CanCon Playlist #3…

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I just found a list of Canadian musicians that I made about two years ago, while cleaning the spare bedroom, in preparation for my brother to come and visit.  Why, you may ask, did I make the list?  That’s what I do.  I make lists and piles.  In fact, most of the piles I’ve made are comprised of lists.  Also, because I’m a Canadian, raised listening to Canadian radio stations and watching Much Music on Canadian TV.  And in Canada, there is a law which stipulates that all Canadian television and radio stations must transmit a minimum of 49% Canadian content (I think that’s the amount).  Since I was also surrounded by people who were (thankfully) under this influence, some for many years, you could imagine the effect it may have on the musical tastes of new and future generations.

I took my list, went to YouTube and the first song I searched for was ‘Closer Together’ by The Box.  Immediately I knew… it was time to make another CanCon Playlist!  It’s been almost 6 months since the last one and there’s no shortage of classic songs, so this time I set myself a challenge.

‘Closer Together’ inspired me to find other songs that really make you feel good.  I think that one must have a track list (there’s those pesky lists again) they can turn to if they ever think that this world in bad shape and there’s no hope (or if they just want to boogie).  Art has the power to uplift and probably music more so than other disciplines. So the challenge was to create a track list, spanning all eras and genres, that has uplifting music and lyrics, but not always both.  Let us begin…

The Box – ‘Closer Together’ (they actually have a few songs that could be on this track list)

Bran Van 3000 – Astounded (these guys are actually amazing musicians and nobody knows! This is the video, but I recommend searching for the full length song – no video – as you can experience the real ups and downs)

By Divine Right – Come For A Ride (flying doughnuts? Come on… instant classic!)

Men Without Hats – Safety Dance (when midgets were cool!)

Len – Steal My Sunshine (it kind of hurts to add this one, because these guys seem like a bunch of muppets, but man it’s fun and catchy!  plus, who’da thunk Len would’ve come up with this rhyming nugget of wisdom: “and of course you can’t become, if you only say what you would’ve done”?  yes, another classic.)

Shuffle Demons – Spadina Bus (not much to say here, except it’s funky and fun)

Chantal Kreviazuk – In This Life (I really like the melody, the uplifting buildup and especially the lyrics)

Blue Rodeo – Try (these guys are so good still)

Feist – 1234 (I swear, she has made some of the coolest videos from the past few years… apparently both of her parents are artists, so it’s not surprising the level of creativity that Feist puts out)

Frank Mills – Music Box Dancer (this is one of those songs – for me – that can pop into my head at any given moment, even though i haven’t actually heard the song since i was a kid in the 80’s… a tearjerker for some reason… nostalgia maybe)

And that song reminded me of this one, which makes me whistle with a smile and my eyebrows raising and lowering with each note, just like my grandma used to do: Mr. Dressup Theme Song – Artist Unknown

If any of these songs made you smile, happy, feel good, think about something nice, etc., then my time wasn’t wasted.

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As Time Goes By.

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Day 8-35.  Whoa.  Talk about dropping the ball!  No excuses here though… okay, one.  I am wrecked!  By the time the girls are asleep, I’m exhausted!  After playing, singing, dancing, walking, running, shopping, painting, drawing, baking, gardening, swinging, climbing, comforting, throwing, catching, role-playing, feeding, cleaning, educating, entertaining, scolding – trust me, this list could go on and on – I can barely maintain an adult conversation with Chantal when she gets home, let alone post something on here!  I think the fiery start that I had from days 1 through 7 was a case of premature, well, premature something.  (Hover your mouse over the following photographs for captions.  Also, I encourage you to click on them for a larger view… they are charming.)

A Conspiracy In the MakingI am now settling into a rhythm, a system, a sym-tri-otic relationship between myself, Seren and Olwyn.  It seriously takes time, patience, hard work, dedication and lots and lots of love to get into the hearts and Her Following Eyesminds of little children and their routines.  Only within the past couple of weeks have they really started to accept me as not just their daddy, but the person who they hang out with all day.  I’m not Kate (our au pair up until June) and Seren is no longer in Playgroup (for the summer), so there have been upheavals in their lives, to say the least.  These things may seem trivial to us at first, as they did to me.  But to small children, these changes are everything… not just everything, absolutely their whole entire world!Nice... Outside Eating!

I am so blessed to have this opportunity to spend very real (because I make sure it matters), quality (because Tired Much?I put huge effort into it) time with my little girls.  And yes, at times I wonder why, how or who, but really… c’mon!  My unstylish hair, unshaven face, dark circles under my eyes, increasing grey hairs and wrinkles and spare tires, lack of wardrobe itemsSwingin' Sisters younger than 5 years, rare fits of tired insanity, et cetera, et cetera… they’re all worth it when I really observe Seren and Olwyn.  I’ve done a heck of a lot with them in just under two months and their Olwyn's Tired, But Not Me!development of behaviour, knowledge, words, phrases, dexterity and physical growth are things that I am proud of.  Not pride in myself, mind you, but pride in their assertiveness and determination to become better, know more and see things differently. 

La Pique NiqueOf course, I can be proud of myself too.  After all, can a child really learn more from anyone other than a truly loving parent?  I know that I never did.  So, I’m proud of my parents for teaching me things that hopefully I am passing on to my children.  And to witness the way Seren and Olwyn interact with each other is always an It's Deodorant Olwyn... Don't Ask Why!inspiring learning experience, which makes me feel nostalgic about how Chris (my brother) and I interacted.  For example, Olwyn (the younger) has recently decided that sitting on Seren when she’s lying down is hilarious!  A mild dose of antagonism really is her drug lately… seems very familiar to me!  So, I also have that great relationship to draw knowledge and insight from.

Who Needs Toys?I’ve become a real ‘man-about-town’ lately too.  Setting up playdates at various playgrounds and meeting other playgroup parents for coffee ‘so our kids can play together’!  It’s been a busy, adventurous summer thus far and it’s only halfway over.  I’ve still got the rest of July and all of August to get through, plus a trip to Paris, where thankfully I’ll have Chantal and Chris with me.

By no means have I got any of this under control, let’s just make that clear!  As much as I want to control things, I can’t… never will.  Manipulate, yes.  Steer, yes.  Control, NO!  What is happening though, is that I am learning how to grow too.Inspiration Is Everywhere

Recourse For Asylum.

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There is a place I go to — it’s in my head

The last remaining refuge — from pain and death

It’s where I think about you — and what you’ve said

And now that I don’t have you — it’s where I live

If I could have planned our last kiss / It would have been beneath the stars

Snowflakes would have fallen on us / We could have let our spirits fly

Were we really on this island / In a space and time that’s pure

We’d have danced amongst the faeries / Right now the air’s a blur

We were on another island / Where snowflakes can endure

In the wild forests, wide and free / Search inside and touch the sky

The child inside is losing — gone far away

Walls are closing in around — we suffocate

The hope I see is distant — I contemplate

So much to do in this life — why must I wait

I should’ve warmed you with my love / As such cold times require

I could’ve seen you through the nights / Making days meaningful

I would’ve been right by your side / Our closeness bringing strength

If I were stronger when it mattered / Doesn’t change anything

Going to suss out my mistakes / lonely are we both laying

I didn’t live up to my end / Our last kiss turned to dust

The Double Shot.

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Day 6.  I couldn’t even see straight last night, so there was no chance of me writing a blog post!  The fatigue that I have been experiencing since I finished college and have been back to ‘work’, minding the girls all day, is epic.  It’s a combination of having two little rascals, who want to play with me constantly and not going to bed early enough.  I’m working on improving both situations!

Storytime In The Garden

Yesterday was a nice day though.  We spent some time in the garden because the sun was shining all day and got a few things done.  Seren took more photos with our camera, some of which are pretty cool, but I’ll post them another time.  My wonderful wife let me ‘sleep in’ until 10:30am, which was the first time I stayed in bed past 8am in well over two years, I think!  I put ‘sleep in’ between quotation marks because I don’t think you can ever truly sleep in when you’ve children.  In Ireland, it is more appropriately referred to as a ‘lie in’.  Chantal took Seren into the playgroup (with Olwyn), then came home and played with Olwyn, put her down for her morning nap and then I got my lazy butt out of bed and took over.  You see, I stayed up Monday night until about 4:30am, watching Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final between Vancouver and Boston.  I know, silly right?  In my defence, it was the first NHL game all season long that I stayed up to watch and it could have been the last one, so I felt it was necessary. As it turns out, Vancouver lost and didn’t win the cup, so I have to do it again tonight! And tomorrow I can’t get rescued by Chantal, so I’m a little apprehensive, but tonight’s game is definitely the last one, so there is motivation and incentive.

Day 7.  Another good day.  Busy, busy, busy!  It seems to me like, as soon as you finish one thing, there’s a whole selection of other things that need to get done, to choose from.  I wonder if one can ever really get it all done?  And just when you think you’ve caught up and there’s free time, someone gets sick, or won’t sleep properly, or you’ve forgotten about that load of laundry, or you need milk from the shop, etc., etc.

Scooting To The Doctor

The reason I say this is because I had to take Seren to the doctor today (nothing serious), then to the pharmacy, plus Olwyn wouldn’t nap because Seren insists on coming into the bedroom with me, promising she’ll be quiet, but of course, never is.  How can a 3 year old keep quiet?  They can’t!  Also, I don’t want to always feed them tinned beans and scrambled eggs, or fish fingers, or frozen pizza for lunch and dinner, so I’m cooking, cleaning, fetching, shopping, comforting, playing, cooking, cleaning, scolding, chasing, walking, running and so on and so on…  Please don’t mistake this as a complaint, it isn’t.  I love being with my children more than anything.  The only thing that would make it better, is if Chantal were with us, or more family for that matter.  One thought of being in the office I used to work in is all I need to remind me of how lucky and precious this time is, that I get to spend with them.  Not all parents, let alone fathers, get nearly as much time with their little ones as I’ve been blessed with.  I’m just trying to express my feelings about how incredibly taxing it is.  And it is.

Wowsers! Blueberry & Ricotta Pancakes.

I’m only in the second week and I’m already considering bailing out on this journaling malarkey!  I’m not going to quit though.  No, but I definitely need to pare it down a little, so I can get to bed a littlie earlier.

So here are the highlights.  I made blueberry and ricotta pancakes for lunch and all I can say about that is, too bad for you!  You’d be hard pressed to go wrong with blueberries and cheese in the form of a fried cake, then covered in maple syrup.  Oh my, it was good.  The best/worst part about having food that you love, is that your children might not eat all of theirs.  So what does one do?  Well, one has to eat his children’s unfinished portions.  After all, it would be an awful shame to throw out perfectly good food.  Sometimes I think that the number one cause of male beer belly syndrome, isn’t beer, but children not finishing their meals.  Clearly we have no self-control when it comes to good food.

Matisse

Picasso

Seren and Olwyn were hard at the drawing today.  They love their arts and crafts (most of the time).  Seren was so sweet, making drawings for everyone.  She was even trying to learn how to spell her name!  I was so impressed… and proud.  We didn’t get a chance to go out into the garden today, or to the playground, but I kept them involved and active all day.  We had chicken korma for dinner, using the leftover chicken from last night’s roast chicken and roasted potatoes dinner, that I made.  That was also delicious.  After dinner, the girls were so tired and stuffed, that they sat quietly beside the bookshelf, just reading books to themselves, while I did dishes and tidied the house.  They were asleep by 8:15pm.

It’s 9:15pm now and I’m nearly ready for be too!  I’ve decided that it would be irresponsible of me to stay up and watch the hockey game, even though I really want to.  “Who cares?”, I keep telling myself.  “You’ll find out who won and can see all the highlights when you’re having breakfast and besides, the celebrations will be nearly live anyway!  Go Vancouver!!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  If a recipe calls for butter to be whisked into a mixture… melt it first!  That’s what I hear anyway.

Sticky Situation

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Day 5.  Today was quite a bit different, but I think I’m going to change tack a little with these entries and make them shorter.  The epic tomes I had written last week, kept me up and mentally engaged much longer than anyone should ever be!  It’s tiring (as you all know) to be on the go from 6 or 7am until midnight everyday.

The Breakfast Arts

So, I think I’ll do more photos and less words… or just less of everything.  It’s for my own stamina.  Actually, it’s for my sanity!  The stamina comment was just an excuse.  We had some fun on the weekend:

Christmas Preparations

There was a fair bit of arts and crafts undertaken and lots of reading.  In fact, Seren took out one of our Christmas themed books and boldly stated that, “Santa’s probably going to bring me a bicycle for Christmas this year!”

As for today however, I had to attend an interview at 9:15am for University, to further my career redirection.  It was on the other side of the city, where I spent the past year in college, at the National Botanic Gardens.  I barely made it there on time, but was pleasantly satisfied to find out that I had achieved a Distinction, which would equate to an Honours in Canada and surely other parts of the world.  I really didn’t think that I was going to get this ‘honour’.  I knew that I would be successful, but didn’t think that a Distinction was within reach.  So, two years – two Distinctions!  Now to get started on the ‘real’ qualification of Landscape Architecture, in September!

All of this talk brings me back to the ethos of this silly blog, which was to document the ‘transition’ that my life is in at the moment.  If you go to my main page – ‘this is…’ – you’ll find a more eloquent explanation.  Really though, going from working in sports television to discovering a passion for the living planet and striving to find out my place within said planet, is quite an about-face.  I haven’t even written much about any of that since I started the blog and I guess I should.  But I digress.

The Bee Whisperer

So, back to today with Seren and Olwyn.  We were out in the garden for a while, which they both love (in their own ways, which I’m still observing).  Seren and Olwyn were examining the soil in a bed that I haven’t sowed seeds in yet, when I saw Seren take a handful and rub it on her face, then rub the leftovers on Olwyn’s face.  I had a bemused look on my own face, yet was silent.  She turned, saw me watching and quickly declared, “Daddy, I just put sun cream on our faces because I don’t want to get burnt.  Because I was burnt yesterday… see, look… my eyes are red!”

The best part of the day, by far, was during lunch.  I started making tuna melts, when our groceries were delivered – yeah, that’s right, we have them delivered.  Lunch was put on hold and while I put the groceries away, I started to tidy areas of the kitchen and surrounding area up, to make room for fruit and veg.  Well, in doing so I had put some things in my pockets, just to temporarily get them out of the way and I would put them in their proper place ‘in a minute’.  I eventually got back to making lunch, then served it, then we ate it.  During lunch, Seren wanted to sit on my lap and read a story.  Fine, no problem.  Olwyn had long-since finished her lunch – she loved my tuna melts – and so I had to unleash her from her booster seat before she went bonkers!  Soon though, Olwyn wanted to get up on my lap too, because I was reading a story and she wanted to be involved again.  After about, oh, I don’t know, ten minutes of having the two of them on my lap, they decided that they wanted down.  I was elated!  I shifted around in my seat to get comfortable, but started to feel a burning sensation.  No, it wasn’t what you’re thinking!  My lower-left butt cheek felt hot… quite hot.  I reached around and my jeans felt moist.  I was perplexed and a little worried, to be honest.  I plunged my hand into my back-left pocket and was met by a moist sensation.  I explored in there a little, then decided I should sniff my fingers, or at the very least look at them!  It should be said that there was nothing on the seat I had been on.  So, I took

Super Butt Takes On A Whole New Meaning

my hand out and they immediately felt very strange.  I put them to my nose and by the time they got there, the skin on a couple of them was solid, like a film of honey had instantly hardened and sealed them from the air.  However, as soon as I smelled them, my jaw dropped and my eyes nearly popped out of my head.  “What have I done?”, I thought.  I immediately reached back in to my pocket to pull out the small container of SuperGlue that I had put in there earlier!  I put it in there when I was tidying up and forgot about it, but had to do something quick, before any more damage was done!  The damage was/is this:  my jeans are probably permanently ruined (but I’ll have to wear them for another year anyway); my thumb, index and middle finger on my left hand are screwed now, for at least a good few days; my underwear are also corroded and were also stuck to my leg, until I peeled them apart; I might have long term damage.  Keep in mind, this was a near-full container of SuperGlue!!  My fingers feel like the outer layer of skin has been burned off of them!!

All I can say is, it actually burns!  If you leave it there long enough, it’ll corrode your skin.  I guess having the weight of the girls on my lap and my complete inability to remember what happens five minutes earlier, led to this minor disaster.  They were my only decent pair of jeans too!  What am I supposed to wear now?  Dress pants… in the garden… to the playgroup… getting snotted on?!!  Looks like I’m going to have to pull out the trackpants.  I don’t like wearing them out in public, as a rule, but you’d have to live in Ireland to understand why.  Actually, no you don’t.

The moral here is this: On days when you receive good news, be prepared for some bad shortly thereafter.  If you don’t get any bad news, the good feels even better!!

Thoughtful Photos From A Little Girl

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Chantal and I have been trying to let go of a small level of control that I exercise over Seren lately.  Not just since I’ve been home with the girls again, but for a short while before that.  For example, little things like, not demanding that she hold my hand everytime we step outside our front door and venture into the big, bad world; or letting her go upstairs to play in her room (or any room) by herself, trying to demonstrate what trust is and that we trust her, or that we want to trust her.  Another thing I’ve been doing since I have been home from College for the past week, is to let her use the (expensive) camera.  Perhaps this is silly of me, because if she breaks it, that’s it!  It’s gone and we won’t be buying another one.  I’ve explained to her that it’s important to Mami and Daddy to be able to take photos of her and Olwyn and the garden and each other, etc.  I’ve told her that she must be gentle and careful with it, so that it doesn’t fall on the ground and break.  And I’ve tried to impress upon her, the importance of not touching the lens.  The results have been inspiring!  She always wraps the string around her wrist, is very careful to not touch the lens and is even keen to learn what the different buttons do.  Mainly, she wants to see that photos that she has taken afterwards.  Here is the first installment of Seren’s experimentation with the camera… her photoblog!

Red Doll

Reflecting on Making Dinner

Black Egg / Orange Egg

'Puter Tail

Windows To The Soul

Ya Gotta Roll Withit…

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Our Baby's All Grown Up Now... Sob, Sniff...

Day Four.  It was an early one today.  6:15am.  Not quite sure why, but I woke up and that was it.  I laid there thinking, “I don’t have to pee, Seren’s not calling for me, my alarm didn’t go off and the garbage trucks come by on Tuesday mornings.”  Oh well, c’est la vie!  It was another nice day with the girls (they’re all nice, right?), but for two days in a row now, Olwyn refused to have her morning nap.  I shouldn’t feel this way, but I kind of cherish that hour to myself.  But I digress.  Olwyn and I had to go to Seren’s playgroup early today, because it was ‘Graduation Day’ and the kids that are a year ahead of Seren, will be moving on to Junior Infants (or in Canada, Junior Kindergarten).  However, all children received a certificate and some sweets (candy), just to ensure inclusion in the festivities.  It was rather cute.

Do Duck's Eat Wholegrain Bread, Daddy?

I had plans to take them to the grocery store, then to the park, to feed the ducks in the pond and then to the playground.  But at the kiddie grad, they were all given loads of the arts and crafts that they’ve done over the past few months, to take home, along with a brand new soccer-sized bouncy ball.  I couldn’t handle all of that stuff, plus the shopping I had intended to get.  So the plans were changed.  We went home, had lunch first, then went out again.  Olwyn fell asleep in the buggy on the way to the shops, but woke up at the duck pond.  Not enough sleep in one day for a 19 month old, especially considering she was up at 7:00am and is a very active child.  Nevertheless, we keep going on.

Nobody's Getting This From Me!

After wasting my wife’s hard-earned money on a few random, albeit cute, ducks’ lunches (hey, I really like bread), we had to cross the park to the playground.  For this, I brought Seren’s new ball.  Lately, she’s having a difficult time grasping what it means to share, but she’ll get it eventually.  I once read something about children and sharing, that said a child shouldn’t have to and probably wouldn’t likely, share something that they have not yet claimed as their own.  Until they are satisfied that they have ‘ownership’ over something, they will not want to share it, in most cases.  This does make sense to me.  I gather  from that bit of wisdom, that only when one has realised, understood and accepted that something is in fact theirs and that they will (or at least should) get it back, then they are comfortable with sharing it, let alone lending it out.  Jeez, I’ve lent loads of things out as an adult and everytime that I do, I think to myself, “I better get this back… it’s mine!”  It’s especially true of inanimate things that you ‘love’ and hold dear to you, like a great book or cd.

Big Squeeze

I Love My Girls

It was fun running around the park with them, stopping every once in a while to pose for the camera or hug a tree.  The playground was really busy, but it started to clear shortly after we arrived… I haven’t showered in a few days!  They had the right idea though, because the rain was on it’s way.  I managed to get the girls through all the sections of the playground though, before we had to go.

See Saw Margery Daw…

 I made a sausage casserole for dinner, served with garlic and coriander naan bread.  It was good, filling and everyone ate it.  I was happy.  And the little, big girl was so pooped, she let me get on with all of the prep work, while she (didn’t rest, but) listened to music.

I'm Not Tired At All, Daddy.

The Aftermath.

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Day Three.  I was so tired from Day Two, that I thought Day Three was going to be a long one.  It started out that way.  I was woken up by Seren calling for me at 1:15am… just over an hour after I had fallen asleep!  As it turned out, she was the wrong way round in her bed, the duvet was on the floor and here’s the kicker… she was naked!  Obviously, she was exhausted from her earlier outbursts of insanity and had taken to an early childhood form of sleepwalking.  This doesn’t surprise me one bit, because Chantal has been known to sleepwalk.  Also, long as I’ve known her, we’ve often had wonderful, long conversations in bed.  Oddly enough, although the conversations are in English, they make no sense at all!  Kind of like reading ‘A Clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess, which just so happens to be one of my favourite novels.  You see, Chantal’s asleep during these conversations!

Anyhow, I stayed in bed with Seren and didn’t sleep well at all.  In fact, I barely slept.  All things considered though, today went just fine.  I think that Seren’s going through some phase of understanding, learning, etc., but on a social level.  She’s getting used to the reality of having me home all day, every day now and also, getting used to not having Kate around, who was our Au Pair for the past 5 months.  She misses Kate and I can understand why.  So, I just have to be patient and try to understand what her and Olwyn are going through and experiencing in their minds.

Before lunch, we all went out into the garden and dug random holes to China.

It's A Ray Gun Olwyn... You're Going To Need It Where You're Going!

Everyone ate their lunch (pizza) and dinner (pasta bolognese), played relatively well together,

We Couldn't Dig Our Way There, So We're Sailing This Cardboard Box There Instead!

then went to bed without much of a hassle.  Which is exactly what I’m going to do.

Goodnight.

Pear-Shaped Day

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Day Two.  It began much like yesterday… slept in a bit (7:30 am today), had to wake the girls up (8:00 am).  Chantal and I even got to have a shower – separately, but a shower all the same.  Things were off to an even better start than yesterday, actually.  We all went downstairs and I made the girls porridge while Chantal made Seren’s lunch (and her own).  Usually, Seren and Olwyn are so hungry in the morning that we subdue their aggression with a little kiddie pot each of rice crispies, which they happily nibble on until the porridge has reached suitable consistency.  Occasionally I make a mess of the porridge and no one eats it, which makes me angry.  I’m not sure if I get angry because they don’t eat the food that I lovingly prepared for them, or if it’s because I feel like an idiot for turning my back on the stove for just long enough to turn the porridge into a substance resembling mortar or grout.  I suspect it’s a bit of both.  However, this morning’s porridge was michelin-star worthy, topped with a healthy dollop of honey and a few shakes of cinnamon.  Then Seren got a hold of the cinnamon and nearly emptied it – half in her bowl and the other half all over the table!  She’s a crackerjack!

The Multi-Purpose Camping Mat - Hours of Joy!

Chantal has to leave the house a few minutes before us.  Otherwise, if she walks down the road with us, Seren and Olwyn break down like they’re never going to see her again, when she actually does part ways with us.  I entertained the girls this morning on our trek to the playgroup, by running with them in the buggy, swerving back and forth, executing near-misses with sign posts like I was Michael Schumacher (F1 driver, for those who don’t know).  One of Seren’s ‘new things’ is to say “Go fast Daddy!”, whenever I push at normal walking speed.  She must have noticed the spare tires appearing around my mid section over the winter.  Other than that, the morning routine was just that.

Back at home with my little Snowflake (Olwyn), we were both excited to continue where we left off yesterday with our dance training.  If anybody out there knows Tricky and his album ‘Maxinquaye’, don’t bother trying to dance to it with a 19 month old.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great album… one of my all-time favourites actually, but not really conducive to the joyful frolicking of a toddler.  So, I put in Sam Roberts’ album ‘Chemical City’ and straight away Olwyn was fancy free and foot loose!  After a bit of rug-cutting, Olwyn happily went for a nap.

Today’s weather was your average, stereotypical Irish day… four seasons per hour, every hour.  On our way home from picking up Seren, the wind picked up and within seconds it was lashing.  Only moments earlier, it was relatively balmy and summery.  Now it was like winter!  Cold, gale-force winds and pouring rain.  So, with the girls in the double buggy, I legged it home as fast as I could.  Unfortunately, it all happened so fast that I was unable to get the rain cover over them before it really got going.  Oh well, we were all wet and it was kind of fun!

We had sausages, eggs and toast for lunch and it always amazes me how a child’s tastes can change so effortlessly, and absolutely (more on that later).  Olwyn has now eaten eggs twice in the last week, after not going near them for the past year.  They ate all of their lunch, which pleases me no end, and so I gave them a treat of rice pudding.

Yummy Rice Pudding!

I had to go somewhere this afternoon to deal with some administrative issue and so, after lunch and some playtime, I packed up the girls and we went for a 45 minute walk to Dun Laoghaire.  On our way home, not long after we left the building, it started to pour down again.  So, I had a wet, 40 minute walk ahead of me.  It eventually stopped… when we were two minutes from our front door!  So, as the girls ceased transpiring and were at a high level of relative humidity inside the buggy-tunnel, I let them out to breathe and walk the rest of the way.  I thought it was the responsible thing to do.  Plus, they got to crawl all over the giant sculpture near our house of a mother and baby.

Mother and Baby (and children) Sculpture

We made it home and the girls were dry.  I, on the other hand, was not!  But there’s something liberating about walking in the rain.  I used to love it when I was a kid too.  We played more, read more books and Seren was a great help, putting Olwyn down for her afternoon nap.

 We Skyped with Seren and Olwyn’s grandma and grandpa before dinner and had a great chat.  At one stage, Olwyn walked over to me and just says, “Daddy, naked!  Daddy, naked!”  I know what you’re thinking and it’s true.  I had forgotten to put dry clothes on after taking off my wet ones, but my parents didn’t seem to mind.  At least they didn’t say anything during our video call.  “You’d like to get naked Olwyn?”  I asked.  “Nyep daddy… nyep peeeeeuhhhhzzze”  So Olwyn got her wish.  If only we all were so uninhibited and free.  Well actually, it’s probably better that we’re not.  Eventually, Olwyn had an ‘accident’ on the floor, right beside the potty and she got very upset.  So upset in fact, that when she took a moment to look up at me, she darted towards her daddy, only to slip and fall to her butt and elbows!  She was so cute when she was crying, confused and bewildered.  All she wanted was to be told that it was going to be okay, that I wasn’t mad at her, to be given a few warm cuddles and to wipe the piss off of her dripping limbs!
So, we took this event as a sign to end our Skype call and for me to get dinner on.  Fish, peas and rice were on the menu and I must say, it was scrumptious!  The girls were going a little squirrely with the hunger though and so, to get them under control (and out of my way – to be honest) I gave them a kiwi to share and put some Charlie and Lola videos from the internet, on the computer.

Zombie Creation

Before what I’m about to tell you had happened, I was going to write in this post, that I don’t know who I should thank.  Should I thank the creators of Charlie and Lola for making a sweet, funny, educational, animated programme, in short, ten minute bursts?  Or should I thank the creator of the internet, for providing a portable, accessible, medium, which contains all the world’s entertainment?  Or both?!!  This however, is where the day went completely pear-shaped.  Seren, who has eaten and loved fish for three years now, took one bite then ran to spit it out in the bin.  I was not pleased.  She refused to eat any fish and barely ate any peas or rice.  I’m telling you, this was good eatin’!  So earlier, I had Olwyn eating eggs and now Seren refusing to eat fish… I felt like I was in an episode of The Twilight Zone!  Olwyn ate her own and Seren’s fish, shovelling it in with both hands!  At this point, Seren turned into the spawn of Satan and literally was screaming “NO!” and “GO AWAY!” and “I WON’T TALK TO YOU!” and other things like that.  She was whipping toys around the living room and even took her water bottle and sprayed all over the floor and one of the chairs!  She’s lucky she didn’t get my CD’s!!

You Better Not Get My CD's!

I’ve never witnessed this behaviour quite so intense from her before and was rather hurt, shocked,

What The F&%k?!!

confused, frustrated,

Why Me? Why Now?

etc.  I tried to calm her, talk to her, reason with her and kept asking her to talk to me, use her words and explain what the heck was going on!  I even tried punishment,

You're Cruisin' For A Bruisin'!

at which I was screamed and laughed at!  I don’t want to belabour the issue, but I think I dealt with it the best I could.  I had serious doubts afterwards, of my ability to mind my two girls full-time, but deep down I know I can.  I made sure to have a couple of quick chats (wish I could say beers), not lectures, with her before bed, reminding her that I love her and that we’ll work on things together.  It was pretty emotional and very tiring!  I know I’ve got two great girls, but they certainly aren’t perfect… and neither am I.  I wouldn’t want to pretend it was any other way.  I guess you can plan ’til your heart’s content, but you’ll never manufacture the perfect day.

What Was I Thinking?!!

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Day One.  Seren and Olwyn both slept until 8:10am, at which time we went into their room, which woke them up.  I only woke up myself at around 7:45am, but just couldn’t bear to put my feet on the ground yet.  We were at Bloom all day yesterday, so were all very tired.

Wall Climbing at Bloom (Gardening and Food Festival) Yesterday

Needless to say, I was nearly late, dropping Seren off at the playgroup, even though Seren got into the buggy (which she only does now, when it suits her) when I asked her to.  She was great and understood that we were in a hurry.  Upon arriving at the playgroup, Seren ejected herself out of the backseat of the buggy and ran inside to see her friends.  Seriously, it was like she was a pilot and her plane was heading for a crash landing.  I literally had to veer out of the way, to avoid running her over because she just appeared in front of me in an instant.  I met the minders at the playgroup, whom Seren adores, and I was told how Seren always tells them about me and how, “My daddy loves me so much!”.  I also discovered that she tells them that I always let her watch videos at home, which isn’t true!  For some reason, I felt like a bold parent when they said that and quickly defended my mettle as a child-rearer by quipping, “Well, I wouldn’t say always and it’s not usually whole movies, but rather short videos on the internet, of songs, of Peppa Pig episodes, Charlie and Lola, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom… stuff like that.”  I realised I was probably making myself sound worse, so I left it at that.

I arrived back home with Olwyn and we had the absolute best time together… ever!  We danced and danced for about an hour and a half, to Sloan’s album ‘Twice Removed’.  She even wanted to hold my hands while we danced, like we were waltzing!  It was so sweet.  I already felt like her and I were getting closer and that by the end of the summer, she might actually like me as much as she likes ‘Mami’.  I read her a couple of stories, to calm her down and just laid on the floor for a couple of minutes, so she could lie on top of me and together we just relaxed.  This was my set up to nap time.  So, around 10:45am I asked her if she wanted to “go for a sleepies”, to which she replied, “nyep!” and quickly made a bee-line to the door that leads to the stairs.  As it turned out, she didn’t get her morning nap.  I know she wanted to – she loves her sleep – but she’s a little under the weather today (as am I and Seren too) and has been all stuffed up.  She keeps sticking her finger up her nose, saying so sadly, “my bewrguh”.  She has come a long way with her words!  After three attempts to coax her to sleep, I decided that it was better for her to be with me.  She obviously didn’t want to be with the people in the sky and instead, just wanted some T.L.C. from daddy.

We left to get Seren at the playgroup, then the three of us went to the grocery store to get some provisions for the next couple of days.  Along the way, we bumped into one of Seren’s mates from the playgroup and her daddy.  Saoirse (pronounced ser-sha, or seer-sha) and Seren went running off, chasing each other around the shopping centre and it was difficult to convince them that the daddys actually had things in mind other than running around food aisles.  I must say though, it is so uplifting to see your child laughing and happily cavorting with a friend.  In the shop, she insisted on carrying the basket, even though she could barely lift it off the ground.  So, there was me, pushing a two-seater buggy with a toddler in the front, with one hand, while carrying the heavy basket with the other hand, bent over low enough so that Seren could hold it with her two hands.  Clearly, this made her feel very important, so of course any pride or ego that I had entering the shop was abandoned for her sake, as we manouevred through the busy aisles of our local SuperQuinn.

Eventually, we made it home.  Seren walked the whole way, but not without a fairly significant lapse of sanity on her behalf.  She must’ve been tired and hungry (I know this turns members of my family quirky) because it looked like it was going to rain and she had convinced herself that she was going to get soaked, so began to bawl her eyes out, screaming.  Then, within seconds, she was shouting that she wanted it to rain, so her “seeds could grow into plants”!  The main problem was that all the food I bought was in the spare buggy seat, not in a bag.  She could hardly climb in on top of the bananas, kiwis, yoghurts, etc.  So I just went with the flow until we got home, but she calmed a little more, the closer we got.  I think our day out at Bloom yesterday really took a lot out of her.  She was in top form there and we all had a blast!

Having Fun at Bloom Yesterday

Lunch was ham, salami and cheese sandwiches, which both girls devoured, probably because they helped me make them.  However, the carrot and coriander soup wasn’t really a hit.  Seren had a bit of it, albeit with a look that could be likened to a pre-vomit, facial spasm.  Olwyn didn’t even bother trying.  I had lots!  This is getting long so, I’ll speed it up.  I then changed one of the worst nappies ever and let Olwyn air herself out after that.  We played for a little while.  I did dishes, laundry, swept the floors and tidied up.  Seren helped me put Olwyn down for a nap, which lasted two hours, then her and I had some ‘quiet time’ downstairs.  Reading and climbing on daddy was the order of the day.  We went up to wake Olly at around 5 o’clock, then went into my room, so I could lie down while they jumped on my bed… clever, I thought!

This is when Chantal came home, which redirected most of the girls’ attention away from me, for the first time since 8:30am.  My goodness, I’m wrecked!  Only approximately 70 more days to go (not including weekends), of my second foray into being a stay-at-home dad.  I might be starting to settle in by then!

ordinary people…

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you are not like me, we are not the same

it’s all about embracing change

that’s what i think anyway

i’m moving on to see what’s there

thinking about a lot these days, but

never more than the nights… ha!

i play guitar for my amusement

just want to know the human touch

yeah sometimes i do abuse it

creating is my crutch

never studied form or function

not even sure i want to know

but there is something coming from on high

inspires me to flow and grow and blow

like the not forgotten jazzmen

or the beatniks due respect

old bull lee once said a thousand things

peterson’s genius we neglect

i only wish and dream i had the gleam

the flair, the gall, the panache

i don’t

it’s okay to realise a negative

a perception of the mind

not soul

we all want to know

who what when where why

too many suppress

momentum lost with time

we’re all too many people striving

for mediocrity

ordinary people rushing

climbing anonymity

secrets…

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generally, i would be an advocate of the ‘honesty is the best policy’ credo.  seriously.  but on occasion, there is cause to tell a little white lie, a fib, or perhaps just withhold information from someone.  one’s reason for doing this could be to protect someone from unnecessary sorrow, embarrassment or anger.  in the case of the latter, i should hazard a guess that one would actually be protecting one’s self from someone else’s anger!  nevertheless, there are many reasons for lying or keeping a secret, some good, some not so good.

as my lovely wife has most gently and subtly reminded me, i have kept several secrets from her over the years… and they were doozies!  thankfully my secrets are based on love and are designed for a joyous response, rather than based on hate, designed for causing pain and hurt.  so here are my top three secrets!

1) it was december 25th 2004 and chantal was spending christmas with me and my family in canada.  we were still doing the long-distance thing and it had started to wear thin a while ago.  long story short, i proposed to chantal that christmas day and it couldn’t have been more perfect.  aside from my nerves and a minor amount of fumbling around (and a little bit of voice crackage), it was truly a surprise that was pulled off exceedingly well.  i had been discussing and then planning it for a few months with my family, so they knew about it, but no one else did.  i was surprised how when the moment was finally upon me to ‘step up to the plate’, how nervous i was!  i think that reality hit home that there was a small chance she’d think i was totally nuts and perhaps so no!

2) on may 28th 2004, i arrived at therry’s (chantal’s mom) studio for lunch, in dublin city centre, where chantal and therry were enjoying each other’s company over tea and biscuits.  however, chantal had no idea that i was going to be there.  none at all.  as far as she was concerned, i was in toronto, working.  she had only spoken to me hours earlier, but didn’t know that i was on my way to the airport!  what made this so special, was that chantal had been going through a particularly tough time with her health and really needed me to be there for her.  and it was my birthday!  oh yeah, and therry was in on the surprise from the start.

3) i secretly got a really cool, new bicycle for chantal last year, for her birthday (october 12, 2010).  she had been without a bike for a few years and really missed cycling, so i thought that the timing was right to get her back out on the streets (jeez, that sounds bad).  she had no idea and i absolutely love seeing the joy on her face when she is truly surprised… and happy that whatever secret i had been keeping was a pretty good one.

so, it’s okay to have a secret every now and then.  just try to remember that honesty truly is the best policy.

cancon playlist 2…

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it’s been a little while since my last list, so there’s been plenty of time to dig into the recesses of my mind to come up with this new list.  this time around though, i’m going a little further back… back to the early 90’s and even the 80’s, to when i was a wee child and my big brother influenced my taste in music! so, thanks chris and i hope you enjoy listening to and remembering these tracks as much as me.

the gandharvas – first day of spring

pluto – paste

rheostatics – bad time to be poor

sarah harmer – basement apartment

kim mitchell – patio lanterns

sloan – coax me

cowboy junkies – sweet jane

glass tiger – don’t forget me when i’m gone

the payolas – eyes of a stranger

rock and hyde – dirty water

spoons – romantic traffic

oh, to be… wild and free!

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i love getting a book as a present, be it for christmas, my birthday or just because i’m a great guy and you want to give me something to show your appreciation for everything that i do for you.  which brings me to my point… i got a few books for christmas of 2009 and five months ago i finally finished one of them!  the really sad part about that fact is that i truly wanted to get through them faster than normal and so, i started one of them straight away!

"2 Eyes Open!"

‘the bedside book of beasts’ by graeme gibson is filled with poems, short stories, myths, tales, fables, excerpts from nature and travel journalism, sacred texts and fiction.  and if that wasn’t enough, it is adorned throughout with an impressive collection of drawings, paintings and sculpture of traditional, contemporary, religious, scientific and mythological origins.  these elements have been combined in a definitive compendium, which awakens a mystical cognizance of the complex, foreboding and everlasting communion that humans and wild beasts endure.

and what a good book it was!  reading ‘bedside’ was not just a good way to fall asleep at night…no.  it was a way to lose myself in a world that was not entirely oblivious to me, but was (and still is) a mystery to me.  the wild world of the beautiful beast is a fierce, intimidating, feral and indomitable realm. however, while reading this book, it became aware to me that it is a domain that is not without dignity, etiquette, grace and tenderness.  we are all predators, preyed on by another hunter and better beings we would be, the more we understood and respected that juxtaposition.

15 minutes of fame…

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okay, this is long overdue.  i’ve been trying to attach this to the blog for a very long while, but for some reason i couldn’t figure out how to just show the video here.

it is amazing, after all this time now, how far i’ve come.  this video was shot in may 2009 – when my big bro’ chris was over again visiting us – and i was volunteering out at the gardens (hunting brook gardens).  i had almost completed the course in garden design and was waiting to hear if i’d get an interview to attend college in horticulture at the national botanic gardens.

in one way, it makes me shy (which i know is silly)… but in another, it also makes me proud.  i’ve actually come a long way in a rather short period of time. which is not unlike my journey since i chose to move to ireland in 2005.  so much has changed!

it’s a very interesting episode altogether, but if you just want to jump to the part with me in it, scroll forward to the 10:30 mark.

/2010/0723/nationwide1-319960-228.rm-2792365

i hope it works and you get a kick out of it!

Quotes #1…

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For if you [the rulers] suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves [and outlaws] and then punish them.
-Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), Utopia, Book 1

cancon playlist #1…

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here are a few tracks (videos if i could find them, or just audio) that i really like.  many of these artists i “discovered” while listening to cbc radio 3 online, while doing homework or the family budget… which i am pausing now to post this blog.  music is clearly more inspiring than keeping track of how poor you are, then how you’re going to manipulate your situation so that when in the present, in the future, you think you’re going to be just fine.

well, without further ado, i present my 1st playlist solely of canadian content… please enjoy when you have the time!

the provincial archive – acquaintances and lovers (a nod to chantal… live version)

i wanted to play ‘mood ruff – rocketship’ here, but i couldn’t find a link that worked.  so here is an equally good song (in my opinion, better)… k-os – man i used to be

metric – help i’m alive (how are these guys not huge?!!)

hayden – bad as they seem (very reminiscent of my early college years – 1995 -and all of his stuff is remarkable)

grand analog – i play my kazoo (formerly known as mood ruff, but still as good)

caribou – odessa (recently was a major act at one of europe’s largest music festivals – in ireland – called electric picnic)… pretty groovy

hey rosetta – red song (yet another great canadian song that transcends dimensions and explanation)

i think i’ll end with one of my favourite bands of all-time (don’t deny it, you like them too)…

our lady peace – starseed (before they were anybody and were rockin’ hard… i saw them live about three times a year from about ’93-’98

i have barely grazed the surface of what’s out there in canadian music and because of that, there will definitely be another list.  just think, cohen, joni, steppenwolf, the hip, bryan adams, celine dion ;)… aaahhh, there’s so much.  make some suggestions too please!

port illusion

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Group of Fornicating Cows

i remember the grassy boulevards and the motorway valley

i know the seasons because i’ve lived them / know the beauty and the bounty

my love lay in beds / of powdery snow / of fallen leaves / of silky sand

but it’s all coming up greys and whites now / it doesn’t mean to

my lucid dreams of white cap steams and gliding ‘pon the glass

drop anchor and cast a line / but don’t get caught exploring

boundaries are for safety / i’ll make my own thanks

cast aside the desires of others / make your mind up

prepare for the hurt and struggle / prepare for success