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!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Baby Lust Vs Sanity Seeking

My neighbour and friend had her long awaited third child on Tuesday. He joins his two older sisters to round out their family of three children. I watched my friend go through her pregnancy from the first announcement, to the 444am pin saying they were in the hospital. I saw him 4 hours after his birth, still unwashed and fresh from the brief hospital stay. I saw the joy in the first meeting of the siblings. People gathered and the excitement of welcoming this new little guy into the world was almost palpable.

As we sat around our dinner table that evening, my children began their usual refrain, except with more fervor now. "Can we have a new baby in OUR house?" "We want a baby brother or sister!" "It's not fun just the two of us!" And from my youngest, "I can never be a big sister if we don't!! I don't want to just be a little sister!"

I've heard many a Mom say that when your family is complete, you'll know it. And I do. I've felt it since about the first year of my second child's life. I don't want a third child, I don't want a boy, I don't want to be a family of five instead of four.

But sometimes, just sometimes, when I look at my daughters baby photos and I see how truly exceptionally stunning they were (hey, it's a Mom's prerogative!) I get that little niggling doubt. For a brief instant I think, "awww...but look how SWEET." Other times, when I see a pregnant mom, or a friend with a new baby, I ponder my pregnancies past or what life would be like with a new little one to snuggle.

And then I realize that you know what? I'm all good. I have absolutely NO desire to potty train or get up in the night or do immunizations or worry endlessly about every single aching moment of a little ones existence. (well, anymore than I already do that is)

I'm totally happy and at peace with my two little precious ones. Our family definitely feels complete when we all sit around that same said dinner table.

Besides which, the end of this month brings a final close to this conversation. Woohoo for me! Not so much for my husband, perhaps.

As the popular saying goes, "it's time to stop having them, and start raising them."

Amen to that.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It's My Birthday....I'll Pontificate If I Want To...

Today is the day. My special birthday year. I'm not really sure WHY but apparently having a birthday on a triple digit sequence makes the year ahead an extra special, planets lining up, cosmos opening, year in your lifetime. That's right-09/09/09. Today, I'm 36 years old and have not a problem with that number at all. I'm frankly pleased as punch to be here.

Those triple digits, and the past year I've experienced, do make me feel like I'm on a precipice looking outward though. I've mentioned how my internal calendar doesn't really follow the normal monthly one. For me, September is not only the start of the school year, it's the start of the entire year. My birthday is kind of like New Year's Day. Along with that fact, it means that on my birthday I often take time to reflect back on the last year and look ahead with resolutions for the next one.

I think we all have times in our lives where we've been less than pleased by a decision we made or an action we took. I like to think that at age 36, I've learned many lessons and I've come a long way, baby. I have made a LOT of mistakes in my life. Some have hurt others, some have hurt only me. But I don't live with regret. I think every horrible, crappy thing that happens to us is an opportunity. Ya, you heard that right. An opportunity. I'm not an optimist by nature, or so I always thought. Turns out, maybe I am.

Every time I've been knocked down in life, I've struggled back to make something out of that dung heap of an obstacle. I'm not tooting my own horn here. It's just a fact. I don't wallow in my own self pity. (well, I try not to anyways. Let's say rarely and not out loud where others can hear me!) I try and pick myself up, dust myself off and figure out what it all means and where I go from here.

I think each and every one of us is going to be presented with situations beyond our control. I think we are all going to experience a moment in time where someone or something is going to wrong us. It would be just as easy to throw our hands to the sky and demand answers and restitution. But I see it more as a time to take action.

I truly believe character and integrity are built on the backs of heartbreak. I know many an individual who is lacking in those qualities because they've never had to react and look deep, deep within for an answer that isn't easy or a decision that's challenging. I call them emotionally immature. It doesn't make them bad people; the tragedy is that they are only beginning their growth as adults when they should be out of the stage where they are mucking things up and causing chaos. But who am I to say how another's life path should progress and at what speed they should mature into strong, integral adults? I know some middle-aged + people who still aren't there yet. And I feel pity for them. Why? I made my mistakes when they were easier to make. I didn't have a family and a husband and people looking to me to be strong and stable. When you only start building character and emotionally maturing in your 30's or later, I feel like you're a bit late to the game. I guess, however, that it's better late than never.

Where am I going with this, you ask? Well, here I am standing tall at 36 years of age with many battle scars. The last year has been one of the most difficult of my life. And that's saying a lot, because I've lived a lot of life for my age. And yet, I feel almost like that has set the stage for me to move forward in a way that I might not have been able to previously. It's almost like I feel Book 1 of my story is complete, and if you turn the next page, Book 2 is going to rock your socks. I've grown up a lot this year. I've been forced to look deep within myself for strength and courage and to truly discover who I am and what I need and what I feel and what is missing in my life. I've come to realizations about my character, but also about my heart and soul. I have internal traits I didn't even know were lying dormant. This year has brought that all out.

Many events in my life have occurred up to now, and I've always said I wouldn't wish them on my enemies, but I wouldn't change them either because they've made me who I am today. That still holds. I can't be responsible for the actions of others, but I can always, always be responsible for my REACTION. I can always be true to myself and what I hold important. In some ways, I'm the same in character as I was from birth. And in many others, the depth of my wisdom has increased a thousand fold-mostly from the horrendous times more so than the good ones.

Armed with that knowledge and that resolve, my birthday today has a ton of meaning for me. Though turning 35 was supposed to be a "big" one, I look at this year as the one that changes everything.

I hope Book 2 is happy and blessed.

If anything, it is.........To Be Continued.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Life As A Movie Scene

You know when you watch a movie and they have the great scenes where the main characters are sitting at a loud table of all of their friends, with candles and flowers and little twinkly patio lights surrounding them, and they are all laughing and talking? It could be a scene out of "Friends" as well, but I just saw the movie "Julie and Julia" on Sunday night and saw a similar setting.

I'm always a little envious of those scenes. Firstly, it's great food being shown and I've already mentioned that I'm a bit of a foodie. (note to others-that movie makes you really hungry. I'm already getting ingredients to make the Beef Bourguinion and the Chicken with a Mushroom Cream Sauce. It looked so yummy. No diets mentioned please.)

Secondly, it's this awesome, intimate moment with people who truly know and love each other and have a long standing friendship. They are there to support or hold up or cheer. The important thing is, they are just there.

As I was watching the scene, I had a really great realization. I have no need to be envious of those scenes. Just a few hours earlier, I had been seated around a table with my best friends since I was fourteen. We have now added husbands and kids, of course, so the circle is even bigger and more loving. If someone had filmed a scene of our evening, they would have seen laughter and hugs, great food, secrets shared, and people all there for each other. I was the one with the birthday cake at the end, but you could take that snapshot any time we get together and you'd witness the same ambiance.

My life resembles a movie in ways both good and bad on any given day, but my friendships really mean a lot to me and they always bring me out of the dark scenes into the light. I'm truly lucky to be blessed with the strong, beautiful, intelligent, witty characters in my life story. We move from dark drama to feel good movie with plenty of laughs, but regardless of theme, we reappear in each and every sequel.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Weighty Matters

I've been struggling with my weight, it seems, since the time I had my children. It's an ongoing process and to say that it's frustrating is truly minimizing the challenge.

As a kid, I could eat whatever I wanted. And I've always been a good eater. I was the kid that liked almost everything. When my Mom married my Stepfather, he wanted us to drink a bag (1L)of milk a day. I had nooo problem doing so! During my teen years, I still wasn't heavy, somehow, except for one year when I gained some weight and then had a growth spurt. When I met my husband, I was the slimmest I had ever been. (and ever HAVE been needless to say)

And now, I have been gaining and losing the same 10-15lbs over and over again. And I want to lose more like 20-25. About a year ago, I lost 15 lbs and it looked like more because of all of the working out I was doing. And then summer came, and I got lazy and ate whatever I felt like eating and indulged a little too many times. I'm definitely a "foodie" at heart. I love cooking. If I go to a function, my first thought is to check the menu. Needless to say, the 15 lbs are back.

So, after this busy week of back to school and adjusting to the "new" routine, I'm back at it. Each time, I say this will be the last time. Hopefully, something in my brain will keep me plugging away until I reach my goal. And then stay there once I've hit it!

I had been working out hard with weight lifting and cardio. I'm someone who makes bulky muscle pretty quickly, and I even kind of like that look, though most girls don't. I was lifting quite heavy weights (like 200 lbs on the leg press) and my muscles were looking good! But I think this time I'm going to focus on "leaning" out.

My schedule this year, what with the home daycare started up again, won't allow me as much gym time so I'll be doing most of my working out at home. I have a good treadmill and some light weights. I have Pilates and Yoga dvd's, as well as a Zumba one and the Jillian Micheals ones. My plan is to get up early (yuck) and run for 30 mins on my treadmill. Then I'll do a Jillian Micheals dvd which is 20 mins. I'll do some Pilates or Yoga later on in the day, or before bed.

On top of that, the plan is to eat as clean as possible. I'm going to have to be very organized for meals, and tell my husband to stop buying me my "favourites." He does it to treat me, but my butt isn't thanking him. I also plan on keeping a food journal.

I'll try to keep you updated on my progress as well. This is really just a selfish way for me to be accountable to someone other than myself.

Let me know what has worked for you, what tips you have, and any thoughts! All is welcome! And if any of you want to do this together, that would be great as well!

Let's hope this time is truly the LAST time I have to make this journey.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Day Fatigue

So, this blog will be brief. Why you ask? Cause I'm #$*@! exhausted, that's why!

My kids are starting at a new school this year and the bus situation is a total disaster. They were to be picked up at 742am. That got switched to 755am. Phew. That was better. The bad news is, they wouldn't get to school til 840am. That means forty minutes on the bus which is oh, 5 mins away by car.

We waved the girls off and then decided to head to the school yard to meet them. We got to the school and the bus still wasn't there. No worries. We checked the lists for their names, saw their classmates and where they'd line up and met their teachers. And waited.

School starts at 850am. What time did MY children's bus arrive? Ya, 918am. Everyone but the principal had gone in already. We got our kids off of the bus and found their classrooms in a school in which we've never even set a foot. So, total time on the bus? 1 hr and 18 mins. Ridiculous and infuriating.

Fast forward to tonight. I'm told drop off time will be 418pm. School ends at 310pm. So, that means over an HOUR on the bus. Again. What time did my children arrive??? 451pm. What the??? That's almost 5 o'clock for Pete's sake. Again, infuriating.

Do you want to guess how many letters, emails, phone calls and rants I've made since June to the school board as well as the transportation board? For those of you that know me well, you know it's a lot.

Their standard line so far is that the first few weeks will be a "wait and see" while they try to iron out the kinks in the bus route and figure out how they need to change it. Uh huh.

How about this one? Instead of trying to pick up kids from every single subdivision in the city, limit it to oh.....two? Instead of stopping to transfer kids to ANOTHER bus (I kid you not), just put another bus on from the get go.

This is sooo not going to work. And I'm sure I'm not the only parent out there who was absolutely livid today.

I'm trying to take deep, calming breaths and I'm praying tomorrow is a better, smoother day with a much, much, much shorter bus ride. If not, the people at the transportation board better take cover. Quickly.

What I will do to them, trust me, won't take an hour.