Friday, November 29, 2013

Spin Cycle

You know that moment when your washing machine goes click and then the drum starts to speed up and soon there is the speeding thump thump of the spin cycle squeezing every last drop of water out.....

Yup.

My life.

This week.

Spin Cycle......on repeat.

You've heard it all - confirmed complicated fracture requiring immobilization of David's arm, Lindsay had what now seems to have been a nasty allergic reaction to iron in a multivitamin and was in pain and miserable, the camera malfunctioned - the big camera....as in will not take a photo.....black screen of death, my AGM (aka Annual General Madness), dealing with 20 false alarms on the alarm at the new centre and some ongoing significant building issues there, Spanner had a moment and caused a scene which upset Allan, and 420 million other small details that must be attended to.....right.now.

By Thursday morning we were a family in the dumps.

Sounds pathetic for a family on the eve of a grand adventure..... but it was the truth.  We gathered at the bottom of the stairs, as Allan and I were about to leave for work, and stood in a group hug and said a prayer together....we all hung on for a few moments after "Amen".

And things have looked up since then....Lindsay is detoxing well from the vitamins that nearly killed her (this "Irish overstatement" is an inside joke - right Mom?), the camera is under warranty and it turns out Nikon is the only company ever who doesn't have to ship something "out east" to get it fixed and they are "pretty sure" it will be good to go by Thursday....and David gets to stay in a removable splint over a plaster cast because I dared to question the Orthopedic surgeon....and ask him to consider alternative treatment given the circumstances... that Dr and I have "history" and it was a much more difficult emotional encounter than I expected....thankfully Allan was at the the other end of a text message to give me some perspective and love!

Friends have been so caring, offering meals, bringing cookies, My Mom and Dad have been rock stars helping with the kids and meals and advice....

It's T-minus 1 week and I would not have imagined how stressed I would feel - I counted on my planning to get me through but the emotional stuff blindsided me.

Again.

I am so emotionally stupid at times..... I just don't always see it coming .... I live so much in my head.

Usually it's just me who is anxious and (slightly) uptight but I see now that travelling with teenagers who are aware of everything, who know much of the cons as well as the pros, who think and wonder and
are a little worried at times....they need emotional support, confident and organised parents.

This is not like taking 5 year olds to Disneyland.

This trip WILL be amazing and we are SO excited to see friends and family there but it is work to travel, harder work to travel to places unknown, high-ish risk, so completely outside of the kids life experience.  To be prepared and yet flexible, to cover the bases at home and have sufficient resources to enjoy the trip fully.

And we are feeling all that emotion on top of the drive to get so much done here, work, marks, homework, house cleaning, Christmas prep, packing etc.

But in a great way this week of adversity (really minor adversity on anyones scale) has brought us closer together - has tightened up that little family unit - perfect timing to be so connected as we will be in close quarters for 30 days coming up.....

As the washing machine spin cycle is whirring along you hear that click.....and the immediate slowing of the drum........slower and slower......

I am sure I am about to hear that "click"...... as we start to coast towards the boarding call to the plane one week from today.

I do have one last prayer request .....that coming snow storm.......please be small, and short-lived..... deal?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My brown eyed girl

I was shopping with Lindsay today for a dress for the Winter Formal which happens days after we arrive home from South Africa (home......I said "home"...... ) and we knew shopping while jet-lagged and under pressure would be somewhat less fun than shopping under moderately well rested pressure 9 days before we leave!!!!!.

So off we went....... and while the boys waited at Starbucks having accomplished their shopping mission in under 15 minutes...... Lindsay and I were in search of the perfect little black dress......

She tried on many.

Most she looked amazing in...... some we knew her Father would never let her out of the house in.....some had bigger price tags than others (and I love her for caring about that although as her Mom I want her to know I have that side of things under control)......some were too plain and some had too much bling.......some made us roll our eyes and other made us laugh!

But every time she stepped out of the dressing room 
my heart broke a little.

My beautiful, brown eyed baby girl is emerging into a beautiful brown eyed woman.....right there before my eyes......and already I miss her.....I miss that little girl that thought her Mom was the greatest person in the world.....who said she would never leave me.... would live with me forever and always kiss me "even when I am 16 Mama".....which she is and she still does kiss me and hug me lots......but as I looked at her in those dresses today I knew that for certain, very soon, someone else is going to grab centre stage on her heart.

And that is as it should be.

I hope they see past the beautiful big brown eyes and long brown hair and curves and SEE her .

See her big heart, her wicked smart brain, her care for others, her fierce loyalty, her firm boundaries, her drive and determination and her wonderful and witty, smart sense of humour.

I couldn't love her more.....be more proud of the way she is navigating her life, the good and the tough....the way she lives her faith, stays true to who she is....stands up for those with less, who struggle....

I might just be willing to share her with someone who loves her as fiercely and completely as I do.

Just not quite yet......I need her to be mine for a little bit longer.....

My beautiful girl - put your hand in mine and lets have this adventure, and a few more, together ok?

I love you to the moon and back.

xoxoxo

Mama

Thursday, November 21, 2013

community

I have had "community" on my mind for a few days......the actual tangible community of people in my life - my church community, my community of friends, my work community but also the community that is sometimes intangible and abstract....like a neighbourhood or town or a community of interest.

I am a big fan of community as a concept, I love the whole global village idea but it is harder to operationalise than it seems.  I think I am a natural connector and nurturer and I love to build community, be part of community, attach people to communities that can include and love them.  

Sometimes that means taking a risk, reaching out, offering a helping hand. Sometimes its hard to find the energy to do that, sometimes we fear rejection, sometimes we feel silly....sometimes it just feels like work.....but in my experience it is usually worth the effort.

It makes me feel grounded to be part of something, to feel connected, to connect to others, to build community.

While I mostly like doing this face to face and person to person - I am going to give some kudos to the community social media allows us to connect to and participate in.  I know some will argue at the authenticity of community through social media and I hear you but I think it has its place.

I get to stay connected to folks around the world and sometimes have very deep and meaningful interactions with them through the social media I engage in.  Sometimes I know these people well and other times hardly at all but we connected out there in cyberspace.   Some folks I could call but it would cost a fortune.  I use skype when that seems useful. But email and Facebook and Instagram are avenues to connect too and even build community ......  I have a little community of mom-photographers I connect to on Instagram now - we have little chats - encourage one another - celebrate great shots - lament missed ones..... it adds to my life and I think it does to theirs too.

In our town last weekend a family unexpectedly lost their husband/father of 4 children ...primary breadwinner..and a community, mostly online through shared groups we all belong to have rallied to help this family with meals and dollars to help with practical matters while they process their grief.  I don't "know" this family - I have only have interactions with the Mom on a FB group but I have done what I can to stand with them - to be part of our community to support them.  The support for them has been overwhelming and far exceeded expectations - much of it anonymous from people in their community either online or in the neighbourhood.

I have been inspired by the generosity and outpouring of love by my fellow community members.

Also inspiring to see how the global community is helping our fellow humans in the Philippines...... it feels like there is so little we can do but if each of us do something......well.....a lot can happen.

I think that is cool.  

I think connecting with other humans is cool.  

I would love to do it over a great cup of coffee ..... but when I can't I am grateful for other ways to connect.

So whether we have hugged lately, or just commented on one anothers FB, or liked a comment or photo, whether we have had long conversations or just waved as our cars passed, whether we will see one another soon or not for ages....if you are part of any of my communities you mean a lot to me....and I am grateful for our connection however close or tangential it may be.

If I may be so bold as to challenge you (and me too) - reach out to someone - connect with someone......who knows where it could lead.....

In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.
Marianne Williamson

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weekend Wrap up

I have spent much of the weekend alone or quietly - very odd......

Friday night Lindsay got a late babysit gig and the boys were setting up for the Robotics tournament..... I ran some errands, supplied RoboVolunteers with some pop to go with their pizza, dropped Lindsay and then came home to a quiet house...... 

I made some soup and toast - managed to figure out which of the 3 remotes would make the TV come to life and then managed to make Netflix work with minimal cursing.... I can now work at the Genius Bar!!  I watched a couple of episodes of Portlandia and concluded I was clearly too old and too uncool to find it amusing or interesting and switched to watch 3 episodes of Heartland which is all I will ever see of it as this was the first time I have watched TV in a year.......but it was interesting..... Spanner and I were pretty chilled out.

Everyone came home and after David and my very late night at the hospital we were lights out and sleeping by 10pm.
__________

The Roboteers were up at 6am and out of the door at 6:45am - Allan as the venue host  and Chief Roboman at his school, David with his team (that had a tough day on the court but learned a lot) and Lindsay as the Queen of queuing - she commands a crew who manage to get 60 teams to one of four courts for each of their games - its an epic job and she is incredible at it.....But it was a super long day for them all on their feet.

I worked out - we had a Jazzercise class in support of Movember which was all cardio, all male artists singing and a lot of fun.  Free Starbucks and a cookie after class too - awesome!  And just to prove what a brave person I am I am posting a photo of me, barely awake, with a mustache on...... do not abuse this moment!!



I drove home on my favourite route but tried taking some different shots than usual on an unusually sunny but chilly morning.....without getting out of my warm car..... dedicated iPhotographer I am!!!





I ran some errands - mainly groceries and some Christmas gifts and food-other-than-pizza for a tired but hungry Allan.... I popped into the robotics competition to drop off provisions, cheer on the kids, say hi to folks and then home to prepare Allan's fishing lunch for today.

I spent a couple hours going through the trip day by day and printing off all the confirmations and contact info and looking at all the restaurant suggestions friends have offered......exciting and a little daunting at times.

I was laid low by a migraine for a bit so Spanner and I snoozed for 45 mins but then I got up gutted the bathroom cabinets and redid the towel closet before making David and Lindsay a nice, wholesome meal....we are on an "eat down" here as we try to eat what we have in the fridge and freezer before we leave so nothing is wasted or spoils......so we are getting progressively more creative as the days go on....tonight they had couscous with veggies and salmon.

Allan and I had a "casual" dinner with Em and Fil........ so fantastic to have friends you can just chill with, eat great food they make (like seriously great food) and chat over a glass or two of wine.....just what Allan and I needed.
________

This morning arrived early.....or it felt like it!!  Allan off to fish - clearly I was mistaken about the fishing season ending..... David was too exhausted and he and his poor sore wrist stayed in bed and slept solidly until after noon.  Lindsay and I went to church and during youth I came home, walked SuperSpanner, raked the leaves and barely made it to the gas station for gas before getting Lindsay.....I used to never let my car get down to less than a 1/4 tank but the last two times I have driven with the empty warning light on for.... a while.....getting reckless in my old age I am!!

Still loving the pano feature on the i5S - just not the lack of battery life... oh well


We had bacon sandwiches for lunch after a mild panic attack when the bacon was hiding in the freezer....we may end up eating freezer burned pork chops or well aged duck breast but we will NOT run out of bacon. 
Or coffee.  I have my limits.

The kids did chores and homework (which they think are the same thing) and I got my teaching course outline in to the College......its always at that moment I think "why am I doing this?"  and then I remember we have to pay for all the travel we do so love to do...... Did you know Allan is off to Costa Rica on a school trip in March and David is off to France next Fall...... so as I hit send on my course outline I tried to feel grateful for the work and not worry, for now, about how much work it will be in January!

My parents have made their award winning Spag Bol and we are off to have a nice quiet family dinner to end what passes for a quiet weekend around here these days!

Have a great week friends - and Ben B.......that means you take it easy.....OK!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

This time.....

This time 3 weeks we will be sitting in the international departures area of Vancouver Airport.

There will be no turning back. 

There will be tremendous excitement and some anxiety but we will be off.....

As this time of planning comes close to the end I have been reflecting on just how much work it has been - much more than I could have imagined.

But also such a family bonding experience..... we have poured over websites and maps together .....discussed geography and history and politics and genealogy and so much more together.

We have dreamed

We have been able to make some of those dreams come true (Hello riding elephants into the bush to have drinks at sunset!!! Seriously!!! Riding an elephant!!!)

Or so we hope......

And this is where I am in my head right now.....I have done all I could.....or as much as I could have under the circumstances and realities of time and resources....and now I need to let it go and enjoy the ride.

So.not.easy for me.

I have to know not everything will go according to my careful plans. The weather will not be prefect. The rental car may be a tad small. The luggage may not arrive on time.

David served up a vivid example of this last night by fracturing his wrist. My first thought was "how could I have not foreseen this?" How could I not have warned him not to play rough games 3 weeks before the trip. And then I was annoyed at him for being reckless (Mother of the year award now up for grabs!)

Ai Ya...... get a grip lady!


And be thankful you weren't the lady in the next room in the ER who broke her ankle the day before going to Hawaii.

That's the thing isn't.?.... to be able to take the unexpected, unplanned, unforeseen (it could happen - theoretically) and roll with it.....make it work or let it go and move on.

And count the blessings as we go.

I resolve to not spend this vacation worrying, looking constantly ahead..... I resolve to let myself revel in the moments as they come and go....to dig my feet in the sand....to breathe deeply.....to leave the stress at 10,00 feet and make the very most of this incredible journey with my best peeps.

I am excited. Really excited. Tummy-flipping excited.

And so thankful for the opportunity.

 The next 3 weeks will whiz by.....still a lot to do but I can now imagine it all done...and imagine getting on that plane.

 Eeeeeeekk......its happening!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Words into Action


The devastation of the Philippines has gripped my heart - some links below for organisations trying to ease the suffering against incredible obstacles.........I am sure there are many others......Our high school, McMath, is doing a coin drive (drop off coins at my house or the school if you want to help that way).

World Vision

Unicef

International Red Cross

Doctors without Borders

Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.                  Nelson Mandela

Monday, November 11, 2013

Long Weekend Wrap Up

Friday

There are a few ways to wrap up a crazy busy week but few better than Chianti and pizza with a fine group of interesting and engaging peeps.... We went to Bibo on 4th Ave which was ..... adequate.... the company more than made up for mediocre service and food.


We make pizza at home a lot - our own dough etc....so I know I have above average expectations of good pizza and this one was tasty but I wish people paid attention to the proper distribution of toppings across the whole pizza.....IMHO each slice should have a little of all the toppings yes?

Anyhoo.....moving on.......

Saturday

Was up and at it at the crack of to Jazzercise off the pizza.....tough workout but good.  Then Lindsay rode shotgun as we headed out to White Rock to pick up some cupboards for work and deliver them to one of the child care centres.  We then headed to a  planning meeting for a youth event at church and then home for 5 minutes before meeting Emily and Isabella and heading back in to the City for the always inspiring and lovely Circle Craft Christmas Craft Fair...... I love strolling the aisles seeing the amazing creativity of so many artists and crafters while Christmas music plays...... I got a few goodies - mostly some great toys for work!

I was SO tired by the time we got home.  I have to say this early darkness is really getting to me....the long dark evenings seem so.....long...... and dark...lol.......

Allan had outdone himself and made a truly splendid meal with steak and tiger prawns on a bed of mixed greens with a side of  sauteed veggies and crispy oven fries.......does he know me or what?

It was more than delicious and I was more than grateful to sit down with mt family, in soft candle light and enjoy a lovely meal.....

I was in bed by 9pm......Happy to know my Dad was safely returned from Kenya!

Sunday

5:45am alarm.

The day had come for THE LIST to be conquered.  So we loaded Spanner into the truck and headed for the Border........A fortifying breakfast at Avenue Bread and then to Target in Marysville a little after it opened.

First stop luggage!  Of course..... they only had 3 of the suitcases we needed but in a very surprising bout of excellent customer service they tracked one down on our route home and held it for us to pick up!  Score!


We then hit the outlets as they opened and managed for about two hours - t-shirts, runners, socks, shorts, swimsuits, flip flops for Allan (in the most ridiculous moment of the day he chose a pair that were $24.99 but there was a buy two for $16.99 deal so they would not sell us one pair .... so we picked out another pair.....for $10.00...then we got both for for $16.99...... if Quicksilver quarterly sales numbers are down you know why!), quick dry shirts, a steal on some shoes and a couple other items.

By then the outlets were stupid busy and we were on the verge of "Hangry"...... the hungry angry shopper is not a pleasant being - add to that a caffeine deficit and trouble is brewing.  So we walked the dog and turned the car north towards the missing suitcase.

We made it to Burlington and stopped at the first place offering food.  It was oddly a place we had never tried called "5 Guys" a bare bones, fast food joint offering only burgers and fries........and self serve peanuts! There are no photos of the food because hangry shoppers don't stop to photograph...... they eat.



A very satisfying burger it was and although we only ordered 2 sides of fries for the 4 of us there were enough for 18 people.

As soon as the fat and salt and sugary drinks hit our veins we perked right up again and had another bout of shopping and located the last suitcase in our quest!

Final stop for coffee and we were on the road again to Bellingham - to Trader Joes to be specific.  Always crazy busy but we had a mission and a very good list and we were done in 40 minutes - we looked like hoarders as we bought several of a few items to make Christmas baskets with....

We drove towards the 49th parallel as I tallied the damage and found we were only $5 over budget for the day......until I found the other suitcase receipt later...... but we were close ...... so close to budget and the border guard didn't even blink.....PHEW!




A long but very productive day that has me breathing a lot easier......

We had been home an hour when Lindsay appeared at the bottom of the stairs in her Halloween Zebra costume on and her suitcase packed and demanded to be taken to Africa..... seriously - she is packed and so efficiently!!!

I crashed in to bed at 9pm again.

Monday

Yay for a holiday Monday after that busy Sunday.

But oh no...... not for Allan and I .

Because we suck at sleeping.

 I was awake before 6am and though we both tried really hard to doze off we declared it game over at 7am.

So frustrating.

We lazed in bed for a while and David brought us tea and cookies but once we were up I was on a tear.

We paused briefly over omelettes at 11:00am to remember the peace and  freedom we live in came at a cost.

I, with help from Allan, gutted our bedroom, bathroom and walk-in closet......gutted, cleaned, dusted, sorted, threw out.....threw more out.......cleaned more......

No "before" pictures for obvious reasons and no "after" photos lest expectations are set that cannot be maintained.

Of course it feels fantastic now but I am tired and sore!

In the afternoon we picked up a used-bbq-smoker-thingy I bought on a local bidding site that Allan is most excited about and then we headed across the border to Point Roberts this time to pick up some stuff we ordered online.  Easy across and back, quick coffee and groceries and home.  I paid David $10 to shop vac our room while we were out and he did a great job and I was able to get the rest of the room squared away before dinner.

We had the last of out salmon burgers from the summer pinks and enjoyed them a lot!

And now there is finally a little vegging going on......movies being watched, books being read, there is ice cream and I am chatting with you!

REMEMBER friends - the short weeks bite.....beware and be safe!!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"Take your Grade 9 to work day"

On November 6th,, over 250,000 Grade nine students across Canada participated on the 19th annual "Bring your kids to work day" - a real world reality check I guess?  Poor David didn't have the best options - stay at school with his Dad and do....school or come with me......neither of the choices are in what he currently thinks his career options might be but we resolved it could be a good learning day anyway. 

Here is what he reflected on after his day at work with me........

On Wednesday I went to work with my mom. I started the day by taking minutes at my moms meeting at UBC. I learnt there the struggles of trying to coordinate a meeting and keeping it moving swiftly. During the meeting people moved back and forth between topics and it got hard to follow at times but I noticed my mom pushing the meeting on and not letting them get too off track and keeping on the right track. 

We then went to work where I was working on the floor at her childcare centre with the 3-5 year olds. 

It was very interesting to see which kids were willing to come right up to me and say hi whereas others took a bit before they came over and said hi. It was interesting that because I had been introduced by their leaders that they trusted me almost immediately. 

With the kids they were all really bouncy and happy so we put on some music and we followed a CD's actions which showed me how willing the kids were to do anything they were told especially if a leader showed them how to do it. 

When we went outside the kids immediately took the opportunity to prod me and hold me down which I found interesting because it appeared that they wanted to control me so that I did what they wanted. They then all started to argue over what I should do and who I should play with, which made me wonder why they so want to play with someone new instead of do what they normally do? It might be because I was involved with their play more than other people?

We then moved inside and straight to circle time which made me think, was I one of those kids that shouted out their answer and then if we were told to be quiet and put our hand up was I the kid that shouted out by answer if the teacher made eye contact with me even if for just half a second. 

The answer, probably, but I now realize how annoying that must have been for the teacher. It also shows that sometimes things just don't get done like in circle we just ran out of time to do the actual lesson because it took to much time to get everything else done. 

When I went for my lunch break with my mom we went to the new sandwich store smokehouse sandwich co. I had the pulled pork (it was great – I recommend it) but while I was there my mom was complimenting them and being super positive and she told me that "encouragement is free" which is a great thing to think about and will be something that I will put into practice.
  


When I returned it was nap time and two of the teachers were in the nap room rubbing kids backs to help put them to sleep. I on the other hand was in the main room where kids that didn't want to sleep got to have quiet time (which would have been me) but it was good to see that kids can still entertain themselves without help or advice. I got to set up some activities for after nap time so I decided to put playdoh and construction straws out because I remember as a kid loving both of those things. It was also a great opportunity to see the kids imagination come out, as they built with straws especially as they put them together in new and different ways and they described to me what it was.


 As we went back outside I thought about how great it was that we were going outside so much because often kids my age sit inside on devices all day (I am guilty of this – on occasion). It made me smile knowing that the kids of the next generation are being taught well (hopefully they stay this way).

I have a new understanding of how much energy it takes to work with young children and how much you have to listen and negotiate all day long - there is no "downtime".

Then I helped my Mom doing the groceries for dinner on the the way home which I guess is typical for many working Mom's even when they are tired.


So for me "take your kid to work day" showed me just how hard the working life can be and it gave me a new respect for teachers and early childhood educators. I guess I am really just happy that I still get to live a life that is simple and scheduled and that I don't have to worry about all the little  and big things on a day to day basis....... just yet.