I am here...although I don't know if I have arrived. Some days I feel stranded in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, other days I marvel at the paradise that I call my life. Welcome to my ramblings, reflections, and obsessive- compulsive tendencies

Thursday, December 31, 2009

...about a year

that was then.... ...this is now
it has been a year. we moved to bermuda on december 29th, 2008. everyone told us when we moved here that it would take a year before we felt okay about our move. it is official. we have completed our requisite year.
do we feel bermudian? not even close.
is it beginning to feel like home? it is getting closer.

i knew it would be emotional and hard and exciting and huge. it was.
i thought it would be the right move for our family. it has been.
i hoped we would be closer and calmer and happier and saner. we are (well, sanity is something i expect we will always strive for).
i expected we would miss our families. we do.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

...about my prayers for the twenty-first century

i have hope for the future.

recently a little baby was born into my extended family. she is hope.
i believe in what she is capable of.
she, along with her sister, her little cousins, my darling nieces, and my sweet boys are part of a generation that i know will make the changes that need to happen. they will have the creativity, the freedom, the unique ideas, the equality, the open-mindedness, the passion for a better world.

i often read the book, "Prayer for the Twenty-First Century" by John Marsden to my students on or near Remembrance Day. i did this again this year.

these are some of my prayers:
may laughter and joy fill each and every day
may we feel inspired by something greater than ourselves
may we see and bring out the best in those around us
may negative voices be silenced, may creativity and imagination ring loud and clear
may we fully cherish the innocence of childhood and the wisdom of age
may we realize that there is hope for the future

welcome, alice hope.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

...about racing

In an effort to jump-start my exercise regimen, I signed up for a 5K competitive walk a couple of weeks ago, roped some friends into training with me a couple of times each week and became a "blogger on the run", inspired by Connie of "Fat to Fit Mommy". Today was race day and I was as excited as I could possibly be. Perhaps because I was walking and not running, but also because it was a women's event and it was amazing to be surrounded by so many other people making the choice to do something healthy on a Sunday morning.

My ultra-competitive friend decided that she was going to walk as fast as humanly possible and took off as soon as the race began. Not liking to be outdone, I pushed myself beyond my usual pace and ended up in 13th place overall! Outstanding considering there were over 90 walkers. My time for my walk was 39:46 (the first place finisher was 36:45), achieving my goal of finishing the race in under 40 minutes. I have felt great about myself all day and have decided that I will do one walking or running a race each month. Next race -- end of November for the Bacardi 8K run. Can't wait!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

...about entertaining

i've never really been one to invite people over to my house much. even as a kid i was happier going over to other people's houses. they had stuff that i didn't have. i didn't have to share my toys or have them broken. i didn't have to worry that my mom or dad or brothers would embarrass me. i could decide when i was done and go home, not wait for the other person to decide. that all kind of carried over into adulthood. we would have a party or two on a special occasions, but beyond that, we only really had family over for dinner or perhaps a really close friend that felt like family. we didn't have to worry too much that our house wasn't amazingly decorated (or all that tidy) and there was no concern over impressing them...what could they do, they were tied to us by blood, after all.

now that we are on this little island in the middle of the ocean and we don't have family around, we've decided to branch out a little in the realm of entertaining. for the last two weeks in a row we have invited friends over. our boys are thrilled. last week we invited a family, also originally from ontario, who have two little girls about the ages of our boys. by the end of the evening we had seen puppet shows, fashion shows, jello tricks, dances and songs, there were toys in every room of our house, bathrooms included, and a whole lot of empty wine bottles adorning the kitchen counter. we had such a good time. this weekend, we had a couple and their tiny baby over for dinner. they just moved here from atlanta three weeks ago and are just trying to get settled. again, we had a lovely evening. our littlest son performed his way through the evening with his crazy faces and funny dances while our oldest son spent the first half of the evening running his "restaurant", taking food and drink orders, and the second half of the evening sharing little known facts about animals. our tiny, three-month old guest was wearing pajamas with animals all over them, so our little professor had to find the toy versions of each one of them and give his informative lectures about each animal.

our house still isn't amazingly decorated (or all that tidy) and we don't have all that many "impressive" menu items. we do have fun, though. we've discovered that entertaining isn't really about all of those trappings anyway. it is about enjoying the company of friends. we're already thinking about who we can invite to our house next saturday evening.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

...about dividing and conquering

here is a little snapshot of my usual home life: mornings are a crazy rush of showering, making breakfasts, packing lunches, filling backpacks, trying to get everyone looking presentable and making it out the door before 8am.  evenings aren't much easier with the four of us arriving home at 5pm and my hungry, tired children demanding food instantly.  there is then the frenzy of dishes, tidying, baths, stories and bedtime followed by marking, ironing and completely crashing.  this new routine where mommy is back at work is taking some getting used to.

here is a little snapshot of my home life this evening: while my oldest son was completely entertained at his after-school sports club, i caught up on all my marking and planning.  when i met him after club i enjoyed the best hug ever and heard how much he missed me during the day.  we headed off to the ice cream store, chatted about our day over mango sorbet and then walked across the street and continued our conversation on a patio at one of his favourite restaurants.  backwards dinners (dessert first) are the best.  when we arrived home we read his homework books together, laughed about how easy they were for him and calmly headed upstairs for bath time.  we made jokes and laughed all the way through the scrubbing of knees and washing of hair.  as a special treat we stayed up "late" and played monopoly jr. all the way until 8pm.  at the end of the game, my darling boy happily hopped up and brushed his teeth and got ready for bed.  he decided to collect a variety of jungle animals that he could cuddle with all night and fell asleep listening to his music.  it was the calmest, loveliest evening i can remember in a long time.

you may notice that any mention of darling husband and littlest son are curiously missing in this posting.  they are off island at the moment at a specialist appointment.  i love them dearly.  i miss them terribly, but there is something to be said for the divide and conquer approach to parenting every so often.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

...about kindness

thoughtfulness and kindness go a long way for me. i strive to be a thoughtful and kind person. on my best days i offer people a ride somewhere when they need it, bring in random treats to staff meetings just because it might make the meeting a little more enjoyable or offer to help with errands or childcare if i know someone is struggling to keep it together. on my not so great days, i get absorbed with myself and fret about all that i don't have time to do.

lately, i have been pretty absorbed. i am not putting myself down. i am in a transition period at the moment. my littlest boy is beginning school. i am going back to work. i have to figure out a way to do almost all of the jobs i was doing when i stayed at home as well as all the jobs that go along with teaching 11 year olds each day. i have a bit of stress that i am working through. i know this so i'm not going to be too hard on myself for being self-absorbed. i'm giving myself a break. having said that, i got a much needed reminder about "the circle of kindness" yesterday.

i was rushing downtown to hamilton to pick up photos, school shoes for the boys and some classroom items. i pulled into the parking lot and was rummaging around in the car to find some change for the meter when a woman came to my window, smiled at me and passed me her ticket that had more than 30 minutes still left on it. i told her how lovely she was to which she replied, "oh, people have done it for me, so i thought i would pass it along." her gesture was a small one but it coloured my day. in a stressful week, it is the little things that count. i hope i have helped out people when they need it. i hope some of the gestures that i have made have made a small difference. i believe that kindness does come back to you. it did for me just at the right time.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

...about time

this evening i looked at my two boys sleeping peacefully and tears rolled down my cheeks.  it is done.  they are both starting school next week.  i am going back to work tomorrow.  the days of playing trains, making snacks at 10:30am and 3:30pm, napping together, and puttering away the days are done.  staying in pajamas until lunch, playdates and coffee dates in the middle of the day, and being part of all the learning, all the experiences of every day.  all that is finished.  how can this be?  the time is racing by too quickly.  i am not ready.  i want to go back to work.  i am good at being an educator.  i have much to offer to the forty-one students that i am blessed to be teaching.  i will learn from them.  we will have memorable experiences together.  i will miss my two little boys terribly.  i will think of them constantly.  i have weekends.  i have long summers.  will that be enough?  i don't think i'm ready to close this chapter just yet.  but, the chapter is done.  i hope the next chapter holds as much joy as this past one has.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

...about swimming

i love swimming.  i am happy swimming in a pool, a lake, the ocean, whatever.  i do front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke, even butterfly and because of my days long ago as a synchronized swimmer, i have a bunch of fancy, hold-my-leg-up-the-air kind of moves that wow the kids every so often as well.  my love of swimming has clearly and wholeheartedly made its way to my oldest son.  as soon as he could crawl his way to the water, he was there, unable to wipe the giant smile from his face.  i can't count the number of times i have had to say, "sweetie, you have to stop smiling and close your mouth when you go underwater or you will swallow the whole pool!"  my youngest son, on the other hand, hasn't been the most enthusiastic participant in this passion of mine.  apart from enjoying the odd hot tub at hotel pools, my little one has been content to be the adoring audience on the deck chair.

we spent a month at the cottage this summer.  no matter what the temperature, my big boy was up for a swim in the lake.  we jumped in from the dock and swam all the way around to the beach to surprise whoever was there. we tried to knock each other off the blow-up turtle.  we had daily "swimming lessons" where he would swim without his lifejacket.   he even jumped out of the paddleboat and swam back to shore.  all the while, my little one watched and listened to our laughter, joining in only to be the official counter: "" at which point i would take a leap or a dive into the lake much to his amusement.  every day for the whole month i would say, "how about today.  would you like to swim with mommy?  i won't let you go.  we will have fun."  everyday he would say, "no thank-you.  it's too cold and too deep for me.  maybe later."

on the second last day of our vacation, when we were staying in a toronto hotel before flying back to bermuda, my little one took a few tentative steps into the big pool.  after much praise from his brother, father, mother and grandparents, he went from sitting on the steps of the pool to jumping in off the side.  the next day i scoured the mall to find him water wings and on our last fantastic day, i watching his face light up as he paddled his way around the entire pool without anyone holding him, "i can do it myself!  i'm a good swimmer, aren't i!" and jumped in numerous times, continuing to enjoy himself even when his head went right underwater.  my boy does things in his own time, in his own way.  

when we hit the beach in bermuda after getting back home, he was right there, jumping into the waves with his big brother.  he turned around and said, "mommy, count me in!  say and then i will jump into the water!"  pride is such a lovely feeling.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

...about being a painter

my mom is an artist. over the years she has dabbled in many crafts and artistic pursuits. she has hammered copper, she has done cross-stitch, macrame, needlepoint and crochet, she has made life-sized people and animals out of papier machee, she is a fantastic photographer and she has a collection of unbelievable quilts and wall hangings to her name. she certainly has a gift. a few years ago my mom took up painting. she met with her friend who had been painting for a number of years, got some tips and they painted together once or twice a week. she tried out a few different styles, took a class or two, and began creating beautiful, somewhat abstract pieces of art mostly around her passion of flowers. she would photograph them in her garden (oh, yeah, didn't i mention she is a spectacular gardener as well) or growing wild by the side of some country road and then paint them. she is her harshest critic, so she doesn't share her work with many people. whatever her feelings about her own work, she impresses me to no end.

unfortunately, i didn't inherit my mom's talent for painting. i can hold my own in the craft area. my mom taught me how to sew when i was young and i have since made clothing for myself and for my sons, a lovely baby quilt and some wall hangings. i like a good craft and can sit for hours with glue, sparkles, construction paper and markers with my boys (well, hours with my two might be pushing it a little bit).
still, painting was beyond me. i can't draw stick people. my students over the years can attest to my lack of skill in this area. many a chuckle escaped from their lips as i tried to illustrate some concept. whatever. as i said, painting was beyond me, until recently. i found my painting niche at the cottage.
beautiful images of the rocks of georgian bay? no.
impressive recreations of canoes and boats drifting gently down the channel? not quite.
loons, beavers, chipmunks in their natural habitat? sadly, no.
the boathouse transformed from a dingy, faded, peeling mess into something that isn't quite such an eyesore. YES! that is my gift. i can wield a roller with the best of them and don't even get me started on my scraping technique!

i'll admit, it isn't the most artistic pursuit, but, amazingly, it does bring me some degree of pleasure. there is something rewarding about making something fresh and new looking. covering the imperfections, bringing new life to something that seemed long past its prime. i wish my gift was more van gogh and less mike holmes, but you take what you are given.

Monday, August 3, 2009

...about inventing games

i grew up as the middle child of two brothers. to look at me in my yellow dresses and the ribbons and braids in my hair, you would think i was every bit the feminine, sweet little girly-girl. look a little closer, though, and there was likely mud streaked on my face and a bruise or two on my legs. i could rough and tumble with the best of them. the three of us spent many hours kicking balls, playing tag, playing board games or card games and dreaming up a variety of ways to get each other into trouble. wrestling in the basement away from the watchful eyes of our parents was always popular. the best basement game by far, though, was one that we invented. we had one of those balls with the ears on it that you could sit on and hold and bounce all over the place. we would take turns trying to get from one end of the basement to the other on the bouncy ball while the other two would do anything and everything to knock off the person on the ball. it was fantastic, most likely because there was the element of danger. i expect that most episodes of that game ended in tears. of course, that didn’t stop up from playing the game over and over again.

this week our cottage was filled with extended family. there were ten people in all including four children between the ages of six and one. my boys have spent their days splashing in the water, exploring, chatting, and playing with their little relatives. they have also taught them new games...monopoly junior, rushhour and farmyard uno, all lovely games purchased at toys-r-us or some other equally reputable children’s store. while these games were fun, by far, their favourite game of the week has been an invented game called “hammer-tag”. As you might guess, it is played by all the children getting a hammer from the workbench (toy ones...so far!) and running around trying to hammer each other. this game has it all...squeals of delight, laughter, a hint of danger and the inevitable ending in tears. what more can you ask for in a game, right? should i be looking to get a patent?
this could very well be a case of the apple not falling far from the tree. i did my best to steer the children away from this game, with very limited luck. i guess there is no denying that these kind of invented games are the stuff of which childhood is made.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

...about six years in my life

my dear blue-eyed boy,

i am in shock. how have six years gone by so quickly? it seems like i blinked and you changed from this bouncing baby full of giggles and smiles into this boy who has theories about the world, opinions and ideas, makes jokes, reads stories, recites poems and brings such joy into the lives of all those who come into contact with you. oh yes, and a boy who is still full of giggles and smiles, luckily for me.

this year has been a journey for us, hasn’t it? last year at this time we were living in toronto, spending time at the zoo, riverdale farm, the splash pads in the city and walking down to trinity-bellwoods park to play. now you are a bermuda boy who walks to school, plays on the beach at john smith’s bay, rides bikes along the railway trail, checks out the dolphins at the dockyards and rides the ferry like a pro. no matter what you are doing or where you are doing it, you always amaze me with the enthusiasm you have. you will try anything and everything and can’t wait for the next challenge, usually with energy to spare.

perhaps you don’t know this, but i have learned a great deal from you. of course, i didn’t realize all of the animal trivia i would have in my head after only a few years of being a parent to you, but that is only a small part of it. you throw yourself completely into what you love. you don’t hold back even a little bit. i think the world would be a better place if everyone was as passionate and motivated as you are. you also smile, chat or wave to all the other children that you see on the beach or at the playground or wherever you happen to be. you are an open, caring and considerate person with such a sense of fun and adventure. and you are incredibly loving. you show such depth of love for your brother, for daddy and for me, and also for nanna, grampy, grandma and all the other people in our family. you are an exceptional individual and have completely changed my life for the better. i have loved each moment of getting to know the person that you are over the last six years. i have loved each moment of being your mom.

happy birthday, sweet boy.

love mommy

Friday, July 10, 2009

...about three years in my life

dearest baby boy,

today you turn three. three years full of love, laughter, tears, worry, joy and amazment. it has been a most amazing three years in my life. when i look at your sweet face today, i see those same big, beatiful eyes looking up at me as i saw on the first day that i was so blessed to meet you. those eyes that dance and sparkle, that draw everyone in, that hold laughter and mishchief, that look with adoration on your older brother, that overflow with love.

i have returned to those first few days that you and i spent in the hospital together many, many times. you were the most calm baby. on a ward that had three sets of twins wailing their way through the first week of their lives, you gazed around at your new world hardly making a peep. your full head of elvis-like hair, your enourmous eyes and your gentle nature had all of your nurses swooning from day one. because daddy was spending time back and forth from the hospital taking care of your big brother, i got to spend hours alone with you, snuggling with you, so thrilled that you had made your way into my life. i loved those moments, and i've agonized over those moments, too. why didn't i see what was to come? why wasn't i listening more closely as you were tucked in against me?

i also return in my mind to those days six weeks later in another hospital when i watched with a team of doctors and nurses marvel a little baby whose heart skyrocketed then stopped then, after days on a bypass machine and a cocktail of various medicines, began to make a recovery that we were warned was unlikely. you are a determined child, darling boy. i have known that from the first year of your life. you were so determined to make your mark on this world that you defied odds. i am so glad that you did.

it has been a thrill for me to see you continue to have people marvel at the boy that you have become. your face has the most expressions i have ever seen. you have a gorgeous smile that we get to see all the time and laughter that sounds better than any music i have ever heard. we never have to wonder what you are thinking because of your continuous commentary. you never miss anything, not a comment, or a joke, or the opportunity to go on an adventure. order is your middle name. the blocks, the cars and the animals all have a place, and you like to know where everyone is at all times, what seat they will be sitting in and what car they will be driving. you are drawn to every ball that comes across your path. already you can dribble a soccer ball, hit a tennis ball, a golf ball, and a baseball better than most of the members of your immediate family. you are a rough and tumble, tough kind of kid. if you fall, you brush yourself off and continue on your way. you hold your own with a brother that is twice your size, though you are pretty lucky that he is so patient considering all of the jumping and bouncing, pushing and pulling he endures for your entertainment. he loves you with all of his heart. we all do. you are an incredible boy.

i love you. have a very happy birthday.

love mommy

Sunday, July 5, 2009

...about ten minutes in my life

transcript of sunday morning 8:45am to 8:55am:

(walk in door returning from 5 1/2 mile run)
me:  (unable to talk or really breathe)

darling husband: how was your run, sweetheart?

me: (lungs still in overdrive) um...good...i guess...i did it...that's the big thing.


(darling son #2 standing in disgusting mess in middle of living room not daring to move.  take off pj pants and run him to the toilet to begin clean-up)

me:  don't worry sweetheart.  accidents happen.  let's try to get to the toilet next time, okay?

darling son #2:  i pooed in the living room, but i didn't poo in the dining room.  that's good, right?

me: (thinking...are you kidding me!)  that's right, honey.  but pee and poo go in the bathroom.

darling son #2:  mommy, you are all sweaty and yucky.  

me: (thinking...i'm the one that's yucky?!?  are you kidding me!)  i am, aren't i.  i just came back from my run.

darling son #1:  mommy, can i go on the computer now?

me:  in just a minute.  let me clean up your brother and then i'm going to quickly check my messages.

darling son #1:  ARGGGGGGHHHH!  you are the worst mom in the world!

darling son #2:  i love you mommy (then looks at older brother with holier than thou attitude)

darling husband:  okay boys, leave mommy alone.

me: (thinking...thank god i don't have to do this parenting thing on my own!)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

...about schedules

now the the summer holidays are here, we have a little schedule on the fridge about what wonderful activities our day holds.  each possible activity is on a little card beautifully decorated by my oldest darling boy.  a magnet is pasted on the back.  making them was arts and crafts activity number one.  he excitedly checks the fridge one million times a day and bounces back to me saying, "now we get to do ...!"  or "soon we get to do ...!"  

Here is the schedule for today, created by darling child:
  • breakfast
  • play animals
  • playground
  • go grocery shopping
  • lunch
  • quiet time
  • arts and crafts
  • play trains
  • tv time
  • dinner
  • bath time
  • stories
  • bedtime

compare to the schedule I would like:
  • sleep in
  • brunch
  • mani-pedi
  • read trashy magazine by a pool
  • delicious snacks delivered to me by pool
  • leisurely stroll along beach with gorgeous man
  • dinner at a beautiful restaurant overlooking ocean in new outfit and shoes
  • drink wine and listen to live music late into evening

it's not too much to ask, is it?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

...about the rain

it's raining, it's pouring ... i am going insane.  

rain is good around here, i know.  earlier i wrote a whole piece about water and how bermuda was dealing with something of a drought.  not so anymore.  it has been raining for a week straight.  the tank is filling up.  the grass, plants and trees are green and lush.  i know there are many other great things about the water falling in a torrent from the sky, but the only thing running through my head is, "be careful what you wish for!"

i have had it with the rainy day activities:

1) we have read books -- "why is that boy sad?"  "why does he have an ear?"  "where is his bum?"  "do i have a tail?", and those are the questions for page one of the first book
2) we have baked -- flour on shirts, on floor, in hair, on faces, and arguments about how much batter each boy got, "not fair, not fair, not fair!"
3) we have built race tracks, train tracks, lego animals, block towers, made up puppet shows and had dance parties -- all these things complete in the space of about 45 minutes
4) we have coloured and done crafts -- marker on shirts, sparkles on floor, glue in hair, paint on faces, and half done projects that mommy can finish and tidy up humungous mess
5) we have watched television -- discovery kids had a whole show about rats.  need i say more?
6) we have splashed and danced in the puddles -- admittedly done too early in the days and days of rain because now i hear the constant nagging, "can we go outside again?  now?  what about now?  come on!  not fair, not fair, not fair!" 

i haven't yet mentioned that school is finished tomorrow.  i will now have two children looking for mommy-entertainment from morning until night.   

rain, rain, go away.  come back another day.  do come back, but enough already!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

...about an amazing man

i married an amazing person.  he isn't the person that i expected to spend my life with.  more people than really should have had opinions on the two of us being together because of the gap in our ages.  in fact, both of us tried to bolt early on in our relationship because of outside pressures that we felt, but we were always pulled back together.  i couldn't have imagined the depth of emotion and intellectual connection that i would be able to share another person.  i am blessed to have him as my partner.  

over the last eleven years we have had our share of issues to work through and challenges to face together.  certainly, our relationship has become stronger because of what we have shared, most notably our experiences with our two lovely boys.  jim is a loving, considerate, thoughtful, (sometimes over-indulgent) father whose first priority is the happiness of his family.  

when i was pregnant with our first son, i remember feeling like he was putting so much trust in me as a mother.  i had never parented anyone before -- who knew if i would be any good at it.  i, on the other hand, knew that he would be outstanding as a father to our little boy.  he was already a loving and generous parent to three older children.  he had a proven track record.  add that to the fact that he'd accomplished what he had hoped to in his career and didn't have the world to conquer.  he could relax and enjoy the little parenting moments that pass by so quickly.

father's day is tomorrow.  my boys and i are looking forward to lavishing love and affection on this amazing man.  to be sure, it happens more than just on father's day, but it feels right that he should get this day that shows him how much we appreciate him.

p.s. -- just so this doesn't work out to be too sappy a posting -- he is amazing...but he hogs the bed, always forgets to close the kitchen cupboards, is a constant back-seat driver, and is a show-off and a know-it-all.   there.  happy father's day, sweetheart!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

...about sunburns

how does one parent appropriately and without turning the child into a total dork?  

this weekend our family headed to the beach on sunday.  bermuda beaches are spectacularly beautiful, the water is quite warm, and, let's face it, it's a small island and there isn't a whole lot else to do.  i slathered my boys with SPF 60, decked them out in their bathing suits, bathing shirts and hats and headed to john smith's bay for a family outing.   our "family" day turned into jim and i relaxing in our beach chairs while our little beach bums temporarily joined another family who had a massive sandcastle going -- heaven for darling boy #2, and older children who were body surfing and playing frisbee in the water the entire time -- #1 couldn't tear himself away.  he loves to splash in the waves and he loves to meet other kids.  this sunday he got to do both.  i'm not complaining about our day, not even close.  relaxing in the sun chatting with my husband...great.  watching my boys laughing and smiling...great.   seeing the pink cheeks and a pink nose at the end of the day...not great.  i should have seen it coming.  

i'm not a fanatic about the sun when it comes to myself.  i always wear sunglasses.  i often wear sunscreen.  i sometimes wear a hat.  my skin looks quite tanned in the summer months because i have that kind of complexion.  i rarely burn.  i think i make appropriate choices about my sun exposure.  when it comes to my children, i take many more precautions.  they both think that you can't go swimming without a bathing shirt as well as shorts.  they have a selection of hats and we have suncreen tucked into every bag so that we aren't without it.  somehow this recent sunburn found its way through.  darling boy #1 was jumping through the waves and his hat kept coming off.  yes, i make them swim with their hats on.  against my better judgement, i let him keep his hat by the beach bag just while he was in the water.  who knew he would be in the water for the whole time!  i'm thinking that waterproof hats with straps will be the next purchase.  a six-year old in a full UV body-suit and a wide-brimmed hat with a strap.  let's hope the friends he enjoys meeting on the beach don't care much about fashion!  

Friday, June 12, 2009

...about graduating

i graduated from the institute of child study this week. sure, the ceremony was for the twelve-year olds who were finishing their grade six year, but coming back to be part of this day was as much for my own closure as it was to support the students that meant so much to me.

in september, 2005, i made a move from an outstanding independent school in the west end of toronto to a place that i had barely heard of. sure, it was associated with the university of toronto, but it was a well-kept secret as far as i was concerned. still, this school that was doing research, teacher education and had a supportive attitude towards innovative ideas in teaching peaked my interest. i left a school that where i enjoyed tremendous growth as an educator (along with all of my planning time!) and moved to teach grade 5/6 at "ics". the school was in an old toronto mansion and my classroom was the converted living room that had incredible windows along two walls letting in unbelievable natural light. there was a fireplace and a mantle that made a unique space to display student work, and gorgeous bookshelves for the class library that i was so proud of. the staff consisted of type 'a' personalities, all looking to do as much as they could for their students, anxious to talk about big ideas in education. the parents were involved and interested, choosing a school that they knew wasn't doing mainstream kind of things in the classrooms. and, as has been the case with each school i have had the pleasure to be part of, the students were the best part of the place. they were excited about ideas, enjoyed laughing and playing, and weren't in a rush to grow up. they made plans to change the world into a place that they could be proud of, and had imagination and creativity that left me in awe each and every day. i watched four classes graduate from ics and am proufoundly changed because of the students that i was so lucky to work with each year.

it was a veritable hive of activity. tons of ideas, tons of possibilities, not too much money, and in a school that said they believed in "slow-schooling", nothing about working there seemed slow in the least. i was able to try different approaches in my classroom, communicate my beliefs about education to beginning teachers in their master's classes, present at conferences and work alongside some incredible interns who were just beginning their careers. meanwhile, in those four years, my oldest son began school and my youngest son was born. it was four very memorable years.

i left in december. my husband would probably agree that i left kicking and screaming. i usually don't do well with change and leaving my students when the school year wasn't complete was like cutting off my right arm. i could hardly bear the thought of putting my twenty-two young students through a transition that was completely because of choices that i was making. but an opportunity arose that would mean a move to a life where our priorities were completely on our family life with our boys. moving to bermuda with jim as head of a school there meant that he wouldn't be on a flight every other week (or a few times a week in some crazy times of the year), and we could spend evenings and weekends enjoying the company of each other. it was an opportunity that we coudn't pass up.

this week i know that we made the right choice. i loved watching my students graduate. i cried when george read his poem and spoke of moving along a path that he knows he must go. i was right there with him when he said that it was sad to say goodbye, but that was the road that he must follow. i was overwhelmed with emotion when benjamin sang his song about making change in the world and my heart ached when anne told me in her own unique way how much she missed me when i left. i spent the evening chatting with lovely parents who were eager to hear about the direction that my life had taken. i found myself saying again and again how different the pace is for me because of this move. i am no longer scrambling to do and be everything to everyone. i stop and chat with people in line at the grocery store. i play in the sand and the waves without thoughts of looking at my watch. i walk my son to and from school and bake homemade bread and muffins and cookies. i watch my darling boys sleep. i lean against my husband every evening as we sit together on the couch and enjoy our few "adult hours" together. we are all calmer, more focused and happier and we know what is most important for us.

i thought i liked a fast pace. i knew i liked teaching. i know that now that i have "graduated" from the toronto life that i was living, i am in a better emotional space. i needed to obtain a healthier balance in my life. i will return to teaching in september, something i am immensely excited about. i can't wait for the new challenges, the new colleages, and the paycheck! i also love that the rest of my little family will be enjoying their own experiences in the very same school. still, i will try to maintian that balance, and that slower, more enjoyable pace. i suppose graduation can be an anxious time for some people; a journey into the unknown. i'm so thankful that i was nudged into that unknown. it is going to be an incredible adventure.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

...about my weakness

some people have a weakness for cigarettes, some for alcohol, others for soap operas.  my weakness is for buying nail polish.  it is odd, i know.  i am actually not much of a girly-girl.  i rarely wear make-up and my hair is often pulled back into a pony tail or just left to air dry.  as embarrassing as it is to admit, i hardly ever use a brush, just run my fingers through my hair.  my nails aren't even that great most of the time.  they take forever to grow and they quickly split or break at the first sign of stress.  still, i love those little bottles of shimmery, shiny paint.  i can't help myself.  i must buy a bottle when i see it sitting there on a shelf.  these days, i figure it is better to buy some nail polish than the chocolate bar or bag of chips in the next aisle over.  yesterday i bought two bottles -- a purple shade called "let me go", and an orange shade called "tropica".  i refuse to buy polish that is nameless.  i am currently sporting "change the world" on my toes.  i love the names as much as i love the colours.  it really is the little things in life, isn't it?

Monday, June 1, 2009

...about being Canadian

Hey, I'm not a lumberjack, or a fur trader....
I don't live in an igloo or eat blubber, or own a dogsled....
and I don't know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada,
although I'm certain they're really really nice.

I have a Prime Minister, not a president.
I speak English and French, not American.
And I pronounce it 'about', not 'a boot'.

I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack.
I believe in peace keeping, not policing,
diversity, not assimilation,
and that the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal.
A toque is a hat, a chesterfield is a couch,
and it is pronounced 'zed' not 'zee', 'zed'

Canada is the second largest landmass
The first nation of hockey
and the best part of North America

My name is Rheanne
And I am Canadian!

Okay, so I didn't write that myself.  It's from those Molson ads that came out a few years ago.  Still, I am proud to be a Canadian.   I consider Canada my home.  Australia is where I was born, but Canada is where I grew up and became who I am.  Bermuda is where I live but I'll never be Bermudian.  I couldn't be even if I wanted to be, and I don't want to be.   All that said, I have been a little disenchanted lately.   

As I have said in the past, bad luck seems to have a way of seeking me out.  A few years ago, my wallet was stolen from my classroom in the middle of the day.  I was out on recess supervision and my wallet was tucked in the bottom of my bag under my desk (stupidly, not locked away in a closet).  Some jerk came in and took my wallet and snuck out the side door.  Inside was my citizenship card that I'd had since I was 10 years old.  I had a passport and a Canadian citizenship certificate so I didn't dwell too much on the issue.  I figured I would get around to replacing it at some point.  

Fast forward to November, 2008.  I am in the midst of having my life turned totally upside down as I sell my house, quit my job, and move my family to Bermuda.  One evening while I am out with a friend, my car is broken into and some jerk steals the bag that my husband has locked in the trunk.  Inside is his laptop, my passport, my husband and oldest son's passports and about $300 in cash.  Trying my best to be on top of things, I report everything to the police that evening and am headed to the passport office the next day only to get a phone call from some lovely, good Samaritan who has found a little folder with our three passports.  Yay!  I don't have to go through the awful process of getting them replaced!  That's what I thought.

We fly to Bermuda at the end of December using our recovered passports and all seems well.  Not so.  When I tried to renew my passport at the beginning of April I was rejected!  All this time of being a proud Canadian, doing my part for this country, teaching the children who are Canada's future, having dinner conversation about Canadian politics...and they rejected me.  My passport had been made invalid.  I was told that I needed to reapply, filling out a long form, giving in a variety of "relevant" documents, and having a guarantor vouch that I am who I claim to be.  Well, having moved to Bermuda only four months prior, it isn't such an easy task to find someone who has a valid passport and has known me for more than two years.  

I send everything I have to my dad who signs the paperwork, takes it to his MP, who looks at everything and says, "There's a problem."  Because I only had a citizenship certificate and not a citizenship card, I would most certainly be rejected again.  Rejected!  Because citizenship cards take from six to ten months to get, it was looking like my June 2nd ticket to Toronto would be worthless, and, in fact, I would be stuck in Bermuda indefinitely.  It's a beautiful place, I know, but it is small, and my family and friends are in Canada.  I wanted to go home.  I made a billion calls, talking to one horrible woman who suggested that getting my Australian passport would be a much more appropriate task to be focused on.  Luckily, mainly due to my dad being loud and charming, some strings were pulled for me and a temporary passport is on its way so that I can still travel during the months that pass until my citizenship card finally arrives.  At that point, I can go through this whole passport application process again.  joy.

I remain a proud Canadian, for now.  If I am rejected again, it will be a whole other story!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

...about water

this little island of mine is surrounded by the most beautiful water i have ever seen.  the various colours of blue leave me in awe each and every day.  there are no rivers running into the ocean, there is little to no pollution and the bottom of the ocean is lovely, soft, pinkish-white sand ensuring that the water is clear, clean and stunning.  i have views of the ocean from most windows in my home.  it really is breathtaking.  i think i have made my point.  jealous, yet?
here's the flip side...in the true spirit of island life, we are staring at all of this water while we are fretting that we don't have any that we can use.  having spent the majority of my life living near the great lakes, an unbelievable source of fresh water in the world, i came to take for granted that i could have clean, fresh water to use in abundance.  i turned on the tap and magically, there it was.   would it run out...of course not.  i could feel all self-righteous that i would turn off the tap when i brushed my teeth because "i love the earth", but truly, i was blissfully unaware of what it was like to really worry about my water consumption.   this past month has significantly altered my perspective. 

when you arrive in bermuda you notice that all of the houses are painted in what i refer to as "ice cream colours".  we live in an orange house, our neighbours house is green, there is a purple house down the road and numerous yellow and pink houses to be seen as well.  in fact, people refer to the colour of their house when they give directions.  it is far more important than the name of your street. regardless of the colour of your house, though, everyone has a white roof.  it looks a bit like stair steps and is specially treated and cleaned often.  this is because our roof is the first step in the collection of the water that we use in our home.  when it rains the water runs down the roof and into pipes that lead to the water tank that is under our house.  our tank is near empty at the moment, for the second time since we have been here.  we have had de-salinated water delivered twice, but they can't keep up with the demand.  everyone here is having the same issues.

apparently this is not the norm.  it is said to the be worst drought in 50 years.  while we are loving day after day of beach weather, we are also hoping that the rain comes soon.  the whole island is struggling with the water shortage.  the boys have baths together in very shallow water.  i turn off the water in the shower while i lather my shampoo.  we brush our teeth out using a cup and run the dishwasher and laundry only when they are full to overflowing.  we follow the old saying, "if it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down."  there are no thoughts of washing the car or watering the grass and letting our children run through the sprinkler to cool off is beyond out of the question.

so, while i am waiting for rain,  it makes me think of other people in the world who really do have issues with water.  my problems are very small...tiny...miniscule.   i do not walk to the next town, pump water and carry it back to my family.  i walk to the store beside my house, use my bank card and buy a case of water for my family to drink.  i have taps that work, toilets that flush and, as sad as it is to acknowledge it, a wasteful attitude too much of the time.  it isn't like these thoughts haven't crossed my mind in the past, but they have been brought to the forefront of my mind.  i can do more.  i teach children that can be more aware.   i am raising children that can make a real change.  my perspective is changing.  better late than never.  

Monday, May 18, 2009

...about mind over matter

as i was growing up i feel like i hardly ever went to the doctor when i was sick.  that probably isn't true of when i was really little, of course.  i wouldn't want to give the wrong impression of my parents.  they were exceptional and wouldn't have let anything happen to me.  i was also a pretty healthy kid from the sound of things.  but as i entered my late childhood and into my teens, i can't think of when i saw the doctor.  i could always hear my dad's voice, "oh, it's all in your mind, luv, you're fine."  the thing is, i guess i always was.  that said, i think it did a major number on my mind.  it seems that i began to believe him that everything was in my mind and now i find myself constantly battling with it.  here's a little example of the craziness that is in my head.

i have been working my ass off (literally) trying to be a runner.  i have always wanted to be that person that can lace up her nikes, head out the door and stride along without a care in the world, looking strong and fit.  this new country of mine is the perfect setting.  i can run out of my door and have views of the atlantic ocean the entire time.  in january i laced up my nikes and headed out for a two-mile "run" where i walked most of the time.  i have since worked my way up to 5 1/2 miles where i do run (jog) the entire time.  It is a huge accomplishment for me and i am truly quite proud of myself, but the whole "without a care in the world" doesn't come close to what is happening inside my head when i am running.  

i set out on saturday morning for my weekly long run sans stroller.  usually these are good runs because pushing a 30 pound kid in a 20 pound stroller up and down the hills in my part of the island is something of a challenge.  that said, on this particular day, after two minutes i decided that i hated the music playing, my sports bra sucked and my legs felt like lead, i was quitting...not just the run for the day, but the whole exercise kick.  i would run out of sight of the house so that my cheering husband wouldn't know how pathetic i was.  i ran the five minutes to the railway trail and slowed to a walk for a millisecond and decided that i could probably run the five minutes back to the house, so i did.  at the cut-off for the house i talked myself into running the rest of the trail, it isn't that long, but then i was quitting for sure.  running was stupid.  you can guess where this story is going.  i argued myself into running for over five miles and my brain didn't shut up the entire time.  i ended up being more emotionally exhausted than physically.  

my body can actually do far more than my mind ever gives it credit for.  if i can just get past the hurdle of my brain, imagine the athlete i could become.  well, maybe that is overstating it a little bit, but it does give me something to think about (i know, i know, there i go again with the over-thinking).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

...about my luck

i've often said that i feel incredibly lucky when it comes to the big things in life but in the little things, bad luck follows me wherever i go.  i have a loving partner who supports me in anything i choose, whether it is a crazy decision or not.  my young son miraculously made his way though some health issues that didn't seem like there would be a positive end in sight.  my parents offered me a wealth of opportunities and i have a few degrees under my belt, am able to play the piano, sing, and i hold my own in most sports.  i knew all of my grandparents well and didn't even attend a funeral for a family member until well into my 20s.  i never struggled with what my career path should be and the choice to be an educator completely fulfills me.   lucky...i know that i am.

here's the thing.  the whole murphy's law thing seems to be a motto for my life.  if it can go wrong, it probably will.  as i was preparing to move to bermuda last fall, my roof started to leak just before we put our house on the market.  later, my car was broken into and our passports and laptop were stolen.  passports are kind of essential in a move overseas, as you might guess.  finally, in the couple of weeks leading up to us handing over our keys to the new owners, we had sewage coming up the drain in our basement and found out that roots were growing through our pipes.  oh, and the garage door broke.  fun times.

i just had another of those moments that made me think that i had pissed somebody off in a former life.  yesterday was my husband's birthday.  it wasn't a grand affair to be sure, but i was looking to make it special in some small way for him.  i baked a rum cake, going for the "bermuda" feel.  we wrapped presents, blew up balloons, made his favourite salad, fresh baguette and lamb chops with rosemary.  great dinner, great company, tons of dishes at the end of it all.  oh yes, and did i mention that when we turned on the taps for the sink we found that we had no water left.  well, that isn't completely true, we did have the disgusting, brownish, sludgy kind of water that must collect at the bottom of our tank.

we promptly made a call to the water guy -- another bermuda experience -- check.  today, as the water truck was pulling into the driveway, my 2-year old chef and i were just putting the finishing touches on our freshly made hummus.  i quickly stacked up the four containers to put them in the fridge only to have the top two wobble, fall and splat all over the kitchen floor, covering my shirt, jeans and toes on their way down.  knock, knock, knock. 

ahh, life in rheanne's world.

Monday, May 11, 2009

...about the day after mother's day

i've always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with mother's day.  i love the idea that mothers have a day of appreciation for all that they do, and, man, they do so very much.  that it is only one day seems wrong, somehow.  mostly, though, i don't really like the hallmark holiday-ness of it all.  the card stores, flower shops and telephone companies who cash in big time on the guilt of children who know that they take their mothers for granted but can wash those nagging feelings away with the swipe of their visa card.  i wasn't going to fall prey to all this, or so i thought. 

in my sixth year of being a mother, I fell from my high horse and thought, what the hell, i am going to embrace this day where my darling boys can dote on me.  bring on the presents, bring on the pampering.  this is my year of change, after all.  i have to admit, it was a lovely day, well, entire weekend.  I shopped (by myself!), had unlimited time to read, basked in the sun on the beach, lounged around and was told numerous times how much i was loved, how great i am, and how i am their favourite mom in the whole, wide world.  

reality hit me this morning, though, on the morning after mother's day.  the house was a disaster.  the laundry was piled up, the dishwasher needed unloading and reloading, the beach bags needed emptying and there was sand all over the floor so sweeping was in order as well.  to add to that, the shoes that I had bought on my lovely child-free shopping day had to be returned because I had bought the kind that "overpronators"need and, as it turns out, i am an "underpronator"  arrgghhh.  before i could launch into my self-righteous rant about how-right-i-am-about-that-stupid-mother's-day-crap-that-has-to-do-with-everyone-else-feeling-good-about-themselves-and-nothing-to-do-with-mothers-at-all, i was stopped in my tracks. 

morgan, my darling 5-year old, looked deeply into my eyes and told me how he can't wait until 3pm because it is a really long day at school before he gets to see me again.  my heart melted.  meanwhile, my 2-year old sweetheart, quinn, took one of the billion animal books from the shelf and sat up on the chair saying, "okay mommy, i be the teacher and you sit on the floor and i will tell you a story, but first we do tell-and-show.  do you have a hippo to tell-and-show today?"  i am so blessed to have these days with him.  

yes, reality set in.  mother's day is fine but i prefer all the days in between.  give me the sloppy kisses, the imaginative play, the need for a hug only a mommy can provide, and even the slamming doors, the pee on the floor and the emotional outbursts.  as hard as being a mother is, the regular days are better than i could have ever imagined in my wildest dreams.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

...about the name

i've always been the kind of person that writes something and puts a title on it near the end.  the title of a piece says so much, draws the reader in, must have meaning beyond the words.  a blog title is a new and challenging experience.  it is a work that is continually in progress.  how do i go about naming something that is yet to be created and will continue to be created as the days, weeks and months go by?  i have been pondering this (read obsessing over this) for a few days now.   i have no idea what this blog will turn out to be, so i didn't really have a good staring point for a name.  

i dabbled with the whole "mommy blog" thing.  should the title be related to my two little jellybeans?  not really my style but my two hilarious, active and frustratingly bright boys will undoubtedly get lots of air time.  

will this be about exercise and diet?  granted it is something that occupies a whole lot of my thoughts these days.  to be perfectly honest, something that has occupied a whole lot of my thought these decades of my life.  i am on a continuous journey to find my ideal weight and my healthiest, fittest self.  having said that, there is only so much i can say or complain about when it comes to that topic.

my recent move to this island of sand and sun was the inspiration for beginning this blog as a place to reflect, ponder, vent, create.  my support systems are across the ocean and i am searching for that place of strength and confidence...and searching for my true voice.  it seemed fitting that bermuda should feature prominently in the name.  so, the options ranged from "pink is the new black" (pink=bermuda, black=toronto), "finding the pink within", "driving on the left", to "railway tales" (the railway trail runs behind my house), "a piece of the rock", and "a line in the sand".  

i landed on bermuda shorts.  i tend to be succinct.  short.  to the point.  well, usually.  i want this to be a space that i can toss out just a few lines, a sentiment or two.  i feel like i have taken myself off the hook for writing long, deep and meaningful entries by calling it "shorts".  i also like what comes to mind with the name.   it has to be said that bermuda shorts are an acquired taste.  they suit some and not others.  you have to a certain kind of personality to really get away with them.  i fit those statements.  not that i am a wearer of bermuda shorts, but i do find myself and some of my ideas to be something of an acquired taste, and someone who wishes she could take a few more risks, style and otherwise.  

finally, i like the initials.