Adventures in Reading

January has come and almost gone. Throughout it, I have been lusting for adventure. This is as close as I’ve come,

I’ve transitioned from pouting about being house-bound, to falling into the doldrums, to nestling in to a quieter sort of adventure. Where I am immersed in grand stories filled with explorations and discoveries, communicated to me by authors, my kids and even myself.

Oh, how thankful I am to read a really great book, one that sits with me, speaks to me long after the last page has been turned. I began searching for a ‘light’ read. Unfortunately, that led to Sophie Kinsella’s book An Undomestic Goddess which I had on hand. Light, my friends, does not have to mean dumb. Which this book was. To its core. I despised every moment that I was reading it, and in the end skipped to the end to see what happened.

My quest was on to find a smart, light read.

Which I found in Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Absolutely breathtaking, brilliant book. A story in words, and in pictures, part mystery, part character study. I truly was swept away into this world. I look forward to seeing the movie too once it’s out on DVD.

In other big reading news, Kaya is reading now. Whole books! Remember these?

Every time she begins to sound words out, putting letters together, forming words, then sentences, my heart literally clenches, my breath literally catching. Joyous pride mixing with shock at the passing of time.

My girl, she can read!

My girl, she can read?

My girl, well she’s also something of an artist. Taking her home-reading book & buddy, she draws what she read, then writes what she read too.

Yah, my girl she can also print…

Time for Daddy to put away his Tap that Ass Tshirt.

On Friday I asked Kaya what another Mommy helped out with in class that day. She told me they were writing their ‘favourites’ sentences. As in,

My favourite colour is __________.

My favourite food is __________.

My favourite song is ___________.

Kaya told me her answers. Pink, of course.

Bacon. Huh? I ask her why she said bacon. She tells me another girl did so she did. We have another talk about how she doesn’t need to copy everyone else and just to give her own honest answer. She tells me she wants to say rice. That’s my girl.

And favourite song? I ask her. She gets quiet. “Baby Beluga” she whispers. Hmmm, that hasn’t been your favourite song in forever, I suggest. How did you know to write Beluga? “I just wrote Baby” Which is when I knew. Her favourite song was not meant to be Baby Beluga as her teacher had assumed, it was Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ that was her favourite, which Kaya confirms with a twinkle and a giggle. Hilarious.

Brennyn, as always, playing catch-up, reading me stories too, though I’d suggest it’s more in Beat Poet form, mixing wheels on the bus and rainbows everywhere with twinkling stars and oh yes, a little ‘Like baby, baby, baby oh…’ too.

This, actually, forms one of those truly great moments that will forever stay in my brain. Cozied up in bed finishing the last 30 pages of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (another great read though by no means ‘light’) Brennyn comes in wanting my attention. At first, I am annoyed as I just want to finish my book, but I see she just wants some Mamma cuddles so I suggest she goes to get books so she can read beside me too. She grins and toddles off to get some books, then crawls up and nestles in to read beside me. Of course, I get no reading of my own done at this point what with all her beat poet slamming. Then Kaya comes in, Hello Kitty headphones on and Justin Bieber blaring, cozying up amongst us.

I sink further into the pillows, blankets, and my two girls and just gaze at these two kooky, brilliant characters, knowing that I am immersed, this very moment, in the greatest adventure of all.

My family.

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Christmas Magic

It’s important for me to record here how magical Christmas was this year. Two giddy girls full of belief and anticipation. Crafting and dancing, stories and activities all glowing with wonder and awe.

But let me clarify too, that magical does not mean perfection. Perfect would mean there had been no family drama, no cooking mishaps and no sisterly battles. Which there most certainly was.

Fortunately, magic rises above all.

Sometimes magic is known by other names. Like giggles.

And the sillies.

Which is about when present #1 on Christmas Eve is opened.

Silly string, though messy and a wee bit stinky, is also brilliant at letting out the pent-up energy we call the crazies.

Magic comes along in other forms too. Like present shaking, sky watching and quietly whispering about our present to Santa so that he can’t hear us.

No doubt he did hear when my sweet, loving girl taps me on the leg and in a hushed tone tells me, “It’s okay if Santa thinks I was naughty this year because I already have enough presents under the tree.” Lessons in gratitude. And grace.

Sometimes magic is seen in quiet contemplation.

Other times, the joy of learning new things. Putting out food for Santa and the reindeer is very cool indeed!

The reindeer LOVED their waffle bowl of goodies.

Sneak-a-peeks are magic.Big giant wow presents too.Appreciation.

Content, happy play together.

And family moments.

All magic.

The brilliance of kids slays me. Why not wear your new fancy dress with your new cozy robe with your new pink earphones (that are not plugged in) to watch your new movie?

Oh, and we may as well throw in some afternoon popcorn too. Surely to become a new Christmas tradition in this household!After all that, I guess it is not magic at all is it? Magic implies mystery and the supernatural whereas this day is fully explainable. Joy, surprises, family, gratitude and novelty whirling and swirling together into Love.

Both nothing and everything magical about that.

No Better Day

I take it as a good sign in my life that I often want to declare,

‘There has been no better day in the history of days…’ projected Martin Luther King Jr. style.

This day was one of those days. When the skies are blue and the snow sparkles. When we are outdoors and collectively, our moods are great. Bonus that an entire day out and about in Whistler cost us just $15.

Bal got the day off and we headed to the new outdoor skating rink. Truly, it could have been disastrous what with me not skating in at least 20 years wearing my mom’s at least 20 year-old pair of skates, Brennyn never having been and Kaya kind-of-sort-of been a few times. Oh sure, there was no grace and beauty out there on the ice, but our effort made up for that. With smiles. Even a few giggles. Frustrated tears too but that didn’t deminish the overall fun factor.

Here’s Mommy pretending to help Kaya, though what is really happening is Kaya keeping Mommy upright. Just like riding a bike my ass…Before long, my girl ditched me though.Stranded, I wait for my next ride. She’s too determined to catch up to her big sis to give Mommy much notice however. Leaving me to screech at Bal to come take my camera so I don’t crush it in my impending crash. Which doesn’t happen but only because I grasp at will onto any person, fence or child within my flailing arms reach.

Fortunately, Brennyn is tired and hungry and I have an excuse to get off the ice. Though we narrowly escape the biggest fall of all when I try to lift her while still on skates to walk to our boots and my ankles collapse from under me. A tiny foreign woman saves the day but right then and there we plunk our bums down, take off our skates, and walk in our socks to our boots. Hilarious!

After skating and snacks, we head to the big snow mound for some sledding. Not put off by not actually having a sled, we make do with snowpants and bums. Old school style!Then just beyond the snow mound, the playground overlooking the skating and ski hill beyond.More snacks and we head indoors to the conference centre’s free play for kids. Could there be anything better than a giant room filled with bouncy castles? Only if it also has a giant bouncy slide.The adjoining room has mini golf.Next door to that, mini hockey.And when all those moments are filled inbetween with these kinda moments,there really is no better day in the history of days.

On the drive home, we get dessert,and a night cap when I am ID’d at the liquor store. It doesn’t even matter that I’m asked by a one-eyed teller (so my friends assure me!)

No better day I tell you.

Until the next no better day…

Christmas Card n’ Crafts

Here’s our card for 2011. With this stickered onto the back.

JOY in 2011 for us:

Bal finished (survived) the 67km Test of Metal Bike Race.

Kari finished (survived) the Whistler Half Marathon.

Kaya is thriving in Kindergarten, performed her first dance on stage, ditched training wheels, lost 2 teeth and swims better than her mommy and daddy.

Brennyn’s first sentence was “Cool Man Motorbike!” as a Harley passed by and she has not stopped talking since. She’s in a big girl bed, on a big girl bike and does everything big sis does. Except peeing on the potty…

Family adventures this year included a crazy roadtrip (crazy fun!), discovering a love of dinosaurs, camping, treasure hunting, and countless outdoor explorations. We look forward to more of the same through 2012!

With Love & Joy,

Bal as Santa, Kaya as Rudolph, Kari as Frosty and Brennyn (in an eerily accurate portrayal) as the Grinch 😉

XOX

Trying to get 4 people to coordinate 8 puppet-style pieces for ‘the perfect picture’ is not recommended if you do, in fact, want to experience Joy.

Especially if you are two and have no freakin idea what is going on and just want to go jump on the bed already! But she is perfectly Grinch so it all worked out in the end.She did try though.And when she abandoned ship, Kaya and I had some fun.The best part of these pictures, has been the girls playing with the pieces afterwards, making Fronta and Rudinch and the like. Then there was B coming in to cheer me up. And Kaya drawing, cutting out, and gluing her own, much better versions (Rudolph’s nose a balloon!)

My time and effort paying off, if not in the time I would like it too, certainly afterward and ongoing. Hopefully the same can be said for today’s Tree Decorating crafting class I took the girls to today. Fiasco!

Brennyn didn’t like the paint smell so spent the first half hour gagging and dry heaving and doing the ugliest hand print ornament decoration I ever did see. Then she got a smooshed hand by a dinosaur wielding boy also not interested in crafts. Glue brought on dry heaving session #2. She spilled a cup of water all over my jeans when slipping off her chair, bonking her head. While doing the last beading craft, Kaya was having a hard time and was frustrated and pissy and needed my help but I was too busy mopping up water and trying to craft Brennyn’s craft and then Kaya fell off her chair and was embarrassed on top of frustrated and it was all just one giant GONG SHOW OF MISERY! Oh my god, I should write a book with that title…

Which will become a bestseller and that will be my time and effort paying off in the end…

*SIGH* (It was more polite than the curse words I wanted to end with)

For My Mamma, And Her Mamma

The other night I was trying to remember the date my Gramma passed away. Today’s date, 2005. I think. Every year I question it because it is so hard to fathom that she died so close to Christmas. Died on the 15th, service on the 20th (?), then Christmas. Her favourite time of year.
At any rate, I was questioning it again so googled her name hoping to find it online. Cuz can’t you just find anything you could ever want online?
Apparently not, because I did not find any notes online about a service or obituary or anything.
What I did find, takes us back even further. Circa 1951. When my gram was a teenager. That’s her there, Viv Walker.Hilarious profile of her and her basketball team. The first time I had any inkling that my Gramma had been athletic was at her funeral. Her lady friends, a couple on this list actually, came and told stories about her basketball prowess. I was dumbfounded. My Gramma? An athlete? Awesome! And here, a tiny note in a tiny newspaper, archived digitally in just the past year, that just took my breath away. In a cool way.

And that was not all. I found this, a note of her contributing to the tiny little paper.And this, more feats of athletic prowess:Then a bit of scandal. Because who doesn’t love a bit of scandal?My Gramma, Vivian Walker, having Christmas with one Elwood Smith. This would eventually lead to a marriage (I think), the birth of my mother, and a divorce. The Grampa that I knew, was not this guy. Ah, I love me a good family scandal and if my Gramma was here now I would so totally be drilling her on all the details. To which she would change the subject and feed me her famous chocolate cake to shut me up. And it would work too dammit.

Time to fast forward 20 years shall we.That’s my mom, Lynn Smith though I never knew her as that since she used my Grampa’s surname, Kingelin which my Gramma Vivian is now under. Perhaps too scandalous (or complex) to fill a small space in the paper.

Still, I just love the insinuations and passive-aggressive tone to some of the goings on about town in the paper at this time. Just what is Mrs Scott up to then? You can bet the whole town knew.Do you think somebody is jealous here? Another holiday you say?This just made me laugh. Twins marrying brothers. How convenient. One wedding. Done. So efficient!Oh the days when you could get away with Whoopee Queens and report on their appendicitis tragedies… Sigh.And pay these prices:A time when becoming a Career Girl is headlined in bold.Just looking at these old ads make me smile. Because some things never change,while others really, really do.This story rings true to today’s hospital overcrowding. Yet the use of laundry hampers as bassinets and having to put the babies with their mothers takes us back to another time.But back to my gramma. She may have left that town, but she was never forgotten.A simple note on a woman with a not so simple life, reminding us of the beauty in friendships. BFF’s indeed.

Day Parade

Last Sunday we checked out the Vancouver Santa Parade. A day that started out with coffee and breakfast in bed, with this view from where I sat. Perfect.Taken with my iPhone since god forbid I move a muscle to go get my real camera!

A leisurely morning followed up with a stunning drive to the city where we park for free at Lonsdale Quay and take the Seabus to downtown. My kids equate a seabus ride with a carnival ride so that alone was enough to make the day a pleasant one. But then a short walk to Burrard twenty minutes prior to the Santa Claus Parade starting where we score prime curb seating, lay out our blanket for a pre-parade picnic and voila, we have the makings of a spectacular day.

The sunny skies help.

Our mood accentuated with Rudolph strollers,

And Rico Suavé… Rico Santé? Rico Santa eh? Yah, that works!

And festive socks. Mustn’t forget festive socks!

Scoping out my sockompetition…

WestJet’s balloon stole the show,

But Kaya was smitten with all the dancers and gymnasts too.

We clapped, we rang, we sang and before long, Santa came HoHoing and we were done. Seabus back over to a sinking sun where we decide to have an early dinner with a view.

Spontaneous sister kisses across the table tell the tale of the day. Magic.

Or maybe they just thought this was mistletoe…

A mandatory booth giggling picture here.

Awwww, Daddy cuddles after pizza while waiting for the gelato.

Then, this:

Sunrise to start my day. Sunset to end it.

Perfection.

Magic.

Three Day Discontent

For about the past year, PMS for me has been excruciating. There are three 3 days of every month that I am engulfed in negativity and pessimism. For 6-8 months I didn’t even connect it to my menstruation, just felt like I had a bad few days. But, a really bad few days. Now that I have connected the dots to the predictability of this happening, I can at least weather the storm. Intellectually, I know the thoughts of doom and misery are not me. Emotionally, well, those emotions are still there.

Time to visit the doctor I suppose. Because even though it’s only 3 days, 3 days is too many. Especially if it is preventable.

The negativity that takes over is horrible. And so not me. And that’s just it. For three days I am not me. I certainly have more empathy for those people clinically depressed and can not fathom living in that fog of disconnect full time.

Even a tiny little issue in my life, like not fitting into my jeans quite like I did before the summer season for example, turns into me chastising myself for being lazy and unmotivated. Three days clear and my thoughts turn, like a switch, to what I can do to get back in shape instead of dwelling on the ‘poor me’s’ of how I got here. The predictibility of it is scary actually. Scary in the power of hormones.

All this to say that unfortunately, those three days fell right over Thanksgiving this month. If anything is going to keep the blah’s at bay, it’s my family and being outside so that worked in my favour. But it was still there, at night as I fall asleep, in the lack of desire to create any ‘thankful’ games or crafts.

Being in the clear now, I can look at the pictures from the weekend and be thankful but to be honest, for the most part gratitude was not what I was feeling in the moment.

And the more I type, the more I realize that I need to get myself to a doctor.

Alrighty.

But I am grateful today for the weekend that was. Grateful for family and rain-free days to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Laity Pumpkin Patch.

Grateful for these fearless, giggly girls running amok over bridges, treetop adventures and cliffwalks.Grateful for the change of seasons. My favourite season.

Grateful for sun rays.And fresh tree-top air along the treetop walk.I am even grateful for pouty girls who plant their bums in the middle of the path and refuse to walk any further without a snack. Because she makes me laugh. Even in my state.I am thankful that this picture makes it look like Kaya may have a slight bit of nerves walking along this cliffwalk. Even though she doesn’t. At all! Fearless girl ran way ahead, ran on glass walkways, peered over ledges. The reality is she only looks fearful here because she’s snarling at me who just gave her a lecture about leaning against the chain walls. A pessimist, doomsday mommy lecture. Which doesn’t impress my explorer.Which makes me grateful that the chains held and the boards were sturdy and that my family survived the impending scenarios of doom that my brain was concocting.The next day we head to my brothers for Thanksgiving dinner. First we meet Gammy and Auntie at the Pumpkin Patch!

A good day that would have been a great one had I been myself.

Doctor appointment here I come.