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

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.