Bunnies, best friends, and birthday parties

So I’ve been woken up at around 5 a.m. the past couple mornings to a little voice beside my bed: “Momma, I want to go count the bunnies!” 

Two mornings ago when the four-year-old’s belly was sore, she was up at the crack of dawn and I suggested that we take the dog for a little walk. “It’s your job to count the bunnies we see,” I told her. 

Every morning now the four-year-old has been accompanying me on my dog walk and counting bunnies. I guess she believes in long-term employment.

She’s also been noticing little things along the way.
Like the two little pinecones that she picked up and carried home with her, “because they are best friends.”

(By now we are up to four bunnies. Seven is our record.)

Lexi said she picked these pine cones “because they are best friends.”
Or a bunch of ants swarming on the sidewalk. “Maybe they’re having a party,” suggested the four-year-old. “A big birthday party!”

(Eight bunnies! We passed our record!)

“Momma, the moon is following us.”

After about twenty minutes or so of walking, the four-year-old starts to lag behind. She has a trace of dark circles under her eyes thanks to her early morning risings. Oh, if only she would sleep in and get her rest! 

But then we’d miss the bunnies.

(Our new record is nine.)

Little bouquets 

“Momma, my belly is sore.”

And so the four-year-old lay down on the couch at 5:24 p.m. When I checked on her at 5:27 p.m., she was completely zonked out.

6:03 p.m.: A spaghetti dinner (one of the four-year-old’s favourites) is steaming away on plates at each place setting. I try to rouse the child. No success. I let her sleep.

6:43 p.m.: “Lexi, do you want something to eat?” Nothing. She rolls over.

At 7:23 p.m. I lift her off the couch and carry her up the stairs. I change her into her jammies and tuck her in. Maybe she’ll sleep in tomorrow morning, I muse.

Yeah, right.

12:17 a.m.: “Momma, my belly still hurts.” I open an eye to see the four-year-old standing beside my bed, three inches from my face. I ask, “Do you want something to eat?” I see her shadowy figure nod. “Want some toast?” Another nod. I drag myself out of bed.

Somewhat bleary-eyed with a slight I-should-be-sleeping headache, I pop a piece of bread into the toaster oven. While it toasts and the timer ticks away, the four-year-old and I sit at the table. She is resting her chin on crossed arms. Her eyes are bright and alarmingly awake. Oh-oh, I think. Here it comes…

“Momma, what’s six plus nine?”

“Why does the moon look like a watermelon?”

“Do you have a baby in your tummy?”

“What’s two plus nine?”

“Why do dogs have four legs but people have two legs?”

My brain hurts trying to keep up. DING! Oh good, the toast is ready.

The four-year-old starts sucking the butter off the toast, takes a few bites, and then is struck with an amazing dose of loquaciousness.

“Did you know, Momma, that Olivia wore flip-flops to daycare but you’re not allowed to wear flip-flops at daycare but Olivia did and I have flip-flops too but I don’t wear them at daycare and do you remember when by nose bleeded when I jumped off the couch?…”

Yes, sweetie. Just eat your toast, please.

12:34 a.m.: Child is tucked back into bed.

5:04 a.m.: “Momma, my belly doesn’t hurt anymore!”

Child is alarmingly awake. Again. Rather than negotiate that she go back to bed, I get up and suggest we take the dog for a walk. Both the child and the dog are thrilled at the idea.

The sun is just rising as we step out into the pre-heat morning coolness of mid-June. The calm and quiet is almost magical. I find myself thinking, The child has me all to herself–of course this is magical! “Let’s count how many bunnies we see on our walk,” I suggest. Child thinks this is a fantastic idea.

As we pass by a neighbour’s lawn filled with daisies, the four-year old crouches down and before I could yelp a protest, she plucks a big fat daisy from the bunch. “Look, Momma! I picked this for you because I know you love beautiful flowers!” She holds it up with a smile that could light up the sky.

I point out a plump rabbit hunched down by some bushes. The four-year-old gasps and holds up one finger. Soon we see another. She holds up two fingers. Then three, then four… “It’s your job to keep track,” I remind her. She falls a bit behind me and the dog as she peers at ants on the sidewalk, a leaf on a tree, and walks along a jaggedy crack. Rather than run she skips to catch up.

5:23 a.m.: We are up to six bunnies and two more flowers for Momma’s bouquet.

We see our last bunny as we make our way up our driveway. The child exclaims, “Seven!” The bunny high-tails it to the backyard.

Once inside I put the little bouquet in some water and place it in front of my place setting at the dining room table. It is there to remind me of midnight loquaciousness over buttered toast, and magical walks while most were still asleep.

5:42 a.m.: “Momma, let’s make PANCAKES!”

I need a cup of coffee…

Sometimes I wish you could step inside my mind

Yesterday the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and a whole beautiful Saturday was stretched out in front of us.

I sat with my morning coffee and felt dread seeping in. Why? Because my mind felt heavy and thick, I couldn’t concentrate, and my body felt immobilized.

I was getting an emotional migraine. That’s the term my husband and I give to my Blue Days. 

I hate them. And I especially hate them on beautiful sunny days. It makes me feel all the more guilty for having them.

All of my insecurities, regrets, and I-can’ts come raging to the surface. All I want to do is shut myself in a room and cry. 

And I usually do. Yesterday morning I cried for a while in the bathroom. Then I gathered myself together the best I could to get dressed and prepare for a day out with the kids. I told my husband it was a Blue Day (even just telling him helps). He offered to take the kids but I knew that today the kids would help: their smiles, their excitement at going to a big park, even their random, incessant questions (“What’s 5 with a hundred zeroes after it?” “Why do some people only have one kid?”).

On my Blue Days I wish you could step inside my mind. See the nasty black fog. Hear the swirling voices blaming, accusing, and chastizing. And understand why I cry, and why I just…can’t. Why I just want to disappear, if only for that day.

Then I would like you to give my mind a hug. Then please whip out your vacuum and suck up the voices, the fog, and all the tears-inducing I-can’ts. A temporary solution, I know, but at least you would be helping me enjoy the rest of the day migraine-free.

I’ve experienced emotional migraines long enough to know that I can usually sleep them off and the next day will be migraine-free. I woke up this morning after a 12-hour sleep (!!!) as if nothing had happened. I would like you to step inside my mind again, dig around, and see if you can find this secret emotional-reset button. Maybe you could press it for me earlier in the process.

Eight (or twelve?) reasons why I love June

Today is June 1, the beginning of my favourite month of the year. 

Why do I love June? Here are six reasons:

  1. It’s spring! The sun is warm! The grass is green! Flowers are blooming! (Wait, have I used up four reasons already?! I must be excited.)
  2. Bumblebees are out and about after their winter-long stasis. (Although I haven’t seen many thus far this year, making me somewhat worried…)
  3. There is the anticipation of summer.
  4. I can drink iced tea and not feel like it’s out of season.
  5. Daylight stretches until 9:30 or 10 pm, meaning I can sit on the porch and read for a bit after the kiddies are in bed.
  6. Three awesome ladies were born in June: my mom, my aunt, and my grandma (I miss you!).
  7. The month reminds me how lucky I am to have found my husband, since our anniversary is in June.
  8. The name “June” with its “oo” sound is gentle-sounding and pleasing to say. And I find that’s what June usually is: it’s gentle and pleasing.

Prague: Antidepressant beer and bees

My husband and I took a trip to Prague, Czech Republic: I had to attend a conference and he tagged along. I had a full conference-free day so we squeezed in two 3-hour walking tours: one of the Old Town and one of Prague Castle.

Somewhere in Old Town, Prague

I love the architecture! The cobblestone streets!

The Astronomical Clock and our tour guide, Rob, in yellow.

At one point a bee landed on our tour guide’s shoulder and stayed there for quite a while. I was surprised because it was cool and windy that day–not a good combo for bees.

Spooky spires. Does Dracula live there?
No, this is not a Dementor from Harry Potter…

A view of the city.
The exit to Prague Castle (the entrance was way less interesting, trust me).
Guards.JPG
Changing of the guards.

One of my favourite parts of the tour was when this truck pulled up near us…

ABeer

Apparently a group of monks nearby brew a beer they call “Antidepressant Beer,” and there are zombies on the van. A pretty hip bunch of monks if you ask me.

Meal
My first traditional Czech meal. I have no idea what it’s called or how you pronounce it.

Finally, when we returned, outside our hotel there was a big, blossoming, bee-friendly tree (apple tree?). Despite the chilly breeze I stopped to look for a minute or two. And there was a bee! I had to zoom in quite a bit, since she was rather up high, but here she is. She’s probably a honeybee or a solitary bee.

PragueBee

Now to go enjoy a few (antidepressant?) Czech beers before we head back to Canada…

Puppies and Homemade Muffins

Yesterday my husband and I visited a litter of 14 puppies! They are six weeks old.


The mom is a Rhodesian Ridgeback and the dad is a Boxer. And the puppies, as you can see, are out-of-this-world CUTE!

Fourteen puppies = adorable chaos. I reached my hand into their pen and there was frantic clamboring to sniff/nip/lick my fingers (and sleeve, and rings…). They were so friendly and excited! I managed to pluck one out and hold him for a while. My heart grew ten sizes. Then I saw the runt, sitting alone off to the side, trying not to get run over by her bumbling siblings. We managed to coax her over and we held her, too. 

Then we heard the wonderful/evil news: “Only two of the puppies are spoken for.”

Uh-oh.

We have been dog-less since our old poochie passed away a year and a half ago. We know we’ll get another dog one day.

We eventually left the puppies, miraculously without making any commitments. (Is there anything more persuasive than the pull of a puppy??)

We talked and talked on the way home: Should we? Shouldn’t we?

This morning I decided to bake some muffins: let my thoughts stir and mix around like the batter in the bowl. 

Puppies are a lot of work.

We have two young human puppies already.

But a puppy would bring so much JOY!

The kids would LOVE one.

But puppies are a lot of work…

The muffins are now done baking, but our decision has not.

Hesitation, funks, and maple syrup

Tonight my finger hesitated over the icon for “new blog post.”

It never used to hesitate like that.

I am sitting in my favourite bookstore/coffee shop and I have 45 minutes to write something before I need to leave for home to tuck the kids into bed. 

Surely 45 minutes is long enough to write something amusing, insightful, and intelligent??

It used to be. But I feel like I don’t have anything amusing, insightful, or intelligent to say. 

I’ve felt that way for a while.

Maybe it’s the winter blahs. Maybe it’s despair over the outcome of the recent US election. Maybe it’s fatigue from being a parent-employee-wife. Maybe it’s…gasp!…the beginning of a mid-life crisis!

Maybe it’s all of this, and its causing my brain to feel like porridge at even the thought of writing something.

Maybe tomorrow will be different. (I’ve told myself that every day now since…January?) Maybe tomorrow I’ll be struck with inspiration. Oh, to feel inspired again! 
Can I please have some brown sugar in my porridge? Raisins? No, even better: maple syrup!

Maybe tomorrow will be a maple syrup day. Some flavour in the blandness. 

Earth to Dana: today is different. I’m writing. 

Maple syrup. Even if it’s just a drop.


4:09 a.m. observations

I can’t sleep. Just me and the furnace are awake. 

Here is what my brain is thinking:

  • Three cars have driven by in the past 5 minutes. Where could they possibly be going?
  • Campfires are awesome.
  • My eyes feel kinda dry.
  • When your phone screen is on, the rest of the room looks extra dark.
  • Red licorice would be good right about now.
  • I like how my daughter’s hair bounces when she runs.
  • I can hear my pulse in my ears.
  • My son snores funny.
  • Are there equal colours of Smarties in each box? I have a feeling there’s not.
  • Maybe there IS a monster in my closet. It’s probably SLEEPING, which is something I’d like to be doing…
  • There goes the furnace again.
  • Why are poodles’ fur so curly?
  • I’ve had my pyjamas for a long time.
  • Snap-crackle-pop is exactly what Rice Krispies do!
  • Paying attention to your thoughts before 5 a.m. is like having a conversation with a drunk person.

Flower girl

In this picture I am not quite two years old. I am at my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim’s wedding, holding Aunt Ruth’s bouquet. I remember the dress I’m wearing in the picture: bright pink, silky material underneath a gauzy white with pinkish-orange rose buds (or were they tulips?). When I was older I dressed my dolls in it. But the story behind this picture is that once I had my hands on the bride’s bouquet, I wouldn’t give it back.

Apparently there was much coaxing and bribing. But I would have nothing of it. The flowers were mine! If you look closely, my left hand even looks like I’m trying to give everyone the middle finger.

What I remember most is how pretty the flowers were. The prettiest things I had ever seen! Pinks and whites and ribbons… And I had them! In my hands! And they smelled good. I remember proudly prancing around with them on the lawn, weaving my way between clusters of wedding guests. People smiled at me.

Then they needed the bouquet for the wedding photos. Apparently when they tried to take back the bouquet I put up such a fuss that in a number of the photos, Aunt Ruth is holding me holding the flowers. (And Aunt Ruth is still a great sport about those kinds of things!)

I like to think I’m not so stubborn anymore. But I’m still a sucker for flowers.

13 things I would tell my 16-year-old self

When I was 16 I lived in a very small town in northern Ontario. Up until then I had lived in big cities. Quite a culture shock. I was depressed about having to move away from my friends and start a new highschool. There was nothing to do in the summers (or so I thought), and I counted down the days when I could take the long bus ride to visit my best friend in the south of the province.

Looking back 24 years later, in no particular order, here are some things I would tell my 16-year-old self. (Would she listen?…)

1. You won’t be stuck in a small town forever. Once high school is done the entire world awaits! And highschool will be finished before you know it, even though it seems like a snail’s crawl right now.

2. It’s ok to be shy. But try to step out of your comfort zone at least once a day and do something that scares you.

3. Enjoy the people around you now. They may not be your close friends, but there are good people everywhere.

4. Don’t stop drawing. I did, and I regret it.

5. It’s ok to throw yourself into something and strive for success (i.e., school), but remember that there is a world out there that will carry on, with or without you. Try to find balance.

6. Boy bands? Really?

7. I know you hate your body right now. Like, really hate it. But you are beautiful. Seriously. And healthy. I like my body now! And out there somewhere is someone who thinks that your butt is perfect, even though you think it’s the worst!

8. But it really doesn’t matter what other people think. Trying to please people all the time is exhausting. Trust me, I tried. For a long time. I now try to please myself and I feel lighter and I sleep much better at night.

9. Listen to your gut. Listen to that little voice inside you. For example, you like English class and reading and writing? Maybe you should do something about it!

10. It’s ok to ask for help. Sometimes it. Is the smartest thing you can do.

11. Remember that day when you were walking to school and you were admiring the fall leaves, and then you tried to describe them in the best way possible, and you had a thought avalanche that took you to a new and dark place and you became terrified and you mentally slammed the door? Let’s go back there some day. There’s something there. (See point #2).

12. Try treating yourself the way you treat your friends. 

13. The universe has a funny way of teaching us things and working things out. Trust me. Please trust. And try.