The summer of transitions and change

Autumn starts officially in a few days. There’s a lot going on in my life right now, and I feel like there’s been a lot going on since June. This has been a summer full of change.

Pandra turned one on June 17th. I started to write about it, and ran out of time in between living my life and taking care of two children. This was all I managed to write before it became an abandoned document:

A year and a day have passed since I went into labour with you, Pandra. I was excited, anxious, and not quite ready for you to arrive, but arrive you did at 9pm on Father’s Day, and we were ultimately happy to greet you to this world.

In the last year you’ve grown and changed so much, and shown me just how different two little girls from the same parents, living in the same family dynamics, can really be. You’re brave and bold and willing to try new things — from climbing to random food opportunities — without a second thought. You move so fast sometimes I have to run to chase you down. You’re constantly taking in the world, ready to react to anything, ready to say “Hi!” to anyone who looks at you, and if they don’t notice you respond by saying “Hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi! Hiiiiiiiiiiii!” until they do.

Your infectious smile still makes your eyes crinkle up, and you’re in the pointing-at-everything phase, which is more fun than I can explain. Apparently, in your eyes, everything is both new and amusing at the same time. Exploring how things fit into other things is one of your favourite pastimes; I can watch you play on the floor, moving from toy to toy, trying to stuff blocks into anything, then taking them back out over and over and over again, and you’ll do it happily for a half hour straight sometimes. Your focus and determination is impressive. I find blocks inside many things where they probably shouldn’t be — like in shoes, behind the ps3, in kitchen cabinets, and scores of other places I just haven’t had time to look into yet I’m sure.

Going round and round and round in a circle game
Going round and round in a circle game

And now, at fifteen months, she’s even more interesting. She’s obsessed with shoes, and she enjoys carrying around stuffed animals. She loves food, and she loves making noise, and she has replaced the constant hi’s with nonstop “daddy! Daddy! Daaaaa…dy!” Just today, she said her own version of Lyra (Yie-ya!). She loves books and being outside and sitting in the grass and eating and so much more.

We took a vacation – a long weekend excursion, really – to Seattle, where we went to fun touristy things and took in a Barenaked Ladies / Ben Folds Five show. It was my last fun weekend before returning to work, and it was a lovely getaway without being too far from home.

Lyra is growing up

And then, on July 9th, Lyra turned five. And I wanted to write something for her, but I didn’t have the focus or the energy to do it, and it never happened. We had a haphazardly planned birthday party at a local park and beach, complete with her requested Transformers scavenger hunt. There was chaos and children all around us, but somehow it all came together with the help of some wonderful friends, and the party was a success. And my little Lyra was five years old, and ready to go to Kindergarten in September.

We tried to fill her summer up with awesome, fun things like daycamp at the Vancouver Aquarium (she loved it!) and a trip to Cultus Lake Water Park (she’s now addicted to waterslides) and other exciting activities. By the end of the summer, she was completely wiped out.

And then there was my work

Somewhere in the middle of that, my maternity leave ended and I had to go back to work. Financially we were a bit messy because there was a four week gap between my last mat leave pay and my first back-at-work pay, but I planned for it and set aside cash and it worked out fine.

And then I was at work for about a month before I was offered a new job at a different organization – focusing on project management with a web and software development company that works primarily for non-profit organizations. There couldn’t be a better fit for me, and I would have been foolish to pass it up. And by that point I really felt like I had done as much for the David Suzuki Foundation as I could in the nearly seven years I had been there. It was time to move on.

But that transition between jobs created another pay period gap, and this one I wasn’t as prepared for. It still worked out fine in the end, but it was a challenging couple of weeks, and we’re still recovering from that on top of paying for full time child care for two children, which we hadn’t needed to do while I was on maternity leave. Plus, we had various days that our daycare was closed, that we realized was going to be hard to deal with, since we have no family leaving nearby who can help us out with the girls. Everything was a challenge, it seemed.

Life was complicated, but we were working through it. I was excited to be starting a new job, and happy with everything in my life. The challenges were nothing more than mildly irritating, most of the time.

Kindergarten is a different world

Lyra started Kindergarten at the beginning of September, with a gradual entry into full days at school. I had to learn how to pack lunches that she would eat, and how to get her and Pandra to their respective care facilities (nowhere near each other, of course) and still make my train on time to get to work. Adam’s mother visited from Ontario and helped us immensely with child care challenges for two weeks.

It was another series of transitions and upheaval, and it was not easy, but we kept working through it, because that’s what you have to do. I find it hard to believe that the beginning of September was really only a few weeks ago, and that this is only Lyra’s second week at school.

She’s loving Kindergarten. Today she told me that she has a friend, and she actually remembered her friend’s name. This is not a common thing for Lyra. Most days she doesn’t want to tell us about what she did if we ask, so I’m trying to learn the balance of showing her that I want to know about her day without pressuring her to give me a full report. She has to come to me with what she wants to talk about – there’s no getting it out of her otherwise. She’s practically a teenager already, sometimes, with the way she talks to us. “Mom, I don’t want to tell you about my day!!”

But she’s so happy going to school most days (when she isn’t having a super-tired morning) and she comes home happy. I’m just glad that school is such a good experience for her so far. I will continue to silently hope that it never turns into my school experience… but she’s much more confident a child than I ever was, so I’m hoping that helps.

And of course…

If you’re keeping track of my recent posts, you already know about the exciting journey I’m taking through the Canadian health care system. And this comes on the tail end of what is probably the biggest series of changes I’ve ever been through in my lifetime. The summer felt long, and short. It was full of sunshine and smiles and adventure and change. My family grew older, and our ties to each other grew stronger, and we’ve had a wonderful time with each other.

On September 4th, just before all of the health issues came crashing down around us, Adam and I had our eight wedding anniversary. We were too broke to celebrate it, much like we were too broke to celebrate Adam’s birthday on August 12th. I’m hoping to find a way to celebrate both of these things around October 1st, which is my birthday, but we may not be able to spend any money around then either. We’ll just keep putting it off until we can manage it. It’s just not time yet, I guess.

And so, with the end of summer and the beginning of fall, I’m hoping to see a bit less transition and a bit more settling in to routines, figuring out how we work, and working on this lymphoma thing, if that’s what it is. For now I’ll just ride the big wheel and see what’s on the other side, I guess.