December 30, 2012

one for the birds

Hello friends! Did you have a fun weekend? Ours felt like just the right balance: catching up with friends Friday and Saturday night and having time during the day just for us. Yesterday we took the little one swimming at our local kids pool and had so much fun watching her splash around and giggle, it almost made us forget we were all playing in children's chlorinated urine. This morning, we woke up to gorgeous sunshine and made best efforts to go snowshoeing at Mt. Seymour, but unfortunately,  everyone else had the same plan and we sat at the base of the mountain for 40 minutes, barely moving. The word on the radio was that the parking lot was full and people were waiting a good half hour for a spot, so we abandoned the plan. We were really disappointed because we had spent what felt like a tangible portion of our lives packing the parade of equipment the little one needs to do such an activity, but as Craig sipped on his lemonade, he reminded me, and perhaps pointed in the air, that we too needed to make lemonade from this situation. I think I threw up a little in my mouth when he said that, and then realized that his eternal optimism is rather endearing. So, we headed to one of our favourite local parks: Campbell Valley Park. On our way there, we made a quick stop to pick up some bird seed and this is what was parked beside us:
He had three birds loose in his car. I know cell phones are completely distracting in a car, so I'm pretty sure that three birds, who all have the potential of crapping pretty much anywhere, or landing on your head, or worse treating your head like a perch whilst pecking out your eyeballs, could make for some hazardous driving conditions. But, the strange encounter made me realize that perhaps our day was destined to be spent in the company of birds. 

December 27, 2012

December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Here are some random images from our day. I hope you had a wonderful day with your loved ones. xo 

December 24, 2012

Christmas catch up

Hi friends! Are you ready for Christmas? We actually just got our tree Saturday. Our little one went down for her nap, and my hubby dashed out to pick up the tree. I decorated it quickly and turned on the Christmas lights. When she woke up from her nap and saw the tree, she ran around the house excitedly, clapping and speaking a mile a minute in her own little language. I'm pretty sure she was saying, Rad job mom and dad. Yes, in hindsight I'm positive that's exactly what she was saying.

Are you finished all of your shopping? We still have some Christmas shopping to do because life has been especially busy lately: My hubby started a new job two weeks ago, and we needed to buy a second car lickety split for his commute. I went back to work this week after my year long mat leave. (More on that in a minute). Stella had her first birthday and we threw a little bash for her. My grandma passed away.

On Saturday, we had a little graveside ceremony and burial for grandma. She was laid to rest next to my grandpa, who had passed away 20 years ago. I felt such much peace during the ceremony because I know that for the past few years, she was ready to go and now she was finally at rest, next to her life's great love. The simple little ceremony, surrounded by family, listening to stories of her life, felt perfect.
Later that night, one of Stella's toys started up on its own, playing music. I looked at it and briefly thought, Grandma? Okay, perhaps it was just a glitch, but I like to think she was just checking in.

One week ago, we had a little birthday party for our daughter's leap into single digits. When we got home, I looked at her and welled up (or perhaps I even went into the ugly cry, I can't quite recall) wondering if I was going to be tough enough to go back to work and have long days away from her. I had the most amazing year and was panicking that it was going to change. I poured through photos of her and told my husband that I wanted it all back, to relive every moment of the past year with her. (Yep, I can be pretty dramatic). She has been my trusty sidekick 24/7. But, I have to tell you, especially all you moms out there who are fearing being apart from your babies, it went incredibly smoothly. I was so excited to see my work mates again, to use my brain in a different capacity and to engage in adult conversation. I think during the mat leave, we almost go into hibernation, and understandably so; it's a time to bond with our babies and to get them (and ourselves) into a routine.  Even though most days on my mat leave, I went out and met up with friends or relatives, returning to work somehow felt like I was really emerging from hibernation. When I got home from work, I was really pumped to see my little girl. I'm working part time, which I think is the perfect balance for my life right now. So, all you new moms out there, don't waste a single moment of your mat leave worrying about your return to work. If someone like me, who is joined at the hip to her daughter can do it, and enjoy it, you can too!

Merry Christmas from our little family to yours. I hope you have an amazing time surrounded by your loved ones. I wish you nothing but peace, love and happiness for the coming year.  xoxo

December 20, 2012

the message

The Universe first speaks in a whisper and then gets louder and louder until you can't ignore the message. 
Last Friday, 20 children and six adults were shot at Sandy Hook Elementary school. Like many of you, ever since I've heard the news, my thoughts continuously return to these families. I've wept so much over these beautiful faces, robbed of their futures. As a parent, I can't imagine the horror of running to your child's school, not knowing if they are still alive and waiting in anguish to find out.  And as time marched on, I can't imagine the horrendous task of telling these parents that they weren't one of the lucky ones going home with their children. I can't imagine parents telling their child's siblings that their big brother or little sister isn't coming home. Teachers showed remarkable heroism in the halls of Sandy Hook, locking students in closets to keep them safe, locking them in washrooms, reading to them to keep them calm, telling them they are loved. Teachers used their own bodies to shield the children from bullets and were found lying on top of children. Every story is remarkable.

America, you are in crisis. This culture of gun violence can no longer be ignored. The tipping point was Columbine, but not enough was done and now the message is louder than ever: assault weapons have no place in American households. Of the 23 richest nations in the world, the US gun related murder rate is 20 times that of the other 22. On average, the US has a mass killing every two weeks. In 2008, the US had 12,000 deaths by guns, Japan, who has the strictest control of firearms in its country, had 11 deaths. I know that guns will never be banned in the US, but at the very least they should start banning assault rifles. I am so tired of gun owners who hide behind the Second Amendment to justify owning these weapons of mass destruction. When the Second Amendment was written, muskets were in circulation, not magazine fed semi automatic rifles. I do not live in the United States (I'm Canadian), but I am so grateful that Obama was re-elected in the U.S. Not only does this prove that the NRA isn't as all powerful as they might lead you to believe, (their number one agenda was to make sure Obama didn't get re-elected, and we all know how that turned out) but it also means the right person is in office when the country needs change the most. I just hope he does everything in his power to honour these lost lives, and sends a bill to Congress. The United States also has to address the state of their mental health care for the real healing to begin. When someone, with an acute history of mental illness, can simply walk into his living room and pick up his mother's AR-15, the system is failing on so many levels.

Look at those faces above, read their biographies. The message has never been louder: This is unacceptable. These instances are occurring in epidemic proportions in the U.S. Change must come. 

December 19, 2012

December 13, 2012

goodnight sweet grandma, may you rest in peace

This photo was taken at her 101st birthday this year. She still had that little spark in her eyes that I loved so much. Tonight, she passed away.
I am so thankful for every moment I got to share with her.
She was the oldest of eight children, grew up in a two bedroom farmhouse in the prairies, and has outlived everyone in her family.
She  met my grandpa at a wedding, and she said she knew instantly that she loved him. He asked her out that night and they were by each other's side for over 50 years until he passed away at the age of 80. She never anticipated outliving him by 21 years and told me how often her heart ached for him.
Their only child was my mother.
My grandma rode to school on horseback, lived through the depression, wars, cooked for a family of 7 three times a day to make ends meet, owned a bakery, and saw more changes in her lifetime than I will ever witness. She was the kind of woman that always invited people throughout her neighbourhood over for a meal or a cup of tea. If someone didn't have a place to go for Christmas, they would always be welcome at her table.
She was my home away from home. She taught my brother and I how to play crib, darts and pool, let us stay up late to watch shows like the Love Boat or Carole Burnett, gave us hot bowls of oatmeal for breakfast and had the most amazing homemade bread. She had an incredible vegetable garden and didn't mind that we used to sit in it and eat our way out of it. I used to love making cookies with her or listening to her sing.
She was the quintessential grandma - always baking, always hugging, always sharing funny stories about antics my brother and I got into growing up. I have three things of hers that represent her in a nutshell to me: her ruby ring (her name was Ruby), her cookie jar and a quilt she made my daughter.
Through my grandma's deteriorating health over the last five years, my mom has transformed into an angel. My mom was by her side day in, day out, even though my grandma couldn't always recall who she was.
Some days my mom would just go and simply hold her hand for hours, just to reassure her that she was there.
Death always brings a flood of thoughts: our memories of our loved ones, our beliefs about what happens when we die, our awareness of on our own mortality. I'm just so thankful that I got to know this incredible lady so well and to have her in my life for so long. Earlier this week she looked at me and told me that she was going to be okay. I feel such reassurance from this. Goodnight sweet grandma. xo

December 12, 2012

images from our morning

We rise around 6 and the first two hours of our morning are an explosion of play time. This whole parenting deal is pretty awesome. 

December 9, 2012

a gift

Hi friends. I've been a little quiet on my blog lately as it's been a tough week. On Wednesday, my mom called me in the morning to let me know that my grandma was in palliative care and that our whole family was gathering that day by her bedside because things were looking dire. Her eyes were already closed and she was breathing very heavily as we took turns holding her hands and having our own private moment with her. I was the last to leave her room as I found it extremely hard to walk away. I kissed her cheek, told her how much I loved her and told her it was ok if she had to leave. I cried through the night, positive that I would never get to see her again. The next morning my mom, my aunt, my daughter and I went to her room to check on her. I, for one, was surprised that she had survived the night. She had looked and sounded so horrible the night before. When we walked in, she was sitting upright, reading British tabloid magazines. The nurses told us that she had gotten up in the night and walked down the hallway, without her walker. She has not walked without her walker in 10+ years. Mom and I looked at one another in absolute disbelief. How was this even happening? She asked the nurse for a snack and motioned for me to sit beside her. I held her hand and she stared into my eyes. She smiled at me and said, "I'm going to be okay". She had not been talking coherently for days but managed to get that sentence out. I didn't know if that meant she's feeling better or if it meant,  not to worry, that she's okay with dying. She wanted me to hold Stella beside her so she could kiss her cheek. I felt like every second of our visit that day was a gift. It all felt like extra time that I never believed I would get. Extra time to look deep into her eyes and convey my love for her. She's 101 and still hanging in. It's remarkable to me that she was here for the first year of my daughter's life. I love how their paths crossed, these two big loves of mine: Ruby and Stella Ruby.  

bright nights at Stanley Park