Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Liar liar pants on... uh, nothing, never mind

A few weeks ago, Cindy took the kids on a field trip to the fire hall. They got to meet the firemen and learned about what to do in the event of a fire, and even got to sit in the fire trucks.

This is all well and educational. Liam loved it when he was that age, so it's only logical that Mallory would too. She took the field trip a little differently, though. Mallory came home and started barking out instructions to our family. She told me I need to stop, drop and roll if I ever catch on fire, she wanted to know if we have a fire extinguisher in the house, and suddenly, she was all about making a family fire escape plan. (We now plan to congregate on our next door neighbour's front porch if we have a fire at our house. Our neighbour does not know this yet, but hopefully he's cool with it.)

So THAT was all well and good, but the thing is, Mallory's concern about fire is starting to get a little out of hand. She is really dwelling on the idea of having a fire at our house. She has asked multiple times about how to get out (any way you can; ideally, the back porch door, garage door, or front door). How would a fire start? (Maybe if we left a candle burning or the stove turned on... which we DON'T... so we should be OK.) What if a fire starts when we are eating dinner? (Get out.) What if a fire starts when I am in the bathtub? (Get out.) What if a fire starts when we are in the swimming pool? (We're already out.)

And worst of all, for any parent who has had years of sleepless nights and is JUST FINALLY getting back to the point where we generally DO get to sleep through the night again... she is waking up at night and coming into our room and saying that she has had bad dreams about fire. This has been going on for weeks now. There will be a few good nights, and then several bad nights in a row, or sometimes, one night when she is up three or four times. Arrrrghhhhhhzzzzzzzzzz. Oh, sorry, that was the sound of me nodding off... which I fear is going to happen, if I don't get to consistently sleep through the night ever again.

For the past couple of nights, as I have been tucking Mallory into bed, the routine has changed a little bit. "Mom," she will say, "I have to tell you something. There are TWO things I am afraid of." She pauses, twisting her fingers in her hair like she always does when she's anxious. "The first one is fire. And the second one is... dinosaurs." I try to convince her that the likelihood of a dinosaur coming after her is even more remote than the idea of us having a fire... but I can tell she is not buying it. It's going to be a long night.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mia Hamm, eat your heart out

Today, Mallory played her very first soccer game. And yes, she wound up on the navy blue team. But I think she's over it now.
To say that she was excited would be a huge understatement. Liam's soccer season began a few weeks ago, which means that Mallory is in her third season of tagging along to the field to watch her brother play. She was more than ready to play herself.
She even volunteered to play goalie first shift, something you never would catch me dead doing - way too much pressure! But she was totally gung ho for it. I think her opinion changed by the time the ten minute shift ended though... the ball stayed down at the opposite goal the entire time she was in net, and she looked pretty bored by the end of it.
All the more reason to get into the thick of the action during her second shift, when she played defense.
Playing defense did not keep her confined down close to her net though... she managed to make it up the field and score a goal! During her first on-field shift in her first game. It was pretty exciting for all of us.
It started to rain partway through her game, and she was a trooper. Usually she's the type to think she's going to melt if she gets wet. Today, she kept on playing.
And it wasn't just scoring her own goal that she was excited about. She was equally as happy when her teammates scored.
I think she's going to have fun this summer.

How long before these guys are on Good Morning America?

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Today, I survived my first bike crash. I was on my way home from a long ride - literally within eyesight of my house (OK, so I was a couple km's away - but could see the house across the farm field), hit some gravel while taking a corner and skidded out. I landed on my left shoulder, which did not lose much skin, but has a wicked contusion on it now and is quite painful to move (no swim for me tomorrow I guess). Some minor road rash down my left leg, wrist and on my chin. It could have been a lot worse so I am counting myself lucky. It is not lost on me that just about a year ago at this time, I was happily preparing for triathlon season when my back went out and I spent the rest of the summer hobbling around. Very glad that this does not seem like it will impede my mobility too much, a swim or two excepted. Now I just have to see if I can get the asphalt out of my beloved Livestrong shirt I was wearing while riding. It's not looking good.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Celebrating May Two-Four

We had a fantastic long weekend, and let me clarify what I mean when I say that: we essentially stayed home for three days straight. I didn't put any makeup on. I didn't talk to anyone outside of my family for three days, except for clerks at the grocery store and the nursery. And I loved every minute of it. What can I say... I'm an introvert.
This weekend, we crossed so many jobs off the list that I almost feel like all is right with the world. We weeded the entire yard and cleaned out the garage, finished opening the pool and washed the windows, put the winter bedding away for the season and pulled out the summer, dug up a tree that didn't survive the winter and planted a new one in its place, planted our annuals, refilled the bird feeder... the list goes on and on.
We also fit in lots of time for fun stuff. The pool was used daily, even if the water is still a little chilly. We played tennis and rode bikes and "washed" the cars (the fun kind of washing, not really the productive kind of washing), and we BBQ'd and ate our dinner out on the patio.
I can be antisocial at the best of times, but especially when the to-do list gets to be so long. So spending a weekend tackling all of these things was exactly what I needed. We have spent the past few weekends running and will spend the next few weekends running, so the timing couldn't be better.
Oh, and running. Yep, we fit some of that in, too. Chad and I both did a long run this weekend, first thing in the morning, before it got too hot. I went out on Sunday and he went out on Monday. I can't speak for him, but for me, that 12.83 miles was the last long run on the calendar before the Trot to the Beach. The hay is in the barn.
Every night this weekend, our backyard has been lit up by our neighbours' fireworks. The most spectacular display came on Sunday night and we woke the kids up and took them outside to watch the show until almost 10 p.m. Too bad I didn't think to grab the camera before the best of it was over. These fireworks from the other side of Tweedsmuir were less spectacular, but still pretty cool to watch when you can do so without leaving home.
Now if only I could take a lesson from how good it feels to have done so much outside, and apply the same principles inside the house. Yes, we do still have some Easter decorations out, and have I told you that I have *ten* pictures framed and waiting to be hung... TEN??? And some of them have been ready to go for months and months.

Maybe next weekend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy Birthday, Henry

On Saturday, we made the trip to Toronto for Henry's 6th birthday party. This year's theme was "Lego" which seems to be a popular theme among the young school-aged set. It was billed as a unisex party, but Mallory was quick to point out that there were 9 boys there, plus herself. I think it ended up being OK though... Lego is pretty universal.
There was an instructor there who gave the kids challenges, like to work in teams to build something specific (e.g. a police station). Then the kids circled the table to admire each others' work. It was all very co-operative. Here's Henry, explaining something about what his team built.
This was cute... the group built sections of a tower independently, and then assembled it. (Hey, there's Liam. I think this may be the only photo he made it into.)
Lego cupcakes... courtesy of a local shop. Don't believe Stephanie when she tells you that she made them all herself. They came out of a clamshell! But they were awfully cute, and I don't think I could have replicated the Lego logo like that...
After Lego and cake, there was free play outside. The boys immediately struck up some games of soccer and cops-n-robbers. Mallory found the hula hoop to be much more entertaining.
Another year, gone just like that! Happy birthday, Henry.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A pretty perfect mother's day

Up early, before the rest of the house. Out for a long and windy bike ride. Back home in time for a big waffle breakfast with the family. Made then to sit on the sofa while the kids presented their Mother's Day gifts: from Liam, a picture of himself in a frame that he decorated, and a piece of writing from school about why he loves me: "she feeds me" (with "pizza" originally tacked onto the end of that sentence, and then scratched out); and "she takes me places" (with "places" written over top of where "to Disney World" was once written). From Mallory: well, this went on for a while, as she warned me it would. "I will have to go upstairs a whole bunch of times to get your stuff," she said. All in all, she probably made me 8 or so cards, various combinations of 'eye' 'heart' 'u' and 'xoxo'. A couple of pictures she coloured. A picture frame she decorated. A canvas of her handprints. A painted garden stone. And my favourite: not a lilac bush, but a booklet of drawings of "3 things mom loves": lilacs, taking pictures, and 'me'. She was also positively giddy as she presented me with 5 Cadbury Creme eggs and a mini pack of peanut butter cups. Girl knows the way to my heart.
From there we went to church, came home for lunch, and spent the afternoon in the back yard. Chad opened the pool this weekend so he finished that up, while I did some yard work that was long overdue on what turned out to be a gorgeous day. Chad and Liam celebrated the pool being open by jumping in the deep end and swimming to the shallow end as fast as possible - the 63-degree water did not warrant any more than that.
We wrapped up with crab legs for dinner (a recent kick we've been on for special occasions) and a trip to the Cone & Shake Shop before settling in for a game of Stratego with Liam - how is it that he beats me every time, despite the fact that my strategy *must* be more well thought-out than his to begin? Bedtime cuddles in front of hockey on TV. As I write this, the Kings are on their way to a victory in the series against the Coyotes. Having his Stanley Cup prediction come true would go a long way toward salvaging this hockey season for Liam.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Soccer season again

Summer must be upon us, because it's soccer season again. This is Liam's third year playing, so he is an old pro. The real excitement comes from it being Mallory's first year playing and boy, is she stoked. Liam will kick the ball around the back yard for hours on end, but you'd be hard pressed to find Mallory doing the same thing - until now. Now, she is so excited to have her turn that she is out there with him.

(About two minutes after this picture was taken, Liam kicked a high ball that smacked Mallory square in the face. I thought she would have a bloody nose, or at the very least that her loose tooth would be a little bit looser still, but that's not the case and no such luck. It was, however, the end of the practice for her.)

 Liam's team had their first game last night and Chad is co-coaching once more. I think he already regrets the decision, which does not bode well for the summer if it's only the first week! Mallory's team does not start for a few more weeks yet. The draft happens tomorrow and she is fervently wishing for a pink or purple jersey. If she winds up on the blue team, there may be a mutiny.
You can see from this photo that Liam wound up on the lime green team for the second year in a row. What are the odds???

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cathedral! CATHEDRAL!!

I got this via chain email from a coworker, but it was actually worth reading. If you see me chanting this under my breath when dealing with Mallory, you'll understand.
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response,  the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a TV guide to answer,  'What channel is MTV on?' I'm a car to order, 'Pick me up at 5:30.'

Some days I'm a crystal ball; 'Where's my other sock?, Where's my phone?, What's for dinner?'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature -but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!?

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England
 . She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe" .

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devoured - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: 1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. 2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. 3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. 4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you.  I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.

No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home.  And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, he'd say, 'You're gonna love it there...' 

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.
And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built,
but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cinco de Mayo

We used to go to regular Cinco de Mayo parties at Darin and Jenn's. Then they had kids and real life intervened for a while. But I think they are starting to emerge from the baby fog now (aren't we all?) and with Cinco de Mayo actually falling on a Saturday this year... what better time to do it?

Before anything could interfere, or anyone could get too dirty or overtired or cranky, we threw on some party hats and posed for a picture. Behold, the May entry for Four People Twelve Times. Glad to have it out of the way so early in the month!
Then, we ate a ridiculous number of chips and dip, fajitas, and the like. I even drank margaritas. Woo woo! Big night out for me. 
After dinner and before it got dark, they strung up the piñata that had previously stood sentry over the kitchen counter. (Hey, look at that. The new Blogger is a pain in the ass in every way imaginable, but it now knows how to put a tilde over the 'n' in 'piñata'.) There were a few near misses with the big stick, but in the end, everyone went home with their eyes intact. I have a bunch of these pictures of the kids swinging at the piñata and what makes me laugh in every single one is Darin and Jenn trying to make sure the stick doesn't stray too close to the crowd, and that they themselves don't get whacked.
The kids stayed up past their normal bedtime, but I took them home when the tequila shots came out. I don't think anything would have happened even if we had stayed later though... Cinco de Mayo wraps up earlier these days than it did in the past. And I think that is OK by each and every one of us. I got home close to 9:30 and to be honest, I was exhausted. I don't have it in me for late nights anymore.

Friday, May 4, 2012

May randomness

This picture was from a few weeks ago, when the Penguins were still in the playoffs. Since that time, Liam has lost about 90% of his enthusiasm for hockey. He doesn't watch the games much anymore, just catches up on the results the following morning so he can fill in his book with the statistics. I hope we can keep him going for four more weeks of Saturday morning hockey camp.

Mallory has a loose tooth. Liam does not. Sister's going to beat him to the punch.

Tonight is the soccer draft. This year we will have two kids playing - twice as many nights out on the field! And that doesn't even include the extra practise night for Liam. Ummm... hooray??

Mallory is bursting with over-the-top excitement about Mother's Day. She has several cards and crafts stashed around, some of which she has already tried to give me. She has also fed me this very cryptic line: "If you like lilacs then you are going to LOVE Mother's Day!" So we'll see what turns up next weekend. :)

On tap for this weekend we have a birthday party, a Cinco de Mayo party, and a visit from some family. It's going to go by in a flash.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

End of April

Things in computer world are 90% back to normal chez Cook. Most of the software is reinstalled and the XHD is hooked up. Still having a few issues (hoping this monitor is calibrated the same as the old one, otherwise I am in for a surprise the next time I have photos printed!) Last night Mallory wanted to transfer a picture of Captain she had taken on her Leappad onto the computer to print it out, but when I synced the devices I realized we are missing the Leapfrog software that does the trick. Also, for whatever reason, every time I sync my watch to the computer my workout loads to Chad's account rather than mine. I realize that these are first-world problems, but they are still taking a bit of time to muddle through and resolve.
We marked the end of the month with two major events. On Saturday, we marked Jonah's first birthday with a party at his house. We showed up gift-less since his gift is photo-related and couldn't be accessed last week... oh well. We went the IOU route instead. Hard to believe another year has flown by... Happy Birthday, Jonah!

The kids initially had another birthday party to attend later in the afternoon, but the guest of honour for that party was ill, and so we left Jonah's party and went on to the next event... the Forest City half marathon in London. Which was actually Sunday morning, but package pickup was Saturday afternoon. Yes, this is the race I initially said I was going to do, and no, I didn't do it. Having spent most of Feb and March sick, I just didn't get the training in. Of course, as soon as I showed up to the event, I felt like a pansy for being there and not participating, especially since I had run ten miles the day before - I likely could have gotten through three more in a race environment. Oh well, there is always next year. Instead of running, I was free to sit in a coffee shop with the kids eating muffins, and then hang out at the children's tent, watching clowns make balloon animals and getting fake tattoos. Still a pretty decent way to spend a morning.

And with that... April is officially a wrap. We never did get back out to take another family picture this month, so the Easter shot will have to do for our Four People Twelve Times entry. Here we are all dressed up - but it's 5 p.m. and we're also hopped up on sugar. Not our best smile-for-the-camera moment, but pretty real.
On with May!