Well, maybe not very brief after all...when have I ever been brief in my life, especially in written form??!
But a recap of the past few months might be in order...it's been fun and busy and challenging and, well, full of life.
Summer was pretty awesome, by most accounts. The weather was mostly great, the kids were developing reasonably well, the puppy turned out to be an awesome addition to our family (Charlie's sprawled out right here beside me as I write), and life was pretty good despite a few hiccups.
The kids, all three, went to a day tennis camp for one week, and to a daytime adrenaline adventures camp for a week. They had a blast during both weeks, and these days were a real gift to me, too. This is the second summer the kids have all been away during the day for a week (and this year, for two weeks!) and what a huge blessing those days on my own were, though perhaps in a different way than I'd thought they would be.
I had huge plans for my first week of days alone. I planned to spend three days doing various projects around the house, and two days just relaxing or going to see movies, or doing whatever else struck my fancy. So on the first day, a Monday, I came home after dropping the kids off and began to tackle the master bedroom closet that hadn't been cleaned out in an embarrassing number of years and which had become a dumping ground for...well, who knows what all. I went at it great guns, and had a good chunk of it cleared out by the end of the afternoon: bags of giveaway; bags of trash; and a small mountain of stuff that needed further organizing. I'd even managed to clean about half of the closet - wiping down walls and baseboards and shelving, and so on.
On Tuesday, after taking the kids to tennis camp, I came back home to continue on the closet. But first I sat down in my little library with a cup of chai, puppy mashed in beside me on the chair, and I basked for a few minutes in the silence of the house. To my surprise, and without warning, I started to cry. An hour later, I was still crying...and a little alarmed because what did I have to cry about?? Nothing had happened, no tragedy had befallen us, and I was on a week off. And yet, cry I did. Pretty much for the full day...and the next day...and the next. I basically spent that first week on my own crying. Just as I'd think I was through the worst of it, another wave of something akin to grief would overwhelm me and I'd be back at it. The closet didn't get touched again that week, nothing else on my list got scratched off, and I never even got to see a movie. I basically did nothing other than get the kids to camp in the morning, and start to cry the moment I'd waved them off.
I'm still not entirely sure what happened that week early in July. But I think a good few buckets of those tears came from a place that was really, really exhausted. I was kinda done. Fried. Baked. Done in. The winter had been really full, and go-go-go and I don't generally get a lot of time truly on my own. I realized during that week that I really hadn't had much opportunity to feel a lot in the previous number of months/year? and that this was all coming from a gutteral place that needed voice. I pay attention to a lot of things in my life, and I had not been one of them for some time. I had fallen through the proverbial crack and had ignored me for too long, in the busy-ness of life. So, somewhat annoyed with myself, I gave up on the week's agenda and just was. I sat in my favourite library chair a lot with cups of tea or coffee and I filled the silence around me with gut-wrenching sobs that scared me on occasion. I processed a lot of stuff, didn't process other stuff, felt more than a little anxiety about what was going on, and wasn't quite ready for the week to end.
But the week did end and I took a deep breath to carry on. And it was ok. Better than before the week on my own, actually. The kids and I spent the next nine days on our own at my parents' cottage and in the evenings after the kids were in bed, I just sat. I'd invited a friend to come with us, but that didn't work out and so the evenings were long and slow. No wifi, no tv (well, there is one there, but I'm not a tv fan at the cottage), no books (just wasn't interested that week). Part of me craved adult companionship those evenings, someone to share my musings with, but the other part of me was fine as it was...a lot of quiet, time spent listening in the dark to the waves lapping against the shore. I was a little bored, to be honest, but mostly just wanted to sit and think and feel.
Daytimes at the cottage were lazy and easy. We took the puppy with us, and Charlie loved being on the dock with the kids and me down by the water. At first she was very anxious when the kids would jump in to the lake and disappear for a couple of seconds beneath the water's surface. She would bark and yip until they reappeared and when they clambered onto the dock to do it all again she would lick their faces as if to say she was so glad to have them back. It was adorable. And one morning, she even plucked up the courage to jump into the lake after the kids, wearing her little life jacket! She didn't last long in there and I soon scooped her up from the water, but she then did a big race-around the cottage property - totally pumped and proud of herself for having been brave enough to jump in...she was adorable and we all cheered and celebrated her.
Fast forward to August, when the kids attended an adrenaline adventure camp, and I was a little worried that my week might look the same as the first week on my own. So I planned very little, in anticipation that my week might be side-lined again. But, thankfully by that point, I was ok. I ended up having a good week (despite my van being in an accident when I stopped to get a Starbucks coffee one morning; a trailer ran over the corner of the van while I was waiting for that latte) getting that darn closet done and a few other projects around the house. My tears seemed mostly done, and I felt lightened up and relieved.
The kids and I (along with my niece) spent another week or so at my folks' cottage in August, and that was a lovely week. We didn't do much of anything. The kids swam and kayaked and basically frolicked in the sun and played and ate and watched movies in the evening and had a blast. And when Geoff came out on the bookend weekends, we got the big boat out and the kids screamed their way around the lake from the vantage point of the tube...they so love that thing. I need to post some pictures.
Matthew also attended a one-week cooking camp at a local college and boy, did he ever enjoy that experience. It was an expensive camp, so I was glad to have saved our pennies throughout last winter to pay for all of these camps. He loved the experience of cooking and baking things like: Greek chicken souvlaki and greek salad; making pasta from scratch, as well as the sauces to go with it; brownies and muffins and pretzels in great variety; pizza from scratch (which he knew all about already from when we make that at home); vegetarian sweet potato burritos with all manner of fillings; and on and on...I can't remember much of it. He came home, new cook book in hand, full of a desire to cook and bake more...and so he has!
Seth, horse lover that he is, got to attend a one week daytime horse camp not that far from home. He was there with a friend, which made it all the better for him, and what a wonderful experience they had. The camp owners had the kids participate in daily farm chores (herding and collecting goats, picking the apple trees clean of their fruit, sweeping and shovelling pens, feeding the alpaca, etc etc), gave them riding instruction, taught them how to care for their horses and saddle up, and took them on 2-3 trail rides every day. He loved it. This was totally up Seth's alley. On the last afternoon, friends and family were allowed to come to the horse camp to watch them do some skills riding, and Seth was awesome...and so pleased with himself!
Finally, Matthew and Lizzie participated in an art camp for a week of mornings, and because the weather was so great, spent the week in their teacher's backyard, painting and building dioramas. It was wonderful for them both...and it was Lizzie's first experience of taking art lessons.
A challenging time began when Charlie had her spay operation on the last day of August. She came out of surgery great, but seemingly wasn't recovering all that well in the days and weeks following. She seemed in considerable pain, and was limping. We finally had her x-rayed, and she was diagnosed with a disease that is really unheard of in Havanese dogs. Essentially the disease meant that blood supply was cut off at the femoral head in both rear legs; the upper neck and femoral head on both rear legs were basically atrophying. She began limping more and more, and using her rear legs less and less as we waited for a consult with an orthopaedic veterinary surgeon. Poor baby. Finally, on October 15, she had surgery to correct the problem with both hips - it took the surgeon over 1.5 hours to carefully work his way through muscle and cartilage and cut off the tops of the femoral bones and the shattered upper necks of those bones. Thankfully, when we advised our breeder of the situation, she and her husband refunded us the money we had initially spent purchasing Charlie, and this covered most of the cost of the surgery. It's been 2.5 weeks since Charlie's surgery, and she is thankfully recovering really well - she is regaining her pre-August 31st mischievous character and is using those rear legs far more than she was in the six weeks leading up to the surgery. The vet expects a full recovery (though her gait will likely be somewhat different and she'll likely never be a powerhouse in the rear), and we're very thankful! She is eight months old now and totally my baby!
(to be continued...)