Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Head Full Of Nothing....or Everything?

Life is pretty busy as of late, and as I was showering at 11pm last night before my youngest daughters next round of Advil, all of these random thoughts started popping into my head. The shower often does that to me for some reason.

Since I haven't been keeping up to par on my blog writing, I thought I'd make it easy on myself (see last post-I'm all about comfort, ease and enjoyment right now) and let you take a quick peek inside the inner workings of my brain. I know, scary stuff.

Here, in no particular order, are some random thoughts I've been pondering recently.

-As an ECE and home daycare provider for the last, oh 10 years, I get a lot of gifts from parents at Christmas time. Of course, this is totally awesome and I appreciate the recognition of the time and energy and thought I put into their young children's lives. Yet, here's the thing. Over the years, I've received many, many a bottle of wine. This led me to the thought that parents either must think that after a day spent with their little darlings, daycare providers need to drink their faces off, OR, that I'm a boozehound. Of course, they'd be right on both counts. Har har. As I said, it's actually a great gift and one that you just can't go wrong giving. In my case anyways. This year, I am ecstatic that I also got two gift certificates to restaurants, cookies and something else is "coming." Hmmm. My family can now eat out every weekend for the next month! Woohoo!

-Secondly, Facebook is a strange and cool tool. I see all of these faces of people I went to school with from the time I was 5 and up through University and it blows my mind. I can picture all of these people "as we were" locked in that time frame, and it's incredible to now see them all married (or divorced, single, partnered, whatever) and with children and lives of their own. I find it interesting to imagine that "the crazy guy" is now a totally devoted Dad. The punk chick is a hands on Mom. The part that gets my curiosity is the choices we all make, and how different they are than the expectations we had for people who fell into certain roles or cliques. The "most beautiful" girl is still single and never married, for instance. I thought for sure she'd be snatched up right away, know what I mean? That leads me to the next musing....

-I would say a large majority of who I became and what I "wanted" out of my adulthood was formed by my own childhood. If you go back in my graduating year's yearbook, my "Ambition" was listed as "Realize the white picket dream." Truly, more than anything else, I wanted the security and comfort of a wonderful, happy family. I grew up with a great Mom, but one who made horrible choices in men. My home life for many years was epically horrific. My main focus wasn't a career or securing that high paying job, it was about making a good choice in a partner and raising a truly happy family. It's probably the reason why I got married at 22. You've seen it before, the person who grew up with little material wealth ends up searching for financial security at all costs, the girl who was always overlooked in favour of her brother shows everyone just how great she can be and outdoes her brother at every turn. All the same thing. That led me to my OWN children though. I wonder what their search will be? If we become who we are based a lot on our home lives and upbringing, where will their road take them? What will they see as "lacking." It's a deep thought, and kind of a scary one. Ah, parental guilt.

-Speaking of marriage and looking for the "right" guy, I was thinking about the major players in my own romantic history. I don't know how some people don't have a "type." That concept is weird to me, since my own selection is usually fairly similar. I like dark hair, and light eyes. As I was pondering the three significant relationships in my life, though, I also realized that even from a young age, I also was attracted to certain recurring traits. The boys, to men, that I've dated with intent, are all ambitious, confident, and not always well liked. They tend to be on the uber confident (ie cocky/arrogant) side. On the negative side, I also just realized something the other day. They were all also one way on the outside, to the world at large, and yet completely insecure and sensitive on the inside. All three of these guys needed a partner that saw them as the whole world. That, in a way, idolized them. I could lie on a couch and psychoanalyze THAT for hours on end, but I won't go into it here. Needless to say, this epiphany hit me in the shower and startled me a little. I'm consistent and true to form, at least. I'm not going to come out of left field and date somebody completely off kilter. It's always dark hair and eyes, uber confident, cocky bravado, with a smirky, teasing, flirty charm. He's never a bad boy, but rather just a bit of a flirty cad. I can give you a famous example as well, if you'd really like. Try a young Mel Gibson, (before the Sugar Tits fiasco) or a Robbie Williams (look him up for all you non-Anglophiles).

-As my friends and acquaintances of late seem to be going through divorces and custody situations, I dreamt that I was going through the same and wondering how we'd divvy up days. Oh. My. Word. That was NOT a good thought. I really don't know how people do that, or are okay with it. How would I LIVE not seeing my kids EVERY day? Wow. I truly couldn't and hope I never have to make those arrangements. I think it would break my husband and I both to have to do that.

-Lastly, as Christmas approaches, I've been thinking a lot about people and times in the past. I guess the holiday season brings out some reminiscing delusions of "the way we were." I'm someone who is always, always, always thinking. (as you can see by the myriad of above thoughts from one days' shower and sleep!!!) It made me wonder if all of the time I spend thinking about others, if they ever think of me. What do they think? You know how you have an impression of "who you are" or "who you were" as a teen, I wonder if those peeps who look me up on Facebook have an impression of me. I wish they'd share what it is/was. I think it would be interesting and maybe I'd learn something new about myself. I did have that happen recently. A girl I went to elementary school with looked me up and her first words to me were, "wow. I remember you so fondly and how you always made me laugh! In a good way! You were always so funny." Ain't nothing wrong with that. I know I was also often a jerk and could be kind of a bully, but I hope I gave more laughs to people than tears.

So, that's the end of the rambling randoms for one blog post. I don't know that I'll be back until after Christmas with everything wonderful and chaotic that it brings. I wish you and yours Happy Holidays. May you have many happy, interesting, arousing randoms of your own.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sleigh Bells Ring....Are You Listening?

I sometimes wonder how Christmas, a one day celebration, has now become a month long event? Or, was it always this way?

Don't get me wrong, I love me some Christmas. Yet, it's always crazy stressful too. By the time Christmas day itself actually rolls around, I'm exhausted. My husband works long hours during this season, and that means that while he's bone tired and his legs are killing him and he's lost weight from "no time" to eat, I'm the one scrambling around doing EVERYTHING to make this one day "special." For everyone near and far.

I'm the one doing Christmas cards and shopping for gifts for family, friends, teachers, bus drivers, and who knows who else. I'm doing all of the wrapping. I'm making sure they have what they need for parties and school events. I'm mailing things out on time. It starts to feel less "fun" and "magical" and a little more like one more item on my To Do List that needs checking off, STAT.

On top of that, it's usually the wrap up for swimming and dance lessons and visiting and general running around. I try to stay cheerful and "merry and bright" but I have to admit-sometimes the pressure is high.

I talk to friends that are also feeling the crunch. It's not just the schedules and the baking and the shopping, it's the demand that we be happy and cheerful and joyous while doing it all. The reality is, the Christmas season can be burdensome for many. Parents want to make the day wonderful for their children, but often the stress of financial worries and family issues and the fact that we just can't do it ALL comes creeping in to mar that splendour.

I know I've been literally counting down the days that I'm finished "such and such" and can have one more demand off of my plate. That's horrible, isn't it? Real life, however, doesn't stop because Santa is coming.

This year, I've decided to enjoy the time even if it kills me. I'm sending cards, but I'm not crafting them or doing anything fancy. In fact, if you get one a little late, enjoy the fact that your cards are continuing into the New Year. (I have a friend that actually DOES send her cards, on purpose, in the New Year as opposed to Christmas cards! Oh, the horror! She said it removes that pressure, and she can really put more into them, and people enjoy getting a card into the New Year. She just might have something, there.) I'm not doing a ton of baking this year. I bought two huge buckets of cookie dough from the school, and I've made a few dozen cookies. I'm buying some, and I'm also going to enjoy the loaves my Mom made me, at my special request. (almond/dried apricot. To. Die.For) I'm not feeling pressured to give "so and so" a gift, or a card, because they gave me one. I'm not going crazy on spending for gifts either. I bought a few things as the months led up to this, and I'll add a few traditional gifts, and a few things the girls really wanted.

Even Christmas dinner this year is going to be laid back. We're joining our neighbours and their family-which means we'll only have to contribute to a meal as opposed to making the whole thing from scratch. We'll do a traditional tortiere dinner on Christmas Eve, and I think we'll have a special family dinner on the 27th, but again-the theme this year is low key.

I'm tired of the hustle and bustle. I want to enjoy my time, my family and my friends. The season is meant to be savoured and it's meant to bring peace and joy. It's not about commitments and time constraints and money and gifts. I've taken many things for granted over the years, and I have learned hard lessons. Life can change in a moment. What was, can be gone. I intend on slowing down a bit, and soaking in what IS, right now, at present.

In the quiet lights of the Christmas tree, with my family around me, I'm starting to focus on the real reason for the season and the meaning behind it all. I'll be capturing the moment in my head, to save for the days when things catch me off guard once again, and I'll be wearing a knowing smile.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


All of the press lately about Tiger Woods, which started with a simple yet inexplicable early morning car crash, has been over the top. In the beginning, it seemed likely that he either was drinking or that he and his wife had been fighting. Those two scenarios seemed pretty evident in my mind. Now, though, this whole thing has turned not only into a PR nightmare, but into a huge personal disappointment of another fallen "idol."

When women started coming forward, it was easy to dismiss them as gold diggers. Now, however, with voice messages being played, evidence that his company was responsible for flying out the "newest" mistress and women crawling out of the woodwork, it's pretty hard to pretend it's all just gossip and rumour.

The final nail in the coffin, of course, is Tiger's own recently released statement about his "transgressions" and that he has failed personally. Umm. Three plus years of affairs is not a "transgression,'' Mr. Woods.

I don't expect celebrities to be beyond human flaws and failings. If anything, I expect them to be exposed to "more" of whatever it is that they want at the moment. Infidelity in sports and in the celebrity world, as well as the "normal folks" world has been going on for longer than we can even count. Yet, there seemed historically to be a higher moral code or standard that people felt held up to respect. Where did that go?

Our generation, it seems, is very "me" focused in terms of getting what we want, when we want it. I don't even understand why Tiger GOT married if the infidelities have been ongoing since the beginning of his relationship. If you don't want to be committed, why commit? Is it that age old cliche-that he wanted the wifey and children at home, and yet a little something on the side? The Madonna/Whore thing? It seems he picked the perfect wife in that respect. His wife has been a very private person, much like Tiger himself. Could that have been a very conscious decision on his part?

But I digress. Back to what I see in the world around me in terms of a very narcissistic society. Everywhere you look, people of my age (give or take a decade to either side) seem hellbent on doing what they please, when they please. They want what they want RIGHT now, woe to anyone standing in their way. This goes from the workplace to home. The even scarier thing is, we all just seem to cluck our tongues and yet ACCEPT that this is just "the ways things are." Really??? Are we truly okay with the current status quo?

North America has the highest divorce rate in the world. This doesn't even factor in all of the people who choose NOT to get married but just live with each other indefinitely because marriage is "just a piece of paper." What are we saying about the commitment we make then, when we choose to partner with someone, and worse still, bring children into the world? Have we decided that it's truly impossible to be monogamous, or that marriage only lasts as long as it lasts? Oh well? Have we decided that a life long commitment is an impossible dream? It would certainly seem so.

Studies have shown that human beings that are married are healthier and live longer than their single counterparts. I believe that especially as we age into "old age," we do better with a caring partner by our side. As human beings, we NEED each other, and we need someone who can look out for our best interests-in health and in general. As I said, that's not just MY belief. Scientific study backs up my hypothesis.

All of the broken marriages and broken individuals out there are contributing to a breakdown in future society in more ways than one. Their children are being raised in broken homes with role models with broken values. They lose their intact families for step-parent number 1. Then 2. Then however many as we continue to have so many "throw away" relationships with whomever suits our current fancy. What then do you think our children's relationships are going to look like as they grow? Ya. Not pretty. Who do we have to blame? Ourselves.

What about OUR futures? I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of lonely, and alone, senior citizens out there in the years to come. Many who might look back and realize that their "transgressions" for whatever many moments of pleasure, might not have been worth it after all as they die alone.

I used to really like Tiger Woods. He didn't just seem like an incredibly talented golfer, (which he obviously still is!) he seemed like a decent human being. How the mighty have fallen. Yet, I'm not shocked. It seems the norm these days, and that's the most distressing part of all.

It's not about celebrity, or money or fame or wealth. It's an ongoing crisis our society is facing at present. It's a sign of a growing epidemic whose casualties are too young to show the scars.

That's what is truly, disappointing.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Voice of Doom

I feel like everything I have to say lately is depressing and morose. It's not like me to be such a downer, or at least to talk about it out loud. However, that's just the way things are lately.

So, on to more crappy news......My Dad had another stroke the other night. He's doing okay, regained his speech and back to dialysis, but it's another setback nonetheless. It's also pretty much what is going to happen from now on. They can't give him blood thinners due to his other medications and conditions, so they've pretty much told him he's just going to continue having these strokes until one kills him. I think this is stroke number four. My Dad chose to go home and just live his life, or whatever is remaining of his life. The problem is, he hasn't been back there very long each time he tries to go "home." Inevitably, he's back in the hospital with a stroke.

It's difficult for my siblings and I here in Canada, because my Dad is so far away. We wait on pins and needles for that next phone call or email saying that he's gone. It's difficult for my Dad waiting for something worse to happen to him, as well. It's difficult on his wife to have to take care of him and worry about him, when her own health is precarious.

That's a lot of worry.

And hence why I'm a Debbie Downer as of late.

But I'm thankful as well. Thankful that this wasn't the one to signal the end. Thankful that my Dad continues to fight, because honestly at this point, all that is keeping him alive is his own will. Thankful that I've inherited a fighting spirit. Thankful that my fairly non-existent relationship with my Dad has strengthened since I had children of my own. Thankful for the times we've had and that we had that time.

And especially thankful that today is a new day, where the possibilities are endless and anything can change on a dime for the better.

That right there isn't a buzzkill, for once. It's called HOPE. Though things seem pretty dark, there's always that light shining on. I'm trying to keep it lit, even when I'm confronted with doom.

Just like my Dad.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Life Moves Pretty Fast, You Don't Stop And Look Around Once In A While, You Could Miss It"

I know, that's a long title. Deal. It's also one of my fav quotes from one of my fav movies, (Ferris Bueller for those living under a rock) and it fit my current state of affairs.

Where the heck is time going these days? I feel like a hamster on a wheel, just running and running but seemingly getting nowhere.

Our schedules are pretty busy during the week, so it definitely feels like each night we have to rush through dinner and get out the door in time to go to dancing, swimming, etc etc etc.

It's not just that, though. Everyday, school sends home yet another note with yet another thing to order, fundraise or complete. I'm usually the nerdy mom that fills out whatever I'm supposed to and sends it back the next day. Currently, however, I have a stack of papers awaiting my perusal.

Of course, Christmas is also a month away. I have quite a bit done, shopping wise, but there remains more to do. There also remains cooking and baking and decorating. My "To Do" list seems interminable.

We had our Christmas with my family and gave them our gifts. It was a lot of fun and the day went really great. The problem is that these trips "home" are never quite long enough. I make plans to visit my friends and extended family-and never end up doing so when all is said and done, before it's time to head back once again. Sigh.

Basically, I'm stressed and overwhelmed currently. My body is feeling it too. I'm not sure why I'm more stressed than any other year or any other time, but I am. I have a cold sore on my lip which I get when I'm sick or stressed. My tongue has two raw spots that are killing me. I have chills and I'm beyond tired. I know, don't even say it. I'm NOT getting sick. Nope. Nuh uh.

I don't have time to be sick.

I shouldn't even be kvetching about all of this and I truly feel like a dud even doing so when obviously there are bigger fish to fry in the world of pain and sorrow and stress.

It's my blog though, and I'll bitch if I want to do so.

Now that I've vented that out into the Universe, I'm off to prepare myself for a long afternoon and an evening rushing off to dance classes and baths.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vault, Or Open Book?

I have a friend here that I've known for the two years that we've lived side by side. We share coffee times and playdates and hang out with our husbands and friends for dinners and movies. We both also like to shop. We've grown quite close, and I enjoy her family a lot.

We went on a recent shopping excursion and had a long drive to get back home afterwards. During that 1.5 hour trek, we did a lot of talking. We talked about our lives growing up, the types of boyfriends we had, our marriages and families now. I won't get into the whole sordid details of that exchange, obviously, but what she relayed to me was significant. At one point as I was speaking, she turned and looked at me and said, "You are a total VAULT. You've sat across from me while people talked and cried, and you've never, ever let any of this stuff you just told me out. How do you DO that?"

There are certain people in the world that are Open Books. If something is going on in their lives, you know about it. Either they can't contain themselves enough to keep it in, or they just need to purge as much as possible to get feedback or feel better. That's definitely not me.

I think most of us have secrets we keep inside that we will take to our graves. Or at least I used to think that. Now, I know people that say that isn't so. They believe in "getting it all out." That concept gives me the shakes.

I'm the type that will let you in after many, many, many years. I need to feel a trust between us. Even then, I'll feed you select random details and not the whole picture. In fact, I've been known to minimize. A lot. To me, sharing pain or difficult situations is embarrassing at best. Mortifying is the more apt term. It also makes me feel weak, and I also feel it gives up some control. It gives power to the other person that they now know something so intimate from your life story.

When I told my husband that I had shared some of these details with my friend, he was in total shock. He knows me enough to know that it took me years and years before I even completely opened up to him. Even saying completely might still be stretching it.

Conversely, if you tell me something personal, that's where it also goes; the Vault. I can be trusted to keep a secret, mainly because I know how difficult it is to share that secret and let someone in.

I'm not saying that being this way is right. Oh, hell no. I would say sometimes it's very trying to struggle within and then go out in the world with a smile on your face. I would just say that I've had a lot of practice.

What about you? Are you a Vault, or are you an Open Book?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Week In The Life

Yes, I've been remiss in writing here. Again. This time, I make no apologies. When I say, "it's been a week," I realllly mean, "it's been QUITE A WEEK."

Last Friday, my daughter got off of the school bus looking pale. She also informed me that while on her hour long bus journey, she had wet her pants right before her stop. I brought her in the house, changed her out of her wet stuff, and took her temperature because she looked quite piqued. I almost fainted. Her temperature was 104F.

Of course, I then started to feel a little angry with the school. Did they not NOTICE a kid with a 104 fever??? How long was she at school feeling like that? I remembered though that nowadays, teachers don't ever actually TOUCH their students. Who WOULD know then if a kid had a fever? Well, other then them telling you they didn't feel so great which my kids generally don't do.

The fever rose, despite the use of Tylenol, to over 105F. At this point, I was getting pretty panicky. We gave her some Tylenol and Advil together to bring down the fever fast, and then alternated the two every few hours. That seemed to work, though her temperature never did go down under 101. It was a long, sleepless week for me. When my kids are sick, I don't generally sleep. I'm being absolutely serious here. I watch them, check their temps, check their breathing, give them sips of water, sponge their foreheads and wrists. Suffice to say, I'm a wreck.

I closed the daycare for almost the whole week (re-opened Friday) and kept her home from school. She seemed much better by Wednesday night, and it was at that point that the fever finally broke.

My Dad had also had a stroke and was rushed into the hospital. They also found he had double pneumonia and a cyst on his kidney and a bacterial infection. How much can one man TAKE? Apparently, quite a bit. They didn't think he'd recover from the stroke but he's doing much better. He's on antibiotics for the other messes inside his body, but the good news is-he has gone home. The bad news is, more strokes are imminent. Due to everything else my Dad has going on, they can't operate on the cyst. So, benign or malignant, it's just staying where it is and they can't know more about it than that really. He also can't take the typical blood thinners to reduce the chance of more strokes, so he's just gone home to wait and see what happens and when. I don't know that the quality of living is great doing that-waiting for the stroke to come that will kill you-but the alternative of living in a hospital isn't very appealing either.

In the middle of these stressful life moments, my two daughters received their reports that they had passed their swimming levels. They are both doing so great in the water, and I'm loving it. My youngest was the only one in her class to pass and she's now on to learning the front crawl and swimming longer lengths. My oldest has finally mastered her crawl and retrieving things from the bottom of the pool, and is now on to perfecting her dives.

Their dance classes are also going well, though every time we go with them and wait in the room with the parents, it's a cesspool of germs and illness. I don't know why people continue to bring their children when they are sick, but apparently they do. It's a dance class, folks. They can miss a week, or two.

The highlight of this week, well maybe this month actually, is that we are going HOME to visit for our "Christmas" with my family. We don't get to travel at Christmas time itself, so this is it. I have all of my presents bought and just need to get them wrapped in the next day or two. We'll leave them there for Christmas day, and bring some back as well. Whoohoo. The best part of course is just seeing my family and my friends that I miss so much. There's nothing like going home where you know that you are loved and supported, no matter how neurotic you may be. Not that I'm talking about myself there you know. Just, in general.

I have to say that life has been feeling a tad overwhelming lately. It seems when I feel like I finally have my finger on the pulse of my life, it goes haywire. At one point last week I broke down in tears because it seemed like everyday was just some new fresh hell. Luckily this week is moving along much smoother and I'm taking some more deep breaths and pushing forward.

Glad to be back in the land of the living! Thanks for waiting me out!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Etsy Love

How come I've never really checked out Etsy.com before?

I went there today after reading something about it having a great selection of homemade and crafty sorts of unique gifts.

After spending an embarrassing amount of time "researching" different categories, I found a multitude of gift ideas for myself and others. I pretty much was able to shop for my whole family, at least one or two items each. Well, in my head.

Now I just need to whip out Mr. Plastic and start making some of those Etsy purchases for reals.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Phew. We Survived.

Where have I been, you ask? Or maybe you don't, but I'm going to tell you all about it anyways.

It's been quite the week and a bit. I don't even really know where to start with it all, so if this blog reads like verbal diarrhea, just deal.

My husband was away for four days last week. That's not usually difficult or anything, in fact, I seem MORE organized and on task than when he is here. (what does THAT say about me? I have no clue) However, it was the week of Halloween and we had no pumpkin and no candy. Oops. When he arrived back home, it was a mad scramble to find said items. Well, the pumpkin anyways. In the end, my neighbour gave us two of her 5 and we carved those. I grabbed candy Friday night while grocery shopping.

Now, this probably doesn't seem like a big deal to you, but I'm a HUGE keener. I'm the Mom that did a big "scary" dinner last year and decorated like a fiend. This year-chaos. We put a few decorations up Halloween day. We carved our pumpkins a few hours before Trick or Treat time. Luckily we had the girls costumes all picked out and ready a few weeks prior. Not so luckily, we forgot to take our camera and any pictures of the girls in their costumes. My neighbour, thankfully had taken a few.

I have no idea what happened in that week, but the whole thing seems kind of a blur.

Actually, I DO know what happened. The H1N1 happened. It has struck where I live in a big way. It seems like every family I know has someone down for the count. They aren't even testing it as H1N1 anymore, they are just assuming that is what you have. My husband has had some confirmed cases within his employees though. It's pretty scary stuff. While the flu "kills" people every year, it usually attacks those with already compromised systems. The difference with the H1N1 is that it's killing young, healthy children and young people. Schools here are out anywhere from 30-48% of their children. We are hand washing and my kids take antibacterial hand gel to school as well as a pack of Kleenex. They immediately wash their hands after coming in from school or anywhere we go in public. The problem isn't with us, it's the inevitability that many, many others don't take as strident regard for their (or others) health.

So, after much debate, we decided to get the vaccine. My daughter has asthma and we were told that her lungs would constrict much quicker then others (as asthmatics lungs usually do) but the difference would be that H1N1 attacks the lungs quickly and savagely. She was considered high risk and we were "household members of a compromised person" so we were all able to get the vaccine. The next day, they ran out of it in my city. Then, my nephew got ill and most likely has the virus. My Mom and my brother have been ill for a week and they both said it's unlike anything they've ever felt before with extreme exhaustion, body pains and high fever. While I'm glad we were able to get the vaccine, I keep hearing of people getting the virus before the immunity kicks in-and we have 10 days to wait for that. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping my family back home can all be on the mend soon.

Finally, the roller coaster continues with my Dad's health. He went home after months in the hospital and was seemingly doing well. He had eaten, he walked from one end of the house to the other. These were all good signs. And then the bad news. He had a stroke and bleeding on the brain. That night they said his chance of survival was pretty slim and they asked if he had a living will. That moment was awful, and we were scrambling about how we'd get there, who would go etc etc etc. Now, he has gained some feeling back on his right side (which was attacked by the stroke) and he has said a few words and struggles to be coherent. So again, we wait and watch. If "I" am exhausted by the up and down nature of this past year, I can't even imagine what he and his wife must feel.

Yes, folks, that all happened within a week. So, I hope you can see why I haven't blogged and why I feel slightly burned out by it all. Let's hope this week sees more health, less stress, and a little more time to just breathe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

You And Me Just "Click"

Human relationships are fraught with joy and sorrow and complications and a myriad of other emotions and adjectives.

The whole start of those relationships though is chemistry. You can have a ton of shared interests with someone on paper, but if you don't just jibe with them on some other level, it just won't evolve into anything more.

There's a guy I know right now going through a very difficult separation and divorce. Every time he comes around our homes, the women in my neighbourhood swoon. They all think he's gorgeous and because he also has a great paying job, it makes him quite the catch.

I'm the one that has the most contact with him in terms of dealings, and everyone gets a little jealous. The truth of the matter is, there is just no chemistry there. He's a good enough looking guy, he's smart and witty, definitely. Again, it all looks good on paper. But even if I myself was a single lady out on the prowl, he just doesn't float my boat.

I've never been the type to pursue somebody because of money or to secure myself some future wealth via a man. In fact, my last long term serious relationship before my husband was with someone who is now very, very well off financially. I left that relationship for a love relationship with only two pennies to rub together. Why? Partly because of chemistry.

I'm not an idiot. I also know chemistry only goes so far. You can have lots of chemistry with the biggest idiot out there (and believe me, I've seen it up close and personal) and not have any staying power. You can make a relationship work long term with someone you don't necessarily have the strongest chemistry with as well.

I'm a married woman. A long time married woman. It's rare for me to meet another man that I have that chemistry that is instant and easy. Or maybe I just don't look for it anymore. I'm not talking about a love relationship either-I mean that kind of chemistry that can be a great friendship but also has that flirty undercurrent. I know that sentence is going to spark controversy, but I DO believe you can have a flirty, fun friendship with a member of the opposite sex and not have it spill over into infidelity. Why? Because our actions are our choices. I choose how to act and choose what my relationships look like.

The funny thing is that it's also all highly personal. The most unlikely person might have great chemistry with me, while the hunky dude that the neighbour women drool over may not.

Chemistry doesn't have to be realistic either. You can just feel that "buzz" but know that in the real world you wouldn't want to be married to that person or deal with their "stuff" on a regular basis. But to hang out, and chat and laugh, you just have that special whatever it is.

Studies have been done to try and make sense of what attracts us to others. They've found shared interests and goals, features that match ours, pheromones, biologically based ingrained needs for shelter and security and procreation.

It all comes down to something that just makes no sense at all.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Hiney Flu

That's what my sister calls it-the "Hiney Flu" because of the H1N1 thing-you know it looks like it spells hiney. Never mind, my family are a bunch of warped individuals.

So, here's the deal though. Can we PLEASE get some sort of consensus on this vaccination thing? I feel confident in my decision one way or the other, and then WHAM someone else presents me with information they've gleaned. If I get into one more discussion with both sides saying they talked to health officials and some were told NO and some were told YES, I might completely lose it.

Then there's all the media hype and paranoia about Guillaine-Barre and Dystonia and mercury levels and thermasol and...............what's a Mom to do?

Health Canada has approved the vaccine, which I imagine takes a lot of study and testing. I don't think they'd just pass any old vaccine. They've learned their lesson on that from all of the deformed children born to mothers after the "morning sickness" shot. So, it's not that I'm "overly" concerned with that aspect.

There are schools closed because of how many children are out right now with the flu. There have been deaths in perfectly healthy, not "at risk" individuals, some being teens living not far from where I do. And yet, when I talk to most people I know working in hospitals, they say that the majority of individuals getting the swine flu are only presenting mild cases.

So.....ya. As you can see by this blog I have no stinkin' clue what I'm going to do. Today I say "YAH," and tomorrow I'll say "nay."

What are your thoughts? Are you getting the vaccine? Concerns?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Once Upon A Woo

I remember a time when my husband and I were courting (it's a fairy tale time, go with the lingo!) and he'd write me beautiful poems and love letters. If we were ever apart for a mere few hours, I'd receive a little note expressing how much he loved and missed me. While days apart almost drove us to madness, the little papers hidden and tucked away to find later were a saving grace.

No wonder when you first begin dating someone, you feel almost on a high. They are extolling your many virtues (and ignoring your many faults) on an around the clock basis. Ones self-esteem can't help but rise when your hair is compared to the dancing flames of a roaring fire, or your eyes the colour of emeralds.

On the show, "Newlywed, Nearly Dead" which I never, ever watch but happened to glimpse last night, the counsellor advises couples to "Renew the Woo." In last nights episode, he told them sex was off limits for a week, and they had to slow dance instead every evening. It seems so trivial a task, but really, how many of us take the time to even hug our partners longer than a minute between routines and children's needs, in a day? I know for me, it's almost a perfunctory quick embrace before I'm on to the next item on my daily list.

All of us crave physical touch, maybe some less than others. I, myself, am not a huggy-kissy type at all. (well, except with my kids) We all like to hear compliments about ourselves and we all like to feel valued, appreciated and loved. There is nothing worse, psychologically, than being rejected by those you love. The feeling of being taken for granted is one I see discussed repeatedly over and over and over again on every parenting website I'm on, and every dialogue between girlfriends I have.

So, why do we give up wooing each other? It doesn't take a lot of time. It doesn't break the bank. I'm not talking big expensive gifts and lavish spoiling. I'm referencing that moment where you feel someone took special notice of you-the way you smile, the glint in your eyes, the way you bite the inside of your cheek when you are nervous. That moment where you feel someone knows you and has studied you in a way others miss. When someone else confirms what we should all already know-that we are special and unique.

I don't mean empty words or false niceties either. If anything, I'm a realist. I don't want someone just saying nice things to me to blow smoke up my butt, nor do I like to feel like I'm being manipulated with sugary offerings. Usually for me, those have the opposite effect than desired. No, I mean real, true expressions of what it is about the other person that makes them stand out to you above and beyond the tireless drudgery of the every day.

Let's just face facts, here. We are lazy. We get complacent and careless in our love relationships, the same as we do in friendships. Somewhere down the line, hopefully, and if we are lucky, the light comes back on that we have been neglecting the one person who we should be admiring for their sheer staying power, let alone the daily things they do to make our lives easier or happier.

No matter how long you have been partnered, take some real time today, and preferably every day, to truly LOOK at them and notice some small detail that you love that maybe you haven't told them in awhile. Hold hands. Slow dance. Embrace for a long, long time.

Renew the woo.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Roller Derby Girl

I haven't seen Drew Barrymore's new movie, "Whip It" but the whole concept of roller derby has always appealed to me. I know, crazy idea say WHAT?

I have NEVER gone inline skating, but roller derby requires actual four wheel rollerskates. Now, I haven't done that EITHER since I was about 10, but I was quite the roller babe back in the day. I can skate backwards, forwards, spin, do the big circles backwards. I shouldn't say "I can" actually. I used to be able to, anyways.

So, I started thinking about how much fun that would be to join. You get to join a team of women and pick out a cool nickname. In the roller derby world, I don't think MissManneredMom would quite be tough enough. I think they pick the moniker based on your skating and playing style. I hope "Tottering Terror" or "Falling Flat" wouldn't be the names I'd be given.

Roller derby just seems up my alley. I've always enjoyed sports that are a bit more aggressive. Add a cute outfit and a funky nickname and really, what could be better than that? I'd be able to get physical activity, hang with cool chicks, get out my frustrations and aggressions and look semi-cute doing it. Well, maybe. I'm also the type to get black eyes and get my teeth knocked out, and THAT would not be a good look on a 30 something mom of two.

I'd run out and buy some rollerskates today, but I don't think they have rollerskating rinks anymore. So where do these roller derby leagues take place? And are there that many to join? I haven't heard of any in my area, but then again, I haven't really looked either.

I'm having visions of myself whipping around the rink, hair a flying and dark shadowed eyes a blazing. Watch out all! It's the Red Thunder!!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm Dreaming of an Ebay Christmas.....

I know we just got past Thanksgiving folks. However, some KEENERS on my facebook are already talking about Christmas and gifts and what they have started buying and well, it kind of lit a fire under my butt.

See, I have to get a large majority of my gifts finished by mid-November. I have to mail two sets out, and I also have to have the ones for my family "back home" bought, wrapped and ready to go for my last visit before Christmas. That includes two nieces, a nephew, my Mom and whomever else I'm blanking on right now. I looked at the calendar this afternoon and realized that CRAP, mid-November is only a few weeks away.

The good news is that when those gifts are bought and sent out, it leaves me with "only" teachers, bus drivers and my immediate family. Phew. Last year, I had everything purchased and wrapped weeks before Christmas and could truly just ENJOY the holiday without being up until 3am wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve.

Once I started down this path of Christmas thinking, I started mentally making up my OWN list. Of course. I'm equally altruistic and selfish.

Most of the gifts I'd like this year aren't available in stores near me. The things I want are few-but difficult to find. Unless you look on ebay! I'm hoping my husband will take my many, many hints to come as I casually throw out the words ebay and jadeite several times from now til Christmas shopping time. He's not one to catch on but surely my mention of a black Coach purse will give him pause. My sister has a hookup for a crazy deal on Ugg boots that would surely be reasonable. Other than that, I'll take some new jammies, a jewellery box and of course, books.

I could even try some subtle subconscious whispering when he's sleeping. If you see him out on the street somewhere, drop a "Fire King" his way and hopefully it'll all work out nicely.

Happy Shopping to you and yours! What's on YOUR list?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Giving Thanks

I whined and moaned about being away from family for the holidays, and I gave you some reading material to keep you busy and content while I was away, but I never took the time to formally tell you that for which I am THANKFUL. That's what Thanksgiving is about, right? It is for me, anyways. Sure, it's a holiday that includes getting together with loved ones and eating a feast unlike most others, but it's also a time to take a quiet moment and reflect on our lives and our blessings.

So here, in no particular order, are some of the many people and things that make me pause and give THANKS.

My daughters are awesome, incredible, amazing gifts that I cherish daily in my life. I really don't even know who I'd be without them. I don't know what my days would look like or what I'd be doing right now. It's a whirlwind existence sometimes, but one smile or laugh can brighten the darkest day. We were lying all together in bed one of the weekend evenings, and as they were closing their eyes for a (hopefully) peaceful slumber, I got that ever familiar lump in my throat. When people say there is no love like that of your children, I believe that to be 100% true. I would step in front of a moving vehicle for them. I would shelter them in any storm. I stand strong so that they are proud and fierce women themselves. I try to model behaviours and choices that show integrity. Almost everything I do, is for them. I am thankful for them not just when they are behaving, but for every second of this rollercoaster of parenting. I'm thankful for every moment spent with them and every new emotion and lesson I learn from them on a daily basis. They've made me a better person, and continue to push me further.

My friends are wonderful, witty, smart, insightful people. They make me laugh constantly. They hold my hand when I'm scared or unsure. They push me to do things that involve change and growth. They don't judge, but they don't hold back opinions either. They kick me in the pants when I need kicking. They love me for me, mistakes and ugly times included. I'm a truly lucky woman because I have a large circle of women that make up my life story. They are all different individuals from different walks of life. They hold different political, religious and social opinions. They have different accents and life choices. But they all surround me with those differences and I can feel their strength in that embrace. My friends are my lifeline when everything else has gone to pot. There have been many a moment in my life where I'm pretty sure I would have been more lost without one of them or all of them pulling me back into the fold. Thankful? You bet.

My extended family members are my history and have helped to form who I am today. When all else fails and there's nobody around me when I've screwed up, my family is there to call me a knucklehead and help me out. Some of the relationships within that family have faltered or waned, while others have grown and blossomed. Either way, family is the root of our life story. My siblings have seen me at my worst and have lived through some pretty trying times with me. We share a tale that's almost too tall to be true. No matter where life takes us or how we may change looks or status, at the core of it all, there's still the three of us as we've always been. My Mom is at the centre of that family. As most daughters know, I've moved away from her and back again. I've distanced myself and then come full circle. The dance with our Mothers is always a bit complicated, but without her love and her lessons, I wouldn't BE. I have a self-esteem that is very strong, and frankly shouldn't be, because of whatever it is that she did to instill that in me. When I look at attributes and life experiences that matter to me, they are all things that my Mom taught me to seek and demand for myself. No relationships are ever perfect, and families especially struggle to find harmony and peace, but my love for my family knows no bounds or limits. I'm thankful for growing up, and continuing to do so, with them by my side.

It can't go without saying that I'm thankful for my health, and the health of those around me. So many are fighting and battling and I know it could be me or my loved ones, disease doesn't pick and choose and we are no more or less special than anybody else. Yes, we've been lucky. I am thankful we have good food and clean air and water. I am thankful we have access to good health care and medicine. Hand in hand with that comes the thanks of a warm home and jobs that afford us basics and luxuries alike. I don't take being healthy or having employment for granted and I'm thankful to have a "new day," everyday.

My husband has been in my life since I was 19 years old. Do the math and that's 17 years. As the times have gone by, I thought we had this whole marriage and commitment thing down pat. When you're young, you think you have all of the pieces of the puzzle and all of the answers to the big questions. Love seems to be a fairy tale of romance and happily ever after. But reality has other ideas. There are real life obstacles to tackle. There are jobs that are lost and births that almost cost you everything you hold dear. There is a whole world of navigation that needs to take place regarding your baggage mixed with his baggage. There are times when one of you seems to be doing all of the holding up, while the other is floundering around a little lost and helpless. Mistakes are made and tempers explode and wane. At some points, you question if you can EVER truly know another person. They question if they know you. Marriage is not simple. Love isn't always easy. However, like a slideshow of my life, every image I see is of he and I. We didn't promise to only love each other when it was easy. We promised to love each other through it all, the good and the bad. As we age, we hope that our partnerships have matured and moved past attraction (though that chemistry is always nice!) and into a real deep companionship of understanding and honesty. When the kids were younger, sometimes my husband would screw up and do something that I couldn't understand. My daughters would inadvertently get hurt or something would get forgotten. It would have been easy to sneer or poke fun or ridicule him for screwing up. Instead, I tried to remind myself that if "I" did that to him now, it would come back to me in the end. At some point, it's a given, I too would screw up in some way. How would "I" want him to respond? And I think that's a good lesson in general. We aren't princes and princesses in fairy tales where nothing ever goes wrong. This is life, and it gets ugly. I like to think that every struggle and misstep takes us that much closer to true acceptance of each other and a deeper love. I am thankful to have a husband who has walked every step of this journey with me and has seen me not only at my best, but at my worst -and loved me through the ugliest parts. I am thankful that we continue to be strong examples to our daughters and blessed to have a partner that is willing to be accountable and present. Our love isn't perfect. Yet, as time passes and I look around at others, I'm right with the person I want to be with, still. I'm thankful to have experienced that type of love in my lifetime and I hope to be thankful 50 years from now for a love that grew stronger and more unbreakable with each passing moment. I honestly feel like if anyone can do it, we will. I am thankful for this type of love:

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
"Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

The truth of the matter is, I have so much to be grateful for in my life that this blog could go on all day. And that in and of itself, is something for which to be eternally thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope your blessings are as abundant as mine.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Easy Reading

As I'll be departing this evening for the inlaws, I thought I'd leave you with some other great things to read. We are staying "half way" at a hotel tonight, just to break up the trip. We'll swim and shop a bit tomorrow, before heading out for the rest of the drive. We're back Tuesday and that day will be a full day of driving. Saints preserve me. The good news is, I don't have to make a single thing for Thanksgiving dinner. I just get to stuff my face.

So, just so you aren't left wandering aimlessly in the blogosphere, without my great, wonderful blog as your comfort, here are some blogs that I'm currently reading. (and you should too!)

http://www.mom-101.com/ She's so hilarious that I often find myself laughing out loud. She blogs about a ton of mommy moments, but she's also socially aware and politically savvy. I've been reading her blog for at least a year now, and I haven't tired of it at all. If you like your parenting with a side of sarcasm-this blog is for you.

http://www.mrbigsblog.com/ This blog is written from her dog's perspective, but we all know dogs don't write. (right?) I found her blog on one of my Robbie Williams fan sites. (yes, I'm a huge Robbie Williams fan but not a creepy, stalker type) She's from England but now lives in L.A. with her best friend Paul .(who does the "I can make you thin" tv show that was on, as well as countless other books. He's been on Ellen and helped her quit smoking) She dated Robbie Williams, she attended Simon Cowell's recent huge birthday bash, she pals around (and posts pictures!) with so many famous Brits and Americans that it's like a sneak peak into a fab celeb life, but she's also a thoughtful, insightful human being. I've sent her emails about certain posts and she's written me back each time. I think I've been reading her blog about two years now. Sorry, her dogs blog about two years now. Oh-the dog is "Mr. Big" in case you are wondering. Hence the name.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/ Love, love, love this site. I just caught on to the Pioneer Woman (yes, I live under a rock) and man, I am hooked!!! She's a city girl from L.A. who ate sushi and shopped and grew up with a cardiac surgeon for a father. Then, she met her "Marlboro Man" who is a rancher, and up and packed up her city life to live on a cattle ranch. The blog chronicles her transition and adjustments but so much more. It's really a blog that has a little bit of everything, for everyone. If you like photography-she's got a great section of her pictures as well as ones others have submitted to her. If you like cooking, she's got a whole section of recipes with amazing (and witty) snapshots; from more sophisticated city food to the down home comfort ones. She's even got a cookbook out, so you know she's not just popular with me. Actually, I heard her name mentioned on many blogs I was poking around reading and decided to check her out. She's got a home and garden section as well. There's just tons to read/see/do that I'm usually on that site for hours at a time. No need to mention my lack of a life at this point.

So there ya go, THREE sites to keep you amused for the next 4 days. I know it's not the same as this fantastic blog, but it'll have to do. Go read some posts, and let me know what you thought of them and which blog you liked best!


Oh-and Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble, Gobble!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Falling For Fall

Fall is a season that tends to creep up on you, I find. One minute you are basking in the glow of a hot summer sun, and the next you are adding a hoodie over your t-shirt.

Fall is kind of tricky that way. It seems to blow in on one cool breeze, a single moment at a time.
Not only that, but a single article of clothing at a time.

Today, I looked down at myself as I sipped coffee, and had the startling realization that I was in true winter garb. I was wearing a t-shirt with a hoodie over it instead of just one or the other. I had jeans on, and the real symbol that the weather has turned frostier-socks. If I can help it, I'm usually foot loose and fancy free with my toes out. Socks means it's truly gone all chilly.

It all started innocuously enough. I remember starting the girls school year with capris and flip flops on my feet as I trudged them up to the bus stop. Then it became capris, flip flops and a sweatshirt. Soon, the capris were replaced with actual pants! That day almost broke me. There's nothing like slipping into zipper and button pants after a lounging summer in drawstring waist pants to make you feel like you've gained 15 lbs over the summer hiatus. Still, I clung to my flip flops like a shipwrecked individual to a life preserver.

Then, a week or so ago, we had to go out to our storage and pull out fleece coats. Now, on top of the pants and sweatshirts, we have a new layer of cozy. Finally, it was time for the dreaded socks. I packed away my flip flops with a lump in my throat. Oh, I know I'll see them again next year. But what a long stretch it will be til I'm barefoot in the grass, again.

As I look out my window and sip my coffee, in all of my warm weather regalia, I can't help but sigh a little. Fall truly is my favourite season. I love the crispness in the air. I love all of the bountiful colours of leaves falling in my yard or hanging precariously to long, bony branches. I love all of the comfort foods that are now creeping into my menu planning and the warm duvet to crawl under each night.

Fall is here. It may have stealthily inched it's way into our hearts, but it's arrival is a blessing each time.

Except for the socks. Oh how I loathe the socks.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Holiday Melancholy

Last night as I lay in bed, I started thinking about the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. I was doing the usual planning and writing and checking off of lists that I carry around in my cranium, when I was struck by a wave of total, heartbreaking, melancholy.

It's not the fact that we are going to the inlaws for the Thanksgiving holiday. We've spent that holiday with them before, as opposed to my family. This year, it's even more important we see the inlaws NOW, because they are going to Australia from November to March. Ya, poor suckers. Hmpf. So, this is a Thanksgiving and Christmas visit all rolled up into one event.

The problem is because at least when we lived "back home," I knew that if I didn't see MY family at Thanksgiving, I'd still see them at Christmas. Now, we don't travel at Christmas due to weather as well as my husband's job. So, do the math. I won't see my family for any occasion til "possibly" Easter. That's right, spring.

I miss spending holidays with my family and friends. I miss my friends "Christmas Eve" party every year. I miss Christmas morning with my kids and my Mom. I miss spending the afternoon and dinner with my sister and her family. I miss my family.

I'm hoping we get to see everybody for a long weekend in November, which would be awesome. It's just not the "same" though.

We have created a nice life here, don't get me wrong. We have a wonderful Christmas morning with my children. We pool food together and have a delicious Christmas dinner with my neighbour and her family. I also do our own dinner one night. It's all magical and heartwarming.

But it's not like being "home."

I'm clicking my heels together and repeating, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home." I hope I open my eyes and find myself there, soon.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Most Taboo Subject Possible..Hey, Why Not?

It's one of those topics that is well known to be "off limits" unless you want a fight on your hands. It ranks right up there with politics and money. You know the one I'm talking about. Well, I'm going there.

Ever since I was a kid, I have had this fascination with religion(s). My family were not church goers. At least not on any regular basis. I don't just mean my own immediate family-I mean going back to my Grandmother and Grandfather and beyond. They attended occasionally, like Christmas or Easter. We were christened as babies in the Anglican Church. That's about it, though.

My Mom is a very open minded individual, and I respect that more than almost any trait a person can have in their personality. She would take us to different church services, sometimes even for a few months or even a sporadic year at a time. We belonged to a Baptist church for awhile, and of course Anglican. More importantly though, she encouraged my siblings and I to learn as much as we could about various religious beliefs and practices and to be open to the ways of others.

My brother and sister really couldn't care less about Church or going to Church. I would say my brother is Agnostic and my sister holds her own beliefs that don't necessarily fit one "category" or title. That being said, they "do their own thing."

I, however, was the kid that went to Church by myself (well, with friends families) week after week. I was in the choir, I attended "Cadets For Jesus", I went to Bible Camp. I liked the social aspect, to be sure. I'm an extrovert and this was another way to spend time with others. I also enjoyed the singing and rejoicing. The Baptist and Evangelist churches I attended were both great for that!!! Yet, there was something in me that also liked the lessons learned (I'm a big rule follower and it appealed to me) and the values taught in Sunday School. It felt good to have someone bigger and stronger than myself to lean on when my life ravelled widely out of my control.

In light of my Mom's exposing us to as much culturally and theologically as she could, I also attended Jewish, Hindu, Spiritualist, Catholic, Baptist, Evangelist and Anglican services. I loved the ceremony involved in each faith and found the similarities between them all comforting. It's why today, I'm very open to all religious practices and beliefs. The way I look at it is, who am "I" to say one practice is more "right" than another? I'm not qualified to do that. As long as people believe in something, and practice being good people-I don't care what name you call your God.

Somewhere in highschool, I stopped attending any type of Church services, except for holidays. I'm amazed now that I went as long as I did when it was just me, a sole person in a family, and a child at that.

In University, the draw pulled me in again and I studied "Death and Afterlife" and the "Life and Times of Jesus." I considered doing a minor in religious studies, but wasn't sure where or what I would do with that.

Then came marriage and children and jobs and fatigue. My husband was raised Roman Catholic and wasn't interested in anything to do with it, anymore. We both agreed before we had children, though, that we wanted them to have an open heart as well as a background of faith. We just weren't sure which "Church" would meet our joint beliefs and needs.

After many years, we found our ideal Church. It was an open and welcoming place. It's core beliefs embraced different ideologies and allowed people to come to faith from their own paths. We attended with our children and were so happy to finally have found our "home." And then we moved.

It took us so much time to finally be at peace with a Church that we had struggled to find, that we hadn't even started the search again in our new town. I have always believed that one didn't have to attend an institution to have a strong faith. In fact, I view my own relationship as being very personal. My Mom jokes that people don't need a minister/pastor/priest when they can just "talk direct." I believe that to be true. I've always had that relationship but wanted my children to also have the sense of community and fellowship that I craved as a kid, in a Church setting.

I'm also a very private person though in a lot of ways. I don't readily share my life or my feelings with others. I think many people think they know me, or things in my life, but really it's only what I allow them to know. Know what I mean? LOL When things get tough, I generally search ways within myself to find strength and answers. That leads me back to strength from my personal beliefs.

I've been searching, I'd say, most of my life. For what, I wasn't sure. In this latest trying time-I've reclaimed what was lost. I find myself more at peace and more confident than ever. My faith is stronger than it ever has been. I've also made some major changes in the way I speak, think and act. I'm more present and aware in my interactions out in the world than I've probably ever been. I'm a work in progress, majorly imperfect, but working at it.

We're still hoping to find a Church, here, that suits our family. It's hard when we had already found everything we were looking for in that way. In our home though, everything is open and dialogued and discussed regularly. We focus on creating and strengthening personal relationships in faith for our children, while still encouraging them to seek their own truth. We provide books on "Faiths around the World" and on different cultural beliefs and lifestyles. We expose them to what we can. I hope their journey is their own-whichever way that takes them.

I feel by writing this today, that in a way, I'm coming out of the closet. It's just another step on my journey and I'm embracing it. I hope you all can too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Love At First Sight

So, back to this "Benjamin Button" movie. Another quote (paraphrased) was regarding him discussing falling in love at first sight. The reference was in regards to the fact that it rarely happens, and most people never experience that kind of love so you should treasure it's uniqueness if it comes your way.

Well, it happened to me. I can't really explain the phenomenon, and you could surely say it was "lust" at first sight and not really love at all. Though, being there, in that moment, I can tell you that I had never experienced that feeling before, nor since. (luckily)

My husband and I had chatted on the phone for two months before we met in person. I'd already fallen for him through those conversations. We'd talk for hours each day. I liked that he could make me laugh-a real, hearty, belly laugh. I liked that he was intelligent and well read, but not pretentious. I liked that he followed current events and could discuss politics and books and religion. I knew what he wanted in terms of a family life. I liked his wicked, naughty, teasing. I liked that he was cocky and confident. Ya, I knew I liked him.

Then I met him in person. Honestly, it was like I had been struck by lightning. That sounds ridiculous, even to me, the most pragmatic person you will ever meet. Still, it's true. The feeling that no one else existed and our friends that were with us melted into the wallpaper, is not a stretch. I saw only him and felt dizzy like everything was going to fall around me.

We realized that we had "just missed" each other countless times in our lives. I moved away from a street the year he moved on to the same street. We attended the same elementary school, yet I left as he began in a higher grade.

In that moment where time stood still for me, I knew it wasn't just "lust". I had felt that a thousand times before. (well, maybe not a THOUSAND but....) I knew this was going to be different and intense. And it scared the hell out of me.

For the first while that we were together, (and I mean like two years) I tried everything I could think of to try and test him or push him away. Nothing worked and he would always stay. I felt overwhelmed by it all and the lack of control I felt. As a control freak, that's a big deal. I tried denying my feelings, minimizing, rationalizing. Those feelings never changed. It was like an inescapable clutch that was meant to be whether I was down for the ride or not.

The years passed and we had children and bills and debt and job losses and gains. As all marriages do, we experienced ups and downs and hurdles and struggles. There were many, many trying times over big issues. The ones all couples fight about. Money, family, parenting. Yet despite all of that, I was happy. Truly happy. I look back now and think that I was lucky. Many people don't experience that kind of true happiness ever in their lives. I lived it daily for more than I can count or likely deserve.

At the base of everything going on that we needed to surmount, was that crazy, intense feeling of karma or kismet or fate. The feeling that I was where I was supposed to be with the person I was supposed to be with as well. I used to say we lived passionately. We loved and fought just as intensely. There was no quiet love between us. There hadn't been from Moment 1, why expect that to change with the ravages of time?

Now, 16 years later, I look at two beautiful daughters that were products of that love. That were conceived and brought into this world with the happiest hearts' intentions. That were part of whatever grand plan is out there for our family. I am so thankful for them, and for that blessing. Again, I know that not everyone gets to experience that in their lives.

I look at our love story now. It's been through many obstacles and many changes. Some days, I wish I hadn't been struck like that. I wish I had fallen in love with a friend and had it slowly build over years. I wish I still didn't find my love overwhelming and out of my control. I wish it didn't always seem so intense, and instead was just a quiet, calming force.

So many of us wish for that great love that you can't walk away from, that overpowers everything else in our lives-good or bad. Ultimately, love is love in whatever shape it comes in. Some people never get to complain about it being too comfortable or tempestuous in their lives. So who am I to lament about the fact that I've been overwhelmed by it in mine? There are certainly worse problems to have.

Whatever your story and whatever way love finds its way to your door, embrace it. It may not always have a perfect ending or a happy middle-but there are lessons in it's giving and in it's receiving. Love is not perfect. It makes us happy and sad. It makes us crazy and calms us down. It both breaks and builds.

That old adage is certainly true. "It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all." I'm referencing REAL love, here. The "hold your hand in the night when everything has gone wrong" kind of love. The "stand by you while your world falls apart" kind of love. The "see you through sickness and health, good times and bad, youth and death" kind of love.
"Real, enduring, steadfast" love. The only way you can know if you have that is to "live it through the years and times and tests" love.

Love in all of its forms and shapes and designations, is worth encountering at least once.

I wish you love.

I Am.....Mother

My husband and I rarely agree on television shows, so we end up watching "our" shows in different rooms. We've tried finding some middle ground in terms of our tv viewing, but it's rare that one or the other isn't "slightly" put off having to watch "this stupid cop drama crap." (that would be me) It's nice to be able to sit down and spend an evening just hanging out together and unwinding, but it's not so pleasant when you'd rather stab needles into your eyes than watch one more second of Monday Night Football. I'm going to say here though, in black and white, that I'm loving "Glee." If I could get my husband to watch THAT with me, it would be pure bliss. He'd have to get past all "that singing" first.

So, we've taken to watching movies together when we can. Last night was "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." I'm not going to do a review of the movie (boring, slow) but instead just comment on the part that spurned some thoughts.

At the end of the movie, Benjamin is talking about "life" and how we all do different things and play different roles. He labelled them as "some quote Shakespeare," and "some swim" and "some dance." One that struck me was "and some are Mothers" with an image of his mother Queenie, arms spread out in an embrace.

I started thinking about MY "label" and the feelings, as it often happens, that despite being a good friend, loyal wife and committed Mother, it just never seems enough.

Of course I'd like to add "Critically Acclaimed Writer," or "Spokesperson For Children's Rights" or "Nobel Prize Winner" (a girls allowed to dream), but WHY isn't being a decent human being and a good Mother-enough? When did it become a dirty secret to admit that.....you know what.....I'm happiest being a Mom. That IS how I see myself. At the end of my life, if ALL that I mastered was being a fantastic Mother to two beautiful, strong, smart, confident women that adore and cherish me-it'll be enough. For me.

Yet, society doesn't seem to like that answer. As I stared into the mirror while brushing my teeth, I made all of the apologies that seem necessary-even to myself. You know the drill ladies. If I tell people, or myself, that I really AM content just being at home, raising my kids, and being the best mom I can be, it feels like I have no ambition or aspirations. I have to back it up with the other things I'd like to achieve.

I consider being a Mom my most challenging and important role. I take it uber-seriously. I spend each day making sure my children have balanced meals and clean clothes and rooms. We do homework together each night. We read stories and make believe. We go to lessons and on outings. It's a full time, time consuming, draining endeavour. By the same token, it's the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I've ever done.

So, why isn't it enough for anybody? Why do "I" feel like I need to add some "labels" to my epilogue. When did it become taboo to admit that you love being a Mother and that it's all you've ever wanted to do or be. Somewhere in the 1980's maybe?

At the end of my life, if people stand up at my funeral and the repeated labels are "great friend," "honest person," and "fantastic Mother," I won't be disappointed in the least. Add in a "lived by her own truths and stood by her ideals" and a "funny, smart, unique" and I'd make no apologies nor expect any pity.

I Am A Mother. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kids, Kids, Kids

So....last night we watched the depressing movie "Crossing Over." It dealt with people struggling to immigrate and live legally in America. I say depressing because, well, the stories are not always the happy ending, "Welcome to America, Land of the Free" that we expect. Families were torn apart, adjustments to life had to be made, people DIED. I can't say that it was my most favourite movie ever. Nor can I say I even really liked it. It certainly was thought provoking.

There was one scene where a little girl is awaiting a new family to adopt her. They show her in this huge, sterile room with two rows of metal beds. When it's time for sleep, the lights are slammed off unceremoniously and the call of "bed time girls. Lights out!" is heard. That's it, that's all. The floodgates opened.

My husband is well aware that I'm a mess when it comes to thinking about children and their right to a happy, safe, healthy childhood. It absolutely kills me to think about all of the children out there like that little girl with no one meeting their basic human needs. One of those being affection. I can't imagine laying in a bed, never getting hugged or told someone loved me or being tucked in at night. It's heartbreaking.

It lead me to thinking about children in abusive homes or who witness atrocities we can't imagine in our countries. It made me think of children who live on the streets or suffer sexual abuses. I was tearing up thinking about all of the kids out there with no parents or family who love them more than life itself; the way I do my own two.

HOW do we expect these children, in these situations, to grow up to be productive, healthy adults in our world? Right. We can't expect that. Yet, many of us carry our own baggage from our childhoods throughout our lives and struggle along hoping we can make it and be okay. We try to check our neurosis at the door. Most of us though had "someone." At least one individual in our lives who loved us and cared for our well-being. What if you have NO ONE?

My husband cautioned me, "Do you really want to go there at 11 o'clock at night?" as I was furiously pondering this question and basically building a case with myself. No, I don't want to go there. Who does? But can we also afford to turn a blind eye and pretend it doesn't exist?

The truth is, it effects all of us. Our children will surely be going to school with some of these children who are suffering. They'll definitely be interacting as adults. Maybe we can't save the world. Maybe we can't save them all. There's got to be SOMETHING though we can all do? I think extending our love to just one child other than our own, or one family struggling, might just make a small, but needed difference.

I don't have all the answers, obviously. Heck, I don't think I really even have any of the answers.
But every time I start to think about things like this, I feel a call to action. I just haven't figured out what that role is supposed to be for me.

It's time though to stop crying about it all and start doing something about those tears. I have no clue what that is, like I said, but it's something I'll be thinking about and hoping to make a difference with, in my lifetime.

Children truly ARE all of our futures. They all deserve a chance at theirs.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Treading Water

We had the girls first swimming lesson for the season last night and as we rushed out the door, it felt like we were back in our normal "frantic family" mode.

When we got to the pool, my oldest daughter stood under her class sign and waited for her instructor with my husband. I went with my youngest daughter to stand under hers. Little did I know that a surprise was awaiting us!

One of the lifeguards approached us and asked my daughter's name. I guess she was the Head Honcho Lifeguard. She said that they had "moved my daughter up a level" due to her age. She is now six and apparently that's a whole other kettle of fish. Pun intended.

So, off we went to find her NEW class. Oh my.

Her teacher came over and called out names and my daughter was listed with the 5 other kids. Now, apparently, two were being "tested" to see what level they'd be in, but still. That's a pretty big class when you are used to being in one with 3 kids, tops. The other issue was that my daughter is a full head, I kid you not, shorter than these other kids. She looked extremely out of place.

I watched with a sort of trainwreck horror as the instructor took them over to the middle pool. My daughter has only been in the shallow pool so far. In they go, and I can see immediately (by the way she's clutching at the side) that my daughter can't touch the bottom. At all. The rest of the class are pretty much all standing up. I'm starting, at this point, to have heart palpitations.

The teacher starts by seeing what they know. So, she's getting them to swim out to her and then sending them back. Well, my daughter has no problem swimming out. On the way back, I see a look of panic on her little face as she's struggling to make it back. Luckily, the instructor sees it too and gives her a hand.

At this moment, I'm in full on anxiety mode. My husband is talking me down from the life preservers and reassures me that the instructor IS keeping an eye out and that they'll move my daughter if she really can't do it. It's not that I don't think she CAN, it's more the fact that the other children have an unfair advantage. When you feel like you can't do it anymore, you have the option to just put your feet down. My daughter doesn't have this option.

I don't want my daughters size (or lack thereof) to hold her back from things in life. I don't want her to feel that she "can't" do something because she is petite. But standing there watching her try so very hard just to make it to the edge of that pool, well, it almost physically hurt. Me, not her.

After a series of swimming back and forth and floating and gliding, the instructor took them all to the "very deep" end and asked them to jump in and then swim back. What the *#@+!!!!!! Is this lady NUTS??? It's a big class. There's a lot of commotion. My kid can barely swim. Sweating, sweating, sweating in the sauna like pool area, my heart is beating like a drum.

She takes a HUGE leap. She swims back. She gives me a thumbs up sign with a smile on her face. I let go of the breath I've been holding for the last few minutes. Maybe 30 or so.

After the class, her teacher comes over to me as I wrap my wee one in a towel. She asks me, in an incredulous voice, "she's six??? Seriously?" I nod. She then says, "she's the smallest six year old I've ever seen! She looks like she's four!" I again nod, with a lump in my throat this time. She looks at me, then, and says, "but she's FEARLESS. She's probably the best one in the class. Anything I asked her, she said "sure, I'll try!" She may be tiny but wow, she's really a feisty one! I'm going to love teaching her, I can just tell!!!"

I'm trying not to let her see that my eyes are welling up a little bit. In that moment, she just summed up exactly what I've always told both of my height challenged girls. It's why we adore the character Madeline and have the movies and the toys and the dolls. Madeline's theme says, "she may be teeny, tiny, diminutive, petite......but that has never stopped her, from being really great!"

Small, but mighty. Tiny, but tough.

I should have never doubted, because I was the only one that did.

Swim on, oh fearless one. Swim on.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Beef Bourguignon and Bruised Beans

I'm being tricky with the title of this blog, but figured it was a clever way to work in the two topics today. If I do say so myself.

Let's start with the first. The Beef Bourguignon. I told you I was on a Julia Child kick since the movie. My family is loving this, my diet probably not so much. There's always next week, right? Ya. I think I say that with the utmost confidence and intention, every Monday.

So, I took an afternoon (literally) to whip up this Beef Bourguignon. I served it with potatoes as recommended, and a nice glass of wine. Once again, Julia was triumphant. My whole family loved it. My daughters both had seconds. I liked it too, don't get me wrong. The thing is, it's basically just a beef stew with a lot of booze. Not that there's anything wrong with a lot of booze.

The recipe was pretty time consuming, even with my normal cutting corners. I feel that the taste would have still been delicious had I omitted or added things. Ah well. Next time. I found many, many variations online as well, including one for the crockpot. So, there might be a time that I make it again, but in a shorter or less annoying way. The taste was worth it.

Now on to the Bruised Bean. This bean is covered with brown hair and has amazing, mischievous blue eyes. Yep, my youngest daughter. She went for a bike ride yesterday with my husband and her sister and some neighbours. However, while they all came riding victoriously in to the court, my youngest came limping sadly home while my husband carried her vessel.

She had gone down a hill too fast, and in an effort to stop herself, had put her feet down. This resulted in a scraped big toe. It also resulted in her falling off of her bike and scraping along her arm and hand. Finally, for the final "piece de resistance" to her grand feat, she smashed her chin into the pavement.

Her feet and arms are a bit red and bloodied. But her chin. Oh, her poor little chin. Her face is misshapen because of the huge, blue, bruised lump protruding from her jaw. It's also swollen and scabbing over. Today, she was looking into the mirror, and told me that she looked awful....because.......gulp............she was "damaged." Can I just say now? Broke. My. Heart.

All of this, in a repeat performance to last year's bike fall on the forehead, two days before picture day.

I know she'll still be smiling though. Damage and all.

Now you see why I need the wine in the beef, and on the side, too!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

So here we are in mid September with back to school in full swing and all of the headaches, oops, I mean JOYS that the school year brings with it. Along those same lines, it is also the start of a new year of activities and classes.

I've signed us up for our regular courses and we'll be back at them in full swing starting next week.

I'm doing my Spanish class again, starting this Friday evening. It's an hour of pure unadulterated bliss. I kid you not. It makes me nervous but in that jittery anticipation kind of way that only a true nerd like me can appreciate fully.

The girls are doing swimming again as well. In our home, swimming is not a "choice," it's a requirement. They'll be going on Monday nights to the pool to get their Mermaid on. They both enjoy swimming a lot and I guess it's in their genes. My husband was once (a long, long, long time ago) a lifeguard and in the Navy (where he sailed the seven seas...in the Navy...come and join along with me...) Sorry. The Village People gets me every time. Needless to say, them being proficient swimmers is important to him. I have endurance, but please don't watch as I do my breast stroke slowly but carefully.

They are also both starting a tap/jazz combo class for the first time. This is VERY exciting stuff. My oldest has taken ballet and creative dance classes before, but not for quite awhile. My youngest has never taken a dance class and is bursting at the seams. I'm hoping they both enjoy it, and I look especially forward to the recital at the end. Seriously-how cute!!! That will be Wednesday evenings.

So-do the math. Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings we will be off to activities galore. We figure that's a good balance and not pushing it too much. It still leaves time for school activities and clubs and homework and all of that good stuff. All of the classes are at fairly early times (6ish) so they don't run late either. Seems like it'll be a good fit and work out well. However, you just never know until you're there.

I may add one more class on a Saturday. Our neighbour and her children go, and while they attend, she and I work out in the gym. I'll have to discuss it with my little ladies and see how they feel about "one more thing" or if they just want to spend Saturdays hanging with Mum.

I have no doubt it'll be the former over the latter. Hmpf.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blame It On Julia Child

Since seeing that "Julie and Julia" movie, my dieting ways have taken a bit of a turn for the worse. The imagery caused by that film was so inspiring, I wanted to make countless Julia Child inspired dishes. Everything she cooked made my mouth water.

So, of course, I've whipped up a few things already.

Yesterday for lunch, I chopped up a bunch of fresh veggies I had on hand.

I used zucchini, tomatoes, red and green peppers, all from my garden. I also used a store bought Spanish onion. I sauteed them in a dash of heart healthy olive oil with some garlic, salt and pepper, and a dash of Frank's Red Hot. I then cut up some baguette and browned it in the pan with the olive oil and juices from the veggies. When it was golden brown and a bit softened, I took it off the heat to plate. I poured the veggies on top, crumbled some feta and some cilantro and VOILA. Lunch was served. Man, it was sooo good.

Then, the other night, I made Julia Child's Chicken (the one I spoke about making a few blogs back). It's in a mushroom cream sauce. I wasn't sure anyone would like it but me, because I'm the only mushroom fan in our home. I found the recipe online on a blog, and it looked easy enough and delicious. The thing with me and recipes is, well, I tend to only "loosely" follow them. For example, the recipe called for whipping cream. I used 10% half and half which I figured was a LITTLE more figure friendly. It also called for shallots or green onions, neither of which I had on hand, so I just used my Spanish onion. There were other parts that I omitted or changed up, while keeping the basic premise in mind. I served it with wild rice and some asparagus spears. Seriously, everybody in my family not only liked it, they LOVED it. My husband went back for thirds, I believe. Forget saving any for his lunch the next day! The sauce was crazy delicious. I mean that in the "lick the pan while cleaning" type of respect. It's something I wouldn't make "too" often simply because it's almost addicting and one could eat way, way, way too much of it in one dinner time. Ahem. Not naming names. (Hubby)

If you'd like to indulge in the creamy goodness that is this Chicken with Mushroom Sauce, follow this link. If you dare. She also has Julia's Beef Bourguignon recipe, which I too will soon be trying out.

I'm trying to eat "clean" about 80% of the time. But that 20% I allow myself to indulge in two of my favourite things-cooking, and eating.

Bon Appetit!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Starve A Fever, Feed A Cold?

We've been struck by the first flu bug of the school year, here. It hit my oldest daughter over the Labour Day weekend, and then me this weekend. My daughter missed a week of school due to a high fever, cough, chills and fatigue and general body aches. Let's add into that mix-a generally crappy attitude.

Oh lucky me, I didn't get to miss a darn thing. Well, okay, I got to miss the weekend. I woke up Saturday morning convinced that my allergies had started in earnest, only to realize by noon that allergies don't come with chills and achy legs. Great.

I somehow stumbled vaguely through that day, and was more than happy to see my husband arrive home at five o'clock. He took over parental duties while I lay in a heap on our bed. I took an Advil Sinus that night and slept like the dead. That's unheard of in my home. Or my lifetime. I was asleep by ten and didn't wake up again until seven the next day.

Yesterday, my husband spent the day entertaining our children and running them around town, while I again lay in a bedraggled heap. I napped off and on and was a general lazy pants. I did manage to feel better by dinner time though.

And today, I'm still snuffly but feeling much, much better. I may still try and get a very good nights rest tonight (ie drug it up) but then I should be back to my normal ninja self.

Now, here's the thing about me. Even when I'm sick or had surgery, I always eat. Always. It's VERY rare for me to "lose my appetite." I had a big surgery years ago and afterwards the nurses said I could have a protein jello. Are you serious??? I said I was quite hungry and felt I could eat more than that. They oh so kindly brought me TWO protein jellos. Wow. That hits the spot.

I followed that up with a chicken broth soup and made my mom go grab me a sandwich from the vending machine. I hadn't eaten since dinner the day before and it was almost that time again! A protein jello (or two) is NOT going to cut it, folks!

My mom says I've been the same since I was a child. Maybe it has to be with my hypoglycemia stuff, but if I don't eat, I feel a hundred times worse. So, no starving a fever or cold here. I believe it keeps my strength up to eat healthily even when sick, so I'll always manage some crackers, toast, broth or soup and well, tea. That's just a given staple in this house.

And, low and behold, I find I'm actually a lot less sick than most people I know. I don't get sick often, and when I do, I kick it quite quickly and usually without the use of any medicines.

Today, I'm back to the grind and will be working til dinner time. After that, I have some nice salmon planned for dinner, with rice and broccoli and corn on the cob.

Mmm can't wait. Germs, beware!