A Lesson from Mother Nature

 I had ambitious plans this weekend which included completing my retaining wall, planting my garden, and enjoying a nice Sunday at Elk Island National Park. However, Mother Nature had other plans for me.

 I woke up Saturday morning ready to face the day but as I looked out my window. Gasped at the snow and rain. I felt a strong sense of defeat. I began to curse Mother Nature and the Sun gods, wondering only why? I realized no awkward sun dance, or rare offering of pistachio nuts would appease the gods to grant us sun.

After, I ranted, complained, and stomped my feet. I played three solid hours of board games from Monopoly to Clue and subjected myself to watching Little Hercules with the kids. After my Saturday afternoon of non -stop fun was complete. I came to the astonishing conclusion that if I can’t win over Mother Nature and her crew of Sun gods I may as well work with them.

It was on Sunday I put this theory to the test. I woke-up and it was still raining with a mixture of snow.

 My husband had a relieved smirk on his face, “I guess we are not doing that 10km death march today?”

I gave him the stink eye.”What are you afraid we are going to melt?”

He looked slightly panicked, “We’re not going out in that for a 10km hike with the kids!”

“Fine, Let’s compromise – We can do a short 3km hike, and drive the bison loop.”

“It’s raining.”

“So!”

My husband looked sceptical and was prepared for the worse as we hopped in the car, setting out on our Merry Way to Elk Island National Park.  The children were also not the most enthused bunch and wondered why we couldn’t do this on a sunny day.

My only pep talk was, “What are you wimps! Scared of a little weather! Chickens!”

My oldest responded with an eye roll and a “Whatever! You are, so, mature Mom.”

I ignored his passive complaint, and offered up a variety of Tim bits. They happily noshed as we drove on. Once we arrived, we hit up the Bison Loop.  We drove around the corner and were immediately greeted by a herd of bison.

The kids eyes lit up and they went wild with excitement!  They were thrilled to see the Bison so close to our car. However, petrified at the same time, my husband and I debated, how close is too close to these woolly creatures. Needless, to say they grazed, lumbered, and ignored us for the most part. We were just another group of humans passing through for the bison show.

After our encounter with supper, we decided on a short 3 km walk on the Amisk Wuche Trail. It was still pouring rain and my husband saw his last chance to convince me to opt out.

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

I sighed, “It is just rain!”Suck it up!”

We hopped on the snow cover trail, wandering across the boardwalks of kettle lakes, and beaver ponds.  The kids delighted in snowball fights, the family of chipmunks, and the loons on the lake. We were raucous and loud being the only people on the trail.

As we hopped back in the car, muddy and drenched from the rain, my oldest son looked at me and said, “This maybe one of the best days ever.”

So, thank you Mother Nature for teaching me to go with the flow, and to work with the weather.  I know without the rain-it wouldn’t have been nearly such a fun day. However, I’m ready for a little sun. Please!

Apologies for the poor quality of pictures. My camera fizzled this weekend and I had no choice but to use the blackberry.

Prince Charming and the Kiss

It was just another average Thursday afternoon for me as I waited for my boys at the bus stop.  But all of that changed as soon my oldest ran off the bus exclaiming “Mom! Guess what?”

“What?”

My youngest gave Robert the stink eye, “You promised not to tell!”

My interest peaked, “What did you do now?”

Robert exclaimed, “Alex kissed a girl!”

My face went pale and I thought my six year old kissed a girl. This can’t be happening.  I tried to keep cool surely there was a misunderstanding. My boys don’t kiss girls.  I needed details, had to assess the situation, and ensure it would never happen again until he was thirty.   

I looked at Alex his face went beat red and I knew at that moment my little prince did kiss a girl.

“Did you kiss a girl Alex?”

“I don’t want to talk about it!”

“You have to talk about it. I’m your mother.”

“I don’t want to tell.”

“It’s okay honey.  You are not in trouble. Just tell me about it.”

His face went another shade of red, “I don’t want to talk about it!”

At this point, I needed info, who, what, when, and where? He wasn’t budging and if he had his way he would never talk about it again. I knew this moment was my only window of opportunity and I pulled out my skill tool box – communicating with children 101.

“Mommy will buy you a slushy if you tell me.”

His eyes lit up and I could tell my bribe was about ready to work.

“Fine! I’ll tell you! But only if you don’t tell anyone else! Especially Dad!”

I crossed my fingers and agreed it would be our secret.

“So when did this happen?”

His face went to another shade of red and mumbled, “Just now!  On the bus.”

“Oh! Well who was it?”

“Do I have to tell?”

“Yes if you want that slushy.”

“Fine! It was Lexi! She kissed me good-bye when I was getting ready to get off the bus! Can I have my slushy?”

“Not yet, what did you do?”

“I looked at her, told her DON’T, and ran off the bus! Please! Can I have my slushy?”

It was at that moment my little six year old looked mortified that he had to have this discussion with his mother.  I took deep breath, feeling relieved, my son was no Rico Suave.  And exclaimed “Slushy Time!”

My Prayer to the Sun Gods

After my imaginary rant with Mother Nature on Sunday morning; I began to wonder if the heavens had their own bureaucracy. Maybe I could go above Mother Nature’s head to summon the warm weather. It was clear that channelling my energy through Mother Nature was no use to me and my garden. I mulled these thoughts over a stiff lime margarita and had my eureka moment!

 My husband saw the light in my eye and knew he was about to question my sanity. He disappeared to the basement to do laundry.  It was at that moment – I hopped off my chair, and ran upstairs to the bedroom.

I put on the UB40, began to apply gobbly gook to my legs for that refreshing orange tan, and put on my best bikini. I awkwardly danced to the beat of the music and prayed to the gods for sun.

It was at this moment a light appeared  and said, “Please stop!”

“What do you mean stop? I’m doing this for the benefit of the garden. Please bring the sun back!”

“Only if you stop dancing!”

“What’s wrong with my dancing?”

“It’s just your dance moves are all wrong. And in that bikini! Well we are just beginning to feel sorry for you!”

“Oh! I see! So does that mean if I stop – you will grant me sun?”

The light began to dim, “We’ll see what we can do!”

The next morning I awoke to the warm sun shining in my room. I thought to myself – Wow! I just  mortified the Sun gods with my poor taste in swim wear and dance moves.  It was at that moment I discovered the key to having warm weather all year long.  This could be trouble!

Mother Nature has Ruined My Sunny Disposition

It has been almost two years since my husband and  I were lured from the east coast to the economic prosperity of the west.  We  were warned Edmonton the largest Northern City in the world was cold. We laughed and wondered really? How cold could it get? After our second winter of -40 weather and snow at the end of May. I am  beginning to understand why  people refer to Edmonton as COLD!

I am an adaptable creature.  But my patience with Mother Nature has waned. She is  (excuses my language) A COCK TEASE! First she flirts with us giving us a week of scorching hot temperatures,   and then has the audacity to torture us  with cold wind and sleet on this lovely long weekend.  

In my imaginary world my conversation would go as such with Mother Nature.

Mother Nature would come down from the heavens looking serene, holding her magic wand, ready to cast another torturous blast of cold snow. I would look at her and exclaim, “Who do you think you are?”

She would ask, “You can see me?”

“Yes! I can see you! What’s with this weather?”

“My wand is out of whack and it’s not working.”

“What do you mean your wand is whack? Not working? For God sakes you’re Mother Nature! I thought you controlled the weather?”

“Well! I had a fight with Hera, you know how jealous she gets over Zeus, and well she broke the tip of my wand.”

“You are telling me two grown goddesses got in a fight over an old man! And she broke your wand! Are you serious?”

“Yes!”

“But my garden! My retaining wall! Do you know the havoc you are causing my life?”

“Ummm! It’s not havoc darling.  It’s just weather. Suck it up!”

“Those are wise words from a goddess who broke her wand!”

It was at that moment she looked at me with rage, pointed her wand, and presto  more snow appeared around my lovely garden of tulips.  She then vanished into thin air. It is because of this imaginary conversation  my sunny disposition has faded.  I have turned into a bitter bitty! I look at the dark skies, cursing her, and waiting for the return of the sun.

Don’t get me wrong! I think Edmonton is a great city – wonderful little art scene, delish restaurants, and extremely family –oriented. But for me I ‘m beginning to think I miss my beaches, the predictable weather, and an early gardening season. It’s the little things in life that I enjoy. So to overcome my foul mood, I will pretend its warm, and admire a picture from Kouchiboquac National Park just to get me through this day.  Oh! And Maybe a nice umbrella drink! Any suggestions?

The Phone Call

 

It was last weekend my eight year old son came home and said the dreaded word no mother wants to hear.

“Margaret is calling me tonight and we are going to meet in the Club Penguin chat room for a date.”

I looked at him and blanched.

“You know that you are only allowed on the computer for forty minutes a day. Did you want save your computer time for this?”

He looked at me like I had said the dumbest thing in the world.

“Yes! Mom! Yes!”

“Okay!”

He spent the whole weekend waiting for this girl to phone.  I was relieved when she didn’t, and wondered if I called boys when I was eight? It seemed so long ago.  He went back to school Monday and seemed to have forgotten the Club Penguin Chat Room date. I let out a sigh of a relief and was happy that my eight year old was not dating.

Unfortunately, he came home this afternoon, and declared she would call him tonight! They would have their date.  I looked at him and said, “Sweetie, you know she might not call!”

“She will call mom! The reason she didn’t this weekend was because she was cutting her stuffed animals hair!”

“Oh!”

I thought to myself the excuses we make begin early. But I couldn’t help to laugh! I might even use that line the next time I have some odious task that I do not want to complete.  I then ushered him out the door.

“Maybe, you should go outside and play!”

“Okay, but can I take the phone out?”

“Fine, take it with you.”

I watched my little eight year old from the kitchen as he jumped on his mega bouncer, clutching the phone waiting for it to ring. But it didn’t.  He came inside for a snack and forgot about the phone.  He then went back out to play.

It was at that moment the phone rang. It was her!  I knew I could answer it and let him have his Club Penguin Date. I would be the Mom that saved the day!  But I realized at that moment I was that possessive mother that will chase all of the girls away!  I looked at him happily playing in the Mega Bouncer, thought to myself dates can wait, and I didn’t pick up the phone.

Three Cheers for Camping!

The sun is shining and I’m getting that itch to plan a camping trip. I know some of you may groan at the thought of camping in the wilderness, with communal showers, sharing a tent with three other people (stinky boys to be exact).  But our family camping trips are always filled with the greatest memories.  

 Our children get to see another part of Canada that is not just museums, malls, city streets, and amusement parks.  Our children are fortunate to experience nature! They have viewed the whales from the top of the cliffs of Grand Manan Island, watched seals venture off into the water at Perce Rock, and hiked to the top of peaks to enjoy the views of the Rockies. It is these experiences which help them to appreciate nature and grow to become confident young men.

As soon as the warm weather hits, my husbands spots the glint in my eye, and knows I’m planning our next outdoor adventure. It’s the little things in camping that I love, stories by the fire, the thrill of sleeping under the stars, and watching my curious little men explore the great wilderness.  It’s not very often they get to stare face to face at a buck or chase an unsuspecting mole. It’s these adventures which make them appreciate their world and have a deeper love for nature.

Mr.Handyman Can You Help My Marriage?

The merry joys of Do it yourself projects and the arguments that tumble along with it. I always wonder how many divorces have occured over painting?  I think of this every time Mr. MBA stands over me  inspecting every single paint brush swipe I make in the hot sun.

“Honey!  Try not using so much paint! Do you know how much that stuff costs?”
“Yes, you told me! Fifty dollars a can! Don’t you have anything better to do?  I thought you were managing the play date? I hear children arguing. Can you go check on them?”

“But…”                                                

“Don’t but me right now!”
“Fine!  But I’m doing the second coat! Just to prove to you that I’m much better at it!”

“Whatever! Just get out of my hair before I drop this bucket of paint on your head!”

I watch Mr.MBA storm off to the backyard as his triumphant skills from reading “Good to Great” have failed miserably on his wife. I always wonder if he returns to the index of the book to check dealing with difficult people.

Several minutes later he returns, “It’s looking good!”

“Thanks!”

“Can I give you a suggestion?”

“Did you not heed my first warning?”
“Fine. All I was going to ask if you scrape the walls of the empty bucket of paint.”

“Why?”
“Do you know how much that paint costs?”

“Didn’t we just have this conversation?”

“All I’m asking.”

“Fine! I’ll use it on the touch-ups!”

“Fine!”

He stomps off to the back to manage the play date. I take a deep breath and ponder what it would be like to hire a handyman. Wouldn’t life be easier?

The Kindergarten Conundrum

Most mornings, I am greeted by my son Alex as a super hero, cowboy, or skeleton. He has a wild adventurous imagination, and loves to play outside all day.

It was last year I made the mistake of putting him in Kindergarten at the age of four.  He knew his alphabet, but it was evident, upon starting school, he had no interest in printing or reading. As the year progressed, he knew only a handful of the hundred words necessary to move forward into grade one.

It was at home, I would work with him to improve his skills but he would get frustrated within seconds of attempting to print or read.  As soon, as I saw his face turn red, I would brace for the water works.  It with moments like these I realized I put him in school too early!

I knew he would need another year of kindergarten.  We decided to hold him back for one more year to improve his printing, and reading.  It was evident to us that he was not ready for grade one.

You would think other parents would have been more understanding and supportive. But in the real world this wasn’t necessarily the case.  It was my conversation with Judy which made me realize not all people understand that children learn better at different level and stages.

“So is Alex already for grade one next year?”

“No, we are going to hold him back a year.”

“Oh! Well! Is he slow?”

I looked at her perplexed.

“He’s not slow, just young. He turned five in December.”

“Oh well! Did you practice with him? And do extra homework?”

“Yes, we spent some time on practicing his letters but he is five. He needs his playtime.”
“You know my Madison is doing great and she’s five.”

“Oh that’s wonderful she seems very keen.”

“She is! Did you ever think of putting him in Sylvan Learning?”

“He’s five and I believe at this age it is more important for him to explore outside and play.”

“”I suppose you are right. But I just don’t get why you would hold him back if he’s not slow?”

My face started to turn a little red; I took a deep breath, and looked to the sky for patience.

“He’s not slow, he’s five, and children learn better at different ages. I made the mistake and jumped the gun too soon. I think another year of kindergarten will be just fine for him.”

“But don’t you think he’ll be teased?”

“Teased in kindergarten, really?”

“You never know!”

“I guess! But I don’t think children are aware of that at that age. Besides, it’s better to hold him back, gain confidence, love school, as opposed to placing him in grade one with a more structured routine, have him hate it, and have to repeat. ”

“Oh well, I suppose if he’s slow then you do what you have too.”

At this point the sky was no longer extolling the virtue of patience upon me and I blurted, “For God sakes! He’s not slow, stop using that word!”

Judy then gave me a pissy look “Sorry.”

I took a deep breath, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to get upset. I didn’t realize it was such a sensitive topic for other parents. “

At this point, she looked a little dazed and confused about the whole conversation. I slowly began to back away and looked at my watch.  Needless to say, I haven’t seen much of Judy since this conversation.  But I would love to tell her this “Suck it!”

As the end of this school year slowly approaches, and with Alex’s second year of Kindergarten almost over I have seen a huge difference in my son, his confidence, and his thirst for learning.  He can write, spell, and knows his one hundred words. He will be ready for grade one next year and I know I made the right decision for my little cowboy.

Nancy Grace and the Nightmare of The Dreaded List

I had a dream! It was an awful dream! I had frizzy hair, wore a denim acid wash dress, and in my pocket was a crumbled note.  On the note was a list which I diligently kept reading. I began to stress out that I couldn’t accomplish everything on my list.  In an instant my blood pressure was rising! And in one quick delirious moment I was being grilled by Nancy Grace, she was asking me a strange question, “What about the list? Can you tell me about the list?”

I couldn’t answer…I awoke, my heart beating, the list in my head, and the sounds of Nancy Grace grilling in my ear.  What the hell was my subconscious telling me?

I put on my four am pot of coffee and pondered the big questions, why was I dressed like I belonged in the Breakfast Club? And what was the list? And why does Nancy Grace stress me out? Even in reality I see her on TV I want to confess to her – that every now and then I am too lazy to organize the recyclables. In fact, I hate organizing garbage, it’s the worst thing a Type B personality has ever been expected to do.

I decided to blame this dream on the recent reoccurrence of eighties fads (realization that I’m old) and the stress of the dreaded daily list. Lists are another one those facts of life which Type B gals like myself loathe. So, I evaluated my recent list and decided there are five things I should never list.

1)      Chores – I will no longer list chores, it’s obvious they need to be done, so why do I have to write about it.

2)      Workouts – it’s evident, I have to run to fight the muffin top, but do I need to list it?

3)      Gardening – why am I listing “water the plants”

4)      Call Mother in Law – That one always stresses me out! Just the thought of it! And I always postpone the call to tomorrow which never happens.

5)      Organize and throw out toys! The most boring job in the world! And I’m never going to do it! Until I impale my foot on a piece of Lego or Tonka Truck.

It is by removing these five daily activities from my list. My life actually looks more productive, and stress free. Perhaps, this is what Nancy Grace was grilling me about, I bet even now if she asked me, “Why do you have such repetitive lists?”

My reply would be, “I have no idea.”

 I would then blink and look mystified at the camera.

My Badass Boggle

You may wonder what the heck a boggle is.  And no, it’s not the entertaining spelling game with the timer.  It’s my badass dog. She is a cross between a beagle and boxer. And is an absolute hellion if you don’t keep your eye on her. 

It has been over nine months since we adopted her.  My youngest son and I discovered her in our yard, with no tags, malnourished, and filthy. She looked like had been on the lamb for over a month. I swooped her up and brought into our house. It was to my surprise she had no tags or collar.

My nurturing instinct kicked in and we attempted to locate the owners.  I left my number at the neighbourhood store, in case anyone was looking for her. And then went to the vet hoping they would be able to find a microchip. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find anything.  So, sucked it up, and took her to the local pound. It was the moment we walked in, she started to panic and bark.  I got the sneaking suspicion she had been there before…

It was at the moment began to feel guilty, I never wanted a dog, but how could I leave this little mutt to the cold harsh world of the pound. It was on that last minute. I filled out the paperwork – if no one would claim her within seven days she would be ours.  It never occurred to me that nobody would claim her.

I was surprised seven days later when I got the call to come pick her up. The pound claimed they located the owners and they no longer wanted her. I gasped!  How could somebody abandon their dog? The second thought was panic I was going to own a dog.

It had been years since I owned a pet. So, I hopped in the car, picked up all of things necessary for a dog. My husband looked on in disbelief, “We didn’t discuss this I want you to know this is your dog. This is your responsibility! And I’m not cleaning up poop!”

I ignored his comments because quite frankly, we didn’t discuss it, and the burden was on me.

The next day the boys and I brought our sweet little dog home. But little did we realize our little boggle had training issues.  I left her alone in the house for fifteen minutes within that time frame the blinds in my living room had been torn down, and chewed. I thought to me this can’t be happening, what will I do? The second issue, was never toilet trained, the third Issue, she pulled on her leash, fourth issue, no shoe or handbag was safe from her teeth, and fifth issue, a severe case of separation anxiety.

It was after two days I realized I had my work cut out for me and after a month of sleepless nights, relentless training, and patience. I had a great pet! The moments were rocky, sometimes downright hairy!  But we persevered, now, I know every time I see her follow the boys or curl up with them to sleep. I realized she was the perfect pet!

We still have our moments and still working on the separation anxiety. But she is a marvellous dog and I realized every child should have a pet. My boys adore her, play with her, walk her, and understand a whole new level of responsibility. She has become the newest addition to our family. But that’s not without saying she still has her badass moments.

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