Friday, April 30, 2010

Treetops Adventure

It's funny how you can live your life in a place and never do many of the touristy things. I have only been to Capilano Suspension bridge once.. and that was a decade ago. When a friend suggested the Treetops Adventure with her girls, I thought it sounded like a great way to spend a Friday afternoon. As a resident, you get a year pass for a decent price, and we will be back. They have really improved things, and it is a great way to pass a few hours in the woods in a spectacular setting. It helped that the kids were free :D and I like that it is a year long membership and we can come again on a whim.

A view of the bridge - a thrill as it rocks back and forth over Capilano River.

A portion of the treetops part of the adventure - it was great. Felt safe with the boys, and it wasn't too hard for Brandon. It was pretty magic with the views, and just being up in the forest rather than at ground level. The company helped, and we packed our own lunch. Can't have enough days like this.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

adventures at the pool

Some days it is much easier to take one kid to the pool for lessons at a time.

Flogging both kids to get to the pool to be there early, as in before 9:30, is nothing short of toddler Olympics.

We made it in the pool for 9:20.. moments before B's lesson. I am impressed - he seems to be getting the hang of his floats, so I have everything crossed he will be progressing to Swim Tots 2 for the next go around. Since we didn't have a lot of time, and a play date after, he didn't get to do some marathon dunks with me (getting him used to the water, getting his face wet, and orientating himself around water). It was probably for the best, since it more fun than work today in the pool together. Yes, I work those skills together when we are in the pool with both kids.

Humpty dumpty sat on a wall.... Humpty dumpty had a big fall! (even Connor will edge himself to the side of the wall now to dump himself on the water with "fall").

Played with C-man in the pool for the duration of the lesson, we made it to the whirlpool for but a few moments (you know, my ass still hurts from the lunges yesterday...) before B decided he needed the facilities. I waited for how long for him to start running, and his favourite place to run is the pool deck. Nothing like hearing my voice calling out and telling him to stop, and watching the other parents give me that LOOK. We also got to be those folks in the shower where one kid is singing and chattering at the top of his lungs, and one is crying because he is just done with being in the stroller and is a little hungry. The volume went down immediately as we opened the door to head out.

Ah. Peace at my friend's house and joy watching our kids play together. What a strange oasis of calm in chaos. The mocha helped... it seems one byproduct of this whole parenting gig is that I am gaining a different kind of clarity through life's lessons - what is important, what brings me joy, and what battles I am not willing to become involved in. Little kindnesses now mean so much more too.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Without a doubt, I can feel my thighs.

Minutes in to my mat leave last year, we bought a Wii, a Wii Fit, and an Active. We have all had fun playing with the Fit, and my DH tried the Active a few times, and made a few comments about his thighs burned when he was done. From the sidelines, I had to agree, his thighs were red after the workouts...

Of course life moves on and with a small baby, and a toddler, life is chaotic at the best of times. I pretty much lost 20 of the 30 pounds I gained with my last pregnancy, but my weight has hovered around the same range (up and down within the same 5 pounds) since then.

Knowing I am heading back to work, and knowing we are heading to Maui this fall... I want a bit of weight off. To feel better for myself, to feel a little healthier, and for all my boys (the little ones and my big guy) since I have big expectations for them and I should also be doing the same with myself.

I am putting it out there for greater accountability. I am doing the Active - 30 day challenge and I am just going to watch what I eat a bit better and make sure I drink my water. We shall see.

I am two workouts in to the challenge and my legs hurt. Damn squats and lunges.

April showers and poetry

A funny thing about being on mat leave is that I have found myself becoming more in tune with the cycles of nature - I am not sure if this is so much about being off and being able to "watch" the changes, or a part of aging and just being more aware.

April has definitely been about showers bringing flowers... my tulips this year were beautiful, and we had lots of blooms in our gardens. I am not sure what I am going to plant in my plot this year - I am leaning towards corn and peas and some flowers, and I am hoping my strawberries do a little better than they did last year. They were bigger than their northern wild cousins, but not by much.

I have to admit my reading habits over the past year have been quite satisfactory. I am glad that I am ranging through new and different books, and that I am taking some "risks" at what I am willing to pick up and read. I just finished Gilbert's Committed and I must admit, I truly enjoyed the book. I was curious about it, but I was equally skeptical as well, especially since I didn't think Eat, Pray, Love was as much as all that. I found that I could relate to some of her thought processes, and how she made peace with her (second) marriage. I liked some of the research that she drew upon, and I also enjoyed the tribute she makes to Aunties everywhere. It wasn't the book I expected, and I am glad for it.

I also blitzed through Angelou's Letter to my Daughter. Parts of this book were sheer inspiration, and other parts left me a bit wanting. About Angelou, I too have been curious because we have all seen the emails that liberally quote some of her writings and reflect her philosophy. I didn't mind the earlier chapters that were more like vignettes with a bit of a life lesson, but the later chapters which were more poetry, I found I wanted more. I like novels, I am not as good at short stories. All in all, worth a bit of your time to reflect upon some of the experiences that reveal some of life's lessons to see how they resonate with you.

I find it a personal weirdness that I feel moved to write poetry and I have a hard time reading other people's poetry. Yet, that being said, there are some poems that have never left me.. Like John Donne's No Man is an Islande, or Leonard Cohen's You have the Lovers, and then I think of a few Frost's, and Coleridge, and even Rupert Brooke's WWI poetry... some Yeats, some Shakespeare... okay, maybe I am starting to show off my English Lit major stripes here. Perhaps I am on somewhat friendly terms with some poetry after all... but honestly, with much poetry I find that I go in to a skimming mode. Although there are some short stories that I have truly enjoyed, I will normally steer myself towards novels.

Now I have embarked on yet another biography. I think I have read more non-fiction in the last year than I have in the last ten. This is one I would never have expected to pick up, nor would I have expected it to hook me within the first paragraph. I am reading Open, Agassi's autobiography. I was completely skeptical when I first picked it up (a friend loaned it to me, telling me that it was a surprisingly good read that I must try) but it is a helluva story. I am only about 50 pages in, but it has been eye opening and it comes off as very honest. Agassi's voice has been surprising so far, how he relates his younger years, his fearful father, and his hatred of tennis (although I would say it balances a bit on a love/hate slider). Will be interesting to see where this one ends up.

Monday, April 26, 2010

a small victory of sorts..

Today was a today of little milestones with Brandon.

We acquired a motorized Jeep for him, and he paid his first case of beer to a friend of ours to fix it. Welcome to a lifelong habit...

I finally broke and took him for a real haircut. I started cutting it and realized I was a little afraid of making a real mess of it - I don't want it too short, he has a cowlick, and I really don't want the front to look like a bowl cut. So, down the hill we went for a real hair cut. It felt strange pointing out to the barber that Brandon had a shunt and I really didn't want his hair too short around it, but the moment passed painlessly and away we went. Brandon did awesome. No crying or fussing, but I did hold his hand. It was sweet.

To top it off, he did walk his way in, and walked his way out. No stumbling, no falling, and pretty much no hand holding. This is a small victory of sorts - his walking has come so far in my year off. I was proud of him for how he did getting his hair cut (he looks like such an old boy... I love the longer hair do, but when he says it itches and it is in his eyes, it is time for a cut) and for how well he is walking - he didn't want to hold my hand... he really wanted to do it on his own. YAY for Brandon!

I also learned an important lesson about plating food for my almost-four year old. He loves roast beast, and gravy... but he tends to load up on the potatoes and "lava" and then is too full for anything else. So, I arranged the food so the potatoes made a nice volcano, carrots for rocks scattered around, and bits of roast beast in the lava that was in splotches everywhere. Funny enough, he ate everything!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

frozen in time

I have been meaning once again to capture some thoughts, but it seems that when I have been sitting down in front of my white screen, not a lot of comprehension or inspiration has been happening.

So, I regress in to some random thoughts.

I hope that I unconsciously allow for change in my life and that I don't pigeon-hole people in to one role in my life, and who they are going to be as a person in my life, for their lifetime. I got the sense from an old friend recently that they had no clue who I was in the present moment, nor did they really seem all that aware of the fact that their notions of me are about 10 years old, and even that is a bit generous. I guess I want people to see who I am becoming, and not just who I have been.

This goes back to that post I had linked to a while ago - why write someone off today when you don't know what their true potential is?

I am more today than I was yesterday, and by tomorrow, I hope that I am a little more than I was today - whether it be something learned, or a moment that takes your breath away, and just having lived another day with some kind of story to tell for it.

I still hate paying for parking.

I am reading a book called Committed, and I think I enjoy it more than their first book (which has really become a bestseller) but I am not quite sure how much I like it. Parts I am really enjoying, and parts make me reflect, and other parts are too self-deprecating making sure that their reader does not give the author more authority than they can lay claim too - I guess too many qualifications at times for a biographical book that is from their own (limited) point of view, education, and experience... I do get it you aren't an expert, or an anthropologist or a sociologist... and that you are on your own path of self discovery ... check! let's move on already...

We had a pretty cool play date this morning, and this afternoon we made some pretty yellow play dough. Brandon has never played with play dough and I really wanted him to experience it, especially since there is so much you can do with it creatively and with your hands... What a satisfying thing to do! Like so many other things that seem so much harder before you try to do it yourself... it was really easy to make. This is the recipe I followed:

Play Dough Recipe:

1 cup white flour ( I used whole wheat)
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoon cream of tartar (find it in the spice section)
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
food coloring

Mix first 4 ingredients in a pan. Add water and mix well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 – 5 minutes. Dough will become difficult to stir and form a “clump”. Remove from stove and knead for 5 minutes–add food coloring during kneading process. Play dough will keep for a long time stored in a covered plastic container or plastic sandwich bag. This makes a good amount of play dough.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A good idea?

Why did I think that swimming lessons at 9:30 am were a good idea, Tuesdays and Thursdays?

It is a sprint getting the kids fed and out of the house, especially since we are going to the pool that is a little further away. Okay. I will admit it, I dropped the ball a bit and wasn't able to register the big dude in to the next set of lessons until a bit later on in the process and the better times and place were already filled up. So, I am sucking it up and going to the other place at this newer and somewhat obnoxious time.

It isn't that we aren't up already, we are... it is just pulling it all together to get out of the house for about 9 or 9:10 to get there with a few minutes of breathing room. I also forgot that you have to pay to park there, and we all know how much I love to pay for parking. In the master plan it works, hence, why we are doing it. I would love to see B get through this set, and then one more set of lessons before I head back to work.

I must say, there has been a huge difference between how he was in January to how he is now... so much more comfortable and confident out there! Swim Tots 2 here we come (fingers crossed).

I am running around like a crazy person, and I think that rather than all 3 of us going in to the pool today, just B will. Then after we will head to a local park. It is a gorgeous spring day out there! Plus there is another mom there that is pretty cool to talk to.. which makes the time just blitz past.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Being next to THAT person

Well, this is a weekend that has screamed by and I am not quite sure where all the time went.

Friday night I got a night out with the girls. We were celebrating the first anniversary of being 33 for Jen's sistah (so extended family, really) and we went to a pub and then a comedy club after. The pub made me feel like a bit of a fuddy duddy. See, I get out so much now that when I am out, it is a bonus when I can actually hear you when we have a conversation! It was loud, but the food was good and I did manage to get a few words in. The part I laughed about is that their deejay is a guy that used to be around 15 years ago when I used to club down the street... and I remember requesting a song by the Violent Femmes and being told to go back to Luvafair (the alternative club at the time in Vancouver). Give me a loud rocking pub for the Superbowl or a hockey game... not so much for a birthday dinner out with friends when everyone doesn't know each other and it is nice to yak...

Hey! Not only am I a fuddy duddy out on a night's pass, but I have also dated myself! LOL...

Then we went to the comedy club. *SIGH*. If I had to base whether or not I would ever go back to a comedy club on this experience, I would never go back. Luckily I have had many other, better times seeing comedians. I got to sit next to *that person*. You know the one that has never been before, is really drunk, and is feeling really self conscious (drunkenly emotional and insecure) at their stage in life. I am sure that they are quite nice when they are sober... but they were a one person wrecking machine at the club. Between them and someone else in the club they managed to screw with everyone's experiences at the club. The club manager even told them that the "interactive part of the evening was now over". I was embarrassed sitting next to them and struggling to be polite. I felt bad for the birthday girl, and I felt bad for me, and Nej.. since this is one of the few times we have been out without kids in the last decade and this person is kind of screwing with our zen. During the second comic she was such an ass that it was like she threw the comic under the bus. He didn't even get to do his skits and jokes... it totally unraveled. I have never seen the likes of how things went down as the evening went on for the comics. I felt for them... It was so bad I apologized to the MC after.

Then was the after. Drunks falling down the street, not knowing how they were getting home, and me wishing for my own bed and a new day. It was great to get out with Jen and her sistah, and I met some really cool people, it was not cool to have the evening end in so much drama. I am so over it.

Saturday was a blitz - morning was chaos, and then to Brandon's riding lesson. I am so proud of him, he is doing so well horseback riding!! Like he was born for it... and then to a 40th wedding anniversary. GREAT partay. A few really funny moments - in Jen's DH, I saw the same look in his eyes that my hubby gets when presented with far too many people, and I got it. Go have fun doing your own thing, and I will do my thing... and then when Jen's 7 year old came up to me, begging for his brother to play with Brandon because he was tired. I laughed. Made me feel better that my 3 year old could exhaust a 7 year old... I KNOW THE FEELING!!

Sunday - quick trip stateside to see some tulips and do some shopping. Enough said.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I tripped upon an interesting blog post today about limits. Accepting them, or, IMHO, leaving them on the sidelines.

The post ends with this simple, but profound statement: "isn't it worse to write off a person or an organization merely because of what they are instead of what they may become."

That stopped me in my tracks for a few moments and I reflected upon my own life. In a sense, this is an indirect reason why I stopped reading parenting books (aside from the innate guilt they appear to serve) and working towards breaking the habit of saying "I can't" (whether it be myself or one of my immediate family that utters those very words). I look at myself at 15, 20, 25, 30, 35... even last week. I am not the same person. Core values and essentially me may still be the same, but experiences and thoughts are changing who I am all the time as I push forward in this thing called life. I am not the girl I once was, and I am not the mom I was when I gave birth to my first son.

I see potential everywhere - and with my rose coloured glasses, I tend to try to see the positive. I call them TSN-turning points (yes, I do love my sports, especially the contact ones) where something can pivot on a dime and go one way or the other. What if you wrote someone off in that moment? Not knowing who they could become?? An open mind may mean some disappointments but also means some really cool surprises too.

Like today. First day of Brandon's next set of swimming lessons. He is repeating the first level of Swim Tots (like most other kids, that first set has a lot of skills to master before you can move on). If I accepted limits, or figured that life was static, I would have assumed he would start off where he finished. He rocked today. I was so proud of how well he did! The instructor even commented how comfortable he is in the water, and then we played for the next hour and he was just awesome, diving live a fish and running around. Damn cool. Why would I limit what he can and cannot do?? Or for myself for that matter? How far can one go if you don't try?

I try to parent (and live) by providing as many opportunities as I can. Whether it be to pick up a paint brush, or a crayon, or to hike in the woods, or ride a horse... does it matter if you do it well as long as you tried and gave it a good go? You don't have to be the best at everything you do, you just have to try and do it to the best of your abilities. I would also add to not settle.

Well, so much for a quick post. I wax philosophical yet again. Must be something in the water.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Finishing off LO

It has been a while since I chronicled what I have been reading.

I do tend to swing between a few poles of what I gravitate towards reading-wise. I have found a new suspense/crime writer, another Brit, Peter Robinson. I blitzed through the first book of his Inspector Banks series, Gallows View, and theN followed it up with A Necessary End. I really enjoyed both reads. Robinson is of the same ilk as Rankin, but perhaps not quite as dark? Both writers are very skilled at their craft and a great way to spend a few hours. I also read the prequel to the Nina Reilly series by Perri O'Shaughnessy, Show No Fear, and it too was a good book. I found the end of it a bit haphazard, but I enjoyed the background information and connections that were revealed between the main characters. I am just about done a Tami Hoag book, Dead Sky (aka Prior Bad Acts) that has redeemed the author a bit in my eyes after the last book I read by her (Alibi Man). DS brings back a few characters that I enjoy, the and the writing is a little tighter. AM was a good book, but it felt a little more "fluffy" than this one does. I am about 2/3s of the way through, and I am enjoying it.

On the other end of the spectrum, I finished off Living Oprah and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I should also mention that I had a (brief) conversation with Okrant through FB and she comes off as a lovely person. It is amazing that with this new technological age you can read a book by a person, be touched by them, and even let them know it in a quick way. It's funny some of the things you can take away from a book. We are getting a new to us couch in a few days, and with the cats, I am not going to allow them to destroy this couch the way they dug in to the (once) nice one Ken brought with him. I could make excuses and say the cats were young, but I didn't train them that well from the beginning to not attack furniture and have been paying for that since. The joys of being young and newly independent when you get your first animals that you are truly responsible for! So, now in my new and improved more responsible self, I am going to go by some advice in the book and put some double-sided tape on the couch the to turn the cats off their scratching. Some glue between the toes should be a good deterrent!

What else can I say about this novel? I appreciate how RO stuck by her guns and returned the Kindle that she received. It's about honour, looking yourself in the mirror. I would have anxietized (a real word in my personal dictionary) about receiving it, and ultimately have done the same thing. I appreciate the honesty and earnestness of this novel - of putting it out there unabashedly and leaving yourself open to life. There is something about honesty that is attractive.

I found myself agreeing about how RO reflects about interacting with other people "I've cultivated a deeper understanding of how I may be more respectful of other people, not only by listening but by being fully present when they reach out and share with me." (p 252 hardcover). I agree wholeheartedly. I feel like I learned this lesson the hard way a few years ago when it seemed I transitioned from having a lot of superficial friends to a smaller and closer knit circle of good girlfriends that I don't always get to see in person, but the feeling is always there.

I also appreciated the ruminations of what a "real woman" is, and what she does with her day. The real woman is a bit of a myth as much as it is a misnomer. It is nice to see it in print and be able to acknowledge this. I also like the rejection of the word normal or average. What do they mean, really? I don't think my life has ever been normal or average and I suspect I am not alone in this. Everyone has an unique story and that is what makes life interesting. I like how the book ends with a few thoughts on what her year of LO was like - the highs and the lows, and what she gleaned from the experience. RO states that in seeking the for her, seeking her own"'highest vision possible'" [it] will never be found viewing a television show, flipping through a magazine, or in seeking the approval of others." (p257).

As I said in my earlier post about this book, I didn't expect to enjoy this book nearly as much as I did. I found that it struck a chord with me, and reaching the end, I felt an affinity for RO. I feel that we can take many (unexpected) lessons from books, television, magazines, classes, (hell maybe even church if you are slanted that way), and other people, but at the end of the day, we are all the captain of our own boat's and need to chart our own course. Many people choose not to, or be influenced in their decisions by others, but truly, it is so important to listen to what resonates as right and true inside - being true to yourself and what you hold dear. Honesty, authenticity, integrity. Values that people respond to in others, but only once the individual has done their own work and found them inside themselves.

Okay, enough waxing philosophical. Time to play with my son!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A different but sweet kind of Easter...

Officially, Easter in our household fell on Good Friday this year. We had a good brunch with my folks, decorated eggs together, and then had our folks (and my bro) over for dinner. It worked out really well! It wasn't too big, everyone got on well, and the food. Well, the food was pretty damn good if I must say so myself. We did what I would call almost an anti-traditional dinner and it worked out amazing.

All hail beer-can chicken! Since turkey is no longer favoured in our house, chicken is the next best thing. The winds were howling outside, so we brought the skewered chickens in and cooked them in the oven. We followed this up with sweet potato pie, broccoli salad, and crock pot stuffing. Didn't miss the turkey or the mashed potatoes... I made a tiramisu for the first time. O M G !!!!! One of the best desserts I have ever had, let alone made. It was amazing, and not that hard to do either. Marscapone cheese isn't cheap but damn does it make one fine dessert. Followed some advice and also added baileys to the whipping cream. What a decadent dessert!! I will definitely make it again when we are feeling the urge to splurge!