The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the category “Parenting”

Advice for a New Mother

Joyce, my cousin, has always been full of good advice. She and I used to be pen pals when we were kids, (remember “pen pals”, where you actually wrote a letter to someone that lived in a neighbouring town and they would write back and the whole thing would take a couple of weeks?). She helped me through awkwardness in adolescence, was an excellent sounding board about boys and the resulting trouble, and what I could expect in college life.

Her kids are older than mine be a few years and stages in life. One particular family gathering a few moons ago, Joyce and I got to talking about parenthood. I was blabbering about the conflict within me, so grateful and happy to be a mom, but I missed things that JB & I used to do before to having kids. Would we ever hike or mountain bike or play tennis again? Those activities and the resulting enjoyment seemed so far in the rear view mirror. And being relatively new to this whole parenting thing, I was not sure I saw them again on the horizon. Joyce pointed to her kids, then preteens, and said – no, guaranteed – that we would do all those things again and more. She explained how they would be different, as they would become family activities, and added that we may even find new adventures due to our kids’ interests. She told me not to worry. I had trusted her with so much in the past, I trusted these words as well.

Fast forward to this summer. Jaybird and I signed up for two runs this year. All three kids are signed up for various tennis, rock climbing, hockey and mountain biking activities. They are pursuing their own interests, but joining us in some of ours, which makes me happy.

Color Me RAD! was one of the events Jaybird and I signed up for this summer. It is a 5k event. I guess you could call it a “run” or a “race” but really, we walked about half the course and definitely did not race. We had a ball. If I may say so, we were a vision dressed in our white t-shirts, old shoes and blue tutus. I have never worn a tutu while running before. Frankly, I had a conversation with a friend while on a long run about how I just don’t really get the whole tutu thing. In this case, however, Jaybird had noted the tutus were cute and asked if we should wear matching outfits. How could I say no?

We walked and ran the course, getting color-bombed and painted while laughing through the whole thing. Jaybird said she wished our entire family had signed up, as she thought the boys would have enjoyed the event. We crossed the finish line, painted, dirty and feeling awesome. We hung around for a bit, dancing, throwing paint at each other and taking pictures. I made sure to tell her that I love that she enjoys doing these events with me, because I have a blast with her. She nodded and hugged me.

This summer I have my kids to thank for getting me back on the tennis court. I have run two events with my daughter. We have hiked, biked and walked many trails. My husband and I are getting back to activities we enjoyed before we had kids. Joyce was right, we are getting back to all those things we so enjoyed as a couple. She was also right in that the activities are a little different, enriched, as our children are with us and enjoying the activities as well. New adventures await as they grow and it is exciting to see everyone growing in confidence to take them on.

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Latest Ski Adventure

Do we have to go back yet?  We had a really nice holiday break.  We skied the weekend before Christmas at Sunshine Village and Lake Louise in Banff National Park.  The skiing was nothing short of amazing.  Sunshine was already mid-season like conditions and due to recent snow there was fresh power everywhere.  Also, due to it being unseasonably cold, we are among the few crazies that were willing to brave the cold to tackle the mountains.  It was totally worth it.

After the holiday, JB took Jaybird and Mid skiing with another dad and his kids.  They had a great day.  (Apprentice had a hockey camp so we stayed behind.)

Not to be outdone, I wanted another chance to ski before we entered back into the school, work and activities schedule.  We picked Thursday.  Although there had not been new snow, the temperature had warmed and it promised to be a great day on the slopes.

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Braving the cold! Let’s go SKI!

 Early Thursday, (or not, we were running late), the kids and I headed out to Sunshine Village. It was brisk sunny morning and we spent the majority of the drive talking about our plans for the day.  The kids have specific runs they enjoy more than others and wanted to be sure that we had included all in the day.  First thing was to head over to The Great Divide Express lift, which takes you up almost to the top of the mountain.  It also straddles the line between Alberta and British Columbia, hence the name.  It is a great view of the mountains and has nice wide open ski runs.  After a few runs we started to get hungry and made our way back to the lodge.  I was feeling particularly accomplished at this point, as my kids were tearing down the blue slopes off the Divide lift like nobody’s business.  It was a fun morning.

We had plans after lunch to hit Tin Can Alley, their favorite run.  We did it a couple of times, but the sun was moving across the mountain, so we decided that we should as well.  Mid wanted to head over to another lift to get more sun when skiing.  We had a couple of options.  Either we took off our skis at the bottom of Tin Can Alley and walked up a little to other lift, or we could zig-zag and traverse a little and ski to it.  We chose the latter.  We starting traversing, which is a lot of work, and turned downhill when we(I) thought we could catch a green run to the bottom of our chosen lift. I stopped to be sure the kids were close behind.  They were on their way and voicing some apprehension as to where we were headed.  I told them not to worry.  As if on cue, a woman passed us, walking uphill, carrying her skis and poles.  She told us that the run we were about to go down got “quite steep” and she was going down another way.  Of course, I thought she was greatly underestimating our skiing abilities.  I thanked her for the warning, asked the kids if they wanted to walk back up the hill or take our chances on this run.  From where we standing the slope was nothing we couldn’t handle.  We slowly carried on.

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Mom, do you know where we’re going? We’d rather follow Jaybird.

We past the point of no return when the slope became almost straight vertical and very narrow.  Not wanting tha panic the kids, I showed them how to gradually go down sideways, so that they would not get going out of control and hit a tree.  I assured them that if we went slowly we could get down this short run and over to the lift.  We started down.  A few thoughts crossed my mind, but I can only remember thinking “holy shit”.

Apprentice was first to call out.  As I heard him yell to me that he had fallen, one of his skis skid by me.  Then I heard Mid trying to help him, but he was too far from Apprentice to do much other than encourage him to get up and take off his other ski.  Jaybird was behind Apprentice and also tried to encourage him, but she had problems of her own.  She was sliding down the slope and about to run over her brother.  She sat down, or fell, and as a result her skis popped off. They made it down to me in time for me to try to pick them up.  That’s when I tumbled and my skis let go.  I yelled up to the kids that they needed to take their skis off and carefully scoot down the slope on their butts, holding their skis and poles.  I said, “Watch me, this is how you are doing to do it,” intending to go one step forward and them assist them on their way down.  I lost my footing and went down the slope on my butt, or front, or both, for about 25 meters.  Mouths gaping open, the kids stopped screaming.  I started laughing, embracing the fact that we were providing entertainment for all those that passed us, which thankfully, was not many.  A good Samaritan skier picked up my skis and brought them to me.  The kids started to make their way down, on their bottoms, and once they realized we were going to make it out alive, they started to laugh as well and enjoy our folly. The run was not long, maybe 200 meters, but seriously straight down for about half of them.  I found out later that this particular run is sometimes rated a “double black diamond” (or, are you crazy enough to attempt this?) on account of the steepness of the slope.

When we got to a safe place, we all put our skis back on.  We came out of the run and, sure enough!, there was the lift we were hoping to get on for our last run of the day.  Our last run was a green (or easiest).  Jaybird led us down the run, as the boys had told her that she is better navigator on the slopes.  True enough.

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WE MADE IT! Jaybird takes a rest.

Monday Morning

Friday was a busy day.  I had been gone from home all day and had not listened to the news.  Upon returning home with the kids after school, I took a moment to check my email and news feeds.  The first Facebook post I saw was that of my friend Jim.

“Don’t read the headlines, don’t watch the news, just hug your kids extra tight tonight. THAT is my advice.”

And I thought, huh, wonder what is going on with them.  I made a mental note to check in with Jim and his family later that evening.  Then another post telling me to hug my children.  And another.  Then more informative posts.  I switched to Twitter.  There I found links to CNN and other news organizations.  I started to read the coverage.  As (I imagine) everyone else did, I started to cry.  Apprentice noticed and walked over.  “Are you OKay, Mom?” he asked.  “Did something bad happen?”  I replied that yes, something very bad had happened.  “Did someone die?”  I replied that yes, some people had died.  “Do we know them?”  No, we don’t know them, but I am still very sad.  He hugged me and walked away.

All weekend my husband and I struggled with how to talk about the horrific actions of one person.  We kept the news off of the television and did not discuss the school shooting in front of the kids.  Then came Monday morning.

I was having breakfast with the kids and it occurred to be that other kids may talk about the tragedy in Newtown, CT, at school.  Or, that a prayer may be said during school about it.  I wanted them to hear the news from me.  I did not want them to ask questions as school.  Not that the teachers, administrators and staff at our school can’t deal with it, they are all awesome, (full disclosure, I work there part time).  I just didn’t want them getting information from other kids.  I did not want them to be afraid at school.

“So, today at school you may here about a terrible thing that happened last Friday in the United States.”  They all looked up at me, puzzled.  Mid asked what had happened.  I froze.  All three of them were looking at me with questioning eyes and I choked.  My eyes filled with tears and I tried to get some meaningful words out.  It seemed as if an hour had passed.  “Someone broke into a school in Connecticut last Friday and had a gun.”  Jaws dropped.  Jaybird asked if the person was a kid or adult and if they had hurt anyone.  “It was an adult and yes, he hurt a lot of people.”  They stared at me.  Jaybird broke the silence by saying that she understood.  The boys nodded their heads in agreement and we went back to breakfast.  I started to cry.

I took them to school at the usual time.  When the got out of the car I told them the usual “buona giornata” (have a good day) and added “I love you” in pretty much any language I could think of.  (“Ti amo”, “Ich liebe dich”, “”Nakupenda”)  They got out of the car and walked into school.  I cried the whole way home, thinking of the mothers in Newtown.  Hopefully, when we discuss this tragedy later, I will be able to reassure them that they are safe and that God watches over them.  That their school is full of wonderful children and adults that will help them.  I hope I never have to reassure them of this because it should be a given.  Children should always feel that adults will act in their best interest.

Prayers to all those in Connecticut and all over the world.  Please follow Jim’s advice, today and every day.

 

If you would like to see Jim’s advice more often, please see his blog <HERE>.  It’s a good one.

Ski School Tale

Sometimes we all need a little push.  For my husband, it was my father informing him that we would begin taking ski vacations as a family and he was fully expected to learn to ski.  For my daughter, she needed to be coaxed a little.  We negotiated some days with Grandma, some days at ski school.  When Mid entered ski school with her, there was another negotiation which involved a few days of ski school in exchange for some snow tubing as a reward at the end of the week.  It was a little tougher to come to agreement with Apprentice.

It was the first day of our annual ski vacation.  The sun was shining, the air was crisp and clear.  There was a little chill in the air you felt all through your lungs with each inhale.  We took the kids to ski school.  Jaybird and Mid were in a different section than Apprentice, due to their ages.  I had the older two, JB had Apprentice.  As I was getting my two situated with the ski instructor, I heard some screaming and general commotion in the other area.  I thought nothing of it and after our conversation was done, I walked over to where JB was checking in Apprentice.  Cue entrance of my mom.  She and JB were trying to reason with Apprentice outside the ski school building.  I asked what was going on.  JB reported that Apprentice had run out of the building, yelling that he had changed his mind about going to ski school that day.  JB was contemplating staying with him to be sure that he was OKay with Grandma.

As noted above, this was the first day of our ski vacation.  It was a picture perfect Steamboat, Colorado, day.  I was going to ski.  Frankly, this delay pissed me off.

I told Apprentice to come with me, asked JB to stay put and marched into ski school. He was fine until we got to the counter.  When he realized that I fully intended to leave him with these highly personal, energetic ski instructors and kids his own age, he.. well, he freaked.  His eyes started to water and he ran, ala OJ Simpson through an airport, out of the building.  Did I mention he was wearing ski boots?  Oh yes, its was a sight to behold.  I chased him out, caught him and carried him back into the building.  He was kicking.  He was screaming.  Grandma had joined me at the counter to check him in.  I paid for him and apologized for the scene he was continuing to create.  The kind woman smiled at me and summoned a 20-something instructor the front.  The young woman took Apprentice from me and carried him back into the “parent free zone” of the ski school.  I blew him a kiss, turned and walked out.  Grandma offered to take him for the day.  We will try again tomorrow, she said, I can’t stand to see him so upset.  I told her that in my experience with him that if we did not force him to do it that first day he would not ski the entire week, and I would not have it.  I thanked her for coming along to check them in and started for the lift.  She stuck around the ski school to be sure that he would calm down.  The grandma-ish woman at the reception desk smiled knowingly at her and reassuringly said, “We have at least 4-5 kids like that every day.  He is going to be fine.”  And, of course, he was.  He just needed a little push.

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Random cuteness of kids after a day of skiing in Steamboat.

The last day of the same ski vacation, we were getting suited up for a day on the slopes when we noticed the front door closing.  Apprentice had completed getting his gear on, grabbed his skis and had headed out for ski school.  He has typical German patience, or lack thereof, and decided that he had enough of waiting for everyone else.  He wanted to get out on the slopes for the last day.  Part of me was so very happy that he loved (and still loves) to ski.  However, the vocal mom in me yelled to my dad to chase him down and make him wait for us.  When I caught up to him, he had the same look I had the first day, when I was delayed in getting on the lift.

This story was the topic of our breakfast conversation this morning as the kids and I discussed upcoming ski plans.  They are becoming good skiers.  So good, actually, that sometimes its hard to tell who is more excited to get to the mountains, them or me.  They went through all their favorite ski hills.  Lake Louise, for overall family time.  Steamboat, for the awesome ski school and “Why Not” run.  Sunshine for the close proximity to Banff.  Copper Mountain because of the moose house, (the condo we rented a couple of times had this monstrous moose pelt hanging on the wall…at least I think it was a moose) and the good times they had napping in the sun with Grandma.

Tis the season!  Let’s get to the slopes!

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One must see the statue of Billy the Kid when in Steamboat. Also, there’s a bar with yummy local microbrews.

So the Question Is…

Jaybird has lost a tooth.  One of the molars, you know, the biggies toward the back of her mouth.  We were expecting it, as the orthodontist that put on her braces told us that she still had some baby teeth to lose.  She had told me that it was loose, but I didn’t really pay much attention.

She came home from school (yesterday? two days ago?) with her tooth in a napkin.  She showed me the lost tooth, placed the paper towel-wrapped tooth on the breakfast bar.  The tooth fairy did not leave her any money that night, as the tooth was not under her pillow. A few days (1? 2?) passed and she still had the tissue with tooth tucked into the corner on the breakfast bar.

Then came the day that I cleaned the kitchen.  I threw out the folded paper towel that had been sitting on the breakfast bar for far too long.  I swept, scrubbed and mopped.  The kids returned from school and Jaybird starting looking around in the kitchen.  I asked her what she wanted, as this is unusual.  Usually the kids run to the pantry as soon as they arrive home.  Apparently there is some kind of food shortage a few kilometers away at their school which causes them to be ravenous wolves by 3:45pm each weekday.  But I digress.  She told me she was looking for the paper towel that had been sitting on the counter.  She was going to put it next to her bed at that precise moment so not to forget again and miss out on the money from the tooth fairy.

Moment of truth.  I have mentioned before that I sometimes will tell a little white lie to my kids.  What to do here?  Bloody hell.  She is twelve years old.  I turned to her with a very serious look and quiet voice.

“Jaybird, do you still believe in the tooth fairy?”  I asked.  She smiled and whispered, “no.”  I smiled back at her, gave her the money for her tooth, and told her to keep this whole thing a secret.  She is now a conspirator.  I followed up with a “Is there anything else you would like to ask me about?  Anything you may or may not believe in?”  I was on a roll and to be honest, about done with the upcoming Christmas charade that we parents play.  I was ready to deal with the “Santa Question” as well.  But nothing.  She had nothing further.

So the tooth fairy thing is almost done.  Santa Claus?  Another time, perhaps.

Fire, Family and KP

Summer

We were having cocktails and conversation with some friends on a clear summer evening.  The fire pit was crackling and the kids were chasing unsuspecting fireflies throughout the yard.  KP’s and my conversation flipped from work to husbands to in-laws to children to schools to politics and back to work.  I love conversations with KP.  Its like having ten conversations at once about entirely unrelated things but ultimately it comes full circle to Skinny Girl Margaritas (why she likes them and I do not) and our families.  KP and her husband Tony are parents to one son.  They would love to have more children, but had some fertility challenges with the first one and those challenges were multiplying as they attempted to have another child.  KP was frustrated with unsuccessful IVF attempts.  She and her husband did not think that international adoption was for them.  But they had so much love to give and wanted another child to complete their family.

“You may think this sounds crazy, but I know my daughter is out there.  I could pick her out of a crowd.  She has ringlet curls and beautiful ebony skin.  She doesn’t look like me, and I may not have given birth to her but she is my daughter.  I am going to find her, I can feel it in my bones .”

Perhaps it was the margaritas, or the fire, or a full summer moon, but I did not think it sounded crazy.  I remember Rosie O’Donnell once explaining adoption.  She said it is when a child is born to someone and God says, “what the heck? that’s not right,” so God goes about the process of finding the forever family for that child.  And it is made right.  (OKay, I know, total pie in the sky and it is way more complicated but that is how Rosie explained it to a kid.)  I do believe that when you decide that your family should be more than you and your partner that things usually happen the way they should.  I did not think that I would ever be the mother of three.  Yet, here I am.  We decided that we wanted to have children and were lucky enough that they all came.  Although it was not always smooth sailing, (see Jaybird’s Birthday), I would not change a thing.  Our family is complete with the five of us.  KP, her husband and son were not a complete family.  Not yet.

Fall

All set to be foster parents, their house ready, KP and family are ready to take in a child or children that need a home.  Well, KP and her husband were ready.  Their son, then six years old, was with them in spirit, but had no clue as to what he had agreed to.  His world was about to change forever.  A call came that there was a little girl, about 15 months old, that needed a loving home.  KP and company jumped at the opportunity.  This beautiful, vivacious little girl showed up at the their door.  Within one day she was calling KP “Momma” and was a dream.  Again, the 6 YO boy was not so sure; eventually this little girl won his heart.  She was healthy, strong in spirit and good-natured.  Within three days her “foster-brother” was reading her bedtime stories and singing to her.  KP and family made their intentions known over the next few months.  They would like to adopt this little girl with the flawless ebony skin and ringlet curls. 

The Next Fall 

I saw the countdown on Facebook.  It is official.  KP is expecting! It is 10 days, then 9, and so on until the adoption is official.  KP and her family have welcomed a new girl into their home forever.  The pictures of the day exemplify love, family, commitment.  So many family and friends came to celebrate this family going from three to four (officially) that I felt love just oozing out of my screen.  KP’s family is living proof that when it comes to family, there is no black or white, just love, respect and kindness.  Their family is an inspiration.

When we choose to commit our lives to another person we start a spiral of decisions.  Sometimes we decide that we would like to welcome children into the mix.  Sometimes we give birth to those children and sometimes not.  It does not matter.  What matters is that we love each other, respect each other and pray for each other.  This is family.

Congratulations, KP and family on your new addition!

Jaybird’s Birthday

Jaybird today, directing traffic with the School Patrol.

“Am I officially twelve yet?  What time was I born?  What was that day like?”  So many questions from Jaybird this morning.  Its her birthday.  She has never asked these types of questions before today.  We talked in generalities about the day, how it was the election of 2000, the infamous Bush v. Gore, that I had been in the hospital on bedrest for three weeks prior to her birth and that I was able to vote absentee with the help of my friend Sandy and the NAACP.  And, of course, that she was born at 5:53pm.

Three weeks in a hospital bed while lying only on your left side affords you the luxury to reflect on some serious stuff.  It also allowed for me to read a few books, (not on pregnancy, though, I was too nervous).  I also had time to call every organization I could think of for assistance in getting an absentee ballot for the presidential election approaching.  When neither the republican or democratic campaign offices could help, saying a deadline had passed and I was SOL, I called the League of Women Voters.  Again, no luck.  I called local representatives’ offices with no luck.  Then I called the NAACP, (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).  That’s right.  This white girl from a small town in Wisconsin called the NAACP, explained my situation to a very patient person and got answers.  They told me how to get a ballot, how to get it to the correct place, everything.  I am thankful to the NAACP and to Sandy for their assistance in voting that year.

Three weeks and twelve years ago I was admitted into the hospital with severe preeclampsia, a condition that means my blood pressure was similar to that of a shaken soda can.  During those three weeks on bed rest in the hospital, I often asked myself, “why?  Why me”?  I had done everything in the “right order”, attended and graduated from college, fell in love, got married, and then we waited until we were financially stable to start a family.  Okay, “financially stable” may be a stretch, but you get my point.  So, why, then, was I lying here in this hospital bed?  I had many friends and family come to visit me while in the hospital, my brother and I would read the Wall Street Journal sometimes and solve the world’s problems.  My husband or my parents were a constant at my bedside.  As the days went on, though, Jaybird was becoming more stressed in utero.  I remember telling my OB/GYN on a Friday that I didn’t think I would make it much longer, that I had a feeling that I would need to deliver soon.  He was patient and kind, assuring me that I was in good hands and that everything would be fine.  I came to a realization while in the hospital.  If one in eight babies (from March of Dimes website) was to be born premature, perhaps the question is not “why me?” but “why NOT me?”  After all, I had good health insurance and a terrific support system of family and friends.  Just thinking of all those kids out there that have daily challenges of getting clean water or food or are orphaned or abused or whatever made me realize that if the act of being born was her greatest challenge, we were a lucky family indeed.

As the day of November 7 progressed, a few things happened. I was growing more confused as a result of the preeclampsia and my parents had come to my room for a visit.  Thank goodness they did.  My mom, a nurse, had instructed me upon being admitted to the hospital to write a list of everyone that I could think of that could get in touch with my husband if something unthinkable happened.  The afternoon of November 7 my physician had given the orders that I was no longer allowed television, as election coverage made my already-high blood pressure enter the stratosphere.  It was also the afternoon that during my daily ultrasound all pleasant small talk ceased.  A strange seriousness came over the resident doing the ultrasound and she told me that she would be right back.  The Chief Resident entered, who continued the ultrasound.  My mother left the room.  I looked at my dad.  He grabbed my hand, sensing that I was frightened.  The Chief Resident looked at me and asked, “Where is your husband?”

I replied, “I don’t know.”

“Is he here?”

“No.”

“Okay.  Get him here as soon as possible.  I am calling your OB and we need to deliver her today.”  The rest is a bit of a blur.  As stated above, my mother had instructed me to write a list of how to contact JB in the event of something unthinkable.  Something unthinkable had just happened.  I forgot where JB was and how to get in touch with him.

I was whisked away, prepped for surgery and told to relax.  Relax?  I was freaking out.  Only 29 weeks along (a pregnancy should go 40 weeks) and barely able to put a sentence together, I had no clue what was happening.  Listening to the OB/GYN and the Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist discuss the best way to deliver my baby was surreal.  I kept thinking of a news story that I had read a few weeks earlier about a woman who gave birth alone, on a treetop in Mozambique during a flood (http://babyworld.co.uk/2000/03/a-woman-gave-birth-in-a-treetop/).  If she could do that, what was my problem?

JB arrived at the hospital and was brought into the delivery operating room.  I asked him how his day was and what he had for lunch.  He stared at me incredulously.  I begged him to talk about something mundane and normal, as I was about to jump out of my skin in fear.  He had a sandwich, some fruit, water, you know, the usual.  The leaves were falling, Al Gore was predicted to win Florida’s electoral votes (this still makes me giggle a bit), and it was a nice day outside.

Then we heard her.  She was so very tiny and translucent, as many preemies are, yet screaming something fierce.  “Is that her?” I asked. Yes, it was her, and she was screaming.  She was small, 11 weeks premature and a bit translucent, but she was screaming and that was a very good sign.  There were so many people in the room at this point that I have no idea who was doing what.  I just know that they placed this small, crying baby on my chest and I have not been the same since.  She looked into my eyes and I instantly loved her.  Then, they took her away.   She weighed in at 1 pound 10 ounces, and was 13 inches long.  She fit in the palm of JB’s hand. She was very small, on a ventilator, but was otherwise healthy.  The vent lasted three days before it was no longer needed.  She graduated to the little prongs but eventually pulled those out on her own.  Her determination inspired me.  I had many more complications from giving birth so early but Jaybird continued to grow and develop.  The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) became home for a couple of months for us.  We were able to hold her, feed her, change her thumbelina diapers and love her.  JB will tell you that I cried quite a bit during this time.  It is a blur to me.  We brought her home two weeks before her due date, when she was able to hold her body temperature, could eat and breathe on her own.  She was four pounds.

Jaybird is about 3 lbs in this picture. The gold band around her arm is JB’s wedding band.

I am so thankful for the (very) little girl who was given to us on this day twelve years ago, and thankful for the person she is becoming.  Happy Birthday, Jaybird!

Brave on the Court

So I recently went on a little rant about Apprentice’s desire to play hockey.  I would have mentioned the other two kids, except we are (apparently) not the house where one can say, “those kids are so good at ____”.  My kids have all picked activities they enjoy and none are the same.  Lucky me.

Mid likes basketball.  He has been playing with the community league for a little over a month, with JB as one of his coaches.  He does not know any of the boys on his team, so it has been a great experience for him to make some new friends.  This is also where I remind him that this “builds character”.  His team started out strong, winning the first game.  This was followed by a buzzer beater loss and then a tough game where they were simply outmatched.  Such is life.

Also, as happens in the land of basketball, he jammed a finger.  When watching the warm-ups, I assumed that he was screwing around when I saw him shaking his hand and making weird faces.  Spectators, (Jaybird, Apprentice and I), were seated on the opposite side of the gym and therefore out of earshot.  The game started and he had the ball.  He was grimacing every time his left hand touched the ball.  Not good for a point guard.  When the ball was out of play for a moment, Mid turned to his coaches, though mainly his dad, with tears forming in his eyes, and asked to be taken out of the game.  His finger was hurting.  He went to the bench and plunged his left index finger into the ice water of his water bottle.  He sat on the bench the rest of the game.  Afterward I took a look at his fingers.  I anticipated that there may have been an exaggeration of the injury, but I was wrong.  His left index finger was twice the size of his right.  Ouch.

On the way home we tried to cheer him with tales of pro basketball players that have jammed their fingers.  We talked of our own jammed fingers when we played basketball back in the day.  (JB had more stories of this than me, so I may have embellished mine a bit.)  Over the next week, we iced, taped, and had him wear a brace-thing on his finger.  He seemed to enjoy the attention at school.  It appears that the little pep talk worked a little too well.  He may forever tape his fingers together while playing ball.  Double-header coming this weekend, so I just hope that he continues to heal.

He states that he’s not sure what his favorite thing about basketball, that it is just fun. I like that it is inside a gymnasium where I always know the weather will be hospitable.

This is not to say that he has forgotten about the rock climbing, he has asked to start that up again soon as well.

Brave on Blades

We ask a lot of our kids this time of year.  They start school, new activities and clubs, new sports, new teachers, so many things.  At each point we tell them to be brave.  Enjoy the adventure.  Take a risk.

Our family is no different in that I have asked my kids to buck up quite a bit lately.  I have had to pull out a “Fredism” a few times.. “just go do it, its builds character”.  After the first two weeks of school and a couple of new activities, I think my kids would say that they have had enough character building, thank you.  Even so, I am proud of them.

Apprentice has been taking skating lessons for a couple of years on and off, as he wants to play hockey.  After the last round of skating sessions, he was given the thumbs up by the instructor that he is indeed ready to play novice hockey.  I signed him up.  I bought all the gear, (for those that don’t play hockey, there is a shitload of it).  Last weekend the sessions began where the coaches evaluate all the players so to divide them on teams.  The goal is to establish the novice league with as even-skilled teams as possible to maximize fun and learning of the sport.  The first morning, I was a wreck.  I gave Apprentice a pep talk as I helped him suit up.  Thankfully the guy at the hockey store had spent a gazillion patient hours with me so I felt okay getting all this stuff on him in the correct order.  Neck guard, elbow pads, shoulder pads.  Shorts that have velcro for hockey socks, jock strap and cup all in one easy piece, (hold up, my 7YO needs a CUP and jock strap? I don’t know how you guys walk around with those things), shin guards, hockey socks.  The jersey, skates, helmet, (with mouth guard) and gloves.  At the end of all this, Apprentice looked at me and I took a deep breath.  First, I was winded due to all the lacing and pulling and whatever.  Second, he looked like a big kid hockey player, no longer my baby boy.  What is happening here?  He took the ice with the other kids.  I waited in the bench area (bench? dugout? WTH is that area called in hockey?) until he seemed to get his skating legs back and was following instructions from the head coach.  I went up to the seating area to sit with other parents. 

The new kid in his class (just moved from Toronto) was also on the ice and he recognized Apprentice.  I took the opportunity to introduce myself to his mother upon setting seating in the (bleachers? stands? I don’t know what anything is called in hockey!).  She is quite nice.  She shared their previous hockey experience and politely answered all my stupid questions and how to dress these kids more efficiently and how this whole evaluation things works.  Day one completed, Apprentice comes off the ice.  He is so tired that I am surprised he didn’t fall asleep standing up.

The next day is an early session.  I took all the advice from the other mom and the morning went much more smoothly.  I dressed Apprentice at home, cranked the AC on the way to the rink.  I was even more nervous on the second morning, as I knew Apprentice was tuckered out.  JB and I had talked about worse case scenario – what if he doesn’t want to play? – after all, he is totally new.  These Canadian kids appear to have been fitted with hockey gear in utero and he had trouble keeping up on day one.  I texted a friend and hockey mom/player seeking a pep talk of my own.  She delivered big time.  I was going on about how I am not really doing any favors to the kid here, as I don’t know much about the sport and can’t coach him like I can when Jaybird wants to run a race or Mid wants to play tennis.  She assures me to stop coaching and just be there for him.  Practice over, Apprentice skates off the ice.  I thank Jen for (once again) calming my nerves regarding youth hockey.  Apprentice comes over to me and exclaims, “Hockey is awesome!” and I am all better.

Until Tuesday, when Mid starts his evaluations for basketball.  But that will wait for another day.

For the Love of Ladybugs

Saturday

Apprentice came running into the house with the his buddy from the neighborhood, (we’ll call him Rick).  “What are you up to?” I asked.  They seemed intent on finding all kinds of stuff in the house.  Some tape, pieces of cardboard, paper, scissors.

“Can I use this scissors on grass?” Apprentice replied.

“No,” I answered.  Let’s try this again.  “What are you doing outside?”

“Making a house for the ladybugs.”  Oh, well, then, by all means please take all the supplies you need.  I giggled, gave them an old scissors, told them to be careful and went back to whatever I was doing.  The boys returned to their task of building a housing development for our neighborhood ladybugs.

Tuesday, immediately after school

“Mom!  Look at what I am bringing home!  I caught some ladybugs over lunch and I am bringing them home so they have a place to stay this winter!”  Apprentice is at it again with the ladybugs and their winter homes.  I have a feeling he may have a future in Arizona or Florida real estate.

“Terrific,” I responded, “As long as they are not in the house.”  He nodded, then appeared to go deep into thought. (This is important later in the story)

Apprentice had put the captured ladybugs in a ziploc bag.  This is the same bag that his grapes were in earlier in the day, so give the boy some points for recycling.  He had put grass, leaves and etc in the bag after lunch so to create a temporary home for his ladybug friends.  Rick had made a hole in the bag so they could get some air. The ride home from school was eventful.  About half way home, Apprentice screamed, which led to Jaybird kicking my seat, screaming and generally moving all over the place.  Mid let out a “will you calm down?” and informed me that the ladybugs had (GASP!) escaped.  Jaybird and Apprentice were freaking out because they did not want the ferocious ladybugs to crawl on them.  I had to pull over.

“What is going on back there?”  I turned to find looks of terror on the faces of Apprentice and Jaybird and a combination of impatience and disgust on Mid’s face.  All started to yell at once.  The ladybugs had gotten out of the ziploc bag and were apparently ravaging our minivan.  I opened all the windows and told them to calm down.  The ladybugs would not cause any damage.  Furthermore, I assured them that ladybugs are not dangerous and we would live to see another day.

Upon arrival at home, Apprentice confirmed that all ladybugs were out of the baggie and his lunch box.  He expressed his concern as to what these poor, defenseless insects would do over the harsh winter.  He went inside with a heavy heart.  Mid told me that he doesn’t get the whole fascination his brother has with the ladybugs.  “You know, perhaps the ladybugs want to be with their family over the winter and don’t want to live with us.  Sheesh.”  He shook his head.  I followed the kids inside, cleaned out Apprentice’s lunch bag and went on with dinner preparation.

Tuesday, bedtime

JB sent the kids upstairs to brush teeth, read books, get ready for bed.  I heard a lot of whispering.  I don’t know about other people’s homes, but no good usually comes from my children whispering while huddling together.  I walked upstairs as quietly as I could.  When I got to the boys’ bedroom I looked around.  They were in the bathroom brushing their teeth, but I had one of those “mother moments” where  I could sense something was amiss in their room.  I looked around.  Nothing.  I looked on their dresser.  Nothing.  I looked in the nightstand drawer.  Bingo.  Another baggie of grass, leaves and you guessed it.. ladybugs.  Thinking this may not be it, I looked under beds.  More ziploc bags with ladybugs.  What the hell?  Apprentice seemed to be operating a (totally unsanitary deathtrap) ladybug home in his room.  We had a discussion, summarized below.

“Remember what we talked about on the playground today?  That the ladybugs cannot live in this house?”

“Yes, Mom,” he answered.  “So what should I do with them?”

“We need to let them go outside.  Let’s take them to the deck.” I answered.  I couldn’t bear to tell him that his little bugs (pets?) had all perished in the ziploc bags.

So I hope this is the end of his ladybug hotels in ziploc baggies.  I am thinking that I need to do some research on how to properly care for these things over the winter.  We seem to have a project on our hands.

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