Monday, August 29, 2016

It's More About Us Lately

My Protector and i made a point over a year ago to sit down and write a list of all the things we want to do as a couple together now that we are in a very different stage than a couple of years ago and alone a lot more often . It was hard and the list didn’t flow at first but when we got going was easier

Many of the bigger things like living abroad in various countries for 3 months at a time we knew were still 5 years away minimum. And even things that made it to the list like social dance are years away as for now we each have our own weekly evening activity as well as all the kids activities ( and our careers of course ) 

There is a time and place for everything. To me preparation is everything.

So we are starting with the simple things like walks under the moon and kayak expeditions that have not fallen under our radar before with raising three kids, busy careers and almost all our free time spent at the cottage.

Our kayak day was incredible and something we wished we had discovered sooner as not too far from cottage. A 4.5 hr expedition with a nice current that made it not too hard but still some great exercise and an incredibly beautiful day (minus me half choking on a carrot and us thinking our daughter was kidnapped in a taxi!!)
 This is something we will repeat again for sure with our kids and our bffs who referred the activity (and who came back another 2 hrs upstream!!) 

Also..can you believe that we live by the beautiful Pte Claire village for 17 yrs. and rarely walk to the village? Or drive there for that matter. Of course we walk and run for exercise in the mornings or have business lunches here and there walk for ice-cream etc ... But not once have we taken an evening and walked there and back for dinner. Not once. For us it is a day place in many ways and not a night place. We are away every weekend at cottage so never those opportunities 
 Set on a beautiful waterfront with amazing quaint restaurants that is hard to believe 

Well last night we yet again found ourselves with no kids and no dinner to make. A gorgeous night so we set out for a pub dinner on foot (20 mins there and 20 mins back only) and it was such a lovely evening.
 On our way we say 4 different people we know and had great conversations with them all . Also met a waitress who is studying on the program where Chase wants to go so hooked them up on LinkedIn. 

And we set back under the moon and stars.

We were peaceful and happy and our friend we bumped into said we looked so great she wanted to snap a picture. I personally hate our aesthetic look in this pic but love the feeling of the night so posting it anyways.

Shows also how often we think we look horrible and others see something else. Maybe peace? Fulfillment? Relief ?

 I often am in awe of the simplicity of life. A walk under the moon was just what I needed last night 

Life.. Is good.
Feels amazing for me (and somewhat confusing too) that i feel like for the first time i am actually getting to enjoy summer somewhat. I can’t believe i am able as an entrepreneur to make more money, have more time off and be ok. I keep thinking the first year and a half were luck but maybe i am onto something?

All i know…

Life is good 

I am thoroughly enjoying the moments both personally and professionally of this brand new world.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

School Daze begins

It's that time of year already ! Chase started a few days earlier ( no pic ) and only got 1.5 days of summer to relax and prepare for cegep year 2 after being away literally all summer working.

This guy is in his last year of highschool and applying to cegeps in a few months 

This was 5 years ago first day of highschool!!! bear is third from left and so cute!  I remember this day as if yesterday! 
 And this girl is going into sec 3 ( the hardest year in the French system ) I love this picture bc she looks so unsure and miserable and she thinks it is bc she looks like an Amish woman in her "long " skirt . This school who is always criticized for the short short skirts cracked down this year and made them all wear longer skirts ( thank god ! )

Beauty also had great news and has the opportunity to be part of a very well known competitive hip hop team outside of school ! She auditioned for 4 hrs last weekend with hundreds of other people and did it more for the experience than anything else since chances were very slim she would make it having no competitive dance experience unlike many of the others auditioning . We got the call last night and not only did she make a team but she made an even more advanced elite team with no call back ( meaning all the  many judges agreed they did not need to see her again and were  already convinced!!) 
She is so happy and so are we . Still don't know if this will be feasible in terms of schedule as she  already has many times a week already dance class afterchool as part of her school program already - but we are going to try to make it work if at all possible .

It was time this girl of ours got a break and some good news

Last night we also had all our kids around the table and had a huge talk about rules ,routines and expectations and they all pretty much wanted to move out after this talk .and all said they hated us pretty much .But then quickly after came to hug us one by one

It will continue this weekend with our eldest son as we really need to negotiate some of the rules around here as things are getting too chaotic . Kinda dreading it to be honest as I am not even sure what the rules should be myself at his age . It's gonna be interesting ! I have now surveyed on the phone at least 8 families with kids between 18-21 yrs olds living at home and have heard many variations of how homes are run with differences and similarities. Was hard to come to our own decisions

Back to school is always a transition for all of us : it's when both of our work picks up , our weekends get busy with errands and house maintenance , business travel multiplies , all sports and activities hype up , dinners get shorter and more rushed and studies and homework take over our family life .

It's always very exciting and also a little sad . I always have mixed feelings but always look at awe at these kids of ours with admiration and love - knowing that soon there won't be pictures on the first day of school anymore and savouring the days I have them all under this roof . As  busy and chaotic as our family life feels - i adore it.

Monday i have taken off and am taking the day alone at the cottage to strategically plan our family life ( meals , cooking , driving schedules , family time and celebrations, couple time, expectations and rules more clearly defined etc etc etc )

And Tuesday i am also at the cottage and taking the day to strategically plan my business until end of 2016. I need this time to ensure that my priorities are well matched to the work i am taking on as decisions are made quickly. Already this week i committed to two  more trips to atlanta and new york on top of an already busy travel fall schedule  and if feels important to ensure that at least 80 percent of work i take on i adore and am passionate about

Next week full excercise schedule begins again . All summer have kept up yoga and some walking but will be back to crossfit and yoga and power walks almost daily 

Sept is here !!! Sad and exciting paradoxically . 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Summer Social Lives

I always forget how social and busy the week before school begins is for the kids . It's like a constant stream of friends in the house , parties , events . It is never ending and all about friends with school beginning next Thursday for 2 and this Monday for 1.

And tonight chase comes back home after 7 weeks living away . He will have his own stream of social events . Last night we did beauty's August pool party instead of a bday party in December at her real bday and had 21 teens here both girls and boys . Real teens now but still young enough that we don't need to worry about  kids sneaking in alcohol etc which makes it all so much more fun . They were all in pool and dancing and singing and watching Olympics. Laughing , flirting and being young . Cool to see 

Through it all the girl Bear is seeing came to meet us . What a sweetie and. A beautiful girl .
Then at 11:30pm after she left her had three other friends come over . Beauty had 6 friends stay over and we made Bear stay up and kick the last few boys here watching a movie out ! It is so hard to keep up with all these teens - we are too tired and just kept falling asleep . Thank goodness Bear lifeguarded for us . A whole new world for Beauty now with a big fresh gang of highschool friends and party after party but like I said the easy type where they are still young . 

Another one tonight where they all are together .

And another one that passed on Wednesday night at a fancy restaurant one of the dads own and she asked to wear my heels !

Where is my baby ??

It has been a fun summer . Different and relaxing in so many ways as less kids but busy too as we try to get an hour here with each for dinner if they come back into town for a night so lots of far away driving and changing schedules constantly and adapting . This is really it . We are there . All three working all summer has really changed things of course considerably . Their work schedules are the priority now and their social lives front and center.

Lots of boy interest going on for Beauty too which is new but normal at almost 15yrs old . Trying to fend it off longer and for as long as we can but even cottage boys inviting her now to surf in boats and go carting . A new world is opening up for her that is also unknown to us as a parent of our first teen girl . We would like that she not date until 16 yrs old; lets see if we can do that!

I do have to say that although I think teen girls are harder than boy teens ( at least mine is !! ) I just love it . When I so desperately wanted a girl this is what I dreamed up : a truck full of girls to drive , the shopping , the talking about boys , the hair , the clothes , the music, the dancing . All the girl stuff I loved so much as a teen myself . Was fun being a mom to a daughter when she was little but way more fun now as she grows up . Especially when her friends are around as they talk so much more to me than she does !

School is gearing up and kids are enjoying the last days of summer although with friends and not us . We miss them but we understand . We grab them for a  quick lap in the pool or a quick dinner here and there but we are largely alone much of the time too .

It all makes for ... Different !!!

I am glad I have so much work stuff in the fall to focus on . I am glad I have this big career life outside of my kids as if i did not .. Man would I bet lonely and let down by this point ! I am already scheduled for Russia and Miami and Chicago with  hopefully lots more to come.

Summer has been wonderful and kinda dreading Monday morning and then Thursday morning when school schedules seep back in. Can’t say our kids have been couch potatoes this summer!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Unexpected -Partly-Normalcy?

It's funny ( well not funny at all actually ! ) that when you have a kid who has some type of illness or condition it kinda trumps all the other normal sucky stuff in life too . You end up not noticing some of the other annoying stuff as you have this constant worry surrounding you all the time . Some of the good stuff you also don't get to feel as deeply as there is always this cloud surrounding experiences ; of uncertainly and worry . 

I know we have all felt this way for the last almost 3 yrs .
And of course it goes without saying there is a lot worse than scoliosis - a lot worse . But from talking to literally dozens of other parents about scoliosis it is a tough one as a chaotic disease with no predictability .You live scan by scan and day by day  with your kid in an awful brace for years and then you could do all that and still get spinal fusion surgery . However  give me and my kid scoliosis any day of the week over lots of other stuff - but still it is Beauty's reality and trumps a lot of other stuff in our life that is not health related . Lots of other stuff tends to fade into the background when health of a child is involved . It is hard to explain unless you have a kid who has a diagnosis with something health would then understand exactly what I mean

Well today we got to very unexpectedly feel normal !! What a shock ! After Friday's bad scoliosis news we all had an emotional weekend for sure ( some good talks came of it but just so hard ) 
Not even a fraction of our minds or brains or hearts would have predicated  that today we would actually have some good news at the spinecore  appt ( other day brace she wears ) 
For me and hubby and especially beauty- news would have been same or likely even worse as this doctor always see the X-rays as worse than the surgeon .

So we went with heavy hearts and almost did not even go as felt too hard . We had it on our minds that we wanted her at least out of day brace but knew that the expertise of the doctor may convince us otherwise . We knew we were facing an uphill battle and would leave upset as either Beauty would be stuck in day brace and we would be resentful of the outcome, or we would go  against doctor's very expert and professional advice and have her not in day brace and feel like crap and guilt ridden . 

But we got great news !!!! She looked at X-rays and spine and said she has improved a few degrees in curve!  ( never heard that before in the last years ! And that in her opinion had barely grown ( less than 1 cm ) and also that her risser sign was higher than 4 and was 4 plus 

And then she looked at the three of us and said " you are out"
And we said " out ? Out for what ?"

And she said " out of day brace !!!!!!"

Omg .. Let the pictures tell the story a little more 

All I know what my first thought in way home was that I could worry about normal things again . Or be happy . Smile more . Feel normal 

No more wearing and washing  and weaning and rashes and bruises and stains and hassles (in the day anyways!)

bye bye brace (and hello physio excercises for a lifetime) Do you see her posture even out of brace???? OMG

And if I felt like this inside imagine Beauty and how she must have felt ? ( hard to know with her as she is a girl of few words ) I just feel like now we can live a little more and a little lighter . Even if only part of bracing done that is half less then where we were Friday and the harder part gone as they day brace is a bigger issue for her . On my way home I started to allow myself to just have normal thoughts about life : groceries and boredom and rain and birthday parties . Food I shouldn't be eating and what earrings I wanted for my birthday .

I let the normal come in and it felt plain odd . And kinda plain good too . 

We stopped at Tim Horton's and I ate a strawberry shortcake muffin . Really ? During the week ? I started texting a couple of friends about some plain old normal things too . Odd 

And Beauty I could see just wants to get back to her normal . She is half way there with one brace off and free- and half a way to go 

With health stuff it's kinda like there is no time for it . No space in our lives . Life is hard enough without it . But when we are dealt those cards we have to find space for it and make it our new normal .. We don't have a choice . In the last few years we have had our share of health stuff and still do. A little break feels wonderful. Indulgent even

So today just felt good to get some good news and then be normal . To get to experience what that feels like again 

Until the next time of course . Until the next not normal . But for today and just now ? It feels heavenly to think of my daughter as free . And to selfishly thing of me as free a bit too . To be able to stop thinking of her so often and worrying so much and just get on with some of life on some ways . I will be thankful for this extra space in my brain for me !
I will take half of normal for sure

I want to go back to this me....

......and this serenity

and this me too...

and this  kinda laugh happiness (ps ironically  all these pics were taken through scoliosis times when I was forgetting-but somehow I still want to be back exactly there and her up there laughing

If I am honest.....I am ready to be free too

Friday, August 12, 2016

It's Not Over

Today was supposed to be a really happy day ; and this weekend a celebration .

But it won't be .

Six months ago  surgeon told her that he was almost positive that at today's visit ( 6 months later ) he would be able to tell her that her bracing was complete . That all indications were that her growth would be complete .

We were going to have a big brace burning party . And if you were anyone who knows us well and has followed this journey you would have been invited .

Today after he saw her X-rays ( part of her life for 3 yrs now constantly  and makes me sick to think how much radiation is in her body 
) he told her the news that she is still growing and it is not yet safe to take her out of brace .
And we sat there and watched as our daughter came undone . ...

She holds so much inside . Tries to be so cool . So not attached and so unemotional . This time she could not help herself - she cried and cried and now 5 hrs later she is still crying . 

It has now been 14, 080 hrs of wearing her day and night brace over 2.5 hrs to be exact and she is so done . So are we .

But ... Big but . The most important thing is that her curve is stable and hasn't moved in 6 months . She is still always considered borderline surgery as she is almost a 40 degree curve and so that is always risky but the older she gets and less growth there is - the less chance of surgery there is 

And that is what is ultimately and obviously most important . But today was still hard . And a yucky week . She had some bad news at school too that has really affected her and she is also going for some other pretty important tests next week for yet another medical issue . It's a lot for the plate of a 14 yr old girl and I feel for her a lot . To be honest it breaks this mama's heart 

One thing we can know for sure ? This kid of ours has and will have massive resilience in her life . Although scoliosis is not a terrible disease as not life threatening - the length and permanency of it is really hard . We are always waiting on the edge of our seats and each 6 months at the Shriners is a new almost panic attack waiting for the results of X-rays knowing that the results although not fatal are definitely  life changing .

Today I am grateful that I have he kind of career I do that allows me to have more flexibility to be here with her today since she refused to go to dance camp . They are sad moments but I am going to convince her to make up a dance for me and go get a bag of candy with me too . My word this year was "moments " and that includes the harder ones too 

So my thoughts today are for my girl . We are so very proud of her . For all she has been through and continues to go through and for all she has learnt and will continue to learn 

We love her so .

This is the face I want to one day again see...this was a brace break for a week on vacation and I have never seen her so happy and free. One day again.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Aww.... Vacation 2016

" There is nothing .. Nothing in life .. Like messing around in boats "
( i think I made this quote up long ago)

We just finished three weeks of vacation time  - and as much as i love to travel many places and explore - nothing really comes close to three weeks in summer at the cottage 

Especially when for i think for the first time in 22 yrs of cottage history we can finally say " we had amazing weather !!! " sure some clouds and a little rain  some days but over 21 days most days were hot swimming boating ones . The angels shone upon us for at least 75 percent of the time !

Couples time was wonderful . Time with Beauty just the three of us very precious . Time all 5 of us was truly wonderful.

A few highlights of the last week of family vacation 

- felt even more special because the boys mostly gone for summer so we were all very happy to be reunited 

- chase was highly annoying the first couple of days as he has had to date a summer with no rules or structure . Couple of big fights at beginning of vacation and then we all settled in 

- beauty has been soooooo sweet and nice and close to us all. We have savored every minute 

- bear is the most affectionate he has ever been . When he likes a girl he is always nice

- are kids are : so so so damn loud !!

- ....and messy!!

-... And super connected  and close 

- the days are like this :
They get up between 12-1pm !
- if there is time before 1pm they go on thier phones 
-phones go away 1-6:00/6:30pm
- we go for 1.5 hr boat ride
- we eat long lunch at 3pm on the dock
- we swim off dock after lunch and splash around 
- we do 2 hrs of watersports
- we all relax and do whatever from 6-8pm
- we all cook , tidy , do groceries and shower ( some if us ! ) at 8pm
- we sit down to dinner outside at 10pm (  14 all new recipes )
- we watch out series " stranger things from 11:30-12:30 and all cuddle on the couch often with a snack 
- we go on our phones or do puzzles 12:30-1:30 am approx

- everyone goes to bed ( and hubby and i often on bali bed on dock under the stars and wake up around 10am and swim in the lake beneath our feet :)))

Its all a little crazy i know . And a wierd schedule and a bit bizarre but really magical and incredible and fun 

Mostly it is ours
Our routine
Our thing 
And somehow we have wired our kids this way too

We made it clear to our kids many years ago that one week at cottage is mandatory as a family no matter what . So far they agree ! Its hard to make it work but i think essential to all of us .

A few realizations 
- less conflict the less i speak
- hubby and i less connected as a couple when kids around 
- family time is very very important to us and a true basket a
- i hate the music the boys listen too but have made it a basket c
- i adore beauty's music
-taking technology away for most the  day is the smartest thing i have ever done and a constant but necessary struggle 

- chase has shown us that he can ask us advice on anything in his life . Hard for us to hear as parents but so good for teens to know they can discuss absolutely anything 

-we all adore our cow blanket 

- ok stranger things is really really good 

- our kids are really getting on our nerves re their bad manners table and elsewhere . Clearly we have not focused enough on this in their lives . Disappointed in them and in oursélves 

- all the cuddling . For three teens we lucked out as all cuddlers with us and with each other 

- great manners with guests who come over however . Welcoming , engaging , warm , curious, inviting . That part good

- loved having soulkeeper and her hubby on boat for late swim and then mexican fiesta with kids and jacuzzi. Great discussions with kids too . Like a village raising our kids it felt like 

- lots and lots of boat rides and blankets and water sports

- fave tradition we have ( and i did not even steal it !! ) pizza making contest that we do once a year on vacation . Categories include : taste ; look ; creativity ; name of pizza ; music piece to accompany  the taste . 
Love it and super fun and delicious . Hubby won hands down this year with his thai pizza of cilantro, chicken , challots, carrots, fish sauce and peanuts 

- mr pizza by boat and shopping for didi bday gifts !

-bear being invited to both a big party and a day of surfing and declining both without even asking us as he wanted to not take away from family vacation 

- chase begging to go home a night early but then actually being ok with it when we said no

- beauty and how much she has fallen back in love with her brothers ( and us ! ) and so much closer to us all on this vacation . Love that girl so. It won't last but we are seeing it more and more often :)

- the relationships between the three little bears is so sweet 

-endless debates and talks 

- god i am so much less annoyig when i am quiet. I need to constantly remind myself to just shut up!!

- hubby and him reminding us of husband on show 

- hubby little thai dance on pizza night and fake smile ( intention of the day !!! )

- kids leave tonight at 8pm and we have one more night and day alone . Sad to see them go. And a little happy too to have one last day on our own .

And it is still always a little shocking to see the three of them  drive off in our car away from us and back into their own lives . Always shocking to see that car pull Away without us as the drivers 

- was truly an amazing family vacation . So glad despite all the schedules and jobs away and more exciting opportunities for kids ; we made it happen. This week is worth its weight in gold 

If i could give any advice to a family it is spend a week together twice a year minimum . The proximity is good for the souls and relationships as chaotic and messy as it often is 

As the kids leave - as the vacation ends and the good weather ends up windier and colder on our last day  full of rain , i feel so grateful for these frozen moments in time . 
That's  what it feels like really time freezing . Standing still for our family and our moments 

And today i feel my restlessness creep back in . Reality starting to take grip . The lists and plans , the work, fixing broken phones and ipads and washing school uniforms . Projects to plan and business trips to take . Excercising and disciplined eating . Getting on a scale after 3 weeks of indulgence and bad news to break to a child tonight . Deadlines and decisions . Feelings to handle and scheduling chaos. Work work and work which I love but is also extremely demanding of course 

And it is all bittersweet as those times are not frozen- they are the moments in between that make up what we call life .
 And we wait with baited breath until  the next frozen time  ; the next vacation ; the next cocoon where we shut it all out and create even bigger moments together .

Run . Recover . Run . Recover . Run some more . Recover 

Life should always be a series of sprints . I don't believe in marathons .

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Things i am loving about our kids lately  (written  a week ago so who knows how I feel now??? Or next week after our family holiday??
I want to remember these things  about our kids that are right here and right now When iam focused and present i notice them more and appreciate them more too ( aka when i am not on my phone all the time and on vacation with no work awaiting )Ask anyone - my kids on a good  day annoy and irritate me ( sounds of laughter get on my nerves even ! ) yup mother award of the year eh ? But here and there i find them all extremely lovable :)

They were all together here for weekend and now just beauty and us and then all of us soon for the family vacation week.

Beauty :
- when we picked her up from camp ... I saw her yet again as the person she is to peers . Outgoing , so so charming , super coveted and popular , shining , affectionate, connected and also cool as a cucumber in her sunglasses and nike hat and ripped jeans and cool shoes . Everyone seems to want to be near here ( boys and girls of all ages and the staff love here too ) and she basks in this glory of her popularity.Our theory? She is truly an introvert who has made the decision to be an extravert around peers- which by the time she comes home she inhabits her more natural habitat with family.Still always an incredible experience to see her this way in big groups 

- when we watched a movie and said what would you do if a boy tried to kiss you in that way ( Wanting her to say i would push him off ! ) and she puts her arm up in air and in a little girl soft voice says " ya ya ya! "

- she us baby-sitting most days of this summer when in city and is so good at iand takes it so seriously . The kids love her and she loves getting the money . She has a great work ethic
- spending the day at the spa with my girl the two of us . Felt so good - just like on vacation . Great talks about career and life and choices . Outside massages in the rain and the dark room scary. Hot and cold baths and beanbag books . Laughing and beingtogether . Such precious rare moments that i want to occur more and more often

- we look at our girl and see such true beauty inside and out . A flower blooming before our eyes . I still love watching her as she sleeps with her soft skin and full lips wearing her little reading glasses 


Sweet sweet boy ( lately ! ) a whole other post on his accomplishments as a now federally certified camp counsellor and his 4 week certification where he scored top of his class at 96 percent ! And they hired him on the spot as the lifeguard and pool animator right then and there :)

- he is changing and maturing . If he were not so stubborn and hard headed most of the time - he would be sooooo easy to raise . Listens to rules , respects them and us , tells the truth ( even when we don’t want to hear it - Instagram pics in a Jacuzzi with a beer in hand ! )

- love his values and ethics and how responsible he is and how adored by his camperswho look up to him in so many ways as their role model . He takes his life and riles andresponsibilities so seriously . He loves working and can’t wait to be back in a week

- such a good catch with the ladies . Went on a date yesterday and love how he anticipates it and gets his hair cut for her . Loves how when his siblings walk in the door he immediately introduces them to the new girl in our house
- loves his mommy and snuggling. He is so tall now ( 5"10 .5 ) and love when we walk together he puts his hands around my shoulder and the kids all call me "naine " ( dwarf inenglish )

- not the same person he left as for his 8 week dirt bike instructor job . Truly a young man living his own life on his own .
Does so well with structure and school and now working away for 8 weeks . Also loves work and craves more

- badly sprained his wrist and by himself in bromont drove himself to hospital and waiting all night . Medical clinics in cities fat awY , xrays etc . Impressive all alone .Three days later was back at hospital with one of his " kids " who needed stiches and spent another night at hospital 

- love the texts we randomly get from him about life and his views on the patheticmedical system , or the costs of things in this society, or the state of the usa . He is veryvery clearly asserting his independence and overall doing a great job ! ( besides being really annoying while doing it )

- so in his element of what he is doing right bow . Grown up so much and so deeplyproud of who he is . So very different than us in so many ways and so uniquely his own person

All in all having teens in so difficult and irritating so much of the time and alienating and crazy often ..... but man oh man do I love our offspring.
I seriously  each day look at them in awe and wonder and feel soexcited to see their lives unfold