Lazy summer days

June 29, 2009

I didn’t have to make lunches Sunday night, because the kids would be home with Dad on Monday.

I didn’t have to nag anyone to practice piano or do homework, because we’re done with all that for two months.

I didn’t freak out about getting the kids to bed on time, because even if they don’t get enough sleep (no matter what, I know they won’t sleep in), they don’t really have to be sharp the next day.

I’ve been finding time to read my own book and update my blog.

This is the first summer where both my kids are out of school and daycare for the whole two months. It will be a pain in so many ways to get them to and from enough camps to give us parents time to work but not too much so they’re overscheduled. But for the moment, all I can think of is the good stuff.

I love summer vacation. Today. Ask me again tomorrow night when my kids are sleep deprived and getting on my nerves.

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A family walk — up Grouse Mountain

June 28, 2009

My family did the Grouse Grind yesterday morning. Yes, all of us, even the 8 year old and the 6 year old. And before you laugh at me too hard, yes, I was the last one up.

This wasn’t the kids’ first time climbing Grouse. Both climbed it a couple times before — the younger did it at age 4 (and yes, he did it faster than me then too). But it was the first time I climbed with them. Dad has always been the one to go with them before. In fact, two years ago, after my then-six-year-old did the climb in a reported 90 minutes, I went up the next weekend with a girlfriend trying to just beat his time (I didn’t, I tied it. Stop laughing!).

So this weekend we all climbed together. In my own defense, I have asthma, and it’s exercise-induced asthma, so when I climb a lot of stairs (and in case you’ve never experienced it, the Grouse Grind is described as Mother Nature’s stairclimber — it’s a mile straight up a mountain after all!), my heart rate skyrockets and I need to take a lot of breaks to slow my breathing down. The boys can just scramble up easily, even using their hands for the steeper steps. I can’t.

Anyhow, I told the boys to go on ahead with Dad and not wait for me until they reached the top, but they took a few long breaks and I managed to keep up with them. In fact, their time was 83 minutes, and mine was 86. Not too shabby for an old lady, right?

While it may not have been a crowning moment of athletic achievement for me, for the kids, it was an amazing one. They’re only 6 and 8, and they climbed Grouse Mountain in under 90 minutes. I am so proud of them, and so proud to have been able to do it with them.

And okay, none of us could even dream of doing it more than once, let alone 13 times like this superhero, but still, those two boys are my heroes.


Teacher gifts

June 22, 2009

It’s the last week of school, which means my kids have one party and field trip after another, with nary a moment of learning to be found. But hey, they’re still at school all day and I still get to work, so for that I’m grateful.

But it’s also the time of year when we mommies have to thank all the people who have taught our kids over the year. Some are easy, like thanking the daycare staff and the classroom teacher. I usually do gift baskets for them, so there is lots of little things in it and is easy to share if there are more than one teacher to be thanked (did I mention daycare?).

But it’s all the other teachers that always trip me up. Do I have to thank the kindercare teacher who is there over lunch, or just the one who stays in the afternoon once class for the kids who attend pm kindergarten starts and only the kids from am kindergarten remain? Do I have to give a gift to the piano teacher?

What about the gym teacher? I don’t even know her name, but my kids have gym twice a week at least. And the librarian. Do I thank her? What about the music teacher?

I find end-of-school-year gifts harder to figure out than the Christmas tipping season. I got six gifts this year for all the teachers of my two kids, but I just know I’m going to hurt someone’s feelings by forgetting them.

Another modern mommy dilemma..


Call me “coach”

June 17, 2009

Sorry I’ve neglected the blog for the last couple weeks. Between business trips and a long weekend with the family, I haven’t been as diligent as originally planned. I’ll try to fix that now.

My eight year old had his last baseball game for the season last night. It was a heart-breaker of a game, with our team making a few minor errors and their team making a few lucky catches, which left us one run behind at the end of the game.

It was so sad when a bunch of the kids started crying at the loss. I was surprised at the tears, frankly. Not from one of our girls who is very emotional, or one of our most competitive kids who hates losing. But one of our more mature boys was in tears. And perhaps the biggest surprise is that my son didn’t get upset. He just took the loss in stride.

Anyhow, my favourite moment of the game came before the 12-year-old umpire shouted “Play ball!” to start the game. We were warming up with the kids before play started, and I had grabbed the bucket full of whiffle balls (the lightweight plastic ones) and was throwing practice pitches at kids in turn. One of the coaches from the other team came over and asked to take half the whiffle balls, which is fine, I was happy to share. But the way he worded it was shocking. He came over to where I was working with the kids and said:

Mom, I’m just going to grab half these balls.

Now, I had had a long day and was kind of tired, not to mention nervous for the team, so was perhaps a bit distracted, but pretty sure he had just called me “mom.” So I asked him:

What did you call me?

And yes, he repeated “mom.”

So I stared him down and said quite emphatically:

Call me “coach.”

I know it’s petty and childish of me, but just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I am just a helpful parent. I am one of only three women coaching in Minor B in our little league, but I’ve done a great job keeping up with all the men and I know the kids — boys as well as girls — love having a woman coach too (my son tells me this regularly!). I’m not some jock (stop laughing — I could be a jock if I wanted to. Well, I could be sporty at least. It’s not THAT far-fetched!), and I wouldn’t dream of coaching soccer since I know nothing about how to play it. But I know baseball, and I’ve been coaching my kid for three years now. The men on my team treat me with respect as a coach, as do almost all the other coaches, umpires and league organizers I’ve run across.

So the other coach’s chauvinistic assumption just got on my nerves, and I told him off.

And okay, his team won, and we lost. But I didn’t cry.


The self-satisfaction of a bicycle commuter

June 1, 2009

Two days a week I work at a client’s office in Burnaby, and now that the weather is nice, I’ve been biking there and back at least once a week. And aren’t I proud of myself!

I am, really. It is so much easier to get a workout in this way, when it’s on my way to something I have to do, rather than trying to carve out special time to go to a gym or for a run or something. And I feel strong and healthy having used my own power to get to work. I’m part of the cycling crowd. In fact, this morning the bike roads were packed. At one red light I counted 11 cyclists waiting for our turn to proceed.

So I’m among the lycra-wearing, strong-thighed, environmentally conscious commuters. I could have taken a bus and still felt a little more smug than those single-person-in-cars commuters, but biking makes me even more smug.

I know, I’m full of myself and shouldn’t be allowed to mix in company that doesn’t buy organic vegetables at farmer’s markets and doesn’t use only BPA-free plastics.
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But if you knew me, you’d laugh at the image of me joining those ranks. Because I’m not really one of them. OK, I do own lycra shorts for biking, but I’m short, overweight, have asthma and puff up every incline I have to walk, let alone cycle. But those are all reasons why I need to take every opportunity to get exercise (that and my inability to walk away from a plate of brownies!). So in the summer, I cycle anywhere I can that doesn’t involve too many hills.

And the fact that it lets me feel a bit more self-righteous probably helps my self esteem, which probably helps my health and encourages me to exercise more. But it doesn’t help me maintain self-control when confronted by the dessert tray.