Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Seven Months, So Many Changes

Summer vacation is now just a wonderful memory, and we are back in Qatar, readjusting to life in our desert home. This transition has been tough, with all of us dealing with colds and hacking coughs, never mind a baby with jet lag. Our first two nights, the air conditioners weren't working in the girls' rooms, and so crib was pulled into the master, while Kaiya shared our (thankfully huge) bed. Although the a/c is back on, Kaiya somehow still hasn't found her way back to her bed. We'll work on that.

We also have the major transition of momma bear heading back to work. Isabelle has been handling it wonderfully; momma bear not so much. I'm okay, but I'm realizing, and quickly, that I'm just not going to be able to be all things to all people. Though admittedly, that's what I usually strive to be. I haven't been responding to emails for a few days already, always the first sign that I'm getting overloaded. The first month back is a tricky time for teachers, and I'm looking forward to us finding the groove in our routine. Soon, I hope.

Isabelle just keeps growing and changing. Her biggest development this past month has been sitting. And she is now so content to just sit! Sit and play with whatever toys are within the reach of her grabby little hands. One of the first things we did when we came back to Qatar was buy those click-together foam mats (everyone buys them here... very hard tiled/marble floors necessitates it for babies). We now have a large, cushy play area right in our massive front hall, in the middle of everything, and it's already become a favourite hangout. Izzy sits, with pillows surrounding her, while Kaiya and I make playdough creations just out of her reach.

Izzy is also making a lot of funny new sounds. She does this "la-loo-la-loo" that makes it look like her tongue is far too big for her mouth. And just the other day, she started sucking in her breath like crazy, making us think she was choking on her food or having trouble breathing. But then she smiled. And giggled. Turns out that's just her new way of showing excitement.

Now if we can just get Izzy to realize that 9-11pm is not meant to be playtime with dad, we'll be just fine. Kind of tough explaining jet lag to a baby. Thankfully, she seems to have sorted the rest of her night out. Or perhaps I speak too soon...


Thank you, Auntie Rose, for the stacking cups. They are Izzy's favourite toy right now!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Just before we head off...


Tonight at about 11:30pm, we'll be on a plane headed back to our other lives, in the desert sun of Qatar. My heart is full, but there are bags to pack and rooms to clean. So for now, a few thank yous...

Thank you to Dave for always picking us up from the airport. And thank you to Karen for sending us off again.

Thank you to Sue and Brent for letting us have your home for the summer. The location was perfect.

Thank you to Nathan and Rose for letting us use your car. And sorry about the crash. :/

Thank you to my cheerleaders, to the people who listened to my doubts and anxieties and then went on to challenge them. Thank you for the way you listened, the questions you asked, the ways you helped to shift and change my perspectives. Your words made me excited once again for the adventure.

Thank you to my parents. You encourage us to think of our futures and keep pressing on down this road even though I know you miss your granddaughters so very much.

Thank you to countless family and friends who have fed us, and more importantly, made time for us. I enjoyed listening to you so much this summer. Thank you for sharing your lives. I drank it all in. I remembered the fabric we are still a part of. I felt your joys and your pains, and I added mine. And together we remembered... we're all so very normal. And yes, the kids are gonna be okay.

This goodbye is a difficult one. But the memories have been packed away, and I know they'll see us through the tougher times. We'll see you again in ten months.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Oh, Canada

Canada. You knocked it out of the park this summer. I mean, really, I'm left kind of speechless. 10 weeks of glorious freedom for me and the girls, 8 weeks for Jeff. Coming into this season, I knew it would be one like no other... longer than most summers, filled with the comings and goings of family and friends. Adding to our joy was  being able to share the gift of our Izzy, ready to steal the hearts of everyone she would meet.  And making it even better was a space of our own, right on our old street, steps away from many of our favourite places. I knew it would be a summer to remember.

And it has been. We've been blown away by goodness this summer. Last week, as I thought over what a great time it has been, I hastily scrawled this quick list, proof of how we have feasted our senses on many wonders these past weeks. And now I humbly share this list with you, dear readers, in all its unedited, stream-of-consciousness form.

Canada, What I have enjoyed:

Sights:
-blue blue skies
-clouds of a gazillion varieties
-super green grass
-farmland in the Cornwall area
-rolling hills
-lakes and rivers
-colourful sunsets in vast skies
-the smiles of my daughters, especially Kaiya on new adventures
-stores filled with amazing bounty
-trees, especially with leaves rustling in breezes
-sunlight streaming into windows, onto hardwood floors
-curtains swaying in the wind
-orderly traffic

Sounds:
-birds chirping
-cicadas
-quiet
-neighbours
-music from downtown events
-sounds of home renovations
-drunken laughter in the middle of the night
-pouring rain
-thunder
-firetrucks and ambulances and cop cars
-quiet
-whirring fans
-good conversations with close friends
-crackling fire
-quiet

Smells:
-fresh cut grass
-freshness after rain
-backyard BBQs
-smoky fires
-bacon frying
-fresh produce in the grocery store
-ripe peaches

Tastes:
-good coffee with endless cream
-oatmeal with blueberries
-bacon
-goat cheese on crackers
-ham and other variations of pork
-other people's homemade food
-backyard BBQs
-amazing produce, esp. fruit: berries, peaches, nectarines, organic apples
-great brunch in Hamilton

Touch:
-breezes and winds, free of sand and dust
-humidity
-cool temperatures
-the warmth of a sweater
-dirt and earth as I pull weeds
-gravel under bare feet
-dewy grass under bare feet
-hot tub water
-hugs from friends and family
-kisses from my mom and dad

Yes, you could say it's been a good summer. Thank you.

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Parent's Barn, Part II

There is a rocking chair, your rocking chair, passed down, one generation or more. It startles me as I move toward our piles of belongings. There it sits, at the edge, idle ... alone. I always admired its simplicity and elegance, its smallness. No arm rests. Just a tall, spindled back and a simple, comfortable cushion.

It invites the memories. The ones of long ago: heartfelt mealtime graces, hilariously inappropriate dinner conversations, horrible cat allergies, delicate, dainty tea cups, and your proud smile, always loving and embracing your wacky kids. It also invites the more recent ones, the ones filled with worry and concern, as we watched disease slowly take over, robbing your mind of memory, taking the restful retirement that should have been yours.

Your home has been sold. It has a beautiful new front door, interlocking bricks, strong new pillars. The interior has been gutted. The home that held you as you raised your children, as you struggled through loss, pride ever intact. It is no longer yours. No longer ours.

But this chair. This chair is here.

***

I never got to say goodbye.

I was not there to stand alongside children and grandchildren, to hear tributes at your funeral, listen to beautiful word and song. I was not there in Thunder Bay when your children buried your ashes, and my daughter picked flowers to soothe her father, aunt and uncles, tenderly setting them around your grave. I have been the ear at the end of the line, waiting anxiously for news, grieving quietly hundreds, thousands of miles away.

But how do I come to the end? How do we say goodbye?

And so I sit, sit in this chair, in the dark and dank of my parents' barn, and I rock. And I remember. Silently, mindfully, a few moments with you. Thank you, Marg, for your open heart, your unwavering faith, and your fierce love for your children and grandchildren. Thank you for all the care through the years. For your determined optimism and your helping hand. Thank you for listening and always trying to understand. You are missed.