Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Chasing Sanity

Summer vacation is upon us! No more lunches to pack, no more groggy searches for a clean matching pair of socks, no more frantic sprints to the bus. Yesterday was the last day of the school year, and perhaps the last day of my sanity as we all know it.

It's not that I mind having my children home with me all day. I don't. Normally. This year though, things are different. The end of the school year corresponded perfectly with the arrival of my nasty head cold, a hefty dose of PMS thrown in for good measure, and a very determined two year old. Determined to do what you may ask? Well, just about anything except sleep. Climb the dresser? No problem. Scale the bookshelf? Been there. Let's see what happens when we mix half a bottle of BBQ sauce with the margarine. Oh look, Mommy gets funny lines in her forehead...

Normally I would admire Connor's little toddler self, and watch with fascination as he waddles - skips -runs like a chubby little duckling to his next wonderful discovery. Sometimes I catch myself watching him and smiling, just over the very fact of him. Normally I would sit and chat with Terran, mindlessly wondering about stuff and just soaking in life as it happens around us. Being around him lately reminds me of the very essence of those pre-teenage years, and seeing him on the threshold of it all has me scared and excited for him all at the same time. Kind of like a ride on the Zipper at Old Home Week. Normally I would patiently listen to Madeline's latest best friend drama, the latest story she's written, or her latest complaint about not having enough shoes. I know that one day she will be a very successful woman- with lots of shoes. Her feisty personality, stunning beauty and clever mind reminds me of a beautiful wild horse thundering along the shores of Sable Island. To watch such a spirited creature is breathtaking and intimidating all at once.

After the kids were in bed tonight I decided to search for any sanity that I might have left. I first thought that I had found it in the bottom of a Tostitos bag and sour cream container. Now I discover that it was here all along. Sometimes sanity comes in the form of a screen, a keyboard, and sharing the thoughts of the heart.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day!

The first man I ever loved was my father. To a little girl, a Daddy is a Hero - someone brave who checks under the bed for the Boogey Man, someone strong enough to toss you into the air, someone who comforts and protects you when the thunder rolls overhead. My Dad was all those things and more. I was in awe of him, he was my Hero.

In my lifetime of thirty years, I have come to realize that my Dad is what all good fathers are. Beautifully human. He makes mistakes, but he is humble enough to admit when he's wrong. He loves unconditionally, even when he's been disappointed. He guides with his wisdom, but gives his children the space to make their own decisions. He feels joy when we are happy, his heart aches when we hurt, and his soul is troubled when we don't call.

It's only natural that I would love and choose to share my life with a man just as great. Levi is an amazing father. His generous spirit humbles me. I am in awe of his selfless attitude and his capacity to love all of my children as his own. I respect him for his motivation and uncomplaining work ethic. He is driven not by a paycheck, but by love for his family.

Everything he does, he does for us, without complaint. He helps with Math homework. He changes diapers. He mows the lawn and fixes plugged toilets. He reads stories. He does dishes. He checks closets for the Boogey Man. He happily embraces his role as a father.

My children are lucky. I am lucky. We love and are loved by incredible men who pride themselves not on what they are, but on who they are.
Fathers. Everyday heros. Beautifully human.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Mountain Man

A few days ago, Levi and I were sitting at the table with Connor eating oatmeal. For lunch. That's right, lunch. Levi and I had done the "what do you want to eat, I'm not really hungry, but we should eat something," exchange, and came up with no options that were especially appealing. We decided that we would ask the wise two year old for his advice, and we were answered with a gleeful "Oatmeal!!" Levi and I looked at each other and shrugged. "Why not? As long as he'll eat it..." our glances said to one another.

Five minutes later we were seated at the table, the mid-day sun pouring in through the windows as we sat eating our lunch. Natural oatmeal with organic raisins in it, mixed with organic Rice Milk and sweetened just a bit by some pure Maple Syrup. Connor's choice for a great lunch. As we watched him happily digging in, I giggled and said, "At least it's healthy!" Levi grinned and asked, "How many kids would ask for oatmeal for lunch? I can see asking for Froot Loops... Has he ever had Froot Loops?" My spoon stopped in mid air and my mouth hung open. "No, " I said slowly, realizing he's never even seen a Froot Loop, "he never has."

Then I began to wonder about the whole "children are products of their environment" theory. Do healthy parents have healthy kids? By following sound nutrition principles, my children will hopefully be able to make healthy food choices for themselves. At the very least, they'll know what they should be eating. But where did all my thoughts on health and nutrition come from? Why is the "natural this and organic that" way of eating not as strange and foreign to me as it is to many other people? As I thought about the way I was raised, the pieces began to come together.

In addition to my mom making sure we ate all our veggies, everything we had on our plates had come from the garden, or from my grandparent's farm. Pretty healthy stuff. In fact, I hardly remember any of us being very sick when we were kids. One person in particular does stand out though, and not because he was around a whole lot, but because he was different.

When I was growing up, there was a friend of my fathers whom we affectionately referred to as "The Mountain Man." Much like the name suggests, this was no ordinary gentleman. He was a tall, gruff looking sort of man with a wild beard and dark eyes. Underneath the exterior, he was a gentle and kind soul. He was very smart, and always had the most interesting stories. I used to love going to his house, which was of course situated at the top of a hill. Inside it was warm and cozy, and always smelled good. Everything in the house looked hand made, every knick knack had a story. He had tons of books, on the floor in stacks, on shelves that went from the floor to the ceiling. He had food that I had never even heard of before. He wore a fur hat with ear flaps!!! Although he looked scary and intimidating (to a child, anyhow!) I thought he was the coolest.

It was with his guidance that my father began to instill in us the benefits of healthful eating. We had always eaten healthy, this was just a different way. We had a granola mix that I used to love to eat for breakfast. Natural vitamins were used to help clear up the beginnings of my teenage acne. Somehow along the way, all these things stayed with me. I prefer naturopathic remedies over traditional medicine. I prefer to feed my children foods that haven't been treated with chemicals. There's many different ways to do things right. My way isn't the only right way to do things, but it's the way that feels right for me.

All of this is just to say, that, yes, I truly do believe we are products of our environment. Children live what they learn from their parents. As if that's not enough incentive to be our best selves, I think there is more to it than that. Everyone we meet, no matter how briefly, has the ability to create an impression on us. We may never know the impression we make on our friend's children, our children's friends, or anybody else.

If I could talk to the Mountain Man today, I would ask him how he came to be the person he is. Then I'd settle in with a steaming mug of Chai tea. I'll bet it's an interesting story.