Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Pop!

Today is my father's 80th (!) birthday. In preparing for the BIG party, I looked at some old photos. I have sifted through yellowed, grainy black and white ones and stared cross-eyed at those displayed on my Mac. It is quite amazing to see both the progress of my father and that of technology. Time doesn't fly, it zooms at warp speed!

The early days
My pop was born in New Jersey, right across the water from Manhattan. This was back before the days of the Washington Bridge and the Twin Towers. He speaks fondly of going to the Met, roaming the streets of NYC and playing hours of handball. He graduated from high school at the top of his class, a handsome young man with slicked back hair (and yes there was lots of it!).

University days
Like many of his generation, he was the first in the family to go to university, attending Michigan Tech. He was a frat boy and an engineering student, thus there were many ridiculous pranks and rituals, including swallowing gold fish (we can see now the benefits of all that fish oil). In addition, "Bobby" was a tennis star and left many a nursing student a-flutter. After graduating with honours ("school really wasn't that hard, you know") he paid back his debt to the U.S. army, with a deployment in Germany.

A family man
My Dad met my Mom (Elisabeth) on a U.S. army base, where she was working as a secretary. Her shapely legs and beautiful smile, immediately caught his attention and not long after they were married. With his deployment finished Bob and Beth headed back to the States via boat. My mom was sick for the whole trip and was thankful to reach NYC and the new in-laws. My folks initially settled in Arkansas but moved to California and Nevada. The details are blurry to me (clearly a lack of gold fish), but during this time my sister Susanne and brother Michael were born and not long after came Peter. Some six years later, I arrived - the family's pride and joy.

A traveling man
My Dad was a mining engineer and traveled to the far reaches of the world to visit mines, from Asia to Israel and New Zealand. We received treasures from all these trips, but best of all were the stories from far away lands. It gave all of us wanderlust - a bane for our families - a constantly changing environment is what I thrive on. We had a good, stable family life, one that allowed us to flourish. Respect and generosity were expected as was working hard and taking on responsibilities. Traits we all share still today.

The digital age
As the photos of my Dad become clearer with the advancement of technology and time, we can see the lines around his eyes beginning to form and become permanent. His hair too changes colour and shape. A few things remain the same however, the sparkle in his blue eyes is steadfast as his welcoming smile. Dad, may the twinkle never fade and the stories never end.

Happy Birthday - it has been quite a ride!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The highs and lows of turning 45(!)

Yesterday was my birthday and while I would have liked to navel gaze and study the gray hair, it simply was not an option. A summary of my highs and lows follows:

High: I was woken up with chocolate cake!
Low: It was 6:00 a.m.
High: I had presents on the breakfast table!
Low: My family all departed too quickly.
High: I had a slate-free day to catch up on work.

VERY Low: The daycare called to tell me my little guy had experienced a seizure.
High: They had already called the ambulance.
Low: Seeing my loved one packed into an ambulance.
High: Getting expert care at the MCH - thanks!
Low: Worrying about the "next" time.

High: Coming home and watching the most amazing video produced by my children:

High: Enjoying shishtaouk for dinner

High: Receiving enormous support from family and friends
High: Going to sleep in a warm bed, knowing that everything will be ok.

The "highs" definitely outweighed the "lows" - I guess 45 isn't so bad after all.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

ne, ne, ne, NINETEEN!

Some may remember the song. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSGvqjVHik8)

I can still remember dancing to it, while celebrating my own nineteenth birthday! Hard to believe I now have a daughter this age, who has never heard of Paul Hardcastle.

It has been a great year for my girl, capped-off by getting her driver's license. Freedom for both of us. No more late-night pick ups or drives with a van full of giggling girls. This is one of the last things on my parent "to do" list. I could pat myself on the back for a job well done.

But there are some things I just can't teach..And these may be the hardest lessons of all. I experienced this recently, when trying to help mend her broken heart. Smiles, cookies and hugs just won't help. We all know, time will, but this she must find out by herself.

Happy Birthday my sweet. I will now sidestep and let you lead the way!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

These boots were made for walking

Fall is definitely here and with it comes the rain and ensuing puddles. My one-year old has discovered these with delight. We too are thrilled that he is hopping and splashing. Just a few weeks ago we removed his leg-cast (perhaps fodder for another blog) and thus we are overjoyed that he is walking well and enjoying the drizzly weather. The resulting soggy shoes however, are not so appealing.

Off we went to find some rain boots. I was armed with a fist full of loonies and my boy with his bottle. We went to five (!) stores, ones you would recognize. Did we find boots for boys?? Ha! There were lovely boots for wee girls: pink, and yellow ones, ones with Dora, and others with Barbie. Where were the cute boots for boys?? "Sold out" was the answer.

In desperation, we finally went to a childrens' shoe store. Did they have rain boots for boys?? Oh yes they did..well sort of, two models, and only one that fit Sir Liam. I was relieved, no more wet socks and cold feet, until I went to pay. My fist full of cash simply wasn't sufficient. The total came to $50! (that's $25/boot). This sum for an accessory that will last, at most, six months.

Given this, perhaps we will consider introducing our little man to the possibilities of cross-dressing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A year ago today

In the middle of the night I felt a tug, then pressure in my belly. A quick trip to the bathroom confirmed it - the day was here and it was going to be a memorable one.

After waking up your aunt and Dad, we drove to the hospital.

The moon was full and it was a gorgeous, soft night. I could hear the whispering of the cicadas and chirping of some very early-risers. You and I were both excited - I babbled and you kicked along the way. Your Dad and aunt were quiet, anticipating the road ahead.

We were greeted with smiles and bright lights at the hospital. I was hooked up to tubes and drips, oblivious to anything but your stirrings.

After an eternity of waiting, you finally made your move. I responded gladly and used all my energy to help your progress. Although, it wasn't easy and you struggled a bit at the end, we both made it through.

At last, I was able to hold you in my arms, you were unbelievably tiny and precious. When our eyes met for the very first time, it was with recognition. "There you are."

A year ago today, you were born and changed our lives forever.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tel Aviv: Warm weather, water and people

After a very grueling 16-hours of travel, we arrived in Tel Aviv, to be greeted openly. There was no army staring us down and no threatening atmosphere anywhere. We were embraced by the humid air of the Mediterannean and welcomed warmly by the people of Israel.

Our first stop was the beach - the ocean was incredibly warm, as was the sand! Too warm for sensitive Canadian feet. Our second stop was to satisfy our rumbling stomachs. We were hosted by some colleagues and friends and were treated to a delicious and filling supper on the sand. Both our hosts and the restaurant staff did not blink an eye when we brought in Sir Liam. Immediately a booster was brought out and his royal highness enjoyed the likes of calamari, hummus, fish kebabs and creme brulee that really did melt in our mouths.

Day two involved a whir wind tour of the Weizmann Institute and yet another hosted dinner, this time in the Tel Aviv port. The Institute was surprisingly large and beautiful and their public relations office was daunting. The port was lively and full of children, even after 10 p.m. Sir Liam ate more calamari and shrimp soaked in olive oil..oy.

Our last day involved a trip to the historic site of Old Jaffa. Once again, a remarkable spot. Beautiful, clean and full of history. We visited the market and managed to bargain for a few items - I'm not sure who got the bargain, though.

The city of Tel Aviv is crumbling in some spots but new buildings are being erected, demonstrating the optimism of its citizens. It has seen many governments and ensuing changes. The present city is warm, welcoming and from a visitor's eyes, balanced and prosperous.

Next stop, Jerusalem..Shalom

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What the...???

Cusses..they are everywhere in our household conversations. Nary a shalt-shaker is passed without a curse. It wasn't always this way. When the kids were little, we were very careful not to utter obscene or aggressive language. The house was full of "dangs" and "shucks", and we sounded like purple dinosaurs!

This all changed as our children hit adolescence. To be cool parents, we would allow the occasional s-word and we would use universal hand language to let hostile drivers know what we thought of their road-side behaviour. As our teens grew to be young adults our swearing escalated alarmingly.

There has been an incredible pleasure to be able to utter these illicit words with our children - it's like sharing a forbidden treasure. Or perhaps like dancing, when it has been prohibited (think "Foot Loose").

We are not alone in this transition. A friend called the other day, who also has young-adult children. Even my ears were burning after our discussion (hard to believe, I know).

The one downside is, of course, that our ten-month old is learning our bad-ass vocabulary. I'm afraid his first word will be something entirely inappropriate. What to do? Restrain our liberal ways...?? Nah, I don't think so, it's been fun. I think our best course of action is to let the "little man" know that some words can only be uttered by adults. It will give him something to look forward to.

I can hardly wait until our very uptight, judgmental and non-cooperative MD asks me what Liam's first word was. If he utters admonishments, I'll tell him to "Shut the Front Door!"