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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Wonder the World

As I wandered the world in my twenties, I never could have imagined a life where I was a stay-at-home mom with a mortgage, a dog, kids and an empty passport. My traveler’s soul left me restless, needing to explore and discover new all the time. I would not be slowed down.

What I couldn’t have known then, is that having kids is an embarkation of a whole new journey. A crazy, adventurous, difficult and risky one. So, the best kind.

As a first time mother, the first year is crammed with new discoveries, then, just as you’re starting to feel trapped in routine, your kids personalities burst forth, sharing with you their awe and amazement of the world around them.

The most amazing thing about becoming a mother is realizing that as much as I am now a teacher/guide/protector/healer, I am just as much a student. My kids are teaching me as much about life as I try to teach them. Probably more.

So while I still seek to wander the world, my kids remind me of the awe and wonder all around us. Kids love trying new things (oh okay, except food!) They want to be engaged in scavenger hunts or nature walks or splashing in water. Kids are explorers at heart. And so they remind me, teach me again, about my own passion to do the same.

To explore vast lands. To dream imagined universes. To see the wonder in the every day. Which can be done just as effectively at home as far, far away.

Now, instead of waiting for a large chunk of money and time, my travels occur daily with my kids, where wonder, amazement, and discoveries abound. By way of imagined lands, on road trips, day trips or simply in our own backyard. Sometimes I even take the lead, sensing correctly that a change of scenery is needed, a shift in perspective. My traveler’s spirit meeting child-like awe.

Once upon a time I wandered the world, living by the motto “Not all who wander are lost”

Today I can’t imagine being that twentysomething girl constantly on the go. A girl who stood in awe of impressive monuments but missed out on, oh say, a ladybug fluttering atop of said monument.

“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.” ~Walt Streightiff

These are my kids, all kids, eager to explore and marvel every day. My traveling twenties self took that and ran with it. Today I know better. Today I have kids and they know that the opposite is true. Slowing down, being present, and really seeing all around that there is to see.

This is my family,But really, we’re more this,With a dash of this,A sprinkling of this,And oh yes, this too,What makes me unique Today’s Parent who is calling for new parent bloggers? Remembering to wonder the world, through booboo’s, puddles, and bugs, just as my kids do.

This Month Gets a Bum Rap

Not sure why I dread November every year. Sure there’s rain in this part of the world, but also snow and days like today, full of sun and brilliant blue skies that we then truly appreciate.

As promised in my previous post, Brennyn and I headed out on a walk to soak it up. Making up for our last jaunt out where I forget, well, pretty much everything, this time I was set. Extra boots and pants, picnic blanket, lunch, water for both, phone, baby, toques, mitts, Riley and her leash. CHECK!

But of course, last time the only thing I remembered, I forgot this time. Care to guess what?

Yup, my camera.

Oops. Oh well, more time to play and be silly then!

Our walk did not disappointed, filled with eagles, fish, heron, sun and fallen leaves. We picnicked, jumped tandom off rocks, balanced on others, then carved our own hopscotch with a stick in the sand, riverside. Back into the trails, we raced down hills and tree-hugged mossy pines.

Two hours later, almost entirely walked by Miss B, we get home for a story and a deep slumbering nap (I know because I can hear her snoring as I type this!)

Forget all the Black Friday shopping deals, I’ll take a jaunt through the woods any day.

Oh, and since you know I am camera-obsessed, a few shots care of my iPhone.Explorer prints. They just look like regular boot prints here but if you picture the teeny tiny marks amidst the vast sandbar beside a raging river, you will start to understand my need to document them.The girl has never in her almost 2.5 years, ever, NEVER put on a pair of shades the right side up. One of those great quirks that I just ADORE about her!Full of gratitude (and sand) on this fine November day. Wishing you one in the same.

Hell Yah

To tell you the truth, as I begin to write this post, I have no idea where I am going with it. As mentioned previously, I’m in total writer’s block mode and this is one of several posts I have started and stopped writing several times. This one is all jumbled in joy, authenticity, judgement, confidence and self-worth swirling in my brain trying to catch a coherent train of thought.

I was at a party the other night. A party filled with brilliant, accomplished women with wine, food and talk. As I mingled from conversation to conversation, I was struck at the underlying theme of apology drifting from each one. Sorry for not exercising enough, working enough, cleaning enough, playing enough… Sorry for my tantruming kid in the aisle or being frazzled at the pool or for having no time. Talk filled with the nots and shoulds of our lives, instead of the hell yeses and damn rights of it.

Which, I confess, I got sucked into, even though I had the best day and a wonderfully glorious moment of HELL YES that very day. But I didn’t share it.

Because it didn’t fit the theme of the chats? Because I thought the fellow mamma’s would think I was crazy? Because I thought it would seem like I was showing off? I honestly do not know, but I did not.

So here now, let me share my HELL YAH!

I was driving to the city. By myself! No kids, no plans, no agenda. Just a day away. You know? So I’m driving and the scenery is spectacular which on many days is maybe a passing thought but on this day, these days, it can not be taken for granted. So I savour it, really feel the gratitude for it, then maybe even chuckle at the hokiness with which I am feeling, in the car, on a drive done hundreds of times, in my Cheerio-laden four-door. At about this time, with all this gratitude and serenity bursting forth, it is almost a certainty that the haunting thoughts come knocking.

What if it was you? 

Shake it off. It is not me.

Another mother can not say the same thing. Guilt. Sadness. Helplessness. Fear. So much damn fear.

Then again, gratitude. Because if you can’t be grateful and live and love and be so very grateful, what is the point?

So I get back there. I summon up Strength and Love and I send it the other mother’s way then I appreciate this getaway, the sun rays passing through wispy clouds and turbulent ocean, and have infinite thanks for that which I have.

Then I blast some music. My music. And I rock out. In the car. By myself. Singing horribly bad and not caring in the least.

Soon a funny thing happens. I often rock out in the car, especially with the girls. We love our ‘girlie parties’ Raising a Glass with Pink or Waving Flags with Knaan. But when we start to hit heavy traffic, I totally tone it down.

Not on this day though. Just as I’m exiting into the city, Mat Kearney’s Hey Mama comes on and I sing (wail), bounce (jump), head bop (bang) and tap (slam) the steering wheel in the worst rhythm you can imagine. But the thing is, I do not care. At all. I don’t worry about what the car beside me is thinking. I do not try to be cool or normal or even sane.

I just be me. Which was so very freeing. And fabulous. No censoring of my moment for fear of judgement, just one small moment of complete authenticity. A moment filled with joy, fun, gratitude and a whole lot of dorkiness.

Can I get a HELL YAH on that?

Stuck

Writer’s block has struck. I am forcing these words out as a means to try to get some flow back. To no avail it seems.

Writing is usually what guides me out of a bleak situation. Energy and empathy peeking out from behind each keystroke until bursting out with prose and flow.

I recently read this quote by Joan Didion

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”

 

These words sang to me. This is so me.

So often, a situation happens and I leave with words and thoughts and ideas swirling through my brain but it is not until I get out my journal and write them down do I begin to make sense of it and my thoughts on whatever ‘it’ might be.

Which is why writer’s block really bothers me. I sometimes can’t quite figure out even what I need to be figuring out. I stay stuck.

Holy shit, and there it is. Forcing myself (seriously, I have tried starting about 5 different posts in the past two weeks, none of which have gotten past a horribly boring paragraph fit for a bureaucratic pamphlet) to sit here and get something, anything written tonight has led me to this ‘it’ of being blocked.

Fear.

In the last two weeks, two 2-year-olds have died in my network of people. Neither I knew personally, one being through following online and one in my town. One was expected, one was not, both completely tragic and horrible.

Also in town, a baby is on her sixth round of chemo. At one year old.

My heart doesn’t know whether to break, grow, shatter or expand. And my brain, well it does not even want to go there so the thoughts, the words, just loom.

I think I have been waiting for my writing to make sense of the tragedies, when the thing is, this can never make sense. What I am doing right this moment as I type this, is realize that what has got me stuck is not the sadness or helplessness, but the fear.

Fear of this unimaginable thing, the loss of a child. Fear of thinking it, tempting it, jinxing it, understanding it…

Fear.

So as I see it, there are two choices.

I can live in fear

or

I can live despite the fear.

Which just made me think of a quote. Hmmm, let me go find it…

Ah yes, Ambrose Redmoon:

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”

Nothing more important than living our lives and appreciating every single moment.

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely, aware.” ~Henry Miller

And if you have made it through this whole post, welcome to a sneak-peak into the inner workings of my brain… Phew!

Lanyards and Love

The final day of September. The final day of Nablopomo. I was going to post about how 3 weeks into Kindergarten and Kaya already feels so much more grown up. I was going to show you some of her art, tell you some of her conversations to showcase my point.

But I have had a couple of glasses of wine and a slow computer and a 5th birthday party to plan for this weekend so I think I will leave that for another time.

Tonight, let me share a poem with you a friend who read my Waving Goodbye post on BlogHer shared with me.

The Lanyard – Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
 off the blue walls of this room,
 moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
 from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
 when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
 where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
 could send one into the past more suddenly—
 a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
 by a deep Adirondack lake
 learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
 into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
 or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
 but that did not keep me from crossing
 strand over strand again and again
 until I had made a boxy
 red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
 and I gave her a lanyard.
 She nursed me in many a sick room,
 lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
 laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
 and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
 and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
 Here are thousands of meals, she said,
 and here is clothing and a good education.
 And here is your lanyard, I replied,
 which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
 strong legs, bones and teeth,
 and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
 and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
 is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
 but the rueful admission that when she took
 the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
 I was as sure as a boy could be
 that this useless, worthless thing I wove
 out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

The truth being, one of the great miracles of life, is that those things, those lanyards, are truly enough to make us even. Because love is love, no matter the form or manifestation. Because at some point the child becomes the mother. Because unconditional is passed on to the next generation and next and next. Because that is life.

Mothers do not keep score. But when my child says to me

“Thank you mommy for all the help you give me. Like cleaning up my toys and bowls and stuff because sometimes I’m too busy to remember that and so you do that and thank you.”

and that comes with no prompting from a genuine place of gratitude, oh the heart fills, swells, explodes and there is never, never, a question that we are completely, absolutely even.

Let The Sun Shine In

Well, I called it didn’t I? Sunshine beckoned us today.Rain too.You know what happens when sunshine meets rain don’t ya?

Oh yes you do.

Magic.Now let us go back a bit shall we. To the morning where all Kaya wants to do is watch cartoons. I oblige since she is clearly exhausted from her first two weeks of school. But then the complaints start.

I don’t like this cartoon.

I don’t like that one either.

I don’t like that snack.

And on and on. So I suggest we go outside.

I don’t like the rain.

So I suggest a craft.

I don’t like that.

The girl is in a mood. Wow.

So instead of pleasing her, I opt for saving my sanity and insist we all go outside, rain or no rain. My plan is a quick trip to the ocean for some fresh air, followed up with a visit to the library and perhaps a Tim Horton’s lunch.

This plan fails.

Though my ultimate one does not.

In the car to the ocean, it begins to POUR. Kaya pouts. I laugh and insist we’ll give it a go.

Stopped at a traffic light, suddenly the sun bursts forth. “Rain and sun Kaya, do you see a rainbow?”

All I see is an enormous pouty lip in the rearview mirror.

Undeterred, I look around for a rainbow. Nothing.

Remembering I have the Bobs & Lolo CD in the car, I switch it on to Track 14, Rainbows Everywhere. I know this as it happens to be Brennyn’s favourite song but as it begins ask anyways “What song is this again?”

Pouty lips have turned upside down.

“Rainbows Everywhere.” Kaya almost whispers.

“RAINBOWS EVERYWHERE!” Brennyn sing-shouts.

Got them.

All smiles in the car now, as we sing, and oh sweet amazing world,

there it is, a real one! A rainbow.

The car erupts in cheers. “Rainbow, rainbow!” And we sing some more.

Upon arriving at the ocean, great moods turn to ecstatic ones. Another rainbow. Slam go the car breaks, seatbelt flung off, camera grabbed, girls let loose, and oh, there it is, magic some more.At this point I am wondering, is there anything better in the world than puddles and rainbows? Not on this day there isn’t.Some where along here, we are singing at the top of our lungs about Puddle Dancing Lovin’. We are jumping and kicking water in the air and then the puddle water fight begins and we are laughing HARD.

The last hurrah before the tears.Oh but before that fall, you should have been witness to Puddle Hopscotch! Brilliance.

Though this is not the first belly flop in a puddle by B, it is the first one she cried at. Kaya starts complaining about water and rocks in her boots. My legs are itchy and cold from sopping wet jeans clung to my skin.

There will be no library or lunch out for us today. We look (and feel) like victims of a flash flood. Time to go home and change.

Into PJ’s. Oh yes, on the drive home, our water-clogged clan declare the rest of the day Cozy PJ Day!

Which means we get home and change into our PJ’s.

Then grab all our blankies to curl up and watch a movie together. With popcorn. Mid day. On a weekday.

Bal comes in from work for a lunch break so we get a Girlie Cozy PJ party shot.“Thank you for a wonderful day of fun!” I tell the girls as I tuck them in for an afternoon nap.

“No mom, Thank You cuz you are the one that took us out even if I didn’t want to but then I did and it was fun!”

Limitless sunshine and magic on tap today.