The First Day

September 2, 2012

This week brought a special milestone to our house – Tristan had his first day at “big boy school.”

I set my alarm for 6:00, wanting everything to be ready for the first big day and not wanting to be rushed.

I rose to a dark room. The darkness felt heavy, solemn.

I cried in the shower. I cried blow drying my hair. I stood there staring in the mirror, internally asking myself some difficult questions.

Have I done enough in the time he’s been home? 

Did we play enough? Read enough? Snuggle enough?

Have I prepared him well enough to go off to school on his own?

Of course I know the answer is yes, but in the silent darkness of that first day, logic was nowhere to be found. Emotions ruled.

We shared a special french toast breakfast and did the regular fanfare of first-day-of-school-pictures, where I had to use all my strength to hold it together.

I kissed his palm and placed a heart-shaped sticker in the centre of it, ready to feed him love from home at any time. (In “The Kissing Hand,” the mama raccoon kisses her little one’s hand before he heads off to school. Whenever he missed his mama, all he had to do was press his hand to his cheek and feel his mother’s love.)

Tristan and his “kissing hand”

I continued to fight the tears on the short drive to school, stopping talking mid-sentence occasionally to avoid having Tristan hear the strain in my voice.

And then we were there and his commencing of school happened somewhat like ripping off a bandaid. It all happened very quickly. We arrived and within minutes the doors were open and a nice teacher asked him his name and in he went. I knelt down to hug and kiss him, and wish him a wonderful day.

As he walked away into the school, he pressed his palm to his cheek.

And that’s when I lost it. With Tristan’s eyes no longer on me, I managed to squeak out, “Luc! I need a hug!” before the sobs started and my shoulders began to shake. It was a short lasting cry but one that had been building and needed to get out.

My little boy was off on a new adventure without me and I had to let him go.

I picked him up from his first bus ride after school, and as he peeked around the first row of seats on his way to the steps, his eyes lit up when he saw his mama waiting for him. I clicked a quick picture and enveloped him in my arms.

“Hey buddy! How was your first day of school?!”

“…a little bit fun…” was his reply.

…. a mostly positive response. I’ll take it! I know we both just need a little time to adjust! :)

A New Chapter

August 28, 2012

Dear Tristan,

I can’t believe tomorrow has arrived so soon! In the morning you are going to head off to big-boy school! I know you’re ready for the challenge and the excitement, but I know I am going to miss all the time we had together. For four and a half years I’ve had you as an almost constant side-kick. It is strange to think that we won’t be having daily discussions anymore about where we should go or what we should get up to.

Tomorrow when I drop you off at school, I know I will cry. Oh, I won’t let you see me. But after you’ve gone through those big metal doors, blindly trusting your new teacher, I know I will shed a few tears. I won’t be able to help it.

It won’t be that I’m sad per se, though I know I will miss you. I will cry cause I’m just so darn proud of the little boy that you are. I’m proud of your intelligence and you’re innocence. I’m proud of how kind you are and how you will approach any child and ask them to play. I am just proud of you. Period.

Where has the time gone? I know that I am helping you to grow wings and this is just your first little flight into a world where I know you can, and will succeed. I know this is the first step in one of many. But that doesn’t make it any easier to watch you go!

We’re all ready… Your backpack is packed and waiting by the door. Your lunch is made (watch out for the secret “I love you” note hidden inside!) and we read “The Kissing Hand” at bedtime.

Nothing to do now but head off on your next adventure.

Have fun my love! I love you!

Love, Mommy

Dino party

August 23, 2012

Back in the spring after attending a “strawberry shortcake tea party,” Tristan declared that he wanted to have a “dino party.”

I kept the thought in the back of my mind and with the first day of school quickly approaching (ACK!), I decided it was time to put the random thoughts floating around in my head into action.

I’ve always been inspired by the awesome children’s parties that Kelle Hampton throws. “One day…” I always thought as I drooled over her pictures. It’s the last week of summer holidays – and this dino party was just screaming to be awesome.

And awesome it was. At least I hope the kids thought so!

Several days of prep work, lots of which the kids were able to join in on, and hours scouring Pinterest for ideas and the party came together for ten of the boys’ little friends.

We had a great time in advance creating “rocks” with dinosaurs hidden inside that the kids would later crack open, and I spent an evening cutting out green foam dino feet.

The last night before the party I was debating carving a watermelon into this really cool dinosaur. I’d been single parenting all week (with Luc away on business) and was getting really tired. At 9:00 pm was I really up for a carving project? I finally decided to bite the bullet and plopped the melon down on my cutting board. Not the most spatially advanced person ever to live, I was unsure if I’d actually be able to complete the darn thing. I was picturing being so frustrated after hours of cutting and gallons of watermelon juice on the floor, that I’d end up just having to chop the thing up into pieces anyways.

Well it turns out I was not so bad at the melon carving after all. I’d come so far with the party, it kind of started to take on a life of it’s own. Can’t stop at the watermelon. Now, it was a challenge. A dare even.

Alright melon….I see your nostrils and eyebrows….

And I raise you some back spikes….

I did still end up with gallons of watermelon juice on the floor (and let’s be honest, it is a far cry from the original inspiration!) but I thought the finished project looked pretty great anyways!

The kids had a blast scouring the yard for hidden dinosaurs and smashing open “rocks” and “frozen eggs” to find the dinos nestled inside.

The “decorate-your-own-dino-feet”  craft was a huge hit. How often do you see 10 toddlers and preschoolers sitting quietly and engaged for a full thirty minutes?! Yeah- they thought it was that good.

And what kind of party would it be without food? All dino themed of course!

Hmmmm…. I wonder what kind of party we should throw next? ;)

Backyard Science

June 28, 2012

A new take on an old fourth grade science experiment:

We made volcanoes/ witches brew in the backyard! The kids thought it was great and everything we needed was already in our kitchen!

The boys spooned the baking soda into containers (we tried muffin tins which worked but we found the volcanoes had more “power” with shot glasses.)

They added a few drops of food colouring to each one.

Lastly, they poured in the vinegar and loved to see the bubbling brew burst over the rim!

We repeated over and over (and over!) until we actually ran out of vinegar. It’s a good way to kill a whole hour!

Give it a try! :)

Growth

June 25, 2012

It’s been an eventful week around here.

Tristan graduated from preschool!

His face, as he walked down the aisle sporting his paper graduation cap, was beaming with pride. He waved to us with a huge grin plastered across his face, proud of himself for reaching this milestone and so happy to have his family all there to witness.

It was a special morning. I will even admit to shedding a few tears as he marched down the aisle with his classmates to the melodies of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Yeah, I know. It’s just preschool. It’s just that to me this graduation was so symbolic. He started out a 2.5 year old toddler, not yet able to fully express himself in a voice that still very much carried notes of babyhood. He’s now an energetic 4 year old with his own thoughts and ideas and dreams of becoming a pilot and a lambscaper (er… that’s landscaper.)

It’s an event like this that propels my mind forward. I imagine all the accomplishments and graduations that await us. I think about the kind, conscientious boy I am trying to raise, knowing that one day he will be a father, a husband.  And most close to home, I think about the first day of kindergarten, sneaking up on us oh so quickly.

This morning I had to stop for a school bus as a little girl was getting on, and I imagined Tristan on his first morning of school, walking up those steps, wearing his new little backpack, bravely looking back to wave, and I know I’ll feel it welling up inside.

I’ll hold it in, myself bravely smiling and waving back, but as soon as the doors close and the bus drives away, I know they will come.

The tears. I know they will come.

Tears of pride that my big boy is  going off to school and starting a new adventure.

Tears of sadness that our days won’t be spent together anymore.

Like any mother, I have some worries. I wish that I could just protect him from the world forever. But I know that that’s not the way it is. I know that my job is to prepare him to go off and be strong and kind and friendly and generous and fun loving and adventurous…

Yet I worry about not being there when he falls down on the playground and scrapes himself. I know someone will give him a band-aid and send him back on his way. But I won’t be there to kiss his knee.

I worry about the first time he feels the sting of someone not being kind to him on the playground.

I love my boy so much. Why wouldn’t everyone want to be kind to him and be his friend? But I know that’s not the way the world works and kids can be mean.

All I can do is love him and teach him that he is kind and capable and deserving… and the rest shall fall into place.

Race to the Finish Line

June 24, 2012

I won a medal!!

Ok, so it’s not gold, not silver, not even bronze.

It’s a finishing medal, because I FINISHED A FREAKIN’ HALF MARATHON! In 2 hours and 27 minutes.

Waiting at the start line for the race to begin

I began with the 2:15 pace bunny, and for the first couple of kms I thought perhaps I was short changing myself by running with this pace group. It was easy! Running along with the pack, I was happy, my stride was good, my cardio was in check.

I was excited as I neared the 5 km mark – my parents were there cheering with my boys. I was excited to high five them and I received the nice boost of  adrenaline I was looking for.

Sometime after that point, everything became a lot more difficult. My legs felt heavy. Somehow the energy I enjoyed for those first five kms had drained out of my body. Having only completed a quarter of the race, it was time for the mind games to begin. I would not be giving up yet!

“C’mon, Andrea, you can do this!”

As the race progressed, I had to adjust my goals.

I made the conscious decision to slip back from my pace group – clearly that speed was not sustainable for me, at least not on that day.

Around kilometre 8, something really weird started to happen. I started to shiver. I felt cold.

I knew that this was not right. I’d ran at least 8 kms close to three times a week for the previous four months. This distance was not typically difficult for me.

It was a warm day, and I was running in a race. I should not be shivering!  In truth, these symptoms started to really freak me out.

Maybe it was the adrenaline. Maybe it was the fact that I couldn’t sleep the night before (nerves!) Maybe it was the fact that I was fighting a sinus infection… I will never know.

Pretty soon, it became purely about the journey. Thoughts of finishing times became a distant memory. I just wanted to cross that finish line. “It doesn’t matter what time I finish in, I just need to finish!”

My strategy?

I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Life’s kind of like that sometimes isn’t it?

One small step over and over eventually led me to that blessed finish line. Familiar faces cheering in the crowd along with friendly strangers waving encouraging signs pushed me along.

The last couple of kms were painful. I could see runners dashing to the finish line on the other side of the canal. It was so close yet it felt so, so far away.

Leading up to the race I was certain that I would be a finish line crier. Scratch that – that’s not intense enough.  I was fully prepared to be a finish line bawler.

When my foot made contact with that finish line mat, I had a  gentle welling of tears, but I didn’t have anything left in me for a full on cry. In training we were told not to “leave anything on the course” and no one can ever accuse me of breaking that rule.

I proceeded down the chute, picking up my post race recovery snacks, before finally reaching the place where I would receive my medal.

“Hi Andrea! How are you feeling?” asked the lady with the stack of medals.

“Great!” I replied. “I have earned this medal with every step…”

I bowed my head so that she could place the medal around my neck.

And that’s when it happened.

The flood gates opened.

Finally realizing that I had seen this goal through to completion, my body felt the relief and my mind felt the accomplishment.

The tears flowed freely as I walked away.

This accomplishment is not one I will ever forget. I am proud of my efforts in training as well as my determination to finish on race day. I look forward to many more sporting events and challenges in the future… just maybe not another half marathon. :)

Let the Music Move You

May 12, 2012

T- 14 days until the big race

… AND I AM PUMPED!

What a journey this has been!

It’s taken true dedication and commitment – pounding the pavement three times a week, through the cold, through the pouring rain, and once in this mostly chilly spring through 29 degree heat!  Through running up hills to build strength and around a track to gain speed.  After nights with not nearly enough sleep, I’ve dragged my butt out there because I want so badly to cross that finish line! I’ve known full well that the only way I’m going to get there is to prepare. To force my body to adapt to running for 21.1 kms.

And you know the coolest part? It really has adapted amazingly.

Our long run the first week of training was 7kms. I remember talking to myself and mentally preparing myself for it. Seven kms seemed like such a long way.

Fast forward 14 weeks. Last week I ran 18kms. (yes, at once!) Tomorrow I am all set for a full 20kms!

For the longest run I’ve ever tackled, I’ve got my new running wear laid out,  my shoes ready to be stepped into and a new playlist on the ipod.

I’ve written before about my love of words and how I take real inspiration from them. Looking through my playlist, I see that I’ve subconsciously filled it with songs that are filled with words that will keep me going and keep me motivated.

There are songs that inspire me to “stand up and fight!

Songs that make me remember how fortunate I am, “I run for hope. I run to feel. I run for the truth of all that is real…I run for life.”

And songs that remind me that “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Of course, there are definitely songs included that are devoid of any inspirational wisdom. They are there merely to keep my legs pumping and the adrenaline flowing. You know, ones with lyrics like, ” Now pu-pu-pu-pu-pu-pump it up and Back it up like a tonka trunk!:)

I’m so excited for this accomplishment! See you at the finish line!

Journey to 21k

February 28, 2012

May 27, 2012 will mark a celebratory day for me. I will be one of 11, 000 people lined up downtown, anticipation and excitement running through our veins as we wait for the starting gun. That day I will scratch an item off my bucket list.

I will run a half marathon!

This is a huge challenge for me. The longest distance I’ve ever run previously was 10k… and it was tricky. I set off on this adventure knowing that it would be difficult at times but have looked forward to pushing myself and feeling the excitement and exhilaration of reaching my goal when I cross that finish line. (I am totally going to be one of those finish line criers. I do not look forward to seeing my finishing picture which will most definitely feature me in the middle of an ugly cry.)

Back when I had Logan, I remember feeling like I could conquer anything. After delivering my sweet baby at home in my own bed, I knew I would be able to look back on that day during any difficult physical or emotional challenge and summon the strength to keep going. I set those memories aside with plans to pull them out again when I started to train for my 21k.

And now here I am. Logan’s birth does still inspire me, but I’ve discovered something else that pulls me along.

Gratitude

When I think about it, I realize how fortunate am. I have a healthy body. The only thing that can stop me from training for this race is me. All I have to do is slip on my running shoes… and just do it. Even when it’s cold. Even when I’m tired. Even when I just don’t feel like it.

There are people in this world and in my life that would give anything to run a race/climb a mountain/{insert amazing challenge here}. Unfortunate circumstances prevent them from doing some of the things they would like to do, in the manner they would like to do them.

How fortunate am I? I can do anything. Anything.

Wow. What an amazingly powerful thought.

Words are very significant to me. When I was in labour with Logan, mantras to remind me that I am capable, repeated in my head. Now words are helping me with this challenge too.

Thank you for my strong legs that can run.

Thank you for my strong heart and lungs.

Thank you for my healthy body.

Because I only get one chance at this beautiful thing called life. And I only get one body. I want to appreciate them every step of the way.

source

Keeping Track

January 4, 2012

One thing that sets becoming an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) apart from other programs is the degree of independence that it requires. Where university degree programs specify which courses are required to graduate and provide you with opportunities to fulfill the requirements, the designation I am chasing simply lists what courses I need to take and how many clinical hours I need (500!)… finding appropriate courses and learning opportunities is entirely up to me.

Case in point: When I went to teacher’s college, I was assigned a “home group” with which I traveled to my various courses throughout the week, and when it came time for practicum, someone sitting in an office somewhere printed me off my assignment of which classroom I was to show up to practice teach in on what date. Of course, that degree (and other degree programs) do take dedication and hard work, but everything is laid out for you.

The IBLCE allows candidates a five year period within which to fulfill all requirements to write the exam. My plan is to write the exam in July 2015, which will mark the end of my five years.  All contact hours and courses must be completed by April of that year. This  gives me a little over three more years to fulfill all of my obligations.

I decided to take stock of exactly where I am, to better understand where I am going and what I need to do to get there.

The verdict: I need to kick it up a notch. I’ve still got lots of time, but I’d rather meet the requirements slowly but surely than to be panicking when only a few months remain.

University level academic requirements achieved:

  • Biology
  • Infant and Child Growth and Development
  • Psychology
  • Research
  • Sociology

Still to achieve:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Nutrition

Lactation specific education: Two courses down (Nine to go!)

There are a further six mini courses I must complete: (These are the ones that sound extremely exciting to me. YAWN!)

Basic life support (e.g. CPR – I have this one), Medical documentation, Medical terminology, Occupational safety for health professionals, Professional ethics for health professionals, and Universal safety precautions and infection control.

Clinical hours required: 500

Clinical hours achieved: 25 (only 475 to go!)

My biggest challenge right now is meeting the 500 contact hours requirement. I am currently interning one afternoon a week which typically gives me 2.5-3 hours. (To count for hours I must be actively working with mother-baby dyads). I don’t have enough weeks left to record just 3 hours at a time. Looks like working one more half day a week is in my future!

I’m starting a new course tonight, “Positioning and Latch of Baby at the Breast” – off to study I go!

The Magic of Christmas

January 3, 2012

Sometimes having children causes you to experience life as a child all over again.

We excitedly stop and stare and point at fields full of grazing geese. We “ooh!” and “aahh!” at every airplane and bird passing overhead. And there is something tremendously exciting about squishing play dough in your hands or splashing in a tub full of bubbles.

Everyone’s heard the saying that sometimes the box is more fun that what’s inside? It’s definitely true at our house!

It’s because of this unbridled childhood excitement for all things that Christmas truly delivered.

Tristan especially, at three and a half, is at an amazing age to really experience the magic of Christmas. He truly believes and it takes such little effort to elicit amazing displays of joy and excitement.

Every activity we did turned out to be “one of the greatest things ever!” which makes this mama only want to find better, even more exciting activities to keep us busy every day. It’s so rewarding to see such delight spread on the faces of my children, and it makes the activities fun for me as well to get to share these precious first experiences.

Exhibit # 1: Our mitten Advent Calendar. Each day throughout the month, a note, a treat or a small gift awaited Tristan. The kid never missed a beat (often reminding me to stuff that day’s mitten!)

Then of course there is writing a letter to Santa….

… and the excitement that follows when he actually sends you video in return!

Top all that off with baking a seemingly endless supply of Christmas cookies, making crafts and homemade gifts, and sprinkling sparkling reindeer food on the front lawn, and it was a  pretty busy month (leading to poor Tristan being fast asleep by 5:00 Christmas Day!)

But oh we had fun! It was a great holiday filled with joy and time spent with family. I hope your Christmas delivered as much as ours did. :)


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