Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010, I Bid You Adieu

It's the night before New Year's Eve and here I sit, past midnight, contemplating the year that has just passed. When you are living in the day to day moments, you just push to get through days, months, events and feelings. It's in these twilight hours that the scorecard tally of all that the year held seems incredible to me. What lies ahead for 2011? The word that comes to mind, if saying it aloud could make it so, is to feel "settled" and with that maybe some aging hippy "inner peace."

There have been so many changes and stresses and challenging moments the last two years for me, that I'd like 2011 to signal a new chapter. In 2010, a lot of changes occurred that closed doors, and I think I'd like to start flinging new ones open.

My last year involved a move to an entirely new province. In fact, one I'd never even set foot upon. That made move number 2 for us in less than 3 years. They say that selling a home and moving are two of life's biggest stresses. Well, leave it to me to do it twice, then. Go big or go home! We left behind amazing friendships that we were so fortunate to make right away; friendships that made us feel welcome from the shaky start. Those friendships saw us through some of our darkest moments and brought light to our happiest times. However, moving was a real gift for me, as it meant closing the door on everything that reminded me of heartache and loss, and let me move forward toward (what I hope) will be a time of re-growth and awakening.

I also lost my Dad this year. It's never an easy explanation when I speak of him or the dance that we did in our relationship. Suffice it to say that, whatever the view from the outside, and whatever the hurt that ebbed and flowed, he was my Daddy and I loved him. I don't really have the words to speak about this-me-who is never without words. My fingers poise over the keys but my thoughts stumble over one another and can't seem to make one single fluid sentence. I'm not a great one to pour out my feelings, and in this loss, it seems they've jammed up inside even further. I find it difficult to look at pictures, often quickly skipping past photos in my siblings Facebook albums. I try not to let memories wash over me when I'm in company, or ill prepared for the influx of tears. I'm shocked at my sense of outrage and loss. Mostly, though, I'm just a daughter that misses her Dad.

As is my typical response to stress and heartache, I've medicated myself with food. Obviously, this cycle of stress eating only leads to further stress and I've yet to conquer the demon. I'm disappointed in myself for negating all of the positive steps I had taken to tame this ornery beast that has plagued me for many years. I'm disappointed that I'm still fighting this nemesis. I'm hopeful that 2011 will find me stepping over the threshold into finally leaving behind this emotionally fraught baggage full of comfort foods that bring little comfort.

So, here I sit on the verge of a New Year. I always feel delicious anticipation at the possibilities that seem so ripe and within my grasp as I spin past on the Merry-Go-Round of Life. I'm starting completely new and fresh. I'm in a new home, in a new province, with everything to discover about new places and people and a new "me." Oh, not that I'm ditching the old me. I'm just adding and subtracting and multiplying to find a new configuration that makes for a more balanced equation.

The doors are opening and I'm poised on the brink of an incredible journey. I can almost feel the tingle of electricity in the air and in my soul I just know that I've reached a pivotal turning point. That's melodramatic, I know. I guess time will tell.

I'm looking forward to the next post, where I'll lay out my plans for "Resolutions" and how I'm taking this 2011 bull by the horns. Until then, goodbye to the old and a giddy welcome to a much needed brand New Year.

Happy New Year's to you and yours!

Friday, December 17, 2010


Dear Blog Readers,

Hi there! Hope you are all doing well and getting excited for the Holiday Season-whatever it is that you celebrate in your homes. Here, we are busy with a hundred different things it seems and nowhere near ready for the big day! Yippee!

I thought I had this whole thing covered and was patting myself on the back, but then the startling realization hit that SMACK, umm no. I have baking to donate for the school raffle on Monday, (me+baking=not pretty) Christmas cards still to mail out, groceries still to buy, presents to wrap, two school Christmas concerts, one dance Open House, and a few more things I won't bore you with via the good 'ol "To Do" list. I figure I should be done by Wednesday. I know, cutting it dangerously close.

On top of this, we're planning a trip to Florida and I'm starting to get overwhelmed by that list and the money needed to accomplish it all. We still have to get passports and get our dog a vaccination so she can be boarded. We've never left her without it being with family, so that's making me teary. We haven't taken her there yet either so, they may not even agree she's cool enough to board. Fingers crossed. Then there's the whole bills, needing to get my teeth fixed and the fact that my credit card is almost maxxed and now sizzling.

So, dear bloggy readers, this is why I've been hit or miss when it comes to jotting down my thoughts for all of you anxious to read them. This season is about joy and family and peace, or it's supposed to be anyways. Currently, it feels like it's about mayhem and money and checklists. It's also bittersweet because I'm far away from extended family. I think I've only missed one Christmas without seeing them at some point-in my ENTIRE life. I may be smiling through tears on Christmas morning.

If I'm sparse in the upcoming week or so, please know that I'm just running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. I hope you are doing well and enjoying the season. Take some time to breathe it all in and sit in silence, letting the meaning for the season wash over you and make what you're scurrying to and fro about make all that more sense.

From our home to yours,

Happy Holidays!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Could Really Use A Wish Right Now...Wish Right Now..

Have you ever been waiting and waiting on something or someone, wishing and hoping and finger crossing, only to have it happen and have it be less than monumental?

Take for example our move. We had known for the 2.5 years that we lived "away" from home that we would be moved once again in the near future. In the beginning, I prayed hard that it was soon. Towards the end of our residence there, I pleaded for it's imminence as well. It wasn't that I was unhappy where we were at, let me make that clear, it's just that I had this looming future promise hanging over me and I just wanted to be settled.

Now, here we are. I'm truly enjoying being here and I think a future here looks promising. It's just that it doesn't feel as, and I'm not even sure of the word I'm looking for here, climactic ? I think it may be partly that it's just been such a whirlwind and I've had so many balls up in the air since we found out that it just continues to seem surreal. That seems to be the refrain for my life in 2010 actually.

Since finding out that we were being moved across the country to a province where we don't know a soul, to the actual move, to school starting, to my Dad's passing and now Christmas-it just has all been a blur. I'm actually kind of frightened for when it all hits me square between the eyes and knocks me out for the count. I know it's going to happen once life slows down, but luckily for me I've always been a fighter and I'm pretty good at taking one on the chin and still standing my ground.

There are other things swirling around my little life that are long awaited but again, just kind of meh now that they are here. I'm starting to think it may just be that I'm too tired and busy and well, maybe a little crazy, to fully appreciate all that's going on.

I believe that come the New Year, I'm going to be wishing big and little wishes. By then, I hope I can be more present in appreciating and understanding them with welcome, open arms instead of sort of just coasting along on auto-pilot. Though auto-pilot has it's merits as well.

For now, I'm keeping an eye on the prize and pushing through the season ahead. I've got my head down, but the horizon is looming and soon I'll be back to going toe to toe with wishes and dreams.

Eye of the tiger, baby.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Good Patient?

One of my dear friends had surgery a few days ago (she's all good!) and has been told she's to take it easy and rest. Well, the day she left the hospital, which might I add was the day after her surgery, she went and got her nose ring put back in and had a pedicure. Whaaaat? I gave her a talking to and told her to get her butt into bed. Lucky for her I'm bossy like that, and she listened (mostly) and has been doing a whole lot of nothing.

It's driving her crazy. I've informed her she's truly a bad patient.

She updates me about movies she's watched or books she hasn't started. Her Facebook status updates contain several references to "not being cut out for this lying around stuff" and basically how she is going stir crazy. She also made mention to me that she can't fathom just hanging out at home every day.

Well, that's pretty much what "I" do. I don't mean the lying around part, contrary to the stereotype. I mean as a Stay At Home Mom. I kind of, er.......stay at home?

I told her that for me, a typical day involves meal planning, bill paying, errand running, chore doing, dog walking, kid bathing and homework checking. All of which mostly take place at home.

Her husband has plans to go away for the weekend, and has arranged for their daughters to go to Grandma's. Once again, my friend was unsure what she'd do for a whole weekend by herself.

Are you KIDDING me? I would take that in a hot minute. I would sleep in and watch trash TV and order in take out and lie in bed.....just like Brian Wilson did.

I gave her some suggestions and tips for things she could do while she's convalescing but she seemed doubtful. She said she's got to be on the go usually. How often, as Moms especially, do we get time to really just do nothing? Yet, when we're presented with the opportunity, we don't know what to do with ourselves? I've had many times where I get to go on a "girls weekend" and once there, spend half my time thinking about my kids. I know we can all relate to dinners out with our husbands where we spend the time talking about our family stuff.

When you get the time to just chill and do whatever it is that YOU want and you don't have to worry about schedules and routines and meals and laundry, I think you should savour it. Every last moment of it.

In the end, it allows us weary Moms to rejuvenate and re-energize and come back into the chaotic fray with renewed vigour.

So, she's watched a season of "Sister Wives," loved "Eat, Pray, Love" and is currently sorting through old photos. Ah.....she's learning, young grasshopper. The path ahead is lined with pillows and cookie crumbs, bed head and brain drain. It is worth the journey! Ommmmmm.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm So Vain...No More?

So, last week as I took a big hearty bite, I heard a strange crunching sound. It wasn't SO strange that I hadn't ever heard it before though. Nope, the sharp plastic feeling wasn't foreign to my mouth.

Once again, I had eaten the covering of my tooth.

Growing up, I had a small space between my two front teeth. If it helps, visualize Madonna. I decided I hated it and wanted to get it filled in. I got bonding done and loved the look. The problem was, it cracked off several momentous times. Once, in particular, comes to mind. My sister and I were out in the food court at the local mall and I decided an egg sandwich sounded yummy. This familiar sandwich joint made a really delicious, thick, mayo induced one that I loved. As I was eating, I said to my sister that I thought they had left some shell in by accident. I can still picture her face as she replied, "That wasn't shell!! You ate your tooth!"

That happened a few more times before my pocketbook and I decided we needed something more substantial and permanent done. It was then that I had my teeth whittled down to nubs for my porcelain veneers.

Typically, veneers should last 5-10 years tops. I've had mine about 15 I'd say. My dental hygienist has been in awe of how well they've lasted and how great they look, but also commented last visit that it was probably time they got replaced.

I guess I should have taken her advice a bit more seriously, because now I find myself with a chip in the front of my tooth and a looming dental appointment. Right. Before. Christmas.

I'm hoping they can just somehow patch it up for now, and I'll get some new chicklets come spring or so. I don't really want to cough up a thousand bucks per tooth at this time of year, know what I mean? Most insurance plans don't cover veneers. Crap.

As this is all happening and I've had a few days now to lament my new umm, look, I've come to realize that I kind of wish I'd never had them done. I mean, we all like to look our best and every celebrity out there sports a pretty awesome grill. At the time, that's what I wanted as well. Yet, now that I'm "older and wiser," I think I'd be okay with the space. It adds character!

In France, that space between the front teeth means something like "luck." I'm a big Vanessa Paradis fan (Johnny Depp's wife if you don't know her) and she's got quite the space happening. She's never had it filled. Isn't it Lauren Hutton that also has a prominent space? It never caused her to lose modelling gigs, did it? Right. One more word? Madonna.

It certainly would have cost me less time, money and headaches. Now, it's too late. My teeth underneath have to be covered evermore or look like pegs-and I'm not really THAT secure with myself.

I think with age comes an inner acceptance of things that maybe once made you feel scrutinized or judged in some way. I wish I could tell my 16 year old self just to embrace the freckles, the mole, the gap in her teeth. Unfortunately, it's taken time and life and hard lessons to get to this point, and some days I still struggle.

For today? I'm even okay with the jagged crack. I'll get it fixed, but day to day? I'm okay with me.

Chipped or not.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Is Twitter Like Online Dating?

I have always thought of myself as a great judge of character. I've made a few blunders over the years, but in general, I can kind of sniff out an individuals inner "shtick" really quickly. I can tell who is bluffing and who is genuine in a hot minute. Mostly. I hear that makes me judgemental in some people's eyes, but I look at it differently. I don't want to waste my time, or theirs, if we just don't click. I'm not saying just because "I" don't dig you that you are a bad person with no integrity, it's more like "it's not you it's me."

I find the same thing with online relationships. I can discern pretty quickly whether someone is my type of person after a few exchanges. There are people that crack me up, but I know in person we wouldn't have similar lifestyles or interests. There are people that speak to the intellectual side of me (and yes, I do have one!) but might be a little too intense for daily me. Then, there are the people that strike just the right balance.

So, I've joined Twitter. At first, I didn't see what the draw was for joining. I had friends totally into it but it seemed silly to me to just update what amounts to a status repeatedly throughout the day. I figured it might be worth a shot given I live in a completely new province, as a way to connect with what is happening in my city and the others (moms mostly) that make up it's buzz.

I'm glad I did. I've found out about what's going on event wise, news wise and socially like which restaurants are good and where to go to get a haircut or get my dog groomed. That's all good information.

The tricky part is cultivating real friendships and relationships. It's like online dating, where you get along really well over the computer screen and you know what you're looking for, but you worry that the face to face might be the deal breaker.

I guess the only way to really know is to put yourself out there right? I guess I'm just hoping that someone feels the same connection and wants to get to know me better as well.

I like walks on the beach, good books, laughing, and a nice glass of wine.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Go Read Someone Else's Blog

I have never done this before, and I don't even know really the in's and out's and rules and regulations about doing this but here it goes. I'm telling you, this moment, to go and read someone else's blog.

I just started reading her blog, clearly late to the blogosphere party, and I can't get enough. In particular, one post has moved me so much that I can't stop thinking about it. It made me teary, it put into words every single thing I feel as a Mother about love and letting go. It's beautiful.

I'm encouraging you all to go and read it. It's quite honestly one of the best pieces I've ever read.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More Than Room and Board

My home life was often not only chaotic, but terrifying. My stepfather was a raging alcoholic. What that meant for us was sleepless nights and often emotional and physical abuse. I'm not being over the top when I say that many days I wasn't sure who would come out of my house alive in the morning light. That sounds dramatic, I know, but that was my reality. Even now, it's sort of a filmy surreal memory to me, and I've questioned how I survived it all (relatively) intact.

I know one way. I escaped.

My sister moved out at 16 to not have to deal with it anymore. I saw how she was struggling and working and not always eating, and knew that wasn't for me. Instead, I sought refuge with my friends' families.

Looking back as a Mother myself now, I'm truly thankful for those Moms and Dads that took me in. I don't remember ever once being questioned about "why" I was staying so long, or "why" my parents didn't care that I wasn't home for weeks at a time. These people welcomed me and made me feel like extended family. They fed me and housed me and took me on vacations. They never asked me for payment or rent. Trust me when I say they could have. More importantly, they never made me feel awkward about my own situation or like I needed to explain what was largely painful and unexplainable.

Some days, when my kids have had many a playdate, I sigh with relief that their friends have gone and it's just "us" again. The worry of another child's welfare ends as I close the door behind them and send them on their way.

Thankfully, there are people out there that take lost kids under their wings and help them learn to fly. They showed me what family could be and they made me feel like maybe I wasn't such a mess after all. They made me dream of the possibilities ahead. They did it all seamlessly and with tact and diplomacy.

At that young age, I realized the gift. I tried to be the model houseguest; tidying after myself and doing dishes and laundry. I was polite. I didn't take it for granted, and I certainly was aware of the need for it to continue.

The day to day reality of it all didn't sink in, though, until I had children of my own. Those families sacrificed time and money and food for a kid that wasn't their responsibility. I can't thank them enough, because the fact of the matter is, without them I'm not sure what would have happened or where I would have ended up.

I wish for kids out there to not have to live as I did. If it so happens that one seeks refuge in my home, I hope I can be as thoughtful and warm as those parents who opened their homes (and their hearts) to me.

To all of the O'Donoghues and Borts out there, I extend a huge grateful thank you. You may have thought you were just letting a teen hang at your pad, but you did so much more than that. I appreciate it and my life was changed for it. Truly.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stealth Showering

Stepping groggily into the steamy water, I can barely muster the energy required to bathe. That's how tired and lackluster I feel on this chilly, brisk Monday morning. I stand for a moment, letting the jets pound down my back and warm my shivering skin.

I reach for the shampoo to begin the whole process that is required to cleanse away another day, and notice it is not there. Now, I'm fully awake and horrifically realize that the conditioner and body wash are also nowhere to be found.

Kids!!!! They've once again pilfered MY amenities into THEIR bathroom, leaving me....well, in the cold.

I, however, am not to be deterred! Rather than traipse soggily through the house, I decide the best course of action is to make do. Since the girls have done this to me before, I had the foresight to place some travel sized shampoo and conditioner in my shower. Almost chuckling with self-congratulation, I grab the shampoo. It's empty. Cursing, I begin to smack out as much as I can onto my palm. There is enough there to "maybe" do a portion of my head. I add some water to create a lather and plonk the minute cleanser on to my head. My thick hair usually calls for at least triple this amount, but I will NOT be swayed.

Satisfied that my hair is at least clean, sort of, I cross my fingers and grab for the conditioner. This hair CANNOT be left unconditioned. I can't stress this tidbit enough. Victory is mine as travel size conditioner is half full!

Smiling now, I decide that the best body wash will be the leftover candy cane bubble bath my kids have left me. How is this even possible??? Again, there is a trickle left in the Penguin shaped container. I again dab out as much as I can and start lathering up. I have enough to cover half of my body. This game of trying to outwit the shower powers that be is no longer gleefully competitive. It's tiring.

I have only one recourse left. I wash the rest of my body with my facial exfoliator. I kid you not. At least that skin will be baby smooth, after it's no longer red and raw.

Stepping out of the tub and wrapping myself in as many towels as there are at my disposal, I come to two conclusions. One being that it's time to buy duplicates of everything shower related. Two being that this whole shower drama may have been an omen of the week to come.

I climb back in bed, hair askew and frizzy, and pray for a re-do.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Daughter's Lament

Two years old and running fast,
Escaping the house
By sneaking past.
In the driveway,
My Mom comes home.
It was the last time she left
him with me, alone.

Three years old and curious,
Threw the car into reverse
down a hill,
Father furious.
He was more scared, I think
than anything.
With me as a daughter,
You never knew what I'd bring.

Four years old and sad,
My Dad leaves home,
and it hurts so bad.
He marries again
and we move on,
though life has changed
and it feels all wrong.

From 5 through 25
(you do the math)
We see him on holidays
Each time a laugh.
And yet it never feels quite "enough",
I'm left wondering why?
This is so damn tough.

Something changes in me then,
With the birth of my daughters
It's more about them.
I make an effort,
a valiant try
to see him more often
To get to know this guy.

It's then that we suddenly
Become more in tune,
Back is the Daddy
That I thought hung the moon.
It's fishing and cottages,
Holidays and cheer,
It's singing and yodeling,
Over Caesar's and beer.

It's telling silly jokes,
and laughing at old times,
It's looking into eyes,
The same colour as mine.
It's mending some fences,
That whoo, needed fixin'
It's quieting the voices,
That made me feel like a victim.

It was a long struggle,
to get where we got,
misunderstanding and abandonment
were the demons I fought.
Yet, finally, at last,
this beautiful pair.
Still flawed, not perfect,
But at least mutual care.

Then moving away,
and sickness set in.
The calls got less frequent,
the hurt was to win.
Still, we knew then,
what we'd questioned before,
I was his daughter, he my father
Forever more.

Neither time nor distance,
Those facts could change,
We'd grown and learned,
our fate reclaimed.
We said "goodbye"
knowing it'd be our last,
On Remembrance day,
his last light was cast.

It has struck me more deeply,
then I'd prepared myself for,
The tears ever flowing,
the pain in my core.
He's always been Daddy,
even though I'm grown,
though far away,
he's always felt "home."

I am still that little girl,
face pressed to the glass,
Wondering when he's coming,
When I'll next hear his laugh.
Held in my heart, for safe keeping
he'll be,
Shared with my daughters,
Him, me and we.

His life will live on,
As best that I can,
What made him so special,
Who he was as a man.
I'll celebrate his life,
for in us it lives,
his death a reminder
with all that it gives.

To Daddy,
From Daughter,
some words from the heart,
We may be parted,
but never apart.

I love you Dad. I'll see you again.

Nov. 15th, 1935-Nov.11th, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Library Bliss

In exciting news that makes up my life, my husband and I finally checked out the library and got a library card. That may not thrill you, but oh how it makes MY heart go pitter pat. I did have to laugh at my OCD rearing it's ugly head as I started re-shelving books so that the ones in the same series were all bundled together. I guess my years as a Chapters employee are still coursing through my blood. We came home with 16 books. Now, my daughter and I will get through our 5 each in about 2 weeks. My husband took out three, which I counselled against, because I doubt he'll get through one of them in the 3 weeks. My youngest gets two books a night, or one chapter, so she'll probably read her few over and over.

Within those books, I got some fiction and some non-fiction. I have had the author Francine Rivers recommended to me, so I found some of hers to try. I also loved "The Red Tent" so I found another Anita Diamant title. I also got some meditation and life awakening books.

I'm still not feeling "settled" in our new home, mostly because my life is still topsy turvy. The daily grind is starting to become routine, but I still feel like I'm rushing through the weeks without truly being conscious in them. I also have a lot on my mind with my Dad. He's taken a very serious turn for the worst, and it's currently a waiting game. That occupies my mind most of my day, and frankly, I'm not getting a lot done. Reading is relaxing and non taxing, and books allow me to escape some of the "stuff." My bathrooms aren't feeling the library love, however.

Those meditation books are to help with some of that insanity. I figure if I can take 10 minutes out of each day to just sit and breathe and maybe read a short passage of inspiration, it can't hurt. I'm hoping it's a big help.

I'm currently about 3/4 through one of my books and am ingesting small bits of the meditation book each day.

Nothing brings me more bliss than sitting curled up on the couch, alone late at night when the house is quiet, tea in one hand and a book in the other.

The library has always been one of the best things to happen to me. It's solace in a stressful life storm. It provides hope when dark clouds loom. It teaches and it answers every imaginable question.

The library and it's hallowed halls are almost reverent to me. Books are a world away from all that holds me down or creates an ache in my heart. It fills holes that are left gaping and brings warmth to cold shivers.

Books and the library are my salvation from the ravages life can bring.

What about you? Do you frequent your public library? Do you feel a little high when you do? Or am I the only library nerd among us?

Friday, November 5, 2010

What Do I Have To Offer?

I've been reading lots of blogs lately, from a multitude of different circles. There are so many groupings of bloggers in my area of interest, which is namely parenting.

Parenting, however, includes a ton of other topics under that label. I muse, here, about them all. For me, that entails how to deal with beauty in my late 30's and those new challenges. It also includes diet and fitness and finding the time for both. I love cooking, so I'm always seeking and making new things. I'm a "Stay at Home Mom," so I connect with others on that path. I also got married young and had my kids pretty early on and that can be a different voice out there in this world of women climbing the corporate ladder before family. I've been with my husband for 17 years now, so I have a stake in the relationship debate. I ran a successful home business for 10 years and try to help others starting the same. Lastly, I'm Canadian and have lived from Kelowna, British Columbia to Ottawa, Ontario to Northern Ontario and now find myself in the Maritimes. That allows me to have opinions and discussions on the differences and similarities I've found along the way. (PS Canada Rocks, no matter where I've lived!) I've also been a writer since the first time I learned how to put words to paper. I've just started to open that area up to the world at large and see where it takes me.

What's my voice, then? What do I have to offer the blog world?

I started writing this blog a bit fearfully. I just wanted to write. I wanted a place to vent and an outlet for my thoughts since posts are often crowding around to standing room only in my wee head. I needed a space for them to roam free and be heard. I was nervous over my audience, though. I invited only a few trusted friends to read. I've never included location or any pictures.

It's been a process of a small step at a time. Now, I'm ready for the next steps.

I've put my blog "out there" to a larger viewing circle. I still haven't quite figured out how to push that even further, but I keep researching and joining and inviting.

I'm going to take a few more leaps as we go along, starting with some pictures to go along with content.

The blog, for me, has always been an evolving process. I haven't specifically had goals for it but I've definitely had hopes. As Christopher Reeve said, "Once you choose hope, anything's possible."

I continue to hope.

I know I have a lot to say. My Mom would tell you that I always have! I think I have a lot of life experience to draw from, and I think my voice fits in many niches. My dream is that someone will read and pay me to write. That would be the ultimate, for all of us who write. I can't even imagine being paid for what I love to do and would do repeatedly without compensation.

I write for myself, but I treasure when it's touched another. I'm stretching out now and dreaming louder and further.

Anything's possible.

Florence Nightingale

Once again I've been torn away from my writing due to my children's needs. How DARE they??? Truth be told, I don't mind. Actually, real truth? I'm a little obsessive, apparently.

I have been assuming that when children are sick, you just don't get much sleep or do anything other than hover over them constantly with a watchful eye. Little did I know that other parents don't do that. Say what?

My daughter missed all of the last week of school. She started with a reaction to her new earrings. That resulted in a big cyst behind each ear. It turned into a fever so off we went to the clinic. (side bar-as we are new to the city we have no doctor here so the clinic is our new best friend!) While we were there, they checked her slight cough and said to take the earrings out and put some Polysporin on daily. The cough? Likely just a cold starting.

We went home and started following the advice. That night, her fever rose steadily higher. I spent the night with her in my bed, kicking my husband out to sleep with a hundred Webkinz in a cozy, pink floral cloud. He LOVED it.

The next day, the fever was even higher. I spent the day bringing her drinks and snacks on a tray in my bed. We watched movies and napped. Well, she napped. I spent my time staring at her and wiping her face and brow with a lukewarm facecloth and trying to remember when I last gave her Tylenol.

We entered the clinic doors once more, this time to hear the news that her slight cold was a chest infection. She started Amoxicillan to combat the nasty germs and hopefully bring the high fever down a notch or five.

When my kids are sick, I basically don't sleep. In our house, if you have a fever or bad cough or a gastro deal, you sleep with Mommy. Yay me! Honestly though, it's easier for me that way. If they were in their own beds, I'd just spend the night walking the halls checking them over and over. I ensure they get meds consistently. I place cloths to cool them down and bring them drinks to sip throughout the night. At some point sheer exhaustion takes over and I succumb to a fitful slumber, despite my best efforts to valiantly stay on the alert.

I thought that was just the typical Mommy duty for those sickly times. I have come to learn that not all of my Mommy friends feel the same way! Many of them said they give their kids some meds before bed and close their doors. They tuck themselves in their own little nests and don't rise again til morning, or until their child might come to seek them out.

Really????? That's a completely foreign concept to me!

I'm not looking for some sort of Florence Nightingale Award for exceptional care taking. I know that my need to hover is just who I am and part of my OCD nature. Sure, some little part of me likes carrying trays and preparing chicken broth and toast and tea. I mean, how often do they need me and want me so sweetly and appreciatively? I credit it to my childhood aspiration to be a Pediatrician. I have a real need to nurture the people in my life. That's surprising even to me cause I'm such a non-sappy cynic most of the time.

We're all recovered here now and back to the daily grind. At least the rest of my family is feeling healthy and rested. Me? I'm starting to feel a little under the weather. I guess that's one of the hazards of sleeping with the sickies and letting them cough into your chest as you hold them close.

It's a price I'll be happy to pay over and over again. Hopefully I won't HAVE to mind you! (I wish health and wellness on all of us!) When the call comes though, I'll be ready-thermometer and cool drink in tow.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let's Get Physical...

You know that "5 Love Languages" book where it asks you to fill out a questionnaire and then it tells you what your love or relationship style is for giving and receiving love? Let's just say the one that mine is definitely NOT is physical touch.

It's not like I grew up in a totally cold home where I was never hugged or anything. In general though, my family is not very huggy kissy. When we greet each other, it's not with hugs. We may give them on departing for an extended time away, but other than that, it's not gonna happen.

I'm very touchy feely with my kids. That seems like a normal way to be with them, ever since they were born. In fact, as you know, we had a family bed for many years and I was also prone to holding my newborns for as many hours in a day as I could without needing Depends or a feeding tube. Actually, if I was offered those things at the time I may have taken them.

In my daily life though, that's just not me. I'm not the friend that's going to hug you all of the time. I'm not the type to touch your arm or shoulder as we chat. I'm just not a toucher in general. In fact, I'd say I get a little freaked out by people not respecting my personal space. Some days that space actually requires quite a wide berth, as well.

In romantic relationships I'm the same way. I'm not the type to hold hands constantly or snuggle up together on the couch. I don't want to be glued to each other's sides every chance we can muster. As I just said, I like my space. Actually, I like a lot of space.

That can be difficult or hurtful for others to understand, especially if their love language happens to BE physical touch. I'm not being distant or trying not to be close specifically to them. I'm just not made that way. My Grandmothers, my Mom, my one in my family was really raised to be outwardly, overtly physical in their love demonstrations.

I don't think it makes me less approachable, but maybe it makes me seem a little less warm than I really am. I'm not perky, let's not get carried away, nor do I ever want to be. But working on literally reaching out may not be the worst thing in the world.

At least for a few moments a day.

Now I just have to figure out how to work that physical connection around my need to be germ free.

Hazmat suit anyone?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ikea Rocks My.....Home!

I don't care what anybody says, I love me some Ikea. I'm not even getting paid to say that! I know people that think Ikea is cheap (it IS) and that it's not quality, long lasting solid wood. (it isn't! Well, mostly. Some pieces actually ARE!) However, these are the exact same reasons why I love it!

I get bored easily, firstly. I'm not someone who wants to have the same furniture for my lifetime. Secondly, I have children, and ran a home daycare for 10 years. I don't see the point in having expensive furniture that is going to get spilled on daily, get dirt (or who knows what else) on it, can't be cleaned etc. Listen, I have enough anxiety and OCD in my life without freaking out daily over every little mark that happens on my stuff.

Plus, aesthetically, I just like their product. I like it even more so because it's never me that puts it together. How many boxes for that piece? Sure! My husband can do it! That aside, I really do like the modern, funky flavour of some of the pieces. I'm not "out there" in terms of decorating (you soooo will never see animal print, anywhere, in my home. Ever) but I do like clean lines and a contemporary feel. Well, contemporary mixed with shabby chic. That's me. My dining room table is an old table painted white, as are its' chairs. That's re-purposed shabby chic style. On the other hand, I like my home to look minimal. I don't have a lot of pictures, rugs, knick knacks. I guess some might find that kind of cold and not very homey-but I believe what one person describes as a haven can be someone else's nightmare. I actually get stressed when there is too much "stuff" around, or if my cd's aren't alphabetized. I tease. Well, sadly, not really.

Then, there's the fact that a lot of Ikea's furnishings come with removable and washable covers! Yay!!! How can you NOT like that??? If I decide to switch up my colour scheme, I can just buy a new cover, instead of a whole new couch. For a girl like me, that's worth it right there.

Since there is no Ikea in my area I ordered online for delivery. The process was easy and the estimated delivery time about two weeks. Deal, and deal! My only complaint was that I wanted a few items that weren't available to order online. I was thoroughly bummed and decided to start looking elsewhere. This week, still having not found those items, I went back to search Ikea. What the?? The original items I wanted now WERE available!!!! UGh. I could do a separate order for them, but that entails paying another shipping cost. Double ugh. I haven't decided what I'll do yet. The thing is, it's next to impossible to find those items for that low of a price anywhere else!!! It almost makes paying the double shipping charges worthwhile! I'll have to decide if it is after I check a few more stores in my city for similar pieces.

So, tomorrow is the day. A big truck is going to pull up and unload several boxes and more. I can't wait for my husband to get home and for the swearing, er.... assembling, to start.

I'm just an Ikea girl.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Being Neighbourly

We've been supremely blessed in the neighbour department over the last several years.

When my eldest was born, we moved to a court where there were lots of other families with young children. We ended up living there happily for 7 years, certainly in part due to the neighbours. We all seemed to have children in the same sort of age ranges, and we all became friends as well. The children would play out in all weather, while we adults stood around chatting, drinking coffee. (or sometimes other beverages!) We watched each others children, hosted play dates and birthday parties, organized neighbourhood pumpkin decorating and Easter Egg Hunts. We went out as adults for dinners and dancing and movies and more. It was definitely a support network and gave one a sense of trust and security.

People started to trickle away slowly, one at a time. They moved on to bigger homes or different life events. I think we were the last to go, as we got moved for my husband's job to another city a few hours away. I was sad, but also terrified. I was fairly confident that we would never find somewhere like "the court" again.

Yet, we did. We moved to another court in our new city. Again, full of parents of kids of all ages and sizes. Some of those parents were just starting out on this parenting gig journey, and others were old hands. As the months turned into years, we found ourselves sitting out with beverages in hand, watching children play. We walked right into each others homes, spent occasions combining meals, had neighbourhood block parties and spent days in our jammies watching the Olympics together. Once again, we'd struck gold.

Now, here we are once more. We've been moved to the opposite end of the country this time. We don't live on a court, but it's a crescent. We haven't seen neighbours out chatting very much, or just sitting out. There aren't tons of kids playing everywhere you look. We were okay with that, though. We figured it was nice and quiet-which is also nothing to scoff.

We found out then that two boys are actually in my younger daughters' class. Not only that, they sit at her table. We started chatting to their parents, and the invitation was extended for us to join them at the pumpkin patch. Since then, they've had our daughter in for play dates and taken her with them to a birthday party. Other neighbours have started to say hello more, and have come over to introduce themselves. One older man, a retired principal, said he often cuts my grass when he cuts his own. He had done that for the previous resident.

Yesterday, the doorbell rang. As we don't really know many people here, yet, I figured it was someone selling something. We opened the door to an older woman, who turned out to be the wife of the older man. She had two gift bags in her hand and a card. She introduced herself, explained that the card had their number on it (as well as their two sons who live 20 mins from here, in case we needed someone in an emergency) and a welcome with some of their background. The gift bags were for the girls. After chatting a bit, she left with my promise to have her in for a tea once we were finished painting and a bit more settled. The girls opened the bags to reveal a Webkinz each! As a parent with Webkinz mania, I know they aren't cheap. We were, frankly, a little beyond shocked. While we were bringing ourselves out of our awe, I heard the lawn mower start up, and there was the man now cutting my backyard and then raking my leaves!

My girls ran up to make thank you cards, even before "adopting" and naming their pets.

They've asked for our number too, in case they may need us. I'm off to find a little something to give back to them now, to thank them for their warm extension of "Welcome." This may not be a court, and it may not be as geared toward children, but it's already starting to feel a bit more like "home."

It looks like we've been blessed once more.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Contest Capers

I belong to different Internet groups/sites and inevitably, one or all of them run contests. I see a ton of different things they are giving away that I'd love to win, but do I enter? Nope.

I'm super lazy about contests, clearly. I go with interest to the offer, but then I look at the hoops I have to jump through to "maybe" win the prize, and I click away again.

I don't really feel like filling out a hundred answers or doing a survey to win something, but I should. I have a friend that entered every contest going-and she won a ton of cool swag!

So, today. Today is contest day. I'm going RIGHT NOW to enter all of the exciting contests out there that have caught my eye.

Chances of winning? Slim to none! What's the saying though? You can't win if you don't enter!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kids= Dropping Lots Of Dough

Holy crap having kids is expensive. I mean, I knew the baby years were almost the death of us with bottles and formula and diapers and all of the equipment (oh, the equipment) but who knew as they got bigger that it would also well....get bigger.

There's always the classes and activities costs. I don't mind that *so* much because I figure they are learning a lifelong skill and getting some physical activity at the same time. However, dancing is not cheap. They need the "proper" shoes, apparently. They also need bodysuits (one won't do) and then the cost of the classes themselves. Thud. We also do swimming lessons, though we haven't signed up here yet. In my mind, swimming lessons are non-negotiable. That's just a skill you NEED to have for safety reasons.

This weekend, I sat at my kitchen table writing cheques yet again for school. I needed cheques for fundraisers and various food and drink days. Yes, I know. I don't HAVE to get them milk. However, for my sanity, I do. It makes it a lot easier for me, I know they are drinking milk and not a juice box, and it's cold and always fresh, not having sat in their lunch all day. I just like getting it, darn it. Same goes for the fundraisers. I don't have to buy anything, but I like to support their school when I can. I try to get the minimum but it all adds up. As I was writing, I went through my cheque book to see all of the cheques yet to come out, all made out to their school. Umm. It was a lot. I mean a few hundred a lot. Thank goodness we only have two kids.

Lastly, the stinkin' children decided to go and grow on me!!! What nerve!!!!! They literally were sporting leggings daily for fear of high tide with their jeans. So, off to shop. We managed to get them each several pairs of pants and a few shirts. We also managed to get their Halloween costumes (what happened to being a Hobo in your Dad's old shirt?) and candy to hand out. Oh ya, and a new booster seat for my seven year old. Yes, she's finally made it to a booster from the 5-pt harness.

Then, sadly for me, we also have to eat. I had to then grab a bunch of groceries. I swear that when I took my debit card out of its little plastic sheath-it sparked a little. The thing was sizzling with use! How come it doesn't see this much action for say, a trip to Greece with my husband? Oh ya. We decided to become responsible parents. What were we thinking?

Luckily, we have nothing currently on the radar spending wise. My bank and my credit will get a much deserved rest for a bit.

Though....I do need to order that desk and those curtains and.........

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Am My Mother's Daughter

My siblings and I tease my Mom (okay, pretty relentlessly) about the fact that she chats up everyone, everywhere, every time we step out of the door. Whether we are at a store or a bus stop or anywhere in between, you can find my Mom talking away like she's met up with a long lost friend.

Since our move to our new city, I've come to the stunning realization that the teasing may be heading my way with a whole new generation. We stayed in temporary accommodations and while there, the concierge staff would chat with me on my several trips up and down the elevator with my dog. While out walking, strangers would stop and chat about the dog and about the city. In the stores, somehow, I'd get to chatting about how we were new to the city and making our way around.

We've now settled into our new home, and right away, we've begun getting to know our neighbours. When you are out at a bus stop every day with other parents and Grandma's, it's my thought that you can't just stand there in silence waiting for the children to arrive. We've even been invited to pumpkin patches and apple picking. Sometimes, it seems, people are so at ease with me that they share waaay too much information. Last night, a grandfather waiting for the school bus in lieu of his son started talking to me. He started shyly and hesitantly, and by the time the bus was there, he had told me his life history and his thoughts on society's morality, marriage and relationships.

I don't know if people nowadays are just so hungry for human contact out of the technological realm that they'll reach out to whomever is nearest, or if it's some sort of vibe that I send out. I do know that I've seen it happen my entire life. Hmm. Maybe it's just hereditary or part of my genetic makeup.

I'm off to get my daughter at the bus in a bit. I can guarantee I'll come home with a story. Someone ELSE's story, that is.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Quirky Quirkiness

All of us have our little weird idiosyncrasies. Let's not pretend that we don't. Usually, these are little nuances to our character that don't really make sense, sometimes not even to us. I rarely even think about my "quirks" as it were, unless they are pointed out or questioned. Somehow, answering, "just BECAUSE" is the best response you are going to get from me.

Here, in no particular order, are things that need special mention as some peculiarities of my nature.

-I hate balloons. Hate them. Please stop handing my child a balloon at an event or the dentist's or a party. I pop them as soon as we get home. I throw out the "ready to be blown up" kind. There is just something about the sound, the smell, the choking hazardness of them. I know kids like them. I know my daughters love batting them and chasing them and playing with them. I hate to be a Buzzkill, but I really, sincerely, gnash my teeth when balloons are near. Shudder.

-I don't like bath products, like shampoo or conditioner, on the actual tub ledge. The bathtub has inserts with shelves for a reason. Use them.

-Also, don't leave clothes hanging over the end of the bed or a chair. Put them away, in the laundry basket or hung back up. It takes a second.

-I won't go to bed with dishes in the sink. I like them washed or put in the dishwasher and will stay up that much later to ensure they are in their proper place.

-I never fold a book's page over to mark it. Blasphemy! Use a bookmark or something!

-I like my furniture on angles-not traditional. I'm not sure why, it just "feels better" to me aesthetically.

-I will eat all jelly beans or jujubes but black. The black just go in the trash. Blech.

-Only almond M&M's will do. Don't try to bring me some knock-off chocolate almonds. They just aren't the same.

-I rinse and dry the sink obsessively. I don't like it "wet" looking with watermarks. I have issues, clearly.

-Don't EVER lie on my pillow shams. They're decorative!!!

-I hate whistling and humming. It's like a mosquito constantly buzzing in my ear. Speaking of which......

-I will chase a buzzing mosquito around until I get him. Even if it takes a loooong, looong time.

-I don't like my fingernails painted. It's a very rare occasion that I'll let that happen. Toes? Always. Fingers-just clear please.

-I can only wear jewellery for a short while. I'll wear it out for an occasion or outing, but then I get home and take it off immediately. It feels bothersome or heavy or something. I dunno. Again. Issues.

-I hate when people have gummy smiles. That's horrible, eh? If I see someone smiling and their top gums show, not just their front teeth, I feel all squeamish inside. It's horrible, they should be able to smile how they naturally do, but inside I'm thinking a closed lip smile would be better.

-People who smack when they eat, I may as well get a white jacket as soon as the meal starts. It drives me THAT nuts.

-People that "crack". Please do not crack your knuckles, back, neck in my presence. I think it's totally gross. What's WRONG with you that you can do that, let alone NEED to do it.

I could keep listing these types of things all day. They are just all of the little quirks that make me who I am. Neurotic and OCD and all.

Friday, October 8, 2010

You Never Stop Being A Mom

As we all slug through the minutia that makes up our daily existence, we seem to lose focus of the "big picture" a little, I think. Though my kids' needs change from year to year, (who am I kidding? Day to day!) there are, and always will be, needs. On top of that, whether they are 5, 10 or 15 years old, I've come to accept that they'll always be my babies and I'll always be their Mom.

When I ponder the future, it's almost unfathomable to me that at some point, they won't live with me. That at some space in time, I won't know what they are doing every second of the day. That, like me with my own Mom, I may not talk to them every day. Ugh. Just writing that made my heart do a little tightening.

Last night, I was surfing the 'net with the TV news on behind me. I wasn't really paying attention except with that "side ear" that we as Moms have developed. I heard a story come on, and excuse me for not really knowing the details. The gist I grabbed from it was that there was some sort of controversy about a Mom (living) wanting to be buried WITH her son(soldier, killed in the line of duty) when she eventually passed. Here's the controversial part-he is buried, on her decision, in a veterans cemetery with other heroes that have fallen. She felt it was right for him to be honoured in that way.

The problem is, she isn't allowed to be buried there with him. Spouses and dependent children can be, but not parents. The Mom's argument is that, at 21 years old, her son had no children and wasn't married. She raised him as a single mother and for most of his life (and consequently hers) it was "just the two of them." She stated that she "didn't want him to be alone."

Of course, there are a hundred arguments regarding this case. She could have him moved to another cemetery that allows her to be buried with him. She can fight the clause since he has no dependents. To me, that wasn't what struck me about this case and made me pause to listen further.

She said one line that struck me to the core. As the camera panned over her tear stained face, she said one line in a choked and trembling voice. She said(and I'm paraphrasing here), "To you he may be a man, a fallen hero. But to me, he'll always be my baby."

I got it. I just really, got it.

We, as parents, devote so much of our time and energy into teaching, protecting, loving, essentially pouring all of ourselves into our children. Whether they get bigger in size or not, or need us less or not; they remain, in our eyes, the infant we snuggled in our arms or the toddler whose fever we nervously kept ourselves awake over nights on end.

To some, her request may seem ridiculous. There are, like I said, points and arguments on each and every side. But at the core of it is a Mother that is missing her son and lamenting her loss. More poignantly, it's a Mother wanting to protect her son, even in death.

I got it. I just really....Got it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Who Are The Adults, Here?

Today is our moving day and along with that comes a lot of different stresses. Obviously, the one at the forefront involves signing away large chunks of cash and meeting with lawyers and movers and everyone in between.

As I was leaving yet another appointment, I felt a little overwhelmed by my....adulthood? I mean, when the heck did THIS happen?

Seriously, sometimes I look at Facebook and see all of these faces of "kids" I went to school with and I'm a little freaked out!!! Some of them are doing really BIG jobs (like the ones raising kids!!) and are CEO's of companies or are responsible for things, well, that I'd never want to be in charge of making decisions about! Even the thought that some of these folks are shaping young minds scares me a little, given how I knew them back when. Oh...they shaped minds alright!!!

It's honestly boggling to me that time has passed so quickly and here we all are with kids, careers, bills and plans for retirement. In my mind, and I say this with the caveat that I'm an ultra responsible type, I'm still about twenty years old. It seems, in some ways, like going through the motions of what it means to be an adult and the decisions and responsibilities that entails, when inside I feel no different despite some 15+ odd years.

I can picture us all still, with our tapered Levi's cords and Tretorn runners, bangs hairsprayed within an inch of our lives. In my minds eye, it seems like yesterday we were hanging out and having drinks and talking about our dreams and hopes for the future. Hopefully, for most of us, many of those came true.

It makes me a bit sad to think that time moves so swiftly, often without us even noticing it's passage. I totally understand now when my Mom says that she looks in the mirror at 65 and wonders who the heck it is staring back at her because she, too, feels in her 20's on the inside.

Maybe today I'll bust out some old skool tunes and crank the volume real loud. I can still do a mean Running Man, and why not? You're only as old as you feel!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Return Of The Skirt

My eldest daughter has always had a flair for fashion. Even as a toddler, she was aware of what she wanted to wear and of putting together "cute" outfits. I believe in letting kids have some freedom in their clothing choices, within reason dependent on weather, so I was fine with letting her experiment. I figure it's a way for them to assert some independence while also expressing who they are as people.

Anyhoo.....She would put things together that made me raise my eyebrow, until I saw it in it's entirety. Things that seemingly "shouldn't go" would look really great on her. She also loved wearing skirts, dresses and anything stereotypically girly.

When we moved 3 years ago to our new small town, slowly, that seemed to change. I chalked it up partly to age and wanting to assimilate to what everyone else was wearing, but I also sensed a reluctance in her to "be herself."

My once arty and girly girl traded in her skirts and funky matches for a uniform of leggings and oversize hoodies day in and day out. I sat back and watched as all of her rows and drawers of clothing sat neglected, in favour of the same 'ol, same 'ol. When I asked her what was up, or why she wasn't wearing anything but 5 articles in rotation, she just shrugged and said, "No one here dresses like that, Mom." Of course, you can guess, that this led to the standard Mom lecture about being yourself and not conforming to what everyone else was doing and "if they all jumped off of a bridge, would you?" yada yada. Even I was tuning myself out.

When pressed, she would admit that if she dared wear something funky, or girly, she got such a razzing that it just wasn't worth the headache. The easier solution was to just wear what let her blend in to a new school and a new environment, and make new friendships. As a Mom though, it broke my heart because she'd always been so strong in who she was and what she liked, and I didn't want to see her let that go.

So, here we are again having moved once more. She's at a new school with new friends. On the first day, she decided to wear a skirt and set a precedent and a message. Since that day, she's worn skirts weekly, at least. She pairs them with leggings and colourful tights and boots or runners. She's back to enjoying clothing and all of the various pairings that are out there that she can make.

I asked her how the kids here dress, and if they wear skirts too. She said they dress "normal" (she's a preteen so that's about as much of an answer as I can expect these days) and don't really wear skirts or dresses. I commented that she seemed to be back to wearing them with regularity again. She said she felt much more like she could just be herself here, and that even though others weren't wearing them, they weren't catty when SHE did. My heart skipped a little in my chest hearing those words.

It was painful to watch her essence, as it were, slip away for a few years. I could see the sadness and discomfort in her eyes as she held back both in clothing choice and in other ways as well. I can't tell you how exciting and encouraging it has been to see that all come alive again.

It's the return of the skirt, but that skirt represents so much more. Clothing isn't just about fashion. Sometimes, it's about spirit too-and I'm loving seeing that girly flag fly.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If You Want Barbie, You Better Be Ken

Shows like "The Real Housewives of Orange County" give us a frightening glimpse into the world of money, excess, vacuity and The Trophy Wife.

I've seen it over and over again, even in conversations with "everyday" dudes (albeit shallow ones) and really, it's laughable. Here you have a guy either wanting a wife that is "hot" and looks a certain way and "maintains herself," or you have a guy lamenting that his wife doesn't "make that effort" anymore.

While watching the Housewives, I was struck once again by the idiocy and irony of that desire. The wives tend to be as plastic as they come. They spend tons of cash on the upkeep of their nails, hair, Botox, plastic surgery, not to mention the gym, clothes and whatever trifles will keep them looking like Barbie dolls and keep their husbands happy. Then, they show the husbands. Seriously?

Why is it that these guys that demand a certain look, or complain about their wives, can look like the troll that lived under the bridge themselves? There's one husband on the Housewives, and this is just so stereotypical to me, that has a paunch, is balding and in general is no hottie. He looks like a nerdy, average, middle aged man. Yet, his wife is this fake, top heavy blonde that caters to his every whim and wish. Please don't tell me these women don't marry these guys for their money. If you say it's true love I may spit my coffee all over the laptop screen. Through my nose. It's THAT silly of a notion.

Come off the television screen, and there are guys out there in the "real" world saying the same thing. They want their wives to look like Supermodels and sex it up, and yet they themselves can sit watching football, beer in hand, scratching themselves and ageing right before our eyes.

To these ignorant cavemen I say, get over yourselves.

Listen, we all want to feel proud of our spouses. We want to feel attracted to them. I get that. We married them (usually anyways) at their "best" and we want to keep that version of them. Well, weight and sexiness aside, we are all going to age. We are all going to sag and wrinkle and slacken. It's called getting older, folks. We can't keep our spouses in some time capsule where they are free from the ravages of time. If your relationship's health revolves around your spouse staying "hot," you are going to be in BIG TROUBLE come Viagra and Menopause time. It's just not realistic.

And here's the other thing. If you want your wife to look like a Barbie doll, guys, then you better sure as heck look like Ken. You want her fit and buff with long, flowing locks? Then you better get your butt to the gym WITH her and get some plugs while you are at it! Don't sit there with your beer gut, ogling 20 year olds, complaining with your male cronies about your wives, looking like Homer Simpson. The double standard is staggering. If we have to pick up your dirty underwear and socks, make your meals and stroke your fragile egos, you can very well keep YOURSELVES to the same expectations.

Now, I'm generalizing here. There are men and women both who, shockingly, didn't marry their spouse based on their looks alone. I know, WHAT? There are actually people out there who love the grey creeping around their spouses temples. They embrace the laugh lines around their spouses' eyes. They gently kiss the forehead creases that have gathered on their loves brow. They know that these changes are inevitable, but also beautiful. Why? They know that they've grown together, that a face shows a lifetime, that the person has evolved year by year into something better, wiser.

Yes, we want our partners healthy and strong. We want them to take care of themselves. We want them vital and attractive. A partnership is so much more than that, though. If the outer physical manifestations are all that you can see, you may as well sign those divorce papers now.

I wish every neanderthal out there with a Barbie fantasy luck. I'd hate to be married to someone who loved me for my pocketbook and not my true soul. Then again, I would hate to be married to someone who only loved me for my looks and my ability to kiss their butt. Eventually, those Barbie women will be traded in for Skipper. I guess that's okay when you get a big divorce settlement.

I'll take someone real yesterday, today and tomorrow. Life has so many obstacles and challenges, just being here and making it through together is gift enough for me. There is something to be said about ageing gracefully, and accepting it with dignity every step of the way.

Even 12 year old girls trade in their Barbie Dream Houses at some point. Grow up and take a cue.

We aren't Barbies, you aren't Ken-convertible and fancy mansion included.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Where's MY Employee Of The Month Award?

I've lamented this topic many times, both in the blog and just in my head. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. It's something that irks me and as I'm an analytical, detail person, it bothers me that there is no real solution. I mean, I can keep talking about it here, there and everywhere, but it's not changin' a thing.

When you work outside of the home, whether it be a big corporation or McD's, you get recognition. For some companies, that may come as a plaque on the wall saying that you are the Employee Of The Month. For others, it may mean a free trip on them to Mexico. Heck, maybe it's just some free fries with that!

When you stay home, well, not so much. I've written before about being a "Stay At Home Mom." I've written about the real human need for appreciation, for feeling needed. I guess this is an off shoot of all of that. Unfortunately, those topics and needs can't be rolled up in a tiny, perfect bundle and just swept under the rug. It's a problem, 'yo!

In the workforce, depending on your personality, you work towards a goal. Most individuals like to hear how they are doing on that path. Let's call it a performance review. If you do well, you get some dandy take home prizes. Maybe you get a raise! Maybe you get stock shares! Maybe you get the respect of your peers or a promotion even! Maybe you get something smaller but more tangible-like a gift certificate to a fancy restaurant. Usually, included in all of this are also the words of praise that you are doing great, or improving, or that you are an asset to the team.

As a stay at home mom, you get none of that. Okay, okay. You get the satisfaction of seeing your children grow up to be wonderful human beings. You get to see them do well socially and in school. I would argue that these are even bigger "prizes" and in the long run are more important to society as a whole. It DOES feel great to know that a HUGE part of that is because of little 'ol YOU. I appreciate that.

But, some part of me always feels a little taken for granted. It's just assumed that laundry will always be done and that clean clothes are always available. My family doesn't know what it's like to have a messy house with stuff everywhere, or unmade, unclean beds. They are used to things flowing in a certain routine, consistent pattern. They assume that's just how the days go. They don't see me, behind the curtain, pulling the strings and cuing them for the next act!

I don't need hearts and flowers and rainbows and smoke up my.......I don't want that either. It would occasionally be nice, however, to get a great performance review. I'd love to be given the respect of my peers and the honour of being recognized as a vital, daily part of what makes this corporation run smoothly, efficiently and happily.

That doesn't need to be a trip to Mexico or a gift certificate to a fine dining establishment. An imaginary plaque on the wall that is kept at the forefront of my family's minds though? I wouldn't turn that down.

I'll take a daily good review, some praise, and maybe a side of fries with that shake.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Don't Be So Smug!

As is typical of me, I always learn things the hard way. I don't know what it is about life this go around, but apparently somebody up there is having a great laugh at my foibles. I've had the fortune(misfortune?) of learning that being smug always comes back to kick you in the butt.

Throughout the years, there have been various things that I've felt rather smugly about. For instance, when I was a kid, I could eat like a man. I kid you not. Basically I could pretty much eat whatever and not really change size or get chubby. It felt pretty darn good to eat like that and not have to really worry. Unfortunately, that then created a lumberjack's appetite and that ability to not gain didn't really hold. Darn it. So much for thinking I would be blessed with a great metabolism! I don't really know WHAT I was thinking getting into that habit, because no one in my family is small and delicate looking with that long, lanky build that stays waifish. Thanks for nothing ancestors!!

Next smug issue came in my teens. Though I'd get a few pimples here and there depending on hormone fluctuations, I never had big breakouts all over my face. I was always a bit smug that my skin was pretty nice for the most part, and that I didn't have to worry about acne. I used to get compliments all of the time on my "porcelain complexion" and I got kind of a big head about it. Well, jokes on me apparently, because now in my late 30's I have more breakouts then I ever did as a teen. What's THAT about? They need an industry for the anti-aging stuff combined with breaking out at the same time! I know it's partly because I sleep like 5 hours a night and probably don't drink enough water.....but I lived on rye and coke(and whatever else I could get my hands on) and no sleep back in the day!!! Youth is soooo wasted on the young.

I've also been smug about my parenting at times. I've talked about it before on here, trying to apologize for my smug ways, hoping to have this curse lifted with my penance! My eldest daughter was a dream come true child. Pleasant, kind, polite. We could take her anywhere and beam with pride at her charm and grace. We were pretty sure we were the world's greatest parents to have guided this child in obviously such a great direction. WRONG!! I should have kept my big yap closed cause my youngest has MORE than kicked me back to reality. She's had huge meltdowns in public, she's fought me tooth and nail, and she's stubbornly and adamantly refused my pleas to "talk about this later." When will I learn this lesson? Clearly, I'm not the brightest bulb.

I could literally regale you with my pitiful tales of woe of smug tables being turned, from the small and inconvenient trial, to the huge, difficult and painful smug struggles. However, I won't. It may have taken a gut, acne and a screaming child to get the point across, but I got it.

YOU HEAR ME??? I GOT IT!!! Let me be smug about that, at least!!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Manner Mess Up

My Mom was verrrrry big on us having, and using, "proper" manners as children. She believed in taking us out, even at very young ages, to fancy restaurants so that we would need to use our manners. If we had a family dinner and you didn't act accordingly, well, it wouldn't have been pretty. My mom's philosophy came from her father, who would often say, "How you act in public and the world is a reflection of not only yourself, but your family and background." In our home, manners weren't saved for special outings or occasions either, it was a part of daily life. I continue that belief with my own children.

My husband, on the other hand, calls my manners "crazy" and "extreme." We literally get into petty arguments about the mere words "thank you." Here's an example of a situation-when we go through Tim Horton's drive through, they tell us how much it will cost. When we get up to the window, my husband will take his coffee from the clerk and give them the money. Inevitably, most of the them will then say, "thank you." At this point, my husband drives away, with me shouting back "thank you!!!!" It drives him nuts. His thinking is that THEY need to thank us for our patronage, where as we don't need to thank them for handing a coffee out a window because "it's their job." I totally disagree. We could go on and on here about how his argument is flawed. There are many "jobs" where you would still thank the person for their time, effort, prompt service, whatever the case may be.

That's not the only instance. When we go out as a family, I'm particular about my children's eating, proper linen napkin placement on their laps, using their cutlery properly, not getting up from the table, asking to be excused and all of what I call the "basics." My husband, sometimes, thinks they should just be allowed to be "kids." My thinking is that if you practice when they are young (really from the moment you start taking them out!) then as they get older it will be second nature and not a struggle. We've had many people, including strangers, comment on our children's manners. I don't think it's a punishment or penance to be taught how to act in social settings. If anything, it's to their betterment and ease in such situations.

When we took the girls to their new school to register, the principal came out and started chatting to my daughters. She said her name to my eldest daughter. My eldest, without prompting of any sort, stuck out her hand and said her name was A. and it was nice to meet the principal. Then, my youngest said, "And I'm B" and also stuck out her hand to shake hands. The principal looked shocked. Actually shocked. She looked at me and said, "what wonderful manners your children have! It's rare nowadays that I ever see that!" I have to be honest, even "I' was a bit shocked because usually I've had to prompt that exchange. I was also supremely proud.

My kids are by no means perfect. It's not perfection I'm expecting though. I do expect kindness to others, being helpful, and knowing how to act according to the requirements of the social settings in which they may find themselves.

The downfall of being so "mannered" however, is that I'm always conscious of when I've flubbed in that department. I will go over and over the occasion where I messed up in my mind and beat myself up for it. I can, off the top of my head, think of two instances that happened recently. Why can I pull such little scenarios up so readily? It's because I beat myself up for days, in my head, over my mistakes.

The first happened when my husband and I went to pick up my youngest from school. We were waiting outside and she came out in a long line of kids with an adult in the front. I said "hello" to the adult, whom I guessed was a teacher and potentially MY child's teacher, and then gathered my daughter. After dropping her line at the bus stops, the teacher came by again and chatted a bit to my daughter while my husband and I sat on the bench nearby. When we left, I realized that I should have stood up and introduced myself properly. I just wasn't thinking at all because the exchange was quick and casual. Do you think I just shrugged it off though? Nope. It lingered in my mind for days afterwards and what she must think of my horrific faux-pas. My husband laughs at that kind of thing and says that he doubts anyone but me even notices or cares.

The second happened when I was out walking my dog. As often happens, I was stopped by a man out walking with his dog. He was commenting on my dog being so cute and asking various questions about her age and name, as well as telling me what he knew about the breed and the temperament. I thanked him for his compliments and time, and walked on. I was about 3 minutes in when I again sank with the realization that I never asked any questions about his dog or made any compliments his way. Sigh. My mind kept going over and over that moment, off and on throughout the day.

While my husband says that I'm "hoity toity" with my manners, I disagree. To me, having manners is about showing appreciation and being kind. It's about being grateful and making others feel comfortable and accepted. Yes, it's also about being elegant and refined. I think that manners are one small way that human beings can be kind to one another and make the world a little less ugly.

I don't think one would ever regret having manners that were "too good" as opposed to being put on the spot by not having any. You can't go wrong with being polite. You may regret being rude, or may be embarassed by not knowing what fork to start with when eating, but you'll never be ashamed to act overly conscientious.

Thank you for listening. It was very polite of you to do so!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Reigning It In

I feel like my life as of late, okay as of forever, is a constant tug of war battle of "health" vs "caution to the wind." I feel like I go through these spurts of being on a super healthy track and then suddenly, for weeks on end, I'm a sloth that guzzles Party Mix and sleeps five hours(if that) a night.

Oh, I'm no idiot. (contrary to popular belief!) I know that my eating habits are tied to my emotional habits. When I'm either in a very good place, or when I'm trying to "prove something," my eating and sleeping and lifestyle habits are exemplary. When I'm in a down place, I hover at the bottom of the food chain. Literally.

When we found out that we were moving, I spent long days cleaning and painting and fixing. I would get up and grab a coffee and start working. I'd often forget about meals or just grab something little or fast, on the go. I'd collapse into bed at a reasonable time and sleep like the dead. Food was the last thing on my priority list.

Then, when the move date arrived, we started our road trip. For some odd reason, that opened up indulging in whatever was fastest, easiest, and not necessarily healthiest. I sleep horribly away from home, so that was an issue as well. I found myself in new surroundings with two kids and a dog all day, and the munchies left a permanent butt dent in my sofa. My waistline and my skin have paid the price.

I make deals with myself, the latest being that I'll "get back on track" once we are in our new home. So, 10 days and counting. I know I'll be busy with painting and cleaning and fixing and arranging and unpacking, so chances are good that food, again, will be an afterthought. I somehow need to put this emotional eating or boredom eating out of my life for good, though. I haven't quite figured out how to do that, yet.

My friend suggested "Women, Food, and God" by Geneen Roth. I guess it was on Oprah and it's been a "life changing book" for many women who cry into their almond m&m's. (or something) I might check it out. I just know that I need to do something to get off of this roller coaster, and I know that my health, skin and emotional well-being will all thank me.

For now, wine and Party Mix are my current best friends, however will power and I seem to have parted ways.

I need an intervention, stat.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Daycare Haterade

My children have started going to a before and after school program for the time being. It's just for three weeks while we are homeless (okay, temp digs) but if you talked to them about it, it's a lifetime of pure, rotten, evil stank.

They hate it. How COULD we DARE do this to them?

Since we are currently living nowhere near the school district, my husband drives them to school and picks them up each day. Their new school is actually like five minutes from his work so in that way, it's peachy. The problem which necessitated a school age program is two fold. One problem was that he was arriving later than he needed to each morning. The second problem was that there are two different dismissal times for their grades, a half hour apart, and pretty early in the afternoon. This meant my husband had to leave work pretty much after his lunch, pick up one, sit around, pick up the other. He was working half days at best.

We checked into the school and they had a before and after program with space. Excellent news! They also were willing to take us for just the short time period. Better still! They told me about activities they do, healthy snacks, outdoor play. As an ECE myself, it was pretty familiar stuff to me and sounded good.

My daughters, however, are not feelin' the love.

Even though I've owned and run a home daycare for 10 years, my daughters have always had the luxury of being at home. They've never had to attend a program anywhere else. They would get off the bus after school and hang out in their own home with some down time. They are finding the day very long right now.

I've told them that some kids have gone to daycare (horror of horrors!) their entire lives! That for some kids, EVERY day is "that long" including all summer! They said they don't care about other kids. Nice that I've raised such compassionate human beings.

The program itself is fun. They see their friends for even longer, they colour and do crafts, they run around outside like crazy people. The issues we are having are getting out of the door on time (ie before the sun is even awake!) in the morning, and having motivation to do homework in a swift and efficient manner at night. It's taking forever to get the work done, and then coupled with dinner later and baths means it's also a late bedtime. See the cycle I'm drawing out for you here? Yep, earlier, crankier mornings on less sleep. It's fun times in my house! Or..whatever.

I hope, actually, that this is a wake up call for them to realize how good they've had it, always having a Mom at home. That message has two more weeks to sink in so I kind of DO hope the days are long for them and they are thankful and appreciative once their hellish daycare days come to an end.

A girl can dream, can't she?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Acting Dumb Is Kind?

This may be controversial, or anti-feminist, or stepping on SOMEONE's toes out there (cause there is always a someone that has a something to say about a nothing) but here goes: sometimes, I pretend I'm clueless.

Don't get me wrong, there are times when I don't NEED to pretend. I just don't get "it," whatever that "it" at that time may be. There is truly nothing that frustrates me more, either. On top of being a huge, nerdy perfectionist, I'm also competitive and hate being wrong. If I can't understand a topic or instruction, I get flustered and tend to shut down. I find this happens a lot when it's my husband trying to explain something to me. Riddle me that.

Yet, other times, and please don't say you don't do this, I just kind of act.......well, dumb. I'm not sure why that is because I loathe stupidity in others. If I'm talking to someone who is kindly and trying to explain something to me, (that I already clearly understand) I'll act like it's the most fascinating instructions EVER and like they are imparting some great wisdom. I do a lot of head nodding and "OH mmm hmmmm's" as well. It doesn't have to be a man talking down to a "little lady" either. It could be the school secretary telling me how the buses work for that school, even though I researched it online 5x and have it written down already at home, and I'll act like it's brand spanking new information. I swear that's just an EXAMPLE.

There's just some part of me that feels badly for shutting someone down with a "ya, I know." I feel like it gives them a sense of purpose or importance to act like the several minutes of imparted tidbits are needed. I'm just THAT nice, I guess.

Or, maybe I'm just really THAT dumb, after all.

Mmmmm Hmmmm.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Found My Way Back Out Of The Hole!

Well, I've finally clawed my way back out of the debris left by "pack up your life and change everything in two months!" Ya, it's been fun. This blog post, also, may not be fun. It's been almost a month, a huge month, so I'll catch you up on this ride I've been taking to "Insanity Junction."

Shortly after my last blog post, which was my youngest's birthday post, our house was sold and we packed up some meager belongings (okay, enough to fit like 6 suitcases but in the grand scheme of day to day living and back to school going-that ain't a lot!) and hit the road. It took us three days, two hotel nights and much yelling, pulling over at rest stops, and eating crappy food, but we made it to our new home, several provinces away.

We are living in temporary accommodations, but these are no crappy digs! There's a pool, a hot tub, swanky restaurants and pubs all around, and it's ocean side. You can't really complain. The bad part is, it's not a "home." We don't have any of our "stuff" (except the suitcases of "must haves" that is) and to take the dog out is annoying with an elevator ride and tons of people stopping to pet her. It's got most of the amenities of a home, but just not the comfort or the smells and colours and textures that make up our life.

My girls started school, which is going well. It's a bit of a tightrope act trying to figure out curriculum and where they are at compared to what they did at their old school. They've made friends, been invited to birthdays already, joined clubs and groups, and have had field trips planned. Next week will start the crazy planning for their other activities-dancing and swimming and theatre classes. Once we get into a groove of a daily routine, then get into our new home, I think we'll all feel a bit more settled.

As to me? It's all a bit strange. We're all taken with the city, it's culture, it's beauty, it's amenities. I feel like we're on vacation though. An extended vacation of sorts. While everyone else has new jobs and new schools to keep them busy-I'm just sort of here. I don't have a house to clean and keep up-there is someone that does that for me. I walk the dog several times a day, but that gets old and is kind of lonely. I'm someone that likes the company of others, but also has a tendency to isolate if I'm allowed to do so, or wary of change. I could go shopping and check out stores, but I did that a few days and really-I'm not a huge shopper. It's only a few weeks away til our move in date, and I'm looking forward to that because I'll also be busy setting up a new home, finding new places for old things, buying new things, painting and organizing. As you've heard before, nothing makes me happier than organizing!

We've gone on tour groups here, checked out farmer's markets, looked in shops, eaten at many "signature" restaurants, gorged on seafood, gorged on sweets, gorged on wine. Did I mention my expanding waistline? Ya, that's got to start disappearing in a workout routine too! We've hiked historic forts, threw rocks in the ocean, discovered starfish.

I feel like this move has changed so much in our lives. I'm not really decided yet in what ways or how it will manifest itself, but like the move before, it's paramount that we start making this home and making a life here. The sooner we get involved and socially active, the sooner we'll feel like we can't imagine leaving. Our families and friends are farther away, so hopefully we also have amazing visits to boost our spirits and keep us moving steadily forward. That's all we can do-keep moving one foot in front of the other forward. My legs are swinging those steps, but my arms are behind my back with my fingers crossed tightly. I'm wishing on happiness, health, energy, acceptance, contentment and peace.

It's a new province, a new home, a new job, and a new "us."

The adventure is just beginning.......

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Seven Years Ago

Seven years ago on Aug. 19th, my youngest daughter was tugged into this world. It was a planned c-section and I was told it would take a mere twenty minutes or so. For days before my scheduled surgery, we had a huge blackout in the city where I lived. "Elective" surgeries were cancelled, so I wasn't sure if I'd even be going in that planned day. It was hot, I was near my due date, and hugely pregnant. The idea of not having her arrive was not very welcome. Luckily, arrive she did.

As they went to pull her out, they realized she was wedged in there very well. Apparently, I have no room in there, something I should have learned with my first daughter. They got out the vacuum (yes, on a c-section) and still she wouldn't come out. The twenty minute counter came and went. They tugged with several pairs of hands, alternately pushing and pulling. Still, nothing. Finally, they got out the forceps. You would think with all of that, she'd be some massive baby girl. Nope. She was delivered into the world all 19 inches and 6.12 lbs of her. I thought my eldest was a small baby, and here was a second baby even smaller.

When they brought her over to me, all wrapped up and clean, my first sight was dark blue eyes framed by a crop of dark brown curls. She was quiet and calm and honestly, looked like a doll. Even the nurses would tell me that in the days following.

The difference in my birth experiences was incredible. My first delivery was thirty plus hours of pain resulting in an emergency c-section. Then, from there, it took weeks of healing for swelling to go down and to figure out my eldest had fractured her skull during the whole process. Despite that whole horrible train of events, my eldest was the easiest, most calm and quiet baby. It kind of made up for the loud, difficult path prior to her birth.

My second pregnancy should have been my first hint that this child was going to be VERY different than my first. It was still a relatively easy pregnancy, but I had horrible heartburn. I never got sick, but I felt like it off and on for the first months, almost daily. While I had to drink oj and lie on my side to make sure I felt enough kicks in pregnancy number 1, there was no doubting the kicking and punching with this one. Then came the easy recovery after the birth. Within hours of delivery, I felt awesome. I was begging to be up and about, disconnected from all of the tubes and wires that limited my walking and even going to the bathroom on my own. I should have realized that these were all signs of what was to come.

After leaving the hospital, we spent a week or two with a sleepy, quiet baby. That quickly changed. My youngest had colic that lasted all day, every day. The only time she wasn't crying was when she was sleeping. She could be the sweetest, most shy little girl, or the loudest, most intense. She was happiest in my arms, and within minutes of anyone else holding her, wanted back with me. Once the colic made an exit, I realized that her personality wasn't going to be that different.

To this day, she is the child that loves me hard, and rails at me just as strongly. She can't be dissuaded when her mind is set. She knows what she wants when she wants it, and will persevere until she gets it. Sometimes that's to my detriment, but sometimes it makes me beam with pride. She can still be shy and clingy, whispering in my ear rather than saying what she needs out loud. She can also be entertaining for a crowd, putting a smile on everyone's face and making us all laugh at her antics. She enjoys math and will spend hours doing addition and subtractions on a paper at the table. She carries a bag full of books around the house, and owns more journals and notepads than anyone I know. Just this past weekend, a relative commented that you always know what she's thinking because her eyes say it first. She's expressive and loving and silly and funny on the one hand, while also being stubborn and fiery and feisty and demanding on the other. She's that juxtaposition of sugar and spice, of sweet and sour.

Her Daddy says she reminds him of someone....but I still can't figure out who he's referencing. Something about apples and trees, I hear.

We're seven years into this journey and it's been quite a ride. She's brought so much laughter and fire and joy into our family, and I'm so excited to see what she does in the future. I think sometimes that the expression "larger than life" fits her to a T. She's small in stature, but huge in heart and personality. I worried my heart couldn't hold more love than I had for my first baby, but I have learned that what Moms around the world say about "loving equally, but differently" is universally true. My daughters are what make getting out of bed worthwhile every day, and on their birthdays, I reflect on who they are, and what they've brought not only to my life, but to the world. What my youngest brings is special and unique to her, and I love her wholeheartedly for it.

Happy Birthday DollFace.