"The Tightrope Walker"

"The Tightrope Walker" by Jean-Louis Forain

Monday, May 31, 2010

My Very Own Bright Star!

I am warning you know that this post is a big brag fest. So if you don't want to hear me go on and on about how gifted my child is, stop reading now! ;-)

Against my wishes and better judgment my husband frequently watches rather grown-up movies with my daughter. He enjoys fantasy-type books and movies, and likes to share them with her. Two of his better (yet mature) selections have been the "Narnia" series movies and "A Wrinkle in Time", both by Disney. Although I am convinced that these movies are slightly above her understanding and likely a little scary for a four and half year old, I do have to admit that she is taking something away from them.

While riding in the car today she explained to me how "A Wrinkle in Time" reminded her of the "Narnia" movies because the people in them get trapped in a different world. She continued to tell me that in both movies the different world started out very nice and special, then turned bad and scary, but in the end everyone is happy and safe. When I asked for more details she told me about the war and fighting in Narnia and compared that to the dark, scary place the characters travel to in "A Wrinkle in Time". All of her comparisons were of course simple and in her own four-year-old language, but they were concise, accurate and sometimes quite clever.

(Here comes the bragging part.) I was sort of blown away. As a student teacher and supply teacher I know that there is an ongoing effort to encourage children of all ages to make connections between texts, a variety of media sources, and real-life experiences. I also know that teaching children to relate, compare and contrast stories and experiences can be a challenge at all grade levels. And here was my four-year-old prattling on about these two movies and how they were the same. So after giving my husband grief about letting our little girl watch movies that I deemed to be inappropriate I am wondering if they have actually helped her little brain to stretch and grow. Amazing to watch these bright little stars that are our children get brighter! Can't wait to see what conversations tomorrow brings. (Bragging over.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Comedy of Errors.

Today's parenting adventure began at about 5pm. In our steaming un-air conditioned house I started to make dinner. I was barbecuing hamburgers since it was much too hot to use the oven or stove. So around in circles I was going between feeding the baby snacks, prepping burger toppings in the kitchen, flipping burgers outside and chatting with my oldest daughter while she shadowed my every move. Thankfully my husband arrived home at 5:30 to add an extra set of hands, but as habit would dictate he came in the front door and LOCKED it. (See where this is going?) Amidst the chaos my daughter asked if we could eat outside and I easily agreed in order to catch a little bit of the breeze. So out we trekked with the rest of the food, dishware and condiments...and don't forget the highchair too. We had a pleasant meal, but as per usual our four-year-old was up and about, in and out of the house, and chatting incessantly. Dinner finished, a quick play outside and now time to clean up before baths and bed. Or a least we thought!

My husband was first to gather a stack of dishes and head for the back door. "Hey, why is this locked? How did it get locked?" As we puzzled through the mystery of how a door that can ONLY be locked from the inside came to be locked with ALL of us outside we realized our oldest was the last one in. Well, more like in and out, in and out, in and out. With all her coming and going, plus us nagging her to do one or the other and be quick about it, she must have knocked the locking lever and when she slammed it shut it fell into the locked position.

Oh well, no big deal right? We will just go in the front - locked by husband. Garage? Locked. Windows? Can't reach them because the ladder is locked in the garage. So a quick trip to the neighbours, a little call to my sister and within twenty minutes she arrives with the keys.

Really no big deal, but between being hot, tired and generally irritated by our oldest daughter's dinner time antics patience were running thin. It was one of those parenting moments where my quick reaction was to be angry and punishing, but thanks to the unexpected hot weather I knew I needed to take a breath. When my oldest quickly reminded me she wanted blueberries now that we could get in the house I reminded her that we still needed to tidy dinner, and that because it was her silliness that locked us out she needed to be extra patient. Her response with head cocked to the side and hand on her hip, "Urgh, it was an accident Mom!" Followed be another request for blueberries! Sigh...sometimes I wonder why I have a sixteen-year-old trapped in a four-year-old's body. Then I remember: the apple doesn't fall far from the tree! So this evening's comedy of errors provides yet another ironic parenting moment.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I scream, you scream, we all scream for...

...ice cream! Bring on the beautiful weather, tank tops, shorts and ice cream! What? Ice cream?

Yes, one of my biggest weaknesses is a walk in the park with an ice cream cone in hand. The weather has been lovely and old habits die hard. So, I find myself not only up the the 2 lbs I had lost, but another 2 lbs on top of that. It doesn't look like I will make my 10 lb birthday goal which is admittedly embarrassing since I put it out there for the world to read. However, lessons learned and try, try again....I guess. Trying not to let my own failings get me down. Putting on shorts and a tank top has been a huge motivator, and I have been walking a bit this week so I am slowly adding exercise back into my routine. Time to revise the goal - down any amount of weight by my birthday and hopefully hit the 10 lb mark by the end of July. Only time and my own willpower/motivation will tell. Another challenge is trying to figure out how to include child friendly exercise time in my life without paying for a sitter. Hmmm????

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Most Truthful Moments.

I find the most truthful moments in life to be the ones that offer the most wisdom, insight and passion. I had the honour of experiencing one of these special moments late last week at my uncle's memorial service. There were a number of great speakers who shared their heartfelt, funny and inspirational memories of my uncle, but my aunt's speech was by far the most touching.

She started by telling us that in the immediate hours and days after her husband's death she began to make a list of all the things she would miss about him. After a few more days she began to list the things she would NOT miss about him, but after some more time passed she came to realize that she would actually miss all his quirks and irritating habits as much as his charming ones. This is one of the most truthful insights I have ever heard.

When we find a partner, fall in love and commit to spending a lifetime with them we take the good, the bad and the ugly. As much as their faults drive us crazy or we nag them to do a chore just the way we like it we still love them. And in this ability to overlook our partner's "imperfections" lies the truth about love and Mr./Mrs.Perfect. Real love, true love, adores the "imperfections", looks past the quirks and recognizes our perfect partner as being the person that offers just the right balance of perfection and flaws to compliment our own. Being able to identify, accept and actually cherish our partner's flaws is truly what makes loving them flawless. A very truthful moment!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Little Bit of Me.

A few weeks ago someone asked me how I keep balance in my life, and at the time I laughed. I laughed because balance is a daily struggle for me, as I'm sure it is for all Moms. The conversation got me thinking though and I started making a mental list of the things I do to get some balance between family, work and play. To my surprise, there are probably more things I do to keep some sort of sanity than I ever realized.

For example, I frequently put the girls to bed a 1/2 hour earlier than normal when my husband works nights. I've always felt guilty about doing it because maybe they should be playing for that extra bit of time, but once I started thinking about it this is one of the little things I do to create some balance. Since I'm home by myself everything takes a little longer because I'm outnumbered - dinner, bath time, bedtime, clean-up. If I kept the girls up to their regular bedtime it would likely mean that by the time I'd cleaned up dinner and finished all my tasks for the next day it would be time for me to go to bed. No time to unwind! I NEED that time to clear my brain, and then shut my thoughts down before calling it a night. So, selfish or not I create some balance by tucking the girls into bed a 1/2 early. Thank goodness they can't tell time yet!

I also don't work every day of the week. For a while now I've accepted work based on my family schedule rather than operate my family life around work. I've been lucky to have this opportunity, and even luckier than my husband has been so tolerant. Even though working very part-time has created a lot of financial strain it has been worth it in order to spend time with my daughters while they are so little. My only regret is that having had this time I haven't taken more advantage of it to become a better cook or to do more things just for me. Maybe in the next lifetime I learn how to strike that balance.

The trickiest part of keeping a well-rounded life is having fun. I easily have fun with the girls, my family and work is always interesting, but having fun that is just about me or my husband and I is a little more difficult. Of course the logistics of babysitters always creates a challenge, but beyond that two interesting things have happened to me in adulthood. First, I have let all interest in hobbies fall to the wayside. But, I think I can fix this problem especially as the girls get older and become more independent. Second, having had my first daughter before most of our friends were married we found ourselves in an interesting situation. We leap-frogged ahead of our friends in the stages of life and for a while everyone sort of fell away. We stopped being invited places and slowly I stopped seeing and speaking with friends as often. I don't blame this on our friends at all. I realize that some of this isolation is simply the nature of adulthood/parenthood as your time becomes more and more divided, but my husband and I also let it happen. We turned down invitations, actively spent more time with our own parents, and stopped picking up the phone to make those important calls. But this too can be remedied!

So, after this long ramble the moral of the story is that balance for me is actually going to come from problem solving, being positive and taking action. Just this week I heard Dr. Phil talking about how the key to changing your life isn't motivation but taking action. (I know that you are chuckling right now, but yes I saw Dr. Phil on Oprah this week during a Mommy-minute. I was taking some time to create balance!) This rang very true to me. Taking action has to come before motivation because motivation really is the power to KEEP going, not the power to GET going! An "aha-moment", as Oprah would say. (I know...now you're laughing! But imagine, what would our world be like without Oprah?!?!)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day!

It is a very happy Mother's Day around here! Lots of special treats and extra love from my girls. I hope all the mommies and mommies-to-be are having a relaxing, stress free, dirty diaper free day! Yes, I'm doing a load of laundry right now, but my only "chore" for the day. Today the balance scales have tipped in favour of ME!

A side note: My oldest daughter said, "Mom, I think we should have a Kid's Day when Kid's can get presents and toys." This was of course said with her most serious face and adult voice. I said, "That's a nice idea!" What I wanted to say, "Isn't every day Kid's Day, especially when you visit your grandparents!" :-) Very funny!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Coping skills.

I'm struggling this week. The death of my uncle is bothering me more than I thought it would. I'm sad that he is gone and gone so quickly, but my real struggle is in the likeness I feel with my cousin. I find myself trapped playing the "what-if" game. What if my dad died four days before my thirtieth birthday? What if he had died two months before my wedding? What if he had died before I had my girls? What if he dies before my youngest gets to know him? How would I feel? How does SHE feel???

My husband is working nights so we have had little opportunity to talk, and instead I am stewing, thinking, feeling sad. I think if he were here he would tell me that it is sad. He would hug me. He would understand why I feel the way I do, but knowing him he would tell me two things. First, I need to prepare myself that these things are going to happen to my loved ones. Second, that they haven't happened yet and that we are lucky enough to have shared our wedding, our girls and other special moments with all of our parents and my grandparents. Then he might even add a third thought - if I were in my cousins position my dad would want me to keep on living. Just like her dad would want for her. Still so very sad!

(Can't wait for my husband to get home from work tonight. He always knows just what to say. Well, most of the time.) ;-)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


More and more I notice that each wedding, baby, and all the other happy events that come with adulthood seem to be accompanied by a sad one. This week in particular I find myself stewing over what it means to lose a loved one. I consider myself lucky to never have experienced the loss of a close family member, but I'd like to share the story of someone in family who just has.

There is a young woman in my family who lost her father two days ago. He fought a very short, but valiant battle with cancer. His prognosis from the beginning was poor, but no one expected his battle to end in less than three months. Although it is sad that we anticipated his death none of us expected his condition to deteriorate so quickly, and so we still find ourselves feeling some degree of disbelief.

For me the most difficult part of this sad turn of events is thinking about the young woman. She and I are the same age; in fact her birthday is almost exactly a month before mine. And, as I mentioned, her father died two days ago exactly four days before her thirtieth birthday. My sadness and compassion for her runs deeper than just thinking about how I would feel if my father died in the week before my birthday. I am teary-eyed just thinking about her upcoming wedding. That's right, in a little over two months she is suppose to be celebrating one of the happiest days of her life. I can't stop thinking about what she must be feeling, and I am overwhelmed with empathy and compassion. I know there is little to nothing I can do to ease her grief, and so instead I find myself thinking about my own daughters.

Having children has its fair share of trials and tribulations, but I wouldn't trade being a parent for anything. I would give up almost anything to be able to share a million memories with my daughters, to be able to witness their happiest days and most joyous moments. I will pick them up when they are sad or hurt, and boost them even higher when they think they've reached the top. It is moments like these, stories like this one, that give me a sense of urgency and a neediness to be with them, hug them, laugh with them. No matter what, no matter how busy, no matter how tired or grumpy, I want my daughters to know they are loved and that my dream for them is to live life to the fullest. I hope that the young woman in my family is able to remember that this is the dream her father probably had for her, and that she steps into the future with a heart full of memories past and dreams to come.