Sunday, August 23, 2009

what is a hero?

Today is Sunday, Aug 23rd, marking the end of a vacation week...for my husband that is! It was my intention to have orders caught up, shipped and book the same week free, but anyone, any woman/wife/mother who is self-employed that is, knows how it goes...a thousand and one things to try and accomplish in the course of a day in addition to the full-time job of operating a, husband, home, dog etc etc etc. and having all work out exact and according to schedule enough to empty out the studio and hang the "ON VACATION" sign on the virtual door is not always as easy as one would imagine it to be. And so...we decide that this will be the week that Joe catches up on his to-do list (or my "to do list" for him, more like it) as I hand him his 1001 things to accomplish on his week off including his favorite of all jobs, painting...NOT!! How someone can NOT find painting relaxing, therapeutic, rejuvenating, a completely self-indulgent ME-time, is beyond me! Some of my girlfriends LOVE housework (now that, I'll never get), some LOVE baking (don't get that one either), some LOVE gardening (well okay...maybe for a while...a very SHORT while), but to not LOVE painting...what is there to not love about painting?

My husband is, I guess what one might call, a 'workhorse'. He's up at 5 every morning, tends to Murphy the 2nd, runs with him, and after showering and shaving, makes his lunch for work, cleans the kitchen, folds laundry, and when Lizzy was younger, would wake her, change her diaper, bring her in to me so that I could nurse her, and still finds the time to send a mail or fax to his parents in Germany or to the kids in Germany, puts coffee on for me but not without a love note wishing me a wonderful day and showering me with xoxoxo's and then driving an hour to get to work. Exhausting already, and his work day hasn't even begun! He then manages his team a full day, drives another hour to get home, spends time with Lizzy and I, can put Lizzy to bed including bathtime, storytime, lullabies, then carry on with yardwork, housework, whatever work is required including cutting signs for me, a late dinner with moi, and goes to bed at midnight. All of this to say, hardly a lazy man by any stretch of the imagination, but ask him to paint??? FORGET IT! He can do anything, fix anything, conquer anything, resolve anything, but paint? He can do it alright, but HATES IT with a passion! And so, imagine a man who works so hard, looking forward to a week away from work when all week, has been doing nothing but, painting! Incredibly fit and not at all afraid of heights or anything for that matter, has been out with an extension ladder to the top of our 36 ft tall house, on the rooftop inspecting our chimney, the roof, and enjoying the view of Campbellton, the Restigouche River, our maple treetops and our neighbors rooftops and for him, carefree and all so exhilarating until handed the dreaded paintbrush! Scraping, batting mosquitoes, sanding, batting mosquitoes, priming, batting mosquitoes, painting, batting mosquitoes. He can even live with the mosquitoes, the blistering sun, dangling from the rooftop where all that exists between him and the ground is NOTHING, but when the painting is set to begin...UGGGH! One might ask, 'Well if he hates it that much, why not hire someone to paint?". You know, I tried to sneak that one by him, but like any other man totally capable of doing his own work and that whole male pride thing that seems to go along with it, there is not a chance that I can hire another man to do his work. So all I can say to that then is, then just do it :)! And count your lucky stars that we don't live in a bungalow where the ladder can adequately reach allowing your height-fearing paint-aholic wife with her pungent for color and scheme change fluctuating every day of the week beckoning the solace that painting provides her, change the color of the house every week...because for sure he knows me well enough to know that if I could, I would!! And we laugh...

Quietly, while I'm in the attic, painting the letters on my final custom sign to be shipped in our "vacation" week, allowing what I love to do take me away in thought, thinking thru my (his) next 'honey-do' list and reflecting a little as it allows me to do, I glance at the window from 3 stories up to see his gorgeous face smiling back at me and my heart sings.

Thank you Honey for all of your hard work, for your sacrifices, for who you are, for all you give of yourself to our life together and for being the most selfless, tireless, fearless and hardworking man and father I've ever known. You truly are my hero...xoxo  


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

never too young or old to learn

I don't know if it's just me, or if some are more easily able to grasp a second language than others. Throughout grade school, we had 45 minutes of French class per day...for as long as I can remember! For years, we seemed to go over the same verbs, the same pronouns, the same skills however never seeming to advance. We seemed to learn no more the next year than we had the previous leaving me still to confuse "tu a, il a, nous avons, vous avez" and "tu est, il est, nous etre, vous etre"...see?? Still confused! Living in a bilingual province, I learned later in adulthood just how necessary that second language would be, but ironically finding it even harder now as an adult to open up my brain and let it in. So how is it then, that a toddler can learn a second language and be fluent, in two years?

English is the primary language spoken in our home. Contrary to what one might think living in New Brunswick, Canada however, French is not the second language in our home. My husband, being German, speaks nothing but German to our toddler and he has since her birth. We wanted Lizzy's German heritage to have a big presence in her life and to ensure that she be able to communicate with her family in Germany. Some of my husband's brothers and sisters were able to study English from 5th grade up so altho maybe shy to do so, that is until watching me flounder in my amusing attempts at the German language, we do somehow miraculously manage when together. But we wanted Lizzy to be fluent and to really come to know and learn her dad's family.

My father-in-law spoke very little English, and my mother-in-law speaks none...zilch, zippo until deciding at the age of 67, that to be able to better communicate with her new daughter-in-law, she would enroll in an English class. That SO impressed me, that I upped my efforts in learning German. We do manage to get beyond the "mixed salat" somewhat, but it's a struggle. I know they have sat around the dining room table in Germany at 4 o'clock coffee and cake thoroughly entertained with my German attempts via fax being read aloud...and I've been told none of them sit with a straight face. My father-in-law would teach me all of the dialect from my husband's area, and altho it would make not much sense to someone from Hamburg, that was fine...they were not those I was wanting so desperately to communicate with. For sure they would never understand that Jaggermeister gave me a "carter". But you know, it's hard to learn another language! I'm so busy and there just aren't enough hours in the day to do all one wants to do!

Now Lizzy, 2 1/2 years old, is in her bathwater before bed this evening, and well...she burped. Immediately, she said "scuse me Mama"...then said "Chull gon". I said "pardon?". She repeated "Chull gon". I said "honey...mommy doesn't understand...what is Chull gon?". She looked at me like I should know and said "it's scuse me in German". Well...Entschuldigen! She's counting to 14 in German, singing German lullabies which Joe soothes her with at bedtime and expecting Mommy to repeat (not likely), when Mommy puts her to bed, she's handing me German fairy tales for me to read to her at bedtime and expecting everyone at daycare to understand her when she says she wants to "schowken" (dialect). Every instruction he gives her in German, every story he tells her, every word he utters to her in German, she can turn to me and switch without batting an eyelash, in her translation for me into English! It's nothing short of amazing to watch this little marvel at the ripe old age of two and a half years, communicate in a second language. And it only ashamedly proves to me that as adults, we can too. Without making a conscious effort to do so, she's taking it all in and learning. She knows no different therefor has no comparisons and probably more importantly, no inhibitions. She's not wondering how silly she sounds and her one and only focus is her need to communicate. Have you ever watched a group of toddlers together in play? It's a whole lot of googoo-gaga, but they all get it. And so it's got me to thinking...

I think I need to make some room...both in my brain, and in my outlook, and re-evaluate what I "can" or "can't" get or more accurately probably, what I'm 'open to' and 'not open to' learning. Maybe I need to start with a blank canvas, an open mind...a willingness to learn, and let a strong desire and need to communicate with and to learn those around me, be my guide. Whether it be in love, work or play, be it family, friend, foe or neighbour, communication is everything and well, I'm thinking if a two year old can do it...

Lizzy on her "schowken"...