Thursday, October 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Lakeside in the Summer

As the leaves begin to abandon trees in earnest, warm sweaters are brought out of storage and we prepare to change the clocks and face darkness so much earlier each day -- it's natural to fondly recall the best moments of the summer.

Moments full of sunshine and beaches and ice-cold beverages and - for us at least - camping at one of our beautiful BC Parks. Unfortunately we didn't have the best luck when it came to camping weather this year. If it was raining for the first time in weeks - you can be sure that it was because we had just embarked on a camping adventure...

But right near the end of August we got lucky. Not only had I somehow managed to get a reservation for a coveted lakeview campground in one of our favourite parks...but it wasn't raining!

And what a time we had...

The fire ban was still in effect...thank goodness for good friends that let you use their propane fireplace!

I actually got some time to read my book! 

By the end of the weekend we all felt a little wistful...

I feel you Lamby...I didn't want to leave either. There's always next year. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I (heart) Bookstores

This quote sums up perfectly why an ebook will never do it for me. Why I still take books out of the library. 

Books are magic. 

There is just something about bookstores that draws me in. Especially used bookstores. And it turns out there is actually a name for it. Well according to a twitter account there is...

Vellichor. What a great word...even it is made up. 

My first non-fast food job was in bookstore and god I loved it. I stayed for years because of the smell....and the discount.

But even my love for books couldn't overcome my lack of patience with dumb customers. This picture represents one of the main reasons I decided I'd had enough. 

In my story, the customer was looking for a yellow book. That's all she was yellow and her friend had it on her bookshelf and it looked "interesting". 

Ah memories...

Sunday, October 11, 2015

One-on-One Time: Raptors and Fro-Yo

Last weekend t was my time for my youngest girl and I to have our long-overdue mummy/daughter date.  I say long overdue because she used the word "finally" many times in the days leading up to today. And told everyone that would listen that she was "finally" getting to spend some time just with me.

I found this amusing as we actually spend quite a bit of time together without "the sister" around...but clearly that quality time has to date gone unnoticed.

But I digress. let's talk about today and how great it was for us to 'finally' have some time together.

As soon as I got my hands on a pair of tickets to the Toronto Raptors pre-season game I knew this would be the perfect place to take her.  She wouldn't have to be quiet during the play (which is torture for her) and there would be snacks involved.

It was a win-win for both of us.  So our night out together could be summed up as follows: giant pretzel / hot dog / ice tea / popcorn / sushi (for mummy) / frozen yogurt. oh...and we went to a basketball game too.

why yes that is Trevor Linden sitting pretty much right in my line of sight.  Sorry...did you say there was some kind of basketball game going on?

the dancers were pretty fun to watch.

"mummy...take my picture with this robot hockey guy..."

We rounded off the adventures at Rogers Arena with some Menchies. Always a good choice.

This time that we spent together was important. Because to be honest - she's at such a difficult age that there are days where I find myself thinking I don't like her very much. And I hate that.

Because although I know I will always love my girls I want to make sure I like them too. That I find that balance of being their friend and confidant but also their parent and role model.

She will grow out of this phase. Because I saw signs of that in her today. When she allows herself to come out of the self imposed shadow her big sister casts - she blooms.

She is funny and smart and observant and sweet. And that I love that she showed that side to me today.

I needed the reminder that it's moments like this that are important. Not the words said out of frustration at a lost library book or a forgotten school notice.

It's feeling her little hand slip into mine as we walk. And seeing her smile broadly from behind a giant pretzel.

Good times...

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Reflections from a parent/teacher conference

As a parent the best compliment I get is when someone says something nice about my kids.

And the inherent value of said compliment triples when it is given by someone that spends more one-on-one time with my kids than I do.

To date that has been a select few daycare employees and - of course - their teachers.

I am lucky in that my girls both LOVE school. I know that love may one day fade but for now I'm gonna roll with it and enjoy the fact that they enjoy it.

This year it's real school for both of them. No more kindergarten class with more playtime than book-learning time. No sir. This year my youngest has an actual dayplanner. It just got real.

And my oldest?'s letter grades for the first time. And her planner is the smaller version this year. I guess because her letters aren't seven lines high anymore. Smaller printing = smaller planner.

They have been back in school for a month. We have settled into our routine - kinda. And that means it's time for the first parent teacher conferences of the year.

I approach these meetings with equal parts dread and excitement.

Excitement because I have confidence that my girls are good students with kind and caring dispositions.

Dread because I can't know this 100% for sure. What if they are actually big ol' meanies at school. And they sass back to the teacher. And they never put the home reading books back in the proper lettered bin?

And so it was with all of these thoughts swirling in my head that I went to meet the teachers and find out which was the truth.

First up was my youngest daughter's first grade teacher. She's lovely. One of those teachers that has been doing it for a long time but hasn't forgotten why she wanted to be a teacher in the first place. She still has that joy about her that the kids pick up on.

I sit down on the little plastic chair at the little table and wait for her to start.

"Well...let me start by saying your daughter is a real pleasure to teach and I'm very happy to have her in my class."

[cue the deep exhale and the assumption of a cocky "aw shucks" kind of grin]

She goes on to say that T is a very good student with a kind and caring disposition. She is ahead of the curve in reading and writing and right where she should be in every other subject.  She loves art and has a great imagination.

"Do you have any concerns?" I ask her hesitantly - because I figure there must be something. But no. Her only comment is that she needs to slow down a little, stop rushing through her work and be a little neater. 

Sounds like advice she needs to heed in all areas of her life...not just at school.

With that meeting done it was time to meet with my oldest daughter's grade 4 teacher. Of all the teachers in my little neighbourhood school she is the one that - how can I say this - gives off the least amount of warmth.

The kids all like her because she does cool projects and goes on lots of field trips. But she gives off the air of someone that has been teaching too long and has forgotten it's supposed to be enjoyable.

So this meeting was one I was dreading more than the other. I'm happy to report I had nothing to worry about. That I really shouldn't be so quick to judge.

While she isn't warm and fuzzy...she's good at her job and has pride in what she does. She has my girl pretty well figured out already and it was almost a relief to hear her talk about her strengths and weaknesses in a very matter of fact way.

"Your daughter is a wonderful student. She works hard in class and I enjoy teaching her."

She talked about her love of reading and writing and shared that she is operating at an exceptional level in those areas. And she said in math - always my worry - that she was 'right where she should be'


As I left the school I had one phrase repeating in my head that made me swell up a little with parental pride.

"Whatever you are doing at's working."

Both teachers had said that and it had made me feel so vindicated. My biggest worry over the past two years was that our marriage issues would have a negative impact on the girls.

That their grades would suffer and their self-esteem would take a hit. That they would lose their loving and confident natures and become emotionally needy and unsteady.

But so far it hadn't. Our efforts had been worth it.

"Whatever you are doing at's working."