Lessons in Sport as Taught by My 8 Year Old Daughter & Her Friends

Yesterday, I learned a lesson from a bunch of grade four girls.  I’m a mom to one of those grade four girls, my daughter, Caleigh.  She and her classmates have been going to cross country practice three mornings a week for the last month.  Caleigh has wanted to be on this team from the day it was announced that all grade four kids could try out.  She’s been going for runs at home and she didn’t skip one practice, even when it was cold or rainy.

Yesterday the team tryouts were held.  I was a little nervous for her because I know how much she wanted to be on the team.  Between this and gymnastics, it’s all she can talk about.  I would get daily reports on how many laps around the track she was doing.  She was learning how to stretch properly before and after working out.  We got her proper running shoes.  She has clearly found something she’s passionate about.  I also know that she, like her mother, is not very good at defeat.  We both have trouble losing in a game of Monopoly, let alone the disappointment of putting hours of work into something and not being able to compete.

Caleigh went off to the try outs yesterday morning and I followed with her brother and sister to school an hour later.  When I approached the field, all of her friends came running over with her at the helm.

Caleigh, grinning like a fool, was thrilled to announce that not only had she made the team but she placed first in her class.  Like any proud mom, I was so happy for her.  Big hugs.  High fives.  I know how hard she had worked and how much it meant to her.  But what blew me away was how all of her friends responded.

“You should have seen Caleigh!  She did so great!  She ran so fast!”

They were so happy for her and so excited that she had ran her heart out.  A lot of them made the team and there were a lot of high fives and hugs going around.  Of course, though, not everyone could, as with any sport.  But there was no jealousy and no pouting.  And I know there will be times where Caleigh won’t make a team, even though she wants it just as badly.  That’s the tough part about organized sport.  But even the girls who didn’t make it were happy for the girls that did.

Well, isn’t that a rare thing.  As an adult, I know I wouldn’t have handled it as well.  It’s TOUGH when you work hard for something and are out beat by someone who did a better, faster, or more efficient job.  And I realize that for them it won’t always be that way, but for that brief shining moment yesterday morning, it was a beautiful thing to watch.


A Lesson for Blake or a Lesson for Me?

So today was one of the hard Mama moments in life.  Blake, who is now 5 years old, had made a decision that he did not want to go to school this morning.  It may have had something to do with the fact that we had to take down his blanket fort in order to have his room cleaned.  It may have had something to do with a long weekend full of fun and family and food.  Or it may just have been that he didn’t want to go to school.

I literally (LITERALLY) had to drag him out from under his bed (damn you, MALM bed from IKEA for having such a perfect hiding spot for children built right into you!).  He whined.  Kicked.  Whimpered.  He didn’t want any part of going to school.  He wouldn’t put on his shoes.  He wouldn’t put on his jacket.  We were late so my patience was growing thin.  I tried reasoning.  I explained that part of being a kid is to go to school.  Mommy and Daddy go to work, you go to school.  This is where you learn new things, play with your friends, and have fun experiences.

There was nothing I could say or do that was going to make school look any better to him today.

When we arrived at school, he dragged his feet to the kindergarten spot.  He put up every resistance.  Gave me every reason why he shouldn’t have to go to school, namely being that he just didn’t want to.  And that is when it started.  The tears.  The large, pleading tears and a quivering lip with the words “Mama, I just don’t want to go.  I don’t like it.  I don’t want to go to school.”

My heart broke.  He brought me to my knees just like that.

I looked up to see one of his kindergarten teachers at the gate.  I smiled, despite the feeling of my stomach hitting the ground, and quietly explained that Blake was having a rough start to his day and didn’t want to be at school.  At this point, the tears were streaming down his cheeks.  She smiled back, with an understanding nod, and got down to his level.

“Blake, tell me about Thanksgiving.  Tell me how your weekend was!”

Nothing.  He didn’t look at her.  He just kept quietly crying.  I could tell he was trying to hide it.  Trying not to show his friends that he didn’t want to be here.  Trying not to show how vulnerable he was at that moment.  So hard for a little guy who is quiet to begin with.

“Blake, why don’t you come with me.  We’ll walk together to our room.”  She gently took his arm, trying to reach for his hand.  But he just kept looking at me with wide eyes that were welling over.  He reached out for me and grasped my legs, almost pinching them in desperation to not go to his classroom.

And at this point, I became a Mom puddle.  I got down at his level, gave him a big hug.  Partly to comfort him and partly so that he wouldn’t see how upset I was.  He wouldn’t let go.  He pleaded with me to not make him go.  Asked me to let him stay with me for the day.  The tears kept flowing, and he choked them back.  I swallowed hard.

said “Blake, it’s going to be okay.  You need to go to school today and I’ll see you at dinnertime.  Daddy will pick you up at the end of the day.  You’re going to be okay.  I love you but I have to go.”  

And I stood up.  It took every ounce of strength to take a step back from him.  He looked up at me, defeated.  He knew he was going to school.  He slowly turned, still crying, and walked with his teacher, who knew that this was just as painful for me as it was for him.  But Blake didn’t know that.  I’m sure he just thought I didn’t care enough to bring him home.  But what he doesn’t yet realize is that I care too much to bring him home.  It’s such a fine line that I walk sometimes.  That line drawn between wanting to embrace them through every hard lesson and stepping back, allowing them to learn the lesson on their own.

I watched as he walked to the class.  His shoulders were forward, his head down.  The conversation in my head was just as difficult as watching him walk away.

“Would he be okay?  Will they call if he’s still upset?  Will anyone make fun of him for crying?  Does he know I love him?  Is he mad at me right now?”

I made my way back to my car and texted my girlfriend, a mom of two boys.  She put me at ease, kind of.  We all have those moments, she assured me.  It feels really, really awful.  Like shitty awful.  Feeling like a bad mom.  Feeling like I’m not able to be there for my son.  Feeling like I’ve let him down.

I kind of got over it.  I went to the gym.  I got my grocery shopping done.  Tom got home and over lunch I told him what had happened.  It was still gnawing at me.  I hadn’t heard from the school so I’m sure he was fine but that uneasy feeling of now knowing how he was wouldn’t go away.  And then my phone rang and the name of the school was on the caller ID.  It was his teacher, calling to reassure me that while he was incredibly quiet, waiting for the bell to ring, once inside he was himself.  He was talking with his buddies.  He answered questions about his weekend.  He was back to being Blake.

I know these lessons in life are as important for me as they are for my kids.  I just disliked going through this one as much as Blake did.  I can’t wait to get home tonight, give him a big hug, and rebuild his fort.  I want to build the warmest, coziest, pillow and blanket fort we can. Because there’s a part of me that knows it will make both of us feel better.


A matter of perspective

I’ll admit it.  This Canadian winter got the best of me this week.  On Monday I walked around our neighbourhood with our three kids in short sleeves.  It was beautiful.  Birds were chirping.  The sun was in and out of the clouds.  It was windy, but it was a warm wind.  The whole afternoon was just lovely.

Then Tuesday morning came.  And with it, Mother Nature brought four inches of snow.  Overnight, the temperature dropped 24 degrees Celsius.  It was cold, blustery, and had white-out conditions.  On April 15th.  Winter, I admit defeat.  You win.

As I brewed my second cup of tea yesterday morning, I had the first of two lessons from my two oldest children.  Caleigh came barreling down the stairs, still in her pyjamas, yelling “It snowed!  Mama, there is more snow!”. Over breakfast, the kids discussed what they were going to do in the snow.  Build a snowman (insert Frozen joke here)?  Make a fort?  Have a snowball fight?  Go sledding?  Once dressed for school, they threw on their snow gear and ran out into the yard in pure delight, ready to take full advantage of (what I hoped would be) the last snowfall of the season.  They saw the snow for what it was to them – an opportunity to play.  And they ran with it.

The second lesson I had happened as I called them (nay, dragged them) back inside to get their bags for the school bus.  Blake, who turns five in a couple of weeks, buried his head into the planter at our front door.  The day before I had filled it with purple pansies, in celebration of spring.  When he lifted his head out of the flowers, he had a big smile on his face.  “Mmmmm, Mama.  Those smell so good.”

He literally took a moment to smell the flowers.

I find I get the best life lessons from my kids.  I can’t say I was thrilled with the snow yesterday.  But each time I looked outside yesterday, I would remember the joy on my kids faces as they took full advantage of the snow.  I know the snow won’t be there a week from now.  It will go away as we really do move into spring-like temperatures.  And with the snow disappearing, spring will grace us with green leaves on the trees and flowers in my garden.  Thanks to Blake, I’ll make sure I take the opportunity to smell them when they bloom.



I made it until day 26.

26 days of no sugar and no grains was pretty cool.  The intent was to make it to 30.  But today I stopped.  Today I had both sugar and grains.  Am I disappointed in myself?  Actually, no.  Do I feel gross right now?  Yes, most definitely.  But would I end another 30 day challenge early?  Yes, and here’s why.

My oldest daughter, who is 7, had a fundraiser for her Brownie troop this morning.  They were taking orders, serving, and cleaning up a breakfast of flapjacks at a local restaurant.  $10 per ticket, much of which goes towards sending her to a rally at Canada’s Wonderland this spring.  So, of course, Tom and I went to the fundraiser and enjoyed some pancakes.

Yes, I could have just given her the money.

Yes, I could have bought tickets and not eaten the pancakes.

But there are some things that are bigger than 4 more days of not eating sugar nor grains.  There is the pride on my daughter’s face as she came around the corner with two plates of pancakes for her dad and I.  There is the smile on her face as she delivered our cups of tea.  And there is the look of intent on her face as she diligently cleaned up the tables of drips of syrup and pancake crumbs.

I happily gave up on day 26 so that my daughter recognized that above and beyond a challenge, is the love and support she has from both of her parents at whatever she does.

The two cutest breakfast servers!

The two cutest breakfast servers!

And what I did learn from the 26 days is awesome.  I no longer enjoys sugar like I used to.  I’m sure that yes, I’ll have it again, obviously.  It’s really tough to completely eliminate it from one’s diet.  But I feel bloated and exhausted today after the massive sugar rush this morning.  And it’s not something I want to experience again on a regular basis.

Two things I learned from CrossFit this week

Earlier this week I went to my local CrossFit three days in a row.  It just worked out that way.  Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.  I usually take a day or two in-between WODs (work outs of the day) because of my schedule.  This week was different.

Sunday’s WOD had me doing 140 sit ups along side some other classic CrossFit moves – box step ups, wall balls, and burpees.

Monday’s WOD included hang cleans and toes to bar.  I’m not quite at the point where I can reach my toes up to the bar (let alone multiple times) and so I am working on perfecting knees to elbows instead.

Tuesday morning, on the way to the gym, I sneezed and actually whimpered at the pain in my abs from so much work on them in the last two days.  Luckily Tuesday’s WOD was deadlifts, burpee bar hops, and overhead lunges with a 14 lb medicine ball.  It didn’t involve my abs enough to discourage me from going.

I felt so incredibly accomplished after those three days.  Yes, I could have easily bowed out of Monday’s or Tuesday’s WOD and cited that it was a rest day.  But pushing myself into three WODs in three days felt great.  I wouldn’t do it on a regular basis (I’m a huge advocate for normally getting rest in-between such high intensity workouts) but to throw in a curve ball to my body every once in a while felt awesome.

The second lesson I took from CrossFit this week was persistence.  I have been trying for weeks months to learn how to do a proper hang clean.  It was incredibly frustrating to not understand nor “get” the mechanics of this movement.  My form was brutal and it was taking a toll on my back because I was moving the weight way in front of my body instead of bouncing the bar off my thighs to get it to my shoulders.  I’m now proud to say that I have mastered (kind of) the movement and I have some awesomely grotesque looking bruises on the front of my thighs to prove it.  Those bruises are like a battle scar.  I can now do squat cleans, thank you very much.

Three three parts of a Squat Clean

Moving through a squat clean

Now if only those bruises would disappear before going to Florida.






More from the mouths of little boys

So a few months ago I wrote this post about how Blake, our four year old, had some interesting ideas for how to play the game of Simon Says. Yup, that’s my son.

Fast forward a few weeks and Blake started kindergarten. For the most part he likes it. There are days he comes home and it’s like pulling teeth to find out what he has done in school that day. Other times he can’t stop talking about it. So I’ve had mixed feelings about his introduction to kindergarten because I’m not really sure what he thinks about it.

Last Friday I get a phone call from his teacher, stating that Blake has a stomach ache. I’m assured that he’s playing throughout the morning, but he had complained about a stomach ache multiple times. So, of course, I drive over to the school to find out what is going on and bring him home. I get to his classroom and his teacher greets me, explaining that Blake had said that his stomach “really really hurts” and as if to prove this to me, I look down at our four old and he looks up at me with sad eyes as he clutches his belly.

So, I get his bag, we head out to the car, and as we’re pulling out of the parking lot I look at Blake and ask him to tell me what was going on with his stomach. “How much does it hurt, bud?”

“Oh no, mommy. My stomach doesn’t hurt. I was just bored and wanted to come home.”

Classic. Foiled by a four year old. Already he’s mastered the art of truancy during the third week of Junior Kindergarten.



P.S. Mr C – you have your hands full with this one over the next year.


My Eclectic Dresser

So my daughter, Caleigh, is one of the most awesome dressers I know.  She has a sense of style that makes me smile.  To define it as eclectic is almost an understatement.  Caleigh is six, turning seven in just a few weeks.  Even when she started junior kindergarten at age 3, she had her own style.  She loved her red dress in JK and SK so much that when it would get cold in the winter time she would just throw on pants underneath.  But the pants would be bright pink.  Or purple and yellow diamond patterned.  Or green stripes.

She also loved the combination of wearing shorts and t-shirts over pants and long-sleeved shirts.

She has no interest in making sure colours match or are complimentary.

She could care less if she is wearing patterns that match or are complimentary.

She has two or three favourite pieces and she makes sure that she wears at least one of them per day.  And then she pieces together the rest of the outfit to make sure it fits the weather.

Case in point her outfit the other day:


I love it.  I love that there is a swirly floral pattern over a striped shirt.  I love that there are pink shorts.  And I love that she is wearing hair elastics on her ankle.  It’s so “Caleigh”.

I know her style will change over time and likely she won’t be wearing these clothes forever.  But I hope that she will forever feel comfortable in her own skin (gosh, there are days I wish I would feel comfortable in my own skin!).  It was a conversation with her kindergarten teacher that reminded me of how important it is for children to express themselves in whatever capacity they can and for parents not to interfere (within reason, I’m talking clothing here, folks).  I had made a comment about how I didn’t have much say in what she chose from her closet each morning despite  me wanting to help. “Pick your battles, is it really worth having an argument over whether or not an outfit matches?”

Great point.  Pick my battles.  And let her express herself however she wants.  What would I gain from picking her outfits each morning?  Life looks like a lot more fun in blue swirly floral patterns over striped shirts than in what I would have chosen.

Me and Maggie

Now that both Blake and Caleigh are in school, it’s one again quiet around here.  I suppose summer camp was preparing me for this but I find myself a mom of a single child two to three days a week.  In reality, one of those days Maggie goes to daycare while both Tom and I are at work.  But for sure on Mondays and every other Friday morning, when the older two are at school, I get Maggie to myself.

Our kids were born a few years apart from one another.  Caleigh and Blake have two and a half years separating them and Maggie arrived three and a half years after Blake.  Having such a gap in ages has allowed me special one on one time with each of the kids at some point in their lives (to the moms out there with kids less than a year or 18 months apart, I bow down to you).

So now on Mondays it becomes Me and Maggie time.  I have nothing formally planned.  Quite honestly if we spend the first few weeks doing nothing but cuddling and taking walks together I would be a happy mama.  But as the weeks, months, and years go by I look forward to all of the fun and adventures we’ll have.  Discovering her shadow.  Mixing muffin batter together.  Trips to the library.  Playing with play-doh.  Going swimming.  Reading books.  Snuggling.  Picking flowers in the spring, watching leaves fall in autumn. All of the things that come with discovering the world around her.


And in three years when it’s her time to get one the big yellow bus to take to school, I hope that she’ll have enjoyed the alone time with me as much as I’ve enjoyed it with her.

Rules for Being Human



1.  You will receive a body.  You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.

2.  You will learn lessons.  You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called life.  Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons.  You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.

3.  There are no mistakes, only lessons.  Growth is a process of trial and error, experimentation.  The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works”.

4.  A lesson is repeated until learned.  A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it.  When you have learned it, you can then go onto the next lesson.

5.  Learning lessons does not end.  There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons.  If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

6.  “There” is no better than “here”.  When your “there” has become a “here” you will simply obtain another “there” that will again, look better than “here”.

7.  Others are merely mirrors of you.  You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.

8.  What you make of your life is up to you.  You have all the tools and resources you need.  What you do with them is up to you.  The choice is yours.

9.  Your answers lie inside you.  The answers in life’s questions lie inside you.  All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.

10.  You will forget all of this.


Being Part of a Team

Caleigh had her last soccer game of the season Thursday night.  She has progressed so much through the summer and now that both she and Blake are finished with soccer, my heart is a little sad to see it come to an end.  It has been so exciting watching them get wrapped up in games, be a part of a team, set goals for themselves, score, run, and above all,  have fun.  The first goal of soccer is to have fun.

This past week has been camp week for both Caleigh and Blake.  They spend the entire day, from 9 to 4, running, jumping, playing, singing, swimming, sporting and doing arts & crafts.  They have had a blast and they are coming home exhausted.  They go to bed at 8 (if they made it that late) and I am rousing them at 7:45 for the next day of camp.  It has been a long week for them both.

So even with a long day at camp under her belt,  Caleigh was still excited for her game.  I was mindful of how tired she would likely be.  Caleigh plays full out when she’s playing soccer.   She is after the ball like white on rice and she leaves it all on the field.  In preparation for this,  we had some “down time” between camp and soccer.  Despite chilling on the couch in front of a movie for an hour, as she was getting ready, she started complaining of not wanting to play soccer because of a headache.

Now Caleigh can be a little dramatic (I have NO idea where she gets that from).  A stubbed toe becomes a broken foot.  A paper cut requires eighteen bandaids.  A bruise may require surgical amputation.  So I wasn’t really sure how “much” her head hurt.  I had her drink a bunch of water, I adjusted her, and we headed out for the game.  We sang our songs.  We did our pre-soccer routine.  She was really pumped in the car, even with Blake passed out beside her in his carseat.  This was her last game and she was going to score a goal (as she proclaimed multiple times en route). 

When we get to the field, there is hesitancy.  Her head hurts.  She’s tired and she has decided she doesn’t really want to play.  Stop everything, time for a talk.

I asked her to tell me all the reasons she didn’t want to play (head hurts and she’s tired).  Anything else? (no)  Okay.  I asked her what she loved most about playing soccer (scoring goals, new friends, and snack time).  I asked her about how she felt about it being the last game of the year (sad, she’s going to miss soccer).  We also talked about what it meant to be part of a team.  There have been weeks where teammates have not been there and she’s been tired leaving the game because she had to play more time on the field.  I asked her about how her team would feel if she missed the game (probably sad that I wouldn’t be there).

It was set then.  On the field she went.

We could have gone home.  We could have called it a night and packed it all up.  But I firmly believe that if you sign up to be a part of a team, you show up for that team.  It’s a commitment you make not just to yourself but to your teammates.  And it’s not fair to everyone else to not play.

You could tell she was tired and it was not her best game.  She had a couple of break aways and came SO CLOSE to scoring another goal but it wasn’t meant to be.  My mom and stepdad were there and they could even see that her spark was missing.

But she played.  She was a part of the team and she saw her commitment through.  She had a smile on her face.  She was so happy to have her family on the sidelines cheering her on.  She focused.  And above all, she had fun.  That’s the first goal of soccer, right?