Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Posted by Candygirlflies at 9:48 PM
Friday, June 27, 2008
It has been a long and arduous month, here, save the lovely few days "home" last weekend. There were projects to be completed, oral presentations to be performed, and a stream of year-end testing at school. Piano lessons wound up, and the girlies danced beautifully in the ballet school's annual recital. Yessir, there was more than just a little bit of stress to be felt in this household, but miraculously, everything ended up being just fine. Even the littlest "teddy bear" got up on that great, big stage, and remembered every, single step of her dance. She looked so tiny and perfect in her little pink tutu, with flowers in her hair, even if she DID gaze out at the audience without blinking the entire time, like a newborn fawn caught in the headlights of oncoming traffic.
This week has been filled with good-byes, to wonderful teachers, administrators and friends. Our little town seems to empty-out, as of July 1 every year... People tend to drift off to cottage country, or to visit far-away relatives, and my girlies and I can't help feeling a bit lonesome around here for the first little while, until our days fall into some semblance of a summertime "routine".
That new routine kicked off with one of our favourite treats: home-made chocolate ice cream. Because NOTHING says "summertime" like a great, big bowlful perched on your knees, and slowly freezing the bare skin on your lap where the legs of your shorts don't quite reach.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Well, you will be able to guess where we are this weekend...
Here are six of the little cygnets that hatched from one of the nests I showed you a few short weeks ago. Mother and Father had their babes out for a little stroll on the field below the Festival Theatre, and then crossed Riverside Drive to join us down by the river. They are darlings.
Pardon the fuzzy quality, and slight wobbliness... I will get better at this, promise!
All is well, if rainy, in Stratford. Child Number Two has had a dodgy tummy for a day or so, but luckily, we have a doctor in the house!
Photos to follow, upon our return home...
Posted by Candygirlflies at 4:07 PM
Friday, June 20, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Please, head right on over to Whymommy's fabulous blog, Toddler Planet, and congratulate Susan today!
You do NOT have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Being informed, and knowing what symptoms to look for, could save your life.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Posted by Candygirlflies at 1:54 PM
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Today, June 15th, is also the birthday of one of my favourite composers, Edvard Grieg, who was born in Bergen, Norway in 1843.
Although he is probably best known for his incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt, my own personal favourite piece of Grieg's music is the Holberg Suite, Op. 40. It is a suite of five movements based on eighteenth century dance forms, and was written in 1884 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Danish-Norwegian playwright Ludvig Holberg. (Pretty major theatre buff, was Edvard Grieg, which is probably another one of the many reasons why I love him so...)
Here is a video of the Kristiansand Symfoniorkester playing Grieg's Praeludium from the Holberg Suite, filmed at-and-around the Lindesnes Lighthouse, in breathtakingly beautiful Norway.
Posted by Candygirlflies at 6:00 AM
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Wee Three agreed to wear a beautiful dress, which is something she doesn't do too often... It's just waaay too much trouble, "being careful" with nice clothes. Who needs fashion, when there's mud to play in outside??
The "gradulates" slowly filed in, in front of the large audience of family members. It was interesting to see each child's eyes turn to the size of small saucers when they were gently ushered through the door, and saw the sea of grown-ups looking back at them. Luckily, the procession was carefully planned, and the three teachers stood in strategic spots to help the children along... Each student walked a straight line from one of the ladies, into the arms of another, and then to the one who would seat them in the correct chair on the little stage.
Wee Three did just beautifully. Unlike last year, where she sat like a tiny statue (because the teachers had gently told the children to "sit still and don't move!!" Always the LITERAL one, my daughter...), she sang all the songs, and even performed some of the actions. She stood, only a little bit shakily, when her name was called, and walked over to receive her diploma and pin. I was prodigiously proud of her, and marvelled at how much she has grown up and gained confidence over these past ten months...
After the ceremony was over, and we had said our goodbyes, I took my littlest girl out for lunch. As we sat at the table and ate, I praised her for her courage, standing up tall in front of all of the "strange" people that morning. And I took the opportunity to mention that she would soon have another chance to get up and perform on a stage: her first ballet recital is this Wednesday evening.
Mother: (encouragingly) It's going to be such FUN! You can wear your brand, new costume, and dance with all your friends on another stage! It's just a bit bigger than the stage you were on for gradulation this morning.
Wee Three avoided meeting my gaze, and grimaced down at her cheeseburger.
Mother: (lightly) Oh, it will be just fine. Your big sisters will be there with you, too. They'll do their dances, and then you and your friends will have a turn. It WILL be fun-- there's nothing to be nervous about. Your teacher will be there on stage with you, and Daddy and I will be out in the audience, cheering you on!
There was a moment of silence, and then Wee Three lifted her chin and looked straight into my eyes.
Wee Three: (taking a deep breath) Well, DAT'S fine. Because you know where I will be?
Mother: (smiling down at the littlest ballerina) Where, sweetie?
Wee Three: (firmly) Under. My. Bed.
Well... perhaps THIS one is destined to be a "backstage rat" like her mother...
Posted by Candygirlflies at 2:46 PM
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Enormous Lupins, in every colour...
Beautiful clumps of Veronica,
which keep the bumblebees busy (and buzzy).
Forgive the sporadic posting of late, but there has been much going on around here-- besides gardening, amazingly!! Once again... because I am weary... I am resorting to the "seven random things" format this evening:
Posted by Candygirlflies at 8:52 PM
Monday, June 9, 2008
We had a lovely weekend, filled with dancing lessons, a long stroll around our local village festival, and then a rollicking good time with a house-ful of guests on Sunday. The number of children in our midst by far outnumbered the adults the entire time, and the heat and humidity was so SO intense, we spent every spare moment we could in the swimming pool. We wildly attempted to keep cool (with extra emphasis on that "wild" part), and had a lot of fun doing so... but by eight o'clock last night, two of the three girlies and I were conked out on the enormous couch in the family room, surrounded by the piles and piles (and PILES) of laundry that I was supposed to have been folding, in preparation for the week ahead.
This morning started badly. I was so earth-shatteringly exhausted when my alarm went off at 6.15 am, I sluffed off my early-morning bike ride with one fatal hand-slam to the top of my clock. Hitting the "off" button instead of the "snooze".
When I finally shot out of my sheets and into the shower at eight o'clock, I was in full panic-mode. NONE of the children had roused themselves, and there was coffee to brew, breakfast to make, snacks and book bags to pack, and girlies to... GIRLIES!!! WAKE UP!!
WAKE UP, and GETDRESSED,WASHFACE,BRUSHTEETH!! EATSOEMTHING,FEEDTHEGUINEAPIGS,MAKEYOURBEDS!!
GETDRESSED,YOUCAN'TWEARTHAT,GETBACKUPSTAIRS!! DIDYOUBRUSHYOURHAIRWITHANEGGBEATER, ANDWHENYOUSAYYES,DOYOUMEANINTHISLIFETIME???? WHERE'SYOURHOMEWORK,DOINEEDTOSIGNYOURAGENDAS??
You get the picture. Combine all of this madness with a mental-image of ME trying to get MYSELF into my "personal armour", and the scene gets even less appetizing, I assure you.
We raced out the back door, backpacks flapping behind us, and the soupy 30+ degree humidity hit us like a tidal wave as we entered the Great Outdoors, at 8.30 on the dot.
I re-called the troops, and we marched back into the mud room. Because, in my mentally-defective hysteria, I had forgotten some very important new "steps" in our morning routine.
The girlies now require wide-brimmed hats and a thick layer of sunscreen, to protect them during their outdoor gym classes and recess break. And, because our little school backs onto an enormous park and "The Pond", each child needs a good long squirt of insect repellent, to stave off the thick swarms of mosquitoes that have been plaguing our community for the past several weeks.
By some miracle, I managed to get all of the girlies to school, with all of their required equipment and paperwork, ON TIME. But, as I kissed their little sweaty faces and saw them through those great, big doors... I felt a wave of guilt and worry. Because, our local schools are older buildings... have flat, black roofs that bake in the sun... and most certainly DON'T have air conditioning.
While I was running around all morning, in-and-out of beautifully cool buildings and even my air conditioned CAR for crying out loud, I hatched a plan to spring my kids from their blast-furnace classrooms at lunchtime. Our school operates on the ridiculous new schedule where lunch does not roll around until nearly one o'clock, by which time the children are exhausted and ravenous, and more than ready for a rest. I bring my girls home for their lunch hour every single day. They need the break from the chaotic atmosphere, just as badly as they need a nourishing meal. After an hour at home, they are usually ready to face the remainder of their day... But, I suspected, this nearly-forty-degree-day would be an exception. Sure enough, when my daughters burst out into the playground and into my arms, it was clear that a Ferris Bueller afternoon was definitely in order. They were positively roasting, their little cheeks damp and pink and the backs of their shirts soaked through. They were starving and headache-y, tearful, grubby and pong-y from outdoor play... And to top it off, Child Number Two was sporting an ENORMOUS red bug bite, right in the middle of her forehead.
I took them home, put them all through a nice, cool shower, fed them, and settled them down in front of a movie musical on tv. And when we were all snuggled down together, resting and enjoying the show, I addressed my second child:
Mother: (lovingly examining the large welt on her child's head) Well, that's just incredible. I put "Off Skintastic" ALL over you this morning, and you STILL manged to get bitten! It's amazing those bugs found you so delicious, you were such a wreck when I picked you up from school today... I could smell you even before you came out the door!
Child Number Two: (scratching, then grinning hugely, and snuggling closer) Yup... I'm delicious, all right. SO delicious, the mosquitoes musta PLUGGED THEIR NOSES to bite me!
Posted by Candygirlflies at 2:27 PM
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Five years ago, my husband and I were visiting friends in the beautiful state of Georgia. After a busy day of sight-seeing and chasing children around, we collapsed in front of the television, to catch the news before hitting the hay.
Suddenly, a story hit the air waves that immediately caught our attention. The American CDC was reporting about a mysterious flu-like illness in China, that was spreading rapidly and inexplicably-- resistant to any and all treatment, and killing its victims.
When things like this happen, half-way around the world, one is concerned, certainly. A flicker of worry leaps up in one's heart, but it usually extinguishes fairly quickly. Surely, in this day and age of extraordinary medical science, this sort of thing could NEVER happen HERE.
Well, to put it simply, it did.
SARS happened. Right here. Right here, in my little community. In my neighbourhood. In my own "backyard".
Within days of returning home from our vacation, we got word that the very first cases of this mysterious illness had begun cropping up in our local hospitals. The first patients died. And then, the reports came that the medical professionals who had tirelessly cared for these patients were sick, themselves.
One of these medical professionals was the father of one of my eldest daughter's best friends. He, and all other people reporting symptoms of the disease were immediately put into (remarkably quickly and efficiently created) isolation wards. Their families were quarantined in their homes. Indeed, anyone having association with people who were ill, were quarantined. Long lists of safety instructions were published in newspapers, on our local health unit's website, and talked about on radio and television. All hospitals and medical buildings were on "high alert". They became places one only ventured to for emergencies so dire, the risk you ran by simply being there was deemed to be less than the benefit you would receive.
Medical staff continued working, under the most difficult conditions imaginable. Putting their own health, and the health of their families at terrible risk. The stress they were under was unfathomable. Some still suffer post-traumatic stress... others had breakdowns, and eventually had to leave their jobs. But the majority soldiered on. Selflessly. They cared for us, and we will be forever in their debt.
It was a truly terrifying time. Indeed, I don't believe I have ever been so afraid in all my life.
We were a community, polarized and petrified. Worried sick for those of our friends who were ill, and at risk. Scared to leave our homes, and move about in "normal" society, for fear of what super-bugs we might contract-- at the time, we had no idea how on earth the illness was spreading.
Thank God for Dr. Sheela Basrur.
Dr. Basrur was the calming force, our guiding light, and our voice-of-reason during those long, dark days. She was our Chief Medical Officer of Health, and it was she who explained our situation-- no only to us, but to the rest of the world-- in a way that we could understand. Her serene composure, and her wise counsel saw us through that dark, dark time. She guided us through the process of "Carrying On", as normally and as safely as possible.
After long days and endless nights of meetings with other medical experts, Dr Basrur would make appearances in front of the media, who were desperate for any and all information. Her tiny, five-foot frame perched behind a microphone, Dr Basrur would patiently explain the day's events and findings... And then, she would look out at us all, and ask, "Does anyone have any questions?"
Oh, we had 'em, all right. And she answered every, single one of them, to the very best of her ability. Day, after day, after day.
She saw us through. And in the end, we "won" the battle against SARS. Because Dr. Basrur, her superb team of experts, and our medical professionals, were on top of things. She never lost her cool. Never wavered. Together, they got the job done.
Steering us through the SARS crisis was far from the only thing Dr. Basrur achieved during her distinguished career in public health. She was not only Toronto's Chief Medical Officer of Health, but became the first Chief Medical Officer of Health to be appointed by our province's Legislative Assembly. She also served as Assistant Deputy Minister for Public Health for the province of Ontario. In 2001, she was instrumental in beginning a program called "DineSafe", a new restaurant inspection system for the City of Toronto. It was she who also spear-headed the Smoke-Free Ontario legislation, which passed in 2006. She did pioneering work on the control of the use of pesticides, which has led to new bylaws being put in place. She targeted the issue of childhood obesity with her ground-breaking report, which raised awareness and set off alarm-bells from coast-to-coast.
She was also a remarkable single mother of an equally remarkable daughter. Which was undoubtedly her greatest success of all.
Dr Basrur discovered that she had Leiomyosarcoma, a rare vascular cancer, several years ago. And it eventually forced her to reluctantly step down from her job, fighting for OUR health, to focus on fighting for her own. We here in Ontario certainly never forgot her, though, even though she was no longer on our television screens and in our printed media on a daily basis. Rather, we would hear about the public appearances she continued to make, and of updates about the progress of her treatment. Once again, she fought tirelessly. In December, 2006, she received a standing ovation at Queen's Park when she arrived to hear the announcement of a new Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion. She was the recipient of the Amethyst Award, the highest award granted to a member of the Ontario Public Service. Only weeks ago, she was awarded the Order of Ontario, and an entire province cheered.
Dr. Basrur lost her fight against cancer yesterday, in Kitchener, Ontario. She was 51.
And at the news of her passing, I can think of no finer tribute to this, one of our most dedicated Public Servants than to say simply:
Posted by Candygirlflies at 8:19 AM