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    Monday June 14th, 2010

    Friendly Folk

    “What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.”

    Joseph Addison

    I pulled into the parking lot of a fairly large and busy local drugstore.  I sat in my car for a minute to hear the end of a discussion about lime disease on the CBC, and saw an older gentleman getting out of his car across from me.  He caught my eye, smiled and pointed at me as though he knew me.  Bruce Springsteen does the same thing when he’s onstage.  I remember being at one of his concerts with my brother and he pointed in our general direction.  Of course my brother and I, (and possibly a dozen other fans,) felt as though he was making a connection with us.  It’s a good strategy.

    Back in the parking lot, I got out of my car and stepped into the sunshine.  The elderly gentleman threw his arms up in the air and looked skyward as he said to me, “Glorious!  On days like this, you feel glad to be above the ground instead of six feet under, pruning roots!  Isn’t that a good one?  Pruning roots?”  He started walking by my side as though we were pals who had met up for a coffee date.

    It felt comfortable though, I was happy to slow my pace down and accompany this fellow into the store.  He talked about how lovely Comox was.  “I just moved here, you know, from Penticton.”

    I learned that this man had been ill and his family told him to move to the Valley so that they could take care of him.  He spent a lot of his time taking care of his granddaughter, but he loved it.  As he was talking, my mind drifted briefly to thoughts of my grandfather, Ernie Munday, who was also the type of person who would make fast friends with strangers.  I used to love tagging along beside Grandpa to see how he could make people smile and laugh with his easy conversation.  He genuinely loved people.  He passed away more than twenty years ago, but I’m reminded of him often, and I was grateful to this man for sharing his friendly energy with me.

    As we neared the store, I opened the heavy door and motioned for him to go first, but he wouldn’t hear of it.  He was a true  gentleman.  It seemed natural to part ways once we were inside the store, so he wrapped up our conversation by asking, “You know what the best thing about living here is?”

    “What’s that?” I asked.

    “The people are so darn friendly!” and he gave me a little wink.

    rays

    Monday June 7th, 2010

    Love-Bug

    “A life lived in love will never be dull.”

    Leo Buscaglia

    When I picked Pip up from pre-school the other day, she had a bat in her hands and was swinging at pitches thrown by one of the moms, who is also a good friend.  “It’s all in the wrist!”  my friend coached Pip.  We’ve been playing a lot of tennis with Pip lately, so she was used to a much broader hitting instrument and wasn’t having much luck.  She kept swinging though, despite her lack of contact with the ball.

    When she saw that I’d arrived to pick her up, she came bounding over to me for a huge hug.   I love those greetings.  I think I appreciate them so much because I know they won’t last forever.  It’s hard for me to imagine a time in the future when Pip won’t run to me for a hug or a cuddle.  She showers me with such an abundance of love, in both her actions and words, that I want to store it away somewhere so that I can pull it out and re-live it when she’s sixteen and telling me that she hates my guts!

    We were all sitting in the back yard, eating our first outdoor meal of the season and Pip was in a particularly loving mood.  We always say a little gratitude prayer before meals.  “Pip, what are you grateful for today?”

    “I’m grateful for Mama.”

    “Thank you Honey.”

    “Mama, you are the best Mama I’ve ever had.”

    “Oh, thank you Sweetie.  You’re the best four-year-old daughter I’ve ever had.”

    Pip continued, “I love your smile.”

    “Pip, that’s such a nice thing to say, I love your smile too!”

    “Mama, I would never even be alive without you.  I love you all the way to Africa and back.”

    “Pip, you are saying the loveliest things, you are such a little love-bug, where is all of this sweetness coming from?”

    “It’s all in the wrist, Mama.”

    pips

    Monday May 31st, 2010

    The Luxury of Illness

    Sickness comes on horseback but departs on foot.

    Dutch Proverb, sometimes attributed to William C. Hazlitt

    DSC_0214

    I have to warn you that this might be a pitiful post.  I’m feeling a wee bit woeful.  On the heels of an ugly fever a week or so ago, I’m now enjoying a popular gastrointestinal bug that has hit many of my close friends in the past few days.  If it was just the nausea and stomach upset alone, I wouldn’t be feeling so sorry for myself, but I’m dealing with two other health issues at the moment.  The first is a VERY impressive third day of ‘celebrating my womanhood’ and the second (and third) are my two aching mammaries due to weaning Fig.  Yes; I decided to quit cold turkey four days ago and I’m still having to pump once a day.

    So there it is.  I’m not at my peak of health.  I’ve been ill before, but it occurs to me now, as a mother, that illness is a bit of a luxury.  Instead of being able to hide myself away in bed for twenty-four hours as I could do when I was childless, I now have to participate in the day and be responsible for my children.  Granted, I can choose to lay pretty low, (and it’s very convenient when I feel sick on a weekend and can rely on my husband’s support,) but oh, how I miss those luxurious days, when I could call in sick to work and focus all of my energy on resting, drinking plenty of fluids, and becoming well.

    I will say that my two little nurses are pretty cute.  A tiny, soft hand caressing my forehead is sure to speed up my recovery.

    I hope you, my readers, are enjoying a wonderful day of good health.  Perhaps my whining has, at the very least, made you appreciate that you’re feeling well.

    And thank you for reading.  There haven’t been many comments as of late, but I’m able to check on my readership through a nifty programme called, ‘Google Analytics,’ and according to Google, you’re still out there!  Thanks for joining me.

    Monday May 24th, 2010

    Happy Victoria Day!

    I’m celebrating this Victoria Day by photographing the blooming belly of a dear friend.  I wish you and yours a lovely long weekend!

    lilac

    Sunday May 9th, 2010

    Still at it

    “If a multinational company developed a product that was a nutritionally balanced and delicious food, a wonder drug that both prevented and treated disease, cost almost nothing to produce and could be delivered in quantities controlled by the consumers’ needs, the very announcement of their find would send their shares rocketing to the top of the stock market.  The scientists who developed the product would win prizes and the wealth and influence of everyone involved would increase dramatically.  Women have been producing such a miraculous substance, breastmilk, since the beginning of human existence.”

    ~Gabrielle Palmer

    I never thought that I’d be one of those moms that still nursed her children when they were old enough to carry on a conversation, yet here I am, writing about nursing my 26 month old daughter.  With Pip, I was trying to get pregnant again  around her first birthday and wasn’t having any luck, so I weaned her and conceived right away.  With Fig, however, there has been no great impetus to stop nursing her, so I still breast-feed once or twice a day before she sleeps.

    I seem to recall reading that two years of breast-feeding your child was ideal, so I was glad to make it to Fig’s second birthday, but I think we’ll call it quits this summer.  I know that she can do without it; she’s definitely eating enough at mealtimes to sustain her, and she’s perfectly happy going to straight to sleep if I’m not at home to put her to bed.  The funny thing is, I don’t mind it at all.  Perhaps it’s partly because I know that I’m not going to have another baby.  This will be the last experience I have nursing, and it is an incredibly tender time for Fig and me.  I think we’ll both miss it.

    A friend told me a story the other day about a little girl who had been weaned and was pleading with her mother to let her back onto her breast.  After her mother explained that her breastfeeding days were over, the little girl said, “Please Mom, I won’t even suck-I’ll just put my lips there!”

    The other day Fig looked up at me, mid-feed, and said, “Mama, it’s not working.”  Apparently my right breast had run dry. I wish she could have communicated that kind of information as an infant.  Wouldn’t it  have been handy to have your three-day-old say, “Excuse me Mama, I’m not getting enough milk from this breast, can we possibly try the left one?”

    fig

    Saturday May 8th, 2010

    Happy Day!

    Happy Mother’s Day!

    tulip

    Wishing a beautiful Mother’s Day to all of the Grateful Mamas out there!!!  Whether you’re twenty-six or seventy-six, you deserve to be appreciated for all of the giving that you do.  My hope for all Moms is that on this day, and every day, you remember to give a little to yourself!

    Thank you for reading!

    Karen

    Sunday May 2nd, 2010

    Greed

    “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

    Frederick Keoniq

    tulips2

    We took a trip to Vancouver recently and the girls were promised one souvenir.  Our holiday was to last five days and my daughters pulled out their ‘one gift per holiday’ cards within the first two hours of our trip.  We were on the ferry when Pip inevitably spotted the gift shop.

    After passing the snuggle test, a small black and white stuffed cat was adopted by Pip, and Fig fell in love with a stuffed snake that tripled her in length.   We reminded our daughters of the gift-purchasing agreement and made sure they understood that these would be the only toys they would purchase on the trip.  Both Pip and Fig understood the deal, and were already smitten with their new pals.  “I hiss you.  I’m a friendly snake.  Hissssss,” was about the extent of our conversations with Fig for the rest of the day.  (You have to imagine the hiss with a lisp for full effect.)

    Crystal the cat and Hiss the snake were by the girls’ sides for the duration of our holiday.  We didn’t see the inside of many shops during our time in Vancouver; it was a holiday spent visiting friends, finding fun playgrounds, introducing our daughters to our favourite restaurant and strolling through Stanley Park.  I ducked out for a solo shopping spree for a few hours one day, but the girls didn’t have many opportunities to desire other toys.

    Until, of course, we found ourselves back on the ferry heading home.  “Mama, Crystal really wants a friend.  I want another stuffy from the gift shop,” Pip whined. And we were off!  The next fifteen minutes was spent reminding Pip of our agreement, telling her that our minds were not going to change, (and whining was not going to help her cause,) and reinforcing the great choice she made in purchasing Crystal.

    “Won’t it be fun to introduce Crystal to your other stuffies at home?”  Pip was overtired and was definitely not at her best, but it was unusual for her to be so persistent.  We were able to redirect Pip’s attention and she eventually dropped the toy issue, but it was unpleasant to say the least.

    How do we help our kids become more appreciative and less greedy?  I know that consistency is huge; they have to know that once we’ve laid down the law, we’re going to stick to our word.  But have we given our daughters too much?  I’m not sure.  I’ve known kids with a lot of material possessions who are gracious and humble and generous.  How do you instill those qualities in your children?

    I know they’re young.  I know it’s normal.  I have a feeling it’s going to take a lot of time, perseverance, consistency and patience on our part, but I maybe it takes a bit of creativity too.  I bet there are some wise parents out there who have some effective suggestions.  Please share.

    tulips

    Sunday April 25th, 2010

    The Twos


    “Patience is the companion of wisdom.”

    Saint Augustine

    I’m a big fan of alliteration, but I don’t like the term ‘the terrible twos.’  Perhaps it’s because I have a two-year-old; and if the past ten days are any indication, it’s going to be a very long year!

    I feel for Fig.  I really do.  They may be ‘terrible twos’ but for whom are they terrible?  I would argue that it’s a far more upsetting age for the toddlers themselves.

    Take naps, for example; Fig has been a consistent afternoon napper from day one.  Her morning nap was cut-out months ago, but she has always enjoyed an afternoon kip from about 1-3pm.  In the last month, however, there have been several days when she hasn’t napped.  One o’clock has rolled around, the normal nap routines have been followed, but Fig hasn’t seemed the least bit sleepy.  So, she has some ‘quiet time,’ but she doesn’t rest.  By six o’clock, she is a mess.  She wants to be picked up, she doesn’t want to be picked up, she wants a cuddle, but she doesn’t want your hand on her back, she wants a blanket on her, but not THAT blanket.  As another mom of a two year old recently wrote of her two-year-old son, “He hates everything!”

    When Fig gets into that teary, fitful zone, it’s impossible to appease her, because even she doesn’t know what she wants.  How terrible for her!  Haven’t we all felt that way at some point or other; unhappy, crying at the drop of a hat, not able to articulate what will make us happy because we don’t even know it ourselves?  Imagine feeling that way at least once every day!  I’d go nuts!

    When I feel my patience running a bit thin with Fig, it’s helpful for me to try to jump into her skin for a minute.  It must be frightening for her to feel so many intense emotions and not know why she feels them, or how to deal with them.

    So in honour of my dear Fig, you won’t hear me refer to this complex young age as ‘terrible.’ Tumultuous?  Sometimes.  Terrific?  That too.    But not simply ‘terrible.’

    water stroller snooze

    Sunday April 18th, 2010

    Long Noses

    “A lie would have no sense unless the truth were felt to be dangerous.”

    Alfred Adler

    It’s strange when your innocent little four-year-old looks you right in the eye and lies.  I think Pip’s experimentation with fibbing began in the bathroom.  She isn’t one to linger in the loo.  In fact, in the time it takes Pip to poop, most people haven’t even sat down!  She’s a ‘drop it and run’ kind of gal.

    My mom was watching the girls one day and was astonished when I came home and asked her, “Did Pip wipe after she went to the bathroom?”  Mom was in a state of shock.  She couldn’t believe that Pip was ever out of her sight long enough to have a bowel movement.  I had evidence though; Pip rarely flushes.

    I think Pip just has too much fun doing whatever it is she is doing, and she doesn’t want to interrupt her play with a tedious visit to the washroom.  So, she holds things in as long as she can, (not healthy; I know,) then dashes off to the facilities and spends the least amount of time possible conducting her business.  Flushing?  Washing of hands?  Calling for back-up  to help clean her bottom?  Too time consuming for our Pip.  Thus, the fibbing began.

    “Pip, did you just poop?”

    “No Mama.”  Clearly Pip doesn’t have the deception thing down, because she never hides the evidence.  Once I find the turd in the toilet, I simply ask her to return to the scene of the crime, wipe her bottom and insist that she wash her hands.  I usually throw in a lecture about good hygiene & bad germs at the same time.

    Pip seems to be coming around though.  I told her that it would be a dream-come-true if she started calling me into the bathroom to wipe her bottom.  It was the best thing I could have said.  Now, when I get the call to wipe Pip says, “Your dream is coming true Mama!”  and I bend over her with the toilet-paper and say,

    “Yes it is, Sweetie, this is my dream-come-true!”

    That’s the good news.  The bad news is that she still experiments with lying.  I was in the kitchen the other morning when I heard Fig erupt in a fit of tears.  As a Mom, you can differentiate between your kids cries; you know when your child is really hurt and when they’re frustrated or overtired.  This was Fig’s ‘my feelings are hurt’ cry.  As she came toward me, I heard her say, between sobs that her sister hit her.  “Where?”  Fig hit her own head.

    “Pip,” I asked upon entering my daughter’s bedroom, “did you hit your sister?”

    Pip, looking like the cat who swallowed the canary, said innocently, “No Mama.”

    “Pip, you know how important it is for everyone to tell the truth,” Pip nodded, “so can you please tell me what really happened?”

    “I didn’t hit Fig,” said Pip convincingly.  (It’s even more disturbing when your child is a good liar.)

    “Is that the truth, Pip?”

    “Yes Mama.”  Fig was still whimpering in my arms.  There was no doubt in my mind that Pip had hit Fig.  I just couldn’t believe she was still sticking to her story.

    “Fig, did Pip hit you?”  Fig nodded, demonstrated the hit to her head again, then burst into another woeful wail.  Her feelings hurt more than her head.  “Well, Pip, I believe Fig.  She has never lied to me and you’ve lied to me  before, so I don’t know if I can believe you.”  The truth hurts sometimes, and it looked as though Pip was really taking my words to heart.

    “Is my nose growing?” she asked.  It took me a second to respond.

    “No Sweetie, Pinnochio is a pretend story.  Lying doesn’t really make your nose grow.”  She was definitely coming around, so I asked her again.  “Did you hit your sister?”  Pip nodded.

    I think I surprised her by thanking her.  I said that I really appreciated her telling me the truth and then I went into my spiel about how we don’t solve problems by hitting.  I didn’t give her a consequence for her behaviour;  at that moment in time, I decided it was more important to send the message that truth-telling pays off.

    What will I do next time though?  We have a ‘no tolerance’ policy for hitting and I want to be consistent in my discipline.  So how will I still make honesty the best policy?  Congratulations for telling the truth, maybe even a big hug, then removal from the situation as a consequence for hitting?  It’s a bit tricky.

    I find it quite unnerving.  Is this when it begins?  I think of all the potential lies that lay ahead, about parties and drinking and boys.  Is it just a natural part of development?  I’d like to think so.  I’d be lying if I said I never lied to my parents when I was growing up.  Why did I lie?  I think sometimes it was because my parents thought so highly of me, I didn’t want to disappoint them.  It wasn’t so much that I wanted to avoid a punishment, but I wanted to live up to their expectations of me.  So what is the best way to encourage your children to always tell the truth?  Perhaps part of the answer is to let them know that we are all fallible; we all make poor choices and that’s how we learn.

    Later that evening, when Pip and I were snuggled in her bed for a story, she looked up at me and said, “Mama, I’m sorry that I lied to you today, but I solved my poo problem!”

    Ah yes, my dream-come-true.


    Sunday April 11th, 2010

    Birthday Colds and Skipping

    “It takes a long time to grow young.”

    Pablo Picasso

    A friend was lamenting the fact that her daughter was starting to use words correctly.  I understood exactly what she meant; Pip says ‘pupcake’ for ‘cupcake,’ and I don’t correct her.  Pupcake is too cute.  I’ll miss pupcakes when they become cupcakes.

    Speaking of pupcakes, Pip turned four this past weekend.  We had big plans for her birthday; pupcakes at her pre-school on Friday, a Birthday-Shopping-Date with me on Saturday, followed by the grand finale birthday party on Sunday.  As luck would have it, Pip woke-up crying Thursday morning because her throat was on fire.  Not fair.

    Not only did Pip feel miserable for her entire birthday weekend, to add insult to injury, the weather decided to be SPECTACULAR!!!  If you have to suffer through a cold, it’s a bit easier when the weather reflects your dreary state.  Rainy days are almost meant for cuddling up on the couch with a good book and a mug of chicken soup.  On the contrary, sunshiney spring weather does not make it easy for a four-year-old to rest and take plenty of fluids.

    I think Pip enjoyed her birthday though.  She said as much: “Mama, even though I’m sick, this is the best birthday ever!”  It was hard to see Pip struggle with her cold, but I loved spending so much one-on-one time with her.  During our date together, we skipped.  Can you remember the last time you skipped?  We had been holding hands, walking down the main street of Courtenay, and Pip started skipping.  (She’s very proud of this newly acquired skill.)  I matched her cheerful gait, and soon we were both giggling as we skipped down mainstreet.

    It wasn’t even my birthday, but I got the best present.

    birthday girl