Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Mess of Moving.

Over the past few months, preparing for a move and for my youngest's graduation and my still evolving single self...I've been unable to write more than a few words at a time and rarely on anything more permanent than the back of an envelope in my bag or typed with horrific autocorrect into the notes on my phone. I'm hoping that at some point I'm going to remember what "Oscar is where the light comes in" meant to me in a moment of tears in a darkened movie theatre.

And yet, I know there are friends, particularly long distance ones, who have been wondering if "The Vanbinsbergens" blogspot is going to continue on and I have to say at this point, I'm not sure. For now, yes, we are still the Vanbinsbergens. I've been a Vanbinsbergen longer than I was a Bowman...but I can say I honestly wear both with love. My in-soon-to-be-outlaws ( I just like calling them that cause they're pretty badass when it comes to loving people) are still family.  While J and I may be in process of divorce - he is still the dad to our great boys. The boys are still "the boys" whilst they grow into incredibly tall men and fill the house with their presence, one that I honestly can say that I am daily thankful for. I know this season is short where the three of us will live in this house together but I'm incredibly happy every day that they are with me. I love the day to day stuff with them - dinners, girlfriends, work life and the still constant bickering of two guys who never fail to amaze me at their diversity despite their brotherhood.

We have moved into a new to us little house and while slowly, it's becoming "our" place by measure of less boxes and more "living" space. The girlfriends come by and fill it with their laughter and their conversation and I know in just a while, it will be "home" as it fills with memories of this summer in the midst of change.

I thought I was ready to leave our home on Stepney and in so many ways I was...but it did bring a lot of fears to the surface. Fears of being on my own and financially responsible for a house and the bills and the long list of "grown up" things...but in moments of doubt and having to make adult decisions, I've discovered that there is ownership and independence in the responsibilities as well. I'm luckily also surrounded by friends who have no qualms about telling me to remember that I've been handling things for far longer than I give myself credit for or who are willing to shut down the ensuing list of fears and take it down to sizeable chunks. I wish I could say I moved into this house with a sense of freedom and joy that I finally have my own space but that would not be completely honest. While there is a sense of independence and joy that comes with having a place of my own, there was also a long list of "what have I done?" moments and self doubt and questioning my ability to make good decisions that comes with any purchase as large as a house. And yet, there were my people, sitting around an island in my neighbour's kitchen or at my desk at work or over coffee that reminded me that despite the unknowns, my decision making for the most part is sound. Probably one of the best things to come out of the whole house buying process is that I'm allowed to make mistakes. I should expect to. It's something I'm willing to say to others but have not ever really allowed for myself. So, while it should be freeing, it's also a learning curve that I don't have to live up to my high expectations or timelines that I self impose.  I'm not sure why that's so difficult. I don't have that rigidity when it comes to anyone other than myself.

I was sitting in my new backyard the other morning, trying to figure out how best to make the most of it because it's beautiful and private and makes me feel incredibly spoiled. I've never "owned" a tree that can change the temperature of the outdoors with its incredible shade or soothe with the sound of the wind in its branches. I may have bought a tree and got the house in the deal but I'm actually okay with that part of it all.  I noticed a cocoon on the corner of one of the fence posts and it made me think how people compare the struggles of life to the growth of a butterfly from its caterpillar state through to earning its wings. I've heard the analogy a million times but I was struck by the thought as I looked at the cocoon that a butterfly doesn't return to the cocoon after becoming a butterfly...and yet, though I'm not sure I'm through the "struggle" portion of emergence yet, I often find myself returning to the cocoon of change as a touchstone of where I'm at and where I've been. I guess my hope is that at some point, as it has become less and less necessary to remind myself of what I'm coming through...that I will no longer need to come back to the cocoon.  (Dear God, please don't everyone send me butterfly trinkets or such...I'm just working through a thought here....) All that to say I recognize that my life is continuing to be a process of change and I'm figuring it out.

So, for the record, we're still here. We're still the Vanbinsbergens so for now, I'm still here. Expect mistakes and messy analogies and much love for all who continue to hang in for the ride.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Last Time on Stage

Tomorrow morning, my "last born" as they refer to him in Africa, will cross the stage and graduate high school. Easton has held centre stage since the morning he arrived in Reno, Nevada in 2001. He completed our family with his absolute charm, his incredible humour right from the earliest days and his stubborn indifference to reason when he wanted something.

He's grown into the most incredible young man - a born leader with an absolutely genuine desire to treat people well and be inclusive. He's gifted in a million ways to carry this out with an instinct for stepping in when someone is hurting, to give good gifts and to bring humour to any situation. He's got an activist heart that compels him to speak up and reach out and to challenge the kind of thinking that leads people to complacency.

He's brilliant on stage and even more so around the dinner table. His memory for all things comic and film related is awe inspiring and his puns continue to kill us slowly...ever so slowly...with laughter and groans. No situation is too reverent for his humour and he often slips a quiet commentary into the gravest of moments and watches with joy as we struggle to discipline or at minimum, not react to his goofy antics.

He's a whirlwind of activity. He's the magnet of his social circle, assembling strange and disjointed groups of people into his sphere and bonding them with his inclusivity.

He's been an amazing travel companion, able to bridge cultural differences and reach into the lives of those we love in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa. He's endeared himself as a trustworthy friend to children in communities where they hadn't often seen children from other countries venture and he's proven himself upon return by remembering names, playing games and sitting with children and their families as they share the challenges they face in their lives. He understands the effects of poverty on these communities and he holds those he's befriended close to his heart, often surprising me with a memory or a conversation about one of these young friends when he's reminded of them.

Over the years, education hasn't been an easy road for him. He's clever and smart and gets great grades but he struggled with the time spent in classrooms, having to fit a mold that often doesn't meet the needs of boys with big dreams and open hearts and huge questions. Thankfully, his desire to stay connected to his friends buoyed him through some tough years. His "squad" was his priority in the late elementary days and it was a tough transition to high school when they all went their separate ways. Again, his ability to pull people together shon and he continued to orchestrate gatherings that allowed these special gang of kids to meet and hang out on a regular basis. Last night, they showed up at our place for a celebratory barbecue together although many of them hadn't seen each other since the last "Lakeview" reunion. It was fun to watch them reconnect, laugh and joke and update each other on where life was taking them. I love this quality in my son - his ability to bring people together and impress on them the importance of connection. It's an amazing thing to have witnessed over the years.

These past few years, he's flourished in his roles in the drama and arts worlds as he started and co- led his school's Improv Comedy team, been involved in musicals and the One Act plays as well. It's been a really cool thing to watch him grow in this area and to see his confidence and raw talent combine and develop in him. His last roles were amazing and there were times during the performances that I found myself forgetting that he was my son and being completely captivated by the character he was portraying.

Tomorrow, I'm going to watch him on stage for the last time in his high school career. He'll walk across the stage and grab a piece of paper than represents a major milestone. More than that, when he steps off that stage, he enters the real life roles he's been preparing for. I know he's ready to fly. He's proven he's capable and that he's going to be a contributor of great things to many peoples' lives. Indeed he already has. I'm proud of this boy. I'm proud of the character I see in him and I can't wait to see where this life takes him. I know he'll always be surrounded by great people as he attracts that by his nature. I'm thankful for the years I have been his mum and I genuinely hope that many, many more people get to experience the incredible gift that Easton Van B is to this world.
Easton and Brydon - The Nightmare Before Christmas

Easton's role as a football player - Good News 

7 mins into our Mexican vacation - stepped on a sea urchin

Nathan Fillion has nothing on this kid

Easton and Gabi - friends since kindergarten

Aidan and Easton - back when I got to dress them.

Easton and Aidan when they dress themselves. 

Molly and Easton in the Zombie Apocolypse

Easton at sunset - Grasslands National Park 

Searching for Wifi

Easton at home sporting his custom knit toque from Charlene

Easton, Kamerin and Aidan at Oma and Opa's 50th Wedding Anniversary

Mother's Day - sharing a Snowy Village Korean shaved ice

Working on the bus with Ewan

Off to Montreal for the summer with the YMCA/YWCA Youth Camp

Baby Easton

This boy...

Warming up those toes at Elkridge warming shack

Always imaginative

The only kid who could go to a spray park for the day and come out bone dry. 

In our "new" house - 2007 Saskatoon

2007 Saskatoon Canada Day

Easton and Travis at his birthday party in Grade 1

Rocking out at one of Aidan's hockey games

1/2 American - 1/2 Canadian 

Playing in Sakubva, Zimbabwe

Teaching our host family's daughters how to play mini sticks in Zimbabwe

One of my favourite photos of Easton....Canada's Wonderland

Riding the back of the bakkie in South Africa like pro's

At the top of Legogate overlooking Mpumulunga 

Another favourite of Easton - our friend Jesslaine took our family photos and capture this
image of Easton that seemed to capture everything he was at age 6

One of the many faces of E

Praire boy

Easton holding Dillon, who became very drawn to Easton's voice and touch while we were in Zimbabwe.

Easton's kindergarten sweetheart, Rachel

Easton - October in Prince Albert 

Lake Tahoe

Hockey hair - don't care

Painting with Cathy Johnson in Zambia. These two shared some great bonding over Harry Potter movies and art

Capt America

Rock Lake Manitoba 

Blue steel 

Aidan, Mac and Easton at Bruce and Robin's...our last Christmas in Nevada

Recreating one of my favourite photos 

Feeding elephants in South Africa 

With Wedzerai and her brothers in Sakubva, Zimbabwe 2012

First concert - Bon Jovi in Regina 


Lake Diefenbaker circa 2008

Easton and Ewan - inseparable since Kindergarten. 

Easton and Farai in Chinaka, Zimbabwe