Friday, July 24, 2009

The NEW and IMPROVED Grateful Mama Site!!!

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."
Charles Darwin

I'm SO excited to announce my new website @ !!! (You can just click on the link at the top right of the green sidebar.) I was going to wait until I had all of the kinks worked out before launching the site, but I might be waiting a long time for that day to come! (A technological whiz I am NOT.) And most importantly, I'm eager for you to see it.

Over the next few weeks you'll probably notice little changes to the site every day, (it might be kind of fun,) and I hope to have all of the old posts archived as soon as possible.

I know that change is sometimes tough, so give it a few days before you tell me that you miss the old site. (Besides, it'll always be just won't be current!)

So please check out the new site: there's a new post for you today, I've written new content on all of the pages you'll find in the top menu bar and you'll also find a few photos! I HOPE YOU LIKE IT!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Change your language and you change your thoughts.
The other day I was reading a board book with Crazybaby, and on one page there were about ten different items illustrated. Just for fun, I started questioning her about the items, "Can you point to the Tiger? Can you point to the shovel? Where is the bucket?" And she got every single one! I was shocked. I hadn't talked to her about tigers, had I? When had I shown her a tractor? And these were kind of artsy illustrations; not very realistic renderings at all. I asked my husband if he'd read the book with Crazy before and he had, but not many times. Impressive.

At sixteen months of age, Crazybaby is really excited about language. She's been blathering on in her own little language for months, but now some of her words are clearly recognizable to us, and I'd say that over a dozen of her words could be understood by anyone.

Maybe you're at this stage with your toddler, or perhaps you're going to go through it soon, but I find it fascinating. The rate at which children acquire language is astonishing, and the amount they actually understand is even more impressive.

I remember my sister saying that when my niece started talking, she often spoke about experiences she had before she was able to talk. (Did I explain that well?) What a concept! I imagine Crazybaby's tales:
"I remember cutting that first tooth; man, my gums were on fire!"
"Being burped was humiliating."
"I used to get so frustrated when your breasts were engorged and I couldn't latch on properly."
or my favourite, "I liked living inside your belly."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My New Book!!!

Okay, I'm going to indulge in a bit of shameless self-promotion here...I've written a book called, (you guessed it,) The Grateful Mama, and, if you're a fan of this blog then I think you might like it. I held the published copy in my hands today for the first time and I was really pleased.

It's a great little book for mamas; I edited some of my favourite blogs, along with inspiring quotations and put them together with photos I've taken of my girls. (If you've been wondering what my little family looks like...the wait is over!)

Anyway, I wanted to invite you to check it out and let me know what you think. There is quite a good preview option that allows you to see about fifteen pages or so. You can also order it directly if you feel so inclined.

Just click on the badge in the right sidebar.

I hope you like it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


It's happening. Pip and Crazybaby are starting to play their own little games together and it's an astonishingly exciting development.

Before we had Crazybaby, I sort of took for granted the fact that my daughters would be playmates, but there have been times during the past year when I had my doubts. Pip's feelings toward Crazybaby have ranged from mild interest, to tolerance, to blatant resentment. She has uttered the words, "I don't love her," and more recently, "We should sold that Crazybaby."

Today, however, genuine enjoyment shone on the face of our eldest daughter as she played some form of chasing game with her toddling sister. When Pip yelled, "WE'RE JUST PLAYING A GAME, MAMA!!!" from the living room when I called the family to dinner, I nearly jumped for joy. I'm not sure excactly what the game entailed, but it was all their own. Crazybaby would walk Frankenstyle past the kitchen, then I'd hear two voices scream excitedly before erupting in fits of giggles.

My husband was the 'parent-in-charge' of the girls while I was making dinner, and at one point I heard him try to discipline them with a firm, "There'll be no screaming in the house young ladies," but we were both so thrilled at our daughters' mutual delight, that there was no rule enforcement whatsoever.

Later, while eating dinner outside, out of the blue Pip announced, "I'm going to tickle some toes." She got up, walked over to Crazybaby's high-chair, and tickled the naked little piggies that wiggled before her. Crazybaby was over the moon. (And so was her Mama.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Chair

It feels good to sit right down in the middle of Gratitude once in awhile. I was upstairs nursing Crazybaby the other evening when my mind flashed back to a time before babies; just before Pip was born.

I remembered sitting in the same old, comfy, kiwi-green armchair with my hands spread wide upon my pregnant belly. I just sat and rocked and took it all in. I was in love with the nursery: all of the baby-paraphernalia, the crib, the change table with wicker baskets full of all things infant, the precious little clothes, the bookshelf filled with stuffed animals and baby books, the gorgeous knitted sweaters and bonnets and booties that lived in the chest that my dad had made, the cheerful sunflower painting on the wall...I loved it all.

I loved just sitting and imagining the little person who would soon be around to use all of these things; to sleep in the crib and have her diaper changed on the change-table and inhabit the wee clothes. I couldn't wait to meet her. I wondered what she would be like and what I would be like with her. I usually wondered aloud, talking to Pip as she was rolling around in my belly. It was a tender, thrilling time.

Much has happened since that time; I've welcomed two babies into this room; this world. When I first met this old chair, I had no idea that we would become so intimately acquainted. I know where every spit-up stain has altered the texture of the velour-ish upholstery, and I know exactly how to sit to avoid creating rude-sounding squeaks. I can't think of another chair I've spent more time with. We've held precious passengers in our arms, this chair and I. I feel as though we're old friends, but I wish it could talk. I'd like to hear a few tales of the bums who have gone before mine.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Crazybaby says, "Ya," to every question she is asked. We've been having a lot of fun with it. "Crazybaby, are you hungry?"
"Do you have an appetite for camembert and a nice Pinot Gris?"
"Would you prefer to dine outdoors?"

Yesterday we invited a sweet little girlfriend of Pip's over to play, and I noticed quickly that she used the word, 'Yes,' instead of 'Ya.' It sounded lovely, and a little foreign. With some degree of disappointment I realized that Pip used 'Ya,' instead of 'Yes,' except when she said, "Yes please." In fact, when I listened to myself and my husband throughout the afternoon, I found we rarely used the word 'Yes.' Bummer.

We sometimes forget the power of modeling. Our kids pick up on everything we say, and copy it. Crazybaby and Pip are little mimics at the moment, so we should be more conscious of the language we're using.

When our little guest's mother came to pick her up I complimented her daughter's lovely manners and also the way she uses the word, "Yes," so nicely. The mother laughed and shook her head, "I know...we don't use it! I'm not sure where she gets it."

That made me feel a bit better, but I'm still inspired to use 'Yes' more often. As of today, I'm on a YES-MISSION. Watch out family.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wild Animals

"Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end."
Leonard Nimoy as 'Spock'

Pip and Crazybaby have a small collection of plastic animals that they play with, and the other day a few creatures made it into the tub for bath time. Pip was playing with a seal. "Dad," Pip asked, "is a seal a wild animal?"
"Well, we've seen seals swimming in the ocean haven't we?" Daddy-O asked.
"Yes," said Pip.
"And animals that live in the ocean are wild animals."
Pip looked down at the seal in her hand. "But what if they live in the tub?"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Murphy Brown, attempting to nurse her son for the first time:
"I have breasts for the first time and the only man in my life doesn't know what to do with them."

I have to wean Crazybaby. I know that the official recommendation for breast-feeding is now two years, but if I have to work part-time in September, I'd like to end my career as a milk-machine before then. Fifteen months is pretty good, isn't it?

I've made a few half-hearted attempts to cut out the mid-day feeding, with no success. Thus far, Crazybaby has been very reluctant to take a bottle; translation: she screams and knocks it out of my hand. On the other hand, she likes her water bottle and sippy cups, so I'm thinking that we'll skip the bottle altogether and transition straight from the breast to the sippy cup. Any advice? I need a plan.

It's new territory for me to wean a baby who has no interest in giving up nursing, because Pip was just so darn cooperative. I cut out one feeding a week, and after a month we were done! No problemo. Aside from requiring a few cabbages to soothe my engorged breasts, it was a piece of cake. Crazybaby is a different story. She has a mind of her own and her mind really likes nursing.

To be honest, I like it too. I usually nurse Crazybaby upstairs in her cosy, golden bedroom. I have a comfy old green rocking chair up there and the two of us snuggle into it beautifully. She usually gives a little giggle of anticipation as I lift up my shirt, then she dives onto my breast. Her hand usually reaches up to touch me on the face or play with my necklace. Sometimes she brings my hand up to her chin to give her a little tickle and her eyes smile up at me. When my milk comes in her eyelids grow heavy, and by the time I put her on the second breast she is nearly asleep.

There is nothing like looking down into the face of your child as you are nursing. It is one of the most intimate, tender experiences I have ever had. I had my share of soreness at the beginning; clogged ducts and mastitis a few times, but that is all forgotten now that I'm nearing the end of my breast-feeding days.

Enough sentimentality. I've got to look on the bright side, right? No more breast pads, no more nursing bras, no more boobs.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pip, Fairy of the Ferry

I just have to say, it was pretty darn cute to see Pip all dressed up in her Fairy outfit, walking around the deck of the ferry to Saltspring Island. A B.C. Ferries employee stopped to meet Pip as soon as she got out of the car.
"What a lovely princess," he said.
"I'm a fairy," responded Pip, waving her wand as if to remind the gentleman that only fairies possess magic wands.

Just then, the vessel pulled out of the dock. Pip looked at her wand incredulously. "Hey Mama!!! She yelled, "I waved my magic wand and THE FERRY STARTED MOVING!!!"

Ah, the newfound power of the Ferry-Fairy.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Travel bugs

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page."
St. Augustine

My husband and I both love traveling. We have high hopes of seeing the world with our daughters one day. But at the moment, our kids aren't necessarily the greatest travelers, so does that mean that we should travel more or less? Our week-long holiday to Saltspring Island was glorious, but exhausting.

Our days were spent swimming in lakes, beachcombing, playing bocci on the lawn, wandering around the fabulous Saturday market in Ganges; wonderful activities all. The weather cooperated and our beach-front accommodation was second to none. The problems arose at bedtime. We decided not to put the two girls in a room together so that they wouldn't wake each other up, so Pip was in one bedroom room with Big Daddy-O and I was in the other bedroom with Crazybaby. This arrangement turned out to be WAY too exciting for our daughters, and not very exciting for my husband and I.

Pip napped during the drive down Island, so she was still bright-eyed at 9pm on the evening of our arrival. Perhaps it was our beautiful surroundings that clouded our judgement, but we made a critical decision that night that impacted the rest of our holiday: Big Daddy-O took Pip out for a sunset paddle in the kayak. It was beautiful to witness: Pip's eager little grin as her dad got her geared up for the voyage, my husband looking equally thrilled at the prospect of introducing his firstborn to one of his favourite past-times, the two of them on the water, silhouetted against the raspberry sunset; unforgettable! And of course Pip wanted to replicate the experience every evening. Who could blame her? What normal three-year old would choose bed over ocean-kayak-adventure? Certainly not Pip.

There was one night, however, that Pip was so exhausted from the day of swimming that she fell asleep by 8pm. That was the evening, as luck would have it, that Crazybaby wasn't the least bit interested in sleeping. At 10pm I finally ended up nursing her to sleep in my bed. HUGE MISTAKE. Crazybaby found it incredibly tempting to have her milk machine lying right next to her, so she latched on to me four times that night!!! Ouch. Every time I tried to put her back into her cot, she screamed so loud that I feared she'd wake up the neighbours.

By the fifth night, my husband and I grew to expect that we'd have at least one child stay up with us in the evenings. In fact, we would have been shocked to have any time alone together whatsoever. Is this our new reality when we travel? I think back to a trip to Victoria & spending hours upstairs in a dark room trying to get Pip to sleep while listening to our friends party downstairs. Then there was an abysmal holiday in a Vancouver B&B when Pip got the flu and vomited on every bed in the place.

Yesterday my husband suggested that we add a trip to Whistler to our summer plans. (I can feel the dark circles forming under my eyes just thinking about it.) Part of me supports the idea because I'm hopeful that our girls will become more adaptable the more they travel, but there's another part of me that wants to lower our travel-expectations at this stage of the game. To be honest, quadruple-latch nights don't really spell 'holiday' to me.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Run, baby, run

My feeling is that any day I am too busy to run is a day that I am too busy.
John Bryant

I had left my water-bottle in the stroller and we were almost inside the house. "Pip, I'm just going to go back and get my water bottle. I'll be right back." I started walking back toward the stroller and Pip yelled,
"Run, Mama, run!"

That's when it occurred to me that Pip runs everywhere. Most three-year-olds do. Why on earth would you want to walk, when you could experience the sheer joy of running? Wouldn't it be fun if adults ran everywhere too? I mean literally. The clothes dryer announces that your laundry is finished so you run into the laundry-room. You don't walk to the car, you sprint. You jog from aisle to aisle in the grocery store. You have to use the bathroom, you dash to the toilet. (Frankly, I've dashed on occasion.) Your husband arrives home, you run into his arms. (I'll have to try that last one.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009


The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.
Albert Einstein

When two people decide to have children, time becomes an issue. Time together as a couple, time with the kids, and individual time. It seems an even bigger struggle for couples who are older and have had many years of time on their own.

I'm not sure if other couples find it difficult to manage their 'free time,' but my husband and I came up with a system that really works for us. We were finding that we'd get into the cliche, "Whose needs are more important?" conversations that are extremely unproductive. My husband would want to spend Saturday morning getting the boat-trailer road-worthy, and I would want to work on my new website. Which was more important? It's an impossible question; the point is, we both deserve individual time.

We came up with a schedule. We divide 'free days' into family time, Daddy-O time, and Mama time. (Time together as a couple usually comes when the girls are in bed!) We don't schedule all of our free time in this way, but if we both have things that we want to do, then we divide the day as follows:
From 9am to noon is the first shift.
We all eat lunch together, and the "Primary Caregiver" torch is passed on at 1:00.
From 1:00 to 4:00 pm is the second shift. After 4 is family time once again, and we make it a priority to eat together.

The ground rules are simple: what you do on your free-time is completely up to you! If my husband is busy mowing the lawn during his shift, and I decide to have lunch with a girlfriend when my free-time arrives, THERE IS NO JUDGEMENT!

Initially, I thought my husband would hate the schedule because it would mean that he would have less time to himself. It turns out that he loves it!!! Why? Because it's completely guilt-free time! He doesn't feel as though he should rush around so that he can get back home to help out. He knows exactly how much time he has and can plan projects accordingly.

It makes the less-desirable shifts with the kids much more tolerable as well. You don't resent the fact that your husband is out on a three-hour bike ride while you're trapped in the house because your baby is napping; you know that your turn will come.

We all love our kids. We love spending time with them, but it is an undeniable fact that we also need adult-time, and for my husband and I, we need solo-time as well.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thank you for the comments!

I just returned from a week-long computer-less holiday on Saltspring Island & found a few comments left in response to 'Miss Manners' and 'Spaceship Landing' ...I enjoyed responding to them so please feel free to check them out!

Bathroom banter

"A child can go only so far in life without potty training. It is not mere coincidence that six of the last seven presidents were potty trained, not to mention nearly half of the nation's state legislators.
Dave Barry

Pip has done relatively well with toilet-training, but she often waits until the last possible moment before she acknowledges that she has to use the washroom. She's usually so involved in her activities that she doesn't want to waste the time on eliminating waste! We've tried to make the whole experience more fun for her, but she sometimes leaves it until it's too late.

Yesterday I heard a cry from Pip's bedroom, "Maaaammmmmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!" I could tell it was the pee-cry. I ran into her bedroom to find her doubled over with her legs twisted tightly together and her hands at her crotch. "I can't walk Maaammmmmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!" Oh, so dramatic.

I picked Pip up, took her into the bathroom and sat her on the toilet. There was a spot of urine the size of a tooney on her underpants, so it wasn't a complete catastrophe.

"Pip, when you have to go to the bathroom, you don't just sit in your bedroom and cry..."
"But I wasn't sitting in my bedroom and crying."
"What were you doing?"
"I was standing."
"Oh. Well honey, you're just leaving it too late. You've got to listen to your body."
"Mama, I was listening to my body."
"Sweetie, if you were listening to your body, you would have come to the toilet earlier."
"But Mama I was listening to my body."
"And what was your body saying?"
"My body was saying it wanted to pee in my underpants."

Hard to argue with that.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fairy dust

Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Pip has been enjoying her fairy costume lately, and so have we. She puts on the fairy tiara, the white mesh fairy skirt, and of course the magic fairy wand. A look comes over her face when she initially dons this magical costume; it's as though she can't really believe how wonderful she feels.

"What's your name today fairy?"
"I'm Fairygold!" Pip says with a twirl.
"And what is this little fairy's name?" I ask her, gesturing to Crazybaby.
Pip glances at her water-bottle sitting on her bed-side table.
"That's Princess Klean-Kanteen."
Aha. Lucky little sister.

Pip prances into the kitchen where Big Daddy-O is cleaning up after breakfast. "Daddy, I'm going to wave my magic wand and turn you into a Wedding Dancer!!!"

(F.Y.I.: It's a running joke that during our wedding night, I had only one dance with my husband before he disappeared. I danced under the stars with friends and family late into the night, and Big Daddy-O was in his comfort zone, chatting with the guests who weren't dancing!)

"Where were you on our wedding night Fairygold??? I really could have used your magic then!!!" I hollered from the bedroom. My husband laughed.

Pip fairy-danced her way back into the bedroom to announce excitedly,
"Mama, I'm going to wear my fairy costume when we go to Saltspring Island!"
"Oh, what a good idea."
"Then I'll be the only FAIRY on the FERRY!!!" Pip exclaimed delightedly.
"We can't guarantee that!" I said, and heard more laughter from the kitchen.

As I said, we're all enjoying the fairy costume. Even Princess Klean-Kanteen.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Beautiful rain

I'm singing in the rain, just singing in the rain;
What a wonderful feeling, I'm happy again.

Arthur Freed

I've never been a big fan of the rain. When I was in kindergarten my mom would have to keep the blinds down if it was a rainy day; otherwise I wouldn't get out of bed. And I loved school.

Pip, on the other hand, sees every day as a beautiful day, regardless of the weather. A couple of weeks ago, in the midst of a glorious spell of hot summer days, we had a couple of earth-drenching downpours. I was happy for the earth, happy for the plants, but my thoughts were more along the lines of, "Ugh. An indoor day."

That's when Pip stood on the couch, looked out the window and said, "Mama, what a lovely day for a walk to the park!"

She's so good for me. We geared up and were out of the house, listening to the rain droplets on our hats in about twenty minutes flat. It was a lovely day indeed.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Spaceship Landing

"Feel the dignity of a child. Do not feel superior to him, for you are not."
Robert Henri

We have a 'time-out' mat that we keep in the broom closet. We also call it the 'uncooperative mat,' and, thankfully, it rarely sees the light of day. We consistently give Pip one warning before the mat comes out, and she always decides to cooperate in order to avoid sitting on the mat for a minute.

When Crazybaby catches Pip off-guard and grabs a toy that she's holding, Pip's instinct is to swat her. To be honest, she usually doesn't even make contact with Crazybaby, but my husband and I decided that we would not tolerate hitting. We caught Pip 'air-swatting' a couple of times so we told her that if she ever actually hit Crazybaby, there would be no warning and she'd go straight to the time-out mat.

Several uneventful days went by after the no-tolerance rule was established, until one night when we were all in the kitchen. Pip was pretending that my metal steamer was a spaceship and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Pip bring the steamer down on Crazybaby's head! Crazybaby didn't even cry, but my 'Mama Bear' switch went on and I grabbed Pip by the arm and led her over to the broom closet.

"Pip, you do NOT hit Crazybaby on the head," I was saying in my quiet, but very stern voice. Pip was already crying, and she really turned it up when she saw the mat emerge from the closet.

"No Mama, nooooooo!!!" she started screaming. (You would've thought she was being taken to the gallows.) What followed was a comedy of sorts. Pip worked herself into hysterics and wouldn't stay on the mat, so I kept picking her up and putting her back. As I looked into my daughter's beet-red, tear-stained face, I doubted myself. Had she intended to hit her sister or was the spaceship just landing? Should I have given her a warning? Was our rule too harsh? Pip seemed so humiliated by the whole mat routine, it didn't seem like she was learning a thing about not hitting her sister.

I knew that once I had committed to the consequence, I had to follow through. I persisted, looking for the first opportunity to call an end to the time-out. Once Pip had successfully stayed on the mat by herself, and I had pretended to count down a minute on my watch, (it was more like ten seconds,) I told her the time-out was over and she flew into my arms. She stopped crying immediately and clung to me like a limpet. We went through the whole, "Do you know why you got a time-out?" routine, and she apologized to Crazybaby for hitting her.

When I was a teacher, my colleagues and I would de-brief about students all the time. We'd come up with behavioural strategies as a team and often meet to share ideas about the progress of specific students. As a parent, you're flying solo the majority of the time, and it's hard to make the time to reflect. That's one of the reasons I find blogging so rewarding, because I'm forced to review the moments of my days and learn something from them. So what did I learn about the spaceship landing?

Well, I still think the 'no tolerance' rule is a good one and the consequence is necessary, but I need to take a deep breath when the Mama Bear switch goes on, and calmly talk to Pip before dragging her off to the broom closet. She deserved an opportunity to explain herself before being disciplined. I want to be respectful of my kids at all times; especially when they misbehave.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Miss Manners

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.
Emily Post

Does anyone else find that teaching your children about manners is actually a great way to gently remind your spouse as well? (Sorry Big-Daddy-O.)

We were all sitting down to dinner and Pip was really enjoying the breaded-sole I had prepared.
"Mama, you sure are good at making fish."
"Thank you Sweetie."
"Thank-you, Mama, for making this really good fish-fry."
"You're very welcome Pip, it makes me really happy to know that you're enjoying it." (Sure, I went a bit over-the-top, but I wanted to reinforce how much I appreciated her lovely manners.)

"Daddy," began Pip, "when someone makes you a really good fish-fry, it's a good idea to thank them." (Yes, this is my three-year-old daughter talking. Verbatim.)

"You're right, Pip, that was really nice of you to thank Mama," said Big Daddy-O.

Silence. Obviously Big-Daddy-O was going to need some prompting.

"Daddy," Pip didn't seem to know how to proceed, so I interjected,
"Honey, I think your daughter was suggesting that you thank me for dinner."
"Oh, right, right...thanks for dinner Mama, this fish-fry is really, really good."

Bingo. You're brilliant Pip!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tea for two

"And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.
And we should call every truth false
which was not accompanied by at least one laugh."

Pip requests tea-parties on a daily basis. It has become a lovely ritual. Crazybaby goes down for her nap after lunch, and Pip and I prepare tea together as Mrs. Teafinger and Mrs. Hefflefinger. Pip was quite tired the other day when we sat down to tea. She poured the milk in our tea-cups but her elbow knocked her cup over as she reached for the sugar. Milk spilled all over the table and instantly, Pip's head fell into my lap and she began to whimper.

"Mrs. Teafinger," I heard myself say, "we don't cry over spilt milk." I started to laugh. I realized that I'd never before had an occasion to use the idiom so literally. Before I had recovered from my own private joke, I said to Pip, "Let me go get a TEA-towel to wipe the milk." How perfect is that??? A tea-towel!!!

Monday, June 29, 2009


"If there is a measure of good parenthood, it could be when your children exceed your own achievements."
Tom Haggai

While I was out of the house for a brief two hours yesterday, my daughter walked for the very first time. Where is the justice in that? I'm with Crazybaby 24/7, but it was Big Daddy-O she rewarded with her first steps.

It was kind of fitting that I was out watching my girlfriend's daughter perform at a local club called 'Joe's Garage.' Fifteen-year-old Kate, (who looks like a nineteen-year old fashion model,) was singing and strumming for a packed crowd of family, friends and industry people, while fifteen-month-old Crazybaby was at home performing for an audience of two: her dad and her sister. Tears flowed in both settings; Kate's family had a lot to be proud of, and I admit that I got a bit misty-eyed when I saw her embrace her Grandpa after her set. She's so young and talented, fearless and ambitious. It was inspiring to see her do her thing.

As I drove home I thought about my girls and wondered what surprises they had in store for us. Would one of them become a musician? What will they do that fills my husband and I with pride?

I arrived at home and witnessed Crazybaby's newest feat. Her face was one huge grin as she wobbled unsteadily toward me. I was bursting with pride just as my girlfriend had been with her daughter an hour earlier. This is how it all starts. Small. There will be so many of these moments between now and fifteen, and we'll be proud of every one of our daughters' achievements. And from what people tell me, it'll be over in the blink of an eye.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Grateful Women

"Separateness is sweet but connection with someone outside yourself is surely sweeter."
Judith Viorst

I had a conversation the other day with a lovely young mother who's struggling with the idea of going back to work in the fall after having been at home with her daughter for two years. I can relate. I'll be working part-time in the fall as well, but it's not my preference. If we could manage it financially, I'd continue to be with Pip and Crazybaby full-time.

The transition from being full-time caregiver to part or full-time career woman can't be easy; no matter when it happens. We're all different. We're all ready to go back to work at different times, and there is no 'right' time to return to the workplace, but I'm sure that we all agree that it's unfortunate when it happens before you're emotionally ready.

I didn't have a lot of advice for this woman. I have many of the same fears myself, so I just listened. I was honored that she felt comfortable enough to share with me, to express her emotions and be vulnerable. I'm not very close to this woman, but in that moment we were close. We work so hard to keep everything together all the time, and once in awhile we need a release. Sometimes it's safer to let go with someone who isn't a main character in your story.

In retrospect, it was a lovely moment. Not the pain, nor the fears, but that 'sisterhood' feeling that exists among women. Not only am I a grateful mama, but a grateful woman as well.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


"Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors."
African Proverb

Crazybaby had her 12 month immunizations yesterday. (She's actually 15 months old, but we're a bit behind schedule.) Her appointment was at 3:00 p.m., which should have worked perfectly with her nap schedule. Typically, she naps from lunchtime to 2:30. A solid two hours in the middle of the day. You can bet on Crazybaby's naps. You can set your watch to them. She's incredibly consistent. An excellent napper; Queen of the Kip. Until yesterday. Yesterday she fell asleep at 2:00 p.m. and had to be awoken at 2:35 p.m.. She was not a happy camper.

Crazybaby was crying before we even left the house. And she can cry. My baby definitely has some lung power. She calmed down a bit for the ten minute drive to our local Rec. Centre where the nurses were holding the immunization clinic. Usually we got to the Rec. Centre for 'Teeter-Tots,' or to play on the playground equipment, so Crazybaby's eyes sparkled when we initially got out of the car. She was anticipating some fun on the trampoline, crawling on the mats, perhaps a slide or two; definitely not four needles being jabbed into her arms.

When we entered the waiting room, Crazybaby took one look at the volunteer and launched into an impressive wail. (The 'wail' I'm referring to is more impressive than a cry, but less than a scream in its intensity.) I immediately dove into the diaper bag for her favourite books, her pacifier, her water-bottle, and finally her little 'Bob-the-Builder' toy, but she would have nothing to do with any of my sure-fire soothers. She continued to wail. And arch. And kick. The serious-looking volunteer pushed a box of tissues and a clipboard in my direction. There was a checklist of 12 month old descriptors that I was supposed to check before we could proceed with the shots. Not helpful. With my raging, squirming baby in my left arm & a pencil and clipboard in the right, I hastily checked all the boxes.

At this point I was almost ready to throw in the towel. I mean, how many babies are red-faced and tear-stained before they're even in the same room as the needles? I wondered if I should postpone the shots and wait for a day when Crazybaby was well-rested. As I was pondering this, the nurse arrived and ushered us into another office where the four needles were awaiting Crazybaby's pudgy little arms.

I'm not going to break down the next ten minutes for you. If you have kids and you believe in immunizing them, you know what it's like. Of note is the fact that Crazybaby screamed so loud, one Rec. Centre employee had to leave her office. She couldn't stand to hear her scream.

Fifteen minutes after the injections, we were on our way home and Crazybaby was still breathing in the way that kids breathe after they've had a monumental cry. It's actually kind of a tender little sound because you know that the worst is over. When we got home all I wanted to do was snuggle with her and soothe her and kiss her puffy little eyelids. Crazybaby babbled to her sister and Grandma about the experience she'd had, and she broke into a pitiful little sob when my mom gave her an empathetic look. She was exhausted.

I should have guessed that on the one day it was important for Crazybaby to have a solid nap, she wouldn't. It's Murphy's Law. Or is it? Does it instead have something to do with the energy I put out when I have an agenda? Did I have some anxiety about the afternoon appointment? It's entirely possible. Whatever the case, I'm going to try to be more aware of my 'state' next time. I'm already not looking forward to next time.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


"Desire nothing for yourself, which you do not desire for others."

When I traveled to India to volunteer in a little village school, I took as many school supplies as my back-pack could hold, and I made sure that I could carry seventeen packages of felt pens; one package for each student. When I first got to the home of my host Patrick, I met his two children, Sonny and Baby. Sonny was an eight-year-old boy and Baby, a three-year-old girl. I pulled out a package of felt pens for Sonny. He smiled, thanked me, and set them aside.
"Sonny," his father said, "don't you want to try out your new pens?" Sonny shook his head.
"Why not?" Patrick asked.
Sonny was silent. He seemed reluctant to say anything in front of me, so I turned my attention to Baby for a moment. He whispered something in his father's ear.

Patrick then told me that Sonny wanted to wait and share the pens with the rest of his classmates.

"Oh, Sonny, I brought a package for every student. Every one of your classmates will get their own package, so you can open yours now and use them!" I said.

Sonny shyly shook his head again and whispered something else in his father's ear. Apparently, Sonny wasn't convinced. He wouldn't open his felt pens until he had seen the alleged packages for his classmates.

I led Sonny over to my purple backpack and counted out sixteen packages of felt pens, all as colourful and new as the gift I had given him. His eyes lit up, he ran over to where he had placed his felt pens, and he proceeded to spend the next three hours playing with them. He drew with them, used them to make a magic 'trail' for me to follow, he made patterns with them on the floor, he used them as cars to drive around the house; I can't even remember all of the ways he used those precious pens, but it was obvious that he enjoyed them.

I had never encountered such a boy as Sonny. In all my years of teaching, I had never witnessed someone of his age care enough about his friends to delay the gratification of playing with a new gift. Even when we prompted him to dive in, he wanted proof that his classmates would be taken care of.

I would love to be able to instill that quality of selflessness in my girls. I wonder if it only exists in the hearts of those children who have very little. Perhaps my girls already have too much. Pip is quite happy to rip open birthday presents and Christmas presents, and she seems oblivious to every other child in the room at those times. She thanks people without prompting now, but it took a lot of, "What do you say to Grandma?"'s for that to happen, whereas it seemed like such an innate quality of Sonny's.

Thinking about Sonny, (who must be about twenty-two years old now,) has inspired me; perhaps we should adopt a household mantra, 'think of others before ourselves.' I like it. I like the idea of family-mantras too. Thanks, Sonny, wherever you are. I wish I could meet you as a young man and tell you what an impact you had on me. I wish my girls could meet you too. Who knows...maybe they will someday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


"Possessions are usually diminished by possession."

The weather has been beautiful lately and the girls have been spending a lot of time outdoors. We've visited the homes of friends and relatives who have a host of exciting outdoor playthings: tunnels and slides and rocking horses and a even a full-blown playground.

I was sitting in our back yard the other day with Pip and Crazybaby and I caught myself thinking, "We should have more 'stuff' for the kids to play with." I couldn't believe the thought actually crossed my mind! I'm not a materialistic person and I certainly don't want my daughters thinking that they need the latest, greatest toys in order to have fun. I want them to be able to use their imaginations to enjoy themselves regardless of where they are or what they have. My fondest memories playing as a kid were on the beach, building forts out of driftwood and shells and moss! More stuff? What was I thinking?

I was thinking what a lot of parents think; we want to give our kids everything. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but the best things we can give our kids are not made in China, they're absolutely free. Time, attention, love, respect; we can all afford to give these gifts to our kids.

I watched Pip take her little watering can over to our rain-barrel and fill it up. She walked around the yard and watered some dandelions, roses and buttercups. Who needs stuff, when you've got dandelions?

Monday, June 22, 2009


"Misery loves company."
John Ray

When Pip was a newborn she consistently had an incredibly fussy period at around 5:00 pm. All I had to compare our daughter with was my niece, who was an angel-baby, and friends of ours who also had an angel-baby a few months older than Pip. They all looked on in horror whenever Pip started wailing for no apparent reason. Their babies didn't wail. They squeaked when hungry. My sister actually used to clap with excitement when she heard her daughter wake-up from a nap! (Like I told you, angel-baby.) You can imagine my delight when I read in one of my books that it was quite common for babies to fuss in the early evening and that parents all over the world went through the same exasperating nightly routine. My husband and I felt so comforted!!!

So the phrase, 'Misery loves company,' holds some truth. When you've hit a rough patch, it does feel good to know that you're not alone, but you don't want to marinate in commiseration. Why dwell on the negative? I remember my cousin telling me that it only takes 17 seconds to change your frequency, and I for one would rather be sending out positive energy than negative.

My blog posts reflect this philosophy, and I hope I don't alienate readers by focusing on the positive aspects of motherhood. A friend of mine recently said that when she's having a bad day, it makes her feel even worse to read about someone who is loving motherhood. It certainly isn't my intent to make women feel crummy. My intent is to make you smile, to make you think, and to remind you that there are other mothers out here experiencing the same mothering moments that you are. Some moments are blissful and some are challenging. We can't change the moment, but we can change how we perceive the moment, and perception is everything.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Changing numbers

"Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been."
 Mark Twain

Instead of asking me how old I was on my birthday, Pip asked,"What's your number, Mama?"
"I'm a 4 and another 4, Pip, I'm fourty-four."  As I held up my hands to show Pip four fingers on each hand I took note of the wrinkly, crepe-like skin around my knuckles.
"We're all changing numbers, Mama."
"Yes we are, Sweetie."

It's interesting being an older mother.  Most of the women I see regularly, who have children the same age as mine, are at least five years my junior.  My niece is just a teenager and she recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.  I've always viewed my 'advanced-maternal-age,' (yes-those words were actually written on the top of one of my medical files,)  very positively.  I lived such a full life before having children; I traveled extensively, enjoyed a successful career, pursued many interests, and got to know myself pretty well.  I feel much better equipped to be a mother now than I did when I was nineteen. 

This birthday, however, there was a moment when I found myself envying my youthful niece.  Not because she will have more energy as a young mom, nor because she might weather the sleepless nights better than I did.  It's the simple fact that, if we're all fortunate enough to expire due to old age,  my niece stands to witness twenty more years of her son's life than I can hope to see of my daughters' lives.  Twenty years!  Imagine all the living that Pip and Crazybaby will do in twenty years!

 I didn't allow my mind to linger upon that thought, and neither did my dear friend Valda.  She is in her eighties and she calls me every year on my birthday.  It's the same date as her wedding anniversary.  "How old are you now, Karen?" Valda asked.
"I'm fourty-four."  I didn't hold my fingers up this time.
"Oh my goodness!"
"I know, Valda," I sighed, "I'm starting to get up there."
"Oh no Karen, not at all!  You're so young!  Gosh, at fourty-four, I was just getting my second wind!"
Bless you, Valda.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Birthday Morning

"Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words." 
- Plautus

It was my birthday on Tuesday, and Pip was the first person to wish me a 'Happy Birthday.'  She climbed into bed with me and said, "Mama, you're a very big girl now and I'm going to give you a special book for your birthday."  She then handed me the library book that was on my bedside table.  "Here you go, Big Girl," she said. 

Pip is very gentle.  Ever since she learned the word, "caress," she's been giving us lovely little face caresses; I melt every time she takes my face in her wee little hands and gently runs her fingers from my temples to my chin.  It's so terribly tender.  She gave me one of her signature caresses before we got out of bed, and she once again whispered, "Happy Birthday, Mama," with an old-soul smile.

I remember much about birthdays past; fun parties, great friends, family gatherings, intimate dinners...but I don't recall a finer birthday-morning-greeting.  Thank you, Pip.  


Wednesday, June 17, 2009


If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India.

Romain Rolland 

In 1994 I met a man whose brother, Patrick, lived in India and ran a small English school.  I started corresponding with Patrick with the hope that I could volunteer in his little school.  His first letter was discouraging; he said that Westerners found his way of life very challenging, particularly the lack of privacy.  I wasn't sure exactly what he meant, but it didn't sound too bad!  Teaching in a small village in India was the opportunity of a lifetime, so I kept writing to Patrick until he finally invited me to stay with him and his family in Jejuri.

I remember waking up my first morning in Patrick's home in India.  Eight of us had slept in one room and I had been given the only bed.  I woke up in the centre of the room, with the family bustling around me, involved in their morning routines.  The doorway to the street was on my left and as I rolled over I saw the faces of eight or nine village kids staring at me.  They had been waiting anxiously to see their first Caucasian woman.  I rolled out of bed and began to unzip my backpack, which prompted Patrick's two kids, Sonny and Baby, to come and see what mysteries the great purple bag held.  The little entourage of street kids grew brave, and as I searched around for my toiletry kit, I had an audience of a dozen children.

This is what Patrick had meant by lack of privacy.  I was never alone.  My every move was of such interest to people, that I was always being studied very closely.  Even when I used the bathroom, Patrick's 'maid' Anundi would often be washing the laundry in the same room.  Once, as I was squatting, Anundi started saying something in Mahrati, then she came over to me and lifted up the back of my skirt so that it wouldn't get soiled!!!   I couldn't even go for a walk by myself, so I escaped by plugging into my Walkman for a few songs a day, just to preserve my sanity.  

I realize now that my India experience foreshadowed my life as a mother.  My daughters are always intensely interested in what I'm doing, and their favourite place is to be right by my side.  They're not yet content to just 'play' on their own.  I try to sneak away to the bathroom for a little privacy, but Pip or Crazybaby always find me and "keep me company."  Because Pip likes companionship when she uses the bathroom, she thinks everyone must feel the same way.  Once, when Crazybaby was napping, I said to Pip, "Mama needs a little privacy, honey, could you please close the bathroom door?"  
"Sure, Mama," Pip said.  She stood just outside the door and proceeded to open it every thirty seconds to ask, "Are you done yet, Mama?"

It's fortunate that this lack-of-privacy phenomenon has happened gradually.  It seems like a normal part of my life now.  Surprisingly enough, I don't seem to mind it at all. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

When I Have Fears

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face."
Eleanor Roosevelt.

I underestimated the power of a single bee-sting.  Pip will never be the same.  Once upon a time she scampered happily along forest trails, ran barefoot on the grass, calmly observed busy bees collecting nectar, and she slept without a night-light.   Now she screams when she even hears a bee, she finds forest walks terrifying, and she want the door to her bedroom left wide open at night to let in as much light as possible.  That one little bee has changed her life.

I understand why her world has been turned upside-down.  Up until the bee-sting, pretty much everything in her world was well-ordered.  She had experienced physical pain before, but it was always logical, and often predictable: she tripped and fell on the cement, so her knee got scraped.  It was time for her vaccination, and her arm stung from the needle.  She had a bad cold, and her throat was sore.  Pip could make sense of her pain.  

The bee-sting, however, made no sense whatsoever.  There she was, merrily frolicking on a lovely forest trail, completely minding her own business when a strange insect injected himself into her forehead to produce the most intense sting of Pip's young life!  It was a completely unanticipated, random event.  So now, Pip doesn't know what to expect next!  She's a nervous wreck!

Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little.  She's still enjoying life, but now she has moments of extreme anxiety, whereas her 'pre-sting'  world was a much safer place.  Last night she woke up saying that beetles were crawling on her arms.  We had to change her bed-sheet because it was patterned with leaves and vines and she thought there were bugs crawling on them.   When we go for walks now, I have to make a public announcement to all of the bees: "Attention all Bees, please leave Pip alone today.  If you're in the mood for stinging, please come and sting me, I can take it.  And while you're listening, please leave Crazybaby alone too.  Thank you, Bees and have a nice day," and Pip repeats,
"Thank you Bees."   

If I'm tempted to trivialize this experience of Pip's, this shift in the way her world works, I need only look at my own life.  When have I questioned the way the Universe was unfolding?  When have I felt that life wasn't fair?   I have no shortage of examples.  I suspect none of us do.

So I'll treat Pip's fears with the respect they deserve, and I'll do whatever I can to help her face them.   I have to admit, though, that when we head out for our walk and I find myself saying, 'Thank you, Bees,' what I'm really thinking is, 'Damn you Bees!' 

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Family Bed

"Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole,"
Samuel Taylor Colerige

Pip had her first nightmare last night.  It was shocking.  I had no idea she could scream that loud.  My husband reached her first and she was looking, in horror, at the decorative butterflies on her wall.  He picked her up and tried to comfort her, "They're not real honey, they won't hurt you.  You've just had a bad dream.  Mama and I are right here."   

Pip eventually calmed down and my husband passed her over to me.  After a cuddle, I tried to put her down on her bed and she started to panic: crying, legs kicking, arms locked around my neck, that sort of thing.  I climbed into her bed, with her lying on top of me, and tried to convince her that there was nothing to be afraid of.  She was holding on to me for dear life, and I could feel her heart pounding against my chest.

After a few minutes I tried to shift my body out from under her in an attempt to leave her bed, but she wouldn't let me go.  "Mama, I don't want to stay in this bed."  Pip's eyes were wide open and she was absolutely terrified.  I had never seen her in this state, and I couldn't leave her side.  I snuggled in for the long haul.
"I won't leave you, Pip."

As soon as she realized that I wasn't going anywhere she relaxed.  Within minutes her eyes were closed and her breathing grew heavy.  It was quite lovely.  Pip slept with my right arm around her and my left arm clasped between her two hands. 

I have strong opinions about kids and sleep.  I don't believe in 'the family bed.'  I think that we do kids a disservice if we don't encourage them to fall asleep on their own, in their own beds (or cribs.)  It's an incredibly important skill to learn, and if they don't learn it as babies, when are they going to start sleeping independently?  The Baby Whisperer wisely says, "Start as you mean to go on," and for the most part, that's what we've tried to do.  

I'm the first to admit that there is nothing as precious as feeling your baby asleep on your chest.  It's absolutely divine!  I slept with my babies in the hospital, I napped with Pip for many months, and I do love sleeping with my girls, I  just don't think it's the healthiest choice for children in the long-run.

Still, I cherished last night.  My philosophy hasn't changed; I will continue to encourage Pip to sleep on her own, but sleeping in each other's arms last night was a little piece of heaven.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The most important relationship

"The most important thing a father can do for his children 
is to love their mother."  
Rev. Theodore Hesburgh.

In one of the books I read when I was pregnant with Pip, there was an entire chapter about the most important relationship in the family being the relationship between husband and wife.  It's vital for children to see their parents being affectionate toward each other because it creates stability.  It makes children feel safe to know that their parents have a strong, loving bond.  The book suggested that parents should not wait for kids to be in bed to spend 'adult time' together, because kids need to witness the importance parents place on their partnership.  The relationship you have with your spouse provides a model for all future relationships your children will form; romantic and otherwise.  (No pressure there.)

I remember reading the chapter aloud to my husband before Pip was born, and we talked about making time for each other.  Our goal was that, when he came home from work, we would spend the first half-hour just sitting on the couch talking to each other.  We imagined that our child (or children) would still be near us, but we'd sit side-by-side and make a conscious effort to really check-in with each other, perhaps even hold hands and have adult conversation.  

It was a lofty goal.  Actually, we were doing pretty well for the first three weeks of Pip's life when she did nothing but sleep, but since then our blissful 'together-time' has occurred mostly when the girls are in bed.

Recently Crazybaby has become extremely attached to her father.  When he walks in the door after work she cries, "Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" and the only thing on her mind is climbing into her father's arms.  He has a hard time even washing his hands before she starts crying because she can't bear to be apart from him for another minute.

Pip yells, "Daddy, Daddy" and runs over to Big Daddy-O as well, so my husband is bombarded with his little fan club the moment he walks in the door.  How can I possibly play first-fiddle in this scenario?  My husband and I religiously greet each other with a meaningful hug and a peck-of-a kiss, but we certainly don't enjoy thirty minutes of adult conversation while holding hands on the couch!  It's family time;  the couch is host to a wrestling match of sorts with Pip and Crazybaby crawling all over Big Daddy-O as we attempt to de-brief about our days.

It's a beautiful time.  I'm not going to try to change it.  As long as my husband and I are aware of the importance of our relationship, as long as we're generous with our love and affection toward each other, we'll all be just fine.  (Happy Birthday Big Daddy-O!)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hear this!

"Most of the successful people I've known 
are the ones who do more listening than talking."
Bernard M. Baruch

Pip has started saying, "Hear this," before she says something of import.  I love it.  It's a perfect companion phrase to, "Watch this," which is an extremely common request these days, and it's less cumbersome than, "Listen to this."  Whenever she says it, I picture some old English gentleman preparing to read a proclamation to the township.   It promises such importance.  I may start using it myself.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Name that Goose

"The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live."
Mortimer Adler

I'm amazed at Pip's mind.  Not just how quickly her vocabulary is expanding or how marvelously she picks up new concepts, but also her memory.  More specifically, her memory compared to my memory.

Case in point: Mother Goose songs.  Every week when we attend our Mother Goose session, we learn a few new songs.  The facilitators are very wise in their instruction because they break the song down line by line, then they repeat the whole song several times 'for the children.'  

Now, I consider myself to be quite musical.  I've taken oodles of formal music lessons, played instruments since I was ten, written my own songs, performed in loads of musicals, yet thirty minutes after learning the new Goose songs, they have vacated my brain.  Pip, on the other hand, remembers both the lyrics and melodies!  "What was the one about the mouse?" I'll ask, and Pip will launch into the song without hesitation, complete with hand gestures.

It's astonishing to me!  Was my mind ever that good?  Is my advanced-maternal-age to blame?  How many brain cells did I actually lose during my pregnancies?   Pip is a bit of a studier, and I have noticed that she'll often just watch and listen to the new songs being performed instead of actually joining in.  Perhaps I should try that next time.  All I know is that I am humbled by my three-year-old's brain, and I sincerely hope that her mind outperforms mine at every turn.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It hurts

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."
Elizabeth Stone

Pip and I were walking together in the forest when I noticed that her hand was covering her forehead.  "Are you hot Sweetie?"
"No, Mama.  I'm okay."
"Why do you have your hand on your forehead?"
"It's so that I won't get another bee-sting."

We were walking in the same area Pip had been stung last week.  Apparently, she thought that her forehead was the only sting-worthy site on her body.  I didn't want to alarm her, but I also didn't want her to have to cover her forehead every time she walked outside.  "Sweetie, bees can actually sting any part of your body."  Pip was silent for a moment.  The hand remained on her forehead.

"Mama, if you hold my hand, you can protect me from the bees."

I took her hand in mine.  I didn't have the heart to tell her that I couldn't protect her from future bee-stings.  Perhaps it was because I just wanted her to enjoy the walk, or perhaps it was because I truly do want to protect her.  From everything.  I know it's irrational, but I don't want her to hurt.  I don't want her to worry.  I want her little world to be beautiful.  And it is.  

It's a strange new feeling though, this profound love mixed with helplessness.  I brought my babies into the world because I believe in it; I believe the world is a beautiful place and that the human experience is worth having.  At the same time, all of the evils of humankind seem to be highlighted to me now that I have children.  I imagine future talks about 'stranger-danger,' and 'appropriate and inappropriate touching.'  I imagine my girls learning of all of the inhumanity in the world  and it saddens me. 

So this is one of my many personal challenges:  to focus on the beauty, focus on the love, focus on the here and now.  All we have for sure is this moment, and right now, in this moment I'll gladly be the fearless bee-protector.