I went to bed still 29 and woke up 30

9 Sep

Did you feel it?  You must have felt it.  Last night.  The planets shifted.  The galaxy quivered. When you woke up this morning you couldn’t help but notice that everything was a little off… What do you mean you didn’t notice anything?  You didn’t feel it?

Last night when I went to bed I was still 29.

This morning I woke up 30.

I’ve known it was coming and here it is:  I am thirty.  I am no longer a twenty year old.

I avoided writing yesterday.  I knew that I should. It was the last day my blog title would be correct.  And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Every time I sat down at the computer I found a way to distract myself. I didn’t know what to say.  The only thing running through my head was the defiant chant, “I am still 29. I am still 29. I am still 29.”  I didn’t think that would make for an interesting post.  So, I went about my day, which was a typical day, reminding myself that I was still 29.

I still can’t get over the fact that you didn’t feel anything last night.  It was so violent that it woke me up around 2.  Okay, it may have been Abigail crying that woke me up but I am sure she was crying because she felt the cosmos changing. As I lay in bed trying to get back to sleep I bemoaned the fact that my chant was dead.  Dave had tried to cheer me up earlier in the evening by asking what time of the day I was born with the argument that I wouldn’t really be 30 until that time today.  The kind thought didn’t work.  We all know that no one asks for your time of birth.  Your age changes as soon as the date changes.  So, September 9th, 2010 is the date I turned 30.

Do you remember your birthday as a child?  I’ve spent a lot of time looking back at past birthdays as I’ve counted down the days to this one.  Do you remember waking up on your birthday with that feeling of expectation? That something was different.  The world was slightly altered.  The day held all these wonderful possibilities.  You were a year older.  I still had that feeling this morning.  Thirty years of birthdays and it was still there.  It is so strange, really.  Think about it. You expect things to be suddenly different.  And yet, it is another typical day.  I’m still doing the same things I did yesterday.  I just washed a sink full of dishes and put the diapers in the wash.  The baby will still need to be fed and changed and most of the world isn’t going to treat me any different today than it did yesterday.  Physically too, nothing has changed over night.  I didn’t wake up to head full of grey hair or a face of wrinkles just like I didn’t wake up two inches taller when I was 9.  While I went to bed still 29 and woke up 30 the rest of the world didn’t notice.

But my world did.

Be honest.  Though we more aware of our surroundings than when we were two we still believe the world revolves around us.  And it does.  Hear me out.  I don’t think we should live like it is all about us because if we did the world would be a terrible place, we live that way enough even when we are working hard not to.  But really, as much as we can try to put ourselves in another’s position and even though we can sacrifice, love, and enrich the lives of others we can never see the world from their eyes.  Everything still comes to us through our eyes, through our perceptions, and it impacts our thoughts, memories, life.  We can’t live like we’re an island but we are.  Am I making any sense?  I love my husband and my daughter and I know them both very well but I will still never be totally connected with them.  I won’t know their every thought, action, desire.  And I don’t need to.  Even our relationship with God reinforces this concept of the world revolving around us.  The Bible makes it clear that he did it all for me.  Which could mean then, that if I was the only one who ever existed he still would have done it all.

So, isn’t it only natural that when I woke up this morning I expected the world to be a little different?  I went to bed still 29 and woke up 30.

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Pumpkin Pie and 40 before 40

7 Sep

With only two days to spare I finished something off my 30 before 30 list.  Taking advantage of the Labour Day holiday, I finally baked a whole pie from scratch, crust and all!

It was a bit of an adventure.  The crust recipe I used is a family recipe that was obviously written by someone who knew what they were doing.  Thankfully, my mom had warned me that it would make enough for at least four pies with tops or else I would have been really confused and made pies with super thick crusts. As it was, I still had no idea how to really go about rolling out the dough, how thick or thin to make it, and then how to get it into the pie dish.  After some trial and error I had success!

After figuring out how to freeze the extra crusts I moved on to filling my pie.  I went with pumpkin because I had some in the freezer and has always been my favourite.  Once again I used a family recipe and, even though I have made this before, I still find that I am such a novice in the kitchen.  My milk did boil, even though the recipe clearly stated to scald the milk, not boil.  Oh well.  It still turned out pretty good, though I think it could have baked a little longer.

The finished product

All set to eat. Yum!

Having finished something off my 30 before 30 list I figure that it is time to get working on my plans for the next decade of my life.

As I mused in my earlier post, “38 days left… My 30 before 30“, I believe these lists should grow as we age.  Instead of starting new each decade, attempting to dream up 30 than 40 new things to accomplish, the list should just be added to; ten new goals to accomplish in the next ten years.

So, here is the list I created earlier with 10 new goals:

My list of 40 before 40 in no particular order:

  1. Graduate from university

    My family (photo by Veronica Lane)

  2. Become a certified teacher
  3. Marry an amazing guy
  4. Have my own family
  5. Have a job teaching
  6. Own a car
  7. My own place
  8. Write a book
  9. Write a script
  10. Know my neighbours (this took a couple years to accomplish, Abigail really helped speed it up)
  11. Travel to Indonesia
  12. See Venice
  13. See Barcelona
  14. Travel to Great Britain
  15. Study at Oxford (yes, it does go with 14 but it deserves it’s own number to say that I studied there)
  16. See a show on broadway
  17. Go on a cruise
  18. Drive a standard car (though there is lots of room to grow with this one)
  19. Go horseback riding (horses scare me – a lot)
  20. Cook a whole chicken (I’m really proud of this one for some strange reason, I’ve only just accomplished this one in the last year and can now say I’ve slow-cooked, baked, and BBQ  a whole chicken)
  21. Read the whole Bible
  22. Finish my wedding album
  23. Finish Abigail’s baby album
  24. Read the Harry Potter series
  25. See every province and territory (this one is a work in progress – so far: Ontario, B.C, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I.)

    Why am I so proud of cooking a chicken?

  26. Sponsor a child
  27. See more of the states (also a work in progress; just visited San Francisco)
  28. Bake a pie from scratch
  29. Get a dog
  30. Plant a vegetable garden  (Hmmm, it might be the wrong time of year for this one. Maybe I should just work on a plan for the spring)
  31. Be published
  32. Be in a movie (being an extra in the background counts even if my name is never seen in the credits)
  33. Drive a car as fast as it will possible go (somewhere safe, like the middle of a desert)
  34. Visit Australia
  35. Visit Greece
  36. Have at least one more baby
  37. Get a part in a local theatre production
  38. Buy bedroom furniture
  39. Whitewater raft
  40. Take dance lessons

A few of these are still a work in progress, like number 25 and 27, and numbers 29 and 30 are yet to be so I’ll have 12 goals for the next ten years.  Seems doable to me!

15th birthday photo… 9 days left

31 Aug

I love this photo of myself and a good friend celebrating my 15th birthday.

Don’t ask why am I wearing a bow in my hair.  It probably came off a birthday present.  You will soon notice that in my birthday photos I often have strange things on my head.

Once again, there is the evidence of mom spoiling me with a great meal; birthdays are always deserving of the fine dinnerware.

And then there is the cake: Rum Cream Pie.  Divine.

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I am trying hard not to get too hung up on the fact that there are only 9 days left to be 29.

It is still over a week away.

But less than 10 days.

I really should be okay with this.

Mommy Brain … 15 days left…

25 Aug

My mind is all a flutter.

Tomorrow morning Dave and I leave for San Francisco to celebrate our fifth anniversary (A couple months late but at least we are doing something!).  We will be gone for 5 days and 4 nights.  Without Abigail.

I am really excited about this trip.  Not only is it great to keep working on my list but I am also looking forward to time alone with my hubby exploring a beautiful city.  This type of trip is one of the things that defines us as a couple.  Dave does his crazy research and lands us a classy hotel at a jaw dropping cheap rate in a city we don’t really know.  It is only after we have the hotel booked that we start looking into how to get there, what to do, and where to eat.  For most of the vacation we plan on a whim: eat when we feel like it, sleep all day, see a show or a ball game, or aimless wander the streets.  Even our honeymoon had this element of carefreeness to it.

But that was all before Abigail.  When we were contemplating starting a family we knew a lot would have to change, our method of planning vacations being one of them, and we were okay with that.  We knew that there would come a time when we could return to our old ways.

I didn’t expect it to be this soon!  In my head, I know that we are ready for this.  Spending this time without Abigail will recharge our marriage and help Dave and I reconnect.  Abigail is old enough that there is no physical reason why she would need me around (We finished weaning last weekend! Yeah!)  And she LOVES her grandparents.  She will hardly have time to miss us.

But oh, does my heart ache.  Through all our activities today I would pause and simply admire her; I’m going to miss her SO much!  I’m afraid that we are going to come back and find a completely different little girl given the amount she grows and changes each day.

My desire to sit and cuddle my little girl all day has not helped me get ready for the trip.  Packing is never easy, but add a small child into the mix and you have chaos.  There is so much to remember and do.  Let me give you a small taste of some of the things that have been running through my head:

I need to check that Abigail’s sunscreen is still in her diaper bag.  The adult sunscreen is on the kitchen table, need to remember to put it in our suitcase because it is too big to go on the carry-on.  What is the weather supposed to be like?  Do I pack long sleeves and pants or shorts?  For Abigail I’ll keep it simple and just pack half her wardrobe.  Oh yeah, grandma said they need formula and wipes.  And I can’t forget the extra soothers.  That would be a disaster.  What about me?  What am I going to wear this weekend?  Do I still fit into my warmer clothes?  I better try some of them on, just to be safe.  Good thing the laundry is done.  Oh, the garbage.  We really need to take that out.  And I better not leave dirty dishes in the dishwasher again, I don’t want to deal with ‘living’ things when we get back.  Camera, batteries, tums, toothbrush… I’m sure I’m going to forget something!

A vacation can be a lot of work.

While I was washing the dishes and musing about all the trivial yet vitally important details that were floating through my head I was reminded of a conversation I had with a group of moms a couple of weeks ago.  Someone made a comment about being terrible at remembering people’s names.  They were answered by a chorus of agreement and exclamations about how their husband is so good at this type of recall.  I was one of those in complete agreement.  I have always been horrible at remembering names and details like street names, dates, or even the name of the song I’m listening to at that moment, but since becoming a mom my memory has only diminished further.  It was wonderful to hear that I was not alone in this weakness but it was better still to hear a very believable theory as to the cause of this mental decline.

As moms (or principle caregivers, it would be interesting to hear if stay-at-home dads have this phenomenon too), our minds are too full of important household and family information to hang on to little details like a stranger’s name.

The mom who offered this theory gave her evidence as the fact that moms know where everything is; everything.  She gave an example from her life to back it up, about a typical day in her house when she noted one of her daughters ‘hiding’ a doll under her pillow in the morning.  Later, after she had been out she came home to a frazzled husband who had searched the whole house for the past 30 minutes in an effort to find a missing doll.  The mom named the doll and asked if he had looked under said daughter’s pillow.  He looked at her in disbelief, in part at her knowledge of the name and description of the doll without him providing any information, but mainly at her matter of factness that it was under the pillow.  Feeling that it was pointless he left to look where she had suggested and, of course, there was the doll.  He asked how she knew it was there and she told him it was because when she saw the daughter put it there that morning she had made a mental note,  knowing that there would likely be an upset over it later.

This story sparked a volley of similar tales and was very apparent that most moms know the whereabouts of a lot of ‘stuff’ in their house.  So, I may not remember your name but I know where Abigail’s four soothers can be found, that there is a jar of spices under the couch, one of Dave’s i-pod earpieces is in the laundry basket in our room, and that there is a salad and cantaloupe in the fridge that need to go to the grandparents with Abigail in the morning.

Yes, I will miss Abigail like crazy over the next 5 days and 4 nights but it will be nice to turn off this ‘mommy brain’ for a while.

16 days left… A past birthday

24 Aug

I’ve been digging out all my albums looking for old birthday photos.  There are a lot of years where I don’t have a picture, especially during the last 5 to 7 years.  I did however happen to find this beauty.

Once again, I’m not really sure what year this was taken.  It is either celebrating the year I was going into Gr.8, so my 13th birthday, or Gr. 9, my 14th.

No matter.

I love how everyone is piled on me. Sigh. I was loved.

The candle and wine glass in the foreground hint that mom made a special meal… most likely spaghetti… (and punch not wine… in case you were wondering).

Three friends over to celebrate my day.  It is interesting to see who I had picked.  Of those three, I am only in regular contact with one today.  Another, I know what is going on her life and I’m sure if we ever did manage to meet up we would have lots to talk about.  The third, I have no idea where she is or what she is doing.  I really lost touch with her while we were still in high school.  Funny how that happens in life.  But on that day, I wanted each of them there.  Sure looks like we had a great time too.

Huh.  I had another thought.  These three didn’t really know each other.  They weren’t friends with each other as much as they were friends with me.  I’m glad that wasn’t an issue in our lives at that point in time.  It is sad that it can be such a big deal in adult circles… I admit that there have been times when I have dragged my feet when considering a friend’s invitation to something where I know no one else.  I should just go and celebrate that friendship.

Friendship is worth celebrating.

17 days left… A birthday at the start of the school year

23 Aug

Since my birthday is at the beginning of September celebrating my birthday and back to school have always gone together.  There are positives and negatives to this.

A negative: a birthday so close to the start of the school year was often missed in announcements or even classroom celebrations.

A plus: a birthday so close to the start of the school year was often missed in announcements or even classroom celebrations.

A negative: birthday presents may have a school theme… you may be getting things you need for the upcoming year.

A plus:  birthday presents may have a school theme… you may be getting things you need for the upcoming year.

A negative:  there is a strong chance you will be in school on your birthday.

A plus: there is a strong chance you will be in school on your birthday and get to see all your friends.

A lot comes down to the way you see things… just like this whole big deal about turning 30.

My first days of school are tied with birthday memories.  Not a bad way to start off one’s education.

When I climbed up those huge bus steps on my  very first day of school in my rubber boots while clutching my umbrella I said good-bye to a very pregnant mommy.  When my little brother was born three days before my birthday I thought it was the best gift ever.  I felt so proud as I announced to my kindergarten class that I got a brother for my birthday.  I knew that my Show-and-Tell topped all.  A great way to start the year.

Even though mom wasn’t home to celebrate my fifth birthday I didn’t mind.  It was super special to have Grandma Reta and Grandpa Garfield with us.  My grandma would tell how we walked down the hospital hallway swinging my beloved Alice between us as we went to visit mom and my new brother.  I felt so grown up when I was allowed to hold him in my arms.  My little brother.

The only shadow was I could not understand why my little sister was given a present to open from my grandparents too.  It wasn’t her birthday.  Poor Janet.  I’m sure her introduction to life as the middle child was rough.  Her big sister leaves for school without her.  A little brother comes along before she gets a chance to enjoy mommy all to herself.  Everyone is giving presents to her sister and brother.  And she is too little to hold the baby.  (Did you hold him Janet?)  Sorry if I made it harder for you by whining over your gift.   In my mind you have always been here and I may have taken you for granted.

As a teacher my connection between birthday and school has not been broken.  As the commercials for back to school shopping take over I start to feel that familiar mix of excitement and nerves.  A new year is starting; in more than one way.

23 days left… Leaving a legacy

17 Aug

Sometimes I wonder what people will think of my life 50, 80, or 100 years from now.  What am I leaving behind for them to see and how will they interpret it?

These musings arise when I look at old photos, books and furniture from my grandparents.  I only knew them at one stage in their lives.  What they left behind offers me glimpses into the rest of their lives and it feeds my curiosity and imagination.

There is my grandma Margaret. She is the one grandparent I never had the privilege of meeting but I carry a special connection with her in sharing her name.

What a mischievous look!

I love the few photos we have of her as a child.  In each she has this look, like she has secret knowledge to something and the rest of us are in the dark, and the fact that she had red hair only adds to my sense that she would have had an engaging personality.  I imagine her as a free spirit, our family’s version of Anne of Green Gables.

This idea is only intrenched more when I look at her marriage to my grandpa Gib.  Grandpa Gib was a man who knew how to work hard.  A tour around my parents house and farm demonstrate his many talents.  Even as he was aging, he couldn’t come to the farm without having something to work on or help out with.  He could also lay down the law.  I remember how you didn’t want Grandpa Gib to catch you doing anything you shouldn’t.  He would grab your ear  as he scolded and boy did that hurt!  I catch myself quoting him often now that Abigail is climbing the furniture, “Abigail get down.  As Grandpa Gib would say, ‘You’re living dangerously!”.

I love this photo. It says so much, especially because it is so atypical for the time it was taken.

But the biggest thing about Grandpa Gib was he knew how to have a good time.  I could cite many examples from the time I knew him to prove this.  Even when he made the move to a nursing home he was the one to set up the card tables for euchre games and every dance found him never short of partners.  But I love looking at the times that I didn’t know him and getting a glimpse into his life through what is left behind.

Old photos show a man who was totally smitten with his wife.  There is a photo of Margaret sitting in his lap with her arms around his neck from their honeymoon.  There are the stories about how his friends tied the wedding car to a tree and how he simply stepped on the gas and broke the rope.  There are all the pieces that show that even though he could be a firm man he was a man who loved and valued his family, examples like the funny photos they took on the beach or the cradle that was saved and passed down generation after generation.

Grandpa Gib was not the only hard-working man in my family tree.  Grandpa Garfield was too.

Grandpa Garfield always had time for each of his grandkids.

He passed away when I was 11 so my memories of him are foggy.  Once again, I turn to what was left behind to show me what kind of man he was.  I’m amazed and honoured to have a family tree so strong in love.  I adore the story of my dad’s parents.  I only remember hearing it from my grandma but it gave such a good picture of my grandpa’s character.  She was visiting his church one Sunday and grandpa announced to his friend that he was going to marry her.  He pursued her, a woman 11 years his junior, even with her hometown was a couple of provinces away.  And he did win her.

The farm is riddled with his touches.  There is a whole forest of pine trees that he planted with my dad.  He helped establish the sugar bush, the roundhouse, he even almost lost his eye when helping to build one of the sheds.  Each of these things have left a lasting legacy demonstrating his love for his son and his family as well as the land.

I can see why grandpa was smitten at first sight. Grandpa Reta was a beautiful woman with a heart to match.

Grandma Reta was a remarkable woman. She was the family story-teller and she passed the gene on.  She was a reader and a teacher.  She had a giving heart.  I love what I learn of her through her books.  I have a notebook that lists each book she read for a couple of years.  The range of literature is impressive and inspiring.  I’d like to think that I’m well read but I know that I fall seriously short.  I have her copies of Shakespeare and a number of other books and some of my favourite memories of her are the ones when she would read to me.  I’m sure I could still quote some of the stories.

She not only read but she wrote as well.  There are the tales of growing up on the prairies during the ‘dirty thirties’.  The stories she has collected and recorded about her ancestors.  She inspired and encouraged my creative side.  When it came time to decided a middle name for Abigail there was no doubt in my mind what it would be.  I treasure being able to pass on such a legacy to my daughter and can only hope that one day I will inspire my own grandkids.

So, what am I leaving behind?  When future generations look at my photos, musings, and the treasured pieces of furniture I pass on to them, what will they see?

24 days left… Grown Ups

16 Aug

24 days left to be a twenty year old and I’ve discovered a wonderful thing: as I work to write each day it seems to be slowing down time.  I’m actually surprised that there are still 24 days left.  At this rate, by the time September 9th rolls around I should be comfortable with the idea of thirty.

Comfortable with the number 30 but still not reconciled to the idea of being an adult.  I may be 29 but there are still a lot of days when I don’t feel like a grown up.

Strange, I know.  How can I complain about getting older and not feel like an adult?  How can I enjoy being a wife and mom and not feel like an adult?  How can I love my job, own a home, car, and enjoy the lifestyle of an adult and yet not feel like one?

It’s all about the feeling.  About the way I see myself.

I struggle with self-confidence.  It has been an ongoing battle for most of my life and I’m sure that, if  most people are honest with themselves, it is something we all battle.  It is so easy to fall into the pit of comparisons.  If I look at my life in isolation I can feel like a competent adult.  The trouble is I don’t live in isolation.  I will always be running into other people who have lives that are very similar to my own and suddenly I find myself slipping down that muddy slope into the comparison pit.

I feel inexperienced compared to others.   I haven’t raised kids and managed a busy home while working a demanding career.  There are so many times that I have no idea what I am doing.  I don’t know how to get my little girl to sleep through the night.  I don’t know how to snatch a permanent teaching job.  I don’t know how to decorate a home.  I haven’t done any of these things before.  

I feel like I lack the self-discipline to be an adult.  In my mind grown ups are people who always put others first.  They stay up late because they are cleaning, working, caring…. not because they are playing Farmville or watching a movie.  I don’t know how to keep my house organized, like an adult should, and I often choose the fun over the practical.

Yes, perhaps the greatest indicator of my failings in playing the role of grown up are shown in my choices.  I’d rather dance around the house than clean it.  I’d rather chase a gleefully screaming Abigail over the furniture than make sure the house and its belonging last for 15 plus years.  I’d rather stop and play a game, drink pop, eat chips, and stay up late than going to bed early and drinking only water.  There just seems to be so many better things to do than act like an adult.

For a number of years now I have attempted to catch up to my age and actually start feeling like an adult.  The strangest part of all of this is that to everyone else I am a grown up.  To Abigail I will only ever be a grown up.  She will look at pictures of me as a kid and find it hard to imagine what I was like then.  But it isn’t only Abigail.  Most people in my current city have only ever know me as an adult. While I may be struggling with my identity they may never question it.

It is a lot like when I started university with super short hair.  The people I met there only ever knew me with short hair, that would have appeared liked a “Susan” type of hairstyle when in fact it was a huge change for me.  I never thought about this discrepancy, between the way I and others saw my hair, until I started to grow it long again and got comments about how ‘different’ that seemed.  Different?  That’s how I usually had my hair.

To the world I may be that short hair adult that I feel I can’t measure up to but when I look in the mirror I still see that long haired little kid.  I may have only 24 more days to be 29.  I may technically already be an adult.  But I don’t care.  I plan on staying a kid at heart.  Next time I slip into that muddy pit I’m just going to get dirty and have a good time.

I'm never going to grow up, you can't make me.

25 days left… Looking back at 25

15 Aug

The number 25 makes me think about when I was 25.  And, since this is all about preparing for the big 3  – 0  I figure I can spend some time looking back, for now.

2005 was a big year for me.  It was a year of changes.

I graduated from University.

I married an amazing man in the wedding I had dreamed about for years.

First kiss as husband and wife

Years earlier I had told my dad that I wanted to get married under this tree. He told me I better let him know in advance so he could have the field ready. When it came time dad was amazing in working so hard to make everything perfect: planting grass, moving boulders, baling hay. Thanks dad!

I moved into our new house in a new city.

We've done a lot to make it 'ours' in the last 5 years.

I landed my first teaching job.

A card from my last teaching internship. It is always entertaining to see how a kid views you as a teacher. This card was great encouragement as I started out.

25 was a year of changes but I love everything those changes have brought to my life.  I am so blessed in so many ways.  As I move into this new phase of my life I know there is only more to look forward to.

27 days left… A warm heart moment

13 Aug

My little girl is definitely her father’s daughter. When you look at her you have no doubt who her father is. I don’t mind, she has gorgeous blue eyes and a beautiful smile that make my heart melt… just like her dad’s.

She may look nothing like me but she loves to copy me.

She has to 'drink coffee', like mommy.

She has to carry a purse, like mommy.

She wants to wear mommy's shoes.

She even gets an itchy nose, just like mommy.

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All of this makes my heart feel warm, but today was super special.

A couple of days ago, while attempting to organize Abigail’s closet, I pulled out some of the toys that had been saved from mine and Dave’s childhood.  Abigail gave everything a once over but didn’t single any one toy out to my disappointment for I had dug out my Alice, a cabbage patch doll that was my close companion growing up.

I’m sure that ever parent who saves toys had the secret (or not so secret) hope that their child will love it as much as they did.  Even as I handed Alice to Abigail I was tempted to keep her just a little longer.  She was my special doll.  Abigail played with her briefly, she liked Alice’s shoes, but that was the end of it.  Until today.

Today Alice went outside with us and suddenly Abigail was treating her like a little baby.  We had to put Alice in the swing so Abigail could push her.  Then Abigail had to get Alice a drink from the pool.  Then, as the two sat in the swing together Abigail talked away to her new friend.  I’m sure I was grinning like a fool.  This doesn’t mean that Alice will become Abigail’s doll in the same way she was mine but it was such a happy heart moment.

Alice and I swinging

Abigail and Alice swinging

Next will be the challenge of letting go of Alice enough so I don’t get mad when Abigail ‘teaches’ her to swim.