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It is 2016

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Our 2nd annual trip to Mt. Washington on New Years Day.

We are fortunate to have vibrant and welcoming and generous friends, who began this tradition with us last year.

And met us at 6:30am today.

Ended the day with us, with a sushi dinner at 6:30pm.

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These friends are gentle yet persistent, and I am grateful for their invitations and their generosity.

Which time and again gets us out of our comfort zone.

Enjoying a sunrise we would not have otherwise seen.

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Considering things we might not have thought about.

Sharing food we all have such appreciation for.

We wondered today… why is it that another child’s lunch looks so interesting, far more interesting than the child’s own lunch?

BUT there is a catch – when taken out for dinner, or over at a friend’s for dinner… suddenly the child hunkers for their Mom’s usual fare?

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Hmmm… that is about as deep as the thoughts went today.

It was a day of fresh air, warm sun, amazing company, and a bit of madness.

Since it used to take us 22-25 minutes to drive to the ski hill from our doorstep,

We are still adjusting to the 2-2.5 hour commute.

But, ah, the gorgeous snow awaits. So sparkly and fresh.

 

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Spirit of Childhood

Aldous Huxley once said “The secret of Genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, never losing your enthusiasm”.

I do so love being around children.

My own children tonight, engaged in a “salad bar”. Of their own initiative and desire… making delicious salads. Enthusiastically!

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Is that not a delicious looking salad? I think it tasted even better because it had so much love in it.

Since opening my own paediatric occupational therapy practice 2 years ago, I have rarely been asked to elaborate on what I do.

I do so love being with children.

Even, and perhaps especially, children with difficulties.

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Here is an example of a “plan” I might make to help structure a child’s session and ensure their success with playing in my therapy gym.

Are children enthusiastic by nature – you bet!

Do children have challenges than prevent them from being enthusiastic in all settings, with all people, at all times – you bet!

Do some children hardly ever have the experience of being enthusiastically engaged – you bet!

And even more is this the case, each day I believe, in our current culture.

I do so enjoy being around children.

Difficult children.

Sullen children.

Children with not a lot to be enthusiastic about, given their day to day experiences.

I often wish I could walk a mile in their shoes…

And then I’d even mores appreciate their enthusiasm at walking through my doors.

So, in short, as my kids say “I play for work”. But its a whole lot more than that. I’d love to chat more with you about it one day.

Is it easy? NO!

Is it always fun? Heck, no!

Do I get to see the spirit of each child? Certainly yes.

Do I get to see that spirit in a different way than many other people in these “difficult” children’s lives? Amazing, another resounding, yes! Sometimes surprises me that in 1 hour a week, added up over a year or more, I can see a child in a light so different than their teachers, EAs, parents, etc.

There is no easy explanation for this. No formula. It is an art form that takes shape each time I meet a child.

And, I must say in 2 weeks holiday from work I have realized something strange…

Do I get to see the spirit of each adult in my day to day life? Certainly no.

Even ones I have spent countless hours with. Do I really “know” them? There is so much we can keep unseen.

Children do not have such walls.

Even difficult children.

I am very fortunate that a handful of passionate adult souls choose to be vulnerable, open, welcoming and enthusiastic with me…

But, I must say I agree with Aldous Huxley.

I realize what is more tiring than work – (even working with 5-6 “difficult” children each day!),

Is spending time with adults who have lost enthusiasm.

I am acutely aware that I only have so much time.

And the time I have, I will choose to spend wisely.

So, in many years, I will not feel I have wasted and squandered away this limited amount of time I had.

I will be doing less in 2016.

I will be loving more.

I will be present more with my people.

And I will be deliberately choosing to spend more time with passionate, loving people.

People who love me as I am. Those from whom I consistently come away feeling more loved, more loving, and more enthusiastic.

As Joanna Cann has so amazingly written her first book about, I am free!

As Neufeld says – it is not the “role” someone has in a child’s life that is important (teacher, father, doctor, aunt, etc.) but the relationship that matters.

And so it is with me.

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How will you choose to spend your time in 2016?

What salad bar will you open…? with enthusiasm!

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Christmas 2015

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I feel blessed to have spent this Christmas with my entire family.

Our children, now 4, 6, and 8 were able to truly breathe into the magic of the season. Without undue overstimulation. With some much appreciated flexibility and adaptation – the fruit of maturation! Yay, we made it through the young years (barely…).

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We had many firsts.

Our first trip to Butchart Gardens, with my parents for their “12 Days of Christmas”. And ran into new friends there! Serendipitous.

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The first season with our “kindness mice” who moved around our house through Advent to thank each child for their demonstration of loving kindness, the true spirit of the season. An idea we picked up here.

The first year we brought each pair of children to shop for the other child – so each child received a gift chosen specially by their siblings. Siblings home, creating many new lively and loving memories together.

The first year we all celebrated Christmas together in my parents’ new house. As they said, it has shown them “change is possible”.

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We also had many annual traditions, including the advent spiral, the 3rd annual gingerbread house making, the Christmas skate at Kerry Park arena, and the Live Nativity in Shawnigan Lake complete with REAL animals and a REAL baby which is such an enriching and soulful experience.

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I must say the best part of the season has been to slow down.

As Christmas is done, we now prepare for the 12 Holy Nights I am ever inspired and turning inwards.

I will set up the table now for our first of 12 watercolour paintings as a family. With each painting, keeping in mind one of the 12 months coming towards us. When each new month begins, to return and have a look at the painting for that month. To feel the interconnectedness of the seasons, and the hope that comes with each New Year.

So enjoying my time and home. My slowing down. Even going backwards. No meals to fuss over, no lunches to pack. Lots of board games to play, songs to sing, and our new lyre to make a melody on.

No plans, no expectations, no thinking. Room for emotion. Art. Music. Creating (a doll for Stefan is one of my projects… one arm down!).

Maybe it will be the year of music?

The year of sisters?

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Or, the year of connecting and hanging out with amazing women?

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I am so looking forward to the unfolding of 2016. Life is such a gift.

Live it, love it…

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Back to the Blog

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I was inspired by a friend to revisit my blog… having moved to the world of Apple I have been quite late in accessing my blog…

In any case thank you for checking in!

We are so enjoying the Advent Season.

Touching moments too many to share.

Today blessed with some of our favourite people coming to our home to create.

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We realize there are SO many ways to build a gingerbread house. Having friends around has been a MUST for our family every year!

We use this tried and trusted recipe and cut outs… Maybe you want to make a house this year too? Its a great way to invite neighbours into your home. And its not so hard to set up, I recommend making the dough one day, rolling it out and baking the next, and hosting the 3rd day. Very reasonable.

And then to share an incredible raindrop free evening wandering the Butchart Gardens with my parents… a place we’ve never been (unless you count my mom going in 1967!). A very fulfilling, outdoor, family Christmasy experience.

Oh to be 8 and ride Rudolf in the Carousel!! Or to be 4 and hope on the sleigh with your Dad.

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Pretty precious moments on this heart warming day as we remember to “Live it, Love it, Let it go”.

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Fun Theme

Our family recently spent 3 nights in Kelowna with special friends – all born within 1-2 months of each other these kids really have known each other for longer than their lifetimes.

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And we got some special inspiration to just have FUN! Simple. Do things purely for fun. I think I had this goal a while back…

And then I decided to open my own business.

And the fun took a back seat.

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Until today.

When we found out that our little boy was tall enough to ride the LOG RIDE.

This was on my bucket list of things to do with my kids one day.

One day.

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Why not TODAY!?!

Our biggest girl was sold 100% at the first splash.

The littles took a bit longer (once the adrenalin settled) to feel exhilarated by the experience.

We had a blast.

Riding the exact same ride that Kurt and I rode in our youth. Its been running since 1985.

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And, even with the crazy silly long line, we still made it on our ferry with 15 min to spare.

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Home Sweet Home

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We’ve been enjoying our month at home… last night an evening visit to the ocean after bath time and complete with popcorn (where Janelle remarked she and Daria “never hold hands while walking”).

Today a post-nap visit to the river, our first time all swimming across together, with various props depending on our swimming abilities! Yah!

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Each outing planned just moments before… sparked by what we feel like doing. And created by everyone pitching in!

We’ve had some very precious moments, it would take pages to describe each… but here are a few I feel especially connected with.

Stefan asked for a teddy just like his sisters. We’ve been waiting for this moment! And alas now he is very attached to being the teddy’s “mummy” and taking very good care of him.

We had this teddy stashed away. We were waiting for the moment it would mean something.

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Each child now has one of these… all 3 we were given 8 years ago from Diana’s old workplace! Daria has slept with hers every day since and even bathes him! And you can see Janelle nestles hers too.

Speaking of my wonderful midstroke, Janelle is just feeling her first new teeth after losing 7 this year! And she’s pumped to be getting her 6 year molars. I love that unique grin.

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Daria spent all morning in her “baby outfit” (which she wore when she was less than 1 and a doll has been wearing since!). The laughter than ensued… holy!

I feel very blessed to be able to be present. Have time relatively free of schedule, drop offs, lunch making, and programs….

Time to just be.

To enjoy a massage from our precious 3 yr old for 2 nights in a row.

To weed.

To read.

To say “yes” to some of these little ones’ crazier ideas and spontaneous moments.

To be freed from the “time to go here” – zip home – now “time to go there”.

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Mixing this and that

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So our family has tons of fun in the great outdoors. We love spending time with family and friends, and hardly ever turn down a chance to do so.

In our “down time” we are usually out and about… and lately since the kids are a *bit* bigger, we act on our whims once in a while.

We have a LOT of whims building up after 8 years of child rearing.

This month one of our whims involved an evening swim in Shawnigan Lake, after a great dinner party. Even though its was past the kids bedtime.

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Another of our whims was the day we stayed late into the evening at our favorite family daycare, LaRonde family care. It was well past dinner time when we left (and no dinner planned!). We just had to soak up all the love and loving community that chose to spend a few hours together after LaRonde closed its doors for keeps.

Our family time and our whims rarely involve: housework or home improvement.

I know this is awesome – enjoying the kids, and their faces, instead of walls, floors, tables, and sinks.

But after 8 years of parenting I must admit our house is suffering. Capital S perhaps? Suffering. Ask me one day, I’d love to tell you all about all the things we put on hold, ignore, and choose not to attend to.

It is fairly embarrassing.

And starting to take its toll, as preparing for the simplest events can cause a cascade of objects to tumble. Really, its a bit like Jenga in our house.

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Perhaps it doesn’t look that bad from the outside… but its staring to cramp us from the inside.

So, today, our whims took us to new places.

To places unseen.

Like – ALL other needs of anyone aside – today it was happening! 3 hours of tidying and vacuuming and moving furniture off the carpet, 3 hours of carpet cleaning, and 3 hours of painting.

And I still got to pick blackberries with my mom and hang out with her and the kids by the ocean for a couple hours.

Plus we got rid of one of the paint colors we have found, for 2 years here, most draining.

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Illness and cancelled camping trips brought new blessings.

And a totally unseen level of chaos. Which we persisted through to achieve better air quality. And brilliant color.

And lo and behold all the little people survived the change!

With some disappointment of course. Not being able to do all of what they each wanted.

With a lot of struggle.  Well, yes, Struggle. We did our fair share of struggling.

But we made it. And we all grew a bit today from our own individual experience of the collective hard work.

Can we learn to sacrifice our individual goals for collective ones?

5 people. It gets messy.

(p.s. we ate a lot of pasta, bread, and cookies too!)