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, 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!