Monday, April 16, 2018

the highlight of brownie camp

I always wanted to be a Brownie when I was little.  Not sure why my mom didn't put us in.  I don't even recall if I ever told her I wanted to be in Brownies!  All I know is that I never did it.  Fast forward almost 40 years.  I asked Aves if she wanted to be in Brownies and she expressed mostly apathetic interest.  I needed to live vicariously through her, so I signed her up!

She had one stipulation, though.  She wouldn't do any overnight camps unless I went too.  Ha.  I'm told this is the best part of Guiding!

I decided that I would sign up as a Girl Guide leader so that I could attend the camps and Aves wouldn't miss out.  I thought it would be a fun way to volunteer as well!  Not only am I volunteering for sleepovers, but I also help out in the weekly unit meetings.

One thing I have learned about myself: I am NOT cut out to be a leader.  And I'm definitely not cut out to be a leader of children!  I don't have creative ways to deal with the never-ending list of excuses and interruptions that kids can come up with!  Most importantly, I don't have the patience.  I don't lose my patience with kids, but I find that I'm not alot of 'fun' to learn from.  Not engaging.  At.  All.

This past weekend, we went on our first 2-night Brownie camp (by 'we', I mean me and Aves).  Aves loved it!  She had a blast.  Her highlights were roasting wieners and making s'mores at the campfire and singing campfire songs at night.  Her most difficult times were sleeping at night (but I think we've figured it out for next time!).  At the end of the weekend, I asked her if she wanted to go to District camp this summer and she said yes.  I asked her if I didn't go whether she would still want to go and she said yes (as long as we address the sleeping issue)!

I'm thrilled!  I wanted Aves to be a Brownie to help her develop confidence in her skills and to give her a sense of adventure.  It seems to be working!  I've registered her for the camp this summer, so fingers crossed that she will go when the time comes!

As for me, I'm learning that as much as I wanted to be a Brownie when I was little, I don't really see myself as a Brownie Leader.  Camp was mostly fun this weekend.  But I had alot of anxiety about the one activity that I had to lead.  And then after the activity was done, I worried about how the activity went over with the kids.

The kids were great, though!  It was interesting to see all the different personalities and how they interacted with each other.  And the lifetime Girl Guiders who were the 'main' leaders amazed me!  I can learn alot from them in how to navigate groups of children (none of them were actually parents!).

In the end, I had one big highlight: helping to make pancakes for breakfast for ~35 people!  Apparently, I enjoy helping, not leading.  Note that someone else took these pictures and I didn't actually get any pictures of the weekend as I was too busy stressing about being a leader! 😓



Monday, April 2, 2018

the real hawai'i

I was going to try to do our Oahu trip in one post, but we had so many good adventures, that one post wouldn't have done it justice.

One of the first things we did on Oahu was take a tour of the island.  Maybe I'm getting old, but I'm into tours these days.  All the tours we've done lately have given us insights into the places we've visited that we wouldn't have gotten just by going on our own (and some of the places we wouldn't have even known to go on our own!).  And, honestly, the kids love them!

Now, I'm not talking about a run of the mill bus tour.  We've been doing more 'fun' tours that cater to things we want to do.  This time around, we hooked up with http://therealhawaiitours.com.  They offered a jeep tour of the island and since the jeep only fits 4, it was a private tour!

Our tour guide, Dan, took us around the island and showed us things on and off the beaten path.  In a word, it was amazing!  We were engaged the entire time.  I can't really quantify what made it so great, but I think that was part of it.  It felt so much like a 1:1 tour of the island that sharing our highlights wouldn't mean as much to others.  It was just all the tidbits of information that we gathered along the way that made it so interesting for us.

Some of the particularly noteworthy discussions where:
- the Hawaiian language
- what it was like being on the island during the missile alert
- 400 skulls!
- shrimp trucks along the north shore
- Oahu vs. Maui
- all the movie locations along the way!
- chinaman's hat
- tako diving
- Hawaiian fruit and the economy

There were too many photos from the tour to post them all here, but here's a link to the album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/bJFO0oAfz0f7o0h73

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

witness

Aves has been singing Katy Perry since she discovered music (I think after the Wiggles, it was Katy Perry!).  Last summer, when I heard KP's Witness tour was coming to Vancouver in Feb 2018, I knew we had to get tickets (will KP be touring for much longer?!).  We gave Aves the tickets as her Christmas present and she was so excited, counting down the days!

Growing up, concert-going wasn't particularly popular with my parents.  My first concert was A-ha in LA, when I was 15 years-old.  I went with my sister and we had family friends as our chaperones (the only reason we were allowed to go was because these family friends invited us!).  Needless to say, I haven't been to many concerts, but each time I go, they're a blast.

I'm not a Katy Perry fan at all, but I had a blast at her concert.  For different reasons.  I had a blast at the concert with Aves.  She is such a fan and still has her sing-like-no-one-is-watching innocence.  This will not last forever.  I know she might kill me one day for posting this, but I had such a blast with her, I had to share. 💖

Witness Tour

Had to have the ears!








Monday, March 5, 2018

provincial champs!

This is Josh's fifth year playing lacrosse. It's a year-round sport - with field lacrosse in the fall/winter season and box lacrosse in the spring season (carries into summer for the higher levels). Some kids play either field or box. Josh plays both. I see his love/hate relationship with it. Sometimes he wants to play and sometimes he doesn't. Brian has done his fair share of nudging Josh to get him to go to practices.  At the end of the day, though, I think it's engrained in him now and if he stopped, he'd miss it.

I'm still not sure how I feel about Josh playing lacrosse.  It's a rough sport and Josh isn't a big kid.  Not even close.  But I do love watching the kids play.  Seeing their growth through the years, as a parent, I'm in awe.  Not just Josh, but his teammates too.

This past 2017/18 field lacrosse season was a particularly memorable one.  Josh has bounced between the 2 tiers in his division from year to year.  This year, he made the Tier 1 team and the kids had quite a successful season!  They were undefeated in regular season games, losing once in tournament play. They won gold in the 2 tournaments they entered.  Then, to end the season on a high note, they won their final tournament, which was the equivalent to Provincials (officially, they don't have 'Provincials' until the next division up)!

More importantly, I think the kids gelled well this season.  They also had fantastic coaches!  It was inspiring watching them come together as a team.  The team deserved their success this season and we are so proud of them!

Now, after a couple of weeks of rest and digesting their success, they have started tryouts for box lacrosse season.  Ha - no rest for the wicked!  Go Bellies Go!



Tuesday, February 27, 2018

do you wanna build a snowman?

It’s rare in Vancouver to have a big dump of snow and then, 24 hours later, still have snow that hasn’t been rained on and hardened. This weekend, we had one of those rare mornings! When we woke up, the sun was shining brightly and snow that had fallen in the previous 24 hours was pristine!

Josh immediately said, “I’m going outside!” and Aves wasn’t going to be left behind! Tess asked Josh if he was going to build a snowman and in typical tween form he said, “I don’t build them anymore”. Fair enough.

Brian and I took our time getting ready and by the time we got outside, the kids had already been to the park and back. They'd clearly surveyed their surroundings! We got out the shovels and Josh said, “Dad, can you wait to shovel the driveway? I’m making a snowman.” Ha! Turns out, when you have ideal snowball-rolling conditions, even the most ‘tween’ of us can find that kid inside!

We decided it was better to build the snowman at school (a mix of surface area and quality of snow!). The end product was fun! Josh had this idea to use greenery for hair, so we trimmed our cedar hedge for hair! In the end, the kids decided to name him Jefferson.

 

As we left to carry on with our day, Josh asked if he could kick down Jefferson. Of course, I said, 'Don't do that! Let's leave him up until he melts.' Apparently, my maternal 'every child is an angel' idealism got the better of me. When we drove past the school an hour later, the snowman had been kicked down. Some asshole(s) thought it'd be ok to kick down someone else's snowman!  😡  I guess I learned a valuable lesson that day: when your child asks to kick down his own snowman, let him.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

creating content

I had a conversation today.  One of my co-workers said his New Year's resolution is to create more content than he consumes.  Huh.  This is a very interesting resolution.  And kicks my thought process into high gear!  I'd say it is next to impossible to create more content than one consumes.  Reading books/periodicals, watching tv/movies, social media and the internet.  It's all consuming content.  How many opportunities does one have to create content?

I look at this blog as my last 'real' attempt to create content.  Then, a couple of years ago, I started to cheat in this effort.  It was quicker and more instantly gratuitous to post in social media, so instead of taking the time to think through what I wanted to post, I'd just snap a photo and post it on Facebook. Yes, it's easy to argue that posting in Facebook is also creating content, but it's not the same.

Now, when I look back at my Facebook posts and my blog posts, I definitely get more enjoyment reading my blog posts than my Facebook posts.  Also, sharing my blog with the kids is a blast!  It tells a story.  And I realize that it's not as important to me to let others know 'what I'm up to lately'; rather it's more important that I have something that I can reflect on with my family years down the road.

So, in an effort to 'create content', I'm going to start creating content that is meaningful to me.  I know I stopped doing this because life got so busy.  But maybe, if I take time out from consuming content and I create content instead, I might just find some time.  Fingers crossed.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

aves says, 'i love moms!'

We had been plodding along the past little while, adjusting to life with 2 kids in school now, no more nanny and just trying to get the daily grind sorted between work, school, kid’s activities and everything in between.  It had been the usual, busy family stuff.

Then, toward the end of January, we had the proverbial perfect storm of events that sort of churned up our lives.  And now, 3.5 months later, I think the clouds are slowly parting, and as I start to see the sky again, I notice that the storm has shifted things in our world a bit.

In January, my work situation left me in a position where Brian and I started talking about whether it was time for me to leave my job.  The work situation coupled with the kids recently transitioning from having a nanny to going to out-of-school care and then dealing with stuff with Josh, led me to believe that it might be time to slow down the pace for awhile and focus on the kids.

I have never been in the position where I was unemployed and not fully looking for work (except for maternity leave, which was, mentally, a different kind of unemployed).  It was a scary idea for me to contemplate that I would be unemployed with my first priority as the kids, and not finding another job.  But Brian and I decided we could manage it financially, so we decided to go for it.

At the beginning of February, I left my job.  It was strangely cathartic.  The day after, I felt mildly exuberant.  I was so relieved to not have to worry about work stresses, but I knew there was a long, unknown road ahead.  It was strange to admit, but I had just made the choice to be a stay-at-home mom for the next little while!  

Here’s the thing though: I’m good at my job.  I’m good at work.  And I like work interactions.  I have previously come to the realization that for me, work is easy.  The things I do at work are intuitive and come natural to me.  For me, it’s the parenting part that’s hard.  I have no clue what I’m doing when it comes to raising my kids.  Not only do I have no clue, but I also can’t hear my intuition when it comes to parenting.  So, I had just given up the thing I know, that comes natural to me and replaced it full time with the thing that daily makes me feel like I’m incompetent and not worthy.  Ha.

For the first month and a bit, all I did was decompress.  It took me this long to get myself to believe that now that I was not juggling my career job with my mom job, I was still just as ‘important’.  I found myself continuing to network, getting in touch with past colleagues and tried to keep my finger on my career pulse.  At the same time, I was figuring out how to deal with Josh’s stuff as well as trying to reconnect with family life (our nanny had just left us at the beginning of January, so reconnecting with family life was on-going).

It was very strange for me.  I felt a bit lost in understanding what I ‘needed’ to be doing.  Remember: even though I was technically a stay-at-home mom, there were 2 distinguishing factors:

1.  The kids were still in out-of-school care.  We didn’t want to lose our spots and we didn’t want there to be too much change to the kid’s routine.  So, I was a stay-at-home mom with child care.  Can you say ‘Real Housewives of New Westminster’?!  Ha.

2. I still had looking for a job hanging over my head.  How could I be unemployed and not be looking for another job?!  I was having trouble accepting this.

I don’t think I ever fully accepted that it was ok for me to be at home and not doing some sort of job search.  I guess the responsibility is so engrained in me.  But I think that one thing that I was able to finally accept, was that there was a place for me as an unemployed person who was spending more time with her family.   And in accepting this, I was able to reaffirm some of the truths I already knew about myself.  Like, I hate house cleaning and even if I have all day to do it, I still won’t.  And I need the different kind of mental stimulation that my work brings.  I need the work challenges that I can solve intuitively and feel confident about my decisions.  And, as selfish as it sounds, I can never get enough “me time”.

So, after the dust settled and I accepted the truths about myself, this is where the real learning began.  This is when I got to see the side of parenting that I never saw before.  The part where I suddenly had some time to enjoy it.  To really get a chance to sit down and look at the gobs of artwork and paper that my kids generate.  To get to see them off to class every morning and watch them interact with their friends.  To volunteer for activities in and around school.  To bring order to our household in a way that allowed my kids to thrive.  To get to go to all their different activities prepared and with purpose, as opposed to feeling like we’re just rushing them from one activity to the next.  I feel like I’m an active participant in my kid’s lives, not just an overseer of it.  I feel closer to my kids than I’ve ever felt before.

Here we are now on Mother’s Day and, ironically, on the eve of me starting a new job (because I just couldn’t stop looking!).  When I go back to work, I will have had almost 4 months to sort out what I’ve needed to with my family.  That person, in February, who had trouble letting go of her career self, is now terrified of what she might be letting go to bring her career self back in.  I don’t honestly know if I’m ready to go back to work.  I don’t know that I’ve accomplished all I set out to accomplish at home when we decided I should leave my job.  And I don’t know if I can keep that connection with the kids when I’m balancing a full time job again.  I found a new level of presence and patience with the kids that I don’t know if I can maintain when I add the burden of work stress.  I know when I go back to work, it will be easy for me to fall back into ‘work’ mode.  And I’m not sure I know how to have that connection to my work and maintain the connection I’ve made with my family life.  It’s making me feel very torn.

But I do know this: for 4 months, I had the opportunity to experience a different way of being in my family.  I got to step outside my normal self and see how else I could be, not just as a mother, but as a person too.  And as torn as I am about going back to work, I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything.  In fact, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

So, as I sit here on Mother’s Day, eating breakfast in bed and contemplate how life-changing it’s been being a mother, I have to thank Brian for all his support as I navigated my version of stay-at-home-mom-dom.  I couldn’t have done it without you and I love you.  And I have to thank all my parental family and friends for their advice and non-judgment.  I think, in the end, its the fear of judgment that can kill us.

But mostly, I have to thank my kids.  Josh and Aves, thank you for showing me pure joy, honesty, unconditional love and resilience that I never knew existed.  You are the most amazing human beings I know.  You make me want to be the best mother I can be each and every day.  I love, love, love you guys like nothing else.

And to all the moms I know, who get to have the best job in the world, Happy Mother’s Day.