Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Bitter That Comes Before the Sweet

Dear Jen,

I just left Mary's house for the last time. I didn't think it would be sad, but it was.

Actually, it's incredibly strange. For some reason it never even occurred to me that our final parting would be anything out of the ordinary. I've thought of everything up to the point of leaving as a check list: go here, do that, do this, get in the car, drive away. Boom boom boom. Gone. No big deal. Even the entire time we were visiting together, I just thought, "okay, at 2:00 I have to go so Liam has a proper nap, and then I can get all these things done." Boom boom boom. Done.

But then, standing next to my van as all my children waited patiently buckled in their seats, we hugged for the first time in our entire friendship, and as we looked at each other, tears welled up! I couldn't believe it: I was sad! Of course I was sad! Why hadn't I expected this? And then, driving away, I wept! I wept! Is it more bitter because I know, with the isolation she feels in the community and the difficulty she has with her partner, that this parting is especially challenging for her? That I am really, legitimately, leaving someone behind? Is it because I know with almost total certainty that we will never see each other again? That we probably won't even talk or write? Or was it a moment where all positive things about my entire experience here finally managed to have an effect?

Whatever the reason, it makes me, for the first time ever, sad about leaving.

How grateful I am to be returning to the welcoming embrace of established friendships. It gives sweetness to this bitter moment. In fact, I couldn't believe the uncanny timing of hearing your voice on my answering machine when I arrived home. I despise partings. It is very difficult for me to imagine separating forever from people who have meaning to me. I've done it so much, but never in my entire life have I had the privilege of experiencing a reuniting.

So I will let this moment be--I will give it proper respect. And then I will look forward to all the positiveness that awaits!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Lovely Day

While doing our after supper cleaner upper tonight, this song came on. Brad said,"Does this song remind you of Chilliwack?" So I thought about it, then responded, "Yeah, actually, it does." And I decided right then and there that this will be the song blasting from my speakers as I enter the Fraser Valley. If there was more than one item of photographic evidence of our having ever met, I would make a cheesy montage of blissful "us" photos to go along with the song, but alas...

Friday, 21 February 2014

Pros and Cons

Dear Jen,
Here are some reasons why living in this mild but still wintery climate is nice:

playing on giant snow mountains in above zero temps

making snowmen in the middle of parking lots

babies throwing snow balls

epic snow ball battles!
But here is the reason we need to move back to Chilliwack:

this is the other door handle that I ripped off my van.
Twice now, it has been so cold, and our van doors so frozen shut, that the handles have actually RIPPED OFF. It is now only possible to enter the van by opening the front doors and reaching for the indoor handles of the sliding doors. Brad has asked me (because I was the perpetrator on both occasions) to please just not rip off the driver's door handle--because that would make life just a little inconvenient. I don't think we're going to be selling this van. I should have taken a photo of the dent I put on the other side last year! Yup...unsellable.
It has now been three days since Brad's Skype interview with VB. They sent him a form to fill out that he scanned and emailed Wednesday evening, and now we're just hoping that some kind of communication is made again before the weekend! Darn time change means we're eating lunch thinking, "I guess they're probably not sending anything today" only to realize that the work day has barely started back where you are!
Anyway, Brad's chiropractor was telling him about the magical properties of cortisone, and I am optimistically hoping that his family doctor will agree and arrange a shot of the stuff--it's supposed to numb the pain for months at a time, without the neurological side effects of narcotics! Wouldn't that be awesome??? I'm hopeful.
In the meantime, we spend our minutes trying not to wonder if and when this VB thing is going to actually come together.
Can't help myself, I'm dreaming of Chilliwack!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Did I ever tell you I used to get so excited for OTHER people's birthdays I'd get a stomach ache?

Dear Jen,

Today marks the third morning in a row that I was unable to get back to sleep after being woken early, because I'm too excited by the prospect of Brad getting that job in Abbotsford! I'm exhausted--waking up at 5 am and just laying there, fully awake, brain refusing to shut off. Today Liam temporarily woke at 4 am, and guess who was awake ever since...

At about 6 am today Brad says to me, "Arg! I can't sleep because of that stupid interview!" We've got ourselves so worked up that we're starting to think we may have to move back regardless of the job status. We'll just make like you guys and get a minimum wage job to tide us over! Although it's a bit of a different situation--what with the 6000 km distance and all. Gets a bit pricey.

I realized, though, that we're doing the same thing we did when we decided we wanted to move to Nova Scotia: before anything was settled, before the university application was even approved, before we knew if any part of it was going to work, as much as we tried to keep it under wraps and say "if" and "maybe", we couldn't help but acting in our heart of hearts like it was already decided. Was it just lucky that it worked out after all, or was it foreknowledge? I actually do believe that our minds are more powerful and capable that we know--and that the more in tune with God we are, the more in tune with our own intellectual capabilities we are, including the ability to sense the future. So...beyond reason I find myself wanting to take our "it's already happening" attitude as a sign. It's a dangerous path, a slippery slope, one bound to at some point end in great disillusionment, so I'm stifling it as best I can--don't tell anyone else. I just can't help but see the connection and wonder...

So, this is our sad state right now. Excited, hopeful, and extremely tired! Brad told a new lady at church today that we're moving to BC, and I looked at him and said, "What happened to us not saying anything?" It is simply cruel that the initial contact from the nursery was made so close to the weekend that we have DAYS to wait painfully twiddling our thumbs, and thinking, thinking, THINKING!

It's been three mornings now. I'm hoping I'll have greater success tomorrow. Although if this constant tingly feeling of my stomach being in my throat is any indication, there's not much hope of that...

The view the day we left Chilliwack. I remember thinking I'd better soak it all in because I may never see those beautiful mountains again.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Super Athlete

Dear Jen,

According to the calendar, although I can't hardly believe it myself--feels shorter, I have just entered my fourth week of our morning exercise routine.

I have to say that having another person equally committed makes all the difference in success. That reason and that reason only is why I succeeded with the "Learn to Run 10K" program in the first place (yes that's right, I'm talking about you). So I'm grateful now to have Brad lugging himself out of bed at 6:30 am three days a week right beside me. Because I'm not sure how consistent I'd be otherwise. Many a morning (can we say most mornings?) the alarm rings at 6:30 and I think, "just ten more minutes" and then ten minutes pass and I think, "not today. I just don't want to today!" It's not the exercise at all--no, I quite enjoy that. It's the getting out of bed part. On our lazy days the kids jump all over our heads and unravel the toilet paper in the bathroom and procure themselves crackers from the cupboard and dump those all over the floor and jump on our heads some more until the glorious hour of about 8:00, and I'm okay with that. It feels kind of slothful (how you know you're getting responsible: 8:00 am feels indulgently late), but it feels nice. 6:30 am, on the other hand, barely gives me enough time to doze back to sleep after I've brought Liam to bed at 5. You know?

But anyway, the good news is that Brad is always there beside me, probably thinking the same thing, but neither of us is willing to be the lead in the proverbial pants, so we get up.

We are usually ten minutes later than planned.

But we're there.

Typically I get about 35 minutes of track time. It's been good--the older kids run around the track or play in the chairs surrounding the ice rink (although because of an overzealous employee we've had to tweak our routine a little and it now involves less playing in the chairs and more watching of TV shows on the iPad--because you know, the world is too dangerous a place for children. Best regulate them out of options until they're forced into the safety and security of television and video games. UGH). The other regulars recognize me, and since they're mostly all over 50, they love the novelty of a young mother bringing all her children to run around the track. I don't want to start throwing around words like "popular", but obviously it's unavoidable.

(here's a picture I found to help visualize)
I've been working on building up my endurance. My goal is to get to 5k by the time we move, and then no matter where we are or what we're doing, the weather will be warming up and the sun will be rising earlier and I should be able to establish a nice tidy habit over the summer--or that's the dream, anyway.
Monday was a glorious day, though! It's all because Brad was sick! Sound counter intuitive? I know. Here's the thing: usually I'm pushing Liam around the track in a Chariot double jogging stroller (without a pivoting front wheel, unfortunately), and usually I start off with two full rounds (each round is 250 m) and then walk half a round, run 1.5 rounds, repeat. But on Monday, because Brad was sick, I got the kids all cereal and left them at home while I went to the track (Evelyn is a very helpful and useful human being--it's great having older kids. They should advertise the advantages of this to parents pulling their hair out with only two children under 4--IT GETS EASIER!!!). And guess what? I did FOUR rounds of running in a row to start, and could have gone more but I didn't want to push myself to the point of never wanting to return. That's a solid kilometer! Woot! Proud! I think that everyone should have to push a stroller when they train for running--because when you need a boost, you just forego the stroller and miraculously your skill is like ten times further advanced than you thought! Do you remember that from when we were running together? I sure do--turns out it's hard work pushing even the best of strollers around!
Anyway, that's it. That's why I'm writing: I ran 1k easy. Feelin`good. 5k here I come! Next stop: Disneyland marathon, am I right?

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Keepin' It Real

Dear Jen,

Miss you! It's strange to consider how many different options I have for written communication with you. I think sometimes I just pick one at random. This time it is the blog, just to change things up, you know.

Today I had the pleasure of being told by a virtual stranger what a terrible person I am--for real. He's a man I think I may have met but at least have definitely seen in the flesh at least one time. He is a member of my church (that never attends, clearly), and so when he friended me on Facebook a year or two ago I felt compelled to accept, although I usually dislike adding anyone I don't know more about than their first and last name. So obviously, because he's been privy to my varied and random online posts and discourses over a matter of months he is in a position to make a valid assessment of my character.


I'm not actually upset about it. I mean I guess I'm a bit disturbed. But more I think it's just kind of funny--especially because the reason I offended him so greatly that he just couldn't take it anymore was that a friend of mine commented on something, to which I responded with a silly and innocuous comment, including a goofy recount of adventures back in the day. It was just too much, Jen. No one can be that offensive and get away with it. Something had to be done! And he, a near total stranger, was the one to finally say what everyone he's never talked to have been thinking all this time, but just couldn't bring themselves to say it (for the blinding rage, of course). So you see, I deserved this virtual tongue lashing, oh yes I did. And just to prove how serious he was, he unfriended me, OH YES HE DID.

I'm going to admit my first thought after reading that was, "Oh...are we Facebook friends? Huh. Yeah, I guess we are--sorry: were."

The extra funny thing is that several months ago I deleted several "friends" using the criteria of "those I consider to be people who don't know me". It could be people I'd added for politeness because of local associations, it could be friends I hadn't spoken to in ten years, it could be distant relatives I'm not even sure I've ever seen in person--those types. And I remember pausing over him and thinking that if he started coming to church regularly I might conceivably get to know him and then he might be one of those people who keeps track of Facebook friends and then becomes offended when he realizes I deleted him...or something. I remember having this conversation in my mind--I actually don't even remember the result of it. Did I delete him? I don't know, it's not that important in my day-to-day. Anyway, so I actually already wanted to delete him, and the reason I went about deleting all these people was exactly this reason! Because strangers often don't understand tone and you wind up accidentally offending someone you don't even really care about.

You know?

Anyway, I didn't mean to write this much about it. It was so silly. I should add that I did finally figure out why he might have such an opinion of me: one time I posted something about how I didn't understand the big uproar about the EI changes (there was  big uproar here. Did you even hear about it in BC?), and he disagreed with me, and obviously felt that because I didn't appear sympathetic to people's complaints I was evil. And I can only guess that he's been reading everything I've written henceforth with this filter on.

So that's why I think he is certain I'm a terrible human being. And like I said, it hasn't really affected me much, except that I kind of feel like in a way he's made a fool of himself, because unless I'm very very wrong and someone needs to humble me, I don't think any of the other people commenting on there today (who all do know me in person) would agree with his assessment of my character (I sure hope they don't, because he was pretty much dead wrong).

You know, it was actually a really fascinating reminder of how we can't judge anyone. This man felt he knew me simply from my casual and silly correspondences over a social media platform--because that's all of me that he saw. How is that any different than me thinking I have the right to judge the situation of a friend, or a family member? My judging shows that I think I have all the pertinent information to make that call. But no one ever has the whole story--no matter how well they know someone--no one except God. It would be good to remember that--I don't want to be that fool!

So that was something from my day. Monday Brad goes back to school, and Tuesday Maggie's Place starts up again, and Wednesday our Truro homeschool club will probably hang out again, and Thursday I've got a homeschool sledding party lined up...and I'm extremely glad. "Taking a break" from the routine when you've got young kids just feels like isolation to me! It was good having Brad home in some ways--the kids got to go to the pool like five times, and now Ev swims quite well without any flotation devices (and does flips and spins and swims underwater) and Gav has gotten over his fear and mastered the life jacket swim technique! It's awesome! But I'm still looking forward to the routine--and of course the wind-down of this whole school thing!!!!!!! (enough exclamation marks, you think?)

We also are going to try adding a new thing to our routine, and I know it seems a lot like a New Year's Resolution, but I'll have you know that I never make New Year's Resolutions because it just seems so strange to me to decide to make positive changes in your life at some random time every year--or worse, to wait to make those changes till that random time! Like, why? Just make the change when you think of it...ANYWAY, we thought of it now, and what it is, see, is Brad really needs to be doing physical activity (for his leg, you know), and he's been slacking all last semester, and so I suggested he go before his 9 am classes on Mon, Wed and Fri, and to help motivate, I told him we'd ALL go, and while he does the gym thing, I'll do the indoor walking track thing (maybe eventually indoor running track thing). So...we'll see how it goes. It is NOT a New Year's Resolution. It's a Start of the Semester Re-Try. Yup. Catchy, I know. Remind me in a few weeks to reveal whether we've actually kept it up or not--I'm really hoping the extra motivation of knowing that this is really important for Brad will mean that we are still doing it.

Ok! We must talk in real-time soon!



Thursday, 3 October 2013

In the Trenches

Dear Jen,

How are things? How are you breathing?

I've been reflecting today on how my friend-scoping focus has changed. I remember well the days when I would stand listless, alone and bored (OH so bored) at the park, casually checking out the other adults to ascertain whether they were caretakers, grandparents, or actual, legitimate, straight-up parents. Then I might try to "happen" to be close enough to that parent to strike up a conversation should the opportunity present itself. And I would hope that an opportunity would come up wherein I could casually insert into the conversation that I have a park playgroup and they should totally come.

Now I have a five-year-old, and I'm not doing a park playgroup anymore. No, I have moved on to "Homeschool Playgroup". So my focus has changed. The community certainly is different. The same type of scoping is required--usually when you see an adult out and about with many children they are actually running a day home. And, as my friend Mary pointed out, when you see someone out with older children in the middle of the day they are often simply taking the day off school for doctor's appointments.

All things considered, though, I see an upside and a downside to these new search criteria. The downside (start with the bad news) is that the community is much smaller. Every parent has toddlers to take care of at some point. Most parents do not, on the other hand, homeschool their older children. The upside, though, is that because the community is smaller, most other homeschoolers you meet are just as desperate as you are to make connections and network! You know if you've found a homeschooler that they want your phone number just as badly as you want theirs!

The reason for all this reflection is that today I made a new homeschool connection! It was awesome! And just about as randomly dumb luck as meeting you. In fact, on my way home from meeting this lady and her children it caused me to think back to that day at Sardis Park in Chilliwack. I felt the same gleeful excitement--like a true breakthrough had been made, and life was looking much brighter than I'd been imagining it could be!

So the story goes that every Thursday morning the kids and I walk to the library (I love living right in the middle of town. Walking to the library is so enjoyable!) so Ev and Gav can participate in a little program from 10:30-11:15. Since Liam usually is ready for a nap around 11:00 and I usually haven't had my second breakfast (what? Doesn't everyone model their meal plans like a hobbit?) I'm eager to bee-line it back to the house when we get out. Unfortunately (or so I thought at the time) for me, not only was it a beautiful day today but there were already a few kids playing on the steps of the stone war memorial that towers into the sky on a grassy lawn right beside the library. So I thought, "Alright fine, I'll let them play for a minute." The lady watching the kids (which I have been trained to assume was a wage-earning caretaker) was fortunately more friendly than I and offered a comment on the weather. As I looked to her to respond, some things started clicking in. First was: these kids all look to be different ages. "Are these all yours?" I asked (feeling like SUCH a jerk. She had four kids. Since I ALWAYS get the "Wow your hands are full!" I can pretty much guarantee she ALWAYS gets "Are these all YOURS???"). Yes they were. Next thing: those two kids playing on the steps look old. Like, older than Evelyn. With excitement just beginning to mount in my chest, I asked the big one, "Do you homeschool?"

Did a hallelujah chorus play in my mind upon hearing her answer? Quite possibly. It would have been hard to hear over the follow-up questions jumping into my head. Another homeschooler! And she lives in Debert--about 20 minutes from here on the highway. And she has recently begun getting together with two other homeschool moms around that area! And yes, she is interested in joining us for a weekday visit to the local corn maze! And since her kids do piano lessons every Thursday morning in Truro, she's coming over for lunch next week, and maybe, just maybe, we might be able, in some capacity, to get our Truro group to collaborate with her Debert group, making SIX families!

This is the historical location where it all went down.
I'm excited--I'm pretty excited. I know that often big plans don't turn out quite as you'd hoped, if at all. But the possibilities are enough to kick up some good ol' adrenaline and make me feel pretty good about things right now. The best part? Both Brad and Mary asked, in so many words, if she seemed "copasetic". My assessment, based on our short conversation, was that she seemed moderately disheveled (as any good mother of more than two children ought to be, really) and pretty easy going. I think she might fit right in with our current dynamic.

And of course Ev is pretty stoked. That girl will never have enough friends. On a side note, I recall being worried about the effect our last move would have on her. I am possibly more concerned this time round. Whatever, I did it so many times as a kid! She'll grow from it! In the meantime, new friends are more than welcome!

How is homeschooling going for you? We need to chat soon to trade stories from the trenches.