Monday, December 7, 2015

The Snowman

I wrote the story below last February.
This past 2 weeks, the stomach flu has swept through our entire family more than once. I'll spare you the gruesome details.
But the way Ryan carried our family through it even when he was feeling awful himself reminded me of this story I had written... So I'll share it now!

{Read as an expression of appreciation, not an essay on gender roles ;)}

Two months after Christmas, I decided it was time to take down the last remaining visual reminder of the season in our home: A set of 5 Russian matryoshka dolls - snowmen of, obviously, varying sizes.

While I am a chronic procrastinator, that's not why these dolls lingered on the mantelpiece. It wasn't that I just "hadn't gotten around to" removing this family of snowmen; These snowmen just represent something beyond Christmas for me, occupying a very sentimental place in my heart.

4 years ago, Ryan picked this particular Russian doll set out for me (in Russia) because he knows my warmth towards all things Christmas. So, that's one piece of my sentimental attachment: knowing that he knew that little thing about me.

There's also the intricacy of the hand painting on these particular dolls. The brush the painter used must have been smaller than any brush I've ever had. Each detail on these snowmen is perfect. I love considering the care that went into each individual doll in the set. These dolls could only have been prepared at a slow and intricate pace that I long to experience more of in my life.

Today, I discovered another layer to my appreciation for the snowman "family" as I unfolded a simple story to guide my son through the stacking and nesting process.

I let the snowmen represent members of our family:

"Put the Taylor snowman inside the Rylen snowman. It's like he's helping her - carrying her."

"Now put the Rylen AND Taylor snowmen inside of mommy. That's just like how she carried you before you were born. And how she takes care of you now."

Lastly, we put all of those snowmen inside the big Daddy snowman.
And it got me thinking.

All year, as we wait for next Christmas, the Daddy snowman carries all of the other snowmen.
If our son was a little older, here is what I would want to explain to him…

Daddy has a big job in our snowman family.
We each have a job in helping to carry each other…
But then Daddy has to somehow help carry all of us.
God has given Daddy a big job.

Here's how I see Daddy doing an awesome job of carrying us, just like the snowman Daddy:

Daddy goes to work every day so that we can have money.
He spends that money so that we get to have a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, and toys to play with.
Daddy also has to do extra work to ask people for some of that money.
That can be really hard, for lots of reasons.
But he does it for us.

Daddy gets up early in the morning so that the Mommy snowman can get some rest.
Daddy knows that the Mommy snowman has to carry the Rylen & Taylor snowmen during the day, so he helps Mommy to be strong enough.
Sometimes Daddy even gets up in the night to help Rylen or Taylor so that the Mommy snowman doesn't get too tired to carry them through the day.

Daddy talks to the Rylen snowman in a way that helps him to learn. He is patient and shows him how to do things. He involves Rylen in things he is doing. And, maybe most importantly, he plays with Rylen. Right now, that's what Rylen needs. Daddy carries Rylen by taking care of those needs, and acknowledging that they matter - That Rylen matters.

Daddy knows that the Taylor snowman is the smallest one of them all. Sometimes the little ones need something different to help them grow. They need eye contact, beard snuggles, and opportunities to see the world from a fresh angle. Daddy makes sure Taylor has those things.

It's hard work being a Daddy snowman.
Sometimes the other snowmen are fun and awesome.
Sometimes they are heavy.
Either way, Daddy has to help carry them.
And our Daddy does an awesome job at that.

Thank you, Daddy. We love you.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Beating the Heat... (Not, I Suppose, Unlike the Spurs)

It's stinkin' hot here.

I lived in the Bahamas for 2 years, and I honestly don't remember complaining about the heat. Maybe it was because the ocean was never more than a 5-minute drive away. Maybe it's because I wasn't 36 weeks pregnant (or, pregnant at all, come to think of it). Maybe it's because I had a better attitude in my 20's.

But between about 2 and 8pm every day right now, I'm wilting. I'm useless. I move from couch to bed (to floor) to chair to couch again. Once in a while I make it all the way across the kitchen to get a freezie. But then it's couch again.

Here, however, are some little moments I've stumbled across that have redeemed parts of my last few sweltering, moving-from-couch-to-chair-to-bed kind of days:

1) The Costco Dairy section. You know what I'm talking about. The one where you usually leave your cart in the hallway as you plan the most efficient route from the 4-litre milk jugs to the half-and-half cream and back out to the hallway again before you freeze to death. Well, not me. Not this week. This week I walked in, looked around at the different colors of milk jugs... and giggled. (I thought I should leave when poor Rylen started saying "It's coooold, Mommy. It's cold").

2) Listening to Ryan Google videos for "How to make a home-made air conditioner."

3) Walking into Walmart and fantasizing about that movie where the girl hides and then sleeps over in the store. You remember? Walking past the duvets and pillows last night, that's all I could think about. I giggled again.

4) The moment where I sat down on a cold seat in a public washroom (sorry for any of you germaphobes), and I almost burst out in grateful song. Seriously, it was the coldest thing I felt all day. I was in heaven. I thought about feigning an embarrassing need to linger in the washroom, but... well, my social instinct to be cooler than that kicked in, I guess.

So we spent this evening shopping for portable air conditioners. Our city is almost entirely sold out, which was both disappointing and comforting. Disappointing for the obvious reasons; and comforting for the solidarity with the rest of the population, knowing we're not the only ones totally, like, dying.

Through a series of circumstances and conversation at the first of 5 stores we went to, we landed fifth and finally at an obscure store, off the beaten path. We asked the first customer service provider we saw if they had any portable A/C units left.
"Nope, sold out."
I told him I'd called 20 minutes earlier and been informed that there was one left... somewhere.
(This was true. Sounds like the ploy of a desperate woman, but it was true).

He went to check in the back, and came out wheeling a box on a dolly with a paper taped on it and the name "Mike" written in permanent marker. He informed me that he had set it aside for someone earlier that day, but that they had failed to pick it up, so he would like to sell it to us.

Are we bad people for taking it?

Sorry, Mike.
Heat makes you do crazy things.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

When All Else Fails, Press Re-set

I just haven't been able to do it.

My sister-in-law has been sweetly asking (harassing) me to start writing again. She knows better than most people the value of writing it down.

So, how the heck do I get re-started?
I have an idea.

With my Grade 6 students this year (who - whom? - I adored), we created a book all about The Little Things. {That's what parenting and teaching are all about, ya? Turning them into little clones of the things you love without telling them that's what you're doing}.

Each Wednesday, we'd all come up with one little thing that we noticed in life that was awesome, quirky, funny, noteworthy… or, eventually, an inside joke for the class. Then we'd paste it into this book, creating a paper-full collection in this paperless age.

In honour of my students-who(m)-I-adore, and in the spirit of getting back on the horse, I'll share a few gems from the book:

"Beating part of a video game that you've been stuck on for years."
- How many "years" of video games does an 11-year old have under their belt??

"The smell of dishwasher cubes when you open the package."
- Mmm. Good one.

"Stepping on the bathroom a scale and realizing you lost 10 pounds."
- Umm, considering you weigh like 55 pounds, I'm hoping this is something you overheard your mom saying last week… Not because your mom, you know… I didn't mean… Okay, just shut up, Mrs. Adams.

"Going another year without a cavity." 
- Oooh, just give it a few years.

"Watching a documentary which you think would be boring, and your dad is forcing you to watch, then you find it very interesting."
- Insert [husband] for "dad" and I get it.

"When you survive the apocalypse."
- The very littlest of little things.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pass Go. Do not Collect Anything.

I'm a bit of a collector.

That's a euphemism.
I have a hard time throwing things away.

That's also a euphemism.
I'm a pack rat.

It's good to hang your laundry out on the line, you know? Especially things that people close to you are already, like, more than aware of.

I feel like this probably isn't the first time I've mentioned this on my blog. But I'm revisiting this issue because it's my goal to get rid of one item a day for 40 days. See, I started this about a week ago... and I've done it twice so far. But. Both of those times there was a small pile of actually like 4 things. So I think I'm pretty much caught up.

In this book I'm reading, the author refers to something called "evil excess."
She's probably not referring to me, right? I'm, like, really nice.

But I think it's safe to say that's not the point.

Ryan and I tend to move a lot.

That's a euphemism.
We've moved 3 times since being married (for 3 and a half years). And we have recently discovered that we will be moving again this summer.

When you move, you get the distinct privilege of facing your stuff. It's awful. In those moments you think to yourself, seriously, we could survive just fine with two pairs of shoes, one blanket, and a frying pan.
But then you get settled into your life and you realize it's nice sometimes to have seven throw pillows, twelve picture frames, and three favorite pens all at your immediate disposal.

What I'm realizing, though, is that there are many items that are nice to have... but are they nice to move?
And, I believe more importantly, are they nice to think about?

And that is my issue. That is what I'm working to overcome here. I don't want to think about things we have and feel their excessiveness boring a hole into my conscience. I don't want to think about things we have and realize I'd feel guilty purchasing a more useful item because the drawer was already full of things I just didn't have the will to part with.

Mostly, I want to spend as little time as possible thinking about stuff management.

Because there are just so many other more wonderful - and dare I say, eternal - things to consider.
To be continued in a following edition...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Falling Forward.

At first, I didn't want to move to a small town. I like the feeling of things "happening." I love to spend solitary time, but with the hum of activity just out the door and around the corner.

I think I've always been like that.
I remember loving when I could hear my parents' friends or small groups over when I was trying to fall asleep (or, more likely trying not to fall asleep).
I remember loving hearing the noise of traffic through my bedroom window.
I liked the glow of streetlights too, because that meant we were on a busy enough street to warrant those lights.

So when we decided to move to this small town, I was hesitant.

That now seems ridiculous.

The small town we're in is one of the most coveted places to live, no exaggeration, in Canada.
And I'm experiencing why every day.

The hum of activity is literally just out our door and around the corner. My walk with Huck this morning will serve as evidence of the sweeter-than-sweet life we are privileged to be living these days.

First, we stopped by the local church to drop off some unneeded clothing items in the big blue bin. I've noticed I'm more likely to do that when it's a 3-minute walk away than when the car becomes involved. 

Second, we considered stopping at the local chocolate shop for a mocha. But when I realized it was only 11am I decided I should wait at least 1 hour before consuming my first chocolate for the day.

Third, we were magnetically pulled into the local antique store. More accurately, one of the local antique stores. There are 5 or 6. While inside, 2 small dogs ran half-way up my leg. It's okay, though - small town dogs are allowed in stores because they are innately friendly. Like the store owner, who oohed and aahed over Huck's eyelashes. We found a connection point by sharing in the common unfairness of a world where boys so often get nicer eyelashes than girls. Also, they were filming a movie in the back of her shop, so there was much to talk about.

Fourth, we stopped to get mail at the post office. Nothing with our name on it today, but there's something precious about needing to walk to get your mail. Sometimes I wish emails were a little less accessible like that. Don't you?

Between the fourth and the fifth thing, Huck and I turned to watch the train scratch its way noisily through town... as it does every 12 minutes or so. It seems like 12 minutes... And I promise that I'm only exaggerating by half an hour at the most.

Anyways, fifth, we stopped in to the local bakery, which was recently sold, closed, and reopened within 4 days. I am keenly hopeful that this new baker will have also gone to the school where they teach bakers how to fold dough into these beautiful, sugary pockets and stuff them with strawberries and rhubarb. We'll see.

Sixth, and finally, I peeked through the window at the "Growcer" to see if he was working today. He wasn't. But if he was, I was going to tell him that I saw a poster about a cat. He told me a few weeks ago that he lost his cat during a local festival, and he was very sad about it. While walking by the river a few days ago, I saw a poster: "Found Cat." I think he should know, just in case.

So, we returned back around the corner, and through the door.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Piles Schmiles.

It's 1pm.

The kitchen is dirty.
The recycling needs to go out.
There are two wet diapers lying around somewhere that need to be chucked in the bin.
There is a basket full of laundry waiting to be folded.
Our toilet has one of those "clean-me" rings accumulating (sorry, gross).
I have at least 5 emails I "should" respond to.
I have one large administrative task to complete.
And, I just received the last of seven daily reminders in my phone to order Huck's passport.

But you know what I'm doing right now?

I'm sitting on my bed.
I'm in my pyjamas.
I have headphones over my ears... {which I just realized are playing absolutely nothing}.
And I'm blogging.

Ryan told me to.

Sometimes you need that, you know? Someone to tell you to be a little less self-sufficient. Someone to tell you that you're perspective is becoming skewed. Someone to load up the dishwasher in front of you when your eyes are glazing over. Someone to give you a hug before they leave for their third of four rounds of work for the day.

When you find someone like that, you should probably marry them.

Or, thank them for being your mom.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Slippery Slope.

I have a tendency to be overly ambitious.

I don't mean like I want to be a medical doctor and get a PhD in English Literature and fly to the moon before I'm 38.

I mean, when I have 45 minutes "free," I want to accomplish approximately thirteen things.

A few days ago, I had about a 45 minute Huck-will-be-happy window to do a big Superstore shop. My goal was, surprisingly, straightforward:
Just get everything on the shopping list.


I would say that I flew around the store, collecting my items in the efficient style of an experienced shopper. I felt like I was doing that, but I'm self-aware that I'm not the world's fastest shopper.
Let's compare it more to a methodical jog than to a 100-meter sprint.

However, I was focused, determined, and honestly very proud of myself on this particular trip. I had read in a book the day before that one "Mama time-saver tip" is to stock up on those things you always end up needing at some point rather than waiting until they run out. So I found sales on my favourite shampoo, a high-quality body wash, top-notch coffee, creamy smooth yogurt... I mean, I was really winning this particular day.

I found gifts for people on my list.
I pre-ordered and therefore efficiently picked up medications.
I comparison shopped for inexpensive yet quality baby cereal.
And, I bought spinach, which made me feel like a very healthy and therefore comparatively better person.

There was icing on this cake: I found the shortest line and I snagged it.

Around this self-satisfied time, as I unburdened my items onto the conveyer belt, a thought occurred to me. This thought was the equivalent to "Oh, crap."

One stinkin' item on my list couldn't be checked off: A little tube of diaper-bag-sized Vaseline.

A quick internal debate led me to the conclusion that to give up my spot in this high-quality line would be worse (although barely so) than leaving that one thing undone. This almost killed me, you know? I had worked so hard. I had been so proactive in my shopping. Huck had been so cooperative.

But I could not, could not, leave my place in line.

So, if you don't know, Superstore has this thing where they give you a prize if you spend, like, 12% of your yearly income in one shopping trip.
Last time, I got a huge box of little chocolates. (Subconsciously why I was buying spinach on this particular trip).
This time, the cashier mentioned some gift box. I almost rolled my eyes. Thanks, Superstore, for taking, like, 12% of our money, then slamming us with a package of something you were unable to sell because nobody needs 14 different lotions in one big un-biodegradable package.

I don't know how else to end this story.

Except to tell you that in the front window of the un-biodegradable gift box of 12 lotions....
There was a little tube of diaper-bag-sized Vaseline.