3
February

The draft

My love for baseball came later in life. I never played as a child, but loved it from the moment I started playing in my twenties. I have tried for years to get the lils to try it out, but they have not had any interest. Until this year. I don’t know if it is the fact that the time difference allows us to watch the vast majority of Blue Jays games, or that the nice weather lends itself to playing ball sports, but this year Woo’s interest grew considerably, and he said he wanted to try.

Little league runs year round here, but you can join at the start of any season. He wasn’t ready for fall season, so we planned for spring. We spent a few months leading up to the tryouts practicing the basics. In addition to devouring every book the library had on baseball, Woo spent some time at the batting cage, some on the local ball diamond, and many days in the front yard playing catch. It was slow at first. We have always been very hockey focussed, so we never really took the time to play catch with the lils. Woo was a quick learner, and after a few weeks, the neighbours were remarking on his improvement.

By the time the tryouts came around, I think that I was more nervous than he was. They separated the boys into groups of about twenty, and had them run trough some drills in front of about 35 coaches, who were sitting on out on the field. It must have been somewhat intimidating for Woo, who had never been through anything like this. Of all the boys in his group, he was the only one that had never played before. Still, he went out there and held his own. There were some boys who were very good, and some whose skills needed refining. He was solidly in the middle of the pack. In the end, Woo was happy with his tryout, and I was very proud.

We were told that only some of the children would be draft, and the rest would then be placed on the teams in the AAA tier, or get dropped down to AA. I was under the impression that about half of the players would be drafted, and the rest would be assigned to teams. We talked to Woo and let him know that he may not be drafted, and may not play AAA. He was accepting, but I could tell that he secretly hoped he would be one of the players drafted.

The league indicated that we’d be notified within a week or so if our child was drafted. When that time passed, I assumed that he was going to be placed on a team, but with so much going on here, I forgot to mention it or follow up. We were emailed yesterday to let us know that the draft was today. When Willy’s phone rang at 8:30 tonight, I assumed it was a conference call, and got up to shut the door, so it would not keep the lils awake. Turns out that it wasn’t work at all, but Woo’s coach, calling to let us know that he’d taken Woo in the draft.

Lying in bed and listening, Woo knew something was up, but he didn’t ask. I couldn’t hold it in, so I went into his room and let him know. He did a little silent happy dance, and then enveloped me in a giant hug. He’s thrilled to have been selected, and ready for his first practice. I can’t wait to watch this adventure unfold.

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24
January

Afraid

I guess a small part of me thought that Woo was going to back down, and decide that he wasn’t ready to go to science camp, but there we were, dropping him off yesterday morning. He was more than ready, happy, excited, and just a smidge anxious. I was the one that wasn’t ready. It wasn’t the fact that I thought he couldn’t be away from home for four days, it was that others would be feeding him for four days. People who I have never met, who don’t know his allergy. I know in my head that they are prepared, that they have a nut free menu, but that doesn’t help the ache in my chest because I am terrified about the worst case scenario.

It’s just one of the worries that occcupy my mind these days. I’m scared that Willy’s surgery won’t help, that Woo’s camp experience isn’t going to go well, that Goose isn’t going to be able to focus for her upcoming belt test, that I am going to get sick. Things always seem to snowball, and we are rolling downhill at high speed. The past couple of weeks have been pretty eventful and disruptive for us, meaning that a lot more is falling on me. With more on my plate, I am dropping the ball on things, which causes anxieties to build, and my sleep to fade away, and then my fears build some more.

So we muddle along, and I try to make it all come together. I’m grateful that most people are understanding and accommodating when I forget things, or am late. Except Goose’s school. They were neither when I dropped her twelve minutes late yesterday. They looked at me blankly as I explained our situation, told me that is not an excused absence, and handed her a truant tardy slip. I’ll be glad when this is all behind us.

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28
April

Woo’s bad day

We are lucky to have pretty happy go lucky lil people.  They are rarely in bad moods, and when those moods do happen, they rarely last for long.  All it generally takes is some silliness, some food, or some silly food and we can reset.  My grumpy funks are rarely cured so easily.

This past weekend, Woo woke up in an ornery mood. He didn’t want to do anything, despite the fun adventures that we were proposing for the day.  We tried to work with him, but in the end decided to head to Bate Island.  It’s a family favourite, especially if there are kayakers, paddle boarders and other crazy water enthusiast riding the standing waves on the north side of the island.  Woo was adamant that he was not going to get out of the car, so we told him that was fine.  If there is any place where we can easily watch him and still enjoy our time it’s there.

We arrived and noted that there were people in the waves, but parked on the far side of the island and Willy, Goose, and I left Woo to walk around the island.  As I suspected, Woo was watching, and ran across to join us as we approached the queue to ride the waves.  We all watched for a while, but then Woo decided he wanted to go back to the car, so Willy handed him the keys and he ran off.

He returned a few minutes later, and Willy asked where the keys were.  Woo gave that patented seven-year-old shrug, and offered up an “in the car?” as a response.  He and Willy set off searching, and as they walked away, I heard Willy ask if he’d locked the car. I had my answer when I saw that Willy was standing beside the car, on the phone.

Woo had locked the keys in the car. On Easter Sunday. Thankfully, Willy was able to get a cab to come get him, and was back with the keys in no time at all. It likely wasn’t the cheapest way to solve the problem, but given that we were stuck on an island in the middle of the Ottawa River with the Lils on a chilly mid-April day, it was the right solution.

Despite the setback, all of us were in a good mood by the time the car was unlocked, and the rest of the day went off without a hitch, until we went for a bike ride after dinner.  Generally the lils go for a meandering ride through the neighbourhood, while Willy and I walk behind.  It gives them some independence, as they race up and down the streets, and loop around some blocks without us, and lets us have some adult conversation.

All was going well on this particular walk until Woo wobbled as he passed a parked car.  I thought that he had just bumped the car with his elbow, but we noted a big scratch on the side of the car as we walked up to it, then confirmed with Woo that his handle bar, the one with the exposed metal on the end of the hand grip had scraped along the car.  Willy rang the doorbell and we all apologized to the owners, then gave them our contact information so that they could send us the bill for what was likely to be a costly repair. That brush that had looked so innocent had left a deep scratch on a relatively new car.

As we slowly made our way home, we commiserated to ourselves about what had become a very expensive weekend, and spent some time talking over what had happened with the lils, stressing that they needed to be careful of all things on the roads when they are biking.  They listened and responded appropriately. It’s a conversation that we have had before, but we felt that they now had a concrete example to reflect on.

As we got close to home, Woo approached another parked car on the road. “Dad, do you wanna see what happened when I went crazy?” he asked. “No!” shouted Willy as he stood between Woo and the car, “I can’t afford a Volvo!!”

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14
April

He called it

As the parent of a child with allergies, one of the hardest things that we do is let our child eat food that has been prepared by someone other than me, somewhere outside of our control.  We do, because there are restaurants, parties, meals with family and friends where the risk can be managed, and we know that great lengths are taken to ensure that the food is nut free.  For those times when a nut free option is not available, I provide snacks or treats for Woo, and I make sure that he has them at school and parties.

Tonight was the lils’ hockey banquet, and I made sure that had I let the organizers know of Woo’s allergy in advance.  When we arrived, they assured me that all of the items on the buffet were safe, but that the desserts were not, so a fruit plate was being prepared as an alternative.  I knew that Woo would not be overly pleased with the fruit, but figured that he would be accepting.

Goose is generally sympathetic of Woo’s plight, and if there is a treat that he is unable to eat, she refuses to eat her serving of the same.  Woo wasn’t present when desserts were served tonight, but I explained that Woo would have a perfectly safe and tasty treat, so she should feel comfortable having the unsafe treat.  She devoured it, then very carefully washed all traces from her hands and face to ensure that she didn’t accidentally get some on Woo.

When Woo arrived back to the table, he realized what she had eaten and began to negotiate for a better treat at home.  I said no, as I have been trying to teach him that it is important to be gracious and accepting when his hosts ensure that there is a safe alternative for him.  He switched tactics, and pointed out that fruit was not a dessert, it was just a part of the meal, something that I have said to him on a few occasions. Conceding that he had a point, I suggested that he eat the fruit that had been prepared for him and agreed that he could have a small treat from home.

In the car on the way home, Woo started to ask when he could have his treat.  I explained that it was too late to have any sweets before bed, but that I would make sure that he got his Caramel (his current favourite) in the morning.  “BUT.  They got chocolate cake!!”, he complained.  Thinking that he had taken issue with the timing of his treat, I pointed out that the dessert was served over an hour prior, and he had been given his fruit plate at the same time.

“That’s highway robbery!”, he exclaimed, “They got a big piece of cake, and all I got was some fruit and a little caramel?!  It’s high-way robb-er-y!” We laughed a little because it was true, the desserts that they had at the banquet were delicious, worth much more than a caramel and some fruit in a trade, but also because this was a new phrase for Woo.  I have no idea where he picked it up, but it perfectly described what happened tonight. It didn’t gain him any additional treats, but it did earn some respect for his ability to so accurately describe what had occurred.  Highway robbery.

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1
April

Made up words

When we were living in India, Woo and Goose developed their own language.  I assumed it was because they had gone from living in a predominantly English world to one where the language that they heard most often was Hindi. They heard it everywhere and it was like nothing they had ever heard before. The new language surfaced within weeks of our arrival in India, and it shared some characteristics with Hindi, mostly in how it sounded when they spoke. Woo and Goose were taking Hindi at school, so there may have actually been some Hindi mixed in.

Their imaginary language, which they named “Woo and Goose language” stuck with them for the entire year that we were in India.  It was a large part of their play, allowing them to get lost together for hours.  It both amused and confused me, watching them “talk” to each other. We were certain that they didn’t really know what each other was saying, but right from the start they acted like they knew what they were saying to each other, and they were happy.

Following our return to Canada, the language gradually faded away.  There are still times when it comes out, but they are rare.  Now they just make up words for things.  Toys that have no name, creatures that don’t resemble any known species, or contraptions that they have created or drawn all get some new name, and more often than not, these nonsense words stick.  There are a handful of terms that have become so common in our home that I have unconsciously used them in public. What I have done becomes blatantly obvious when I notice the person that I am speaking to is looking at me like I am speaking in tongues, and I silently curse the lils for sucking me into their language.

The other morning, Goose bounded into my room, too full of energy for 6:30 in the morning, so I convinced her to crawl into my bed and cuddle. We lay there contentedly for just a moment before she started to squirm and sing. I tried to keep her quiet, in the hopes of allowing a few more minutes of sleep for Willy, so I engaged her in a quiet conversation.  We talked about everything and nothing for a few minutes, until she interrupted me and said, “Mama, you’re the happifier.  Because you make me happy.”  She then continued to squirm and dance and sing in the bed while I smiled, and vowed never to curse their language again.

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1
March

Syndicated on BlogHer!

I write down my random thoughts here mostly for me, for our family. I want to have a record of our lives for when I’m old and my memory is shot, but it is also an outlet for me to share my thoughts and feelings, and my pictures. that being said, I do love and appreciate that others read what I write, so I was super tickled when I was approached by BlogHer this week, to syndicate my post on Woo’s recent bout with Croup, and how I still check to see that my Lils are breathing every night before I sleep!! The post can be found on the BlogHer family site at http://www.blogher.com/breathe-breathe-out-1. Go check it out!!

 

 

Syndicated on BlogHer.com

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24
February

Breathe in, breathe out

When I was a teenager, I babysat for a family who lost their youngest child to SIDS. I didn’t know anything about SIDS, but knew that this family had put their healthy infant son to bed one night and he never woke up.  It was terribly hard on the family, their lives altered and filled with grief in an instant. As their regular babysitter, it affected me too.  I became hyper-vigilant for a long time after, afraid that any of the young children who I babysat would suddenly stop breathing in their sleep.

In time, the memory of that little boy faded, and my schooling and career took me away from regularly caring for small children.  Then I had children of my own, and that old fear came back in an instant. As an adult, I knew more about SIDS and what puts a child at risk, but I also had croupy babies, and one child with asthma.  So I worried.

When they were really wee, I got in the habit of checking on them several times while they slept, just to watch them breathe. It didn’t matter if they were napping, or down for the night, I’d invent reasons to go by their rooms and just watch and listen. I never actually thought that they wouldn’t be breathing, I just needed to check.  I still do it, at least once a night, even though they are five and six years old.

This past Thursday night Woo had his first bout with croup in over a year.  It was a bad one, and it caught us by surprise. We`ve all enjoyed a winter of relative health, and save for an adjustment to new asthma meds, Woo`s breathing issues have been a non-issue.  Little people are supposed to outgrow croup, yet here he was, lying in bed complaining of the tightness in his throat and sounding like Darth Vader.

Past experience has taught us that sounding like Darth Vader is the point at which you go to the hospital.  Well, past experience and that time that the nurse from Tele-health called an ambulance to our house… On Thursday though, we had given him Advil to help with the swelling, and while we discussed going to the hospital, his breathing started to get better. I decided to lie in his bed with him, to comfort him when he coughed.  I was with him when his breathing got worse again a few hours later, and then when he came home from the hospital, untreated after a three hour wait.

Something in the time that he left the house had made the croup better, either his wakefulness, enough cold air, or a different humidity in the hospital.  He didn`t meet the threshold for the steroids, so he and Willy came home and his crappy, coughing, wheezing, Darth Vader-like breathing returned for a few more hours in the night.  I lay beside him and listened to every breath, willing it to get better, consoling and rubbing his chest when he was worse. As I lay there, I thought about the number of times that I have wondered at what point I will stop my routine checks to see if they are breathing, but now I know.

Not yet.

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18
February

On navigating sidewalks and crossing the road

One of the many reasons that Willy and I grew to love our community after we bought the house was the fact that the elementary school was within walking distance. The walk is a little over a kilometre, so the lils are technically eligible to ride the bus for the first few years, but we wanted to walk.  So we walk. The walks haven’t always been fast or easy, and on more than one occasion I have walked or biked home with a teary lil person, upset that it wasn’t cold enough or yucky enough for me to have brought the car. For the most part, however, the walks have been great.   I love that we can talk about anything and everything, and that it is just the three of us, or as been happening more and more lately, just the two of them lost in conversation with each other.

The majority of our route is on a busy street, so I am thankful for the sidewalk that is set well back from the street.  As much as I feel safe on the walk, there are times when I get frustrated by some of the people who we encounter.  The teens and adults who don’t realize that they need to share the sidewalk, and walk single file as we pass them, so we end up in the snowbank; the cars that think it’s OK to park on the sidewalk every day, forcing us to squeeze around the back of their car through the exhaust or walk on the busy street to get around them; the people who don’t reign in their big dogs, allowing their behaviour to fuel my lils fear of big dogs…

I take a deep breath and try to explain to the lils that others just might not be aware that they are being rude, inconsiderate, or that big dogs jumping on lil people can be scary.  Instead we focus on the good people, the friendly neighbours, the daycare “families” that are bursting with energy, the family at the street who we look forward to greeting every morning – even though we don’t know their names, classmates that we walk with when we time it right, and our always smiling crossing guard.  Each of these are important parts of our walk.

Lately I have been troubled by the cars that are leaving the ‘hood in the morning.  We cross seven streets in the course of our walk, and most days at least one car comes out from those side streets and turns right onto the busy street. They do it without looking, ignore the stop signs, and are oblivious to the fact that we are waiting to cross.  We have the right of way, but they take it, never seeing us waiting at the corner.  The lils know that they can’t safely cross these streets without me, so even if Woo arrives before Goose and I, he waits.

Woo is always seeking a little bit of independence on the way home. Goose is slow and tired at the end of the day, so he likes to scoot ahead.  Most days I make him wait for us at each street, but I see this as a safe way to teach him to cross safely, so today I let him go farther. He was allowed to go one block ahead, provided that he was careful and obvious in looking all around before crossing one intersection.  He did it flawlessly several times. I was close behind, watching and feeling that he was doing well.

At about the third intersection, a car pulled up as he landed on the corner. Both stopped, and Woo waited.  The driver waved him on, so Woo checked one more time and crossed.  I guess he was walking too slowly, or the driver forgot that there was a small child crossing in front of him, but just as Woo got in front of his car, he started rolling forward. Woo noticed and jumped out of the way, and jumped out of the way, so the car just kept on driving.

I ran up to Woo, who was predictably full of questions.  He was curious about why a driver would be so unsafe, but not terribly upset, or frightened.  I was, and still am both. I can’t wrap my head around why he thought this was OK.  He chose to let Woo go, then apparently changed his mind and decided to roll his very large vehicle towards my son. Woo wasn’t close to the edge of the cross walk, he was right in front of the car!  I wish that I had been closer, but I am not sure that I could have been able to do anything differently.  Thankfully nothing happened to him, but I’ll be keeping him a little closer for the next little while. I need to reassure myself that the rest of the driver’s will watch out for a little boy, learning to cross the road on his own.

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22
January

Wordless wednesday – Turks and Caicos

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3
January

Who is being fooled?

I like the fact that the lils believe in Santa Claus, and his ability to magically deliver presents to children all over the world.  I know that we are essentially lying to them when we talk about him, but they are small and the Santa/Christmas myth doesn’t just have to be about commercialism and greed. I try not to lie directly, and ask them how they think it works when they ask specific questions.  They come up with some pretty awesome answers, and mostly convince themselves that parts of the story are plausible.

That being said, I’ve suspected that Woo has been convincing himself that Santa exists for the last couple of years, but he tries really hard to believe.  This year, I started to have my doubts about Goose.  The first clue was at the Santa Claus parade.  It was a magical snowy day, and the lils were having fun donating coins and getting free candy canes, but there were not terribly interested in when Santa would appear.  He wasn’t really a big part of the experience for them.  Then just before his sleigh appeared,  we saw this guy:

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“Hey!” said Goose, “There is Rudolph, or a guy in a Rudolph costume, actually.” No magic there.

Then a few weeks later, Goose came home and reported that Mr. Coombs had given their class candy canes at school that day.  I remarked that that was nice, and thought nothing of it until I picked her up the next day, and the JK teacher asked if Goose has told me about Santa’s visit.  I was surprised, as she had said nothing.  The teacher laughed and told me that could be because her reaction when Santa walked in was to very loudly ask “What is Mr. Coombs doing in a Santa suit?!”

Then we went away for Christmas, and they got into the spirit; watching the chimney from the skylight in their room, prepping the Santa snacks and sprinkling reindeer food on the snow, and tracking Santa on NORAD’s website.  It appeared that the magic was saved for one more year, until today, when they found the bag that I had stashed all the packaging from the gifts that went in their stockings, which had inadvertently been packed and brought home from Toronto.  They looked through it, and it was clearly evident that this trash related to the gifts that “Santa” left in their stockings, yet no questions were asked.  Is it possible that we are now the ones being fooled??

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