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Summer Postcard

Summer. Here we are.

We spent July recovering from all the balls we had soaring through the air March to June. Paid work, home schooling three humans between the ages of 8 and 13 and a close mama friend’s passing; that stitch in time was a test both in mental stamina and of my husband’s and my own education.

Here in August, we don’t have tales of camping, road trips or visiting long lost relatives. We do have tales of taking pizza to the lake (dine and splash™), eating ice cream cones the size of Miss Q’s forearm, and biking from here to there.

Staying home and keeping our bubble small has nurtured a Renaissance in the young ladies we’re raising. Miss Q has decided to teach herself Latin. Not surprisingly, the Duolingo Kids App didn’t have Latin listed as an option. Surprisingly, it was taken off the high school curriculum the year before Granny and Gramps were supposed to learn it… an odd choice for Rome in 10th Century BC.

So now the trio is teaching themselves Spanish, French and fragments of Latin. Thus far, they have ignored my helpful suggestion that they learn travelling phrases like “How much for my father?” and “Are there sharks in this water?”

When not icing me from their secret languages, they’re crafting, playing, and, yes, of course, watching TV. You can tell how much their parents have worked by what number movie they’re on that week: High School Musical 1, 2 and 3, Descendants 1, 2, and 3, National Treasure 2 – not sure what happened that week.

There’s also, and always, music. Viola, violin, clarinet, trumpet, tenor saxophone, recorder, bongos and now a properly weighted keyboard. The latter is only here for a good time, not a long time. Once my husband and I master Heart and Soul, it’s going back to the music store, hopefully to be replaced by a yacht.

The other excitement in our lives, other than Miss Q and Miss S finding forgotten bookstore gift certificates, is after sharing a room – yes, all three girls have been in one room affectionately known as the girls’ dorm – the trio is breaking up. Sniff. Okay, fine. I’m the only one who is misty.

Sawdust has been flying as my husband built new beds, and a couple strategic walls. No, we aren’t adding on, but we are, once again, getting creative with our small space. Our house is one of those puzzles where you can’t do something to one area without sliding half the house around.

Last night, as I set up my laptop for Miss C so she could lounge in bed, watch Good Luck, Charlie, and stay out of the construction zone,  I asked if she would be okay in the room all by herself.

“Yes, I’m having a singles party,” she replied.

The eight-year-old queen with the master bedroom, all the toys and no roommates. She has designs to paint the room purple and pink and hang a crystal chandelier… perhaps we should have kept the trio together longer.

And so, August continues. We await the concrete plan for BC schools, countdown the days until Miss S turns 11, and look for simple ways to make childhood magical.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ice cream cups and wooden spoons of Fun Day, grade five dunk tanks, and stifling hot gyms filled with musicians have been bookmarked for Junes of the future.

We the parents of BC students, the parents who aren’t essential workers and who are able to provide care for our children at home, now face another test for which there is not a concrete right or wrong, just the potential for lung busting consequences if someone doesn’t uphold their end of the bargain.

To attend school in June or not to attend, that is the current question.

Not going is easy. The girls stay the course with online learning, morning cartoons, and life lessons. The answer to ‘I’m bored’ is always ‘then bake something’.

Not going means no morning alarms, packing lunches or worrying that our kids are going to come home with something contagious.

Not going means that the mystique of school remains. What does the building look like? Will some of their friends be attending at the same time? Will they be allowed to leave their desks without an escort?

While sending them in June will be like that moment in The Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the curtain.

They’ll get their very own, “I had to walk ten miles to school, uphill both ways, in a snowstorm” stories.

My parents sent me to school in the middle of a pandemic. No vaccines in sight. We had to sit 2 metres away from each other and bring our own water because the fountains were taped off.

They’ll experience the brave new world with (hopefully) the familiar face of their classroom teacher, as opposed to September when they ‘change partners and dance’ – possibly in an even more modified situation.

Then there’s the perk of seeing other humans. Even if they never paid attention to the people sitting in their newly structured classes before, perhaps a quick inoculation of controlled human interaction now, will give their socially distant summer souls a lift.

What do the girls want? One is a firm no, the other two are on the fence with no-esq conditions.

It only totals six days of instruction for Miss C and Miss S and three for Miss Q.

We have friends who aren’t sending their kids, and friends who are.

My husband doesn’t want to wear his mask.

They should finish the year strong.

Only expand your people by six.

What do they really do in June?

The cases on the island are low.

There’s now space in the ICU.

My reccentre’s still closed.

I still wash my groceries.

Is all this stress worth it?

It’s trauma schooling.

The kids will survive.

It’s an experiment.

Be extra vigilant.

It’s optional.

Cui Bono?

Farts make their way through two layers of clothing…

I’m Alice falling down the information overloaded rabbit hole.

Thankfully my fav, the Cheshire Cat, says it doesn’t matter which road we pick when we don’t know where we’re going.

So here goes nothing, everything, something.   IMG_4425

 

Staying Power

CrepeAnd so we’ve reached the hair dying stage of the pandemic.

We dusted off Pinterest and researched all the ways we could achieve red (Miss S), purple (Miss C) and blue (Miss Q) without going to a drugstore.

Turns out, you should probably go to the drugstore. Boiling salt water and crepe paper was a bust, and Wilton’s food colouring mixed with conditioner only worked on 2/3 of the girls and wasn’t vibrant, even in Miss S’s blond hair.

We’ve also reached the stage of the pandemic where I become acutely aware of milk and how easily the girls fill their glasses to the brim with the white gold. No cares, no wonderings or ponderings as to cost or how it apparated in the fridge. They just fill ‘er up and slam it back.

These are odd times.

We’ve all seen the social media posts about everyone being in the same storm but not in the same boat. We’ve all seen the posts about taking care of each other and ourselves. Sometimes I read them and agree. Sometimes I read them and snark, “Don’t tell me what to do.” Lately I’ve been reading them and thinking, “Stop. I’m not ready for this to end.”

Because I’m not.

Here in my rowboat, which is currently bobbing between passing storm and doldrums, I am happy to have my family with me. I’m happy to live an anti-social life. I’m happy to have the time and space to be psychologically terrified of Ozark on Netflix. For the record, watching the show with the neck of your shirt pulled up over your mouth and nose does help. Shudder.

I’m no longer enjoying grocery shopping. Gone are the days of carefree strolls up and down the aisle, filling my cart with impulse ingredients. Now I find myself holding my breath as I cut through people’s bubbles. There is pressure if I linger in front of the linguine. Judgment if I grab toilet paper. And once I get everything home, to wash or not to wash becomes the question.

Our girls are fine. They read, watch TV, bake, jump on the trampoline, do art, knit and have epic games of make-believe, and, yes, occasionally are bored and squabble. Thus far we’ve avoided any WWE Sister Grudge Matches – yay us!

Where we find a ‘needs improvement’ on our pandemic report card is under maintaining a cheerful countenance around schoolwork. The truth is, once you take away the fun aspects of school: friends, choir, music, sports, leadership, lunch monitoring, assemblies, field trips… all that’s left is the work, and doing that work, for 2/3 of my students daughters, fluctuates between ‘meh’ and a not so silent growl.

Thank goodness for the levity of Zoom meetings. During her first meeting, a bemused Miss C turned to me and stage-whispered, “This is my life, Mummy.” Her favourite thing to do is sit on mute and laugh. Not sure if we’re raising a tech savvy eight-year-old or Dr. Evil.

For all the controversy swirling around the company, Zoom has been a social lifeline for our girls, with a side benefit of not having to share or smell their classmates’ desks.

This week we had three meetings scheduled for the same time (1 work and 2 school). Goooo high-speed internet!

Amidst all the juggling, my husband and I are keeping a wary eye on the horizon as re-opening timelines become clearer. Ironic to have made it this far, only have rumours of layoffs resurface, however, indoor swimming pools aren’t high on the list, so (shrug) what can you do. It certainly doesn’t take an armchair detective to see why our daughters’ drinking habits have caught my attention. Moo.

Despite the stress tide that rises and falls with our boat, and occasionally knocks my husband’s back out, kindly mark our family down as ‘still fine’, and content to proceed with caution while waiting for the all clear.

 

brownie

Breakfast Brownies are now a thing. (Baked with no help by Miss C.)

Pout-Pout Mama

Confession: the other day I was a toddler, rolling on the ground, going limp the minute anyone tried to pick me up. I didn’t want to work from home. I didn’t want go into work. I didn’t want to cajole, prod, or nudge anyone through assignments. I didn’t wanna and you weren’t gonna make me…

Oh right, the kids are watching, and I’m the Mama Bear who was supposed to be teaching Cheer 101 with Papa Bear: “Can we do it? Yes. We. Can.” High kick.

Of course we can. We can do anything we put our minds to. Stay at home. Only leave when necessary. Tend to paid work. Tend to children and their schooling. Repeat. Easy… until you read the challenges between the lines:

  • Going to bed at a reasonable hour, instead of basking in the glory of a silent house and TV all to myself.
  • Trying to place boundaries on an ever-changing workscape – should I hear that meeting first-hand? Should I stay with the kids and wait for the minutes?
  • My children wanting to know what their worlds will look like.
  • One, to two thirds of my children being okay with this new frontier of gnome-schooling, as it’s been coined in our household, whilst one-third steadfastly longs for the way the world was.

And so, like the plug that’s keeping all our electronics charged, this mama dusts herself off and adapts.

For the first time ever, a schedule is posted on the fridge. It contains such gems as: watch a movie, make bed, and choose an assignment and do it. There’s a note beside it that reads: Schedule runs until June 25th, for both a tangible end date, and because I make schedules for a living.

My phone and I try to practice physical distancing. Sucky for friends my mum sending texts, but necessary. P.S. Apple: if you mute a conversation, you shouldn’t be reminded of the number of texts you’re missing.

As for me and the boob tube? We still have an after hours love affair. Hey, two out of three ain’t bad.

Don’t worry, the all good in the world blew my tantrum out.

  • We were part of a surprise birthday parade, swirling with love, faith, hope, tears, joy and pixie dust.
  • We always know when it’s seven o’clock thanks to sirens, airhorns, and fireworks – going forward, the city should really invest in a seven o’clock gong.
  • Our Tupper Ware cabinet has never looked more organized – or full.
  • The girls are relaxed. Like floating on an inflatable peacock in the middle of a warm lake in summer, relaxed – until the subject of gnome school arises like a shark in Jaws.

Seriously, what the heck was going on in their classrooms? Perhaps I should liven things up by body surfing in the bathroom, jumping out our first-floor window, or randomly punching someone in the nards.

But just because this forced break has been a glorious moment for their fraying psyches, doesn’t mean homeschooling is here to stay. This is just a bucket refilling station. They’re going back, I force myself to type.

We can muddle through grade three book reports and grade five algebra, thankfully for the latter there’s Miss Q, but there is no comparison to being in the classroom and learning how to navigate their peers and other adults.

Here, on the other side of my tantrum, I discover it’s not about hopping into my DeLorean and going back to the future – the present has too much heart. The present is teaching internal and external patience. The present is about being grateful to the outside world for being willing to change. The present’s about celebrating a slower pace and applying it to the future.

My mum told me last week that this is but a slipped stitch in the tapestry of time. I’ll see her old saying and raise her one: This too shall pass. Because it is a slipped stitch and it will pass, just like a tantrum.

Bread

More goodness.  

These Days

Thank you to the people near and far who are comforting through gowns, gloves and masks, testing, researching, sourcing, cleaning, driving through the nights and days, stacking, making, creating, and adapting.

There are millions of helpers around the world doing their part for humanity, while my family nestles at home, with dwindling craft supplies, and ample tv channels, waiting.

We are fine. F-I-N-E, fine.

Both my husband and I still have our jobs, and policies have just been written that allow us to work from home. We’re both using vacation time to boost our hours, so don’t expect any Instagram stories from tropical vacations the minute the borders re-open and airplanes take flight.

Our girls have accepted every cancellation and change winged at them over the last three weeks, while our bank accounts have re-filled with refunds. A pandemic perk?

Home life is fantastic. We’ve watched all 3 High School Musicals, all 3 Descendants, both Princess Diaries and my old favourite Black Beard’s Ghost. Disney+ = no regrets.

Once I reluctantly turn off the television, the girls gravitate to elaborate games of imagination, music, baking, reading, crafting, and mildly annoying each other.

What about school? You’re looking at it. School of life, baby! I’m now raising wild Renaissance women and you can’t stop me.

Okay, fine. We’re also waiting to see what the plan is from their teachers.

Honestly, other than the fact I want everyone who works in and around schools to be paid for the next twelve weeks, I’m okay with the year being called.

It’s been said, and it’s worth an echo: the opportunity for our girls to connect with their teachers has been enough.

It is not about the work. It’s about making sure their teachers are okay. It’s about knowing their teacher is thinking about them. It’s about being human in a time of crisis.

Of course, my husband and I want our girls to continue moving forward with their understanding of core subjects, we’re not animals.

Of course, I get a pang of ‘I’m behind’ when I see other mama bears buying Amazon out of student workbooks or listing their home school hours when I have none and no plans.

Of course, this is Miss S’ transition year. She and her classmates are leaving elementary school exactly as they started it, with a life lesson on things that are bigger than them.

Way back in 2014 they couldn’t start kindergarten until the end of September because of a teacher strike, and now, it’s looking like they can’t say good-bye to their school the way they expected.

Miss S was most looking forward to the grade five year-end field trip, but as we settle, she also mentions: no rugby, no last spring concert, no grade-five ‘The Talk’ a.k.a. body science… Okay, the last one was mine. (Cue immature giggle.)

Miss S is fine. We are all F-I-N-E, fine.

Our situation is similar for some, and vastly different from others, both hundreds of miles away, and right here in our neighbourhood.

We’re acutely aware of the fear, stress and sadness around us; because of the pandemic, from battles that started long before, or a combination of both. Being told to stay at home and flatten the curve has flattened our face-to-face opportunities to help.

We’re not essential, but our hearts feel like they are.

treeAnd, as understudies for those who don gowns, gloves and masks, for those who test, research, source, clean, for those who drive through the nights and days, for those who stack, make, create, and adapt, modeling love, understanding, respect and kindness is paramount.

After all, the next generation’s watching – they’ve got no choice.

 

Sun. Surf. Social isolation. We camped, beachside in Tofino, the thermometer hovering around zero at night, balmy blue skies burning our cheeks in the afternoon.

The vacation. This vacation was booked after Christmas. When words like Covid-19 and self-isolation were foreign whispers. When a week in Tofino felt like settling for Hawaii’s poor sister.

The vacation. This vacation was almost canceled. First it was my exhaustion: too many hours worked vs the work of camping. Then our minivan needed TLC. Then it was rumblings that Covid-19’s presence might mean my husband’s presence at work.

There was guilt in leaving while my social media blew up with posts about flattening the curve, staying at home, and grandparents who were called to war.

Even though we were doing what we were told, social isolating, it felt strange to be driving my family up to the 49th parallel, away from our house. Never mind that we would be closer to Fukushima, Japan…

One of my vacation goals was to be unreachable. As the word ‘pandemic’ crept into everyday speak, it felt irresponsible to be completely checked out, but forgetting my phone charger helped. As did my husband’s refusal to turn his phone on. The news we did hear came from my waning battery, and the CBC on our solar radio.

And then my work closed indefinitely.

And then I got a text from my supervisor saying we wouldn’t be laid off – yet.

And then the schools closed indefinitely.

And then the only road in and out of Tofino was blocked by locals worried the virus would arrive with the tourists.

And then Trudeau and Trump closed the boarder.

While the world spun, out on MacKenzie Beach the waves methodically crashed against the compact sand, pulling the crushed bits of shell out, then pushing it back in six hours later.

Our girls ate when they were hungry, played soccer, frisbee and volleyball, walked the beach, painted, read and tended the fire. Miss S yearned for a swim, but we feared even with warm clothes and a campfire, she’d get hypothermia.

We fell asleep to the Milky Way and were woken by a sealion who though he was a rooster.

And then the District of Tofino asked tourists to stay away, and if we were already in the area to start making plans with the place we were staying to leave.

Our campsite said they’d let us know if something major developed. (Umm…) Assured us that we were all isolated in our sites (never mind the shared bathroom), and promptly sold the man behind us 10 bundles of firewood.

We didn’t want to take more food from the town if shelves were already bare. We didn’t want to stay if the locals didn’t want us. Losing $60 for the missed night is $40 away from $100, significant.

And then we had our last camp supper.

And then I silently asked to see whales since Whale Fest was due to start in Tofino next week.

And then, no more than five-minutes later, in-between two islands offshore, the Pacific exploded as humpbacks started to feed.

This vacation. Our vacation. Perfectly imperfect and filled with reminders that Mother Nature’s still here.

pretty

Keep Careful Records“Keep careful records,” my dad’s text read.

It took me 42 years and 10 months to get the keys to my father’s car. The scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where Cameron and Ferris put Cameron’s dad’s red Ferrari on blocks and try to spin the odometer backwards, and C.S.I.’s black light investigations spun through my brain as I cruised around the city in his baby.

I drive a lot. Like a lot, a lot. My careful record keeping, the car’s tattletale electronics, had me driving an average of 57.8 km a day. And I didn’t even go to the ocean (sand!) or forest (slugs!). I didn’t take any children on field trips (lice!). And I didn’t drive to soccer (turf!).

Our minivan, that usually bears the brunt of my paddle board, bikes, driftwood, drenched children… had to check herself into Betty Ford to get new shocks. But now that she’s checked out, I’m back to #mumlife, and my dad’s golf rabbit is the one in recovery.

To school, to work, to field trips, to sports practices… the wheels on the minivan are going ’round and ‘round. Every time I think I can duck out of a school function, hang up my driving gloves, the notices in the girls’ backpacks and their hopeful faces remind me I can’t.

Last week belonged to Miss S:

  • Monday basketball tournee.
  • Tuesday performing a movement dance with the Victoria symphony.
  • Wednesday singing her first solo at the school’s pink shirt day concert. (Dear Evan Hansen – You Will Be Found – sniff)
  • Thursday student led conferences.
  • Friday – just usual life: eight trips to and from school, two trips to and from work, along with a bonus doctor’s appointment – a lazy go-kart lap in amidst our usual Indie 500.

Keep careful records, indeed. What started with crisp, white calendar squares and mulitcoloured felts, has ended with cross-outs and – gasp – pen and pencil. There are days we’re so busy I forget that the bees need saving and there are countries called Paraguay. If it weren’t for my Twitter feed, I’d miss the fact I was supposed to be incensed by Justin Trudeau’s beard.

Even though our family bikes and walks as much as we can, thanks to three kids, their desire to be in every activity offered, and learning outside the classroom, we’re using fossil fuels daily, if not hourly.

My dad fills his car every two weeks, while our minivan’s 72-litre gas tank needs refilling after a week; ten days tops. I don’t keep careful records. It’s more of a feel: the needle hovers around a quarter of a tank, or – don’t tell the car aficionados – it’s down to the thick line, I reluctantly pull into a gas station without looking at the price because I know if I don’t fill ‘er up, daughter ‘x’ can’t get to ‘y’. Who says you’ll never do algebra after high school?

Saying no? Well that puts more stress on the situation as teachers and office staff are then shuttling athletes back and forth between gyms and fields. Renting buses is ridiculously expensive. The music department at Miss Q’s school was just quoted $1000 for a day’s rental. Schools can’t sustain that. Parents don’t want to be nickled and dimed… though I wouldn’t say no to $5 per kid for my services.

Thankfully, teachers are creative creatures. This year I donned my bus pants as Miss C and Miss S’s classes took the city bus to the cemetery and beach, thus saving the environment and wear on my minivan.

However, there are trips with logistical hula hoops the city bus can’t rectify, so even though I pretend I have free choice, the lure of eavesdropping on backseat conversations, silently observing (judging!) classroom dynamics, and hopeful faces (guilt!), forces my hand to check the box marked ‘I can drive’ because I can.

Really.

I can.

What else was I planning on doing with my day?

Ah, these days of childhood are fast and fleeting. And don’t worry, Dad. I’m keeping careful records.

 

 

cupcake

We watched 13 Going On 30, and the Good Place finale. We filled the forest with non-stop grade seven chatter – they seriously. don’t. stop. talking – as we hiked up and down a mountain. We had family ice cream at a local parlor, cheesecake mush (my creation) instead of cake, and copious amounts of gummy worms and frogs; because, you know, nature.

After scouring the magazine racks for a Teen Beat, Tiger Beat or Sassy to celebrate our newly minted teenager, I had to settle for J14 – her generation’s equivalent – and Flowers In The Attic, because, you know, her mother is almost 43 going on 13.

And now we watch and wait…

For what? Oh nothing, just the horror of raising teenagers. Apparently, our thirteen-year-old heroine is now wandering the dark woods:

The trees creak. A cloud crosses the full snow moon. The camera shot is tight on our heroine’s beautifully innocent face – so tight you, the audience, can’t see what’s sneaking up on her, until it’s too late.

Ahhhh-woooo!

I know it’s early days with our teenager, and there’s my own blogging mum code to not spill the tea on her hidden life, but I can say I side with my dental hygienist, who said what I’m about to embellish: some teenagers get stuck spinning their wheels in the mud, while thousands more bloom in the field.

Okay, I’ll tip my teacup, slightly, and report Miss Q’s soul is the perfect balance of reader, artist, musician, science, nature and world citizen – even though she looked at the J14 magazine like I had handed her a tin of Metamucil.

Me: “It’s got posters for your wall!”

Miss Q: “Oh-kaay. I’m probably not going to read it.”

Me: “But ‘Celeb Guys Answer your crush questions’!”

Miss Q: Blank stare. Slow blink.

Me (reading): “I can’t tell if my guy friend wants to be more than friends. What are some signs he’s interested in being my BF?

Miss Q: “Um, yeah, I’m not going to read it.”

Miss S: I’ll read it!

Me: Slides magazine back into gift bag. “Two years, Miss S. Two years.”

Of course, polite society gravitates to sensational stories over ordinary ones. So, the fact we’ll eventually have three teenagers, all girls, tantalizes the doomsday masses who predict my husband will be holed in his mancave, only emerging like a groundhog with a shotgun to chase off suitors.

Meanwhile mums of teenagers are supposed to be… what? Drinking wine, at the spa, and having affairs with pool boys? Or was that an episode of 90210…

One day at a time, sweet soothsayers. One day at a time. We made it through the toddler years with a healthy dose of adorable, when your message was otherwise, we’ll do the same now. Besides, one person’s horror story is another’s fairy tale.

So, we’ll celebrate the happiness, comfort the pits, sneer at the parents who allow their kids to call the shots, and sniff sob wail at the fact we only have T-minus five years until high school graduation.

The era of PG13 will be what it will be, and while I miss my little-little, who once tried to convince my husband he wasn’t allergic to cats, specifically Mr. Mistoffelees, I am grateful we are here to witness our teen-little try to convince us she needs a phone.

IMG_2095On Thursday, Miss S was bouncing along the Strait of Juan de Fuca in a catamaran, searching for whales. Her class was chosen for a Salish Sea Project, that included whale watching.

After a solid decade of volunteering in the trio’s classrooms, this is the field trip they didn’t need parent volunteers for?!

Let me tell you, gentle readers, we’ve come a long way from Voyage of the Mimi: a thirteen-episode series about humpback whale researchers, starring a young Ben Affleck. My grade four teacher used this fictitious VHS to teach us about humpbacks in the wild. Never once was the connection made between Ben Affleck’s humpbacks and the humpbacks cruising five nautical miles offshore – within view of my friend’s house, and a brisk 30 minute walk from the elementary school, but it was 1986, not 2019.

Thirty-three years later, Miss S is in grade five, on a floating classroom, spotting California, branded and stellar sea lions, elephant and harbour seals, and Race Rocks’ local legend the only true sea otter in our area: Ollie. She says they could smell a minke whale but couldn’t find him. What a life.

Meanwhile, in grade seven, Miss Q was picked for WE Day, a one-day event in Vancouver for 18,000 tweens, teens and their chaperones, celebrating making a difference in the world. The lump of pride in my throat made my eyes leak, especially when she came home and said of everyone who sang and spoke, the Doctor Without Borders doctor was her favourite.

This trip to Vancouver, with her school, was her first trip off the island without one or both of her parents, first time ordering and paying for food by herself. Nothing like realizing how little you’ve prepared your twelve-year-old for life. Miss Q didn’t even own a wallet.

Dropping her off with her friend at 5:30am, I was struck with how trusting other parents were. Most were leaving their children before the adult supervision arrived. Don’t worry, I made sure to lock eyes with Miss Q’s teacher and snap a photo so I could tell the police what Miss Q was wearing for her baby book.

Fast forward to tonight. Miss Q is up island with her basketball team: in a hotel, being driven up and back in a strange minivan, responsible for buying her own food. My girl. Living the sporting dream. But CRAP. Should I have taught her how to change a tire, in case they run into trouble on the road? Slipped her a thou? Told her to stay away from hotel’s hot tub for fear Legionnaire’s? At least she now owns a wallet.

Sure, sure, there are Girl Guide camps that take my girls away for an occasional weekend, but his month both girls applied for a camp that will take them away for nine days, if accepted.

I get it, November, my girls are independent, say ‘yes’ to adventure type creatures. You have stretched my mum brain left, right and sideways. You have pushed me out of my comfort zone, greyed my hairs, drained my bank account.

I wasn’t ready to worry, as a water safety professional, that my ten-year-old was going on a three-hour tour, with a company that had “an excellent safety record”, “high railings”, and that the trip was “sanctioned by the school district”, so, no, they didn’t need lifejackets unless the parents insisted. P.S. I hate onus-on-the-parent peer pressure.

Naturally Miss S balked at the suggestion she’d be warmer with a lifejacket on, so away she went with multiple layers of clothing, to weigh her down should she fall in, and a mariner’s prayer.

But seriously, November… Even though the opportunities presented in the last thirty days have taken my girls out of binocular range, and there might be a teensy-tiny argument made for me needing that nudge, but a larger argument for me owning a hovercraft, I would like to send a GIANT thank you to all the adults dazzling my children with, and donating their time to, real-life situations not found on a VHS tape. After all, “Life is a blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can.” ― Danny Kaye

 

October 2019

Our house was decked out in macabre décor. I’d traversed a corn maze, ridden a crazy train, watched Halloween movies and been overwhelmed by ideas at the fabric store.

My husband and I had dressed up as a creature from the deep and her fisherman prom date for our friend’s ‘Enchantment Under the Sea’ party – ooh la la.

So, what was left? Pumpkin carving, roasting pumpkin seeds, deciding if it was corporately appropriate to go to work dressed as a mail order bride – the theme this year was lumberjack.

Yes, another successful October was coming to a close.

Then Miss C and I went to a cemetery with her class, and she came back with a demon. Our sparkly witch shape shifted to Linda Blair from the Exorcist, and then to Sleeping Beauty.

My costume morphed overnight from mail order bride to blogging mum, which is halfway to VSCO girl, but hydro flasks are expensive and probably not dishwasher safe.

For the second time in Miss C’s life, she missed out on trick or treating. The first was when she was three days old.

Other than missing the merriment of dressing up and hunting for the unicorn humans who hand out full-sized chocolate bars and cans of pop, Miss C was just fine hanging out with her father, who got to live his own Halloween dream of watching sports and pilfering Snickers bars from the candy stash at the door.

Meanwhile, Miss Q, Miss S and I went back to my old stomping grounds to have a nostalgic house-to-house trick or treat with my tiger-clad nephew for his first Halloween.

Miss Q was a garden gnome. Sarcastic Sam said it was a ‘safe’ costume: she could deconstruct it should she start feeling out of place amongst her peers. Hilarious Hippo reports it was a hit, especially since she tied her hair across her chin to make a beard. Unlike Rumpelstiltskin, she was pleased when people guessed who she was, and thankfully no one gave her a hard time about trick or treating at the ripe old age of twelve and five-foot-seven and counting.

For the record, I trick or treated with a friend until we were eighteen and nineteen. Yes, we dressed up. No, we weren’t out blowing up pumpkins, hosting Roman candle wars, or drinking peach schnapps on the beach.

Halloween night has always been magical: candy and costumes, visiting old neighbours, spying on cute boys’ houses we used to haunt. Now-a-days, Halloween night has the added bonus of running into old friends trick or treating with their kids.

Another bonus of present-day Halloween is me searching Pinterest to figure out how to do my child’s hair and make-up. This year Miss S wanted to be a rogue: a silent hunter who sneaks up behind people and kills them. Totally natural to jump from Jane Goodall to assassin, right?

The highlight of the night for the sisters was when they went to a house and the woman, whom we know, dumped two handfuls of mini chocolate bars into their bags. Upon hearing Miss C was sick, the woman then poured a quarter of her candy bowl into Miss S’s bag and a quarter into Miss Q’s, telling them to share with Miss C. You don’t get stories like this by going to a mall.

Here on the other side of October, life suddenly seems slower. Reflective. Mellow. The salmon have returned to the rivers. Poppies have returned to our lapels. Like the bears, we are stocking up for winter, though our berries are Swedish, and our honeycombs look more like bubbly mini Aero bars.

So, here’s to everyone who strategically planted their corn, created costumes, and dove into the recesses of their wild minds to entertain the masses. Here’s also to the makers of acetaminophen and ginger ale. We couldn’t have done October without you.

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