The saga continues. 

In last week’s episode of The Not-So-Young and the Helpless we found our characters in a bit of turmoil and despair. 

This week’s episode picks up where we left off, moments from delivering Diego to his hockey camp. 

He chose to not go. Insert deep sigh. 

A sigh of relief from Diego; a sigh of resignation from Manolo and I. We tried every trick in the book. Soft pressure, hard pressure, reverse psychology, shameless bribery. In the end, he couldn’t be swayed. 

He parroted back to me some of my own words. “Mom, these things empty my cup. I can’t focus and be my best self.”

We talk with the kids a lot about mental health, about ensuring that they are paying attention to their “cup”. What fills it. What drains it. And noticing when it is dangerously close to empty. 

We remind them that their own happiness is their responsibility. Theirs to guard and protect, theirs to cultivate. They are not responsible for making others happy and no one else is responsible for their happiness. 

And so we must honour his choice. Not in support of quitting but rather in support of making a choice and living with the consequences. Of course as parents our job is to balance those consequences they understand and those their little minds can’t yet grasp. 

After meeting with both the coach and team manager to express his thoughts about not going, he followed it up with an email to them, telling them his decision and acknowledging that he was letting down his team. He has promised to work extra hard in training to make up for what he has missed. Making up for missing out on the great bonding and friendship forming is something that can’t be replaced. That is a consequence he doesn’t grasp the gravity of. One which to me was the greatest loss. 

What I needed to be accountable for was letting go of this decision. It was not the outcome I wanted. And I was disappointed which closely resembled being pissed off.  At him. 

Took me a while to get that in check. To let go. We set some parameters around the week at home, it wasn’t going to be without responsibility and independence. 

Slowly but surely we reset the balance. 

There was joy to be found this week. And secretly I was happy to have him home. I worked this week and had the following week scheduled off so that we could spend a week all together in Lugano. That upcoming week off provided the perfect opportunity to fly to Victoria for a visit with my Nana. So I booked a flight. This week then became our only “holiday” time together. I planned to make the most of it. 

After all, there was a Birthday to celebrate!

What do you do when you need to reset the balance and find joy together with your kids? You buy them a puppy.

Meet Charlie. And one blissfully happy girl. Her cup runneth over!

You don’t actually buy your kids a puppy. That would be ridiculous. Instead you borrow one for a week – Helena’s first paying gig in fact. A week of dog-sitting with the sweetest pup ever! We were all smitten. 

Unfortunately Helena’s joy quickly shifted to nausea. By the very next morning she was home sick in bed, clutching the puke bowl. (Just realized the irony in this. One kid home because he couldn’t face the homesickness, the other literally home, sick.)

Poor girl, on the eve of her 9th birthday too. 

So plans shifted. It became quite a saving grace that D was home as someone needed to look after Charlie while Manolo and I were at work. 

Her birthday was spent on the couch, in pjs, feeling pretty crummy but with just enough energy to build Lego and cuddle a cute puppy. A pretty great day as far as she was concerned. 

The following day she was recovered enough for us to set out adventuring again. 

How do you adventure with a dog and a train? With an IKEA bag of course. Otherwise the dog requires a pricey ticket!
Arrived at the base of the mountain at Wasserauen, ready to catch a gondola for the next stretch.
Our ride to the top. Charlie was allowed to ride sans-bag for this stretch.
How Charlie rode in the very crowded gondola.
Off the gondola you hike (walk really) up to the lookout at the top. Spectacular view and a spot to grab a quick fondue of course.
Then you go back down, past the gondola station and into a windy path in a dark cave. You pop out the other side to another great view.
A wee chapel on the edge of the cliff, with service times posted.
A “hobbit hut” along the trail.
And then you come to this. Wildkirchli. In so many Swiss advertising campaigns and so worth the trip.
The approach to the restaurant. The Swiss aren’t known for shying away from a tricky approach. The blue sky today reminded us of home. A rare big Alberta-blue-sky day.
The view from where we squatted for lunch.
Not exactly an original idea for the day. The patio was PACKED!
A popular spot. Charcuterie with quite a reputation.
The Gasthaus status may be just a rumor. Don’t plan to spend the night if you come.
After the hike we traveled back down and to the pretty town of Appenzel. 

Waiting for the train.
The mountain trains are especially fun because you can open the windows and get some fresh air.
Pretty painted facades are a signature of Appenzel.
Everything was decorated.
A happy gathering of garden gnomes.
Where the gnomes live.
And of course, pretty windows.

After this day we felt ready to get back to birthday celebrations. 

Angel food cake, specially imported from Canada. Thanks Meg!
Family makes every celebration so much warmer.
The charcuterie is pretty great on this patio too.
Special lunch out with the birthday girl.
9 and looking fine in her new high-fashion trench coat.
And how do we end a week where everyone’s cups needed refilling? Why, we go to Lugano of course. 

There really may be no other place on earth which recharges us the way Lugano does. 

Refilling his cup. A good book and a great view.

Finding her balance.
And because I’m mean, my cup is strangely topped up by laughing as my children flee from the reign of terror of giant swans.
Whose monkeys are these?

An Aperol Spritz and a gorgeous sunset do remarkable things for my cup too.

What will fill my cup to overflowing is the visit with family I’ll have this coming week. For me Lugano was merely a 1 night stay. Tomorrow I fly to Canada to see my Nana. 

Manolo and the kids will enjoy the rest of their holiday week in paradise. The chance to say goodbye, for me is paradise. 

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