Monday, 31 May 2010

And Now He Is Seven

Another year has passed, another twelve months where my little boy belongs that much less to me and that much more to the outside world. Time is a mother's thief. It's a funny conundrum, I relish watching my child grow, develop, learn, connect the dots, realize his potential. However, on the other hand, I desperately miss being his entire universe, his preference to my lap over entering a room full of strangers, rocking him to sleep, and reading "Good Night Moon". Time is a indeed this mother's thief.

However, enough introspection, this weekend was birthday party time for a bunch of seven-year olds at a local bowling alley. It was complete with girl drama and resulting tears, breaking-up of wrestling matches on the bowling pistes, and the unexpected doling out of a small fortune on the game machines. But it also included 'Happy Birthday' sung in 3 languages (French, English, and Italian - I love Europe), lots of laughter, a pretty fabulous homemade birthday cake, and one very happy seven-year old birthday boy.

Happily C2 couldn't come up with an excuse to miss the party this year so both he and my ever-obliging-game-for-anything mum were on hand to help with the fun. Of course, I've chosen to ignore C2's muttered comment about preferring to venture into Niger's Al-Queda controlled territory (a trip he is currently considering) over the party as he doused another small drama and placed another franc coin into another outstretched hand for yet another air hockey game.

As I gazed at my slumbering little wonder last night, one arm clutched tight around the genuine bowling pin party gift, his other around the same stuffed Labrador he has slept with since birth, I realized that while he sometimes provokes the worst in me; packed into his 130cm 18 kg body is the absolute best of me.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

There Are Worse Ways To Spend My Birthday - thanks Kevin!

Nobody outside of Iceland can really pronounce 'Eyjafjallajoekull', so in a nod to Jon Stewart, I have taken to calling it 'Kevin'. Now Kevin the Volcano has been causing no end of trouble to people travelling within western Europe of late, so I was a little concerned in the days leading up to a planned trip to London last Wednesday, especially since my visiting mum and I were both flying to the U.K. but into different airports.

Thankfully, despite erupting a few days before our trip, the wind swept Kevin's ash south towards Spain allowing us to fly into the U.K. without incident. So began, a terrific week spent in the company of my oldest friend, Sheila, and her kids whom J desperately wishes were his brother and sister. We spent our days easily picking up where we left off in March. Like always, it was as if our sentence was interrupted, we paused for breath, and 2 months later resumed our conversation. Such is the gift of friendship.

Sheila, me and our kiddos during a walk in High Elms Park, Kent

My favorite things to do when I visit Sheila is to stock up on english language books at her local Waterstone's, indulge my addiction to Marks & Spencer's organic stem ginger biscuits, and go for a walk in the English countryside followed by a pub lunch with a pint of lime and lager. This visit, I even left J with Sheila for the day and travelled up to Hertfordshire to visit with some favorite cousins and my mum. We had a grand day together visiting stately Hatfield House and touring a bit around charming St. Albans.
Beautiful Hatfield House in Hertfordshire

A small part of Hatfield's gardens

It was a few days filled with laughter, love, food, friendship and family. I can't ask for much more from life than that. Well maybe for Kevin to behave, but I guess that was asking a bit much.

Pub lunch time

Sure enough by Saturday, Kevin's belching resulted in twin ash clouds headed directly toward the U.K. By the time we went to bed Sunday night, all predictions were that London airports would be closed the next morning. I rose at 4:30am and though Gatwick was indeed closed, it was expected to reopen by 7:00am, just in time for our 8:00am flight back to Geneva.
Sceptically, I roused J and we began our journey. One car and train ride later, we arrived at Gatwick just in time for Easyjet to cancel our flight. Back to Sheila's we headed, sigh.
Easyjet offered us a new flight two days later but I was fearful of missing that flight too since predictions indicated Kevin's continued grumpiness. So after discussion, J and I decided to traipse through Europe by train instead. The following day, which happened to be my forty-ahem-something birthday, J and I set out on our great European rail adventure.

We caught the 6:44am train at Penge East from Sheila's village into Victoria Station in central London. We then rolled our bags to the Victoria tube station and travelled directly to King's Cross/St. Pancras International Rail Station. From there, we stepped onto the elegant 8:02am Eurostar rapid rail service (through the Chunnel - very cool) to Paris's Gare du Nord. Now for those of you who don't already know, the Hendricks family LOVE LOVE LOVE Paris.

J and I wandered around a bit, breathing in as much of Paris as we briefly could before jumping into a cab to the Gare du Lyon. From there, we caught the 1:10pm TGV (Tres Grand Vitesse) directly to Geneva where C2 picked us up. Door to door about a 10 hour journey, really not too bad and actually more than a little fun. Of course, our European rail adventure cost about as much as my nearly full-fare Easyjet ticket but I'll take that up with Easyjet and Kevin later.

Monday, 10 May 2010

If I Can't Be A Soccer Mom, Can I Be A Marathon Mom?

You may recall from earlier postings such as "Where is Tim Horton's When You Need One", my lamenting of J's team sport playing abilities. To summarize again, he celebrates when his weekly football (soccer) practice is cancelled, flinches when the ball comes anywhere near him, and would rather blow the fluff off of dandelions than be caught chasing anything resembling a football. Apply the same analogies to hockey and baseball, and you get the general picture.

However, as I have also said, put the kid on skis, in water, or on a bike in the woods with logs, roots, and hills to climb, and I would challenge you to either catch him or match the volume of his 'woo hoos'.

He was equally impressive during his participation in the 1.7km Course de l'Escalade this past December. So, I was given to indulge his pleading to run in the kids race in the annual Geneva Marathon this weekend. Thanks to my friend Sher, I mentioned the race to him and the pleading ensued.

I gotta say, for a dandelion blower, he was darn impressive. Nerves of steel all day, cool as a cucumber at the start and smoked that girl in pink.

Receiving his medal

OK, so if the NHL and the 2022 World Cup are not in his future, maybe the Olympics or the Ironman, or the Boston Marathon, or the X-games...

Sunday, 2 May 2010

A Rainy Sunday Afternoon

It's a quiet, rainy, cool Sunday afternoon in Geneva, I should be blogging about something meaningful, cleaning the cat barf off the upstairs carpet, recycling my mountain of recyclables, teaching my son to read, walking Murphy or feeding the fish. Instead this is me today...

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