Are the kids going?

In a few weeks we’ll be traveling to Nicaragua and almost everyone I’ve told has asked me if the kids are going. YES! The kids are coming we rarely travel without them.

Nicaragua is a place my husband and I have traveled before when we drove our Westfalia from Canada to Chile (if you look back I’ve posted some stories about the trip). He didn’t immediately fall in love with the place as I did and that’s another story (I’ll be sure to post soon) but it fit the criteria we were looking for in this family trip. We wanted to take the kids somewhere they speak Spanish and somewhere warm, check & check!

This time however we also wanted to add a bit of connection to the local people the kids really haven’t had before. So we’ve contacted a school in Granada and we will be taking some donations from my oldest son’s class to deliver when we visit. Things like arts and craft supplies mostly.

We chose this because we thought it would be something our kids could understand; at age 3 & 6 we can only expect so much but school is something they can both relate to. We’re hoping to show them how differently people around the world live. How much less people have and how happily they live their lives. We hope they’ll see the difference but the similarities as well. How a boy in Nicaragua likes to laugh and play just as they do. How he has to listen to his teacher and learn to read and write just as they do.

It feels poignant right now. Up here in Canada we have recently elected our Prime Minister who fills us with hope. Hope for bringing out the good in people. Hope for the future. But just below us, in America, watching the tidbits online it fills me with despair, true despair, to hear the politicians encourage racism, violence and hatred. I know we live in a bubble here on Vancouver Island, it’s why we live here, surrounded by lush green nature and welcoming supportive people it’s truly a paradise but I’m worried for my friends in America and how their lives will change if Trump is elected. Will their lives change? Will they survive President Trump? How will it affect us here in Canada? I’m afraid to find out the answer to these questions.

I want my children to know no matter where someone lives, no matter what they look like, how they dress, what religion they practice, how they feed their family we can always connect respectfully with one another. We can choose to point out the differences but we can also choose to celebrate the similarities because we are all human. We share this one planet. We breathe the same air. We all want to be loved, treated respectfully and with dignity. And every now and then we ALL need a hug to get through the day.

So this trip won’t be just all sand and surf it will also be about connecting and building relationships. It will be about celebrating similarities and diversity. It just feels right, right now.

Musing on balance

Finding balance. I’m starting to dislike this concept. I practice yoga on a semi regular basis, meaning some weeks I get to accomplish practice more than once a week, other weeks I’m not so lucky so I hear or see this statement a lot at yoga class or in my readings. Finding balance, creating balance in your life, etc. Balance, balance, balance.

Lately the pursuit of balance has been a lot like the pursuit of happiness. You think you have a sense of balance then one tiny thing throws it off and your struggle to find balance resumes.

Balance seems to be accompany a calmness in your life. I feel calm, pretty much all the time and even when I’m not perfectly clam I’m still pretty relaxed, but I’m certainly not balanced. Take yesterday for example I thought I had it all worked out drop kids off at daycare and school, babysit my niece, prep stuff for dinner, trade cars with my husband, meet my oldest at the pool for swim lessons then go to work. Except I messed up the daycare schedule, oops. Oldest was a little late for swim lessons, didn’t have time to switch cars with hubby and ended up taking yogurt and an apple to work for dinner. It didn’t exactly feel balanced but I did feel calm.

I fantasize about routine thinking maybe this will bring balance. Routine is something I’ve tried to strive for, it’s good for the kids too right? I’m coming to realize it may just be out of my grasp and frankly I think we do just as good without routine as we do with it, which is to say we take it day to day and it seems to work, most of the time. What I don’t like is my “me time” gets pushed aside frequently when we don’t have routine. It’s a mommy thing. I think we all have it to some degree. It’s making the kids lunches before mine and eating yogurt for dinner instead because I ran out of time to pack my dinner.

But being in balance means making sure I’m taking care of myself too so I need that “me” time. Like when the oxygen masks drop down in the plane they always tell you to put your mask on first then help others. It’s kinda a metaphor for life isn’t it? You aren’t effective if you’re incapacitated. I’ve got to learn to put the oxygen mask on first. Why is this so hard?

Probably because when the oxygen mask drops down its right in front of your face to grab, hold onto and just breathe. Yoga class is my oxygen but it’s not in my face when I need it.

So how am I ever going to achieve balance? I’m not. I’m going to strive for awareness instead, noticing when I am so out of whack, so unbalance, I’m not being effective anymore. Balance is too momentary, fleeting, but it feels so good. I guess I’m torn, I’m not going to give up on balance. I just want to take away the expectation it will stay for awhile and instead accept and enjoy it, temporarily.

When I’m feeling a little burnt out and all out of whack I’m going to just put my feet on the ground where ever I am be in the moment, practice my yoga. So, please don’t knock me over if you see me on the sidewalk standing in tree pose I’m trying to create my balance.

A travelling momma’s Mother’s Day

In true to me form I took my two boys to the “big city” this past weekend for a few days of fun with my best friend. Of course when we scheduled the trip I completely forgot it would be Mother’s Day.

So, my Mother’s Day wasn’t exactly full of blissful breakfast in bed followed by a lazy morning or some family time mixed with some “me” time. It started with an 0630 wake up call from my youngest, we snuggled on the couch after I got up and ran downstairs for coffee because my friend who we were visiting is not a coffee drinker and doesn’t keep any in the house. This meant I was dressed and in public by 0645, ugh.

On my way to get coffee, totally uncaffienated, I actually ran into a Dad pushing a baby in a stroller nearly knocking the poor thing over. While apologizing profusely and trying not to rub my now painful crouch I commented on what a good Dad he was letting this little one’s momma have a sleep in. He responded with “ya, she really needs it too!” Which led me to reminisce about my first Mother’s Day it’s a special one for sure.

Back to my now fifth Mother’s Day, coffee in hand, sandwiched between my two little fellas watching cartoons I was certainly happy even though my tummy was rumbling for some sort of breakfast in bed or not.

I was quickly distracted from the grumbling with preparing for us to leave and getting some food into my growing boys. Once everyone was awake and ready to hit the road we drove to Granville Island, one of my favourite public markets in the world. While my friend had the boys amused for a few minutes, buying them donuts of course, I took the opportunity to check out a new place just outside the market. I found myself face to face with a pistachio chocolate croissant, I figured I deserved a treat. Happy Mother’s day to me 🙂

Now this wasn’t breakfast in bed but it was certainly blissful. I admit I have a weakness for pistachios and chocolate so now I know putting them together in a nice flaky fresh out of the oven so it’s still warm in your hand croissant is a really, really good idea. Of course I would never make these at home, too much work, which means I HAVE to go back. Funnily enough the bakery is called A Bread Affair, which was clearly what was happening in my mouth, tastebuds meet you new lover.

Afterwards we left Granville Island and headed to Kits Beach for a play in the park before heading to the ferry and the rest of our journey home. At this point I realized I hadn’t taken many photos of the trip and I chalk this up to traveling alone with the kids. You almost always have one or two hands to hold, manage luggage, etc so typically the camera is an after thought. I did try however and managed to get an honest photo of my youngest mid temper tantrum, he did not want to go to the park or wear shoes or walk anywhere. He just wanted to roll around on the grass, rubbing his eyes and yelling “NO!”

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On our journey back home both boys fell asleep in the back of the car and I listened to music for the 90 minute drive from the ferry home contemplating my Mother’s day.

It felt good, it felt like me, not perfect, a little crazy, but grateful for the memories we made, the new experiences we shared. Grateful to be a mother and to be able to share this day with every other mother out there including my own.

A whale of a way to start the day

After our trip to visit family in Chile I made a committment to myself for this trip; I was going to find time for myself everyday to relax, just for me if only for an hour I was going to do it. So, I searched the internet for some yoga classes close to where we would be staying because I knew if I was left to my own devices my committment could easily be derailed. I tried two different studios in Kihei, Maui Yoga Path and Kihei Community Yoga Centre.

I enjoyed all my yoga classes immensely, but Maui Yoga Path worked for me the best it was early in the morning and just a short walk away.

Heading down to my third class of the week I was full of doubts and feeling like each step was just taking a little bit more energy than usual. When I arrived I unrolled my mat onto the short green grass and plopped my butt down while crossing my legs to stare out into the ocean waiting for the class to begin. I wasn’t there a moment when a grey whale breached directly in front of me. My eyes opened wide and my breath just stopped. I quickly looked around and spotted a couple only a few feet to my right when our eyes connected through beaming huge smiles we squeaked out; “did you just SEE that?” simultaneously. It was so unreal we had to check in with each other to confirm it actually happened.

To my further amazement the whale stayed throughout my private lesson, no one else showed up to class, slapping the water with its fin and tail. At one point in her soft yogic voice my instructor asked me to raise my right hand up to the sky and my whale, certainly we were buddies now, raised her fin and just held it there, in a simple salute.

Facing out towards the ocean moving through the class watching my whale moving through her own morning routine filled my soul right up. That coupled with chest openers throughout the session on my short jaunt back to the condo, to my family, I felt like my heart was leading the way. I felt lighter, taller, straighter and stronger all at once, in that moment my life felt blissfully perfect.

My silent exchange with this majestic animal was an acknowledgement of sorts, we were both taking our time. Her a straggler at the end of the migration season, me a wife and mother separated from my pack for a morning, moving through the world, taking in the sunrise, stretching out for the day ahead. Preparing to take on the rest of the journey whether it be a day at the beach with family or an epic journey across oceans we knew our tanks need refilling on this morning.

 

 

Adventuring begins with the first step

Growing up on Vancouver Island my boys are no strangers to what the wet and wild west coast has to offer. My oldest has gone through 3 pairs of rubber boots this winter already. Not outgrowing them, out using them! The rips in their jeans were not purchased rather earned through failed attempts to jump, run, bike or hop their way through the natural world.

I’m one of those people when you ask “whats your favourite time of year?” I’ll immediately say summer, no hesitation. I revel in the warmth of sunny days but in the middle of summer my heart yearns for a brisk fall day and in the middle of winter I look forward to the green of spring.

Spring seems the most alive season and wandering through the damp trails in the mornings is one of my favourite things to do. The foliage seems to sparkle and I’m mesmerized.

Yesterday we hiked along Oyster River trail leading to where the river meets the ocean. As we pulled in to park I heard my oldest mumble under his breath “not this one again.” Ignoring his unenthusiastic comment I bustled both boys out of the car and started on down the path. It’s been raining around here lately so the path was slick with mud and adorned with sporadic puddles perfect for encouraging smiles in even the most unimpressed 5 year old boy.

Here’s where the adventure begins. Instantly covered in mud from their toes to their noses the trail becomes a pirate’s ship, walking the planks of old fallen logs immediately turning them into super heros hiding behind fresh rain washed ferns onto pretend bows made from twigs to shoot pretend arrows at imaginative dinosaurs trembling the forest floor with every step. Once we reached the beach my head was spinning not sure if I was good, bad, ugly or being saved from something fierce.

A short reprieve came when I silently watched them struggle to build a driftwood fort attempting to carry logs 3-4 times the size of themselves. On the way back we stopped to marvel at the speed of the river flow and the newly sprung greenery all while hitting every single mud puddle possible.

Somedays it takes all my energy stepping out the front door with a wild 2 year old and a distracted, moody 5 year old. I frequently contemplate the life of a hermit but when you let everything go, everything, and just follow the little minds of these natural adventurers it’s a whole new world to see, to be in. One minute you’re far, far away and the next your smack dab in the range of the muddiest puddle splash.

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The pictures, from my phone camera, don’t do it justice the green is so vivid and the contrasts and textures of nature so deep it needs to be explored in person. Open the door, step outside you won’t regret it.

Parent Pit Stop

I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent looking for parks to play in, making sure all the sand toys were packed and searching for pools that are not too deep for a toddler to play in while traveling with my kids, it’s been many. Sometimes we’re so focus on making sure our kids are having a good experience we put our own needs aside. So lately I’ve become a big advocate for what I’ve termed the “Parent Pit Stop” when traveling with children.

A parent pit stop is anything you, the parent(s) want to do together, keeping in mind the kids will still be with you. Previously we’ve stopped at breweries but on our recent trip to Chile we were driving through wine country and spur of the moment decided to take a detour to a roadside winery. It went a little something like this:

Kids: “we’re hungry”

Me: “we should stop for ice cream”

Husband: “how about that winery back there?”

Me: “Ya sure they probably have food and we can do a tasting.”

Husband: “But I’m driving.”

Me: “that’s OK I’ll take one for the team” batting eyelashes, big smile, coquettish look.

U-turn to the winery.

We ended up at Estampa Winery one whose international export is limited and rarely available in Canada so naturally we walked out with a few treasured bottles. There was no food offerings or ice cream but it was a nice break to get out of the car into the fresh, warm air, use the clean toilets and sip a few glasses of delicious vino in a magnificent architectural setting. The kids got a chance to release some pent-up energy by running down the paths of the vineyard and trying to climb the big bottle in the middle. All in all it was a win-win.

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The parent pit stop doesn’t always have to be a brewery or winery but let’s be honest who doesn’t need a drink when you’re on vacation with you kids!

**As an obvious side note I do not condone drinking and driving only one of us does the tasting then we enjoy whatever we buy together at a later time**