March 14, 2017

I have a high energy child. There I said it. When I hear The Ramones song “I Want to be Sedated” I think of her.

Now I know that most kids have a lot of energy but I have to say that my kids seems to have been given an extra shot of whatever kids get. I have often wondered what her teachers do to keep her in her seat at school all day.

Do they know something I don’t?

And yes, you judgey moms, I do have her in a lot of activities. There’s a good reason for that. She needs them.  And frankly, so do I.

Look, every kid is different. Some kids are okay with less activity. Some kids are okay with more activity. They are all different. That’s what makes them so great. Unique. Interesting.

So I’m going to keep letting her be as active as she likes. Well, within our budget that is.

The Best Thing in Life is knowing your own child and allowing them to be that child.

January 9, 2017

We come into this world woefully unqualified for what life has to throw at us. It’s not our fault. It’s just the way it happens.

But never have I felt so ridiculously unqualified as I have as a parent.

People have been doing this for how many years? And yet……nobody has put together a comprehensive ” how to” guide. Yes, many have written self help books on parenting and I have read them all (mostly) but none of them have really resonated with me as being authentic.

I feel like at this point in my life I should have enough life experience to be able to handle this. So how do I take my experiences and the knowledge that I have gained from them and pass it on to my kids in a relevant manner?

This is not going to be a post with a smart, well written, Best Things in Life ending. This is a real question.

How do I take my life experiences and pass them on to my kids in a meaningful, educational way that will benefit them?  Without driving them crazy.

February 3, 2017

Every other week I drive my daughter and three other kids from their school to an afternoon program at another local school. At the beginning of the year I didn’t really know the other three kids very well.

Over the past months I’ve come to realize what great kids they are. Ranging in age from nine to eleven, one might expect them to be, well, kids. And they are,  but they are also engaged, talkative inquisitive and grateful for me driving them each week.

The drive is only about five minutes. Today we talked about how to successfully navigate slippery roads. The merits of snow tires and why busses aren’t necessarily built for snowy days like today. One boy was pretty specific about the tire size to bus length ratio not being conducive to good traction.

Then we talked about skiing versus snowboarding and it was generally agreed that snowboarding was fun but that you needed to practice more than once a year to be any good. Astute observations.

And when I say we talked I mean we ALL talked.

When we arrive at our destination they all (without exception) thanked me for the ride and headed into the school.

Happy good kids. The Best Thing in Life.

January 16, 2017

Did you ever look through a kaleidoscope when you were a kid? The colors and shapes moving and changing as you turned the blue plastic tube? Pretty right?

Yes, when you are a kid it can be very entertaining.

But what about when you close your eyes as an adult and that’s what you see.

Without a blue plastic tube.

Lately I have felt like that when I’ve closed my eyes? Like pieces of my life are moving and changing but somebody else is turning the tube. It out of my control. It’s not pretty and it’s not fun. It’s scary.

I’m a list person. A schedule person. A calendar person. Plans are what I live for and thrive on. Uncertainty and change are…….unknowns.

But that is what my life is right now and I am going to have to find a way to stop the colors and shapes from distracting me. I need to find a way to make them work for me. A way to make best of them.

Oh to be a kid again.

January 6, 2017

Oh Friday how I love you.

Even though it was a short week I am still so happy to see you.

It is no longer the promise of two days of relaxation as it used to be as anybody with young children knows. Weekends can often mean even more activity and work than week days. Early hockey or soccer practice, dance lessons, ski trips, birthday parties and more.

So why is Friday such an oasis at the end of the week?

Could it solely be the fact that nobody is going to judge me if I don’t make dinner but instead order sushi and grab a bottle of white from the cold beer and wine store? Is it really that simple?

Yes. I think that’s it.

The Best Thing in Life is a Friday evening with my family eating sushi, drinking wine and watching HGTV.

January 3, 2017

This is my second favorite day of the year. The first is the Tuesday after Labor Day when the kids go back to school. Two weeks is a looooooong time to spend with a nine year old when it’s cold and snowy out. I mean really, how many games on Uno can one play?

When I dropped her off at the curb I gave her a quick air kiss and with great glee realized that I had the next six hours to do whatever I wanted. You know, fun stuff like groceries, laundry and cleaning the bathrooms.

Back at home I got into a tense conversation with my twenty year old son over the fact that he had not paid us for his portion of the cell phone bill for six months. The resulting accumulated payment was not well received.

“I didn’t expect to have to pay out that much money today.”
“Well I didn’t expect to find a two inch layer of scum in your bathroom so I guess we’re both disappointed with today.”

Life is hard people and that is just a cold hard, slightly scummy fact.

We haven’t spoken since that conversation. According to the “books” it is actually a good thing if your kid is mad at you occasionally. Apparently it means that you are doing your job.

All of a sudden I am counting down the minutes until I can pick up my daughter from school. On days like this the Best Thing in Life is having two kids.

Silver Linings

silver linings

Do you ever have a thought, feeling or emotion that rattles around in your head for, oh, let’s say, weeks?  Maybe months?  The problem is your not sure how to express it.  Or even if you should?  Here’s mine.

This year my son will turn twenty and I’ve missed half of his life.

Let me explain.  If I can.

I left my first husband when our son was three months old.  Within the first year I agreed (begrudgingly) to a custody arrangement that was a 50/50 split of time.  Over the years that has meant alternating house every three days, four days or seven days.  At times it was confusing (mostly for other people) but it seemed to work.  Bottom line, my son has spent half of his twenty years living away from me.

There’s no blame here.  No looking back in anger.  It was what it was and its history.

But here’s the thing.  It’s a weird feeling knowing that so many things that your child has experienced were not with you.  That during those days away you had idea where he was, who he was with or what he was thinking.  There are so many experiences, emotions and moments that I have no history of.  No pictures, no memories, no knowledge what so ever.

I’m not wallowing in pity either.  I know that he grew up loved by so many people and so far has had an amazing life.  It’s just an observation I’ve made in the past while.  I was struck one day by the fact that for days at a time I had no contact of any kind with him.

The hardest thing to do every week was not to pepper him with questions the minute he walked through the door.  Sometimes I was successful and sometimes not so much.  I just wanted to know what he had done.  What had he eaten.  How had he felt.  Had he been happy?  Had he had a hard week?

at school

Boys, as some of you may know, can be….um….lacking in details when it comes to what they’ve been doing.

“How was school?”

“Good”

“What did you do?”

“Stuff”

“Who were you with”

“Dunno”

Sound familiar?

I’m not sure if it is despite of or because of our arrangements that he has grown up to be a smart, caring, happy young man.  There have been trying times for him but I believe the same could be said for other boys his age who have grown up in a more conventional setting.

He’s not home much anymore.  Between work, school, friends and having his own car we are lucky to get a dinner once a week.  Oh and the odd “what can I eat?” at 1:00 pm after rolling out of bed.  Again, not judging, just observing.

I also know that going forward there won’t be as many family vacations, day trips or ski days and that’s okay.  I’m happy that he is happy and moving on into his adult years.  A parents job is to ready their children to make it on their own in the world and I am confident that he will do just that.  I’m hoping that when that happens there will be the odd phone call home to say, ask how long to roast a chicken?

walking away

It’s so hard to put these feelings into words.  The feeling that I’ve missed a lot but have still been given so much.

I suppose in some ways it has prepared me for the next stage of our lives.  I’m not that worried about him not being around all the time.

The Best Thing in Life is silver linings.

 

TBT – Love

B&W kids

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  Valentines Day is just around the corner.  Little kids at school are preparing their paper valentines.  Young women are hoping (or praying) that this is the year they get that sparkly ring on their finger.  And guys everywhere are still talking about the Super Bowl.

Love is so many different things to people that I don’t feel that it can be shoved into one Hallmark holiday day each year.  Love is different for everyone because it is personal and cultural and familiar and personal.  Yes, I said personal twice.

Love is crazy and calm

Love is hard and soft

Love is scary and comforting

Love is warm and cold

Love is physical and emotional

Love is color and love is black and white

B&W Everett

This is my love.  These pictures were taken seven years ago but the feelings they evoke in me are so strong that every time I look at them my heart gets all mushy and I need to hold my breath.

B&W Liv

My daughter was about eleven months old so my son must have been almost twelve.  Babies, both of them.  My husband and I had been married for seven years.  Four of which we had spent living 3000 miles apart.

B&W me and Don

So much has happened since then.  I’ve learnt and grown with these three humans right beside me.  It’s been ugly and it’s been beautiful.  Often on the same day.

Love is family

Love is memories

Love is growing together

Love is learning from each other.

Love is never having to say you’re sorry but saying it anyway.

The pictures say so much.  My sweet sensitive son.  My crazy adventurous daughter.  My thoughtful handsome husband.

The Best Thing in Life is Love.  Mushy, hold your breath love.

 

 

Happiness is Welcoming Friends to My ‘Hood

mexico and canada

Immigration is a hot topic these days no matter where you live.  It’s been a point of contention in the current U.S. election and here, in Canada, the influx of Syrian immigrants has caused many heated debates.  I personally don’t have to look much further than the end of my cul de sac to find a great (and happy) immigration story.

My friend Veronica arrived in Vancouver in August of 2000 from a small town just outside of Monterey, Mexico.

She came to Vancouver with her best friend.  They had sat in a restaurant in their hometown and added up their savings on a paper napkin to see if they had enough money for two plane tickets.  She was twenty five years old and wanted a change of pace from her small town life.  They moved into an apartment on the west side of Vancouver with four other young girls, also from Mexico.  Even though she was going to school to learn English she has to admit that they didn’t speak much English at all.  They lived with and went out with other Mexicans.

But she loved her new city.  The mountains, the ocean, the trees and parks.

Things she remembers from that time?  The weather wasn’t always good.  No matter how hard she tried she couldn’t get her hair straightened with a flat iron. Since she’s a bit on the short side, on rainy days she kept hitting people in the face with her umbrella.  Basically she remembers that the weather was a huge change from sunny Mexico.

For the next two years she would stay in Vancouver. Only returning to Mexico every six months to renew her visa.  During that time she met her husband Jorge.  I have always known that Veronica and her husband, Jorge, were one of the sweetest, most loving couples I’ve ever met but I didn’t know the lengths that they had gone to in order to be together.

In 2003 Veronica decided to return to Mexico for good.  She missed her family and it was too expensive to keep going back and forth.  What she didn’t know was that Jorge had followed her back with an engagement ring in his pocket.  He gave her that ring and they got married the very next day.

Even though they were married, the process of getting her papers to allow her to permanently return to Vancouver took over a year.  Devoted Jorge continued to fly back and forth to Mexico as often as he could.  Eventually Veronica moved to Bellingham, WA and stayed at the YWCA.  Just to be that much closer to her husband.

The process was long and the immigration interviews in Mexico City were intense.  They asked her questions like.

“Tell me again.  On the evening you met Jorge, did he drive you home or did you take a taxi?”  Just to make sure her story was consistent.

“What brand of toothpaste does Jorge have in his bathroom?”

Seriously?  Who pays attention to that stuff?  Or remembers it three years later.  Anyway, bottom line, she got her permanent resident card and is now a Canadian citizen.

They best part of living here?

The people.  She finds Canadians to be incredibly friendly.  In Mexico, she says, people are sometimes only friendly to you if they know you.  If you come from a wealthy family you do not acknowledge people who are less fortunate.  In fact you don’t even talk to them.  The division is very clear.

She also enjoys the safety of living in an area with good schools and parks that she can send her kids to without worrying about them.  Over the past fifteen years Mexico has changed and she doesn’t always feel comfortable taking her kids out when they visit.

Would she move back?  Probably not. Obviously, the Mexico of today is very different from the Mexico she grew up in.

So now Veronica and her lovely family live at the end of my street.  Her kids play with my daughter at the park and I get to enjoy the fresh produce they grow in the summer.  Their tomatillos are amazing.  Great friends and fresh veggies.  That’s a Best Thing in Life for sure.

P.S.  Although I’ve never managed to stay up late enough to go, I’ve heard that they have killer parties.

 

 

Sleep Anxiety

anxiety

Sleep is a beautiful thing.  Nothing feels better than sinking into your comfy bed, closing your eyes and getting a good solid nights sleep.  It’s rejuvenating.  It’s blissful.  It’s therapeutic.  So when sleep won’t come,  life can be turned upside down.

Over the past few months my daughter has developed what I can only describe as severe sleep anxiety.  She’s never been a great sleeper but this takes it to a whole different level.

It started out pretty low key.  At some point in October she started to say that she could not go to sleep.  Not just that she wasn’t tired.  But that she could not get to sleep.  She would get out of bed a couple of times every night to tell me.  I’d give her a hug, ask if she needed anything and tuck her back in.  But then it changed.

Slowly over the next few weeks it escalated to all out hysteria at bed time.  And by hysteria, I mean a couple of hours of crying, shaking, yelling, pacing and ultimately, exhaustion.  And that goes for all of us.  Yes, I yelled.  I’m not proud of it but at some point (okay,more than one) I just lost it.  It just seemed so simple.  Get in bed, close your eyes and eventually you will fall asleep.  But yet, she just couldn’t do it.  Not wouldn’t.  Couldn’t.

I remember one night in particular when she refused to get out of the bath.  She said that getting out of the bath would mean that she would have to brush her teeth and put her pjs on.  That would mean that she would need to go to bed.  And that, ultimately, would mean that she would have to try and get to sleep.  And in her mind, THAT was not going to happen.  Thirty minutes later the bath had drained and I was sitting on the floor begging her too just step out of the tub.  Again.  Simple.  But she just couldn’t do.

It got to the point where she would pace around her bedroom saying over and over again.  “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t go to sleep.”  I would sit on her bed praying that I could find just the right thing to say that would convince her that she could go to sleep.  I tried positive encouragement, bribery, meditation apps, consequences but nothing would sway her from her stance that she couldn’t go to sleep.

sleeping girl

My husband and I were confused and desperate to understand what was going on.  To see our smart, capable little girl so upset was heart breaking.  So physically agitated that she wouldn’t even let us hold her to try and calm her down.

The emotions that have run through our little family in the past months are difficult to put into words.  We’ve been angry with each other and unsure of why.  We’ve been confused.  Why is this happening?  We’ve been heartbroken and sympathetic.  The need to comfort your child is so strong that when it is of no help, it can be devastating.

The fact that this is, apparently, quite normal in children this age is at once comforting and distressing.  Comforting in that others have solutions that have worked for them and I know that we are not alone.  Distressing in knowing that so many other kids suffer the way that my daughter has suffered.

Recently we have started to give her melatonin at bed time and it seems to have helped calm her down.  She still wakes up a few hours later though and is convinced that she has yet to fall asleep.  What must be going on in her brain to create this anxiety and confusion?

Why, you may ask, am I telling you ( and the world) all of this?  I’m not sure.  Maybe I am hoping that it will help somebody else going through the same thing?  Maybe I am hoping that it will reach somebody who can help me understand it better.

I’m not sure I can end this post with a Best Thing in Life.