All You Need is Love…Thankfully

We have reached that part of summer where everyone’s a little tired of being on vacation. It’s the most ridiculously first-world problem ever, I know, but I’m out of patience, my kids are bored and we’re all ready to get back into a semi-regular routine. To cap things off my husband is out of town right now, which really isn’t helping with my utter lack of motivation.

The one thing that is helping to see us through all of this is music. No matter what else is going on, some good tunes can really be a pick-me-up. My playlist is a bit eclectic. Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” motivates me when I’m washing the dishes. My children have learned how to “Vogue” thanks to Madonna. Lukas Graham’s “7 Years” was a personal favourite of my son right up until he turned 8 a couple of weeks ago. And when all else fails, I’ve got the Beatles.

I’m hoping that love really is all I need, because sometimes it feels like it’s all I’ve got. I’m just keeping it real, people.

love beatles beat bugs netflix

The Beatles are a slightly controversial topic around my house. I am a fan. When I was in my early 20s I bought a massive CD boxed set (remember when those were a thing?) with all the band’s greatest hits. I listened to it constantly, blown away by the breadth and scope of the music. They were amazingly prolific and their music really holds up.

My husband, on the other hand, is not such a Beatles fan. His father loves the Beatles, so I suspect that my husband’s dislike may stem from some youthful rebellion he never outgrew. Or maybe he just can’t hear what I hear. I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that I have overruled him and shared the Beatles with my kids.

If you’d like to share the Beatles with your kids the new Netflix series Beat Bugs can help. Watch this video to hear my kids and I attempt to cover “All You Need is Love”, and find out how you can win a 3-month subscription to Netflix Canada.

So, get singing or share your favourite Beatles song covered by the Beat Bugs in the comments!

I was inspired to write this post because I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team. The opinions in the post are my own, but take the fact that I receive cool promotional swag from Netflix as you will.

The Best Laid Summer Plans

My kids’ last day of school was yesterday, which makes today the first official day of summer vacation. We have nothing to look forward to but two months of fun in the sun. Or, at least, we did. But then my seven-year-old son Jacob fell off our bannister and broke his arm and all those plans to visit the waterslides and visit the lake were suddenly thrown into question.

summer vacationThe good news first: Jacob is fine and his arm is healing very well. The doctors and nurses in the ER were fabulous, and his follow-up visit to a specialist was promising. He’s a kid, he’s resilient, and he’ll be back to his old self in no time at all. In fact, his parents were far more traumatized by this experience than he was. Even his big sister was more traumatized than he was. At the moment he’s enjoying all the extra attention.

The bad news, though, is that a cast does throw a bit of a damper on any fun in the water. His cast needs to stay in place for the foreseeable future so that his arm can heal. He recently had a layer of fibreglass added on top of the original plaster cast, but the plaster is still there underneath, and plaster can’t get wet. We bought a special waterproof cover for the cast, and it works, but it has its limits. And swimming in a full-arm cast, even if you can immerse your arm in the water, isn’t exactly easy or graceful.

And there are other issues, too. Do you see the snow boots in that photo? He’s wearing them because they were the only shoes he could put on by himself before we got our hands on different running shoes. Tying shoelaces isn’t really something Jacob can manage at the moment. Neither is climbing, or sliding down fire poles at the playground, or doing pretty much anything that requires two hands.

So, where does this leave us? It leaves us here: there will still be summer fun, but less of it will happen outside or in the water. And more of it will happen at home. Which is why I am thanking my lucky stars for Netflix. Here is Jacob sharing the story of his broken arm and telling me what he’s looking forward to watching this summer.

I was inspired to write this post because I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team. The opinions in the post are my own, but take the fact that I receive cool promotional swag from Netflix as you will.

Poem of the Month: 100 Words

Recently I re-embraced my adolescent love of writing poetry. Many of them are written just for me, but others are for sharing. And so, a blog series is born.

And now, here is this month’s poem. I realize it has been more than a month, but you know, that’s life. I wrote this one last year, and re-reading it just now it made me smile. To spring!

poetry dandelions spring

100 Words

My backyard is covered in dandelions and discarded playthings hardly
Elegant, barely tended but evidence of spring and childhood makes
Me smile I am content – would it were ever thus
Happy just to be alive, standing in the warm sunshine
Barefoot in unmowed grass while my kids race each other
Around on weather worn cars they both outgrew years ago
Afterwards they dust off the old yard sale picnic table
Make a feast of fruit and crackers on toy dishes
Enjoying the freedom of dining outdoors they call me back
Again asking for more juice or another silly smiling picture

Fairness and Forgiveness

forgiveness friday fairness snow day

We woke up to a winter wonderland in my neighbourhood this morning. As I type right now, big, fluffy snowflakes are continuing to fall. It’s the last day of class before winter break for my kids, so this morning I thanked my lucky stars that we’re able to walk to school.

Driving in the snow in Vancouver is a real nightmare. Very few people have snow tires, let alone any other equipment to make driving in the snow easier. There are very few snowplows so if you’re not travelling on a major route (and sometimes even if you are) you can expect that the streets won’t be cleared. The temperature hovers around freezing, so the snow melts during the day and freezes into slick sheets of ice overnight. Add in the fact that few of us have any real experience driving in the snow and you can see why it’s best to stay out of your car if you can avoid it.

My children’s school is at the top of a hill on the side of a mountain. While my street is flat, the ground starts to rise steeply a couple of blocks from my house. In front of the school the street is slightly curved and very steep. On snowy days in the past I have seen some pretty scary things, like cars sliding backwards on to the sidewalk as they attempted to climb the hill. This morning, with fresh snow on the ground and no snowplows in sight I saw a car sliding slowly down the hill, horn blaring, as the driver attempted to stop and failed. He eventually managed it, however as I made my way home I saw evidence that another driver wasn’t so lucky. The result was a four car collision at the bottom of the hill.

While I picked my way carefully down the sidewalk, I heard somebody talking to a friend about the accident. I don’t know if he was involved himself or not, however he was relaying an argument he’d had with someone else. He said that he’d told this other person that there was no point in lying, as he had his phone and he could just snap a picture of exactly what had happened. He knew he was in the right, and he had the evidence to prove it.

I myself have been involved in a couple of minor car accidents, from both sides of the equation. Fortunately, when my car was hit while I was stopped at a stop sign one snowy day years ago, the person who hit me was honest and upfront and took responsibility. When I tapped the back of another car at an intersection I took responsibility, as well. I can’t speak for the other parties, but for myself, I felt the outcome was fair and reasonable in both cases. I’m glad, because I know it isn’t always so, as the conversation I overheard this morning shows.

As I left the accident behind me and walked home through the beautiful-yet-treacherous streets, I started to think about fairness and forgiveness. It’s timely, since as I explained last week I’m launching a new “Forgiveness Fridays” blog series. As I thought, it occurred to me that one of the big reasons that people aren’t able to forgive is that they don’t feel a situation has been resolved fairly. They don’t feel as if they’ve been heard. They haven’t had the chance to make their case clearly. Their needs and emotions haven’t been honoured.

We’ve all been there. We all know how bad that feels. We also know, as adults, that life isn’t always fair. In fact, it’s very frequently unfair.

I will never have a chance to speak with the man who swore at me and gave me the finger in a bank parking lot when my son Jacob was three months old and crying in the back of my car, and his big sister Hannah was asking me question after question after question about what happens when you die. I will never be able to explain how frazzled and stressed out I was, how long I had been putting off running that errand because I was frankly afraid to leave the house with my kids, how what I needed most in the world at that moment was a little bit of understanding, how I still remember how badly my hands shook as I pulled up to the automatic teller.

At the same time, that man will never have the chance to tell me about the terrible day he’d been having. How late he was running. How the fact that I didn’t pull up far enough for him to pass me when he clearly felt I could have impacted him. We will never be able to have a reasonable conversation, explain our feelings, or apologize for our respective infractions.

This leaves the question: when we’ve been wronged in some way, and life is unfair, what do we do with that? While I pondered this, I came across an interview with Robert D. Enright, author of The Forgiving Life. This quote from the interview stood out for me:

People … think that when they forgive they are excusing what the other person did, saying, “It’s okay.” Forgiveness is stronger than that. Forgiveness stands on the truth that what happened to me was unfair, it is unfair, and it will always be unfair, but I will have a new response to it.

This actually ties in to what I found last week in the Wikipedia article on forgiveness, which distinguishes between forgiveness and excusing, as well as forgiveness and condoning, pardoning, forgetting and reconciling. Dr. Enright says that forgiveness is about practicing goodness towards others who have been unfair to us, even as we seek justice. So, if we go back to the car accident this morning, I think it means being kind, and extending courtesy towards the other party, even as you advocate for yourself and your view of the events that happened. When we practice goodness towards ourselves and others we feel better, even if nothing else has really changed.

It’s not easy, though.

I’m going to be thinking about this a lot more, and I’m also going to be making up a reading list for myself. I’d like to check out some books on forgiveness. I’ll be adding The Forgiving Life to that list, but if you have any other recommendations, please pass them along. I’d also like to hear your thoughts on forgiveness and fairness. How do you let go of anger when life has been unfair? How do you forgive and move on, without excusing? Please share!

Sliding into Winter

winter frost

This morning I could feel it … winter. The ground was covered in frost, and not the gentle kind that disappears almost before you’ve seen it. The kind that sticks around in the shade almost all day, reaching its cold fingers out and wrapping them around any piece of skin you may have been foolish enough to leave exposed. It was the sort of cold that makes me wish I had a nose warmer, even if it would look a little bit ridiculous.

Of course, those who live in colder climes than my own may scoff, that I should feel so cold when it was only minus two degrees Celsius (or 28 degrees Fahrenheit). I know that many places are already much colder than Vancouver. I also know that it likely won’t get much colder than this here all winter, while cities across Canada will experience a much, much deeper freeze that will last for months. All that I can say in my defense is that temperature is a relative measurement, and not an absolute one. During the summer we feel chilly at temperatures that would feel downright balmy in the winter. In the same way, what qualifies as cold in one place may not qualify as cold in another.

In any case, my point is not that it really is cold. My point is that I feel winter on my skin, in the air I breathe, in the crunch under my feet, in the colour of the sky. The darkness is deepening, and the world is entering its slumber. I feel it calling to me, drawing me in, urging me to rest. I don’t want to work. I don’t want to check my email and drive the kids around and manage my to-do list. I just want to eat chocolate and cheese, and drink tea, and watch television until I feel fat and happy and sleepy. Then maybe I might do a little bit of knitting, or read a book. Maybe.

Normally I feel a certain sense of dread at this time of year. November in Vancouver is a very dark time. It’s usually cloudy and rainy, it gets dark well before dinner, and the only holiday that we celebrate is Remembrance Day, when we honour Canada’s fallen soldiers. It’s an important holiday, and I am very grateful for those who sacrificed so much on my behalf, but it’s not exactly what you would call upbeat. Often in November I feel as if I’m staring down the barrel of many more months of cold, rain, and long nights, with little to look forward to.

Not too long ago, though, I was chatting with a mom on the school playground who said that November is her favourite month. She looks at it as her chance to rest and refuel before the Christmas season kicks into high gear. I’ve been thinking a lot about what she had to say. She’s seizing the opportunity that the season provides, rather than lamenting what it doesn’t. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that I wanted to do that, too. Winter is coming, as Game of Thrones loves to remind us, and it’s coming whether I want it to or not. Accepting the gifts it brings seems like the most gracious say to handle things.

Of course, no one is giving me this month off. I still have stuff to do, deadlines to meet, and children to take care of. However, I am working on allowing myself the space to rest whenever I can. The hard work will still be there next month, and the month after, and the month after that. November is more than half over now, and so I am going to seize the opportunity to rest while I can, as I slowly slide into winter.

Lazy, Hazy Days

I haven’t been a very good writer lately. The truth is that summer has gotten the best of me. Every day, at least three times a day, the fragment of an idea pops into my head. Whatever I’m doing when it does – whether it’s washing dishes, watching my kids play at the playground or taking a shower – I find myself composing a few sentences in my head. Some of those sentences are even kind of good. They have the makings of a post that I would enjoy writing, with colours and textures I could sink my teeth into.

Before I can sit down, though, the ideas are gone. The summer is dragging them out of me. With two kids at home full-time at the moment, I’m struggling to find time to sit down. But you know what? It’s the summer, and it will be over all too soon. If I work less and play more right now, maybe that’s just as it should be.

So, today, instead of thinking deep thoughts or waxing poetic, I’m sharing a snapshot of what summer looks like in my neck of the woods.

What about you? What has your summer looked like so far?

10 Things I Believe About Summer

We have had an unusually fabulous summer so far in Vancouver. It looks like we may set the record for the driest July on the books. With incessant rain for most of the year, and some cool summers the past few years, this is a definite change of pace. I am loving it, and so is my garden. I have a bumper crop of beans, cauliflower and berries, and my first tomatoes are almost ripe.

All of this summer weather has me thinking about summertime, and what it means to me. I’m reminded of the summers of my youth, that seemed both to last forever and be entirely too short. I remember days spent riding my bike around my neighbourhood. Afternoons spent wading in a local stream. Evenings playing baseball at the park with family and friends. Cool mornings when the world was my oyster, with a whole day to play in.

Over the years, there are some things I’ve come to believe about summer. Call them personal truths about the season. Today I thought I’d share them with you.

summertime

10 Things I Believe About Summer

1. Iced tea is the perfect summer beverage.

2. Squeezing yourself into your kids’ wading pool may feel ridiculous, but it is just the thing when you need to cool off.

3. Few things taste better than a freshly-picked blueberry, warm from the sun.

4. The prospect of being able to sleep in for weeks on end encourages children to become early risers.

5. A day spent in flip flops – or, better yet, entirely barefoot – is a day well-lived.

6. When summer vacation is getting too much for everyone, going out for ice cream is the perfect antidote.

7. Eating outside makes food taste better.

8. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

9. Swimming in a lake that has achieved the perfect late-summer water temperature is like the best thing ever.

10. The key to staying cool in a house without air conditioning (and pretty much no houses in Vancouver have AC) is to hone your fan placement strategy to achieve maximum air circulation.

What are your personal truths about summer? I’d love to hear!

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