Saturday, December 29, 2012

I'm Still Here!

Time flies by to quickly. How many times have I said it? It doesn't feel like three months since I've written a blog post, but it has been more than that. Today life looks very different than it did three months ago. There is snow on the ground, for one thing. I am sitting at my kitchen table, looking out the window at three children happily building a snow fort in the back yard, while light snowflakes softly falls around them. Our basement is finished, finally, and we have been thoroughly enjoying the extra space it has provided. Connor has somewhat recovered from the disappointment of not playing basketball this year. He still hopes to be part of a school team sometime in the next couple of years, but meanwhile he is enjoying more free time. He loves being part of the church youth group, and is going to his first winter retreat in Muskoka next month. Janelle still loves taking piano and dance. Last weekend she was part of a huge group of dancers from her studio who performed the half time show at a London Lightning basketball game. My kids have big smiles on their faces today. And that's what makes me smile.

I am sitting at my kitchen table because I got a laptop for Christmas! Now I can blog anywhere! And I will — I promise! But today the blog post is short because tomorrow it's Christmas again. Tomorrow we host the Haines family Christmas, so I have some work to do. Cleaning, groceries, putting all the gifts away. Life is busy as always, but I didn't want 2012 to end without one more blog post, just to remind everyone that I'm still here. Happy New Year!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Brokenhearted Basketball Player

Connor loves basketball. He has loved it since he was a tiny boy shooting hoops with dad and his Little Tikes basketball net. He started playing in the YMCA youth league in Fredericton in grade one, and last year he played on his first competitive team. He loved every minute of it, right up to the heartbreaking finish at the OBA tournament in March.

Try-outs for this year's team were last week. He spent Monday and Thursday evenings running drills and shooting hoops with his buddies, most of whom were on his team last year. He came home exhausted each night, but excited about the prospects for the coming year. Chris and I worried a bit about whether or not he is ready for basketball at this level. There are no equal playing time rules this year, and we really didn't want to see him spend the year on the bench. But I thought surely the boys from last year's team had the best shot at making the team this year.

The team roster was to be posted on the website on Saturday by 8:00 p.m. We spent the day at Canada's Wonderland, and didn't get home until 11:30. Chris and I checked immediately, but the site had not been updated. I checked a number of times before I finally went to bed, but the roster was empty. When I woke up the next morning, Chris was reading his iPod. "He didn't make it," he said. My heart sank. How would we tell Connor? We spent 20 minutes discussing our strategy for breaking this inevitably devastating news to our precious son before heading downstairs to find him watching TV with his sister. He turned to us with red eyes and said "Did you see the website?" He had already checked as soon as he woke up. I opened my arms and he fell into them and cried. My boy's heart was broken and there wasn't one thing I could do about it.

He wasn't angry. He didn't ask "Why?" He didn't blame anyone or begrudge any of his friends who had made the team. He even admitted that it was better to not be on the team at all than to ride bench all season. He was just so sad.

We had planned to fall back on the opportunity this would give Connor to play on his school basketball team this year. School ball is not nearly as competitive as OBA basketball at this level, and he would certainly do well representing Lambeth Public School. However, with the current situation in Ontario schools, it is unlikely there will be a basketball team this year. Or possibly next year, for that matter. And that means no basketball at all for Connor. And that breaks my heart.

I wish it was just about not making this team. I wish it wasn't also about not playing basketball at all. I wish it wasn't about no longer seeing all the friends he made on the team last year (They don't go to his school, or even live near enough to get together easily). I wish Connor's self-esteem was not so wrapped up in being a basketball player. I pray that it isn't, in the end. I pray that he knows that he is an amazing kid who is good at so many things, whose parents and so many others love him and appreciate his kind heart and great attitude, who just happens to like to play basketball. And I also hope he continues to love basketball. I'll miss hearing the rhythmic bounce, bounce, bounce on the driveway, and seeing his ecstatic grin when he makes a great shot.

Connor recovered amazingly well yesterday. He showered and got ready for church, even joking around with us at breakfast. We took his buddy with us when we went out for brunch after church, and they spent the afternoon together. His only other mention of the sad news was last night when Janelle was talking about the class Chris is taking on Monday nights. "I guess Monday's won't be so hard for you now, Mom," not adding "now that I won't have basketball practice". I know how he's hurting inside, but I know he's trying to make the best of it and keep a smile on his face. That's my sweet boy.

Being a parent is HARD!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Beautiful Dancer

This is my daughter.
She loves to sing, dance, and play the piano (unless you mean practicing the piano).
She is beautiful, strong, and confident, far more than her mother was at her age.
She loves purple and mismatched socks and Justin Bieber.
She is easy-going and fun and her laughter is contagious.
She is one of the greatest joys of my life.
And last month she turned nine years old. Wow. Time just sneaks up on you, doesn't it?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Disappearing Act

Did summer happen this year? Clearly my blog missed it. But I almost feel like I did, too. What happened to "Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer"? I don't remember many of those as the last several weeks flew past me on the road to this "Back to school week". And here we are in September. How did that happen?

One thing the kids and I realized this year is that summer vacation is shorter in Ontario than in New Brunswick. More than a week shorter this year! Cousins and friends back home finished school a whole week before my kids were set free, and while Connor and Janelle dressed in new clothes and toted new backpacks back to Lambeth Public School yesterday, most New Brunswick students didn't climb back on the school bus until today. Nine weeks. Nine short weeks that this year were carved up into three very easily defined portions. Weeks one, two and three we were settling into summer, enduring unbelievable temperatures, attending a week of day camp (basketball for Connor, church day camp for Janelle and I), and packing for vacation (with my annual case of strep throat, I might add). Weeks four, five and six we were driving to New Brunswick, visiting family and friends, enjoying my sister's cottage, and all to soon saying goodbyes and heading back to Ontario (this time with some shopping in Freeport and a visit to the Basketball Hall of Fame thrown in to make the trip more fun). When we got home I could hardly believe week seven was already here, and it was time for Janelle to head to theatre camp, and Connor and I to volunteer one more week at our church's day camp. That week flew by, and we found ourselves in week eight, Janelle still at theatre camp preparing for her stage debut as a seagull in Finding Nemo, Chris home sick most of the week, and me bribing Connor to go back-to-school shopping. Chris took most of last week of for vacation, so we decided to take a long-promised camping trip to the Pinery, a provincial park on Lake Huron. The kids were over-the-moon excited, and I was too, until I started to feel the beginnings of Chris's flu taking over. I went anyway, and slept in the tent while the rest canoed and rode bikes, enjoyed the Smores and my hubby's Coleman stove cooking, read in my camp chair, and did manage to head down to the beach for a swim. We arrived home just a few hours before the Moores arrived for a weekend visit. Thankfully they are one of the few families that I am happy to have staying at my house despite feeling miserable, knowing they are happy to help Chris with dinners and just hang out on the deck and visit and play Wizard, while our kids ride bikes and play video games and sleep in the tent in our backyard. Ellen and I did manage a shopping trip to Winners and Homesense and a girls dinner out, coming home to find our husbands had fed the kids and built a fire in the new firepit. Nothing like ending the summer with Smores and the Moores.
My only "Back to School" picture. My lens
had fogged up in the humidity, and as usual,
we were too behind schedule to snap

And so here we are. The first day of school was my first day feeling a bit like myself again. Connor got the teacher he wanted, but didn't get in his best buddy's class. Janelle got the teacher she wanted, and is back in class with her friend from Grade 2. All in all, they are both happy. At least they were yesterday. Who knows what today will bring. Who knows what the rest of the year will bring, but I'm looking forward to finding out. Despite summer's disappearing act, we made some new memories, and I know that before long I'll be writing a "last day of school" post about how once again the school year has flown by. A good reminder to slow down and enjoy every moment. I think I'll go downstairs and sit on my front porch and listen to the quiet for half an hour, until my house once again will fill with the chatter of my favourite voices.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dad's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful dads in my life!

The kids and I did our best to make today a day of pampering for Chris. We made blueberry pancakes for breakfast, and set up his new anti-gravity lawn chair in the family room (since a thunder storm was raging outside). Janelle sang him a special song of her own composition. The kids watched a movie with him after church (while he sat in his anti-gravity chair in front of the TV). He had a nap. We made his favourite foods for supper: steak and mashed potatoes with onions, East Coast sea scallops, and grilled zucchini, with fresh strawberry shortcake for dessert. I hope he feels well-spoiled.

I talked to my own dad on the phone. I hate to be so far away on these family holidays, but it helps to know I saw my dad and got many of his awesome hugs only six weeks ago, and six weeks from now I'll be with him again. This weekend I have been particularly missing home because there is a new family member there, and I am aching to meet her. My little brother got a precious Father's Day gift this year -- He brought his new daughter, Molly Clara, home from the hospital today. I am so happy for Brad and Jody and Hailey, but I am feeling a bit sorry for myself. The rest of our family met her the day she was born. I have to wait six more weeks. But I know those weeks will fly, and I plan to make this visit count!

My husband is ending this Father's Day in one of his favourite ways. He is watching basketball with his son. I can smell popcorn and hear excited voices and I know they are both as happy as can be. Connor's bedtime passed about 10 minutes ago, but I'm not sending him upstairs just yet. They are having so much fun together, and I think they both deserve a few extra minutes on this special day.

Happy Father's Day

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Belated Happy Mother's Day

When Chris and I chose our wedding date, the last thing on our minds was the fact that our anniversary would forever coincide with the weekend of Mother's Day. For that reason, the second weekend in May is always a pretty busy one at our house, with Chris taking the kids out to shop for me and then spending all day Sunday pampering me... It's a rough life! Meanwhile, we always try to fit in some kind of anniversary celebration. This year is was lunch out, and a play at the Grand Theatre on Friday evening -- and for the first time, we didn't have to get a babysitter! The kids were fine at home alone for the evening. What a milestone!

This morning I realized that I had neglected to post anything on my blog for Mother's Day, so I'm making up for it today. I have the world's best mom to celebrate! And she is my most devoted reader, so I know she'll see this today. Sorry it's a few days late, Mom. For over 40 years you have been absolutely the best mother I could have asked for. You gave Tracy, Brad and I beautiful childhoods, and you have given us all unwavering support during our adulthoods. My children are blessed to have you for a grandmother, and even more blessed that you are the example I have to follow of motherhood. I love you, Mom! I'm so glad I got to give you your Mother's Day gift (a little early) in person this year. I hope you had a wonderful day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sweet Sixteen

May 11, 1996 dawned cold and rainy in Rothesay, New Brunswick — and for some crazy reason I didn't care one bit! I laid in bed for a few minutes just to savour the uniqueness of the day, took a call from a friend in (who knew?) London, Ontario, and then got up, showered and got ready to go to the beauty parlour. In just a few hours I would marry the man I had waited twenty-six years to meet at the front of a church. I could not have been happier.

May 11, 2012 dawned sunny and warm in London, Ontario — and I woke up with a smile on my face. I lingered in bed long enough for Chris to ask me if the kids didn't have school today. They did, so I pulled myself out of bed and began the morning routine of making coffee, breakfasts and lunches and coaxing kids out the door. Connor wanted to ride his Ripstick to school; Janelle caught a ride with our neighbours. After I shooed them out the door I carried coffee upstairs to my husband of sixteen years and asked if he wanted me to make him a sandwich or take him out to lunch. He chose the latter. I picked him up at noon and we went to Blackfriars Bistro, a restaurant not far from Chris's office, but far enough to offer free parking (a true bonus in this city!). He had been there before; I had not. The food was delicious, the service was friendly but slow (and I came home with a second sandwich when they brought me the wrong one the first time), and the company was my favourite. Our lunch conversations have changed over the past sixteen years, but we would still rather be with each other than with anyone else.
I planned to scan a wedding pic to add here (can you
believe I don't have even one digital picture of our wedding?),
but my scanner was being tempermental so this will have to
do for now.

After lunch, Chris needed to drop something off at City Hall, so I waited for him as he ran inside. When we pulled up I noticed a wedding party standing on the front steps, waiting, I assumed, for the bride and groom to emerge from the building. Sure enough, before Chris returned to the van, the lovely couple appeared, stopped for a few photos, and disappeared into a waiting decorated car. Chris hopped in with me just before they drove past us. It was almost like looking back in time. I wanted to tell them they picked the perfect day to get married. They are enjoying a sunny wedding day. Mine was raining and cold, although I barely noticed (my bridesmaids did in their off-the-shoulder dresses!), and we were stranded by a snowstorm on the first day of our honeymoon. But May 11 is the perfect day to get married. I only hope the newlyweds are still as happy together in sixteen years as my groom and I are today.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Two Month Update

The fact that I have not added a blog post in two months is certainly not because I have had nothing to say. It has been an absolutely jam-packed couple of months! For that reason I'm going to give a brief overview, and in future posts I'll elaborate.

First of all, I found out the day before we left for our Florida vacation that I was added to the Thames Valley District School Board Elementary Occassional Teachers List. Hallelujah! So far I have worked two days in a JK/SK class at Connor and Janelle's school. I love it! It is wonderful to be back in the classroom!
The only character Janelle cared about
meeting was Minnie.

On March 9 we embarked on a fabulous, long-awaited, two week vacation to Florida. It is so hard to believe that was nearly two months ago. We had a wonderful time, and I can't wait to do it again, perhaps this time with a little less emphasis on theme parks. Don't misunderstand me — We loved Disney! But that portion of the trip was truly exhausting! We did, however, have few days at the beginning and the end with Chris's father and stepmother in Zephyrhills, and a day off in the middle of our Orlando blitz to spend at the pool and visit with our friends Eric and Charlene Currie and their three awesome kids. It was so great to finally meet the children and hear their amazing stories of adoption from Ethiopia. We had beautiful weather the entire trip, and a perfect place to stay in our rented townhome in Orlando. And Janelle met Minnie Mouse. The perfect vacation!
After the final game.

Five days after we returned home from Florida we were off again, this time to Niagara Falls for the Ontario Basketball Association U12 Finals. Sadly, our boys won only one out of three games, so there were some tears shed on Saturday night, but overall Connor has had a wonderful experience being part of a competitive team for the first time.

Five more days and the van was packed again, this time for a trip to Indiana to spend Easter with Peter, Ellen, Mallory, Julia and Shorey. One of our favourite things about living in Southern Ontario is being so (relatively) close to the Moore family. It is still about a seven hour drive, but it is so much closer than it used to be. We have had a number of great visits with them since we moved here, but we hadn't seen them in nearly a year, so we were anxious to get together for a few days. We arrived late Thursday evening, and Ellen and I shopped on Friday, then went to see The Hunger Games Friday night while Chris, Connor, Peter and Julia went to an Indiana Pacers game and Mallory babysat Janelle and Shorey. Saturday consisted of more shopping, some great food, and some hard fought ping-pong matches. On Sunday we had an Easter egg hunt, went to church, had a wonderful Easter dinner, and hit the road around 3 p.m. We're hoping we won't have to wait nearly as long for another visit with our dear friends.
Connor and Julia at the Pacers Game.
A couple of days after we arrived home from Indy, we celebrated Chris's birthday along with Bliss and Doreen, who arrived that day on their way home from Florida. We had a great visit, including a couple of games of Wizard (I won once! Woohoo!), despite the flu that had struck me down on Easter Monday. They left our house on Friday to head to Kate and Pierre's, and we went to Oakville on Saturday afternoon to share a meal with the rest of the family. I got a prescription for an ear infection that morning, so I was officially on the mend.

The following day we attended our own church for the first time in six weeks, and then joined Connor's basketball team and their families for an end of year party. There was a "parents vs. kids" basketball game (Chris played, I kept score), swimming time, and a potluck dinner. It was a bit sad to say goodbye to such a great team, but there is a chance Connor will be on the same team next year in the U13 division.
Nurnie with Connor and Janelle, Summer 2010.

Early in April I found out that Nurnie, who has been fighting ovarian cancer since just before Christmas, would be having surgery on May 2, which would be my sister's 40th birthday. For those of you who do not know who Nurnie is, she is actually Lillian Constantine, and is a bit like an aunt to me, but really much closer than an aunt. She is my second cousin on my dad's side, and my mother's best friend since they taught together in their early twenties. She has been part of our family for my entire life. I believe her brother, Larry, christened her "Nurnie" as a toddler, and I have never been able to call her anything else. She never married or had her own children, so my sister and brother and I have been her kids, and she has been another grandparent to our children. Living so far away while Nurnie has been fighting this evil disease has been very frustrating. I knew that I wanted to make a trip home on my own at some point, and since Nurnie's surgery date landed on Tracy's birthday, I thought I needed to be there. I flew to Moncton on the evening of April 29, and Mom, Dad and Nurn picked me up at the airport and we all spent the night at Nurnie's. The next day we visited in the morning, Nurn took us all out to lunch, and then Mom and Dad and I headed to Rothesay. We had decided to try to surprise Tracy, but I knew that would be easier said than done. I hid in the bedroom when she arrived that night for her birthday supper, and the biggest surprise to her was that I didn't seem to be there! When I came out and said "Happy Birthday" she told me that she had already made plans for us to see a movie the next night! All in all, it was a great week. I spent time with my family without the distraction of being on "Mom-duty". I had lots of time to just hang out with Mom in my jammies, or to play Wizard with Mom and Dad. And I was there to meet the doctor after Nurnie's surgery, which went very well, although the fight is not over yet. Saturday Mom, Tracy, Jillian, Brad, Jody, Hailey and I went to Moncton again to see how Nurnie was doing, and after a couple of really good days she had had a rough night. I was glad to see her again, but it was hard to leave knowing she had experienced a bit of a setback. Because I was flying out at 7:00 on Sunday morning, I stayed with Larry and Pat at Nurnie's house, and Larry graciously got up in the middle of the night to take me to the airport. I was ready to go home to Chris and the kids, but I am so thankful I was able to make the trip home.

And that brings us to today, which I have spent quite lazily alone in my house. Tomorrow I'll be teaching the same JK/SK class at Connor and Janelle's school, and I have no plans to leave town again before summer. I'm ready for life to slow down and fall into routine. And part of that routine will be adding to my blog. I promise.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Roller Coaster

Next week I'll be trying out some new roller coasters on our trip to Florida. Our family loves thrill rides. My kids have always loved the rides that other kids their age would be too timid to try. When Janelle was four we went to Story Land in New Hampshire and her favourite rides were the roller coasters and the water flume rides. My kids can be daredevils, and I wonder if Space Mountain will give them a run for their money. I do love roller coasters, and I think (and so does my husband) that I am more excited about Disney than anyone else in the family! I love roller coasters. But not so much the one I've been on for the past couple of weeks.

On February 22 I got an email inviting me to participate in the written component of the interview process for the occassional teachers list of our local school board on February 29. This is what I've been waiting for for two years. I actually had to read the email through two or three times before I understood that this was actually what it was. You know that feeling when the cars start to make the slow ascent up that first big rise on the roller coaster? When you know something exciting is coming, but you're not sure how it's going to turn out? That's how I felt that day. Really excited, and really nervous. I mean, when was the last time I wrote an exam? Do I even remember how? And what exactly should I be studying? How detailed do I need to be? Are there things I need to memorize? If so, what? Terrifying, but I did feel that I was finally getting my chance. So exciting.

The next day I experienced the first big drop on the rollercoaster. I received another strongly worded, very curt email, saying that following the written component, interviews would be conducted on March 5-8, and an orientation for all those hired would be held on March 14. Attendance is mandatory, and no other dates will be accomodated. DROP! I'm supposed to be in Orlando on March 14! That is our first day at Disney! How can I miss my kids first day at Disney? Do we delay the trip? Do I fly home for a day? Can I even get a reasonably priced flight at this short notice? And how do I book a flight when I don't even know if I'll be hired and need to fly home? Chris and I talked through all the options, and I shed many tears and lost plenty of sleep, and we finally came to the conclusion that I would fly home on March 13, leave Chris and the kids to hang out with Grampie and Grammie, fly back early on the 15th, and spend the next five days celebrating Mickey-style! And that car starts to go up the next big rise.

Chris was feeling confident enough in my chances of getting hired that he was ready to book a plane ticket for me, but we decided to wait and see how I felt after the written component. I studied like crazy. I knew the name of one specific document on assessment and evaluation that would almost certainly be referenced on the exam, and was told to do some thinking about inclusive education and differentiated instruction as well. When the time finally came I felt well prepared, if a bit rusty in the area of exam writing. Before given the go ahead to look at the exam, the canditates were given some further information about the whole process. Apparently, the school board is in desperate need of supply teachers, as a number of jobs are going unfilled every day now. This explains the urgency in hiring and orienting teachers and getting them into classrooms. There were 120 teachers randomly chosen from those who applied to take the test. We were then told that we would all be contacted one way or the other the following week, and interviews would be held Tuesday to Thursday at various schools with principals. Then "hopefully" we'll have an orientation on March 14. That left me a bit stunned. Hopefully? How do I buy a plane ticket based on "hopefully"? DROP!!! I completed the exam, which was considerably simpler than I had expected, only throwing me for one loop with a question on how I use technology in the classroom to meet curriculum expectations (since my last classroom had one computer with a few CD games, and I have no clue what is on the Ontario elementary technology curriculum). Still, I think I was able to come up with an answer that sounded reasonably intelligent.

Chris and I discussed that night whether or not we should buy a plane ticket, and decided to write an email together asking for clarification of the orientation date, and explaining that I was planning to fly home from a family vacation in Florida to attend. I sent the email on Thursday. I have not heard back. I was supposed to hear about an interview either Friday or today. I have not heard back yet. I feel like this rickety old car is climbing another steep incline, and I have no idea which way it is going to fall. I'm trying to distract myself with Disney plans, since, either way, I'm going on vacation next week. But I do check my email about three times an hour.

I think the roller coasters at Disney will have nothing on this one. What a ride! But I'm more than ready to get off...

Update: I got an email this afternoon telling me an interview had been arranged for Thursday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. I responded to the email asking again for clarification of the March 14 orientation date, explaining that if hired I would be flying home from vacation to attend. Not ten minutes later I received an email telling me that, if hired while on vacation, I would not be expected to fly home to attend the orientation, but that I could simply call to arrange a time to complete the paperwork after I get back. Phew! Hallelujah! Of course, having ridden this roller coaster for over a week now, I can't seem to get my stomach to stop rolling. Friday can't get here soon enough! I need a vacation!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I asked you to indulge me yesterday as I posted the findings of a very scientific poll asking elementary aged children the question "What is Love?" Well, this is still Valentines Day Week (I have a habit of stretching all special days out as long as possible — Ask my husband about "Mother's Day Weekend" or "Birthday Week"), so I decided to post another similar poll, this time on the subject of marriage. I thought it was just too cute to pass up, and far more entertaining than my own thoughts on the subject.


You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
— Alan, age 10

No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with.
— Kristen, age 10


Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
— Camille, age 10


You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
— Derrick, age 8


Both don't want any more kids.
— Lori, age 8


Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
— Lynnette, age 8 (isn't she a treasure)

On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
—Martin, age 10


When they're rich.
—Pam, age 7

The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
—Curt, age 7

The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them. It's the right thing to do.
— Howard, age 8


It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
—Anita, age 9 (bless you child)


There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
—Kelvin, age 8

And the #1 Favorite is ........


Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck.
—Ricki, age 10

Something to think about! Saturday night our community group put on a dinner at our church and showed the Date Night Challenge from Focus on the Family. It stressed the importance of dating your spouse, and challenged married couples to go on two more dates over the next two weeks. Yesterday Chris took me out to lunch to celebrate Valentine's Day at a great restaurant in downtown London I'd never tried before. It was nice to spend some alone time together, and Saturday night we have a date planned for dinner and a movie, so I guess if all goes well we've met the challenge. I think it is important to make the time to share special time alone with each other. Often our dates consist of take-out Chinese food and a movie at home. That's not bad — sometimes it's just what I need! But getting out together is important, too, and we both enjoy those times, however rare they may be. At lunch Chris suggested that we go out for lunch together once a month, and I wholeheartedly agreed. I'm so glad my husband is the one I chose to journey through life with. They don't come any better than him! Marriage isn't so hard when you're doing it with your best friend.

As a postscript, I want to wish a very happy birthday to my friend and fellow blogger Denise! May you be spoiled rotten today, my friend!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What Does Love Mean?

My friend Denise recently composed a very amusing post about all those chain letters we get, primarily on Facebook these days, that really detract from the great experience that Facebook really is. I also love Facebook. It saved me our first year in London. For a while my only friends were Facebook friends. But I have to say, I'm not a big fan of all those chain letters.

However, I have to admit, this one got to me. Perhaps it is the teacher in me. I just love the hilarious and often adorable things that come out of the mouths of kids! I actually used to take polls like this one in my preschool and kindergarten classes, for special occasions like Mothers Day and Fathers Day. The answers were always precious, and so when this email turned up in my inbox, in honour of Valentine's Day, I just had to "share the love".

But don't worry, you don't have to forward it to five people in order for all your Valentine's Day wishes to come true!

A group of professionals posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds ,

'What does love mean?'

The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined

See what you think:

'When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis, too. That's love.'

— Rebecca- age 8

'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.'
— Billy - age 4

'Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.'
 — Karl - age 5

'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.'
 — Chrissy - age 6

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.'
 — Terri - age 4

'Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.'
 — Danny - age 7

'Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.'
 — Emily - age 8

'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents. And listen.'
 — Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)

'If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate , '
 — Nikka - age 6
(we need a few million more Nikka's on this planet)

'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.'
 — Noelle - age 7

'Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.'
 — Tommy - age 6

'During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.'
 — Cindy - age 8

'My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.'
 — Clare - age 6

'Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.'
 — Elaine - age 5

'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford .'
 — Chris - age 7

'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.'
 — Mary Ann - age 4

'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.'
 — Lauren - age 4

'When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.' (What an image!)
 — Karen - age 7

'Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross.'
 — Mark - age 6

'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.'
 — Jessica - age 8

 And the final one:

The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard , climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said , 'Nothing, I just helped him cry'.

See? Precious.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Twelve Today

Today he is over 5'5" tall. He weighs 100 lbs. He can sink a shot from behind the three point line. He can Ripstick all the way to school and back. Most of his pant hems hover around his ankles. He loves tacos, and Phineas and Ferb, and the colour green. He is kind to his sister, and wonderful with all little kids. He'd be a great babysitter, but he still gets nervous when Mom and Dad leave him too late in the evening. He has (somewhat) patiently waited for years to go to Disney, and can hardly contain his excitement about finally going next month. He's my baby boy.

And today he is twelve years old.

Every year I say the same thing. Why are these the years that have to fly by so fast? My childhood seemed to go on forever, but my little boy has grown as tall as me in the blink of an eye. Still, I have been determined to enjoy it all. Every stage has been more fun than the one before. I loved every minute of the "floppy baby" stage, although Connor stayed there for about ten minutes. Toddlerhood was a hilarious time of riding his tricycle, feeding ducks, VeggieTales, Daddy back in school and special time just him and me. Then came the big brother days, and he was off to preschool and then kindergarten, and suddenly he was riding a two wheeler down a busy street and playing basketball and heading to the community pool with his buddies. And then it was time to move to London and make all new friends, and he was a trooper.  All through it he has been a tenderhearted boy, sensitive and caring and full of love. I couldn't ask for a sweeter boy. He still loves watching Spiderman movies with Dad and reading Harry Potter with me. He sits beside me in the front seat when we drive together now. I can still make him laugh with just a look. He is every bit the big brother I always wished I had; his little sister is a lucky girl. He still loves playing basketball, and he goes to Junior Youth with good friends, and he is too old for birthday parties.

Connor is twelve.

How did we get here? I am sure time speeds up. Because in four years, the time it takes to turn around, he'll be begging for a driver's license. And only two years beyond that I'll be picking out a dress for his graduation. And maybe not so long after that I'll be standing in the doorway of his empty bedroom. I'm not ready, and I'm afraid it is all going to sneak up on me. These days are precious. I need to hold them close.

So I'll take more pictures at the basketball games, spend a few extra minutes each night reading Harry Potter, and make the time for making special memories. Only one more year until we are celebrating the new teenager in our house! Will he want me to read bedtime stories to him then?

Happy 12th birthday, Connor! Your mom loves you so much!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad!

The birthday boy!
One of my favourite people in the world is having a milestone birthday today. He won't see this post today, because he is enjoying the last day of a well-deserved vacation in Florida with my mom, but I wanted to observe my dad's special day anyway.

It is so hard for me to believe that my parents are hitting these "milestones", because in my mind they've always been so young for their age. I remember hearing them say that it was having my little brother that kept them young. I guess having a preschooler in your forties will do that, but I don't believe Brad is responsible for my parents' eternal youth. My mom and dad have always had a young outlook; they don't let anything keep them from getting out and grabbing all the fun life has to offer. I only hope when I reach their stage of life I am still having as much fun as they are!

Happy 70th Birthday, Papa! I hope you're enjoying this special day! We all love you so much!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

One Word

Why, when I had such a good streak going last week, have I not continued adding to my blog this week?

One word.

A word that strikes fear into the hearts of parents everywhere.

A word that seriously ranks right up there with horror movies and surgery for me.

A word that I naively thought I would never have to deal with as a parent.

A word I have learned so much about in the past two days.



Poor Janelle. She has such beautiful hair, and so much of it! I have never wished her hair was short before today. It takes over an hour to comb through it each time. We've done it twice so far, and I plan to go through it again tonight, and every day for another week or so. And she is an absolute angel, not complaining even once about the pulling or the long time sitting still. Oh, and did I tell you, she's also sick with a miserable cough and cold?

So I am far too busy checking heads (none of the rest of us have shown evidence -- Hallelujah!), doing laundry (and more laundry, and even more laundry), vaccuuming, tying up bags of stuffed toys, calling the pharmacist to find out why those critters are still wiggling a day after treatment (not to worry, I did it right, and I'll just have to remove by hand for a few days), and trying to keep up with all the things that were originally on my "to do list" for the week. No time for writing.

One more word: EXHAUSTED!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Disney Dizziness

We told the kids at Christmas that this is the year we'll finally be taking a family vacation to Florida. We know we'll be going in March. We know we'll be spending part of the time in Zephyrhills with Chris's Dad and Doreen. We know we'll be making a long-awaited visit to Disney World. That's about all we know.

This morning Doreen called just to check on the dates we plan to travel, which led Chris and I to sit down and finalize when we actually plan to go. So now we at least have a timeframe. But now I'm also full of questions.

For example: How many days do we need at Disney? Do we want to visit all the parks, or choose a couple of them to focus on this time? Do we need hopper passes, or will regular passes do? What about water parks? And do we stay at a Disney resort, or a nearby hotel off Disney World? Do we spend a few days in Orlando and then commute from Zephyrhills for a couple of days? Do we buy a Disney vacation package with dining including? If so, do we need table dining, or will quick meals suffice? And most importantly, how soon do I have to have all of this figured out?

I would be happy to accept any and all advice available. I've decided to devote today to Disney research. I don't want to go anywhere today anyway. The rain has finally turned to snow, the world is white, and I am cozy inside. My gloomy moodiness has turned to Disney dizziness! Does anyone have a cure?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


My backyard today - January 17, 2012. What???
I am not innocent of complaining about the weather in January. I can recall far too many mornings when the car wouldn't start because it was -30C outside. Living on Crocket Street in Fredericton, I was forever complaining about the height of the snow banks as I was trying to back out onto the busy street. And last year in London I was appalled by the terrible condition of secondary roads where snow removal was all but ignored. So I hate to complain today, when it is 8C outside and only a few stubborn patches of snow remain in the corners of our yard. But I will. It is absolutely gloomy out there, and the gloom seems to be invading my home as well.

Here in Canada, our bodies and minds are used to the changing of the seasons. Like clockwork we prepare our yards, cars, homes and closets for winter. Last year in London it arrived with a vengeance, almost before we were ready for it. Connor had already worn out a pair of snow pants by this time last year. But this year, it doesn't seem to have arrived at all, and I'm finding it a bit unsettling. In fact, it's a little creepy, like global warming is becoming all too real in our own town. It is a frequent topic of conversation: "Can you believe this weather?" "Is it still raining out there?" "Yep, but it's better than snow!" Well, today I would like to object to that conclusion! It's not better than snow! This is JANUARY! There is supposed to be snow on the ground! When the kids come home from school, I should be able to send them out to play in the snow! Who wants to play in the mud? It's too cold to have fun outside without snow. There is no tobogganing, no snowmen, no snow angels. I can't sit by my window and watch thick snowflakes gently falling on my street. No, instead I am listening to the rain beating against the windows, and I don't like it.

I guess the gloom outside has affected my mood. Tune in next week, when, inevitably, I'll be complaining about shovelling and below freezing temperatures. Gotta love living in Canada!

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Camera Practice

I got a beautiful new camera for Christmas, which was a total surprise, and I absolutely love it! For the past several years, since I entered the digital age, I've had a great little point-and-shoot Nikon, but recently I've been frustrated by its limitations. Specifically, at Connor's basketball games it's pretty useless unless the gym is very well lit, as well as for anything on a stage (Christmas concerts, school presentations, etc) or extreme close-ups. I thought I needed to get an SLR camera to overcome these problems, and never thought I was ready for the learning curve that would be involved in that. I had no idea that Chris was researching the right next camera for us until I opened it on Christmas morning. He got me a Nikon Coolpix P500, which has an extended zoom, some high speed capability, and a lot more bells and whistles than I've ever had before. I love it! And this past weekend Connor had three basketball games in Windsor, so it was the perfect opportunity for me to practice.

I could write another blog about how much fun it is watching my son play basketball, but I've done that before. This was a pretty full day. We left the house at 7:15 and arrived at the gym two hours later, to find a game already in progress. One of the teams was really dominating the other, and we knew that was the last team our guys would be playing later in the afternoon. That was a bit daunting, but our team took the court with confidence anyway. During our first game the teams traded the lead back and forth the whole time, and in the end, the game went into overtime. Our boys were able to take the lead early in the overtime and won by 5 points. The second game started immediately, playing the team we had seen lose when we arrived. Our team won that one, too, but not by nearly as drastic a margin as the first team had. I was proud of Connor, as always. He concentrated hard on defense, and was able to sink a basket early in the game. We went out to Subway for lunch with most of our team and recharged before our final match up. The boys all knew this was a really hard to beat team, but they went into the game excited anyway.

It was clear from the beginning our guys were not going to win this one. The other team took an early lead and held it. The last half our boys were able to win back some of the ground they had lost, and they were not as soundly beaten as the first team we saw go down, but it wasn't enough. We later found out that this team has been playing together for four years. They have an excellent coach, encouraging and offering constant constructive criticism, and fantastic team spirit. I noticed little things about them that contributed to their team's cohesiveness, like how every member of the team wore one white sock and one black sock, and how at the end they always cheered for both teams, shook hands with the opposing team, and then ran down a high-five line of all their parents. Our team could learn a lot from this one, and I'm glad they had the opportunity to play them.

But this wasn't supposed to be a post about basketball! I guess I just couldn't resist. No, this post wasn't even going to be about words. This post is one about pictures, and I think they tell the story better than I could anyway.
Number 7 is my boy!

Cheering on big brother!

Connor has the ball!

Connor takes a shot!

Love this shot!
Two minutes left in overtime...

This is why I love my new camera! I was sitting all the way across the gym when I took this.
Look at that intense brown eye!

Janelle entertained the other little siblings.

Tip off in the last game. Our team changed into their white jerseys for this one.

Good game, guys!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Resolution Recount

New Year's resolutions make my stomach hurt. I just don't feel up to the task anymore. I've made so many, and kept so few. I don't have any faith in my ability to keep them anymore! Every year I start with the most wonderful intentions. I come up with three or four creative and personal ideas that I want to carry through the year. I can count on one hand the resolutions I've seen through to completion in recent memory. In 2005 I read the Bible through, Genesis to Revelation, in less than a year. In 2006 I invented a job for myself (the best job I've ever had!). And in 2009 I let go of my own strongholds and fears and agreed to pull up stakes and move. But how many years have seen me determine to do something (often involving diet and exercise), only to give up by the second week of February?

Does this sound like I'm giving up on making New Years Resolutions? I'm not. I think, in part, I am too much of a perfectionist. If I don't start on January 1st, I've failed and there are no "redos". That's not what is happening this year. It is January 11th, and I really haven't gotten much of a start on any of my resolutions, but that's okay. I can start now. I can start next week. As long as I determine to start! So, here goes. Here is the 2012 list.
  1. No more buying books. This is the only one that I have actually started already. I've encountered a number of gasps when I tell people this. It seems buying books is a very intrinsic component of my personality, and few of my friends actually think I'll be able to follow through. I do allow a couple of exceptions: a) I can download books to my Kobo if I have a gift card (and I do have a couple of gift cards handy in case I go into withdrawal), and b) I can use credit at the used bookstore, meaning I have to get rid of books to get books. Hopefully those two caveats will carry me through a year of no book buying. My sister-in-law is already playing devil's advocate trying to trick me into buying something, but I'm onto her game. Clearly I have more than enough books on my shelves and my Kobo to carry me through a year without adding to them. I'm actually curious to see how many of them I can get through this year. I think it might be fun!
  2. Diet and excercise. I don't think I really need to expand on this one. It is as distasteful to talk about as it is to do. But I'm going to do it. The virtue I am teaching this month in Sunday School is self-control, so I should be ready to go by the end of the month! I made it through an entire evening without a snack last night, even while sitting next to my snacking husband on the couch (Don't think I didn't give him guilt for it!). I am armed with a new Jillian Michaels exercise video. I haven't tried it yet, but I shelled out ten bucks for it, so I am determined to use it. Starting tomorrow.
  3. Writing more. I guess I could go to extemes and say I'm going to blog every day, or every school day. I've done that before. But blogging isn't the only writing I'm planning on doing, so I don't want to commit to that. I will blog more. In fact, a mini-resolution is to write more than 65 blog posts (my 2011 number) in 2012, and maybe even beat my 2010 number of 139, which is basically three a week, and that's my goal anyway. But this post actually grew out of a fun writing exercise I tried, so maybe it will all sort of grow together. Who knows? I guess I'm starting this one today.
  4. Finding my path. I almost didn't write this one down, since it sounds kind of airy-fairy and hippie-dippie, but it is a pretty important one. At the beginning of 2012 I find myself at a place where I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up. Okay, so that's not completely true; I know I want to teach, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards, at least not at the public school level. So it's time to branch out my search and see what is out there that could turn into a career for me. We really can't afford the luxury of me staying home forever. This was supposed to be the time in our lives when we become a two income family. So I guess it's time for me to figure out where that second income is going to come from. Time to send Connor out to work, I guess! *hahaha*
So there we are, four resolutions. Nothing too terribly daunting (except that second one, ugh. Good thing I have an awesome FB support group! Hang tough, girls!). If anyone has any tried and true "resolution keeping" advice, I'd be happy to hear it. I know I've kept resolutions before, and I know I can again if I really try! And if you have made any resolutions of your own, let me know and we can keep each other accountable. Happy New Year! Starting today!