Feb 272015
 

Avoiding the Empty Nest Syndrome is not something you can accomplish in a week.  I believe the process covers a long span of time and depends on so many factors.  It will be different for every family.  We are not psychiatrists or social workers and by no means “perfect” parents. We are just a little family who have seemed to have survived the transition.  I thought I would share my reflection on how we seemed to have avoided the “syndrome”.

To begin,  in September 2014, our one and only child moved away to attend Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.   It is only a 2 1/2 hour drive from our home in Toronto but it is far enough away that we don’t drive there to have lunch, for example.

So many friends and relatives ask us how we are doing as “empty-nesters”.   I must admit the transition has not been at all troubling.  Believe me, this is not to say we do not miss our baby because we do ever so much.  However, the missing has not been overwhelming or debilitating. 

Last week, Miss Nice was home for her “Reading Week” and it was so wonderful to have her here even though she was … well … reading, beginning her search for summer employment and catching up with friends.  However, when I dropped her off at the bus station on Sunday night, I felt a real pang of “missing” I had not really felt before.  This pang made me think about what we have done to ensure the “pang” is just that and not a relationship ruining syndrome.


Empty nest syndrome

After some reflection, here are my thoughts:

  • Firstly, let’s go WAY back… Marry your best friend!  As a young professional, I was very independent and somewhat particular about who I got involved with.  Then, when I was 26, in walks a recent British immigrant, wooed to Canada by an international Accounting firm.  What can I say!  We became BEST FRIENDS!  We shared and continue share,  so many interests.

    Empty nest syndrome

     
  • Expose your child to all kinds of activities.   Even for a brief time just to find out what activity could be “their thing”.  As a college professor, I was fortunate to have flexible hours enabling us to introduce her in many after school activities over the years.  We tried to focus on lifelong skills like skating, swimming and skiing.  I must confess sitting on VERY cold bleachers watching her learn to skate or standing on the sidelines watching a very disinterested soccer star, was not easy.   But it was still fun and we all learned from it.  We learned she was not a “jock”.  She too knew she was not “good” but we downplayed the being “good” to just being able to do it and enjoy it.
    M_Skiing_Mar02

    Miss Nice skiing at 6 years old…

     

  • Encourage them be independent.  This can be so difficult.  In some ways we failed and in others we did well.   Eventually, Miss Nice began to participate in competitive dance at an early age. In reality she is a bit of a “triple threat”, as in singing, dancing and acting.  We supported her dreams wherever we could and beyond the studio’s program.  BUT we were realistic and made sure she was too.  Through the time consuming (and expensive endeavor) of Competitive Dance, she gained much confidence.   She was never an “in-your-face”  child.  I can proudly say to this day, she carries herself with a quiet self confidence.
     
    Independence really took hold at 13 when she asked to go on a French exchange program FOR A MONTH!!!   TO FRANCE!!!  The family took her to their summer lakeside home with NO INTERNET so contact with us was not available.  She survived.  She learned much about relationships too with this great experience.  While she was away, we travelled to Portugal to indulge ourselves in our love of travel and exploring countries on the road… Just the two of us… Magic.

When I review this post, it may sound as if we were selfish parents who sent our kid away a lot.  Perhaps we did, but mostly at her request.  When it counted, we were always there.   In 12 years  of competitive dance, and over 100s of performances, I think I missed TWO routines!  and those were for work commitments.  My husband who runs a busy business was also there for far more than many dads.  We tried very hard to not “helicopter” but we tried hard to be there to celebrate her achievements.

You must be asking “So what are you trying to say? What is your point?”

I think I am talking about “Parenting 101” …

  • expose
  • support / be there
  • encourage

And lastly, remember being a parent is about them but sometimes, it needs to be about YOU!

Back to the “Empty Nest Syndrome”

All the while we were supporting her, doting on her, driving her, etc. we never gave up our own interests. 

  • Cut back? Yes. 
  • Try to include her in our interests in tennis and golf, etc.  Yes. 
  • Sacrifice everything so she could do all the things she wanted.  NO!

We continued to squeeze in time for ourselves so we could golf, play tennis, go to yoga, start a book club, have date nights and entertain OUR friends when we could.  Miss Nice was told often how important she was to us but we also reminded her, we were important too.  And she seemed to grasp that early on. 

Her activities were a privilege NOT a right!

We love golf and for YEARS wanted to join a golf club … together.  Knowing she was leaving for university made us realize this was the time.  We joined a club in May.  Then in September we joined their curling program.  Never curled before and we a loving it.  We are planning a summer holiday that may or may not include Miss Nice.  She has travelled with us quite a bit  and has announced she  is “tired of old cities and history”.  I’m thinking Ireland … without her.

Regardless, Mr. Nice and I will do it TOGETHER.  Because we are back to being TWO best friends who can focus on the wonders of each other.  No longer distracted by every day parenting duties and … car pooling.

In conclusion, I must admit we have been blessed with a great kid.  Who is now grown.  Who has entered adulthood.

So my advice to avoid emply nest syndrome is:

  • work hard to encourage your child to be independent
  • do not completely give up your interests for the interests of your child
  • remind your child they were a very welcomed addtion into an existing family… two best friends or two best friends with other children. 

I hope this will give some of my younger parent readers something to think about.

What tips do you have on how to avoid
the “Empty Nest Syndrome”?

Are you an empty nester and how is it going?

Love to hear from you!  Makes my day!

 

Joan

 

Nov 092014
 

To be honest, that title is a stretch.  In reality,  I am now a member of a Friday night mixed curling league.  So I am assuming it is official.

For those readers who are from the Southern US or other parts of the Globe, you may have no idea what I am talking about.  For starters, being a curler has absolutely nothing to do with HAIR!

Curling is that “weird” sport featured in the Winter Olympics, dominated by:

  1. Canada
  2. Sweden
  3. Scotland
  4. Great Britain
  5. Norway

(Source)

Yep, popular in all the cold countries for those looking for an indoor sport where they can still be cold!

Here’s the deal for Mr. Nice and me… In May, we joined a private golf club.  The club is over 100 years old and one day (in the nice weather) I will feature how lovely it is. 

In June 2013, after only 4 rounds of golf, I broke my ankle, thereby ki-boshing my summer golf  schedule.  I did play in the fall.  In the meantime, I met amazing like minded people close to our age (as in — well over 50) and they all encouraged us to take up curling.  The club also has a curling rink and very active program.  Another way to use our membership!

Mr. Nice and I tried curling years ago and thought is was slow and COLD.  At the time we were big on tennis and curling just did not cut it on the aerobic front.

Well, fast forward at least 25 years and we are presented with an opportunity to hang out with a bunch of great social people and well… CURL. 

We joined a Friday night mixed league.  The people are lovely but I must admit my first experiences were PAINFULThis sport is NOT EASY!  The first week and the clinic that followed two days later showed me that I DO NOT HAVE THE TECHNIQUE to throw the rock! 

You see there  is the style…  there is terminology… Sheet. Hack. Rock. and oh the comments about sweeping etc. to the non-curler can sound obscene!  I will not elaborate at this time.

When you watch this video, not once does the rock deliverer’s knee hit the ice.  Hmmm…not so with me.  I need to work on BALANCE! 

 

Source of Video: The Continental Cup – Langley, B.C., Canada, Jan 14, 2012

Basically to throw the rock, you need to push off with your left foot out of the “hack” and balance with your right leg … and oh so much more.

You are NOT meant to BANG your right knee down on the ice, but rather stretch that right leg and slide… Ya right!

Doesn’t it look graceful? 

And look at that concentration! I guess you can concentrate when you do not fall over! LOL!

Sadly for me my ability to balance with the right leg and get everything in alignment is VERY CHALLENGING! 

All of this, resulted in the HUGEST BRUISE on my right knee.  Thank goodness, my daughter had a pair of knee pads I got her for Hip Hop Dance that saved me the unbelievable pain of landing on my knee in my second session.

Now back to Mr. Nice.  I wouldn’t call him a jock because he is not a big man.  But the man is a “sportsman”.  And damn him for that!  He is such a keener and this week, he has been going to the club and “practicing” his rock throwing.  He is developing a very lovely style but in the last game, I had very BAD STYLE and still put 5 rocks in the row in the” house!”   Bruises and all!  Much to his chagrin!  I was just very happy I did not fall over.  Seriously… I tip over… often.

Look at this, they do not tip over (and no knee hits the ice) and this is SERIOUS stuff!

Oh and then there is sweeping.  This basically heats the ice so the rock will move and curl better… I think.  Sweeping I can do.  It is how you keep warm.  You REALLY want you team mate to throw too softly so you can sweep like crazy and keep warm. If you have read this far, yes, it appears to be a weird sport!  BUT very fun!

If you do not know anything about curling, this may be the most ridiculous post you have ever read! However, if you do understand curling … you will most likely relate and find the observations of a beginner to be very amusing.

Last night,  we had a match / game/ whatever they call it,  at 9:00 pm. (YES!  The second shift is very close to my bedtime!)  I had not dropped in to ractice like Mr. Nice.  So I wore my knee pad and HOPED LIKE HELL I could throw the d@m% rock into the house (the bulls eye rings).  Note: being a “first” in our team of four I feel very little pressure.  Result: I did okay!  I still threw with NO Technique and landed in the “the house” about 80% of the time and all was well.

Mr. Nice on the other hand, the man who practiced twice was terrible! but he looked good doing it!

In addition, we are SO VERY FORTUNATE to have the very best technical curlers as our Skip and Vice.  They are so patient,  so nice and SO GOOD!

All in all,  my Friday Night-out with Mr. Nice and a whole bunch of great  people has been lots of fun!   Afterwards, it is all about  consuming our favoruite beverages and being social. 

If you are bored in the winter…try curling.  Cheap and very cheerful!

 I would LOVE to hear from other curlers and curling-lovers! 
It is such a fun sport and oh so not easy!
If you can join a fun, non-competitive  group while you get the hang of it,  you may find you love the sport!
  I think.
Just bring knee pads.

 Joan

 Posted by at 7:51 pm  Tagged with:
Oct 162014
 

Book Club “Retreat” at Limberlost Forest Reserve

A couple of weekends ago, Mr. Nice and I headed a few hours north of Toronto to  Muskoka “Cottage Country” to spend time with our book club friends.  I think you will love my photos of the amazing place where we stayed.  It is an idyllic location every autumn lover would dream of.

book club retreat

Autumn in Muskoka, Ontario

Here in Toronto, the autumn colours are showing their loveliness.  But north of the city, in “cottage country”,  the fall colours have been spectacular since late September.  Friends in our book club rent a cottage / lodge every year the weekend before the Canadian Thanksgiving at the Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve near the lovely town of Huntsville, Ontario.   This 3000 square foot lodge is a very spacious with SEVEN bedrooms and is on Buck Lake!  Buck Lake Lodge is the ONLY cottage on the lake.  Needless to say, the location is spectacular.

(BTW: NO affiliation)

The Good Friday Book Club is comprised of 4 married couples and 3 ladies whose husbands don’t care to participate. So seven bedrooms was just perfect.  The common area is large and spacious and the kitchen is well equipped which is important to this group of literary “foodies”.

The Lodge

book club retreat limberlost common area

Common area: There is nothing fancy making it oh so homey.

The decor has some very cool lamps made of birch logs and an elk head on the wall.

book club retreat limberlost

One of the fun birch log lamps

book club retreat limberlost

The smiling elk can be a bit creepy

In the common area the dining table is so PERFECT!  And so is the view!

book club retreat limberlost

Don’t you just love this table!

book club retreat limberlost

The pictures are not magazine worthy but there were 11 of us!

book club retreat limberlost

The view from the interior upper balcony. So nice to wake up to!

 

Let’s get outside!

book club retreat limberlost

The main entrance is on the level of the deck. Below the main floor is a sauna and 3 bedrooms as well as an exit outside to the lake.

 Can you spot Chester, my fur baby, and his little nose between the rails, wondering what I am doing?

Around Buck Lake

There is a trail in the woods, near the lake’s edge encompassing the lake.

No more words are needed.

book club retreat limberlost

Winter is coming

book club retreat limberlost

Mirrored silence

book club retreat limberlost

Golden splendor

book club retreat limberlost

Courageous fern

book club retreat limberlost

Morning Mist

book club retreat limberlost

Autumn glory

book club retreat limberlost

Nature’s Mirror

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Alone in the woods

book club retreat limberlost

Brillance at every turn

book club retreat limberlost

View from a lookout close to the lodge

By the way, we really did have a book club meeting and the book we discussed was Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.  In this first book of her trilogy, the world she writes about is as far away from this idyllic setting you could possibly get!

book club retreat limberlost
Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood

I hope you enjoyed your visit to Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve and the sampling of photos I have shared.

 

If you like photos and photograhy PLEASE stop by at my Silent Sunday Linky Party
every Sunday beginning at 6:00 am EST.



It is my new venture and I am so keen to see inspiring photos!

 

I love comments and especially dialogue with readers.
So please leave your thoughts and questions below.

Joan

Jun 282014
 

When someone one says “Give me a Break!”  I don’t think this is what they mean..

I posted back in May, for some reason, I was in a funk I could not seem to get out of. I was not able to get at the oh so many paint and upholstery projects I have lined up.  I felt  distracted and shall I say a bit lazy!  Not sure what it was; perhaps that brutally long winter.  At the time, I had been blogging about 8 months and my page views and visitors were up significantly.  But my “followers” were not growing  at the same pace.  Much of the traffic to my blog was coming from my participation in linky parties.   It was becoming clear I was not exploring and taking advantages of other, more productive options available for bloggers. 

So I took a break and did some research, reading and thinking.  Still in a bit of a funk on the work front but was very busy  planning my daughter’s prom / graduation party.

Then, on Friday the 13th,
I got a REAL BREAK!
and not a nice one!

I slipped on a wet floor and went down like a ton of bricks.

I thought I had a sprained ankle because I could put some weight on it but NO… a fractured tibia  (shinbone).

This sucked in so many ways but it could have been worse.  It was my left leg so I can still drive!

Air Cast

This boot is made for walking…

In the two weeks that followed, we had a number of special occasions planned.

We were hosting our last Book Club meeting of the season,  the day after the big break.  Luckily I had set up the dining room for a formal “Great Gatsby” meal before the fall and the meal is “pot luck” and my group is so familiar with my kitchen I had no concerns and was waited on by all 😉 

Then on June 20th, we were hosting a pre- and post- prom party for my daughter and her friends and their families.  You know 45 people mingling around taking photos, eating nibbles and sipping on champagne cocktails.  I could hobble and the week leading up to this, I prepared so many cool things, decor and food, to make it special. 

I was smart though.  I called in a favour from  my bestest friend Gay,  a real estate agent, and asked her if she could be free on Friday to help me.  I do a lot of PhotoShop work for her promotional plan so it was difficult to turn me down. 

OMG without her, I would never have survived the day.  As it turned out the day was PERFECT!!!   Perfect weather.  Perfect food and drinks.  Perfect decor. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

IMG_2111

All the lovely ladies!
(and my peonies in full bloom!)

IMG_2128

This bench by our front door is the location of nearly every “First Day of School” picture for the past 13 years!

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Miss Nice and her Romeo!

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Their school is a dedicated Arts-Only school and this picture shows most of these kids are in the DRAMA program

IMG_2159

That was some limo! A stretch Hummer!

 What was not perfect was I did not get pictures of the decor, the food or the drinks.  I so wanted to do a blog post on it.  You know, get out of my funk.  But NO!  Jusy no time to spare to take photos.  This is definitely a blog issue I will work on… allow WAY more time for things I want to blog about.

Then June 23rd was Miss Nice’s eighteenth birthday and on June 25th was her high school graduation!  Talk about packing it in!

IMG_2256

A grad picture on the bench was a must!

It has now been two weeks since my big break and the pain has subsided quite a bit.  I quite like the feel of the air-cast when I put it on.   It nice and snug and makes me feel more stable. 

Mr. Nice and I leased a golf membership for the summer at a private club, making this break VERY untimely and expensive.  However, I plan to go to the range this week and see how much it puts me off balance.  We can always take a cart!

Today, I am going to tackle some paint projects because the weather here in Toronto is magnificent!  And I want to go outside!

Similar to my post back in the winter,  Make Like Nike and “Just Do It”   I plan on getting off my butt, out of my funk and be productive regardless of my leg.

In the meantime, I have one more decision to make: 
In the first week of July, do I really want to fly to England to see my in-laws while sporting a cast? or should I go in the fall when Mr. Nice usually goes alone? 

Have you taken a long flight with a cast on?

Have you ever had a bad Friday the 13th? 

Stay tuned for more projects and posts because I believe I am back!

Joan

 

Be sure to follow me on Bloglovin! 
and comments just make my day!
(And I could use a break!  LOL)

Nov 042013
 

Mr. Nice and I have a time-share through Club Intrawast but sadly, for the last couple of years we have not been able to use all our time allotment.   This year as our deadline approached, we offered up our time to our friends but in the end, we were still going to lose a few days.  At the last minute, I TOLD Mr. Nice who is also Mr. Busy, we were going to spend 5 days at the Club Intrawest property in Sandestin, Florida … so get packing!

We hadn’t been to Florida in years and when we did go, we were visiting Disney World with our daughter.  We didn’t know much about this part of Florida.  All we needed to know was there was GOLF!  and we hoped the weather would be warm enough for sitting by the pool and or the beach.

We were so pleasantly surprised!  We LOVED this area and hope to go back many more times!

First of all, the end of October is between busy seasons so it was not crowded at all.

Secondly, we were blessed with PERFECT weather!

Lastly and best of all, we could not get over the WHITE SAND on the beaches!
To us Canadians, it looked like snow!

sandestin_06

When I say it wasn’t busy, I wasn’t kidding!
This is the beach near Seaside.

DSCN1660

These darling little sandpipers kept us company and amused.
They’re so quick and cute!

The golf courses were also not busy and by shopping around on the net, we found fabulous deals on green fees.  BONUS!
We played  four rounds in total and usually around 7:45 and each time, we were the first or one of the first groups to go out.
So these beautiful courses were essentially EMPTY!
I felt like Donald Trump!

sandestin_15

Beautiful, graceful egrets;

sandestin_16

The Raven Golf club was one of our favourites and we played it twice.
There were beautiful ornamental grasses with reddish plumes. Gorgeous.
This egret seemed to be showing off for us.

sandestin_01

The view of the bay and Choctawhatchee Mid-Bay Bridge from Emerald Bay Golf Club in Destin.
The Bridge is a 141-span, 3.6 mile (5.8 km) bridge connecting the mainland to the Destin beaches.

sandestin_04

All the Golf courses had beautiful homes surrounding them. Imagine living on a golf course and a bay like this!

sandestin_05

Looking the opposite way from the bridge.

sandestin_03

Enough touristy stuff! Get back to playing! Mr. Nice teeing off.

sandestin_21

The Links Golf Club has water on almost every hole making it very pretty and not mention, difficult!

sandestin_17

I wonder how long it will take this guy to cross the fairway and reach the water?

Our golf games were finished in two hours so we were home for lunch and had the rest of the days ahead of us.  We checked out the beaches, hung out at the pool, browsed some funky shops in nearby Seaside and of course hit the outlet mall like all good Canadian tourists!

sandestin_19

How inviting is this? Nap anyone?

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Don’t you just hate it when all the lounge chairs are taken?

The nearby town of Seaside had a number of fun shops to browse around.  Sadly, the items I liked were a bit to big and bulky to take home on the plane. The little town is very funky and artsy and it was obvious it must be packed in high season.  There were so many places right on the Gulf.  All that white sand.  Heaven!

sandestin_13

Cute little post office on the main street.
(Why is that pole right in the middle of my picture??)

In the heart of the town are a line of small Vintage Airstream trailers lined up, side by side.  In Seaside’s early days, many of the owners building homes stayed in Airstream trailers—“land yachts”—awaiting completion.  Now, they house independent food vendors.  The  food aromas were enticing!

sandestin_14

Airstream food vendors.

There were so many cute shops and art galleries to browse through.  I particularly liked Amore By The Sea which offered a collection of funky art, unique home accent treasures from around the world, reclaimed wood furniture, jewelry and more.  I snapped a few pics but if you want to see more items, I’ve added the link to their website above.

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I loved these unusual glass and wood / root sculptures. Sadly too bulky to take home on the plane.

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Fabulous carved bowls and unique sculptures.

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Isn’t he a cutey?

On our last full day, just as we were finishing our golf game a the Links, it started to pour.  PERFECT!  Off to the Outlet Mall!  Mr. Nice went a bit crazy and came home with 3 pairs of shoes, 4 golf shirts, 4 sports shirts, 1 dress shirt, 2 pairs of shorts, 2 caps, and God knows what else.  Needless to say, it was not a shopping day for me!

I wish I had more pictures to share!  Maybe that’s a sign I was having a REALLY GOOD TIME!

We can’t wait to visit the Florida Panhandle again!

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Oct 122013
 
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Canada’s Wonderland Halloween Haunt 2013

“Canada’s Wonderland Halloween Haunt sets the stage for everything that the worst nightmares are made of with 10 horrific mazes, 3 mind-bending scare zones, 3 live shows, hair-raising rides, and over 700 undead spirits and monsters lurking in the shadows preying on the innocent.”

Canada’s Wonderland is an amazing amusement park just north of Toronto and for 13 days in October, it not only operates the zooming and looming roller coasters, it provides an additional shot of adrenaline in the form of creepy, scary pure terror!  Or so I am told.

And my 17 year old daughter is one of the “undead spirits”.   Her official job description is “Maze Monster” but her actual role is a madam of an opium den in the Terror of London maze.

Now how is that for your first real paying job?

The monsters and clowns arrive at 5:00 p.m. to get their makeup done by professionally trained make-up artists and they are good!  Then my baby spends her evenings jumping out of dark shadows, whispering creepy things in people’s ears, getting up into people’s faces and generally acting very scary.

Here she is at age 7.

Halloween03_6

We should have seen it coming!

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