Public libraries rock

A mere 10 minute drive away exists a respite for me. It is our local public library. It is a large one story building set on a hill (NW Calgary requires it of course). It overlooks a shopping district and more importantly a spectacular view of the mountains and COP (Calgary Olympic Park). The collection is large and current, the facility has comfy seating as well as kid-oriented tables along with easy access shelving plus there is a couple of preschool-aged computer work stations. The wee people love it. We seem to always leave the place with a canvas tote full of books and DVDs. I discovered today that it even offers some drop-in family storytime for 2-5 year olds (hmm, need to drag monkey boy and lil bug away from computer and into the story room for a half hour...sometimes). The wee people like to wander around the children's area looking for books. It is fun to see them excited about books. Lil bug focuses on "potty" books (a project we are introducing slowly) as well as boat and farm books. Monkey boy gravitates to anything with vehicles and occassionally throws in something else that catches his eyes.

This library provides a necessary sanity break to my Thursdays, more importantly to my week at home. It allows us to venture away from our four walls and multitude of stairs to a safe environment. It is taking time for me to adjust to this full-time mothering gig. I like it but it is rather lonely and sometimes dull. Creativity in engaging the kids only comes to me in flitting moments. Plus finding venues to interact with other moms and toddler or preschoolers are few and far between unless you hang out at a mall, fork over cash for organized activities, or find the will power and interest to join mommy groups. So for now the library is going to be one of our favourite hang-outs. I like it there and I like finding books.

Saturday escape

Last Saturday was outstanding! We put on our "tourist" hats, drove the cowboy trail and met J's folks at Bar U Ranch. We were greeted by this "billboard":

Yah, I started to think we had entered the twilight zone of redneck land with this over the top beef industry propaganda. Fortunately, the beautiful ranch land and foothills in the background spoke to me. Landscape in my opinion can and will trump any human endeavour. Plus ultimately I do respect people who try to make their livelihood from the land.

The ranch was lovely. It provided a taste of the "cowboy" life. Most of the buildings were restored and included some nice displays of artifacts and storyboards. No cattle on the grounds but a few horses were around. The ranch operated a wagon driven by the horses named "Hawkeye" and "Trapper" which appealed to J's and my nostalgia for the movie and tv show M.A.S.H.

We more or less had the place to ourselves...definitely not a tourist trap on the day we were there. The grandparents loved snapping photos of the wee people and relaying their knowledge to them. There were fresh cookies at the ranch house, coffee from a pot over an open fire, a creek running through the property, horses to pat, and open space. Though the moutains were shrouded in haze, their presence was felt and added to the landscape in a remarkable way.

Driving home was relaxing and entertaining. We passed a few miles of fench posts topped with baseball caps. Drove by a busy coffee shop, Navajo Mug, in Longview owned by Ian Tyson. We saw numerous bikers, both motor and pedal. As we moved from the south to the north, we moved through ranch land, forest, creeks. The wonderful space was fabulous eye candy and you can see why it is often used as a setting in movies like Unforgiven and Brokeback Mountain. Heck, Alberta tourism even encourages visiting Kananaskis Country and Cowboy Country through their Reel Adventures road trips. Rest assured I will only take my tourist inclinations so far and will not become a "star" seeker. Honest!

Shuswap Lake recap and other stuff

Warning: this is a long-winded post, peruse at your own risk. BTW most of my posts will be long-winded. It is just who I am. I am no longer ashamed of this fact but rather I embrace it. So enjoy as best as you can.

Finally some computer time. J was discouraged when the first loaned computer had a motherboard problem. Thankfully, his folks have a number of used computers kicking about and he could mix and match some components and create a computer for us. So beyond having a lovely time at the farm (again) this weekend, we also scored a computer.

With a functioning computer, I am now able download some pics from my camera and J's. All of the pictures (good and bad) reminded me how much we have done in such a short time. The trip to Shuswap Lake was good. The wee people connected with their cousins, grandparents, aunt and uncle. Monkey boy marvelled at the wit, strength and charm of his uncle and tried to keep pace with his older cousin. Lil bug took a long time to warm up to anyone but grandad and her eldest cousin and became quite the momma's girl. She shied from her auntie but eventually warmed up to her, sort-of.

The drive to the resort was straight-forward but looong. Sitting in my parent's truck between my two kids in the back seat grew a little tiresome. By the time we reached our destination (over 9 hours after leaving Calgary), I was hungry, feeling out of control and tired of monitoring the behaviour of two wee people (which other than the last 15 minutes was pretty amazing). As a result I unfortunately blew up at one of the people I hold dearest to my heart, my mom. She confronted my attitude a bit, gave me space and reminded me she understood and wasn't mad. I hope I have apologized to her appropriately. Why oh why do we revert back to our teen personas when we are around our parents. I wasn't wild about my teen self and I definitely want to shed the insecurity and defiance I held towards my parents during those years. Hindsight is always 20/20. Thus whenever possible I will try to check my defensiveness at the door, I will insure I ingest healthy food regularily, and I will try to remember that being grumpy is not to my benefit. I sure hope I can remember these important life tips.

Other than the drive, our vacation at the resort went very well. Our time was taken up with the kids but with their ages (all 5 and under) we knew that this would be the case. My wee people enjoyed the creek, rocky beach, lake and small playground area. Alot of time was spent sending boats down the creek to the lake, throwing rocks, hauling water from the lake to the water hole on the beach, going for walks and following the wee people on their bikes and scooters down a paved road. We managed to dine outside all but one night. We crowded around two picnic tables with wine and food. When the wee people finished eating, they moved to the play structure while we finished our meal. Truly a civilized way of vacationing especially considering my mom took the responsibility of preparing the majority of the week's evening meals.

Some early evenings included a rousing game of hide n sneak (as monkey boy calls it). This really should be a straight-forward, risk-free child's game. Not so with me. What happened was this: I was it (along with lil bug who was in my arms due to being shy), I counted, everyone hid, I went searching for people...sounds normal right except...I chased people to the home free rock and I tumbled. Yup with child in arms I chose to run up a set of stairs to catch someone before they were home free and I wiped out. I saved the kid...not a bruise to be found on her but my hand and knee took the brunt of my pleasure in play (and my slightly competitive nature). Check out the picture. This is a few days after said accident but it shows the damage of playing without good shoes on or arms free.

One thing I managed to do for myself on the vacation was swim in the lake. I love water. I love feeling water surround and buoy my body to the surface. The lake was cold and the ground was rocky but I put on a pair of sandals, waded a bit and plunged in. It was divine. I partook in this secret pleasure twice. The second time was slightly warmer and I managed to submerge my whole self without having to resort to those OMG it is sooo cold shrieks.

J drove out half way through the holiday and I was glad he made it. Plus we got to break in our new vehicle (2008 Toyota Rav4, sport model) by driving it home through the mountains. The trip home was less stressful as we were returning to the known. I enjoyed being in the moutains. I forgot how when you were really close to them, their magnitude diminishes. I was disappointed around Golden and Field and surprised by my reaction to being close to Rocky Mountains. Yet as we approached and passed Lake Louise, Banff and Canmore, I again marveled at the magnificent beauty that nature has created from valleys, rocks, trees and rivers. The river had that unmistakable emerald blue, the sun shined brightly from behind us and the storm clouds dissipated as we rode on the highway in the valley amongst the mountains. We didn't see any animals along the way other than the birds, insects and a chipmunk but it was nature nonetheless that I enjoyed is so much more than humankind's imprint on the terrain.

Well that is my vacation recap. Now for current news. The weather has improved around here. Positively wonderful to be honest. It has been plus 26 celsius the last two days. I managed to drag the wee people to the community centre playground yesterday. It proved to be a longer walk home due to exhaustion, heat, water pit stops and the bloody hill. Calgary's NW seems to be built on hills. This makes for breath-taking views but gives the old out of shape body a major workout (picture of our view from the hill in the field behind our house will be posted someday cuz it will make yah jealous). To further take advantage of the fine weather, I went to the zoo today with my mom and the wee people. The Calgary zoo was a blast. Monkey boy enjoyed running, listening to the recorded messages about animals and seeing the baby giraffe while lil bug found the ducks roaming free and the baby elephant to be the highlights of her day. It was a great way to spend the day.

Tomorrow will hopefully hold good times as well. I've been struggling to form a routine and rhythm to the day that the kids and I can live with and hopefully thrive in. Monkey boy seems to like preschool but is having a hard time with drop-offs. I really hate leaving him there when he is on the verge of tears. Transition and change...not the best thing for him. At least, I feel like monkey boy and I are finding ways of bonding. He seems to love the quiet play we have when lil bug is sleeping and we pretend his stuffed animals want to have sleepovers and playdates. My lil bug is a challenge lately. I truly adore her, her physical and verbal abilities and her strong independent nature. She loves to tell stories, sing songs, recap her days, play pretend, try to use the potty and get dressed or undressed almost by herself. However her emotions run rampant. She can be sweet and pleasant then a tornado of sadness, anger and indignation (often because I need her to get dressed and I offered the wrong choice of clothes, i.e. they weren't pink in colour, where did this fashion diva come from...definitely not me). I need to find a way to deal with her outbursts and her complete meltdowns. I can only handle so much crying, whining and floor slithering. Yet, how can I remain frustrated when she perches on my back, takes hold of the ties of my headband and repeats (ad nauseum) giddy up horsie.

Settling in...sort-of

We are in our rental place. It is nice and fairly spacious for a townhouse with lots of stairs. The wee people are settling in. They are discovering new and annoying things to try...such as flicking lights and fans on and off repetitively because they are flat switches located very low on the wall. My sister and her friends spoiled us by supplying a couple bins of toys for the wee people. Monkey boy and lil bug loving delving into them and playing with the farm, castle, ice cream shop and cars. Big thanks to them.

My in-laws brought a computer up for us to use yesterday. However, we need to find some kind of desk before we can set it up and I can finally download some pictures into it. I miss playing with photos. I didn't realize how much I enjoy telling a story by referencing to a picture, how much I want to use pictures to capture moments and feelings and how much I want to improve my photo skills (composition and technique). This realization is definitely fueling my desire to take my love of photography and digital photo-processing and develop it into a useful skill.

Monkey boy started preschool on Monday. It is 3 times a week for 2 hours in the morning. As with anything new, he greeted the change with apprehension and limited excitement. I think it will prove a useful exercise in the long term as it will allow him to continue to develop his social skills, learn some basics and keep him in the educational loop since he is missing jr. kindergarten in Ottawa. The preschool seems well set-up, his educator is nice and omg I have to do volunteer work. Yup I signed up to help with the scrapbooking project plus I will have to supply snacks once and awhile and assist in the classroom on occassion. I'm not sure if I am ready to embrace the social aspect of parenting. In theory I enjoy interacting with people and participating. I often thrive on it. However, I too can be apprehensive or worry too much about how others perceive me, especially when I think the other moms already know each other and have solid friendships or acquaintances. Also I find as I age and become a mother bear in some instances, I am more selective in the friendships I develop and tend to only seek satisfying interactions with like minded individuals. I wonder if these moms will be like-minded especially in light of the fact that many seem to take this preschool business pretty seriously. There were a few parents who had dressed the kids up and were taken multitude of pictures as they entered the community centre and classrooms. I didn't think a two hour program 3 times a week meant first day of school. Yah it is exciting and a big experience but really now. Or perhaps I should be feeling guilty for not taking monkey boy's picture.

Today is a day off from commitments. I brought the kids over to the parentals so I could blog and steal a library card. Now we are off to the library and hopefully some groceries. I hope it is a day without frustrations (for the wee people and me too).

Overall impressions

We have returned from our week long trip to St. Ives Resort on the Shuswap. As I am tired and completely unable to spell let alone form a coherent thought, I am only leaving these point form notes as a teaser (and reminder for me).

  • the Rocky Mountains are amazing, magnificent and slightly different than I remembered
  • rivers and lakes in the mountains are clear and often "emerald" in colour
  • the trees are different in BC and AB (how quickly I have forgotten the western feel of fall time)
  • driving a full day for a holiday is over-rated
  • hide n seek has proven hazardous for me
  • grumpiness overtakes me when I feel out-of-control, tired, hungry or restless (combining any two or more of these elements spells disaster and a situation I need to work on -- a necessary project to remedy soon esp. before a trip with girlfriends in Jan 09)
  • B.C. beaches are rocky and the water is COLD but a quick swim is sooo refreshing
  • creating family memories and watching your children experience something new is priceless