"Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify." - Henry David Thoreau

I know I said "blog like no one is reading" but it's nice to know these people are

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How can you promise something you can't promise?

During the last week of the summer we stayed up at the cottage and experienced for the first time in my 45 years of cottaging the most terrifying thing - a cottage down the lake caught fire. Friends of ours who had just left our place to go home called to say there was a fire at the cabin across from theirs. We all jumped in the boat after calling the Park rangers (calling 911 is useless as there are no municipal emergency numbers for water access cottages on our lake and which are under provincial jurisdiction)

As soon as we were out of our little bay we could see the black smoke billowing around the point.

And then we saw the actual fire. In 15 minutes it had gone from the size of a campfire to this.

Boats from all over the lake were gathering in front of the site and within a half an hour the first plane arrived which was able to fill its pontoons with water and drop it on the fire.

We all had to admit it was pretty cool to watch the precision with which the pilots dumped the water on what was a very small area.

Fifteen or so minutes after the first plane arrived the second one flew in and it was a real water bomber that can fill its belly with thousands of gallons of water.

It scooped up belly after belly full of water and made at least 20 passes over the fire.

It looked huge to us sitting on the lake in our little boats. Fortunately the wind was off shore so the fire did not spread to the woods. If it had been blowing back into the trees it could have spread rapidly as the summer had been so dry. Our cottage is on the same side of the lake so conceivably it could have been in danger if it had turned into a real forest fire.

Although we stayed and watched the planes until the fire was completely out and we went back the next morning to see the damage - one cabin was completely destroyed but luckily the main one was untouched - our youngest was very shaken by the whole incident.

Over a month later he still asks me every night before bed, "Is everything is going to be okay?"
Then, after I reassure him everything is going to be fine he asks, "No fires, right Mum?"
And I respond, "No fires," but he then says, "You promise?"

I am not sure what to say to that one. I promise that we have smoke detectors (with working batteries) on each floor and they are hooked up to the alarm company and if they go off the fire department responds immediately (I know this because they did when cookies were burned) and we check to see that the oven and coffee maker are off before we go to bed every night but I can't promise him that there will never be a fire either at home or at the cottage and I hate that I can't promise him that. I can't imagine what it is like for a family who has lived through a house fire. How do they ever sleep again? How do they reassure their children that they are safe when they weren't? I guess it's something you can't think about too much like so many of the other dangers that surround us everyday. In the meantime we will continue to go through our bedtime ritual together as long as he needs to.

Betwixt and Between

That's where I am these days. I have three increasingly independent boys who come and go from my house but it seems that at least half of the time they still desperately need me. The first week back to school my Other Half was away and I worked until 6 o'clock two days so the boys were on their own after school and they did just fine. I asked Number One to make sure that Number Three either came home or checked in with him if he was going to a friend's house. It's hard for the youngest, most of his friends are the eldest and so their parents still pick them up at school and aren't comfortable with a nine year old making his own plans. I have no problem with him checking in with his older brother before he goes off to play and they all seem to be able to make it home before I do. Luckily we don't have any evening sports at the moment to rush through dinner to get to so if I get home at six I can still make dinner (but I do have to get better at planning meals ahead) and it is almost civilized eating at around seven. In fact, this routine seems to be working. Okay, it worked one week and this week we will try it again as the builder is off flogging boats in Northern Michigan.

It's trying to find a balance between being there for them and not being there too much. I know they fight more when I am around, vying for attention - good or bad. It is hard especially with the youngest because I feel like I am pushing him too early. The others certainly weren't making their lunches in grade 4 but then he also gets the perks of doing other things way before his brothers ever did. Number One will be travelling with his ski team in November to Colorado and after the fiasco that was the trip to the Provincials last March with tearful phone calls every night I will not be getting him a North American cell plan while he is gone. He will have to manage sharing a room with others, eat whatever is put in front of him and get over the fear that every other guy on the team is shaving while he still searches in vain for any sign of peach fuzz.

Number Two has gotten off to a better start this year, he likes his teacher and came home yesterday very happy that he had finished a math test second to the smartest kid in the class and thought he had done well on it. It was so nice to see him being positive about school after last year and although he doesn't have very many of his close friends in his class he seems to be okay with that. He knows he has to have a good report card at Christmas if he is going to be allowed to miss school for skiing and that coupled with a wish for a phone I think we have a great incentive plan in place.

Balance - parenting, work, socializing, health. We all want to do it all and we want to do it well. I am never going to be a Type A person despite the fact that I am the eldest in my family and an Aries to boot. I don't want to run a marathon or bike 100 miles. I am never going to start my own business and I probably won't ever write a novel (a memoir perhaps). I want to raise my boys to be young men who value school as much as sports and who appreciate one other. I want to be healthy and live long enough to know my grandchildren and be the mother-in-law I constantly make notes to myself about. I want to be able to spend time with my Other Half and see him achieve a balance in life and success in business. I want to be able to enjoy this beautiful place we live in and to travel again to the places I didn't get to BC (Before Children) I want to ski in New Zealand and sail in the South Pacific. All these things seem so unattainable right now but if the speed at which the last ten years flew by is any indication I know that the boys will be off living their own lives in the blink of an eye and my Other Half and I will have time for ourselves again. I often say that I couldn't have had children in my twenties like so many people did, I had too many things to do and and I wasn't ready for that resposibility. My thirties were hard with four pregnancies and three young children. My Other Half was seldom home and I ate, slept and breathed children.

Now I feel ready to begin to branch out again, test myself beyond familial waters, set some goals and dream a little of life BC (Beyond Children - I know there's no AC since they will always be my boys). And I know we have a ways to go, Number Three won't be launched for another nine years and we have the dreaded Teenage Years to survive first but in nine years I will be 54 and that doesn't seem nearly as old as it did even just a few years ago and from the looks and lives of the women I know who are in already their fifties - I can't wait.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

iPhone Friday on Tuesday

My Other Half and I are heading out to a marine dealers meeting for the next few days so I though I would post a few of my most recent favourite iPhone photos. If you're a picture-taking nut like me it's so worth getting one just to be able to take such fun photos. They were all taken with the Hipstamatic App.

PJ at the net

Full Moon at Sunset over the Bay

On a Horse with a View

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My New Mantra

"Breathe deeply and love fiercely."

I read this in a comment at Flux Capacitor's most recent post. And it is my new parenting and, maybe even, life mantra.  

Breathe deeply - that's what I need to remind myself to do everyday. Along with this being the first week back to school (so far so good - touch wood) my Other Half left early Wednesday morning and I worked til 6pm Wednesday and Thursday. The boys did just fine, thank you. In fact, they did much better without us around to nag about snacks and homework. But the bickering continues, morning, noon and night. I have to remove myself from the room when they really get going. They can fight over anything whether it's relevant or not, whether they know anything about the subject or not. If one brother says the sky is blue, the other says it's turquoise and the third says it's cloudy.

Love fiercely - this one is even more important. No matter how hard it is and I know what we are dealing with now is nothing compared to what might be coming down the pipe as we enter the unchartered territory of adolescence. One of the first things I remember hearing from a parenting expert was about always giving "unconditional love" but sometimes that's hard to do when all you really want to say is, "I love you, except when you drive me completely and utterly around the bend." But I like "love fiercely" because it sums up how I feel when they are pushing me to the limit and still I know I have to love them. No matter what.

So, breathe deeply.
And love fiercely

It applies to so many parts of out lives. Doesn't it?
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