Most beautiful thing: Jasmine

Amidst all the general chaos and busyness one very bright light was a visit from Jasmine.  No, not the Disney Princess (although she does bear a striking resemblance to the animated heroine!), Jasmine, the thirteen year old daughter of our friends, Brian and Jean.   Last year Brian and Jean moved to Ottawa with their family of six children.  Brian and Jean are Cate’s godparents and we miss them dearly.  Darren and Brian used to go for weekly walks and discuss all things theological and intellectual.  Jean and I would commiserate over the joys and challenges of motherhood.  Jasmine, the eldest of the six, was our go-to babysitter.  We used to joke about flying her out from Ottawa so that Darren and I could go on a date!

So when the opportunity came up to host Jasmine for three weeks this summer, we said we could be delighted.  And we were!  Not only was Jasmine extremely helpful with the kids, she gave us a foretaste of life with a teenager.  I think the two things that stand out the most for me was having extended interesting conversations with Jasmine (we are just beginning to get to that point with Ben) and watching “Anne of Green Gables” with her.  Re-watching the classic series was made even more enjoyable by seeing Jasmine’s reaction to the action on-screen: “No!  Don’t kiss him!…Ugh, he’s old! (Sorry Dave Foley)… (squeals of delight as Anne and Gilbert kiss on the bridge at the conclusion of the Sequel).”  Her reactions duplicated mine when I was thirteen, and it was wonderful to revisit the feeling of being totally, undeniably, and absolutely in love with Gilbert Blythe.

Jasmine also saved my bacon at Vacation Bible School week.  I led all the kids at the music station (which, by the way, requires lots of practice and a willingness to make a total fool of yourself, including bouncing around and playing a LOT of air guitar) and  Jasmine made all of that possible by watching John at the daycare area provided for the leaders with little children.  Two years ago when I was doing the music, Cate got really nervous being by herself at the daycare and ended up coming to be with me.  So I know what it is like to try to lead multiple groups of children in song and dance all while holding a sad and tired toddler on your hip.  This year Cate really enjoyed the daycare and John, who really took a shine to Jasmine, ended up napping in her arms on most of the days.  So cute.  And I couldn’t have done it without her.

So Jasmine, thank you for coming out and spending time with our family.  It was so nice to get to know you better and to get a preview of life with older children.  I’m really looking forward to your next visit (hopefully we’ll see everyone too next time!)

Oddly enough, Darren and I never did get out for a date while Jasmine was here.  Oh well, we’ll just make sure to schedule one in for next summer.



Pink nail polish.

For months, I have been trying to find time to paint my nails. It just was not happening. Then, finally, last Tuesday after the kids were in bed I threw caution to the wind, let the dirty dishes sit in the sink, and just did it. My toes are now a lovely shade of “Princesses Rule” pink.

It was a Christmas present from my Mom. This is the second time the bottle has been opened. It is now June.

A few days later I looked at my fingernails and decided that they were missing out on the fun and probably wanted to be “Princesses Rule” pink as well.  So, on went the nail polish and I remembered just how hard it is to get ready in the morning with semi-dry nails.  Nevertheless, whenever I looked down at my digits, I felt very fancy and grown up.

And that is the problem. When my nails are painted I just CAN’T STOP LOOKING AT THEM.  It’s like I suddenly turn into a magpie and I am distracted by the shiny things on the end of my fingers.  Then I turn into a teenage boy who just bought his first car and I start worrying about whether I am going to scratch the finish.  Then my nails get so long that I accidentally start scratching the kids.

But the real kicker is that Cate is now old enough to want to have nail polish on like Mom.  I am not a big fan of nail polish on little girls (aside from clear) and I find chipped nails particularly unattractive.  Do I really want to worry about the upkeep of both her nails and mine?  Not so much.  Do I want to have to rationalize denying coloured nail polish to an almost four year old when I am wearing said nail polish on my own fingers and toes? Absolutely not.

So, a few nights ago, my fingernails went back to plain old clear.  They also got a trim.  They are no longer fancy, but they are much more content, and considerably less vain.  I am killing two birds with one stone: preventing Cate from having coloured polish on her fingernails and learning a bit of humility in the process.

However, my toenails remain “Princesses Rule” pink.  I suppose this is where vanity wins out, but having painted toenails really does make me feel like I am doing a better job of taking care of myself.  Sometimes you just need a little extra something.  And I figure that if I am somehow manoeuvred into painting Cate’s toenails anything other than clear, at least they have a good chance of being covered up by socks and shoes.

Most beautiful thing: Nancy Drew Pays Off

Okay, so technically this is not a particularly “beautiful” thing, but it is satisfying.

To say that I loved Nancy Drew during my elementary school years would be an understatement.  Just ask my Mom.  I think that I first encountered Nancy Drew when we went to visit some friends of my parents.  They had a good collection of ND’s (along with a super-cool built in single bed that reminded me a little bit of a sea bunk bed, if that makes sense).  Bored by the adult conversation, I went exploring and found Nancy Drews on the bookcase and I was lost.  I seem to recall borrowing a number of the books from them.  I may still have a few on my bookshelf.  If you are planning on lending me a book, you should probably make sure that you have your name and number written in the cover.  (Carol A. if you are reading this send me a message and I will mail the books back to you along with a thank you note and a little thank you gift.)

Having established my abysmal record with returning books, let’s move on to more serious matters.  I eventually made it through all the original series with the exception of one or two books that I couldn’t get my hands on. By that time the new CaseFiles was being published and I proceeded to devour those as well.  Then came the Nancy Drew AND Hardy Boys Super Mystery Series and oh my gosh I just googled them and there were thirty six published!!! I only read the first three, so maybe I have some catching up to do!  The chemistry between Nancy and Frank was particularly tantalizing, especially as it wasn’t clear whether Ned was in the picture.  Would Nancy stay true to Ned?  Frank seemed like a pretty nice guy, AND he was tall, dark, and handsome.  Much more to my taste. Anyhooo…..

So the upshot of reading so many mysteries (which also eventually included mostly everything ever written by Agatha Christie) was that I may have had an over-developed sense of sneakiness.  Or something.

When I was at Girl Guide camp for the summer it was discovered that someone was going into the tents, riffling through bags, and stealing candy.  This was a problem, and as one of the more senior girls, I was in on the meeting with the camp counsellors in which we discussed the situation and tried to think of a solution.  My idea was to set up a stash of candy – kind of like a bait car – talk about it with everyone, and then watch and wait for the perpetrator to come and raid the big stash that everyone was talking about.  One of the other girls listened to the plan, shook her head, and said to my Mom, “Too many Nancy Drews!”  I still think it would have worked.

Here’s the payoff.  On Sunday Darren and I helped to organize a Canada Day party at our parish, then we were due at his Mom’s house to celebrate her birthday.  Our Young Catholic Family Group had rented a HUGE bouncy castle for the event.  It had a knight and dragon on the front and reached the rafters of the gym roof and it was full of kids nonstop throughout the event.  After we deflated the thing, wrapped it up and moved it out, Darren noticed a sticky black smudge on the brand-new gym floor.  He tried to wipe it up, but it was really stuck on.  This was the first time our group had hosted an event and we did not want to be remembered as the people who ruined the floor of the new gym.

I went over to take a look.  There it was, a big long smudge right where the bouncy castle had been. It stretched all along the length of the castle…it stretched beyond the castle!  I followed the smudge almost half way across the gymnasium and I realized that the bouncy castle had not made the mess!  That meant that we did not have to spend an extra hour scraping up the black sticky stuff, we just needed to let the parish know and the janitor could take care of it, which meant that Darren and I actually got to his Mom’s birthday party on time!

So thank you Nancy Drew, for fine-tuning my sense of observation and for helping me to actually get somewhere on time, which may be the biggest miracle of all!