Monday, September 19, 2011

My Youngest is in Kindergarten - How Did THAT Happen?

My youngest child, my daughter, had her first day of JK.  There were nervous tummies and tears.  Okay, that was just me.  My daughter was fine.  I was worried about how she would separate from me because she has been really clingy lately (see recent post on Separation Anxiety).  However, that has been getting better.  And I took her to the school and we practiced her walking away smiling.  It also helps, of course, that her two older brothers go to the school and she knows it very well by now.  My two sons even had the exact same kindergarten teacher that my daughter now has.  And Ella wanted to go to JK when she was two, because she loved the classroom when we visited it with her brother!  So I guess I shouldn't have worried so much about it.  Did I mention she's my youngest?  When I tell people that now all of my three children are in school, they say, "Weren't you just off on maternity leave with her?"  Yes.  Exactly.  Anyway, she had tons of fun and can't wait to go back.  Whew.  And....sigh!

Running in the Rain - There's Nothing Better

I just got back from a run in the rain.  It was fabulous.  And I mean that sincerely.  As I was heading out, my husband pronounced me a 'crazy woman'.  He says that a lot.  He's so romantic.

I always feel better after any run, even if it's a hard run and I feel like I'm dragging myself along the route.  I feel better emotionally on many levels.  But sometimes there are runs in which I am really feeling those endorphins, the 'runners high'.  Tonight was one of those runs.  It felt so easy and effortless.  Even the hills felt good.  I kept catching myself grinning as I ran along, despite the rain pouring down.  I had my music on and I was happy.

Running in the rain.  Good times.  You've got to take your fun where you can get it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Love My GPS....I Really, Really Love It

 One of the greatest days of my life was when I got my GPS.  You think I'm exaggerating?  I'm not.  For my job I have to drive all over a large region, travelling to homes.  Some of them on little tiny back roads.  Some in the country, in the middle of nowhere.  I used to get lost alot.  Okay, constantly.  I added mileage to the car that was completely unnecessary, getting lost mileage.

I admit that I have a problem.  I am severely directionally challenged.  Honestly, I have a real deficit.  It was getting so bad that I would actually turn the opposite way to what I thought I should turn, just because I am so often wrong.  Anyway.  That didn't work out very well, either.

I hate to repeat this story (funnily enough, my husband loves it) of how once while navigating in Europe I directed my husband consistently away from Rome as opposed to going toward it.  My husband likes to talk about how we found the city of La Civita with a population of 15, but we were unable to find a city with the population of Rome.  Needless to say, it was my fault.  I ended up driving a rented standard car through the crazy chaos that is Rome traffic, while my husband navigated.  Would I do it again?  Any. Day.

And then I got my GPS.  It doesn't sigh loudly in my ear when I make a wrong turn.  It doesn't roll its eyes.  It doesn't mutter remarks about my problem.  It just calmly says, 'Recalculating'.  And then...'Make a U-turn as soon as humanly possible'.  It does that to everyone, right?

Anyway, it's so great.  It's much less stressful.  I still had to get used to it, though.  It had a woman's voice and I found her tone a little annoying. 

Once I was driving to Toronto to a workshop.  I was on the Don Valley Parkway and the power cut out to the GPS and it went black.  It wasn't pretty.  When I finally made it home the next day (slight exaggeration) I slammed the door and yelled to my husband, "The honeymoon is OVER!"

My husband looked surprised because at that point we'd been married for eleven years and really...he knew that already.  But it was a manufacturer's problem so we got it replaced.

And once I was late to a meeting because I took a wrong turn, and the woman said, "But don't you have a GPS?"

I laughed nervously.  "Um, yes...ha,'s a long story."

The fact is my deficit is so wide and far-ranging that I had trouble when it would tell me to turn in 500 metres.  I wasn't sure exactly how much distance that was.  Often I would turn too soon.  Anyway, I've figured it all out now.  I've even figured out how to change the voice.  To an Australian male named Daniel.

Oh, and you!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

It's All About The Green

I was cleaning out closets today; always an inspiring task.  Although the kids had been playing outside for awhile, they were getting a bit, how can I put it nicely, rangy.  I was getting frustrated and it built until I was having what my friend and I call a 'drop-kick moment'.  I think the term is pretty much self-explanatory.  Anyway, although all my son wanted to do was play Wii, I dragged everyone out to a waterfall.  There is a trail through the forest first beside a creek and then you reach the waterfall.

I didn't realize how stressed out I was until I was on the trail.  I looked around me at all the trees and leaves.  It was like instantaneous relaxation.  I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  It was amazing.  And I had an epiphany.  This isn't a new thought, of course, and I've had it before - but it just really hit me today that we need more beautiful things, more green spaces, in our hurried lives.

This is why I love cities like London, England and Paris, France.  In London there are huge beautiful green squares right in the middle of a busy city.  In Paris, there is beautiful architecture, art, and food.  You will be walking along a beautiful cobble stoned street and all of a sudden you will find a statue or a fountain.  Quebec City is also beautiful, so it's not just Europe.

But imagine if we had more of these green spaces all over the cities.  Imagine if the highways could incorporate aspects of beauty.  I love it when the highways have a strip of wild green space in the middle - true green space left to go wild, because no one can do it like Mother Nature can.  When it's left truly wild, there are many different heights and textures and colours of wild greenery. 

When I was at the waterfall trail today, I don't know if it was all the shades of green on the leaves and the moss on the rocks, the calming browns of the tree trunks, or the sound of the rushing water.  But I felt very calm and relaxed and happy.

The kids loved the trail.  They went up close to the waterfall and felt the cool spray of water.  They walked across the bottom of the waterfall on the rocks.  They built a bridge over the creek with logs.  We had to tear them away from it, in fact.

I said to my son, "See?  You can play in a video game or you can come outside and experience life firsthand!'

He looked at me blankly and said, "Can I play Wii when we get home?"


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Raising Two Boys and a Girl - Equal, and Different

A couple of people lately have asked me what it's like to raise a girl, and if girls are truly different than boys.  "Is the Pope Catholic?" I'll reply.

I know that each child is completely unique, and some girls are much more active than some boys.  I only have my experience to go on. 

My daughter is a complete girlie girl.  And I'm surprised that she is, because she has two older brothers and she has been surrounded by all things boy from birth.  Yet she wants to wear dresses every day.  She loves to play princesses and babies.

She carries a baby doll around with her everywhere.  She covers all her babies in blankets, feeds them, cuddles them and talks to them.  Once she was playing at a park, and she was pretending a pile of sticks was her baby.  A pile of sticks, people.  When I told her she had to leave it at the park, she 'tucked' the pile in and then when she ran away she kept looking back and blowing kisses at it. 

My boys use sticks for swords and light sabres.  I think it's the testosterone.  They are both very different in personality, but they still love playing 'war' and 'attack'.  They beg me to let them wrestle.  They love to play the 'pile on me' game - always a favourite at adult parties, also.  They seem to be constantly in motion, and I swear it is impossible to wear them out.  I love their quick laughter and exuberance.

My daughter is much more sensitive than the boys.  If you even raise your voice or use a stern tone with her she is likely to cry.  The boys don't seem to notice when I yell right in their ears.

Once I took one son and my daughter to my work, optimistically sure that I could keep them quiet for 30 minutes so I could finish a few things.  The entire time my daughter lay on the floor and coloured quietly.  My son was climbing my chair, climbing on my desk, opening all my drawers and cupboards and literally bouncing off the walls.  Never again.

I hope all this will help with being well-rounded, because although Ella knows every Disney princess, she also knows all about Pokemon and Star Wars.  And she'll play those things with the boys, but then they have to play with her as well, and have tea parties too. 

And although the boys chug their tea and it runs out of their nose and then they burp, I'd like to think they are getting the hang of tea party etiquette.  Slowly.  Okay....not at all.  But still, they know what tea parties are, and they enjoy them.

Another good thing is that boys don't faze my daughter in the slightest.  I loved it at my older son's birthday party, when she was the only little girl sitting there with eight other big boys.  She looked at them all and said, "So, guys, what are we going to play now?"

He Does Love Me!

My eight year old son broke my heart today.  He had worked out a plan in which we would bike together to Staples to get some supplies for school, and then bike to Booster Juice on the way back.  As we were about to leave this morning, he said to me, "You know Mom, we hardly ever do anything just the two of's too bad."

That was when my heart broke.  He's the oldest of three and in school every day, so whenever he's home on the weekend he's always with his brother and sister.  And often he goes fishing with his dad, or his dad takes him to hockey while I have the other two, so he's right.  It's really never just the two of us. I mean, it was for the first whole three years of his life, but he doesn't remember that.

It made me realize that I need to carve out some 1:1 time for each child, which of course is easier said than done, but still that is my new goal.  The one thing we do together is bike, although often I have my youngest in the bike seat and my other on another bike. I've been meaning for a long time to go rock-climbing with him I've got to step up and just do it.  (That should be a slogan of some kind.)

It means a lot to me that he still cares about things like this.  He's the one who will no longer let me kiss him goodbye on the playground.  Or even accompany him on the playground!  But at night, after I tuck him in, he always likes to talk to me, just the two of us.  And he asks me where I'll be in the house, just so he knows.

It's nice to know that although I may not be able to hold his hand in public anymore, there's still a great bond there.  After he made that statement, I tried not to show how I felt, and I tried not to overreact.  I just said, "Okay, we'll do this again in one hour, and then again tomorrow, and the next day...does that work for you?"