Wishing you the very best of the holiday season, friends, from our house to yours!
Wishing you the very best of the holiday season, friends, from our house to yours!
Alex loves to take her guitar outside to practice.
I don't know how the neighbours feel about it, but I sure love hearing the sound of her playing coming through my office window.
My new ecourse Advent of Light is now open for registration, and sale priced until November 15th! It's sort of an audio/visual advent calendar -- daily audio prompts and image downloads, and a date with your journal for 24 straight days in December. It's a commitment to being kind to yourself during the hectic year-end. Join us.
Alex started 6th grade today. Even though at her school, 6th grade is the last year of elementary school (as opposed to the first year of junior high), this still seems pretty milestone-y. Maybe it's because this year will be the last school year before she becomes a teenager. Maybe it's because this year marks the halfway point of her school career, before university.
Or maybe I'm just overthinking this, because maybe I'm just stunned by how fast she's growing up.
Anyway, she had a great first day. And now she's practicing her guitar, while Marcus makes her favourite dinner to celebrate being back at school (lasagna), and I'm just trying to stay present, and not think about how fast time is speeding by.
Even though now she's taller than my mom, we almost wear the same shoe size, and she borrows my old t-shirts when she comes home from school ... because they fit.
Soundtrack: Keep on movin' by Soul II Soul
Around the web, it's not uncommon for people to celebrate "Throwback Thursdays" (or #tbt, for short), where folks share a photograph or a story from years gone by. I often participate solely on my Instagram account, but a few weeks ago I was digging back in my archives of Chookooloonks, and found many stories of Alex as a toddler that I'd totally forgotten. So today, for Throwback Thursday, I thought I'd republish them (with her permission) -- mostly because I don't want to forget them again.
I hope you enjoy them. If stories of toddlerhood aren't your jam, I promise we'll be back to our regularly scheduled Chookooloonks tomorrow.
SCENE: Today, about 2 in the afternoon. Karen is crawling around in the bottom of her closet looking for a matching pair of shoes. Enter Alex.
Alex: Hello, Mummy!
Karen (muffled): Hello, Alex.
Alex (suddenly hugging Karen's bottom, enhanced by a little hand-pat): I lahve you, Mummy.
Karen (melting, stopping to return the hug): I love you too, Alex.
Alex pulls out of the embrace, and smiles beatifically at her mother. Karen's eyes tear up, just a little. Alex turns away, and starts to walk out of the room. Suddenly, she stops, facing the wall in front of her.
Alex: I LAHVE YOU, WALL!
SCENE: Home, morning. Karen is busy getting Alex ready for the day.
Karen (kissing Alex's bare tummy): OOOOH, I LOVE this tummy. It's so yummy! It's so tasty!
Alex (smiling a knowing smile and nodding): Tastes like chook-a-lit.
So last night, I was lying on Alex's bed while she was playing with her MegaBloks (sort of like Legos on steroids). Suddenly, without warning, she hurled one of her blocks at my leg, bouncing it neatly off my shin.
The blocks are too small to hurt; however, I couldn't let such behaviour go unaddressed. I looked at her, all prepared to give her my "we don't throw things" speech. As I opened my mouth, my little cherub of a two-year-old looked at me, grinned, and said quietly:
I have no idea where she got that word -- it's certainly not something I say, nor have I ever heard her father say it. All I do know, however, is that This Does Not Bode Well.
Marcus just came in from a 4-hour bike ride, reeking of sweat and funk and smelling to high heaven. "Oh my GOD!" I exclaimed, sincerely horrified, and directed him immediately to the hose outside.
Alex looked at me seriously.
"Mummy, not 'oh my GOD,'" she said, frowning. "Oh my GOSH."
Ever since Alex has been potty trained, she's been a little disconcerted as to how to relieve herself when we're on the beach, due to (a) the scarcity of public facilities, and (b) the general nastiness of public facilities. And so, like any good mother would, I've been showing her how to go to the water's edge, dip her bum into the small waves, and pee (oh stop, you'd do the same).
On Saturday, while we were at the considerably populated beach in front of our hotel, Alex had to go. I took her to the water, sat her down on her haunches, and she did her thing.
Inspired by her performance, I took her back to her father, and said, "Stay with Daddy. It's Mummy's turn." I returned to the ocean, swam past the breakers, did my business and eventually returned to the shore. When I reached the lounge chairs, Marcus was smiling at me.
"Did you hear your daughter calling you?"
"No, I didn't."
His grin widened.
"While you were out there, your little cherub was screaming loud enough for everyone to hear:
'SQUAT, MUMMY!!! YOU HAVE TO SQUAT!!!'"
Last Friday night, we were all hanging out on our couch in front of the television (as you do), and I was surfing on my computer (as I do). I noticed on my Facebook feed this story of a woman who let her toddler choose her clothing for a week. Laughing, I shared it with Alex.
"That's awesome," she said.
"It kind of is," I smiled.
"You should totally let me do this for you. In fact," her eyes lit up, "you should let me choose your clothes to wear tomorrow."
I balked. "Um ... what?"
"Yup. You should let me pick out your clothes for tomorrow. Why not?"
I quickly scanned my mind for what I had to do the next day -- nothing but run a few errands. "Um ... okay?"
"Yes!" she exclaimed. "And you have to pinkie-promise that you'll wear whatever I pick out for you." She held out her little finger.
"Wait," I said, trying to think fast. "There are ... um ... a few rules. Yes, rules! Um ... whatever you pick has to be weather appropriate. If it's cold out, I don't want to be in a sundress. And if it's warm out, do not put me in a chunky sweater."
"Okay," she said, waving her finger impatiently.
"AND!" I continued, still trying to stall. "The clothes have to FIT."
"OKAY!" she said.
I hooked my little finger into hers, and winced.
"YAY!" she yelled. And she bounded off into my bedroom.
About 10 minutes later, she returned. "Okay, I've picked it. Come see."
I walked in to find my clothes laid out on my bed, and groaned. It seemed that she'd picked almost every single impulse buy I'd ever made: the fleur de lis scarf I bought for $5 at a mall kiosk; another, a metallic silver t-shirt -- I bought it online, thinking it was heather grey, and was shocked at its shiny-ness when it arrived. Besides, it didn't fit.
"Oh, honey, that top doesn't ..." and then I stopped, remembering that I'd lost some weight since buying it. "You know what? Let's try everything on."
So I did. And the top fit. And honestly? I sort of love the look.
I'd have never worn that scarf with those leopard shoes without Alex's suggestion (and, for the record, I'm not in the habit of wearing 3-inch pumps when I run errands); also, I'm still a bit torn about the t-shirt, but I could still totally see myself wearing this again (or a reasonable facsimile thereof, anyway).
So maybe the lesson here is that I should let Alex put my outfits together a little more often.
I just finally downloaded the photographs I took in Canada onto the hard drive of my desktop computer at home, and pulled this one up on screen for the first time. I'm not sure which part I love the best: the snow boulder that Marcus is hurling at me that appears to be bigger than his head, or Marcus' homicidal expression, or the fact that Alex is off in the corner, appearing to say to herself, "This will not end well."
Ladies and gentlemen, my family.
See you on Monday, friends.
Angela stood wrapped in her fleece coat, and listened to the wind.
"I wonder ..." she thought.
She turned and closed the door. She walked toward the fruit bowl and took an apple. She ate a bite, and looked at the jagged marks caused by her teeth.
She went back outside. The wind whipped her face, and she clutched her coat tighter.
She decided it was too cold, and went inside to sit by the fire, and watch T.V.
"I wonder ..." she thought.
~ By Alexis Jennings
Right before we left for England, on a whim, Alex decided she wanted to write as short a story as possible. She wrote the above, and shared it with me. I loved it so much, I asked her if I could photograph my interpretation of it, and share both my photograph and her work with you. She agreed, so while we were in Cornwall, my niece, Ellie, kindly acted as my model.
About 6 years ago, when Alex was 4 and her cousin Julia was 5, they formed the Bad Girls Club. It was unclear what the purpose of the club was; all we know is that they named the club themselves, and the name stuck.
Every time the girls get together, I do another photo shoot, and since my sister and her family are in town, I was compelled to pull my camera out.
Behold, at ages 11 and 10, the Bad Girls 2014.
Fact: They're really not bad in the least.
Alex is 10 years old today. Which, you know, is insane.
The urge to share photographs I've taken every year on her birthday is strong, but I did that a couple of years ago, when she turned 8 -- so I won't put you through that again. However, since I don't really share parenting stories here anymore, Alex only appears in the blog every once in a while, and finally reaching "double-digits" is a pretty important time in a kid's life, I figured I needed to do something a bit special. So this year, I decided to interview her so you can sort of get to know her first hand; also, since there are a few of you who have been reading Chookooloonks since the very beginning when she was born, I figured it might be interesting for you to see how she's grown up during this time.
I decided to start with the Proust Questionnaire (editing it for questions that she might not yet be old enough to give it considerable thought), and then turned to Twitter to invite people to submit questions that they would like me to ask her. The following are her answers:
What is your idea of a perfect day?
Watching TV with my mom by a fireplace.
What country would you most like to visit?
Spain -- it seems cool, because of their culture, and I've heard that they have elaborate celebrations. (I'm not sure which ones she's talking about, but I suspect La Tomatina would be right up her alley. -- Ed.)
When and where were you happiest?
At home with my mom today. (I swear I didn't tell her to say that. -- Ed.)
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
What is your most treasured possession?
What do you most value in your friends?
Who are your favourite writers?
Who is your favourite fictional heroine, and why?
I think Akeelah from the movie Akeelah and the Bee. She's smart, funny and nice.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My mom, dad and my dog, Rufus. (Someone give this kid some chocolate. -- Ed.)
What is your motto?
Sharing is caring.
How'd you get to be so awesome?
My family and friends treat me so awesomely!
Where do you think you'll be 10 years from now?
I think I'll be in Paris, fashion designing in my little house made of bricks, looking out at Notre Dame!