"The Tightrope Walker"

"The Tightrope Walker" by Jean-Louis Forain

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


We did it! We made it through a relatively uneventful weekend of camping, and we had lots of fun. The girls loved it, the weather was reasonable and my husband and I only had a few minor disagreements (always important when traveling).

We did learn a few things about packing and which items are essential. For example, we opted not to bring a playpen for the baby. Although everything worked out we would have had an easier time if we'd managed to cram it in the car. Friday night she was up until midnight. She wasn't unpleasant, but she giggled, wiggled and explored every corner of the tent in a sleep deprived delirium for hours. She clearly loved the tent!

Other lessons: our easy meals were perfect, babies and the beach make for a big sandy mess, less clothing would have been, remember paper to start the fire, use MORE bug spray, bring fewer beach toys and rain toys, a playground at the campground is essential, hot water and flush toilets in the bathroom makes camping with kids easier, and be prepared for tired kids when you get home.

Another big discovery (which we sort of knew already), our oldest daughter is LOVED by mosquitoes. Unfortunately she also is extra sensitive. The poor kid has more bites than the rest of us put together. Her bites are slow to show up, but the worst part is that they blister and become a horrible mess. I just don't get it! She wore long pants most of the weekend and we bug sprayed her big time. Now we know she needs extra protection for those pesky guys. More bug spray for her next time.

So, yes there will be a next time. We learned a lot and we will go camping again, but probably not this summer! It might take me all summer to build the courage up again!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Less than 24 hours until our camping departure and I'm in packing HELL! My husband and I are notorious over-packers. Each time we travel I tell my husband this is the time we are going to travel light. Getting ready for this camping trip I said the same thing, "Pack light, pack little" and yet here I am collecting and packing a million items into a thousand different bags. The "What-if Monster" always seem to rear its ugly head! Need to get back at it, but I'm seriously worried about how we are going to cram everything in our car.

Oh...and did I mention my husband has also decided to bring his surf gear. That means one more bag PLUS his surfboard strapped to the roof! I think our next vehicle better be an RV! ;-)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"A tent for four, please!"

My husband and I often come up with these schemes, plans and adventures that we never fully think through before we commit. We currently have two of these adventures in the works - a camping trip and a rather muddled road trip. Like all of our master-planned exploits these two events may be hazardous to our health, our mental and parental health in particular.

First up, camping!?!? I keep asking myself whose ridiculous idea was this. Then, I tell myself it was my husband's, but truth be told I am the genius who came up with this one. My husband loves to camp. We have done very little camping as a couple and only been once with our oldest daughter. When we took our oldest camping for the first (and only) time we actually cheated. She came for one evening and left by noon the next day to spend the rest of the weekend with her grandparents at the cottage. Now here we are two years since that trip and I was feeling guilty that my husband hasn't had an opportunity to enjoy another camping trip. So I decided it would be great to organize a family camping trip as his Father's Day gift. Awesome, right? Ha, who was I kidding?

Picture it: a four-year old who has slept outside once and never really camped, a one-year old who has never even been in a tent, me who has barely camped and really would rather be inside cuddled up with a good book, and my husband who thinks one day we should camp Algonquin with our kids. Oh dear!

I'm sure we are going to have a great time and it will be nice to have a whole weekend together, but the logistics of camping with two kids seems like a nightmare to my Type A, worry-wart brain. For example, where does the baby sleep? Where do we bath the baby? What do we do with our oldest if it rains, if it pours? What about bugs, poison ivy and are there snakes? What do newly, walking babies wear on their feet at the beach? Can you buy bug spray without DEET that actually works? It is suppose to be hot, but we need to keep the girls covered to protect them from the sun and bugs...don't we? How do we keep the babies milk cold, and what to feed her? Can she eat a hot dog like the rest of us? And on and on my brain whirls out the long list of what ifs and how will we?

With a little over 72 hours until our impending departure I'll let you know how it goes. Other people camp with their children. It's not like we are trailblazer on this adventure, so everything will be fine. It will all work out....right??? See what I mean about hazardous to parental and mental health? I need a nap just from thinking about all these things and I haven't even attempted packing our gear!


Thank goodness the kindergarten program is two-years because I'm not ready for my little girl to be a "big kid". With very few days left in her Junior Kindergarten year I will happily take my oldest daughter to her first day of Senior Kindergarten next fall. I'm just not ready for her to leave my imagined kindergarten safety zone.

I've just come home from her year-end kindergarten performance. It was everything that school performances usually are: comical, sweet, goofy and charming. All the kids did a great job. I loved watching my daughter singing her heart out while making every over-the-top face she possible could. So funny!

All that said, it was another one of life's moments that offered an opportunity for reflection. She has changed so much over this school year. She is able to count higher, print her name with ease, knows most of the letters of the alphabet and some numbers too. She loves to print, paint and draw. Where she used to scribble she now draws people, faces, rainbows and flowers. She has grown and flourished, but as I reflect I also am looking ahead.

What will the next year bring? Will she be reading? Writing more words? By this time next year she will be leaving the play-happy, safety of kindergarten for the unknown world of first grade. Yikes! My kids are growing up way too fast! I wish I knew who pressed the fast forward button so I could bribe them into playing life in slow motion.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Parenting Optional?

I often wondering if I'm a strict, hard-ass type parent or if other parents think rules, supervision and consequences are optional; especially, when I observe the parenting of children around me. I'm not passing judgment; I just don't always understand the choices that other parents make. Here's what I mean:

1) Last Friday evening, and many other evenings for that matter, I heard young children playing in the common area behind my townhouse. I looked and sure enough two boys who are 6 and 7 years-old were playing outside in the pitch black and there was no parent to be seen. It was 9:50 p.m.! My girls were in bed and sound asleep by 8:00 p.m. My first thought was that bedtime at their homes must be very late by the time they are called in, bathed, p.j'ed and ready for bed. My second thought was they had spent all day at school and their little brains still need 12 hours of sleep. Third thought, you never know who is wondering around in a townhouse complex after hours! Not that where we live is unsafe, but there are people walking pets, University students having parties and lots of other people who walking through because there is a public access trail that cuts through the complex. The craziest thing is that I hear these little guys outside late into the evening many nights, and not just on weekends. What are the parents of these children thinking?

2) The little boy who lives next door to us, one of the same boys from scenario #1, has just turned 7 years-old. By provincial law he is required to be in a booster seat until he is 8 years-old or meets the size requirements, which he doesn't currently. And yet, he usually rides in the car without a booster seat and even without a seat belt. I recently was loading my kids into our car while he was being picked up by a family friend to go somewhere. I hear the friend shout to his mom about needing his car seat, but after a discussion back and forth the friend said, "Oh, no big deal! I'm not going far and I can drive slow." WHAT??? Are these people insane? (Okay, I guess I am being judgmental.) Driving slow sounds like a sure fire way to prevent another speeding idiot from slamming into your car! In my mind the purpose of a car seat isn't necessarily to protect your children from your own driving, but to protect them from the driving of others. You know, people around you who you have no control over? Another strange decision!

3) Soda in a bottle! Yes, you read correctly. More than once I have seen and spoken to parents who give their little ones soda in bottle. In fact just this week I watched a parent open a can of orange soda, pour half into a bottle for a child that looked to be about 18 months and give the rest to her preschooler. Since when did it become common practice and part of a healthy, well-balanced diet to give babies soda? I guess I missed that bulletin. My almost 5 year-old hasn't even had soda. We have given her Ginger Ale for an upset tummy, but she hates the bubbles and usually refuses to drink it. I can't imagine what the carbonation would be like inside a bottle, sucked through a silicone nipple and then in a tiny baby tummy! Crazy, yet again!

So again, I find myself wondering when did parenting become optional. Over the years, decades, and generations has parenting become so lax that all that is important is that we feed or children something, get them to school (most of the time), and give them free range to do as they please in order to keep them happy? What happened to safety first, routines, 7:30 bedtimes and family dinners? I feel like things were different when I was growing up, or at least at my house they were. I hope that if my girls become parents they value their children for their developing brains, bodies and spirits. That they realize their children are people - little people with the right to good health, safety, and happiness. These things are rights after all and not luxuries. If you have children parenting is not optional!

Monday, June 14, 2010

30, Plus a Few Days.

Turning 30 wasn't the trauma I thought it would be. I had a lovely weekend filled with birthday treats. Family, friends, gifts, food, drinks and lots of visiting made for a good time. So, thanks to all who sent birthday wishes and celebrated with me.

Now for a reality check. I turned 30 and all my troubles came with me. Imagine that! The neigh-sayers who thought my goal was too lofty won this battle. I managed to yo-yo my weight up and down in the same 5 lb range over the last 11 weeks. I'm definitely feeling discouraged by my own lack of motivation and commitment. To add insult to injury my 4 year-old referred to my tummy as "chubby" today. Sadly not a lie or misjudgment, yet excessively irritating. Funny how the truth can be annoying. My next steps are unknown, but I'm not giving up on the overall goal to lose some weight and improve my general fitness/health. I think my biggest stumbling block is reconciling the changes I want to make with my family life. I always seem to let things related to being a mother, wife, etc become my excuses and I need to figure out how to stop using "life" as a crutch. I'm my own enabler! Twisted, I realize!

On the upside I spent some really great time with my husband. The longer we are together the more I adore him and love being with him. Not to say every day is a cake walk (because today sure wasn't). But, he makes me laugh more, our conversations get better with time, I miss him more when he's gone, I am increasingly attracted to him (which he of course enjoys, wink, wink), and I still get that butterfly feeling when he walks in to a room or gives me a quick hug. Spending my birthday weekend with him reminded me of all these great things and now I wish we had a good excuse to spend EVERY weekend alone together. Then again, I guess I would miss my girls...

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Big Day!

Well, today is the day! That's right the big 3-0!

The best part so far - even though my husband worked all night and is sound asleep now he still managed to be the first person to wish me a Happy Birthday. That's how I know I've got a great guy!

More later. S

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Soccer Mom???

Some background to start: My oldest played soccer last year for the first time. She started the season loving it, but by the end the excitement was gone and she really didn't seem to be enjoying herself. So it was with hesitation that I signed up for this year's season after she insisted that she LOVES soccer.

Last week was her first week, but she wasn't feeling well and we missed. The decision not to go last week started a chain of events that I came to regret tonight at her first game.

Before dinner I decided it was best to get her into her uniform and give all her gear the once over. Being a lover of princesses, and all things girly she was quickly in tears over having to take off her skirt to put on the green jersey and black shorts. In her eyes they are ugly and what boys where so she was having none of it. Next the shoes, shin pads and socks were a battle. The socks fit me, the pads were cutting the shoelaces were too tight - you name it, it was point of misery for her! In the back of my mind I was thinking it all would have been so much easier if my husband had done this last week, and if she had seen the other girls on her team wearing the same stuff.

Next dinner was a struggle. She didn't want to eat, she wanted to go, then she didn't want to go because she wanted eat. Eventually, she admitted that she was scared but couldn't tell my why exactly. We had a long chat about how new things are scary sometimes and finally we managed to get dinner finished.

Soccer starts and for the first bit all is well. Then I can see things changing. She starts wandering over for a drink. She is walking now instead of running. Next thing I know she is barely paying attention because the drawstring in her shorts is FAR more interesting. Convincing her to give it one more go she runs back onto the field and has an awkward sideways collision with a team mate. She took an elbow to the collarbone and was instantly in tears. I don't blame her, but the look on her face said it all. A look of I hate this! The final straw - it was our turn to bring team snack this week but I didn't know because we missed last week and the coach forgot to tell me when we spoke on the phone. I of course looked like the idiot parent who can't keep it together as my kid is crying and the all the other kids are asking a million times why there isn't any snack. To add insult to injury my daughter was heartbroken that she missed her "turn" to share snack and wanted to know when it would be her turn again. "Only one turn! Ahhhh, Mom!!!"

On the drive home I asked her if she liked soccer, did she have fun, was she looking forward to going back next week and so on. She answered yes every time, but with one of those grudgingly, no energy, this sucks kind of a yes. So here is the challenge: if your child is eager to do something beforehand, but they clearly don't enjoy doing it what do you do? Do you encourage them because you want to support all of their endeavours? Do you side step their interest by redirecting their energy to another activity? Or, do you just shut'em down, tell to try something else? I never want to discourage her, but I also want to encourage her to participate in activities she genuinely enjoys. And, I still don't understand why she wants to play so badly when she obviously would rather be doing a million other things! I'm not sure I will ever understand how her little brain works!

Birthday Baby!

(Warning: this post is a bit of a ramble. Lots of jumbled thoughts!)

Well, we made it! Our baby is a whole year old (plus a few days now)!

We had a busy lead up to her first birthday - switched to whole milk, a size bigger in diapers and she is officially walking. All these changes in the four days before her birthday. It literally seems like overnight my baby turned into a toddler. I find myself caught off guard when she walks across the room to wrap her arms around my legs. So sweet!

As happy as I am to watch her grow and change, I'm a little sad too. At 11pm on the night before her birthday I crept into her room and grabbed her up for a few more baby cuddles in the last hour before she turned a year old. Of course the cuddles were so nice that I cuddle too long and she woke up. My husband wasn't all that impressed, but he grabbed some cuddles too. Something so lovely about baby cuddles in the dark of night.

So there the three of us were cuddled in bed together in the middle of the night and I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that she may be our last baby. We haven't made any final decisions, but the reality of the world is that two children may be our financial limit. As a result I'm trying to cherish all of these moments.

On the day of her birthday she was such a good girl. She visited, ate cake, opened presents and happily enjoyed the attention, or most of it anyways! It was a great day and now a few days later she is obviously still the same baby, but somehow different. A big girl. A growing girl. But still my girl!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Closet Walker.

With my baby rushing towards toddler-hood and her first birthday in a few days we have all been waiting with anticipation for her to take her first steps. Finally, about eight days ago she took six hesitant, but independent steps from me to her big sister. After that I thought she would take off. She is so adventurous and seemingly fearless that I figured once she had done it she would be on the move. Needless to say I have been surprised over this last week that she still prefers to crawl, cruise the furniture and clutch our fingers in desperation as she walks the room. She has tried a few more times to take a step or two, but nothing as bold as those first six and only if there is strong motivation; like the need to reach a Cheerio or pull her big sister's hair!

I've been staying patient, encouraging her gently, and subconsciously willing her to walk so I can stop scrubbing the dirt, and grass stains from her naked knees. (Never experienced the dirty knee problem that occurs while crawling with my first child because she much preferred to walk.) Then I discovered her secret! She is a "Closet Walker". Yes sir, when our backs are turned and she thinks no one is watching she is walking all on her own. Yesterday, I was washing dishes with my back to her and I could her the unmistakably sound of her chubby feet padding along the floor and fingers sliding across the table top for support when the sound changed. Her steps sounded slower, hesitant; I turned to look and there she was walking away from the table and towards the cereal cupboard. Just walking across the middle of the kitchen! I watched her take the next two steps and then said, "Good girl! Look at you go!" She stopped, looked at me, immediately sat down and continued to crawl the rest of the way to her destination. Hmmm, weird right?

But then it happened again later in the day. I was tidying toys, turned to look at her and she was walking across the room. I offered praise, she sat down and switched to crawling. That's when I realized she must have been doing it intentionally. Its her baby secret; almost as if she thinks once we know she can do it we are going to make her walk everywhere. Picture this, "No more stroller, wagon, sling or baby carrier of any sort. You can walk, now you're on your own kid!"

Now that I know her little secret I can't wait to catch her doing it again, but then I remember once she can walk running will be next. And, I'm just not ready for that yet! Where did my baby go???