Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Motherhood For First Time Older Moms

    Motherhood is a beautiful gift, but a beautiful gift that does not always come easily to everyone.  Motherhood is not an equal opportunity employer.  There are times that I look at the mothers who are doing a terrible job, the ones who have no right to be recipients of that gift.  You know the mothers who have countless children, all of them underfed, dirty, with little hope for the future.  You wonder why.  Why can these women who should not even have a hamster been given such a miraculous gift, when they obviously do not respect this calling.  Then there are the women who would make wonderful mothers, the ones who want nothing more than to be a mother, and these women are cruelly denied.  Motherhood is not an equal opportunity employer.
    I know women who have struggled with infertility.  They have spent thousands of dollars on infertility treatments only to have their heart broken again and again.  They watch their girlfriends pushing that coveted stroller, while they have to pretend to be happy for them.  I cannot imagine how difficult and painful that must be.  Actually I can imagine because I had a tiny glimpse of that.
Christopher and I had just gotten back together.  We decided to make Gabe a big brother.  Fertility was never really a problem for us.  As soon as we decided that I should be pregnant I was pregnant.  We were over the moon delighted.  We were back together, and were beginning our new life.  Everything was wonderful until the spotting started.  Miscarriages happened to other people, it could not happen to me I foolishly thought.  I miscarried at two and a half months.  I was devastated.  I would torture myself and walk into the baby section of the stores.  I would see other women with baby strollers and would burst into tears.  The worst was when we were at a function and one of our friends was pregnant.  She was due at the same time that I was supposed to be.  She was so delighted.  This was her first baby.  She was glowing.  She had that beautiful baby bump, but all I could see was what I wanted.  She had my dream.  I was so angry.  That was supposed to me!  I was supposed to be showing!  How dare she be at this event pregnant! ( I did not say that I was rational.  Grief is not always rational).  I spent most of that night in the bathroom crying.  My pain ended when I became pregnant with Grace, but I never forgot that pain.  I then felt immense guilt when the reverse happened to me.  A very close friend and I were pregnant at the same time.  It was when I was pregnant with Grace.  We were due at the same time.  I could see us playing with our babies together, and then she lost that baby.  I felt so guilty whenever I would see her, and I was so big with baby.  I remembered how that felt.  I saw the tears in her eyes the first time that she laid eyes on my Gracie, I knew that she could not see my gift, but the gift that she had been denied.  I hope that time has helped to heal her wounds.
    A little while back I shared an article that was written by an old schoolmate of mine.
At the time that I wrote that blog, and she wrote that article she was infertile.  Two days ago she became a mother.  Her baby is beautiful.  A few days ago my sister's childhood best friend also became a mother for the first time.  These are women who have been denied this beautiful gift of motherhood for a long time, watching friends with their children.  They are in for a wonderful experience.  They will treasure every single thing that baby does because they will know it for the gift that it is.
    I was 38 when I had Elly.  I had known multiple miscarriages, I had known loosing a child.  I had known despair.  Because I had known such despair, I was able to see Elly for the amazing gift that she was.  Everything she did was a miracle to me.  I was not new to motherhood, but I saw if differently.  When I had Gabe I was 23, a month away from 24.  I loved that baby boy.  I was young.  I saw motherhood as a right not as a gift.  Don't get me wrong, I was as good of a mother as I could be for a first time mother, but I saw the world differently, with innocent eyes.  At 38 I saw Elly as the miracle that she was truly was.  I knew that she should not exist, and yet she was our gift.
    To these new mothers, who are embarking upon the adventure-hood of motherhood older, but maybe wiser I say congratulations.  You are in for the most wonderful and difficult adventure of your lives. Your lives will never be the same, they will be better.  Your beautiful unlined faces that look so much younger than your years are about to become wrinkled (just like the rest of us).  You will get wrinkles from laughter, and you will get wrinkles from worry.  If you are doing your job right, you will worry about everything.  Is she getting enough to eat?  Should she be talking yet?  Why doesn't she have friends?  Should I be worried about that fever?  Am I overprotecting her?  Oh my friends you will worry.  You will worry and you will laugh and smile like you have never felt joy before.  You are in for the greatest adventure of your life.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Monumental Task Of Organizing My Laundry Room

    I pride myself on my honesty in this blog.  Some may rightfully argue that I am brutally honest (as I am in life, not just this blog).  I want to write the way that I live my life.  I am not perfect, ohhhhh very far from.  I am however trying. Everyday I am trying to make a better life for myself and my family.  There are days that I do better, there are days that I do worse.  I am a loving mother and a semi-loving wife (it depends on the kind of day I'm having and how much my husband has bugged me that day).  I am not a natural born housekeeper.  I would love a clean house, but am unwilling / unable to put the effort forward.  Actually I would like to wake up in the morning and find that house cleaning fairies have struck and my house is immaculate.  I think the opposite might actually be true.  I am pretty sure that the dump fairies visit my house and proceed to turn the house upside down, generously sprinkling the whole thing with dirt and garbage.
    What makes the whole mess thing all the worse is the fact that our house is roughly the size of a shoe box.  Add to that the fact that we have way too much of everything (and that includes kids).  I am convinced the secret to my house being clean is organization.  I sound like a deranged broken record constantly saying to Christopher "We need to organize every single inch of this house."  I am convinced that the key rooms are the laundry room and the basement.  I have said this and have said this, but never acted on it.  I have a huge "board" filled with "organizational" ideas on my Pinterest.  I am inspired, but generally not enough to act on it.  ALL OF THIS HAS CHANGED!

    I began to clean that awful mess of a laundry room first.  I had visions of it looking like something from a magazine.  Something like the above picture that I stole from Kelly and her blog "The Complete Guide To Imperfect Homemaking".  Kelly is a local girl who has more children than I do, and they are all younger than mine, and yet she has a gorgeous, tidy home (at least in the pictures that she shows on her blog).  To say that I am envious is an understatement!  I really recommend that you click the link I have included and check out Kelly's blog.  My finished product does not look anything like Kelly's.  It is just really the first stage.  It turns out organizational products are not inexpensive.  I decided to get a little at a time.

    I am really happy with the way that the laundry room turned out.  It's not something out of a magazine, but neither is the rest of my house.  I am crossing my fingers that it will work the way that I want it to.  The main function of the laundry room now is of coarse laundry, but it also acts as a mud room now and a pantry.  In the past the kid's jacket's lined the stairs going to the basement making it unsafe.  Their boots and hats and mittens clogged the entry to the house, making it dangerous around the stairs, and embarrassing if anyone came in.  The heating register was so stacked with wet mittens that no heat could come into the kitchen.

My After Shot
    My "after" is not pretty, but it is going to make life easier, and isn't that what it's all about?  I just have to re-train the kids to take their boots off at the side door and carry them to the laundry room.  It sounds easy, but well, we'll see.    

My after shot
My before shot

    The above addition to the laundry room is the thing that I am most proud of.  It's a shoe rack.  I had to go to several stores to find this shoe rack, and it was not inexpensive... but it does exactly what I want it to.  Now the kids can put their wet mittens on the shoe rack and they will dry.  More than that, (if I can train them to do it), if they put their mittens on the rack when they get home, we will have no more school mornings with children frantically looking for their mittens.
    I am really happy with my hard work, and let me tell you that it was hard work.  Every time I walk past the laundry room I get a goofy smile on my face.  I now want to organize the rest of the house.  The room is still a store all, but now it's a tidy store all.  It's a mud room, it stores my cleaning supplies, it has the sheets for my room, extra bedding, it's a pantry, oh that tiny space is many, many things.  What that space is no longer, is a mess, and that makes me happy.  

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Lottery Ticket - $3.00 Worth Of Hope

    Last week we took the family out to Red Lobster.  Not a cheap dinner... but sometimes you have to live a little.  At Red Lobster Rowan ordered root beer that came in a "beer" looking bottle.  He was sooooo excited.  He felt like a man.  It's weird because neither Christoper or I drink beer on a regular basis (for me it's never because beer makes me want to Ralph), for that matter we don't really drink period.  So Rowan sat at dinner feeling like a big man taking swigs of his root beer out of a beer looking bottle.  After we were done he asked if he could take it home, why not.  You would have thought that plastic bottle was a security blanket.  He has now convinced himself that it is a "lucky" bottle.  That's what he calls it "my lucky bottle".  Poor little crazy kid.
    One of Rowan's friends is going to Disney World this March Break.  This made the desire to return to that magical place all the stronger for him.  Almost everyday "when can we go back to Disney World?", my response "I don't know Bud, it's a pretty expensive trip.", his little face falls.  "If I won a thousand dollars could we go then?" he asks, never loosing that obsessive chain of thought in his head.  "No buddy, it costs more than a thousand dollars to go."  He looks shocked, to him a thousand dollars is pretty much the most money in the whole world.  "Could we buy a lottery ticket Mom?"  "We could, but we never win." I reply keeping my face cheerful but inwardly rolling my eyes.  "But Mom, I have my lucky bottle now.  I blew into my lucky bottle before school today, and my team won at soccer."  To him this is perfect logic.  "Mom, please can you buy a lottery ticket.... I know that we will win!"  Here's the thing, generally I am guided by logic.  I consider myself to be an intelligent woman.  I know all of this, an yet there is also that ridiculously superstitious part to me that I try to suppress on a daily basis. "What if he has a sixth sense about this?  What if we could win the lottery?" these are the thoughts that creep into my brain that I try to use rationally. I send Christopher out to the convenience store for a lottery ticket... just in case, I mean it's only $3.00 right?
     That night I went up to tuck the kids in and kiss them goodnight.  "Did you get the lottery ticket Mom?"  "Yes Rowan, Daddy got a lottery ticket".  "I can't wait to see Zack's face when he sees us at Disney World on March Break!"  He smiles a contented little smile, and settles into his bed, a happy little crazy boy.  I shake my head and smile at his certainty.  I hope that he's not too disappointed when we don't win.  Part of me feels like by buying into this, we are encouraging him to be unrealistic.  The next morning he woke up and asked if we'd won.  "The draw is on Saturday night Bud." I am trying to be patient, but it is an effort.
    Yesterday afternoon Christopher was home.  We sat in our chairs enjoying coffee.  We were talking about how obsessed Rowan is with the lottery ticket.  Christopher then asks "I know that we won't win..." Oh God he's caught our son's craziness.  " but if by some crazy chance we won the 13 million, what would be the first thing that you would buy?"  I don't even have to think about this one, he knows that.  "An RV!"   I tell him.  We then start talking crazy talk.  We talk about what we would do if we won.  Let me point out that this is the first lottery ticket that we have purchased in at least ten years.  I try to be a realist, and yet that fantasy is too rich and fun not to talk about.  We begin talking about the trips we would take, the home improvements we would make.  Would he quit his job or not.  Oh we would donate a large amount of money to local worth while charities.  We should bank half of the money, and after the initial fun only spend the interest.  Oh we talked and talked.
    I know that we are not going to win 13 million dollars.  I know this, and yet it's fun to fantasize about it.  It's fun to play pretend, to imagine a world where we did not have to worry about money.  We wasted $3.00.  We wasted $3.00, and yet is it a waste to pay $3.00 for hope?  That's what we are really buying is hope.  It is the hope of easier times.  The hope of wonderful things to come.  I'll let you know tomorrow if I'm a millionaire.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Sliding Off The Wagon

    Well I've fallen off the wagon.  Maybe not a full fall, more like I slightly slid off the wagon.  You may recall my New Year's resolution to take better care of myself.  A large part of that was to begin counting calories.  No not a diet, a change.  I have done without nothing, I have just been counting my calories and trying to sensible.  The main thing that I have done is to drastically reduce my Coke intake.  I LOVE Coke!  For me it is liquid pleasure.  I love the way it burns my throat with it's sweetness when I chug it.  Oh I love it, and it loves me, it loves me so much that it wants to stick around in the form of fat.  I have cut back on my Coke intake, one a day.  I so savor that beautiful gold at night after the kids are tucked into bed.  For me nothing will stall weight loss, or really anything more than that feeling of being deprived.
    I've been diligently counting calories.  The first two weeks I did not loose a single ounce.  I was a little discouraged, but I was doing this for my health, so I could just wait this out, there is no race.  On week three I lost 2 pounds.  Each week after that I lost 2 pounds.    I was so excited.  Immediately being me, I began to long- term forecast my weight loss.  Oh in my head I was imagining myself thin and golden walking down the isle for our renewal.  In my head everyone would turn to the person that they were sitting beside and whisper "Oh My God she looks Great!")  I was so excited... and then I hit the wall.  I would hop on the scale and see no change, or a weight increase.  My weight would fluctuate by two to 4 pounds.. each day.  That just wasn't possible.  I thought it was my scale, so I bought a new scale.  The new scale did the same thing, so it was not the scale.  At the beginning of this month my life became stressful and I decided that it was just to stressful to worry about counting calories.  I have not done my usual however.  In the past this would have been permission to throw myself back into my old habits.  In the past this would have been permission to STOP.  This would have been permission to just give up, it obviously wasn't working, just give up.  I haven't.  I haven't been as strict, but I haven't thrown it all away either.
    I have decided to stay the course.  I'm going to go back onto the counting of calories, add in some exercise   If I slide off the wagon, that's o.k., I will just hop back on.  This is not a race, its a journey (maybe if I tell myself this often enough I will really believe it).  Sure I would love to see some quick results.  I'd love to loose like 20 pounds in the first month, but I'm realistic.  I'm not willing to stop everything I love because then I will not stick with it.  Being over weight did not happen in a month.  It took me years to perfect this kind of weight gain.  It's realistically going to take a while to take it off, and not have elephant skin.
    When I first began this resolution I was drinking water.  Plain boring water.  Did I mention that I HATE water?  I then decided to add slices of lemon.  That way I'm getting vitamins and some taste.  Lemon water has helped me to keep to my Coke once a day rule.  Lemon has made the water drinkable.  To help myself and to prevent excuses I buy my lemons wash them and then slice them all up and put them in a Tupperware container in the fridge.  This works out great, lemons on demand. 

    Last night I decided to up my game.  I lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and then laid my lemon slices on the cookie sheet.  I then flash froze them, and transfered them into a Tupperware container.  My thinking was that it was instant ice, but it had an even better side effect.  By freezing them it made the lemon taste stronger.  There was however one slight problem that I had overlooked.  The frozen lemon slice did not fit into my glass.  Solution.. simply break it in half (next time I will slice them in half before freezing them).
   So as is the case in every aspect of my life, nothing is simple.  I could not simply reduce calories and loose weight, oh no there has to be some secret formula that I have to spend hours to discover.  As is also the case in my life, I am too stubborn to take no for an answer.  When I get pushed down, I get back up (some may rightfully argue this is because I am too stupid to stay down and simply lick my wounds).  I am not having instant success at this weight loss game, but as I have already mentioned, I did not instantly put the weight on.  It's time for a change, and change does not come easy, not for me at least.  I'm going to keep plugging along, success or not.

Thursday, 21 February 2013


    I'M TIRED OF WINTER! (make sure read this in a whiny voice and stamp your foot). I'm tired of being cold.  I'm tired of it taking 20 minutes for the kids to get ready to go outside.  I'm tired of stupid snow! I've still got a month of this stupid snow, and two months of cold weather...grrrrrrr.
    I guess I'm feeling so bitter because this time last year we were not even thinking about the snow because we were preparing for our trip to Florida.  I want to be preparing for a big fun trip to Florida!  I want to go on vacation!  I think I might be getting a little cabin fever.  I would like to pack my bags and go away some where fun.  I find that I need that.  I don't really need the big hurrah of a big fancy vacation (although that is pretty nice).  I more like the just running away from life.  I find that if I can just get that little break from reality then it's like a big breath of fresh air.  My head becomes more clear, I become revitalized.
    I think that I need to plan a mini vacation!

    Now that I've done all of that whining.... I want to remind you that this blog is not just my blog.  I am the writer, I write about my life, but you read it, that makes it your's too.  You and your kind comments make me love to write.  This blog is about you too.  If there is something that you think that I really need to try, or there's something that I've written about and you want to find out more about it, let me know.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Stealing Moments With Elly

Elly helping to grate cheese.

    This year our school started all day everyday kindergarten.  This meant that my then three year old would go to school every single day.  She was excited, it was killing me.  When the other kids went to junior kindergarten they went every other day.  It was enough for them to go and explore the world and gain some independence from me, but it also gave me special time with them every other day.  Those days were the most special because I knew that my days were numbered, I had to make the most of the little bit of time I had left with them.  I would not get that special time with Elly... unless I took it!

Elly tasting her hard work.

    I decided that any day that Elly did not want to go to school she would stay home.  We would take one special day a week, and that would be her day.  It gave her independence, but it gave me that last little ribbon of time with my last baby.  I know that this time is so short, and can easily slip through your fingers if you don't keep your eyes wide open.

The stove after having help.

    Today Elly just did not want to get out of bed and go to school.  It was not her "Friday off".  To heck with that, she stayed home.  This was my day to steal that time with my last baby before it was too late.  We had a busy day, and it was beautiful.  We began our day nice and slowly.  We then made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  She had to wear her apron.  She had to stand on a chair and use the mix master.  She had to taste the cookie batter "to make sure it wasn't poison".  She had to do several samples, just for the safety sake of her family.  She is just so thoughtful to put herself in harms way like that to make sure that no one in her family would be poisoned by cookies, that's just the type of kid she is!

    After our lunch Elly helped me make tonight's dinner (I had a two meetings in a row, so making dinner ahead of time was the smart thing to do).  We made Mac and Cheese.  Elly proudly stood on a chair and shredded cheese.  She had that self important look on her face.  "We're making dinner!" she repeated several times.  She ate more cheese than she grated, but she was very proud of her self.  When I'd made my white sauce I let her stand on a chair and from a distance I let her put the cheese into the sauce.  Again she felt very important.  My stove top is covered in melted cheese that was thrown.  Melted cheese that is baked in is tough to clean.  I would however clean up a hundred pounds of baked on cheese just to see that look of pride on her little face.  She was important... worth the clean up.  At dinner everyone complimented her on the delicious meal that she had made.  That little half smile on her face as she ate was priceless.  The other plus was that because she had "made" it, she thought it was really good, and actually ate!

    After our Mac and Cheese was done, it was time for a craft.  We made daffodils.  She cut hers out herself (I also cut one out for her).  She took her time as she carefully cut.  She really took her time with all of it.  Adding glitter to the daffodil that I had cut out was one of her highlights ( my girls sure love their glitter).

    At the end of the day, the laundry I had planned to catch up on sat dirty in the hamper.  The house was still messy (who am I trying to fool, the house was dirty).  The little jobs that I had planned to do all went undone.  Those jobs will wait.  What will not wait is Elly.  She will not be four forever.  There will come a day that will come more quickly than I will like, when she does not want to spend time with me.  This is borrowed time.  This is the day that I will look back on and cry because it seems like just yesterday that she was so little.  This is the day that I took pleasure in my last baby, and she took pleasure in just being with her Mommy.  Today was a beautiful day.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Beautiful Moments on an Average Car Ride

    You know those rare moments when you are amazed that you have the privilege of being a parent?  Those rare moments that take you by surprise.  I am always in love with my children, but there are those rare almost magical moments where there is a surreal beauty to my job.  Tonight I had one of those rare fleeting moments.  One of the moments of peace, and absolute thankfulness.
    We decided to take the kids to Red Lobster for dinner in Kingston.  Kingston is about a one hour and fifteen minute drive.  This is a rough drive normally.  It is just long enough for everyone to get on each others nerves.  It is long enough to feel endless without the excitement of a trip.  There is usually a "Mom, tell her to stop touching me!", "Grace is looking at me weird!"  "Rowan is freak'in me out!"  It is normally a very unpleasant drive, but not today.  Today was beautiful, one of those rare times where life almost stands still with the simple beauty of it.
    We were not in the car long when Riley who had obviously given this considerable thought announced "If I were ever in a "situation" that I needed back up, and I could only get help from two people, I would pick The Rock, and Clark Kent.  The Rock is super strong and if I got tired, he could carry me.  Clark Kent has super powers and he would pretty much cover the rest."  Grace then threw in "and he's a hottie."  This set the tone for the ride to Kingston.  Most of the car ride we all talked, and laughed.  There was a lot of laugher.
    The car ride home was a little more sombre.  Apparently everyone was stuffed to the gills, and was more contemplative.  We drove home past the grave of Sir John A. MacDonald.  Christopher pointed this out to the kids.  This brought about a discussion of Sir John, and the beginnings of Canada.  One of the kids then asked about who was the first president of the United States.  It then lead to a discussion about Abraham Lincoln, and why he was assassinated.  We got into a real discussion about slavery.  Riley then told us about a book that she had read in grade two about a family who had to live in their attic, and this nice lady would come and look after them.  I told her that I bet is was a story about the Nazi Germany.  This then made Grace ask "What are Nazi's?".  I was a little horrified.  I knew that I had re-told them stories that my Nana told me about the war, but I couldn't believe that I hadn't told them about the Nazis.  I had told them about Hitler, but not his henchmen.  I was absolutely horrified when Grace then went on to tell us that most of the boys in her class are obsessed with the Nazis.  "They think they're really cool!"  I let out an angry gasp.  "Do they know what the Nazi's were?" I asked.  I then told the children the horrific story about Nazi Germany as best I knew it.  I told them about how at first the Jewish people just had to tell the government that they were Jewish.  They then had to wear Stars of David on their clothing to distinguish them, to separate them.  Because no one had said that this was horrible, Hitler continued his cruelty to the Jews.  He then rounded up all the Jews, and took their belongings and made them live in slums.  I explained that slums are horrid places that are not fit to have anyone live in them.  Still no one in Germany said that this was wrong.  No one stood up and said STOP.  Hitler took this as permission and then he loaded those poor people onto trains like they were animals and drove them to horrible camps.  He separated the families, violently dragging children from their mother's arms.  They murdered those babies and children.  They murdered anyone that could not work.  Those people that could work, they made them work without food, without rest until they died.  I could at this point feel myself tearing up at the horror that these people had for their last days.  This horror that they had to endure because they believed something different than the people in power.  I told them about the heros of Germany, the people who were just like you and I.  The German people who were proper Aryans, and who would hide Jewish people in their barns, in their attics, in their basements.  The people who would pretend that Jewish children were their own children to save their lives, all the while risking their own.   I then retold them the stories of my youth.  I would sit transfixed listening to my Nana talk about living through World War Two.  My family lived in Scotland.  They had to have their curtains out of black material, because if the Bombers saw any light it was an easy target.  Nana would send her children (my Aunts and Uncles) to school, not knowing if they would return home that night.  They got to become experts on the sounds that the bombs would make, it told them how close they were.  Those children had to carry gas masks to school.  One day my Great-Aunt walked outside only to discover that her neighbour's house was no longer there, in it's place rubble.  It was a horrible time.  I then asked if the kids knew who the best most fierce fighters were.  They had all kinds of suggestions then their father and I in unison told them "CANADA"!  I finished up with "Someone needs to tell those boys what Nazi are!  I surely hope that if they knew they would be deeply ashamed!"
    So now you are thinking that this was a dark conversation.  It was, but I was happy that my children were suitably horrified that anyone could have done this to another group of people.  I hope that I made it very clear that horrible things cannot be done, unless others choose to pretend that it isn't happening or simply look the other way.  It was dark, but I felt better knowing that I had told them something important.  Something that I should have already told them.  The car was briefly quiet.  We turned the radio on.  The "darkness' cleared as we all shouted out Taylor Swift's "Trouble".  Most of the words were wrong, but there was real enthusiasm.  We got all the louder at the chorus.  All six of us were shouting it out.  It was pure joy!
    Last night I sat on the couch reflecting on our afternoon / evening.  I felt at complete peace.  I got this silly little satisfied grin on my face.  The car ride to Kingston was silly and fun.  Our meal was delicious.  The kids were well behaved in the restaurant.  The car ride home, was serious, but sometimes serious is good.  It ended with us feeling like one, joined in silliness again.  It was one of those nights that I felt like the world was a good place.  I had the right job.  Motherhood is my life calling.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Planning Our Vow Renewal

    This August, Christopher and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.  It has been quite a 20 years, not all of it happy.  I was recently looking at our wedding album and commented on how young my Mom looked in  the pictures.  I then had this horrible realization, in those pictures she was only two years older than I am now!  At 44 my mother had a 22 year old and a 19 year old.  I also noticed that Christopher and I were mere babies in those pictures.  Those sweet young faces had not a single line, and this crazy look of optimism.  
    That first time around I had a fervor for planning that wedding.  I bought more bride magazines, carefully cutting out the pages of the styles and flowers that I knew I had to have (those were the pre-Pinterest times).  I had a binder that was my bible.  I had a schedule for what needed to be done, and when.  This time I am soooooo much more laid back.  Perhaps a little too laid back.  This time around I have Pinterest.  I have a whole Pinterest board filled with ideas for the wedding. Perhaps I should consider a binder....

    The hall is booked, the DJ is booked, the minister is booked, my plants are ordered thanks to Jennifer Nash at .  I know what I want for my bouquet.  I know what I want for my dress (now it's just a matter of finding it).  I still have to order my invitations (word on the street is that Vista print is the way to go).
    The general opinion is mixed when we tell people that we are renewing our vows.  Some people think that it's very romantic.  Some people think that we have rocks in our heads (why in heaven's name would you waste all that money when you're already married).  I don't care, that is the beauty of being older.  To me this is a big party, but it's also very special.  Christopher and I should technically not be together.  Most parents who lose a child, their marriage can not survive, especially when they have already been separated once for 5 years.  After 5 children, and 19 years of marriage, our marriage is the strongest and happiest it has ever been.

    It has taken us 19 years, but I think that we may have figured out that riddle that is a happy marriage. We still fight, I mean we're human (sometimes I think that Christopher deserves a metal of honour for being married to me). Our big joke is that no one else would put up with either of us, so we're better off together.  The truth is that we learned to be considerate.  We learned how to fight.  It used to be that when we fought we would go for blood.  We said words that hurt, and left scars.  We were immature.  We have learned how to get our point across without going for blood.  Oh we still fight, but instead of "war", it's now a "small battle" (oh don't get me wrong there is still plenty of yelling and swearing, but it's out of earshot of the kids.)    
This wedding renewal is a celebration that we made it through the difficult times and came out stronger and more in love.  We are no longer kids.  The faces that will be in this August's wedding pictures will be lined with worry and sorrow, but the smiles will be brighter, more knowing.  We know that we have weathered the storm.  We know that there is nothing that we cannot survive.  We know that no matter what happens there will always be someone to cleave to.  If that's not a cause for celebration, I don't know what is.

You may want to re-read....

Saturday, 16 February 2013

More Wisdom From The Funeral Director's Wife

    Here is the part of this blog where I feel like I need to put a disclaimer.  The opinions of this blog are those expressly of myself.  I write this coming from personal experience as both a person who was horrified of death and chose to pretend it did not exist, and then someone who has opened her eyes, not from desire, but necessity.  If you are someone who is squeamish about death, then you should stop reading and come back tomorrow.

    My husband is a funeral director.  On a daily basis he councils families to consider having a funeral for their loved one.  He does this not to make money for his company, but because he wants them to know all of their options and to have no regrets.  People are so afraid of death and funerals that I think often they rush themselves.  This is your opportunity to seek comfort from your family, friends and community.  This may sound trivial, but it is a great comfort to be, well comforted.
    So often I hear people say that they want straight cremation, no funeral, nothing.  It happens all the time at Christopher's work.  I think that people think that by doing this, they are saving their loved ones trouble and expense.  They are saving their loved ones physical trouble and they are saving money.  But they are also tying their loved ones hands.  Their loved ones might want to have a funeral or a memorial, but they want to honour their loved one's final wishes.  The thing that everyone needs to remember is that death is no longer about that person who has died, it has become about how do their family members learn to live without them.  How can their family members let go.
    When Gabe died we took almost a week to plan his funeral.  We wanted his funeral to celebrate his life.  We dressed him not in a suit, but in his Sponge Bob hockey jersey.  We put him in his comfy track pants and  Sponge Bob slippers, because that was him.  At his funeral we showed a slide show of pictures of him.  These were not honorable, respectful pictures, they were pictures of him.  There were pictures of him and I in a bathtub way to full of bubbles.  There were pictures of him being him.  For the music, we chose no stuffy religious hymns  we played the theme to Sponge Bob Square Pants, and we encouraged everyone there to sing along.  We played "Baby Mine" because that was the song that I sang to him every single night of his life, even in the womb.  Many may have been appalled by our choices.  It was a funeral to honour the life of a 9 year old boy.  It was a way for Christopher and I to channel the grief that nearly drowned us.  In those first few horrible days we had busy work. Gabriel's funeral was what we could do to show everyone who he was and how much we adored him.  It gave us comfort.  In a time of grief you need all of the comfort that you can get.
    A funeral / memorial does not give closure in the sense that it heals the wounds and takes away the pain.  It gives closure in the fact that it allows you to honour that person that was important enough in your life that you grieve for them.  It allows you to do one last thing "for" them.  It allows you to show everyone a side to your loved one that they may never have known about.  It allows you to do busy work while you work through your shock.
    I have discussed this topic before, and there is a good chance that I will discuss it again.
Funerals are a terrible expense, in my opinion they cost so much more than they should (don't tell this to my husband's boss).  Weddings are also a terrible expense, and in my opinion they cost so much more than they should, and yet no one complains about those.  A wedding is also just one day.  A wedding is a celebration.  You celebrate your new life together.  A funeral / memorial is a celebration too, just not as happy.  A funeral celebrates that you were blessed enough to have that person in your life.  You were blessed enough to know them, and that they were blessed enough for you to mourn them.
   I know that this may be coming across as preachy.  That is not my intention.  My intention is to make you think.  Long ago when I was horrified of death, and so grossed out by my husband's profession I would tell Christopher "If I die, I don't want anything done.  Just pick a cardboard box, and toss it in a hole.  Then all that money you saved, buy me a really fancy headstone.  I want people to walk past that head stone and say "Man someone loved her!"  That was my thinking prior to Gabe's death.  Sadly it was Gabe's death that made me realize what a wonderful service my husband performs.  It took the death of my child to realize the comfort my husband can give.  I have changed my thinking regarding funerals.  My plan is to leave it to my husband / kids to honour me in a way that will bring them comfort.  It does not matter if it's not the way that I would want it done, I won't be there to fret about it.
    My advice, and you all know that it was coming, is don't demand what "your" funeral should look like.  By all means if you would like to lighten your families load, then prepay a funeral.  Plan what you would like, but consult your family and allow them to have some say.  By pre-paying you save your family that worry, and allow them to concentrate on not worrying about how they can possibly afford to honour you.  They can concentrate on what you wanted, mixed with what gives them comfort.  Discuss your wishes with your family, even though it's awkward, but let them have an opinion.  If you talk about it, then they will know what you would like, but by being open with them, you give them permission to honour you in their own way too.

There you have it, take it or leave it (I'm crossing my fingers that you will take it rather than leave it).

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Real Meaning Of Valentine's Day

    Happy Valentines Day.  There are many people that I know who are, as you read this screaming about how "Valentines Day is a money grab, it's too commercial, it's a scam."  To those people I say, "Man you're bitter... and cheap."  I guess it's all in the way that you look at it.  If you buy into the need of expensive long stemmed roses, and boxes of chocolates, and diamond tennis bracelets then maybe you could argue that it is too commercial.  Here is my take on it.  I see New Years as a time to reflect on yourself.  It's a time where you look at your past, and want to improve your future.  Hopefully you are thinking everyday about how you can be a better person, but chances are life gets in the way.  I would like to think that you love your Mother everyday, but Mother's day is that one day where you stop what you're doing and tell your Mother that you appreciate everything that she has done for you.  The same goes for Father's Day.  I would also like to think that when you watch the news and see the horror that other countries live in, you fall on your knees with thankfulness that you live in Canada, but it takes Canada Day to remember to show your pride and thankfulness.  I feel blessed everyday, but when I am stressed, when the kids are all screaming for my attention at once, I sometimes forget in that moment.  It takes Thanksgiving to see the abundance that we have, that we are never hungry, that we have a lot to be thankful for.  Valentines day is the same to me.  I love my husband and kids every single day of the year, for that matter every single time I take a breath.  Sometime life gets busy, and while everyone knows how much I love them, I do not always "show" them how much I love them.  Valentines Day to me is that chance to slow down and concentrate on how blessed you are to have someone to love, and someone who loves you.  Yes you should be thankful everyday, but sometimes life gets busy.  Sometimes you need a designated day to remind you of the importance of something.  How you choose to express your thankfulness, well that's up to you isn't it.
    This year we are doing our usual over the top crazy valentines traditions (for those of you who are new to the blog, this is last year's Valentines post
This year we did something special, something that I hope will both effect and affect my children for the rest of their lives.
    Tuesday night I cut out a bunch of hearts out of construction paper, so did the kids.  We used fancy scissors, and cut hearts in the hearts.  The kids then took almost two hours decorating 128 different Valentines.  They had so much fun coming up with different things to write on them and different ways to decorate them.  Each Valentine was unique.  There was no stress, only just plain fun.
    Last night after the kids had finished school we delivered those Valentines to the residents of our local nursing home.  We were greeted at the front desk by a very friendly lady.  Riley told her that they had made Valentines for all of the residents, could we leave them for them?  The nice lady at the front desk went to get the volunteer Co-ordinator.  She asked the kids if they would like to hand out their Valentines themselves.  They thought this was great.  My kids are all very shy, and so they set forth excited, but wary (like they approach everything).  The first Valentine that they gave out, the lady tried to give back to them thinking that it was just the kids showing it to her.  When they told her that they had made it for her, her little old face just beamed.  She clutched it to her chest, thanking them.
    As the kids saw the amazing reactions and the absolute joy of the nursing home residents they let down their guards, and began to really enjoy this task.  They were asked for hugs, and some asked for kisses.  All made a huge fuss over the kids.  Elly gave a Valentine to one little old lady.  It had been written by one of the big kids and said "I love you".  This little old lady read it out loud and began to tear up.  "I love you too" she told Elly.  Elly then gave her a big hug.  It was beautiful, I'm actually crying while I write this just thinking about the beauty of it.  Some of them wanted to talk to the kids.  All of the residents made a big fuss, and were very grateful.
    When we left the residence, all four kids had contemplative smiles on their faces.  Riley stopped for a minute before she got into the car "That was nice." she said.  "That was very nice" I echoed back.  "They sure wanted a lot of hugs Mom, how come?" Rowan asked in the car. "When you are sad what does Mommy do?"  "You hug me and kiss me Mom." was his reply.  "Some of those people only get touched when one of the workers is helping them.  Can you imagine never really being touched?"  They all looked horrified. These children of mine live in a world where they are hugged, and touched, and told how much we love them every single day.  It is so much a part of their lives that it does not occur to them that not everyone gets this.
    Last night at dinner the kids did their best and worse.  Every single one of them said that their best was seeing the faces of the seniors that day.  Everyone one of them excitedly told their Father about our trip.  They each had a favourite "old person".  They all asked if we could do it again next year.

Sharing your love does not have to cost a penny.  Valentines day does not have to be about how much money you spend.  For me it is about being thankful to have love in my life.  It is about having so much love in my life, that I can afford to share it.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Brownies on a Stick

    We get a little crazy for Valentines Day at our house, oh who am I kidding we are just plain crazy!  Every year I make the kids Valentines treats.  Usually it's cakes, but this year I decided to change it up.  This year I made brownie cookies on a stick.  I have my fingers crossed that the kids won't be disappointed.

(look at our Valentines tradition)

    I made the brownie cookie recipe that is on the Golden Crisco box.  It's a tried and true recipe at our house.  The problem was forming them into a heart.  I thought that I was so smart when I formed them into cookie cutters... that was short lived.  When that first batch cooked, there was no sign of the heart shape.

    The second batch came out better.  I decided to do my usual cookie ball, and then I cut them in the middle, and separated them a little.  When they were cooked they looked much more heart shaped.

    After I had shaped my cookies into heart shapes, I put in a wooden skewer in the bottom and baked them for  11 minutes.  

    After the cookies were baked and cooled I melted white chocolate chips and drizzled it on the cooled cookies.  I then used the white chocolate to stick on a little conversation heart.

I'm hoping that the kids all like them, I guess we'll see.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Learning To Let It Go


    There are periods in my life where anger and frustration overwhelm me.  I feel like my chest is on fire, and that I am being eaten away by it.  I have never successfully learned how to channel anger, instead, I just eat it up until it goes away.  I have long thought about becoming a Buddhist.  Buddhist's seem so calm, I need internal calm in my life.  I just don't feel like I want that calm enough to give up meat.
    I remember after Gabe died Christopher and I went to grief counseling.  I wanted to use that huge crack in my soul as way to fill my self with love and compassion.  There was just one problem with that, I am too judgmental.  I so desperately wanted that inner calm, that inner peace.  I wanted to be like the Dalai Lama.  I wanted to be spiritual, and love everyone for who they were, not who they should be.  I remember saying to our counselor "I don't understand.  I want to be kind and think kind thoughts, but I keep thinking about how stupid people are."  She gave me that poor little imbecile look, "Is it because you are angry?  Is it because you have every right to be angry?"
    Don't ask my why I looked up the 12 steps of AA.  I assure you I am not and have never been an alcoholic.  Maybe I was just bored, but for whatever reason I looked them up.  Oh my goodness they make sense.  For those of you not in the know, here they are....

The 12 Steps

1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable. 
2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 
3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 
4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 
5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 
6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 
7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 
8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 
9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 
10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 
11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 
12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

    I am not a religious person, but other than the religious parts it makes a lot of sense.  What if I changed it up to suit myself?  What if I just had 11 steps instead of 12?

1.    I admit that I am powerless over my past.
2.    I know that I cannot change the past, but I can affect my present and future.
3.    I make up my mind today to change the mistakes I have been making that have been holding me    back.
4.    I will make a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself.
5.    I will admit to myself the exact nature of my wrongs.
6.    I am ready to change.
7.    I will make a list of all the persons that I have harmed, and will willingly make amends to them.
8.    I will make amends to the people I have hurt, unless by doing so it hurts them more.
9.    I will not wait.  I will correct any wrongs that I do now.
10.  Through great thought / and or meditation I will keep my head clear from negativity.
11.  My life will be richer and better if I can work through these steps.

   O.k. I came up with 11 steps and took God out of it, but you can feel free to keep God in if it gives you comfort.  (1)Sometimes it's hard to remember that the past is back behind me.  I find myself wrestling with ghosts.  Sometimes I play the "I should have game".  The I should have game only ever leads to sadness or anger, so why play it, it does not change the past.  All it does is make the present unpleasant.  (2)Whatever "I should have done", I didn't so put on your big girl pants and move on with your life.  (3)Don't let your past decide your future!  Because something terrible happened to you in the past, something that you had no control over, that doesn't mean that you should be powerless in the now.  Don't keep torturing yourself with the past.  Treat past traumas like the ghosts that they are.  (4)If I sit and think about it with an open mind, I am going to see the patterns that I continuously ride in.  Sometimes it's easier to keep doing the wrong painful thing, because the unknown is scary.  (5)If I take the time to look at my whole inner self, worts and all I can change those things that I beat myself up hating. (6) I get comfortable doing the same thing, giving the same reactions.  If I try a different reaction, maybe I might get a different outcome. (7) This is a real tough one.  Sometimes I lay awake in bed and think about that boy I kicked in Grade 5 (his name was Danny Bond).  I don't know why I did it.  That poor kid just need to be accepted, and I did that to him.  I honestly wish that I could apologize to him.  I mean we played together after that, but I still to this day, that many years later feel terrible about it.  Apologizing to him, would probably make no difference in his life, he may not even remember it, but I do.  If I make amends, I can heal that little part of my soul. (9) As I go about my daily life, and I accidentally do or say something to someone else, then I need to stop and make amends for it instantly.  If I don't it will only eat away at me. (10) I need to take time every day to make sure that I am putting forward my best efforts, that I am being the best me.  If I'm not then I need to decide how I can change that. (11) Here is the question, I have put forward this philosophical list of ways to live a good life.  It sounds pretty easy, but the question is, can I do it?
By golly I'm going to try.  If you receive a phone call / email from me then maybe I'm just trying to right an old wrong, oh and if you see Danny Bond, please tell him that Tristan's sorry.

Sunday, 10 February 2013


    Holy Snow Batman!  We just got hit with a winter's worth of snow this past Friday.  I will admit that the snow storm was pretty exciting (I don't get out much).  It just kept coming and coming.  It was deceptive because it looked like this gentle pretty snowfall, and then I went outside.  On Friday I shoveled my driveway three times!  Each time I shoveled it, it was like the first time.

    Friday's snowstorm reminded me of years gone by.  You know that you have become an old person when you begin a sentence with "When I was a kid..."  But... when I was a kid, we had snow like this every winter!  I remember going out to play and the snow was literally up over my swing set because of the drifting.

    Today the kids begged me to go out and play on the big pile that the snow plows had left.  I felt safe that the snowplows were finished and that they could safely go out and play on it.  There is so much snow that it is piled right up to the top of the school fence which is about 8 feet tall.

    The kids had a blast climbing up the snow pile.  They were running down on their toboggans.  The funniest thing was that it isn't really a smooth hill, part of it was more like a small cliff.  Off they would plunge down the hill screaming, the dog running along side them.     

    I imagine when the kids grown up they will remember the snow pile as being 20 feet tall, and the drop being an actual cliff.  I will remember their little red faces, and their mittens encrusted in snow.  Most of all I will remember them laughing so hard that I could hear them in the house.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

What is Your Legacy?

    My grandmother passed away last week.  She was 91 years old.  I have often said that Grandma lived that long because she never slowed down long enough for death to catch up to her.  Dad would tell me about how Grandma had hurt herself falling off of a ladder while she painted her apartment, that was two years ago.  She was this tiny little lady (perhaps 4 foot 11) and the last time I was speaking to her she told me that she weighed 80 pounds (she was about the same size as one of my twins, maybe smaller).  She was this little lady who loved Coke, and who had a great laugh.  
   91 years is a long time on this earth.  I would like to say that she lived a good life, but I honestly don't know if she did.  I really don't know anything about her.  What I know about her is that she raised my Dad, and  I know that my Dad is a good man, and has always been a good father to my sister and I. My Dad is the most amazing grandfather to my children.  I am very thankful to my grandmother for this.
    This all has me wondering how I will be remembered when I am gone.  This sounds very morbid, but I know just how fragile life is.  It comes as no surprise that a 91 year old woman would pass away.  It is not expected that a healthy 9 year old boy would die, but he did... life is fragile.  More importantly than how I will be remembered is the question, "How do I want to be remembered?"
    "How do I want to be remembered?"  This is a big question.  It is important because it makes me ask myself how I act towards my children, towards the world.  I know what my self perception is, but is it the same as everyone elses?  I want my children when they think of me to remember me as being strong, but not hard.  I want them to look at the things that I have come through.  I get pushed down, but I get back up.  I am strong, but I would like to think that I am not bitter, that I had a big heart.  I want them to remember how much I loved them, I want them to carry my love around with them like an invisible sweater.  I want them to remember that I did not take garbage from anyone, but I also did not throw garbage at anyone.  I want them to remember that they could always trust me.  I'm o.k. if they laugh and think about what a goof I am, if they do, then I've done my job.  I don't want them to make me into a villain, nor do I want to be remembered as a saint.  I want them to remember me as a flawed person who loved them desperately.  I want them to remember the sacrifices that I made for them, and not feel badly, but be better because of them.  If I am doing my job right, living my life right, then they will remember me with love.  Above everything else I want my children to remember my love for them.  I want love to be my legacy.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Thinking Kind Thoughts

    I try to teach my children the importance of kindness.  I try to model this with my own actions.  I commit acts of kindness on a regular basis.  If I see someone in need I always step in to help (whether they want want me to or not).  I try to do the right thing.  I insist that in our home the children treat each other with kindness.  Kindness is important.  I say all of this and believe it with all of my heart and yet I am a hypocrite.
    I preach kindness, and yet my harsh words are teaching something else.  I am a very critical person.  I would never ever say an unkind word to anyone, but I have no problems with saying unkind things behind their backs.  I realized the other day how much my "unkind" words have become ingrained in my children.  The other day I heard one of the kids talking about someone that we know using very unkind words.  They were using the exact words that I had used myself to describe this person's physical appearance.  There was nothing that I could say, because it was my exact words.  This was a teachable moment, but instead of my teaching the kids, they had taught me.
    I need to find the beauty in others, instead of seeing their faults.  I need to do this, and then teach the kids to do this.  I need to not only practice outward acts of kindness,  I need to be thinking kind thoughts.  I am a work in progress and sometimes I need reminded of this...

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Making the Tree of Love

    Valentines day is coming up, but it shouldn't take one single day of the year to tell people how much you love them.  I had seen a cute valentines card on Pinterest, yesterday.  It was a handmade card that had a tree trunk, and the leaves were all hearts.  It gave me an idea... a pretty good idea if I do say so myself.

    I decided to use sheets of bristol board and cut out tree trunks.  I gave each kid their own tree trunk and they each decorated it.  It was neat to see how different they each made them, individualized.  I then put balls of tape on the back of each trunk and they excitedly ran up to put them on their doors.  I was amazed at how dirty their doors were, and how covered in little bits of paper and tape they were... mental note clean their doors.

    After they had each hung their tree trunk I gave them each 6 hearts, and told them to write two things that they "loved" about their siblings.  Some of the "leaves" were great, some were pretty goofy.  I really enjoyed reading what they had written about each other.  They really loved reading what their siblings had written about them ... and that is what it was all about.

    I made a really big envelope and filled it with extra hearts.  Whenever their sibling does something nice, or if they just think of something else they can write it down, and put it on their brother or sister's door and fill their tree with leaves of love.

    My children all know how much they are loved.  You just have to look at their face's to know that they are loved, you can see it in their eyes.  They know that they are loved, but sometimes it is nice to physically see "what" people "love" about you.  I am looking forward to seeing those little trees become full of beautiful leaves of love.