Posts Tagged ‘life’

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Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor —
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now —
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

~Langston Hughes “Mother to Son”

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Women haven’t been given a lot of space in history books, I’ve noticed. The kids and I are listening to The Story of the World on CD every night before bed (thanks Angie) and it’s gotten me to thinking about the way we record which events we think of as important. About who records it, what their bias is, and what we teach our children. What should we aspire to? What makes a life well lived?

For all of the Big Events that we read about, there have been countless smaller ones that were just as important. Just as heroic, just as inspirational, and just as noteworthy. Just not noticed. There are 6 billion or more people on this planet, all with stories to tell, and most of them will never be heard. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could celebrate the courage of the every day choices?

I remember walking through the grocery store shortly after the birth of my fourth child, with the newborn strapped onto my chest, the 2-year old sitting in the shopping cart, the 4-year old hanging off it’s side, and the 7-year old in tears behind me, and hearing a young clerk whispering loudly (that’s an oxymoron!) “SHE must have been desperate for groceries!”. I was tired. The children were disheveled. We were all barely hanging on to our tempers. I WAS desperate for groceries, I had just moved to town, I had no real family support, and I was doing my very best to keep it all together. Just getting through the day back then felt heroic. What about people in refugee camps? People in war zones? It boggles the mind.

In honour of  the unspoken about, the unwritten about, and the often unthought about,  a quote:

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words, it is expressed in the choices we make. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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A Chip Off The Old Sister

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It’s like going back in time. Different daughter, same approach. Deadly serious, intensely focused, and in love with the sport.

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She has the advantage of having lived at the pool since she was two, and having been around more competitions than she can remember. She started diving this year, but she looks like she’s been diving for a lot longer, probably because she’s been practicing in her mind since her older sister started five years ago. She entered her first competition today, and didn’t seem to be nervous in the slightest. She seemed to be absolutely itching to get on with it, to do this one, then the next one, until she’s an established competitive diver and on the team bus with the big kids.

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Here she is getting last minute instructions from her coach, the very same coach that L had when she started out….

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Here she is with her ribbon. Not particularly triumphant looking for someone who handily won first place.

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Some of the big girls, at the novice meet to coach the tiny ones…

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…..and loving it. It’s terribly exciting for L now that she’s started coaching. She takes such pride in being given the responsibility.

I was saying to another one of the diving moms at the pool today that I’ve really begun to feel tremendously emotional about my kids lately. Events like this just highlight what I seem to be feeling so often nowadays. I’m so proud of them, and watching them do what they do leaves me feeling more than a little overwhelmed. With gratitude, with pride, with love, with joy. Seeing my older two kids mingling with a cluster of teenagers at a party this weekend sent me into the same sort of advance nostalgia. Kind of like look at them, can you believe that they’re so grown up? they used to all be hanging off me, and now there they are, making their way in the world, like the competent capable people that I guess they are. I’m not exactly sure where all of this emotion is coming from, given the obviousness of what I’m seeing. I can only imagine what I’ll be like once they start doing really grown up things. Like getting married. Or having kids.

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What a lovely picture. A little girl pulling a sled in the Canadian wilderness. Sheesh. Those homeschooled kids. So brave and hearty and adventurous, always outdoors in the healthful fresh air….(What you don’t see is the howling wind, and my serious misgivings about having suggested our grand outing).

Squatting down to eat some snow. (Me in the background saying for the umpteenth time, “Eating snow is just like drinking out of a puddle. Would you drink out of a puddle? A dog might have gone pee in that very spot.“)

Ready for the Grand Adventure. Skating to the library. (Preceded by 20 minutes of negotiating in the kitchen. Jay adamantly refusing to go skating, me empathizing, but staying firm because we really needed to pick up the books on hold, and then Jay finally agreeing to go, but still refusing to skate, so me agreeing to pull her on a sled. Tee rather warily agreeing to pull the other sled with books and boots. Sibling tensions simmering. False jollility emanating from their mother.)

Big brother pulling little sister on sled. (“My back hurts! How much longer? How come you can’t just pull both sleds Mom? Quit BUGGING me Jay.”)

We reached our destination! Success! (Tee’s mood has really shifted, from rather grumpy stoicism to bitterness, because the skating was tiring, Jay got pulled the whole way, and he’s just now realized that he’s going to have to skate all the way home, and she won’t because she didn’t bring skates. Only very reluctantly posing for picture. Note eyes closed in mute defiance.)


Brother and sister. (Tee’s eyes are in slits because I asked him to open them for the picture, and that’s as far as he was willing to open them, as he is now angry at me for coming up with this unfair afternoon plan. Jay has become chirpy and bubbly, in a way that is provoking Tee’s anger. The angrier, poutier, and moodier he becomes, the happier she seems to get. I see this developing, but feel powerless. What do I do? Tell Jay to quit being so darn happy because it’s insensitive? Feel my teeth starting to grit. Especially once we actually take off skates, put on boots, drag sleds up hill to library doors, and I realize that we put THREE bags of books on the sled, and we now only have TWO. Must have lost one on the way. Arg. What a great plan.)00014
Cute kid. (Okay, she’s cute. What you don’t see is Tee sitting with arms folded, refusing to take off his skates, as his pouting has now ramped up into full-blown anger, which he’s displaying by being stubborn.) We did make it home, but the wind was absolutely brutal on the way back. Tee skated on ahead, I pulled Jay, and she pulled the sled filled with books. We found the lost bag of books, I kept my temper, and we had hot chocolate with marshmallows, so it all worked out in the end, give or take a few not-so-pleasant sibling moments.
I didn’t plan on writing the post this way, but when I looked at the photos from the afternoon, it occured to me that they didn’t tell the full story. I often look at pictures and get romantic, idealized notions of other people’s lives being somehow blissful and stress-free, so I thought I’d burst the bubble on these ones.

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….the highlight of your day is having time to clean.

I cleaned out the snack cupboard, the entry closet, AND the two drawers of the Messy Counter (it used to be the messy drawer, then the messy drawers, and then the mess crawled over the entire counter.) Jay was busy playing “art factory” with her friend, Tee was busy feeling sick and moaning on the couch, and I had done what I thought was a heroic amount of outloud reading, so I embarked on a little tidying. I had intended on fixing the upstairs toilet, but when I couldn’t manage to wrench the doodad out of the whatsit I had to channel my frustration somewhere.

If only I could find the time to do one extra little job every day, on top of the usual dishes/laundry/picking up/driving around/making meals routine. THEN my house would be clean. I would love a clean and organized house.

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Facing My Phobia

It’s mouse killing time.

I’ve been reluctant to use live traps on my little rodent visitors, because they make my kids cry, and because I abhor the idea of dealing with the stiffened bodies, but ever since the back of the under-the-sink kitchen cabinet was cut away to deal with the frozen water pipes a month ago, I’ve had signs of mice everwhere. Last night I heard rustlings and scamperings somewhere inside my kitchen, even when I was in there, with all the lights on, making loud, scary banging noises. This morning I saw evidence of mice on plates inside the cupboard, and scattered amongst the tea towels in their drawer. Uggh.

Right after dinner tonight I set a mini mousey guillotine up under the sink and baited it with extra stinky cheese. Just now I heard a snap. I shudder at the thought of going in to the kitchen and opening that cupboard. The only other time I killed a mouse this way the mouse and the trap were 3 feet away from where the trap had been set, and there was a gruesome trail of blood over the floor. In my horrified imagination, the little mouse had gnawed off it’s foot and then died of blood loss, but as it turned out, he bled out from a scalp laceration.

Now I have to be extra brave and go face what I’ve done. I need to dispose of corpse #1 and re-set that trap.

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Making the cake


7 loot bags, all nicely wrapped. Loot presents, for a bit of a change this year.


Bowling trophy. It goes against today’s parenting ethos which insists that Nobody’s a Loser, but my kid has a terribly competitive streak. He keeps mental score at his basketball games even though the league insists on no-score games in his age group. The first thing he says after a game is what the score was, and who won. He saw this trophy, which has been engraved to say :

#1 Bowler Tee’s 9th Birthday 2008

and he said “I hope I win!” I reminded him that if any of the other bowlers won, he could see the trophy at their house when he went over to play. The trophy looks to be vintage 1970’s. It’s from a thrift store. It might not even be a bowling trophy, now that I look at it more closely. That ball looks quite small. Maybe it’s bocce.

The cakes came out of their pans (phew!), and are cooling, ready to be transformed into an edible bowling lane. We found bowling pin candles, and bought gumballs to use as the bowling balls. Very exciting. One of the cakes is uneven, and the other is about half the height of the first, because Tee accidentally added too much liquid to the batter, but icing always saves the day, and 9-year old boys aren’t the most discriminating of guests, so I think it’ll be okay. Tee thought up the cake design, and drew up scale diagrams, intricately labeled, with gummi bear stand-ins for his party guests. I’m looking forward to helping him decorate it!

Now that the older two are sophisticated and jaded, I’m extra-appreciative of the innocent eagerness with which Tee is preparing for this party. I’m acutely aware of how soon he’ll be too old to wear the I’m The Birthday Boy pin that we found at Superstore yesterday. R is turning 14 in a couple of weeks, and he wasn’t even sure that he wanted to have a party. Little Miss Jay went to her friend’s 6th birthday party yesterday, and I felt almost nostalgic when I saw the balloons and party dresses and crying toddler siblings. Birthday parties are the sorts of things that, like diapers, seem endless. Then all of a sudden, they’re gone. Gotta keep reminding myself of the fleetingness of it all….

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