Archive for the ‘Group Writing Project’ Category

Savour the Season

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

First crocuses

When I wrote about the signs of spring that I was seeing last weeek, we didn’t have any flowers yet and Reid hadn’t been riding her bike but a couple of days ago I spotted some crocus.

MamaBlogga hosted a carnival with the theme “Savouring the Season” and these are the interesting thoughts that people shared:

Signs of Spring in Ottawa

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

MamaBlogga is hosting a carnival with the theme “savour the season” and it comes at just the right time for me because I’ve been noticing – desperately looking for – signs of spring lately.

When Reid and I went to the sugar bush a couple of weeks ago, I noted that the sky was blue again, an unquestionable blue rather than the grey or icy blue that we see in the winter. It wasn’t all of the way to summer blue but it held promise.

This past weekend, I noticed that Reid’s shadow was darker and bolder as it raced across the ground and my shadow seemed darker, too, when Reid jumped on it with glee. Reid remembers well the game of jumping on shadow heads that Aunt Karin taught her on the streets of New York City two years ago. I suppose the change in shadows means that the sun is stronger now. And mentioning that brings to mind the warmth of the car when it was parked outside last week and also when I was driving to and from Wheatley at Easter. Yes, the sun is coming back to our hemisphere. The smart women at daycare have been paying attention and we’ve already been asked to send sunscreen. A weather report over the weekend included reference to a UV index of “moderate”. Not too sound too much like a old lady but it seems that we didn’t used to worry about UV so early in the year.

Reid didn’t need to ask if it was “waking up time” when she awoke on Saturday morning. Her room was filled with sunlight in spite of the blind that was drawn. The sun was shining to encourage us to get up and face the day. With the early return to daylight savings time, we’ve had light at supper for weeks although it didn’t seem like spring yet. We had 89 centimetres of snow (35 inches) the week before we ‘sprang forward”. The first weeks after the switch have tricked us into a false sense of having time to spare after supper and before bedtime. The stress we let go of with the end of skating lessons – 4 activities is just too many – has been replaced with this trickster.

The weather was mild enough Sunday that I let Reid wear her new pink rain boots and splash pants rather than her snow pants and snow boots. Reid’s legs and feet were so light with this change that her feet seemed to leap and dance without any conscious thought. She scampered and hopped. She skipped and danced. She did everything but click her heels together in mid-air. Reid reveled in the spring day.

There is the mud, too, of course with its darkness in stark contrast to the pure white of the snow that we have grown so accustomed, too. Much of the snow that remains is black, heavy and hard. The dirt and exhaust of many cars is trapped in what remains and grows more noticeable as the snow melts. I’ve not had the occasion to notice yet this year the smell of droppings from people out with their pets who disregarded the “poop and scoop” rules. Those days will come and we’ll need to tough them out before smelling the rich, fertile smell of newly turned ground.

The mud and its friends, the puddles, are welcome in our household, most especially by the youngest member. Reid’s enthusiasm for puddles is infectious and I remember fondly fighting the mud for possession of my rain boots in the same way that Reid does. We both admired the smooth, shiny mud sticking to her pink boots at one point Sunday afternoon and then Reid went back to jumping. The slipperiness of mud snuck up on Reid – it’s been a long time since she played in the mud – and, all of a sudden, she was lying in the puddle. Oops! I guess the slipperiness of the mud snuck up on me, too.

The change of footwear and clothing also serves as a reminder to check the sizes of what Reid is wearing, especially daycare “spares” and her indoor shoes. I noticed skin peeling from one of her toes a couple weeks ago and asked Reid about her shoes at daycare. She assured me that they were fine but I tried them on her and could feel her toes rubbing. I need to schedule this sort of review. I bet that the pants in her cubby are “floods” and the shirts midriff-bearing. There is quite a range in size 3/3T and I’ve been weeding her drawers as we go. Her cubby is another matter altogether.

We are savouring this change of season. I’m looking forward to a bit more snow, 30-40 centimetres (12-15 inches) would give us a record, but it needs to be the kind that melts quickly. Indeed, the final sign of spring in Ottawa was the snow greeted me on Monday morning, after the mild weekend. The season changes officially before the snow is ready to give up.

Check back later in the week and I’ll link to what others are saying about savouring the season.

My “me time” is what I make of it

Monday, February 4th, 2008

I wrote a while ago about what I thought I would do with 3 nights alone but the reality is that I haven’t had 3 nights alone in the last 3.5 years and I really don’t mind that much. I would like 3 hours alone or, at least, 3 hours without family responsibility a little more often than I’m getting it. It’s hard to write this without feeling like I’m rejecting my husband. We have scheduled too many activities for Reid in January and February – between gymnastics, skating, swimming and Kindermusik, we are more on the go than at rest. Planning time away for myself means cutting more time away from what is available for us as a couple. To add to this, I’ve been having trouble lately waking up after I’ve put Reid to sleep. It’s a good night when Ken is able to rouse me enough that I’ll climb straight into our bed, let alone be awake enough to tackle a hobby, book or well-thought out post.

I tend to grab snippets of time wherever I can find them. I try to dedicate my time on the bus to reading or writing blog posts or doing both, through the magic of books on cd via my iPod and Blackberry. Sometimes I’m torn between reading a book and writing a post. It seems selfish to read something just for me when I could be writing for Ken’s and my families to read. And, of course, for Reid to read when she grows up and for me to read when I grow old. Since I know I’m liable to regret not writing I often close the book. I am always happy when it it my turn to drive to daycare and works but am also glad of the 40-50 minutes that I spend on a bus most days.

For many years, since before Reid was born, I have been spending Thursday evenings with my friend, Melissa, and her family. Ken volunteered out of the house on most of those Thursday nights until just recently and so he wasn’t at home to miss me. Ken is able to volunteer from home but Reid and I still go to Melissa’s. I consider these visits, or slices of them, to be “me time”. For a long time, Melissa and I spoke almost daily on the phone. When she was new to Ottawa, I suspect the calls were important “me time” for her. When I was a new mom, the calls were certainly important for me.

There have been times in my life when I’ve gotten up at 4:30 or 5:00 to have time to myself before Ken and Reid are awake. This meets my need for alone time but pretty much puts an end to any hope that I’ll see Ken alone since I need to be asleep early to awake early. I’ve been trying to find my “me time” after Reid is in bed, with less success lately, but I’m a bit of a binger when it comes to “me time”. Ken will call down to me when he heads to bed and I mean to joing him in just a minute, really I do, but all too often it’s much later when I climb the stairs. I sit on the couch with my laptop on my lap, a cat at my side and maybe another on my legs and have a recorded show or dvd playing while I clean up or caption photos, write or markup posts or read blogs. I’m happy in my nest. It reminds me of being in university although the topics I write about are much less esoteric than the history and political science ones from 15 years ago.

I believe in the adage, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” and I need to find the “me time” to be happy. (Note: I do believe that Ken’s happiness is important, too, but he has his own blog upon which he can pontificate.) I just need to unlock the secret of not falling asleep and then I’ll be able to be awake to enjoy my “me time”.

“Me time” is the theme for the group writing project that MamaBlogga hosts. I’m a day late posting my entry but since it took quite a bit of “me time” to write it, up it goes.

Edited to add:

Check out the other contibutors to this month’s writing project. It seems we all face similar challenges and have similar hopes but there are also differences.

A gift that warms your heart … and theirs

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

I’m not sure when World Vision (US link) started producing a Christmas Gift Catalogue (US link) or how we got onto their mailing list but I do know that I think that it is a fabulous idea.  The arrival of  the catalogue is reminder that the season of giving is upon us and reminds that we should be thinking of giving to others more than what we want others to give to us. I admire the way that they have developed their giving program to make it easily understood by children. What kid doesn’t want to give – or receive – a rooster and two hens or a piglet? It’s easy to explain that some families need help to get the food that they need and that, by giving these animals, we are helping them to take care of themselves.

Reid and I were at a craft show today and bought a few trinkets to represent the animals that we are donating. The purchases had a number of benefits:

* The artisans received money for their work;
* Reid and I had a conversation about giving to others; and
* The people who receive these small tokens might think of World Vision when they next need a present.

Making a donation to World Vision (Canadian link) is simple. The catalogue comes in the mail and it, of course, has a form that you can fill in or you can call 1-866-595-5550. And then there is a well-designed Web site from which one can select a gift based on cost, theme (agriculture, health care, etc.) and those that multiply. The checkout process is simple and you have a number of choices for notifying the gift recipient. If you’re ordering early, you could have a printed card sent. If you’re not so prompt, you can print your own card insert or send an e-card.

World Vision Canada also suggests:

* Send out a group email to members of your extended family who normally exchange gifts.  
* When someone asks you what you want for a special holiday gift, ask for something  from the World Vision gift catalogue.
* When you give an alternative gift, consider including something personal and meaningful to the recipient. 
* Consider buying a small fair-trade item like handcrafted jewellery or organic coffee to go along with your alternative gift choice.

Finally, World Vision has a program set up to foster group giving, with an interactive dvd, posters and other resources as well.

We have used World Vision for gifts for other occasions as well. Reid’s daycare teachers were delighted when we donated to educate a girl in China as a thank you when Reid entered a new class. A teacher might also appreciate a backpack with school supplies for a needy child in Canada more than an apple-themed gift at end of the school year, as well as at Christmas.

This topic is a popular one at this time of year. You can read more at Babylune , where people are writing about their favourite charity, and the League of Maternal Justice, where people have been invited to write about how to involve kids in their charitable acts.

So many reasons to be grateful for our kids

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

I wrote over the weekend about why I am grateful for Reid. Today I would add that having Reid has made me think more about what is my life through the writing of my blog and also introduced me to others who have embarked on the same sort of contemplative life (in the midst of the chaos that can accompany life with children). MamaBlogga has posted the final list of 31 participants in the November Group Writing Project and I’m pasting the list below. Have a look, you’ll discover some reasons to be grateful for your children that you might never have articulated.

A better person in a more interesting world

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

I’ve decided to participate in the November Group Writing Poject at MamaBlogga and the theme this month is “I’m grateful for my child(ren) because …” I know that I’ll get misty-eyed and also laugh when reading some of the other participants. I hope to share these things with you and them.

I am grateful for Reid because she has made me into a person who has rediscovered the importance and joy of being fully in the present, of noticing the little things and savouring the time to do nothing. I tended to be focused on the next challenge, experience or discovery. With Reid, I see that there may be a lovely flower (in the guise of a weed) right in front of me or an imponderable mystery to be considered. Really, why *does* the rain fall from the clouds anyway? Reid has also taught me how to put trust into action. I’ve learned to trust my body, my baby and myself to tell me what needs to be done for her happiness and mine. I am grateful for Reid for this lesson.

I am also grateful for Reid because she has introduced me to another side of the man that I thought I loved fully, to show me that I could love him even more, when I see him being a father to her. Ken’s tenderness to me was treasured before Reid’s birth. Seeing him, so big and masculine, holding our tiny baby girl with such gentleness played at my heartstrings. He still holds Reid with this protective care but also rough houses with her, much to Reid’s delight. I’m grateful that Reid gives this gift of playfulness to Ken as well.

I’m grateful for Reid because her birth and existance has strengthened and evolved my relationship with my mother and siblings. They give me the advice that one would expect but more importantly, they give Reid their unconditional love. I love them all the more for the fact that they love my child.

I am grateful for Reid because her life carries on some of the love I shared with my father and is a tribute to the love that I have for him. As a 17 year old whose world was shaken by the death of her father, I remember thinking that I had been cheated of showing my baby to my father. 16 years later I was sad that my dad couldn’t hold this beautiful child that I had borne. I was sure that he would have loved her. I think that having children is a leap of faith. I’m glad my father passed on his love of family and faith and grateful for Reid’s birth drawing my attention to these traits.

Overall, I’m grateful for my child because she has made me a better person in a more interesting world.

How to choose a favourite age?

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

I was just visiting MamaBlogga to see the final list for the October Group Writing Project to see if anyone else was able to choose a single favourite age and thought sharing it would be a good thing. Read on for a trip down memory lane or maybe into the future. Mine is There is always something wonderful about this age (shameless self-promotion, eh ;+)

  1. Terrible Schmerrible by Ursula Zamora
  2. An age old question… by Tiffany (Three Ring Circus)
  3. What is the best age?? by Jennifer Hitchcock
  4. Emerging by Tracey
  5. Don’t grow up too fast my darling by Summer
  6. 3 yrs. + 1 yr, + 2 yrs? Are you crazy? by Brandi @ Home, Hope and Future
  7. Day of Poo and Stinkor Looming by Maria C.
  8. The best things about this age. . . by Summer M.
  9. Like watching water boil by Shawn
  10. The best thing about Abbie being 3!! by Jessica
  11. Tomorrow, One Day Older by Phyllis
  12. These are a few of my favorite things by boogiemum
  13. Today, while the blossoms by Jordan (MamaBlogga)
  14. The best thing about this age by Urban Mummy
  15. When He Comes Running Back by Mommy Zabs
  16. the best things about this age by melissa
  17. Be 4 by Mama Zen
  18. My favorite age by Deb – Mom of 3 Girls
  19. The Blessing of Four by Jill
  20. The Best Things About this Age… by Andrea
  21. There is always something wonderful about this age by MomOnTheGo
  22. Terrific Two’s by Candace
  23. Rock-a-Bye Big Boy by Elaine