Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Favourites! Quotes and Pictures

Today I'm linking up over at Ado's, The Momalog for a very cool online baby shower for Alison over at Mama Wants This.  She's due the first week of May with her second baby boy!  So exciting.  I wish you the best of luck Alison!  Two boys bring loads of craziness, chaos and FUN.  Bring on the superhero costumes!

Our task from Ado was to choose our favourite baby picture and quote about Motherhood. (Ado already stole my quote but I'm gonna use it anyway).  Jackie Kennedy said it best.  I remember reading this quote in one of her biography's.  It was before I was even married with children but it was like a light bulb (bing!) went off in my head when I read it.  It has stuck with me ever since.

"If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much."

I also read a wonderful sentence just the other day that made me feel so much better about what I'm doing as a Mother (frankly most days I don't know what the hell I AM doing as a Mother).  I wish I knew who it was, to give them credit for this, but they just said it was something that an older mother had said to them at one time.  Cheers to that older mother wherever she is!

"Motherhood is only hard when you're doing it right." Amen to that.

I couldn't decide on just one picture and didn't want to seem like I was favouriting one over the other - so I chose a favourite picture of each of my boys. Gotta be fair.  And all's fair in love and Motherhood or something like that.  (not really but anyway).

Adrian at 8 months.  Do you see why I call him angel face?

Finley at just over a year and a half.  Delicious.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Discomfort Exposed

So last week I walked into the change room at my gym and WHOA!

A woman exposed from the waist down was bent over lotioning her legs, one foot placed on the bench seat.  Her white derriere was a like a blaring neon sign.  And to make it worse,  her neon white behind faced a very, very large mirror which reflected it back into the change room and into everyone else's poor unsuspecting eyes.

It could not be escaped.

Now. I realize I'm a modest gal...the type of girl that brings her towel, moisterizer and undergarments to the shower area fully dressed, hops into the shower - fully dressed - then throws her gym clothes in a bag through a very thin curtain opening...because there are no private change rooms.  (WTH?!) After my shower I scurry back towards my dark corner of the change room and dress under my towel so that no one else sees a glance of my hide  There's nothing wrong with my body. It is not perfect but it is in perfect working order.  I am in good shape because I work at it. I'm healthy and proud of what it's done.  It carried and nourished two beautiful, healthy, perfect babies.  I'm strong.  I can lift heavy weights, run, bike, carry both my boys at the same time.  (that's 70 plus lbs right there).  I have my 'things' my 'hang ups'...there are certain...areas I'm self conscious about and I really wish I wasn't but I don't think that's unusual.  I'm not a prude.  Just take my word for it.  And that is all I will say about that. ahem.  I believe all woman's bodies that are healthy are something to be respectfully admired...not ogled or jeered at.  And by healthy I'm not talking about a forced size 0 where all of one's skelebones are visible.  Or women that have dieted so much they look like bobble heads.  That's not hot.  (Here - have a burger.  With cheese. You are sadly missing out.) I just don't think it's necessary to stand, bent over at waist lathering body cream on your legs with your bare behind sticking out when the rest of your body is perfectly clothed.  Or hanging around with your (clothed) friends chatting about the weather. I can tell you right now lady.  It's cold outside.  Put some damn clothes on! I also don't get why one must stand buck nekkid brushing her hair when it's pretty clear to me (by a quick and dreadfully mistaken peep) you should be concentrating on the grooming of the other areas.  You get me?

 I will never, ever understand gratuitous nakedness. There is actually a family nudist resort not 15 minutes from where I live and every time I pass the sign for it on the highway I shake my head in disbelief.  A couples nudist resort is one thing...but a family nudist resort!!!  REALLY!??? Chunky, dimply naked baby bottoms are one thing but chunky dimply adult bottoms are a whole 'nother.  Combining all that chunky dimpliness in one place is just...too much chunky dimpliness.  And bums are not the worst thing to look at.  Human anatomy is full of floppy...areas.  And I speak not of just the backside of a middle aged woman's upper arm.  I have to admit that I'm a tad bit curious what kind of activities go on at a Family Nudist Resort.  I can see swimming and sunbathing but picturing a family game of shuffle board wearing nothing but your birthday suit?  It's just too much.  And what about meal times...uck.  I just lost my appetite. (and here is where all the weirdos come find my blog thanks to google)

Be naked all you want in your own home. Have at it.  Dance, do handstands, watch t.v. play tag, sing, cook,(actually please don't cook - that's just plain unsanitary) clean your whole house naked for all I care.

Just please ensure all blinds and curtains are closed.

Especially if you happen to be one of my neighbours.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Huggles and Ham Sandwiches

He clomped in from outside, rosy cheeked and smelling of grass, fresh air and that inexplicable smell of boy.  He was riding his bike outside with the other kids on the street and had worked up an appetite as he so declared as soon as he came through the door.

"Mumma! I'm hungry!"

I was already in the kitchen feeding my little one who sat on his knees on the chair at our round, wooden kitchen table.

"Would you like a ham sandwich?"

"Of-course!  Or uhhh....maybe a hot dog?"

"Did you know that ham is actually a flattened hot dog?"  The energy for hot dog making wasn't in me.

"Okay!  With mustard!"

As I squeezed the tart yellow spread onto the bread, he asked if he could help.  I gave him a butter knife and told him to spread it out right to the edges.

(It's important to me that each mouthful has perfect portions of ham to bread to mustard ratio.)

He spread some out and then asked for help with the rest.  I placed my grown Mother hand over top of his still growing four year old boy one and we took the time to evenly cover the rest of it together.

I finished up the sandwich and placed it on a plate (uncut as per his request) with baby carrots and off he went carefully carrying the plate out to eat his lunch on the front step amongst his friends.

Later that night in his bed, twilight surrounding us, I scooped him close and cradled him like the baby he is no longer.  His long legs hung lanky across my forearm, his already muscular arms folded between my chest and his as I curled him in close to me.  I kissed the top of his head and told him my thanks for the day....

"I'm thankful for your hugs and snuggles.  Your huggles!"  I said with a smile.  It's a word I recently made up and it makes my boys laugh.  He looked up at me and giggled and said, "Mumma?  You know what I'm thankful for?"

I love hearing what he has to say during these moments.  It always surprises me.  Pleasantly so.

"No...what are you grateful for today baby?"

"Ham sandwiches."

Ah yes.  I knew just what he meant.

Ham sandwiches made with the special ingredient that makes everything taste that much more delicious.

Ham sandwiches...made with love.


It's been a few weeks since my last link up over at my favourite writing community and I've missed them all! Please take some time and head on over to read, read, read to your heart's content.  It's worth not getting anything done around your house! (just make sure your kids are fed and watered)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Temporary Moment of Panic

My Mum didn't have too many hard and fast rules while we were growing up.  But she had one that I knew she was very serious about.

``As long as you are living under my roof no one will be getting tattoos.``

And we didn`t.  I never had the desire anyway.  Ear piercing was a far as I would go.


Right here.

Then I turned 30, had a baby and went to visit my best friend in Vancouver for 4 days.  Okay so there was much more that went on in that 31st year but nothing else that has to do with this particular story.

While visiting my best friend, we impulsively decided to get tattoos.  My first, her third (I think).

And no...we were not inebriated.

My first son`s initials, his birthdate and a heart (obviously)

Just to put it out there - this was way before the celebrity trend of getting their child`s name tattooed on them became all the rage.  Clearly I`m the trendsetter here.

And now that we have that background story established....


The other day as I was emptying the garbage from under the kitchen sink I noticed a spill of goodness-knows-yuck spreading it`s brown ugliness on the white surface.  As I`m so glamourosly scrubbing away, my littlest came over and started prodding me with his pudgy two year old little finger on the lower right side of my back - where my tattoo is. My tattoo became visible as my shirt came up a bit from all my vigorous cleaning.

Scritch scratch...poke, poke.


"That`s a tattoo."  I suddenly became anxiously aware that I must get one for him before he becomes of an age to assume that Adrian is my favourite son. (Obviously this is untrue.  I have no such thing as a consistent favourite.  Quite honestly it changes from minute to minute depending on who's plotting the demise of my sanity via ongoing demands and tantrums, making wild amounts of mess and noise and refusing to eat anything remotely healthy - sometimes I choose my dog).

Someone thoughtfully pointed out a while ago, as I was discussing my next tattoo, that my youngest son's initials happen to be F.A.S. which also stands for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I'd rather not have a permanently inked part on my body that stands for horribly sad and awful child birth defects.

So now I'm back to the drawing board.  Because now, if I get his first name written in full - will Adrian then think that Finley is the favourite since his are merely initials - and what about the symbol - I can't get another heart...there's no originality in that!  And then there's the whole location of where to put it.  Ack.  It's simply all too stressful to think about.  Maybe you can put your minds together and help a Mother out.

"Ouch." he says, still prodding away at my lower back;.

"Yes, it did hurt."  I remember worrying about the needle part of the tattoo getting. (kind of how the tattoo gets there - I know - I can't always be logical).  I have a serious fear of fast stabby needles which is primarily the reason why I don't sew.  But I figured if I could give birth to a 9.6 lb baby and feel every bit of it, what's a few minutes of fast stabby needles on my backside??  Bah - no biggie.

And while a tattoo is nothing comparable to giving birth to giant babies, I have to admit that the first seconds of that fast stabby needle stung like a mutha.

Adrian came into the kitchen just then and having seen my tattoo and commenting on it many times before he didn't have much to add.

Except this...

"Mumma, can I have a tattoo?"

All of a sudden he's 16 years old, standing in front of me all handsome and 6 feet plus deepened voice and whiskery faced.

My heart stopped.  I fumbled for words.  "Uh well...when you get to be 30. 35 years old.  Then. Um. I suppose. You can make. That decision...on your own." Clearing of the throat. Sweat on my brow.  Praying, "Please dear God, NO!  Why is he asking me such questions!?  Nooo!  Not yet!  My baby!"

I blinked my eyes and he was four again.  I stared up at him from down on the floor where I had sat scrubbing away seconds ago.

 My beautiful boy.  So big eyed, sweet and innocent.  Unmarred Perfection.

"No Mumma!  The Toy Story tattoos!"  He practically rolled his eyes at me.

"Oh!  Oh yes!  Of-course you can have your Toy Story tattoos!"

Then I pretty much galloped in gleeful relief to the drawer where his temporary tattoos resided.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Holy Smack a Pony!

My husband was due to arrive that evening.  It had been 8 days since his departure to Europe.  Work purposes.

Eight.Long.Days.  With two very rambunctious boys.  Both of whom hate getting dressed.  One who refuses to brush his teeth.  Both all too occasionally refusing to eat the foods from the bottom of the pyramid.  One who cries every single morning because he must have Shreddies when he only ever eats Cheerios...and we don`t have Shreddies.  One who still has epic meltdowns when I refuse to give in to his wiley ways.

By 8 am I had already dealt with two tantrums, screams for chocolate, refusal of fruit for breakfast. 160 pieces of Mega Blocks were scattered beneath the kitchen table, random papers were strewn on the counter amongst pj`s that were stripped almost immediately upon wake up.  Rubber boots were worn through the house leaving a trail of dirt...then tossed across the room in a fit for reasons I couldn`t comprehend.  Both boys were clinging to me like a fifth and sixth appendage and the damn dog couldn`t figure out if she wanted to be in or out resulting in incessant whining and barking.

All this before my morning cup of joe.  And I desperately needed it.

``Holy macaroni!`` I yelled in frustration.  Those are some harsh words I know.  Believe me...I wanted to use other, more stress releasing words but alas I am a responsible Mother who, when stubs her toe, screams, ``Fart in a windstorm, that hurt!`` or ``Oh sugar!`` when I really want to scream the acronym of Sugar Honey Iced Tea.

I`m a badass.  Obviously.

My son has been obsessed with rhyming lately.  Random words he`ll bring up in the car as we`re driving.

``Four, door,, tar...melt, belt...poopy, Snoopy...fart, cart``

So when I exclaimed the ever so daring, ``HOLY MACARONI``, his response was the oh so brilliant....

``Holy smack a pony!``

And all of a sudden, my day became that much brighter.

It`s only hair.

That hair!
Remember when Jennifer Aniston chopped her long locks off into a bob and everyone went bananas?  Well, not that I'm comparing my kids to celebrities or anything but that's kinda what happened yesterday...with my boys.

You see...I have (or had, up until yesterday) an aversion to cutting my boys hair.  Call it wanting to keep them babies forever or me a hippie (I`m not - though my name might mistake me for one) or whatever you wish but they've always (all 2.5 and 4 yrs of their sweet lives) had longish hair.  Everywhere I'd take my boys it was inevitable that I would get stopped at least a couple of times and get comments like "That hair!  I wish I had hair like that!" or "Wow...your kids have great hair."  I'm sure for people that didn't know my name but saw me frequently (like the grocery store, library, community centres) I could very well have been referred to as 'The Mom of the boys with 'the hair'. There was the occasional mix up of-course...referring to him as a her but I can't blame those people for their mistake - my boys have soft features.  My neighbour often says I could put a dress on Finley and he`d pass as a girl.  It`s true.  I make pretty boys.

After far too many battles with the brush and detangler spray I finally decided it was time for a change.  After's just hair right?  I never had an issue chopping my locks off in my younger, more daring days...

Yes...that's me.
I asked my 2 year old who that woman was and he said `Superman`
I`m not sure what to take from that.

So it`s a horribly unflattering photo...clearly I`d had a few
glasses of wine and was feeling oh so celebratory.
Obviously my husband was having a good time as well.
 It was a wedding after all.

As my eldest son`s curls fell to the ground in perfect, beautiful ringlets I started to feel a bit faint. She was sheering him like a sheep for God`s sakes.  I resisted the very strong urge to wrestle those clippers out of her hand and run screaming from the shop, both boys under my arms, my son`s hair half shorn.  It was difficult...but I remained calm.  Though I`m sure the hairdresser started become a bit annoyed after my 50th ``OHMYGODOHMYGOD``.

After I`d posted a few pics to facebook the responses, emails and messages...the OMG`S and WHAT`s!!! kept rollin`in!  Both my son`s hair do`s were practically as famous as Jennifer`s!

I actually kind-of like this look.  Very `Flock of Seagulls`
What can I say...kid can rock an 80`s do.

He looks so BIG and handsome.
I miss those curls already.
Next up was my baby.  He`d had two `invisible` haircuts in his 2 years of life - meaning that less than an inch was taken off each time.  And though his hair wasn`t full of the curls like his older brother he still had beautiful hair.

And there it goes...
I didn`t think my kid could get cuter.
I was proven wrong.
Now those are some cool (and much older!) looking
dudes with their token after haircut lollipop.
Don`t worry everyone - this was taken in my driveway at
a complete stop...which means there`s no excuse for
the lopsided angle this was taken at.  

I must admit, looking back at Adrian`s beautiful head of curls, that I miss it already.  I`m a hair tossler and am constantly playing with their hair...but now there`s none to toss or play with. *sobsob*

But - sigh - it is just hair.  It grows back eventually.  Mine did.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Sunday: An Untraditional Take

The moment eventually came when it was time to say good-bye to Daddy as he drove off in the silver car to his airport destination.
As we waved our good-byes and blew our kisses he took a picture from his phone.

I can imagine how heavy his heart feels driving away from that picture.

Two sweet boys, barely half dressed, mussy haired with their little fingers waving, mouths calling out, "Love you Daddy!"

Me standing behind them.  Solemn and still feeling sick.  Tired already.  Smiling weakly, hands at the small of one back, on the head of another.

It was Easter Sunday and just as everyone's family was arriving for a delicious Easter dinner, my husband was leaving on a jet plane so to speak.

I was feeling oh so sorry for myself.  Another week plus a day sans the husband and father.

No turkey or ham for us.  No mashed potatoes and gravy.  No external family gathering for a big feast. 

Just us three.  And the dog.

I flipped through take out menus.

Pizza?  Bleh.

Sushi? Only I would eat it.

Middle East? Thai?  That would mean ... looking over at my mostly naked children ... I would have to dress them and pick it up with them in tow.  I barely had the energy to dress myself.

I listlessly paced the kitchen as my boys played as hard as they always do.  Running, wrestling, making a fine raucous with the all too often reminders from me to take it easy, be nice to each other and stop yelling

Perogies it would be.  With sauteed veggies.

I begrudgingly made dinner while calling out to the boys to 'behave', 'settle down', 'stop playing on the stairs...for the hundredth time today!  Someone is going to get hurt!"

I sighed, I flipped veggies and dumplings.  I cursed the fact that I was even cooking dinner for ungrateful little turds who wouldn't even eat them anyway.

I was feeling terribly sorry for myself.  And I hated myself for it.

Then it was time for dinner.  I set their plates down on the table and called them for dinner.

They came.  They sat.  They ate.  (most of their dinner).

Frankly, I was shocked.  And pleased.  Oh so pleased.  My spirits lifted a teeny tiny fraction.

After dinner was done and I began the clean up, music requests came in from my little ones.

I obliged, placing the dishes to the side of the sink noticing the sun shining through our windows.  I opened the doors to let some fresh air in and turned up the music.

This family of mine?  We love our dance parties. 

As they boys and  I did our rendition of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey's 'The Lift' over and over again to Paulo Nutini's 'New Shoes' and Taio Cruz's 'Dynomite ' my arms became blessedly tired, my face shone with a sheen of we swung around, dipped and spun together in the early evening golden light that poured through our living room windows ... as we smiled and laughed til our bellies hurt I realized that though this was not a traditional Easter Sunday with all the family and fixin's, Easter Egg hunts and delicious gravy, though we already missed their Daddy, my husband, with an ache in our hearts and a void in our home, it still was pretty darn special. 

Bittersweetly unforgettable.

Parenting Consiously

After our first movie date, my son and I watched as the trolley of many, many, too many colourfully bright presents emblazoned with Birthday Wishes was pushed out the door of the movie theatre by the father of the birthday boy who trailed behind.

Another family approached as we exited and the little boy who was about my son's age, 4, smiled in delight, clapped his hands and exclaimed, "Ooooh presents!"

I laughed - everyone did.  It was cute.  He was an adorable kid.  But something else, quite contrary to laughing, a twang of something else occurred inside my conscious...uncomfortable, uneasy.

My thoughts whirled...and I hate to seem like I'm preaching from somewhere up above...these are simply my thoughts, my feelings about...well....things.  Because that's all presents are...things.  Things that get broken, forgotten, left behind, thrown out.  Sure there are certain objects that one holds on to for sentimental reasons.  We all have them.  It's the outward and upwards overabundance of 'these things' that we keep giving to our kids that concerns me.

Do you remember having bins and bins, boxes and boxes of toys in your house growing up?  I don't. 
Do you remember opening gift after gift after gift...after gift at your birthday parties?  I don't.  It's quite possible that I had presents but all I remember from my birthdays are the dresses I wanted to wear, the games, the cake and having fun with my friends. It was about the birthday experience.

Life, to me...and I hope to you, is about more than the 'things' we can buy for our children.  For us.

Last year for Adrian's third birthday party I asked that people bring canned goods in lieu of presents. Some people still chose to bring presents.  "Just something small."  We were invited to a birthday party and they'd asked the same as I had.  My husband felt strange not bringing a gift - it was a little girl's birthday after all.  And I understood where he was coming from...we're so used to living in a world of 'stuff' and 'things' and and more, more, more.  Or as the late Dr Seuss so succintly put it in the movie we'd just watched, 'biggering'.  But I said, no, that we must respect the wishes of others.  This something that is important to them.  And it was important to me too when I asked the same.

This year, for Adrian's fourth birthday party, we did not ask for people to donate canned goods. Or anything for that matter.  I felt a weirdness, an unease about this since last year I had asked that people not bring any gifts.  However, my thoughts were that he is of the age where gifts are 'expected' at parties and he's a good boy who deserves gifts on his birthday.  And while all this is true it still didn't feel good to me.  It was completely against my better judgement and I immediately regretted not doing what my gut had told me to do.  So with a stomach that felt like it was filled with stones he opened present after present...enthusiastically ripping one after the other open and tossing it to the side for the next...and the next....and the next.  John and I kept up a consistent running reminders from, "Open up the card and we'll read it first. Let's see who it's from...' to 'What do you say to so and so - thank you...'

Manners, gratefulness, graciousness and respect.  These are all important attributes that my husband and I wish to instill into our children.  These are things that I hope all parents teach their child...failure on our part to do this risks raising a generation of rude, disrespectful, entitled boors...(in my opinion.)  This is most definitely not how I wish to raise my sons.  I'm sure you don't want to raise your children this way either.  And as much as people can argue about the fact that their children have their own minds and personalities, when it comes to certain values and characteristics such as the four above...those are up to you.  Up to us.  Parents.

I kept seeing the toys pile up...not just in my house...but years...decades from now in our already terrifyingly large ever growing land fills.

My disappointment deepened as I pasted a smile on my face...thinking every time we had to remind him about his thank you's, "Oh it's just a stage...we have time to teach him appreciativeness."

But the time to teach him the values in which we wish to instill in him is right now. It's never too early for such lessons.  Though they might not completely grasp the idea of what you're teaching them right away, eventually they will.  Consistency and being pro-active is key.

At bedtime tell them what you're grateful for that day.  Maybe it was the nice weather because you all got to play outside together.  Or maybe you felt thankful for your warm jacket because it was quite chilly out when you were playing outside.  It could be something as big as the roof over your head...or as small as the delicious snack you had with them before bed.  After you've done this, ask them what they feel thankful for.  They might surprise you.  My son told me he was thankful for his cup of water (if only because it was what was in his hand at the time - it was a start).  I told him water was a wonderful thing to be thankful for which opened up a small discussion about how some other countries in the world don't even have the luxury of clean drinking water.  Whether this made any sense to him at this point I'm not sure.  What I do know is that these are discussions that shouldn't be shied away from. I keep it simple.  I don't want to scare my children or put their minds on overload, and one must be sensitive to what their particular child can and cannot handle especially before bed time.  My belief is that they can handle more than you may give them credit for.

This is the time for us to teach our children our values, beliefs and expectations of them.  This is it.  It's called conscious parenting...teaching our children be socially conscious, environmentally aware and individually responsible.  To be aware of the world around them and to realize it doesn't revolve around them. (although this is a very hard concept for pretty much all young children to grasp!)

I'm doing this not just for my children and the future of theirs and many generations to's also a reminder to myself.

Because even us adults need to keep ourselves in check every so often.


If you have toys you need to get rid of:

Please do not throw out old toys (unless broken of-course or no longer in good condition) - consider donating to the many organizations out there that would welcome them.

If you wish to make a little bit of money, there are many sites online such as Ebay and Kijiji as well as consignment shops that accept gently used toys and clothing - my favourite being Once Upon A Child.

Ideas for moving away from people bringing presents to your child's birthday party:

Canned goods in lieu of birthday presents are always a good idea - food banks are always in need.   Also, this is a fabulous idea! - A Toonie Party!  You can donate to a good cause and your child gets to shop and pick out their own toy!  

You can also go the way of online donations.  There are many out there, I would highly suggest researching before recommending but also because it's very much a personal decision, the charities you prefer to support.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Dedication to my Inspiration: Grandma Belle

My Grandma Belle never drove a day in her life but that lady could walk for miles.

She had chocolate brown eyes and a smile that could light up a room.

She was witty, sassy, smart, warm.

She made money cakes without putting tinfoil around the coins.

She could make a bed like no one's business.

Her favourite colour was purple.

She loved Lawrence Welk.  Then again...didn't that entire generation?

She got her hair done at the same place every Friday for years.  She would always walk there.

When I smell roses, I think of her and the first time she told me to breathe in the scent of the peach roses that sat on her kitchen table.

She made her chili with brown beans and broken spaghetti noodles.

She always offered jelly beans upon arrival to her home.

Snacks were often smoked oysters and sardines on buttered soda crackers.  I loved them.  Still do.

We never left their house without eating prunes.  My grandparents were always strangely concerned about our bowel movements.

I loved hanging out in their basement with it's bar and fake fireplace, old 1920's tunes playing on their  Victrola.

Often during our visits as young kids she would 'tickle our backs' lightly and more often then not we would fall asleep in her lap.

She loved to play with my hair too.  She couldn't find any elastics once after she had braided it and used twist ties instead.  Innovation at it's finest.

I always felt like her favourite grandchild though she had many...perhaps this is how we all felt, now looking back. Though, I have no doubt we had a very special connection.

My Grandma Belle was a huge inspiration to me.  Such an inspiration that my youngest son was named after her.  Her Maiden name was Findlay, my son's name is Finley.  She remains an especially big influence to me now that I'm a Mother.  A woman that can raise five children basically on her own, that have all remained close and are fun, adventurous, loving, intelligent and with such wonderful senses of humour while taking care of a husband who was ailing a lot of his life has done something very right and incredibly remarkable.

A while back I sat across from my Dad at his kitchen table and asked him what kind of Mother she was.  His reply said it all, "Ahhh...she was the best.  She was always there.  If you needed to talk or you needed to cry...she was just always there."

I was about 12 when she gave me a Royal Doulton figurine.  She told me to turn it over.  Her name was printed on the underside of the figurine's skirt -  Belle.  She told me she would be a reminder to me of her when she was no longer around.  I had protested, "Don't say things like that Gramma!" I couldn't imagine a woman as full of life and feist like her could ever die.  She smiled and shook her head and said, "I won't be around forever January."

I still have that figurine.  She sits displayed in my living room hutch in all her light green ballroom dress glory amongst the china of hers that was given to me from her children, my aunts and uncles, days after my wedding.

Not a day goes by that I'm not reminded of her beautiful spirit.

She loved her walks.  We took a long walk once, just the two of us...she took me to Wendy's and bought me a Frosty. To this day I can't pass a Wendy's without thinking of her and that special day.

When I was around 13 I started to notice her forgetfulness.  She would give me a compliment on my shirt...and then again minutes later.  In the beginning, she could read my face - perhaps I looked confused...but mostly it was upsetting.  I knew what was happening.  She did too.  Shortly after, my Poppy, her husband, passed away.

Her Alzheimer's became worse.  She was to be moved into a nursing home.

I remember my first visit at the home with my Mom.  She was up in arms about how she went out the front doors to go for a walk and was tracked down and brought back like a prisoner!  A criminal!  For wanting to go for a walk!  She was right pissed.  She may have been losing her memory, but she hadn't lost her zestiness.

I didn't visit her often when she became really sick.  It hurt like hell to see a woman so strong become a shadow of her former self.  Maybe I was wrong, but I have very little memories of her that way...maybe that's awful and selfish, but I remember her for the woman she really was.

When she was in the hospital nearing the end of her time here on Earth and she has lost all memory of who anyone was, my Dad was visiting her.  A song came on the radio and my father asked her to dance.  He said to me later, with tears in his voice, that as they danced together in that hospital room, Mother and Son, he believed that she recognized who he was.

I believe she most definitely did.

I received the emotional phone call from my Dad when I was 18, telling me that she had passed on...I knew it was coming...I just wasn't prepared for it.

I had a dream that night that she was sitting at my bedside, holding my hand as she always sought to do when we sat next to each other.  I don't remember the conversation, I just remember how vivid it felt.  In my dream I asked her for a sign..."If this is really you Grandma, give me a sign."  I awoke to the phone ringing at 7 am.  I answered it.  There was no dial tone.  No one on the other end.  The call display said 'Unknown Name, Unknown Number.'

I knew it was her.

The three days her obituary was in the paper, the newspaper was delivered to our door.

We didn't order the paper.  We didn't have a subscription.

At her funeral, I remember sitting on the couch of the parlour crying.  Her presence beside me was palpable.  I felt her holding my hand.

I felt her hand in mine.

To this day I have dreams.  Of her and I just sitting.  Talking.  Like we always did.  They give me great comfort.  I know she is always around.  But I still miss her every day.

Today is her birthday and I hope she's celebrating as hard as she always did, with a groove in her gitalong and a big smile on her face.

Happy Birthday Grandma Belle.

You've never been forgotten.

You never will be.

Beautiful Belle  XO

Marriage: A Sharp and Intimate Fragment

Just as I was drifting to sleep I heard the sharp bark of my dog and a soft knocking at our front door.

I laid there for a moment, annoyance rising in my chest. 

My husband was working late this week and must have forgotten his house key.

I trudged sleepily and grumpily down the stairs.  Riley was now whimpering, her whole body one entire vibration at her excitement to see John.

I unlocked the door and opened it to see my husband standing there looking sheepish.  The outside light shone on his face.  He looked very handsome when he left that morning in his tan checked sports jacket and lavender shirt.  He still looked good.

He also looked tired.

I was tired too after a long day of tending to feverish, sick kids.

I opened the door wider.

“How could you forget the house keys?” I snapped.

He whispered unperturbed by my tone, “I’m sorry.  In my rush this morning I forgot to grab them.  Sorry babe.”

“Well, I can’t exactly leave the door unlocked when I’m going to bed.”  Unnecessarily stating the obvious, I turned and stomped back up the stairs, into our bedroom and flung myself back into bed.

I willed myself to fall back asleep.  I tossed this way.  And that way.  My legs seeking out cooler spots beneath the blankets and settling there until they became restless again.

I waited.  Wondering what he was doing down there.  Irritated. Why wasn’t he coming to bed? 

My conscious kept whispering at me…"What if those were your last words…"

I became annoyed with myself.  Why couldn't I just turn off?  Go to sleep?

Go to sleep!  Sleeeeep!

You are so sleeeeepy...

"What if...what if..."

Funny thing about a conscious. You can’t get away from it.

I threw the comforter back from my body and dragged myself out of bed once again.

As I descended the stairs, halfway down I peered over the banister I saw him by the light of the stove checking emails, messages…or maybe just facebook by way of his phone.

I came to the landing, noticed his jacket that he’d hung on the banister.

Once again, not in the closet.

I stifled a frustrated sigh, pushed down my rising annoyance and put my mind to the reason I’d come down.

He heard my footsteps and came around the corner towards me.

I put my arms around his waist and his went around my back.  My head rested on his chest and my face turned to the side, I said the words that I all too often find difficult to say, “I’m sorry for getting mad.”

He hugged me close and responded, “That’s okay honey.  I'm sorry I woke you up.”

We stood like that for another moment and then our arms fell away.

I ascended the stairs once more and crawled back into bed.

I could hear him in the kitchen getting the coffee ready for the morning and then he too came to bed.

After a kiss good night we went to the far sides of our large king sized bed.

And then our feet found each other beneath the sheets as they often do before sleep eventually made its welcomed introduction.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What Does God Look Like?

Growing up our family didn’t go to church.  In fact I wasn’t baptized until I was 13.  My Mum and I were baptized together.  I made the choice on my own when I attended a youth group for a short stint in my adolesent life.

My family was not religious in any sense of the word but we were brought up to believe in God.  Though I was not and still am (embarrassingly) not all that familiar with the stories in the Bible. 

My husband grew up very differently than I did.  He is Catholic.  He was an Alter boy.  He went to church with his family regularly.

Now as parents, as a family, we don’t go to church.  I have nothing against the church.  I think it is a wonderful place for people to find comfort, meet others, build a community but we're simply not church going people.  We believe in God.  We are very spiritual in our beliefs.  I pray every night before I go to bed.  It’s not a hand steepled on my knees prayer but as I lay in bed at night I send my prayers out there into the big, wide universe, to Him.  I pray for my family, my friends.  All of my precious loved ones.  Sometimes it’s a general prayer.  Sometimes it’s more specific.  But that is what I do.  I thank Him for all my blessings.  I have many.

Late last year I bought a children’s bible for my eldest son.  I read a couple of chapters to him over the course of a couple of nights and he seemed to really enjoy it.  I did too.  I loved that we were both learning about something together.  And then the story of Cain and Abel came along and I shut the book quickly on that.  Being that he’s a brother to a brother and all.  I knew there’d be too many questions from my 3 year old that I wasn’t ready to answer.

It’s been a while since I re-opened up that chapter of the book so to speak but some things stick in child of mine’s mind for months…years even….making random appearances now and again. 

Like this evening for example.  Finley had gone to bed and Adrian felt like a snack.   As I stood in the kitchen smearing honey and peanut butter on soft, thick whole wheat bread under softened light, Adrian and I had the following conversation…

“Mummy, who made the Earth again?”

I brought over his sandwich, placed it in front of him and sat down adjacent to him.

“God did.”

“Why did God make the Earth?”

Wooooo.  This was a good question.  Did they even cover the ‘why’ in the Bible?  Since I was so (shamefully) unfamiliar with the Bible I crossed my fingers that I was getting it right at least a little bit and answered as best as I could.

“He made the Earth for us.  So that we could know love, have relationships.  Learn.”

“Does God look like an old man?”

“Well.  God looks like whoever we want him to look like.  Do you think he looks like an old man?”

“I think that he looks like an old elf.”

“If you think he looks like an old elf, then that’s what he looks like to you.”

Thankfully, mercifully satisfied with my answers he began to eat his delicious peanut butter and honey sandwich.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Ant Story - told by Adrian, 4 yrs old

As I  stood in my kitchen wiping counters, putting dishes away, my son walked up behind me and asked me a question that he's never asked me before...

"Mumma, can I tell you a story?"

I immediately stopped what I was doing and turned to face him.  His upturned face was full of smiles and his hands held something behind his back.

I couldn't wait to hear this story.  I was riveted already.

Yes.  Yes, of-course you can tell me a story honey.

"Once there was an ant.  And he went pee on the potty."

So this was a 'big boy' ant.  

He nodded.

"And then he put pepper in his eyes."

Ooooh.  Ouch!

"And then he got squished!  By a boat!"

Out from behind his back came a toy boat.  His intention, I'm sure, was to enthusiastically thrust it at me but instead it slipped from his still small four year old hands and crashed against the fridge.

He picked it up and gave it to me.

Oh no! What a story!  That poor ant!  What about a happy ending?  Can he have a happy ending too?

A short pause.  And then.

"He went back to his ant castle.

And he had a knight sword.

And a knight shield.

And a knight vest!"