boot camp (and took up ice cream!).
Busy week with friends in town and hubby on vacation. Lots of fun catching up with them and being together.
Had an awesome time camping with my dear husband and our little one. A lot of splashing. A little hiking. A perfect vacation that really deserves its own awesome post.
Positive ovulation test for the second time in my life; the first time in almost four years. (I'm thinking this was a reward for peeing on an ovulation test stick in a gas station bathroom the day before.)
Came home from camping and recovered from the bug bites. That is to say, lots of showers, baths, and air conditioning.
Moody without hiking, boot camp, running/walking, or yoga...
Started Mysore yoga on July 25. Four yoga classes that week.
Turned 41. Almost overlooked turning 41. Celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary with a trip to the drive-in for ice cream with our son.
Long weekend. A little beach time. Not pregnant.
Four more yoga classes this week.
I love the semi-daily yoga.
Now I just need to get back on the trail.
Going away again next week, to my home town to spend time with my family. Should be crazy hot. Going to unroll my yoga mat between the roses in my dad's tiny backyard and work it all out every day. Little J should get a kick out of it.
And remember to breathe deeply and quiet my mind whenever I can.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A happy face...

In five-and-a-half years of intermittent ovulation testing I've had just two positive ovulation test results. The first one was the day our son was conceived, in 2007. The second one was this week(!).
Since I was using a new-fangled digital ovulation test, the positive result was indicated by a happy face. No more fuzzy lines. I don't know how they do it.
Anyway, there is nothing like a hoped-for but unexpected happy face on a test stick to generate a smile! It looked so positive that I delivered the news to my husband by handing him the stick itself -- in a campground, no less. To avoid any disappointment, I first reminded him that it was an ovulation test, not a pregnancy test.
Fortunately our little one is a very sound sleeper.
So now we wait.
Odds are that nothing will come of this. But since our only other positive ovulation test led to the beloved little boy sleeping in the next room, my hopes are up.

......

At the same time, I am reminded that life is fragile.
Two days after the positive ovulation test, we watched a nature film in a campground amphitheatre. It was a documentary about wetlands.
Rows of benches faced the beach. Behind the screen, the sun set over the lake. Warm breezes off the water. Sun-kissed children everywhere, including on my lap.
In the midst of all this bliss, I heard the narrator intone, "The female goose is having nest problems." "Oh, no," I thought. Sure enough, there was footage of a goose frantically trying to build up her nest while incubating her eggs. Later, as red-winged blackbirds attacked the goose, she continued her futile efforts to improve her nest without leaving it. Finally, she watched her neighbours "parade" by with their goslings, still sheltering her own eggs in vain.
As the narrator confirmed that there would be no happy ending for the goose this season, I realized that I had been unconsciously tracing the word "miscarriage" with my finger-tip.
Today we came home from the lake and I learned that an acquaintance has had a miscarriage.
I am at a loss for words, but saddened and sorry. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Notes from the Lake

We rolled into the campground at 6:45 p.m.
At 12:45 a.m. the only sounds were the haunting song of the loon and the equally haunting but less melodic song of our wide-awake three-year-old.
J finally fell asleep some time after 1:00, but only after I agreed to cuddle him on our air mattress. 15 minutes of maternal bliss snuggling my son followed by 4 hours of parental contortions as my husband and I sought sleep on a semi-inflated double mattress bearing a sleeping child. Time to try to catch a few more zzz's as the birds awake... Can I squeeze into a portable crib?
P.S. The full moon rising in the trees encircling our site was breathtaking.
P.P.S. Good morning chipmunk.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mommy's Resolution: No more potty mouth!

From time to time, I swear like a trucker. Or so they say. That's probably an unfair generalization of truckers.
I've been a mom for three (incredibly short) years, but I haven't managed to drop this habit. Yet.
I've been lucky. My little guy hasn't picked it up.
Until today.
My husband and I were shopping with our sweet little angel, J. He was actually being a bit of a handful, but that's beside the point.
I'm embarrassed to say that, for reasons unknown, I made the obvious comment that, "there are shitty chairs and there are good chairs."
"I don't want shitty chairs," said J.
He said it in just the same way he might have said, "I don't want broccoli."
My husband and I inhaled silently and exchanged a Look. The look that says, "Whoops. That's going to stop right now."
I can only hope that J doesn't say that word again for at least ten years. Or I'll be in big, big trouble.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A warm summer's eve, 2008

Three short years ago, this perfect person was born, found his parents, had a snack, and a snooze, some i.v. sugar snacks, and a few days later was ready to go, out of the hospital and into the world.





Of course he didn't see much of the world those first few weeks -- not leaving the neighbourhood until I put my foot down and said that I was going out for brunch, I was taking him with me, and his dad and grandparents could choose to join us or not. Of course they came, and it was a delicious brunch, and all the ladies oohed and ahed over our tiny baby and his handsome daddy. But I digress...


Three short years later and my beautiful baby is a boy. A big, strong, boy. Just the other day I gazed at him in his morning haze and I could see the teenager he'll become.

So hard to believe it's already been three years. Three years of bliss. Crying, whining, stiff-as-a-board or floppy at times. Always absolutely beautiful. Pure love.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Questions

I'm struggling with my blog.
I find the whole blog world compelling. Addictive, my hubby would say. I like to write. No, I love to write. I like to read others' blogs. I love your diverse personalities.
Then there's the whole time-sucking thing. Here I sit, with two towering baskets of laundry waiting to be folded. At least reality TV could be justified as laundry-folding TV. Blogging, not so much.
But that's not what I'm struggling with.
What I'm struggling with is that my blog isn't very candid. It's me. But it's a highly edited slice of me.
I have a personality, not that you'd know it from my blog.
I am going through a huge personal change. No, I'm still female. But maybe less of girl, more of a woman. Anyway...
I want to write honestly.
But I'm afraid to shed my skin.
An easy answer would be to sign out of the blog for good and write in a journal, for my eyes only.
But that's not appealing. I mean, the journal is appealing, but I'd miss the blog. And if the blog just hits the highlights, then what's the point? Is there an in-between? Maybe the answer is to start journalling, let it all flow, and then write the blog. Probably a good idea. Worth a try. Do I have time for that?
Or do I just let it rip and share my soul right here.
I ask myself, what is it that's calling me? Why do I want to write in this public forum?
In the meantime, I suppose I could start by revising my "about me" blurb, since, "I'm a 40 year old mom..." isn't going to be accurate for much longer, and "a 41 year old mom" isn't any more telling.
Who am I? And do I want to share with everyone?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Boot camp

I thought I was getting a good workout in my Ashtanga yoga class.

But then it was cancelled for the summer.

And a local gym slashed its boot camp rates.

It seemed like a sign, so I took the plunge and found myself standing in a park in a heat wave with a drill sergeant and four women half my age, while passers-by licked ice cream cones.

The drill sergeant said, "Fifty jumping-jacks." My brain said, "Obviously you haven't given birth, buddy."

I hurt. I sweat. I worked as hard as I could.

I discovered that, while I can touch my toes with ease, and carrying a child has done wonders for my biceps, I am even less fit than I feared.

Earlier in the day I'd questioned my decision to sign up for boot camp. "Isn't yoga the perfect workout?" I'd asked myself. "They don't make army recruits do nine weeks of yoga, do they?" my brain replied. (Boot camp yoga... maybe that's the next fitness craze.)

Anyway, I went to boot camp today, and I was very, very relieved that our teacher actually isn't a drill sergeant. That no one is going to force me to drop deeper into those push-ups.  That my career and pride are not dependent on being able to do all the repetitions I am told to do. And I was relieved that I did get a little bit stronger in Ashtanga yoga because otherwise this boot camp class would have been even harder.

At the end of it all, I felt good. Hot, sweaty, and very, very weak, but good.

Next time I'll bring a towel so I don't sweat all over the car on the way home. And I need to go shopping -- I've managed to avoid gym shorts since high school phys. ed., but yoga capris are too freaking hot.


Boot camp day 1:
  • Lunge-walking.
  • High knee-stepping.
  • Toy soldier-stepping.
  • Arm circles.
  • 50 jumping jacks.
  • 10 bicep curls; 10 tricep presses; 5 shoulder front lifts; 5 shoulder side lifts.
  • Repeat sets of 11; 11; 5; 5.
  • Repeat sets of 12; 12; 6; 6.
  • ... and so on all the way up to sets of 20; 20; 10; 10. [I was actually feeling pretty confident at this point.]
  • 5 sets of 10 tricep dips, leaning on the knees of a partner who is in a reverse bridge. 5 sets of being the partner. [My last two sets of tricep dips were embarrassingly small. Even the teacher was embarrassed for me. But I really did not want to collapse on my teeny-tiny partner!]
  • Pyramid push-ups: 1 push-up. Pause. 2 push-ups. Pause. And so on up to sets of at least 7 and ideally 10 push-ups, and then all the way back to 1. [I can't even do one solid push-up. Just tiny ones. I did try as hard as I could. This is when I was relieved that I wasn't really in a military boot camp.]
  • 20; then 19; and so on down to 15 repetitions of the following: wrap a resistance band around a pole, grasp each end, extend arms and pull them back to form a T. [I can't remember how many we did. It was challenging, but I should have tried harder. It wasn't push-up hard...]
  • An insane number of insane abdominal exercises:
    • In a high crunch, hands together, lower elbows to opposite sides. If necessary, break for 3 seconds only and then resume. [Way more reps that I could possibly do.]
    • V-sits. [I'd never seen this before. Freaking insane.] Starting on back with legs and arms fully extended and everything but the butt held a couple of inches off the ground, lift legs and upper body into a v. Repeat, repeat, repeat, I have no idea how many times. [As if. Shouldn't there be some sort of starter exercise to strengthen the core before attempting this?]
    • What I'll call inverted V-sits. From a plank, squeeze abs and raise hips into a v. Repeat ad nauseam. Literally.
    • 10(?) inch-worms. [I'd never heard of these before either. My lower back still hurts.] 
    • 100 of what I'll call oblique reaches. [I did all of these without a problem, but most of my back was on the ground throughout. I'm guessing that wasn't proper form.]
    • 30 bicycles.
  • Tricep stretch.
  • Seated twist stretch.
  • Reclined pretzel stretch.
  • A freaky wrist stretch.
The scary thing is, every class will be different, and this one didn't even include cardio...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cheap and glossy and underrated

I seem to have neglected writing here lately, in favour of clutterbusting and, well, life. The problem with writing about life is that when life is full, there's little time to write about it. There are other problems too, but they're for other days.

My life has been rich and developing lately. But because the hour is late and the house is hot and muggy, I will merely note that I tried something new yesterday. Something mundane and inconsequential, but I liked it.

I got a cheap pedicure.

I was far from home and needing to make some photocopies, when I found a UPS store in a strip mall. As I stepped out of the car I noticed that I was standing in front of a sign that said, "Pedicures  $20". "Pedicures  $20?" I replied. My polish was chipped, my toes were rough, and I'd been planning to spend an hour or two cleaning up my feet myself, one of these days...

Instead, I found myself stepping inside the cheap nail place, half-expecting, half-hoping, that they'd be booked. Clearly they weren't. Three women were lounging about, idly scanning magazines. One floated forward and glanced at my toes. "Pedicure?" she said. It wasn't so much a question as an assessment. I nodded, she directed me to choose a colour, and someone started to fill a sink.

The aesthetician smiled shyly and spoke little English. She occasionally conversed with her colleagues in another language. I mention this because it made me feel comfortable foregoing conversation. Instead, I used the time to email a friend and a cousin.

She was fast. Lightning fast. I had to rush to wrap up my second email. The polish even dried quicker than a salon pedicure. (Did she skip a base coat?)

Admittedly, the bottoms of my feet aren't quite as smooth as they could be.

But for just 20 minutes and $20 my toenails are glossy, pretty, purple.

And the massaging chair was just what my lower back needed.

I'm hooked.



Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summertime

Since I like to write about the unexpected pleasures of suburbia, I just had to record the sight I saw today. Not entirely a pleasure, but certainly unexpected.
I was walking along with J in one hand and our dog Charley in the other, taking our little before-bed stroll.
Two teen boys approached and passed us. They said hi, I did the same, I looked away quickly, they giggled.
Why did I look away quickly? Because their arms were full of a six-pack and I wasn't sure what else, and I'm not one to judge youthful drinking too harshly.
But it was pretty brazen at 7:30 p.m. in full daylight, so I looked back to make sure I had seen what I thought I had.
Sure enough, they were carrying a six-pack of Budweiser. But to my surprise, they had tennis rackets slung across their backs and a can of tennis balls too. They were headed for the outdoor courts.
And I have to admit that I liked the idea. On a hot, muggy, mid-June Saturday night, two teenaged boys going off to play some tennis and drink some beer didn't seem like a bad thing. I'd probably feel differently if I were their parents of course. But exams are over. Summer's in.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Serendipity

I took my son to the beach today. When we got home I was hot and sticky, still in my bathing suit, covered in sweat and sun block. We came in and I put down my keys. We walked out the back door to put the sand toys away on the deck. Whump. The door swung shut behind us.
Oh, no. Locked. Locked out. Hot and sticky and locked out. Stroller locked in the car. Husband in a golf tournament three hours away. Parents-in-law have a spare key. They're not answering; possibly on their way to church. Who knows?
Well, let's garden. We plant some shrubs. I'm now dirtier. A sunburn is starting to emerge on the back of his calves.
Let's just sit, sit here in the shade. We might have a long walk ahead of us. We need to make a plan. 
"Can we talk outside?" he asks.
"Yes, yes we can talk outside. What did you want to talk about?"
"How do you talk to a girl?" he asks. He is two, almost three. 
"You just talk to her.  Did you want to talk to that girl on the beach?"
"Yes. Just two kids."
"You wanted to talk to her without other kids?"
"Not two boys."
There were two older boys in her group, probably cousins.
"Honey, you don't worry about other boys. If you want to talk to a girl, don't worry about other boys. You just go right up and talk to her. Okay? Does that help?"
"Yes."
I love this boy.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The beauty out here

For the first time in a month or so, I picked up my feet and ran. It felt terrible. But it got better. I alternately ran and walked according to my body, pushing myself without hurting myself. In the stroller, J chatted, sang, and eventually fell asleep near the turn-around point. It was a relaxing return, with a sleeping toddler in tow.

I almost ran right by a fawn in some bushes to my left. Something made me turn my head, and suddenly I was eye-to-eye with a fuzzy little deer. When I realized that I had come to a complete stop I moved on quickly, before its mother made me.
As I ran on, I thought of these much-maligned suburbs. My neighbourhood is far from pretty. A grid of gravel roads, lined with ditches and 1970’s bungalows, few of any architectural distinction. Occasionally an original farmhouse, charming but out of place. Newer streets meander past 1980’s two-stories, full of oak and brass. The car is king. The closest restaurant has a drive-thru.
And yet, when I open my windows I hear songbirds and crickets. A rabbit lives in our yard. Deer stroll by at sunset. We are 500 yards from a trail that runs across the country. Across the trail and over the train tracks are working farms. We walk to the skate park, fields, and a driving range-and-ice cream parlour. 
Cat-tails frame the public tennis courts, and red-winged blackbirds watch the match.
The beauty of our neighbourhood isn’t its buildings. It is all around them. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Purpose

Brooks Palmer wrote some interesting words about, I think, being true to yourself. A link to his post: Some Wisdom.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The marsh










I woke up feeling bad about staying up too late, again. Fortunately, our toddler let us sleep in. 

Then my husband reminded me that I'd asked to do something special together, just the three of us. 

So we went to the local wildlife centre. 
We headed for the the marsh, picking up a dip net and an empty margarine container along the way. Soon our container was full of tiny aquatic creatures. 
There was a horrific moment when a tiny beetle attacked and killed a dragonfly larvae in our container. I put the dragonfly back in the marsh, "to rest." I didn't think our son was ready for nature's dark side, but he seems unscathed. Perhaps spontaneous natural lessons are the way to learn about life and death. I should have been honest about what we witnessed.
Happily, we also saw lots of new life.
Turtles of all sizes; a pair of geese bathing with a gosling; ducks and ducklings doing their adorable thing. One set of ducklings dipped their heads into algae and then preened their feathers, over and over again. Another set swam behind their mother like a string of yellow pearls. 
In the rushes, red-winged blackbirds protected a nest cradling three blue eggs.
As we walked through the marsh I thought about my mother and how she would have loved to be here. 

“I think she is here,” my husband said. “That’s why we’ve seen all of this.”

Death filled my heart with sorrow; then my heart grew to make room for gratitude. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Big-box carnival

I took my son to a weekend carnival in the parking lot of a huge hardware store.


It turns out that a parking lot carnival is an unexpected mix of ugly and serenity.


Would I rather have been hiking in virgin forest? Sure. But on a Sunday afternoon between nap-time and supper-time, with two friends, his and mine, it was a great place to be.


I think this has a lot to do with being in the moment, and sharing the moment.


Too often when I'm with my son I'm thinking about something else too. Like trying to figure out how to persuade him to plant the seeds according to the package directions without taking the joy out of planting the seeds.


But two moms at a carnival with two two-year-olds, and hundreds of strangers, are directly focused on those two-year-olds. I can't walk through a crowd without holding his hand tightly, and frequently confirming that yes, his perfect little hand remains in mine.


For those few hours my thoughts were almost exclusively: Where is J? (Yes, still holding my hand.) What does J want to do next? Is J enjoying the ride? and, Yes, J is enjoying the ride!


I thought those thoughts in the company of a friend, who was surely having similar thoughts about her own little boy. Likely less anxious, but similar.


We watched out for each other's sons too.


In between, while the boys rode tiny chariots pulled by sparkly ponies, we chatted when we wanted to, but not to fill space.


And we watched our sweet boys, and waved at them, and tried and failed to get a good shot with a pocket camera.


Then we sat on a bench overlooking the parking lot and shared those irresistible warm mini donuts that melt in your mouth and taste so good, even if it's almost supper-time.


I feel peaceful just remembering that moment.


Because it's good to be together, with the child you love and your good friends, and in the moment.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hello, God? It's me, exercising

For the last few months(!), I've been planning to start running and meditating. I've done little of either. Yesterday, my practical, supportive, husband suggested that I put my guided meditation CD on an iPod and do both at the same time.


I was doubtful, but today I remembered that I do have an old MP3 player, and I decided to give it a try. I'm pretty sure that I was procrastinating doing something else at the time, but anyway, the old MP3 player worked and I was able to put the guided meditation file on it.


In the process I discovered some old photos on the MP3 player, including the only ones we have of our son's baptism. I look about a million years old in the baptism photos. I was wearing clothes that were two sizes too big, since breast-feeding had temporarily sucked all the fat out of me. And I was in beige from head to toe, except for hot pink lipstick apparently applied in a moving vehicle. Little J looked sweet but skeptical in his lace bonnet. Fitting for a baptismal candidate?


Back to the present. After mucking about on my laptop for most of the morning, I rushed off to yoga. This was only my third class, but I'm (still) loving it. No matter how I feel going in to yoga, I feel (and even look) radiant afterwards. Possibly the result of a very brief nap during the restorative part of the class.


I felt so good that I decided to take our dog and my guided meditation MP3 file for a walk. We strolled to the end of our street and hit the trail. I listened to the guided meditation twice, which took us to a spot on the very edge of the city. Two deer grazed peacefully in a farmyard 100' away.


I turned off the MP3 player and headed home, slowing to say hello to a pair of ducks swimming in a swampy creek. A little further on a rustle in the bushes drew my attention away from my breath to a fawn and his mother, just a couple of yards from the trail.
I'm not (very?) religious, but at times like this it's hard not to think that God is pulling out all the stops to encourage me to get fit.


Charley didn't even bark or tug, much. He did lunge at one bicycle, two toy dogs, and a massive bulldog named Thumper, but he let several other bikes, animals, and joggers pass in peace. 

I've walked on this trail hundreds of times without paying any attention to the trail markers, but today I noticed that we walked 2 km, plus to and from the trail. I know, that's not very far!


The best part is, I enjoyed it so much that I'm looking forward to doing it again tomorrow morning.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

9:4

Is it just me, or is nine hours of consecutive socializing cruel and unusual? I wouldn't call it punishment because I don't think I deserve to be punished... Or do I? Nine hours of socializing wouldn't have been half so bad if I hadn't stayed up so late and got just four hours of sleep.
That's what's wrong with this day -- I needed nine hours of sleep and four hours of socializing, not the other way around!
I know, nine hours of socializing probably sounds absolutely normal to many people, such as, say, everyone to whom I'm related by marriage.
Yes, I'm introverted. Why does that feel so unacceptable?
This was my day:
  • Stayed up way too late the night before, clutter-busting, writing (about clutter-busting), and reading a book called Clutter Busting. Um, seriously. Okay, I have to acknowledge that that sounds utterly freakish. But is it wrong to want to purge some of the stuff that is filling our house? No, not at all.
  • Woken way too early by the sounds of my beloved toddler: (a) kicking the wall beside his bed; and (b) singing. Husband is nowhere to be seen; recall tucking a blanket around his snoring body and turning off his televised sports at about ten-ish. Someone's having a long sleep, and it's not me. Force my brain into focus and hurry into our toddler's room to say good morning before: (a) he kicks a hole in the wall; or (b) he realizes that since he's no longer in a crib he could just get out of bed, open his bedroom door, and be free. Clearly (b) is the greater threat.  
  • Crawl into toddler-sized bed with toddler. Mercifully, toddler says, "This is a fire truck mommy. Let's sleep in it." Doesn't last long. Dress toddler. 
  • Husband awakes and takes toddler to kitchen. Eat. Shower. Dress. 
  • 9:00:
    • Invite mother-in-law to join me and toddler at park, by voicemail. 
    • Husband points out that mother-in-law just left for church. 
    • Husband departs to partake of fence-building at his brother's house. 
  • Play with toddler while awaiting mother-in-law's post-church response to invitation.
  • 10:30: Mother-in-law accepts invitation.
  • 11:45: Mother-in-law arrives. Eat. Go to park and explore amazing new children's garden at length. When nearing saturation point, toddler discovers simulated beach. Toddler nirvana. Sit on bench with mother-in-law and observe child's play. Realize that mother-in-law has a migraine. Realize that I have splitting headache. Seriously regret decision to leave sunglasses in car due to "cloudy" weather. Mother-in-law says, "Let him play." Okay... Abandon nap-time in favour of play-time. Want to play with child. Mother-in-law says, "He's fine." Okay... Finally get assertive and get out of park at about 2:30ish.
  • Five minute stop at home to pick up belated birthday gift for sister-in-law, while toddler and mother-in-law wait in the driveway.
  • 3:00: Drop in at sister-in-law's to: (a) deliver belated birthday gift; and (b) visit fence-building job site. 
  • Accept unexpected invitation to stay for supper. 
  • Foolishly quaff large glass of red wine, hoping that it will alleviate my headache (judgment is seriously impaired by sleep deprivation). 
  • Realize sadly that: (a) my headache is worse; (b) I'm starving and dehydrated; and (c) the glass of wine went straight to my head and I can't drive home any time soon. 
  • 7:30: Begin process of extricating toddler. 
  • 8:00: Arrive home. 
  • 9:00: Toddler in bed, an hour late. Start to read random blogs, courtesy of blogspot's "next blog". God are there ever a lot of running blogs. They make the mommy blogs look modest. And then there are the running-mommy blogs! Like the triathlete with newborn twins. At least she questions how to fit mothering into her passions(!). Sigh. Make it my personal mission to write the first running-mommy-minimalist blog as soon as I start running and home-schooling and ditch 90% of our possessions. Acknowledge that that blog is already out there, somewhere.
  • 10:30: Husband arrives home from fence-building and brings me a glass of water. Realize that I feel better already. See, all I needed was some alone time! And a glass of water. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Joy of Pruning

When I am pruning, time stands still. In fact, it's all I'm doing this afternoon. I just ran inside to look up a particular plant, and then I'm getting right back at it. The house is a mess; I don't care! There are shrubs to prune, flowers to plant, beds to amend, weeds to pull, and a forecast calling for rain all weekend. Today is my day to sculpt in the backyard.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A bargain at any cost?

Since quitting my job earlier this year, we've cut our spending dramatically.
The best side-effect has been time saved, but trying to save money is time-consuming too. I'm saving lots of time not shopping for unnecessary things, but spending too much time trying to save money on everything else.
I shop the big-box stores to save on the groceries they carry, but at what cost? There isn't one store that has all the groceries I want at the prices I want, so I end up making multiple trips, trying to remember what I want to pick up at what store. I suppose there's a learning curve, as I learn what's worth the trip and what isn't. But I would so much rather be learning something else!
I'm not sure I'm saving that much money either, as I sit here in my (cheap!) new Costco Polo tee and my son runs around in his (cheap!) new Costco Crocs...
As I walked past the $1,000 patio furniture in Costco yesterday, I couldn't help feeling that Costco is where we go when we want to spoil ourselves while feeling frugal.
Anyway, time to make hamburgers out of the giant tray of Costco ground beef, and enjoy them on today's Walmart buns.

P.S. Damn those burgers were tasty!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ashtanga wow!

I just tried Ashtanga yoga for the first time. Wow!
I haven't done any yoga for a long, long time, and I know from past experience that I always love a first yoga class. But this one was a real eye-opener.
In the past I've tried Iyengar yoga. I appreciated the careful attention to the postures. It all seemed so safe, and, in hindsight, soothed my inner perfectionist. But it could get a little dull. A little slow.
I once tried a "yoga flow" class at the office, but the teacher primarily taught aerobics, there were about 40 students in the class, and a techno beat played throughout the class. I did not return.
This was completely different.
First of all, the teacher did not play any sort of music or recorded soundscape. The only sound was her strong, calm voice, and my classmates' strong, but not always calm, breaths.
Second, we moved. We barely stopped moving, except for a few explanatory moments. I got warm. I got hot. It was not a hot yoga class. True, I am completely out of shape. But I have never been hot in an Iyengar class. This exertion felt good, although next time I'll dress a little lighter.
Third, I stretched. I mean really stretched. Shivaun even helped me stretch at a couple of points. Who knew that I could bend that far forward? Who knew that I could crunch my abs that hard to maintain that forward bend?! What a great feeling.
Looking forward to next class.
In the meantime, I'm going to try an Iyengar class in the same studio. I'm hoping it will be the perfect complement, because I do like to position myself just right, even when I'm travelling at 100 poses per hour.

Monday, May 9, 2011

More posts. Less filling.

I've decided to spend less time writing in my blog for a little while.
Not because I don't enjoy it. I kind of love it actually.
No, I've decided to limit my time doing this for a little while because there are some other things that I want to focus on right now.
This will be a bit of a challenge for me, because I've been enjoying it so much. But challenges can bring unexpected rewards. From that perspective, I'm looking forward to it.

The Suburbs

First thing this morning, my two-year-old gave me Arcade Fire's album, The Suburbs, for Mother's Day. I hope to never forget the happiness on his face when he handed me his little bundle of card and gift. Then the title track triggered an impromptu dance party in our kitchen. I couldn't ask for a better Mother's Day present than that.

A little later, my son and I headed off to a Mother's Day Plant Sale in a big white tent five minutes from home. The tent was packed but he stuck with me, and didn't even complain when a woman walked right into him. It's tough being 3' tall. We headed home happy, mud on our boots, bearing a tomato plant, three buttercups, and two Hens and Chicks sprinkled with Fairy Grow Dust.

Turning onto our street, we watched a deer, grazing in a grassy space between the homes.

As if that weren't enough, I came home to an email from my mother's childhood best-friend, offering to share some of her memories of my mom.

Then we hosted my husband's family for brunch in our little 1970's bungalow, and ate strawberry shortcake and sipped wine and dodged plastic golfballs in the backyard.

And at the end of the day we walked our dog around the block while distant thunder rumbled, and dashed home when the rain began to fall, and I was grateful.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Grief

It turns out that if I spend half the morning sobbing, and then apply contact lenses and watch construction videos with my son: (a) my eyes will be burning by mid-afternoon; and (b) he will not want to nap. No, he will want to go outside and play.

Here is the thing. I am broken-hearted. I am angry. I cannot begin to express this pain. What can I say, then?

I can say, try not to lose your mother. No, of course you don't have any control in that regard. Life is cruel that way.

Okay then. Perhaps the best that you can do, if you are fortunate enough to have a relationship with a living mother, is this:  Be aware that she will not live forever. Do not consider this fact morbid or shy away from it. No, be aware of it; be influenced by it. Make the most of every opportunity to learn from your mother. To appreciate her. To respect her. To show your love for her. To accept her love. To ask questions of her. Make the most of every opportunity to laugh with your mother. To argue with her if you must.

Because one day, you will not be able to. Either because you will die or, more likely, because she will.

And then she will be gone.

And you will suffer. You will suffer badly. You will miss her very, very much. And as time goes on, you will continue to suffer, a gaping, aching hole in the centre of your being.

And on the day before Mother's Day, this may be all that you are able to muster.

But if you are fortunate enough to be a mother, and if your son won't nap, though he needs a nap, you may say to yourself, "One day, I won't have this opportunity. I won't have this opportunity to spend the next hour with a moody, un-napped toddler." And you may retrieve your warm, sweet boy from his little toddler bed, and scoop him up into your arms, and hold him close, and take him to the park, and show him how to poke a stick into a pond, and you may smile at his smile, and inhale his little boy scent, and hope that your mother can too.

And in your sadness and anger, you will know that you are blessed. Betrayed and bereft, but blessed. You may see, if you dare, that you are becoming a little bit of the parent you've lost. And you will miss her all the more.

And you will find some strength to carry on.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rorschach tea caddy

The other day a friend was over and I offered her some herbal tea. "Let's see," I said, opening the cupboard, "I have Sleepytime, Sleepytime Extra, and... Tension Tamer." How embarrassing.

I remember the moment my husband gave me the Tension Tamer tea. It was in December. He was so proud to have done something so thoughtful for me; I felt queasy. It was one of many moments when I realized that stress was affecting my life and my family and that I needed to make a change. In hindsight, even though I didn't open the tea, my husband did do me a favour when he brought it home for me.

Now that the mere thought of Tension Tamer tea doesn't make me feel bad, perhaps I'll give it a try.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The sign for S.

Our friend S recently came to spend a night with us. He was in town for a special occasion of his own. It was great to see him, and to see my husband with his best friend. S is a genuinely nice man. Funny. Possibly a little shy, but incredibly goofy. This is a man who, back when we were doing baby sign language, created a sign for his own name. It was a great big gesture.

This time, S made our two-year-old laugh and laugh, in a whole new wide-eyed way. He had never seen an adult be so seriously funny.

The day after S left, my husband and I mentioned to our son that we were going to visit our relatives G and C.
"That's okay," he replied, "G and C aren't bad." 
"No, they aren't bad," we said, "of course they aren't bad!" 
"G is funny," he said, after a moment. 
"Yes," we agreed heartily. 
"But not like S!!!" he added.

Or not.

And today J wants nothing to do with his potty.

Potty training feels like training to be a Zen master.

I've read that in the 1950's kids were potty-trained in their first year. Is there any truth to this?

Keep it coming, little dude!

J peed in his potty again tonight. I don't want to get my hopes up too high, but I think we he may finally be onto something here.

Friday, April 29, 2011

J's day

April 28 was a breakthrough day for our little guy.

First, he hopped onto his trike and pedalled all the way across the backyard, from the shed to the gate. Last year he couldn't quite reach the pedals, and earlier this year he was more inclined to push his way along the ground. This time he pedalled!

Right then and there my heart just about burst, as I thought about how glad I was to be standing in my backyard watching my son rather than working somewhere else.

Later, when I finally got him to come inside, he decided to use the potty. (It had been a while.) And he peed on the potty! And he did it again after supper!

J also agreed to use the potty again this morning -- no outcome, but I'm encouraged by his willingness to try.

Way to go J!

This boy is always thinking. As we passed the golf course yesterday, J asked, "Why are those guys golfing?" "Um, probably because they like to golf." "Well I like to golf!" Uh-oh. The last time we drove past a golf course and he begged to play, I was able to dissuade him by pointing out that we didn't have our clubs with us. That excuse isn't going to last long with this fellow. He's two.

He stumped his dad the other day. They were watching baseball. A series of sports-related questions rained down on my husband, each dutifully answered until the last:
"Why is that towel on the ground?" "That's not a towel, that's a base."
"Why is that a base?" ...
"Why is that guy throwing the ball?" ...
"Why is that guy a pitcher?" ...
"Why does that pitcher have a tongue?" Stunned silence.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Smoothing out the ride

After my happy Saturday, my internal roller coaster has taken a little dip.

Why?

Not enough sleep. Sleep-deprivation seems to be like poison for me. 

A little bit of alcohol. Not a lot. But I'm starting to notice a pattern in which just a couple of drinks brings me down a bit. At one point I feared that it was socializing, but now I'm suspecting that it may actually be the alcohol. Which is much better, since social isolation doesn't seem like a healthy answer to anything. 

And then there's spring which finally exploded onto the scene this weekend. While delightful, spring is always a harsh reminder that I haven't finished all the projects I intended to do during the cold, dark months of winter. Since I live in a climate in which winter occupies almost half the year, this is particularly depressing.

When I first stopped working, in February, I was busy. I had lots to do, I had a sense of urgency, I was moving all the time. I didn't even stop to snack -- barely ate lunch. Then I reached a point at which I decided that, yes, I should not work for a while. I should not look for a job. I should enjoy this time and live it fully. And I slowed down. I started lots of little projects. I went in too many directions at once.

So it's time to re-group. Yes, I have an incredible gift of time. No, I don't want to waste it. Yes, I have a million things I want to do and time to do them. No, no I don't -- I have time to do a select few of them. 

The reality is that there are only so many hours in a day. In a life! Not working frees up a lot of hours. But many of those hours are filled with things that were previously done at other times (at night or on weekends) or by other people (one's spouse, cleaning ladies). When I worked, I never did laundry, cleaning, shopping, cooking, or filing on weekdays, because I was working then. Now I do all of those things on weekdays. So there's a big chunk of my weekdays right there. 

Then there are all the things that previously didn't get done, or rarely got done. Or only got done late at night when I should have been sleeping. Or on the weekend at the expense of quality time with others. This is a very large category of "things". 

And then there is spending more time with our son, and that, I am happy to say, I am doing! But I would like to do more of that too. 

So today it is time for me to prioritize. How much time do I actually have? What am I going to do with that time, and when am I going to do it? 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

    

Every year we give my mother-in-law an Easter lily. It's a nice tradition my husband started. This year the lily started to open up after I brought it home from the store. It was so beautiful that I took about a million photos on Friday, hoping for a good one. I think I got one. It's hard not to look at this beautiful flower without gratitude.

Milestone in suburbia

Good days come in all shapes and sizes and when you least expect them. Today was a one of them.

I couldn't have foreseen it. I was up until 2:00 a.m. the last two nights, writing and then downloading, culling, editing, and uploading photos.

But it was.

This morning our little one woke me up at 8:00 a.m., mercifully late.

My dad emailed and said that my photos were beautiful.

My father-in-law came over for coffee with his son and grandson and brought me a Tim Horton's Steeped Tea (my weakness).

My husband filled my Kate Spade Thermos with coffee while I showered. I didn't need any more caffeine, but we have a nascent Bailey's-flavoured-coffee-Zoo tradition.

My son and I left the house at exactly the time I had agreed to meet our friends at the Zoo. But we live just 10 minutes from the Zoo, we had agreed to meet 15 minutes before it opened, and my friends were later than we were. I love that!

J was glad to see his buddies G and JL. The boys raced from exhibit to exhibit, often leaving their friend JL behind, and were reluctantly corralled when they got too far ahead. We re-grouped at the play structure, where the boys adorably delighted in feeding Goldfish to JL's baby brother A.

By the end of the morning I was sick of my voice and my own consistently lax-to-the-point-of-suddenly-barking parenting style. You know when you do exactly what you've criticized in others decades earlier? I'm not the only one, am I? But I actually managed to forget about it and enjoy the rest of my day.

And every time I started to feel guilty about not being a good enough mom vs. not being a good enough friend (yes, I can feel guilty about a lot), I somehow managed to stop and let it go. Being a mom won out.

The lions and tiger were active and spectacular and only barely caught J's attention. But suddenly, towards the end of the morning, he was mesmerized by the Prairie Dogs. He didn't want to go home, and we were both tired and hungry, but we got out of there and got home happy.

After lunch my husband went out (this being his big power-broom day), J eventually napped, and I started to think (and write) about supper.

I had just started cooking (very late for a roast) when we realized the time and woke J from his nap.
Then, just when we could have become really cranky, because we were way behind schedule, we didn't.

Instead, my husband enlisted our son to help him build his new toddler bed. He knew how much I wanted to get that bed set up. J had asked for a bed, had seen the box, and observed that it contained a bed, but was thrilled to hear that it was his new bed.

They built. I cooked and washed J's new sheets and got out the drill and finished something I'd been meaning to do in our guest room. Surprisingly, my husband did not step in and say, "What are you doing?!" when he saw me wielding the drill. He actually smiled. J was, of course, enthralled. (The boys were only using an allen key and toy tools for their project.)

Just when the roast was ready to come out of the oven, the bed was assembled -- but wouldn't fit through the bedroom door. The roast came out, the bedroom door came off, and went back on, furniture was rearranged to accommodate both bed and crib (just in case!), and our dear little one was delighted.

My heart paused when J asked us to "close" his new bed, indicating that the side was missing. But he accepted my explanation and my reassurance that his stuffed lion, Roar, would help keep him inside.

We ate supper an hour late; J went to bed an hour late.

But amazingly, he settled into his new little bed without a peep, our miraculous little boy.

My husband accepted a neighbour's invitation to share a bonfire and a beer, in appreciation for the loan of the power broom. He actually power-broomed four lawns today, out of the goodness of his heart. And built a toddler-bed. With a toddler's help. The man deserves a bonfire and a beer, and more.

Then I opened up my incredibly cheery polka-dotted Thermos and sipped this morning's leftover coffee.

And thought, with pleasure, this is Saturday night at forty in suburbia. My wonderful son passed a milestone today with joy and confidence, and is sleeping down the hall. My dear husband is his generous and serene and sociable self.

And then he came home from the bonfire and told me a couple of little stories and waited up for me.

I always know I'm lucky, but usually that just makes me worried. It feels good to be happy too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Keeping it honest

Um, yeah, old dogs don't jog in the cold. Nothing like a little bit of spring snow and ice to make the thought of sweating outside completely objectionable. Come on, spring!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Old Dogs Jog!

I am delighted to say that this morning Charley and I went for a run/walk. That is, we alternated running with walking briskly, in 60 second intervals. And when I say running, I mean jogging. But apparently no one says "jogging" any more. Kind of sad, since according to Wikipedia, "jogging" has been around since the 16th century. But running sounds far less likely to involve a braided pastel headband. I guess jogging went down with the 80's, and now we have The Running Room's run/walk program.
Which seems to be a pretty effective program. After all, it got me and Charley out there moving!
This is actually our second run/walk. We went out on Saturday morning too but it was a cold, misty morning and Charley was having none of it. When I started to run, he stopped. He refused to run in any direction except back towards our house. I tried running him right past our house, but he caught on after a block or so. I had to escort him home and carry one without him.
Today, however, the sun was shining and my furry friend stuck it out. I'm so glad he did. Watching his little legs flying out behind him was pure joy.
I'm looking forward to our next run/walk together.
In the meantime, the oven is beeping because the banana bread is ready. Yes, old dogs bake. Especially after jogging.

The Table, at last.

Did I finish cleaning my table? Yes, I did! Everything has been properly filed away, except for one (big) bowl of things-to-do. There's always an exception I suppose. Anyway, it looks great. Feels great.

I'm almost looking forward to more mail now, just so that I can file it IMMEDIATELY and avoid "The Table" again. Almost. Okay, now that I've thought about that I'm afraid to open the front door because there must be mail in my mailbox, and some of it is bound to be require filing...
And then there's the rest of my house!
But this little project is done. I guess that means that the clutter buster is officially underway. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Table, cont'd.

So, did I finish filing everything on my dining room table? No, of course I did not. I did, however, do something probably more important. I used those records spread out on my table and made a balance sheet and a budget. Not much of a budget, since it's running a deficit, but if deficit-finance is good enough for the country...  No, seriously, we do not intend to run a deficit, but the draft budget is a starting point. A starting point from which to make cuts. Even my dear husband is on board and actually asked me to track our spending. I later realized that I forgot to include dog food and vet services. Yes, dear hound, you may continue to eat.

Then I spent two hours at the bank to open an account to receive my former-employee shares. Two hours!!!

As if that weren't enough fun, so far today I have spent another hour on the phone regarding the same transaction. Among other things I learned that the bank neglected to present the necessary form. I've spoken with four people this morning, each of whom has told me that I need to do something else. Like scream, perhaps...

... Okay. A few hours, emails, and forms later, and it's finally time to fax everything in and hope, hope, hope, that this transaction is done! (And then get to work on my pension transfer, but that's for another day.)

I'm also off to Fed Ex two boxes of baby clothes to my nephews. Definitely a win-win there. They receive two boxes of clothes to wear. I remove two boxes of clothes from my home. Hopefully one day I have another baby and receive said clothes for him or her. If I ever have a daughter she will have one kick-ass neutral wardrobe courtesy of her big brother and male cousins, fabulously accessorized with pretty ribbons, boots, and jumpers. Something so perfect should really happen, shouldn't it?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Table

OK. I've put this off long enough. Yes, today is the day that I tackle this:

I'm pretty sure that when my parents gave us this dining room table they did not expect me to use it for filing (although they might not be totally shocked that it's been pressed into service in this capacity from time to time). I can hear my father saying, as he did throughout my teens, "Your floor is not a shelf." No, neither is my table.

I've had some excuses for this little filing project. Chiefly, I've been searching for some budgeting software before I file all our records away. I've given up on finding a Mac-compatible product and am now looking to buy a used PC so I can go back to Quicken -- sorry Apple devotees, I'm not persuaded that this nice-looking MacBook adequately replaces our former PC's.

However, the time has come to wrap this up. So, here goes...