Friday, August 30, 2013

Dear Kindergarten Teacher - Please take care of our boy!

Dear Kindergarten Teacher,
Our very special boy is turning 5 tomorrow.  He's happy not to be going to daycare anymore and he's pretty sure he's ready for school.  I thought I would let you know a bit about "Our Kai" as he belongs to a large crazy family who is crazy about him.  I know all parents and grandparents and families think their child is special but you know what, they're right!
There are so many things we want you to know about him but I think the most important for you to remember is that he is coming to you as a curious, imaginative, happy, confident, caring little guy who is eager to learn.  He is a boy who loves deeply and is deeply loved.
Kai loves to laugh and he loves to make those around him laugh too.  He might be a bit of a class clown (kind of like his gramma was in her day) and we know how important order and respect are in a classroom but we kind of think humour and laughter and good old-fashioned fun are just as important.  If he is laughing at the wrong time then please, please, please help him learn when it is the right time.  He  gets so embarrassed when he feels like he has done something wrong and sometimes he even goes and hides until he feels like it is okay to come out.
Kai is a busy boy, like most boys.  He's not too fond of sitting still for long periods of time.  He likes his hands to be busy and he is very, very social.  Sometimes he's a leader and sometimes he's a follower and sometimes he just likes to march to his own drummer.  I hope he gets the opportunity to do all of these in your classroom.

As you can see from the pictures below, Kai is a reader.  He loves books and has since he was a wee boy.  Reading is part of his daily routine, especially bedtime when he likes to pick out the books himself.  He has a lot of books at home and lives with readers of all ages.  He is so proud that he can already read a few of the small books he has at home.  We hope in  your classroom he grows his love of reading.
Kai has always been crazy about his older cousin Lizzie.  They have learned a lot of things together and he would follow her anywhere.  She loves it that he loves her.  In the last few months Kai has had lots of change, he has become the older cousin to Ava and Austen (better known as the A-team) and just last week he became a big brother to little Nico.  Sometimes it's good for us older people to remember that we're not the only important people in a child's life.

Our Kai, like most kids is amazing.  He loves to cook, snowboard, swim, take pictures, make art, skateboard, bicycle, swim and play Ninja.  He loves his cars and his books and his trucks and videos.  He can figure out Gramma's phone faster than she can, put on a dvd, program the GPS and face time with the best of them.  He loves to be outdoors and will find any puddle within 5 miles.  He knows how to stop and smell the roses (or pick the blackberries)and is willing to go on any adventure he's invited to.
Clearly, these are just a few things about our boy.  When he's with his little cousins and his little brother he seems like such a big boy.  I know that turning five is pretty exciting for him.  I know he is excited and nervous all at the same time about going to school.  We know he will be fine too but in our hearts we want everyone, especially you, to love him as much as we do. 
Kai, you may be five and you may be a big brother and you may be the most mischievous boy we know.  You may be the most loving big brother and son and cousin and friend but in our hearts, you will always be our superhero.    To mommy and daddy and the rest of our family you will always be our Batman!  Happy 5th birthday.  Happy first day of school.  Just. . .Be Happy!
From Kai's Family

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Return to the Water. . .

As I look at this drop of water I am reminded that each event in our lives ripples out and touches people and places we may never know of.  It also reminds me that over 45 years ago I began my own love affair with water.

At 10 1/2 years of age I decided (I think it was me, anyways) that I wanted to learn how to swim.  I took the bus to the local swimming pool and joined the group labelled 'non-swimmers'.  I was a little self-conscious because all of the other members of my group came up to my shoulders as they were all 5 or 6 years old.  However, I remained undaunted and did everything I was told, everything.  I was determined.  Thankfully, I spent only one session in the 'non-swimmers' group and was moved up to 'pre-beginners' and then 'beginners' over the course of a few months.  It was when I got to the next group that the seriousness of my quest was challenged.  I could float front and back.  I could bob like no one you've ever seen.  Bubbles underwater??? My specialty!  Flutter kick holding on to the side???  I could do that ALL day!   But, this crazy teacher wanted me to SWIM from one side of the pool to the other.  Hmmmm. . . wasn't quite there yet.  I don't remember my swim teacher's name or face but I do remember her telling me that I had to go home EVERY day after lessons and do 100 front crawl strokes against the wall.  I should focus on my style and make sure that I breathed properly, as if I was really in the water.  By this time I was 11.  Softball was my first love and this winter swimming thing was now crossing over into ball season, the season I lived and died for.  I reminded myself that I was the one that wanted to learn how to swim, no one was forcing me so EVERY night (sometimes 2 or 3 times) I did 100 front crawl strokes against my bedroom wall.  I moved from beginners to juniors to seniors in short order and swimming, while a distant second to fastball, moved up the ranks as one of my favourite things to do.

Fast forward to my junior high years when we were posted to Comox (a move I WASN'T enthusiastic about by the way) and that's where swimming became an even bigger part of my life.  We lived by the ocean!  We could walk there EVERY day!  The sand was warm and life at the beach soon made me forgive my dad and mom for making me move there.  I still took swim lessons and happily took on the challenges that come with the bronze medallion and the bronze cross courses.  My summers after grade 10 and 11 and 12 were spent teaching swim lessons and lifeguarding.  They called this 'work' and even paid me for it ($1.25/hr for teaching lessons and $1.50 /hr for lifeguarding).  The summer after grade 12 was great as I worked at the pool but then September came.  The pool closed, there was no school to go back to, my boyfriend had up and left me for university and my parents told me it was time to start paying rent.  Off I went in search of a 'real' job.  I soon landed a job at a bank and spent the next 15 years in a variety of banks in a variety of places as Bob and I married, he finished university and we started our family.  I made one valiant move and re-certified in my bronze cross after having our first baby but swimming soon became second to surviving marriage and motherhood ;)

None of our children embraced the water.  They all preferred the hardwood and the solid ground.  They all swim but none of them have a passion for it.  As a matter of fact, somewhere along the line I also lost my passion for it.

Fast forward again to retirement (Oh Happy Day!). When my husband joined me in retirement mode last June we took a few weeks to sort out our routines and rhythms.  We have done a bit of golfing, more biking and then a few weeks ago we started swimming.  Day 1 was okay.  Day 2 was better.  It's now been 3 weeks and we go 4 or 5 times a week.  I'm up to 40 lengths and when we get up in the morning it just seems right that we have breakfast and go to the pool.  I am reminded now how much I loved the water.  I get in, float around for a bit, swim my lengths and then just paddle.  Being in the water feels so right again.  Having the time to enjoy it feels so right as well.  It's also wonderful to watch our grandchildren learning to love the water at such a young age.  It was marvelous watching Elizabeth spend all day in the lake up at the family cabin and we took Kai to the pool last week where he practiced floating and blowing bubbles and pulling Gramma and Grampa under the water to watch him.

I am participating in the Deepak Chopra 21 day meditation challenge and a couple of days ago there was a mention of water and how water reacts to emotion.  This was all a reminder of how the energy we give off affects our own energy levels as well as that of the world around us.  I don't know if it's the water affecting me these days or the fact that I'm relaxed and enjoying it but I do know that if you've run into me in the last few weeks you'll have gotten a much more positive vibe than in the weeks preceding my return to the water.

As I dive in I watch the bubbles float up and the ripples spread out and I am so happy that I did all those strokes against the wall and learned to love the water all those years ago.  It feels like I have come home.
For an interesting read, check out the book, "The Secret Life of Water" by Masaru Emoto


Saturday, August 17, 2013

To My Son - On his 40th Birthday

Dear Jason,
As you can see from this photo we have both changed a bit over the years.  As it approaches the hour where I went into labour I think back fondly of the little boy who taught me how to be a mother.
Each year at the opening of the PNE I remember back to the year you were born.  We were living in Gold River at the time and had come down to stay at Nanny's and Papa's in Cumberland for the night before heading out to catch the first ferry.  You weren't due for another couple of weeks and we were excited about heading to the mainland.  However, events conspired to keep us away that August of 1973.  The B.C. Ferries went on strike on Friday, which is kind of too bad because I'm pretty sure if you deliver aboard you get free sailings for life.  Little did we know at that time how many ferries we would take over the years.
Dad and I stayed in the upstairs bedroom where there was an old-fashioned, flip the number down digital clock.  Some time during the night my back started to ache and I sat up and leaned against the wall rubbing my back to stop the ache.  Each time the number on the clock flipped it made a sound and before too long this was driving me crazy.  But wait.  If the clock hadn't been there I may not have clued in that my aching back only ached every few minutes.  Before too many hours were up we realized that "IT" was happening.  We packed things up and headed to the hospital.  While I have always loved driving along the Dyke Rd, that morning is unforgettable in my mind.  The sun was coming up over the water making everything in sight just a little sparkly.  The tide was out a bit and it was SO peaceful.  That trip to the St. Joseph's Hospital in Comox brought us the most marvelous miracle - you!
I won't gross you out with the details of the delivery and our family all knows what a surprise you were to everyone (so we'll leave those details out this time as well).
Jason, from day 1 to day 14 608 (I'm not going to figure out the leap years), you have been a blessing.  You were a happy baby and dad and I were so lucky to have such a good teacher.  You taught us that family is everything.  Our whole world revolved around you for those first few months and we learned as we went.  You let us know when you weren't happy, which wasn't often (oh yeah, except for that diaper pin thing with dad).  You slept well, you ate well, you smiled often and  you pretty much taught us all we needed to know about parenting;  love you, feed you, change you and play with you, and we did!  Dad was so excited to buy you all the toys he wanted to play with and lucky for me he was a great dad right from the start.  You were a curious boy who loved to learn.  I think anyone who was around will remember your early renditions of Rhinestone Cowboy, your laps around the coffee table at Nanny's and Papa's and your very cheerful, "Hi Guys".  You've heard the story about when you learned to read but just once more won't hurt :)  When we drove around Victoria you watched out the window and yelled out every word you recognized:  STOP, The Bay, UVic, museum and many, many more.  You never lost your enthusiasm for the written word!
Dad was a student at UVic at the time and our families were far away so you and I spent a lot of time together.  We didn't have much money but we were creative and lived during a time when many things were free.  We walked everywhere in Victoria.  Beacon Hill Park was a favourite and we saved bread crusts for you to feed the ducks.  By the time you could walk you had done many laps around the museum in Victoria, pointing to things and running from exhibit to exhibit.  We threw rocks in the water, window shopped and played, played, played.  Good thing those things were free!
We were happy as we watched you grow to see your love of reading and sports grow with  you.  School was easy for you and you made friendships easily.  Watching you on the baseball diamond and on the basketball court are some of my best memories, but only some.
I'm not sure where the years went but they did.  You have grown into an amazing man.  You have a wonderful family and my heart bursts when I see how much you love Lizzie and how important your relationships with  your family are.  You and Lisa should be proud of who you are as individuals, as a couple and as a family.  You took the road less travelled on your journey to becoming a teacher but as we've said before, you are a better teacher for it.
Jason, thank you so much for all you have given us over the years.  I can't imagine anyone having a son they could be more proud of.  Happy 40th birthday - we hope your year is filled with even more love and family time and travel and work and adventure than this past one.