Tuesday, 23 October 2012

On the eve of having a 4 year old

Birthdays, especially those of our son, force me to stop and reflect on the last year.  As usual, there were ups and downs, moments of glory and moments I would rather forget (and lots that I have forgotten unintentionally), times of weariness and times of invicible hope: but overall it was a year that grew us, made us stronger, and brought our son safely to his 4th year of life.

And so, this past week I've been reminiscing about memories, and I have to admit it has made me awfully nostalgic at times. How does time fly by so fast? Is it really necessary for it to do so?  And if it must rush, then why can't it choose more opportune moments such as a long, boring lecture or when being stuck in an endless traffic jam?

The other day Tyler and I took all the old, broken crayons we have and melted them together to make new "rainbow" crayons.  We had fun finding them around the house, tearing the paper wrappers off, breaking them into small pieces and then arranging them on baking trays.

The first couple of crayons melted together--and since they were dominated by dark colors--turned into black, lumpy and undesirable masses.

(You can see the "black" crayons that resemble a really badly burnt cookie towards the bottom)

The next batch turned out better.  The mix of colors made them fun and unique.  Dark colors were present all over but the bright spots made their presence known, and in fact, because of the dark colors they were even brighter. Isn't the metaphor just shouting to be named?

It's kind of like life... :)

And in the end the memories do mould together, and it is essential for us not to let the darker moments overtake and overshadow the immense beauty waiting to be seen in the overall picture of our lived days.  Time does rush by, we can't stop it or control it.  However, we can choose to allow the memories of our brightest moments to be seen most vividly from among the batch that we hold onto, and learn from those darker patches: recognizing that it is often the contrast that allows us to live more fully, understand more clearly, and ultimately learn to love more deeply.

This is my birthday wish for my son on the eve of his 4th birthday: that he may embrace both the bright and dark colored seasons in his life and see it as a work of art, ever changing, ever learning and ever so beautiful.

A few other (famous) thoughts on the dark and light:

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
― Anne Frank

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
― Plato

“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.”
― Patrick Overton, The leaning tree: [poems]
*These quotes were found on the website: www.goodreads.com

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Room on the Broom

As a family we have been particularly in love with books by Julia Donaldson.  We were first introduced to her work through the infamous Gruffalo story, but have since branched out to others including The Gruffalo's Child, The Smartest Giant in Town (the American version of this book is called The Spiffiest Giant in Town), Zog, A Squash and a Squeeze, and Stick Man (for more information on these books check out Donaldson's website: http://www.juliadonaldson.co.uk/).

This past week, however, Tyler has been enamored with Room on a Broom, which follows the story of a generous but unlucky witch who keeps losing items while flying on her broom.  Each thing (her hat, a hairbow, etc) is found by an animal who then politely requests a lift.  Being the kind person that she is she consents and off they fly.  The adventure continues when the broom breaks from all the weight, and lo!  a dragon comes along who is eager to eat "witch and chips" for dinner.  I won't spoil the end, but it is worth a read. Like her other books, this one is filled with rhyming fun and the end finishes with a good message (team work and community!).

Tyler has loved getting into character for all the possible action points on this book with the costume he took out from the Toy Bus (it was part of the "Room on the Broom" set which included the book too).  He was so excited he went dressed up in costume to his preschool class with the book in hand...and even let me take a few pictures!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Apple Day

Today we went on a family bike ride to a cafe nestled in the castle walls.  While we were there we played card games and allowed imaginations to take over.  Luke told a story about grumpy King Jelima and how he wanted to remove the York Minster with a giant crane.  Tyler (also playing the role of Robin Hood) needed to shoot his pretend (nerf) bow and arrow to scare him away.

After winning various escapades such as this (and after enjoying a cup of coffee), we ventured on to St. Nicholas field where we planned to go on a little hike.  However, once we arrived it just so happened that the Nature Centre was holding an "Apple Day"...so we went!  Activities included: apple taste testing, apple juicing, face/hand painting (of an apple), apple painting crafts, and an apple peeling contest.  Needless to say, we had loads of fun.  It was a perfectly crisp, sunny autumn day, and celebrating this with apple festivities was such a wonderful surprise!

Crafts made using stencils (grapes, banana, carrot) and a halved apple

Fresh squeezed apple juice--quite a nice way to end the day!

Tonight, after stories and songs, Tyler began to process the day's events:

Tyler: "Excuse me, Mommy?"
Me: "Yes?"
Tyler: "What is an apple day?"

Hmmm...good question.  I tried to explain by reviewing the events we did that day and added a short bit on local farmers growing apples and wanting to share them with everyone.

It seemed to satisfy his curiosity until a little while later when he leaned in to me and whispered, "Mommy, can you believe that we went to a real Apple Day? Do you think there will be a Banana Day or an Orange Day or a Grape Day?"

And this question started a thought bubble in his mind that expanded beyond fruit: "Maybe, there could be a Princess Day and then we could get a princess painted on our hand.  Or there could be a People Day and we could get a face painted on our hand. Or how about this one?  We could have a Spiderman Day and we could get (take a wild guess...) Spiderman painted on our hand.  But this one would last forever and ever. Because instead of paint we would use crayons."

It is this type of moment that makes me treasure the minds of little people.  I love hearing them process outloud: the rationales, the brilliant and quirky ideas.  It seems that the simplicity of an event such as the one this afternoon that we were so fortunate to stumble across offers an opportunity to create simple memories.  And yet, it is the simple that so frequently leads to the magnificent and heart warming.

As Tyler lay in the bed asking his sweet questions and coming up with his "day" ideas, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and love for this son of mine. 

So if anyone were to ask me now: is there anything sweeter than apple pie?  I would have to answer "Yes!" though it would be with full acknowledgement that apples can most definitely help pave the way there.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Pressing On

It feels like ages since I've posted a blog (probably because it HAS been ages...)!  I've been thinking quite a bit about the theme of "pressing on" lately, and thought I might apply it to the work on my thesis as well as this blog.

With that in mind (and with the hope that blogging will once again become more of a regular activity), I will start "simply" by sharing this poem I came across and really enjoyed:

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

-Author Unknown
(found on http://www.thephdmom.com/the-phdmom-blog.html)