Wednesday, June 27, 2012

She's an Original

"What?!  You don't get Easter Egg hunts anymore?!!"  Riled my indignant semi-new best friend.

"Erin, we're 17 years old!"

"So what?!  I can't believe you don't get Easter Egg hunts."  She huffed.

Sure enough, later on that week, she gave me my very own Easter Egg hunt complete with loads of chocolate and a Cosmopolitan magazine.

This was just the tip of the iceburg of the extraordinarily thoughtful and generous nature my best friend was graced with.


We stood in line at the Taco Bell many months later.  There was a group of young kids in line ahead of us.  It seemed that they were with an adult but paying with their own money.  One young boy stood out - he didn't order anything.  There was something in the way he held himself, in the expression on his face that pulled at my heartstrings.

"Did you want some fries?"  Erin was up next in line and that little boy stood a couple feet away from her.  Though I don't remember if we shared our thoughts aloud to each other, our thoughts were on the same wave length.  She was offering to buy this hungry little boy something to eat.


5 years later...

It was raining as we drove along in her sapphire blue Sunfire, Grover.  As we took the off ramp we passed an older gentleman, standing on the side of the road, thumb out, indicating he needed a lift somewhere.  It was obvious he was homeless.

"We should go back.....I'm going back to get him."

I was uneasy.  I'm the type of person whose heart goes soft when I see people living in the streets.  Young, old.  It doesn't matter.  For there's always a reason behind why...there's always a story....a story that rarely ends with a fairly tale ending.  I almost always give change or purchase something for them to eat nearby.  (It's a good thing thing I don't live in a highly populated area of vagrants.)

But to pick up a hitch hiking homeless man?  Never.  I would never.  But that day with my best friend who's heart is a big as the sky?  We did.

We stopped at a drive through and she bought him and burger and a coffee.  As we drove she chatted with him while he hungrily inhaled his hamburger, asking questions about his life, where he was from, where was he going.  I stayed quiet, almost mute-like trying hard not to breathe in through my nose for the stench of his unshowered body and damp unwashed clothes mingled with the raw onions on the burger kept wafting up to the front seat.  As I sat trying not to breathe, I marveled at her open curiosity, adventurous spirit and huge heart...(and that she was breathing openly).  The way she asked her questions would not be considered prying but simply inquisitive and interested in what he had to say. He said he had just visited with his children and had walked on foot from a city over 200 km away.  I wondered why his kids didn't help him.  Perhaps there were many reasons. I realize that that I'm older and just a teeny bit wiser to the world.

We dropped him off again not too many miles later at his request.

That day, without her knowing, she opened my eyes a lot wider to the world.


A couple years ago when her husband and her first began dating, they were caught in a huge snow storm - recall 'Snowmageddon? - leaving them stranded at a hotel.  I don't know about you but I'd be making the best out of that situation by chilling out, feet up in my hotel room sipping on some Bailey's spiked hot chocolate with my significant other.  But not Erin.  The way she makes the best out of a situation is evidently far different mine.  She basically risked her LIFE going out and getting food for some truckers staying at the hotel. It was late, everything was closed, they were hungry and their trucks couldn't get through the drive through.   And how did she know these random trucker guys were hungry?  Erin?  As mentioned above, will talk to anybody and will know more about them in a short period of time than they probably even knew about themselves.


She's done so many more amazing things for people over the years I've known her.  As small as listening to someone who may not have anyone to talk to, to thoughtful gifts, to flying me out to see her across the country (she's done that a few times), to volunteering her time for a job that's worth much, much more than nothing, to being a mentor, to fighting to get someone's job back, to being the best daughter, sister, friend and wife one could ever wish for.  I simply don't  have the time or space to write about all of them here.  And I know there are many more instances of her philanthropy that I have no idea about.

Because of Erin?  The world is a better place.  I truly believe that.

She's been the bestest best friend I could ever ask for.  She is my biggest inspiration, someone I look up to, admire, and love with all my heart.

She's given me advice, adventures and unconditional love for over half my life.

And on this day, her 34th birthday, I'd like to say a big thank you to her.

You are an original, baby.

Cheers to your 34th my dear friend.
You just become more fabulous as the years go by.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Standing Under His Umbrella

I stood on our back deck, 2 year old on my hip, 4 year old by my side.  We were watching the massive dark clouds rolling in.  A good Ontario storm was brewing.  We are lovers of storms in this home of ours.

Minus the dog of-course.  Is there a dog in the world that can appreciate a great storm?  I've never met one.

The deep rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightening were on full display above the trees in the large field just beyond our house.  The rain had yet to drop but the heat and humidity of the day was giving way to a cool breeze.

My  boys would turn to me with blue eyes as big as saucers, their mouths shaped into a perfect 'O' every time they would hear the faintest of sky grumbles.

"Oh! I felt a rain drop!" Exclaimed my eldest.

"Oh!  So did I!"  Tiny droplets of water sat on my arm, cool, clear and refreshing.

"I guess I won't be doing the grocery shopping tonight."  I stated.

"Why?"  My eldest inquired.

"Well, I don't want to go out and get groceries in the middle of a thunderstorm."  I explained.

Without missing a beat he replied...

"I will protect you Mumma."

My heart grew a little more right then...with those simple words.

They say a boy's Mother is his first love.  It begins with their first flirtatious smiles as a newborn, moving on to sweet kisses, then dandelion bouquets and now begins the promise of protection.

It's a beautiful thing.  There really are no other words.

And so...we went grocery shopping together.  Just the two of us.

I felt completely safe.

And entirely happy.

I set up the bean bag at the front door during a good heavy storm a few weeks back.
They loved every minute of it.  Except when the rain came in through screen and soaked us all.
Aren't their linked arms just heart melting?
I know.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bittersweet Echoes

He bounds through the front door in all his little boy clatter.  I'm in the kitchen and peek up from what I'm doing at the counter to see him tip toeing around the corner.  He is still in his outdoor shoes.  He watches me with a look of sheepishness.

I bite silent the words that are always on the inside corners of my mouth...take your shoes off at the front door....(after all, the sheepish tiptoeing?  Very cute.) and instead say, "What's up bud?"

"Mumma?  Can I please have some juice?"

"Of-course."  I pour the juice and he takes the bright plastic cup from my hands with a thank you.  I follow him towards the front door where he's eager to get back outside and rejoin his friends.

It opens before we get there and his buddies are on the other side waiting.  The cacophony of their child chatter and warm air collide with the cool silence of the house.

He stands just behind the open door so that only I can see him.

He cups his hand around around his little boy lips and mouths the 3 most precious words on earth...unprompted, impulsive and entirely him.

In that moment I realized just how fast the years go by.  

What's a Mom to do but silently whisper the words in return?

"I love you too."

Then off he went out the door, a whirling vortex of sunshine, love and boyhood. 

As I closed the door against the heat of the day, holding close the brief lovely moment, echoes of bittersweetness reverberate loudly within the quiet walls of our home.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Dozen (plus!) Reasons Why I love my Husband

My husband is pretty great and I hate to admit it but I probably don't give him enough credit for all that he does and all that he is.  So today, in honour of my hard working, wonderful hubby for Father's Day, I have made a list of why I love him the most...

1. He makes up the best superhero bed time stories for the boys.

2. He's super affectionate, always giving hugs and kisses to our boys (and me) and telling them how much he loves them - "I love you the most!"

3. He knows when I've had enough and either tells me to get out of the house (in the nicest way) or pours me a big glass of wine.

4. He's really hot even when he looks pissed off (especially) and in safety glasses.

5. He loves my best friend (almost) as much as I do.

6. He's very good at reminding me that we're on the same team - even when I'm acting like we're on opposing ones.

Celebrating our 6 year wedding anniversary.

7. He has GREAT legs.

And a great golf swing too apparently (not that I would know).

8. He doesn't ask for much from us...ever.  All he ever wants for Father's Day is a homemade card from the boys and time spent together as a family.

Yes.  I made that.  Even I can't believe it.

9. He's close to his Mother.  And if there's anything that I wish for my relationship with my boys it's that they love and respect me as much as my husband loves and respects his Mom.  (You did a wonderful job Nancy - thank you).

Yes, that IS his Mother.  Beautiful lady.
10.  He can do this....

11. He only gets a little bit mad for a mere brief moment when I (unknowingly!) use 100 dollar vodka to make a pitcher of Caesar's for our guests...

Tastiest Caesar's ever and then we found out why.
Look at how happy it is too!

12. He still looks at me like this...

13. He cleans his whiskers up after shaving...AND! puts the toilet seat down when finished.

14. And most importantly?  He has a FANTASTIC sense of humour.  Even when he's (slightly) being teased by his wife.

Oh yes.  I hit the jackpot folks.

Happy Father's Day honey.  XO

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I've Got So Much Honey, the Bees Envy Me

"I have something to ask you for tomorrow night."  My father said to me on the eve of my wedding. Everyone in the wedding party and close family members had finished up their dinner and began to mingle with one another at the restaurant.

I was sitting with my Dad.

"Sure Dad.  Anything."

"Will you dance on my feet like you did when you were a little girl?"

And then....

Tears.  First from him.

Then from me.

The discussion of the dance...


The next day he walked me down the aisle, arms linked.

Me, a beaming bride.  He, a proud father with (at least) a tear in each eye.

You can't quite tell in the picture...but my  Dad
was fighting hard to keep the tears at bay. 


Our father-daughter dance was to 'My Girl by the Temptations.  I chose that song because years ago we had sang it together during a memorable karaoke night on a hot summer evening during a family vacation.

I was 16 years old.

12 years later...

We began with our usual spinning, twirling and easy dad-daughter dance rhythm.  After all, I had been dancing with my father for 28 years at that point.  Maybe not every year.  Or even every other.  But my Dad?  He was my first dance partner. And if there's nothing a little girl's who her first dance partner is.

My Dad?  He was the best kind.


"It's time babe."  Our eyes met and we smiled.  It was just over mid-way through 'My Girl'.

'I don't need no money, fortune or fame...I've got all the riches, baby, one man can claim....

I kicked my sequinned flip flops off toward the crowd of friends and family that gathered in groups around us, watching, taking pictures and videos.  Everyone was having a wonderful time, enjoying our moment.

This moment though?  Was our moment.  For my Dad and I only.

All 28 years of me including my newly pedicured bare feet stepped onto his shiny shoe clad ones.

And we danced around in a circle just like that, my right hand in his left...a grown up reflection of my father's most precious memories.

Our father-daughter dance.
Yes...sadly this is the ONLY picture I have of this special moment so if anyone
has better ones PLEASE send them my way!
(this is a picture of a picture which is why the quality is so terrible)


The recollection of me dancing on his toes when I was a little girl is vaguely sketched on the background of my mind.

But it's the dance that I had with my father as a new wife and grown woman that is indelibly imprinted on the forefront of my heart.

Happy Father's Day Dad.

You gave me a gift that will last forever that day.

I love you with all my heart.


(p.s. - I will always be your little girl)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rats! And I thought it had something to do with me.

He sat with his bowl of cherries - a new found fruit love - at the kitchen table as the afternoon sun streamed through the patio doors.

"Mumma - I need sumping else to eat with these."

"Something else?  Like what?  Like sommmmme...." I scanned the counters and my eyes rested on a bowl of freshly washed, de-stemmed strawberries that we just picked the day before. "strawberries?"

"Yes! Strawberries!"

I brought the bowl over to the table and sat it beside his small bowl of cherries then returned back to the business of emptying the dishwasher.

"Mumma - come here!  You have to try this!  Eat them together.  Come on...come on!"

I looked up from where I was bent over grabbing some utensils.

He had a strawberry on one side of his mouth and a cherry on the other.

I put away the forks and joined my son at the kitchen table.  He handed me a strawberry and a cherry.

"Eat it at the same time."  His face was eager, his smile big and berry stained. I couldn't help but think I was in some sort of dream.  Child of mine with a passion this big for discovering new taste sensations???!!!  This was my kind of kid.  Hmph.  I must be doing something right.  All those times he helped me out in the kitchen, baking cookies, making dinner.  Yes.  I am raising an adventurous first rate future little chef I am.

I bit simultaneously into the cherry and the strawberry.  It was a taste sensation of the most delectable kind.  Sweet, tart, juicy.

He watched me expectantly, eyes wide and blue, his head slightly nodding as I chewed bits of cherry and berry.

"Mmmmmm!  That is gooooood!"

"I know.  I learned it from Ratatouille."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Bit of a Blathering

Maybe it's because it seems the months are disappearing faster than a glass of chilled wine at the end of a highly stress inducing day with my kids but I've been stuffing the crap outta my days with my boys lately.  Adrian will be starting JK come September and quite honestly - I'm just not quite sure what to think about it.

Sad, happy, excited, nostalgic, weepy, proud.  These emotions are sitting high up in my chest...building by the day.

The outings that I've been packing into our days as of late always occur in the morning hours due to Finley having (still thankfully) a good 2 hour afternoon nap from 1-3ish.  By the time he wakes, diaper is changed,  and is fed his 'nack it easily becomes 4-4:30 at which point dinner needs to be started.

What exactly am I trying to say you ask?  I'm all in a flutter, you see, because come September I won't be having these (mostly) awesome mornings with my sons'.  I'm starting to realize that those future mornings are going to go by so quickly come September - and yes, I'm looking forward to having some rare one on one time with my little - and having a reprieve from the abundance of 'spiritedness' my biggest brings to the table.  But...but THEN my littlest will be starting school the NEXT September and I'm thinking to myself HOLY SMACK A PONY what the hell happened to the first 5 years of my Motherhood Life???!!!
I want to enjoy it, love it, live it breathe it, soak it in- do all the cliches of Motherhood. I feel like I must do it all right now and not a minute later.   And believe me - it's not all sunshine and lollipops.  We are not skipping through the woods singing tra-la-la, doh a dear.  No.  In fact that last post about the Nature Walk?  I 'forgot' to mention about the part that my eldest had to take a crap in the woods....and well...large leaves were involved. I don't know why didn't mention it - I just didn't think it would 'mesh' with the rest of the story y'know?

And when we went to the market last week?  It was hot.  Small child was irritable and was insisting on eating all the cherries - including the pits - as my eldest complained that he had to go pee.  The only place we could really go was by an evergreen tree sort-of behind one of the kiosks - where there was a family sitting not 25 feet away watching me unsuccessfully block my son for 'privacy' (like he's so concerned) with a recyclable shopping bag while the other side was the parking lot of a mall that had perfectly clear view of my son doing his business.  I also almost lost my youngest when he took a wrong turn between tents.  Then my eldest (subconsiously) began to imitate one of the vendors voices as I bought buns from him - he had something wrong with his voice box or throat.  He spoke in almost a whisper.  He was very raspy and difficult to understand.  My son began to clear his throat and talk in the same raspy whisper to me right in front of the man.  Mortified.  (we had a clear discussion about that underneath this tree right after it happened - we'll see how that sunk in another day though it was really in pure innocence I'm sure)

Look at how happy we are!  (ok - so it was fun if a bit stressful - you take the
good with the nerve wrangling I suppose)  My kids ate a pound of cherries
between the two of them.  Don't ever let your kids eat that many cherries.
Ever.  It's an epic disaster of the worst kind.

This morning?  I did something I hate, hate doing.  I went swimming at an indoor swimming pool with my boys.  First of all - forget the fact that you have to wear a bathing suit in public which is never my idea of a good time - but I just have a thing about indoor swimming pools with all that humid, germ-filled air and who knows what in the pool - 'cause you know kids pee in the pool.  It's just an all around ickfest for me - not to mention all of the unnecessary nudity in the change rooms.  But I did it for them despite my discomfort and you know what?  We had so much fun.  We stayed so long in that pee infested water that our fingers and toes turned into raisins and I had to pretend to eat my little ones wrinkled up little hands to help him stop freaking out about it. (he has a thing about the feeling of pruney fingers - which, now that I think about it, I hated too as a child).

This is how I am determined to continue my summer with them.  This is how I hope to continue my summers going forward with them.  Markets, nature walks, swimming, balloon fights, bike rides, visits to farms. Sounds super idyllic right?  Riiight. Tomorrow we shall go strawberry picking which I'm sure will result in more eating than picking and I'll try my hardest not to get stressed out about it ... but like I said ... you gotta take the good with the stress inducing and just know that the good is what you'll (all) remember.

That's what you hope for anyway.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Nature Walk

"I have to go pee!"

"Okay...go run quick into the bushes." I said pointing to the rectangular shape of bushes beside the bright slides and black swings.

He did his business and then wandered over to the wooded area behind the park.

I knew where this was going to go.

The interest in the slides and monkey bars had waned quickly.

I sighed and protested.  I wasn't wearing the right shoes.

Truth be told...I wasn't wearing the right shoes...but it also never fails that I injure myself in those woods.  Right shoes or no right shoes.

My protests were half-hearted and they knew so.  Two against one. On they marched, their legs small and minds big.

Determined for adventure.

"AH! Ooof!  Man! That HURT!"  I yawped as my forehead met a sharp branch upon entering a 'whole new world'.

"Mummy where har you?" Finley yelled out.  I could see him plainly through sun dappled trees - standing in a small clearing looking around.  For me.  My heart cinched at his pronunciation of 'are' with the 'h' in front.  Ah the 2 year old verbal quirks.  I can't get enough.

"I'm right here Fin!" I said coming into the clearing.

"Awight Mummy?"

"Yes buddy, I'm alright."  My sensitive little one.  Concerned for others at such a young age.  That's my son, I thought proudly to myself.

"Mumma it's a whole new world in here.  I want to live here!"  Adrian proclaimed hiking confidently down an unbeaten path.

"Buddy - you're not on the path...why don't you come this way?"

"I'm on my own path - it's a path!"

Well.  I  couldn't argue with that now could I?  That's my son, I thought proudly once again.  May he always take the unbeaten path.

We came upon a large fallen tree.  Finley bent over at his waist excitedly pointing, "'Nake Mummy!  'Nake!"

I quickly walked over because the last time he saw a snake was in our back yard and I (shamefully) thought he was full of poppycock.  Sure enough - there was a not so small garter snake in our yard which I unsuccessfully tried to capture. (I had gardening gloves on.  I'm not that brave.)

This time it was just an wriggling, squiggly earth worm.  Adrian picked it up, eeked and dropped the poor thing. Finley decided the worm was looking for a 'nack which prompted a discussion on what worms eat.  We (not so) firmly decided on leaves and dirt? (quite honestly I have no idea but logic tells me that's about right - clearly, nature biologist I am not)  And then I forced them to sit beside me on the huge fallen tree trunk so I could take our picture.

I kept telling them to keep their sunglasses on - I was so paranoid one of their
beautiful eyes was going to get poked out by a random tree branch.  And that there was
poison ivy.  And we might encounter a bear.  Okay - so not really the bear BUT there was a bear
found in a park in this very city not a few weeks back!  It had to be shot!  True story!

We hiked on (though - really - it wasn't really hiking at all...we basically just stayed in the same little area, walking in circles).  Adrian found what looked like a shelter made from fallen tree branches.  There were rolled up old newspapers.  They kept calling it the 'scary spider tree' and Finley was not a fan.  It didn't help that we heard a squeal shortly after finding it (which happened to be from a little school girl I'm sure during a recess break - since we were behind an elementary school).

As you can see from Fin's expression, my kids tend toward the dramatic.
And stubborn - my eldest is wearing pajama pants.  I wasn't about to
wage war on that one.  I attempted and quickly lost steam.  At least he
was wearing pants.  Period.
"Okay guys, I'm getting hungry.  It's time to head out and go home for lunch."

"But Mumma - I really want to live here!"

"You do?  What would we eat?"

"Leaves!"  And with that he promptly ate a leaf.  And I prayed to God that it wasn't poisonous.  He unconvincingly "Mmm'd" with a smile.  Then spit it out.

"That's what I thought.  No more eating leaves.  You don't know what's peed or pooped on it."

"Like what?"

"A squirrel.  Or a bunny.  Or a bird."

"Or a skunk!"

"Ewwwwww!" my little one said with a scrunched up face.

"And what if it rained?  Where would we sleep?"

"Under that shelter!"

Of-course.  Why didn't I think of that?

"I think I like our house better.  Okay monkeys, let's rock and roll."

And off we trudged into the sunlit field with discussions of what we would be having for lunch.

It was certainly not going to be tree leaves.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Ghosts of Boys Past

As I lifted the lid of another storage bin to sort through for our garage sale there it was.

A peachy-pink hued flower printed box stuffed full with memories of high school.

I knew it existed...of-course I did.  It was layered with paper thin pieces of me.  I'd seen it, peeked at it though not inside of it, a few times over the past dozen years but it wasn't until today that I decided to open That Memory Box.

And wow.  What an explosion of memories it was.

There were old movie stubs, dried flowers, a million pictures, cards, ticket stubs, some trinkets, two diaries...and letters.  Lots and lots of letters.

From friends old and some still current.  From ex-boyfriends.

I sat on the floor of my family room while my children, in turn, drove me bananas. I hugely reminisced...and cringed.  I also found poems that I wrote.  Tween-aged poems.  And they were not good.  Nooo.  In fact they were outwardly, flinch inducing BAD.  But I recall writing most of them.  With a heart heavy and stomach feeling full of stones.  Tears in my eyes and a shaky hand.

As adults we often mock and downplay our teenage angst.  It's like we didn't take that hormonal roller coaster of a ride in our life seriously.  But! If we were to go back live that time all over again (not in a million)...those feelings would be just as real.  Those breaks up would be just as heart splitting.  Those emotions would be just as raw.  Living those years? - were serious.  And fun.  And life altering.  And soul gutting.

Today, I didn't keep any of those love notes, letters, cards or poems...though that boy that wrote those dark, intense poems to me?  He was actually quite good.  At writing.

It was somewhat entertaining though at the same time a bit .... agonizing - to read back all the heartbreak I endured....and all the heartbreak I gave.  Those letters, cards, poems from boys past?  They didn't belong in my life anymore.  They didn't belong in my life 10 years ago. To keep them would be for my ego only.  Besides that, I never want my sons' to read about the heart torment I gave to their own kind. I know there will come a day when I will have to deal with their heart break.  When they feel as if their soul is about to shatter into a million pieces.  There is no escaping the fact that this will happen and my heart will also break along with theirs ten fold knowing exactly what they're going through.

I hope they know they can come to me.  I will never shrug off their hurt.  I will never just pat their backs and tell them there are plenty of fish in the sea.  I will never tell them to get over it - that they will look back years from now and laugh it off.  Because maybe?  Maybe they won't.  Heart break - whatever  the age - needs to be acknowledged and felt - really down deep in the soul felt.  I will always encourage that.  For then they can move forward, safely keeping those scars in the heart there, not outwardly seen but emotionally available - if only to teach their son's, their daughter's the same empathy.