because she’s awesome

The other day I was chatting with Miss N as she fussed with her latest craft. Ribbons and paper had yet to be affixed, but she was busily puttering at the kitchen table. Miss N is a resilient kid, one who may or may not be aware of how strong she is, even though we tell her constantly. She is shy, prone to deftly scooting behind me when a stranger attempts to speak to her. When she started school last year we were concerned about her making friends, mostly since communication is a major part of friendship. We needn’t have worried. She quickly and fiercely made friends.

This September has found her in a new school, with unfamiliar halls, a school bus and most of all, a brand new classroom with not a single familiar face. It can be a lot for a little girl but I have a tremendous amount of faith in my girly, especially since this exchange (all the while she continued cutting and pasting):

“Honey bee, Mrs. M told me you were making a ton of friends at school and that all the girls want to be your partner,” I looked to her for confirmation she heard me.

“Hm. Yeah, just like at my old school,” the ever talkative five year old.

“Why do you think that is?”

This is where she looks up at me and smiles. She isn’t being precocious or ironic. This is a little girl who knows: “Because I’m awesome.”

Damn right, she is awesome.

life lessons from the cat

Contemplative Kitty
Rosa is a sweet cat. She has dainty paws and clear green eyes. She loves Miss N, snuggles with me in the morning and generallys stays out of the boy’s way. She has had her flirtations with patiently dealing with his hugs, tugs and pokes but Rosa does not have the real fortitude to withstand a rambunctious three year old.

Rosa has tolerated the new addition to our family for the last 9 months, Buzzy. There is a measured grace to how they have circled the apartment in their quest for a resting place or spot to bat at a toy.

Buzz Lightyear
This last month has been the most tumultuous for our little family. We have moved out of our apartment with its balcony strewn with gardening projects and cutouts in the stairwell that are just the right size to make daring leaps into the living room. It is the site of very happy memories of our children playing, Miss N learning to read and the boy discovering single pulley systems, something he built everywhere, including the refrigerator. The apartment also holds memories of some of our darkest times. It is no secret within the family that my brain has locked within its grey matter the inability to properly regulate serotonin and dopamine. I take medication to regulate all of that but before lithium, life was sometimes dark. Or very, very light.

I love our apartment, as much as one can love a structure. Mr and I lived with his parents for a good chunk of our marriage and this was our first independent home.

And we’re leaving it.

The cabinet filled with my father’s dishes will be packed up securely and stowed away. My books, those tomes from school, the Penguin classics and trashy crime novels translated from their original Swedish will be tucked into boxes. I’m not sure where to begin packing or unpacking because we are right back where we started. There are oh so many reasons why and I will not go into it all but it’s painful that we are giving up our sweet little home.  To return to another home of sorts.

The children have adjusted well, as children are wont to do. Buzzy immediately took to the woods surrounding the house. What she gets up to on those long hours away I can only imagine but it exhausts her and she sleeps the deepest of all cat sleeps upon returning.

Rosa has not adjusted as well. She is terrified of the dog. She has never felt grass on those dainty paws of hers and she has never seen a squirrel up close. Pigeons a plenty but not much else. Much of the last week has seen Rosa hiding under the bed away from our family, Mr’s extended family but most importantly the dog. This is Rosa’s first encounter with a dog and while Frankie is a typical big, dumb dog with her tongue hanging out and nose sniffing around, Rosa is frightened. She saw a number of these smelly creatures from the safety of our balcony but now there is one invading her space and she doesn’t like it.

Today, I picked up Rosa, carried her outside and plopped her on the deck. She was okay with it and stayed on the railing for most of the day. Or so I thought.

It turns out she was intrigued enough by the sounds of other animals and the rustling of leaves to venture down the back steps of the deck. It was there that those dainty paws touched grass for the first time in all her feline years, that cat felt earth on the pads of her feet. She froze and looked frightened but she stayed out there. I had to entice her back inside with a persistent shake of her bag of Friskies. This was after dark, when the streetlights were on and the squirrels had gone to bed.

Not to be overly sappy about my cat but there is a lot we can all learn from Rosa’s adventures. It’s frightening, unnerving and chew your fingernails off scary sometimes to venture into the world and take part in something new. But, sometimes you get to kill a squirrel or see a butterfly up close and just be in a new space. We could all learn from Rosa, take it slow, follow the fearless darting thing and be brave and dig our toes into a spread of fresh grass. In the end, someone will be there to hold us and feed us, it’s about giving them (and ourselves) the space to do it.

To Rosa. And chasing after the squirrel.

Museum Visit: Science on a Sphere

Last night I had the absolute pleasure of getting a sneak preview of the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History’s newest (and permanent) exhibit, Science on a Sphere, part of Our Amazing World. It was by pure chance that I was able to go and live tweet this preview, I was visiting family in Ontario when I saw something interesting pop up on the Nova Scotia Museum twitter feed. I like museums. I like learning stuff – I’ve been a student forever, so the whole acquirement of knowledge thing shouldn’t be a surprise. I sent off the email and expected that I would receive a very kind response telling me that I had missed the deadline. It was not so.

I really did get to see a giant eyeball blink on the sphere. Yes, it is creepy.

I also saw the light streams of 10 million Facebook users. Can you imagine what we could do with our world if even half of those people logged off of Facebook (or Twitter in my case)?

What amazed me the most about this exhibit were the endless possibilities for teaching children. The circles of pulsating red across the world were chilling as they marked drought. Perhaps it was bothersome to think that the glowing purple of pollution we saw before the drought screen was mostly centred on the western world but the drought markers were not, they were on disadvantaged locales like Somalia. Our greed and disturbing rate of consumption is not just affecting us with high gas prices, it is them who is suffering (way to other, Joy).The point is, the world is a very connected globe and sitting in that auditorium and watching our guide Maggie spin the images on the sphere so everyone could see truly brought that realization to the forefront for me. The clouds that merrily skipped across the surface of the Sphere’s Atlantic are the same clouds that whip together to form the hurricanes that battle our east coast every year.

My general musings aside, Science on a Sphere is a fantastic way to make the world more accessible to children and adults. With over a few hundred data sets available – including images from NASA satellites of Mars and the Moon – you can learn so very much. The Sphere itself was developed as a research tool, it takes images that would otherwise be projected onto a flat screen and gives them life. This allows for all those crevices and dips in the Moon’s surface to come alive, as if you could dip your fingers into the very surface of it.

These  4 tickets are coming from me, by way of the Museum of Natural History but they did not ask me to do it. There are no stuffed antlers or an 88 year old tortoise prodding me into doing this; the only catch is that you must be from the Halifax/Dartmouth area to enter (really, Nova Scotia. I’m not too picky, as long as I can physically hand you the tickets).

Science on a Sphere opens September 7 and I highly encourage everyone to take advantage of the Open House they are hosting that night from 6-8 pm. Otherwise, rock it out HRM and tell me why we love the Museum of Natural History. I’ll start: We have Canada’s first Science on a Sphere Exhibit and it is only one of 73 in the whole world.

To be sure: HRM residents (NSers, you can squeak in), you are hoping for four tickets to the Museum of Natural History. I will close the comments at noon on Wednesday, September 7.