Thursday, March 29, 2012

Basking in the Love Moments

He walked out of the building and into the sweet sunshine.  I followed his lead.

He turned to face me with his typical impish smile upon his face awaiting my chase.  I smiled back and he realized that a pursuit would be futile as I caught up to him.  We strolled along the front walkway of the building until we came to the curb.  We usually stayed inside the library at the community centre while his brother played Sportball for that hour but it was a beautiful day and we had no where to be but with each other.

I took his small, soft hand in mine and we hopped down the curb, crossing the parking lot toward a grassy hill that led to a small creek, a walking path in between.

With the unusual March warm weather, dandelions had peeked their sunny faces through the bright green grass.

"Flower!" Finley exclaimed kneeling down.  "Pick it?"  His soft voice asked as he looked up at me, his eyes questioning.

"Yes, that's a dandelion Fin.  You can pick it.  Do you want smell it?"

He leaned his perfect cherubic face toward the flower and inhaled quickly.  Sweet child loves to smell everything.

"Mmm.  Gooood."

He attempted to put the flower behind my ear.  Oh my overflowing heart.

His attempt...sweet son of mine.

We continued down the hill, across the path and toward the small creek where he found 'swords' (aka sticks) and threw them into the trickling stream.

I sat along the slope of the embankment and watched my youngest son.  The sun shone down and the cool wind blew softly lifting the strands of his golden cap of hair as he continued to search for sticks and throw them with every ounce of his 2 year old might into the water.

One of the many 'swords'.
Grandmas - his eyes are still in place.  Not marred nor scarred.

Once again...don't worry Grandmothers... I kept a good eye on him
and repeatedly yelled out "Danger! Danger!" when he got too close.
Like here.

The song 'Let's Go Fly A Kite' made it's way into my mind and I sang it aloud.

I tend to burst into song randomly as soon as it comes to mind.  It's one of my many few quirks.

Except all I could remember was, "Let's go fly a kite, up to the highest height." so I kept singing that same line over and over again, then humming the rest.

"It's a beautiful day!"

I heard a woman's voice call from the path behind me and assumed she had met up with someone else along the way.

"It's a beautiful day!"  I heard her declare again. I turned around to find a woman about the age of 70 calling out to us from up the hill on the pathway.

"Gorgeous!" I replied back smiling.  I anticipated her next sentence...the line most people of older generations tend to say to Mothers with young children...."Enjoy this time with them!"

But she did not.  She continued her walk.

I had been ready to answer her.  I always say the same thing.  It is the truth.

"I am."

For however tough my day has been - and there have been plenty some when running screaming from my house has been oh so tempting - I'm always looking for the bits of brightness of even the most challenging of days.

Like a cat seeking out that specific sphere of warmth on the floor from the filtered golden sunshine through a window, the love moments with my family are what I bask in when the chaos of the day has eventually departed into slumber.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Asking "Why" Doesn't Always Bring Answers

It was going to be an incredibly difficult funeral.  Emotional in the most draining way.  Heartshattering in every sense of the word.

Because that's what happens when a young child dies suddenly.  

Hearts shatter.

Mine did and my mind couldn’t stop thinking of my little cousin’s Mother who’d just lost her middle son, so tragically. My mind could not wrap my head around losing a child.  My child.

I suppose none of us can.  None of us can prepare ourselves for a loss that's so monstrous.

A loss that would leave a soul gaping open.  Raw and wilted.


To mindfully go to that place makes me wince in agony.

Imagine?  No.  I could not.

He went out to the movies that night with 3 other friends and never came home.  The three others walked away with minor injuries.  A car crash.

As I walked into the building, then into the room where the funeral was to be held, a slideshow was flashing pictures up on the wall.

Large pictures of happiness.

Those pictures mirrored the life I’m living right now.

Boys, brothers.  Laughing, smiling, making goofy faces for the camera.  Their Mother sitting with her boys on the couch, her arm around them all.  Smiling.  Beaming. So happy.  So proud.

It was then that the dam I had built up in my chest broke wide open.

It had been years since I’d seen them all.  Nicholas was only 5 then.  Not much older than my eldest now.  I remembered his sweet face and brown eyes well.  Just like his Mother’s.  I remember his Mother, so kind.  Always smiling.  Over the years since, unfortunate events had occurred.  Nicholas's father, her husband, (my first cousin) went missing over three years ago in the coldest winter I’ve known to date.

His body has yet to be found.  It's something out of a t.v. criminal drama.  Except this is real life.

And the truth is, reality is harsh.  And it doesn't always end with the mystery solved.

I dream of him once in a while.  In those dreams he is alive.  I wonder how that is even possible but I have hope.  Faith.  We all do.

As people went up to say their words and tell their stories I watched Nicholas's Mother with her youngest, now 10 years old.  He was just an infant when I met him.  A baby.  Her baby.

I watched them together.  Her arm around him, holding him close.  Tightening at times.  Resting her cheek upon his head.  I watched her reach under the pew for more Kleenex.  Handing them to her youngest, using some herself.  I watched how they gave each other comfort, their heads tilted together and my heart ached for that boy who now had lost two heroes in his life at the tender age of 10.

I had wondered how his Mother hadn’t collapsed into a heap on the floor.

And then realized that those two handsome boys that sat by her side were the reasons why.

I sent a thanks to God that she still had them.

I allowed myself to cry like I haven’t cried in many, many years.  I let those tears fall.

And fall.

And fall some more.

Beside me were so many young faces whose tears also fell relentlessly.  Boys, girls.  16 years old with a look of forlornness I’ve never seen before.

His girlfriend of a year stood up to speak. And those that had been holding back at that point…well there was no holding back anymore.

That sweet, beautiful young girl met Nicholas last year when she'd lost her best friend.  He became her shoulder to cry on.  He had helped her through that huge, devastating loss.   

Now where was she to go?  That poor girl...I will think of her often over the years.  No one should bear such heartbreak at that young age.  One thing is certain.  At least this I hope this will be true – her future husband will be a great man.  For he will have to live up to the legacy of Nicholas.  And that will not be easy.  He was, most certainly, a very special boy.

The pastor read a letter; to Nicholas from his Mother.  I braced myself.  I wasn’t sure what to expect. 

Anger, sadness, confusion.  Why’s and how could this happen?!

That's what I would be doing.

asking. screaming. yelling at the world.

No.  There was none of that.

It was full of love, grace, tenderness and thanksgiving for having had known him, having mothered him.  Having had loved him.

As his casket was rolled out, the bagpipes began, outward sobbing began, tears fell evermore and we all filed out and into a beautifully bright and sunny day.

I found myself among a sea of sadness under sunshine surrounded by sixteen year old boys holding each other and weeping with a wretchedness I never, ever, please Dear God, ever want to see again.

Then the wind pick up, and swirled almost like a perfect figure eight around almost 500 bodies.  The long hair on my head almost stood up on end like the hair on my arms did then.

And I knew in my heart that it was something from Nicholas.

Perhaps a kiss.  Or an embrace.

I hoped that everyone else had felt it too. 

My Personal Creed
(Nicholas wrote this when he was 14)

I believe that everyone is equal.
I believe that everything happens for a reason.
I believe that music can touch your soul.
I believe that nobody is perfect.
I believe that peace is achievable.
I believe that it is best to be yourself.
I believe that our greatest gift is freedom.
I believe that prayer can make or break your day.
I believe there is only one God.
I believe that we must learn to forgive.
I believe that all we need is love.

Nicholas Taylor


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tales from the Kitchen Table

Like most kitchen tables, ours too has many stories to tell if it could talk.  Board games, meal times, snack times and sometimes simply just conversation seem to all revolve around the kitchen table.  In the past couple of days a few tales from the kitchen table have already ingrained themselves into my mind just like the dark lines and swirls are ingrained within the reddish brown hue of our circular teak wood table top...


As Adrian and I sat across from one another during a mid-afternoon snack he kept continually clearing his throat.  I won't deny that worries of compulsive disorder and turrets entered my mind at the constant sound.  It was driving me a bit mad so I asked him, "You have something need to clear in your throat Aidy?"

"Yeah.  It's a butterfly."

Chew, chew, chew.  Throat clear, throat clear, throat clear.

Throat clear.

He spoke up again.

"Nah, it's a moose."

So much for a frog.


Playing a board game with Adrian at the kitchen table while my little one sleeps, Adrian tried to pull a fast one.

Me, "You cheated!  You're a total cheater!"

It was in jest (mostly).  I really am a gracious game player (not according to my husband - especially if if Monopoly is the game of choice) and quite honestly I had no idea he even knew what 'cheating' meant (this is true).

Apparently he did know exactly what I was saying...

He looked at me with an expression of mock hurt and said, "Awwww, don't say that.  That's not very nice."

Well.  He should know better than to try and pull a fast one on his Mother.  Nothing gets past me.

Or at least I have to get him to believe that until he's over the age of 30.


After a beautiful evening at the park where both my sons thought sand angels would be a great idea, John was upstairs running a bath for them while I doled out snacks of milk and cheerios, buttered bread and wheat thins at the kitchen table.

Clearly the rigatoni doesn't fall far from the tree.  We love our carbs here.

Finley begins telling me a (somewhat stilted) story pointed animatedly at his leg, "A street.  I fell.  Bike. Hurts.  A booboo."

"Yes, you did fall in the street off your bike.  Does your leg still hurt?"

"Yeth.  Kiss." (he has the most adorable lisp - but only when he says yes.)

I leaned down and gave him a kiss on his shin.

"No!  Knee."

I kissed his knee, still deliciously soft and round and chubby at the sweet age of two.

"All better?"


He turned back to the serious business of cereal eating, tilting his bowl toward him and scooping out the perfect ratio of sweetened milk to cheerios.


I sat at the table where so many memories in this beautiful family life of mine have already imbedded themselves into my memory. My heart twanged with nostalgia and a teeny bit of heartbreak that happens often when it hits me how big this love is.

Indescribably big.

I watched my boys contentedly munch away, not a care in the world except for when the next snack would be or what game to play next and I thought, if only kissing boo-boos could always be so sufficient to solving life's pain, wouldn't life be so grand.

And then I caught myself and took in the moment for what it was.  I turned the thought around in my mind, and reminded myself as I often do..."This life of mine...right here, right so, so incredibly grand."

Blessed my life, blessed my family, blessed this kitchen table.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Raw Chicken and Headstands

"A good friend will sharpen your character, draw your soul into the light, and challenge your heart to love in a greater way."  Edward Bulwer-Lytton

My ladies.  Smart, strong, funny, unique.  Beautiful inside and out.

My family is my heart and soul but my girlfriends are my sanctuary.  I have a few individual very close friendships but there is a group of 7 women that I met while working together at a hotel 10 years ago - most of us were mere girls then - that know and love me like no other.  

I remember the moment I met each one.  

One I knew from college and I and admired her from afar before I really got to know her. She is vivacious and funny.  Full of character and personality.

One made me laugh right from the belly without even trying.  She is forthright and she's fierce in the Tyra Banks way - the best way.  

One intimidated me but simultaneously was also full of an adorable quirkiness that I was immediately drawn to (she has just found out she was pregnant and I've no doubt she may have had a touch of pregnancy rage).  

One seemed sweet and innocent but once her mouth opened one realized she was full of a shocking and wicked offside sense of humour.  She really is sweet and thoughtful too though.

One I didn't really get to know until much later but always loved her joie de vivre and have since admired her loyalty and strength of character.  She is a great listener.  

And last but certainly not least one is full of warmth, a great laugh and though (just a little older than us) is also full of youthful spirit.

We didn't all start hanging out right away but the bond that we've formed over the past decade is intrinsic and wonderful and true.  Three of us have moved away from the city where our friendship formed but our ties have grown stronger with each passing year. 

In our younger days we had our share of nights that lasted well into the morning.  Since then we've become Wives and Mothers.  We've laughed until we've almost peed our pants. We've battled demons and exes.  We've cried together.  We have fabulous conversations.  We know each other's stories.

One thing is certain, we always, always have a blast together. 

We are all so very different yet those differences bring out the best in each other.

Our friendship bond has grown bigger, stronger and has become so deep seated I simply cannot imagine my life without any one of them.  

I am so incredibly lucky to have such wonderful female friends.

(Even if they won't let it go that I didn't cook the chicken all the way through for dinner the other night - I swear to GOD I've never done that in my life.)  

I'm not sure what they would say to describe me but I know they like to tease me in the way that only great friends are allowed to - especially if I'm feeling vomitous (yes, I made that word up).  They are my biggest blog fans by the way - so this one is for them.  They've been bugging me to write something for the past couple of days but it's only them that inspired me to write this.

And vlog this.  After a (few too many) drinks this past St Paddy's Day I couldn't help but notice the vast space in my girlfriend's basement that was calling me to do a cartwheel which led to what you are about to witness.  Things of this nature often occur when I've had a couple too many.  Sometimes I think it would be great if everyone dances with bright pink feathers:  

Yep - that's me with my bright pink dancin' partner.
By the end of the night EVERYONE had one of
those in their hands.  

and other times I believe I am a nimble gymnast.  Clearly after watching this video you will find out the real truth - that my girlfriends are seriously talented in halfway headstands.  And I? Am not.

Ladies, I love you and can't wait to see what we get up to the next time.  

January XOXOXOXOXOXO (a kiss and a hug for each of you)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Four Leaf Clover from Above

It seems as though luck of the adverse kind winds and weaves and punctures it's awful head too often in my family, leaving holes in the hearts of us left behind.

As the story always goes, the bad news came in the form of the dreaded phone call.

I closed the door to the bedroom of the room we'd been sleeping in during our visit at my Mother-in-law's house, telling my husband I needed a minute.

I sat on the bed where I slept with my boys the past two nights.  I looked out at the bright sparkling sun dancing off the small ripples of the water.

It was a beautiful day outside.

As my tears fell fast I looked out the window though my eyes didn't really see the gorgeous scenery displayed.  It seems I'm continually asking the tired question...why?  What good comes from a life so young lost?

It's a question that here on Earth will never be answered.

I know this yet it wasn't comforting me at that moment.

I grieved openly for all the cousins I've lost over the years.  Too young to be taken away.  I grieved even more their parents, my aunts and uncles who should never know such loss.  I cried for all the parents I know that have lost their child tragically and unfairly.


I still want answers.

I allowed my mind to go where no parents mind ever wants to go.  Especially when your children are young and healthy.  These thoughts glance you out of nowhere with a blow to the soul every time something like this happens.  The aftermath leaving everything seeming so fragile that even the gentlest of touches could crumble it all into a million little pieces, never to be put back together again.

As I dried my face from the tears and entered the room where the rest of my family was, my sons took turns crawling into my lap.  I soaked them in with a quiet ferocity.  I silently and mercifully said to them, "Please don't ever leave me."  and I prayed to God, "Not my boys...please never my sons." 

Yet why should I be any different?  It's those thoughts that haunt my worst nightmares.

We bundled up for some much needed fresh air.  It was the nicest day of the year so far and I wondered why terrible news always seems to come on seemingly perfect days.

My littlest found an acorn as we rounded the house and started down the hill towards the water.  "A corn!"  He said over and over again.  As his yellow and black striped mittened hand gave the 'a corn' to me I noticed a dried leaf that looked to be a four leaf clover just behind him.  I almost turned and walked away but it wouldn't let me.

I looked away and back again.

There it still was.

I walked over. Bent down. Picked it up.


There was snow on this ground just yesterday yet here it was.

A four leaf clover.  The only four leaf clover I've ever found.

It was large, yet dried and as fragile looking as my emotions felt.

Another wave of tears hit me again but in a different way.

Grandma Belle was at it again.  She had begun her other worldly journey half my lifetime ago leaving signs here and there the weeks after she passed.  She has since visited me often in my dreams and through moments such as these.

I knew right then my Grandma Belle was once again looking over us all from above.

She was telling us it would, somehow, be okay.

The significance of a four leaf clover from above?
My Grandma was Irish.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hand In Hand, Brothers Unite

"Fin, here....are you hungry?  Do you want some raisin bread?" I ask waving raisin bread at his red, tear streaked face while trying to keep my eyes on the road and my youngest child from making my ears bleed.

"NO! No raisin bread!"  Sobbing, screaming, crying continues.

"Are you thirsty?  Do you need water?" I practically plead with him to take the sippy cup of water from the hand attached to the arm that's bent at a most uncomfortable and awkward angle.

He sits directly behind the driver's seat.


"Buddy!  I don't know what's going on with you!  It's okay!  We're going to see Daddy!  Aren't you excited to see Daddy?!"

Brief pause.


And then the wailing continued.

I was trying my best to concentrate on the road but as all parents know...a child crying whilst driving is most unsettling task.


I'm brilliant!

Who is his favourite person in the whole wide world besides Mommy and Daddy?

His big brother who happened to be sitting right next to him.

"Adrian...can you please try to get Fin to stop crying honey?  I just don't know what's wrong with him."

And then...the sweetest of voices spoke clearly with love.

"Finley, do you want to hold my hand?"

Oh. My. Heart.

Seriously.  This picture makes me want to weep with love.
And yes, I took this as it happened.  I grabbed my phone and took that
picture without taking nary an eye off the road.
Because I am that talented you guys.  Pure. Talent.

“We came into the world like brother and brother;
And now let's go hand in hand, not one before another.”  William Shakespeare

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Secret Language amongst Brothers

They were playing costumes.  Adrian donned his Captain America costume with aplomb.

He stood in front of the full length closet mirrors switching up his superhero stances.

Shield in front.

Shield by side.  Serious face.

Shield above head.

Shield back down in front.  Fierce. Brave.

Finley was running around in his diaper and pajama shirt as I washed up some dishes and put them away.

And then I walked over to the couch and sat down beside the costume bin as my son's conversed.

"Finley, you wanna be Iron Man?" Adrian asked, holding up his brother's Iron Man costume.


"You don't wanna play costumes Finley?"


"Don't you wanna dress up as Iron Man?"


"Mackabah?  We don't have Mackabah costumes Finley."

Me, "What is a 'Mackabah?'"

Finley, "Mackabah."

Adrian, "No Finley.  We don't have sausage costumes."

Me, "Oh?  A Mackabah means sausage?"

Adrian, "Yes.  It does."

Me, "Fin, does Mackabah mean sausage?"

Fin, "Yeah."

It appears my son's have a secret language now.

This should make my life all the more interesting.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Load Of Rubbish


It's been a while since I linked up over at Stasha's but I liked the was too easy to pass by.

10 things I'm rubbish at.  

1.  Sports.  Of any kind.  I could probably out bench you (I'm a strong Mutha) but give me a basketball, volleyball or soccer ball and you'll find me flailing.  Or tripping.  Most likely both.

2.  Wrapping Cheese.  My husband is always on my case about not wrapping the cheese properly when I'm done with it.  I say there are worse things I could not be doing.

3.  Opening those toys that are encased with that hard plastic that basically threatens to cut a man for no reason.

4.  Hiding my moods.  I'm really bad at being phony.

5.  Sewing. Fast stabby needles are not my thing.

6.  Gardening.  I have a black thumb.

7. Following a recipe.  I just can't do it.  I try but I always have to get a little crazy and throw cinnamon in there or something.

8.  Play race car video games.  Why are these games so hard for me?  In real life I'd like to think I'm a most excellent driver (though I'm sure my husband would beg to differ) but it sure doesn't translate well to video games.

9.  Take really good photos.  I always forget to bring my camera with me but I always have my phone so I end up taking hundreds of really bad quality phone pictures.

10.  Dealing with vomit...more specifically my children's or my dog's.  I can't even go there.  Just the thought makes me vomitous.

When they make it hard to love them...

Before 9 a.m. my eldest had pushed, prodded, needled and stomped on every single button I had.

Because he refused to get dressed and I refused to be held captive in my own home I left him in his pj's and we were off to the gym where I could get a break from Mothering for a while and he could run off his energy that knows no bounds.

I took the entire 2 hours.  Oh yes I did.  I showered, I put make up on, I even blow dried my hair straight.

And there we were again.  2 year old in tears because he couldn't get his boots on by himself yet refused my help and my 4 year old insisting in not so many words that he was dying of hunger.

We arrived home and the dramatics continued.

And I threw food at them like I was tossing meat at starving lions restlessly pacing the entrance of their cave.

Between bites of some food and refusing other foods the tears wore on.

And on.

Even music wouldn't bring them back from their misery.

As I was finishing up in the kitchen Adrian climbed up on the counter and rummaged through the cupboards retrieving a long lost small bag of sugary fruit snacks.

"No Adrian, your behaviour today has not warranted a treat at this moment.  If you continue good behaviour this afternoon you can have them after dinner."

Well, that did it. Out came his foot and off went the hand soap from the sink and the empty plastic milk jug from my hands.

Then off he came from the counter as I tore those candies from his hand and ripped them open, dumping them all in the food compost.

Probably not the best mothering tactic but I'd had it UP TO THERE.

He screamed, he cried, he fell to the floor, he vibrated, he yelled at me 'DON'T DO THAT!!!'over and over and over again as I told him loudly, "You don't hit or kick Adrian Thomas!!!"

Finley, little sensitive soul that he is, came over with tears beginning from all the commotion.

In defeat I turned around with the tug of his little hand on my pant leg and my back slid down the cupboard doors.  He crawled into my lap as my other son railed on beside me in the corner of the kitchen.  I was near tears as I heard the song playing in the background.

Somehow I heard the lyrics over the cacophony of my surroundings.

The words of the song almost made smile in irony....almost.

Tears dropped instead.

"It's not hard for me to love you
No it's not a difficult thing

It's not hard for me to love you
Because you are the world to me..."

The intensity of my son's tantrum seemed to quickly cease as I pulled him up beside me, planting kiss after kiss atop his soft curls and told him that I loved him.

And there we sat, a pitiful bunch.  All with tears in our child's head laid upon my shoulder, the other's upon my chest.  My arms around both my sons as we sat in the corner of our small kitchen, staring forlornly at the oven door in front of us.  Pitiful indeed.

At that moment I realized something.  Something I'll make sure to never forget.

The moments when they make it the hardest to love them are the moments we should say those words the loudest of all.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Only yesterday was the time of our lives...

After the usual chaos of dinner we bundled up for a walk around the block.

Us, the boys and the dog.

Adrian's hand in mind.  Finley's hand in John's.

John's other hand holding the leash of our family pet.

It was cold and drizzly but that didn't stop us.

We walked, we talked softly, we jumped over shadows illuminated by drizzly golden streetlight.

John whistled and I intermittently sang the song to his melody.

It was officially our first family walk together.  No sling, no stroller, no piggybacks.

We all simply just....strolled along.  Together.

Inside the warmth of our home, gloves, hats, boots and coats became strewn about.

We trudged up the stairs, into Adrian's room and I began to read amongst soft lamplight, pillows and favourite blankies a most beautiful book to my sons.

*"On the day that we met and I put you to bed,
I noticed a crown on the top of your head...

...Your crown is your best friend forever, by far.
It tells the true story of just who you are.

That's why every night, when I put you to bed, 
I'm careful to kiss the crown on your head"

After the book we scooted over to our bedroom and laid there, the four of us in our big comfy bed.

Adrian slid down and off my side of the bed and turned on the bedside alarm clock radio.

He fiddled with dial for a few seconds. There was static and fuzz.  John began to protest....

And then....

'.....I heard that your dreams came true......'

A familiar voice to my son made him stop fiddling and we caught each other's eyes.

He smiled proudly and climbed up to curl in beside me...

And we laid there, still.

The four of us.

In our big comfy bed.

'You know how the time flies

Only yesterday was the time of our lives

We were born and raised in a summer haze

Bound by the surprise of our glory days'

Finley came over and gave me a kiss goodnight, laying his head briefly and sweetly on my shoulder then was quietly carried with John.  His Daddy.

Sweet dreams sweet son...I love you.

I whispered to my eldest son, "You are a special boy."

He sat up and touched the curls atop his head and asked, "Why? Because I wear a crown?"

Oh my love...yes...and so, so much more.

It's my very hopes and dreams that you and your brother always know this...forever believing in yourselves.

It's never more clear or more true until you become a parent how time flies by...faster every day.  Every month.  Every year.

As I listened to the words and the quiet breathing of my eldest at my side, I all of a sudden saw John and myself 25 years from now laying in bed together.

Reminiscing about the surprise of our glory days.

Wondering how ever could we have known how 'bittersweet this would taste...'

(*'The Crown on your Head' by Nancy Tillman)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

An Adventure Walk (complete with crappy phone photos)

The other day I decided to do something out of the ordinary with my boys besides the usual stick around the house, go to the gym, go to the park or ride bikes outside.

We were living on the edge that day.  So on the edge that I didn't even call ahead or look up the hours of operation.

We were going to the Children's Museum....

....wait for it.....wait for it..... a different city.

A city not too far from us but quite different than the one we live in.

The first thing Adrian noticed as we drove through the very 'characteristic' downtown was all the graffiti.

And the "cracked buildings".

Seconds later my little one yelled out, "HEART! HEART!" as we passed the 'Love Shop' for Adults only with the O in the shape of a heart.

It's the kind of city that perhaps even in pure sunlight still looks grey though this is just one part of it I've seen.  I suppose every city has darkness and light. It's a place that I could picture my best friend and I road tripping through and deciding to kick it at one of the local dingy pubs and meet some fascinating people with fascinating stories.  Though I tend to romanticize things and we'd probably meet a couple crazies who have less than fascinating stories but are entertaining nonetheless. It seems to have 24 hour convenience stores less than every half a block.  I saw a "High Times" ATM machine with that infamous 5 leaf plant and Jamaica-mon colours all over it.  I'm not sure what the difference is between a 'normal' ATM machine and one that is high on times but I didn't stop to find out.  This city is full of interesting people.  And I mean that in the nicest way.  I'm the kind of person that wonders about people's backstories and I do my best not to judge.  It's one of my truth mantras I speak often to myself.  Everyone has a story.  Tragic or not...this city is full of them.  I saw a girl who looked to be no older than 17 at a bus stop with a stroller.  I'd hoped that she was babysitting but the look on her face and the stoop to her young shoulders told me otherwise.

The Downtown

We arrived to a very scant looking parking lot - we'd been here before a while back and I knew they opened at 10 am.  It was just after 10 so I thought nothing of it.

Until we reached the door and it was locked.  I noticed the hours - open Wed-Sat.  It was Tuesday.

Adrian was SO disappointed.  I felt awful. So much for living on the edge.

Finley, as soon as we pulled in, had noticed there was a playground area with a "Side! SIIIIDE! Sidesidesidesideside" ... I'm not sure where my children get their persistence from but I can tell you it's enough to break a man.  Or woman.

And so that's is precisely where we the 'side'.

Again with the lame phone images...I swear one day I WILL get a great
As we slid and climbed and hung I noticed that despite the area, this was actually a very pretty park with lots of trails and many people walking their dogs. I remembered seeing a sign that there was a Greenhouse nearby.  So off we went on one of our 'adventure walks'.

I was trying to get a photo of them standing together because behind them
is a really cool view of the escarpment...but alas I got this.  Which is
typical of my boys.  And still very sweet.

Gah.  I love these kids.

This was a really cool tree and if I was any kind of photographer
this would be an awesome photo.  But I'm not and so it kinda sucks.

We walked on for what felt like forever and I was pretty sure I could see some sort of building that looked "greenhouse like" in the distance.

There's the Greenhouse AND a Bandstand!
I was more than a little tempted to live out my rock star fantasies but I resisted.
I didn't want to embarrass my kids.

In the meanwhile Finley chased 'kerwols' (squirrels) up trees and Adrian stuck by his Mumma's side as usual.

Poor little kerwol.

We also climbed a really cool tree (well, I put them up in the tree for photography and memory purposes). They loved it and wanted to climb up higher....there may have been some tears at that point.  Sometimes a great idea backfires a little bit.

We eventually made it to the greenhouse and I must admit I was pleasantly surprised.  I suppose I just assumed there would be plants and flowers and thought I'd be that awesome Mom that would teach my children about the Birds of Paradise flower and ... well ... other plants, whatever those might be.

Clearly I'm not botanist.  And who was I kidding?  They're 2 and 4...did I really think they'd care about the latin name of Ivy was?

Mostly I just wanted to get warm.

There were parrots!  Named Henry and Meredith (or something along those lines)

There was a lone turtle and massive koi fish - seriously - I swear one was the
size of Adrian.  I ensured they stayed well away from that pond.

Who knew there was such a thing as a hanging Monkey Chia Pet??

The boys thought he was pretty cool (I thought he was a teeny bit creepy.
He had black soulless eyes).
Adrian got over him pretty fast but Fin kept going back for more.
All in all, despite the closed museum we had a really fun and adventuresome day.

We're going back tomorrow.  To the museum this time....and if time and weather permits I would completely welcome another adventure walk.

Especially when the morning ends like this.  OUT.COLD.