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Archive for the ‘Motherhood’ Category

I once thought I would never take my children out of school.

Then we went to Osoyoos for Easter and catching the Thursday ferry was easier than fighting the crowds at the terminal on Good Friday.

I once thought I would only take my children out of school to catch the Thursday before Easter ferry.

Then there was Disneyland. Then there was my brother’s wedding. Then there was an offer to test drive a car in Hawaii.

I once thought I would only take my children out of school for a once in a lifetime event, and the Thursday before Easter ferry.

Then there was a movie. A sure it may pop up on Netflix in a year, movie, or we might find it in Victoria’s last video store, movie, but what happens if it doesn’t or we don’t movie.

The movie was about Jane Goodall and her early years in Gombe simply titled Jane’ but it could very well have been titled ‘Miss S’s Calling’.

Yes, at eight, our middle daughter is still smitten with primates. She is still certain that when she’s older she will move to Africa and study them alongside Jane.

When I gently pointed out that Jane might not be alive by the time she finishes school, without skipping a beat, Miss S said, “I’ll have to find someone who knew her to teach me then.”

Her sisters have helpfully pointed out there are snakes and spiders in the jungle, but that has never worried Miss S. Like Jane, it turns out, she believes they won’t bother her. Guess that leaves her dear old mum wearing that worrying bag.

“If I don’t work in Africa, then I’m going to work at Monkey World in England. If I don’t get to work at Monkey World in England, then I’ll probably work at Tim Hortons. And if I don’t work at Tim Hortons, I guess I’ll work at your pool,” Miss S outlined in January.

It should be noted that the reason she wants to work at Tim Hortons is so she can eat as many toasted bagels with cream cheese as she wants. Yes, we’ve all told her she won’t be able to find bagels in the middle of the jungle.

One guess on her reply.

A house in the jungle.

Chimpanzees peaking through the windows.

Being alone.

Just like Jane.

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This is why I pulled Miss S out of school at lunch one Friday and took her to the movies.

“I think I’m the youngest one here,” she whispered rather loudly as we sat in the dimly lit theater.

She was also the only one on the edge of her seat as the house lights faded to dark.

Miss S was captivated. Everything she’s ever read about Jane was confirmed and everything she didn’t know about Jane was like a firework exploding in her brain.

“Jane washed her hair in a river in the middle of the jungle.”

“Jane didn’t even go to university.”

“Jane said she would work with chimpanzees until the day she dies, so I will probably get to learn from her.”

Swept up in the romanticism of my middle child’s delight, I forgot that chimpanzees have needs. I toyed with clamping my hand over Miss S’s eyes as we watched what seemed like hours of footage, but was probably only two minutes, of male chimp after male chimp having s-e-x with Flo, their matriarch. while present day Jane narrated, “It was here we realized chimpanzees had more than one mate.”

It was all very scientific – Miss S didn’t even flinch. By contrast, in December she was horrified (as was I) when she looked over my shoulder and saw a post from TMZ. “Why would someone post a picture of their naked butt?” she exclaimed. Thanks for both our #lifelessons Twitter.

When Jane was first sent to Gombe she needed a companion to go with her so she took her mother, Margaret. Later, Margaret helped raise Grub, Jane’s son in England while she, Jane, continued her work.

Tanzanian jungles, movies, traveling, Thursday before Easter ferries… Maybe the real lesson in all this is as a parent you never know what you’ll end up saying ‘yes’ to, or where in the world your children will take you.

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ToothMiss C lost her first tooth!

On January 7th.

Siiiiigh. Such is life when you’re the third child, and the biggest thing to happen to you since being allowed to stay up to ring in the new year has taken your mum fourteen days to announce.

This tooth, Miss C’s first, is the 29th tooth to be lost in our house. Miss Q has been sporting her full set of adult chompers for the better part of the last two years, while Miss S is holding strong with eight permanents and no wigglies in sight.

Let me be the first to tell you, the 29th Tooth Fairy visit is JUST as stressful as her previous stopovers.

First of all, there’s the expectation that the loss of a tooth will coincide with exact change. Heaven forbid the Tooth Fairy slips a twenty under the pillow when the other sisters have faithfully collected quarters.

Don’t even get me started on the power of suggestion as the excited child prepares the perfect tooth collecting spot. “It’s pretty dark in that corner. Do you think the Tooth Fairy will be scared to fly across your unicorns?  They could snatch her out of the air and gobble her up.”  “What’s wrong with placing the tooth under my pillow?”

Then there’s timing. Sure, Miss C’s usually in a deep slumber by 8:30, but her sisters’ full moons still shine back at you long into the evening.

Never mind the moves one has to make to grab the tooth, make the exchange, and fling glitter. I feel like a Cirque du Soleil ninja acrobat. Would it be too obvious to add ‘clean your floor’ to the tooth fairy legend?

princess_and_the_frog_mama_odie-t2Also never mind, that I feel like Mama Odie in the Frog Princess with my tooth collection. It’s been asked before, but what the heck do you do with the lost teeth? Hot glue them into a puppet’s mouth? Send the teeth to a mad-scientist for cloning? Is there any way to make my money back on these puppies?

The reward, of course, is the joy on Miss C’s face as she runs into the kitchen holding her shiny coin. She made it! It only took her a month of wiggling the stubborn incisor to gain membership into the club.

By my calculations, we have 31 Tooth Fairy visits waiting in the wings. Thirty-one more times to experience the myclonic jerk. You know the one: you’re under the covers of your bed, the day’s events are slipping from your consciousness, your eyes have just closed, and suddenly two words blast into your brain: TOOTH FAIRY.

Ack.

Thankfully for Miss C she won’t have to wait very long for her next fairy visit. She bit into a chocolate lolly this afternoon and felt a seismic shift in her second, bottom, front, baby tooth.

Here we go again!

 

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You know the The Christmas Story? Where Ralphie wants at Red Ryder BB gun and everyone says he’ll shoot his eye out?

Here’s our family’s modern version of that classic tale:

The trio received Nerf Elite XD Crossbolts from their grandfather and his son, my husband, this Christmas.

Even though I had suggested a Nerf gun for Miss Q’s present, the gentlemen in our family didn’t think it was fair that only one of our three girls was armed and dangerous.

Of course I simultaneously rolled my eyes and laughed at the shock and awe of three girls racing around our house firing darts at walls, bongo drums and stuffies.

Of course there were quickly formed rules about what they could and couldn’t shoot. There were rules about how to properly care for the guns. Rules about never looking into the barrels whether they thought they were loaded or not. Rules, rules, rules…

Of course I thought this gift was nostalgic. Nerf had filled my childhood with everything from footballs to arrows, thanks to my three younger brothers. I’m not sure my parents gave them as many rules as we gave our daughters, but then again, my brothers’ Nerf guns couldn’t force darts up to 90ft (27m).

Fast forward to Wednesday, December 27th.  The clock struck twelve and a cry from the living room sent a lightning bolt straight into this mama’s heart.

Miss S shot her eye out.

Okay, not literally, the eye is still there and intact. BUT she was looking directly into the barrel when she accidentally pulled the trigger. The 1/2 inch, in circumference, rounded dart went directly into her right eye.

Now, on the other side of a five-hour wait in emergency, Miss S is for the most part, unscathed. She says her eye is sore when she tries to focus in on things. Bright green Christmas lights are also a minor issue. But the good news is her lens, cornea and all the other important eye bits are in tact according to the ER doctor.

Happy with his assessment, but still feeling the need for a second, deeper, opinion, this mama bear feels caged as she waits for our family optometrist’s office to re-open on January 2nd.

As for the fate of our out of the box (for our family) Christmas presents? The irrational side of me wants to throw the guns in the trash. The rational side of me wants to donate them. The in-between sliver is grateful for my husband who researched eye protection. New rule kids: goggles.

And so, switching channels from what has become the all too real Christmas Story, to my favourite Christmas movie of all time White Christmas, I’ll heed Bing’s soothing advice and count my blessings instead of sheep tonight.

Art

Miss S’s ER drawing on a Tim Hortons bag.  Hasn’t lost her sense of humour. ♥

 

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We went swimming on Sunday. This in itself isn’t news worthy. With two parents who work in aquatics, it could be considered one of our favourite pastimes… or obligations.

What is news worthy was the feeling of being found without knowing I was lost that washed over me as I drove out to the pool.

This is what we used to do. We used to be adventurers. We used to do things on Sunday mornings. Yes, we used to.

This fall has been a whirlwind. New teachers. New grades. New routines. Our children are the same, but they’ve leveled up in life once again.

In grade five, Miss Q has had assignment after assignment. Suddenly she needs our computers. She’s making slides. She’s doing research without a safety net, under the watchful eyes of a parent, on the Internet.

Why were whales hunted? Why is the government ending the grizzly hunt? The new BC curriculum is all about making connections and suddenly my opinions are under the microscope: My mum used to watch Whale Wars and says the Japanese still hunt whales for food under the guise of science, she wrote without my knowledge on one project. Yet, she refused to write: my mum says the NDP gave the complete ban on grizzly bear hunting to the Greens to make them happy about Site C. Pffft… fickle ten-year-olds.

Meanwhile, over in grade three and one, Miss S and Miss C always have spelling/sight words and reading, sometimes math.

With soccer on Saturdays, Sundays have become our catch up day, a day for baking cookies and homework.

Each week, I give myself a solid ‘meeting expectations’ as the school agendas are signed and returned to the backpacks, the next week’s school lunch snack cools on the wire racks and the girls return to romping through our house, the weight of homework momentarily off their shoulders.

I’ll give myself a solid ‘L’ for lazy when the thought of doing anything Sunday afternoon comes up. And truth be told, adventuring hasn’t crossed my mind in ages.

To homework or not to homework is the eternal question. Some years we’ve had teachers refuse to send anything home, other years it’s been only what our girls didn’t do in class time.

It goes without saying, the girls are much happier when they play school with each other, or spontaneously challenge each other to spelling tests, than when it’s prescribed.

It also goes without saying, reading every night is important. It’s something we’ve built into our lives since the girls were babies. Our home library is large and ever expanding. Reading shouldn’t feel like homework, but it does when you have kids who are just starting out, so what can you do? They need to learn.

Which brings us back to swimming. The freedom of the water. The girls laughing with each other as they swirled around the river pool. The awakening of this mama one rainy day in December.

There will always be homework. Sometimes you just have to dive in to life and live.

beach

After school December beach adventure. 

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Miss Q called 9-1-1 on Sunday. No, I wasn’t watching her while lying prone on the cement, or having an out of body experience. We were driving behind a driver who needed help.

The trio and I were on a Sunday morning jaunt to the grocery store. Apparently someone bought the wrong secret ingredient for her Christmas baking the day before…

Minutes into our ride, a four-door sedan started having trouble staying in its lane.

At first, I was willing to give the driver the benefit of the doubt, and lots of space. But as we sat behind the car at the light, I noticed the driver was shaking.

Again, thinking of multiple reasons for this, I let the driver pull ahead … and watched the car dive diagonally through the left lane towards the sidewalk.  Thankfully the driver recovered milliseconds before coming in actual contact with the curb, and was able to drive relatively straight the few short metres to the next set of lights.

Stopped diagonally behind them, I dug out my phone (yes, I have one now, le sigh) and passed it back to Miss Q. “You might need to call 9-1-1,” I said. “I’m not sure the driver in front of us is okay.”

The driver was trying to turn left without a signal light, but changed their mind and was trying to merge back into our lane.

“What’s your design?” she asked.

Of course, our Rescue 9-1-1 moment would be halted by my phone’s air-tight security. “Uhhh…” How on earth could I describe my cleaver design without physically touching the keypad? Ack.

“I can just hit the ‘emergency call’ button,” she stated.

“Sure.” Would that really work? “Have you done it?”

“No.”

“Okay. Just wait,” I replied, breathing easier.  The driver was back in our lane and seemed to have recovered from the lane swoop in the last block.

However, seconds after that thought, the driver swerved into the right lane and then over-corrected. Thankfully. a third set of lights stopped the madness.

Side note Victoria: In this case, I’m grateful for them, but can we re-visit the ratio of metres to stop lights in this town?

From the back seat, Miss Q calmly and, more importantly, clearly, started talking to the woman at the 9-1-1 call centre.

We were suddenly Hunter and McCall, Ponch and John, Cagney and Lacy.  I drove and Miss Q gave the location of the car, description, and in a moment I hope no one was paying close attention to, was able to read the last three numbers of the license plate that her dear ol’ mum couldn’t quite make out.

In my defense, I was concentrating on giving the car lots of space, and the driver had decided to increase their speed up the hill.

With the grocery store in sight and Christmas ingredients sitting half-mixed on our counter, we watched the car turn left and then drive into (thankfully no one was coming) the wrong lane.

Miss Q gave the woman my information and agreed to call back if we saw the driver again in our travels.

As she hung up, all I could think was: check this life skill off the list. Miss Q’s going to be just fine.

At ten-years-old, with limited phone experience, our girl was able to carry a conversation with a stranger, explain concrete facts under pressure, and come out of it completely unfazed.

While Miss Q shrugged off my pride, and said she didn’t have any questions, from her booster seat in the wayback, Miss C asked indignantly, “Why does the oldest child get to call 9-1-1?”

Cookies

My husband used the ingredient I messed up on for his whipped shortbread cookies tonight. #cookiesfordays

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This Is Six

Part One.

Miss C turned six at the end of October. For her birthday she wanted a pedicure. Yes, a pedicure. As a mum who didn’t get her first pedicure until her twenties, I was both torn and tickled with this birthday request. Sure, foot care is essential, but what message were we sending? On one hand it was decadent, but on the other,it was her birthday and not a stuffy or plastic… So we caved and bought the gift certificate.

Then, because life is all about balance, we also bought her a fuzzy unicorn diary and concert tickets to the children’s troubadour, Raffi.

On the weekend of the concert, Miss C and I went to the mall where the ladies at the salon properly fussed and mussed over her.

She picked out a gentle pinky orange for her nails, but was swayed by the woman who was about to de-stress her feet, when she suggested, with a tap of her finger, that Miss C go for the brighter, more fluorescent coral orange entitled “Pool Day”. It goes without saying there was a gold glitter topcoat.

A crystal chandelier hung over our heads as Miss C waited patiently for the polish to dry. “We should get that for our house,” she declared, pointing at the beautiful six-foot work of art.

“It might not go with the décor,” I replied, wondering if I’d ever live in a house that would support such opulence.

Miss C flipped and flopped her way through the mall afterwards, looking proudly at her toes and munching a chocolate lollipop from Purdy’s. This is six.

 

Part Two.

Miss C quietly sat cross-legged in seat L 15 staring up at the empty stage. Her grade one best listening ears were in play while children around us cried, wiggled, kicked and jiggled excitedly as they waited for Raffi.

A preschool-aged boy sat beside me dressed as a beluga whale. Later, he would shed this costume and proceed to bounce, with his back to the stage, rattling my seat.

Across the aisle an angelic girl snuggled with her dad. Later her light-up shoes would blind me as she boogied in the aisle.

Ahhhh children’s concerts.

Miss Q and Miss S’s preschool years were full of music and dancing. Fred Penner, Sharon Lois and Bram, Charlotte Diamond, Raffi, we know them well. But somewhere along the way Stuart McLean on Sundays, musical stories on CD, and the radio, until both the news and the disc jockeys became too crass, shoved the preschool music aside. Our poor Miss C, being the youngest, got the short end of the age appropriate music stick.

Raffi’s 40th Anniversary Concert was just as much a birthday present for Miss C as it was a trip down memory lane for her nostalgic mum.

Raffi calls us parents, who have grown up with him, Beluga Grads. It’s a cliché to type ‘lump in my throat’ but that’s what I had as I watched Miss C sing and clap along to songs I sang and clapped along to with my own mother and brothers. It was a touching moment to see life come full circle.

After a standing ovation brought Raffi back on stage, he addressed us Beluga Grads, asking through a song in the tune of Baby Beluga, to continue to spread messages of peace. You had me at ‘beluga’, Raffi.

While one could argue we, the parents of young children, were not the ones to advertise $10 a day to support a child for his Child Honouring project, at least word got out. And as for ticket prices: $48.25 for main floor? A tad steep for an hour-long children’s concert. However, the heart of Raffi didn’t disappoint.

Miss C stood up and told me not to forget my jacket as the house lights came on.  She took my hand and we walked up the aisle.

Just like Miss C’s flip-flops the day before, I flipped my thoughts about this being my last opportunity to hear Raffi in concert, and vowed to take my kids back to their early years as often as the opportunity presented itself. Even if ‘take’ turns into ‘drag’.

 

Unicorn

Miss C wanted a unicorn sparkle rainbow party. Glitter was the order of the day. 

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Future Day

I wrote this for a contest last February, 2017. It wasn’t short-listed. The girls are now in grades one, three and five and haven’t changed their ideas about their futures. Enjoy. ♥

 

Last week they wore pink shirts with the message: In a world where you can be anything, be kind. This week they dressed up as their future selves. Today is Future Day at my daughters’ elementary school.

This morning the classrooms were filled with Red and Pink Riding Hoods, Batmen, Batgirls, photographers, dinosaur doctors, YouTubers and a lone Pokémon. These, my friends, are your leaders of tomorrow.

In a world where only I think I’m funny, my suggestions to my daughters of going as dust, microchips and Buck Rogers were nixed before I even finished the sentence.

“I’m going as Jane Goodall,” Miss S, our seven-year-old, who has loved monkeys since she was old enough to eat mashed bananas, said.

“Awesome, you can wear Daddy’s old lab coat,” I replied.

Miss S shook her head and said, “She studies primates in the jungle.”

“You could wear a vest,” I offered, hoping she wasn’t going to ask me to conjure mosquito netting and snake boots an hour before bedtime. “And then you could tie your hair back in a ponytail.”

“And you could wear a monkey around your neck,” my husband added.

“Really?” Miss S squealed as she inhaled.

“Yes,” my husband replied. He may as well of given her permission to have a chimpanzee as a pet for all the excitement he incited.

“Just make sure your monkey doesn’t get you into trouble at school.” Apparently I should go as a wet blanket.

“If she starts to, I’ll probably stuff her into my backpack,” Miss S solemnly promised.

Maybe if The Man With The Yellow Hat had threatened Curious George with being stuffed in a backpack, he wouldn’t have wrecked dinosaur displays, flew kites without permission, or called the fire department when there wasn’t a fire.

Shelving visions of Miss S’s leggy monkey, Joanne, screeching and dancing on the desks of grade two, I asked our oldest daughter, Miss Q, who her future self was.

“I was thinking maybe an artist or a writer? Something like that.”

My heart simultaneously soared and sunk for our resident Renaissance woman. She wanted to write! Oh good lord, she wanted to write. Should I wish her well now? Firm handshake and good luck with finding the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow?

Of course, maybe the grasshopper would supersede the master, and become the next Judy Bloom, JK Rowling, or Tui T. Sutherland, the author of her current favourite series, Wings of Fire. One could only hope.

“You could wear my ‘Keep Calm and Write On’ shirt,” I said, trying to be nonchalant.

Ten-year-olds can be finicky: too much exuberance and they think you’re crazy, too little and they might doubt how wonderful their ideas are.

“If you really want to look like a writer, you could wear pajamas bottoms and a shirt with holes in it,” said my husband, the comedian.

Ignoring the hilarity going on around her, Miss Q said, “I want to be someone who draws and writes.”

“Then you can wear comfy clothes and a beret.” I made a face at my husband.

“Why would I wear a beret?”

“Artist use it to keep paint out of their hair,” I said.

“That’s weird,” Miss Q replied. “And I want to draw, not paint.”

“Well, think about it,” I said, knowing the seed had been planted.

“I want to be what you are right now,” our youngest, Miss C, blurted.

“A mum?” I asked.

“No, what you are right now,” she said. Her five-year-old blue eyes implored me to remember who I am.

“A preschool programmer?” Miss S asked, returning with fuzzy Joanne draped around her neck.

“A municipal worker?” I said, trying to hide my amusement. Who aspires to that lofty goal?

“Yes. That.” Miss C held up her hands and made air-quotes, “A preschool programmer.”

Apparently Miss C had missed the many days and nights where I swore a million times over that my life was bigger than my current job, that I was not going to die a servant to the civilians of the municipality.

“Okay,” I said suspiciously. How were we going to pull this outfit off? Bags under eyes, grande cinnamon dolce latte in hand, phone nicknamed ‘albatross’ shoved in purse?

“I’m going to need a scarf and a sweater, because you wear that,” Miss C stated. “And black pants that aren’t too short. And a nametag. Don’t you wear a nametag?”

“I do,” I said. Hadn’t she been listening to my tired heart? The stories of preschool parents outraged over StarWars Valentines because the light sabers depicted war, parents demanding I call other parents on their poor parenting choices, parents angry because their child’s rain pants were still missing?

First world problems aside, what was the glamour, the allure in my job that had hooked my youngest daughter? What had happened to her sparkly pink princess desires? As far as I knew, Prince George wasn’t yet spoken for.

But, I was flattered. Who wouldn’t be? Maybe she was listening when I said my job was funding my dreams. Or she likes the fact I only work while she and her sisters are at school. My job also pays the bills, namely the television and Netflix subscriptions, which helps with someone’s Paw Patrol obsession.

Or maybe she just loves me. Often she’ll whisper, “Mama, I’m never going to leave you.”

This is sometimes followed up with, “And when you’re old and dead, I’m going to live in this house.”

“I don’t need to be dead for you to live in this house,” I tell her.

“I know,” she says with a giggle that thankfully resembles a hyena not the grim reaper. “I just want to.”

As my daughters wandered around our house gathering the supplies they needed for their futuristic costumes, I realized the future I’d never allowed myself to dream was here.

For ten years, we’d been cruising steadily towards the second star to the right and straight on till morning. Neverland was in our crosshairs. My life was diapers, protecting treasured knickknacks from grabbing hands, and Goldfish crackers.

But we’ve tacked a hard left. My oldest is in grade four, my youngest is in kindergarten, instead of being Peter Pan leading them like Lost Boys through adventures with pirates and fairies, I’m now Nana, the dog.

I thought I’d be mistier at this revelation. Instead, I feel buoyed. Look at what my husband and I have created in ten short years: three humans that think and speak for themselves. We did it. We survived the trenches of the early years with only a few fading scars from old Hook.

This isn’t to say we’re releasing our children to the wild, kicking them out of the nursery with a pinch of pixie dust. Miss Q still has two more years until she’s allowed to sit in the front seat of our car, while Miss S has eleven before she can hop a plane to the jungle. And wee Miss C still has to hold my hand, not only for safety, but because she’s the youngest and her five-year-old hand fits perfectly in mine.

But they’re moving forward. They have dreams. They want to contribute to society when they’re older.

A primatologist, an artist and a recreation programmer, even if they don’t keep these professions, at least they are seeking out career paths that make them happy.

Perhaps this is the true revelation of Future Day: happiness. As we adults grin at the adorable imagination of a child who wants to grow up and be a future YouTube Star, bat dancer, fashion designer, and, yes, Pokémon, maybe the joke is on us.

Maybe the children of today know they won’t need money in the future. Our houses will serve as their base from which they can jump in and out of as they nurture their true identities.  The man will be working for them.

In Peter Pan, JM Barrie wrote, “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”

So, here’s to our children never losing their future day dreams.

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