Saturday, September 20, 2003

Of Mice and My Man...

I meant to write this entry last night, but after a hectic week for both of us, Nick and I got a baby-sitter and went out to a wonderful dinner at our local sushi restaurant with our good friend, Karen, and talked most of the night away... so by the time I got home, it was a little late to power up the computer. Saturday mornings, the clock radio alarm goes off at 7:10... which is a whole hour later than on the weekdays.. so that we can all get out the door and to Saint Pat’s Family Centre. By noon, the girls have each done an hour of gymnastics and one swimming lesson while I have either taught the circuit training class or had my own workout while Nick takes the class. I teach every second Saturday and fill in for the main instructor now and then if life happens.

Speaking of things happening, Nick had a bit to much excitement at his school yesterday! The large grass field behind Arnold H. McLeod school, where my husband is the Vice-Principal & Gym Teacher, used to be shared by the school and the City of Moncton so that it could be used as a ball field as well as a grassy area for track and field. When the City began to centralize everything, they stopped mowing the smaller fields and by school opening this fall, the grass had grown almost to Nick’s waist! (He’s 6’5 1/2” so that’s pretty high!)

On Friday, someone was finally sent to mow down the field while Nick was holding an outdoor gym class. He noticed that of his students kept staring down at the grass and went over to see what was holding the child’s attention. “Look at all the little mice, Mr. Smith!!” the boy yelled. Sure enough, all of the “critters” that had been living in the lush field over the summer were now fleeing the sharp blades of the mower in a scene that made him think of “The Secret of Nimh”. Unfortunately, the way the field was being mowed meant that the animals were being herded in the direction of the school and the kids playing outside.

Let’s just say that for Nick, rodents provoke a similar reaction in him that spiders do in me. The primal urge to flee, scream or find the nearest possible weapon and defend yourself is pretty strong, even though you keep reminding yourself that you are a rational adult which is MUCH bigger and smarter than said defenseless creature.

As the mower turned for the next pass, reducing the grassy strip that remained to less than about 4 feet, the was a sudden movement in the grass as dozens of mice and at least one large rat burst from the greenery and began to charge up the hill towards the playground. Nick assures me that from that distance, their teeth suddenly grew into large fangs and that their eyes gleamed red in the light of the sun... but I think that may have been those panic endorphins kicking in. Though they looked as if they would be upon him in seconds... the rodents never even got within 75 meters of the school.

Nick herded the children to safety in a very calm, but extremely quick manner and got everyone inside. After consulting with the Principal, they jointly decided to cancel the fire drill that was supposed to be held that day. Half of the school is supposed to rendezvous on the hill by the field as their “safety area” but with all the rodents running around in total panic at having been so recently evicted... the administration decided to wait until things calmed down a bit.... Smart Call.

P.S. After reading this blog entry, Nick asked me to put in that no children or rodents were harmed in any way during this adventure.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Learning from Erin...

Today was discouraging... I’d been trying to get the office cleaned up a bit and caught up on paper work, but there were lots of e-mails to answer. Today included not one but 2 apparent cases of copyright infringement... and I can’t pretend that it doesn’t really hurt. I’ve been told that I should be “flattered” that someone likes my images enough to want to share them, but it certainly doesn’t feel like a compliment. It feels like theft. One case is a bit more disturbing than the other because it looks as if the chart the person is stitching from might have been “recreated” somehow, but I may never know unless they are willing to send in the illegal copy.

I was stewing over these incidents as I hung up the laundry to get a break from the computer. We are still in the midst of a wonderful warm spell and I was thinking of Erin running yesterday. Not only had she gotten lost, she had shared that when she did find her way back on the proper path, someone teased her about looking for a shortcut like the “others who wanted to make good time”. She asked me if some people would actually cheat to win the race.

Ouch! Who says kids can’t ask really tough questions at only 8??!!

This prompted one of those Mother/Daughter talks about being true to yourself and having the integrity to do what is right... even if is doesn’t get you ahead as fast as someone who cheats. lies or makes others look bad. I asked her how she thought a person who cheated would feel when everyone was complimenting them on the podium for winning the race. She thought about it and decided the person would “feel all woozy in their tummy ’cause they knew the truth”. Hmmmmm! That’s one smart little dragonlet there!

I sat down to check e-mail again to be sure another reply for business had gone through.. and there was a note from Kreinik about the Reflections Newsletter featuring a project that I had the pleasure of designing with their glow in the dark threads and a lovely profile about me that made me blush. It is still strange to read how I am seen through another’s eyes.

So today, I am reminded of my daughter’s example... to keep running until I get to that finish line. To run the race without cheating, even if it means that someone else “wins” and also to have to blow the whistle when I do see something wrong being done.

One of the reasons that I was so interested in starting this blog was to put a very human face on the person behind the dragons... As I wrote a few days ago - don’t let anyone make you give up on your dreams!!

Never be afraid to learn from your kids either. Sometimes I think they are a lot more intelligent than us grown-ups!

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Watching My Children With Wonder...

Today’s musings have nothing to do with stitching and everything to do with life. This mother Dragon is so proud of her oldest dragonlet, Erin, it just had to work its way into today’s blog.

Now that she is in Grade 3, Erin is allowed to take part in some of the activities held after instructional time and has cheerfully gotten involved in both Choir and Cross-Country Running. Having been the child who always hurt herself in gym class or was the last one picked on teams for sports, I am always amazed at how much athletic ability and energy are packed into my oldest child.

Today was the second practice ever at the huge 2.3 km course (don’t ask me what that is in miles... I am totally metric for distance!) that winds its way through Moncton’s Centennial Park. Last week, Erin completed the course in 16.28 minutes, despite getting lost on one side trail and being distracted by a chipmunk. Today, she made a wrong turn between the two spotters on the course and got TOTALLY lost.

If it had been me, (and I doubt it ever would have been because I would never have had the courage to try out for the team) I would have been the one they sent the search party out for because I would have sat down in the trail and just cried... waiting for someone to find me. At least that is how I would have been at 8 years old.

Erin crossed the finish line at a run in 20 minutes and 14 seconds and THEN burst into tears... When she explained about being lost, Mr. Stewart, the wonderful teacher in charge of the event for the whole District, took a few of his precious minutes to bend down and speak to Erin, face to face. He found out where on the course she’d gotten confused... and then explained to her that next week she needed to stay on the main road between the two spotters. “When you see a parent/spotter, they will tell you when and where to turn,” he explained.

I’ve told her many times tonight how proud I am that she even finished the practice run... that I marvel at how she held it together until she finished the race... and I just hope that some of it sunk in.

How amazing to watch your child spread her wings and fly in a direction you never expected....

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Never Give Up On A Dream...

In a conversation this morning about following your dreams, I was reminded of the fact that I almost gave up on cross stitch before I even really got started!

When I was planning to attend my first trade show, I visited an Economic Development Commission to find out what programs were in place to help with the costs of getting from Moncton, New Brunswick to Charlotte, North Carolina. In speaking with other designers and cross stitch shops, I knew that this was one of the best shows to attend in order to wholesale my designs to shops from North America and around the world. I went in armed to the gills with facts and figures only to end up across a desk from a “guy in a tie” who said:
“Let me see if I understand this... people make Xs with string on cloth?”

I knew that didn’t bode well, so I tried to explain that I was producing the PATTERNS from which people who did cross stitch could create their own versions. At that point, he smiled politely and said “Sweetie, I think you need to get yourself a table at the next big craft fair up at the coliseum and see how the patterns go over here in Atlantic Canada. That sounds more like a HOBBY to me!” Never call a 6’5” woman “Sweetie”.... it makes us vengeful!

Needless to say, Nick and I did not get any funding that year. What we DID do was take the money from that year’s tax return, pack up the 10 designs in a laundry basket, load them into our Subaru station wagon along with our camping gear and clothing. I took my 2 weeks of vacation to coincide with the shows dates landing in the middle and we drove from Moncton to Charlotte. Our Subaru had no air conditioning, so when it got too sticky (as it does in late July as you drive South) we would find a mall and walk around for a little while until we cooled down.

We lost our muffler in Roanoke and pulled into Charlotte sounding like a tractor... but that is another part of the adventure.

When faced with that obvious belittlement of what I was trying to do, I could have listened to what an economic advisor told me... I could have given in to those doubts that began to whisper in my head...but I chose to chase my dream instead. I learned that if you want something badly enough, and you are willing to do whatever work it takes to make that dream come true, then no one else has the right to tell you that dream is foolish. It may not work out the way you first envision it... but there is nothing like having your fingertips at least brush the stardust!

Monday, September 15, 2003

Beach Glass and Campfire Sparks

This weekend gave us one last taste of summer weather and we had the most wonderful spot on earth in which to enjoy it! Nick, Erin, Bethany and I headed about 45 minutes out of Moncton to the Northumberland Straight where the United Church Camp Ta-Wa-Si is located for an overnight church retreat. We got there in time to register and enjoy lunch before taking part in wonderfully crazy get to know you games and an afternoon of combing the beach for beach glass and seashells. As the temperature soared, we even dipped ourselves in the ocean for one last time this season...but the water was very chilly! The Dragon had goose bumps on her scales!!

This is the third summer that our girls have been to the camp for a private church rental like this, so they know the site well and loved the new play park. They also know the ground rules about playing beside the dining hall or coming to tell us if they are heading to the tire swings at the edge of the woods. It was nice to be able to sit and enjoy some time with other adults or linger at a meal, knowing that our daughters were having the chance to run around and explore in a safe place. There are less chances for our children to do this now than when we were kids roaming around our neighbourhoods. Just today, one of the other parents at the bus stop warned me that someone has been lurking near our neighbourhood park trying to encourage children to get in his car!

I also loved the chance to sing around the campfire... though I am still on a hunt for other former girl guides who know the song “Barges”. The harmony to that song is one of my favourites to sing... and yet I almost never find anyone who knows what I am talking about. I guess Barney helped keep other songs like “Alice the Camel” alive for the new generation. Sigh... I shall just have to teach the song to my daughter’s Brownie Pack!

I came back so recharged... if not very rested after a night on camp bunk beds. I had intended to post this entry last night or first thing this morning once I got everyone off to school... but Erin’s school had a water main break and so we all had to go gather up our kids to bring them home!!

Ah well... the serenity of the weekend’s wonderful memories will help make this hectic Monday more bearable!