Friday, January 27, 2012

It's All About Me (Blogiversary / Birthday Post)

Yesterday was my blogiversary.  It's been one year since I started my foray into this wonderful world of blogging.  I forgot all about it...until about 4 pm yesterday and by then my boys had already turned into wild, screeching banshees and then I had a Skype date with my best friend that lasted over 3 hours.  You might remember her from this post where she likens herself to the ugly naked guy from Friends of this blog.  Anyway.  She wasn't aware that I had asked my Mother to write about my birth story on my birthday so she had actually written a birthday letter to me!  My favourite blog posts that I've written have been tributes to other people on their birthday's and lookie here!  Now I have TWO people that want to blog about me.  Does it make me totally narcissistic that I was more than ecstatic about this?  Whatever.  Anyone that says they don't love reading wonderful things about themselves is lying.  What Erin wrote below was a bit astounding for me to read.  I mean I know she loves me but now I know she really, like wow, loves me. Plus she basically makes me sound like I'm the best Mother that ever lived which is obviously NOT true ... but still pretty awesome to read...and has made me vow to myself to be the kind of Mom that she says I am. Needless to say this was an amazing thing to read first thing this morning...a great start to the week-end.  Now I know why everyone that I write tributes about comes back and reads them over and over again.  It just makes you feel good.  Really freakin' good.

(btw - we have unofficially decided that we will be writing a book together someday - and FYI - it will be the most fabulous, funniest, outrageous book ever written so stay tuned - for what could possibly be years)

Happy belated Blogiversary (and birthday) to me!  


I can’t believe my best friend is turning 34.

I can’t believe it for a number of reasons. First, it means we have officially been best friends for more than half of our lifetimes.  Half of our lifetimes!  That means that half of all of the time I’ve spent on Earth has been shared with her.  How many people, outside my immediate family, have had a relationship of that closeness with anyone?

Now that I think about it, even though my immediate family has known me longer, they really haven’t known me nearly as well as my best friend has.

As a teenager in later high school years I said to my parents:  “I’m staying at Laura’s”….they thought “Erin’s staying at Laura’s”.
My best friend January knew the real translation was “Erin’s going to get drunk, go to the high school dance, sleep at her boyfriend Shawn’s house….and if her parents call me, I have to tell them she’s staying at Laura’s”
This is the unwritten and unspoken bond between you and your best friend.

In your teenage years, this bond reinforces the fact that she will never speak about the kick-ass party you threw while your parents were away golfing in Myrtle Beach…

…it holds true to the fact that she will never, ever tell ANYONE about your psycho-somatic-paranoia that you once pulled a cat’s tail for fun when you were six and are now convinced you will never, EVER be capable of rearing children because of your former feline-inflicted-atrocities…

…it means she will never EVER speak about the time in your 20’s that you called her so drunk and so (ahem….under-the-influences-of-many-other-things-not-appropriate-for-a-mommy-blog) living in a beautiful condo on the ocean on the other side of the country and you had a huge party including many people you had never met and wouldn’t recognize on the street if your life depended on it while your rich, self-absorbed, pompous, douchebag boyfriend was away on “business”…

…and she will NEVER EVER speak of the constant fear had on a daily basis that I’m not good enough, not smart enough, and am deathly terrified of making not only the wrong decision….but no decision at all.

January is the most amazing friend, most amazing (soul)sister, most amazing mother and most amazing person I have ever met in my entire life.  There is no one on Earth more different than me.  And there is no one on Earth that I am more alike than her.

January wasn’t much for school. She hated classes and the only reason she went was because she had to. But she LOVED reading. She was always a reader. I consider myself the most voracious of readers, and January still reads more than I do.

She went to college and studied hotel/restaurant management.  Not because she wanted to manage a hotel or restaurant (though she did have successful stints in both)….but because (I believe) she just felt at home creating edible stories. January was a gifted cook well before the age of 20. I called her at least 17 times trying to learn how to make her killer spicy black bean soup. (And I was a girl who never called ANYONE for help with ANYTHING). 

It appeared from the outside at times that I was the one who had it all together…I was the one focused on my education…on my career…..but I don’t think January ever knew how envious I was of her.  I looked up to her in so many ways.

January and her boyfriend John lived in a small apartment on the main floor of a character house in Wortley Village. I envied them.  It was small, cramped, and magical. We had so many nights of wine-induced laughter and debauchery in that apartment. The floors were old and creaky and the porch was wide. I couldn’t believe I knew someone that lived in a place like that. It was like a secret fortress. Not to mention the fact that she lived with someone so amazing, he would drink with me long after she passed out (a not-so-rare occurrence!). Any time something went wrong in my life, whether I lived with my parents, in a university apartment, or with one of my many ever-revolving boyfriends, I knew I had a spot on their couch in that apartment.  It was one of the most stable homes I ever knew.

January was the type of girl who could break up with someone and never look back.  I was the type of girl who broke up with someone and used it as fodder for poetry, letters, and drama. Every sad song on the radio felt like it was written just for me. I’d analyze things and revisit things and leave messages on my ex’s phone and re-listen to the message before I sent it and re-do it until it had just the right amount of melo-drama mixed with the perfect amount of disdain (keep in mind these times were long before the era of texting and Facebook-ing).  All the while, January would be happily moved on to another boy, another book, or another adventure.  Who had that kind of inner strength???  Once Jan had moved on, she had moved on. I could only dream of embodying a spirit so bold.  January could shrug off hurt like a wet sweater that had become heavy and annoying.  That was it. Move on.  It was unfathomable for a drama queen like me.

The aforementioned coolness notwithstanding, January had a bit of an issue with her patience. If the line at the grocery store proved to be too long, she would get palpably agitated. (Don’t even ask me what would happen if someone hit her with their cart accidentally!) I have witnessed many, many times in our friendship her short temper and quick hyperventilation.  That’s why it initially surprised me to see her in her role as a mother. 

The first few months of Adrian weren’t exactly the easiest.  But from what I hear from all new mothers, it never is.  But since that time, January has become the most incredible mother I have ever known. She lives and breathes for her children. She is firm but fair….fearless and terrified in just the right perfect balance. She knows just when to be messy and when the mess is too much. She encourages individuality and creativity while emphasizing the importance of respect and good behavior. I am continually, utterly, and constantly in awe and envy of her mothering skills.

January and I have chosen very different paths in life. While I was choosing majors in university, January was working at the front desk at the Hilton. (a job in which she exemplified amazing responsibility and also managed to get us tickets to the very first Avril Lavigne concert in 2004 and also to hang out with Swollen Members on their TOUR BUS!!!) While I was moving to Vancouver with my on-again-off-again boyfriend, she was planning a wedding to her soulmate on the beaches of Port Stanley (where her and I spent far too many teenaged summers in far-too-skimpy-bikinis and drinking far too many fruity frozen drinks).  While I worked my way up the corporate ladder, she gave birth to the two most perfect, beautiful boys on the planet.  While my days involve spreadsheets, presentations, suits, heels, expense reports and fine-dining meals with clients, hers include sippy-cups, Dora, pj’s, IronMan, birthday parties and Goldfish crackers.  And yet I have never, ever viewed her as anything less than my equal….my superior…and pure perfection.

January is a Capricorn. I am a Cancer.  For those of you that don’t read astrology (and if you don’t, I have NO idea why you’d be reading her blog….you’d never really “GET” her!)…it means January is stable, perseverant, and wise. It means I am emotional, crabby, and sensitive (though I’d hide that under my crab armour!)

January is the only person I can ever call to talk to about anything, anytime, anywhere.
Let me restate those words. ANYTHING. ANYTIME. ANYWHERE. 

She is hilarious. She is loyal. She is passionate. She is curious. She is far more brilliant than she has ever given herself credit for. She is insightful. She is honest. She is quirky. She is perfect.
She is the only person I know that could walk into Value Village with $20 and come out looking like the hottest model off the 2012 Balenciaga show-runway with no effort on her part at all. When her hair is at its absolute worst, it is absolutely breathtaking. When she is wearing no makeup and ratty sweatpants, she is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. 

She takes after her mother. She embodies all of my favorite things about Ellen. Her passion. Her individuality. Her spunk. Her resilience. Her ferocity. And her insistence that you always, always remain true to yourself.

January is one of the most perfect things in the world, in all her imperfections. She started blogging one year ago….and in that one year she has given the rest of the world a glimpse into a life that I have been blessed to know already…one full of laughter, love, beauty, and an unbridled respect for the tiny blessings in life.

After losing my sister almost four years ago, my relationship with January, though it spans over 5000 kms, has only grown stronger. She truly is a sister to me in her own right….a friend of undying loyalty….my own personal angel here on Earth.

Congratulations on your 34th year of living, Soul Sister of mine.  I am so thrilled that you have found your voice in your blog…..and that others will have the privilege to share in your infinite wisdom (that you do not give yourself NEARLY enough credit for)….find a kindred spirit in your constant curiosity and questioning…and feel comforted that they are not alone.

Because you have given me all that and so, so much more.

All my love on your 34th.



You see what I mean?  Wow.  I feel like I should give some sort of speech here now.  But I won't.  I will simply say, thank you soul sister.  My life wouldn't be complete without you either.  I love you too.  Immensely and immeasurably.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Life any other way...


These are all things that make up a family.

But what makes a family unique?

All of the above...with a little extra magic.

My 3 year old thinks I'm magical...I can't disagree.  I can conjure up chocolate from nowhere and break out of locked rooms a la Houdini.

None of which have to do with stashed Hallowe'en candy or hidden keys.

In homes across the world we live, play, breathe, cocooned in our own love, laughter, music, chaos, mess, routine.  One moment turbulent and tumultuous.  The next one a picture of peace and pacification.

It's in the everyday family life that has us relating to others but it's in the way we live our lives every day that makes us unique from each other.

It's in the quirks of family sayings, "We're off like turd of hurdles!" as we set off on a morning adventure through the woods.

In the smell of each family home, the air filled with a mix of spices, pets, laundry soap, scented candles...the essence, the je'ne sais que that one detects when walking into a person's home.

The silly songs made up by Daddy or passed down from generation to generation.

Magalena Hagalena anyone?

The certain staples kept in each person's fridge, freezer and cupboard.

Ours...hummus, tzatziki and butter.  Apples, lemons, peppers and avacodos.  Cheerios, Shreddies and milk chocolate chips.  Frozen peas, corn and waffles.  Mango juice, milk.  And wine.

The never believing that I am, but being forced to be, creative.  Because I am a stay at home Mother who wants to do these things for her kids though doesn't always enjoy the process. Or the mess.  A stay at home Mother who must fill the day with fun because Daddy is on the other side of the world.  For weeks at a time. And I am single parenting. Again.

It's in my name, January.  A name that I hated for so long but now embrace because it sets me apart...and makes me unique.

It's in my boys superhero fanaticism, their daily dress up as Batman and Robin, Ironman and fight off the world's villains.  Running through the house, stampeding like a herd of elephants, shooting webs, jumping off furniture and flying through the air, capes flapping enthusiastically behind them.

It's in the mid-afternoon dance offs to Rihanna, Black Eyed Peas and Jack Johnson amidst scattered toys and strewn costumes when all hell is breaking loose and there really is no other option but to dance.

When bath time is full of splashing and high pitched squeals from the tub while I sit watching biting my tongue and trying not to get waterboarded on the other side.

Most families can relate to another's daily trials and tribulations, good days full of dancing and silly giggles when the word 'bum' 'fart' or 'poop' is repeated ad nauseum and bad days when bedtime cannot come soon enough as the whines, clinging and tantrums are driving you bananas. The need to have juice in the blue cup NOT THE YELLOW ONE for one child while the insistence on having that unidentifiable blue plastic square thing from who knows what, in hand while eating dinner is of paramount importance to the other.

At the same time that we can relate to each other as parents, we also have our unique family quirks, sayings, routines and ways of embracing the day that make one family a little bit different than the next.

So today and everyday after I will try my best embrace the crazy of my chaotic days...for as frustrating, overwhelming and head ache inducing as it can get, life any other way would be boring.

(Though sometimes....I long for boring.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

A 'Great Marriage' Gone Bad?

Rarely if ever have I gone the way of celebrity gossip on this little blog of mine.

Pft.  Who am I? Some silly brained nincompoop who actually cares about what happens in Hollywood???

The truth is...celebrity gossip magazines are like candy to me.  I'll get a craving for it every so often, buy a bunch of deliciously colourful In Touch's and Us Weekly's, inhaling them mindlessly and voraciously at at a breakneck speed and then feel disgusted and annoyed at myself for the stupid indulgence that wasn't worth the money anyway.  Besides that, half the people in there I don't even recognize now anyway.  Talk about feeling old.

The whole point of what I'm about to say here ... doesn't really have much to do with what I'm about to say here except that I'm about to wax philosophical on the demise of a Hollywood marriage that I thought for sure was impenetrable .

Heidi and Seal.  And their beautiful brood of four.

I read this tidbit of gossip this morning which unfortunately didn't turn out to be gossip in the end.  It made me incredibly sad.  This was a woman who claimed to sleep naked for her husband - which by the way - I do not believe to be true.  Who sleeps naked that has 4 kids?

And Seal who claimed to live by the saying "Happy wife, happy life."  Well Seal my man...clearly she was not a happy wife.  Which brings me back to another reason why I know for a fact she never slept in her birthday suit.

Seven years they were together.  Seven years they renewed their vows.  And just now they've realized they've grown apart.  Which made me people grow apart....or do they just give up trying to grow together?

I understand growing apart in a relationship when you're in high school or college. I know I'm a very different person now than I was then.  My inner core of beliefs has stayed the same but my interests, passions and view on the world has changed quite a bit.  I've developed new interests, realized things about myself that I didn't know even 10 years ago and have developed a more empathetic view of life.  This view may have something to do with becoming a Mother.

It seems to me, that she had a LOT going on in her life.  Project Runway, lingerie and clothing lines, make up lines, perfumes, acting, spokesperson, model...

I can barely write this blog, take care of my kids and house and pay attention to my husband on a good day.  I get that it's Hollywood, there are nannies and housekeepers and all but I can imagine she was probably feeling stretched beyond her limits.  Who has time to do all of that?  Was she trying too hard to 'do it all, be it all' like so many woman - only she was doing way, way too much and neglected the most important relationship of all?  No one wins when that happens. There's not enough time in a day to do all, be all  AND ensure your children are getting enough from you, not to mention your husband.  When are women going to realize they cannot do it all and be happy - this is simply not realistic - at some point something has got to give.

Not that I'm letting Seal off the hook here.  Marriage is a two way deal, I do believe that.  But I just can't imagine that anyone who writes a song like "Kiss from a Rose" could really do any wrong.

One of my favourite marriage quotes is, "A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."

I will never, ever claim to be an expert in marriage but do have a pretty good marriage.  It's normal and healthy though not without it's own peaks and valleys.  No marriage is perfect, no marriage is without the good and the bad, the fights and the make ups, the challenges the successes whatever they may be and so it tends to make me pensive when I feel like a couple has given up in the valley...given up the falling in love again part (though it's never as dreamy as it was in the beginning, it still feels really good).  I get especially disheartened and heartbroken when children are involved. They are the innocent victims of it all and it pains me to no end.  I just hope that this heart aching process for Heidi and Seal and everyone involved goes the rare Hollywood way of grace and respect. It's the least they can do for their beautiful babies.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Quick Biology slash Geography Lesson by a 4 year old (warning: not entirely accurate)

We sat at the table slurping soup that was our dinner.

I was too tired to do anything but open up a can of Tuscan Meatball Soup and John was running late coming home from work.

Slurp, gulp, slurp.

And then Adrian states completely out of the blue, "Mumma you have a China and Finley and me have penises."

I "Mm-hmm'ed" with my mouth full as he stared at me and then I swallowed and replied nonchalantly, "Yes, this is true."  I was in no frame of mind to correct him on the pronunciation of my lady parts.  (besides, calling a vagina, a 'china' is pretty freakin' HIL-AR-IOUS in my opinion.)

Just in case you're wondering, we talk about male and female anatomy regularly at the dinner table in our home.  (no we don't)

(not that there's anything wrong with that)

(ok - so, yeah,  it's a little weird - but - who am I to judge?)

He then looks down into his bowl of soup, scoops up a spoonful and exclaims with far too much enthusiasm for vegetables, "Mmm carrots!  I looove carrots."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bees in the Mouth, Spiders in the Belly

We marched, we raced, we trundled and at some points I carried my not so little, little one across the large field toward the park.

It was dusk and the sky had turned a steel blue-grey with wisps of pale yellow from the sun that was quickly moving toward the horizon.

I was feeling content.  Lucky.  So lucky.  It was one of those days that everything was just....good.  More than good.

The January air was mild though my boys were bundled in their winter coats and hats, fingers mitten clad, cheeks rosy.  Healthy.

We arrived at the park and we climbed, we hung from the monkey bars, we slid down the slides.

Big smiles.

Happy hearts.

Finley marched on over to the swings and Adrian and I followed.  I settled them in the swings side by side so that  I could simultaneously push them.  (when does a child learn how to 'pump' the swing on their own - I so look forward to that day).

I pushed them higher and higher upon request.

They laughed from right down deep in their bellies.

They were flying high.  Maybe a little too high.

I stopped pushing for a couple of back and forths - just let the air take them.

"Mummyyy!  Push!" says Finley

"Yeah, Mumma.  Higher!"  says Adrian

My little daredevils.  Worrisome, yet admirable.

"Don't you have butterflies in your stomach?" I asked.  Because just looking at them soaring so high, I did.

Adrian yells out, "No!  I have bees!  In my mouth!"

"Bees in your mouth huh?  How does that taste?"

"Like delicous honey!"

Finley randomly calls out,  "'Pider!"  I'm now gently pushing them in their swings.

I ask him, amused (2 is such an amusing age.),  "You have spiders in your mouth?"

He yells, "NO!"

I ask, "You have spiders in your belly?"


"How's that feel?"


And I laughed.  A genuine from the belly laugh.

These days?  These days that turn out spectacular in their unspectacular-ness.....

These are the days that I live for.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Hot Mess of a Birthday. (And not in the 'good' hot mess kinda way)

The morning of my birthday dawned.  I was officially 34.  Meh.  Age ain't nothin' but a number.

I slept in (until 7:45) and finally decided to drag myself out of bed to the smell of brewing coffee.

I could hear the sounds of my husband clanging around in the kitchen.  Birthday waffles.  Mmmm.

Now before this post gets all Norman Rockwell I will now assure you that it all went downhill from there.

First world problems people.  First world problems.

But still.

As I sat to enjoy my delicious birthday waffles my little one was still feeling like crap due to cold.  He is clearly all male when it comes to the common cold and proceeded to cling to me like fifth limb, cry, whine, cry, cough-cough, cry, whine, s n e e z e, crycrycry, as I attempted to enjoy my waffles. With fresh strawberries.  And whipped cream.

Sprinkled with germs.

"Happy Birthday honey.  Click!" my husband said sarcastically pretending to take a picture, as my little one sat crying in my lap making it next to impossible to feast upon my germ ridden waffles.

We smiled a bit defeatedly at each other.

Such is life as a parent.

After I posted my birth story told by my Mum, I announced to my husband that I'm getting the h.e. double hockey sticks outta the house and hi, ho, hi, ho it was off to shop I go.

I ran out on my crying, snotty kids and didn't look back.

Because it was my birthday and my husband just returned from eight days of travelling, I felt more than entitled to run and run fast!

As I perused the quaint downtown storefronts, I saw couples in the windows of lovely restaurants having lunch together.  A moment came when I abruptly felt wistful and weepy for those days.  Sipping wine over a leisurely afternoon lunch, having great conversation with my husband.  I really, really miss those days.

And then I saw a really awesome clothing store and felt happy again.

Then I spent too much of my husband's hard earned money and felt anxious.

Then I realized how little I shop for myself and when I do it's always either previously owned or dirt cheap...and I felt a little bit better.

And then I realized I bought skinny jeans.  Skinny jeans guys!  These legs have no right to be in skinny jeans.

And then I feck it.  I love them.

I drove home singing Adele and Pink at the TOP OF MY LUNGS.

Because that's the only way to sing in the car.  And if you've never done it you'd best be starting.  It's inexplicably freeing.

I was feeling buoyant and carefree as I walked into my house that smelled...quite delicious.  Yet the smell of the house and the tone of it did not match.

My husband had the look.

"You okay babe?

"It's just a day honey.  Just a day." He said with a sigh. (I knew that he wasn't referring to my birthday being just a day - he was trying to talk himself out of complaining to me about how insane the boys were driving him.  And I got it.  I completely did.  I respected the fact that he didn't want to bring my mood down.)

He proceeded to take out a cake from the oven and tried to place it on a pan by turning it upside down and shaking it.

"Uh honey?  It's falling apart.  Totally falling apart."

I saw chunks of chocolate cake breaking apart and falling onto the cake pan.

Plop.  Plop.  Crash.  Plop.  Smoosh.

It was quite literally a hot mess.

He left the kitchen.  And I got that too.

The poor man.  He was trying SO HARD to make my birthday awesome.

The day went on like this.  A comedy of errors my husband likes to call it.

At one point I cried to my children as they continued to wreak havoc on our nerves, "Don't you know it's my birthday today?!!!  You're supposed to behave, be good, be nice to Mummy!"

It all fell on deaf ears.

I stole a moment away from my evil energetic spawn to check facebook.

You all do it on your birthday and you know it.  

Yes.  I admit.  I wanted to see how many people truly loved me by wishing me a Happy Birthday on my wall.

I was feeling the love.

And then I saw a message.  From a former friend.  The demise of our friendship occurred about 5 years ago.  She wasn't just a friend.  She was my best friend since we were 13 years old.  The event that occurred that caused us not to speak in almost 5 years was quite lame.  Her words in the message brought tears to my eyes and a flood of memories to my mind.  I had missed our friendship more than I let myself admit.  And so I messaged her back.  Who knows where our friendship will go from here but it felt good to reconnect.  Really good.

It was almost dinner and I had ordered Indian take out.


Mess with my food?  And I get all kinds of bitter.  I truly believe if the food would've been good it could've erased the crapfest that was my birthday to that point.  I know it's just food.  But I felt like crying.

And I kept saying to myself...first world problems January.  First. World. Problems.

But somehow this just didn't make me feel much better.

The only thing to look forward to at that point was the boys' bedtime.  And the Bachelor.  And the rest of my wine.

So.  There was that.

Happy Birthday to me!

Oh yeah - my husband somehow rehabilitated the hot mess of a cake and
decorated it with sprinkles and Smarties.  He rules.
What I see?  Me with a fake smile and psychotic-ess look in my eyes and my boys
not caring a bit that they put that look there.  They just wanna eat cake.
Now that's better.
Much more Norman Rockwell-esque.
Amazing what photoshop can do.

Check out some awesome writing over at lovelinks!  Then return on Thursday if you're feeling so inclined and vote for 3 of your favourites.  (It would be oh so kind if you voted for me.  No pressure.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Circle of Life: My Birth Story - Told by my Mother

Thirty-four years ago Ellen Lynn Marshall became a Mother.  She became my Mother.  For my birthday, I had decided a while ago that I wanted my Mum to write about my birth story.  Doesn't everyone love to hear about the day they came into the world?  No matter how many times I've heard the stories I could hear them a million times over and never tire of it.  It's important to know not just how you came into this world but also how much your parents anticipated and looked forward to that day.  My Mum tells me stories about my Dad rubbing her belly and talking to me through her belly.   These little stories stay with us forever to be passed down from generation to generation.

Here's the story of my birth....thank you Mum for writing this for me.  It means more than you know.


1977 may not have been memorable to most people except for the fact that Elvis Presley died and we had the worst snowstorms ever.  You couldn’t see across the street and the police were using snowmobiles to get formula and supplies to people with babies and medicine to the ill. My husband got snowed into work for a couple of days.  I was pregnant with my first child and can remember the snow coming up to my stomach.  The baby was due in January, 1978 and I’m thinking “I really don’t want to have this baby at home or on the back of a snowmobile!”  I also remember that along with Elvis dying in 1977 so did my beloved grandmother and the day I received word of her death was the first time I felt this little thing in my abdomen move.  It felt like butterfly kisses and I think it was an indication of the type of child I would eventually give birth to.  The Christmas of 1977 also had a ghastly flu (called the Russian Flu) going around and so many people had it.  My husband was so ill we couldn’t attend his family’s Christmas dinner.  Fortunately I didn’t catch it.

January 16, 1978 – the storm broke, the sun was shining and the morning started with a few twinges.  My husband got home from work and we headed straight to the hospital because the twinges were now about 8 minutes apart.  We were clueless so we parked in the covered parking across the street from the hospital and I only had to stop to throw up once!  Bonus.  I had no family around either and if one of my female friends hadn’t asked me what I was bringing the baby home in the poor child would have come home in January in a diaper.  Like I said…clueless.

My labour progresses rapidly once I’m in the hospital bed and other than throwing up every few minutes and requiring two epidurals it didn’t seem too bad.  I remember the doctor telling me I was a very quiet mother-to-be and probably had a high pain level  threshold.  They had to break my water and then things really started to happen.  Into the delivery room I went with a very nervous father-to-be.  He didn’t want to be there but a nurse gave him the scrubs and told him to get ready.  We were joined by a lot of doctors, nurses and an anaesthesiologist.  Seemed normal to me because this was my first child.  It wasn’t until I had my second child and there was only the doctor and one nurse that I realized how unusual it was to have so many people in the delivery room.  

It turns out the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck and they were preparing to anaesthetise me and do a delivery by surgery.  Somehow the cord came undone and the delivery went surprisingly easy.  The nurse handed the baby to my husband first and it was love at first sight for both of us.  He turned out to be an amazing father in spite of being a macho, macho man who lived for sports.

Three days later we bring home this gorgeous baby.  Bias aside, she really was a beautiful baby weighing 7 lbs. 8 oz. and even my hospital roommate’s husband commented on her beautiful colouring and wished their babies looked like that.  His wife was not impressed…not even a little bit.  

She did go on to become a beautiful child and eventually a beautiful mother herself. 

Winter had not finished with us.  One week after we brought her home another storm hits.  We lived in a three story walk-up and the winds were so wicked I was afraid the windows would blow in so I pulled the tiny crib out into the kitchen beside a load bearing wall and shut the bedroom doors.  The roof slid off our apartment building to the ground below.  All I heard was a big swoosh and loud thump and there it was in the snow bank.    Just a side note – the crib was a miniature white crib that would be considered illegal now but had held 3 generations of Marshall children…all of whom survived that “death trap of a crib”.

Naming her turned out to be a surprise to my husband.  Apparently we had agreed on Stephanie and I changed the name to January because of some silly book I read and forgot to tell him.  I think the name suits her but I can remember her paternal grandmother saying she didn’t care for the name.  She probably thought I was a hippy.

January went on to be a delightful and funny child and such a camera hog.  Just point a camera at her and she would immediately smile.   I loved those drooly, toothless, hairless smiles.  She grew up to be an easy child to raise. I especially remember that when she was a teen, for punishment I would send her to her room.  Didn’t bother her a bit because she loved to read and that’s what she would do.  Sometimes when I told her she could come out she wouldn’t right away.  Did I mention she could be stubborn too?

Now she’s the mother of two busy boys and has continued to be an amazing daughter as well as a wonderful mother and wife…and she’s a terrific cook.  She has so many traits that she didn’t get from me and some I think she chose on purpose to avoid being like me.   She says I’m quirky but I say they’re not quirks if they’re yours.  She of course, is quirk-free…um….riiiiight!

I love my daughter, January Dawn Soden, and I love my mother, Norma Rae Cole, and now I’ve gone from raising children to sharing my home with my wonderful and equally quirky mother.  You watch your babies struggle to learn everything and then you watch your elderly parent struggle to remember everything.  It’s the circle of life and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Happy Birthday Gorgeous Girl.  Thank you for the honour of writing for your blog on one of my favourite days of the year.


I don't have a birth picture (they are somewhere in a box at my Mum's) but this is the Christmas before I turned 1 with my beautiful Mum in one of my favourite childhood places - Goderich, ON.
My Mum says I was beautiful but that is one large noggin I had.
My Dad and me on my first birthday.  Clearly not a fan of the candle.
(look at that head! - it's practically the same size as my father's!)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Moment of Choice

The night started to go down hill when I was changing my youngest's diaper and stood him up on the change table to pull up his pj bottoms.  He jumped up in excitement as I was chatting away and as he did his shoulder hit the underside of my chin and both sides of my tongue got in the way of my molars.

I hastily put him down on the floor as tears stung my eyes from the pain.

"Mother!" I yelled and I stomped out with my right foot the other two cursed syllables that usually come after that...

My boys thought my little show was hilarious. (I now kinda see why).  They didn't care that I was hurt.  Not in the least.

And that hurt.  It also made me mad.

Why they gotta be so mean???!!!  I thought to myself.

"Really guys?  Well, next time you come crying to me hurt, I'm going to laugh at you."

Okay.  So not my best moment as a Mother.  And of-course I would never do such a thing.

They continued to laugh and laugh. Falling on the ground laughing.

I stomped out of the room calling after them to get into my room now or they'd be going to bed without any books read.

They followed, of-course, they love being read to.

We cuddled up in my king sized bed, the previous ridiculous moment bid adieu.

It was calm time.  Book and bed time.

But Adrian would not stop moving around.

He was being more than a little boisterous and driving me more than a little crazy.

"If you don't sit still beside me and calm down, no more books Adrian."

And that was it.

He tested me once more.

"That's it!  You guys are going to bed.  Now."

I picked up a crying Fin...and I felt so bad.  It wasn't fair to him.  He was the one sitting serenely in my lap the whole time.

But I was fed up.  Five days of parenting alone and my patience was threadbare.

I gave Finley his soother and his Spiderman action figure that he currently must clutch at nap and bed time.

I gave him a kiss and an I love you, turned on his Twilight Turtle and ushered his now hysterical brother out of the room.

"Get in your room now Adrian."  I demanded harshly.

I hated where this was going.  Hated, hated, hated it.

I plunked him on his bed and rushed out of the room,  closing it, loudly and swiftly, behind me.  I leaned against it as he battered it, crying and screaming relentlessly.

And then my little one started up again.

I stood there, tired, fed up and out of steam.  I knew I had two choices.

I could walk away and be done with them with a black cloud of guilt following me around for the night, if not days.

Or I could open the door and deal with it...and with that maybe we would all feel better.

I opened the door and swooped my overwrought big boy up in my arms carrying him back to his bed.  He clutched at me as I pulled away thinking that I was going to leave him again.

I laid down beside him.

"Take a deep breath baby.  Breathe in...breathe out." I said wiping away his tears with my thumb.

He breathed in.

And out.

"Mommy will breathe too.  I need to calm down too honey."

And there we breathed in and out a half a dozen times more.

But my job wasn't done yet.

My little guy was still crying his little heart out.  And I needed to get to him.

I kissed away the rest of his tears and told him I'd be right back.

I walked into my baby's room and knew right away he just wanted his 'zazzy' - his soother.  He'd lost it in the pile of blankets and stuffed animals in his crib.  I found it right away and he immediately curled up into a ball on his side as I pulled the blankets up around him.

I returned back to Adrian's room and laid down with him once more.

I had something I needed to say.

"I'm sorry Mommy got so mad."

"It's alright Mumma.  Do you forgive me?"  His voice was still tinged with tears and small.  So small.

My heart dropped into my stomach.

"Of-course I forgive you sweetie...I always do." I whispered softly...hoping my words stay with him, knowing that I will always, always forgive him.

He then kissed my cheek, took a sip of water, and turned to face the wall as he does every night when he's ready to fall asleep.

"Tickle my back?"  His nightly request.  Our nightly ritual.

And I laid beside him, tickling his back, a feeling of relief waving over my body, knowing I made the right choice.  For us all.

Monday, January 9, 2012

When he goes...

I awake to the sound of the alarm.  I don't know what time it is exactly.  But it's early.  Very early.  And very, very dark.

He shuts it off quickly and as I lay beside my eldest who remains deeply asleep despite the brief cacophony, I remember through my haze of sleepiness...

He leaves today for 8 days.

I realize now it's better this way.  Him leaving so early in the morning instead of the day ahead...waiting, dreading for the hour that he has to leave.  The clock tick, tick, ticking away.  The day always seems to drag on with a pall of grey moodiness lying heavily upon anxiety growing as each hour passes.  It's been six years since he's started this job that takes him away for weeks at a time and though it's gotten easier, it's still not easy.  I remember the first time he left for over 3 weeks when I was pregnant with our first child.  I cried and cried.  And cried some more.  It seems so silly now.  I only had myself and a dog to take of after all.  There were probably a lot of hormones that had to do with most of those tears. I'll never forget the way my heart clenched and my throat closed as soon as I drove away from the airport.

I watch him as the light spills yellow from behind the half closed bathroom door as he gets ready, packing last minute toiletries.  The bed slightly moving each time he places something in the suitcase sitting on his side of the bed.  He doesn't know that I'm awake yet.  And then he does.

"Sorry if I'm being annoying honey."  He says.

I wasn't annoyed.

He's handsome, this husband of mine.  Full head of almost black, wavy hair, beautiful green eyes framed with dark long lashes that my boys luckily inherited.  A mostly straight nose with a slight bump from a break many years ago.  I love the look of serious concentration that he gets when packing.  I love to watch him, I love to listen to him talk too.  And he still makes me laugh.  No matter how much I've heard the same. Stories or discussions, I always enjoy what he has to say.  Well.  Almost always.  Unless he's got something to say about how I stack the dishwasher or over pack the garbage or the messiness of the stove when I cook.  Or when he goes on and on...and on and on...and on about every single shot at every single hole of his golf game.

But I digress.

I snuggle in closer to my big boy, feeling warm and cozy beneath the comforter as my son's body curls into mine.

I'm feeling a tiny bit guilty for the gratefulness I'm feeling, that it's him and not me leaving for the week ahead.  I recall just over a year ago, the night before I went away for 4 days, how he found me in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet, muffling my sobs with a towel. I was going to Los Cabos, Mexico to attend my best friend's wedding.  Bliss!  Even still...the tears, the anxiety couldn't be corked.

I know he doesn't entirely enjoy the travelling for work but there are aspects that I think must be enjoyable.  Dinners out at nice restaurants (though he always says my cooking is better than any restaurant's - now that's love), socializing with other adults. Even some time alone in a hotel room would be nice.  But these are my thoughts, my wishes on challenging days with the boys when he's not here.  They are not my reality.  I know how hard it is being away from my family, I did it.  Once.  For a whole four days. I can only imagine how much he misses us when he's gone.  And of-course we miss him.  A lot.

He comes around to my side of the bed and kisses me sweetly on the corner of my mouth then leans over me to give Adrian a tender kiss on the cheek, running his hand down his back. He smells of soap and Old Spice deoderant.

We softly say our  good-byes and I love you's.

I watch him walk out of our bedroom door, picking up his suitcase and shutting the bathroom light off on his way.

As I laid there, sleepy and comfortable, the head of my curly haired boy right next to mine, his chubby cheeked face turned toward me, breath warm against my cheek, no part of me envied that he was leaving on jet plane, so to speak.

Even if it was to Vegas.  First class all the way  baby.

Go check out some other awesome blogs and come back Thursday to vote for three of your favourites...mine maybe?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fulfillment - A Journey

For many years in my life I've asked myself the question "What's it all about?  This thing we call life? Day in.  Day out.  What's the purpose of it all?"

No one ever seemed had an best friend and I would discuss this subject at lengths as teenagers through to our 20's. We went over scenerios, things we could do, give away, give up, places to go.  To find...what?  Ourselves?  The meaning of life?

It was always fun to an angsty way.

Now, more than ever, there are thousands of books, hundreds of movies, too many television shows that are about the angst of the living...the human yearning, wondering what this so-called life is all about.

Mother's that leave their children.  Searching for something else.

Father's that leave their families.  Searching for someone else.

Scenes of a Mother standing at the sink, washing dishes, a desolate look on her face, far away eyes, a listlessness to her body.

I was always terrified of having this feeling after having children.  Of the feeling of never feeling fulfilled.

There seemed to be such cynicism surrounding the Stay-At-Home Mother role. Yet I knew it was where I was meant to be.

At home, raising my children.

After a brief stint back at work when Adrian was 11 months to 18 months it was time for me to call it quits.  I missed him too much.  I felt like I was missing so much...and I was due in a couple of months with his brother...or sister.  I wanted to soak up every bit of him that I could before our life would, again, change as we knew it.

As much as I can be a fatalist, I am just as much an idealist.

Just as any first mother dreams, I had this romantic fantasy of what being a Mother would bring me.

Morning's lazing in bed with our baby, playing peek-a-boo and this little piggy, plane rides and tickle games, with beatific smiles on our faces as the sun shone upon us through a picturesque window.

I was in for a shock when we brought our beautiful baby boy home. Of-course.  I remember us looking down at him in his car seat, minutes after we walked into our small 2 bedroom apartment, looking down at him asleep (finally) and feeling the same way though not voicing what we were feeling.  "What now?  What the hell now?"

I think all new parents feel that impact, that jolt...those tremors of the world as you once knew it, shaken to its very core.

And then we had another sweet boy.  Wow.  My world shook like it never had.  The beginning was SO DAMN HARD.  I can't tell you how hard it felt unless you've been through it yourself.

But in time those tremors subsided and with the lessening of them came waves of relief...sometimes minutes at a time, hours at a time.  Days, where I would say to myself, "Yes, I did it.  We made it.  I'm doing okay.  We are doing okay."

There have been moments lately when I've asked myself, "Why am I satisfied when it seems like so many Mother's are unhappy?  Why do I feel content in this role? Fulfilled?  Should I want more?  Should I want to be more? Is there something wrong with me?"

I've finally come to the conclusion that I should feel lucky that I feel this way.  Satisfied and happy with my life, raising my children, being home with them, watching them grow, keeping the house clean, organized, cooking dinner, baking with my children, teaching them everything from their ABC's to manners to how be a good person.

This career I call Motherhood?  Is kind of a big deal.  We are raising human beings...human beings that will grow into adults, make friends, become wives, husbands, have children of their own.  And these people they meet, love and grow will have an impact on their's and so on goes the chain of events.

Of life.

Though there are still moments when I become frustrated, exasperated and stretched beyond all limits I know with a fierce profoundness, that this place in my life, where I reside  right now, is exactly where I need, where I must, where I want more than anything to be.

I've finally found my answer.

This is what MY life is all about.

Living and loving presently in each moment.  Moments that will never get given to you again.

Cherish your life.  LIVE it.  LOVE it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Reminder: Two Kids is Enough for Us

Of-course it was the night I chose to 'stay up late' (oooh, midnight it was!) that my little one decided to wake up every.single.hour. upon the hour>

First my husband got up.

Then I did.

Then my husband.

Then my husband probably again. (oh he's good)

And maybe he got up again...then I, feeling horrible, knowing the poor man had to work in the morning, trudged in after him too.

Finley had wet through his diaper and now John was changing him.

I changed the sheets, the blankets.  The everything thing else.

As we worked together.  In unison.  Quietly.  Though each of us emitting telltale signs of having had enough of our youngest's shenanigans, I thought to myself, "Yes, we are a team.  A pretty good one.  Oh yes.  Yes we are!"  I was so proud of us at that very minute.

And I couldn't wait to get back into my warm bed.

As I finished up and turned to chide my little one, he simultaneously announced, "It's because he wouldn't eat any dinner!  He's probably starving! Can you please bring him downstairs and get him something to eat."

Oh no, no, no.


But he did have to work in the morning.  And he was right...not that we've ever been in the habit of feeding our children in the middle of the night...he wasn't sick, no fever.

I could tell he was just trying to piss us off.  Basically.

So I took my little one from my husband.

I may or may not have huffed.

And puffed.

"Honey, I have to work in the morning!"

"Fine!  I get it!  Fine!"

Down, down, down the stairs I stomped.

But not without one final..."FINE!" as he stood at the top of the stairs, exhausted and entirely exasperated.

And the proud moment...just went *poof.*

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hiccups in the Night

I awoke with a pressure on my belly.

A small jolting at regular intervals.

I looked down to see my 3 year old's head laying comfortably on my stomach.  Not an uncommon position for him.

I reached down to gently pull him up and laid his head down on the the pillow beside me.

He was sleepy but awake.

And he had the hiccups.

I turned to my side, lifted the book that always covers the green shining numbers of my bed side alarm clock.

3:24 am.

Who gets hiccups at 3:30 am??!!  

At once, full of nostalgia, as I turned back to stare at his sweet face in the dark of the night, I remembered how often he had the hiccups when he was growing in this belly of mine that he loves to rest his head on.  He usually got them in the middle of the night...keeping me awake.

Not unlike tonight.

I laid there beside him.  Quiet.  So quiet.  I purposefully hid my head behind the puffiness of the pillows that divided our faces.

And then I popped up.


This is what we do to hiccups.

We scare them away.

He smiled.  Serenely.

And then.


It didn't work.


I laid back down in the same position.

Not undefeated.

I became silent once more, holding my breath, hoping unrealistically, to take away the hiccups for him.

I mean, annoying are hiccups to begin with?  And how much more distracting at 3:30 am when you're trying to sleep?

I sat up suddenly, figuring maybe if I gently grabbed his arm and exclaimed, "BOO!" a little louder it would make his disturbance of the diaphragm take a hike.

I waited.  He still hadn't said a word, but laid there, eyes now wide open.


Darn it!

"Do you want some water honey?"


I retrieve a cup of water for him from all

He takes the teeniest of sips and hands it back to me.

I place it on the nightstand.

Lay back down beside him.


I wait...


Then my husband speaks up.

I was wondering when he would.

"Honey, just take him back to his room.  I have to get up at 5:30."

Now why didn't I think of that?

I carried my boy into his bed, pulling up his covers around him, surrounding him with his favourite blankets and stuffed animals.

Knowing well what was coming next.

"You lay beside me Mumma?" he asks in his adorably sleepy voice.

I get under the covers and curl up beside him, rubbing his back.


I decided to go for it one more time.

But a little louder.

I sat up abruptly looking down at him and whisper-shout,


He giggles quietly.

I wait.

And wait.



My work there was done.

But still I remained...continuing to rub his back the scent of his freshly shampooed curls in my nose.

I was just where I wanted to be.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My 2012 Bucket List

I know I wrote about resolutions that I most definitely WILL NOT be making this year, but I do make a weak effort at resolutions every year.

I don't write them down but generally speaking I have one or two things that I wish to do or try that knock around in my head until I decide to have at it.

A couple of years ago it was to cut sugar from my morning coffee.

Last year it was to start a blog.

I succeeded at both.

I know.  I aim low - but still.

This year since I now have a place to put my resolutions I thought ... why not try a little harder?  Challenges are always good for the soul right?

I will make myself accountable and tell at least 60 people what my plans are for the year to come.  Some are minor and some are kind of a big deal.  I hope I don't disappoint myself.  I plan to look back a year from now and see what I accomplished.

Here goes!

1.  Take my daily vitamins.

I was watching Dr Oz about a year ago and Deepak Chopra was on it.  He talked about the three most important vitamins every should take and that day I went out and purchased them.  (Multi, Vitamin D and Omega 3,6,9). I was pretty good at taking them every morning but then I took them without eating breakfast once and...just don't ever do that.  Unless you want to know what mild morning sickness feels like.  I was sooo nauseous.

2.  Eat breakfast before 9 am.

I find that if I don't eat breakfast before 9 am I become like an rabid scavenging animal.  I practically foam at the mouth, rummaging through my cupboards and fridge. Cereal simply will not do.  It's really strange the weird things that happen to my body.  I need to have non-breakfast food. Like leftover pasta at 10 am.  I don't care if it's hot or cold.  Cookies!  Or a bean and beef burrito.  With sour cream and hot sauce.  Or all three at the same time.  Not even lying.  I'm weird.  I tried to tell you guys that already.

3.  Start an herb garden.

I love to cook.  I especially love cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients.  I plan to start growing the herbs indoors.  It'll be like a science project with my kids...maybe they can even help! (these ideas always look way more fun in my head than when reality hits - I'm an idealist or an optimist.  Or maybe I'm just dumb.)  Basil, parsley, oregano...mmmm.  I'm pretty excited about this one!

4.  Grow a small vegetable patch.

Tomatoes, maybe some zucchini, green onion, some lettuce.  What happened to aiming low?  I'm starting to make myself a little nervous here.

5.  Make samosas from scratch.

Again with the food, I know.  I LOVE indian food and so does my 2 year old.  Believe it.  He eats it ALL.  Curried mussels, spicy beef patties, butter chicken.

I bought a pastry cutter and everything for this one.

6.  Volunteer for the city wide spring clean up with Adrian.

He not only points out "litter" and "litter bugs", he helps clean up garbage on our walks together.  3 years old and already a contributing member of society.  Love him.

7.  Run 10K.

I will be doing this in the spring.  And I'm terrified.

8.  Plan more date nights with my husband.

The last time we went on a date together...was....ohhh....I honestly can't tell you.  Our 5 year anniversary??  Over 6 months ago maybe???!  Yep.  That's no good.  Something has to change there.

A Happy New Year's to you all!!!!  May 2012 be your best year yet!!!!

Resolutions I Won't Make in 2012

A fun twist on resolutions!  I usually make one or two a year.  Though I don't write them down, they tend to bounce around in my brain and I usually stick to them.  

That's because I aim low.  

However, this idea is more up my alley and way more fun to write about.  Enjoy!

1.  Quit biting my nails.

This is a gross habit but I'm not ocd about it.  I don't have ugly, bitten down to the quick nails.  They simply look short on a good day and a tad ragged on a bad one. I tend to stick my fingers in my mouth when I'm deep in thought or stressed out about something.  Attractive I know.  I will probably never stop doing this much to the chagrin of my husband.  I did the acrylic nails thing for years and when I stopped getting them done...I started up this disgusting habit again.   Yay me.

2.  Blog more.

I blog when the mood hits but mostly when I have time which is a rarity.  And that's all I can say.  I have no interest in doing anything big with this humble little blog of mine.  The fact that I have 60 people that enjoy my writing enough to click "follow" makes me feel  pretty damn good. It's not much in the whole big blogger scheme of things but I appreciate all of you nonetheless and I thank you for all of your kind words when you take the time to comment.

3.  Stop drinking coffee.

Why??  Why would someone do that???

4.  Exercise more.

If I work out two to three times a week I'm content.  It's more than most people and less than some.  That's it, that's all.

5.  Eat healthier.

Again....why??  Why would people want to eat salads day in and day out???  That's why I exercise!  So I can eat pasta and cookies.  By no means am I a junk food junkie and I do eat my share of veggies and salads.  But I do love my cheese.   And wine.

6.  Drink more water.

I know we're supposed to drink 8 - 10 glasses of water a day.  What I would like to know is who actually does that?  If I drank that much liquid in a day I'd need to wear Depends.  I may have a birthday coming up soon, but I'm not at that stage of my life quite yet.

7.  Get my hair done more than twice a year.

Not gonna happen.

8.  Learn how to speak Swahili, Spanish or any other foreign language.

As much as I would love to learn another language and it's IS on my bucket list this will not be happening anytime soon.  It requires far too many brain cells and at this point of my life my little boys have destroyed most of them.  I need a few more years to get the frissons in my brain going again before I have enough built up to learn another language.

9.  Not become slightly depressed and anxiety ridden every time my husband travels.

This is not about him getting on a plane.  This is about me.  Being alone.  With two very young boys.  Who make me insane at least 12  three times a day.

10.  Floss more.

No matter how many times my dentist kindly lectures me with that disappointed look on his face, I never learn.  Flossing bores me.  Surprisingly this reason doesn't fly with him.  But isn't that why they invented mouthwash?

Happy New Year's to you my beautiful friends!  May this year bring you lots of fabulous things.  Like a shopping spree.  Or free money.  A new car?

How about simply happiness...enjoying the small moments.

Because 'things' won't bring you does.