Thursday, July 24, 2014

Managing Independence

Independence. Isn’t that what every parent wants for their child? Isn’t lack of independence what drives parents-to-be to abort their unborn children? Their fear that their child will always be dependent on them. As a parent of a child with special needs, independence takes on a whole new meaning. 

Will Ella live on her own? Will she have a job?

Independence. It is what we strive for. It is why women fought for the right to write, the right to work and the right to vote – their independent rights.

Ben and I have stepped into the stage in parenthood I would like to call, Managing Independence. Both of my children, more than ever before, are asserting their independence.

I love it.


I hate it.


Tonight, I asked Ella to set the table. I put all the elements she would need on the table and continued to make supper. When I emerged out of the kitchen, the table was empty. That is because Ella had set the coffee table…perfectly. Why not? It’s her height. Every place had its plate, a fork on one side, a knife on the other and a cup. It was complete with lemon juice, jam, ranch dressing, half a lemon and an avocado to accompany her chicken and rice. I love it.

 ****

A few days ago, we had a code red at our house…again. Ella had escaped. I was in the yard and she slipped out the front door unnoticed past Ben who was in the house. She couldn’t have been gone more than 5 minutes before we realized it was a bit too quiet. Ben and I frantically began to run up and down the streets looking for her because when she goes...she runs...and she is fast....Eventually, Ben found her two blocks away. The scary part about this little excursion was that he found her on the other side of West 4th avenue, which is a very busy street at the end of our block. She would have had to cross the street, by herself. The question is, did she wait for the walk signal or just go? I hate it.

**Still on the search for the perfect GPS device for children before kindy starts**

On this day, Jakob wanted to know where people were from (inspired by the world cup).
So he made a sign with all the flags on it and sat out on West 4th asking people. It was pretty cute. I love it.

The other day, Jakob decided that he wanted a ham sandwich…but we had no ham. So he made a list of the things he would need and we went to the store. When we returned he made himself his ham sandwich complete with mayo, lettuce, tomato and ham. I love it.

****


After our supper at the coffee table tonight, we went to the beach, as we often do. The kids ride their bikes and Ben and I walk. Ella is obviously a bit slower than her brother, so Jakob will often go ahead a bit…but this time however, we weren’t even two blocks and we had lost track of him. We expected to meet up with him when we got to the cross walk but he wasn’t there. We looked down the street in the direction of the beach – no sign of him. We turned the corner to where we go down to the beach and expected to see him at the top of the stairs waiting for us…not there either. I had Ben run ahead to see if he could find him. Of course, he was already down at the beach. I hate it.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Doing versus Being

Lately, my "tiredness" has been especially apparent and it has caused me to question, "was I always this tired?" Was I this tired when Jakob was an infant or when we became parents of two? Did I struggle to keep my eyes open after 7pm all the time...because it really just feels as though it has been the past two years that this dullness has settled in on my life. By dullness, I mean, not just rainy day kind of tiredness but rather a serious lack of joie de vive. No drive. No motivation. No common joy. I have always been the melancholic type but I wouldn't say I have been the sad type. I remember a time when I looked forward to waking up every morning excited with what the day would hold. Truly. I always considered myself a morning person, even an optimistic person but as of late....I feel as though the light has faded and the candle has been snuffed out.

As I talked with Ben about how I was feeling, I realized that evenings only became a dreaded time once we moved to Vancouver and I stopped taking classes. I was able to articulate that in Cambridge, and even when we lived in Alberta, mornings were refreshing as I took time in the quiet hours to read, do devotions and plan my day and evenings were sacred because that is when I took time for me...it's when I took time to read and write. 

Writing. 

My life blood. Pen on page...(or fingers on keyboard)...the place where I sort through all that has gone wrong in my day and I find the silver lining, make sense of it, acknowledge the blessing and hopefully, in the cases when my thoughts ended up here, passed the blessing on. This past winter though, without even knowing it, I stole my sacred time away from myself. Evening just became another time to do work. There was no rest. There was no restoration.

"The odd thing about this form of communication is that you're more likely to talk about nothing than something. But I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings."

I spent a bit of time tonight going through the archives of this space. Most of the time, I really did write about nothing. But in writing about nothing and sharing life with you I found joy. I don't share life anymore. Here or in my home. I don't cook delicious meals, try innovative new recipes or carefully craft decadent desserts anymore because I have no one to share them with. 

I had a thought the other day. It went like this...People in Vancouver are too busy to be friends with me......

wait a minute....

maybe I'm too busy to be friends with people in Vancouver?

I have let my life become consumed and I am taking full responsibility.

And I want to say I'm sorry.

I'm sorry for all the times, I didn't have time to go for coffee, or stay to chat or help you out. I'm sorry for all the times I led you to believe that doing more made your life fuller.

I want to stop focusing on doing and start focusing on being...

 I want to be the mother that always has time to play

 I want to be the wife who always has the patience to
nurture

 I want to be the friend that always has time to listen

 I want to be the disciple who can be still enough to hear and humble enough to obey



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The way we do vacation in the west: Tofino Surf Trip

It wasn't the first, nor will it be the last. It's crazy looking back just one year and seeing how much the kids have grown - how their faces have become that little bit less baby-ish and their spirits that much more independent. Nowhere does their childhood wonder shine through more than in nature - away from the traffic and the noise, the worksheets and times tables. That is why our perfect vacation isn't that far from home, on the West Coast of Canada.


Our ride all packed up.

No trip to Tofino is complete without meeting friends in Coombs for some ice cream

Both of them, all of us, feel the burdens of every day lift as we make that two hour trip to the Island.
And by the time we reach the beach, we truly come alive. The beach is home. So how do we do a West Coast vacation? We start out, as I said, by getting out on the water as we take the ferry to Vancouver Island.

**As a side note: for my BC friends with children with disabilities - Did you know there is a discounted fare for a BC resident with a permanent disability and their escort? Check it out here.**




We like to camp at Bella Pacifica on MacKenzie Beach. We like it because it has all the amenities we need and is right on our favourite beach. Like last year, we couldn't have asked for nicer weather. It's expected that the fog will roll in from time to time in Tofino, but it clears away throughout the day.



Once we set up we enjoyed some camp black beans and rice, which has become our favourite camping meal followed by s'mores.

The next day we took a drive out to Ucluelet to visit Ben's aunt and enjoy all Ucluelet has to offer. I always enjoy Ukee, as the locals call it. It is quieter than Tofino and a true fishing community - quaint and authentic. It also offers some amazing cuisine - namely, Ukee dogs.


Not only can you get a variety of types of hot dogs but my personal favourite are their meat pies, specifically the salmon pie. Delish! After lunch, we walked down the harbour where their newly renovated aquarium is located. The renovations changed the face of the harbour quite a bit compared to the makeshift shed which once stood there but the spirit remains the same: hands-on. You won't find any whales or dolphins at the Ucluelet aquarium but its amazing to watch the kids' eyes light up as they feel the squishiness of a sea cucumber or stickiness of a sea anemone as it retracts at your touch. Of course they have to pay for their fancy new building so the price is a bit a lot more expensive than it was in the old building but, as I said, provides a hands on experience for the kids with plenty of touch tanks, which is invaluable.



The next two days were filled with a brand new to us, yet world renowned, Tofino experience - Surfing! Yes, that is right. We have been going to Tofino for 10 years and we have NEVER been surfing...until now!

I was a little worried about how Ella would do but she was a fabulous student and even managed to get up on her board a couple times before she opted to supervise the rest of us. My girl never fails to amaze me with what she can do. I think so often with individuals with disabilities, they're not held back by their own abilities but by the restrictions we place on them and the stereotypes we harbour without knowing it. So what made me think Ella could do it? Well, in part it was this and partly it was my own selfishness because I wanted to learn how to surf and thought it would be a fun family activity. I actually considered...planned on, even, to not have Ella do the lessons with us....silly Krista.

A huge thank you to West Side Surf and our instructor Heath for a great day!








And of course no trip would be complete with some more ice cream...


We finished off the trip with two days at our favourite place, Middle Beach Lodge. I had planned this, thinking that if camping was a bust, we would need a place to dry out. Thankfully we didn't need to dry out but it was still a wonderful end to the trip.



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